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  • Tory Candidate George Stoakley Suspended Over 'Sweating Like A Jew In An Attic' Tweet
    by Ned Simons on April 26, 2018 at 8:57 am

    A Conservative council candidate who said he was “sweating like a Jew in an Attic” has been suspended by the party.George Stoakley, who is standing as a candidate in Fen Ditton & Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire at next week’s local elections, made the comment in 2013.In another tweet the 23-year-old said: “Some people call it aids, I just call it weaponised semen.”He also branded a girl a “faggot” for using Snapchat to film the X Factor final.In another tweet he said he would like to have Jeremy Kyle’s job so he could “shout at chavs all day”.Stoakley, who describes himself as a “Libertarian Conservative” has since protected his Twitter account from being seen in public.A Conservative spokesman said: “George Stoakley has been suspended and an investigation is underway”.Brandon Lewis, the Tory party chairman, today warned his local candidates the “difference between winning and losing is a handful of votes”.Writing on Conservative Home, he said: “Every weekend I post pictures on social media of activists across the country campaigning day and night, in the snow and the sun, to win votes.“A few extra hours this evening, this weekend, and on Thursday could be the difference between winning a seat, or a ward, or a council.”Related... Homeowners 'At Risk Of Homelessness' After Benefit Cut […]

  • The Waugh Zone Thursday April 26, 2018
    by Paul Waugh on April 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

    1. TARGET PRACTICEHome Secretary Amber Rudd really struggled through yesterday’s Home Affairs Committee session on Windrush. Given the huge interest in the subject, it was shocking just how little she knew or had been told (or demanded to be told) on basic questions. On immigration staff wanting ‘low hanging fruit’, on numbers detained or threatened with deportation, she seemed like a spectator not a player. Yvette Cooper, whose anger at PMQs powered one of her best ever questions to Theresa May (and she’s asked lots in the last 8 years), was suitably forensic as she chaired the committee hearing.Yet it was on the issue of targets for removals of illegal immigrants that Rudd is under most pressure today. Asked about regional deportation targets, she had replied ”I’m not sure what shape that might be in…that’s not how we operate…” Her chief immigration official Glynn Williams also told MPs such targets did not exist. Yet this morning it emerged a 2015 report by the independent chief inspector of borders confirmed that targets were set for voluntary departures. Diane Abbott has just been granted an Urgent Question on the topic, which may clash with the Home Secretary’s planned appearance as guest speaker at the Press Gallery lunch. On Today, Cabinet minister Matt Hancock gave the Government line that “it has never been Home Office policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet a target”. That’s not a denial targets may have existed. What was perhaps more worrying was the way Rudd just appeared to lack a grip of her department, or an ability to step back and see the bigger picture. She candidly admitted the latter point when asked why she hadn’t seen the pattern of repeated Guardian stories on the issue. The real difficulty for Rudd of course is that she is trying to change the culture set by her boss, one T May. When she said yesterday the Home Office must become ‘more human’, she was asked by John Woodcock which Home Secretary had made the department less human. “I can’t give a clear answer,” she replied. “You could,” he ventured, “but you choose not to, to protect the former incumbent.”The whole scandal has certainly dented Rudd’s leadership hopes, but the Sun reports how she’s still part of an under-the-radar battle with Michael Gove and Gavin Williamson to build big warchests from donors. Ostensibly, these are funds to help fight their seats, but many seem them as leadership cash. Gove has racked up £31k in nine months, Rudd has £23,500 and Williamson £10k. And in the Telegraph, Nigel Farage has endorsed Jacob Rees-Mogg as the Tories’ best hope as future PM.  The chatter continues. 2. LEN ME YOUR EARSJudging by his combative New Statesman column, Unite chief Len McCluskey appears not to have read Jeremy Corbyn’s recent letters to the Jewish community, or his Evening Standard column, warning his party not to suggest it is a ‘smear’ on his leadership to raise the issue of anti-semitism. I say ‘appears’, as it could well be that Len has indeed seen Corbyn’s edicts and decided to deliberately flout them. Some may even think he’s been encouraged by parts of the leader’s office. Whatever, his attack on Labour MPs Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin - for “working overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying” – has got the headlines he wanted. Crucially, the Unite boss talks about the need to hold MPs ‘to account’ and mandatory reselection, an issue that is the ticking timebomb in the party that may explode before the next election.After this week’s meeting with Jewish groups, a Labour spokesman stressed yesterday the leader’s willingness to tackle anti-semitism and uphold the agreed international definition of it. Yet the spokesman said backbenchers like Chris Williamson could share platforms with those suspended for anti-semitism but not yet finally found guilty of it (like Jackie Walker). Frontbenchers could not share such platforms because the party wanted to send a ‘strong message’ about the issue. Surely if a strong message was needed, all MPs would be told not to appear alongside those suspended?The sorry state of the party over the issue prompted a withering HuffPost blog yesterday from Labour’s former compliance unit chief Mike Creighton. He says anti-semites should be as relentlessly ejected from the party as Militant was in the 1980s. And he is scathing about Corbyn’s comms and strategy chief Seumas Milne, claiming “It took three conference calls with Seumas Milne and others over several tortuous hours (and John Mann chasing Ken around with a TV crew) to get agreement that Ken Livingstone should be suspended for the allegations of antisemitism made against him.” Creighton makes a wider point that Labour’s disciplinary culture is really down to the leader. In response, a Labour spokesman dubbed him a ‘disgruntled former staffer’ who was ‘politically hostile’ to the leadership.Meanwhile, the depressing fact that anti-semitism infects all parties is underscored once more today after a Twitter user spotted that a Tory candidate in Cambridgeshire has a truly appalling social media history,including one message that said he was ‘sweating like a Jew in an attic’. I’d guess that George Stoakley will surely be suspended at some point today. MP Lucy Fraser, who posed with him for a leaflet pic, won’t be amused either. 3. MEANINGFUL HOPEThere was yet another Lords defeat for the Government on its EU Withdrawal Bill last night, as Lord Lisvane’s amendment curbing Henry VIII powers passed with a whopping 128 majority. Yet again, it was a cross-party combo that did the damage, with 13 Tory rebels and crossbenchers voting by six to one for the change. Today, the Commons has its own symbolic vote on staying in the EU customs union, though with Government whips sending an abstain message out it will be the speeches not the result that we should watch for.The really Big Vote in the Lords comes on Monday, on an amendment giving Parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the PM’s Brexit deal with Brussels. This is known among peers as ‘Grieve plus, plus’, because it corrects some of the loose wording of Dominic Grieve’s amendment that passed in the Commons late last year. Crucially, it is drafted to avoid a ‘coalition of chaos’ whereby Tory Brexiteers joined Remainers to vote down May’s deal in the hope of crashing out of the EU with no deal at all.For all the talk of an October date for such a vote (if somehow approved in the EU Withdrawal Bill, or tacked onto the forthcoming Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill), many in Westminster expect it could come later in the year. Under one cunning plan, some ministers want to go as late as the first week of January, removing the practicality of forcing May back to the negotiating table. The danger with that is it cuts it very fine, given the rest of Europe has to ratify the plans.When David Davis was asked directly about all this yesterday, he studiously left open the idea that MPs could indeed force the PM to renegotiate a different deal. A resolution to approve the deal could be amended, he said. The Sun however points out that DD also said: “I do not expect the solution to that to be extension of membership of the customs union, I would view that on my part as a failure.” If it’s a failure, would he quit? And if so, would the PM have to force an effective confidence vote if MPs tried to bind her to a customs union? That’s still an open question.  Bloomberg reports May had a private meeting with ‘clean-breakers’ on Tuesday and agreed not to budge from her red line on a customs union. BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR...Watch elite extreme sports runner Paul Robinson run the fastest ever mile…at the North Pole. They call it the ‘marathon’ and I’m sure it felt like one. 4. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?The local elections are exactly a week today and many Tories fear they will suffer pretty serious losses, particularly in London. The party hasn’t exactly been helping itself of late. In Haringey activists blundered by cutting-and-pasting a Labour tweet that said their candidates are ‘passionate about Labour values’. In Ealing, one local Conservative praised Labour’s ‘slick and comprehensive offer’. In Sunderland, a candidate has been suspended for Tweets that referred to a “fat goth girl” as a “mutant”, while another said that Diane Abbott looked like a “filthy, bulbous pig”.As it happens, Labour could be playing a poor expectations management game here. If they fail to take Barnet, let alone the very difficult Tory flagships of Wandsworth and Westminster, their other gains (turning some areas into Tory-free zones) could be overshadowed. The Tories are also quietly hoping to do better than many think outside London. Still, other Conservatives think a drubbing would be no bad thing. “Next week looks tough, very bad,” a minister confides to Iain Martin in his Times column, while accepting that May will probably stay for at least two more years. But Iain also has a telling remark from one regular visitor to No.10: “In all my years I have never seen anything like it, not even under Brown”. “It has the whiff of death about it,” says another source. 5. BULLY FOR YOUAmid the rash of other news of late, there’s a risk that Westminster’s bullying and sexual harassment scandal has been overlooked but the fallout hasn’t gone away. The Indy reports today that plans are being considered for a new early warning system to spot MPs who might be bullying or pestering staff.  Officials would monitor data on MPs’ offices and if any showed a high level of staff turnover or repeated complaints that reached no conclusion, an intervention would be made. As I’ve said before, on the bullying front, it’s female MPs (some of them senior indeed) and not just men, who have notorious reputations.And yet, for staff hired directly by Parliament rather than MPs, so called ‘clerks’, there is real anger at this week’s decision by an independent inquiry to look at the ‘culture’ rather than individual cases. Dave Penman, who leads the First Division Association union of senior civil servants, has a must-read blog for HuffPost today on why that’s just not good enough. He says Parliament’s ‘Respect’ policy for complaints is woeful and says MPs’ sense that they are ‘untouchable’ is what unites expenses claims for duck houses with many turning a ‘blind eye’ to serious mistreatment of staff by their colleagues. “Closure comes with justice, not tea and sympathy,” Penman declares.  If you’re reading this on the web, sign-up HERE to get the WaughZone delivered to your inbox.Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Paul Waugh(paul.waugh@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com), Kate Forrester (kate.forrester@huffingtonpost.com) and Owen Bennett (owen.bennett@huffingtonpost.com)  HuffPost is part of Oath and on 25 May 2018 we will be introducing a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy which will explain how your data is used and shared by Oath. Learn More.If you’re reading this on the web, sign-up HERE to get The Waugh Zone delivered to your inbox.Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Paul Waugh, Ned Simons, Kate Forrester,  Rachel Wearmouth and Owen Bennett.To pitch a blog post on HuffPost, email Charlie Lindlar or the blog team. […]

  • Knife Crime Offences Up 22% In England And Wales
    by Sara C Nelson on April 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Police-recorded offences involving knives or other sharp instruments increased by 22% year-on-year in England and Wales in 2017, official figures show.Police recorded 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the latest year ending December 2017, a 22% increase compared with the previous year (32,468), and the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010.The Office for National Statistics said: “The past three years have seen a rise in the number of recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, following a general downward trend in this series since the year ending March 2011.”Offences involving firearms were also up, by 11% to 6,604 recorded crimes.These offences tend to be disproportionately concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas, the ONS said, but it added that the majority of police force areas saw rises in these types of violent crime.Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, responsible for Territorial Policing, said: “The Met continues to experience a very busy and challenging time against the backdrop of significant reductions in resources. I am very concerned about the rise in crime in the capital, particularly murder, violent crime and knife crime.“My thoughts are with the victims’ families of these tragic and horrific crimes which have brought untold misery to countless people.“We are strengthening local policing by bringing specialist officers closer to communities, and have increased the number of neighbourhoods officers dedicated to particular areas to engage with the public and work with them to keep them safe.”Related... How A Spike In School Exclusions Could Be Fuelling Knife Crime In London Three More Injured As Spate Of London Stabbings Continues How Glasgow's Pioneering Rapper-In-Residence Helped Turn Around Crime Stats Social Media Partly To Blame For Soaring Knife Crime, Police Chief Warns […]

  • Unique Baby Names: Top 20 Geographical Names Given To Babies In The UK
    by Amy Packham on April 26, 2018 at 8:35 am

    If you’re looking for a unique baby name then why not look to the hundreds of countries, cities and states to find inspiration for naming your little one. Sounds odd? Fear not, geographical names aren’t a new thing - think Brooklyn Beckham, Paris Hilton and India Hemsworth. Consider also that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their third child Chicago and it doesn’t seem to be a trend that’s slowing down. So what are the most popular geographical names in the UK, according to recent official ONS records? Global Babies trawled through the data to find out.Top geographical names given to babies in the UK in 2016:1. Austin (given to 812 babies in 2016)2. Lincoln (given to 478 babies)3. Savannah (given to 432 babies)4. Hudson (given to 383 babies)5. Jordan (given to 256 babies)6. Chester (given to 248 babies)7. Phoenix (given to 244 babies)8. India (given to 240 babies)9. Rio (given to 237 babies)10. Brooklyn (given to 234 babies)11. Harlow (given to 290 babies)12. Milan (given to 203 babies)13. Preston (given to 171 babies)14. Sydney (given to 135 babies)15. Dakota (given to 115 babies)16. Devon (given to 113 babies)17. Iona (given to 104 babies)18. Santiago (given to 100 babies)19. Vienna (given to 90 babies)20. Indiana (given to 88 babies).To find out popular geographical names from the past 20 years, visit their website. SEE ALSO: The Baby Names From The 1900s That Are Enjoying A Comeback, UK Archives Reveal Parents Reported To French Authorities For Naming Their Baby Jihad These Are The Most Popular Baby Names For Boys Born In Each Region Of England Also on HuffPost […]

  • Plastic Free Living: Starbucks To Start Using Paper Straws In UK
    by Rachel Moss on April 26, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Starbucks is set to trial alternative solutions for plastic straws across 54 of its UK stores, testing public reaction to paper and biodegradable plastic straws.The announcement comes after a Starbucks employee launched a petition calling on her employer to ditch plastic straws. Stephanie Muttillo, from New Jersey, said the coffee chain had a duty to help tackle the growing problem of plastic waste. “I would like to see Starbucks, the company I work for, help lead the way to shrink our footprint on the planet,” she explained. “Plastic straws are too lightweight to be recycled, and oftentimes are made out of the same plastic as styrofoam, which cannot be recycled. There are many alternatives to plastic straws. Many companies have started using compostable straws or paper straws.”Her online petition has gained more than 68,000 signatures at the time of writing.[READ MORE: Eco-friendlier alternatives to beat plastic straw bans]The trial will start in May and will initially launch across 54 stores in London and Manchester. Alongside the announcement Starbucks revealed the results from the first six weeks of a three-month trial into reusable cups. A total of 35 stores have been implementing a 5p paper cup charge, with extra profits being donated to an environmental charity. Customers using reusable cups also receive a 25p discount. Results from the trial show reusable cup usage has increased by more than 150%.The new straw trial follows commitments from the likes of McDonald’s, Wetherspoons and Wagamama to phase out plastic straws in UK branches. The news comes on the same day more than 40 of the largest UK businesses, including major supermarkets, have signed the UK Plastics Pact, agreeing to make all their plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. In light of the move away from plastic straws, campaigners, including Michaela Hollywood, who has spinal muscular atrophy, have urged companies to ensure they are providing alternatives, such as paper straws, rather than banning them altogether, pointing out some disabled people reply on straws to drink.READ MORE: How Big Brands Are Committing To Cutting Plastic Waste By 2025 We All Have A Part To Play In The Crackdown On Plastics Why Is There Plastic In My Bottle Of Water? […]

  • 'I Feel Human Again': How Donated Wash Bags Bring Comfort To Survivors Of Sexual Assault
    by Natasha Hinde on April 26, 2018 at 8:31 am

    In the waiting room for The Haven, there are no magazines or music playing; instead the walls hang abstract artworks and a screen shows ocean waves gently lapping at a shore. Great care has been taken to make this room a calming atmosphere and omit anything that may be triggering for those who pass through: victims of sexual assault and rape.One in four women and one in 10 men will experience sexual assault in the UK at some point in their lives. The Haven, based at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, provides crucial support to sexual assault victims, while also obtaining forensic evidence so perpetrators can be caught and prosecuted.When the centre first opened its doors in 2000 it catered to adults of all gender identities, but since - and heartbreakingly due to the demand for services - it has expanded to help adolescents and children.  Following assault, clients referred to the service - either by themselves or police - will undergo a gentle two-minute forensic examination with a female examiner. They’ll also be given medical care, reassurance around pregnancy, and information and support going forward - all of which takes four to five hours. Afterwards they’ll receive several counselling sessions.The forensic exam can be especially difficult following such a traumatic event. “The examination shouldn’t be any more painful than a smear test, but following what’s just happened it can bring up all sorts of issues that make it that little bit harder to go through,” explains Jo Delaforce, Matron of The Haven. Beforehand, a crisis worker will guide the client through what’s going to happen - a crucial process to ensure there are no surprises. “You want to know exactly what is going to happen to you: from the moment you walk through the door to the moment you leave,” says Jo. “It’s about building a rapport, that trust, supporting a client so they feel comfortable but more importantly making them feel in control - because whatever happened to them before they got there, it was out of their control.”Read more from HumanKind: This Woman Is Taking Hundreds Of Bras From London To Edinburgh Couple Spend Spare Time Building Wheelchairs For Disabled Rescue Dogs Strangers Are Working Together To Crowdfund People Like Joe Out Of Homelessness On the day I’m there, the forensic suite and upstairs rooms - including the washroom - are off limits as a client has just arrived in need of support. The washroom is of particular significance as this is where many of the clients are able to finally relax after such a horrifying ordeal. They are given a wash-bag filled with toiletries including shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, lip balm and mascara, and this simple act of humanity often means the world to them with many recipients bursting into tears.Crisis worker Teri Raymond, who deals mostly with self-referred clients, says she recently supported a client who arrived at the centre and was very distraught. “She’d come with nothing. She couldn’t go back home so she couldn’t get any clothing and didn’t have a wash bag or anything like that, Teri recalls. “I gave her a wash bag just before she went into the shower and she burst into tears. “The tears were of happiness, not of sadness. She was very grateful. She felt quite dirty and just wanted a shower, so she was really happy that we’d given her this wash bag and was amazed at what was in it. She didn’t realise that she’d get so many products.”The wash bag initiative is a collaboration between Boots and The Haven. 70 volunteers spent one week packing up 12,000 wash bags which were then delivered to 47 sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) across the UK. The scheme is in its second year and despite being a relatively simple thing it is already making a huge difference.The project was originally established by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and is part of a three-year agreement between Boots UK and SARCs to donate over 36,000 wash bags in total.Volunteer Imogen Wood says it’s “amazing” to see how a week’s worth of packing wash bags impacts lives: “To be able to give comfort and dignity back, it makes me want to go and work in a warehouse all day every day. Seeing the impact it’s having is really heartening.”In addition to volunteers, crisis workers like Teri and Christine support people through such devastating ordeals 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Jo explains that many out-of-hours crisis workers are doing the role in addition to another full-time job.But, while supporting the victims is incredibly difficult, the knowledge that workers are helping makes it wholly worthwhile. Teri explains: “It makes us smile knowing that they came in here feeling distraught, crying and in crisis, and they’ve often left with a smile on their face.”Crisis worker Christine Murphy recalls a poignant story where a homeless man turned up at the centre for help. “When he arrived he was unkempt and wearing a hospital gown,” she explains. “After the forensic examination he was given a wash bag and used the washroom facilities. When he came out he looked like a completely different man. “He said: ‘I feel human again’.”HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness, featuring people who do incredible things for others or the planet – transforming lives through small but significant acts. Get involved by joining us on Facebook or telling us about the people who you think deserve recognition for their kind works. You can nominate them here or share your personal story by emailing natasha.hinde@huffpost.com. […]

