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Updated: 10 hours 7 min ago

Momentum founder under fire after claiming left-wing Jews are ‘not part’ of the Jewish community

16 hours 38 min ago

Momentum founder Jon Lansman is facing criticism after he claimed a group of left-wing Jews are ‘not part of’ the Jewish community.

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is made up of Jewish Labour members, and the organisation is active in around “half of all local constituency [Labour] parties”.

Still, in an email to JVL, Lansman claimed that the organisation is not “part of the Jewish community”, saying:

neither the vast majority of individual members of JVL nor the organisation itself can really be said to be part of the Jewish community

Left-wing Jews “responsible”

In the email, Lansman also blamed JVL for some of the impact the so-called ‘crisis’ of antisemitism allegations in Labour has had on the party. And he alleged that “JVL’s existence has been partly responsible” for some Jewish people leaving Labour in the context of these allegations. That’s despite academics at the Media Reform Coalition concluding that corporate media coverage of Labour and antisemitism has been a “disinformation paradigm”.

In a comment The Canary has seen, JVL co-chair Jenny Manson responded by saying:

There is increasing concern among our members and supporters about the very negative remarks you make about Jewish Voice for Labour. Many Jewish Labour Party members, working hard for the election of a Labour government, have felt undermined by your comments.

Instead of criticising the corporate media and right-wing politicians for weaponising antisemitism allegations against the Labour leadership, Lansman appears to be blaming left-wing Jews for calling out false allegations.

‘Grossly exaggerating’ antisemitism allegations

Lansman, who founded Momentum out of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign, also said:

The fact that JVL insists on defending those who deny the problem and many of those who have clearly brought the Labour Party into disrepute (whether or not they are themselves antisemitic) means, I am afraid, that I regard JVL as part of the problem and not part of the solution to antisemitism in the Labour Party.

But in response, JVL co-chairs Manson and Leah Levane wrote:

In those parts of the Jewish community which support Jeremy’s values, there is concern about the extraordinary and unfounded allegations made that grossly exaggerate the degree of antisemitism within Labour. It is irresponsible to promote unjustifiable fears, scaring Jewish people that they face an existential threat from a Labour government. These allegations, so often unquestioned, are damaging the party’s standing in our community and also in wider society.

They also wrote:

Antisemitism clearly still exists in Britain and within its political parties, including Labour, but it is demonstrably more prevalent on the right of the spectrum. Wherever antisemitism exists it needs to be combatted. False allegations of antisemitism however do not help Jewish people.

Indeed, it seems that the media storm over Labour and antisemitism is largely a smear campaign when you compare the coverage to the facts. Because while any antisemitism in Labour is most certainly a problem, cases of anti-Jewish prejudice in Labour reportedly relate to 0.1% of the party’s 540,000-strong membership. And since Corbyn became leader, the number of Labour voters agreeing with antisemitic statements has actually fallen significantly.

The Canary contacted both Lansman and Momentum for comment, but had received no response by the time of publication.

Who is really in denial?

Neither JVL nor its supporters are denying that some antisemitism exists in Labour. The people in denial seem to be those like Lansman who refuse to properly acknowledge the weaponisation of antisemitism allegations against Corbyn’s leadership. In fact, this apparent cowardice from some on the Labour left has allowed the political attacks to gain their current traction. So we should commend JVL for standing against dangerous smears that are obscuring the fight against real antisemitism and damaging the only real alternative to Conservative austerity. Suggesting JVL members are the ‘wrong sort of Jews’ for taking a stand, meanwhile, is frankly a disgrace.

Featured image via YouTube – Owen Jones

By James Wright

Joe Biden is the worst choice to face Trump. The proof’s in his fundraising efforts.

17 hours 2 min ago

Former US vice president Joe Biden has been leading many polls for the Democratic Party nomination since announcing his candidacy in April. Some liberal commentators are describing him as “the best shot at beating Trump”. But as reports emerge of his controversial upcoming fundraisers, it’s important to remember that he represents the very same corporate interests as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And that’s precisely why he’s the worst candidate to face Trump in 2020.

Same old story of electoral corruption

On 18 June 18, the Hill received information that Biden will be attending several events with wealthy donors in California to build his campaign war chest. Each of them will cost $2,800 a head to attend, with proceeds going directly to his campaign. Commentators expect him to raise between $20m and $25m by the end of his fundraising drive. And he’s already well on his way, having secured $6.3m in just 24 hours after announcing his intention to run for president. At a recent event in Los Angeles, he raised around $700,000 in just one day.

These figures speak volumes about the extent to which both Republicans and establishment Democrats have their pockets lined by wealthy interests. And this is nothing new. Because both Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Clinton in 2016 raised hundreds of millions of dollars for their presidential campaigns. Much of it came from corporate interests such as healthcare industry companies and financial institutions. In fact, these figures received more in Wall Street contributions than their Republican challengers, and were largely seen as Wall Street’s preferred candidates.

Obama and Clinton’s corporate kowtowing

Once in office, Obama served these corporate interests as obediently as his predecessor. Far from working to reform the system that led to the 2007/8 financial crash, in which millions of people lost their jobs and/or homes, he followed the same neoliberal path that created it. He continued George W. Bush’s bank bailout program and appointed the very Wall Street insiders who had presided over the crash to prominent positions in his administration. And although he passed the Dodd-Frank legislation to increase regulations on Wall Street, the law was severely watered down; and it didn’t include the wide-ranging reforms expected from progressive campaigners. Bailouts to homeowners from the working and middle classes, who had done the least to cause the crash yet suffered the most from it, were meagre in comparison to the bank bailouts.

Clinton’s association with this utter failure and kowtowing to corporate interests, meanwhile, was a large part of why she lost the 2016 presidential race to Trump. Though it was a con job from day one, Trump consistently (and to a large extent successfully) portrayed himself as the champion of ordinary people left behind by an out-of-touch Washington elite. And he accurately painted Clinton as the very personification of the corrupt and self-serving establishment wing of the Democratic Party.

The heir to this toxic legacy

Today, Biden is the new heir-apparent to this toxic legacy of failure. After all, he was the vice president throughout Obama’s two terms in office. And the latest news about his fundraisers makes clear that he will be just as much of a corporate and Wall Street puppet as Obama and Clinton.

Senator Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, refused in his 2016 campaign to take any corporate campaign contributions from so-called Political Action Committees (PACs). Rather, he relied on large-scale small contributions from individuals. His average campaign donation was $27, which once multiplied many times made him so competitive that he very almost beat Clinton – and may well have done had it not been for the connivance of establishment party figures and the nefarious influence of so-called superdelegates. Sanders has also expressed a deep and nuanced understanding of how the influence of money has thoroughly corrupted US politics. And he has pledged to overturn the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision that decimated the few paltry campaign finance restrictions that existed before 2010.

