Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Atos cashing in on WCA interviews

Reblogged from Work Test Whistleblower:

At the start of June I wrote to the National Audit Office about the DWP-Atos contract. Here's what they said in response to my questions:

  • Atos has 35 days to make a recommendation after being asked to do so by the DWP. In this period of time they are required to furnish the DWP with a report, either after Scrutiny alone or after a face-to-face assessment.
  • Despite an "open book" accounting arrangement with Atos, the DWP will not say how much Atos makes in net profit from this contract each year because it is supposedly commercially sensitive, though the DWP does know the figure, as does the Public Accounts Committee.
  • Atos is paid a certain amount by the DWP each year regardless of how many WCAs are actually carried out, to cover the fixed costs Atos incurs in delivering the service. Atos then receives further money for actually doing the assessments: the more assessments are performed the more money Atos gets.
  • Atos is paid less for a decision to put the claimant in the Support Group at the Scrutiny stage than they would be paid if they called the claimant forward for a face-to-face assessment and then put them in the Support Group (or made an alternative recommendation based on the findings at the face-to-face assessment).

Workfare: A Nazi Policy

Reblogged from Beastrabban\'s Weblog:

Godwin’s Law states that at some point any debate or discussion on the internet will eventually degenerate into one or other of the two sides accusing their opponent of being a Nazi. Unfortunately, sometimes the accusations of totalitarianism and Fascism are accurate. Like most administrations, the Nazi regime had to deal with the problem of unemployment. This was tackled through a programme of public works. They also sought to combat it through a series of laws regulating the movement and providing for the compulsory conscription of labour and its direction by the state.

Amongst its other provisions, the Law for the Regulation of Work Allocation of 15th May 1934 prevented rural workers from migrating to big cities with high unemployment. It also made it difficult for farmworkers to take up other forms of employment. On 26th February 1935 a further law was passed, the Law for Meeting Labour Requirements in Agriculture. This allowed the authorities to interfere in working conditions, and return to agricultural work employees and labours, who had left it for other jobs. The work book was also reintroduced. This was a compulsory record of an employee’s or worker’s employment history. This had been abolished in the second third of the 19th century due to freedom of movement within the Wilhelmian reich. It was reintroduced in order to allow the Nazi regime to control and allocate labour.

The Nazis had set up a voluntary work scheme, the Reichsarbeitsdienst, (Reich Labour Service) or RAD. This had originally served to support the young unemployed. On the 26th June 1935, this was made compulsory for the unemployed. Those, who had been unemployed since 1924 had to perform a year’s service in it. Men between 19 and 25 years old served in it for six months. It became a new state organisation linking the Nazi school system with preparatory training for military service and the state’s direction of the labour supply.

Now workfare is, in theory, still voluntary. You are free to turn it down, but if you do, you’ll lose your benefits. As grotesque as Cameron is, he isn’t a Nazi. Nevertheless the Conservative’s workfare policy is similar to that of the Reichsarbeitsienst in its authoritarianism and the way an ostensibly voluntary system is supported through considerable state coercion.

Martin Broszat, The Hitler State: the Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1981), pp. 154-5.
‘Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst – RAD)’ and ‘Unemployment’, in James Taylor and Warren Shaw, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton 1988), pp. 213, and 262

Report Calls For Expansion Of Residential Workfare For Unemployed and Disabled People


An independent report, commissioned by the DWP, has called for greater use of Residential Training for disabled people and an extension of the scheme to include long term unemployed non-disabled people.

The report also accepts that this kind of training, which can involve periods of workfare away from home, should be opened up to the market.  This process may begin with a open tender exercise next year.
Residential Training is a little known scheme available for disabled people who are long term unemployed and in the words of Jobcentre Disability Employment Advisors, are the ‘hardest to help’.

The programme lasts a year and includes a mixture of residential and non-residential training, along with a period of up to three months workfare.  Whilst the DWP’s guidance (PDF) states that this workfare should aim to take place in the participant’s local area, in some cases it can also be arranged on a residential basis.
Currently the scheme is entirely voluntary with no sanctions for refusing to take part or leaving the training.  Of course this doesn’t mean that Jobcentre advisors may not pressurise claimants to take part.   Often the most vulnerable claimants, who may be isolated, have learning disabilities, a mental health condition or face other significant difficulties  are bullied onto non-mandatory schemes, with vague threats and over-optimistic promises of what is likely to be achieved.  As the scheme is hugely expensive however, it is unlikely there is currently a huge amount of pressure on staff to make referrals.

Like all DWP training, it’s mostly bollocks.  As the Department says:  “Training is not designed to train a Participant to the highest level available in their chosen vocation, but to equip an individual with the skills and knowledge that enable them to obtain and sustain employment.”*

Instead it appears to be the usual low level training for minimum wage work that will be familiar to any claimants who have experienced the Work Programme, the New Deal and the endless other schemes run by welfare-to-work parasites and inflicted on unemployed people.  The true purpose of the training seems to be to operate as some kind of re-education camp for disabled people.  This week’s report says that the residential element of the scheme enables “unemployed disabled people ‘think new thoughts’ about their life chances and their ability to  work.”

The infamous review of training and employment provision for disabled people written by Liz Sayce recommend that the DWP stopped funding this kind of training and instead put the money into mainstream workfare such as “work experience, including internships, work placements and on-the-job learning.”

This consultation report is a response to these recommendations and strongly disagrees, calling for the scheme to be extended to non-disabled long term unemployed claimants.

This comes along with recommendations that this form of training be ‘integrated’ within the Work Programme and the acknowledgement that if these recommendations are implemented then Residential Training will be opened up to the market.

Currently there are nine Residential Training centres, all run by charities and which it is fair to say offer decent standard of accommodation – all residents have their own room for example. However, should this training be put out to competition, then this is certain to undermine these conditions as organisations compete to downgrade facilities and cut costs.

If the private sector is involved in this process, then the implications are even more concerning.  It is chilling to imagine what an A4e or G4S run Residential Training facility would look like in practice.

And once the welfare-to-work companies get a taste of the pie, mandation – which means benefits being stopped for people who refuse to attend – is unlikely to be far away.

This of course is wild speculation.  This report contains only recommendations which may well be ignored.  Any attempt to introduce mandation into a residential scheme would almost certainly require new legislation, which isn’t happening this side of the next election.  It would also be far too expensive to roll this out to all claimants, and however it evolves is likely to remain aimed at the so called ‘hardest to help’.

But this report shows a worrying direction being considered at the DWP.  The potential for a charity run residential training facility to eventually become an A4e run workhouse is difficult to ignore.

Strangely the link to this report, which was published on the 29th July, seems to have disappeared from the DWP website, although it is still available on google cache and at:

*This is a good example of the recently discussed principle of ‘less eligibility’.  If any genuine training was available to unemployed people, then this may be a more attractive option than minimum wage work. 
Therefore it cannot be permitted.

The Void

They ruin lives. Let’s ruin their day


A mysterious source has revealed the mobile numbers for some of the top executives profiting from forced unpaid work at Seetec. This workfare company pockets over £400 for every person sent on Mandatory Work Activity while claimants retain only their Jobseekers’ Allowance of £286.80 for 4 weeks’ work. These executives are currently pushing for more people to be sanctioned. They are helping push ever increasing numbers of people into hunger and destitution. These are the executives – whose wages are paid solely by the taxpayer – who are bidding for even more of your money from the state, to force people into workfare.

