Tag Archives: Research

Why are ‘hostile’ states trying to hack into UK coronavirus research? Why not pool resources?

Doesn’t this say everything about the stupidity of our politicians – not just in the UK but across the globe.

Having created an atmosphere of distrust for no particular reason than they don’t like Johnny Foreigner’s politics, now that we should all be working together to beat Covid-19, it seems we’re trying to steal from each other instead.

And if Russia, Iran and China are trying to get into our research systems, what might the UK be trying to steal from them?

Hostile states are attempting to hack British universities and scientific facilities to steal research related to Covid-19, including vaccine development, cybersecurity experts have warned.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the proportion of such targeted cyber-attacks had increased, branding the criminal activity “reprehensible”.

It is understood that nations including Iran and Russia are behind the hacking attempts, while experts have said China is also a likely perpetrator.

There are thought to be dozens of universities and institutions with biomedical capacity working on Covid-19 research, ranging from new diagnostic and antibody tests to experimental treatment.

However, it is understood there have been no successful attacks on universities or research institutions to date.

Saving lives is more important than international rivalries – to anybody who isn’t a jingoistic sabre-rattling fool.

The best thing to do is make all our research freely available – because then nobody will have to cover the same ground – and tell those foreign powers they didn’t need to go to the trouble of trying to steal it.

Source: Hostile states trying to steal coronavirus research, says UK agency | Espionage | The Guardian

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Tories STILL haven’t bothered to research the harsh impact of Universal Credit delays

This is no surprise to anyone who has been following the contribution of Universal Credit to the spread of poverty in the UK.

The Conservative government has received many demands for research into the adverse impact of its new failure of a policy – you can’t call it a benefit – but has steadfastly refused to do anything about it.

There is a simple reason for this: Tories don’t care if someone else is suffering.

The entire aim of Universal Credit is to pay as little as possible to people in need.

Poverty is irrelevant to them. If people die, that’s irrelevant too. All that matters is deniability.

And that’s another reason the Tories won’t do any research.

The Department of Work and Pensions has failed to analyse the impact of the five-week wait for Universal Credit, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Neil Cowan, policy and parliamentary officer at the Poverty Alliance, requested detail from the Department on the levels of poverty, destitution or “food insecurity” suffered by claimants forced to wait five weeks for their first payment.

But the Department of Work and Pensions responded saying that it does not hold any such analysis on the five-week wait.

This is despite being required to hold the personal data of claimants, their benefits records, and details of any payments made.

Source: Tories deny knowledge of poverty caused by Universal Credit delays | Left Foot Forward

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Charity report highlights how Tories have pushed benefit claimants into poverty

Food bank queue: The Conservative Party will only increase the number of people forced to seek help from charities like the Trussell Trust. The only answer is a change of government.

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust has published research showing how the Conservative government has pushed people into extreme poverty, when it should have been helping them avoid it.

It states that the Tory benefit system, ill health, and a lack of support from local authorities are the three main causes of hunger and destitution in the UK.

Tory cuts to benefit payments, being turned down for disability benefits, being sanctioned, and delays in payments like the five week wait for Universal Credit are cited as key problems with benefits – all are due to Conservative cruelty.

Not only that, but almost three-quarters of people at food banks have a health issue, or live with someone who does. This is the Tory obsession with persecuting people who have long-term illnesses and/or disabilities. I have often compared it with the Nazi eugenics programme to rid society of “useless eaters”.

The report, State of Hunger 2019, says foodbank users are left with an average of £50 a week to buy food and pay vital household bills after housing costs.

It reveals that almost one in five households have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred to a food bank.

The research shows that 94% of people at food banks are destitute, almost three-quarters of people at food banks live in households affected by ill-health or disability, 22% of food bank users are single parents – compared to 5% in the UK population – and more than three-quarters are in rent arrears.

Most people referred to Trussell Trust food banks are in receipt of some form of social security payment, with many being in-work and dependent on benefits, tax credits or Universal Credit to top-up low wages. So much for the Tory claim that work is the best way out of poverty!

