Tag Archives: youth

#DonaldTrump accused of launching US version of #HitlerYouth

It seems the UK’s Johnson government isn’t the only political organisation copying whole chapters from the Nazi playbook.

US President Donald Trump has announced a plan to set up what critics have already dubbed his own version of the Hitler Youth – the scheme that was used to indoctrinate millions of German youngsters into Nazism in the 1930s and 40s.

The plan was announced in a Constitution Day speech at the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives Museum. Here’s CNN:

“We must clear away the web of twisted lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world,” Trump said.

The President also called The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project aimed at teaching American students about slavery, “toxic propaganda.”

In an apparent countering of the project’s narrative, Trump announced that he would be establishing a “national commission to promote patriotic education” called the 1776 Commission.

Apparently he said he wanted to counter “the liberal indoctrination” – mark that word – “of America’s youth”. But isn’t “indoctrination” exactly what he’s planning to do to them?

That’s another classic ploy of the Johnson government – doing something questionable but accusing somebody else of the crime.

It didn’t work – as these tweets demonstrate:

It seems Trump wants to create a new generation of stormtroopers for his far-right ideology.

Hitler’s version of that was nicknamed the Brown Shirts.

Perhaps we could call anyone who signs up to this the “Brown Shorts”?

In all seriousness, though, this is a terrifying development.

It shows that the most powerful nation on the planet is on the brink of totalitarianism. Will its citizens choose sanity in the election this November?

Source: Trump rails against the ‘liberal indoctrination of America’s youth’ in latest culture war salvo – CNNPolitics

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

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This teacher set the record straight on who is responsible for rising youth crime: TORIES

The Mentorn TV executive who chooses Question Time audience members may be reviewing the company’s policy after this truth bomb dropped on the April 4 edition of the programme (there is a connection with the Conservative Party, as I understand it):

She was referring to the attempt by Home Secretary Sajid Javid – and by prime minister Theresa May, let’s not forget – to palm off responsibility for knife crime among young people onto teachers like herself.

As I wrote last week, she wants teachers to have a “public health duty” to identify warning signs that a young person could be in danger, such as worrying behaviour at school, issues at home, or “presenting at A&E with a suspicious injury”. For real?

There is an existing duty requiring teachers and police to work together to safeguard children. As a former Home Secretary, Theresa May should know that.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the teachers’ union the NASUWT, delivered the reality check to Mrs May when he said: “All professionals involved with children and young people are well aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding their health and welfare.

“Violent crime involving young people, of course, needs to be taken seriously and appropriate strategies considered. However, this is a complex issue which will not be resolved by putting additional pressures and responsibilities on teachers and head teachers or indeed others.”

No it will not.

But the very rich are looking for their next tax cut, aren’t they, Mrs May? And what’s a bit of extra crime among the plebs anyway? That’s just culling the stock. Am I right, Mrs May?

What do you think?


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Considering her choice of representatives, is Theresa May having a laugh at young people’s expense?

Theresa May is laughing at us all.

I think this tweet makes a lot of sense.

What do you reckon?


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G4S suspends detention centre employees – but why does this firm still get government contracts?

Brook House is operated privately by G4S on behalf of the Home Office [Image: BBC].

The only question here is why G4S was given a contract to run an immigration centre in the first place.

Shall we consider some of the firms other recent disasters?

The biggie that everyone remembers was the Olympic security debacle in 2012.

There was the fraud investigation over tagging contracts.

G4S has been fined more than 100 times since 2010 for breaching contracts for prisons it runs.

Labour dropped G4S from providing security at its annual conference over human rights concerns.

G4S was stripped of its contract to run a scandal-hit youth prison.

The company even has a cheesy sub-Bon Jovi theme song.

Now this:

G4S has suspended nine members of staff from an immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport, following a BBC Panorama undercover investigation.

The programme says it has covert footage recorded at Brook House showing officers “mocking, abusing and assaulting” people being held there.

It says it has seen “widespread self-harm and attempted suicides” in the centre, and that drug use is “rife”.

G4S said it is aware of the claims and “immediately” began an investigation.

Read more: Detainees ‘mocked and abused’ at immigration centre – BBC News


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You can peacefully combat extremism – Michelle Thomasson

Labour MP Rushanara Ali sponsored the discussion.

Labour MP Rushanara Ali sponsored the discussion.

A guest blog by Michelle Thomasson.

Last week at the House of Commons in London there was a discussion on ‘Youth, Alienation and Radicalisation’ – terms that can equally encompass young Muslims as well as white working class people.