Seetec has the contract for delivering Mandatory Work Activity in London and East England and has numerous contracts for the disastrous Work Programme. We’ve already heard they’re not big fans of Boycott Workfare, complaining that placements are more difficult to find as a result of your campaigning!

One in five people sent on Mandatory Work Activity has their benefits stopped. Sanctions can now last for up to three years. These managers ruin people’s lives on an industrial scale. We think pointing this out to them might just ruin their day:

Graham Martin, Chief Operating Director at Seetec - 07773 773102

Andrew Emerson, Executive Director at Seetec – 07977 002278

Mark Smith, Operational Director for Mandatory Work Activity, 07870 244087

Raymond Gray, Head of Quality at Seetec, 07885 881938,

Please contact these Seetec bosses and help make sure they can’t go on ignoring the consequences of their workfare profiteering.

Top tips:
  • Why not highlight your concern about the jobs that are being replaced, the fact volunteering is being undermined or the devastating impact of sanctions?
  • If you don’t want them to call you back, you can dial 141 first.
  • No credit? You could try an online free text service or there’s always email!
  • They’re paid by the public, so it’s totally legitimate for the public to contact them with our concerns.

‘Why I blew the whistle on Atos fitness-for-work test’ by former Atos Assessor Dr Greg Wood

Greg Wood: 'I was told if you can press a button you get no points for manual dexterity, but it’s actually not what is in the regulations.' Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Greg Wood: ‘I was told if you can press a button you get no points for manual dexterity, but it’s actually not what is in the regulations.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Powered by article titled “Why I blew the whistle on Atos fitness-for-work test” was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Wednesday 31st July 2013 07.30 Europe/London

Greg Wood decided that he could no longer tolerate working for the fitness-for-work assessment firm Atos earlier this year when he was asked, for perhaps the 10th time, to change a report he had made on a claimant, in this case making it unlikely that the individual would be eligible for sickness benefit.

He had harboured concerns about aspects of the work he was expected to perform for several months, but finally decided to leave because he felt the company was unethical to put pressure on a doctor to change the conclusions of an assessment.

His decision to blow the whistle on practices within Atos made headlines in May, because he was the first Atos-employed doctor to put his career on the line and articulate concerns about a system that has been criticised by charities and claimants for years. Wood gave strong evidence to the BBC to suggest that the methods used to assess whether individuals are eligible for the new incapacity benefit – employment and support allowance (ESA) – were “unfair” and “skewed against the claimant”.

Last week, the government revealed that the quality of reports written by Atos assessors had fallen to “unacceptably poor” levels. Given the noise created by his act of whistleblowing, Wood thinks he can take a sliver of credit for the government’s subsequent decision to retrain those Atos staff delivering the controversial fitness-for-work test and to start appointing new companies to take on the work, alongside Atos.

No ideological dispute

Wood joined Atos in 2010 after 16 years as a navy doctor. He saw the job of helping the government determine who was eligible for benefits as a respectable and important position, and wants to make it clear that he has no ideological dispute with the underlying principle of assessing people. He was paid about £60,000 a year for a 37-hour week.

“I’m not complaining about the function of what Atos does. I’m all for rational assessments. I’ve never liked the idea that people can just say that they’ve got something wrong with them and you just accept that. I think you do need an objective assessment,” he says.

Atos was given the contract to perform the work capability assessment (WCA) by the last Labour government, and its team of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are responsible for carrying out a computer-led test that looks at the claimant’s ability to perform a range of functions (walk 200 metres, sit down for extended periods, use their hands, for example). In order to qualify for ESA, an individual needs to score 15 points. Since the company began reassessing former incapacity benefit claimants at a rate of around 11,000 people a week, very high numbers of people have been unhappy with the results, and have appealed against them. The total number of people appealing every year – both inside and outside of tribunals – has risen from 279,000 in 2009-10 to 465,000 in 2012‑13.

For the first two years, Wood had no complaints about his work, most of which was conducting less controversial assessments for a different benefit, the soon to be defunct disability living allowance. In May last year, however, he was sent on a one-day training course on how to carry out a slightly updated WCA, which had more stringent eligibility criteria, and several aspects of the training concerned him.

The trainer gave quick rule-of-thumb guidance on several areas of the test, which he believed deliberately traduced the more nuanced written instructions in the assessors’ handbook on five critical areas, so that assessors were less likely to award points to claimants. He thinks the guidance is “plain wrong” in the five areas of: mobility, manual dexterity, continence, personal action, and risk.

“The trainer says: ‘If they can walk from one room to another, they can walk 200 metres, which means they won’t score any points [on that section of the assessment]‘,” he recalls. “I said: ‘Well, one room to another is not 200 metres’. I wanted to know how they worked that out, and there was no explanation forthcoming.”

“I was told, if you can press a button you get no points for manual dexterity – that’s easy to remember – but it’s actually not what is in the regulations,” he says. The regulations set out a more nuanced set of tests that assess other manual skills, he argues, making it easier for claimants to be awarded points.

On another section of the test, he was also told: “If they can wash and get dressed, they have enough drive and concentration to do a job.” He describes this logic as “medical nonsense”. “That’s true if you’re two, and you wash and dress, then that probably requires some concentration. Anyone over the age of about five, doesn’t need to concentrate,” he says. Guidance from trainers encourages assessors to have a “cavalier” attitude to the difficulties of incontinence, he adds. He has written in detail about the five points in his blog.

When he pointed out that some of the guidance was “unmedical”, his trainer responded with “irritation”, he recalls, and shortly afterwards he was called out of the training room to talk to his line manager. He thinks that fellow trainees were “cowed” by the trainer and the process.

“I sensed that by questioning some of what I called bogus rules of thumb, I triggered a degree of irritation, if not hostility, in the trainer,” he says. “I don’t want to blame the trainers, because they were just obeying orders. The upshot is that there will be fewer points awarded. This is one of the reasons that there are so many successful appeals, because the tribunal judges read the manual.”

In January, the quality of his reports began to be audited, for reasons that are not entirely clear to him. He understands the need for auditing and was happy to submit to the process, until line managers began to request that his reports were rewritten.

His patience ran out when he was instructed by his line manager – the clinical performance lead – to reduce the number of points awarded to a claimant with serious mental health problems.

“It was clearly wrong, medically,” he says. “I had more mental health experience than most of the staff at Atos; I was supposed to be a lead on it. The two people who were telling me to change my report weren’t. I had seen the person; they hadn’t. She had chronic psychotic illness, going back about 20 years, in and out of hospital, on very strong medicines. Talking to her, she couldn’t concentrate, she rambled, she had some odd ideas about things. A classic example of an only partially treated, chronic psychotic person. She fully deserved points. I was specifically told to amend the report. It wasn’t: ‘You ought to think about changing it’. I was sent two emails both telling me: ‘You need to amend the report’,” he says.

He resigned within the hour. He points out that the General Medical Council makes it clear that doctors must not change a report and risk being disciplined for unprofessional conduct if they do.

An Atos spokeswoman said that all training delivered to Atos practitioners was reviewed and approved by the Department for Work and Pensions. “A practitioner will only be asked to amend their report if there are quality problems identified within it. There is no ethical conflict in advising a doctor that aspects of their work require further attention to meet the standards expected; indeed, quality audit and feedback is a key aspect of all good medical practice.”