Not only that, but the report states: “More than half of people at food banks live in households affected by a mental health problem, with anxiety and depression the most common.

“A quarter of people live in households where someone has a long-term physical condition; one in six has a physical disability; and one in 10 has a learning disability, or live with someone who does.”

The report adds: “Ill health often increases living costs and may be a barrier to doing paid work.” Isn’t that precisely the point?

The charity has called on the UK Government to end the minimum five-week-wait for Universal Credit, ensure that benefit payments cover the “true cost of living”, and provide increased and ring-fenced funding for councils to allow them to provide local crisis support.

I would go further: we need a change of government. The Conservatives will never willingly stop persecuting the poor, the sick and the disabled; they love it too much. The only solution is to rid the UK of their tyranny.

You can read more about the report in this Welfare Weekly article.

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How will Brexit affect people in poverty and on benefits – and why won’t the DWP say?

Food bank: Will Boris Johnson’s Brexit increase the length of the queue? And why won’t the DWP tell us what its research has revealed?

The Department for Work and Pensions has analysed the impact of Brexit on people in poverty, on low incomes and on benefits – but won’t publish the findings. Why not?

That is the question put by the Scottish National Party over the weekend, with a deafening silence as the DWP’s only response.

According to Welfare Weekly:

The call for the full publication of the findings comes after the Poverty Alliance used a Freedom of Information request to ask whether or not the DWP had carried out any assessments to look at the impact of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty and inequality in the UK, as well as analysis on the impact on low-income households, on wages, employment and costs of living.

The DWP replied to confirm that it does hold some of the analysis but that it would not publish any of the findings as it was not in the public interest to do so.

The call for the full publication of the findings comes after the Poverty Alliance used a Freedom of Information request to ask whether or not the DWP had carried out any assessments to look at the impact of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty and inequality in the UK, as well as analysis on the impact on low-income households, on wages, employment and costs of living.

The DWP replied to confirm that it does hold some of the analysis but that it would not publish any of the findings as it was not in the public interest to do so.

Why is it “not in the public interest”?

Neil Gray, the SNP’s Social Justice spokesperson, reckons he knows why – we have a “Tory government intent on inflicting a damaging policy no matter the price ordinary people and families will have to pay.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that a Tory Brexit will push vulnerable people across Scotland and the UK into further poverty and hardship, yet the UK government callously carries on regardless.

“People are already suffering under a decade of Tory austerity, however analysis has shown time and time again that under all Brexit scenarios, jobs will be lost, wages will be hit and people’s living standards will be harmed.”

Rather than not being in the public interest for the expected impact to be known, then, isn’t it more accurate to say that it wouldn’t be in the Tories’ interest?

We won’t know until we see the report.

So let’s have it.

Source: DWP urged to publish ‘secret’ Brexit impact analysis

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Austerity policies are ‘social murder’, say experts who’ll be ignored by the Tories

New research by Lancaster University has shown that austerity policies, beloved by the Conservative government, amount to “social murder”.

But don’t get your hopes up that this might lead to a huge policy change. This isn’t the first such report to come from a British university, and the Tories are likely to treat it with the contempt they have given the last.

The new report by Dr Chris Grover, head of the university’s sociology department, defines austerity as a form of structural violence – built into society in the form of unequal power and unequal life chances – that deepens inequalities and injustices and creates desperate poverty.

As a result, the report states, working class people face harm to their physical and mental well-being and in some instances are “socially murdered”.

Dr Grover gives examples of where social security austerity has led to a range of harms:

·        an additional six suicides for every 10,000 work capability assessments done;

·        increasing number of people Britain dying of malnutrition

·        increasing numbers of homeless people dying on the streets or in hostels

He refers to the process as ‘violent proletarianisation’ – claiming that violent austerity is aimed at forcing people to do paid work, rather than being reliant upon benefits. This makes them vulnerable to exploitation by employers who have no reason not to pay the lowest wage possible.

Dr Grover is using the research to call on the government for fundamental change that removes the economic need for people to work for such low wages.

“The violence takes two forms,” said Dr Grover. “First it involves further economic hardship of already income-poor people.

