Tag Archives: remove

Facebook HAS been filtering out left-wing news. Is it time to check your settings? 

Facebook: presumably, all the silhouetted people here have been cut off from the left-wing news-related articles they wanted to read and are wandering aimlessly in search of them. Isn’t it time this interference was ended?

The social media platform Facebook has confirmed that it knowingly changed its news algorithms to filter out sites like Vox Political from your feeds.

The claim is that this was in response to pressure from right-wingers who claimed that they were being victimised.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, Mark Zuckerberg.

This lopsided treatment appears to have continued: SKWAWKBOX readers have reported posts they have shared disappearing from their newsfeeds, ‘see first’ settings disappearing in spite of repeated attempts to prioritise the page’s updates and other anomalies when they try to view or share news.

If you get your links to articles by This Site, or Skwawkbox, or The Canary, or any of the other left-wing sites via Facebook, it seems now would be a good time to check that the system hasn’t messed with your preference settings.

Alternatively, why not cut out the middle man altogether?

In the right-hand column of this page (if you’re using a computer) there’s a section marked “SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL”. It’s easy to use and won’t take more than a minute of your time.

Then you can be sure of receiving the articles you want to see. Isn’t that better than letting some faceless Facebook fascist separate you from what you want to see?

Source: Confirmed: Facebook changed its system to filter out left news from user feeds while leaving right untouched – SKWAWKBOX

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Bristol ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters tear down statue of slaver Colston – and about time, too!

Over it goes: could there be any more clear ‘down with racism’ demand than the toppling of the statue to slaver Edward Colston in Bristol?

Having been born in Bristol, This Writer is aware of the unsavoury slaver history of Edward Colston, and the reverence in which he has been held has confused me for years.

But, being part of a Bristol family, it was hard to criticise him directly. Many of us have historical links with slavery and until earlier this week, I had believed that my family had such links.

Apparently I was mistaken. A BBC documentary about former Mayor John Kerle Haberfield (a great-(many times)-uncle revealed that he had not been involved with the slave trade and nor were any other of my family on that side. It’s possible that other ancestors were, although I have no evidence to suspect it.

I attended St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School, where around a fifth of the pupils were members of Colston House, named after the slaver. The school changed the house name last year (2019) in favour of African-American female mathematician Katherine Johnson. I was a member of Francombe House, which was less controversially named after a former head teacher of the school.

Campaigners have been working to end the veneration of the slave trader Colston, who ran the Royal Africa Company that enslaved around 12,000 children, for many decades. My understanding is that calls to tear down the statue of Colston were taking place 40 years ago, at least.

Read more about him here:

(Historians may also find this interesting:)

Well, yesterday it finally happened.

Public feeling against racism boiled over during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration prompted by the death of George Floyd in the United States, and after years of campaigning to get rid of the Grade II listed (why was it Grade II listed?) statue, people decided to tear it down themselves and throw it into the River Avon – in a manner reminiscent of the way Colston himself would throw unruly slaves – weighed down with chains – into the sea during slaving voyages.

Satirically, Google Maps sprang into action, providing at least one element of humour:

Police have said they are treating the incident as an act of criminal damage, which they are investigating. This has given some people another opportunity for satire:

How will the people of Bristol replace the statue? It seems some have ideas already:

Personally, I don’t think a statue to a Sheffield group, in Bristol, would particularly please the people of either city.

I really don’t think this would be appropriate, either:

Maybe in Islington.

Perhaps most revealing has been the reaction of different public figures to what is a clear act of vandalism, even if the reasoning behind it is supportable.

Priti Patel’s response should be shocking, considering her own racial background:

As should Sajid Javid’s:

And, indeed, some members of the Labour Party have questions to answer:

Others take a different view:

If you’re confused about “structural” racism:

Of course, it’s not unknown for statues to be torn down if people and/or their deeds fall out of favour with the public.

You won’t see a statue glorifying Nazism or anybody who supported that movement in Germany!

And in Russia and Iraq, statues of Communist leaders and Saddam Hussein (respectively) were torn down after those regimes were toppled.

