BBC, Lies And The Tory View Of The World

When next you hear a Tory, or one of his University chums at the BBC, explain that the “welfare changes” are really to help the poor and disabled, then do remind them of these relatively unreported examples:

“…[Henry Sherlock] had been “bullied and harassed” by Atos Healthcare, the French firm slammed for carrying out the humiliating eligibility tests for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Henry worked for the DWP for 18 years until he was forced to retire on medical grounds eight years ago. He lost his sight after suffering meningitis and also has chronic heart disease, diabetes and depression. He said: “I found it such a shock being on the other side of the fence.

“Being a claimant, you are treated with total disrespect.

More begging is what the Tories want:

“When I worked for the DWP it was the case that the client came first and they were given the best support possible but now all they are interested in is cutting costs.

MSPs were told how a blind former health worker, Henry Sherlock, was reduced to begging after being interviewed and reassessed by the Department of Work and Pensions and Atos Healthcare, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments, claiming both of them had “harassed and bullied” him.

He told how he had been threatened with having his benefits stopped after refusing to provide personal information after receiving an unannounced call from Atos one Saturday evening.”

Read what he said.

Brain-damaged amputee fit for work, says Atos:

“An amputee who cannot walk, struggles to talk and is brain damaged has been passed “fit for work” and had his benefits cut under government reforms.

Mark Evans, from Daubhill in Bolton, said his incapacity benefits were cut by £440 a month and has been left with just £220 to pay his monthly rent, bills and food.

The 50-year-old had received incapacity benefits, now known as employment and support allowances, since 1993 when he had a brain tumour. He also had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after contracting deep vein thrombosis. “

Anxiety over Atos fit-for-work test brings on father’s heart attack:

“The controversial assessments by the French IT firm are part of a benefits shake-up by the Con-Dem Government, who are looking to cut billions from the welfare bill.

Former welder Jim, who had worked all his adult life until he suffered a heart attack 18 months ago, said: “It was very clear that I wasn’t 100 per cent.

I was sweating profusely, my breath was very laboured and I had been confused during the interview.

“I wasn’t able to concentrate on a lot of what they were saying.

“They gave me a glass of water but that was it.

“They were more concerned with asking me questions such as, ‘Can you walk 200m and can you raise your arm up in the air?’”

Jim, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow, added: “I was telling them I was stressed and that I was anxious, and that I didn’t feel like I could go out and work at that moment.”

The very next day, he had a heart attack as he was walking down a street in Glasgow’s west end. “

Cecilia Burns:

“Ms Burns, a mother of two boys, was diagnosed in 2011. After surgery, she underwent months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and was on the drug Herceptin until her death.

In March 2012, her employment support allowance was reduced by £30 and she was told she was fit to work, even though she was still undergoing treatment. “

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On France, Richard Dawkins And Atos

The French President has stated what might be obvious to many people, but seems to go unsaid in Britain, that the victims in Toulouse last year were killed because they were Jews.

A similar point should have been made in the British media when killers deliberately sought out Mumbai’s Chabad House, however, given the peculiar nature of the British press, it wasn’t.

Tell MAMA takes on Richard Dawkins:

“Naturally, Dawkins, his supporters, and the broader movement of self-identified ‘liberal, nice, decent people’ may yet defend themselves as critics of Islam who do not adopt the violent extremist attitudes of EDL members. Many of them may well be decent people though it is important that they realise that their actions may feed into the rhetoric of hate organisations like the EDL.

Sometimes, the language and comments used may well be perceived by Muslims as being identical to groups like the EDL and whilst they are coming from different places, the impact and perceptions on Muslim individuals may be the same – whether from the liberal or political left or whether from the Far Right.

Any form of speech that lumps groups of individuals together and abuses them collectively is unacceptable in a tolerant, diverse, and equal society.

Furthermore, these ‘decent, nice and liberal people’ need to understand that some in society attack Islam to undermine and dehumanise Muslims. Some genuinely believe that by attacking Islam, they are having no impact on the perception of Muslims by others.