  • 10 Lust-Worthy Pieces To Fuel Your Stationery Addiction
    by Amy Packham on April 26, 2018 at 8:31 am

    If you’re a stationery addict, you know full well you don’t need an excuse like National Stationery Week to fill your drawers with even more unnecessary completely necessary notepads, pens, pencil cases and desk pads.But seeing as there is a week dedicated to it, it seems only polite that we join in and treat ourselves to brand-spankingly new desk accessories to fill ourselves with joy - Enjoy!Spring Desk PadThis isn’t just a notepad, this is a desk pad to ensure your weekly plans are in order (with some space for doodles). It’ll make you more organised, promise. Price: £7.95. From: Oh Deer. Inspirational Pencil SetIf you want to feel empowered when you scribble or doodle, this stylish inspirational pencil set is for you. Be a warrior, not a worrier.  Price: £6. From: Not On The High Street. List PadAre you one of those people? You know the ones we’re talking about. The people who write things they’ve already done on their to do list, just so they can tick it off. Well, this list pad will be right up your street. Price: £6. From: Dotty About Paper. Rose Ballpoint PenIf there’s one thing that all stationery addicts know, it’s that you will *always* have a favourite pen. Don’t have one yet? Fawn over this rose-coloured beauty. Price: £22.99. From: Crafty Arts.Floral Notelet SetWhen you have no lists to write and no plans to make but still want to put pen to paper, make someone’s day and write them a letter instead. Price: £17.50. From: Stationery Treasure.Personalised NotepadYou can never have enough notepads. But personalised notepads? Even better. Price: £12.99. From: Papier. Pastel Bulldog ClipsKeep stray notes clipped together or mark out important points in your diary with these beautifully-coloured mini bulldog clips.Price: £2.75. From: Chroma Stationery. A ‘List A Day’ JournalKeeping a journal can sometimes be a struggle if you don’t know what to write. This pad gives you small prompts each day (for the next 100 days) to inspire a list a day.  Price: £10. From: Paperchase. Gel Pen Ink Set 12-packMake your lists, notes, brainstorms and creative notes look beautiful with fine-tipped gel pens (no, they weren’t only cool when you were 12). Price: £16.95. From: Muji. Tropical Pencil CaseNo stationery guide would be complete without a pencil case and we love this bright and colourful tropical print from Oh Deer. Price: £12.95. From: Oh Deer. SEE ALSO: 17 Of The Best Bullet Journal Ideas For March 15 Things You Only Know If You Have A Bullet Journal 'Mind Journal' Offers A Safe Place For Men To Open Up Also on HuffPost […]

  • People Made Homeless By Grenfell Trauma Ignored In Government Figures
    by Rachel Wearmouth on April 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Ministers stand accused of ignoring swathes of Grenfell’s homeless by omitting from official figures those residents too traumatised to return to the area after the blaze last year.While Communities Secretary Sajid Javid regularly updates Parliament on efforts to rehouse those hit by the North Kensington fire, the Government’s headline figure refers only to survivors whose homes were destroyed by the fire, and excludes a further 128 households from the wider Lancaster West area.Many of this group are too traumatised to return to their former homes. Most lost a friend or relative in the blaze and watched the fire take hold from their window.While the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea local authority has a strategy to rehouse the 128 households - from Barandon Walk, Hurstway Walk, Testerton Walk, Treadgold House and Bramley House - and identifies them in a separate “wider Grenfell” strategy, the Government is not acknowledging their situation in the Commons. Labour MP Emma Dent Coad accused Javid of “segregating survivors and the bereaved” and said as it was a disgrace that ministers were failing to account for them.  The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it is “rightly” prioritising those who physically lost their home and accepted that those from the wider area cannot return home for “a variety of sometimes complex reasons”.  Dent Coad said of the revelation: “The government appears to accept that there are ‘priorities’ with the rehousing programme. “In my opinion the ‘priority’ should be rehousing every single person who has been made homeless by the fire. It should not be a case of segregating survivors and the bereaved.”She added that as many people from the wider estate witnessed the blaze from their living room and kitchen windows, “the mental health impact of the atrocity is huge and it is no wonder that many from the wider estate feel that they cannot return to their original homes.”She said it was high time the government and RBKC rehoused “every single person impacted”. Of the 128 households excluded from the government figure, 70 (55%) are still in temporary accommodation and 25 are in hotels/services apartments or staying with friends families. Thirty-three have returned home. A Government spokesman said: “The Council rightly prioritises rehousing those from Grenfell Tower and Walk who lost their homes in the fire. There are a total of 211 households in this situation. “There are also a number of households from the wider Lancaster West estate who were either temporarily evacuated or decided to take up emergency accommodation following the fire. “Whilst the majority of these households have returned home, a number do not currently feel able to for a variety of sometimes complex reasons.”A total of 71 people lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire in June. A judge-led public inquiry into what caused the disaster is under way.&nbs […]

  • Kim Kardashian Slams Media For 'Demonising' Kanye West And Pushing Mental Health Narrative
    by Ash Percival on April 26, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Kim Kardashian has accused the media of pushing a mental health narrative around her husband Kanye West after he posted a stream of consciousness on Twitter, where he voiced support for Donald Trump. The reality star claimed many people were trying to “demonise” her husband with their commentary on his tweets, where he has been painted as “erratic”. During his social media spree, Kanye covered many topics including his fashion label Yeezy, his family and his support for the US president, who he called his “brother”. In one tweet he wrote: “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We both have dragon energy. He is my brother.”He also posted a Trump-signed Make America Great Again hat. You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018my MAGA hat is signed 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/DrDHJybS8V— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018He then claimed Kim had instructed him to make it “clear to everyone” that he doesn’t “agree with everything Trump does”, adding he doesn’t “agree 100%” with anyone but himself.my wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone. I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018Kim then took to Twitter herself to slam how reports of Kanye’s tweets had been covered in the media, which also came amid a backlash from some of his fans for verbalising his support of Trump. The ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ star was also quick to insist they had “very different views” on the president. She wrote: “To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary.“So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair.“Yesterday it was announced that Kanye had parted ways with some business people and media outlets made this about Kanye’s mental health. Rather than just a simple business decision. So I’m glad he tweeted about the state of his company and all of the exciting things happening.”She continued: “He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America? Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive.”To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary. So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Yesterday it was announced that Kanye had parted ways with some business people and media outlets made this about Kanye’s mental health. Rather than just a simple business decision. So I’m glad he tweeted about the state of his company and all of the exciting things happening— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America? Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Speaking about Kanye’s support of Trump, Kim went on: “Now when he spoke out about Trump... Most people (including myself) have very different feelings & opinions about this. But this is HIS opinion. I believe in people being able to have their own opinions,even if really different from mine. He never said he agrees with his politics.“Kanye will never run in the race of popular opinion and we know that and that’s why I love him and respect him and in a few years when someone else says the same exact thing but they aren’t labeled the way he is and you will all praise them! Kanye is years ahead of his time.”She added: “Mental Health is no joke and the media needs to stop spitting that out so casually. Bottom line.”Now when he spoke out about Trump... Most people (including myself) have very different feelings & opinions about this. But this is HIS opinion. I believe in people being able to have their own opinions,even if really different from mineHe never said he agrees with his politics— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Kanye will never run in the race of popular opinion and we know that and that’s why I love him and respect him and in a few years when someone else says the same exact thing but they aren’t labeled the way he is and you will all praise them! Kanye is years ahead of his time— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Mental Health is no joke and the media needs to stop spitting that out so casually. Bottom line— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Meanwhile, Trump himself weighed in on the matter, thanking Kanye and calling his tweets “very cool”. Thank you Kanye, very cool! https://t.co/vRIC87M21X— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018There had been speculation Kanye’s Twitter thread had lost him nine million of his 27 million followers, but this rumour has actually turned out to be false. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge: “We can confirm that Kanye’s follower count is currently at approximately 27M followers. Any fluctuation that people might be seeing is an inconsistency and should be resolved soon.”It is far from the first time Kanye has spoken about Trump positively, as during a live show back in November 2016, he said he would have voted for him, if he’d have voted in the last election at all. “I told y’all I didn’t vote, right?” Kanye told fans during Saint Pablo tour. “But if I would’ve voted, I would’ve voted for Trump.”He then urged African-Americans to “stop focusing on racism” because “this world is racist, OK?”Ten months later, Kanye met Trump in person to “discuss multicultural issues”, stating: “I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change.”Trump later told journalists he thought the rapper was a “good man”, adding they had been “friends for a long time”.READ MORE: Kanye West Calls Donald Trump 'My Brother' During Astonishing Twitter Love-In Kim Kardashian Is So Over Your Kanye West 'Get Out' Memes Kim Kardashian Shares First Photo Of Baby Chicago […]

  • Telling It Like It Is: ‘I Wear A Mask At Work To Pretend I Fit In'
    by Anonymous on April 26, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Each morning after I’ve brushed my teeth, had a shower, and eaten some breakfast, I go to my wardrobe, put on my secret-identity-mask and get on my busy commute to work.At least that’s what it sometimes feels like for me and a good number of my friends who also grew up black and poor, but have also found themselves employed at a large, successful workplace.Trying to navigate the office can be difficult for anyone, but there is an added anxiety when social cues and conduct considered part of the fabric of office life, are your very first encounters with those behaviours.Even few years into my career there are still things I don’t understand: why does everyone else seem to have been skiing?Another is: would that person have called me aggressive if I wasn’t a black woman?Read more... Telling It Like It Is: ‘They Treat Me Like The Black-Person-In-Chief’ Telling It Like It Is: ‘Which Acronym Are You?’ I have been accused of aggression in a past workplace and in my current place of work. The most recent came in the form of an anonymous complaint from an external person and it also came as quite a surprise.There is a distinct racialised and gendered flavour to the word ‘aggressive’. Ask any black woman and I can guarantee that many would tell you the same thing.It’s things like this that lead to the feeling of requiring a dual personality.At work, you can end up being the most ‘professional’ version of yourself – speaking with a different tone and sanitising language, lest it be seen as vulgar; lowering your voice so not to attract any accusations of aggression; smiling politely while the third person in an hour asks you whether the new ’do on your head is “all yours”.But then you clock out and all seems to be fine again. You’re free to express your hair, views, and moods however you want, and not feel as if your colleagues are speaking a different language to you as they discuss their holidays in the Cotswolds or wood burning stoves.Well that is my experience. This freer, more HD version of my personality extends to social media. I was once told by somebody at work: “You’re so different online”, to which I replied: “No, I’m just different here.” My black female friends admit to me that they tone down their personalities at the office in order to avoid being labelled as loud or aggressive.However, they also want to be their authentic selves and end up using middle names or aliases as usernames on social media accounts. That way, we’re free to be as loud, boisterous, and joyful as possible.Fitting in at a respected legacy organisation can be a struggle. I don’t share the same experience, or come from the same background. Add to that an assertiveness and confidence that is misconstrued as arrogance or aggression, trying to be your authentic self at work can eventually become draining. Putting on a mask each day ends up feeling like it’s the best way to get through the day, and quite possibly the rest of your career.• Do you have an experience relating to this story? You can contact us on WhatsApp on +44 78968 04043.• This column is being published anonymously to allow the author to lift the lid on her experience in a high-profile organisation.&nbs […]

  • Thanking The Man Who Saved My Husband's Life
    by Mariacristina Lubrano on April 26, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Atchoo! “Bless you,” says a colleague. “Thank you!” I reply. Thank you for your letter, Madam. Cheers for lending me that book. Thank you, grandma, for the delightful knitted jumper you gave me.Since moving from Naples to London nine years ago, I have heard – and used – the expression ‘thank you’ more times than I can count. From the moment I wake up in the morning, when the radio presenter thanks me for listening, through all my daily work emails politely signed “Thank you, Mariacristina”, to the evening food shopping, when I automatically say thank you as the cashier hands me back my clubcard.The practice of saying ‘thank you’ is a fundamental element in the way we interact with one another. You know where you stand when everyone’s saying ‘thank you’ – it’s hard to imagine any community running smoothly without it. Kate Fox, in her handy guide for foreigners like me, ‘Watching the English’, points out that in the UK, people typically say ‘thank you’ between three and five times in the course of a simple transaction.On the other hand, though, it has become so engrained that we often no longer think about why we’re saying it, or even take any notice of having been thanked. Our ears have become so accustomed to the words that perhaps we don’t even hear them anymore.Is saying thank you not meant to be a way of expressing genuine gratitude?Two years ago, for the first time, I started to wonder seriously about whether ‘thank you’ could still carry some weight beyond the everyday contexts. The issue was urgent: I was preparing to meet the man who had saved my husband’s life. I was desperate to find a way to show him how thankful I was for what he had done. As I searched for ideas on the internet, usually bursting with solutions to everything, I quickly realised that nobody could offer any advice on how to thank the individual who gave someone you love another chance at life.Could a simple, “thank you for saving my husband’s life” ever be enough after such an enormous gift?It was pretty certain that without the stem cells of a stranger my husband George would have not survived. The desperation and helplessness at the thought of losing him so early in our journey together had crushed me.The day we heard a potential donor was ready to give the gift of life through his stem cell donation, a bright light of hope cut through the heaviness of worries.We had both received an immeasurable gift: a new chance at life for my husband and more precious time together – writing a thank you note just did not cut it.It was two years after the transplant and we finally had a chance to meet his donor, Tim.I insisted he and his family come to ours for Sunday lunch. This was my answer: cooking Tim a Neapolitan feast would be my very personal way to show him how much his act of kindness meant to me. Italians always say it with food.I put everything into that meal: the most spectacular recipes, the very best ingredients – and all my love, gratitude and relief. When the day came, I had tears in my eyes as I tried to express everything that was bursting inside me.“What you did is something we will never be able to thank you enough for,” I said.“I just gave a helping hand to someone who needed me,” he replied.And in that moment, faced by the humility of a man without whose miraculous gift our story would have ended a long time before, I knew there was only one thing I needed to say. It would never be enough, but it would carry a meaning far beyond its worn-out everyday recital, saying in two words what two million would struggle to convey.“Thank you.”If you want to become a potential life-saver (and superhero!) like Tim, you can sign up to Anthony Nolan’s register (if you are 16-30), or join DKMS’ register (if you are above 30 years old).HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness, featuring people who do incredible things for others or the planet – transforming lives through small but significant acts. Get involved by joining us on Facebook or telling us about the people who you think deserve recognition for their kind works. You can nominate them here or share your personal story by emailing natasha.hinde@huffpost.com. […]

  • Why It Matters A Conservative MP Is Visiting An Immigration Detention Centre
    by Mishka Pillay on April 26, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Today, the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell is set to visit Brook House detention centre near Gatwick Airport. This is notable for two reasons. Firstly, because only very few MPs take the time to visit people in detention. I was detained in Harmondsworth IRC for five months, and I never saw any elected official or a member of Parliament. We were calling out for someone from outside to come and see how we were being treated, locked up in cages. But no-one came and the message we got from that was that we were ‘out of sight, out of mind’, nobody cared. We were made to feel helpless and isolated, just the way the Home Office likes it.Secondly, it is notable that Mr. Mitchell is a Conservative MP. The present government have pushed the idea of detention as a deterrent with great enthusiasm for many years. Just in the same way the ‘Windrush scandal’ has revealed their willingness to put votes over basic humanity, so has indefinite detention become a central part of their commitment to make life a living nightmare for all migrants, whoever they are, whatever their right to remain in the UK.To Mr. Mitchell’s credit, he has publicly criticised detention as a ‘dystopian stain on our democracy’ and has pushed the Government to disclose the enormous financial cost of this broken system to the taxpayer. It is refreshing to see this when so many of his other party colleagues - not least the ex-Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis - continue to openly lie to the public, and themselves, about detention in the UK and its impacts. Whilst I have no interest in endorsing one political party over another when it comes to detention reform, it can sometimes feel like the Conservative party are the only ones left in the whole country with their heads still in the sand about the horrors of indefinite detention – everyone from the Bar Council to the UN agrees there should be a 28-day time limit as an urgent first step in addressing the government’s addiction to detention. Perhaps, staying away from the physical sites of this inhumane policy is a necessary part of denying that indefinite detention actually exists (which they do repeatedly, despite the evidence).Of course, going to visit a detention centre does not mean you will necessarily get an accurate picture of what detention is like, or how that centre normally runs. G4S and Home Office staff will likely be the ones showing Mr. Mitchell around. They will no doubt present a fairy-tale picture of good immigration control in practice: he will be introduced to the ‘right’ people and he will be taken down the ‘right’ corridors. It is very unlikely he will see evidence of the culture of abuse captured by the BBC Panorama documentary last year. As was the case when the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stuart McDonald, visited Yarl’s Wood last month, the truth can only come via those who had or are experiencing detention themselves. Without their consultation, any such visit will be ineffective.If Mr. Mitchell does speak to those people inside Brook House, he will also be indirectly hearing from those inside Dungavel, or Campsfield, or Colnbrook, from people locked up indefinitely all over the country. This is because the experience of detention is not defined by the conditions of each centre but by the cruelty of the adverse policies that dictate them.The current Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into detention seem to have recognised this. The inquiry was first launched in response to the undercover footage of physical and mental abuse in Brook House, and was supposed to only focus on this detention centre alone. Then we saw the fourth death in the space of a year at Morton Hall and a month-long hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood, and the inquiry was forced to broaden their scope to include these detention centres as well. Representatives from Serco (Yarl’s Wood) and HMIP (Morton Hall) were brought in to give testimony before the Select Committee, and they said there is not much they can do given the Home Office’s policy to detain (at all costs). I believe private contractors are also complicit in this human rights and civil liberties disaster, but there is some truth in their statements. Even if they were to provide the best care in the world, it would be still be indefinite detention.The Select Committee has now decided to extend it to the detention estate as a whole. If it is carried out correctly, it will be a big surprise if it does not reach the same conclusion as the cross-party Parliamentary Inquiry on Detention report in 2015: that we need urgent and radical reform of the whole detention system. But any wider inquiry would also reveal that indefinite detention is not an aberration. It fits perfectly into a whole network of policies that make up Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, which looks to target all migrants, however long they’ve been in this country. Immigration detention is directly linked to the restrictions on the right to rent, Go Home vans, reporting centres, the financial cost of making immigration appeals, access to healthcare, and many other restrictions designed to make life untenable for migrants in the UK.These policies not only destroy individuals’ lives with direct attacks on their dignity and welfare, they also damage the collective ideal of what it means to live in a shared society. That is why Mr. Mitchell’s visit to Brook House is an important symbolic step, and it is an especially welcome one for a Conservative MP. But it is also clearly not enough. Just like the ‘Windrush scandal’, if it is seen and framed in isolation, then nothing will really change.*Not the author’s real nameRelated... No More Plasters On The Open-Wound Of Indefinite Detention: We Need Full-Scale Surgery The UK's Inhumane And Cruel Immigration Detention System Must End ‘A Quiet Disgrace’: The Harm Caused By The UK’s Use Of Indefinite Immigration Detention […]