“It causes social inequalities and injustices in the short term and in the longer term.

“Second, the poverty that violent proletarianisation creates is both known and avoidable.”

You can read his research here.

But don’t expect the Conservative government to pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

Remember when the universities of Oxford and Liverpool produced a report showing the work capability assessment used to decide whether people deserve Employment Support Allowance had caused a massive increase in mental illness among claimants? The Tories just shrugged it off.

I wrote at the time: “The research by Oxford University and Liverpool University shows that more than two-thirds of claimants who took the fake ‘medical’ test between 2010 and 2013 – 7,020 out of every 10,000 – received prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs afterwards.

“There were 2,700 cases of mental ill-health and – most damning of all, six suicides per 10,000 assessments. If these were all separate cases, that would leave just 274 people who, after the assessment, were only suffering with the illnesses they took into it.”

The mention of six suicides per 10,000 assessments corresponds with Dr Grover’s work, suggesting that the evidence base is at least partially the same.

That will not help prove the case to the Tories. They’ll only say suicides have many causes and should not be associated with a single element of a person’s life, blah blah blah. Oh, and that this evidence shows correlation, not causation – that is to say, there is no direct causal evidence linking the Conservative government’s benefit policy with mental illness and suicide, blah blah blah.

In fact, there is direct causal evidence – I’d say suicide notes by some of the deceased, directly blaming the government, are direct evidence. And there’s no evidence showing an increase in mental ill-health, malnutrition, deaths of the homeless and suicides of benefit claimants before the Tories forced austerity on those people.

But of course the government has other ideas. And we all know what Tories think of experts – remember what Michael Gove had to say about them?

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People with disabilities SHOULD fear losing benefits because they’re too active. Even cancer patients can’t get them

Fear: Former Paralympian Carly Tait said it was devastating to be told her Motability car could be taken away.

If this information is accurate, you can’t blame people with disabilities.

Only days ago, we learned about a woman with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a very serious form of cancer – who was denied Personal Independence Payment because she was considered not to be sick enough.

The problem is that failure to exercise, even in a rudimentary way, may affect the life expectancy of a person with a long-term illness or disability.

We’re often told exercise is good for us, after all.

So it is possible that, by doing what they think will ensure that they continue to receive benefits, these people are doing the Tory government’s dirty work for it.

It’s a particularly nasty Catch-22.

We should be glad that a future Labour government will take a good, hard look at the benefit system, with a view to restoring its original purpose as support for people in need, rather than their doom.

Disabled people avoid exercise as they fear being stripped of much-relied on benefits for appearing “too independent”, campaigners say.

New research, published by Activity Alliance, says that almost half (47%) worry the government will cut their benefit if they seem too active for a disabled person.

But almost two-thirds (65%) said they rely on benefits to maintain a healthy lifestyle and that, without support, they could not afford travel, specialist equipment and paid-for exercise.

Source: Almost Half Of Disabled People Fear Being Stripped Of Benefits For Being ‘Too Active’

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Poor-quality jobs are bad for your health. Why are they the only jobs our Tory government can find for us?

Department for Work and Pensions: Pushing people into jobs that are bad for their health?

You might think this research by the London School of Economics is only pointing out something we know already.

It’s true that jobs with poor working conditions and/or remuneration are known to be bad for our health, pushing stress levels up, meaning any likely benefits are lost.

Before I became a carer (and, later, an online journalist), This Writer worked for a newspaper that piled on the pressure while providing very few benefits. I – wisely – left after management made decisions that would have further harmed my standard of living.

I know poor work leads to ill-health. Many people become depressed as a result of pressure place on them by employers or work colleagues. That puts unnecessary pressure on the health service.

The research also makes it abundantly clear that people with a history of illness have less opportunity to obtain paid work than those who are more healthy.

This is something we already knew, and it has become a serious issue in recent years, as the Conservative government has imposed rules that allow civil servants to force people with long-term illnesses and disabilities off benefits.

The LSE research shows that around 800 of the 1,000 initially-unemployed people involved in the study were not on benefits at the start – they were living on other sources of income including handouts from friends and family members.

