Monthly Archives: August 2013

Universal Credit ‘claimant commitment’: no choice, no law, no money – no appeal

The SKWAWKBOX

IMPORTANT: this article is now here as a place-holder, pending clarification from the DWP – as even veteran DWP employees can’t agree whether the WRAG sanction information is accurate. See here for more information.

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In just a few short weeks, the new Universal Credit benefit system starts to roll out, albeit more slowly than originally planned (but already in operation in pilot areas). This new benefits system rolls a wide variety of benefits into a single process, including unemployment benefit – and crucially, it extends ‘conditionality’ even to people who are already working, so that penalties can be applied to people for not having enough hours, or if they are not considered to be trying hard enough to get more hours.

The government’s ‘policy aims’ for this new system state that:

Universal Credit is designed to ensure that for people who can, work is still the best route out…

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“Shout louder”? Labour, your voice should be audible from Space!

juxtaposed

Your voice is a squeak.

Do you seriously think it’s acceptable for people to wait for you to get back into power, make some policies and battle it out at leisure in Parliament? What do you think will happen over two more years of division and degradation under this Coalition to vulnerable people whose advocacy you’re neglecting? What do you suppose happens to Society and Community while you faff – suspended animation?

You may not want to show your hand too soon with specific policies. I understand that argument but that is no excuse for your dire lack of gumption when it comes to challenging the Coalition on theirs, whether through the Houses of Parliament, the Press or Television. We knew they were ideologically callous nonsense; we knew how divisive they would become; and we knew from the last Tory Administration that they would also be false economies. So…

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Only one problem with the government’s list of top ten benefits fraudsters – it doesn’t exist

A new low even for the Daily MAil?

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Daily Mail!)

The Mail and the Express yesterday had articles about an official list of the top ten benefits fraudsters in the country which they say was published by the government.

Just one little problem with it.

The list doesn’t seem to exist.

There doesn’t seem to be any official list of top ten benefits fraudsters published by the government.

There are no links in either the Mail or the Express articles to any government website where the official list is published. No list on the DWP website and no mention of it on the official DWP press office Twitter feed either.

The Mail specifically wrote that Iain Duncan Smith had decided to publish the list – but there is no mention of it on his website or anywhere else.

In fact the only sources for any official list are – the Mail and…

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You Cannot Run a Public Service Like a Business, and Here’s Why…

Scriptonite Daily

PS1

One of the greatest myths of our time is that public services can be made more efficient if we run them as businesses.  The commercialisation of our public services has been a manifest failure, and the response offered by the mainstream parties is that we simply haven’t commercialised them enough. What they fail to understand is that a public service and a business are inherently different beasts and asking one to behave as the other is like asking a fish to ride a bicycle.

What is a Public Service?PS2

The primary aim of a public service is to provide a service to the public.  This service exists to avoid negative social impacts and protect crucial social utilities from the instabilities of capitalism.

Within living memory it was considered basic common sense that essentials like food, water, energy, access to health services, housing, sanitation and sewage, social care and core…

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The 35 Best Times Someone On Facebook Thought ‘The Onion’ Was Real

I suppose I should be concerned that there are so many truely stupid people out there but this was so funny I couldn’t help but PMSL.

Thought Catalog

1. “I give up”

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2. “YOUR AN IDIOT”

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3. “It is disgraceful”

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4. “How sad”

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5. “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS”

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6. “The Onion who often plays games”

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CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE…

7. “My heart and soul weeps for these deceived people”

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8. “Poor people don’t have what it takes”

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9. “Okay well that is your opinion”

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10. “Really a free parrot really”

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11. “Actually, more evidence is coming out”

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12. “He’s a communist”

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CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE…

13. “Really, wow I had no idea”

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14. “STOP”

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15. “This is what we pay these people to do”

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16. “How exactly did you get elected”

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17. “I am trolling”

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18. “This is true

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CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE…

19. “I don’t know what to think”

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20. “This is no joke”

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21. “What makes it fake”

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22. “I can’t even read this”

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23. “There’s no such thing”

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24. “IS THIS…

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The Zapatistas’ first school opens for session

 

ast December, tens of thousands of indigenous Zapatistas mobilized, peacefully and in complete silence, to occupy five municipal government office buildings in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. That same day, which coincided with the end of one cycle on the Maya calendar, Zapatistas released a communiqué, asking, “Did you hear it?”

It appears that the answer was yes, because this week thousands of people from around the world are descending on Chiapas for the Zapatistas’ first organizing school, called la escuelita de libertad, which means the little school of liberty. Originally the group allotted for only 500 students. But so many people wished to enroll that they opened an additional 1,200 slots for the weeklong school, which begins on August 12.

Just as the Zapatistas have, for two decades, rejected hierarchical systems, the escuelita will also eschew traditional teaching models. Instead, it will be an open space for the community to learn together.

“There isn’t one teacher,” wrote Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesperson for the Zapatista movement. “Rather, it is the collective that teaches, that shows, that forms, and in it and through it the person learns, and also teaches.”

While attending the escuelita, students will live with a family in a rebel zapatista community and participate both in the school and in the daily life of the community. Participants will cut wood, work in the cornfields and cook and eat with their host families.

Subcomandante Marcos acknowledged that attending this type of school requires shifting one’s way of thinking about learning and indigenous communities. As he asked in a communiqué:

Would you attend a school taught by indigenous teachers, whose mother tongue is typified as “dialect”?

Could you overcome the temptation to study them as anthropological subjects, psychological subjects, subjects of law or esoterism, or history?

