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  • Manchester: 16-Year-Old Boy Charged With Rape Of Girl, Eight, In Moston Park
    Posted by Graeme Demianyk on June 25, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the rape of an eight-year-old girl in a park in Moston on Saturday, Greater Manchester Police has said.The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been remanded to appear at Manchester Youth Court on Monday (26 June).The police said officers were called to Nuthurst Park in Moston just before 6.55pm on Saturday after reports the girl had been raped and the offender had been chased off by members of the public.The teenager was arrested in a nearby shop.The victim is being provided with support from specially trained officers.UPDATE: 16yr old boy charged in connection with rape of 8yr old girl in Nuthurst Park, Moston— G M Police (@gmpolice) June 25, 2017The police said: “We are aware of a lot of local speculation regarding the investigation and we would ask that this please stops to allow the investigation and legal process to continue without prejudice.”Anybody with information is urged to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 1984 of 24/06/17, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Jeremy Corbyn Tells Michael Eavis He'll Be Prime Minister 'In Six Months'
    Posted by Graeme Demianyk on June 25, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Jeremy Corbyn has signalled he would scrap the UK’s nuclear weapon as soon as possible and thinks he’ll be Prime Minister by Christmas - at least that’s what Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis said the Labour leader told him.The festival legend let slip details of his conversation with the Islington North MP after his rapturously received appearance on Saturday.Corbyn’s comments on taking residency in Number 10 reflect his new-found post-election confidence, and recent polls that put Labour ahead of the Tories, against hopes of another election if the minority Tory government blunders.But his remarks on the Trident nuclear deterrent suggest the party leader taking a different position than his party, which stated in its manifesto it would renew the weapons system.The Labour Party said the Somerset farmer-turned-festival organisers was “paraphrasing” the conversation.  type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Corbyn at Glastonbury + articlesList=594e8ceee4b05c37bb76afa4According to a Somerset Live report on an Eavis Q&A session at the festival, Eavis asked Corbyn: “When are you going to get rid of Trident? He said: ‘As soon as I can’.”Eavis told the audience: “Wasn’t (Corbyn) fantastic? I said to him, ’When are you going to be prime minister? He said: ‘In six months’.”Labour source says Eavis was only "paraphrasing" his chat with Corbyn. "Trident renewal is Labour policy, as spelled out in our manifesto."— Jack Blanchard (@Jack_Blanchard_) June 25, 2017The party said: “Both Jeremy and the Labour party have long been committed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which aims to achieve a nuclear-free world. Trident renewal is Labour policy, as spelled out in our manifesto, which Jeremy and the party were proud to stand on in the election.”Corbyn has long been a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and has consistently voted against renewing Trident.  Before the election, he said that Trident would be renewed by Labour and then placed into a strategic defence review to look at new, long-term threats such as cyber warfare.In a keynote speech on defence and security at the Chatham House think tank, Corbyn also signalled he can’t envisage ever using nuclear weapons because to do so would mean the world had already suffered a “cataclysmic failure”. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=58fca083e4b06b9cb9178c0f,57e8fd24e4b0db20a6e9b83a,578dc25ce4b069bdac5d2c56,578ceb5ce4b0885619b0eb22 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Why I'm Urging Ed Davey To Stand As The New Leader Of The Liberal Democrats
    Posted by Catherine Bearder on June 25, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    This week I joined Tim Farron at a pre-Council lunch with leaders of the liberal family from across Europe. We discussed issues common to us all in Europe: migration, the economy and, of course, Brexit. What I had wanted to hear, but was disappointed it wasn't mentioned, was the environment. It was the hottest of Brussels days for years, and yet the cause of such heat seemed to Escape them all. We know that last year the global average temperature was the highest ever recorded. Our climate is changing. The biodiversity that sustains life is under great threat. The environment must get more traction with those who are in a position to plan for the future. What we need is leaders who 'get' the environment. As a Liberal Democrat I am now facing a choice of who I should be supporting as a new leader. I was sorry Jo Swinson felt she could not contest this position just now, but as a deputy leader she will do us proud. Tim Farron has led us with great passion and drive, his commitment for our place in the European Union has come from a great Liberal tradition of internationalism and I am sorry that he is standing down. But this does give us an opportunity to take stock and think about the future direction of the party. For me Ed Davey has the right credentials. Ed has a real commitment to tackling climate change and a record of achievement in government. Like Tim he is very committed to the values and benefits of the European Union, and whilst in government convened the Environment Ministers from across the European Union to work together in order to plan how they could mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. Ed worked with them ahead of the Paris negotiations to get coordinated answers and a committed voice from the European member states. Despite growing evidence that the environment is not getting better that voice has faded in all our political discussions. We need that voice now from the Liberal Democrats and for me, as a committed environmentalist that would be enough to support Ed Davey. But a leader needs to have more than one