If that situation really is representative of the unemployed population, then it means 80 per cent of our unemployed people are being denied statutory benefits.

That’s a shocking figure!

Yet they are less stressed than people who have been shoehorned into low-quality work – the only work that seems to be on offer under race-to-the-bottom Conservatism.

People working in poor quality jobs have higher levels of chronic stress than those who are unemployed.

We followed up a cohort of over 1000 unemployed adults who were representative of the population of unemployed adults living in the UK in 2009-10 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We then compared what happened to the health and stress levels of those who remained unemployed and those who got jobs of both good and poor quality.

Unsurprisingly, those who found work in good quality jobs had a big improvement in their mental health. Moreover, those with any job, whether it is a good or bad job, had a bigger increase in their household incomes than those who remained unemployed.

However, contrary to the “any job is better than no job” assumption, we found that the improvements in the mental health of formerly unemployed adults who became reemployed in poor quality work (with two or more adverse job measures) were not any different from their peers who remained unemployed.

More significantly… those who were working in poor quality work actually had higher levels of allostatic load (chronic stress-related biomarkers) than their peers who remained unemployed.

We also examined the possibility that the unemployed adults who subsequently were employed in poor quality jobs had worse health and more stress at the start compared to their peers who remained unemployed. But this was actually not true. As many others have found, there are strong selection pressures into employment, and healthier people are much more likely to find work (any type of work, whether good or bad) than unhealthier people.

Source: Is any job really better than no job at all?


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A taxpayer-funded lobby group is a breach of government rules – but only an INDEPENDENT inquiry will prove that

Chummy: Brexiters Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

This Site has reported on this story before.

The funding of a lobby group with taxpayers’ money is a clear conflict of interest, no matter what the Tory government says.

But it’ll take an independent inquiry to establish that.

A number of Cabinet members appear to have breached the rules of government through their membership of a secretive hard-Brexit lobby group, now chaired by the outspoken government critic Jacob-Rees Mogg.

Senior Conservative ministers including Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and David Gauke have used taxpayers’ cash to fund the hard-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), which is now led by Rees-Mogg MP, who has been accused in recent days of trying to undermine Prime Minister Theresa May and oust her Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

The ministers have funded this lobby group (through their expense claims) whilst holding posts in government – despite the ministerial code prohibiting ministers from becoming “associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy”.

New evidence shows that a number of other key figures in government – including Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Fernandes – have remained active in the ERG after taking on government posts, and that the senior whip Chris Heaton-Harris has hosted meetings for them inside parliament.

A government spokesperson has denied that there has been any breach of the rules. But a number of Labour and SNP MPs have now called on the parliamentary authorities to “urgently investigate” the matter, with former Foreign office minister Chris Bryant calling it a “clear conflict of interest”; Caroline Lucas labelling the findings “deeply concerning” and the SNP’s Deirdre Brock asking, “What kind of shameless opportunist would be supporting their colleagues in public while betraying them in private?”

Source: MPs demand ‘urgent investigation’ into Cabinet ministers’ support for hard-Brexit lobby group | openDemocracy


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Jeremy Corbyn’s social justice speech to the UN in Geneva

Jeremy Corbyn delivering his speech to the United Nations in Geneva.

Jeremy Corbyn had better things to do with his time than listen to Theresa May and her Tories trying to justify their latest Brexit-related mess.

He was in Geneva, delivering a landmark speech about why the survival of our common humanity demands a new approach, based on solidarity, international co-operation and human rights.

Would you like to know what he said?

See for yourself. Here’s the speech in full:

Let me give a special thanks to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Your work gives an important platform to marginalised voices for social justice to challenge policy makers and campaign for change.

I welcome pressure both on my party the British Labour Party and on my leadership to put social justice front and centre stage in everything we do.

So thank you for inviting me to speak here in this historic setting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva a city that has been a place of refuge and philosophy since the time of Rousseau.

The headquarters before the Second World War of the ill-fated League of Nations, which now houses the United Nations.

It’s a particular privilege to be speaking here because the constitution of our party includes a commitment to support the United Nations. A promise “to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all”.

