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Are you convinced by the Met police’s excuse for incident with Linford Christie athletes?

I’m not.

The Metropolitan Police say they were well within their rights to stop – and handcuff – athletes Ricardo dos Santos and Bianca Williams while their three-month-old son was left in their car.

Linford Christie – yes, that Linford Christie, the UK’s most successful sprinter, and a mentor of both athletes – posted video of the incident on Twitter. It’s quite disturbing:

He also posted a statement:

“Two of my athletes were stopped by the police today [July 4], both international athletes, both parents of a three month old baby who was with them and both handcuffed outside of their home,” he wrote.

“Can Cressida Dick or anyone please explain to me what justication the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?

“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”

Now here’s the Met’s rationalisation:

The stop took place at about 1.25pm and was executed by the Territorial Support Group, which was patrolling the area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.

The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

Has anyone seen evidence that these athletes were driving on the wrong side of the road? I haven’t.

And the “blacked-out windows” excuse has been used on black people before – and been found to be false, with the tints found to be within legal levels.

“The car sped off.” Did it, though? If you’re travelling in a built-up area – in London! – and the police turn up behind you, telling you to stop, it seems unlikely that’ you’re going to get too far. Maybe that’s just my impression.

Linford Christie is, of course, intimately familiar with institutional racism, after he won Olympic Gold in the 100m in August 1992 and the press belittled the achievement – he was only the second British athlete to manage it since Harold Abrahams in 1924 – by cultivating an unhealthy obsession with his euphemistically-titled “lunchbox”.

I think there’s more to this than the Met have admitted and the facts should come out.

Why did police really stop this car?

Was it because the occupants were black?

Reports say the couple are seriously considering taking the Met to court and I think they should. Agreed?

Source: Met police deny misconduct after Linford Christie athletes stopped | UK news | The Guardian

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The Tory disablist double-bind: risk your life at work – or risk it by being denied benefits


Isn’t this the Conservative government turning the screw on people with disabilities – and on parents – yet again?

People could be forced to take on work that places their health at risk or face losing their benefits as the government’s suspension to job-seeking requirements for benefit claimants is set to come to an end within days.

The government announced in March that the requirement for people receiving universal credit to prove that they are looking for work – which would currently apply to more than 2 million people on the benefit – would be paused for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This suspension is set to end next Tuesday, meaning millions of people will need to prove they are actively seeking work or face being sanctioned and losing their financial support.

Charities are concerned that people who are shielding or suffer from underlying health conditions would face an “uphill struggle” to find suitable work – and may potentially accept jobs that place their health at risk in order to avoid benefit sanctions.

There are also mounting concerns that ongoing disruption to schools and childcare options mean people may need to care for their children during the time they could otherwise spend working or applying for jobs, which could result in them being sanctioned.

It’s a classic double-bind.

Either people with disabilities put their health – possibly their lives – at risk in work that could even lead to their deaths…

Or they forfeit their chance to get state benefits, putting their health – possibly their lives – at risk.

Disablism in action.

Source: People could be forced to take on jobs that place health at risk as suspension on benefit sanctions set to end | The Independent

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Police service rejects new powers lowering bar for stop and search

West Midlands Police was among the services included in a pilot scheme to lower the level of authorisation needed for stop-searches – but didn’t take up the extension of powers at all.

Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision to expand the pilot scheme nationwide suggested she had not bothered to examine its findings.

He said West Midlands police did not use the extra powers because they didn’t need to – and condemned the extension announcement as an attempt to get headlines ahead of an election.

Amazingly, considering his comments, the Home Office has asserted that all forces involved in the pilot had said they are “using some or both”* of the relaxed restrictions on powers.

West Midlands police have refused to take up an offer of new powers to make it easier for officers to conduct stop and searches.

The force was included in a pilot scheme to lower the level of authorisation needed for such searches, but data shows officers still sought approval from assistant chief constables.

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allows officers to search anyone in a designated area without suspicion for a defined period if police anticipate serious violence.

On Sunday the home secretary, Priti Patel, announced a nationwide extension of the pilot scheme lowering the authorisation needed for a section 60 from a senior officer to an inspector.

Source: Police force declines new powers lowering bar for stop and search | Law | The Guardian

*Whatever that means!

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Johnson announces new prison places and extension of stop/search police powers. Why?

Is this just electioneering?

An extra 10,000 new prison places will be created and stop-and-search powers expanded, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised.

The first new prison in the £2.5bn programme will be at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire, where expansion plans have previously been announced.

Last month, the government also pledged to recruit 20,000 extra police officers, nearly replacing the number of officers lost since the Conservatives returned to power.

But the 20,000 new police places were quickly debunked; the additions will add nothing to police ranks once natural wastage has been taken into account.

The Ministry of Justice has already said it was on course to create 3,360 places at two new prisons by 2023 and the Prison Reform Trust said the suggestion that all 10,000 newly-announced places really were new was “misleading” given earlier announcements.

The trust said prisons needed 12,000 more places just to eliminate overcrowding and accommodate new prisoners who have already been sentenced – and the announcement would increase the use of imprisonment before the capacity to provide it had been created.