  • Without An End To Self-Regulation, The Westminster Harassment Inquiry Will Not Bring Closure And Justice
    by Dave Penman on April 26, 2018 at 7:13 am

    The announcement that Dame Laura Cox, a respected QC with significant experience in the field, was to lead an independent inquiry into bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff would normally be one that would be unequivocally welcomed.Yet, as the union that represents Clerks in the House of Commons, the group whose testimony to Newsnight prompted the inquiry, we find ourselves qualifying that welcome. It’s not that we don’t believe Dame Laura is qualified or that she won’t be independent, far from it. It’s just that while Dame Laura might be new to these issues in the House of Commons, our members are not.The allegations aired in the excellent Newsnight investigation by Chris Cook and Lucinda Day reflect the experience of a number of our members who have tried and failed to pursue allegations of bullying and harassment as well as countless others who have given up trying.Parliament has many anachronistic traditions, often through some historical or constitutional significance. Self-regulation is one that still exists in many forms, founded in the desire to separate Parliament from the Executive.  Understandable, possibly even laudable, but the by-product has been a lack of oversight and the development of culture over many decades that, for some, manifests itself in a belief that they are untouchable.It is the culture that led to taxpayer-funded redecoration of duck houses and in this context has allowed, encouraged even, behaviour that has no place in any workplace, modern or otherwise. I say encouraged because it is clear that many politicians, prominent backbenchers, ministers, chairs of committees, party whips and the political parties themselves have been well aware of these behaviours. They have witnessed them, turned a blind eye and too often refused to challenge them when they were the only ones with the power to do so. Political expedience triumphed over the welfare of those whose job it was to help make Parliament work.Over many years now brave individuals - some supported by the FDA and other unions, some on their own - have sought to challenge these behaviours but have been thwarted at almost every turn. After a number of high profile cases ended without satisfactory resolution, a new policy was adopted in 2014 which had the potential for some independent oversight in the most extreme cases. The result of dogged determination and negotiation from unions, this was an improvement on the previous process but far from satisfactory.It was at this point some politicians cried foul: “How can any new policy deal with historical cases?”“How can they be investigated under a policy that did not exist at the time of the alleged incident?”So, the House of Commons wiped the slate clean and in doing so reinforced the point that few were serious about addressing these issues in any meaningful way. Bullying and harassment often follows patterns. In many cases it is systematic low-level undermining of individuals, comments or exchanges that in themselves can be explained away by culture, robust language or just being difficult.Wipe the slate clean and years of evidence is discarded, unable to be used as part of any complaint. The message to victims is clear: they will have to suffer further years of abuse before a complaint can be lodged. The message to the bullies is even clearer. Is it any wonder that since the new policy was Introduced in 2014, not a single member of staff has taken a complaint through to a formal process?That is one of the reasons why we stated publicly that our members have no faith in the current process and that any independent inquiry must look at individual cases. Not without difficulty, probably not without challenge by some Parliamentarians, but essential if staff are to have the confidence that something will finally change this time.Their refusal to concede this point, asking staff to make use of a system so obviously discredited that an independent inquiry has been set up to look at, owes more to Joseph Heller than it does to CIPD.The inquiry promises closure, its press release says it will “consider what options are available for resolving current or historical allegations,” but the terms of reference are silent on this.Closure comes with justice, not tea and sympathy, and Dame Laura can’t deliver the true justice that victims deserve if she is starting with one hand tied behind her back. Dave Penman is General Secretary of the FDA union, which represents leaders across the public sector. He tweets as @FDAGenSecRelated... MPs Launch Workplace Sex Harassment Inquiry Westminster 'Unwilling And Unable' To Tackle Sexual Harassment Six Signs Of Sexual Harassment In Your Workplac […]

  • Amber Rudd Said There Were No Immigration Removal Targets But A 2015 Report Says Otherwise
    by Chris York on April 26, 2018 at 7:09 am

    The Home Office set targets for voluntary departures of illegal immigrants, according to a 2015 watchdog report, in contradiction to testimony given yesterday by Amber Rudd.Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Secretary said “we don’t have targets for removals”, adding “that’s not how we operate”.But a 2015 inspection report shows a target of 12,000 voluntary departures in 2015/16 was set by the department.The issue had previously been raised by Labour’s Yvette Cooper who said a response she received from the Home Office was a “complete fudge answer”. This is a complete fudge answer to my question on whether the Home Office has targets for immigration removals after the contradictory evidence from the ISU & the Home Secretary at @CommonsHomeAffs today. Tomorrow I will be writing to the Home Secretary to get a proper answer pic.twitter.com/Xv1qYpkvuT— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) April 25, 2018Labour MP Sally Jones, who is a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the disclosure that there were targets for voluntary departures raised new questions for the Home Office.She expressed concern that targets had led to the creation of a climate where “things have been overlooked on the basis of trying to get people out of the country”.She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I think we need some clarity around what drivers were pushing the workforce to make the decisions that they made.“We know that there was a target to reduce immigration, we know that there was limited capacity to reduce the number of people coming in, and now it appears there were targets to increase the number of people going out.”Culture Secretary Matt Hancock denied that targets had led to people being arbitrarily removed.“As far as I understand it, it has never been Home Office policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet the target. There are rules around immigration. Immigration needs to be controlled but the rules also need to be fair,” he told the Today programme.During an intense grilling at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the Home Secretary admitted she was “surprised” she did not realise the scale of the problem earlier.Rudd said no one from the Windrush generation had been wrongly deported “as far as we can see at the moment”.Theresa May has steadfastly stuck to the immigration target first set by David Cameron - despite opposition from within her own party.Asked on Wednesday whether the target led to people who have a legal right to live in the UK being targeted for deportation, Rudd said: “I don’t think that’s got anything to do with it.”“It’s wrong to think the net migration target is the problem here. The problem here is that people were not properly documented,” she said.Asked if she had told May to ditch the target, Rudd said: “I have not discussed that with the prime minister.”She added: “I have private conversations with the prime minister which will stay private.&rdquo […]

  • 'Avengers: Infinity War' Coasts On The Same Routine Repeated - But There's Magic To Be Found - HuffPost Verdict
    by Rachel McGrath on April 26, 2018 at 5:51 am

    K E Y   P O I N T S‘Avengers: Infinity War’ unites more than 24 superheroes from the Marvel universe (MCU)Stars featured include: Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, the entire ‘Black Panther’ crew and the main Guardians of the Galaxy.‘Captain America: Civil War’ directors the Russos brothers also took charge of ‘Infinity War’.It’s believed this may be the most expensive film ever made, with production costs reportedly reaching $500 million (roughly £359 million).No, we will not tell you who dies. S N A P   V E R D I C TFrom HuffPost US Reporter Matt Jacobs: We’ve reached a point where what happens in an ‘Avengers’ story carries less weight than the sheer spectacle of it all. Ten years and 19 movies into Marvel Studios’ cultural domination, ‘Infinity War’ thrusts all of the brand’s disparate crusaders onto one screen, ostensibly uniting the cinematic universe whose chief purpose is to ensure there will be more plot lines to concoct and more tickets to sell as the years pass us by.If the goal is to give Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy a quirky meet-cute, mission accomplished. Want to see the Hulk join forces with Spider-Man and Black Panther? You got it. But ‘Infinity War’ coasts on the same routine repeated ad nauseous for 2 hours and 40 minutes: setup, banter, battle, setup, banter, battle, setup, banter, battle. And the battles end up drowning everything else out - they’re visual assaults that render the saga’s minutiae forgettable. Nevertheless, there’s some magic to be found in the connective tissue that now brings together disparate parts of the Avengers clan.It can be fun to watch folks who’ve never set foot in the same country or on the same planet work to take down Thanos, and the noisy action breaks long enough to give us a surprisingly resonant and emotional conclusion. Will any of it matter in the franchise’s next instalment? Probably not. But it was nice to feel something, even if was fleeting. W H A T ′ S   N E X T ? Another film, of course! The Russos brothers have already signed up to direct an as-yet-untitled ‘Infinity War II’ project, which is slated for release in May 2019. There will be more from the MCU before then, though, as ‘Ant-Man And The Was’ is set to hit cinemas in July this year. ‘Captain Marvel’ will then follow in March 2019.Watch the trailer below...READ MORE: Disneyland Paris Is Undergoing A Huge Expansion And It Sounds Magical Get To Know Letitia Wright, The 'Black Panther' Star Everyone Is Going To Be Talking About Critics Are Already Loving 'Avengers: Infinity War' […]

  • UK Plastics Pact: How Big Brands Are Committing To Cutting Plastic Waste By 2025
    by Rachel Moss on April 25, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    More than 40 of the UK’s largest businesses have signed a groundbreaking “Plastics Pact”, committing to making 100% of plastic packaging they use reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The UK Plastics Pact is the first of its kind in the world and has united 42 household names including supermarkets such as Aldi, ASDA, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons, in a bid to tackle plastic waste and protect the environment. These businesses are responsible for over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets.Big brands including Coco Cola Europe, Nestle UK and Unilever UK have also signed up. They’re joined by a further 15 organisations, including the British Retail Consortium and the British Plastics Federation. The powerful collective is spearheaded by sustainability charity WRAP and plans to eliminate “problematic” single-use plastic through package redesign and innovation. Environmental charities have praised the move, although some have raised concerns the alliance won’t go “far enough” to tackle plastic pollution. [READ MORE: I tried avoiding plastic for a week – it was difficult]The 57 businesses and organisations in the pact have committed to hit a series of targets by 2025:Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models.Make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.Ensure 70% of plastic packaging can be effectively recycled or composted.Use 30% of plastic packaging must be made from recycled materials.The pact is set to be replicated in other countries to form a powerful global movement for change as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘New Plastics Economy initiative’.  Commenting on the launch Environment Secretary Michael Gove, said: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place. I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.” The immediate focus of the group will be identifying the priority projects that will deliver greatest impacts in the short and long term, such as finding ways to increase the amount of recycled materials used in new packaging, developing reusable packaging and working with partners to overcome the issue of un-recyclable “black plastic”.Sian Sutherland, co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet, welcomed the pact as a great “first step” to tackling waste, but said “in some areas it’s clear it doesn’t go far enough”.“Recycling is often touted as the answer to the packaging crisis, yet plastic will almost always end up in the environment sooner or later. Most plastic can only be recycled a handful of times before it becomes unusable.” she said. “We’ve been able to recycle plastic for decades yet there is now an estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste somewhere on our planet - in our soil, in our oceans, in our air.  Plastic is everywhere and we must do everything possible to slow down its production.” She called on manufacturers to look at alternatives to plastic - such as metal, glass, carton board and wood pulp - rather than focussing all energy on plastic itself. Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Julian Kirby also said the pact is a “move in the right direction” but added “government measures are also needed to ensure everyone plays their part, and that these targets are actually met”.“Ultimately the only long term solution is a complete phase-out of plastic for all but the most essential uses,” she said. “Ministers must draw up an action plan, covering all plastic-polluting sectors, including clothing, cosmetics and vehicles, to make this a reality.”READ MORE: Where To Shop If You Want To Live Plastic-Free Why The Tide Is Finally Turning On Plastic And Pointless Packaging Why Is There Plastic In My Tea Bag? […]

  • Kanye West Calls Donald Trump 'My Brother' During Twitter Love-In
    by Graeme Demianyk on April 25, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Donald Trump has thanked Kanye West after the rapper called the US President “my brother” and claimed they are “both dragon energy”.In a series of tweets, West, 40, spoke of his admiration for the Republican politician, and said “the mob” could not make him “not love him”.He added: “For people In my life the idea of Trump is pretty much a 50 50 split but I don’t tell a Hillary supporter not to support Hillary I love Hillary too.”You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018Trump then responded, quoting West’s tweet and replying: “Thank you Kanye, very cool!”Thank you Kanye, very cool! https://t.co/vRIC87M21X— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018Afterwards, West tweeted a picture of the President’s gratitude.pic.twitter.com/YyUw0mCKov— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018The exchange began after West tweeted on Wednesday that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, had instructed him to make it “clear to everyone” that he doesn’t “agree with everything Trump does”.He also said he doesn’t “agree 100%” with anyone but himself.my wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone. I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018West also shared an image of a Trump-signed ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.my MAGA hat is signed 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/DrDHJybS8V— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018And Trump, naturally, couldn’t resist a quote tweet.MAGA! https://t.co/jFf5ONASlv— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018West had already shared a series of stream-of-consciousness thoughts on social media before heaping praise on the President. Related... Kanye West Gets Booed After Revealing He 'Would Have Voted For Donald Trump' John Legend Really Isn't Pleased About Kanye West's Meeting With Donald Trum […]

  • Alfie Evans: Parents Lose Appeal Against High Court’s Rome Travel Ban
    by Jack Sommers on April 25, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    The parents of toddler Alfie Evans, who has been at the centre of a life-support treatment battle, have had their latest legal challenge dismissed by Court of Appeal judges.Three judges analysed the latest stage of the dispute over the 23-month-old boy at a hearing in London and rejected all grounds raised by Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James.The pair, who are both in their early 20s and from Liverpool, appealed following a ruling made by a High Court judge late on Tuesday.Mr Justice Hayden had decided, at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester, that Alfie should not be allowed to leave Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and travel to a hospital in Rome.On Wednesday, the judges dismissed the appeals on grounds brought by the father first and then by Alfie’s mother.Doctors stopped providing life-support treatment to Alfie late on Monday.In an open letter, bosses at Alder Hey said staff had been subjected to a “barrage” of abuse following a “social media storm”. “As an organisation, we have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics. It has been a very difficult time,” they wrote, saying employees had received abuse in person, via phone calls, email and social media. Evans said his son had confounded specialists’ expectations by continuing to breathe.On Thursday morning, Tom Evans told reporters there would be a meeting with doctors later in the day to discuss taking his son home.Alfie’s parents have already lost two rounds of fights, in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.During Wednesday’s hearing, a lawyer representing James said Alfie was “struggling”.In February, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that doctors at Alder Hey could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents following hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool.Specialists at Alder Hey said life-support treatment should stop and Mr Justice Hayden said he accepted medical evidence which showed that further treatment was futile.Mr Justice Hayden said flying Alfie to a foreign hospital would be wrong and pointless.Court of Appeal judges upheld his decisions.Supreme Court justices and ECHR judges refused to intervene. The couple then said that Alfie was being wrongly “detained”.Mr Justice Hayden dismissed that claim.Appeal judges have upheld Mr Justice Hayden’s decision and Supreme Court justices and ECHR judges said they would not intervene.Mr Justice Hayden then finalised plans for withdrawing treatment and allowing Alfie’s life to end.A barrister representing Alfie’s father said an Italian embassy representative was in court.Paul Diamond said an air ambulance was on standby at the “request of the Pope”.He added: “My general conversation with Mr Evans is ‘save my boy’.”Diamond said: “He would leave no stone unturned… He is clutching at straws.”More than 100 supporters had gathered outside the hospital by Wednesday evening.Two Polish flags were being flown outside the hospital and blue and purple balloons had been tied to trees.Related... The Complex Case Of Alfie Evans, And Who Should Have Final Say Over A Child's Medical Treatment Alfie Evans Allowed To Return Home, But May Not Travel To Rome For Treatment Alfie Evans' Parents Lose Last-Ditch Court Appeal In Fight For Treatment In an open letter, chairman of Alder Hey hospital Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd said staff had been “deeply affected” by the story of Alfie Evans and felt “deeply” for him and his whole family.The letter said: “Yet in the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff.“This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff.“As a leading children’s healthcare provider, described by Justice Hayden, who heard the detailed evidence in Alfie’s case, as providing care that ‘can only be properly characterised as world class’, we share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies.”&nbs […]

  • Joanna Lumley Admits Being ‘Terrified All Men Are Seen As Bad’ After Hollywood Sexual Misconduct Scandals
    by Rachel McGrath on April 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Joanna Lumley has shared her thoughts on the aftermath of last year’s Hollywood sexual harassment scandals, saying she’s “terrified that all men are seen as bad”.The veteran actress admitted her fears during a new interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, during which she also praised the #MeToo movement. Reflecting on hosting the Baftas, she said: “It felt right to wear black at the time in support of MeToo. Anything that empowers women is to be supported.”“This year I do feel the spirit of the suffragettes is with us and we’re speaking out about women being treated badly around the world,” Joanna continued. “That said, I am terrified that all men are seen as bad. We mustn’t deride all men, as only the few are bad and we need to remember that, too.“I love and respect men. I am married to one, I work with some wonderful men and I have a son.”Almost everyone in attendance at February’s Baftas wore black in support of #MeToo, as they had at January’s Golden Globes. Many actresses also used the Globes to promote the then-newly launched Time’s Up iniative, which funds legal support for anyone who have been sexually harassed at work.Read Joanna’s full interview in the new issue of Good Housekeeping. READ MORE: Jennifer Lawrence Reveals The ‘Inside Joke’ Behind Her Joanna Lumley Baftas ‘Shade’ Joanna Lumley's Debut As Baftas Host Receives Mixed Reviews 12 Times Baftas Host Joanna Lumley Cemented Her Place As A National Treasur […]

