Tag Archives: buy

This is how your government handles coronavirus: families in debt for food one week into lockdown

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. Now parents are saying they’ve had no substitute for school meals with which to feed their children, despite an(other) empty promise from the Tory government.

You think coronavirus is a deadly contagion but the Tories seem to think it’s a money-making opportunity.

Here’s what’s happening, according to The Guardian. I’ll lay out what it means below:

Millions of British people are already struggling to get the food they need and are falling into debt because of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey carried out this week suggests.

More than 1.5 million adults in Britain say they cannot obtain enough food. Half of the YouGov poll sample reported that they were self-isolating, and 53% of NHS workers were worried about getting food.

Half of parents on low incomes with children eligible for free school meals said they had not yet received any substitute meals to keep their children fed, despite government promises to provide food vouchers or parcels. Around 830,000 children are therefore likely to be going without daily sustenance.

On 21 March the government instructed people at greater risk of Covid-19 to stay in their homes and self-isolate for 12 weeks. It said it would contact 1.5 million people in this category and set up a system with local authorities, voluntary organisations and business to deliver food parcels to the homes of those who lacked family support.

Military planners have been assigned to work with councils, but the Guardian understands that the scheme is not yet running and will take a few weeks to scale up to supplying food to 400,000 people. The Food Foundation has calculated that more than twice that number – 860,000 people who fall into the medically vulnerable category – were suffering from food insecurity even before the crisis.

The government of the United Kingdom could put the systems in place to get food to people within minutes if it so desired.

So we have to ask why this has not been done.

The obvious answer is: money.

People in debt end up not only owing the amount of the debt but interest on it as well. They become long-term sources of income to their creditors.

And what’s the easiest way to make people borrow? Simple: depriving them of food.

Why do you think the Tories are so keen for so many people to claim Universal Credit? It’s a debt-creation machine; the five-week wait for payments means you have to borrow money.

It’s the “zombie economy” but using private money instead of national funds.

And by attacking the poor and vulnerable, it’s practically a guarantee that these people will never be able to pay it off.

Source: Families borrowing to buy food a week into UK lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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‘Help to Buy’ hijacked by the rich – or do Tories really think £100,000 earners are struggling?

Tories really have strange priorities, don’t they?

They seem to think people earning more than 80,000 a year – those in the top five per cent of earners in the entire UK – are more likely to need help getting onto the housing ladder than the other 95 per cent.

Can you understand that?

At the time of writing – less than an hour into the New Year and several bevvies the worse for wear – all I can suggest is that the Tories have been desperately trying to shore up the finances of this endangered minority of extremely rich people, in case Labour won the election on December 12.

But Labour didn’t win the election. And it’s the rest of us who are endangered.

So my guess is that in reality, the Tories were just pretending to be helping struggling first-time buyers.

They were previously criticised for handing money over to help pay for second homes, remember.

And I predict that many more policies will be presented as helping the poor… and then turn out to be excuses to give cash to people who don’t need it.

Meanwhile the rest of us will go to the dogs.

If you hear any Tory voters complaining, kindly remind them that it’s what they wanted. No – it’s what they demanded. And tell them: Own it.

Government loans to help families onto the housing ladder have been hijacked by rich buyers, new figures reveal.

The loans, part of the Help To Buy programme launched by former Tory chancellor George Osborne, see the government lend up to 20% of the cost of a newly built home to buyers.

But more than 10,000 of the loans have been taken out by households earning more than £100,000 a year, according to figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

And almost 16,000 have been taken out by households with an income between £80,000 and £100,000.

Source: Help to Buy hijacked by rich as 10,000 loans handed to £100,000 earners – Mirror Online

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Bigots try to stop ‘anti-Semitism’ documentary filming – so it’s now at a secret location [STRONG LANGUAGE]

First – an apology. This Writer misconstrued a press release about the new documentary Reaching over the noise – Is Labour really Anti-Semitic?

I mistakenly believed the documentary was all but finished and people were being invited to a screening, at which more filming would take place.

In fact, people were being invited to come and take part in the documentary, offering their own views on the so-called Labour anti-Semitism crisis.

Next – som facts: Indy Media Productions, the crew behind the film, has been making it in response to the BBC Panorama documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? that was riddled with falsehoods and gave an inaccurate impression of the situation in the Labour Party

Anyone with left-wing political loyalties is welcome to attend the event at the Britons Protection in Manchester.

The meeting will be captured on film and used in the final scene of the documentary (and also in the trailer).

Tickets are available from this site. The 50p price is only so organisers can gauge the numbers attending.

“There is an election taking place and the antisemitism narrative is being used against us,” said a spokesperson for the production company.

“It is vital that during this election, as Labour supporters and Labour members, we hit these allegations head on and state exactly where we stand.

