Friday, 3 February 2012

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class: Owen Jones: 9781844676965: Books

Chav: the vile word at the heart of fractured Britain | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian

Chav: the vile word at the heart of fractured Britain

Fostering the loathing of a feral underclass allows public resentment to be diverted from those above to those below

That word slips out. This time it was used by a Lib Dem peer on the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Baroness Hussein-Ece tweeted: "Help. Trapped in a queue in chav land. Woman behind me explaining latest EastEnders plot to mate while eating largest bun I've ever seen." When challenged, she said she hadn't meant chav in any derogatory way. Of course not. But take a look at the venomous class-hate site ChavTowns to see what lies beneath.

She would presumably never say nigger or Paki, but chav is acceptable class abuse by people asserting superiority over those they despise. Poisonous class bile is so ordinary that our future king and his brother played at dressing up and talking funny at a chav party mocking their lower class subjects.

Wrapped inside this little word is the quintessence of Britain's great social fracture. Over the last 30 years the public monstering of a huge slice of the population by luckier, better-paid people has become commonplace. This is language from the Edwardian era of unbridled snobbery. When safely reproduced in Downton Abbey, as the lady sneering at the scullery maid or the landowner bullying his workers, we are encouraged to look back smugly as if these shocking class differences were long gone. The form and style may have changed – but the reality of extreme inequality and self-confident class contempt is back.

That brief period between 1917 and 1979, when British wealth, trembling in fear of revolution, ceded some power, opportunity and money to the working classes is over. There is now no politics to express or admit the enormity of what has happened since the 1980s – how wealth and human respect drained from the bottom to enrich and glorify the top.

Public perception of the shape of society has been so warped that most no longer know how others live, where they stand in relation to the rest, who earns what or why. By deliberate misrepresentation, drip, drip, week after week, the powerful interests of wealth deliberately distort reality. The best weapon in the class armoury fosters loathing of a "feral underclass" – its size vague and never delineated, relying on anecdotes of extreme dysfunction, of which any society has plenty. One sneer cleverly elides millions of low-earning workers in equal chav contempt for all living on an estate, drawing any benefit – even if in work – as cheats, addicts and layabouts. That's the way to divert resentment from those above, to those below.

Here's a prime example. On this quiet bank holiday weekend, Iain Duncan Smith's department deposited a dirty little non-story on the doormat of his favourite newspapers. Headlined "No More Excuses", the press release lists "the 10 top worst excuses used by benefit cheats". They include "I wasn't using the ladder to clean windows, I carried it for my bad back", and "It wasn't me working, it was my identical twin".

There are no figures to say how many people put up the sort of ludicrous pleas heard daily in any magistrate court. Department for Work and Pensions figures are anyway wobbly. Last year David Cameron declared war on benefit fraudsters, calling in special agents to deal with £5.2bn fraud and error in the benefits bill – worth, he said, 200 secondary schools and 150,000 nurses. Cathy Newman's excellent Channel 4 FactCheck found £1.5bn of that was fraud and the rest error.

This latest DWP press release says fraud is now £1.6bn. That's a walloping sum – but let's put it in proportion. It's still only 0.7% of the benefits bill. Many a company would be proud of such a low loss from theft. The attorney general's National Fraud Authority found £38.4bn lost to fraud last year. Most fraud is in the finance industry – £3.6bn – though it's only 9% of the economy. That's more than is stolen in retail – a larger sector. Meanwhile, £15bn was officially caught in tax fraud, while estimated tax avoidance is £70bn.

But never mind, benefit stories are eye-catching and they do the job intended: they make us mean and ungenerous, stifling protest at Duncan Smith's monumental £18bn benefits cut. Such tales spread a wider loathing of a whole perceived class, of anyone on benefits. With most of the poor in work, that includes battalions of the low paid whose miserable pay is topped up by tax credits to stop them starving. But a few choice anecdotes are worth a ton of statistics. That ladder! Ha!

I am on the circulation list for all DWP press releases, so why didn't I get this one and why wasn't this tacky rubbish put up on their website? "We only sent it out to a couple of our key contacts," said the duty press officer yesterday – that was the Mail and the Telegraph. "It was a soft consumer story, a PR story we sold proactively, so we didn't sell it any wider." So that's how Iain Duncan Smith does it these days, "selling" to friendly buyers only.

Anecdotes smearing all on housing benefit or tax credits help make the working class disappear. In his 1997 triumph, Tony Blair declared class over, we're all middle class – except for a "socially excluded" lumpen rump. "The new Britain is a meritocracy," he declared – not as a future goal but as a fact. So who are the 8 million in manual jobs and the 8 million clerks and sales assistants who make up half the workforce?

In my book Hard Work, I reported on the remarkably strong work ethic of those in jobs paying little more than benefits, the carers and cleaners doing essential work well, despite lack of money or respect. In Unjust Rewards, David Walker and I charted how since the decline of the unions people have lost their bearings on class and incomes: the mega-wealthy are clueless about ordinary earnings and even the poor are misled into thinking their pay is quite middling.

Aspiration and social mobility are the useful mirage, laying blame squarely with individuals who should try harder to escape their families and friends, instead of seeking great fairness for all. It suits life's winners to pretend this is a meritocracy: we well-off deserve our luck, anyone can join us if they try.

A superb and angry new book, Chavs by Owen Jones, published next week, pulls together the welter of evidence on the demonisation of the working class. Read it for a strong analysis of the conspiracy to deny the very existence of a working class, even to itself. New Labour colluded with this vanishing act but Ed Miliband's espousal of the "squeezed middle" may be tiptoeing towards giving a voice back to the great disappeared.