Even yesterday, the toppling-in-effigy of Colston wasn’t unique:

And back in the UK, people are eyeing possible future candidates for the Colston treatment:

https://twitter.com/niall_nowhin/status/1269725946778714112

https://twitter.com/JordanGSmith25/status/1269664099652308997

And of course the situation has provided more opportunities for right-wing idiots to make fools of themselves:

We are left with the overwhelming impression that the removal of the Colston statue was right, no matter how it was achieved.

But we live in a country where somebody may go to prison for making it happen. If you don’t think that’s right, you need to be thinking about what you are going to do about it.

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Tories text cancer, transplant and asthma patients to axe them from shielding list

Big Brother: he’s watching vulnerable people and has decided that too many of them are getting government help. So some will lose it, no matter how badly they need it.

What the actual blazes is the Tory government trying to do now?

The apparently unilateral decision to axe people with serious medical conditions from the shielding list will undoubtedly have severe consequences.

(Although This Writer’s own contact who is on the shielding list only ever received one food parcel, in any event. It came unheralded and unlabelled and he had no idea what it was at first.)

People with cancer, liver disease or severe asthma have been dropped from the UK government’s coronavirus shielding list by text message before their doctors have been able to speak to them.

The decision to remove people with various health conditions from the shielding programme has caused upset. The text also informed people they would no longer qualify for government food parcels.

Many who received the messages last Friday believed they were fake. But the government has since confirmed the texts are correct and are official government communications.

Certain patients who have had a liver transplant, are on immunosuppressant medication, or have decompensated cirrhosis have also received texts. People with brittle asthma and those with other types of cancer were also told they were no longer getting additional help from the National Shielding Service.

Apparently, a government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to supporting the clinically extremely vulnerable and all decisions about whether someone should shield are clinically led.

“In some cases health experts have advised that a patient no longer needs to shield themselves from coronavirus. Where this is the case, the person will be informed that they are not on the shielded patient list.

“Those advised that they no longer need to shield may still access forms of support including the NHS Volunteers network, and will retain their supermarket priority delivery slots.”

The claim is that the government had asked clinicians to review people’s records to ensure that only those who needed to shield were on the shielded patient list.

Apparently doctors should have written to explain the decisions that had been made, and the text was supposed to both confirm that support would end and direct patients to other forms of help.

Clearly, that hasn’t happened.

This looks like an attempt to save money by withdrawing support from vulnerable groups, who may then contract Covid-19 or die for other reasons.

With no advice on other forms of help, and no wherewithal to collect supplies (if they wisely ignore the government’s claims and continue to shield at home), what are these people going to do?

You can guess what the Tories want.

Source: Cancer, transplant and asthma patients axed from shielding list by text message | World news | The Guardian

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Tory Coronavirus Bill removes vital rights from people with disabilities. The persecution goes on…

Tories just can’t stop aiming spite at vulnerable people, the sick and the disabled – can they?

They have just passed new legislation, apparently to help safeguard the UK’s population against the coronavirus.

But what good is it if it still puts people in danger?

A personal friend of This Writer has written to our MP, pointing out this problem, along with others. My friend states that the new law will:

• Remove disabled people’s entitlement to social care. In practice, this will mean local authorities will no longer be legally required to provide support to people who they already recognised as needing it.

According to the Government, this is to ensure local authorities can prioritise and meet the needs in new cases.

The Government made more funding available, so it is hard to see why it is necessary to remove the entitlement to social care for those who already get very little. It is worth remembering that community groups and volunteers cannot deliver the support many disabled and older people need.

Experience and research have illustrated that the lack of social care support puts more strain on the NHS. Surely this is a wrong thing to do at a time when the Government tries to free up resources for the NHS. This way of dealing with the immediate crisis can have considerable and devastating consequences in the longer run.

• Change the duties to educate to meet children’s educational requirements to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty.

