Daily Archives: November 26, 2015

G4S categorically states: Theresa May’s husband is NOT an officer, director or shareholder

Vehement: These are just a few of the tweets coming from G4S regarding the claims.

Vehement: These are just a few of the tweets coming from G4S regarding the claims.

Security firm G4S has vehemently denied that Theresa May’s husband has any involvement with it, following claims on this blog and many, many others.

As you can see from the image above, the company tried to contact This Writer via Twitter in order to discuss the Vox Political article. I don’t give out any personal telephone numbers on public media like Twitter but I did get back in touch to suggest the company should make a statement regarding the situation, its origins, and why it has been allowed to roll on for more than three years.

The first article This Writer could discover linking G4S with Mr May was in July 2012. It has since been removed and in the absence of any solid evidence, VP‘s article has also been taken down.

However, it should be noted that G4S has made no official statement – beyond the tweets – and did not get back to me.

It seems clear that the allegation cannot be supported at this time. It may have been a mistake; it may have been a practical joke. If so, it has worked extremely well, because not only has This Writer been taken in by it but many more, across the social media, over that more-than-three-year period.

This Blog regrets the error and apologises for any inconvenience – but notes that the misapprehension under which so many of us have been labouring could have been avoided if the company had taken appropriate steps to clarify the situation back in 2012.

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Did anyone tell Iain Duncan Smith about the first duty of government?

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

According to David Cameron, the UK government’s first duty is “to keep the British people safe”.

Does that duty not extend to the Department for Work and Pensions and its genocidal secretary of state, Iain Duncan Smith, then?

Only in the last few months, we’ve had revelations that thousands of people have died after being found fit for work by his silly ‘capability assessments’ – while they were still on the DWP’s books.

We don’t know how many thousands have died after being cut off from benefit, but several coroners have blamed the DWP for such deaths and there’s no reason to believe many, many more haven’t been overlooked.

My own researches have revealed that the work capability assessment pushes people to their deaths – in three months after repeat assessments for ESA claimants were suspended, 156 fewer people died than the average over the years before.

A major study by Oxford and Liverpool Universities has demonstrated that the work capability assessment increases mental illness and suicide among benefit claimants.

And there are constant fears that winter hardship payments will be removed – even after it was revealed that more people died last winter than at any time since 1999/2000.

Iain Duncan Smith is responsible for the deaths of more UK citizens than any terrorist.

But he still walks free.

So much for Cameron’s “first responsibility”.

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Iain Duncan Smith suffers court defeat on benefits cap

Vindictive animal: Iain Duncan Smith.

This is a reprieve, not a victory, I fear.

Iain Duncan Smith is a vindictive animal and, where victimising the vulnerable is concerned, he takes any setback to heart.

We – and I include myself in this because I am a carer – can expect him to come back with another attempt to penalise people who help the sick and disabled.

And he’ll probably rig the timing so it happens when we’re least able to respond.

We must be vigilant.

Iain Duncan Smith suffered a major defeat today when the High Court ruled the benefits cap should not apply to unpaid carers.

The Court has ruled that family carers who receive Carer’s Allowance should be exempt from the benefit cap – which limits the amount of benefits a family can receive to £26,000 a year.

Under savage new welfare cuts, the cap is now set to reduce even further to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere.

Mr Justice Collins found that the decision not to exempt carers was “discrimination” and not lawful.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith suffers court defeat on benefits cap – Mirror Online#ICID=sharebar_twitter#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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Syria: Could ‘slow and steady’ win the war?

Bombs explode in Syria. Effect on the terrorists: None.

Bombs explode in Syria. Effect on the terrorists: None.

Sorry, but This Writer is not wedded to the idea that carpet-bombing – or even precision-bombing – bits of Syrian desert in the hope that it might contain terrorists will make the United Kingdom any safer from attack.

For one thing, our armed forces have been following this strategy in Iraq for a year and have achieved no tangible result and, for another, bombing the desert will do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks on UK soil that are carried out in the name of Daesh (IS if you prefer).

David Cameron says “our pilots can strike the most difficult targets at rapid pace and with extraordinary precision”, and that’s great for them – but in that case, why are they still flying raids over Iraq after a year? In that context, one wonders why he mentions it.

His naming of technology like “the Brimstone precision missile system”, “RAPTOR” which he claims “has no rival”, and “Reaper drones” is reminiscent of a comedy routine by the late, great Bill Hicks – also in reference to the Middle East.

He said: “Those guys were in hog heaven out there, man. They had a big weapons catalogue opened up.

“‘What’s G12 do, Tommy?’

“‘Says here it destroys everything but the fillings in their teeth. Helps us pay for the war effort.’

“‘Well… pull that one up.’

“‘Pull up G12, please.’

“[BOOM!]

“‘Great! What’s G13 do?'”

You take the point? Even the names of these things are sinister. “Brimstone” is another word for sulphur, associated with Hell and all things demonic. A “raptor” is a bird of prey. The “Grim Reaper” is, of course, death personified.

Those names remind This Writer of the “death’s head” emblems on German army uniforms in World War II, and the Mitchell and Webb sketch in which two German officers discuss them: “Do you think perhaps we are the bad guys?”