In short, while Sanders represents a break from the corporate blackmail of current US politics, Biden is its very embodiment. That’s why progressives must fight tooth and nail against his empty brand of neoliberalism-lite that does nothing for ordinary people while emboldening right-wing conmen like Trump.

Featured image via Mark Nozell/Flickr

By Peter Bolton

Sanders lays out democratic socialist alternative to Trump, railing against the ‘decimation’ of the US working class

17 hours 26 min ago

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has slammed Donald Trump in an online question and answer session. He also detailed his vision of a democratic socialist alternative to Trump.

Sanders was answering questions on Reddit when he called out Trump and his policies since taking office. The senator, who has consistently railed against the level of inequality that exists in the US, went on to describe how he thinks corporations have “decimated” the US working class.

Understanding socialism

Sanders contended that the US working class “has been decimated” by corporations. He was also asked how he deals with the negative idea that many in the US have of socialism. He replied that “we explain” the term to people. And he said that:

we also explain the incredible attacks against working families that have taken place under unfettered capitalism.

He went on to reveal that:

Over the last 45 years despite huge increases in productivity and technology the average worker is not making a penny more in real dollars than they made 45 years ago.

At the same time, he argued, the richest 1% in US society has increased its wealth.

Considering that the bottom half of the population has become poorer during the same period, he explained what democratic socialism means to him:

We need a new vision for America, which I call democratic socialism, which says that economic rights are human rights. That everybody in this country, because they’re in America, is entitled to health care as a right, is entitled to a decent paying job as a right, is entitled to a dignified retirement as a right, is entitled to a clean environment as a right, and is entitled to all of the education they need to accomplish their life goals.

“Trump is a fraud”

One Reddit user asked Sanders how he intends to “reach out” to people aged 50 and older. And he responded by stating that:

President Trump is a fraud and a liar.

He fleshed out his comment by saying that Trump had made promises during his presidential campaign that he’s since broken. Trump, he said, promised Americans that “he would not cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security”. But instead, Trump has actually:

called for a $1.5 trillion cut in Medicaid, $845 billion cut in Medicare, and billions in cuts to Social Security.

The future of the US

Sanders said he believes his vision “is not utopian”. Instead, he argued that the achievements of democratic socialism exist in other countries. With this in mind, he maintained that US citizens need to “demand a government which works for all of us”. And, he asserted, “that is what my campaign is all about”.

Featured image via Flickr – Gage Skidmore/ Flickr – Gage Skidmore

By Bryan Wall

Death toll of Western-backed war on Yemen exceeds 90,000, according to new data

19 hours 38 min ago

Over 91,000 men, women and children have been killed in the Western-backed war on Yemen since 2015, according to a US-based monitoring group. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) just published its latest report following new data it has collected in partnership with the Yemen Data Project. According to the report, there were:

91,600 total reported fatalities from the start of 2015 to the present.

Around 11,700 civilians killed from “direct targeting”

ACLED reports that there have been:

nearly 4,500 direct civilian targeting events resulting in approximately 11,700 reported civilian fatalities.

In August 2018, an airstrike destroyed a school bus – killing 40 children and 11 adults using a 500-pound laser-guided bomb manufactured by US firm Lockheed Martin.

Insufficient information regarding the rest of the dead

ACLED’s communications manager Sam Jones previously explained to The Canary that:

There is insufficient information to determine the precise affiliation of the remaining fatalities (they include civilians and combatants killed in the course of fighting).

Jones also clarified that ACLED does not incorporate ‘indirect’ fatalities resulting from the war.

Most civilian deaths may remain uncounted

In other words:

ACLED does not collect data on other causes of death like starvation and disease, only direct violence.

Additionally, regarding reported civilian fatalities, ACLED only explicitly records them as such in cases where civilians were directly targeted, not killed in the crossfire of a battle or from ‘collateral damage’.

UN: There have been times when a child under five has died every 10 minutes

In 2017, the UN reported that a “child under five” in Yemen “dies every 10 minutes” from “preventable causes”. The war has already displaced over 3.6 million people and created the world’s largest recorded cholera epidemic. Cholera, which is the result of contaminated food and drinking water, results in intense vomiting and diarrhoea. If left untreated, it can kill. According to French investigative news outlet Disclose, coalition airstrikes have bombed 659 farms, 229 boats and 91 sites “supplying drinking water, including reservoirs, wells, water pumps, and also irrigation canals and water treatment plants”.

The US, UK and France have also backed the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen, preventing essential goods from entering the poorest country in the Arabic-speaking world.

The publication of ACLED’s latest report comes over a year after protesters in the UK denounced the March 2018 visit of Saudi ‘Crown Prince‘ Mohammed bin Salman and British complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Western-armed Saudi-led coalition responsible for “highest number of reported civilian fatalities”

The crisis analysis and mapping group also reveals that:

The Saudi-led coalition and its allies remain responsible for the highest number of reported civilian fatalities from direct targeting, with over 8,000 since 2015. Around 67% of all reported civilian fatalities in Yemen over the last four and a half years have been caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

By comparison, ACLED says:

The Houthis and their allies are responsible for over 1,900 reported civilian fatalities from direct targeting.

UK and US weapons and service contracts are key to ensuring the war continues, in a war that saw its bloodiest year in 2018. Labour Co-operative MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle gave an exclusive interview to The Canary in 2018 arguing that UK arms controls are a “bad joke”.

ACLED “always uses the most conservative fatality estimate”

Jones also told The Canary that:

ACLED only records reported fatalities, so these figures should not be understood as exact counts… ACLED reports fatalities only when a reputable source has relayed that information, and always uses the most conservative fatality estimate available…

These figures are revised and corrected – upward or downward – when better information becomes available.

Make your voice heard

Without public pressure on the UK, US, and French governments, this war will continue to rage on. So for the sake of everyone who has suffered and keeps suffering in Yemen, we must all make our voices heard.

Feature image via International Organization for Migration-YouTube

By Mohamed Elmaazi

Canada approves multi-billion-dollar pipeline project just one day after declaring ‘climate emergency’

20 hours 23 min ago

Just one day after declaring a ‘climate emergency’, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in Canada has approved a massive pipeline project. And the decision has provoked major uproar worldwide.

Trans Mountain expansion project

The Trans Mountain expansion project is designed to carry three times more oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. It’s worth C$7.4bn.

The Canadian government argues that the project will allow Canada to reduce dependence on US oil and export to markets via the Pacific Coast. The project, however, has been met with fierce opposition from both First Nations indigenous groups and environmental campaigns.