Would you overcome the urge to write a report, interview them, tell them your opinion, give them advice, orders?

Would you see them, that is to say, would you listen to them?

Leading up to the school, the Zapatistas published a series of seven communiqués entitled “Them and Us.” These essays illustrated the absurdities of “those from above” — those who hold coercive and repressive power — trampling the freedoms of “those from below.” The writings also spoke to the need to learn by observing and listening in order to build an alternative world. But more than abstractions, the seven publications were a collection of lessons about how everyday life in the Zapatista communities, including how people resolve problems and how they organize themselves into an autonomous networks in which the people rule and the government obeys.

The last installation of this manual, published on March 27, also announced the upcoming escuelita and outlined three requirements necessary for any applicant: “an indisposition to speaking and judging, a disposition to listening and seeing, and a well-placed heart.”

The Zapatistas are unique not only for challenging power or maintaining their resistance for nearly 20 years. What sets them apart is their ever-evolving definition of liberty, and this topic — liberty according to the Zapatistas — will be the central focus of the school. According to Subcomandante Marcos, liberty is “to govern and govern ourselves according to our ways, in our geography and in this calendar.” But the definition also shifts from generation to generation, and Marcos explains that new generations must find their own paths through rebellion and dignity.

The experience of living with Zapatistas and other indigenous families will be another central part of the school. Some students will stay with families living in autonomous rebel communities, while others will be with nearby non-Zapatistas, or even anti-Zapatistas families. These hundreds of families have all agreed on a votán, a person who, in the Zapatista movement, represents a guardian and the heart of the community. The votáns will translate for the families and the foreign students, although Marcos acknowledges that translation itself is an imperfect process.

“In legal cases, do cultures translate?” he questions. “In that sense, one understands that what they call ‘equality under the law’ is one of the greatest travesties of justice in our world.”

As for final evaluations, the school won’t, unsurprisingly, have an exam, a thesis, or a multiple-choice test. Rather, as Marcos explained, the school “will make its own reality,” and the results will be “a mirror.”

The school began after three days of festivals in rebel communities to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the councils of good governance, the Zapatistas’ autonomous governing system in which the community makes decisions and the government carries them out. During the celebrations, one could see empty buses and vans parked along the streets to Ocosingo and Palenque, waiting to transport the 1,700 students from San Cristobal de Las Casas into the rebel communities the following morning.

Earlier this summer, the Zapatistas announced that future escuelitas in the Zapatista communities will be held this coming winter.

reposted from : http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/the-zapatistas-first-escuelita-for-freedom-begins-today/

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Religious Nutjob Of The Week : Lost At Sea

lost at sea

An Arizona family of fundamentalist christians including two young children, one only months old, have spent 91 days lost as sea, after deciding to leave the ungodly United States and sail to the Kiribati Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to escape as they put it …

“abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,”

and

“forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”

Ahh lovely people no?

So did they prepare for their voyage by taking courses in sailing or navigation?  No of course not. Instead they predictably put their faith in God, sure in the knowledge that he would see them safe to their new island paradise home.  God had other ideas. When after a few days sailing they hit “squall after squall after squall, which left their boat battered and damaged and them lost in the wide open ocean for weeks.

My_Heart_Is_Lost_at_Sea_by_Firstborn

Running out of food they must have thought their prayers had finally been answered when a Canadian ship spotted them and came along side to give them supplies.  Alas god must have been otherwise engaged, as the ship banged into their little boat damaging it further.

Finally, with their food supplies running down to just juice and honey a Venezuelan fishing boat picked them up and via a change over to a Japanese cargo ship they were taken back to shore in Chile.  They now plan to return to Arizona.

So what do we learn from this peeps?  How about if you plan on going on a long expedition they make sure you are fully prepared with all the necessary equipment and skills. Not rely on some  imaginary vengeful death-dealing desert god to guide you.  Alternatively if you are wanting to move to an island in the Pacific Ocean….. consider flying.

Or maybe – and I realise there is little to no chance of them doing this – stop following a religion that breeds intolerance, hate and violence to minority groups like LGBTs, or who’s ministers preach  that women should not have the free choice and control of their own bodies, despite the fact that nowhere in that religions instruction manual does it forbid the right to choose.  That way you may just realise that you are very very fortunate to live in the worlds richest nation, where even if you live in abject poverty you still have a better standard of living than much of the developing world. A place where at least nominally, everyone has the same rights and freedoms based upon the constitution.  That is thankfully not yet a theocracy, as some fundies seem to want. Otherwise you could be stoned for picking up sticks on the wrong day or even for having the temerity to get raped amongst others things. Luckily for the the Gastonguay family I don’t think there is any religious law that advocates stoning for those unable to navigate or just for being plain stupid.

 

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The future’s terrifying – if the future’s Tory

A prediction that I fear is going to be proven only to accurate in years to come.

Vox Political

camspeech5

 

(This was originally posted on Vox Political in January this year. A lot has happened since then. I rediscovered it today while I was going through material for the second VP book collection, and thought it might be worthwhile to put it back up and ask whether people thought it was a more – or less – realistic prediction of the future under a Conservative government. Would the Tories be more extreme if they got into power?)

What does the future have in store for the UK, if the Conservatives win the 2015 election?

It seems sensible to conclude my loose series on the current changes to social security benefits – see here, here, here, here and here – by taking a look at what we know they have planned, and what we can reasonably expect from them. Some of this comes from the document ‘2020…

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