So, another year has come and gone. To be honest, it’s not really been a great one, overall: on an international level, the wave of revolt that rolled around the world in 2010-12 feels like it’s still rolling back, with most of the struggles that broke out having been contained one way or another. In particular, something that’s been vividly illustrated over the last few years is the dangers of a popular revolt being turned into a military struggle: from Syria to Ukraine, we’ve seen how tragic the results can be when widespread anger against an unpopular regime can be captured and channelled into nationalist directions, especially when wider imperialist forces are involved.
In the UK, I don’t think there’s been many big, definitive moments that sum up the year as a whole: just like in 2013, life for most people has mostly continued gradually getting worse, and my real…
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A Teesside political candidate was left shocked when he was refused a pint in his local because of derogatory comments he was accused of posting on the internet.
Ted Strike, the UKIP candidate for Stockton South in next year’s general election, said that remarks posted on review site tripadvisor about the Beckfields pub in Ingleby Barwick were not made by him.
Under the moniker “TeddyStrike”, comments were posted which made false allegations of drug use at the pub and criticised food and beer.
But Mr Strike, who has been drinking in the pub since it opened 19 years ago, said: “I don’t know who has posted these comments online but by using my name and making disparaging remarks, it is an attempt to discredit me.
“I couldn’t be certain why but I think it is because I am a UKIP candidate.
“It has happened to me before.
“Last year, someone set up a Twitter account pretending to be me and I have never even used Twitter.”
“The first I knew of these comments was when I went into the pub on Sunday night and was told I was barred but I managed to clear it up with them.
“I’ve informed police about it all.
“It’s not on.”
A spokesperson for The Beckfields said: “The fraudulent post and false allegations made are being investigated by the police.
“We take responsible retailing seriously to ensure the safety of our customers and staff and have a zero tolerance approach to drugs.”
Cleveland Police confirmed that they have spoken to Mr Strike and said they would follow up on any further information they received.
Mr Strike has since tried to clear up the matter by posting his true review of the pub on tripadvisor, which is the biggest online review forum in the UK.
It is the second time this week that a UKIP candidate has claimed foul play over postings on the internet, after European election candidate Phillip Broughton said a video posted of him was taken “completely out of context”.
The Guido Fawkes political blog had knitted together video clips of Phillip, also an amateur wrestler, boasting about his income and mocking the poor while acting in character but he laughed it off and said that people would understand the context.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 02 May 2014
The region’s police forces are snooping on phone calls and emails 53 times every day, it has been revealed – triggering an investigation.
The surveillance watchdog has raised the alarm over forces using powers to tap into communications data far too often, warning privacy may be at risk.
And it announced an inquiry into whether there should be stricter curbs on the police and other law enforcement bodies – to ensure snooping is not an “automatic resort“.
A report to Parliament revealed that forces in the North-East and North Yorkshire tapped into communications data a staggering 19,444 times in 2013.
The highest total was recorded by Durham police (6,218), followed by Northumbria (6,211), North Yorkshire (4,058) and then Cleveland (2,957).
Authorisation is granted to uncover the “who, when and where” of a communication, such as who owns the phone, or email address, or computer IP address.
The police also learn who that person was in contact with electronically – but not what was said in that communication.
The powers are granted under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which the Coalition altered after protests, to curb excessive spying.
His report concluded: “It seems to me to be a very large number. It has the feel of being too many.
“I have accordingly asked our inspectors to take a critical look at the constituents of this bulk to see if there might be a significant institutional overuse.
“This may apply in particular to police forces and law enforcement agencies who between them account for approaching 90 per cent of the bulk.”
Nationwide, most communications were tapped into to “prevent or detect crime, or prevent disorder“, followed by “emergency, to prevent death or injury“.
Durham Police mounted a strong defence of its use of covert tactics, arguing almost everybody now used a mobile phone and the internet.
The force insisted it “takes the privacy of individuals seriously” and that every application under Ripa is considered by a senior person independent of the investigation.
Detective Superintendent Lee Johnson said: “Some individuals in society have no consideration of the rights of others and commit crime and make use of phones to enable the commission of the crime.
“When identifying the location of a missing person, a wanted person, or how a phone has been used in the commission of a crime, it is now an important investigative tool to make use of call data in locating someone, or proving their criminality.
“The public expect the police service to make effective use of tools available to them to protect vulnerable individuals in society, or identify offenders and bring them to justice.”
And Home Secretary Theresa May backed forces, saying: “Communications data is vital in helping to keep the public safe: it is used to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and to save lives.”
The annual report also listed many local authorities which snooped on phone calls and emails last year, including York (80 times) and Redcar and Cleveland (69).
However, a spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said its high figure was explained by its regional role coordinating ‘Scambusters‘ trading standards crackdowns.
In fact, only one of the 69 authorisations listed in the watchdog’s report was actually carried out by Redcar and Cleveland, he added.
Similarly, a spokesman for York City Council said its high figure was the result of its similar regional role in tackling ‘e-crime‘.
It said it applied through the National Anti-Fraud Network to identify those behind the telephone numbers they were investigating, but not the content of the messages.
Colin Rumford, City of York Council’s Head of Regional Investigations, said: “We make applications through the National Anti-Fraud Network to identify the people and organisations behind telephone numbers that we’re investigating as part of our sizeable remit to work for the national trading standards e-crime team, the regional trading standards Scambuster team and local consumer fraud.
“None of the applications relate in any way to the interception of messages between individuals.”