In August 2018, First Nations groups in Canada won a historic victory in the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal by temporarily quashing the project. They argued that they were not properly consulted about the future impact of the project and that it would “push Canada’s climate change goals out of reach”. The court found that “there was no meaningful two-way dialogue” between First Nations communities and the government, as required by the Canadian constitution.

The court put the project for review, and on 18 June Canada once again gave it the go-ahead. Trudeau claims revenues from the project will fund a “transition to a green economy”.

“I want you to act as if our house is on fire”

Swedish school strike activist Greta Thunberg famously told world leaders:

I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

Global leaders paid lip service to Thunberg’s concerns, with many recently declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in response to the global climate breakdown.

Unsurprisingly, then, Trudeau’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain expansion project just one day after declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in Canada caused global outrage. Thunberg herself called the move “shameful”:

One second they declare a #ClimateEmergency and the next second they say yes to expand a pipeline.

This is shameful.
But of course this is not only in Canada, we can unfortunately see the same pattern everywhere…https://t.co/zVbWXnLBSQ

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) June 19, 2019

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein said it was “perfectly Trudeau”:

This is just so perfectly Trudeau, King of Gesture Politics. Declares a "climate emergency" one day, approves a massive tar sands pipeline the next. All symbol, no substance, no matter the stakes. This will not stand. https://t.co/aWjaXaPYfW

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) June 18, 2019

Indeed, not long after shedding tears for Canada’s historic mistreatment of First Nations groups, Trudeau sent state forces onto their land to defend a gas pipeline in January 2019.

Today, though, we’re not only talking about genocide, but omnicide: the mass extinction of every living organism. And for this crime, there may soon be no organised life remaining to judge or be judged.

Featured image via William Chen/WikiCommons

By John McEvoy

760,000 people live below poverty line in Ireland and ‘radical action’ is needed to fix that, says major charity

20 hours 38 min ago

Ireland’s largest voluntary charity has said the country’s government must take “radical action” to end poverty. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) made the comments as it launched its pre-budget submission on 18 June.

Poverty in Ireland

The SVP highlighted the extent of poverty in Ireland. It revealed that 760,000 people in the country are “living below the poverty line”. Breaking these figures down, it noted that, of those 760,000, roughly 110,00 have a job. Lone parents have been particularly affected over the last few years. The SVP pointed out that:

Poverty among lone parents with a job doubled between 2012 and 2017.

The organisation also argued that poverty affects more than the person living in it; “it hurts communities, the economy and society”. As a result, it said:

We need to invest in measures to prevent people from falling into poverty and to help them move out of poverty for good.

And even though this means “increased upfront spending now”, it’ll help to tackle poverty in the “long term”.

Housing

But the SVP also took note of Ireland’s housing issues. It stated that there’s an “over-reliance on the private rented sector to meet social housing need”. This makes people insecure and at risk of homelessness. It also drew attention to the fact that people who rent spend over 40% of their income on their rent. This, it said, “is unsustainable”.

The SVP’s solution to Ireland’s housing and homelessness crisis is to increase the amount of available public housing. It recommended “the target of 50,000 social housing homes is delivered by 2021”. And it called on the government to protect people “at risk” of losing their rented homes.

The report also suggested a series of additional measures, asking the government to:

Ensure that affordability for tenants remains a key consideration in developing sustainable financing models for social housing.

And on homelessness, the SVP advised:

that adequate funding is provided so that every homeless family is assigned a case manager to support them to move on from homelessness.

Problems in Ireland

The above comes despite, as SVP highlighted, “strong economic growth” and increased employment. It also revealed that, in 2017, it:

spent more than €500,000 every week helping individuals and families with the costs of food, fuel, housing and education.

But one charity can only do so much. Because Ireland’s housing and homelessness crisis shows no sign of improving. The Leo Varadkar government has stood by as housing prices have continued to increase. And his government appears to have done little or nothing to tackle the worsening homelessness crisis.

The SVP report offers some potential ways of lessening people’s misery. If only the Irish government would take them on board.

Featured image via Flickr – William Murphy

By Bryan Wall

It’s official. Governments and businesses are trashing 100 years of progress.

20 hours 55 min ago

On 19 June, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) released its 2019 Global Rights Index. This report reveals a worrying situation for working people around the world. And it’s a situation that seems to be getting worse.Increasing attacks on workers’ rights

The ITUC “represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories”. And its annual index looks at 145 countries to see how well they’re protecting workers’ rights.

Launching the 2019 index, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow was scathing about the current situation. She warned that governments around the world “are attempting to silence the age of anger by constraining freedom of speech and assembly”. And she highlighted that the “number of countries which exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union [increased] from 92 in 2018 to 107 in 2019”. She also stressed that:

The greatest increase took place in Europe where 50% of countries now exclude groups of workers from the law, up from 20% in 2018.

Overall, she said:

Decent work is being affected and rights are being denied by companies avoiding rules and regulations.

And she insisted:

More and more governments are complicit in facilitating labour exploitation because workers are forced to work in the informal sector of the economy

The worst offenders are Western allies

As The Canary reported upon the release of the 2018 index, the worst offenders in the world regularly include key Western allies; countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Colombia. And the same is true in 2019:

As the ITUC pointed out:

Trade unionists were murdered in ten countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe…

in Colombia alone, 34 trade unionists were murdered in 2018 – a dramatic rise from 15 in the previous year.

‘Democracy is in crisis, and peace is at risk’

Two key global trends that the ITUC identified are that “democracy is in crisis” and that “governments are attempting to silence the age of anger through brutal repression”. And it stressed that:

The systematic dismantling of the foundations of workplace democracy and the violent repression of strikes and protests put peace and stability at risk

Indeed, its figures show a very worrying situation. And it seems to be getting worse:

Burrow previously insisted that “recent decades of corporate globalisation have destroyed” the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 1919 vision of a “social contract”. The aim of this contract was to ensure the “social and economic conditions which would guarantee prosperity and peace”. But in reality, Burrow said, that hasn’t happened. Instead, the current system has “brought the world to the brink of environmental destruction and left billions of people behind”.

For that reason, the ITUC is demanding a “new social contract”. An ITUC petition, for example, called for the ILO to declare openly its support for workers’ rights. That would mean backing “fairer wages”, “more oversight” of bosses, and “building justice into the climate and technology transition”.

Burrow reasserted this message upon the release of the 2019 index. A new social contract “between workers, governments and business”, she stressed, is essential “to rebuild trust as people lose faith in democracies”.

The role of the media

Speaking to The Canary about the role the media has to play in standing up for workers’ rights, Burrow said:

There are brave investigative journalists who uncover and expose corporate abuses of human rights activists and workers. And independent media like The Canary and The Guardian continue to break those important news stories.