It’s a sobering thought, but if we take military action in Syria at this time, we may be creating a situation in which there are no good guys.

There are alternatives to military action – which of course may be run concurrently with attacks on the terrorists’ heartland. Jeremy Corbyn asked, “What co-ordinated action with other United Nations member states has there been under the terms of the resolution to cut off funding, oil revenues and armed supplies from ISIL into the territory it currently holds?”

David Cameron’s response, that “there was a resolution back in February, and we should continue to support all those measures”, is far from reassuring. This Writer was hoping for much more detail.

It seems that – in this respect – the hard work is being left to the hackers.

Note also that Cameron does not acknowledge the value of these alternatives. He wants us all to believe that the choice is between bombing Syria and “doing nothing” – and that’s misleading.

He was also vague about the positive effect that military action would have. The BBC’s Frank Gardner makes it plainer: “This will not lead to the immediate or even imminent demise of so-called Islamic State. It will simply add to the incremental damage being done over time to this proscribed terrorist group by other air forces already bombing in Syria.”

So we are looking at the possibility of military action that drags on and on, draining our country’s economy, with no conclusion in sight. That would be a poor use of our resources.

Remember Al-Qaeda? Remember how Osama Bin Laden was defeated?

It wasn’t on the battlefield; it was at his home, in a compound in Pakistan. A small US force launched the raid, acting on information picked up by intelligence agents. Some say this information was built up over a period of around 10 years; others say it came to them in a one-off tip. It didn’t come as the result of a bombing raid.

That’s why This Writer still says ‘slow and steady’ will win this war – not retaliatory bombing raids, no matter how accurate the missiles may be. The people firing them need to know what they are aiming at – and that requires information.

If British intelligence services really have foiled seven Daesh-inspired terrorist acts in the UK within the last year alone, then there is nothing wrong with our information-gathering powers.

By all means, let us do everything we can to help our allies in their military efforts, but let us also work to maintain the integrity of our own homeland, and to obtain information on the leaders of the terrorists and their whereabouts. Until we have that, let’s keep our powder dry.

There will be a time for Reapers, RAPTOR and Brimstone, but it isn’t today.

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Hackers replace dark web Isis propaganda site with advert for Prozac


Well done to these ‘Ghost Sec’ folk for giving Isis online exactly the medicine it deserves – ridicule.

An Islamic State (Isis) propaganda website on the dark web has been taken down by hacktivists and replaced with an advert for a site selling Prozac and a message telling would-be IS supporters to calm down.

Ghost Sec, a faction of the hacktivist collective Anonymous (unaffiliated with the counter-terrorism organisation Ghost Security Group), targeted the Isdarat website after it appeared on the Tor anonymity network last week.

The message posted to the Tor website states: “Too Much ISIS. Enhance your calm. Too many people are into this ISIS-stuff. Please gaze upon this lovely ad so we can upgrade our infrastructure to give you ISIS content you all so desperately crave.”

The message posted to the Tor website states: “Too Much ISIS. Enhance your calm. Too many people are into this ISIS-stuff. Please gaze upon this lovely ad so we can upgrade our infrastructure to give you ISIS content you all so desperately crave.”

Source: Hackers replace dark web Isis propaganda site with advert for Prozac

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Last winter, the UK suffered the highest number of excess deaths since 1999/2000

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What follows – the excerpt from a press release by the Office for National Statistics – is essentially an exercise in evasion.

It seems to be blaming influenza for the huge number of deaths, but the vaccine has turned out to be much more effective than originally thought.

Oh, but fewer people sought GP treatment for the disease. How many fewer?

You see, the gap between 17-18,000 and 44,000 is hefty. If the flu vaccine was 50 per cent effective in 2013/14 and only 34 per cent effective in 2014/15, that indicates 22,440 deaths. The actual number was almost twice as high.

Is the ONS saying the extra deaths were entirely due to people not having the jab or seeking treatment when symptoms presented? That’s a little far-fetched.

This Writer suspects the Department for Work and Pensions might be able to illuminate us regarding some of the extra fatalities.

What do you think?

And, will we have to wait two years before the DWP finally releases any statistical information?

The number of excess winter deaths in 2014/15 was the highest of the last 15 years

Excess winter mortality, the difference between the average number of deaths over the winter and the rest of the year, has decreased significantly since the 1950s. This is thanks to improvements in healthcare, home insulation and the introduction of the influenza vaccination programme. However, after a drop in 2013/14, deaths increased substantially in 2014/15.

Between December 2014 and March 2015 there were 44,000 excess winter deaths, 2.5 times higher than the record low of the previous winter, and the highest number since the winter of 1999/2000 when flu levels were very high.

Early estimates in the winter 2014/15 flu season suggested the flu vaccine was only effective in around 3 in 100 cases. However, updated estimates by Public Health England showed the effectiveness to be closer to 34%. In previous years the vaccine has been around 50% effective, coinciding with a far lower number of excess winter deaths.

During the most recent winter, fewer people went to see their GP about Influenza-like illness than in 2010/11, when there was a sharp peak in late December 2010-early January 2011.