Like all Atos employees, Wood was obliged to sign the Official Secrets Act when he joined the company. He thinks that this was a precaution more relevant to staff carrying out other, sensitive government contracts, and not a ruse to muzzle doctors employed to carry out the WCA. Since he is not revealing any official secrets, he has no qualms about speaking out, but he says becoming a whistleblower is not necessarily a positive move for a continued medical career. He is not currently working as a doctor, and is focusing on writing a book on Iraq.

He describes the whole assessment process as an “embarrassing shambles”, but does not think Atos is necessarily to blame. He thinks a system whereby private companies are contracted in to perform sensitive tasks for the state is inherently risky.

“Atos is a business that makes money, as all good businesses do. If you’re an Atos executive, what you’re thinking about is the contract and getting a decent return. If you’re a caring citizen, you worry about someone who is disabled and has had a stroke, and who has to come to this assessment thinking that they are going to lose some money or that someone is going to say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you’. These are soft social judgments that the business model cannot handle,” he says.

Curriculum vitae

Age 48.
Family Partner.
Lives Kennington, London.
Education Dulwich College; medical degree, University of London.
Career 2010-2013: Atos disability analyst; 2007-2010: not working; 1991-2007: Royal Navy medical officer (2005-06, senior medical officer, Maysan Province, Iraq; 2002‑05, principal medical officer, Faslane); 1988‑1991: NHS junior doctor in hospitals in Dartford, Chatham and Ashford, all in Kent.
Interests Writing, contemplating the follies of mankind, motorcycling and drumming.

NHS Trust in court battle to sterilise disabled man


No details about the man’s identity or the trust in question can be published due to legal restrictions covering the case being heard in the Court of Protection.

Both the man’s family and his GP support the application, and it is claimed he lacks the capacity to decide for himself.

The case follows other instances in which judges have been asked to rule on whether a person with learning difficulties should be sterilised without their consent.

In 2011 an NHS trust and a council applied to sterilise a woman with learning difficulties at the same time as she gave birth to her child by caesarean section.

Aluminium for dinner again?

Reblogged from The Tap:

The “chemtrails” we are all too familiar with after a 15-year dose continue to inflict eye infections, nosebleeds, skin sores, muscle pain, chronic exhaustion, weakened immunity, acute asthma and allergies, short-term memory loss and heart attacks on people in more than a dozen countries. [Chemtrails Confirmed 2010 by William Thomas]

Aluminum oxide impacts more than the atmosphere. The BBC reported a furor among Italians complaining of illness after allied warplanes dropped radar-scattering aluminum chaff upwind over nearby Yugoslavia during intense Depleted Uranium air strikes there.

The Italians had their medical facts right. Aluminum is a neurotoxin capable of dulling concentration and reasoning ability. By blocking nerve impulses from being properly conducted to and from the brain, dizziness, memory loss, impaired coordination, involuntary tremors, speech disorders and a loss of balance and energy are also cited in medical texts as indicators of aluminum poisoning.

“At one time it was thought to precipitate Alzheimer’s disease, but more recent research has shown it is almost certainly unrelated. There is little evidence for chemical toxicity or for effects at levels below the nuisance dust limit,” MD Dan Woodard points out.

But calcium-leaching aluminum ingestion is linked to osteoporosis, as well as gastrointestinal problems, weak and acing muscles, headaches, lethargy, fatigue and flu-like symptoms that leave the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

And there is no Recommended Daily Requirement for ingesting toxic barium sprayed over watersheds.


But it does not take chemical poisoning to make people exposed to aerosol fallout very ill indeed. Basing recent conclusions on more than 3,000 new health studies published since 1997, the EPA warns of a strong link between dust-size particles and “tens of thousands of deaths annually from both respiratory and coronary disease,” reports the New York Times. [New York Times Oct 14/06]

Two key studies from the early 1990’s by the Harvard School of Public Health and the American Cancer Society found strong links between high levels of small particles and a rise in death rates. In an article headlined, “Tiny Particles Can Kill” the New Scientist pointed to findings among adults in six cities over 16 years, which found that “city-dwellers in Europe and the U.S. are dying young because of microscopic particles in the air.” [New Scientist Aug 5/00]

According to the LA Times, microscopic aerosols motes “are able to infiltrate the tiniest compartments in the lungs and pass readily into the bloodstream” – where they can migrate to inflame tissues and cells. Particles in the lower size range called for by the Hughes aerosol spray patent are “most strongly tied to illness and early death, particularly in people who are already susceptible to respiratory problems.”

When 10-micron particles are inhaled into the lungs, “they are able to penetrate into the cells themselves,” says Dr. Ralph Delfino, an epidemiologist at UC Irvine, who helped conduct the latest study.

“After they reach the heart, the particles are thought to cause a stress reaction in cells, producing inflammation that contributes to heart disease. The particles also may cause blood clots,” theLA Times reported. [Los Angeles Times Dec 29/03]

“Exposure to a class of airborne pollutants known as Particulate Matter is an environmental health risk of global proportions,” declare Verones and Oortgiesen of the EPA’s Neurotoxicology Division. “PM is thought to initiate and/or exacerbate respiratory disorders, such as asthma and… and is epidemiologically associated with causing death in the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory, or cardiopulmonary disease.” [Health Risks Of Aerosoled Particulates PubMed Abstract; Neurogenic Inflammation And Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollutants Neurotoxicology Division, US EPA]

Yet, under intense political pressure, the EPA went on to reject recommendations by its own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council urging tighter federal standards regulating 10 micron particles. [New York Times Oct 14/06]

If particulate fallout 10 microns or smaller results in a 5% increased death rate within 24 hours, what’s in store for us with the new nano-version?


Nano-researcher Jim Giles describes nanoparticles as “tiny lumps of matter that… can travel to the brain after being inhaled. [ Jan 5/04]

Specifically, inhaled nanoparticles make a beeline for the olfactory bulb, an area of the brain that deals with smell. They tend to accumulate and clump there. A surprised toxicologist at the University of Edinburgh, Ken Donaldson, says, “I would never have thought of looking for inhaled nanoparticles in the brain.”

U. of Edinburgh researchers are also looking at the effects of nanoparticles on the liver.
As Dr. Celine Filippi observed, “Nanoparticles delivered into the lungs crossed the lung barrier and entered the blood. Particles in the blood can reach the liver, amongst other organs.”

Owning The Weather In 2025 and Hall’s Overview of Nanotechnology both appeared in 1995. Since its Frankenstein infancy, nanotech has gone exponential. [nanotech-now]


Right on cue, my trusted inside informant I’ve dubbed “Hank” called. The term “nano-chemtrails” on my website had caught his attention.

“They have them,” he confirmed. The U.S. Air Force has added nanoparticles to the aerosol mix and sprayed them into the air to demonstrate “proof of concept.“ According to this insider, the USAF has already sprayed tens of tons of nanoparticles. Since it would take of bundle of 80,000 human hairs to make a single nanoparticle… “tens of tons” goes a long, long way.

Fortunately for all air-breathers, most of this experimental nanocrap is still circulating overhead, attached to molecules of oxygen by O2’s ionic charge. With nanoparticles made buoyant by piggybacking on oxygen particles, “you can deploy them out of a plane to stay in the stratosphere – or any other atmospheric strata,” Hank went on.