All fire authorities and ambulance services in the region reported that they did not use the powers.
Source – Northern Echo 10 April 2014
From the Facebook page Atos Miracles,8th March 2014
My sister was sanctioned on her first signing date reason being she had only applied for jobs only off the Internet? She never received any jsa , she was also caring for our Mum and was told to try for Carers allowance so she went to her jobcentre to enquire and the adviser the one that sanctioned her said “get someone else to look after her” Mum is 91 and is bed ridden with a stroke, the adviser said if you can care for your Mum you can get a proper job as a carer. My sister did not appeal she was to upset and reckons you have no chance against the system.
An MP has said she’s determined to stand up to internet trolls after she received a barrage of abuse online.
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, became a target for cyber bullies after she spoke out on theissue of children’s toys.
She hit headlines earlier this month when she led a debate in parliament on gender-specific toys.
Chi pointed out that it was “illegal to advertise a job as for men only but apparently fine to advertise a toy as for boys only. Why should girls be brought up in an all-pink environment? It does not reflect the real world.”
She also condemned toy shops that have a pink aisle for what they see as girls’ toys and a blue aisle for boys’ toys.
But, ever since Chi spoke out, she has been on the receiving end of a stream of abuse on social networking site Twitter.
Chi said: “I’ve had quite a bit of intense abuse, the whole range right up to, although thankfully not including, death threats.
“Everything from aggressive sexual swearing to bizarrely being told that I’m both a publicity seeker and that no-one is interested in the issue.
“I’ve been told I’m stupid, lazy and had the strongest swear words directed at me.”
But she vowed: “I’m determined it’s not going to stop me.”
In her speech to parliament, Chi claimed that directing girls towards pink toys featuring princesses and domestic tasks, while boys are encouraged to play with construction toys and characters who have adventures, limits their horizons and is bad for the economy.
She pointed to a page from a 1970s Argos catalogue that featured toys such as a baby buggy or shop till in variety of colours and compared it to the current catalogue, which has the same toys but only in pink.
She said: “I’m not calling for legislation.
“There is a fear that you are accused of wanting a nanny state but we are just fighting for more choice so children can play with what they want.
“It causes a lot of distress among parents to see their girls forced down the route of being pink puppets.
“I’ve had a lot of parents contact me since the debate too.”
Fellow Labour MP Stella Casey received rape and death threats after she called for more women to be featured on bank notes.
And Isabella Sorley from Newcastle and John Nimmo from South Shields were jailed after they sent messages to campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.
Another alleged troll is due to face court this month.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 24 Feb 2014
On the same day that the government announced it was scrapping the £180-million-a-year Social Fund for the destitute, a new survey showed that the big US internet companies operating in Britain have increased their UK sales last year by 18 per cent but paid even less tax to the Treasury than the year before.
Apple UK made £1 billion this country in 2011, but paid only £15.7m in tax. Last year its UK turnover rose £1.2bn, but its tax payments vanished to almost nothing – £1.7m, or precisely 0.1 per cent of turnover.
Facebook made £20m in the UK in 2011 and paid an almost invisible £200,000 in tax.
Last year its turnover nearly doubled to £35m, but its tax payments to Britain shrivelled to nothing at all.
Taking all the seven companies together – Apple UK, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo UK, Facebook UK and Amazon UK – their turnover in the UK last year was just under £3bn, but their tax payments totalled just £51m, or 1.7 per cent of turnover.
At the other end of the scale the Social Fund is being wound up by the Tories – something even Thatcher refused to do.
The Social Fund is the last helpline for the poorest families in extreme distress, often brought on by an unexpected financial crisis.
This last-resort lifebelt has been in place for the hardest-hit ever since 1948 and its removal will devastate families, often including children, leaving them literally destitute.
The Tories will no doubt argue that it’s part of the drive to make savings to reduce the budget deficit.
That claim won’t pass muster for two reasons. First, the deficit last year was £111bn, so cutting £180m will save 0.16 per cent – an enormously painful and destructive cut for an utterly minuscule saving.
Second, tackling the corporate tax cheats would be far fairer and produce vastly more money.
So why doesn’t the government get serious about industrial-scale tax avoidance?
Partly because HMRC has been significantly scaled back – and it started under Blair and Brown – as a result of industrial lobbying.
And partly because the Tories get half their annual income each year from the finance sector, so Cameron, Osborne and co aren’t going to touch the biggest tax crooks of all with a bargepole.
Of course the companies will come up with their usual plaintive mantra that they’re complying with the tax laws.
What they mean is they devise the most artificial contrivances they can think of to circumvent the weak and inadequate tax regulations that exist, knowing perfectly well that their practices are aggressively anti-social and contravene the national interest, but as long as they don’t actually fall foul of the letter of the law they have no interest in Britain whatever and will go on feathering their own nests – as well as, of course, the Tories’.
Source – BS News, 09 Jan 2014
I really dont think they’ve thought this through (as usual). Should be good spectator sport for a few days..
— DWP (@DWPgovuk) January 6, 2014
Even David Cameron has been plugging the DWP’s social networking pages, having no doubt been convinced by Employment Minister Esther McVey that she’s down with the kids on the internet. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
On Wednesday Jobcentre Plus busy-body Caroline will be live on facebook lecturing people on how to find work, then on Friday a DWP related twitter account will be hosting a live chat promoting workfare.
Learn how Work Experience can boost your employability from Nisha, Guest Editor on @SouthLondonJobs this Friday during
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