I’d also like to thank my fellow panellists, Arancha Gonzalez and Nikhil Seth, and Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Shami Chakrabarti, who has accompanied me here.

She has been a remarkable campaigner and a great asset to the international movement for human rights.

And lastly let me thank you all for being here today.

I would like to use this opportunity in the run- up to International Human Rights Day to focus on the greatest threats to our common humanity.

And why states need to throw their weight behind genuine international cooperation and human rights both individual and collective, social and economic, as well as legal and constitutional at home and abroad if we are to meet and overcome those threats.

My own country is at a crossroads. The decision by the British people to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum means we have to rethink our role in the world.

Some want to use Brexit to turn Britain in on itself, rejecting the outside world, viewing everyone as a feared competitor.

Others want to use Brexit to put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities, turning Britain into a deregulated corporate tax haven, with low wages, limited rights, and cut-price public services in a destructive race to the bottom.

My party stands for a completely different future when we leave the EU, drawing on the best internationalist traditions of the labour movement and our country.

We want to see close and cooperative relationships with our European neighbours, outside the EU, based on solidarity as well as mutual benefit and fair trade, along with a wider proactive internationalism across the globe.

We are proud that Britain was an original signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights and our 1998 Human Rights Act enshrined it in our law.

So Labour will continue to work with other European states and progressive parties and movements, through the Council of Europe to ensure our country and others uphold our international obligations.

Just as the work of the UN Human Rights Council helps to ensure countries like ours live up to our commitments, such as on disability rights, where this year’s report found us to be failing.

International cooperation, solidarity, collective action are the values we are determined to project in our foreign policy.

Those values will inform everything the next Labour government does on the world stage, using diplomacy to expand a progressive, rules-based international system, which provides justice and security for all.

They must be genuinely universal and apply to the strong as much as the weak if they are to command global support and confidence.

They cannot be used to discipline the weak, while the strong do as they please, or they will be discredited as a tool of power, not justice.

That’s why we must ensure that the powerful uphold and respect international rules and international law.

If we don’t, the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 will remain an aspiration, rather than a reality and international rules will be seen as a pick and mix menu for the global powers that call the international shots.

Most urgently we must work with other countries to advance the cause of human rights, to confront the four greatest and interconnected threats facing our common humanity.

First, the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite, a system many call neoliberalism, which has sharply increased inequality, marginalisation, insecurity and anger across the world.

Second, climate change, which is creating instability, fuelling conflict across the world and threatening all our futures.

Third, the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, social breakdown and climate disasters.

And finally, the use of unilateral military action and intervention, rather than diplomacy and negotiation, to resolve disputes and change governments.

The dominant global economic system is broken.

It is producing a world where a wealthy few control 90 percent of global resources.

Of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations, where more than 100 billion dollars a year are estimated to be lost to developing countries from corporate tax avoidance.

Where $1 trillion dollars a year are sucked out of the Global South through illicit financial flows.

This is a global scandal.

The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for whom our world is run.

Thirty years after structural adjustment programmes first ravaged so much of the world, and a decade after the financial crash of 2008, the neoliberal orthodoxy that delivered them is breaking down.

This moment, a crisis of confidence in a bankrupt economic system and social order, presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to build a new economic and social consensus which puts the interests of the majority first.

But the crumbling of the global elite’s system and their prerogative to call the shots unchallenged has led some politicians to stoke fear and division. And deride international cooperation as national capitulation.

President Trump’s disgraceful Muslim ban and his anti-Mexican rhetoric have fuelled racist incitement and misogyny and shift the focus away from what his Wall Street-dominated administration is actually doing.

In Britain, where wages have actually fallen for most people over the last decade as the corporations and the richest have been handed billions in tax cuts, our Prime Minister has followed a less extreme approach but one that also aims to divert attention from her Government’s failures and real agenda.

She threatens to scrap the Human Rights Act, which guarantees all of our people’s civil and political rights and has actually benefited everyone in our country. And she has insisted “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”.

There is an alternative to this damaging and bankrupt order. The world’s largest corporations and banks cannot be left to write the rules and rig the system for themselves.