“Everything is frequency. The higher frequency stuff is higher up. HAARP can ping them at a specific frequency. The problem they’re having now is the particles are microscopic and have a mind of their own.  Computer programmable nanoparticles have been made. They do exist. Others act without computer control.”

Each aerial “laydown” of nanoparticles is so buoyant, “it travels worldwide. Some of it comes down. Whatever it’s exposed to up there it brings down here. We get exposed to it. We breathe it in, we ingest it…The blood-brain barrier is a one-way door.” [New York Times Oct 14/06; Neurotoxicology Division, US Environmental Protection Agency; Oct 31/05; globalresearch.caOct 21/07; Chemtrails Confirmed; Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning The Weather 2025; interviews with military insider]

Slam the door on geoengineering now!
Anonymous said...
Hi Tap, Have noticed they are Chemtrailing Yorkshire during the night again.
Also they are making it rain during the night using Haarp.
This follows what happened last year, where they made the ground waterlogged.
Farmers had to plough lots of crops back into the ground as they were rotting, due to continual rain.
Anonymous said...
US airmen based nearby come into my small cafe and chat, they told me that it is to do with population control, not weather modification as said, this is a rothschild operation and peter mandelson bought the aliminium from deripaska a russian mafia jew to spray us with, this kills natural vegetaion and trees, but GM crops are resistant, these are all owned by rothschild

Fascism in the UK

Reblogged from A Latent Existence:

Racist Van
Border Agency in London today: Papers please.

A tale set three years ago:

So I was sitting on the bus going through E & C, and it got stopped by transport police (they always stop it in poorer neighbourhoods) 
The Police officer gets on and starts asking everyone for their tickets or oyster cards – so far, so usual 
But there is a big van parked up on the pavement by the bus stop and instead of issuing fines they start asking for ID’s, for ‘Papers’ 
‘Papers’ is not a term normally used in that context. My Oyster was in the bottom of my bag somewhere, so as I struggled to find it…. 
…the officer then asked me for my ‘papers’ and then in Spanish ‘papeles’ – I already knew what was happening but this was the clincher 
I’d been racially profiled as Latin American (which I am) & the phrase ‘sin papeles’ – ‘without papers/illegal’ was what he meant 
Looked up from my bag (I’d just found my UK passport in there – I was born here) and said ‘What?!! You’re racially profiling me aren’t you?’ 
‘This is my BRITISH passport. I was born here. Here is my Oyster card too. I want your ID number, I’m going to make a complaint’… 
The dude looked me in the eye, went a strange grey shade, turned his heel and got off the bus..
I was late going somewhere so I didn’t have time to chase after him but as I looked out of the bus window… 
..I saw the people they’d already taken off the bus for not having their tickets/oysters being loaded into the parked van 
Black & Brown faces stared back at me with expressions of hopelessness – I felt sick, but what could I do? 
This didn’t happen last week, month or even year. This was nearly 3 years ago
I’ve spoken to others and they say it’s often in the early mornings when the many foreign workers who clean our offices are going to work 
This ISN’T new but it does seem to me to be becoming more blatant. Today in Kensal Green they didn’t even pretend it was abt smth else 
In the end I didn’t report the officer – in a neighbourhood where the police racially profile us everyday, who was going to listen? 
We are not paranoid, we’re not ‘playing the race card’, we do not have a ‘chip on our shoulder(s)’ – this is real & it’s only getting worse 
(Copied from tweets by @SandiaElectrica)

The Guardian, November 2011: UK Border Agency officials ‘illegally targeting’ bus passengers

I suggest you aquaint yourself with the Warning signs of fascism.

The myth of the “compensation culture” – the truth about cuts to workplace safety

TUC Congress House_front

A TUC-backed report has today accused the government of being dishonest about the UK’s ‘compensation culture’ in order to justify cutting basic health and safety protections at work.

It says instead that thousands of workers suffering deadly occupational diseases are being denied payouts as a result of these cutbacks.

The report, by the workers’ health journal Hazards, shows that far from being a compensation free-for-all, as ministers claim, the number of people actually receiving awards for work-related injuries or diseases has fallen by 60% over the last decade – down from 219,183 in 2000/01 to 87,655 in 2011/12.

The report, based on official government figures, shows even the families of those dying from occupational diseases have little chance of securing a payout.

For most occupational cancers the chances of getting any compensation payout is below 1 in 50.
While more than 4,000 workers a year die of work-related chronic bronchitis and emphysema, just 59 received compensation in 2011/12.

For those suffering from work-related stress, anxiety and depression the chances of getting compensation are even smaller. Of the 221,000 cases in 2011/12, just 293 resulted in a payout.

Hazards Editor Rory O’Neill, Professor of Occupational Health at Stirling University and the author of the report, said: “The government’s cynical promotion of a compensation culture myth means many workers who are dying in pain are also dying in poverty.

“We are seeing a denial of justice because the government is putting the health of the insurance industry and the safety of the most dangerous rogues in the business community over the health, safety and survival of people at work.”

The TUC says the findings reveal the true extent of compensation payouts in the UK and suggests that by spreading myths to justify weakening health and safety laws, the government is making it even harder for victims to get justice.

The report says ministers have cynically exaggerated vexatious claims in order to introduce a series of policies that make it harder for victims to seek compensation.

And critics warn of more to come.

Last May, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are turning the tide on the compensation culture.

“It’s pushing up the cost of insurance, and making it more expensive to drive a car or organise an event. It’s time the whole system was rebalanced.”

His comments came as the Coalition abolished legal aid for personal injury claims and as arrangements for ‘no-win, no-fee’ contracts were changed so that victims must now make a payment of up to 25% of any payout to their lawyers.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government is trying to brainwash people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture.

“However, the facts tell a very different story. Even those dying from work-related diseases have precious little chance of getting a payout.

“The true government motive here is to weaken health and safety laws and make it harder to for victims to pursue claims. Unfortunately the end result is likely to be a much higher rate of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses in the future.”

Since coming to power in May 2010,  the government has slashed the coverage and budget of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, and outlawed strict liability claims where there has been a criminal breach of safety law by the employer but negligence hasn’t been proven.

In addition, ministers have cut the number of workplace inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Union News

Bedroom tax: So Cameron has committed contempt of Parliament too

Reblogged from Vox Political:


It was hardly the resounding victory on which the government must have been depending; faced with a ruling in favour of the DWP, the 10 families who brought a judicial review against the bedroom tax just said, “We will have to appeal.”

The High Court ruled yesterday that the change to housing benefit, subtracting amounts according to whether tenants had one or more ‘spare’ rooms according to arbitrary guidelines laid down by the DWP, do not breach the human rights of disabled people.

The families – all disabled or parents of disabled children – had challenged the changes, claiming violations of the Human Rights Act and the Equalities Act.

The DWP was quick to get a comment out to the press. Unfortunately for ministers, it was shrill in tone and undermined the department’s case.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are pleased to learn that the court has found in our favour and agreed that we have fulfilled our equality duties to disabled people. Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential, so the taxpayer does not pay for people’s extra bedrooms.”

(Let’s just pause to bear in mind that one of the architects of the bedroom tax is Lord Freud, whose eight-bedroom mansion is indeed funded by the taxpayer. How many extra bedrooms is that?)