• Polly Toynbee has responded in the thread here and here.

• Owen Jones, the author of Chavs, has commented in the thread here.

Workless families: a convenient untruth | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

Workless families: a convenient untruth

A belief in inherited underclass idleness is spreading, but in reality multiple generations who have never worked is very rare

As the Commons debated welfare on Wednesday, Anna Soubry – one of the ablest new Tories – insisted that "often third generation" long-term unemployed could not be "exempt from the real world". A belief in couch-bound idleness as an inherited underclass trait is spreading. Iain Duncan Smith talks of communities in which "three generations of the same family have [often] never worked", and David Cameron punts variants of the same factoid. It is not just Conservatives who believe in estates where the meaning of work has dropped from living memory: Labour's Barry Sheerman recently urged understanding jobless youths in the context of their workless families.

It is not hard to see the appeal, for the right, of stories about "Shameless estates". The coalition's unprecedented benefit cuts require a justification, and the idea that welfare consigns whole communities to the scrapheap strengthens the case for drastic action. Sketching a feral underclass, not moored in ordinary morals or everyday practices such as working, also creates useful political distance between the mainstream and the marginalised, who face the deepest cuts. But for the British left too, so often weirdly nostalgic, there is a certain appeal in tales of hope having been extinguished across swaths of modern society.

The "never-worked families" hypothesis is convenient for ministers and alarmist columnists, but is it in any way true? Important new work from the authoritative CMPO thinktank at Bristol University explores how disadvantage trickles down the generations – but also takes a cool look at the facts. Using the best official data, the research confirms worklessness is a major problem: in 3.7m working-age households, 18% of the total, nobody has a job. But two-generational worklessness is far rarer – workless parents and grown-up children are found together in only 0.9% of households. As for homes with two generations that have never worked, the fraction drops further, to less than 0.1% of the total. Of course there will be some "never-worked" families where children have flown the nest, but the little data available suggests these, too, are uncommon.

The truly double-generation long-term unemployed family is, then, a rare species. As for the politicians' "third-generation" perma-idlers, these are on the critically endangered list – if not entirely fictional. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation set out to identify and investigate 20 such "never-worked" families in deprived Glasgow and Teesside, but it found not a single one. The reality is not permanent idleness, but permanent insecurity. Yes, there are individuals who give up on the jobs market, but most have relatives who flip between low pay and unemployment. It is a complex picture – tough to caricature and tougher to address. But it has the merit of being true.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Hormone Altering Chemicals Found in Brand Name Clothing


Traces of toxic chemicals harmful to the environment and to human health have been detected in products made by 14 top clothing manufacturers, Greenpeace said Tuesday 23rd August 2011.

Samples of clothing from top brands including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren were found to be tainted with the chemicals, known as nonylphenol ethoxylates, the watchdog said at the launch of its report “Dirty Laundry 2“.

Greenpeace campaigner Li Yifang said that nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), commonly used as detergents in industries including the production of natural and synthetic textiles, were detected in two-thirds of the samples the group tested.

“NPEs break down to form nonylphenol, which has toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting properties,” Li told journalists in Beijing.

“It mimics female hormones, alters sexual development and affects reproductive systems.”

Greenpeace said it purchased 78 branded clothing samples — mostly made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines — from 18 countries around the world and subjected them to scientific analysis.

“Even at low levels, it represents a big threat to the environment and human health,” Li said.

“This is not just a problem for the developing countries where textiles are made.

“Since residual levels of NPEs are released when clothes are washed, they are in effect creeping into countries where their use is banned.”

The latest investigation came after Greenpeace last month published “Dirty Laundry”, in which it accused the manufacturers of well-known textile brands of polluting major rivers in China with chemical waste.

Following the publication, brands including Puma and Nike pledged to eliminate all toxic chemicals from their manufacturing processes by 2020, Li said.

To download the full report click here

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    2020 is a total cop-out. They might as well not bother. We need to stop buying new clothes, there’s already more than enough!

Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry | Greenpeace International

Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry

Unravelling the toxic trail from pipes to products

Publication - August 23, 2011
Research commissioned by Greenpeace International has revealed that clothing and certain fabric-based shoes sold internationally by major clothing brands are manufactured using nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). NPEs -- which are used as surfactants in textile production -- subsequently break down to form toxic nonylphenol (NP). Nonylphenol is a persistent chemical with hormone-disrupting properties that builds up in the food chain, and is hazardous even at very low levels.

The investigation involved the analysis of 78 articles of sports and recreational clothing and shoes bearing the logos of 15 leading clothing brands.

Greenpeace is calling on the brands and suppliers identified in this investigation, and our previous Dirty Laundry report, to become champions for a toxic-free future – by eliminating all releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and their products.

Governments also have a crucial role to play. To this end, Greenpeace is calling on governments to work towards the elimination of all releases of hazardous chemicals by adopting a political commitment to 'zero discharge' of all hazardous chemicals within one generation, based on the precautionary principle and a preventative approach to chemicals management.

Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry


Occupy Oakland supporters claim authorities used excessive force and violated their rights - San Jose Mercury News

Click photo to enlarge

Karen Hancock, of Oakland, speaks during a press conference held by Occupy Oakland in front of...

Authorities beat and violated the rights of people arrested Saturday during Occupy Oakland demonstrations, supporters said Wednesday in front of City Hall, where four days earlier police armed with rubber bullets and tear gas clashed with protesters hurling projectiles and rocks.

The melee led to the largest mass arrest in Alameda County since an anti-nuclear demonstration in 1982.

None of the people who said they were injured over the weekend appeared Wednesday. But videos online showed police firing into the crowds and slugging protesters with batons. Several police officers were injured.