issue, in a media driven world we also need someone who has a TV presence with charisma and Ed has this, but he is also the sensible confident voice of integrity with deeply Liberal roots who has proven himself as a skilled and adept negotiator. The Liberal Democrats have shown that they still have a place on the political map of the UK - our membership has surged, young and old and the pro-Europeans have joined us. Now it's clear that the left and right are back to pulling in opposite directions the centre ground is there to be won. We will win it if we have a clear message on Europe - we want to stay; we will win if we put the environment at the heart of all our policies - to get on with mitigating the effects of climate change and the loss of biodiversity; and we will win it if we have a programme to reform society to bring openness and tolerance back to the UK and to ensure equality of opportunity for all in our communities. The Liberal Democrats have a wealth of talent in the party but in my opinion the person to lead us forward is Ed Davey and that's why I am urging him to stand. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • The Hate Equation
    Posted by Will Baldèt on June 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    One year after the horrific murder of Jo Cox, the ugly shadow of the extreme far-right has once again emerged in the UK, casting a pall over our Muslim communities and reigniting the debate on how we tackle and prevent this hatred. In a cowardly attack, Muslims in Finsbury Park were targeted by a man driving his van into unsuspecting worshippers. Tragically, Makram Ali died at the scene and eleven others have been injured, three critically. The alleged attacker, Darren Osborne, has been charged with terrorism-related murder and the incident has refocused the national debate on right-wing extremism. The UK Prevent strategy tackles all forms of extremism, including the extreme right wing. But how do we define it, how do we recognise it and how do we tackle it? I believe Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was right to declare that hostility towards Muslims has "passed the dinner-table test". I recall a conversation I had several years ago with an obnoxious, racist mechanic who proudly admitted he would happily repair the car of a black man, but never a Muslim. The venom with which he delivered this proclamation has always stayed with me. Such anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in our society and we must not tolerate it, but we must not conflate racism with terrorism. There is no 'conveyor belt' to terrorism, but we should acknowledge that a broader, negative discourse on Islam has created the mood music within which extremism has flourished and throughout history we have seen examples of dehumanisation leading to violence. The extreme right-wing feed off this harmful environment and this can be seen in the infamous narrative of the 'Fourteen Words', a neo-Nazi mantra coined by an American white supremacist called David Lane that reads: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children". For those who deny ideology plays a part in radicalisation, this demonstrates the ideology of the extreme right-wing and what separates a racist from a white supremacist. We tackle the extreme right-wing in the same way we tackle Islamist extremism, by unscrambling the underlying factors that make the ideology so attractive in the first place. It is wrong to suggest that the Prevent strategy is only interested in extremist ideology because the most important work is done at a fundamentally human level, resolving the social factors and psychological fractures that have led to a reliance on the divisive dogma of extremists. Issues of isolation, identity and belonging are commonplace, as is the need to make sense of an unjust world and to find solutions for this injustice. There is often a profound sense that no one is listening to their concerns about the world, combined with total disengagement from political processes. Experience has repeatedly shown me that if we could remove the ideology from both a far-right and Islamist extremist, the person underneath will be almost identical. The role of Prevent - and indeed society more broadly - is to resolve the frustrations, anger and grievances that manifest in both before they are exploited and directed by those intent on doing harm. One recent young person we supported had disclosed in school that he "hates all Muslims because they are all ISIS" and that he was part of an extreme right-wing Facebook group. He had been invited to join by friends and his involvement in the group felt "cool". Like the group's other members, he held a fascination for football violence and gang culture; he felt he belonged. Through the work of the Prevent team, partners embarked on a strategy of support and safeguarding. The problems ran far deeper than his initial comments had inferred and it required the combined efforts of Prevent, the school, other statutory partners and his family to bring him to a safe place and to draw him away from the influences of the extreme right-wing. The positive impact Prevent had in his life moved his Mum to write in gratitude: "Without the interventions from the Prevent team my son wouldn't be on the path he is now on. They see past behaviour issues and concentrate on the individual and what they can do to move forward. The opportunities that have been given to support my son's future are overwhelming". The problem of radicalisation is a human one, but the issue of ideology is inextricably linked. Like an airborne virus waiting to strike when our immune system is weak, extremism permeates through society attaching itself to the vulnerable and cruelly imitating what they crave; identity, belonging and purpose. It is not liberal hand-wringing to seek sociological reasoning and answers to the problem of extremism. We can beef up our laws, expand our Police forces and increase prison sentences for violent criminals. But it makes far more sense to prevent radicalisation in the first place. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • I Escaped The London Bridge Attack - I Know How Lives Could Have Been Saved