  • Ex-Immigration Minister Damian Green 'Ignored' Windrush Citizen's Plight In 2011, David Lammy MP Claims
    by Jack Sommers on April 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Damian Green, Theresa May’s closest political ally, has been accused of “ignoring” the plight of a man caught up in the Windrush Generation scandal when he was in the Home Office.Green, then the immigration minister, said in 2011 it “was not clear” William O’Grady, who came to Britain aged six in 1959, had an automatic claim to British citizenship.He was writing to O’Grady’s MP, David Lammy, who revealed the letter on Wednesday after the Government had to apologise for the fate of many members of the Windrush Generation and critics said it was the result of its own tougher immigration policy.Lammy said: “I told the immigration minister that William had a right to citizenship by virtue of being a child of the Windrush and he didn’t listen.“I told the immigration minister that he was unable to work and unable to claim benefits and he ignored me.“William lived here since he was a very young child and worked here for 40 years. The government were happy to take his taxes for four decades but then treat him in this utterly shameful manner without even a second thought.“He was a citizen when he came here so why was he treated like an illegal immigrant? Modern Britain was built on the backs of William and the rest of the Windrush generation and it is a disgrace that he was stripped of his rights and treated in this way.“How many more Windrush cases have successive Home Office ministers dismissed? We need to know.”Lammy added O’Grady, who is now 65, should have a “personal apology” from May, who has already offered several apologies on the Government’s behalf.He added: “The Prime Minister and Home Secretary need to understand the suffering and pain that their government has caused.“I will be calling on the government to grant William significant compensation for the years that he was out of work and unable to access benefits and the trauma that he has been put through.“I want William to get his citizenship today and I want him to get his passport without further delay.”O’Grady gained a National Insurance number in 1971 and worked until 2011, when he was asked to prove his immigration status by his new employers - a new requirement under the Government’s tougher immigration stance.He lost his job and could not claim benefits. At the time, O’Grady believed he had been a British citizen as he was born in a British colony and his mother received British citizenship in 1949. His father also had the status having been born in what was then British Guyana.But the director of the passport office wrote to Lammy saying that O’Grady lost his claim to British citizenship when Jamaica became independent in 1962.As the Windrush Generation scandal engulfed the Government in recent days, Justice Secretary David Gauke said those affected were “of course” British and May said some might be entitled to compensation “where appropriate”.Green continued to be a close ally of May’s after she became prime minister, rising to become First Secretary of State in 2017, her de facto deputy, until she dismissed him over allegations of sexual harassment and claims he had pornography on a work computer.The Home Office has been contacted for comment.Related... 7 Questions Amber Rudd Needs To Answer Today Over The Windrush Scandal Theresa May Warned 'Do Not Try To Hide' Over Windrush Scandal National Archives Could Help Windrush Generation Prove They're Allowed To Stay Windrush Generation Will Have Have British Citizenship Fees Waived, Amber Rudd Announces May 'Misled' MPs By Blaming Labour For Windrush Fiasco […]

  • Treat Anti-Semites Like The Extreme Left-Wing Group Militant, Says Labour's Former Complaints Chief
    by Kate Forrester on April 25, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Labour members found guilty of anti-Semitism should be treated like the extreme left-wing entryist group Militant and thrown out of the party, its former complaints chief has said. In an explosive blog shared with HuffPost UK, Mike Creighton, who stood down as director of audit and risk management last year, accused Jeremy Corbyn of taking a “whack-a-mole” approach to individual incidents of anti-Semitism.Creighton also attacked Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s communications director, accusing him of being “only concerned with bad publicity” rather than addressing the root cause of the problem. However, sources close to Corbyn said the picture painted by the “disgruntled” ex-senior staffer was inaccurate, and that the party leadership was committed to tackling the issue.Creighton, who ran the party’s compliance unit which deals with complaints, said speeches in the 1980s by the former party leader, Neil Kinnock, prompted high-profile expulsions and swift action by the ruling National Executive Committee, gave members of Militant attempting to infiltrate Labour “no hiding place”.“When the cancer of Militant Tendency was removed from the Labour Party, months and months were not wasted on process,” he wrote in a post published on Wednesday. “A battalion of lawyers was not put in place. No General Counsel had to be hired before action could be taken.”He added that while “anti-Semites are not a political party”, they should face the same hostile environment within the party. Labour has become a “safe haven for the weird and the wacky, and, worse, for the racist bullies who believe it is OK to level the vilest abuse at those who seek to speak out against this current cancer at the heart of Labour,” Creighton wrote. Creighton also claimed Milne, Corbyn’s senior communications chief, asked his advice in 2016 about how the party should deal with allegations of anti-Semitism.“I gave some advice about how to deal with anti-Semitism, but that wasn’t what was required,” he said. “It was the symptoms he wanted treating, not the cause. And it’s still the symptoms, the bad publicity, that most concern him today.”He said the power to deal with the problem lies in Corbyn’s hands, and urged him to take robust action against those peddling hatred on social media in his name, as well as to clamp down on elected members sharing platforms with anyone accused of wrongdoing. “I have news for you Jeremy. You are leader of the Labour Party. What you say will, 99 times out of a hundred, go,” he added.“You may not be able to stop people using the hashtag #JC4PM alongside their antisemitic vitriol. But you could have a member of staff responding to each and every one, saying it is not acceptable and nor is their membership of the Labour Party.”Sources close to the Labour leader claimed Creighton was “politically hostile” and said it was “laughable” to suggest the expulsion of Militant from the party had been straightforward. Corbyn has tasked the newly-appointed General Secretary of the party, Jennie Formby, with stamping out anti-Jewish sentiment within the party and expediting high-profile unresolved cases, including that of former London mayor Ken Livingstone. On Wednesday morning, more than 40 MPs escorted their colleague, Ruth Smeeth, into a hearing which will determine whether activist Marc Wadsworth will be permanently excluded from the party after he was suspended over a verbal anti-Semitic attack on Smeeth nearly two years ago.A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Mike Creighton is a disgruntled former staffer who has painted an entirely misleading picture of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s approach to tackling anti-Semitism.“His claims of bad faith on the part of Jeremy’s team and his office blocking actions are false, as immediate steps taken by the new General Secretary demonstrates.”&nbs […]

  • If Corbyn Believes He Doesn’t Have The Power To Tackle Antisemitism, I've Got News For Him
    by Mike Creighton on April 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    On Wednesday, forty MPs and Peers escorted their colleague Ruth Smeeth MP to give evidence at a disciplinary hearing of a member of the Labour Party, Marc Wadsworth, accused of antisemitic behaviour. A protest in support of Wadsworth had been arranged at the (not so secret) venue.Whilst, no doubt, their support would be welcome at any time, how has it come to this?As one of the MPs present, Wes Streeting, said, “I was proud to see so many Labour MPs and peers from across the party – including shadow ministers – accompanying Ruth this Wednesday morning in a show of friendship and solidarity. But no victim of abuse should ever have to walk through a protest against them to give evidence to a hearing. It is an appalling state of affairs.” Particularly poignant following on the day after the much-heralded meeting between Jeremy Corbyn and members of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD).If accounts from the JLC and BoD are correct, Labour’s response to the meeting was to spend the time available talking about process rather than action. That was wholly wrong and a completely wasted opportunity, but no surprise.When Seumas Milne, the Leader’s spinner and now de facto General Secretary of the Labour Party, came to see me two years ago it was to ask advice about how the Labour Party might best deal with the allegations of antisemitism that were already beginning to dominate the news agenda.I gave some advice about how to deal with antisemitism, but that wasn’t what was required. It was the symptoms he wanted treating, not the cause. And it’s still the symptoms, the bad publicity, that most concern him today. It appears to me to be the only thing which concerns him.And it’s so obvious that we seem only to care about symptoms that when I went to see comedian Bill Bailey at the weekend, his attack on Labour (balancing his attacks on May for Windrush and Cable for irrelevance) were entirely about this current ‘Whack-a-Mole’ approach to dealing with the issue. A racist pops up here, and when s/he is dealt with anther pops up there. An endless cycle of cause and effect where the effect is actually contributing to the next effect, and no-one is tackling the cause.But why does this matter? Surely the Labour Party has to have the right process for dealing with complaints and investigations. Of course. And any process can benefit from being improved.But any process, whatever ‘improvements’ are made, could falter at the hurdle of getting approval from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (LotO) for any action being proposed. It took three conference calls with Seumas Milne and others over several tortuous hours (and John Mann chasing Ken around with a TV crew) to get agreement that Ken Livingstone should be suspended for the allegations of antisemitism made against him.More recently it appears LotO are trying to row back on the adoption of the definition of antisemitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which was adopted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) in December 2016. Although it was adopted partly to avoid being outflanked by the Tories, this internationally accepted definition was a welcome addition to the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Together with the examples of antisemitic actions and language, which were also accepted, this provided a clear (or, at least, clearer) framework within which those charged with investigating allegations could operate.But I now am told by members of the NEC that LotO are recently trying to say that the examples of antisemitic behaviour weren’t accepted and should not be used. Maybe LotO would like to say which of the examples concern them and why. It would be even more instructive if they were to say which of their friends are likely to fall foul of these examples.There has been much said in recent days, not least at Jeremy Corbyn’s meeting with the JLC and BoD, about process. Jennie Formby has been told dealing with allegations of antisemitism is her top priority. But all the words emanating from LotO and from the General Secretary’s Office are about process and implied criticism of the staff for not dealing with issues quickly enough – it is always the staff.But the truth of the matter lies in quite another direction.When the cancer of Militant Tendency was removed from the Labour Party, months and months were not wasted on process. A battalion of lawyers was not put in place. No General Counsel had to be hired before action could be taken.Instead, and to borrow an unfortunate phrase used highly inappropriately elsewhere, a hostile environment was created, making it clear if you were a member of Militant you were not welcome as a member of the Labour Party. Speech after speech by the Leadership of the Party, a handful of high profile expulsions, including those of two MPs, and action by local constituency parties supported by the NEC gave no hiding place. Members of Militant Tendency left the Labour Party to gather under the banner of Militant Labour to begin the long march to obscurity.Of course, antisemites are not a political party. They are not an entryist organisation which can be dealt with en-bloc. But they should face the same hostile environment.Instead Labour has become a safe haven for the weird and the whacky, and, worse, for the racist bullies who believe it is okay to level the vilest abuse at those who seek to speak out against this current cancer at the heart of Labour.Jeremy Corbyn believes that he doesn’t have the power to tackle these issues. He believes what Seumas tells him, that he can only ask the General Secretary to look at improving the process – tweak the rules, hire a lawyer, blame the staff.But I have news for you Jeremy. You are Leader of the Labour Party. What you say will, 99 times out of a hundred, go.You may not be able to stop Chris Williamson physically sharing a platform with a member of the Labour Party suspended for antisemitism, but you can make it abundantly clear that you expect, and would support, charges of bringing the Party into disrepute to follow.You may not be able to stop people using the hashtag #JC4PM alongside their antisemitic vitriol. But you could have a member of staff responding to each and every one saying it is not acceptable and nor is their membership of the Labour Party. And cheaper than a barrel of lawyers.If you expect LotO to have an eye on which disciplinary cases should be treated more or less seriously – and currently you do – then you should also be prepared to speak up and make it clear that you expect individuals who express the views that Ken Livingstone did to be expelled from the Labour Party. The National Constitutional Committee which hears these cases is not blind justice. They are aware of ‘mood music’ emanating from the Leader’s Office. That is why Ken wasn’t expelled at the first attempt.And yes, have a look at the process too. It should be possible within a fair process to get people like Livingstone out of the party without months and months of case preparation. If people want their day in court, then let it be at the Strand rather than Victoria Street.Jeremy, there are still a few outliers, who believe antisemitism is a plot (probably dreamed up by the Jews) to attack your leadership. You at least recognise that it is not. It is a real issue. It has real consequences. And it must be really dealt with. Not the symptoms. Not by Whack-a-Mole. But by tackling the causes by straight talking and honest-to-goodness action. Today.And just to make it clear action today is possible here is a draft to-do list:Make it clear that elected representatives must not share platforms with people facing charges of antisemitism.Challenge individuals using social media to conflate JC4PM with antisemitism or gaslighting about smears.Make it clear what action you, as Leader, expect to follow when named individuals engage in antisemitic behaviour.Be quicker to welcome Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion from the Labour Party (or condemn the fact he has not been) than you were to recognise the retirement of Arsène Wenger.If we seek the trust of the people to govern, they are more likely to trust our actions than merely oft-repeated words.Mike Creighton is the former Director of Audit and Risk Management at the Labour Party, and previously ran the Party’s Compliance Unit Related... On Antisemitism, Corbyn Has Been Shameless And Incompetent How Corbyn Changed Politics By Empowering The Young […]

  • Amber Rudd Denies Net Migration Target Led To Windrush Scandal
    by Ned Simons on April 25, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Amber Rudd has denied the government’s target of reducing net migration to below 100,000 has contributed to the Windrush scandal.During an intense grilling at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the home secretary admitted she was “surprised” she did not realise the scale of the problem earlier.Rudd said no one from the Windrush generation had been wrongly deported “as far as we can see at the moment”.Theresa May has steadfastly stuck to the immigration target first set by David Cameron - despite opposition from within her own party.Asked on Wednesday whether the target led to people who have a legal right to live in the UK being targeted for deportation, Rudd said: “I don’t think that’s got anything to do with it.”“It’s wrong to think the net migration target is the problem here. The problem here is that people were not properly documented,” she said.Asked if she had told May to ditch the target, Rudd said: “I have not discussed that with the prime minister.”She added: “I have private conversations with the prime minister which will stay private.”Rudd also rejected the claim the Home Office had targets for how many people should be deported from the country.“We don’t have targets for removals,” she said.Yvette Cooper, the chair of the committee, said MPs had been told Home Office officials did have removal targets.“If there are removals targets in the Home Office and the two people who supposedly in charge don’t know about them, that feels pretty serious,” she said.May and Rudd have been under pressure over reports thousands who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services are wrongly being denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.Jeremy Corbyn has demanded May, who served as home secretary between 2010 and 2016, resign as prime minister over the scandal. Labour has also called for Rudd to quit. Rudd told the committee that so far 7,000 out of around 8,000 records dating back to 2002 had been checked with no wrongful removals discovered so far.A dedicated helpline set up last week has received more than 1,300 calls about potential Windrush cases, with 91 appointments booked and 23 cases resolved so far.Rudd told the MPs today while she was aware there was a problem with individuals facing wrongful deportation she did not “see it as a systemic issue until very recently”.“I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as more than individual cases that had gone wrong that needed addressing,” she said. “I look back with hindsight and I’m surprised I did not see the shape of it sooner.”It was also reported today that Boris Johnson has called for May to introduce an amnesty for “squeaky clean” illegal immigrants in the wake of the Windrush scandal.During exchanges at Prime Minister’s questions, May insisted the Government was committed to ensuring those who were entitled to be in the UK were able to remain, but said it was right to clamp down on illegal immigration.“Up and down this country people want to ensure that the Government is taking action against those people who are here in this country illegally,” she said.Controversy erupted after it emerged that Commonwealth citizens who arrived in the UK from the late 1940s to the early 1970s were wrongly having their immigration status challenged.Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – named after the first ship that brought them to Britain in 1948.People who had arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain but the Home Office did not keep a record of those allowed to stay or any documentation confirming their status.While many of those who arrived have taken British citizenship or have official documents proving their status, others have struggled to source paperwork demonstrating they are lawfully resident.Those who have been living legally in the UK for decades have lost their jobs, been denied access to NHS treatment, benefits and pensions, had their driving licences withdrawn and been warned they face deportation.On Monday, Rudd unveiled an emergency package of measures in an attempt to draw a line under the affair, but the Home Office has remained under pressure as new cases continue to emerge.Under the Government’s plans, thousands of people will be offered the chance to obtain British citizenship free of charge and without the requirement to take language tests.A compensation scheme for those affected by the failings will be introduced within weeks.In another step, the Government published guidance for employers and landlords to clarify that people in the Windrush generation are legally able to rent property and work in the UK.Related... Theresa May Warned 'Do Not Try To Hide' Over Windrush Scanda […]

  • Why The Millicent Fawcett Statue Makes Me Proud, But Also Very Angry
    by Danielle Rowley on April 25, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    As the first woman to represent my constituency of Midlothian at Westminster, you would expect me to feel proud and emotional at the unveiling of the amazing Millicent Fawcett statue by Gillian Wearing. The first statue of a woman, and by a woman artist in Parliament square.Well yes, I am proud, but I’m also very angry.I’m angry because it has taken so long to have a woman recognised in Parliament Square, and that still only around 3% of statues in the UK are of women.There is a statue of a woman in one of my local libraries. I was curious and asked the librarian who she was – hoping I had found a local inventor, perhaps the woman who founded the library, or a local hero I hadn’t heard of before! The librarian told me the woman, known locally as Shona, was rumoured to have had an affair with the artist. Not quite the discovery I was hoping for…I got even angrier when our Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke at the unveiling of the statue. She opened her speech by talking about all the great men that we have statues of in Parliament Square, then going on to say that it’s fitting and right that there is now a woman joining them. We have heard more than enough about the statues to the men in the square, great men that they were – but that was not the point of this unveiling. The celebrations around this statue should be all about celebrating the achievements and strength of women like Millicent Fawcett.However, the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was that Theresa May stood up and talked about women’s equality when it is her abhorrent policies, austerity, pension inequality and welfare reform - such as the rape clause - that are holding women back and affecting their lives today.We know that austerity hits women hardest and fastest in the UK. I can see this clearly in my constituency, where the number of women claiming Universal Credit is rising much more steeply than the number of male claimants. I recently met with Dalkeith Women’s Aid who told me about the horrendous effects of austerity that they see on the women they support.Tragically, when it comes to Universal Credit, despite her platitudes when talking about gender equality, Theresa May and her Government have consistently refused to apply split payments to the new benefit, destroying hard-fought gains by women for financial independence from men. This is a move condemned by women’s charities and those fighting against domestic abuse.I wonder what Jessie Craigen would have thought of Theresa May’s speech, about her policies that hit working class women the hardest?‘Who is Jessie Craigen?’, you might ask.Jessie Craigen was a working class suffragist. There are no photos of her; she has had to be immortalised by the inclusion of just her name on the Millicent Fawcett plinth, rather than have her face added to the faces of people of the suffrage movement. However, I am so very happy that a working class woman has been included in this important public art. Women are overlooked from history, yes, but working class women’s achievements are even more airbrushed out of our textbooks and museums.Some reading this might think this is time to celebrate this art, not to make a political point. But while women are being held back by this Tory Government, it was always going to be political and I make no apologies for that.This week the Government celebrated the royal baby - a third child in a family. But at the same time as they cap benefits to the third child in hard-working families across our country, I find it hard to join in with the Government’s hypocritical celebrations. This was very eloquently put by Alison Thewlis MP:If you are the Royal couple having a third child, the Prime Minister will congratulate and the state will support you for life. If you are a citizen needing to claim tax credits for a third child, she will deny support and condemn you to poverty. #ScrapTheFamilyCap#2ChildLimithttps://t.co/HmnMq7rH8U— Alison Thewliss (@alisonthewliss) April 23, 2018Gender inequality is still a blight on our society, and I will do all I can as an MP to put an end to it. That is why I’m organising a women’s conference in my constituency next month. I aim to bring women’s voices together to look at what barriers women face, what is holding us back, and to celebrate the amazing things that women are doing in society.Yes, we must celebrate this fantastic public art and the achievements of women. But we must also continue the fight. Fight as Jessie Craigen fought, as Millicent Fawcett fought, as thousands of other nameless women before us fought. We must truly honour and keep up the work of those who came before us by speaking up until women are equal - all women.Danielle Rowley is the Labour MP for Midlothian […]