Rushanara Ali MP had agreed to sponsor the meeting and she was joined by Fiyaz Mughal OBE, director of Faith Matters, an interfaith and anti-extremist organisation and Professor Matthew Feldman, an expert on fascist ideology and the contemporary far-right in Europe and the USA.

There were comments from the discussion that can prompt us all to do our part to peacefully combat extremism and as one of the attendees I was keenly listening for anything that may shed light on the root causes of this disenchantment and how it could be addressed.

Here are some of my notes:

Fiyaz opened the meeting by acknowledging that the Paris incident would result in new legislation and information-gathering amongst the North African community that would have consequences on free speech, but the right to publish is a right we should protect.

He also stressed that even though people from a lower socio-economic group were more vulnerable to radicalisation, evidence was only cursory. Social exclusion could have many causes such as mental health issues, a lack of trust in the system, a perceived discrimination, ideology or theology. ‘Stop and search’ practices along with anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media and our UK foreign policy in relation to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis should also be considered. The Koachi brothers had been described as normal boys but they became politicised after a journey to Yemen and had stated that the images from the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 were a source of grievance, while Kahn – a UK extremist – had cited the Iraq war as one of the driving forces behind his actions, so the online world can radicalise young people.

There is also vulnerability after converting from one faith to another (as well as changes in the individual, familiar external supports also fall away) leaving the young person susceptible to gang-like pressures, thereby allowing an extreme group to exert greater influence. Extreme groups often have a gang mentality; they are against state structures and have a nihilistic mindset. Fiyaz also mentioned that radicalisation did not occur in the Mosques; it was actually taking place in common public spaces such as the gym.

Matthew highlighted radicalisation as an accumulative process, created from a series of events. However, since 9/11, this was the first time France had suffered home-grown terrorism. He stated that terrorism is a tactic that is not just linked to one group; extremists, though diametrically opposed, rely upon each other’s narratives.

A member of the audience asked the unanswerable question, “Why do people move from non-violence to violence?” Matthew replied that, currently, there are no definitive explanations – only indications as to the causes, with less than one per cent of extremists actually moving to violence. At this point he made it clear that far-right groups may not agree on the use of violence or have similar views on the electoral system, but they do have a common denominator: Anti-Muslim prejudice now prevails (Anti-Semitism used to be the common factor). Approximately half of the attacks on Muslims in the UK are carried out by a hardened core of far right individuals who use prejudicial logic and tit-for-tat extremism. For example, there was a 373 per cent increase in reported anti-Muslim incidents (the contagion effect) in the week after the Lee Rigby tragedy and up to three months later a massive rise in Mosque attacks had been maintained.

Note that collecting detailed statistics is not easy because hate crimes are not disaggregated into their specific types and five out of six hate crimes are not usually reported to the police. Hate crimes are often opportunistic and only 25 per cent of them are tried, resulting in a significant lack of confidence.

New faces of the far right include ‘National Action’, a small group of “proud” neo-Nazis who are targeting campuses, and ‘Britain First.’

Rushanara gave her opinion on why young people turned from politics to radicalisation. She said that, politically, we live in a difficult international environment, the interdependence between countries is profound, while technology and the Internet can be a negative or positive force. On the positive side, she thought young people wanted interactive politics and that they were interested in issues such as the environment and poverty.

Nevertheless, the events of 9/11 and 7/7 were uniquely different for those of young Muslim identity; other groups had not suffered the same effects. She felt that Britain leads in dealing with youth alienation but extreme narratives have to be constantly challenged; we have to be thick-skinned and be able to explain our stance contrary to those holding extreme views:

  • How can we use our collective intelligence to prevent such extremism?
  • How can we use our personal sphere of influence in our everyday contact with young people and can we empower ourselves to confront these issues?
  • We have to ensure that young people are not made to feel defensive if blamed, incorrectly, for the acts of others who conveniently use the term ‘religion’ for their terrorism.

Matthew at this point reminded the audience that liberalism requires everyone’s participation; we all have a responsibility for the society we inhabit.

Far right groups are aware that The Racial and Religious Hatred Act in the UK does not offer Muslims protection (as an ethnic group) and are therefore, for example, not given the same legal protection as Jews or Sikhs. Britain has strong equality legislation but funds have been slashed, so the Equality and Human Rights Commission cannot enforce the legislation well.