It is therefore not a simple issue and saying that hating and attacking Islam does not impact or affect Muslims in our communities is naive.”[My emphasis.]

Spot on.

Having scanned Richard Dawkins’ timeline on Twitter I can see the issues.

It is peppered with questionable argumentation, fields of straw men and a depressingly simplistic approach to the issue of racism. It would take a whole blog post to pick them apart, but his failure to understand that religious identities can be used as a way to attack ethnic minorities is surprising.

Even President Hollande got that point fairly quickly and he is not a professional academic.

Elsewhere, Atos’s callousness knows no bounds, as the Independent reports:

“A Thalidomide victim with a brain tumour who is blind in one eye and has trouble walking is battling against a decision by Atos that she is capable of “work related activity”.

Martine White, 50, is due to appear at a tribunal in which she will appeal against the decision which she fears could force her to take employment or face losing up to half of her benefits.

The mother of four from Burnley, Lancashire, is one of a number of victims of the morning sickness drug which left more than 500 people in Britain with severe birth defects who claim they are being unfairly treated by the Government’s controversial back-to-work assessors.

Mrs White, who has deformed arms and is facing spinal surgery which she fears could put her permanently in a wheelchair, was assessed by Atos and moved from incapacity benefit to the new employment and support allowance last year.

She was placed in the category which deemed she was capable of “work-related activity” which can require attending a “work-related interview” once a month and putting together a CV in order to continue receiving her benefits of £212.70 a fortnight.

Mrs White, whose late husband Michael was also affected by Thalidomide, has twice appealed against her assessment but has now been told to argue her case in front of a judge. “

Ed Balls, Timid Labour And China

Ed Balls is not an impressive politician, not by virtue of his shrewdness, delivering or occasional principles. Still, you might hope of paid politician, someone who does it for a living, would eventually get the hang of it.

But no, Balls doesn’t, as Neil Schofield argues:

“There’s some nice triangulation there. Balls is trying to play both sides of the street on welfare and benefits, and manages to get in a bit of One Nation rhetoric as well. But the point is that his underlying assumptions are both wrong and, in my view, counter-productive.

The problem with Ed Balls really lies in that second quote, where he continues to use the rhetoric of austerity. Austerity is failing, and there is an increasing body of evidence to show why that is the case – I’ve referred to the IMF’s evidence about the multiplier before. The evidence is increasingly showing that we need precisely the opposite of spending cuts, and that any tax increases should fall overwhelmingly on the wealthier, for reasons of both equity and to ensure that they do not damage demand (Balls’ argument that his scheme should be paid for by reducing the pension tax advantages of those on the highest incomes is very welcome, but misses the point – more spending and an end to austerity would increase tax revenues across the economy as a whole). “

Any compassionate person reading the Where’s the Benefit blog would be struck by the ferocity and persistency of government attacks on the disabled, a Testing Journey and If you can only walk twenty metres you’ll get no help :

“When PIP starts to replace Disability Living Allowance next year anyone who can walk just twenty metres will not qualify for help with mobility. Twenty metres is less than the distance most of the disabled parking bays at my local Tesco are from the door. It’s really not much. Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer get a mobility allowance and as a result will no longer be eligible to lease a Motability car. One day it might be you that needs this.

The government has also left out the phrase “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner” from the PIP regulations. This means that if a person can do something just once, or can push through pain to do it, they might not get help and can’t even challenge it at tribunal. “

The Labour Party has a problem challenging the Tories on this issue, they essentially agree with the Tories’ underlying assumptions as Liam Byrne’s thinking has shown.

It’s a pity that it takes The Children’s Society to point out the downside of Tory policies:

“Half a million soldiers, nurses and teachers will have their income slashed under the coalition’s benefits crackdown, according to a new report. The chancellor’s sub-inflation rise in benefits and tax credits over the next three years will hit a whole range of the country’s most trusted professionals.