The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good and the majority of its people. But that is going to demand real and fundamental structural change on an international level.

The UN has a pivotal role to play, in advancing a new consensus and common ground based on solidarity, respect for human rights and international regulation and cooperation.

That includes as a platform for democratic leaders to speak truth about unaccountable power.

One such moment took place on 4 December 1972, when President Salvador Allende of Chile, elected despite huge opposition and US interference, took the rostrum of the UN General Assembly in New York.

He called for global action against the threat from transnational corporations, that do not answer to any state, any parliament or any organisation representing the common interest.

Nine months later, Allende was killed in General Augusto Pinochet’s coup, which ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship and turned Chile into a laboratory of free market fundamentalism.

But 44 years on, all over the world people are standing up and saying enough to the unchained power of multinational companies to dodge taxes, grab land and resources on the cheap and rip the heart out of workforces and communities.

That’s why I make the commitment to you today that the next Labour government in Britain will actively support the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council to create a legally binding treaty to regulate transnational corporations under international human rights law.

Genuine corporate accountability must apply to all of the activities of their subsidiaries and suppliers.

Impunity for corporations that violate human rights or wreck our environment, as in the mineral-driven conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, must be brought to an end.

For too long, development has been driven by the unfounded dogma that unfettered markets and unaccountable multinational companies are the key to solving global problems.

So under the next Labour Government the Department for International Development will have the twin mission of not only eradicating poverty but also reducing inequality across the world.

To achieve this goal we must act against the global scandal of tax dodging and trade mis-invoicing – robbing developing countries and draining resources from our own public services.

In Africa alone an estimated 35 billion dollars is lost each year to tax dodging, and 50 billion to illicit financial flows, vastly exceeding the 30 billion dollars that enters the continent as aid.

As the Paradise and Panama Papers have shown the super-rich and the powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves.

Multinational companies must be required to undertake country-by-country reporting, while countries in the Global South need support now to keep hold of the billions being stolen from their people.

So the next Labour government will seek to work with tax authorities in developing countries, as Zambia has with NORAD – the Norwegian aid agency – to help them stop the looting.

Tomorrow is International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption isn’t something that happens ‘over there’. Our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy and violates human rights. It is a global issue that requires a global response.

When people are kept in poverty, while politicians funnel public funds into tax havens, that is corruption, and a Labour government will act decisively on tax havens: introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners … for all companies and trusts.

Climate change is the second great threat to our common humanity. Our planet is in jeopardy. Global warming is undeniable; the number of natural disasters has quadrupled since 1970.

Hurricanes like the ones that recently hit the Caribbean are bigger because they are absorbing moisture from warmer seas.

It is climate change that is warming the seas, mainly caused by emissions from the world’s richer countries.

And yet the least polluting countries, more often than not the developing nations, are at the sharp end of the havoc climate change unleashes – with environmental damage fuelling food insecurity and social dislocation.

We must stand with them in solidarity. Two months ago, I promised the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, that I would use this platform to make this message clear.

The international community must mobilise resources and the world’s biggest polluters shoulder the biggest burden.

So I ask governments in the most polluting countries, including in the UK:

First, to expand their capacity to respond to disasters around the world. Our armed forces, some of the best trained and most highly skilled in the world, should be allowed to use their experience to respond to humanitarian emergencies. Italy is among those leading the way with its navy becoming a more versatile and multi-role force.

Second, to factor the costs of environmental degradation into financial forecasting as Labour has pledged to do with Britain’s Office of Budget Responsibility.

Third, to stand very firmly behind the historic Paris Climate Accords.

And finally, take serious and urgent steps on debt relief and cancellation.
We need to act as an international community against the injustice of countries trying to recover from climate crises they did not create while struggling to repay international debts.

It’s worth remembering the words of Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, delivered to the Organisation of African Unity in 1987 a few months before he too was assassinated in a coup.

“The debt cannot be repaid“ he said, “first because if we don’t repay lenders will not die. But if we repay… we are going to die.”