“But we have ensured extra discretionary housing support is in place to help those who need it and today we have announced a further £35m of funding to councils to aid residents.”

That’s right, there is a discretionary fund that councils can use to help social housing tenants. At £150 million, it is considered woefully inadequate for the task.

The fact that the DWP announced a further £35 million for this purpose indicates that the government thinks so, too. So, despite insisting that they are fulfilling their duties, ministers under Iain Duncan Smith are also admitting that they aren’t.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the families who launched the legal challenge released comments of their own, in which they made it perfectly clear that they were not going to go down without a fight.

A statement from Leigh Day, one of the three law firms representing the claimants, said: “The Court found that the Secretary of State has been aware that the law must be changed to provide for disabled children since May 2012, and they were highly critical of his failure to make regulations to provide for them. Lord Justice Laws said that the current state of affairs ‘cannot be allowed to continue’.

“The Government must now make regulations ‘very speedily’ to show that there should be ‘no deduction of housing benefit where an extra bedroom is required for children who are unable to share because of their disabilities’.”

This means Iain Duncan Smith has known for more than a year that the bedroom tax would discriminate against disabled children, and has done nothing about it. One can only wonder which of his beliefs justified this cruelty.

The Leigh Day statement continued: “The court held that discrimination against adults with disabilities, even those in the same situation to children with disabilities who could not share a room, was justified. Lawyers for adults with disabilities today said that they believe this cannot be right. They should be entitled to full Housing Benefit for the accommodation they actually need.

“Lawyers for adults with disabilities… confirmed that they intend to appeal the ruling, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on people with disabilities cannot be justified and is unlawful.

“Disabled children and their families also intend to appeal as they are now left in a position where they do not know whether in fact they are entitled to full housing benefit to meet the costs of the homes that they need. This is because the Government has declined to confirm that the new regulations, which the court says must be made, will cover their situations, or to provide a date by which the new regulations will be made.

“Since the new housing legislation was introduced it has had a devastating effect on many people across the country. Charities, social landlords and advice agencies have spoken out about the plight of people with disabilities who have been affected by the measure.

Richard Stein from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day added: “We will be seeking an urgent appeal to the Court of Appeal. Many people with disabilities including our clients may lose their homes unless the law is changed. Their lives are already difficult enough without the fear of losing their accommodation, which has been provided specifically to meet their exceptional needs.”

Two other law firms are representing the claimants: Hopkin Murray Beskine and Public Law Solicitors.

Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine said: “The Government’s position in relation to disabled children is incomprehensible. In May 2012, the Court of Appeal held that the Secretary of State was discriminating against disabled children who need to share a bedroom because of their disabilities, yet by February 2013, when these proceedings were issued, no action had been taken.

The Prime Minister then told the House of Commons in March that disabled children were exempt, when this was plainly not the case. When he was questioned, the Government rushed out a circular to local authorities, which suggested that the rule may not apply to some disabled children; yet the Government continued to fight this case.

“It is no wonder local authorities and affected children and families are confused.”

She said: “We are pleased that the court has recognised that the current situation is not acceptable and that the Government must act quickly. We are disappointed however that the Government has delayed for so long already and is still foot-dragging.

“Until it is absolutely clear that these claimant families and others like them will not have their benefit cut on the basis that they live or hope to live in homes which meet their children’s needs, these claimants, like the disabled adults, have no choice but to appeal.”

Emma Burgess from Public Law Solicitors said: “The Government has failed to recognise that many people with disabilities will not be able to make up the shortfall in rent by working or taking in a lodger; and many will not be able to move due to the nature of their disabilities. The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme ‘safety-net’ relied on by the government is inadequate to plug the gap.

“A July survey by the Papworth Trust, backed by the National Housing Federation , said nine out of 10 disabled people are cutting back on food or bills to pay the bedroom tax if they are refused a safety-net housing payment.

Left unchanged these measures will see disabled people facing eviction and homelessness.”
So yet again we have a Secretary of State who knew there was an urgent need for action to rectify his flawed policies but – as in so many other cases we have witnessed – did nothing.

And our sorry excuse for a Prime Minister actually lied to Parliament about the threat to disabled children – let’s say that again, to DISABLED CHILDREN!

This blog has already called for Iain Duncan Smith to be thrown out of Parliament for the contempt he has shown that institution by knowingly telling falsehoods to its members. It therefore follows that David Cameron should suffer the same fate.

The longer they remain in office, the more we may conclude corruption has set into the highest level of government.

And there is no way they can argue that the relevant legislation was only recently found to be inadequate. Look at this comment from Esther McVey, Tory minister for disabled people, in The Telegraph: “This has gone through a lot of reviews, it has gone through a lot of decision-making and it’s taken a long period of time.” So there is no excuse for the dog’s breakfast that the High Court upheld with yesterday’s decision.
Fortunately, there are developments among the Opposition that will hearten anyone fighting the bedroom tax.
In a letter to constituency Labour organisations, Peter Wheeler, a member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee has stated: “To win the election it is vital that we are very clear with the electorate that a Labour Government will offer real hope to people suffering under this government.

“One of the key issues will be the bedroom tax. We need to be very clear that a Labour Government will abolish this wicked piece of Tory legislation.” He went on to call for constituencies to demand that this will be a part of the Labour election manifesto in 2015.

Oh – one more thing: The Tories are still referring to the bedroom tax in terms of removing a ‘spare room subsidy’. Let’s just remind them that there is no such thing. If there was, then they should be able to tell us when this amount was added to housing benefit payments and what piece of legislation made it possible. Was it an Act of Parliament? I’m sure we’d all like to know.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved

Researchers Find Main Source of Pain in Blood Vessels

Researchers have found the main source of pain in Fibromyalgia patients, and contrary to what many believe, it does not stem from the brain. The findings mark the end of a decades-old mystery about the disease, which many doctors believed was conjured in patients’ imaginations. The mystery of Fibromyalgia has left millions of sufferers searching for hope in pain medications. Up until recently, many physicians thought that the disease was “imaginary” or psychological, but scientists have now revealed that the main source of pain stems from a most unlikely place- excess blood vessels in the hand.

The discovery may lead to new treatments and perhaps even a total cure in the future, bringing relief to as many as 5 million Americans thought to have the disease. To solve the Fibromyalgia mystery, researchers zeroed in on the skin from the hand of one patient who had a lack of the sensory nerve fibers, causing a reduced reaction to pain. They then took skin samples from the hands of Fibromyalgia patients and were surprised to find an extremely excessive amount of a particular type of nerve fiber called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts.

Body map

Up until this point scientists had thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and did not play any role in pain sensation, but now they’ve discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and the widespread body pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers feel.

The breakthrough also could solve the lingering question of why many sufferers have extremely painful hands as well as other “tender points” throughout the body, and why cold weather seems to aggravate the symptoms. In addition to feeling widespread deep tissue pain, many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from debilitating fatigue.

Neuroscientist Dr. Frank L. Rice explained: “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow at a subconscious level, yet here we had evidences that the blood vessel endings could also contribute to our conscious sense of touch… and also pain,” Rice said. “This mismanaged blood flow could be the source of muscular pain and achiness, and the sense of fatigue which are thought to be due to a build-up of lactic acid and low levels of inflammation fibromyalgia patients. This, in turn, could contribute to the hyperactivity in the brain.”