“We are not racists. We are not anti-Semites. We are just people who care deeply about injustice, equality, poverty and homelessness.

“If we don’t speak out and state exactly what we stand for, others will do it for us and what they say will not be the truth.

“We are hoping to capture footage of as many speakers as possible but we may also ask questions of some that attend to get their opinions on the allegations of institutional anti-Semitism made against Labour.

“This is your opportunity to have your voice. It is time for those on the left to speak out and not be silent. There is a lot at stake at this election and a lot to lose.”

Finally – the unpleasantness: Almost immediately after my original article went up, managers of the original venue were subjected to abuse from the kind of bigots responsible for the false “anti-Semitism” narrative.

Here’s an example of the kind of message they received (now edited to stop Facebook shocking readers when I try to share it):

 

Yeah.

Hard to believe these people are claiming the moral high ground, isn’t it?

They never succeed in stopping the facts from getting out; they just show themselves up for what they are.

To attend the event, use the link above and you’ll receive directions. Enjoy it!

Source: Buy tickets for Reaching over the noise – Is Labour really “anti Semitic” ? Open Documentary Scene, Manchester. at The Briton’s Protection, Sun 24 November 2019

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Crowdfunded documentary on fake Labour anti-Semitism has been made. Come to the premiere

Tickets are now available for the first screening of a new documentary countering the fake narrative linking the Labour Party with anti-Semitism.

Indy Media Productions, the crew behind a new documentary entitled Reaching over the noise – Is Labour really anti-Semitic? wants left-wing and Jewish speakers to attend the event.

But anyone with left-wing political loyalties is welcome to attend the event at the Britons Protection in Manchester.

The film has been made in response to the BBC’s Panorama documentary, Is Labour Antisemitic? that was riddled with falsehoods and gave an inaccurate impression of the situation in the Labour Party.

The meeting will be captured on film and used in the final scene of the documentary (and also in the trailer).

Tickets are available from this site. The 50p price is only so organisers can gauge the numbers attending.

“There is an election taking place and the antisemitism narrative is being used against us,” said a spokesperson for the production company.

“It is vital that during this election, as Labour supporters and Labour members, we hit these allegations head on and state exactly where we stand.

“We are not racists. We are not anti-Semites. We are just people who care deeply about injustice, equality, poverty and homelessness.

“If we don’t speak out and state exactly what we stand for, others will do it for us and what they say will not be the truth.

“We are hoping to capture footage of as many speakers as possible but we may also ask questions of some that attend to get their opinions on the allegations of institutional anti-Semitism made against Labour.

“This is your opportunity to have your voice. It is time for those on the left to speak out and not be silent. There is a lot at stake at this election and a lot to lose.”

Source: Buy tickets for Reaching over the noise – Is Labour really “anti Semitic” ? Open Documentary Scene, Manchester. at The Briton’s Protection, Sun 24 November 2019

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Automated benefit decisions: Councils are already using machines to persecute benefit claimants

Days after we discovered the DWP is developing Artificial Intelligence to decide whether vulnerable claimants receive benefits – possibly whether they get to live or die – it turns out local councils have been buying similar systems from commercial businesses.

And there’s a serious problem: they don’t work.

According to The Guardian, companies including the US credit-rating businesses Experian and TransUnion, as well as the outsourcing specialist Capita and Palantir, a data-mining firm co-founded by the Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel, are selling machine-learning packages to local authorities that are under pressure to save money.

It seems 140 of 408 councils – more than one-third – have invested in these systems, at great cost. One must presume they expect the savings to come over time.

They provide automated guidance on benefit claims, prevent child abuse and allocate school places.

But concerns have been raised about privacy and data security, the ability of council officials to understand how some of the systems work, and the difficulty for citizens in challenging automated decisions.

North Tyneside council has dropped TransUnion, after payments were wrongly delayed by the computer’s “predictive analytics”.

It automatically processed data about claimants for housing and council tax benefit to determine the likelihood it was fraudulent – “risk based verification”. But benefit claims were wrongly delayed.

Hackney council in east London has dropped Xantura, another company, from a project to predict child abuse and intervene before it happens, saying it did not deliver the expected benefits.

And Sunderland city council has not renewed a £4.5m data analytics contract for an “intelligence hub” provided by Palantir.

These experiences are leading to increasing concern that the use of algorithms – computerised instructions intended to solve problems (or in this case make decisions) is leaving vulnerable people at the whim of automated decisions they do not understand and therefore cannot challenge.

Local authority bosses do not understand how these systems work either, it seems.

And so the injustices creep into the system.

The DWP has told parliament it gathers data from private credit reference agencies, the police, the Valuation Office Agency, the Land Registry and the National Fraud Initiative, which gather information from public and private bodies – but is now declining to update the list, claiming it would “compromise the usefulness of that data”.