As for stop-and-search powers – these had been reined in by Theresa May’s government after it was revealed that they are sometimes misused and that they disproportionately target black people – who were 9.5 times more likely to be searched than white people.

Now, a pilot scheme making it easier for police to search people without reasonable suspicion, in places where serious violence may occur, is being extended to all 43 forces across England and Wales.

But the results of the pilot scheme are not fully known yet. It is possible that the new measure will expose innocent citizens to even more abuse.

And this is the reason some commentators believe these pledges are just electioneering ploys.

They believe it is more likely that Boris Johnson wants his government to present the appearance of being tough on crime, in order to gain an electoral advantage.

The aim may be to contrive a public relations victory – painting the Tories as the “Party of Law and Order” once again, while Labour would be cast as opponents of these measures.

But Labour has in fact been calling for action to tackle violent crime for a considerable period of time.

The all-party Parliamentary group on knife crime was founded (and is chaired) by Labour MP Sarah Jones.

When she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening (August 11), it seemed clear that she did not approve of the measures announced by Mr Johnson and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

So perhaps this is just an election strategy. We’ll find out soon.

Source: PM to create 10,000 new prison places and extend stop-and-search – BBC News

If right-wing hate propagandists are manipulating the Internet, how do we stop them?

Google has ‘a terrible problem’ with its search algorithm being manipulated by the far right, said data scientist Cathy O’Neil [Image: Yui Mok/PA].

Google has ‘a terrible problem’ with its search algorithm being manipulated by the far right, said data scientist Cathy O’Neil [Image: Yui Mok/PA].

Bizarrely, this manipulation by right-wing hate-propagandists could have a beneficial effect – Google may end up employing human editors to ensure the company evades any… legal entanglements.

But the issue of fake news is huge. Tom Watson may have made a fool of himself, attacking The Canary for no very good reason, but there is a serious point here.

If right-wing manipulators are spreading disinformation, they are to be countered – or people will make political decisions based on this nonsense and who knows where we’ll end up?

The article states that Jonathan Albright, assistant professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, said right wing websites had launched a new “information war”, and were winning.

His research has shown that fake news and information is a far bigger structural problem than had been previously realised. He has mapped a “vast satellite system that is encroaching on the mainstream news system”.

Websites propagating extreme right wing propaganda have thrown out thousands of hyperlinks that connect to each other and to mainstream news sources, such as YouTube and Facebook, and he says they “are growing in strength and influence every day”.

How do we fight this?

Google must urgently review its search ranking system because of “compelling” evidence that it is being “manipulated and controlled” by rightwing propagandists, leading academics have said, after the Observer reported that hate sites are now dominating searches on Muslims, Jews, Hitler and women.
Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and the author of Weapons on Math Destruction, said that unless Google acknowledged responsibility for the problem, it would be a “co-conspirator” with the propagandists. “This is the end for Google pretending to be a neutral platform,” she said. “It clearly has a terrible problem here and it has to own and acknowledge that.

“It simply can’t go on pretending that it has no editorial responsibilities when it is delivering these kinds of results. It is simply not defensible for it go on claiming ‘plausible deniability’. It has clearly become a conduit for rightwing hate sites and it must urgently take action.”

Google had removed the lines suggesting that Jews and black people are evil and that blacks “commit more crimes”, but it is still suggesting Muslims were “bad” and that Islam “should be destroyed”. While Facebook has faced criticism in the wake of revelations about how the site had become a conduit for fake news, the problem facing Google is potentially even more intractable.

Source: Google ‘must review its search rankings because of rightwing manipulation’ | Technology | The Guardian

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The two faces of Theresa May

Prove who you are: Theresa May and David Cameron check the credentials of two police officers, to ensure they aren't illegal immigrants. No, not really - but don't be surprised if police checkpoints start appearing everywhere with people in peaked caps demanding your papers, just like in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s! (According to the caption that accompanied this picture last year)

Prove who you are: Theresa May and David Cameron check the credentials of two police officers, to ensure they aren’t illegal immigrants. No, not really – but don’t be surprised if police checkpoints start appearing everywhere with people in peaked caps demanding your papers, just like in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s!
(According to the caption that accompanied this picture last year)

The Home Secretary has been on stage at the Conservative Party conference, trying to convince us all that she is no longer using the police to pursue racist policies.

Speaking after a young man of Afro-Caribbean descent told delegates he had been stopped no less than 20 times, despite never having committed a crime, Theresa May asked the conference to imagine what it is like to be stopped by police and searched “only because you are young, male and black”.

She said 27 per cent of stop-searches are carried out without the reasonable grounds for suspicion required by law, which is not only wrong, she says, but “hugely damaging” to confidence in the police.

She reckons she has “reformed” (they love that word) stop and search.

Is this the same woman who – only one year ago – sponsored an advertising campaign on the side of vans patrolling London, with the message “In the UK illegally? GO HOME OR FACE ARREST.”