The growing climate crisis exacerbates the already unparalleled numbers of people escaping conflict and desperation.

There are now more refugees and displaced people around the world than at any time since the Second World War.

Refugees are people like us.

But unlike us they have been forced by violence, persecution and climate chaos to flee their homes.

One of the biggest moral tests of our time is how we live up to the spirit and letter of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Its core principle was simple: to protect refugees.

Yet ten countries, which account for just 2.5 percent of the global economy, are hosting more than half the world’s refugees.

It is time for the world’s richer countries to step up and show our common humanity.

Failure means millions of Syrians internally displaced within their destroyed homeland or refugees outside it. Rohingya refugees returned to Myanmar without guarantees of citizenship or protection from state violence and refugees held in indefinite detention in camps unfit for human habitation as in Papua New Guinea or Nauru. And African refugees sold into slavery in war-ravaged Libya.

This reality should offend our sense of humanity and human solidarity.

European countries can, and must, do more as the death rate of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean continues to rise.

And we need to take more effective action against human traffickers.

But let us be clear: the long-term answer is genuine international cooperation based on human rights, which confronts the root causes of conflict, persecution and inequality.

I’ve spent most of my life, with many others, making the case for diplomacy and dialogue… over war and conflict, often in the face of hostility.

But I remain convinced that is the only way to deliver genuine and lasting security for all.

And even after the disastrous invasions and occupations of recent years there is again renewed pressure to opt for military force, America First or Empire 2.0 as the path to global security.

I know the people of Britain are neither insensitive to the sufferings of others nor blind to the impact and blowback from our country’s reckless foreign wars.

Regime change wars, invasions, interventions and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and Somalia have failed on their own terms, devastated the countries and regions and made Britain and the world a more dangerous place.
And while the UK government champions some human rights issues on others it is silent, if not complicit, in their violation.

Too many have turned a wilfully blind eye to the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fuelled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds.

The see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach undermines our credibility and ability to act over other human rights abuses.

Total British government aid to Yemen last year was under £150 million – less than the profits made by British arms companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen?

Our credibility to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is severely undermined when the British Government has been providing support to Myanmar’s military.

And our Governments pay lip service to a comprehensive settlement and two state solution to the Israel- Palestine conflict but do nothing to use the leverage they have to end the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

70 years after the UN General Assembly voted to create a Palestinian state alongside what would become Israel, and half a century since Israel occupied the whole of historic Palestine, they should take a lead from Israeli peace campaigners such as Gush Shalom and Peace Now and demand an end to the multiple human rights abuses Palestinians face on a daily basis. The continued occupation and illegal settlements are violations of international law and are a barrier to peace.

The US president’s announcement that his administration will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a threat to peace that has rightly been met with overwhelming international condemnation.

The decision is not only reckless and provocative – it risks setting back any prospect of a political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

President Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly in September signalled a wider threat to peace. His attack on multilateralism, human rights and international law should deeply trouble us all.

And this is no time to reject the Iran Nuclear Deal, a significant achievement agreed between Iran and a group of world power to reduce tensions.

That threatens not just the Middle East but also the Korean Peninsula. What incentives are there for Pyongyang to believe disarmament will bring benefits when the US dumps its nuclear agreement with Tehran?

Trump and Kim Jong-un threaten a terrifying nuclear confrontation with their absurd and bellicose insults.

In common with almost the whole of humanity, I say to the two leaders: this is not a game, step back from the brink now.

It is a commonplace that war and violence do not solve the world’s problems. Violence breeds violence. In 2016 nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorism were in five states; Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia.

So let us stand up for the victims of war and terrorism and make international justice a reality.

And demand that the biggest arms exporters ensure all arms exports are consistent, not legally, but with their moral obligations too.

That means no more arms export licences when there is a clear risk that they will be used to commit human rights abuses or crimes against humanity.

The UK is one of the world’s largest arms exporters so we must live up to our international obligations while we explore ways to convert arms production into other socially useful, high-skill, high-tech industry.

Which is why I welcome the recent bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives resolution which does two unprecedented things.