• Make it easier to detail and treat people involuntarily under the Mental Health Act. The existing safeguards are already too weak, and the number of people who are detained has grown significantly in the last few years. Detention will be a severe interference with a person’s fundamental human rights to liberty and freedom. Moreover, detaining people will cost the NHS a lot of money. Instead of making it easier to detain people, more support should be put to help people in the community.

My friend isn’t the only one complaining. Disability Rights UK, alongside other national disability organisations, has urged the government not to withdraw Care Act rights from disabled people as proposed in the Bill.

As that organisation states, these are unprecedented times.

But removing rights and protections from disabled people who are most at risk cannot be justified.

One has to question why a government would even contemplate that – let alone pass it into law as an emergency power.

Source: Government urged not to remove Care Act rights from disabled people – Welfare Weekly

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Tories to cut £70 a week from 11,000 state pensions

Short-changing the elderly: the Tories love taking money from people who depend on it.

Statistics show older people constitute the majority of Conservative voters – I bet they never knew the Tories would stab them in the back so soon!

It’s even worse because the allowance for adult dependents is being phased out in any case – the Tories are simply cutting it earlier than it would have ended.

It turns out 11,000 pensioners are still receiving the allowance. From April, those people will lose £3,500 per year.

The DWP is claiming that current recipients of the allowance will be able to claim a means-tested benefit like Universal Credit or Pension Credit. Good luck with that, folks!

The simple fact is that Tories love to take state money away from people who depend on it.

And they don’t even care that they’re attacking people who helped put them in office; they think you’re so stupid you’ll vote for them again. Are they right?

Source: Government to cut £70 a week from thousands of state pensions – Mirror Online

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Standards on environment, safety and human rights to be slashed for a grubby trade deal with Trump

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump: Enemies of the UK?

The Tory minister who once complained that the UK imports too much cheese is set to abolish the UK’s environmental safeguards – to get a food import deal with Donald Trump.

Theresa May promised that the UK would keep within EU rules on the environment, safety standards and human rights after Brexit.

But Boris Johnson will get rid of all these rules – that protect you – so he can sign a grubby deal with Donald Trump, to import genetically modified, inferior US food products at a high cost to the UK.

He describes this a way of gaining “flexibility”.

It seems responsibility for scrapping our protections will fall to cheese-loving international trade secretary Liz Truss.

This will require a huge admission of hypocrisy on her part – the woman who said importing two-thirds of our cheese was a “disgrace” –

– now seems perfectly happy to lower standards across the country in order to import all kinds of junk.

EU officials say that British negotiators are particularly keen to jettison EU restrictions on genetically modified foods – a key demand of American trade negotiators.

One EU official with knowledge of the Brexit talks suggested US trade officials appeared to have been in contact with British negotiators and told them standards would need to be slashed if there was any chance of a US trade deal.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, said scrapping the protections was “vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals and become more competitive”.

And of course rejecting EU standards means there can be no free trade deal with the bloc after the UK leaves it.

The intention seems to be to put the entire country at Donald Trump’s mercy – and he doesn’t seem to have much of that.

It seems clear that this plan is in the interests of nobody in the UK – apart from, possibly, Boris Johnson.

He certainly seems not to be interested in his duty to act in the interests of the people of this nation.

Of course, none of this can happen while the UK remains in the EU – and without an exit deal that MPs and MEPs can support, the UK will do just that.

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson moves to scrap environment safeguards to get deal with Trump | The Independent

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May is going, Cable is going, and is there going to be another Labour leadership coup?

Tom Watson: On his way out?

We seem to be in another period of apparent change, with leaders being replaced by popular political parties in an attempt to change their image.

The Conservatives finally plucked up the courage to backstab Theresa May on Friday; she’ll be gone by June 7.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable has announced that his own long-trailed departure as leader of the Liberal Democrats will happen on July 23. It seems he has been waiting for a moment when it seemed his party’s fortunes were improving and thinks that it has now arrived.

These are cosmetic changes. Nobody seriously believes that the new leaders of these parties will take them in a different direction. The Conservatives may get a more strongly-Brexiteer leader but their main policies of oppression against the poor will remain the same. The Liberal Democrats will remain an irrelevance.