Some supporters who spoke Wednesday described chaos at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Officials there were caught off guard by the number of arrested protesters that flooded the facility beginning late Saturday.

Angel Castellon, a 19-year-old Oakland resident, said she was arrested in front of the YMCA, where police corralled protesters about 6 p.m. Saturday, and then taken to Santa Rita Jail about 1 a.m. Sunday. She sat on the sidewalk for seven hours in plastic handcuffs and was finally able to wiggle her hands free to relieve the discomfort of having her arms held behind her back. She said she was not booked until Monday morning and that deputies at the jail threatened to detain her longer after she demanded to know why she was being held so long after being cited.

Another man, Joshua Clover, 49, of Berkeley, said he was held at the

jail until Sunday night -- more than 24 hours after being detained outside the YMCA -- without access to a liquid antacid to treat the pain from a perforated peptic ulcer -- until an attorney intervened.

"(The deputies) were sitting there," Clover said. "Sometimes, they had coffee. Occasionally, they left their post to go to the bathroom."

But he and others at Santa Rita Jail over the weekend described seeing deputies throw people to the ground and deny others access to medication.

The staff at times either ignored requests for attention or said they couldn't provide medication because the protesters were not being booked into the general population, according to Clover, Castellon and others. Clover said sometimes Santa Rita Jail staff members simply chose not to process people for hours at a time.

Sheriff's spokesman J.D. Nelson said the protesters had access to the care they needed, but agreed it took a long time to process people; 409 people were arrested Saturday.

Their rights to access attorneys and receive adequate medical attention, among other rights, were violated in many cases, Carey Lamprecht, of the National Lawyers Guild, said Tuesday. Most should have been cited and released on misdemeanor charges by Tuesday, she said.

Nelson said 110 were booked at North County Jail in Oakland and released within 12 hours.

Authorities decided to divert an additional 251 people to Santa Rita Jail because protesters surrounded North County Jail, Nelson said.

"It took a long time. No question about it," he said. "Was there anything unprofessional done? No."

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has filed 12 criminal charges. The city issued stay-away orders to others, which National Lawyers Guild attorneys said they will challenge.

Save Gary Mckinnon who is Autistic from Extradition to USA for Hacking Nasa in search for UFO's.

61 signatures collected. Help us get to 1,000

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Why this is important

Gary Mckinnon is part Autistic spectrum and was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome In August 2008, McKinnon was diagnosed by three of the world's leading experts (Professor Simon Baron-Cohen)

We, the Undersigned call on Nick Clegg and David Cameron to keep their pre-election promise to stop the Extradition of Gary Mckinnon and to give his family their life back. If Gary is to be tried he should be tried at Home by a jury of his own peers. All the details of Garys Case are in the Public domain and both of the current UK Leaders supported Gary's fight before they were elected. The US Government via President Obama himself have said they will 'accept the decision of the UK'.

We believe Gary Mckinnon should be tried fairly in UK and to put an end to the misery caused to him and hes family, Gary Mckinnon has Aspergers one of the key traits of people with AS is obsessive interests those of which led him on a journey to seek out UFO information.

Gary did not hack any computers they didn't have any passwords set, anyone with Aspergers and interested in UFO's would of been curious enough to browse Nasa's open doors.

Cap MPs Salaries at £26,000 - e-petitions


Cap MPs Salaries at £26,000

Responsible department: Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

With the government insisting that there should be a benefit cap of £26,000, in line with the 'average' UK wage, we believe that they should demonstrate how 'we're all in this together' by way of capping MPs salaries to match.

Anonymous - The First Message of 2012 - YouTube

European cold snap - YouTube

Mashable - The Social Media Guide

Facebook Files for $5 Billion IPO

Facebook just filed the preliminary prospectus for its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO).

As rumored, the company is seeking to raise $5 billion. If Facebook manages to raise this capital, it will be on a shortlist of biggest tech IPOs of all time.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley will act as lead underwriter, with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and others to take secondary positions. Shares are expected to hit the market in May.

For longtime followers of the social network, this is an exciting time and a culmination of the site’s eight-year rise from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to world domination.

Additional Facebook IPO Coverage

The full S-1 filing is available here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Garbage Island - YouTube

Rochdale News | News Headlines | Rental hike for homeless accommodation and traveller site - Rochdale Online

Rental hike for homeless accommodation and traveller site

Date published: 31 January 2012

The rental price for homelessness service accommodation units in Rochdale and the pitches and chalet accommodation at the Roch Vale Caravan Park is to increase by 8.10 per cent.

Councillors agreed the rise at a cabinet meeting held on Monday (30 January).

The report presented to Cabinet states: “The rental charges for pitches and chalet accommodation at the Roch Vale Caravan Park and each of the Homelessness Units - Leopold Court, Great Howarth and the dispersed flats - are recommended to be increased by 8.10 per cent in line with the proposed average rent increase for Council properties.”

The weekly rental charges will be increased as follows: 

  • Roch Vale Pitches – from £79.72 to £86.18
  • Roch Vale Chalets – from £47.83 to £57.10
  • Leopold Court – from £224.32 to £242.49
  • Great Howarth – from £230.51 to £249.19
  • Dispersed flats – from £178.68 to £193.15
  • Dispersed flats with card meters – from £178.68 to £193.15 

The report presented to Councillors adds: “In order to ensure that sufficient resources are available for homeless accommodation charges are reviewed annually.”

The Copwatch Database is a permanent, searchable repository of complaints filed against police officers.

Welcome to

The COPWATCH DATABASE is now open to the general public...


The Copwatch Database is a permanent, searchable repository of complaints filed against police officers. 