First, it acknowledges the U.S. role in the destruction of Yemen, including the mid-air refuelling of the Saudi-led coalition planes essential to their bombing campaign and helping in selecting targets.

Second, it makes plain that Congress has not authorised this military involvement.

Yemen is a desperate humanitarian catastrophe with the worst cholera outbreak in history.

The weight of international community opinion needs to be brought to bear on those supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, including Theresa May’s Government, to meet our legal and moral obligations on arms sales and to negotiate an urgent ceasefire and settlement of this devastating conflict.

If we’re serious about supporting peace we must strengthen international cooperation and peacekeeping.  Britain has an important role to play after failing to contribute significant troop numbers in recent years.

We are determined to seize the opportunity to be a force for good in peacekeeping, diplomacy and support for human rights.

Labour is committed to invest in our diplomatic capabilities and consular services and we will reintroduce human rights advisers in our embassies around the world.

Human rights and justice will be at the heart of our foreign policy along with a commitment to support the United Nations.

The UN provides a unique platform for international cooperation and action. And to be effective, we need member states to get behind the reform agenda set out by Secretary General Guterres.

The world demands the UN Security Council responds, becomes more representative and plays the role it was set up to on peace and security.

We can live in a more peaceful world. The desire to help create a better life for all burns within us.

Governments, civil society, social movements and international organisations can all help realise that goal.

We need to redouble our efforts to create a global rules based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.

No more bomb first and think and talk later.

No more double standards in foreign policy.

No more scapegoating of global institutions for the sake of scoring political points at home.

Instead: solidarity, calm leadership and cooperation. Together we can:

Build a new social and economic system with human rights and justice at its core.

Deliver climate justice and a better way to live together on this planet.

Recognise the humanity of refugees and offer them a place of safety.

Work for peace, security and understanding.

The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less.

We need to recognise and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others – our voice must be their voice.


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Labour MP who made anti-Semitism accusations against Corbyn was funded by Israel lobby

Ruth Smeeth (second from right) meeting Israeli politician Isaac Herzog (third from left) as part of a Labour Friends of Israel delegation [Image: LFI/Twitter].

Ruth Smeeth (second from right) meeting Israeli politician Isaac Herzog (third from left) as part of a Labour Friends of Israel delegation [Image: LFI/Twitter].

For information. As you can see, it seems Labour has more worrying organisations infiltrating the party than Tom Watson’s ‘Trotskyites’:

[A member of] the UK’s Labour Party who played a key role in this year’s manufactured anti-Semitism crisis maintained ties to the Israel lobby once she entered Parliament.

Official records show that Ruth Smeeth was funded by two ultra-wealthy figures from the same pro-Israel organization she once worked for. But these relationships have been overlooked by the British press, which have extensively reported on her allegations of anti-Semitic abuse at the hands of Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

The register for legislators’ financial interests shows that Smeeth declared a donation of £5,000 ($6,200) from Poju Zabludowicz’s company Tamares Real Estates in June last year. She declared a donation worth £2,500 ($3,100) from Trevor Chinn, former chair of the Kwit-Fit chain of motor garages, at the same time.

Zabludowicz is the billionaire property speculator who was once reported to own 40 percent of downtown Las Vegas. He used his wealth, inherited from his Israeli arms dealer father, to establish BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.

Chinn, who sits on BICOM’s executive committee, has long been a Labour donor, and has funded leadership rivals to left-wing, pro-Palestinian Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Smeeth was BICOM’s director of public affairs and campaigns between late 2005 and mid 2007.

Before she ran for office in May 2010, she joined the Community Security Trust, an anti-Semitism watchdog charity known to have links to Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Smeeth made headlines in June this year when she walked out of the launch of a report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, claiming she had been the victim of bigotry at the event.

The allegations have been exaggerated and weaponized by Corbyn’s political enemies – and in some cases outright fabricated.

In the most high-profile case of fabrication, former BICOM intern Alex Chalmers claimed in February that there was anti-Semitism coming from “a large proportion” of his student Labour club “and the student left in Oxford more generally.”

Source: UK Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was funded by Israel lobby | The Electronic Intifada

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