Tag Archive | poverty

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*



In his Eid al-Fitr message to British Muslims, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praises the Muslim heroes of the Grenfell Tower fire who bravely came to the rescue of residents after Tarawih prayers.


Related Topics:

London Residents Speak the Truth about the Grenfell Tower Fire

For British MP Grenfell Tower Fire Was an Inside Job*

Grenfell Tower Block Fire Survivors Storm London Town Hall*

Grenfell Tower Resident Praise Muslim Youth for their Bravery in Helping Survivors*

Muslims Ramadhan Waking may have saved Grenfell Tower Residents’ Lives*

27 Apartment Blocks in 15 areas fail Fire Tests – UK gov’t*


U.K. Gov’t Teams up with Mosques to Produce Healthy Eating Guide*

The U.K. Gov’t Teams up with Mosques to Produce Healthy Eating Guide*

The government is teaming up with mosques in the U.K. to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout communities.

Islam considers health to be one of the greatest blessings provided by God. Prophet Muhammad said,

“There are two blessings which many people do not appreciate: health and leisure”.

Preservation of health is essential in making the most of our lives and this requires us to make healthy choices and decisions.

Historically places of worship were at the heart of the community; they were a centre for prayer, a meeting place, an educational institute, a place of social activities and a place of rest. Even today, mosques play an important role as they bring people together and can provide a great way to share important health information with the community that can help people live healthier and prevent disease.

Many prominent health problems that are seen today are easy to prevent by a simple change in behaviour. These changes can include eating in moderation, stopping smoking, and increasing physical activity. As such, it is important for mosques and Islamic centres to inculcate ways and promote methods of minding health and looking out for any problems.

It is with a realisation of this obligation that Public Health England have teamed up with Birmingham City Council and KIKIT Pathways to Recovery to produce ‘A Guide to Healthy Living: Mosques’

This document consists of consistently arising health problems that need to be tackled and also cites examples of ways in which mosques and Islamic institutions are aiming to eradicate these health problems.

During the month of Ramadhan for example, The KSIMC of Birmingham encouraged congregants to bring in salads from home to be shared communally when opening the fast. This initiative proved so popular that it led to an informal competition for the best salad of the month. This encouraged everyone to participate through swapping recipes and promoted an ethos of sharing and engaging the community about what they are eating and making healthier food choices.

Along with obesity, the guide tackles issues such as later life, cancer, and mental well-being. The full guide is available here.


Related Topics:

Inner Dimensions of Ramadhan Fasting*

Slow Ramadhan Foods: Health Benefits of Yoghurt

25,000 Free Ramadhan Meals for Syrians Chechen Leader Promises*

Regular Fasting Increases a Longer Healthier Life*

No Increase in Preterm Delivery With Ramadhan Fasting

Slow Digesting Foods and Ramadhan

Ramadan and Healthy Eating


How Greece Became a Guinea Pig for a Cashless and Controlled Society*

How Greece Became a Guinea Pig for a Cashless and Controlled Society*

As Greece moves closer to becoming a cashless society, it is clear that the country’s attitude towards cash is reckless and dangerous. The supposed convenience of switching to a cash-free system comes with a great deal of risk, including needless overreach by the state.

By Michael Nevradakis

A man makes a transaction at an automated teller machine (ATM) of a Piraeus Bank branch in Athens, Greece. (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)


Day by day, we’re moving towards a brave new world where every transaction is tracked, every purchase is recorded, the habits and preferences of everyone noted and analyzed. What I am describing is the “cashless society,” where plastic and electronic money are king, while banknotes and coins are abolished.

“Progress” is, after all, deemed to be a great thing. In a recent discussion, I observed on an online message board regarding gentrification in my former neighborhood of residence in Queens, New York, the closure of yet another longtime local business was met by one user with a virtual shrug: “Who needs stores when you have Amazon?”