  • Amazon Is Reportedly Working On A Robot For The Home
    by Thomas Tamblyn on April 25, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Amazon is reportedly working on a new Alexa-enabled robot that would answer questions, perform tasks and even follow you around your home.That’s according to Bloomberg which says it has spoken to people familiar with the tech giant’s plans.Codenamed ‘Vesta’ after the Roman goddess of health, home and family the robot is still in the early stages of design and testing.According to the site, Amazon’s top-secret research and development division Lab126 is working on the project as we speak and has already started hiring a number of experts in robotics.Lab126 are responsible for some of Amazon’s most iconic products including the Echo speakers, Fire tablets and Fire TV stick.It’s not yet clear what this robot would look like or indeed how it would be able to assist someone around the house but you can absolutely bet that it will be powered by Amazon’s voice-assistant Alexa.Bloomberg also reports that while it doesn’t know exactly how the robot would be able to get around the house, it does believe that it would use computer vision systems similar to those found on a self-driving car.Robots are slowly but surely becoming a part of our lives whether it’s through the use of delivery drones, factory-based robots or even telecommunications robots that are used to patrol shopping malls.One of the biggest hurdles Amazon will have to overcome is cost. Robots are still intrinsically very expensive pieces of equipment to own.Considering Amazon’s consumer approach has almost always been around affordability a fully-functioning house robot is unlikely to fit into that category.If having a robot follow you around the house sounds like a future you would be on board with then Bloomberg reports that they’re hoping to start sending prototypes out into the wild later this year with consumer testing taking place as early as next year. […]

  • Emmanuel Macron Urges Congress To Get Serious On Climate Change In Jab At Trump: 'There Is No Planet B'
    by Steven Hopkins on April 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Emmanuel Macron received a standing ovation on Wednesday after calling for the US to take a stronger approach on climate change, telling them: “There is no Planet B.”Addressing a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, the French President used one of President Donald Trump’s favourite catchlines to make his point, urging the US to work with France to “make this planet great again”. Macron also told the US to reject nationalism and stay true to global ideals of co-operation in the face of terrorism and other challenges, saying countries can still retain their own identities.“I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of nationalism,” Macron said. “We can choose isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism ― this is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy for our fears. But closing the door to the world, will not stop the evolution of the world.”Macron’s speech to US politicians, in English, contrasted to the ‘bromance’ between the two presidents over the previous two daysWhile underlining how a Franco-American alliance was needed to confront a “new world order” marked by violence and conflict, Macron once again advocated the Paris climate agreement - the pact Trump announced that the US would withdraw from last June. He demanded again that the US do its part to provide future generations with “a planet that is still habitable in 25 years”.He asked: “What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, sacrificing the future of our children?”The line received the most enthusiastic of the standing ovations, largely driven by Democratic members of Congress. Macron even suggested the US will re-enter the Paris deal “one day”.The French President went on to challenge Trump again on ripping up the Iran nuclear agreement, which was agreed during the Obama administration. Macron said on Wednesday that France doesn’t plan to leave the agreement but is happy to work with Trump in crafting a new, more comprehensive deal that addresses some of the issues that both countries feel were left out of the current deal.Related... Donald Trump And Emmanuel Macron's Blossoming Bromance In 5 Weird Moments […]

  • When MS Took My Mum’s Voice
    by Rachel Egan on April 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    My mum was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) back in October 2007. The NHS website describes MS as “a condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.”What it doesn’t reference is the humiliating degradation of the sufferer’s abilities: their loss of continence, eyesight, and the ability to care for themselves. What I should note here is that no two cases of MS are the same, my mum is likely at the very extreme end, and her particular type of MS, primary-progressive is the hardest to treat and manage. If you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with the condition, the MS Society have an excellent website with some wonderful forums for further support and information, and this blog might not be the thing you need to read right now.At the time of my mum’s diagnosis, the symptoms affected her eyesight and her hand-eye coordination only. Apart from giving up driving and needing some assistance with fine motor skills, like handwriting, she was fully functioning. Fast forward ten years and my family have witnessed a slow, painful and heart-breaking decline to a point where my mum is asleep for most of the day, cannot walk, stand or speak and is entirely dependent on others for her care. Of all of this, the thing I struggle most with is her inability to speak. I long so much to have a conversation with her that it physically hurts sometimes; to tell her that I ended up working in the sector I have always wanted to, and that after a few years of moving around South London post-uni, I have finally found somewhere safe and secure to rent. Most importantly, I miss her response; I miss her advice, her questioning and her encouragement to keep going.Like everyone else, I have problems going on in life, but these feel like the problems that only a mother’s advice will solve – relationship problems, mental health problems and the like. I never understood how much I needed her input and guidance until it was gone.My mum is very much still here; she lives in the front room of my childhood home and my stepdad is her main carer who does a fantastic job of making sure she is well looked after, alongside the healthcare professionals. But it doesn’t change that sense of loss; my mum was a battle to be reckoned with when she was well. She was the type of person who could walk into a room and immediately be the centre of attention, she was outgoing and brave and not scared of voicing her opinion. When it came to me and my sister, she could be like a brave lioness protecting her cubs. Obviously there is a flip-side to that too; she could be argumentative and stubborn as hell, meaning home could be a battlefield sometimes. But from all that to complete silence, to being asleep all the time, to needing carers five times a day and to needing to be tube-fed, the loss is staggering.And what’s worse is that she can’t even tell us how she feels.Related... Multiple Sclerosis Is An Unpredictable Condition, Here Are The Signs To Look Out For Life With Multiple Sclerosis Is Unpredictable BBC Reporter Steps Down After MS Diagnosis […]

  • A Love Letter To My Black Jumper This Fashion Revolution Week
    by Karen Dobres on April 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    A fashion revolution was demanded back in 2013 when 1138 people had their lives cut short whilst working in unsafe conditions in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh. Rana Plaza was home to five factories manufacturing for major fashion brands and the workers had been urged to go in that morning by their employers, despite concerns about unsafe cracks in the walls the day before. They had been threatened with a loss of pay if they failed to show up and had no union to represent them. The deadly tragedy brought home to consumers in the West the true cost of the cheap clothing we buy and Fashion Revolution, a week of activism, was born.This week is the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster and we are urged to ask ‘Who made my clothes?’. The not-for-profit organisation Fashion Revolution has written a manifesto for change and provided an easy template to use. Talks, clothes swaps, and meet-the-maker/designer events are being held all over the UK to precipitate a different way of relating to our clothes. Knowing someone’s name, or something about their life, seeing a picture of them on social media, lends humanity to an otherwise anonymous and unconsidered process. Relationships are notoriously hard to end – no-one throws them away to landfill easily. And this is the point. If you are connected to your clothes by the thread of humanity, they become infinitely more valuable and are less likely to end up in the waste any time soon.It’s estimated that the £30 billion worth of clothes discarded in one year in the UK would fill Wembley Stadium. In the face of mounting landfill, Fashion Revolution are encouraging consumers to ‘take it slow’ and ‘commit to a long-term relationship’ with our clothes. The more we love and care for our clothes, the longer they’ll last, the less quick fixes we’ll be tempted to buy. With this in mind, below is my love letter to an old black jumper...Nana never liked to knit with black wool. She complained that the stitches were too hard to differentiate. She was forced to squint as she tried to keep track of the little loops of closely gathered dark wool. They’d run into each other on her needles and then she’d drop them. It took her usually nifty fingers forever, and there was no watching Corrie at the same time, not with black wool.But I’d asked for a black mohair jumper, and she (was the one person who) called me ‘irresistible’. No-one else did, no-one has since. She made me exactly what I’d asked for: oversized, v-necked, and achingly on–trend - I loved it.For a few months. And then, in the way of fickle teenaged fashion victims, I went off the jumper, deciding black no longer suited me.Some years later, after complaining of nausea and stomachaches, Nana died. The cancer was too big by the time they took her seriously enough to find it, and there was little point operating, they said. That night, longing to connect with my beloved grandmother again, I reached into the back of a cupboard, put on the black jumper and thought I could smell her in the mohair. I kept sniffing it in.Nana’s been gone for over 20 years now, and my jumper is over 30, and stiffer with age. Looking at it I see her clicking away in front of Coronation Street, working against her better judgement, grumbling at lost stitches, but with only affection in her needlesticks. When I wear it, I’m amazed at how it’s the only black top that suits me, and I’m enclosed in our love again.#fashionrevolution #whomademyclothes […]

  • Cat Shelter Founder Facing Eviction Brought To Tears By Crowdfunding Campaign
    by Natasha Hinde on April 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Kind strangers have joined forces to help a local cat shelter facing eviction.Lilly’s Legacy Voluntary Cat Rescue, based in Stoke Newington, London, takes in stray and feral cats, giving them medical care while acclimatising them with humans before finding homes for them.Amanda Straughan, who runs the shelter full-time and on a 24-hour basis, was dealt some devastating news earlier this week when the owner of the building she rents revealed they were selling up. The 46-year-old now faces losing her home which she shares with her 15-year-old son who has autism and 18 rescue cats - some of whom she’s helped hand rear.Distraught and panicked by the news, Amanda took to Facebook to ask people to urgently foster the cats in her care. “It will be for 2-3 weeks,” she wrote. “If you can’t actually foster for me, please ask those who you would trust your life with.”Amanda also asked for help with buying food and cat litter, as well as paying for medical bills. Due to personal problems, including a spate of poor health, she missed the cats’ vaccination booster dates and, as such, has had to start over. She also needs to pay an outstanding vet bill for one of the cats who had an unexpected dental operation.“Funding the day-to-day care and paying for treatments for the long-term rescues is a massive struggle,” she wrote on Facebook. “If there is anything you can do...no matter how small, it will be greatly appreciated and if you can help towards vet costs, that would be amazing.”Luckily for her, kind strangers rushed to help. She had multiple offers from potential fosterers, as well as monetary donations. Freelance tech writer Holly Brockwell helped crowdfund over £500 for the shelter in just under 24 hours.It was a weird twist of fate that led Holly to the charity. Earlier this year she arranged to collect a bag she’d bought from Gumtree, but the seller had to change the time as they had a vet appointment. Holly, who has two cats herself, asked what was wrong and the seller told her their cat Annie, which they’d rescued from Lilly’s Legacy the year before, had lymphoma and was receiving chemotherapy.“I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a pet going through cancer treatment, and it broke my heart,” Holly wrote on her JustGiving page. “I added Annie on Facebook (she had her own account!) so I could follow her story closely. She didn’t enjoy the treatments very much, but I loved seeing her grumpy, fluffy face on my timeline, every week hoping she’d get better soon.”But Annie didn’t get better and sadly she died last week. Holly told HuffPost UK: “I felt moved to help the shelter because they rescued Annie. I wanted to do something in her memory, and while I was researching cat charities I found their page with a heart-wrenching appeal for help after the sudden news of eviction.“Once I’d seen that, how could I not help? My cats would never look me in the eye again!”Holly set up a JustGiving page and, in the space of 17 hours, had surpassed her target of £500. The money raised will go towards vet bills, injections, food and litter for the cats in Amanda’s care.The shelter founder, who started rescuing strays and feral cats in 2015, told HuffPost UK that when she found out about Holly’s fundraising efforts and the kind donations of others she was “blown away”.“It’s been such a stressful few days,” she said. “I burst into tears when I found out. I’m really touched by what people have done.”If you’d like to help you can donate via JustGiving, offer to foster a cat (preferably homes without cats) or purchase an item from the shelter’s Amazon wish list.HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness, featuring people who do incredible things for others or the planet – transforming lives through small but significant acts. Get involved by joining us on Facebook or telling us about the people who you think deserve recognition for their kind works. You can nominate them here or share your personal story by emailing natasha.hinde@huffpost.com. […]

  • Stop The Royal Whitewash Of Bahrain's Appalling Human Rights Record
    by Andrew Smith on April 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Next month will see the Queen heading to Windsor for the Royal Windsor Horse Show, one of the biggest events in the UK’s equestrian calendar. It will be a chance for her to enjoy watching her horses, and a big opportunity for the Royal Family to rub shoulders with well-wishers and project its image around the world.Among the guests expected to attend is Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The King is a veteran of these events, and an autocratic dictator with a long history of overseeing human rights abuses and enforcing repression. His government also supports one of the races.There is no doubt that it will also be a fun day out for the Bahrini delegation. However, for those living under its rule in Bahrain it will be yet another reminder that the UK establishment will always put its political and military relationship with a tyranny above their human rights.Despite empty talk from UK ministers about the Bahraini regime’s supposed ‘progress’ on human rights, the abuses being inflicted on the people of Bahrain have been getting worse. Last year the Bahraini authorities used the death penalty for the first time since 2010.A recent Amnesty International report, ‘No one can protect you’: Bahrain’s year of crushing dissent, found that, in the 12-month period preceding June 2017, at least 169 government critics or their relatives were arrested, tortured, threatened or banned from travel by the authorities. The report also accused Bahraini forces of torture, clamping down on free assembly and dismantling political opposition.Another Amnesty report from last year documented the terrible abuse reported by Bahraini student Ali Mohamed Hakeem al-Arab. Al-Arab alleges that he was tortured throughout 26 days of interrogation, including by having his toenails pulled out, being subjected to electric shocks and beatings, and being forced to sign a “confession.”The aftermath of last year’s Windsor Horse Show saw severe punishment for the families of Bahrainis in the UK who planned to protest against the event. Bahraini security forces detained the families of three UK-based activists, not because of anything they had done, but simply as an effort to intimidate their relatives.As one of those affected has said: “Before even reaching the Horse Show grounds, our family members were arrested and interrogated by security forces at the Muharraq Police Station. From there, they were forced to call us and warn us about what the consequences would be if we continued with our protests in the UK.”Some who have protested against the King have had their citizenship revoked, leaving them stateless. In total, almost 600 people have been stripped of their status. Despite this catalogue of abuses, he will be given the reddest of red carpet treatments while UK royals confer legitimacy and prestige to his rule.The horse show invitation will have been made with the support of Whitehall and Downing Street. For decades, successive UK governments of all political colours have also been all too happy to ignore the appalling human rights abuses taking place in order to solidify their political and military links with the regime.Bahrain is listed as one of the governments ‘priority markets’ for arms sales, with the UK having licensed over £80million worth of arms to the Bahraini military since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in 2011. In fact, only three months after the uprising began, and while Bahrain was still in a ‘state of emergency’, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom was on the steps of Downing Street posing for photographs with David Cameron.Earlier this year, and after years of cooperation, the UK opened a naval base in Bahrain. The base, which was largely paid for by Bahrain, is an ugly symbol of a mutually fawning relationship that has seen arms sales and political support exchanged for geopolitical advantage.As the King enjoys the splendour and decadence of a day at the races, he will be met with fierce opposition.Bahraini activists in exile in the UK will be working with human rights campaigners to make sure that the visit doesn’t go unnoticed. They are calling on supporters of human rights, equality, freedom of expression and peace, to come together and stand with them in solidarity.It’s long past time that Buckingham Palace stopped providing PR opportunities for dictatorships and human rights abusers. Join us in calling for it to end now.You can sign the petition against the Kings visit here. A protest will be taking place outside the horse show on May 12, you can see details here.Andrew Smith is a spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). You can follow CAAT at @CAATuk. […]

  • I Love Tom Daley - But When It Comes To The Commonwealth He’s Wrong
    by Melantha Chittenden on April 25, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    After he won gold at the Commonwealth games, Tom Daley made a plea for Commonwealth countries to legalise homosexuality. I’m sure this warmed many hearts, because it’s nice to think our icons care about and want to change the lives of LGBT people not just in this country but across the world.Unfortunately, Tom’s encouragement for other countries to do better on LGBT rights is the kind of sentiment that does more harm than good.While we might see the Commonwealth as a group of countries coming together to make decisions on climate change and occasionally compete against each other in navel-gazing sporting events, the rest of its members have a more nuanced understanding of our relationship. That is the brutal history of plunder, slavery and colonial rule that makes their relationship with us as painful as it is positive.When we are talking about LGBT rights in the Commonwealth it’s easy to forget this history but it’s so important that we don’t. When we talk about LGBT rights in Commonwealth countries we are trying to convince their policymakers and citizens that they should make change.Yet, when our history in the Commonwealth regarding LGBT rights is one of implementing the penal codes that resulted in the criminalisation of homosexuality, and decades of destroying and denigrating often LGBT tolerant cultures and practices, our words on LGBT rights may not have the impact we intended.We may believe, or want to believe that our preaching about LGBT rights to Commonwealth countries is beneficial. But the deep-rooted homophobia in many of these countries stems from the homophobia that we exported and entrenched. In countries that decimated themselves to remove a colonial power, the same foreign power indulging in paternalism by preaching to them about their policy is not a friendly suggestion. Instead, especially if the removal of aid is used as a ‘stick’, it can collapse into neo-colonialism.Words like Tom’s are dangerous precisely because they don’t extend LGBT rights in these countries; they actually harm them. When former colonial powers, and their politicians (or even celebrities) push LGBT rights in former colonies, this has the impact of framing LGBT rights in ‘Western’ values, and as a part of ‘Western’ culture. This is dangerous when former colonies are fighting to regain – and retain – their own culture and values.. What often happens in response is we see LGBT rights and attitudes towards LGBT people actually regress.I, like Tom want to see fewer countries have regressive LGBT rights and attitudes but to get there we need to stop preaching and virtue-signalling. Instead, we should properly fund LGBT organisations on the ground and offer support to local people looking to change policy. We cannot change the past, but by offering the right kind of support we may be able to secure a progressive future.Related... Tom Daley Highlights Commonwealth Countries’ LGBT Laws After Gold Medal Win Inside Tom Daley And Dustin Lance Black's Surprise Baby Shower Tom Daley's Husband Dustin Lance Black Hits Back At Criticism Over Surrogacy […]

  • Matt Campbell's 'Masterchef' Co-Stars Arrange Event To Complete London Marathon In His Memory
    by Ash Percival on April 25, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Chefs Jamie Park and Tom Peters are calling on people to join them in a special running event in memory of former ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’ contestant Matt Campbell, who died on Sunday (22 April), after collapsing during the London Marathon.Following the popularity of the #MilesForMatt and #FinishForMatt social media campaigns, where people have pledged to complete the final 3.7 miles of the marathon Matt was unable to, the pair have arranged an event where those wanting to participate can do so collectively.This Sunday (29 April) - a week on from Matt’s death - they will complete the course starting at Shadwell DRL station at 2pm, running along the pavement until they reach what was the official finishing line of the marathon. The chefs are calling on anyone and everyone to join them, as well as donating to Matt’s JustGiving page which has already raised over £150,000 for the Brathay Trust - the charity he had been running for.Jamie, who is the Head Chef at Adam Handling’s The Frog E1, and Tom, who is the Senior Sous Chef at Roux at Parliament Square, first met Matt as contestants on ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’ last year.Tom was also running the London Marathon with Matt over the weekend, when he collapsed at the 22.5 mile mark.He said: “I met Matt in the ‘MasterChef’ kitchen, and something that should have been so competitive and nerve-racking just became so fun and it was inspiring to work next to such an interesting chef.“He was infectious with his passion, not only for cooking but for healthy eating and also running. He helped me massively with my preparation for the London marathon.“The 3.7 miles we are running on Sunday is symbolic for Matt, as we’ll be finishing the rest of the marathon course for him.″#MilesForMatt has become a nationwide event taking place over the next week, with everyone involved donating to the Brathay Trust.”Jamie added: “Matt was the sort of guy you like from the first day you meet him, and over the past 12 months I’ve known him he has inspired me inside and outside the kitchen.“As a cook he was incredibly clever, creative and conscious about what he was feeding people. He changed my perception about what it is to be a chef; he was a nutritionist, eco warrior and humanitarian, all at the same time as being ‘just a chef’. People who see the whole picture don’t come along very often and he helped me do the same.“As a person he was very humble, he had time for everyone and he was just the nicest guy. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”More details about the run are on the Facebook event, while you can donate to Matt’s JustGiving page here. READ MORE: Matt Campbell's London Marathon JustGiving Page Has Now Raised Over £100k 'Masterchef' Judge Marcus Wareing Leads Tributes To 'Talented And Innovative' Matt Campb […]