It was designed and intended both to promote public safety and to ensure that police officers remain accountable for their actions.

The archives have not yet been ported to this program, and thus at the present time it is unlikely that you will find detailed information pertaining to any given individual for whom you may be searching.  Importation of our existing files into this program will be completed in the near future.  In the meantime, previously unfiled complaints are being accepted here.

If you would like to report an incident for permanent inclusion in the database, please follow these instructions:

        1) Gather all the relevant information (names, dates, times, citation numbers, etc.) before you begin;

        2) Include as many relevant details as possible;

        3) Describe what occurred as precisely as possible;

        4) Use a word-processing program to compose any lengthy passages you enter into the database (use your spellchecker), and save those passages on your  hard drive.

        5) You will be asked an extensive series of questions.  Only answer those that are applicable to your situation- ignore the rest.  Take your time and be very thorough.  It is a lengthy process, but the details you provide may well make the difference between a believable, effective complaint and a complaint that will be tossed in the trash.  If you want the offending officer to receive more than a slap on the wrist, treat this questionnaire like a college entrance exam.

NOTE:  You must use a valid email address to register.  Hotmail and Yahoo accounts are not accepted.

PRIVACY POLICY:  Unless you expressly indicate otherwise, your name, address, phone number, and email address will NOT be made available to the public.



Proceed to

Proceed to the Copwatch Database...


What's wrong with the concept of Gypsy status?

In this article Marc Willers assesses if the Government's proposal for ‘Gypsy status’ is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

What's wrong with the concept of Gypsy status?

by Marc Willers

1. Government planning policy requires that Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers must demonstrate that they have what has been termed ‘Gypsy status’ before they can obtain planning permission for a caravan site. In order to prove an entitlement to Gypsy status a person must show that s/he travels for an economic purpose or has ceased to do so on grounds of old age, ill-health, or for the education of children. In this blog I provide a brief history of the evolution of the concept of ‘Gypsy status’ and assess whether the current definition is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The evolution of the concept of Gypsy status

2. When Parliament first legislated on the provision of caravan sites for Gypsies and Travellers it defined ‘Gypsies’ not on grounds of ethnicity but as meaning:

‘… persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, but does not include members of an organised group of travelling showmen, or persons engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such’.

3. Significantly, in Greenwich LBC v Powell (1989), Lord Bridge of Harwich stated that a person could be a statutory Gypsy if he led a nomadic way of life only seasonally.

4. The definition was widened further by the decision in R v Shropshire CC ex p Bungay (1990). The case concerned a Gypsy family that had not travelled for some 15 years in order to care for its elderly and infirm parents. An aggrieved resident living in the area of the family’s recently approved Gypsy site sought judicial review of the local authority’s decision to accept that the family had retained their Gypsy status even though they had not travelled for some considerable time. Dismissing the claim, the judge held that a person could remain a Gypsy even if he or she did not travel, provided that their nomadism was held in abeyance and not abandoned.

5. That point was revisited in the case of Hearne v National Assembly for Wales (1999), where a traditional Gypsy was held not to be a Gypsy for the purposes of planning law as he had stated that he intended to abandon his nomadic habit of life, lived in a permanent dwelling and was taking a course that led to permanent employment.

6. Then, in R v South Hams DC ex p Gibb (1994), the Court of Appeal considered the statutory definition further and qualified it by holding that there should be some recognisable connection between the travelling of those claiming to be Gypsies and the means whereby they made or sought their livelihood:

‘… the definition of ‘Gypsies’ … imports the requirement that there should be some recognisable connection between the wandering or travelling and the means whereby the persons concerned make or seek their livelihood. Persons, or individuals, who move from place to place merely as the fancy may take them and without any connection between the movement and their means of livelihood fall outside these statutory definitions …’

7. The latter part of the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the statutory

definition of ‘Gypsy’ involves a consideration of whether the individual concerned travels to seek or make their livelihood and this point has been considered further in a number of cases.

8. For example, in Maidstone BC v Secretary of State for the Environment and Dunn (2006), it was held that a Romani Gypsy who bred horses and travelled to horse fairs at Appleby, Stow-in-the-Wold and the New Forest, where he bought and sold horses, and who remained away from his permanent site for up to two months of the year, at least partly in connection with this traditional Gypsy activity, was entitled to be accorded Gypsy status.

9. More recently, in the Court of Appeal case of Wrexham CBC v The National Assembly for Wales and Berry (2003), Auld LJ gave the following guidance to decision makers on the approach that should be taken when determining the issue:

‘(2) Whether applicants for planning permission are of a ‘nomadic way of life’ as a matter of planning law and policy is a functional test to be applied to their normal way of life at the time of the determination. Are they at that time following such a habit of life in the sense of a pattern and/or a rhythm of full time or seasonal or other periodic travelling? The fact that they may have a permanent base from which they set out on, and to which they return from, their periodic travelling may not deprive them of nomadic status. …

(3) Where, as here, a question is raised before a Planning Inspector as to whether applicants for planning permission are ‘gypsies’ for the purpose of planning law and policy, he should: (i) clearly direct himself to, and identify, the statutory and policy meaning of that word; and (ii) as a second and separate exercise, decide by reference to that meaning on the facts of the case whether the applicants fall within it …

(4) In making the second, factual, decision whether applicants for planning permission are gypsies, the first and most important question is whether they are – to use a neutral expression – actually living a travelling life, whether seasonal or periodic in some other way, at the time of the determination. If they are not, then it is a matter of fact and degree whether the current absence of travelling means that they have not acquired or no longer follow a nomadic habit of life.