In too many countries from Turkey to China, there is government or corporate control of the media. The Murdoch-owned media dominate the news in several countries and control what people read and hear. Where there is government or corporate control of the media there is little or no coverage of abuses of workers’ rights. Recent police raids on journalists in Australia are part of a disturbing global trend in the wrong direction.

Uniting for change

There is some hope, though. As Burrow stressed:

Corporate greed may be global, but workers’ actions are unified on a scale not seen before.

She explained, for example, how “companies who have systematically attacked workers’ rights now face global protests”. In particular, she mentioned strikes and other battles facing Uber, Amazon, and Ryanair. She also highlighted that “years of campaigning” by workers and union activists had forced the Irish government “to ban zero hours contracts”. And she mentioned how the government in New Zealand “has continued to repeal regressive labour laws” and strengthen workers’ rights.

So yes, the world’s currently a very hostile place for workers to organise. But when they do unite, they have a real chance of improving their conditions. And they can play a leading role in the resistance to government and corporate abuses.

Featured image via ITUC, with permission

By Ed Sykes

Voices from Grenfell. The Canary speaks to Gareth Beeton, chair of the London Fire Brigades Union.

Wed, 2019-06-19 23:34

On 14 June 2017, a fire at Grenfell Tower in London killed 72 people. Two years later, bereaved families and survivors gathered to honour the memory of those lives lost. But after all this time, those same families and survivors still have no answers, and no one’s been held accountable for the tragedy. The Canary met campaigners, family members, and people from the Grenfell community. They told their stories and explained why they are still campaigning for justice. The anniversary may have passed, but it’s vital that we never forget the Grenfell tragedy.

Gareth Beeton is chair of the London Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

“It could happen again”

Beeton said this was “a solemn occasion”. And as he explained, “two years down the line” there’s been no “outcome from the inquiry on the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ it happened”.

But he also warned: “It could happen again”. Because, he said:

We’ve got over 300 tower blocks around the country, still with flammable materials on the outside of them and it could happen again at any point in time.

As a firefighter, he said this is “distressing”.

“It’s a very, very troubling time”

Beeton doesn’t feel that the message firefighters tried to send out after the fire “has been heard”. In part, this is also down to cuts. As he explained:

A lot of fire brigades around the country have different standards of attendance and different levels of cover. And the cuts that have happened nationally… cuts to the fire services in resources and in attendance times – it’s a very, very troubling time.

He also explained that there have been significant cuts in the local area. “Knightsbridge fire station was initially a two-appliance station,” Beeton said, but “that was closed”. He continued:

Kensington fire station was a two-appliance station, and that went down to one appliance. Chelsea lost a fire appliance as well. So we’ve had a lot of cuts over the years to this area, yes.

Boris Johnson created “the biggest cuts in London’s fire brigade history”

Many significant cuts took place when Boris Johnson was London’s mayor. Beeton explained that, between 2013 and 2016, under London Safety Plan Five, “we lost ten fire stations”. He continued:

We also lost 21 fire engines plus two fire rescue units with extended duration breathing apparatus. And over 1,000 firefighters.

“Those were,” he said, “the biggest cuts in London’s fire brigade history”.

Two years after the tragedy, Beeton doesn’t think there’s “any kind of justice”.

Featured image via Fréa Lockley

By Fréa Lockley

Community organisations come together to combat gentrification in West London

Wed, 2019-06-19 22:44

On Saturday 22 June, residents and campaigners in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will meet to discuss tackling homelessness, gentrification and climate change. Save Earls Court Supporters Club, T.H.I.N.K., Save Silchester, and Westway 23 will host the event which is supported by the Radical Housing Network (RHN). Attendees can expect “workshops, talks and films looking at housing problems in the area”, Pilgrim Tucker of RHN told The Canary. It will run from 11am to 4pm at Kensington Town Hall, Horton Street, London, W8 7NX.

Bringing residents and campaigners together to secure affordable and safe housing for locals

Tucker said the event will “bring residents and campaigners together to discuss what needs to change in order to provide affordable secure safe housing for local people”.

She told The Canary:

The borough is the most unequal in the country, and has higher numbers of empty and second homes than council ones. Two years after the [Grenfell Tower] fire many are still in temporary accommodation, and the borough has one of the longest housing waiting lists in the country.

Confronting the “climate emergency” and “housing crisis”

Anne Duthie from Save Earl’s Court Supporters Club said:

We have a climate emergency, a housing crisis and a land crisis. How are we going to handle this situation and ensure that marginalised groups are not forgotten? We need to come together which is why we support this event.

Duthie continued:

77 acres of land in the stalled Earl’s Court redevelopment and yet there are no plans to build any social housing on the 22 acres in Kensington and Chelsea. This is yet another significant failure in planning by the council which is supposedly learning lessons post-Grenfell.

An opportunity to ensure “green” development

London mayor Sadiq Khan has the opportunity to ensure that any future development sets the standard for being “green” while reflecting the needs of the local population, according to Tucker.

The organisers have confirmed a range of speakers including Emma Dent Coad MP, Tony O’ Brien (author of Tackling the housing crisis), along with local residents and campaigners.

Tucker explained that attendance is free, as is the crèche, though registration is requested.

Featured image via Mohamed Elmaazi

By Mohamed Elmaazi

There’s disbelief at the UK’s bid to host the world’s most important climate conference

Wed, 2019-06-19 22:23

The UK is on track to host the UN’s annual climate change conference in 2020. In a public statement on the bid, the government said the UK is “at the forefront” of climate action. But environmentalists met this claim with disbelief.

Bid to host

Conference of the Parties (COP) is an intergovernmental body that sets and assesses targets on climate action. COP meets once a year, hosted by one of its state members. On 18 June, the UK publicly launched its proposal to co-lead COP26 with Italy. It said that the UK would host the main conference in 2020 while Italy would host pre-COP events including a “significant ‘youth event'”. The statement also claimed that:

The United Kingdom and Italy are at the forefront of driving ambitious climate action.

Although the bid isn’t yet confirmed, a senior source said that it’s highly likely to be supported by other COP members.

Doubt

Recent events have put the UK’s commitment to climate action in the spotlight.

On 18 June, for example, the same day that the government launched its COP26 bid, Heathrow airport published its plans for expansion. The proposals faced criticism for being out of step with the UK’s climate goals. And the government’s ongoing refusal to outlaw fracking also puts parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency into question. The government can’t even decide whether it should halt the opening of new coal mines. Furthermore, human activity in the UK has also caused huge drops in its biodiversity, which is crucial to health of the climate. And it has a history of funding highly damaging fossil fuel development in other countries.