  • Len McCluskey Questions Motivation Of Corbyn's Critics Attacking Him Over Anti-Semitism
    by Owen Bennett on April 25, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    A group of anti-Corbyn MPs are working to “toxify” Labour by portraying it as “morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying”, the leader of the UK’s largest trade union has claimed.In a stinging attack on critics of the Labour leader, Len McCluskey accused a group of MPs of waking up each day and thinking “how can I undermine Jeremy Corbyn today?” – with the complaints over anti-Semitism in the party a tool for such an attack.McCluskey singles out five MPs - Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, and Ian Austin – as a “dismal chorus” in the party who are making a Conservative victory at the next election more likely.And while accepting these MPs are “sincere” opponents of anti-Semitism, the Unite General Secretary questions whether they have done as much to tackle the prejudice as he has.It is not the first time a Corbyn loyalist has singled out Woodcock and Austin for criticism, with Derby North MP Chris Williamson saying in March he would be “happy” if they “buggered off” out of the party.McCluskey’s comments were published on the day more than 40 Labour MPs and peers escorted their Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth to a hearing investigating a party member over alleged anti-Semitism.Writing in the New Statesman, McCluskey said the “virus” of anti-Semitism needs to be rooted out from Labour, adding: “I have fought anti-Semitism and anti-Semites all my life, including physically on the streets on occasion, and I need no lectures from anyone else on the subject.“I am not sure that some of the voluble backbench critics of Jeremy Corbyn can say as much: just as it is legitimate to raise and combat anti-Semitic views, it is also legitimate to contextualise the attacks of right-wing MPs without being accused of minimalising or denying anti-Semitism.”Referring to the “few dozen” MPs “appear to wake up each morning thinking only: ‘how can I undermine Jeremy Corbyn today?’”, McCluskey said: “I do not doubt they are sincere in their opposition to anti-Semitism, but they need to understand that if you attack your party leader about everything, it devalues your criticisms concerning anything in particular.”The union boss claimed there is “a marked overlap” between those who supported Theresa May “in risking a new bloody intervention in the Middle East, and those who work overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying.”He added: “How dare they try to toxify the Labour Party that has been the voice and hope of millions of ordinary working people for generations, including the nearly 13 million people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2017?“His critics enjoyed dramatic increases in their own votes – and I have to advise them that this was down to Corbyn’s campaign and his radical manifesto, not their own personal charisma.”McCluskey said that while Corbyn’s critics have a right to express their views, “MPs such as Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle (my own MP), John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, Ian Austin, and others, have become a dismal chorus whose every dirge makes winning a Labour government more difficult.”.@coyleneil says @LenMcCluskey ‘needs to stop undermining the leader’ as Corbyn admits there is a problem with anti-Semitism. Adds McCluskey ‘would see a conspiracy theory in a puddle.’ https://t.co/xQYlFr5kzm— Owen Bennett (@owenjbennett) April 25, 2018On whether MPs should face mandatory reselections by their local parties ahead of the next General Election, McCluskey said that while he was opposed to the practice: “I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishment and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection.”He added: “To watch as these so-called social democrats tried to demean and attack, in front of our enemy, a decent and honourable man who has fought racism and anti-Semitism all his life and who has breathed life and hope back into the hearts of millions, especially the young, made my stomach churn. To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful.“Promiscuous critics must expect to be criticised, and those who wish to hold Corbyn to account can expect to be held to account themselves.”Responding to the attack, Chris Leslie said McCluskey did not seem to be taking Corbyn’s call to take anti-Semitism in the party “seriously”.He added: “I make no apology for speaking out against anti-Semitism in Labour.“Len McCluskey’s threats will only strengthen my determination to fight it.”Len McCluskey should focus on jobs for Unite members while he remains in post... I’m very happy to compare our records standing up for the programmes that support Unite members’ jobs in Barrow shipyard, Samslesbury and Warton. https://t.co/kG2J9HRFYw— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) April 25, 2018 &nbs […]

  • No.10 Refuses To Deny Reports Donald Trump Will Visit UK In July
    by Ned Simons on April 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Downing Street has refused to deny reports Donald Trump is set to visit the United Kingdom in early July.According to Sky News, the US President could travel to Britain on July 13 and an announcement will be made this week.Asked about the report, the prime minister’s official spokesman pointedly refused to deny the speculation.“When the president and the prime minister met at Davos they said that their officials were working together on a working visit and we will announce the details in due course,” the spokesman said.But when asked if the visit would take place on July 13, the spokesman replied only “in due course”.Theresa May’s offer of a formal state visit to Trump triggered a widespread backlash from MPs.In January, Trump cancelled a visit to London to in which he was due to open the new American embassy.At the time he claimed he had ditched the trip because the US had got a “bad deal” on the construction of the new building. “Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” he tweeted.However it was reported by Bloomberg that Trump had told May he would not visit the UK unless she could guarantee he would not face protests.Related... Donald Trump And Emmanuel Macron's Blossoming Bromance In 5 Weird Moments […]

  • Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry Says Police Chiefs Must Have Experience Investigating Child Abuse To Progress
    by Steven Hopkins on April 25, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Senior police officers “must be required” to have experience investigating child sexual abuse cases before they can be promoted to top positions, a public inquiry has recommended.The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said on Wednesday that officers should not be able to reach the position of chief officer without “operational policing experience in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse”.Officers should also have accredited training in dealing with child exploitation issues, the IICSA’s interim report said, signalling that a “culture change” was needed within policing to deal with the crime.The report made 18 recommendations.2/3 #InquiryCSA Chair and Panel have also identified a number of changes which will help keep children safer by making 18 recommendations, 15 of which are new to govt, police and others.— InquiryCSA (IICSA) (@InquiryCSA) April 25, 2018Today sees the launch of our #InterimreportCSA. Hear from Chair Prof Alexis Jay. pic.twitter.com/2WYdbg9lv7— InquiryCSA (IICSA) (@InquiryCSA) April 25, 2018Between March 2015 and June 2017, the IICSA made 1,575 referrals to a police operation set up to deal with allegations of child abuse, but as of March 2018, 78% had resulted in “no further action”.“Reasons for this can include a lack of evidence, being unable to trace or identify a perpetrator, a perpetrator being deceased, or a victim and survivor no longer wanting to continue with the criminal process”, the report said. Fourteen referrals led to convictions and a further 14 have resulted in charges, with the individual now awaiting trial. Inquiry chair Professor Alexis Jay also called for reforms to the civil courts to ensure victims of child sexual abuse were fairly heard during compensation claims. She wants legislation that gives victims “the same protection as vulnerable witnesses in criminal court cases”.Victim Support welcomed the call, saying: “For too long victims have been let down by a compensation system that is unfair and arbitrary.”It urged the Ministry of Justice to “urgently act and bring about these much needed changes for victims”. We strongly welcome @InquiryCSA's recommendations to reform compensation for child abuse victims. For too long victims have been let down by a compensation system that is unfair and arbitary. We urge @MoJGovUK to urgently act and bring about these much needed changes for victims. pic.twitter.com/62KHCSz1yY— Victim Support (@VictimSupport) April 25, 2018The report expressed concern that investigators had encountered reluctance to accept responsibility from institutions, including Rochdale council and the Roman Catholic Church. “Across its work so far, the Inquiry has seen examples of institutions failing to have open and honest leadership. For example, the UK Government ‒ which should set an example for others to follow ‒ did not for many decades take full responsibility for its failures in relation to the child migration programmes,” the report reads.  During its examination of institutions in Rochdale, the Inquiry heard senior leaders deny any responsibility for the lack of effective response to the sexual abuse of vulnerable boys. This was despite compelling evidence and testimony indicating that they were aware that abuse was taking place.” The report added that “all too often” institutions are “prioritising the reputation of political leaders or the reputation of their staff, or avoiding legal liability, claims or insurance implications, over the welfare of children and tackling child sexual abuse”.The UK Government were urged to set an example, with Professor Jay lamenting that it was yet to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse which it signed in 2008.The inquiry has been hampered by controversy since it was set up by Theresa May in 2014, with Professor Jay being the fourth person to chair it.She took on the role in August 2016 after the controversial resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard.Professor Jay expects the inquiry will make “significant progress” by 2020.3/3 “I indicated in December 2016 that I expected the Inquiry to have made substantial progress by 2020. I believe we are on target to do that and to make recommendations which should help to ensure that children are better protected from sexual abuse in the future.”— InquiryCSA (IICSA) (@InquiryCSA) April 25, 2018Since Professor Jay’s appointment the inquiry has heard from over 1,000 victims and survivors through its Truth Project and established 13 investigations to examine the conduct of institutions in England and Wales.3/3 So far #InquiryCSA has held five public hearings and eight seminars, published a number of important reports and heard from over 1,000 victims and survivors through the Truth Project. - https://t.co/KbrnUtQCrT— InquiryCSA (IICSA) (@InquiryCSA) April 25, 2018The IICSA was set up to review claims of historical child abuse in Westminster and to investigate “organisations and institutions that have failed to protect children from sexual abuse”. The Truth Project runs along side the inquiry, offering victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences.Read the full report here. Related... Alexis Jay Appointed As New Head Of Sex Abuse Inquiry Europe Named 'Worst Offender' Amid Surge In Online Child Sexual Abuse Images Westminster Paedophile Ring Accuser Charged With Possessing Child Pornography […]

  • Seven Questions Amber Rudd Needs To Answer Over The Windrush Scandal
    by Chris York on April 25, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is due to face questions from MPs today over what Labour has called one of the “cruellest examples of unaccountable state power targeting the vulnerable”.The Windrush scandal has revealed that thousands of Commonwealth citizens who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services are being denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.Rudd will appear before the Home Affairs Committee at 3:30 pm on Wednesday and will address how the government intends to explain how the Home Office wrongly identified long-term residents who settled in the UK from the late 1940s to early 1970s as illegal immigrants.Amazing that there have now been three PMQs on #windrush, three separate apologies from the PM, two statements from Home Secretary, and yet things so still unclear for the many victims #PMQs— amelia gentleman (@ameliagentleman) April 25, 2018Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – named after the first ship that brought them to Britain in 1948.People who had arrived in the UK before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain, but the Home Office did not keep a record of those allowed to stay, or any documentation confirming their status.While many of those who arrived have taken up British citizenship, others have struggled to source paperwork demonstrating they are lawfully resident.Earlier this month Barbados High Commissioner, Guy Hewitt, explained how victims were being “shut out of the system”.“Because they came from colonies which were not independent, they thought they were British subjects. They thought that there was no need for them to regularise their status,” he said. “And 40, 50 years on are being told by the Home Office not that they are just anomalies, but they are illegal immigrants.”As the scandal rumbles on, here are the key questions Rudd will need to answer when she faces MPs today. When did the Home Office first become aware of the problem? Since November, The Guardian newspaer has reported a steadily increasing number of cases of Windrush Britons being threatened with deportation, beginning with the case of Paulette Wilson who, despite living in the UK for over 50 years, was being held in the Yarls Wood detention centre.The issue came to a head this month, when Labour MP David Lammy took up the case and presented the issue in parliament. Thread: Today I have led 140 MPs from 6 parties urging @theresa_may to take immediate action to address the #Windrush crisis. What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation’s conscience and the PM must act urgently to right this historic wrong. pic.twitter.com/3XM6PXyYGF— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 16, 2018Both Rudd and the Prime Minister, Theresa May, have said they were unaware of the extent of the problem, despite The Guardian’s coverage.But the issue predates the Guardian’s report: an investigation published in 2014 by the charity, Legal Action Group, highlighted the plight of thousands of long-term UK residents who were unable to prove their immigration status, or had “irregular” status.The research was carried out in the wake of the then-Home Secretary’s Immigration Act, which came with a pledge to make Britain a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants.Although it did not mention the Windrush generation by name, the report referred to migrants who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the same era.It warned of “a virtually invisible – and rarely acknowledged – group, who can’t easily prove their legal status (because of lost documents or poor government record-keeping) or whose status is ‘irregular’ for a variety of legitimate reasons.“And far from being ‘difficult for the government to reach them through tough laws’, this group is being badly hit by legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal migrants.”In response to the current fiasco, the Home Office issued statements in response to individual cases raised by The Guardian saying those affected should seek legal advice. If Theresa May knew the Windrush generation and their children were British all along - as she says in #PMQs - why was she stopping their rights to work, healthcare and benefits and detaining or deporting them? And why did she ignore the clear alarms raised until this week?— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) April 25, 2018Is this the result of the ‘hostile environment’ policy instigated under Theresa May?Memorable for the “Go Home” vans, the Tories’ 2014 “hostile environment” policy has come under focus as being a major cause of the scandal.The campaign featured large posters targeting people in the UK illegally telling them to “go home or face arrest” which some critics described as “reminiscent of Nazi Germany”.But Rudd has shifted blame away from the Conservatives, and has said “successive governments” introduced measures to combat illegal immigration since the 1980s.She said earlier this week: “I’m personally committed to tackling illegal migration because I have seen in this job the terrible impact has on some of the most vulnerable in our society.Labour MPs have even gone so far as to suggest May could be accused of “institutionalised racism”.MP Dawn Butler told Sky News: “She is presiding over legislation … discriminating against a whole group of people who came from the Commonwealth, who suffered racism when they came over – the ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ – and now they are having to relive that trauma all over again because of Theresa May.”How many people have been threatened? Some 286 people have so far contacted a Home Office helpline set up to offer support for members of the Windrush generation with concerns about their migration status.So far, some eight people whose cases have been handed to a dedicated team of officials have been given permanent residence status since the scandal broke.But victims are still coming forward. Gretel Gocan, 81, told 5 News last week she has been stuck in Jamaica since 2010, unable to return to her south London home after taking a holiday to visit family.Speaking to the news programme, Gocan’s daughter, Pauline Blackwood, said her mother had been stranded with no money and no pension.The 81-year-old’s story is similar to many of those which have emerged in the last few weeks. Gocan said she came to the UK in 1960 and never applied for a British passport, but had a stamp in her Jamaican passport granting her indefinite leave to remain.That document was stolen in 2006 and when she went to Jamaica on a new passport in 2010 she found herself refused permission to return to the UK and told she needed a visa, she said.This 81-year-old woman has never seen or held her grandchildren after she was barred from returning to her home in the UK ten years ago.Her children are worried that with no pension or NHS support Gretel will die in Jamaica without her family. #WindrushGenerationpic.twitter.com/ci1eoUxuUd— 5News (@5_News) April 20, 2018The Home Office has claimed it didn’t have figures relating to the number of people affected but the Government has been accused of destroying thousands of landing cards of Commonwealth citizens, which could have helped confirm their immigration status.Will the government ensure this doesn’t happen to other legal residents? The scandal has caused growing concern that a similar situation could arise as a result of the Brexit negotiations, as the UK faces the task of confirming the status of millions of EU citizens.Politicians in Brussels are clearly watching the unfolding row: the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt told the Telegraph newspaper: “This could be worrying for millions of EU citizens in the UK who may fear that they could face similar treatment after Brexit.“The Home Office has agreed to come to the European Parliament to explain their proposed registration system for EU nationals and I expect MEPs will rightly want safeguards.”On Tuesday, The Times newspaper reported the case of a Polish world war two veteran refused a British passport – despite living in the UK for 67 years since fleeing the Nazi regime.Has anyone been wrongfully deported?A major exercise has been launched by ministers to check whether anyone has been wrongly deported as a result of the scandal.So far 4,200 records have been reviewed out of nearly 8,000 dating back to 2002, with none identified as breaching protections given under the Immigration Act of 1971.A dedicated Home Office Windrush team has successfully resolved nine cases and made 84 appointments to issue documents.Is the government going to compensate victims? Theresa May has announced the government is to make compensation payments to members of the Windrush generation who suffered as a result of official challenges to their status.Downing Street declined to give details of the compensation scheme, saying only they would be announced “shortly” by the Home Office.It is thought that payments will go beyond the reimbursement of legal bills and include a recognition of the anxiety caused to long-standing Commonwealth residents.As well as waiving fees of £1,330 for UK citizenship applications, ministers have said those seeking naturalisation will be exempt from a requirement to pass English language and knowledge of life in the UK tests.The offer is open to members of the Windrush generation from all Commonwealth countries, not just Caribbean nationals.It applies regardless of whether or not someone has paperwork showing their right to be in the country.Is there going to be a change in policy?Nothing has been announced so far, but Rudd may address this in the hearing today. However, the huge backlash and debate surrounding the scandal and some MPs have already said they will be attending a demonstration at Parliament on 30th April.I will be there next Monday. Wild horses couldn't drag me away. Write to your MP today and ask them to attend Windrush debate. Monday 30th April, 4:30pm. Govnt have been happy to benefit from their labour and spend their taxes for decades. Now we must get justice that is overdue. https://t.co/1JTu43z7p3— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 25, 2018we gave everything to the Mother Country to secure a future our children and grandchildren as British Citizens. Over 176K people heard our cry. We call on all MPs to attend #Windrushdebate in Parliament on 30th of April at 4.30pm to secure our rights and hold govt to account pic.twitter.com/hz4JPTiuEW— Patrick Vernon (@ppvernon) April 25, 2018 […]

  • New Royal Baby Name: Duke Of Cambridge Says 'Jerry' Is A Strong Name Ahead Of Official Announcement
    by Amy Packham on April 25, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    The Duke of Cambridge has sent royal fans into a flurry discussing potential baby names at a royal engagement, as the country is awaiting the official announcement.Prince William today [Wednesday 25 April] attended Westminster Abbey for the ANZAC Day service where he was asked whether he had thought about Alexander as a name, to which he replied: “It’s funny you should say that, it’s a good name.”He then met Sir Jerry Mateparae, New Zealand’s high commissioner to the UK. The Dean of Westminster joked: “Jerry would like it to be Jerry”, to which the Duke replied: “Jerry’s a strong name, absolutely”. William also gave an update on how his family were doing, telling them that mother and baby were “doing well” and “in good form”, adding: “Sleeping’s going reasonably well so far, so he’s behaving himself which is good news.”  The new prince - who is fifth in line to the throne - was born at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington at 11.01am on Monday 23 April. He was introduced to the world just seven hours later on the steps of the maternity unit. Since the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her third child, royal fans have been eager to find out what the couple will name their baby boy. Bookmakers revealed they have seen a flurry of bets placed on William and Kate’s son being called Arthur. William Hill’s Rupert Adams said they had a busy day with bets totally almost £100,000 placed by punters, with the 2-1 favourite Arthur and second place James 4-1, best backed. Harry Aitkenhead from Coral said: “At the moment Arthur is now 7-4 with Coral. James 4-1 with Philip and Albert at 6-1 the only other two with single figure odds. Anything else would be a big surprise.”And in a HuffPost UK poll of nearly 1,500 votes, James seems to be the favourite. What do you think? Vote here. SEE ALSO: Royal Baby: His Highness Unveiled To The World Royal Baby Name: Vote For The Name You Think The Duke And Duchess Will Choose Advice For Wills And Kate On How To Introduce Your Children To Their Newborn Sibling Also on HuffPost […]