Rushanara stated that neighbourliness in the UK overall was in decline, therefore charging immigrants with all the responsibility for non-integration ie that they were the ones who were at fault for non-integration only served “to do immigrants down”.

Fiyaz reiterated the role of the media and that the Murdochs of this world, who carry on as normal, are not being held to account for their sensationalist, negative reporting; the media needs to develop a responsible approach. He emphasised that far-right propaganda can be extremely slick and difficult to combat and that we, as citizens, need to build a shared sense of community ownership that creates more opportunities to mix and care for one another.

Were all the important issues covered? Did we get to the bottom of youth disenchantment in this short discussion? No. The role of UK foreign policy and the militaristic agenda was only briefly mentioned; after all, extreme far-right views are not only the territory of the young and disenfranchised!

One statement from the audience aptly described the difficulty many of us have in expressing our citizenship: The majority can feel disempowered in a society driven by rampant neoliberal capitalism.

We can all suffer from alienation – can we do our bit to help each other? Can we especially reach out to young people, to combat this inhuman milieu? A small act of kindness may go much further than we think.

Let’s give it a try.

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POLL: The BIG bribe – Cameron promises tax cuts for 30 million people; the deficit and public services can go hang

Call-me-Dictator-Dave: Cameron has announced tax cuts which will necessitate further service cuts, at the end of the most fascistic Conservative Party conference yet seen [Image: Telegraph].

Call-me-Dictator-Dave: Cameron has announced tax cuts which will necessitate further service cuts, at the end of the most fascistic Conservative Party conference yet seen [Image: Telegraph].

Here we are, then – the big offer to bribe the UK’s citizens into voting Conservative, despite the hammering he has given them for the last four and a half years.

To persuade you to let him keep hammering you for another five years, David Cameron is offering to:

  • Raise the tax-free personal allowance for the lowest earners from £10,500 to £12,500
  • Raise the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £41,900 to £50,000

He said raising the tax-free allowance would help one million people and cut taxes for 30 million more.

Perhaps he thinks we’re stupid. These plans are hasty, back-of-a-fag-packet responses to UKIP’s tax plans, announced at the Purple Party’s conference last Friday. Farage stole his thunder and now he’s trying to claw something back – at the expense of the economy. How is he going to get the deficit down when there’s no tax money coming in? Even if his policies killed every single benefit claimant – and they’re well on the way! – he would not save enough to balance the budget.

Not only that, but paying less tax means more public services will be sold off, and private citizens will have to pay for them, privately, out of their own pockets. We all know that publicly-provided services are cheaper, meaning that this move will cost us much, much more in the long term.

Cameron knows that but his business buddies will benefit so he doesn’t care.

Other promises included:

Protecting the NHS budget for the next Parliament. If he intends to do this the way he raised real-terms spending on it in the current Parliament, there will be no NHS left by 2020. Yet again, he played on the memory of his own disabled son Ivan, who died in 2009 – turning on the water-works when he said, “For me, this is personal”. It is personal for him – he personally wants to be the man who destroyed the NHS altogether – and you can tell what kind of man he is from the way he used a family tragedy in a cynical bid to play on your emotions.

The UK will go to war with Islamic State extremists. Because another war is what we all want – right?

Getting “what Britain needs” in EU negotiations. What Britain needs, or what the Conservative Party needs? And what about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would condemn British workers to a race to the bottom in terms of working conditions and products available, while also locking privatisation of services into our economy, just as the Conservative’s want.

Scrapping the Human Rights Act – wrong for all the reasons mentioned in Vox Political‘s article earlier this week.

Offering every teenager a place on the National Citizenship Service scheme. Is this Cameron’s version of the Hitler Youth?

Planning to build 100,000 new affordable homes for first-time buyers – because the Tories have been hugely successful getting them built in the current Parliament, haven’t they? (House building hit its lowest point in more than 70 years under the Coalition). And why only 100,000? Labour is offering five times as many.

Cameron described the Tories as “the real party of compassion and social justice”, but in the same speech said people would have to “work a bit longer and save a bit more” – glossing over the facts of life under Conservative governments, that people can’t work when they don’t have jobs, and those who do can’t save when their jobs don’t pay enough.

Notice that he said nothing about social security. On the £25 billion of cuts previously announced by George Osborne (and this was before Cameron decided he was going to do another tax giveaway bribe on the eve of the election), he said, “That’s a lot of money, but it is doable.” It certainly is, if you are willing to cut the state down to the bone, sell everything off to anyone who’ll buy it (China, perhaps?), and don’t care that it will cost millions of lives because the only people to suffer will be poor.