(5) On such an issue of fact and degree, the decision-maker may find any one or more of the following circumstances relevant and, if so, of varying weight: (i) the fact that the applicants do or do not come from a traditional gypsy background and/or have or have not followed a nomadic way of life in the past – the possible relevance in either case being that respectively they may be less or more likely to give it up for very long or to abandon it entirely; (ii) the fact that the applicants do or do not have an honest and realistically realisable intention of resuming travelling and, if they do, how soon and in what circumstances; (iii) the reason or reasons for the applicants not living a travelling way of life at the time of the determination and their likely duration’.

10. Whilst those points set out in the Wrexham judgment seem perfectly logical matters for the decision maker to take into account, the Court of Appeal’s conclusion in that case - namely that an elderly Romani Gypsy who had been forced to retire from travelling for work on grounds of old age and ill health should no longer be entitled to Gypsy status - led to the Government issuing a revised definition of Gypsy status in Circular 1/06.

11. Paragraph 15 of Circular 1/06 states that:

‘For the purposes of this Circular “gypsies and travellers” means

Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people travelling together as such.’

and anyone seeking permission for a Gypsy site who falls within that definition is entitled to Gypsy status and can rely upon the advice in Circular 1/06.

12. It is clear that the Circular 1/06 definition of Gypsy status focuses upon ‘nomadism’ rather than ‘ethnicity’. Whilst it enables those that have given up a nomadic habit of life for reasons of health, education and old age to claim entitlement to Gypsy status it does not cater for those ethnic Gypsies and Travellers who have given up a nomadic habit of life for other reasons but would wish to continuing living in caravans and/or have a ‘cultural aversion to bricks and mortar’.

13. In both McCann v SSCLG and Basildon (2009) and Wingrove v SSCLG and Mendip DC (2009) an argument that the Circular 1/06 definition breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the ‘Convention’), in that it fails to accord the traditional way of life of ethnic Gypsies and Travellers (an integral party of which involves living in caravans) sufficient respect, was rejected. The same point was also rejected in the case of Medhurst v SSCLG and TMBC (2011) unreported – though the decision in that case is subject to appeal.

What’s wrong with the current definition?

14. It will be appreciated that the current definition places ethnic Gypsies and Travellers in a ‘catch 22’ situation. They have to demonstrate that they travel for an economic purposes (or have ceased doing so on one of the 3 specific grounds) in order to be afforded Gypsy status and benefit from the positive advice in Circular 1/06 - at a time when, in the absence of sufficient stopping places and in the face of the draconian legislation contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, it is extremely difficult to pursue a nomadic habit of life (whether seasonally or at all).

15. The requirement that a Romani Gypsy or Irish Traveller has to show that s/he is living a nomadic habit of life (or has ceased doing so on one of 3 specific grounds) does not cater for those ethnic Gypsies and Travellers who have taken up settled employment and ceased travelling for that reason but wish to continue living in accordance with their traditional way of life.

16. As a consequence a Romani Gypsy or Irish Traveller will placed in the invidious position of being forced to choose between pursuing employment which would necessitate living in one place (perhaps as a teacher, healthcare professional or lawyer) or foregoing such employment so as to be able to seek planning permission for a Gypsy site.

17. Thus, the concept of Gypsy status can be seen to restrict those ethnic Gypsies and Travellers who wish to continue living in caravans to low paid and manual work of the sort that has traditionally been undertaken by members of the Travelling community. Ethnic Gypsies and Travellers should not placed in such a predicament and should have the ability to pursue any career they choose without fear of being disenfranchised when it comes to seeking planning permission for a Gypsy site.

18. In addition, it seems to me that the current definition renders it very difficult for a Romani Gypsy or Irish Traveller to obtain Gypsy status and benefit from the positive advice in Circular 1/06 when seeking planning permission if s/he has been forced into conventional bricks and mortar accommodation due to the scarcity of lawful sites and has ceased travelling for that reason.

19. Moreover, the requirement indirectly discriminates against single women who cannot bring themselves within the 3 specific grounds because they are very unlikely to travel for work (for both cultural and practical reasons). In my view there is no justification for them being subjected to such treatment.

20. Notwithstanding the decisions in McCann, Wingrove and Medhurst I take the view that the current definition of Gypsy status does not pay sufficient respect to the traditional way of life of those ethnic Gypsies and Travellers falling within the categories that I have identified above.

21. There is, in my view, no necessity for the current restriction on the width of the definition (after all the meaning of 'Gypsies and Travellers' used for the purposes of assessing need in compliance with section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 is wider and includes ‘persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or of living in a caravan’) and I consider it to be incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention. Given the fact that the current definition also discriminates against women then I consider that it could also be argued that it offends Article 14 of the Convention.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the Government amends the definition of the term ‘gypsies and travellers’ in Circular 1/06 (and any replacement planning guidance) so that it conforms with the Housing Act 2004 definition and expressly includes all ‘persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or of living in a caravan’ as well as those who are able to show that they have a nomadic habit of life or have ceased travelling for one of the 3 permissible grounds.

I would also suggest that it is about time that the Government uses capitals when referring to Gypsies and Travellers in policy and legislation!

Marc Willers

17th January 2012

BBC iPlayer - Panorama: Secrets of the Tory Billionaire

Alcohol revealed as main gateway drug - News - Galway Independent

Alcohol revealed as main gateway drug

Posted on 31/01/2012
by Marie Madden

A new report from the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children shows that alcohol – rather than cannabis – is our main gateway drug.


That’s according to Labour City Councillor Niall McNelis, who said the Report on The Misuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs shows “how serious a problem we have to tackle”.


Cllr McNelis, who is also a member of the Galway Healthy Cities Committee, said that city resources are being wasted each night on alcohol related incidents at a time when services in the city and county are under-funded.