Current treatments for the disease have not brought complete relief to the millions of sufferers. Therapies include narcotic pain medicines; anti-seizure drugs, anti-depressants and even simple advice such as “get more sleep and exercise regularly.” Now that the cause of Fibromyalgia has been pinpointed, patients are looking forward to an eventual cure. Other expressed frustration about how much they had suffered already:

“When are they ever going to figure out that things are never “all in your head?” said one commenter. “Whenever something doesn’t fit in their tiny little understanding, they belittle the patient and tell them they are crazy. People have suffered through this since they were invented. Prescribing SSRIs for everything is not the answer any more than a lobotomy or hysterectomy was.”

The announcement has the potential to unlock better future treatments and undoubtedly has patients all over the world rejoicing that the mystery of Fibromyalgia has finally been solved.


Bill to reintroduce national service going through Parliament

Reblogged from The Tap:

There appears to be a lot going on behind the scenes.

In addition to banks planning another theft of money, as they did in Cyprus earlier this year, a bill is quietly going through to bring back National Service!  Similar is happening in America. The mass controlled media haven't said a word about it.  It looks like they are planning another false flag outrage as an excuse to go to war!

the fake killing ofa soldier was that latest, the film footage taken froma mobile phone clearly shows the murdered soldier getting up and walking away.

My guess is an outrage will be set up as an excuse to attack Iran. All wars start with an outrage. It's to give the masses the illusion they are in danger when in reality they are not! As well as the National Lottery I was wondering if they could have a "Guess the false flag outrage" competition! 

It looks like one more step down the road to complete totalitarian rule. Children are being brainwashed at school with political correctness babble. When teenagers they will then be brainwashed, via the military, into being loyal servants of the psycho elite. It has happened before, sadly it will happen again! People are too dumb to see it! 


Help, you’re killing us: Rising UK mortality

Everyone dies. Nothing’s sure but death and taxes.

In general, over decades of the NHS and welfare support and help for disabled people, people have been living longer. Since the first Coalition government spending review, cuts on spending have targeted the poor and disabled.

The DWP’s own figures say:

The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6 per cent of children are disabled, compared to 16 per cent of working age adults* and 45 per cent of adults over State Pension age in Great Britain.
In 2008/09, 16% of pensioner households were living in poverty.

Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, told the Mail on Sunday in March this year that in her view many of the people receiving disability didn’t really need it:

“Only three per cent of people are born with a disability, the rest acquire it through accident or illness, but people come out of it. Thanks to medical advances, bodies heal.”
Mortality rates have been falling steadily for years. There was a blip upwards in 2003, but it was followed by a blip downwards in 2004 – no overall change in the general trend downwards. Since the beginning of 2012, mortality among older people has been rising steadily, and has continued to rise in 2013.

From a deaths tracking report by Public Health England:

“During 2012, female mortality [for all ages] increased slightly, while male mortality continued to reduce… Since December 2012, both male and female mortality are estimated to have increased. 

“When we focus on mortality over 75, we observe rapidly increasing mortality for both males and females, presenting throughout 2012, and continuing into 2013. 
“Female 12 month mortality over 75 is currently higher than in any year since 2009; and April 2013 saw a particularly sharp increase.”
While this could be caused by a number of factors (such as newly virulent viruses) – and won’t be regarded as a settled long-term trend unless the mortality rate continues to increase through 2013 and into 2014 – the analysis considered that in “Spearhead” local authority areas (the most-deprived fifth of local authority areas in England and Wales) female 75-plus mortality trends appear to have been worse than in the less-deprived areas, suggesting poverty rather than viruses. (The issue is considered by the ONS officials to be completely unrelated to the recent reports of hospital deaths.)

Savi Hensman reacted to McVey’s comments:

Though people with health-related problems sometimes recover, others have conditions that persist or intensify with age. Indeed, medical advances mean that some people who would have died survive, with impairments. 

To quote the DWP 2013 report Fulfilling Potential: Building a deeper understanding of disability in the UK today, “There are 11.5 million people in the UK who are covered by the disability provisions set out in the Equality Act… six per cent (0.8 million) of children, 15 per cent (5.4 million) of adults of working age and nearly half (45 per cent, 5.3 million) of adults over State Pension age are covered [italics mine]… Only around half (six million) of the 11.5 million people covered by the disability provision in the Equality Act are in receipt of disability-related benefits.”
from the Health Service Journal:

The year 2012 is the first in which mortality has increased since 2003. At that time, the rise was followed by a marked reduction in deaths in 2004, rebalancing the long term trend in England of a fall in mortality and a rise in life expectancy. 

However, the PHE report says that, more than halfway through 2013, there has been “if anything, a further deterioration in mortality compared with that observed” in the same period in 2012. 
The report, dated 16 July and with figures up to 5 July, said deaths have fallen in the most recent week’s figures, but that in 2013 mortality remains notably high. It also said the Office for National Statistics’ projection of deaths between the middle of 2012 and 2013 was 455,000. 
A comparison with actual deaths shows that “deaths in England in 2012-13 were 23,400 (5 per cent) above ONS expectations”.
Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University, told HSJ

“Elevated mortality amongst the elderly… is often about people dying two or five years earlier than would be expected given recent rates. Often [they are] people who are quite ill to begin with. 

“It is possible that cuts or freezes to services have a particular bad effect on this group – even cuts and freezes that might appear very minor – because the group is so vulnerable. 
“Increased anxiety resulting from knowing you might have to move home or even have no home has long been known to be very damaging for the health of very elderly people.”
The rise in mortality corresponds with a crisis in funding for care homes: but from October this year, pensioners will begin to be affected by the bedroom tax, which means further issues with home and rent.
Andreas Hoff (Oxford Institute of Ageing) noted in October 2008:

In later life, people are particularly vulnerable to changes of their income situation. In Britain, there is a long-standing correlation between old age and poverty. Old age pensioners are more likely to be affected by poverty than paid workers (Ogg 2005). Widowed women are at greatest risk (Gordon and Townsend 2000). …. Although the Department of Work and Pensions states a remarkable reduction in pensioner poverty over the past decade (DWP 2005), nearly a quarter of all British pensioners continue to live in poverty at the beginning of the 21st century. That means that a significant proportion of British older citizens are excluded from full participation in social life.
Or, as the coalition cuts bite down on those living in poverty, living with disability, the ill, the vulnerable, the people already living close to death – the lifeline’s cut, the support that was keeping them alive is trashed, and people die. The thousands who have died as ATOS assessed them fit for work have already been discussed in Parliament, and ignored by the government: but older people, exempt from the fit-for-work assessment, are also dying of the cuts.

Since December last year, a petition has been waiting for a response from the Department of Work and Pensions. It now has over 50,000 signatures and still no government response:

We call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.

Edinburgh Eye 

Challenging Sanctions

ReClaim via Facebook.

10 Things You Should Know About Universal Credit - PCS Factsheet

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Unison cleared to challenge employment tribunal fees

The union Unison has been given permission to seek a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals. People wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. Under the rules, it will cost £160 or £250 to lodge a claim, with a further charge of either £230 or £950 if the case goes ahead.