So, as public participation charity Involve claims, there is a risk to citizens’ privacy and data security, and the potential for seriously harmful wrong decisions.

Suppose someone falls foul of a wrong decision on their Housing Benefit claim, made by a computer at their local authority.

Wouldn’t the computer at the DWP pick it up and use it against the same claimant in order to invalidate a claim for – say – Employment and Support Allowance?

If so, these machines could put innocent people deeply out-of-pocket – with no explanation and no accountability.

It is a program that can have only one result – disaster. Somebody will die – if they haven’t already.

Source: One in three councils using algorithms to make welfare decisions | Society | The Guardian

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‘Help to Buy’ is helping the very rich. Did you think the Tories would do anything else?

The obvious solution: The government should be helping build new social housing – not forcing up the prices of what little there is.

It is astonishing that we have the Daily Mail to thank for this revelation (although This Writer had a feeling this is what was happening; I couldn’t find the information, though).

Not only is ‘Help to Buy’ pushing up house prices as the supply of homes diminishes, it is also helping the rich buy houses, rather than those who don’t have the funds to buy a first home – the people for whom the scheme was said to be intended.

It was planned this way, of course.

That’s why Philip Hammond is pumping another £10 billion into the scheme. It will push prices up well beyond your ability to buy, making it more accessible by the rich.

The rest of us will be at the mercy of private landlords, facing up to the forthcoming huge increase in social rents, or on the street – as intended.

Wealthy families are exploiting a £7billion government scheme aimed at first-time buyers.

Help to Buy doles out taxpayers’ money so househunters can secure a mortgage.

Almost 135,000 families have taken advantage since its launch in 2013. But four in ten recipients were earning more than £50,000 a year and one in ten was on at least £80,000.

More than 5,000 purchasers had six-figure incomes. Help to Buy has also been highly lucrative for builders and their bosses, accounting for a third of private sales of new homes.

Profits, share prices and executive bonuses have soared at firms including Barratt, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey. Jeff Fairburn, chief executive of Persimmon, where around half of sales are through Help to Buy, is in line for a £130million payout.

Academics said the scheme – given a £10billion further boost by Theresa May this week – was driving up house prices.

Source: Wealthy families exploit £7billion Help to Buy home scheme with 40% of recipients on more than £50k a year


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“Hey, you! Don’t buy that Christmas single! Buy this!” Or why not buy ’em all?

The cover to Hobo’s Christmas, by Guy Calhoun.

It seems there’s a slight controversy about which political Christmas single we should all be buying.

Should it be the single in memory of Jo Cox – a cover of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want?

The Stones themselves have waived their claim on royalties, meaning more money from each sale will go to the Jo Cox Foundation – and bookmaker William Hill has said it will donate money staked on the single being Christmas Number One to charity.

You can use this link to buy it, and here’s the video:

Or should it be the piece in support of Jeremy Corbyn, JC4PM4ME?

All profits from this one go to food bank charity The Trussell Trust, it is available here on CD/Vinyl, here on download, and there’s a video as well:

… and then this morning This Blog received a comment from ‘malsainsbury’ about another Christmas song, by her son Guy Calhoun.

It’s called Hobo’s Christmas. All proceeds will be donated to charities supporting the homeless, and This Writer has a soft spot for it because the video was shot in my original home city, Bristol.

You can buy it here, and – guess what? – there’s a video:

Whatever you think of these songs – and I’ve seen some fairly vitriolic remarks about the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ single – they have all been created with good intent, to help charities and the people who rely on them.

Whether you buy one, all, or none of them is up to you.

If you do buy any of them – have a Merry Christmas! You’ll be helping others to do the same.

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Never mind Sky – has Rupert Murdoch bought Theresa May?

Has Rupert Murdoch bought the UK prime minister’s complicity in his business dealings?

We’ll know soon enough, with his bid to take over the 61 per cent of Sky that he does not yet own.

Mrs May met Mr Murdoch during a flying visit to New York in September – a meeting that many political commentators considered curious, as she is not normally close with the mass media.

Since then, the right-wing media have been hugely supportive of the Conservatives while highly critical of Labour – which is nothing unusual. But would it have been different depending on the outcome of that meeting?

Commentators on Twitter want to know what happened:

Questions about the meeting were asked in Parliament yesterday (December 12).

Concerns have been raised that nothing has changed in Mr Murdoch’s organisation since his last attempt was rejected, several years ago.

And Ofcom has been urged to apply the test of whether Mr Murdoch is a “fit and proper person” to enjoy the huge influence over the UK’s media that full ownership of Sky would confer.

I think we all know the answer to that one!