    Posted by Kimberley Shearer on June 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    "Mum, I'm ok. Turn on the news... There's been a terror attack outside our bar, but I'm ok, I'm hiding, I'm ok." I was sitting underneath a thick marble table in a bar saying something I never thought I'd need to say. And, something no parent wants to hear. It was a great night up until 10:02pm. My best friend from Edinburgh was down and we were warming up for a night in The Shard at London Bridge. The rain had forced us into the closest pub outside London Bridge Underground Station. Packed. We moved 10 meters further down to the closest pub, on London Bridge. Perfect. "Gin and tonic please." Shock. The sheer panic in the man's face next to our table said it all. Something bad had happened outside our bar window. We quickly turned round to see a man jump off the wall outside the bar. Odd. After he'd jumped down, a woman lying on the road was revealed. Was she drunk? Was there a fight? Did a car accidently run her over? A small crowd quickly gathered. 999. Help. Through the crowd I could see another body on the road. Something wasn't right - car accidents don't happen like that. The services arrive to help the woman on the road, 10:06pm. CPR. Not looking good. The bar staff continued to serve..."here's your bill". "Here's your jacket darling"... people left the restaurant, onto London Bridge - down towards Borough Market. 10:07pm. Twitter. Possible van attack. Confusion. "What do we do? Where should we go?" "Look, look over there, the crashed van." Screams as someone runs towards our bar. "Is the door shut? Is it the police or a terrorist?... Is this it?". Call home. "Close the door, close the door." 10:11pm. We ran into the kitchen and I looked for the back exit. Found it. "Where's my friend?". Got him. "Get down under the table, faster, if they've a gun or a bomb we can lift this up over us". It feels like forever. 10:16. Bang. Bang. Bang. Silence. "Was that the police or the terrorists shooting? Quick, check Twitter." Evacuate. "Move, move, move, run left over London Bridge, move!". Running past the carnage, the debris, and the stains of where the lady had died. "Is it over? Are the terrorists dead?". "Don't know, just keep running". Home. Shock. Lucky. Sad, so sad. We were lucky, so many others weren't and so many others witnessed far, far worse than us. So, with such an easy attack to carry out, is it a question of when rather than if it will happen again? I hope it's not the latter, but I and the public know the answer. There is one simple change that I believe could be made to help save lives. It absolutely could have saved lives and the volume of injuries at London Bridge that Saturday evening. Quite simply, more information. A warning. Emergency services were on the scene within minutes, which was incredible, but, people continued to leave the underground, leave bars, and walk towards Borough Market. Right into the terrorists path. Nobody knew initially what was going on. The emergency services were on the scene very quickly, but everyone was immune to the sirens and thought it was a road accident. Bars kept their doors open and people continued to walk into the attack. We didn't know many terrorists there were or what weapons they had or where they were going. They ran the streets for almost 10 minutes. What would have happened if it had been 15, 20 or 30 minutes? There was panic and confusion. Nobody knew how to react. If a different siren had been used on the emergency service vehicles, whilst they were in the area of the attack, it would have categorically bought vital minutes to close doors, run inside, hide or run the opposite way. Our door would have been closed the minute we heard the siren and not almost 10 minutes later after the van had mown people down outside our bar. This is why I am calling upon the services to add an additional siren to their vehicles. If they are at a terror attack (or suspected terror attack) they could sound the siren and people could have more time to react. The siren should only be used when very close to or at the scene - as to limit widespread panic. We're immune to sirens (especially in cities). Sadly. Think about the sirens used around the world to alert of tsunamis. Think back to the World Wars and sirens used then to alert people. They worked then. Why not now? I've emailed the Police Commissioner and MPs. But they need to listen and act quickly. This simple change could be made quickly and cheaply. An introduction of 2,000 tasers and 1,000 police on the ground will not be enough. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said on the 21st June that we are "at risk" with the over-stretch of the Police. The Police are not operating at "full-strength". So, can we really afford not making simple, effective changes? If you agree with me, and want to make a nationwide, or indeed a worldwide change, sign my petition here. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • How I Improved My Mental Health During Ramadhan
    Posted by Tamanna Miah on June 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam (Sawm). It is a holy month where every year Muslims fast and abstain from eating and drinking (even water, chewing gum and smoking) during daylight hours. This year Ramadan began in the evening of 26th May, and will fend on 26th June (depending on the moonsighting). The month can have a considerable impact on someone's health. For a lot of people it can be a huge physical and mental challenge, with factors like the hot weather, long summer days, a lack of food and drink, and disrupted sleep patterns. Despite this, people take these challenges in their stride, going about their daily lives, whilst also making time for extra charity work, prayers and reading the Quran - all key activities during the month of Ramadhan. Many Muslims, including myself, actively look forward to this month, as it provides a temporary change in lifestyle, and can bring a new perspective to things. The month is often a time for self reflection, self control, and a chance to focus on putting others needs above your own. I think of it as something similar to an annual 'training