The judicial review will take place in October.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.” He added: “We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”

The higher charges will cover cases such as unfair dismissal, the lower ones issues such as unpaid invoices. HM Courts and Tribunals Service said it would refund people if the bid to abolish the charges succeeded.
Protection fears
Under changes that came into force on Monday, workers in the UK are now charged a fee to bring a claim, a fee if the claim is heard and a further charge if they want to appeal against the decision.

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the fees are £400 to lodge an appeal and another £1,200 for a full hearing. Costs are reduced in instances of multiple claims, where two or more people bring claims against the same employer. “The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims and help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff” (Federation of Small Businesses)

Employers’ organisation the CBI welcomed the fees, saying they were a good way of “weeding out weak claims”. “Fear of the costs of fighting a tribunal – even when you are in the right – is a massive confidence killer. With firms and employees waiting over a year for a tribunal at the moment, something has to be done to speed things up,” the CBI added.

However, the Unite union said the measures would make British workers “some of the worst protected in the EU”. Another union, the GMB, staged a protest outside an employment tribunal in central London. Andy Prendergast of the GMB, said: “The imposition of such fees represents the latest in a number of attacks on employment rights by the government.” Those claimants unable to pay may apply to have the tribunal fees reduced or waived.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “It is not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. “We want people, where they can afford to do so, to pay a contribution. “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation.”

“What we are seeing today is injustice writ large as this worker-bashing government takes a sledgehammer to workers’ rights”Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
‘Throwback to Victorian times’
The number of tribunal claims rose by 81% between 2001 and 2011, with the administrative costs being borne by taxpayers up until now. Chancellor George Osborne announced the plans in 2011. “We are ending the one-way bet against small businesses,” he said at the time. A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said: “For an employee, an employment tribunal can be seen as a ‘no cost’ option.” “The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims and help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff.”

Unite estimated that this would affect 150,000 workers a year and pledged to pay the employment tribunal costs of its members. “What we are seeing today is injustice writ large as this worker-bashing government takes a sledgehammer to workers’ rights – this is a throwback to Victorian times,” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said. “Seeking redress for unfair dismissal and discrimination and other injustices in the workplace is a fundamental human right – but now ministers are putting up insurmountable financial hurdles for working people in pursuit of justice.”

Some in Scotland welcomed the move. Eilidh Wiseman, a partner at law firm Dundas and Wilson, said: “I believe anything which helps reduce frivolous claims and speeds up the tribunal system will be welcomed by employers. “One of the effects of the new system should be a rise in the value of settlement offers for low-value claims. Offering £500 as an economic offer to settle is not likely to be attractive to a claimant who has paid £1,200 to bring a claim.”

There were 186,300 claims accepted by employment tribunals in the year to March 2012, according to the Ministry of Justice. Of those, 31% were for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy. Twenty-seven percent of the 186,300 claims were withdrawn or settled out of court – but employers in those cases still had to pay legal fees in preparing a defence. In 2011-12, the Employment Appeal Tribunal received 2,170 appeals.


The petition on the government website needs 100,000 signatures to force apolitical debate on the issue. If you are opposed to David Cameron's "firewall" please sign it and share it as widely as you are able.

How David Cameron's Internet firewall may affect the internet

Reblogged from AAV:

This article will detail a number of practical considerations relating to the roll-out of mandatory opt-out national "porn firewalls" announced by David Cameron in July 2013. For a much more comprehensive article detailing various other considerations such as the morality of censorship, please see my previous article on the subject, and for a satirical look at the process that may have led to these proposals, please check out this purely hypothetical conversation.

Firewall implementation

The Prime Minister has clearly stated that these Internet censorship filters will be rolled out on an opt-out basis. If the legislation is passed (which is extremely likely given that all opponents will be smeared as pornography supporters and associated with rape porn, paedophilia and the corruption of childhood - an untenable position for the Labour party opposition) it seems likely that you will soon be presented with an option by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) which will probably look something like this.

Parental controls have been installed on your Internet connection.
In order to manage these controls select change settings.
[ticked box] Accept
[unticked box] Change settings

If you chose to accept and leave the settings unchanged (as some 95% of computer users always do) the full "parental control" firewall will be installed automatically. If you chose to change the settings, you will likely be confronted with a second page, with "parental control" options which will appear something like this:
Deselect categories to disable filtering
[ticked box] Pornography
[ticked box] Violent material
[ticked box] Extremist and terrorist related content
[ticked box] Anorexia and eating disorder websites
[ticked box] Suicide related websites
[ticked box] Alcohol
[ticked box] Smoking
[ticked box] Web forums
[ticked box] Esoteric material
[ticked box] Web blocking circumvention tools
Note: The Open Rights Group have described a similar censorship regime, however, their site seems to be describing an opt-in configuration and the Prime Minister has explicitly stated that the "parental control" filters will be installed on an opt-out basis, hence the slight difference between what ORG state as a possibility and what I have described here.

Web user profiling

The fact that Internet users will be expected to either accept the firewall or to consciously opt out of various options will create an excellent opportunity for web user profiling. The ability of US and UK intelligence agencies to access our private information has been made absolutely clear from the Snowden revelations. Knowing people's choices in their firewall options will be of enormous benefit to intelligence agencies and the countless private sector subcontractors that they provide with open access to our private data and communications.

Perhaps the simplest way to think about web user profiling is to consider it as a kind of credit rating. People that accept the filter without altering the options will be considered "low risk", whilst those that change the options will increase the likelihood that they are subjected to surveillance. An individual that unblocks pornography, alcohol and cigarettes would probably still fall into a fairly "low risk" category, those that enable circumvention tools (P2P networks, Proxy websites, VPNs ...) would be considered "high risk" and anyone daft enough to deliberately unblock extremist and terrorist content would be basically asking to be put into the "very high risk" category and subjected to repeated state surveillance.

Web monitoring

That national surveillance organisations have the powers to compel private companies to reveal our private data to them is absolutely beyond question now. The roll out of so-called "parental control" filters at the national scale will be a wonderful opportunity for the surveillance state to access our online activity because all of our web activity will be funneled through the firewall programmes for vetting.

This kind of continuous monitoring is precisely the method already used by the TalkTalk firewall system that David Cameron has based his web censorship model upon. That the operator of the TalkTalk firewall, that David Cameron is full of praise for, is the Chinese company Huawei (which has been deemed a threat to American national security by US intelligence officials) seems to be of no concern at all to the Prime Minister.


Dr Martyn Thomas, chair of the IT policy panel at the Institution of Engineering and Technology stated that:

"There's certainly a concern about the process of how a web address gets added to a blacklist - who knows about it? And who has an opportunity to appeal against it?"
Given that Cameron is full of praise for the unaccountable Huawei system operated by TalkTalk, it seems likely that the web monitoring systems will be installed on an ad hoc basis by the various ISPs with little or no accountability and no recourse to appeal should a website find itself added to the blacklist by the keyword algorithms used by the ISPs.

Essentially, if a website is found to include too many blacklisted words such as "porn", "rape", "sex", "violence", "war", "dieting tips", "depression", "suicide", "bet", "gambling" "terrorism", "Taliban", "protest", "alcohol", "beer", "smoking", "cigarettes" or contains any kind of chat facilities it will be automatically added to one or more of the web filtering categories and there will be little or nothing that the website owner will be able to do to reverse the censorship of their site.