  • Explained: What Facebook Will and Won't Let You Post
    by Thomas Tamblyn on April 25, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Facebook has for the first time published its Community Standards that dictate what its almost 2 billion users can and can’t post on the site.The 27-page online document ranges from information on how Facebook defines a terrorist organisation to whether or not you can post a picture of a stranger’s house on the site.In addition the site now provides tools for those who wish to appeal if they’ve been subjected to a censorship decision by Facebook.While leaks have given us some indication of the types of content Facebook blocks, this is the first time Facebook has openly revealed how it moderates the content we post online. In a statement online, Monika Bickert, Vice President of Global Policy Management said: “You have told us that you don’t understand our policies; it’s our responsibility to provide clarity.”Currently, Facebook uses a mixture of artificial intelligence and an army of over 7,500 human moderators to root out and find inappropriate content or respond to complaints from users.What sort of content is enforced?Facebook has a pretty comprehensive list of rules around content that either promotes hate speech or terrorism.You can’t post anything that suggests that you support either of these two topics, although Facebook does allow you to post content that encourages debate around activities such as the legalisation of marijuana etc.In short: You can’t promote anything violent or criminal but if it’s either a) newsworthy or b) as part of a reasoned debate then you should have some rights on what you can post.In regards to firearms Facebook has split this between commercial and personal. So if you’re an individual and you’re posting content around firearms that is in any way related to causing harm then your content will get taken down. If on the other hand you’re posting content around sporting firearms or you’re a legitimate business then you can post content.Related... I Am A Young Disabled Person And I Have Deleted Facebook Zuckerberg Finally Confirms That No, Facebook Isn't Listening To You Through Your Phone Google Knows Literally Everything About You - Here's How To Delete That Data When it comes to maintaining your personal privacy, Facebook has some pretty sensible views on this. You can’t post any form of official document that might reveal another person’s identity e.g. driving licence, bank statement etc.What is perhaps more interesting is taking pictures that include other people’s homes. If that picture contains a identifiable door number, or can reveal which city or country it’s in you may find yourself getting slapped with a takedown notice. It’s unlikely, but something to keep in mind.In terms of nudity, Facebook has strict guidelines. It states any and all sexual content is not allowed.You also cannot post pictures of adult nudity as defined by:Visible genitalia Visible anus and/or fully nude close-ups of buttocks unless photoshopped on a public figureUncovered female nipples except in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health (e.g. post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protestHowever there are some exemptions including any content that has been posted for satirical or humorous, educational and finally scientific reasons.You can read the full Community Standards here.How can I appeal?Along with the new standards Facebook has released a brand-new appeals process that will initially apply only to content that depicts nudity / sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence.Over the next 12-months Facebook will expand this to include all content posted on the site that has allegedly broken its Community Standards.For the average user, an appeal is most likely to happen when someone posts a picture of nudity that Facebook has mistakenly reported as being inappropriate.In fact Facebook has even given an example when this might apply:Once a post has been flagged it will immediately become invisible to anyone else on Facebook.You then have the option to Request Review where the post will be referred to the appeals team who will then take 24-hours to decide if the ban is to remain or it’s a mistake.Either way, you’ll receive a notification from them letting you know. […]

  • Theresa May Warned 'Do Not Try To Hide' Over Windrush Scandal
    by Rachel Wearmouth on April 25, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Theresa May was warned “do not try to hide” behind Home Office officials, Labour or Cabinet colleagues as the Windrush scandal continued to engulf the Government. With heartbreaking stories of Windrush Britons cut off from healthcare and threatened with deportation still emerging, Labour MP Yvette Cooper challenged the Prime Minister during PMQs to take responsibility for the fallout. The former Home Secretary faced claims she repeatedly conflated the Windrush scandal with illegal immigration and that she tried to shift the blame on to Labour. Jeremy Corbyn challenged May to explain why she ignored internal government memos that sounded warnings about potential discrimination caused by “hostile environment” policies, going on to tell May she should resign for her part in the debacle.Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy, meanwhile, accused the PM of conflating the issue of illegal immigration with Windrush Britons.Correct. How can the PM apparently take responsibility, apologise and promise action to address this crisis in one breath and then say “it’s your fault”? The latter certainly makes the latter sound somewhat insincere to Windrush children still seeking justice and redress. #PMQshttps://t.co/RvSPwdS19R— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 25, 2018But it was Cooper, chair of the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee, who landed a blow. After noting that May had quoted her on immigration previously, Cooper said: “Let me say to the PM, do not try to hide behind me or the Labour Party because she was warned repeatedly of the damage her obsession with her net migration target was doing. ″’Do not try to hide behind the Cabinet, when they do not agree with you and are trying to clean up this mess. “Do not try to hide behind civil servants when she set the policies, instilled in them the culture of disbelief and when the high commissioners told us this morning that they had warned the Foreign Office about the Windrush generation’s problems in 2016, what did she do? “Because a few years ago, the PM said I’m actually sick and tired of a government minister that simply blames other people when something goes wrong. What’s changed?” May has refused to respond to calls to sack her Home Secretary Amber Rudd.She has, however, apologised for the fact that the Home Office has been questioning the status of Windrush Britons who have spent decades contributing to the UK. The PM has also offered compensation “where appropriate” for those caught up in the debacle.  May has been at the centre of a barrage of criticism for the Government’s policy to cut net migration down to the tens of thousands - an edict to which May was reportedly determined to stick and which numerous Tories criticised her for. It also emerged before PMQs in the Commons that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a key figure in the race to replace May, favours an immigration amnesty for all long-standing Commonwealth migrants and had championed that idea at this week’s Cabinet meeting.  May hit back at Cooper, however. “Nobody’s trying to blame anybody else,” she said. “The question of the Windrush generation arises from the fact that when they came here, they were not documented - their status to leave here was not documented. “Over the years, there have been individual cases of people who have had to regularise their documentation and have done so. “We have now seen cases where people have got into difficulty because they have not been able to do that. “That is why the Home Office is taking action to deal with that. “But for governments of every colour, including that in which the Rt Hon Lady served, action has been taken against illegal immigrants.  “This does not apply to the Windrush generation, they are here, they are British, they have a right to be here.”&nbs […]

  • EuroMillions Results: Claim Made For £121.3 Million Jackpot
    by Sara C Nelson on April 25, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    A claim has been staked for the £121.3 million EuroMillions jackpot won by a UK ticket-holder in Tuesday’s draw, Camelot has said.The National Lottery operator said there will be no information on whether it is an individual or syndicate winner, or where the ticket was purchased, unless the ticket-holder decides to go public.Andy Carter, senior winners’ advisor at The National Lottery, said: “What a win. This ticket-holder has flown into third place on the National Lottery Rich List and can now afford to fly away anywhere they like.“We will now look to support the winner as they take the first steps to enjoy this incredible win.”The winning main numbers were 20, 23, 28, 30 and 44, and the lucky stars were 03 and 07.In July 2011, Colin and Chris Weir became Europe’s biggest lottery winners when they scooped more than £161 million.The pair gave a lot of their winnings to charity: they set up a trust, helped refurbish the grounds of a local football team, and gave more than £1m to set up a local youth academy. The Weirs also gave £1million to the National Theatre of Scotland to help pay for a new HQ in Glasgow. So what would you spend hundreds of millions on? We took to London’s streets to find out... ‘I’d buy a rugby team’  For avid rugby fan Dave, 24, there’s one thing that immediately comes to mind: “I’m big into rugby, so I would probably buy a rugby team - maybe my team, which is Enfield,” the UCL researcher said. “I’d definitely buy a mansion will a pool and all that as well.” ‘I’d take my friends to Greece for a party week’  “I would invite my 10 best friends to a villa next to the beach somewhere in Croatia for a party week,” said 22-year-old Anastasia, an intern at an urban food festival.  ‘I would buy a house in London’ Accountant Josune, 35, said she would buy her parents a house if she became a multi-millionaire. “I would buy a house and pay off the mortgages of all my family,” she said, speaking on Tottenham Court Road.“I would donate some to charity too.”  ‘I would give it to friends and family’ The only thing on 35-year-old Ollie’s mind is seeing the world. “I would go away to South America,” he said. “But with £121 million, I could probably go anywhere really. Then I would come back and do something meaningful so I wouldn’t get bored.” “I would also give some away to friends, family and charities,” he added. ‘I’d help my parents set up a business’“I would also travel - everywhere,” Nina, 21, said. “I’d go somewhere somewhere sunny - just explore the world. “As well as renovating my house, I would help my parents set up a business. It would be amazing to help them pursue their dreams.”&nbs […]

  • Mandy Richards Axed As Labour Candidate After Questioning Terror Attacks
    by Ned Simons on April 25, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Labour has blocked a woman who questioned the murder of Jo Cox and whether then Manchester bombing happened from standing to become an MP.  Mandy Richards had been selected locally to fight the Worcester constituency at the next general election.But on Wednesday Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) stepped in to remove her.A party spokesperson said: “The NEC has not endorsed Mandy Richards as the Labour Party candidate for Worcester.”Richards had sent several controversial tweets prior to being selected. She asked why there was “no image/footage of physical damage” to the Manchester Arena which killed 22 people last May.And she said the murder of Labour MP Cox in June 2016 was an “incident conveniently bereft of evidence”. Following a backlash against her selection as a parliamentary candidate, Richards denied she was a “fantasist”.If being a victim of domestic harassment and standing up for my rights makes me a fantasist then shame on those levelling such taunts, as it is clear they would rather have women & black people suffer in silence than seek advocacy and resolution...https://t.co/ZrJn0o2vpS— Mandy Richards (@Mandy4Labour) April 23, 2018All candidate selections by local Constituency Labour Parties are subject to approval by the NEC.A Labour source said Richards had “displayed a lack of judgement that is not compatible with the high standards the party expects of candidates and elected representatives”.Labour MPs including Wes Streeting and Toby Perkins welcomed the move.This is the right decision - and acted upon commendably fast. It clearly is possible when the will exists. https://t.co/iR25bUyw2j— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) April 25, 2018Good to hear. 👏👏👏 https://t.co/NprDEggSkX— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) April 25, 2018The selection process for the marginal Worcester seat, which currently has a Tory majority of 2,490, will be re-run.Also... David Davis Refuses To Rule Out Renegotiating Final Brexit Deal If Told To By Parliament […]

  • Danniella Westbrook Arrested For The Second Time In A Month
    by Ash Percival on April 25, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Danniella Westbrook has been arrested for the second time this month. The former ‘EastEnders’ star was detained by police at Malaga airport in Spain in relation to alleged driving offences from last year. Her arrest comes just days after she joked on Instagram: “I’m off to Spain! Hope I don’t get arrested.”A spokesperson for Danniella confirmed the news in a statement given to The Mirror, saying: “We can confirm our client Miss Westbrook was arrested by national police at Malaga airport last night and detained for 14 hours in custody before being bailed today by the court in Malaga this morning. “We cannot at this time disclose any more information other than she has been left feeling very scared. She’s tired and looking forward to returning back to the UK next week.”Danniella was first arrested earlier this month in relation to “malicious communications and witness intimidation” amid accusations made by a former friend.The former ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ star was being pursued by Hertfordshire constabulary after reportedly ignoring four separate requests to visit St. Albans police station for voluntary questioning.After a 12 hours in police custody, Danniella was released on bail and has been ordered to return to Hatfield police station on 6 May pending further investigation over the allegations.Danniella’s brushes with the law come after she revealed her face is “rotting away” due to botched surgery.The actress has had numerous cosmetic procedures over the years and is facing another, after being left with no cheekbone on the left side of her face and painful screws in her mouth.Danniella’s latest health woes began when she was hospitalised with blood poisoning after receiving £750,000 worth of dental implants on programme ‘Celebrity Botched Up Bodies’.Speaking to the Mirror, Danniella said: “I just don’t look like myself anymore. Obviously I’m going to age a lot faster anyway because of the drugs but I didn’t need this as well.”Ahead of her next corrective operation, Danniella is drinking “12 pints of milk a day” to strengthen her bones.“They [the doctors] need to take a piece of bone out of my skull and put a plate into my face, but they’ve got nothing to stick the plate on at the minute because the bones not strong enough,” she said. “They can start to rebuild it but I’ll never look the same and it could make me look not very nice, even worse than I look now.”READ MORE: Danniella Westbrook Arrested for ‘Witness Intimidation And Malicious Communication’ Danniella Westbrook Says Her Face Is ‘Rotting Away’ Due To Botched Surgery Danniella Westbrook Backtracks On 'EastEnders' Return Claims After Bosses Deny Comeback […]

  • The Complex Case Of Alfie Evans, And Who Should Have Final Say Over A Child's Medical Treatment
    by Dr Imogen Goold on April 25, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Alfie Evans suffers from a progressive neurodegenerative condition that has left him in a “semi-vegetative state”. His treating hospital, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, concluded that further treatment would be futile. His parents, however, wish to take him to Rome for treatment to see if his condition might improve. In February 2018, the High Court found the damage to Alfie’s brain was ‘catastrophic and untreatable’ and concluded that life-support should be withdrawn. His parents’ appeals to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights failed. On Monday, his life-support was withdrawn and yesterday his parents were refused permission to move him to Rome. However, as of Wednesday he is still alive and breathing independently. The Court of Appeal is due to hear a further appeal.Alfie’s case is the latest in a series of disputes between parents and doctors over the continued treatment of very ill children. In this case, as in those of Charlie Gard and Isaac Haastrup, the same essential question has arisen: who should have the final say over a child’s medical treatment? In each, the court ruled that it has ultimate authority to make decisions about a child’s medical care. Some of the public response to these cases has been marked by outrage that the courts, rather than parents, have the final say in such cases. Opposition to this legal position rests on disagreement about the authority of the state to intervene in private, family matters. Given this, and the increasing attention these cases are receiving, the time has come for a full public debate about how to answer the question of who decides on behalf of a child who cannot speak for themselves.In the Gard case, counsel for the parents argued that the law gives the court very extensive powers in relation to a child’s medical care. The state has long made decisions on behalf of potentially vulnerable people who cannot make decisions for themselves about their treatment, such as children and people who lack mental capacity. Generally, however, the courts intervene only when an intractable dispute arises between doctors and parents.Should we continue to manage such disputes in this way? There are three main approaches we might take: retain the current system of ultimate court authority; move to giving parents the final say; or adopt an approach similar to that taken in relation to care decisions where parents have substantial decision-making power and the state can intervene only when a parental decision poses a risk of significant harm to the child.In favour of parental authority is the argument that parents are best placed to make decisions for their children because they know them better than anyone. The decision may also affect the wider family, and parents are in the best position to weigh the competing interests of family members. They may also be in the best place to understand the other welfare considerations – emotional, religious, cultural factors – which must be balanced against the medical considerations.The close relationship between child and parent can, however, be a double-edged sword. In such emotive, distressing circumstances, to ask the parents to decide objectively what is best for a child whom they cannot bear to lose may be almost impossible. Like Charlie and Alfie’s parents, we might all want to pursue even the tiniest chance, even when the doctors tell us it is futile and may even cause our child harm. In such circumstances, allowing the court to decide objectively from the outside may be best. But what is ‘best’ for a child? There may not be one right answer, so it might be reasonable to leave these decisions to parents, who arguably have as good a claim as the courts (if not more) that their opinion of what is ‘best’ is valid.However, a child remains a vulnerable person in our community for whom, to some extent, we must all take responsibility. Therefore, perhaps we should moderate parental authority by limiting them to decisions that do not expose that child to significant harm, thereby balancing familial privacy and plurality of values with our responsibility to protect those in society who cannot protect themselves. This ‘harm threshold’ approach may be the right compromise.Whether the slim chance of Alfie benefiting from treatment in Rome is worth risk and discomfort this would entail is arguably not a medical question at all. It is about what chances are worth taking and at what costs. We should question whether any one is clearly any better placed to provide an answer to this question than the parents. If it will harm him, he should be protected. If it will not, we need to consider why the state should have the authority to prevent these parents doing what they believe is best for their little boy.Dr Imogen Goold is an associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of OxfordCressida Auckland is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Law, University of OxfordRelated... Alfie Evans Allowed To Return Home, But May Not Travel To Rome For Treatment Alfie Evans' Parents Lose Last-Ditch Court Appeal In Fight For Treatment Judge Rules Doctors Can Stop Providing Life Support Treatment For Brain-Damaged Toddler Judge To Rule Whether Life Support Should Continue For Sick Toddler Alfie Evans […]

  • EuroMillions: What Would You Spend £121m On?
    by Jasmin Gray on April 25, 2018 at 11:13 am

    One lucky lottery player has become the third biggest winner in UK history after bagging a jackpot of more than £121m in Tuesday night’s Euromillions draw. The mystery winner has yet to come forward and claim their prize, a grand total of £121,328,187. The sum is nearly double the amount Coldplay earned last year, according to Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid celebrities, and around four times as much as Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton’s salary.Chris and Colin Wear, from North Ayrshire, remain the UK’s biggest lottery winners, after winning £161m in a 2011 Euromillions draw.The pair gave a lot of their winnings to charity: they set up a trust, helped refurbish a local football team’s grounds and gave more than £1m to set up a local youth academy. The Weirs also gave £1million to the National Theatre of Scotland to help pay for a new HQ in Glasgow. So what would you spend hundreds of millions on? We took to London’s streets to find out... ‘I’d buy a rugby team’  For avid rugby fan Dave, 24, there’s one thing that immediately comes to mind: “I’m big into rugby, so I would probably buy a rugby team - maybe my team, which is Enfield,” the UCL researcher said. “I’d definitely buy a mansion will a pool and all that as well.” ‘I’d take my friends to Greece for a party week’  “I would invite my 10 best friends to a villa next to the beach somewhere in Croatia for a party week,” said 22-year-old Anastasia, an intern at an urban food festival.  ‘I would buy a house in London’ Accountant Josune, 35, said she would buy her parents a house if she became a multi-millionaire. “I would buy a house and pay off the mortgages of all my family,” she said, speaking on Tottenham Court Road.“I would donate some to charity too.”  ‘I would give it to friends and family’ The only thing on 35-year-old Ollie’s mind is seeing the world. “I would go away to South America,” he said. “But with £121 million, I could probably go anywhere really. Then I would come back and do something meaningful so I wouldn’t get bored.” “I would also give some away to friends, family and charities,” he added. ‘I’d help my parents set up a business’“I would also travel - everywhere,” Nina, 21, said. “I’d go somewhere somewhere sunny - just explore the world. “As well as renovating my house, I would help my parents set up a business. It would be amazing to help them pursue their dreams.”&nbs […]