exercise' for self-improvement, a bit like a deep clean physically, mentally and spiritually. Even after the first day of Ramadhan, I notice a difference in myself. Even though it can be a challenge, it also has a positive impact, improving mental wellbeing through finding inner peace during prayers and improving self-esteem through acts of charity. The month is intended to bring Muslims to closer to God, to encourage us to be kinder to one another and remind you to help others who may be in need of support. It's a time when friends, families and communities come together, and demonstrates the importance of support networks in helping our mental wellbeing. Ramadhan, through its focus on charity, and helping others, enables you to connect with people outside or your own community too. Helping others is known to have benefits for our mental well-being - it feels good, as it gives us a sense of self worth and purpose. After years of observing Ramadhan and seeing others participate in charity work, I thought I'd give it a go. I decided to do a fundraising campaign to raise money for homeless people in Canterbury and in parts of Central London to provide food, water and other necessary items. This process not only taught me a lot, but enabled me to engage with people I wouldn't have normally. It really helped my self-esteem, and I enjoyed having a project to focus on, contributing to helping me maintain my own wellbeing during this month. Some of the people I helped began to recognise me, and I would frequently stop and have lengthy conversations with them, discovering a lot about their lives. Many people, who find themselves homeless often have problems with their mental health. Having experience of depression and anxiety myself, I know how helpful it can be to have someone to talk to, and someone to listen to you. I hope that the conversations I had, and the food and drink we provided, went some way in supporting their wellbeing during this month too. Despite the challenges that Ramadhan entails - the long days and nights, the sleep deprivation and fasting, the process of self-reflection, and my experience of volunteering has had positive impact on my mental health. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Ode To Breastfeeding
    Posted by Rachel Murray on June 25, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Scotland and England are celebrating National Breastfeeding Weeks between 19th June and 2nd July 2017, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share this... You arrived with your nose squished to one side like a wonky marshmallow. You had us waiting day after long day and then, without warning, you shot into your dad's arms like a rocket on steroids. He was in shock, I was high on Oxytocin and you were just hungry. I held your pink, wrinkled body to my chest and your searching lips quickly found what you needed. For the first weeks, you were an extension of me, like the luminous yellow gorse to the Scottish hillside. Your constant demand for milk was so strong that I could barely separate myself for long enough to pee; the responsibility of sustaining life was weighing down on me. The day my milk came in my breasts ballooned to the size of the Himalayas. Fit to burst, I tried everything to soothe the pain: a barrier cream smeared onto the nipple, thick like jelly; cold cabbage leaves that allegedly have medicinal properties; silver nipple shields that can heal broken skin. All so that I could feed you day and night. A month in and we'd kind of gotten the hang of this thing. The two of us would go adventuring; I'd stride out while you looked up at me from your pouch, kissing your forehead as we went. Your food and drinks for the day sorted - no need to remember to pack my boobs! When you were sick, my body became a pharmacy; your lips sending signals every time you fed so that my milk would deliver the antibodies you needed to make you better. When you were over-tired, it calmed you. When you needed a boost, it energised you. You don't know it but the truth is - you're nourishing me too. Nursing you is the best diet out there! I wish I could bottle the hormones that make me instantly relax at the end of a busy day as I put my feet up and pull you in close. I know it will come to an end too soon, so let me say it's been a privilege. When the day comes that you nurse for the very last time, I hope that forever etched into my mind are these moments: The look of contentment on your face, cheeks like forest flame in full bloom, and milk dribbling down your chin. The touch of your arm wagging rhythmically as you feed, tapping my face each time it lands. The sound of your giggles, as you wave your hand unsuspectingly in the air, and I pretend to nibble at your fingers. I now understand why it's called the 'food of love'. It's not because it's more than just food: nourishment, communication, comfort, antibodies and pain reliever all rolled into one. It's not because of anything that can be portrayed in a shiny television advert. It's because when I pull you in close to me and you nurse, the look in your eyes tells me everything is going to be OK. And for that short moment, even though the skies are black, cloud fat with foreboding - somehow, the world makes sense.This was written for the Scottish Book Trust writing campaign on the theme of "nourish". It is not intended as an opinion piece on the best way to feed a baby, it is simply an account of my personal experience of breastfeeding. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Seven Ways I Dealt With The Pain That Is Runner's Knee