“Galway emergency departments, garda resources and youth mental health are all being affected,” he said. 


Cllr McNelis also suggested that people often think of cannabis as a gateway drug, but that is not necessarily true.


“In the process of compiling this report, the committee have clearly seen that the misuse of alcohol can be a slippery slope to moving on to other illegal drugs.


“The report recommends a ban on advertising heavily discounted alcohol products, and suggests that alcohol shouldn’t be advertised on TV before 9pm,” he said.


The report also advises that the Government should look at banning alcohol advertising on social networking websites, such as Facebook.


“We believe that advertisers are targeting people under the age of 18, and that has to stop,” said Cllr McNelis.


“Access to alcohol is also identified as a problem. We need to change the situation in Ireland whereby people can easily buy drink as part of their weekly shop - it’s a powerful drug and it’s too easily available.


“I want to see a situation where customers have to use a separate entrance if they’re going to the off-licence. You shouldn’t be able to buy a litre of vodka as easily as a litre of milk. We shouldn’t be able to buy alcohol by influence or by accident.


Another issue raised by the report identifies concerns in relation to prescribing patterns of benzodiazepines and Cllr McNelis has said it seems that there are cases where pills are being used to “sedate people, rather than tackling the wider social issues”.


“I would welcome feedback on this report from the various groups in Galway, be they retailers, publicans and the general public. What we have here are a set of suggestions as to how this government can tackle the problems with drink and drugs in this country. I am pleased to see the report published and now we have to work on seeing what recommendations can be carried out.”



Publié le Tuesday 31 January 2012 13:01, by encod . modifié le Tuesday 31 January 2012 13:01

All the versions of this article: [English[Español[italiano[slovenĨina




In Italy the war on drugs has been quite effective in brutalizing some sectors of the population, including many in our prisons and penal system. The Fini-Giovanardi law of 2006 has abolished any policy difference between heroin and cannabis, and the latter has since become the main targeted substance, accounting for 70% of all drug prosecutions. The horror pictures of some of the victims of abuses have been circulating in the world’s media, and the plight of families of the victims now constitutes an important part of our political work. Moreover, our jail system is about to explode and large areas of Italy are under the influence of criminal organizations.

These are probably the reasons why Italian drug policy reform groups consider the 55th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (to be held from the 10th to the 16th of March, 2012 in Vienna) as the starting point of a voyage that will take humankind towards the end of the prohibitionist world.

We can now see that the people who don’t like the ominous trends in our world are precisely the ones who will be able to change it, and that this critical mass can become a majority. Last but not least, injustice now has a name and an address and that’s the Vienna International Center in the Wagramstrasse. Democracy in drug policy has been surrendered by most public institutions including the European Union and the United Nations. Drug policy has been turned into an evidence free area.

My country has been recently been affected by a sort of coup d’etat that has hollowed out our democracy, putting our country under the surveillance of the European Central Bank and creating a regime of shock economy controlled by prohibition, big pharma, the mafia, the Vatican and other big powers.

Italy seems totally incapable of solving many dilemmas like the overfilled prisons. The executive doesn’t want to normalize the drug markets, among the richest in Europe. A measure that, according to prof. Marco Rossi of the University of Rome, could have incredible benefits for our budget. But such an action might sound too reasonable since the government has even decided to skip the idea of taxing tens of thousands of profit oriented catholic institutions while large numbers of prisoners of the war on drugs are held in cells with less than 3,5 square meters at their disposal, only half of the legally required space they are entitled to.

Fear is one of the most powerful weapons of the system. In Italy it has become a “virus that produces sickness and profits” thanks to the 4000 new HIV positive cases. This presents a golden opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry, denounced by dr. Agnoletto of the Italian Aids League Lila who told the press that harm reduction measures have been ignored for the sake of profits.

It is no wonder that many NGOs are involved in these affairs and that international power groups have made possible the nomination of Mr. Andrea Riccardi as Minister for Integration and Drug Policies in the new Italian government. He seems to fit totally in this entanglement as founder of the Community of St. Egidio, the informal seat of the United Nations in Rome and internationally known for his strong involvement in Africa.

His company launched the program Dream, Drug Enhancement Against Malaria and Malnutrition, whose center in Malawi carries out male circumcision on the children. Their policy of male circumcision claims to have reduced by 60% the risk of transmission of HIV infection because "to bring children to circumcision today means to have significantly fewer people who will become infected by HIV tomorrow.”

Everybody knows as a matter of fact that most strategical means of prevention are ignored on purpose by the Catholic Church and that yearly 5,8 million people become HIV positive or die of Aids also because of the efforts by the Catholic Church to keep hindering any step apt to improve sex and drug education.

According to Dream, circumcision represents “another piece of the jigsaw to support the dream of raising a healthy generation in Africa and build a future in which HIV infection is defeated.” It sounds just like the other faith assisted programs supported by the Community at high level meetings of the UN.

The interesting thing is that the proclaimed enhancement or pushing of pharmaceutical drugs goes along with a mix of “armed assistance”. According to the daily ’Il Manifesto’, Mr Riccardi has ”ever since succeeded into combining weapons and solidarity making it possible that the Italian manufactures can sell huge amounts of weapons to the same countries involved in the humanitarian aid actions". That strategy of mutual support enables the war industry to proudly announce that “solidarity has no border. Whether geographical, nor political nor religious”.

The project is also financed by the main banks involved the arm trade while Dream is also sponsored by Glaxo, Boehringer, Merck and Farmindustria. All of them belong to the 39 companies that sued South Africa when encouraging the local companies to produce low cost Aids medicines.