As a result, some have said the UK isn’t fit to host COP26 in its current state. Green MP Caroline Lucas, for example, gave five areas where the country needs to “get our own house in order” before hosting the event:

Delighted to see UK will host #COP26 UN climate summit in 2020

To be perfect hosts, we should get our own climate house in order by

*banning fracking

*stopping airport expansion

*making buildings energy efficient

*investing in public transport

*having a #GreenNewDeal

— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) June 18, 2019

Meanwhile, the WWF‘s head of climate change, Gareth Redmond-King, said in a press release:

This is a major opportunity for the UK to show international leadership, but if we are to credibly provide the world a platform to tackle the climate crisis, we must also make sure we are walking the talk here at home. By then, we must show that the UK is matching its ambition with real action. Our next Prime Minister needs to make responding to the climate and environment emergency – and delivering on our net zero targets – an immediate policy priority across government.

Milestone year

COP26 is seen as a crucial event because a number of important climate targets come together in 2020. As the BBC pointed out, it’s the year when promises on curbing emissions are due for review and financial aid from developed countries ought to come to fruition. And the Guardian said 2020 is widely seen as the year that governments must fully adopt the Paris Agreement. 2020 is also just a decade away from a hard limit for serious action on climate breakdown.

In his video announcing the bid, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt gave key reasons why the UK should host the important event. He said the UK has “cut emissions more than any other country in the G20”. While technically true, it masks the reality of the data. PwC, which is the source of Hunt’s claim, in fact, said that “not one of the G20 countries” is on track to effectively reduce carbon emissions.

No countries are doing enough to slow climate breakdown. But it’s hard to believe the UK government has the gall to believe it can lead anyone else given its own duplicity and inaction on the climate.

Featured image via Twitter – Jeremy Hunt

By Glen Black

Future PM must guarantee by 2020 no repeat of Grenfell Tower, says Corbyn

Wed, 2019-06-19 20:52

Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Theresa May’s successor to guarantee by 2020 that a repeat of a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire will not happen.

The Labour leader criticised the current Government’s response to the June 2017 fire, which left 72 people dead, and claimed 328 high-rise buildings still have the “same Grenfell-style cladding”.

He added 60,000 people are affected across the country, telling MPs they are “worried” and said more than 70 block owners have “no plan in place to get the work done”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (PA)

Mr Corbyn urged Mrs May to set a deadline of the end of 2019 for all “dangerous” cladding to be removed and replaced, while also suggesting councils should be allowed to “levy big fines and, where necessary, confiscate blocks” to get the safety work done.

Mrs May said all affected buildings identified in the social sector have been visited by the fire and rescue service to carry out checks and put in place interim safety measures, adding remediation work has started or been completed on more than three-quarters of these buildings.

She added the Government is fully funding the removal of “unsafe” ACM cladding on high-rise social housing.

The PM also noted private sector providers “haven’t been acting quickly enough”, resulting in the Government saying it will be “fully funding” the replacement of cladding on high-rise residential buildings.

She said interim measures are in place “where necessary” on all 163 high-rise private residential buildings with “unsafe” aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn said: “The legacy of this Tory Government is 10,000 firefighter jobs cut since 2010, 40 fire stations closed including 10 in London under the previous mayor (Boris Johnson).

“The Prime Minister claimed action on Grenfell will be part of her legacy but in two long years too little has changed.”

It’s been more than two years since the tragic Grenfell tower fire. But the government has done too little to make sure this never happens again. Make sure people know the facts. #PMQs pic.twitter.com/we9OQp5oon

— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) June 19, 2019

Mr Corbyn said the pain of the Grenfell survivors is “real, palpable and continues”, adding: “A big test for the next prime minister will be to make good the failings of this Government over the past two years.

“A failure to rehouse all the survivors, a failure to give justice to the Grenfell community, a failure to make safe on other dangerous high-rise blocks, a failure to retrofit sprinklers and a failure to end austerity in the fire service.

“So does the Prime Minister believe that by the time of the third anniversary next year, the Government will be able to honestly say to the country with conviction to the Grenfell survivors: ‘Never again.’?”

Mrs May said all 201 Grenfell households have been offered temporary or permanent accommodation, and she believed 194 have accepted the offer and 184 have been able to move in to their accommodation.

She said a public inquiry was established following the fire and a review of building regulations has taken place, with the Government acting on the latter.

Mrs May added: “I expect a future government to act on the results of the public inquiry.”

She said the pain of the Grenfell survivors is “great”, adding: “It will never go away. It is important for us to ensure we provide the support for those survivors into the future.

“It isn’t just about buildings and cladding, it’s about support for the local community, it’s about mental health services and support for those who have been affected.”

She said the Government is committed to ensuring the support is provided, adding: “And to ensuring we do everything we can to make sure that a tragedy like Grenfell Tower can never happen again.”

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By The Canary

Tory leadership hopefuls exceed everyone’s expectations

Wed, 2019-06-19 19:44

Everyone knew this Tory leadership competition would be a shitshow. Surprisingly, it’s somehow even shittier than suspected. As such, our next PM will likely be worse than Cameron and May combined.

Daily Mail headline reaction to last nights BBC Tory Leadership Mass Debate “Corbyn left grinning over his lentil stew”

The Tory leadership wannabes think they’re a ‘boyband’. Yes really.

Wed, 2019-06-19 19:15

On 18 June, Conservative leadership hopefuls met for a live TV debate on the BBC. In theory, this was a chance for the UK to gain more insight into what we might expect from the next PM. But it turns out there’s more focus on what to call the country’s latest boyband. Yes, really.

Brexit, racism and sheep farming

There were some key ‘moments’ in the debate. Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart shouted over each other so much that host Emily Maitlis told them to “shh”:

 

when five men who want to be Prime Minister need to be shushed pic.twitter.com/Ps0526Jlq5

— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) June 18, 2019

Stewart and Johnson both discussed the all-important UK issue of sheep farming.

All five attacked Jeremy Corbyn. Frequently. Gove claimed Corbyn isn’t “interested in helping working people” and that he “indulges antisemitic hate speech”. Maitlis didn’t challenge this and smiled. Gove finished up shouting:

Jeremy Corbyn, you discredited Marxist, get back into the dustbin of history where you belong.

To deflect any charges of Islamophobia or racism, Johnson mentioned his “Muslim great-grandfather”. Hunt insisted he can’t possibly be racist because his wife’s Chinese and his children look “different”.

“My Muslim great-grandfather” pleads Boris Johnson. “My three half-Chinese kids” retorts Jeremy Hunt. “My parents were Muslim” wails Sajid Javid. “Assalamu-Alaikoum” shouts Rory Stewart. “Jeremy Corbyn is Satan” screams Michael Gove.