    Posted by Amy Packham on June 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I was so disheartened when I started to get knee problems as a runner. I'd spent months building up stamina and improving my fitness, only to have to stop running because of something I couldn't control. When you know physically you can carry on, but it would only damage your knees even more, it's a pretty shitty situation. I started talking to other runners and googling the problems I had and soon realised how common 'runner's knee' is and how many people limit their training so they don't damage them any further. My issue was (and still is) that when I squat, my knees do this (left) instead of this (right). I know I'm partly to blame for having dodgy knees. I didn't cotton on until about six months into running that you should combine your training with strengthening exercises and non-impact workouts such as cycling or Pilates. So I basically just ran as much as I could. What an amateur. Luckily I've found some sense since then. Here are seven things I've done that are (slowly but surely) helping my knees. 1) See a physio. I went to my GP and was given a knee MRI scan, which basically just showed my knees were inflamed and sore. I was referred to a physio where they pointed out the problems I had - the main one being my knees bend inwards instead of straight forward when I squat. They found other issues too (tight calves, lack of flexibility and tight thigh muscles) that all contributed to my weak knees. I did (and still do) daily exercises they gave me to slowly build up strength. 2) Know it probably won't ever go away. Some runners have knee problems, others don't. That's just how it is. On my first physiotherapy session I was told not to assume that once I'd worked on strengthening my knees, they'd all be better. "You're probably always going to suffer from knee pain to some extent," he told me. It realigned my focus of completely sorting my knees out, to adapting my workouts and adding knee strengthening exercises daily. 3) Start Pilates. This has without a doubt been the best thing for my knees because it works on strength, core, flexibility and balance... everything I realised I'm bad at. At my first class, I was ashamed at how hard I found it compared to everyone else, but things take practise. I try to go weekly - and still find it tough - but I know it'll be doing wonders for my weak little knees. 4) Stop running. Stating the obvious, I know. Not stopping completely, but pretty much. I can go out and run 5k and be fine, but if I do that three times a week I'll end up hobbling into the weekend. I do cardio in the gym by doing non-impact exercises like cross training and cycling. If I'm honest, it's helped me fall in love with other ways to exercise and added variety to my workouts, which make them more interesting. I love finding new bodyweight circuits to do in the gym. 6) Foam roll. Runner's knee is also called "IT band syndrome". The IT band runs from the side of your hip down to your knee and when it's tight or inflamed, it causes problems. Enter the foam roller: probably the most painful yet satisfying massage you'll have on your leg. I picked one up online for less than a tenner and try and roll every night - along the IT band and across my thigh left to right for about two minutes each leg. Painful, but worth it. 7) Get a resistance band. Crab walking, resistance bridges and leg lifts - all of these exercises will work your thighs and glutes so much more if you have a resistance band. Your glutes will burn (but that's the aim). -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Free Sanitary Pads For Kenya's Schoolgirls - Why The Government Is Doing The Right Thing
    Posted by Charlotte Clarke on June 25, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    The news just announced that free sanitary pads are to be offered to Kenya's schoolgirls is a welcome relief. It is an unfair and distressing reality that millions of girls in the developing world are held back by their periods - a process that is natural and unavoidable. "The Kenyan government is making a vital contribution to ensuring girls receive an education and are treated the same way as boys," says Agnes Kola, National Women's Rights Coordinator at ActionAid Kenya. "Lack of access to quality, free and sufficient sanitary products means many young girls drop out of school while on their period, putting them at greater risk of child marriage and getting pregnant at a younger age." Purity, 13, and Abigail, 14, are two girls who would often miss classes at their mixed school in West Pokot, Kenya, because they couldn't afford sanitary pads and were worried they would stain their clothes. This new initiative will help to change this for other schoolgirls. It is estimated that one in 10 girls in Africa will miss school when they have their periods. At ActionAid we are working on this problem worldwide. In Rwanda, we have built safe spaces for girls in nine schools. These safe spaces are rooms run by a matron in a separate building and are equipped with a toilet, a shower, sanitary products, spare clothes, and a private space to change and rest. They ensure that girls don't have to fear the embarrassment of stains on their clothes, and boys in their class bullying them about it, which stops them from going to school. But another key problem that needs to continue to be tackled is how to get other girls out of poverty and enrolled into school, where they can get access to these benefits. As well as providing free sanitary pads and safe spaces in schools, for example, ActionAid is collaborating with local communities to improve access to toilets and showers and provide safe environments where girls can ask questions about periods, sex and pregnancy. This helps them understand the facts and their rights - that periods are natural and that they can change their lives for good by attending school. Cultures all over the world have developed harmful and even destructive ideas and beliefs about menstruation. As a direct result of the persistent menstrual taboo, there is a critical lack of health education resources available for young women about the menstrual cycle. It is this lack of knowledge that perpetuates myths and isolate and shame women each month. Purity and Abigail, for example, had to eat from a separate plate and cup from the rest of their family whenever they had their periods. So aside from providing free sanitary pads, which we welcome and applaud, there is much more to be done and it is essential that governments like Kenya keep up the good work they are doing.Donate to ActionAid to help women and girls access clean and safe sanitary products, improve toilet facilities and build safe rooms. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • What's Next For Mosul?