The case of Italy and its relationship to Africa shows how the war on drugs is connected with its so called unattended consequences with the many interests of the international cooperation, big pharma and the war industry to increase sufference and pain and not to reduce the causes.

By: Enrico Fletzer

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The Supreme Court


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Access to The Supreme Court building: 1 & 2 Feb 2012

Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority appeal hearing

10 Jan 2012

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Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Crystal Clear app kedit.svg
This article may be in need of reorganization to comply with Wikipedia's layout guidelines. Please help by editing the article to make improvements to the overall structure. (December 2011)
Assange v The Swedish Judicial Authority
Court Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Judges sitting Lord Phillips of Worth MatraversLord Walker of GestingthorpeBaroness Hale of RichmondLord Brown of Eaton-under-HeywoodLord ManceLord Kerr of TonaghmoreLord Dyson
Case history
Prior action(s) Assange v The Swedish Judicial Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin) (2 November 2011)
Appealed from Administrative Court (Sir John Thomas POuseley J)
Appealed to Supreme Court

Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange is the set of legal proceedings relating to claims that Julian Assange committed sexual offences in Sweden.

When an arrest warrant was issued in November 2010, Assange had been living in England for 1-2 months. An extradition hearing took place in an English court in February 2011 to consider an application by Swedish authorities for the extradition of Assange to Sweden. The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld. Assange appealed to the High Court, and on 2 November 2011, the court upheld the extradition decision and rejected all four grounds for the appeal as presented by Assange's legal representatives. £19,000 costs was also awarded against Assange. On 5 December 2011, Assange was refused permission by the High Court to appeal to the Supreme Court. The High Court certified that his case raised a point of law of general public importance. The Supreme Court subsequently granted permission to appeal.[1] Assange denies the allegations, and remains on conditional bail in the United Kingdom.[2][3][4]



[edit]Swedish investigation

[edit]Complaints and investigation

On 20 August 2010, two women came to Swedish police inquiring whether it was possible to require that Julian Assange be submitted to an HIV-test. Within the filed report, the police officers found signs of sexual misconduct. In response, the police opened an investigation.[5] The women involved were a 26-year-old inEnköping and a 31-year-old in Stockholm.[6]

In answer to questions surrounding the incidents, the following day, Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné declared, "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape." However, Karin Rosander, from the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Assange remained suspected of molestation. Police gave no further comment at that time, but continued to investigate.[7]

After learning of the investigation, Assange said, "The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing."[8]

On 30 August, he was questioned by the Stockholm police.[2][9] He denied the allegations, saying he had consensual sexual encounters with the two women.[8][10][11]

Claes Borgström, the attorney who represents the two women, appealed against the decision to drop part of the investigation.[6][12] On 1 September 2010, the Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny decided to resume the preliminary investigation concerning all of the original allegations. [13]

[edit]Arrest warrant

On 18 August 2010, Assange applied for a work and residence permit in Sweden.[14][15] He left Sweden on 27 September 2010.[16] On 18 October 2010, his request was denied.[15][14][17]

On 18 November 2010, prosecutor Marianne Ny asked the local district court for a warrant for the arrest of Assange in order for him to be interviewed by the prosecutor.[18] As he was now living in England, the court ordered him detained (häktad) in absentia.[19][20] On appeal, the Svea Court of Appeal upheld the warrant on suspicion of rape, olaga tvång(duress/unlawful coercion), and two cases of sexuellt ofredande,[21][22][23][24] which has been variously translated as "sexual molestation",[25] "sexual assault",[26] "sexual misconduct", "sexual annoyance", "sexual unfreedom", "sexual misdemeanour", and "sexual harassment".[27][28][17][22][23] The Supreme Court of Sweden decided not to consider a further appeal as no principle was at stake.[citation needed][29] On 6 December 2010, Scotland Yard notified Assange that a valid European arrest warrant had been received.[30]

Assange has not yet been formally charged with any offence;[31] the prosecutor said that, in accordance with the Swedish legal system, formal charges will be laid only after extradition and a second round of questioning.

[edit]Extradition process

[edit]First instance proceedings

[edit]Detention and bail

Assange presented himself to the Metropolitan Police the next morning and was remanded to London's Wandsworth Prison[32] On 16 December, he was granted bail[33] with bail conditions of residence at Ellingham Hall, Norfolk and wearing of an electronic tag. Bail was set at £240,000 surety with a deposit of £200,000 ($312,700).[34]

On release on bail, Assange said "I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter,"[35] and told the BBC, "This has been a very successful smear campaign and a very wrong one."[36] He claimed that the extradition proceedings to Sweden were "actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US." Swedish prosecutors have denied the case has anything to do with WikiLeaks.[34]

[edit]Extradition hearing

The extradition hearing took place on 7–8 and 11 February 2011 before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London.[37][38] Assange's lawyers at the extradition hearing were Geoffrey Robertson QC and Mark Stephens (solicitor), human rights specialists, and the prosecution was represented by a team led by Clare Montgomery QC.[39] Arguments were presented as to whether the Swedish prosecutor had the authority to issue a European Arrest Warrant, the extradition was requested for prosecution or interrogation, the alleged crimes qualified as extradition crimes, there was an abuse of process, his human rights would be respected, and he would receive a fair trial if extradited to Sweden.

