Tag Archives: theft

Court threat for Matt Hancock over whether ‘test and trace’ system keeps your personal information safe

Matt Hancock: like his boss Boris Johnson, he’s big on gestures but short on substance – and it seems he rushed his Covid-19 ‘test and trace’ system into operation without ensuring that it is entirely legal.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock could be dragged into court after the Tory government failed to show that its Covid-19 ‘test and trace’ system protects people’s personal information.

More than 150,000 people have had their personal information handled by the scheme since it was rushed into service on May 28, but the government has failed to conduct a risk assessment showing how these details will be protected from falling into the wrong hands.

This is required in accordance with a law that the Conservative government passed.

Now Matt Hancock has until July 8 to provide that information – or he will be brought to court:

Lawyers working on behalf of privacy and free speech organisation Open Rights Group (ORG) have issued health secretary Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with a pre-action legal letter that says they have breached requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR by failing to properly conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for the whole Test and Trace system.

Test and Trace has been criticised for failing to reach a quarter of people who tested positive for Covid-19, a lack of staff training as thousands of people were initially employed, and the collapse of the NHS-developed contact tracing app. Similarly to Test and Trace, no DPIA was available before the app’s trial on the Isle of Wight started.

Source: Matt Hancock faces day in court over NHS Test and Trace privacy failings | WIRED UK

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Antique clocks stolen from Foreign Office? Why were they there in the first place?

Mystery: what were antique clocks doing hidden in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – and who stole them?

Why are people making a fuss about antique clocks being stolen from the Foreign Office?

What were antique clocks doing at the Foreign Office in the first place?

Who stole them?

And why did the Foreign Office waste nearly a year before informing the public?

If they’re important historical artefacts, shouldn’t they be in a museum?

If not, then maybe our cash-strapped (that’s what they always say) government should try to make a couple of quid out of them – if they’re supposedly worth so much.

Perhaps that’s what somebody decided to do.

It gives This Writer cause to wonder what else HM Govt. is hiding in ministry back rooms and basements.

Perhaps it’s time for an audit of these assets, before any more of them go missing – or to find out how many already have.

More than £50,000 worth of clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office, the Mirror can reveal.

According to newly released documents, nine antique timepieces, valued at £53,000, were “unlawfully removed” from storage in the department’s King Charles Street building in July last year.

Police were called in, but have been unable to investigate further because of “lack of leads,” the documents show.

The items are still missing, and are on the Police’s ‘stolen antiques’ list.

Source: More than £50,000 worth of antique clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office – Mirror Online

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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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Benefit delays have forced more people to steal in order to feed their families

Stories of benefit claimants being forced to steal to feed their families are starting to come in thick and fast – just as This Site predicted long ago.

And what’s to blame? Of course – Universal Credit.

In this instance, it seems Shane Norman and Stacey Lawson used their child’s push chair to conceal £21 worth of food they took from Iceland in Lincoln.

They had been pushed onto Universal Credit recently and – inevitably – their first payment had been delayed (in order to push them deep into poverty, surely, although the Tory government always denies this).

The couple had used up all the visits to the food bank that they were allowed and believed they had no alternative.

According to Lincolnshire Live, Mark McNeil spoke for the couple in court. He said: “The couple were caught in a benefits gap as it was changing over to universal credit.

“They were left for weeks without any income. This was an act of desperation.

“Had the benefits been paid on time as they should be, they would have not found themselves in this situation.”

His words are clear. The Conservative government drove this couple to crime by its own improper behaviour. It pushed them to desperation – as it has pushed many others and will push many more.

Netanyahu’s naked empire-building: He demands US recognise Israeli ownership of Golan Heights

Land thief: Benjamin Netanyahu.

Let’s get this straight: The Golan Heights are owned by Syria. Israel has occupied them illegally since 1967.

Benjamin Netanyahu is simply seeking legitimisation of his country’s land-grab.

It is worth noting that Priti Patel resigned in disgrace after meeting Israeli politicians and then calling for the Department for International Development to give international aid money to field hospitals run by the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.