    Posted by Levison Wood on June 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I've walked the Nile, trekked the Himalayas and seen combat in Afghanistan, but nothing quite prepared me for the devastation I saw when I went to Sinjar city and the refugee camps outside Mosul in Northern Iraq last year. Burnt out cars, flattened villages, homes lying in ruins and tented camps were spreading as far as the eye could see. This was before the military operation to retake Mosul from ISIS began. Now over half a million people have been displaced and the risks for children continue to escalate in the western part of the city. Reports from colleagues at Unicef detail children being killed, injured and used as human shields - violence that no one, let alone a child, should be witness to. The headlines and pictures in the papers paint an image of a dire situation inside Mosul. Residents are reporting that they've exhausted their savings and aren't able to buy any food, infrastructure damage has left limited access to clean water and hospitals, and health centres are overloaded. There are few options to escape the horrors of war. Booby trapped streets, sniper fire and artillery put lives in danger every single day. When they can and do flee, many of these children and families end up in camps like Domiz and Harsham which I visited last year, but the numbers are constantly increasing. The people I met once had good jobs, salaries and owned their own homes before ISIS came and took everything from them. Their children went to school, they played in the streets outside their homes and imagined a future - now they will have to rebuild everything. Organisations like Unicef are doing all they can to deliver aid inside Mosul as well as in the refugee camps surrounding the city. Supported by international partners and donors like the UK Government, Unicef is trucking 1.8 million litres of water into the western part of the city every day. They are also sending medical kits and supplies to hospitals and monitoring the nutritional status of children fleeing, providing supplementary food and referring children to hospitals where needed. And as I saw for myself, creating safe, child-friendly spaces where children have the chance to paint, draw, play and just be children. As we mark three years of Isis devastation in Iraq, and watch as the offensive on Mosul unfolds, the question is what comes next? For children and families living in camps the retaking of Mosul by Iraqi forces from ISIS won't be the end of their journey. Even if they're able to return to their homes, the process certainly won't be easy, there will be much to rebuild physically but also emotionally and politically; and for children, the impact of what they have been through will live with them for the rest of their lives. Please join me in supporting Unicef to help the most vulnerable -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • From Grenfell To Grenfell - An Umbilical Cord
    Posted by Jonathan Romain on June 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    We too are called Grenfell. By which I mean Maidenhead Synagogue, which is situated at Grenfell Lodge. As a result, I have had numerous members asking the same question: what is our connection with the tower block that suffered that dreadful fire? The simple answer is: none that I could find. We are so named because this area is built on land once owned by William Henry Grenfell (later Lord Desborough) who was a local notable. It is unclear whether Grenfell Tower was built on property he also owned in London, is linked to another person of that name, or was simply chosen at random as a pleasant sounding address when it was built. But there is a deeper answer to the question "what is our connection with the tower block?" - that they are fellow human beings and so of course there is an umbilical cord that links us to the victims It is both an altrusitic response, with us thinking "how terrible to have suffered in that way", both those that died and those that survived but emerged traumatised, with nothing remaining of their possessions We also react from a self-centred perspective: what if it had been me caught up in it? What would I have done? How would I be coping now? It is fascinating to see how responses have changed since the fire. At first, there was extraordinary empathy, with people around the country moved and pained by it. Black/white, Brexiteer/Remainer, religious/secular, it made no difference and our common humanity rose to the surface There was also amazing generosity, both financial and practical: people organised pop-up soup kitchen in the neighbourhood, or set up clothes stalls for them, while solicitors and social workers provided instant advice centres on how they could claim benefits, apply for new bank cards and obtain lost paperwork. But those positive responses were quickly accompanied by anger, and on two levels: One was that of relatives and friends who knew that those living in the tower had alerted the authorities to the fire risks and, it was felt, had suffered because of the lack of action by those who had a duty of care The other anger was one step removed, often by those less immediately involved, but who saw the fire as symptomatic of the equality gap: that wealthy people lived in safe tower blocks while poor people lived in unsafe ones, and died as a result This led to the Movement for Justice by any Means Necessary trying to lead a "Day of Rage" on Wednesday, which some people saw as a legitimate attempt to highlight the inequality gap, but which others regarded as a crude attempt to hijack the tragedy for political ends. But the fire also begs some personal questions: if we had been living in the Tower, and if the fire alarm had sounded in the middle of that night and we were told we had a moment to collect a few items and then leave right away, what would we have chosen? Would they have been immediate items, such as a good pair of shoes, jumper and coat? Would they have been practical, such as bank cards and passport? Would they have been sentimental, such as a some photographs or other treasured items? Maybe the car keys, assuming we had one and it might not be caught up in the fire. Surely our mobile phone, both to contact relatives and for all the information stored in it It's a thought process makes us realise what the actual residents went through when told to leave. Maybe it is useful checklist for us to bear in mind if ever we are in a "got-to-get-out-quick" scenario for whatever reason. Grenfell Lodge...Grenfell Tower...there is no link and every link...and we pray that lessons can be learnt so that it never happens again. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • This Balanced Parliament Is Our Opportunity To Stand Up For Wales