When the history of this period of UK politics is written, David Cameron will appear as a wretched little smear of scum.

Or do you disagree? Let’s have a poll.

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How clueless do you have to be to believe Iain Duncan Smith?

131101IDS1

The Man With No Time for the Truth is back again with more of the same shenanigans.

Iain Duncan Smith reckons his huge and unnecessary benefit cuts are breaking up the culture of unemployment on the UK’s housing estates – a culture he likened to that shown in the TV drama Shameless.

There’s just one problem with what he’s saying: It’s rubbish.

“The Work and Pensions Secretary revealed that cuts to jobless hand-outs had reduced the number of workless households in council homes to the lowest level since records began,” shrilled the Express report on Friday.

Apparently nobody had pointed out to either RTU or the Express that removing people from the unemployment figures does not automatically mean they are in work. It is far more likely to mean that our heartless Tory-led government of selfishness has consigned these people to destitution.

That’s of no consequence to Iain I-Believe-I’m-Right. If they’re off his books, he doesn’t worry about them. What a fine Christian attitude from this upstanding and still un-excommunicated Catholic.

“We are beginning to change this dependency culture that Labour bred and are turning it into an independence culture where people see they can take control of their own lives,” he lied. Throwing them to the wolves is not making them independent.

He added that the proportion of people in social housing who do not work had fallen from just under 50 per cent in 2010 to 41 per cent – and that he believed it would fall below 40 per cent. Perhaps this is because he has engineered a situation in which increasing numbers of unemployed people, unable to pay his Satanic Bedroom Tax, are being thrown onto the streets?

“People are beginning to say – I ought to go to work, I have to go to work,” he gloated, knowing that his party had devised a poverty trap in which falling wages are ensuring that people going to work will be no better-off for it.

People are, in fact, telling themselves they have to get off benefits before Iain Duncan Smith kills them – just as his policies have killed tens of thousands of incapacity benefit claimants.

And now the Tories reckon the country should support their plan to cut the maximum amount a household should claim in benefits from an already too-low £26,000 a year to £23,000. The original figure was in line with a Tory lie about the average family income. Does this mean incomes have dropped by £3,000 a year since they imposed the cap?

It seems the money ‘saved’ by the increased cap would fund three million apprenticeships, as David Cameron says he wants to “abolish” youth unemployment.

As ever, the devil’s in the detail. The money would be used to give 18-21-year-olds a six-month window to “find” work or training – but would be withdrawn if they did not carry out “community projects” like cleaning local parks.

And will any long-term jobs result? Or will these youngsters be thrown back after the money runs out, to be branded SNLR (as Iain Duncan Smith was, back in his Army days) – Services No Longer Required?

This is work formerly carried out by convicted criminals, which tells you everything you need to know about the Conservative attitude to unemployed youth.

Let’s make it easier for young people to vote!

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can't make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can’t make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

Have you noticed how the mainstream media have glossed over the fact that so few people voted in the European elections?

Only about one-third of the electorate bothered to shift their backsides from the sofa to the polling station, and only a quarter of those gave UKIP its resounding (if you believe the BBC) victory.

That’s just nine per cent of the electorate!

The other nine-tenths of the country – including both voters and non-voters – didn’t want UKIP to win, and it is delusional of that party’s supporters to say the whole country got behind them.

The problem is, far too many people didn’t get behind anybody else.

My cousin’s daughter, at 18, voted for the first time last week. She said she found it extremely difficult to form any definite opinion on which party to support because it was almost impossible to find reliable information.

You see, she’s not stupid; she wasn’t going to take the parties at face value. She wanted independent validation of their claims, and that’s hard to find.

Obviously the mainstream media are a lost cause. They all have their favourites and it is impossible to get any useful policy information from them. If you were watching the BBC, you would know that UKIP want Britain out of Europe and an end to what party leaders see as indescriminate immigration.

What did Auntie say about Conservative policies, other than that they were offering an in/out referendum in 2017 if they won a general election next year, which is nothing to do with the vote we’ve just had? What was said about Labour? What was said about the Liberal Democrats?

I’ve got no idea, and I spend my life commenting on politics! What chance do these teens have?

The problem is that there simply isn’t a resource that can provide easy answers for young people. If they want it on a website, it would have to feature not only listings of what the parties say they’ll do, but information on the philosophies behind those plans – so readers can understand the proposed direction of travel. It would have to carry detailed information on each candidate, in each constituency and ward, to enable our young people to judge the character of the people they were being asked to trust.