There is however an alternative to algorithmic keyword blacklisting, which is the establishment of a national web monitoring and categorisation system. It may seem preferable to have a large bureaucracy of web monitors assessing which censorship categories a website will be subjected to, however there is absolutely nothing like this in the Conservative party proposals, and it would be extremely unlikely that they would set up an independent monitoring bureaucracy, given the normal methodology of the Tory party is the outsourcing of the functions of government to the private sector.

Conflicts of interest

If web censorship is left up to the individual ISPs to administer on an ad hoc basis (as seems likely), surely huge conflicts of interests may arise. Just as Tesco stopped stocking copies of Private Eye magazine after they exposed various dodgy Tesco tax-dodging scams, surely ISP will be tempted to use their new censorship powers to prevent their customers from gaining accessing websites that are critical of their business practices, or that expose their tax-dodging activities.

Accidental filtering

It is absolutely clear that whichever web censorship system is adopted (ad hoc algorithmic keyword analysis or a national censorship bureaucracy), mistakes will be made. There would obviously be more potential for mistakes with the probable ad hoc implementation of algorithmic censorship, since web crawling bots are unable to discern the correct context in which words are used, they'll simply stamp out websites that breech their arbitrary keyword analysis rules.

An independent web censorship bureaucracy would make fewer mistakes because human analysis should avoid the worst cases of arbitrary keyword censorship, since humans are more capable of determining words in their proper context. However mistakes will still be made, especially by people with personal agendas to push.

To demonstrate how a human administered system is fallible, perhaps we should consider how "pornography" is defined. To most people pornography probably means something like "content created explicitly for the purposes of sexual gratification", however this isn't really an accurate description. To a "pervert", kidswear catalogues or perfectly innocent pictures of children at the beach are pornographic material to be used for sexual gratification. Should access to these kinds of images be banned? How about the work of countless artists throughout the ages who have created artistic representations of the naked human form? To a prudish person working at a government censorship agency, the temptation to abuse their powers in order to censor things that are not actually explicitly pornographic, but which they disapprove of, would surely be overwhelming, especially if they knew that there was little oversight or recourse to appeal against their arbitrary decisions.

Web content

Whichever web censorship system is implemented (the almost certain ad hoc algo-bot arrangement favoured by David Cameron, or the state censorship bureau option) there will be a number of consequences for websites owners.

Sites that rely on commercial revenue will obviously be disincentivised from publishing content deemed likely to trigger the censorship algorithms. Coverage of important issues like pornography, child abuse, LGBT issues, eating disorders, depression, suicide, domestic violence, drug use and sexual health advice will be forced out of mainstream coverage, and made virtually inaccessible to anyone whose family has enabled web censorship in their home.Another factor to consider is that any website which allows user interactions will be in danger of suffering web censorship if they don't carefully moderate and delete any comments or links posted on their site that may trigger the algorithms. Probably the safest way to ensure that no such thing happens would be for websites to not only self censor the content of the site, but to remove the possibility of user interaction entirely.

Larger commercial websites will probably have greater recourse to appeal against being blacklisted, given that they will employ teams of web traffic analysts, who will be able to determine whether the site is being blocked by particular ISPs and legal teams to confront ISPs and prepare legal actions, but smaller commercial websites and independent non-commercial sites will just have to suffer, probably without even knowing they've been found guilty without trial and blacklisted, resulting in severe erosion of their readership or commercial revenues.

David Cameron's Internet firewall will silence countless independent websites and harm the commercial revenues of many legitimate businesses. It will drive coverage of certain legitimate issues off the Internet, and also drive website owners to shut down the freedom to comment on their content.

Not only will Cameron's firewall directly censor the Internet, it will also lead to indirect censorship as people take self-censorship measures out of fear of being silenced entirely by Cameron's Internet firewall regime.

It is probable that small websites like mine will be censored by the firewall because I have occasionally chosen to write about issues such as pornography, terrorism and drugs (see the list of "bad words" I used in the blacklisting section of this very article). Because I have a life outside of my social activism I barely find enough time in the day to even write and publicise my work, let alone devote countless hours to scouring my traffic stats to figure out whether my work is being blocked by a Tory state censorship regime and attempting to mount legal appeals.

Freedom of speech

Unlike citizens of the United States, the British public have no national constitutional guarantees of their freedom of speech. If access to an American website were blocked under instruction from the American government for nothing more than triggering an automatic keyword algorithm, the owner of the website would be able to claim a breach of their constitutional right to free speech had occurred and seek legal redress.

The closest thing the UK has to a constitutional right to freedom of expression is Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but there are so many get-out clauses written into this legislation that it is rendered virtually meaningless. Even it were applicable, the Conservatives are absolutely determined to scrap the Human Rights Act and become the first country ever to withdraw from the ECHR, presumably so that there are fewer legal challenges to mad Tory policies such as Cameron's Internet censorship firewall, secret courts, private sector justice, retroactively applied laws and the Internet snooper's charter.

It seems unlikely, even if small, independent bloggers like myself found out that their website was being censored by the Cameron Internet firewall regime, that they would have any recourse to the courts to challenge the state mandated censorship of their work.

Denial of Service

One interesting area to consider is how the UK state deals with other groups that attempt to block access to web content. One of the strategies employed by activist groups such as Anonymous is called a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS). These attacks are used to block access to a target website by flooding it with millions of fake requests for information.

The UK government has essentially classified this kind of protest strategy as "economic terrorism" and outlawed the practice, setting a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for individuals that are involved in launching DDoS attacks.

The introduction of David Cameron's Internet censorship regime will leave us in the ludicrous situation where an individual could face 10 years in jail for attempting to temporarily block access to criminal organisations like HSBC or Barclays, whilst the government actually forces ISPs to introduce web filtering firewalls to permanently block access to countless perfectly legal websites.


Even if we naively assume that David Cameron's opt-out "parental controls" have not been designed as a Trojan Horse to implement mass web censorship and surveillance in order to crush political dissent, it is undeniably going to result in the accidental censorship of countless websites (commercial and non-profit alike) that trigger the "bad word" algorithms used in the kind of web censorship technology David Cameron champions.

Due to lack of oversight and accountability, the grounds for legal recourse for commercial losses or freedom of speech violations will be marginal.

The existence of a national web censorship regime, won't just result in the explicit censorship of perfectly legal material, it will also lead to a massive rise in self-censorship as website owners refuse to discuss certain topics, and shut down their forums out of fear of triggering the censorship algo-bots.

The potential for abuse of the system by the secret services, their private contractors, other government agencies and the private ISP companies (that will be given free reign to administer their own web-censorship regimes) is enormous.

The hypocrisy of the government mandating ISPs to permanently block access to perfectly legal material, whilst threatening individuals that may attempt to temporarily block access to criminal organisations with up to 10 years imprisonment couldn't be clearer.

All the while Cameron's "protect the innocence of childhood" pseudo-justification for the introduction of a vast web surveillance and censorship operation will be glaringly invalidated on a daily basis by the continued existence of stuff like Page 3 of the S*n, government jobs websites offering lap-dancing work to under-18s, the Daily Mail "sidebar of smut" and Number 1 smash hit songs about inflicting brutal anal abuse.

What you can do ...

The petition on the government website needs 100,000 signatures to force apolitical debate on the issue. If you are opposed to David Cameron's "firewall" please sign it and share it as widely as you are able.

The petition