Is this the same woman whose Home Office tweeted messages about the number of illegal immigrants it wished to claim had been detected or turned themselves in – and even transmitted photographs of suspects in a move that was certain to undermine any claims that it was not trying to incite racial hatred?

Is this the same woman whose immigration officers carried out stop-checks at railway stations, demanding to see identification proving that people were in the UK legally, apparently because they looked foreign?

Theresa May can say what she likes.

We should judge her by her record.

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Why the Tories should know privatising Job Centres won’t work

Parked on the dole: Closing Job Centres and handing responsibility for finding work to private companies would condemn thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of people to a life on benefits (if they don't get sanctioned and starve).

Parked on the dole: Closing Job Centres and handing responsibility for finding work to private companies would condemn thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people to a life on benefits (if they don’t get sanctioned and starve).

It’s incredible that allies of George Osborne are backing proposals to shut down all Job Centres and let private companies fill the void.

The proposal to let the private sector find work for Britain’s unemployed is actually being considered for inclusion in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto for 2015, according to the Huffington Post.

It quotes a ‘senior Tory’ who told The Sun: “Introducing competition into the job search market is a natural Conservative thing to do.”

This means Conservatives are naturally unimaginative, if not altogether stupid.

Have they already forgotten the lessons learnt from the way work programme provider companies treated jobseekers that were sent their way – as Vox Political reported last year?

The process is known as “creaming and parking”.

Work programme providers knew that – because they get paid on the basis of the results they achieve – they needed to concentrate on the jobseekers who were more likely to find work quickly. These people were “creamed” off and fast-tracked into work, thereby creating profit for the companies.

And the others? Those who need more time and investment? They were “parked” – left without help, to languish in the benefit system for months and years on end – in a situation that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said many times that he wanted to reverse.

In fact, his policies have perpetuated the problem.

And now George Osborne wants to spread this practice to all jobseekers, across the country.

It’s time the voting public woke up to what the Conservative Party is, and “parked” it in the history books where it belongs.

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Jobseekers told to do more to find (non-existent) work

Esther McVile: The employment minister, who claims adamantly that changes to housing benefit do not constitute a 'bedroom tax', is pictured complaining about a so-called 'tunnel tax' in her own constituency in a blatant display of double standards.

Esther McVile: The employment minister, who claims adamantly that changes to housing benefit do not constitute a ‘bedroom tax’, is pictured complaining about a so-called ‘tunnel tax’ in her own constituency in a blatant display of double standards.

WARNING: This article has been edited using the ‘Guide to DWP euphemisms’ published by Richard Hutton, and with inspiration from it.

New rules coming into force at the end of the month mean jobseekers will have to do more to find work – even though there are currently five of them for every job available – the Department for Work and Pensions has announced.

Simply ‘signing-on’ for benefits will be a thing of the past under the draconian and repressive new rules.

Employment Minister and double-standards queen Esther McVey has hailed the new rules as undermining the range of support available, which helps diminish aspects of the social security system so that it no longer protects anybody from being left impoverished – in this case by making sure people cannot start claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) by just signing-on without first humbling themselves before the Tory-led government.

She said: “With the economy growing, unemployment falling and record numbers of people in work, now is the time to start expecting more of shirkers if they want to claim benefits. It’s only right that we should push people who are unemployed into such a depth of poverty that even ‘in-work’ poverty is a step-up.

“This is about taking support away from people and undermining the range of support available to them so they can hit rock bottom faster. In return, we will give people as much harassment as possible, to make them stop scrounging or face sanctions, because we know from employers that we have to break people’s spirit before they’ll work for a really low wage.”

To prepare for their first interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser, people looking for work will be told they will not even be able to sign as unemployed until they have prepared a CV, set up an email address – even though they might not have a computer on which to use it – and registering with the government’s discredited jobs website Universal Jobmatch, which will expose them to identity thieves and exploiters looking for sex workers. This change will make it possible to exploit people as soon as they start their JSA claim.

People who don’t tow the line will receive more harassment from their Jobcentre Plus adviser – weekly rather than fortnightly – to ensure they can be cleared off the books via sanctions if it proves impossible to push them into poverty work.

All new JSA claimants will also now have a quarterly review with their adviser, who will try to find a reason to impose sanctions and get them off the books.

These new measures are being introduced as figures show the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by over 363,000 on the year, the largest annual fall since 1998. This shows that the system of sanctions, putting people on Workfare to hide the fact that they are unemployed, and asking them to pretend that they are self-employed in order to fraudulently claim tax credits instead, is working.

The government is committed to sanctions and the vast majority of people are bullied off JSA quickly – more than 75 per cent of people end their claim within six months. Every working day Jobcentre Plus advisers shout at 98,000 interviews jobseekers and there are a range of ploys available to push them off the system. These include:

• Hiding them on the Work Programme
• Referring them for ‘training’ by companies that provide the minimum help available, take the money and run
• Putting people on pointless ‘work experience’ that won’t lead to a job but will clear them off the claimant count
• Fooling people with ‘incentives’ that mean nothing
• Getting people to pretend they are self-employed.

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