It would be unwieldy and it would be controversial. Candidates would be accusing it of bias within five minutes of any such website going up.

My cousin-once-removed thought that local councils should have information on their websites but I pointed out that they would only be allowed to publish material from the parties themselves, without any kind of commentary at all; as such it would be nothing more than propaganda.

So what’s the answer?

That’s not a rhetorical question; it’s a call for suggestions.

Schools don’t teach politics in any meaningful way. Citizenship was supposed to have gone onto the curriculum years ago but this writer hasn’t seen any increase in political awareness amongst the young. Political representatives aren’t allowed to discuss politics with students unless members of other parties are also present, which means they can each obstruct the others from doing so.

Courses on politics at further or higher education institutions really are biased according to the lecturers’ own beliefs – look at Oxford’s neoliberal PPE course.

Young people don’t have time to cut through all of the babble.

So most of them walk away.

How do we get them back – or do we simply not bother, and watch as democracy is quietly euthanised within the next generation?

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The hellish legacy of Thatcher

Martin Rowson's Guardian cartoon of April 13 satirises the spectacle of Baroness Thatcher's funeral, calling it as he sees it: A primitive tribal ritual.

Martin Rowson’s Guardian cartoon of April 13 satirises the spectacle of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, calling it as he sees it: A primitive tribal ritual.

“This is Hell, nor am I out of it.” – Mephistopheles, Doctor Faustus.

As I write these words, the funeral of Margaret Thatcher is taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Unemployment stands at 2.56 million (7.9 per cent of the workforce).

The banks are not lending money.

More small firms are going out of business every day.

The economy is stagnant and the outlook for growth is bleak, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The rich elite prey on the poor – Britain’s highest-earners are billions better-off than in 2010, while wages for the lowest-earners are increased by so little that most of them are on benefit and sliding into debt (0.8 per cent rise in the year to February).

The cost of living has risen by around three per cent.

900,000 people have been out of work for more than a year.

The number of unemployed people aged 16-24 is up to 979,000 (21.6 per cent of all those in that age group).

Politicians lie to us, in order to win our support by deceit.

Assessment for disability benefits is on a model devised by an insurance company to avoid paying money to those who need it most.

Health services are being privatised, to make money for corporate shareholders rather than heal the sick.

Government policies have reinstated the ‘Poll Tax’ principle that everybody must pay taxation, no matter how poor they are.

Government policies mean child poverty will rise by 100,000 this year. It will not achieve the target of ending child poverty in the UK by 2020.

Government policies are ensuring that many thousands of people will soon be homeless, while social housing is being sold into the private sector.

And Legal Aid is being cut back, to ensure that the only people with access to justice are those who can pay for it.

This is Thatcher’s Britain, nor are we out of it.

She died; we went to hell.

Will you stand up for a future that works?

Getting the message across: The PCS union managed to project it’s ‘Say no to austerity’ message onto the Palace of Westminster itself, home to the Houses of Parliament.

Anti-austerity campaigners from across the UK will be converging on London tomorrow for a mass demonstration against the Coalition government’s failed policy of cuts.

It is possible that hundreds of thousands of people will journey to the capital to march under the heading, “A Future That Works” – showing their opposition to the government’s pro-austerity, anti-growth policies. The march will end with a rally in Hyde Park.

If you’re wondering whether to go, or even whether the demonstration is justified, I would like to quote the following, from the organisers’ website:

“Austerity has failed – the economy has not grown for two years, unemployment and youth unemployment have risen, living standards have been squeezed and borrowing is not coming down.

“We need an alternative approach – one that puts decent work and growth at its heart and takes a long-term approach to rebuilding the British economy after the crash.

“We need to invest in new infrastructure in transport, energy and social affordable housing and to make fighting youth and long-term unemployment an absolute priority.

“We need to see rising wages so our economy has sustainable growth and isn’t based on household debt.

“We need to reform the banking system so it works for the real economy and an active industrial policy to support manufacturing and the green, low-carbon sectors of the future.

“We need tax justice with a clamp down on avoidance and evasion and a Robin Hood tax on the banks.

“We cannot afford to continue with austerity nor can we go back to business as unusual.

“We need policies to build a ‘new economy’ where the rewards from growth are more equally shared by those in the middle and at the bottom rather than just going to those at the top.

“Finally we need economic growth to be spread across the entire country rather than just being concentrated in a handful of sectors and parts of the UK.”