Yet mortality in 2014/15 was much higher.

Source: Highest number of excess winter deaths since 1999/2000 | Visual.ONS

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Hunt humiliated: He agrees to ACAS negotiations with junior doctors but the BMA wants more


This is utter humiliation for Jeremy Hunt, who had ruled out any negotiation involving the conciliation service ACAS over the impending junior doctors’ strike.

But it seems likely there are more climbdowns to come.

The BMA has released a statement welcoming the talks, but warning that the threat of having a new contract imposed on medical staff must be removed altogether before industrial action planned to take place next week can be called off.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said the BMA would begin these discussions as soon as possible but Mr Hunt must remove his threat of imposing a contract on doctors in training in England to defer Tuesday’s planned action.

Jeremy Hunt has performed a dramatic U-turn offering to negotiate with junior doctors using an arbitrator in an attempt to avoid a strike .

In an eleventh-hour climbdown, the Health Secretary offered to commence talks with independent arbitration body ACAS.

Unions approached ACAS ahead of voting for strike action in the hope a solution could be reached.

But the health secretary was reluctant to negotiate unless it was directly with unions.

He chose to reveal the reverse-ferret within an hour of George Osborne delivering his Autumn Statement .

A Department of Health spokesperson said the timing was nothing to do with the Autumn Statement, and it had been an ongoing decision.

Source: Jeremy Hunt makes humiliating climbdown offering ACAS negotiation to avoid junior doctors strike – Mirror Online

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Short money – funding for UK opposition parties – is silently cut down to size

Sin of omission: Smiling George never mentioned that he is slashing funding for opposition parties without even giving them a say about it.

Sin of omission: Smiling George never mentioned that he is slashing funding for opposition parties without even giving them a say about it.

The Government has moved to make sharp cuts to state funding to Britain’s opposition parties.

So-called “short money”, an annual payment that has been paid to opposition parties since the 1970s, will be cut by 19 per cent subject to parliamentary approval.

Short money is not received by parties in Government and was introduced to allow oppositions to “more effectively fulfil their parliamentary functions”. It is generally used to employ parliamentary staff and meet political office costs.

The cut will affect Labour the most and also take significant chunks of funding from the SNP, Green Party and smaller regional parties.

The cut was not mentioned by George Osborne in his speech to the House of Commons but emerged later when full documentation was released.

The Government says the cost of short money has risen from £6.9 million in 2010-11 to £9.3 million in 2015-16.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, which campaigns for democratic reform, said the cut would be likely to damage government accountability.

“The decision to cut public funding for opposition parties by 19% is bad news for democracy. The UK already spends just a tenth of the European average on funding parties,” she said.

“Short Money is designed to level the playing field and ensure that opposition parties can hold the government of the day to account. This cut could therefore be deeply damaging for accountability.”

The unilateral move by the Government to cut the payments is in contrast to the usual consensus approach taken on matters party funding form.

Source: George Osborne quietly cuts funding for all of Britain’s opposition parties | UK Politics | News | The Independent

A Labour spokeswoman said it was an “anti-democratic move” by the Conservatives, accusing the government of “partisan moves to hit their opposition and give themselves another unfair advantage”.

Source: John McDonnell quotes Chairman Mao in Spending Review attack – BBC News

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Corbyn has played a major part in saving the livelihoods of families and the lower-paid

Jeremy Corbyn forcing humbled George Osborne into a £4.4-billion tax credit cuts U-turn is a famous victory for the beleaguered Left-winger leader’s robust opposition.

The triumph isn’t just Corbyn’s, of course.

But Corbyn in particular may take huge satisfaction in seeing off a raid that would’ve robbed 3 million families of an average £1,300 a year.

Labour didn’t abstain on cuts, as it did disastrously last summer in a piece of political fence sitting which catapulted Corbyn to the leadership. It fought them tooth and claw.

Whatever else Corbyn achieves in politics, he’s played a major part in saving the livelihoods of families and lower paid workers.

Behind Osborne’s bluster is a humiliated Chancellor performing more U-turns and swerves than a contortionist.

Source: Autumn Statement 2015: Jeremy Corbyn earns a famous victory in Tory tax credit cuts U-turn – Kevin Maguire – Mirror Online

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Stricter rules on free childcare cut number of eligible families by third

The number of families who will benefit from the government’s prized 30 hours free childcare offer has been cut by a third as a result of cost-saving changes to the eligibility threshold.

Under the original terms of the offer, as many as 600,000 families were said to benefit, but changes outlined by George Osborne in the spending review mean that only 390,000 families will now be able take advantage of the scheme.

The government has set a new upper income limit of £100,000 a parent, down from £150,000 in the original proposal. In addition, parents will qualify only if they work at least 16 hours a week, up from the eight hours previously stipulated.

The changes are expected to result in savings of £215m for the Department for Education by 2020. There is unlikely to be outrage on behalf of parents denied access to the scheme because they earn more than £100,000 a year, but the doubling of working hours has raised fears that parents could be put off going back to work.

Source: Stricter rules on free childcare cut number of eligible families by third | Money | The Guardian

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