Up to 40,000 soldiers, 300,000 nurses and 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose cash, in some cases many hundreds of pounds, according to the Children’s Society. The revelation appears to contradict the government’s stated intention to target shirkers and scroungers, and will raise the temperature of the Commons debate and vote on the plan on Tuesday. “

A reminder, for timid Labour, of what Tory attacks really mean:

“On Friday night Christina Martin posted a link which caught my eye. It was a few lines from a local paper which said that a blind, deaf, tube-fed, non verbal, disabled man from Scotland had been deemed fit for work by the DWP. As a result of not completing the form correctly his benefits will be stopped on 7th June and he will have to access the appeal process to have this decision over turned.

This man has to have 24 hour care and the person who had completed his form for him as his disability prevents him had not included something in the 30 page form which meant that due to that error his money will stop. “

That was not an isolate incident:

Elsewhere, Syrian journalists caught in middle of conflict

In the US, Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower is surprising.

Austria still has issues:

“(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents documented in 2012 by Austria’s Jewish community has doubled from the previous year, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish community said.

Oskar Deutsch told the Kurier newspaper that the Jewish community registered 135 such incidents last year, compared to 71 in 2011.”

Tom Pride’s post on China is worth thinking about:

  • China is the world’s largest authoritarian dictatorship.
  • About one third of the industrial waste water and more than 90 percent of household sewage in China is released into rivers and lakes without being treated.
  • Half of China’s population lacks safe drinking water.
  • China’s incredibly high rates of liver, stomach and esophageal cancer have been directly linked to contaminated drinking water.
  • In China, in 2008 six babies were killed and 300,000 were left sickened after consuming infant formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
  • In summer of 2011, the China government reported 43 percent of state-monitored rivers are so polluted, they’re unsuitable for human contact.
  • Most of China’s rural areas have no system in place to treat waste water.
  • An estimated 980 million of China’s 1.3 billion people drink water every day that is partly polluted.
  • In October 2009, Greenpeace identified five industrial facilities in southern China’s Pearl River delta that were dumping poisonous metals and chemicals—such as beryllium, manganese, nonylphenol and tetrabromobisphenol— into water used by local residents for drinking.
  • In March 2010, more than 3.5 tons of “yard-long” green beans contaminated with banned pesticide isocarbophos, were destroyed after being discovered on sale in the central city of Wuhan.
  • In Shenzhen, southern China, nearly one third (28pc) of food made with rice flour were found to have levels of aluminium above national standards.
  • An undercover investigation in March 2010 estimated that one in 10 of all meals in China were cooked using recycled oil, scavenged from the sewerage drains beneath restaurants.
  • Research showed that 10 per cent of rice sold in China was contaminated with heavy metals, including cadmium, some contained up to five times the legal limit.

Bloomberg’s Mapping China’s Red Nobility is excellent for detailing the interconnections and relationships amongst China’s elite.

“Fit For Work” After Double Heart Bypass?

I wonder how the Tories will justify this:

“A HEART patient last night claimed he was told he was fit for work by a healthcare firm working on behalf of the Government – just a day after he endured a double heart bypass operation and was recovering in intensive care.

Former welder Danny Shurmer, 60, of Gaerwen on Anglesey, who had been in Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital in May last year, said: “I was in intensive care when my daughter came in with the letter. I was shocked. Even the consultant could not believe it.”

He spoke as it was revealed more than 2,000 people on sickness and disability benefits in North Wales have been ordered back to work after their cases were re-assessed under controversial Government fitness-to-work tests.

Mr Shurmer’s employment and support allowance (ESA) – a benefit which has replaced incapacity benefit – was later stopped. It was only restarted after he went to a tribunal.

He was given the “fit for work” bombshell weeks after a medical examination by a doctors from healthcare firm Atos.

Mr Shurmer, who didn’t win his tribunal until nine months after the withdrawal of benefit, had three more bypasses in July this year at the same hospital.

But there is still hope for him because last week he had another examination by an Atos doctor and is awaiting their decision.

Asked whether he is optimistic or not, he replied: “God knows.”

The Government ordered fresh assessments on thousands of people claiming incapacity benefits back in 2010. Since then nearly 6,000 people have been reassessed in North Wales by healthcare firm Atos to determine whether claimants are “fit to work”. “