This would have been a tacit granting of legitimacy to the Israeli claim from the UK government.

Fortunately, it seems nobody is keen to accept Mr Netanyahu’s claim.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today said that he would not back down on his demand that the US recognise Israel’s right to the occupied Golan Heights.

“I will not give up our expectation that the United States recognise Israeli sovereignty over Golan,” he said in a statement.

Netanyahu’s remarks come one day after US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reutersthat the US administration was “not considering the possibility” of recognising Israel’s right to the Syrian area.

Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when it also occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The UN continues to describe the Israel-held Golan Heights as “occupied” territory.

Source: Netanyahu urges US to recognise Israel’s right to Golan – Middle East Monitor

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Bank bailout was the greatest theft of wealth in history. Will Miliband reverse it?

150113bankrepayments

The money given to UK banks and the amount paid back by October last year – nothing but interest [Image: claritynews.co.uk].

There’s a passage in Russell Brand’s Revolution in which he quotes a chap called Dave Graeber as follows: “During the bailout of Wall Street, $30 trillion in support and subsidies went to the most powerful players… That was the greatest theft of wealth in history.”

Here in the UK, we were part of that. The Brown (Labour) administration paid a fortune into our own banks to keep them solvent because they were also participants in the global economic crisis – it had to, otherwise all of our savings would have disappeared.

We all thought this was reasonable, at the time. Shore up the banks, sure – they’ll pay us back in the long run. Have they paid us back?

Have they heck as like!

(That’s a colloquialism meaning, emphatically, no.)

The Conservative – sorry, Coalition – government has even been helping them steal some more. Look at this RealFare image:

150113camerontaxcuts

The bankers involved in the bailout were all on the top rate of tax – bank on it! – so there’s a double tax cut for them, and their employers enjoyed the Corporation Tax cut too. That’s a huge amount of money that the Treasury has given away to people who already owe the nation a huge amount of money!

Meanwhile George Osborne announces more billions of pounds worth of spending cuts, taking money from the poor.

You see – and perhaps this has been obscured lately – government spending involves the redistribution of wealth, and on the face of it this is to make society more equal. What the poorest can’t afford, the state will provide, to ensure a reasonable standard of living for everybody.

But George Osborne, David Cameron and their government have pig-headedly used the financial crisis and the debts created by it to punish the poor and increase inequality.

The bankers have not been asked to give back the money they were given to bail themselves out – that money has been stolen.

The government has withdrawn spending from people who need it and given the money to people who don’t in tax cuts – that money has also been stolen.

Just because it doesn’t appear in the statute books as an act of theft doesn’t make it any less so.

And now it seems another banking crisis is on its way – because the people who caused the last one are still in charge, haven’t learned their lesson (why should they? They were rewarded for the last crisis), and are hell-bent on repeating the calamity because the only people it hurt were too poor to do anything about it – people like yourself.

Look at this, by Michael Meacher MP: “Six years after the financial breakdown in 2008-9 it is therefore disturbing to see the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority seeking public acclaim for the large increase in financial penalties it has imposed on miscreant banks, as though this has changed the culture of hubris that has infected the major banks over the last decade or more.

“The FCA has certainly imposed fines of £1.4bn on the UK banks in this last year, but that is… too modest by comparison with the enormity of their regular annual profits to change the City’s amoral mindset, and above all focused on the banking institutions themselves (the shareholders) rather than on the real perpetrators (the top executives and traders).

“Not a single top executive in the UK financial sector has been convicted and sent to prison, even for such egregious offences as rigging the Libor and forex markets.”

Ed Miliband has promised to reform the banks, “so they support small businesses” – is that enough?

In September 2012, he promised that, if banks did not separate their retail and investment arms, a future Labour government would break them up (with the aim of protecting personal account holders from debts created by the gambling of the so-called ‘casino’ bankers) – is that enough?

What will be enough?

From where this writer is sitting, the banks and financial institutions are sitting on billions – if not trillions – of pounds of money that doesn’t belong to them, while millions suffer and starve.