And then I saw this on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/MarxyMarxy/status/1131894227061940224

That would be very silly – and therefore exactly the sort of tactic the Labour Right is likely to employ. And it won’t get them anywhere because, despite all their whining about Jeremy Corbyn, we all know that their claims about him are not true. Consider Rachael’s tweet, below:

Exactly.

Of far more interest is the possibility that Tom Watson will be replaced as deputy leader after years of trying (and failing) to undermine Mr Corbyn.

Look at the latest news item to feature him – a claim that people who supported remaining in the European Union are abandoning the party. That supports the claim that “Remain” anger could be harnessed as a way of levering Mr Corbyn out, to be replaced by another faceless so-called “Centrist” with policies the same as the Tories and Change UK, no doubt.

It would be far better for Mr Watson to be removed and Labour to retain its current reforming socialist position.

His card has been marked for a considerable amount of time.

Lords say pensioners should lose extra benefits because they aren’t in poverty. Really?

According to a House of Lords committee, extra benefits for pensioners are no longer necessary because hardly any pensioners are in poverty any more.

But is that really true?

Poverty is a relative measure. In the UK, the poverty line is set at 60 per cent of average earnings – and average earnings have been plummeting because of Tory policies that funnel money to people who are already very rich.

So, for example, the proposal to remove the triple lock for State Pensions and instead uprate the State Pension in line with average earnings is in fact an attempt to plunge pensioners back into poverty.

And the claim that cash being spent on pensioner benefits would be better-used on helping young people is a false argument. There is plenty of money available to do both; all the government has to do is tax the super-rich a little more.

Pensioner benefits for over-75’s should be cut or axed to help restore fairness in the system between older and younger people, the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision has said.

The Committee argues that social security payments and passported benefits are no longer required because the issue of pensioner poverty has been all but resolved.

Source: Cut pensioner benefits to improve fairness, says Lords committee


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Tories axe £10 Christmas bonus for people on Universal Credit

[Image: Max Albedo.]

The spite of the Tory rich knows no limits.

Even in the so-called Season of Goodwill, they delight in hurting others.

Let’s be honest, the £10 Christmas bonus for benefit claimants isn’t anything like the boost it was when it was introduced in 1972 or thereabouts – but it was still a valuable piece of public relations for our penny-pinching, privileged government of the wealthy.

Not any more, it seems. The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that the bonus is not being paid to anybody claiming Universal Credit.

Notice that no announcement was made; claimants had to find out for themselves.

But now the news is spreading, courtesy of the Twitterati:

With the Tory government teetering on the brink of oblivion due to prime minister Theresa May’s recklessness over Brexit, this could be a disastrous miscalculation – an act of selfishness affecting millions of people.

Spread the word.

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Tories inflict head louse epidemic on poor children with new NHS cost-cutting measure

Head lice: Your scalp is probably itching at the sight of them.

Did a private pharmaceutical company lobby the Tories to take bug-busting shampoos off the NHS, so it could double its income?

Interesting thought, isn’t it?

And, if austerity is over, why can’t the Tory NHS afford simple anti-headlouse shampoo?

A head lice epidemic could be coming to … schools after the NHS banned GPs from prescribing “bug buster” shampoo.

NHS England changed its guidelines in March on what over-the-counter items could be routinely prescribed in a bid to save £100m from its budget, with head lice treatment axed from the list.

Previously, the insecticide treatment cost the NHS £4.92, but parents fighting off itchy bugs will now be forced to fork out double that to buy the same product over-the-counter.

A spokesman for the NHS said head lice could be “safely and effectively treated by wet combing”, with chemical intervention recommended in only the most “exceptional circumstances”.

Emma Hardy, Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle, said: “This is just another example of this Tory government making a small saving in the short term that could lead to a much bigger cost in the long term.

“They’ve also completely failed to recognise how significant a cost this treatment could be to someone who is just about managing to get by.”

Source: Warning Hull could face ‘head lice epidemic’ as GPs ban shampoo – Hull Live

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