What a circus.#BBCOurNextPM

— Hicham Yezza (@HichamYezza) June 18, 2019

There was a little bit of politics. Former health secretary Hunt, for example, admitted that under his watch social care cuts “did go too far”:

Wait, did Jeremy Hunt just admit cuts to social care while he was the Health Sec went too far?!?!

— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) June 18, 2019

Not surprisingly, there was lots of Brexit bickering and no one presented a clear plan. No change there then.

This BBC debate is plain nuts…

The quality is awful. We’re looking at the dissent of our country right here.

They’re all admitting it’s a mess, arguing with each other, and saying they are preparing for no-deal because they want a deal.

— Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) June 18, 2019

But the following morning, what they’d said, or failed to say, became far less important.

According to the Telegraph‘s Christopher Hope, the five wannabes joked off camera with Maitlis “that they were a boy band”:

The Conservative candidates joked off camera that they were a boy band, presenter @maitlis has revealed.

But which boy band would they be?
How about: Wrong Direction or Take What?
Post your answers at the @Telegraph's live blog: https://t.co/Ij78YGsp0o

— Christopher Hope

A 200-year-old law is punishing the most vulnerable, but people are fighting back

Wed, 2019-06-19 18:44

The Vagrancy Act was created in 1824 so that the authorities could legally harass homeless veterans of the Napleonic wars. The act makes behaviour such as begging and rough sleeping illegal. Disturbingly, this act is still being enforced today. That’s why charities are pushing for the government to #ScrapTheAct.

 

Should homelessness be a crime?

Click here if your answer is no: https://t.co/8FF21nagQb#ScrapTheAct #VagrancyAct #EndHomelessness

— Crisis (@crisis_uk) June 19, 2019

Crisis

Homelessness charity Crisis has detailed the issues with the Vagrancy Act:

The Vagrancy Act does nothing to resolve the root causes of homelessness. In fact, it’s more likely to push someone further from the vital services that help them to move away from the streets…

The Government is soon to review the Vagrancy Act, but hasn’t said that they will repeal it – yet. Until they do, vulnerable people will continue to be pushed even further from support.

That’s why we’re calling on the UK Government to #ScraptheAct once and for all.

Real lives

Crisis has also produced a video which highlights the hardships people have suffered because of the Vagrancy Act. In it, Shaun from Blackpool explains:

The police kept coming over to me and asking me to move. They didn’t tell me anywhere to go and get help. The court fined me £150. Afterwards, I was just sent on my way.

Karl from Liverpool says:

At the end of the day if someone’s begging on the street, that person needs help, not being arrested for it. It would be brilliant if the Vagrancy Act could be repealed. That would help turn public opinion back to helping homeless people instead of punishing them.

Police officer Chris from Guilford adds:

I personally never found it comfortable arresting someone for rough sleeping or begging. The real reasons for homelessness… are not solved by criminalising people… we should be criminalising failing to support homeless people.

Response

The charities pushing for this move have received a positive response, and ‘Vagrancy Act‘ has been trending on Twitter:

Fully support the move to repeal the Vagrancy Act 1824. A wretched piece of legislation that has no place in a modern legal system. Few things more depressing than representing a homeless person being prosecuted for begging. https://t.co/WJ0y4dKfaz

— Edward Elwyn Jones (@EdwardJones16) June 19, 2019

They’re right. No homeless person reads the Vagrancy Act and says “oh, I’ll stop being homeless then”. https://t.co/5HgPR5FH8J

— Noelinho ن (@Noelinho) June 19, 2019

Some people pointed out how easily the homelessness crisis could be solved:

vagrancy act .. we have 320,000 homeless people in uk – 200,000 home which been empty for 10 years or more pic.twitter.com/WOzcqPaCrd

— Big John Henry (@bigjohn4you) June 19, 2019

One step forwards…

The Vagrancy Act can land someone with a fine of up to £1,000 and a two-year criminal record. It’s already been repealed in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and its use in the rest of the UK has reduced. Although that sounds positive, the Guardian notes:

Despite falling use of the act, many councils opt to use civil powers under the 2014 Antisocial Behaviour Act, such as a public space protection order (PSPOs) to ban begging, rough sleeping and related activities.

A Guardian analysis earlier this year found at least 60 councils were using PSPOs, allowing them to issue £100 fines which, if left unpaid, could result in a summary conviction and a £1,000 penalty. This was despite Home Office guidance not to target the homeless.

Labour has said it would repeal the Vagrancy Act.

Pressure

The housing and homeless minister Heather Wheeler has responded to recent calls by saying:

No one in this day and age should be criminalised for having nowhere to live. I’m committed to ending rough sleeping for good and our Rough Sleeping Initiative is providing an estimated 2,600 additional beds and 750 more support staff this year.

We’re also carrying out a wider review of rough sleeping and homelessness legislation, including the Vagrancy Act, and will set out further steps in due course.

As the Tories don’t have the best track record for keeping their promises (and we’re facing a reshaped government within weeks), the time is now to put pressure on those in charge to #ScrapTheAct and end homelessness for good.

Featured image via Flickr – David Holt / Wikimedia – Terry

By John Shafthauer

Jeremy Hunt swipes at Tory leadership rival Boris Johnson’s Brexit stance

Wed, 2019-06-19 15:58

Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has taken a swipe at Boris Johnson’s Brexit stance, insisting his rival has an unclear policy and suggesting he is not trusted in Brussels.

The Foreign Secretary said he was “not entirely sure” what the front-runner in the race to become the next prime minister believes when it comes to when Britain will leave the EU.

Does the EU trust @borisjohnson? @Jeremy_Hunt answers by saying “I think they would trust Jeremy Hunt” #r4today https://t.co/rEFJLqpXpf pic.twitter.com/mK6AcKgB0Y

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) June 19, 2019

In a televised debate on Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson said the October 31 deadline for Brexit must be met, warning that otherwise there would be a “catastrophic loss of confidence in politics”.

But Mr Hunt accused the former foreign secretary of lacking clarity on whether he guaranteed delivering Brexit by the end of October.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well, I am not entirely sure what he believes on this, having listened to him last night.

“You have to think these things through because prime ministers have to make these judgments.”

Mr Hunt, who came second in the second Tory leadership ballot on Tuesday, also said he was best placed to cut a deal with Brussels on Brexit, saying: “We need a negotiator.”

He said a negotiator has three qualities: “The first is it has to be someone the other side trust, because you don’t do a deal with somebody you don’t trust.

“Secondly, it has got to be someone who doesn’t blink. And thirdly, it has got to be somebody who is prepared to walk away.

“Now, the danger is that if we choose the wrong person now, we will have no trust, no negotiation, no deal, and possibly, if we have an election, no Brexit.”