[edit]Extradition decision

The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld.[29][40][41] Senior District Judge Howard Riddle found against Assange on each of the main arguments against his extradition.[42] The judge said "as a matter of fact, and looking at all the circumstances in the round, this person (Mr Assange) passes the threshold of being an accused person and is wanted for prosecution."[42] Judge Riddle concluded: "I am satisfied that the specified offences are extradition offences."[42]

Assange commented after the decision to extradite him, saying "It comes as no surprise but is nevertheless wrong. It comes as the result of a European arrest warrant system run amok."[43]

[edit]Appeal to the High Court

On 2 March 2011, Assange's lawyers lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging the decision to extradite him to Sweden.[44] Assange remains on conditional bail.[44][45] The appeal hearing took place on 12 and 13 July 2011 at the High Court in London. The judges' decision was reserved, and a written judgment was delivered on 2 November 2011, dismissing the appeal.[46][47][48][49]

[edit]Appeal to the Supreme Court

The High Court refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but this was granted by the Supreme Court itself, after the High Court certified that a point of law of general public importance was involved in its decision. The point of law certified was whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on 1 and 2 February 2012.[50]

[edit]See also


  1. ^ "Julian Assange wins right to pursue extradition fight". The BBC. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  2. a b "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange questioned by police". The Guardian. 31 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Tell-All on WikiLeaks' Assange Coming out in March". ABC News. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Wikileaks' Assange appeals over Sweden arrest warrant". BBC News. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Sex accusers boasted about their 'conquest' of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange". The Times of India. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  6. a b Cody, Edward (9 September 2010). "WikiLeaks stalled by Swedish inquiry into allegations of rape by founder Assange". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Swedish rape warrant for Wikileaks' Assange cancelle". BBC. 21 August 2010.
  8. a b Davies, Caroline (22 August 2010). "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denies rape allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  9. ^ "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange questioned by police". The Guardian. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  10. ^ Leigh, David; Harding, Luke; Hirsch, Afua; MacAskill, Ewen (30 November 2010)."WikiLeaks: Interpol issues wanted notice for Julian Assange". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Assange charges: Consensual sex or rape?". 8 December 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  12. ^ "Julian Assange rape accusations: timeline". Telegraph. 24 Feb 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
  13. ^ "Chronology - Aklagarmyndigheten". 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  14. a b "Timeline: sexual allegations against Assange in Sweden". BBC News. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  15. a b "Assange denied Swedish residence permit". The Local - Sweden. 18 October. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  16. ^ Esther Addley (8 February 2011). "Julian Assange's accusers sent texts discussing revenge, court hears". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  17. a b "Rundle: timeline of Assange’s visit to Sweden and events that followed". Crikey. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  18. ^ "Prosecutor wants arrest of Julian Assange for rape". The Swedish Wire. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  19. ^ "Assanges häktning avgörs i dag" (in Swedish). Expressen. Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  20. ^ "Arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder". The Local. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  21. ^ "Hovrätten fastställer häktningsbeslut". 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  22. a b Vinthagen Simpson, Peter (24 November 2010). "Swedish court rejects Assange appeal". The Local. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  23. a b "Chronology: Events concerning Julian Assange in chronological order". Åklagarmyndigheten. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  24. ^ Hosenball, Mark (7 December 2010). "Special Report: STD fears sparked case against WikiLeaks boss". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  25. ^ In the Certified European Arrest Warrant of 6 December 2010
  26. ^ In the Extradition Ruling of 24 February 2011
  27. ^ "Did he or didn't he? The murky politics of sex and consent". 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  28. ^ Mackey, Robert (2010-08-23). "Swedish Prosecutor Hopes to Conclude Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder Soon -". Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  29. a b Dodd, Vikram (8 December 2010). "Julian Assange extradition attempt an uphill struggle, says specialist". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  30. ^ Verkaik, Robert (7 December 2010). "Arrest warrant on Assange to be served today". The Independent. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  31. ^ Nick Davies (17 December 2010). "10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  32. ^ Addley, Esther (17 December 2010). "Q&A: Julian Assange allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  33. ^ Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange, [2010] EWHC 3473 (Admin), 2010 WL5093971
  34. a b "Extradition part of 'smear campaign': Assange". The Local. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  35. ^ Coles, Isabel; Ormsby, Avril (16 December 2010). "WikiLeaks' Assange walks free on bail in London". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 16 December 2010.
  36. ^ Ormsby, Avril (17 December 2010). "WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says he is victim of smear campaign". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  37. ^ "Besieged Assange hires PR team". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 January 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  38. ^ Addley, Esther (11 January 2011). "WikiLeaks: Julian Assange 'faces execution or Guantánamo detention'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  39. ^ "Lawyer: WikiLeaks Founder Cannot Get Fair Trial in Sweden". Voice of America. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  40. ^ Jeffery, Simon (8 February 2011). "Julian Assange extradition hearing – final day live updates". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  41. ^ "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused bail". BBC News. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  42. a b c Coleman, Clive (24 February 2011). "Wikileaks' Julian Assange handed 'resounding defeat'". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  43. ^ Addley, Esther; Topping, Alexandra (24 February 2011). "Julian Assange attacks 'rubber-stamp' warrant as he loses extradition battle". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  44. a b Meikle, James (3 March 2011). "Julian Assange lodges extradition appeal". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  45. ^ Gordon, PA, Cathy (3 March). "WikiLeaks' Assange appeals against UK extradition". Reuters. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  46. ^ Assange v. Swedish Prosecution Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin)
  47. ^ "Assange case set for July". The Independent. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011.[dead link]
  48. ^ "Wikileaks' Julian Assange extradition decision deferred". BBC News. 13 July 2011.
  49. ^ Booth, Robert; Addley, Esther (28 October 2011). "Julian Assange extradition judgment due on Wednesday". The Guardian.
  50. ^ "News Release: Application for Permission to Appeal: Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority". Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. 16 December 2011.

[edit]External links

sv:Julian Assange#Misstankar om sexualbrott

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