Going back to Revolution, Russell points out that this kind of money could cancel the debts of everyone, not just an elite; it could create employment and ‘ease’ life for ordinary people, not just an elite.

Ed Miliband could win an election on this. If he said “A Labour government will take your money back from the banks and use it to improve the lives of everyone,” he’d have a landslide on his hands.

How about it, Ed?

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Was political propaganda as blatant as this under Labour?

131109doublespeak

The DWP press office put out a diabolical piece of bilge masquerading as news on Friday. It’s so godawful I have to share it with you.

The gist is that the new ‘Claimant Commitment’ a contract “demanding more from jobseekers” is now in place across the whole of the UK, with 635,000 JSA claimants having been forced to sign these agreements.

But let’s go through it in detail, with each paragraph clarified by Vox Political‘s special ‘BS’ translation service.

“The Claimant Commitment has now been successfully rolled out across the country, the latest figures show. It means all new jobseekers and those completing the Work Programme must agree and sign the commitment in order to receive benefits.” Translation: It doesn’t matter that you’ve paid taxes all your working life – you do what we say or we bankrupt you.

“The new agreement sees jobseekers agree the steps they will take each week to give them the best chance of getting into work.” Translation: Agreement has nothing to do with it – we’ll make them jump through hoops in a poodle costume if we want but it won’t help them get a job.

“This could include registering and looking for work through Universal Jobmatch or a recruitment agency.” Not only do we do nothing to help them get a job, we also help identity thieves steal their details and put vulnerable youngsters in the clutches of the sex industry.

“It builds on help already in place.” Obviously we’re having a laugh with this line.

“Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: ‘With Universal Credit we are creating a modern and sustainable welfare system that is fit for the 21st century – one that supports people when they need it and helps them become independent.” This has nothing to do with the Claimant Commitment but I’ve been told to ‘big up’ Universal Calamity whenever I can, to hide the fact that it’s such an albatross.

“‘The Claimant Commitment redefines the relationship between jobseekers and the state.” To one between slave and master.

“‘Claimants receive greater support to get into work from their work coach-‘ All our work coaches have been given extra training in how to use a whip ‘-and we expect them to do all they can to find a job as quickly as possible as part of the deal for receiving their benefit.’ We know there aren’t any jobs but this simply means we can cut off their cash more quickly when they fail.

“‘Staff have told me it has strengthened their ability to support people into work at the earliest opportunity.’ Those who haven’t gone on long-term sick leave with depressive conditions have developed a kind of dead-eyed look and keep repeating, ‘I’m just following orders’.

“Following an in-depth conversation, work coaches and jobseekers agree regular specific tasks, work preparation and training opportunities that will give them the best chance of finding work quickly.” Tasks… preparation… opportunities! Oh, our sides are splitting! “The penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work are clearly spelt out.” And horrifying.

[The following paragraph is edited as it purports to feature an actual jobseeker] “‘Dizzy’ Guise [not his real name], signed a Claimant Commitment after he was made redundant.” We know our official wording has it that their jobs are redundant, not the people, but it gives us a tremendous sense of superiority over these proles to say that they are redundant instead. “He said it helped him focus on his job search and he’s now working as a business apprentice in Barking.” You’d have to be barking to believe that!

“He said: ‘When I first met my adviser I was probably like every person coming to the Jobcentre, a bit unenthusiastic.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘But I don’t think people know how much the Jobcentre advisers do for them.'” To them.

“‘I thought the Claimant Commitment was demanding, but fair. It motivated me.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘Without that commitment you probably don’t do so many job searches.’” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“The new commitment is an important part of the cultural transformation that Universal Credit will bring-” from a free society in which every citizen is equal to one where we can treat you like the scum we think you are “-and will place a strong focus on the responsibilities that claimants must fulfil” … while we accept no responsibility at all for whatever happens.

That seems much clearer now.

Would any jobseekers, who have had to sign this Claimant Commitment, care to tell us what it’s really like?

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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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