Theresa May has been asked to reveal whether she has discussed with Rupert Murdoch his new bid to takeover BSKYB.

On Friday the billionaire’s 21st Century Fox company made a fresh £11.2bn offer to take control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

His 2011 bid was derailed after it emerged journalists from the News of the World had engaged in phone hacking.

Speaking in the Commons today, Labour’s shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan said voters needed to know “whose side the government is on” and said the bid should be referred to broadcast regulator Ofcom.

Source: Theresa May Pressed To Reveal Details Of Rupert Murdoch Meeting Ahead Of BSKYB Bid

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Tory smear tactics are too obvious by far

Whose idea was it to buy thousands of Twitter followers for Owen Jones, in imitation of the tactic for which David Cameron was recently shown up?

Under the headline David Cameron has tens of thousands of Twitter followers who DON’T EXIST, yesterday’s (February 12) Daily Mirror told us: “David Cameron, who famously claimed “too many tweets make a t***”, faces Twitter shame as tens of thousands of his followers don’t exist.

“The Tory leader has 915,000 followers on the social network, which he joined five years ago.

“But media experts say 15% were ghost accounts – meaning about 137,000 of his Twitter friends are imaginary, while another 393,000 of his followers are deemed “inactive”.

“Celebs have previously been exposed for buying followers to boost their numbers, with online eBay scams arranging for 100,000 fake followers to flock to an account for just £25.”

Now let’s look at what happened to Owen Jones today.

Vox Political is not close to Mr Jones. The Chavs and The Establishment author has not acknowledged this blog’s existence and he never responds to our tweets. He does, however, strike this writer as an honourable person, so when he tweeted

150213jonesfollowers1

there was every reason to believe him.

Then, today (Feb 13), this happens:

150213jonesfollowers2

You see, this turned up on the pro-Tory Guido Fawkes blog today:

150213jonesfollowers3

What’s going on?

It seems clear that some Tory got wind that their leader’s fake followers were going to be outed in the media, so they started buying followers for a prominent Leftie instead, so they could point at him and say: “Look! Look! Those Labour boys are just as bad!”

How sad for them that Owen twigged what was going on, but in any case, two wrongs don’t make a right and some might say a British Prime Minister buying followers to make himself look popular is a lot “wronger” than anything a Leftie journo might do.

In any case, we know that Owen didn’t buy his fake followers.

Perhaps Guido would care to own up and tell us what the game is? How about it, Mr (real name) Staines?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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NATO and the Economic Exploitation of Eastern Europe – Beastrabban\’s Weblog (and Russell Brand)

NATO expands: On the left, the situation in 1990; on the right, the scene in 2009 - NATO expanded right up to Russia's borders.

NATO expands: On the left, the situation in 1990; on the right, the scene in 2009 – NATO expanded right up to Russia’s borders.

Isn’t it interesting, how concepts coincide?

Only last night I read, in Russell Brand’s Revolution: “When Mikhail Gorbachev, who it turns out was a lovely fella who bent over backwards to prevent nuclear war and deserved to be remembered for more than that birthmark on his head, allowed a unified Germany to enter NATO, a hostile military alliance, on the condition that ‘NATO would not expand one inch to the east,’ the US agreed. Then they expanded right into East Germany, likely giggling as they went. This dunderheaded truculence persisted under every US regime change… Clinton in his tenure expanded NATO right up to Russia’s borders. Chomsky says all this aggro we’re having today in the Crimea and Ukraine is because of these unreported acts of military expansionism by the West.”

Now here’s the Beast: “I … found this little piece in ‘The View from the Bridge’ column in Lobster 45, reproducing statements from elsewhere that NATO was being used to exploit the former eastern bloc countries that have joined it after the fall of Communism. Although over a decade old [bolding mine], it’s relevant now as we are in period of diplomatic tension with Russia over the civil war in Ukraine. This has been presented as a case of pro-Western Ukrainian patriots attempting to free themselves from Russian domination. The reality is somewhat murkier, as the pro-Western side themselves were guilty of considerable corruption. It also includes open Neo-Nazis.”

The stories quoted are about NATO bullying eastern European countries into selling off their national economic assets to foreigners and spending huge amounts of money on US-manufactured military hardware, under threat of losing a place in NATO military committees and command structures.

The Beast writes: “This makes you really wonder what the reality behind the ousting of President Yanukovych in Ukraine really was, and who was supposed to benefit: the Ukrainian people, or Western multinationals.”

And now Greece is rolling back the privatisation programme imposed by the West, against hugely unreasonable – yet mounting – opposition from the Troika and Western right-wingers.

The UK, it seems, is on the side of NATO, and – as long as we have a right-wing government – the privateers. This leads to a very worrying question:

When did we become the bad guys?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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