    Posted by Liz Saville Roberts on June 25, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Some people consider a hung parliament to be a threat to the Westminster bi-polar norm. But for Plaid Cymru and for Wales, there is a wealth of opportunities in a balanced state of power-play. We are faced with a situation where no party has a clear majority. This gives Plaid Cymru the chance to act on our opposition to Westminster's disastrous obsession with spending cuts, press for the strengthening of Wales's own Parliament and ensure that Brexit works for Wales - but this time with a stronger hand. The balanced Parliament places a duty on all of us - no matter what party - to deliver changes that reflect the outcome of the election. While this is a rare opportunity in the UK, unwelcome and unwanted by the two main parties, it is commonplace in many successful democracies across the world. It obliges parties to work together to deliver for all political opinions from all parts of the UK. Surely this is democracy at its best? Labour do not recognise this and strive to manipulate another General Election while they are riding high in the opinion polls. Who can say that this move will not mirror May's fatal error in judgement? Plaid Cymru is deeply wary of this. Fantasy politics aside, who really wants to see politicians indulge themselves in the heroics of a yet-another electoral campaign? Surely people want politicians to do their job by balancing and negotiating the opinions, needs and aspirations of diverse electorates in challenging times? Plaid Cymru has a legacy of negotiating major concessions for Wales in previous balanced Parliaments. This includes securing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of compensation through the Workers Compensation Act 1979 for miners and quarry workers; millions of pounds worth of investment in Welsh transport, culture and economic development; and increasing Wales's representation on the EU's Committee of the Regions. My parliamentary colleagues and I have the opportunity to make Wales matter. We are in a unique position where we have the chance to use our votes - which become all the more crucial in a balanced Parliament - to leverage the Welsh advantage. After decades of underinvestment and unambitious Wales Bills handing our country the crumbs off of the English table, this is our opportunity to force Westminster to sit up and listen to us. While London is the richest region in Europe, Wales suffers as the poorest of the UK countries, with 22% of people living in absolute poverty. Brexit means that this Parliamentary session will be the most significant yet for the future of every nation in the UK. It has been a year since the referendum and the other parties are still squabbling about what their position on Brexit actually is. The Tories are at each other's throats with the Chancellor parading himself on television to criticise the Prime Minister's key soundbite of "no deal is better than a bad deal". It is only Plaid Cymru who have produced a strategy to ensure that we make a success of Brexit. Plaid Cymru's five-point Positive Post-Brexit Plan will fight for the money, responsibility and respect that Wales deserves. We will make sure Brexit works for Wales and not just the financial services of the City of London. We will create the kind of Wales we want beyond Brexit. The arithmetic of this Parliament means Plaid Cymru's influence is greater than ever. Plaid Cymru MPs will use this unique position for one purpose - to forward Wales's national interest. This means securing concessions from the debilitated Tory-DUP alliance, to get the money to keep the cogs of our economy turning; the powers so that we can take decisions into our own hands; and the respect to ensure that we can hold our head high as a nation and make sure Wales can succeed throughout Brexit and beyond. The democratic reality is that the majority of the electorate voted for parties committed to remedying austerity, creating well-paid secure jobs and supporting measures that protect our environment. We can now work with each other to create real change and carve out a better way, through determined opposition to the Tories turbo-charged by the DUP. We will use this alternative politics in the balanced Parliament to score compromises which work for Wales, and to make Wales matter through Brexit and beyond. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Sixty Tower Blocks Fail Fire Cladding Safety Tests After Grenfell Blaze
    Posted by Graeme Demianyk on June 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Sixty high-rise buildings in 25 local authority areas have failed fire cladding safety tests, the Government has said.The announcement by the Department for Communities and Local Government also revealed that the failure rate remains 100%. Downing Street announced last week 600 buildings were to be checked.  60 buildings across 25 local authority areas, listed below, have now failed a combustibility test. Failure rate is still, shockingly, 100%— Joel Taylor (@JoelTaylorhack) June 25, 2017Yesterday, the figure stood at 34 high-rise buildings in 17 local authority areas that were affected.The DCLG said Doncaster, Norwich, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland all had buildings that failed tests, while Manchester, Plymouth and Portsmouth have already been named.Islington, Lambeth and Wandsworth joined Barnet, Brent, Camden and Hounslow on the growing list of London boroughs, while 11 other areas are yet to be named.Downing Street said last week the 600 tower blocks in England encased in cladding were not necessarily the same type of material as was installed on Grenfell Tower. Hundreds of inspections are still to take place in the aftermath of the fire.The announcement came as around 3,000 residents of the Chalcots Estate in Camden, north London, face weeks in temporary accommodation after four tower blocks were evacuated on Friday.Some 200 residents are refusing to leave the blocks, the leader of Camden Council has said.Georgia Gould said she will knock on doors herself to persuade people still occupying 120 households in the Chalcots Estate in north London to vacate their homes. She took the decision to clear 600 flats on Friday night after London Fire Brigade inspecting officers identified concerns over the combination of external cladding, fire doors, gas pipes and insulation.Around 60 people stayed in nearby Swiss Cottage leisure centre on Saturday night, as 3,000 displaced residents faced weeks in temporary accommodation.But despite being urged to leave by officials, around 200 people in 120 households had refused to vacate their homes, in Taplow, Burnham, Bray and Dorney blocks, by Sunday afternoon.Gould explained some residents have issues, including agoraphobia, and want to be sure they have got suitable accommodation before moving out of their flats.