  • Kim Wall: Peter Madsen Guilty Of Murdering Swedish Journalist
    by Sara C Nelson on April 25, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been found guilty of torturing and murdering the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, on board his homemade submarine.He was sentenced to life in prison at Copenhagen City Court on Wednesday.  During the trial, Madsen admitted to dismembering Wall’s corpse but repeatedly denied murdering her. Judge Anette Burkoe said she and the two jurors agreed Wall’s death was a murder.Burkoe said Madsen did not give “a trustworthy” explanation and that he had “dismembered the body to conceal the evidence from the crime he had committed.”Madsen, 47, was arrested by police on 11 August last year when he emerged from his submarine without Wall, who had accompanied him on the craft the previous day to research a news article.Later that month, police identified a torso washed ashore in Copenhagen as Wall’s. Arms, legs and a head determined to belong to the 30-year-old victim were also later retrieved from the water by the authorities.Madsen said he dismembered Wall’s body and threw it overboard because he wanted to restore “normal conditions” on board. Prosecutors said Wall died either by strangulation, or having her throat cut, a claim forensic investigators were not able to confirm. Madsen claims Wall died from breathing exhaust gases that had leaked into the submarine due to a technical error while he was on the deck of the vessel preparing to submerge. A forensic team were also not able to verify this claim.Madsen was additionally accused of “sexual assault without intercourse, of a particularly dangerous nature” in relation to the 14 interior and exterior stab wounds investigators found to Wall’s genitals.A life sentence in Denmark is typically around 15 years without parole, and Madsen has said he will appeal the conviction and sentence. The longest serving convict in modern Danish history is set to begin his 34th year behind bars this year after the murder of two young adults in 1985.Wall was a freelance journalist whose work had appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, the South China Morning Post, The Atlantic and TIME.Originally from Sweden, she held degrees from New York’s Columbia University and the London School of Economics and was based between New York and Beijing. She had written on topics ranging from gender and social justice to pop culture and foreign policy, according to her LinkedIn profile.Wall’s closest relatives were not present in court on Wednesday. Her mother had previously said: “She gave a voice to the weak, the vulnerable and marginalised people. That voice would have been needed for a long, long time. Now it won’t be so.”Related... Kim Wall Death: Peter Madsen Pleads Not Guilty To Murdering Journalist On Board His Submarine Arm Found By Divers May Belong To Beheaded Journalist Kim Wall Danish Inventor Admits Dismembering Journalist But Denies Murder Journalist ‘Stabbed 15 Times As Murder Footage Found On Suspect’s Computer’ Journalist Was ‘Killed By Submarine Hatch Cover Accident’, Inventor Claims Murder Charge Sought For Peter Madsen Over Body Of Submarine Journalist Headless Torso Found In Search For Missing Submarine Journalist […]

  • Relax, Sit Down And Shout Out – How to Watch Improv Shows
    by Lizzy Skrzypiec on April 25, 2018 at 10:47 am

    So you’ve booked tickets to go and see an improv show. You might be a virgin to the genre, you might be an improv aficionado, you might have seen every single episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway from back in the 90s including the early 2000’s US version and 2013 reboot.But Improv is a funny beast in that the more the audience can work with the format, the better and funnier it will be. Below are up with five top tips on how to watch and be involved an improv show, where your presence as an audience member affects what happens on stage.1) Relax – they’ve got thisAudiences sometimes feel uneasy seeing an unscripted show but it’s important to note that, if it’s a relatively established show or long running cast, they have this covered. If laughter is the best medicine then you’re in the safe hands of highly trained surgeons. They have hundreds of stage hours making stuff up on the spot. So whilst anything can happen, you can be safe in the knowledge that it will most likely be incredibly entertaining.2) You will not be picked on!It’s important to distinguish improv shows from stand-up shows. In a stand-up show an audience member shouting out would be considered “heckling” and they would subsequently have their arse comedically handed to them in a potentially very embarrassing fashion. In improv shows, audience members are encouraged to shout out suggestions and it’s important to note you will not be mocked or picked on for calling out. You are contributing tasty ingredients from which the cast will build a delicious show.3) Leave the comedy to the stageIt’s worth mentioning that the improvisers on stage are going to use your suggestions to build an hour, two hour long performance. When you give a suggestion, as funny as it might be, it’s worth thinking whether you’d really want to see an entire performance based on it. Whilst the ‘gynaecology clinic’ or ‘dildo megastore’ might seem side-splittingly hilarious to you and your pals, do you really want to see this one gag spread across a two-act show? The most comedic shows often come from genuinely interesting or unusual suggestions4) Remember, it’s still theatreWhilst shouting out is actively encouraged during an improv shows, there really is a time and a place. The compère will directly ask the audience for suggestions. It’s a clear green light to shout out whatever is in your head and help shape the show. But, do remember that outside of this, you are absolutely still watching theatre. Respect the hardworking thesps on stage by being quiet and not talking over the scenes that blossom from your inspiring seeds.5) Enjoy the scene within a scenePart of the joy and excitement of watching live improv is that whilst you are watching characters interacting on stage you are also watching the improvisers connect and communicate with each other. Improvisers are playful creatures and love to test and push each other on stage. So whilst you might be watching a scene where a fan meets their favourite poet, you are also watching one improviser playfully throw down a gauntlet to make the other sweat. “But Mr Green, perhaps you could regale us with one of your poems from your latest collection!” This sub-scene dialogue adds a whole new layer of entertainment that just doesn’t exist in scripted theatre. Good improv needs good communication and watching out for looks, reactions, playful teasing and connections from the improvisers on stage makes for a new level of engagement and excitement for an audience.See Lizzy perform in Murder She Didn’t Write: The Improvised Murder Mystery this Sunday, April 29th at 4pm. Tickets her […]

  • Rights Of Older People Missing From The Commonwealth Agenda
    by Chris Roles on April 25, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Last week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings (CHOGM), made important commitments to reducing plastic waste, cutting emissions and tackling malaria, but one notable omission was any discussion of the rights of older people. A positive trend across the Commonwealth is an increase in life expectancy. And according to a newly published report on ageing in Commonwealth, the number of older people in the Commonwealth is predicted to double by 2043. This step forward has come about because of improvements in health, education and the economy across many parts of the Commonwealth. However, alongside this increase in the older population there is also a far less positive story of discrimination, increasing health problems and human rights abuses. In many places, older women and men are likely to experience poorer health due to multiple chronic illnesses and a lack of adequate medical attention, discrimination when trying to access financial services and loans, and even violence and abuse that denies them their safety and security. This is why it is so surprising that the Commonwealth has consistently refused to recognise the needs, contributions and rights of older people in official discussions. This year’s CHOGM placed particular emphasis on youth; this is understandable given that 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population are aged under 30, but it demonstrates a short sightedness that overlooks the older generations’ contributions to society, their families and the lives of younger people. For example, in many Commonwealth countries, older people care for their grandchildren to enable younger adults to take on paid employment, and in parts of Africa, the older generation has brought up children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic or the Ebola outbreak. A Commonwealth that only talks about youth, risks excluding the very people who helped to build these countries through their hard work. This is not the fairer, more prosperous and more inclusive Commonwealth that the Summit promised. Outside of CHOGM, Commonwealth governments are committed to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Health Organisation (WHO) global strategy and action plan on ageing and health - these explicitly recognise the role that older people play in society and require countries to respond to their needs. The Commonwealth itself has made a commitment to “leave no one behind”. Despite older people being left off CHOGM’s agenda, more member states are beginning to recognise the rights and needs of older women and men in their own countries. For example, in January the Kenyan Government started the rollout of a social pension for all older people and in March the Ugandan Government announced it would do the same for everyone over the age of 70 – around one million people – following from the success of a pilot scheme that is being supported by the UK Government, something for which Age International campaigned. The impact of these measures cannot be overstated. Without a pension, many older people have no choice but to keep working, often in physically demanding jobs and even when their health starts to fail. Yet, the modest amounts of money coming from social pensions can make a huge difference to the wellbeing and quality of life of older women and men and their families. Research in South Africa found that children living in households with a pension were in better health and more likely to be at school than those who were not . Despite this progress, millions of people across the Commonwealth are still entering later life with little or no income security and so they risk experiencing desperate poverty. Unless the Commonwealth takes action, this will be the reality facing today’s youth when they get older. By putting the needs and rights of older people on the agenda, the Commonwealth could provide an opportunity for governments to discuss how to build a better future for all. For the Commonwealth to be truly forward looking, it must look beyond responses that focus on only one generation. We can only hope that the UK Government can use its influence to make sure that the Commonwealth is genuinely for people of all ages. The next time the Heads of Government meet in Rwanda in 2020, we should expect issues affecting older people to be given a rightful place in the Summit and its discussions.1. Duflo E, Grandmothers and granddaughters: old age pensions and intrahousehold allocation in South Africa, World Bank Economic Review, 17, (1), 1–25 (2003). […]

  • Claire Foy Calls The ‘Crown’ Pay Gap Revelation ‘Embarrassing’
    by Rachel McGrath on April 25, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Following Matt Smith’s first comments on the revelation that he was paid more for ‘The Crown’ than Claire Foy, the show’s leading actress has spoken out again. Claire previously admitted that it felt “odd” to be at the centre of such a huge news story but speaking on Wednesday (25 April), she addressed the pay gap itself.Telling the Telegraph that the news “opened my eyes a lot”, Claire said: “I certainly won’t be naïve about those things.“It’s really opened my eyes about what I am allowed to have an opinion about, and what I’m allowed to stand up for myself about.“And I think that’s really changed my approach to myself and other women in this industry. It’s been only a positive thing - even though, embarrassing.”Speaking about it for the first time, earlier this week, Matt said: “Claire is one of my best friends, and I believe that we should be paid equally and fairly and there should be equality for all.“I support her completely, and I’m pleased that it was resolved and they made amends for it because that what’s needed to happen.“Going forward, I think we should all bear in mind that we need to strive to make this better and a more even playing field for everyone involved — but not just in our industry, in all industries.”Shortly after the revelation was made, Netflix and co-producers Left Bank Pictures vowed that the pay gap will be rectified ahead of the next season, but this is too late for Claire, whose time on the show has already come to an end.The two companies are currently in the process of recasting the entire cast, as series three will be jump forward to the mid-1970s.Olivia Colman and ‘Game Of Thrones’ star Tobias Menzies will take over from Claire and Matt respectively, while Helena Bonham-Carter is lined up to play the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret.READ MORE: Meet The Crown's New Prince Philip, Following Matt Smith's Departure From The Show Matt Smith Breaks Silence Over ‘The Crown’ Unequal Pay Revelation ‘The Crown’ Producers Issue Apology Over Pay Gap Controversy […]

  • Why 50 Leading Jewish Women Chose Now To Make A Stand For Our Muslim Cousins
    by Laura Marks OBE on April 25, 2018 at 10:39 am

    You can’t open a newspaper or log onto a website at the moment without reading about anti-Semitism.Who would have thought that in 2018 there would be a debate in Britain’s Parliament about abuse and attacks on Jewish people? Or that Jewish MPs and celebrities would be tweeting about the vile abuse they have received.The latest report from the CST – the charity that measures anti-Semitic attacks and intimidation – shows hate crimes against Jews at a record high. The Jewish community was targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year.So why, in this climate and at this moment, did 50 well-known Jewish women write to local councillors and candidates around the UK asking them to tackle an increasing number of attacks… against Muslim women?The list of signatories to the letter included women from all sectors of the Jewish community – from MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth to Facebook Vince President Nicola Mendelsohn CBE to spiritual leaders and heads from Orthodox and Progressive movements.The reason was our shock at reading stats from Tell MAMA that women who are visibly Muslim feel the greatest impact of anti-Muslim hatred – and that the majority of victims of in-person or street-based incidents are female.This is quite astonishing – where else are women at greater risk of abuse or attack than men?But still people asked me, why send this letter now when we have enough problems with the attacks on our own Jewish community?My answer is that hatred of the other is one of the biggest problems in the world today, full stop.Both Jews and Muslims tend to live in tight communities – sticking to our own boroughs, school and shops – and this is likely to become more so as we feel more under threat.All of us tend to face in when we are afraid – and that is the pattern we are seeing today in Britain. This is counterproductive and the start of a vicious circle.Mitzvah Day, the UK’s largest day of faith-based social action, recently commissioned a report from the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.It made a very interesting read, especially the evidence it cited that outgroups benefit particularly from positive interaction with other people and these positive feelings can actually reduce prejudice against the group generally.Both Jews and Muslims are outgroups. We are not the only ones in the UK, but we are very specifically feeling uneasy in the current crisis.We are hearing a great deal about anti-semitism right now, and rightly so, but who is talking about attacks on Muslims, particularly the most vulnerable amongst them, the women.I speak to Muslim friends around the UK and they tell me of their own experiences, or those of friends. They tell of people afraid to go out, to get on public transport, to live a normal life in our British towns and villages. When they do go out, they are often shouted at and told to “get out” or “go back to your own country”.That’s why events like the Nisa-Nashim conference - Europe’s largest Jewish/Muslim conference, attended entirely by women - are so important.Nisa-Nashim is a national network of women of both faiths who have come together to focus on our similarities not our differences.Whilst most of the time we talk about positive things such as food, festivals, friendship and family, sadly so often, what brings us together is a feeling of isolation and even fear. We build bridges with other sisters, mothers, daughters and cousins in a way which is inclusive, safe, and yes, female.It has taught that we all need to take a broader perspective than only looking to our own. And that if you want to get something done, ask a busy woman!So yes even when we feel isolated and under ourselves, it is also the time to stick by our friends.Friendship is what makes life real and meaningful and that’s why so many Jewish women are fighting to support our Muslim cousins. […]

  • Rylan Clark-Neal Hits Back At 'Big Brother' Winner Brian Belo's Claims He's 'Not Good Enough' To Save Show
    by Daniel Welsh on April 25, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Rylan Clark-Neal has responded to Brian Belo after the former ‘Big Brother’ winner suggested he and fellow presenter Emma Willis were responsible for the downfall of the show.Since 2013, Rylan has presented ‘Big Brother’ spin-off show ‘Bit On The Side’, launching his presenting career, which has since seen him front ‘The Xtra Factor’, ‘This Morning’ and even his own short-lived Channel 5 talk show.However, with reports still suggesting the future of ‘Big Brother’ is still in jeopardy, former winner and superfan Brian launched a tirade against both Rylan and Emma, suggesting the former is more enthusiastic about furthering his celebrity status than the future of the show.After retweeting a post calling the presenting team “awful”, Brian wrote on Tuesday (23 April): “With [Rylan], it’s so obviously about fame with him. When you watch his first ‘X Factor’ audition, he so obviously couldn’t sing and he was the joke act. That’s not being nasty, that’s fact! “Who would enter a singing competition when they can not sing! I’m not going to put a gif-up of his first audition from [‘X Factor’] because that would be mean.“When I first watched Rylan’s [’X Factor] audition I thought it was funny, as I don’t take[‘X Factor’] seriously as a singing competition, it’s a soap-opera!“When Rylan entered [‘Celebrity Big Brother’] I thought fair enough cos’ the public were mean about him during [‘X Factor’].“So it was good that Rylan came to [‘CBB’] and won because he build his confidence after people wrote such horrible thing’s about him online. I’m from Essex too and I remember my timeline used to be full of stuff, it was awful. So ‘Big Brother’  was a great place to come, to heal from that.”Brian continued: “When Rylan got the ‘Big Brother’s Bit On The Side’ job… I understood it because he had a high-profile… and‘Big Brother’ needed the publicity and his fame. But if‘Big Brother’ is going to get axed, we’ve got to say now, you’re not good enough!“This is not being nasty, to say [you’re] not good enough when the show is on the verge of being axed! Some people really know this show and the format and you and[Emma Willis] don’t!”Trying To Stop Big Brother Getting The Axe | I keep thinking am I being, a bit harsh about the @bbuk hosts. Then I think, no! With #Rylan, it's so obviously about fame with him. When you watch his first @TheXFactor audition, he so obviously couldn't sing and he was the joke act pic.twitter.com/BIf0BJVtfk— Brian Belo (@brian_belo) April 24, 2018That's not being nasty, that's fact! Who would enter a singing competition when they can not sing! I'm not going to put a gif-up of his first audition from @TheXFactor because that would be mean.— Brian Belo (@brian_belo) April 24, 2018When I first watched #Rylan's audition on @TheXFactor I thought it was funny, as I don't take #TheXFactor seriously as a singing competition, it's a soap-opera! When #Rylan entered Celebritiy Big Brother @bbuk I thought fair enough cos' the public were mean about him during #XF— Brian Belo (@brian_belo) April 24, 2018So it was good that #Rylan came to #CBB and won because he build his confidence after people wrote such horrible thing's about him online. I'm from Essex too and I remember my timeline used to be full of stuff, it was awful. So @bbuk was a great place to come, to heal from that— Brian Belo (@brian_belo) April 24, 2018When #Rylan got the 'Big Brother's Bit On The Side' job at @bbuk I understood it because he had a high-profile from @TheXFactor and #CBB & #BBUK needed the publicity and his fame. But if #BBUK is going to get axed, we've got to say now, you're not good enough! pic.twitter.com/JygztJUjnz— Brian Belo (@brian_belo) April 24, 2018Brian went on to compare Emma unfavourably to former ‘Big Brother’ presenter Davina McCall, while doubting both of the presenters’ loyalty to the reality TV brand.Rylan has now had his say on the matter, saying that while he has no problem with Brian doubting his capabilities as a presenter, no one should doubt his love for ‘Big Brother’.Regarding the Brian story I gotta say it’s quite unusual. Always been a massive supporter of Brian and I thought him of me? As below. Not sure what’s changed in a couple of years but sincerely hope he is well. Can’t @ him as he’s blocked me? BUT I do need to say another thing 1/2 pic.twitter.com/c0NoPHSy5g— Rylan Clark-Neal (@Rylan) April 24, 2018Hve a view on me as host by all means but DONT EVER question my loyalty or love for BBUK I adore the show and have done also since 2000 We all love Davina but Emma is an amazing host also and always has been.I wish him nothing but the best but never question my love for BB. Night— Rylan Clark-Neal (@Rylan) April 24, 2018Genuinely wish Brian Belo well and will continue to be a fan of him as a housemate as I always have. X— Rylan Clark-Neal (@Rylan) April 24, 2018Brian won ‘Big Brother’ back in 2007, arguably when the show was at the peak of its popularity on Channel 4.He made a return to the show almost a decade later, during Channel 5’s ‘Timebomb’ series in 2015.However, his second time in the house was far less enjoyable, after he was pushed to the limit by controversial fellow victor Helen Wood, eventually escaping over the garden wall when she compared him to a “rapist” during a row.READ MORE: 'Big Brother' Axe Reports Reach New Heights As Channel 5 Searches For Shows To Replace It Rylan Clark-Neal Reveals Why He’s Taking A Break From ‘This Morning’ Big Brother's Days On Channel 5 Look Like They're Numbered […]