(PA Graphics)

Another candidate will face the axe on Wednesday afternoon – with Mr Johnson, Mr Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid battling it out for the top job.

The first debate on Tuesday night is unlikely to have swayed many MPs’ minds, ending with no clear winner after a fractious debate taking in Brexit, Islamophobia and climate change.

However, Mr Gove claimed he “won the debate” on BBC Newsnight, “because I had the most detailed answers and I have a clear plan to how we can deliver Brexit and make sure we get all the benefits of life outside the European Union”.

As the candidate who currently has the fewest number of backers, there are rumours Sajid Javid could drop out, but supporter Stephen Crabb told Newsnight his favoured candidate had performed well in the debates and was not about to quit.

“Did Sajid Javid look like a man who’s about to throw in the towel or about to be knocked out of the contest?” Mr Crabb said.

“He fought tonight, I thought he gave – in a difficult format – he gave a good display of what he can offer the country.”

International Development Secretary Mr Stewart struck a positive note on Wednesday morning, telling Today that he has received positive responses from backers of eliminated hardline Brexiteer candidate Dominic Raab.

During the BBC debate, Mr Johnson’s rivals had rounded on him over his ambition to give people earning more than £50,000 a tax cut.

Just hours after winning the second round of voting among Tory MPs – which saw Mr Raab eliminated – Mr Johnson faced his opponents in a TV studio for the first time, having ducked the previous televised debate.

He came under fire for his tax plans, and was also taken to task over his comments comparing veiled Muslim women to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

(PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson said he would lift the National Insurance threshold for the low-paid, but there should be a “debate” about the 40p higher income tax rate, which currently kicks in at £50,000.

“It does seem to be very odd that in the Conservative Party people should seriously question whether it is right to try to lift nurses and heads of maths departments and police inspectors out of the top rate of tax,” he said.

But Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said people accused the Tories of being “the party of the rich” and “we must never fall into the trap of doing tax cuts for the rich and confirming that prejudice”.

Environment Secretary Mr Gove said “cutting taxes for folk who earn what MPs earn and what millionaires earn, I think that is wrong”.

Mr Stewart, whose campaign has gained momentum, hit out at his rivals for making promises on Brexit and taxes that they could not keep.

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By The Canary

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband insists Johnson’s comments impacted on her

Wed, 2019-06-19 15:22

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has insisted that comments made by Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary “enabled a propaganda campaign” against her by Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe directly contradicted claims by Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership TV debate that his remarks as foreign secretary had no bearing on the fate of the mother-of-one, who is in prison in Iran on spying charges.

Apology

Mr Johnson was forced to apologise in 2017 after wrongly stating to a House of Commons committee that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran to teach journalists.

Referring to the remarks, Mr Ratcliffe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Of course they had consequences.

“The main difference they had was, obviously, they enabled a propaganda campaign that was run against Nazanin.”

He added: “It was used to justify a second court case.

“And has been used to discredit her ever since.”

The issue came up in the Tory leadership TV debate on Tuesday when Mr Johnson was asked if he worries his words might do “more harm than good” in relation to his comments about Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Boris Johnson claimed in the TV debate that his words did not have consequences in Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case (Jeff Overs/BBC)

Mr Johnson said: “Well actually I think it’s very, very important that in this context we should pay tribute to the work of the Foreign Office in doing what they can to get out very difficult consular cases, but in seeking to point the finger either at me or at anybody in the UK for the incarceration of Nazanin or anybody else… I have the deepest sympathy clearly for Nazanin and her family. But in pointing the finger at our side…”

Responsibility

Interrupted by chair Emily Maitlis, who said “words have consequences” – referring to a question asked by a member of the public – Mr Johnson said: “Well actually in that case it didn’t, I think, make any difference.

“But if you point the finger at the UK, all you are doing is exculpating those who are truly responsible which is the Iranian revolutionary guard and that is reality and people should realise what this regime is up to, and that is where the responsibility lies.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested on April 3 2016 at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran as she prepared to board a plane back to the UK after visiting relatives and is serving a five-year sentence in the notorious Evin Prison.

She and her husband have a five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, who has not been allowed to leave Iran following her mother’s arrest and is living with her grandparents.

Her detention is now also against a backdrop of heightened tensions over an attack against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is also in the race to become the next prime minister, granted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in March, but Tehran refuses to acknowledge her dual UK-Iranian nationality.

Asked if Mr Johnson had made the situation worse as foreign secretary, Mr Hunt told the BBC: “I think that is for Richard Ratcliffe to comment on.

“I think it would be incredibly unseemly when we have an innocent woman in prison, separated from her five-year-old daughter, for there to be any kind of point scoring by candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe began a third hunger strike on Saturday, while her husband has set up camp outside the Iranian embassy in London, vowing not to eat for the duration of her protest.

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By The Canary

‘Disappointing and deluded’. Verdict of Imam who grilled Tory hopefuls.

Wed, 2019-06-19 10:18

An Imam who probed the Tory leadership contenders about Islamophobia during the television debate has branded their responses “disappointing” and “deluded”.

Abdullah Patel asked the five candidates whether they believed words had consequences, and said he had seen first-hand the impact of Islamophobic rhetoric on his community.

Boris Johnson said he was “sorry for the offence” his comments about veiled Muslim women looking like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” had caused, while Michael Gove condemned Islamophobia as “repugnant” and attacked Jeremy Corbyn for comments he claimed were “disgusting” and anti-Semitic.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid urged all the candidates to commit to an external investigation into the issue within the Tory party, and his rivals nodded in agreement.

Writing on Twitter after the debate, Mr Patel said he had asked the question because he wanted the candidates to promise that “things would change”, adding: “The hate is real.”

“As an Imam, I’m exposed to many incidents which happen in my community, and of course, as a visible Muslim, I also witness it first hand. I have received numerous incident reports of blatant racism against members of my community, from spitting and swearing at Muslim women…To asking students coming to my mosque if they had bombs in their bags,” he wrote.

2/As an Imam, I’m exposed to many incidents which happen in my community, and of course, as a visible Muslim, I also witness it first hand. I have received numerous incident reports of blatant racism against members of my community, from spitting and swearing at Muslim women…

— Abdullah Patel (@AbdullahPatel94) June 18, 2019

4/Hence the very direct Q: Do you accept that words have consequences. What I got as a repsonse was nothing short of disappointing and deluded:@BorisJohnson forgot my name, spoke about his G grandfather and about Iran. Gove used the opportunity to have a dig at @jeremycorbyn

— Abdullah Patel (@AbdullahPatel94) June 18, 2019

6/Islamophobia in the @Conservatives. Take note @BrandonLewis!Many thanks to the BBC for giving me this chance to speak up for my community, and for @MuslimCouncil @mendcommunity @SayeedaWarsi @MatesJacob for putting pressure on the Tories.