“I’m going myself back to the blocks to knock on doors and have those conversations,” she told BBC News, adding: “The last thing I want to do is force people out of their homes, and the conversations I have been having with residents in these buildings is that they are happy to work with us.”Communities Secretary Sajid Javid urged local authorities and housing associations to continue to submit samples “as a matter of urgency” amid a nationwide safety operation launched after at least 79 people died when fire ripped through Grenfell Tower in north Kensington on June 14.Refurbishment of the Chalcots Estate was overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to the Rydon website.The site said the Chalcots project was a £66 million refurbishment which lasted 191 weeks.London Mayor Sadiq Khan has backed the council’s decision to evacuate the tower blocks.“I think they’ve done the right thing. Look, you’ve got to err on the side of caution. You can’t play Russian roulette with people’s safety,” he told Sky News.The council said it could take two to four weeks for the four blocks to be made safe. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=594e2c73e4b0da2c731bbeb9,594be36ce4b0a3a837bdeec1,594b6a37e4b01cdedf004fda -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • John McDonnell Says Grenfell Tower Victims Were 'Murdered By Political Decisions' Over Decades
    Posted by Graeme Demianyk on June 25, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    The victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster were “murdered by political decisions” made by politicians over decades, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has warned.Speaking at an event at Glastonbury Festival, the Hayes and Harlington MP criticised the failure to build houses and cuts to the fire service that “contributed to those deaths”.The Grenfell Tower disaster took the lives of 79 people, with flammable cladding widely blamed for helping to fuel the blaze by those who lived there.While likely to face criticism for politicising the tragedy, McDonnell is the latest Labour politician to criticise the political class in the the aftermath.On Saturday, Diane Abbott blamed the disaster on Tories considering people living in social housing as “second-class citizens” and given “second-class standards of safety”.  MP David Lammy today said the announced death toll of 79 is “far, far too low” and “fuelling suspicion of a cover up”.Addressing a crowd at the festival’s Left Field a day after Jeremy Corbyn, McDonnell said:“Is democracy working? It didn’t work if you were a family living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower.“Those families, those individuals - 79 so far and there will be more - were murdered by political decisions that were taken over recent decades.“The decision not to build homes and to view housing as only for financial speculation rather than for meeting a basic human need made by politicians over decades murdered those families.“The decision to close fire stations and to cut 10,000 firefighters and then to freeze their pay for over a decade contributed to those deaths inevitably and they were political decisions.”Yesterday, Stormzy used his Glastonbury performance to urge authorities to “tell the truth” and for the Government “to be held accountable”.Speaking to Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live from Glastonbury Festival, McDonnell also claimed Labour would have won the general election if the campaign had lasted a few weeks longer.The Shadow Chancellor said the centre ground of politics had shifted, which was why the party got “such a good result” on polling day.Labour won 262 seats in the general election, up from the 232 secured by Ed Miliband in 2015, but the Conservatives remain the largest party in Parliament.McDonnell said: “We are the centre of politics now - politics has moved on to our ground and that’s why we got such a good result.“That’s why I think if a few weeks time, if the campaign had lasted longer, we would most probably be in Government.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=594be36ce4b0a3a837bdeec1,594b6a37e4b01cdedf004fda,5948f623e4b0cddbb0092f46,5946e12be4b06bb7d2740e9d -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Reports Nicola Sturgeon To Suspend Plans For Second Referendum 'Entirely Speculative'
    Posted by Steven Hopkins on June 25, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Reports that Nicola Sturgeon is to put plans for a second independence referendum on hold to instead focus on delivering a soft Brexit are entirely speculative, a spokesman has insisted.The First Minister had set the timetable of a second ballot on Scotland’s place in the UK being held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 when she announced her plans in March.But in the wake of the general election, in which the SNP saw its share of the vote fall from 50% to 37% as the party lost 21 Westminster seats, she has been reflecting on that position.The issue was discussed at the Scottish Government cabinet meeting last week, with Sturgeon “likely” to set out her position before Holyrood goes into recess at the end of June.The Sunday Mail reported a senior SNP insider as saying that in the wake of the general election - in which the Tories lost their overall majority at Westminster - “doing everything possible to help achieve a soft Brexit for the UK as a whole or Scotland is the priority”.The insider added: “People can judge on the other side of the negotiations what they want to do about independence.”A spokesman for Sturgeon said: “Reports in today’s newspapers are entirely speculative.“We have always made clear our view that the people of Scotland should have a choice at the end of the Brexit process and the First Minister will set out her views on the way forward in the coming days.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]