Good night#BBCOurNextPM

— Abdullah Patel (@AbdullahPatel94) June 18, 2019

He added: “What I got as a response was nothing short of disappointing and deluded: @BorisJohnson forgot my name, spoke about his G(reat) grandfather and about Iran. Gove used the opportunity to have a dig at @jeremycorbyn…

“@Jeremy_Hunt used the chance to speak about how he can’t be racist because he has an immigrant wife, and @RoryStewartUK forgot that this is also OUR country. The only positive from the debate was @sajidjavid making them all commit to an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the @Conservatives.”

In his response to the question, Mr Johnson said he believed his Muslim great grandfather would have been “very proud” to have seen him become foreign secretary.

He added that when his great grandfather came to the UK in 1912 “he did so because he knew it was a beacon of generosity and openness and a willingness to welcome people from around the world,” adding: “If I am prime minister I will ensure that that is the way our country acts and behaves.”

At one point he appeared to forget Mr Patel’s name, referring to him as “my friend over there”, before presenter Emily Maitlis interjected: “Abdullah”.

After Mr Javid raised the prospect of the Tory Islamophobia inquiry, he said it was “great that we all agree on that”, adding: “Behind it is a concern… of growing anti-Muslim hatred in our country, certainly over the last few years, in all parts of society, wherever that is – including in political parties – it must be absolutely rooted out.”

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By The Canary

Trump is holding thousands of people in ‘concentration camps’ on the US border

Wed, 2019-06-19 04:29

Donald Trump’s administration is running “concentration camps” on the US-Mexico border, according to expert analysis.

“Mass detention of civilians without trial”

Andrea Pitzer is the author of One Long NightA Global History of Concentration Camps. Her book examines the way “camp systems have been used as tools for civilian relocation, political repression, and extermination”. It also explains:

Often justified as a measure to protect a nation, or even interned groups themselves, camps have instead served as brutal and dehumanizing sites that have claimed the lives of millions.

In a 13 June report from Esquire, Pitzer speaks of the current situation under Trump, saying:

We have what I would call a concentration camp system and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew attention to this assertion on Twitter. She also pointed out a key distinction that “concentration camps are not the same as death camps”:

And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps.

Concentration camps are considered by experts as “the mass detention of civilians without trial.”

And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019

Comparison with the Holocaust means many people refuse to accept this reality. But the Nazis first set up concentration camps in 1933 to “concentrate enemies and certain groups of people in one place”. Later, they developed more systematic and brutal methods of control, including death camps.

And that’s a fact Ocasio-Cortez has been having to repeat for those critics finding it difficult to catch on:

Concentration camps are not the same as death camps.

This is an important distinction. One of the biggest lessons from that dark history is that it didn’t happen overnight. It emerged out of slow, increasingly concerning steps that acclimated the public to inhumane treatment.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019

Living hell

Since taking office, Trump has led a racist fearmongering mission against people who are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries – a situation resulting from decades of brutal US intervention throughout Latin America.

As Esquire explains, “insufficient resources, overcrowding, and deteriorating conditions” create misery, suffering and death in concentration camps – including those currently in the US. As NBC reported, since Trump came to power, 24 people have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. And since September, another six children – supposedly under the care and protection of other agencies – also died.

It already seems that more children will be detained in 2019 than the record 59,171 taken into custody in 2016. Up to April 2019, authorities detained 40,900 children, a 57% increase from 2018.

The situation is deteriorating further. On 11 June, Time reported that Fort Sill can hold 1,400 children in a facility “once used as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II”. Why? Because the existing 168 child detention facilities can’t cope.

And Trump is now boasting about ICE rounding up more families. As Washington Post journalist Nick Miroff suggested, this isn’t normal presidential behaviour:

This is the ICE round-up of families with deportation orders Trump is talking about. Usually major operations of this sort are considered “law enforcement sensitive” and a closely-held secret, not telegraphed by the president https://t.co/wh2VWPvFqy https://t.co/94h0vfGg0r

— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) June 18, 2019

 

‘Injecting the framework of war into society’

Pitzer describes concentration camps as “a deliberate choice to inject the framework of war into society itself”. And this is exactly what Trump’s doing. The Trump administration created this ‘war’, labelling some of the most vulnerable children, women and men from Central America as the ‘enemy’ in the process.

We know from the horrors of history where this can lead. That’s why Trump must be stopped, before it’s too late.

Featured images via six7777/Flickr and U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr

By Fréa Lockley

Striking rail workers ‘solidly supported’ as walkout continues

Wed, 2019-06-19 03:20

A strike by workers at one of the UK’s biggest train operators was being “solidly supported” on Tuesday.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on South Western Railway will be on strike for five days in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

RMT members are standing rock solid again this morning on South Western Railway in the long-running fight for safety, security and access on our trains while the private train company sends out the signal that it is prepared to gamble with their passengers well-being in the name of profit.

RMT has campaigned relentlessly for the principle of putting safety on the railway first and the current stalemate over the safety-critical role of the guard on SWR trains cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.

Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action throughout this week. They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.

We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety, access and passenger service on Britain’s increasingly violent and dangerous railways.

Senior Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley on the picket line at Waterloo today as @RMTunion members strike to #KeepTheGuardOnTheTrain on South Western Railway pic.twitter.com/TA13AOMZSO

— RMT (@RMTunion) June 18, 2019

 

Some stations, meanwhile, experienced long queues and packed platforms.

By The Canary

Despite US pressure, Iranian president insists his country is not seeking war ‘with any nation’

Wed, 2019-06-19 03:00

Iran is not seeking to wage war against any nation, the country’s president has said. He also insisted that Iranians will withstand mounting US pressure.

The remarks by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani came after his country announced it was breaking compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The US withdrew from this deal a year ago and then restored crippling sanctions on Iran. Donald Trump’s administration has also just ordered 1,000 more US troops to the Middle East.

“We do not wage war with any nation,” Mr Rouhani said, speaking during the inauguration of a new terminal at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport that will raise its capacity from eight million to 13 million passengers a year.

He added that, despite Trump’s withdrawal last year from the nuclear deal, Iran had for many months remained “loyal to its commitments, to… international agreements”.

But on Monday, amid increasing tensions with the US, Iran’s nuclear agency announced it will surpass the uranium stockpile limits set by the 2015 deal in the next 10 days, raising pressure on European leaders trying to save the accord a year after the US withdrawal.

Rouhani had already warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or Iran would increase its enrichment of uranium.

The developments indicate Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign after facing one from Trump that has deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall.

Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the US sanctions.

By The Canary

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