This last quote is, of course, indicative of the brick-and-mortar store, at least in its familiar form. In December 2016, Amazon launched a checkout-free convenience store in Seattle—largely free of employees, but also free of cash transactions, as purchases are automatically charged to one’s Amazon account. “Progress” is therefore cast as the abolition of currency, and the elimination of even more jobs, all in the name of technological progress and the “convenience” of saving a few minutes of waiting at the checkout counter.

Still insist on being old-fashioned and stuck behind the times, preferring to visit brick-and-mortar stores and paying in cash? You may very well be a terrorist! Pay for your coffee or your visit to an internet cafe with cash? Potential terrorist, according to the FBI. Indeed, insisting on paying with cash is, according to the United States Department of Homeland Security, “suspicious and weird.”

The European Union, ever a force for positive change and progress, also seems to agree. The non-elected European Commission’s “Inception Impact Assessment” warns that the anonymity of cash transactions facilitates “money laundering” and “terrorist financing activities.” This point of view is shared by such economists as the thoroughly discredited proponent of austerity Kenneth Rogoff, Lawrence Summer (a famed de-regulator, as well as eulogizer of the “godfather” of austerity Milton Friedman), and supposed anti-austerity crusader Joseph Stiglitz, who told fawning participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year that the United States should do away with all currency.

Logically, of course, the next step is to punish law-abiding citizens for the actions of a very small criminal population and for the failures of law enforcement to curb such activities. The E.U. plans to accomplish this through the exploration of upper limits on cash payments, while it has already taken the step of abolishing the 500-euro banknote.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which day after day is busy “saving” economically suffering countries such as Greece, also happens to agree with this brave new worldview. In a working paper titled “The Macroeconomics of De-Cashing,” which the IMF claims does not necessarily represent its official views, the fund nevertheless provides a blueprint with which governments around the world could begin to phase out cash. This process would commence with “initial and largely uncontested steps” (such as the phasing out of large-denomination bills or the placement of upper limits on cash transactions). This process would then be furthered largely by the private sector, providing cashless payment options for people’s “convenience,” rather than risk popular objections to policy-led decashing. The IMF, which certainly has a sterling track record of sticking up for the poor and vulnerable in society, comforts us by saying that these policies should be implemented in ways that would augment “economic and social benefits.”

The IMF’s Greek experiment in austerity

These suggestions, which of course the IMF does not necessarily officially agree with, have already begun to be implemented to a significant extent in the IMF debt colony known officially as Greece, where the IMF has been implementing “socially fair and just” austerity policies since 2010, which have resulted, during this period, in a GDP decline of over 25%, unemployment levels exceeding 28%, repeated cuts to what are now poverty-level salaries and pensions, and a “brain drain” of over 500,000 people—largely young and university-educated—migrating out of Greece.

Protesters against new austerity measures hold a placard depicting Labour Minister George Katrougalos as the movie character Edward Scissorhands during a protest outside Zappeion Hall in Athens, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The placard reads in Greek”Katrougalos Scissorhands”.

Indeed, it could be said that Greece is being used as a guinea pig not just for a grand neoliberal experiment in both austerity, but de-cashing as well. The examples are many, and they have found fertile ground in a country whose populace remains shell-shocked by eight years of economic depression. A new law that came into effect on January 1 incentivizes going cashless by setting a minimum threshold of spending at least 10% of one’s income via credit, debit, or prepaid card in order to attain a somewhat higher tax-free threshold.

Beginning July 27, dozens of categories of businesses in Greece will be required to install aptly-acronymized “POS” (point-of-sale) card readers and to accept payments by card. Businesses are also required to post a notice, typically by the entrance or point of sale, stating whether card payments are accepted or not. Another new piece of legislation, in effect as of June 1, requires salaries to be paid via direct electronic transfers to bank accounts. Furthermore, cash transactions of over 500 euros have been outlawed.

In Greece, where in the eyes of the state citizens are guilty even if proven innocent, capital controls have been implemented preventing ATM cash withdrawals of over 840 euros every two weeks. These capital controls, in varying forms, have been in place for two years with no end in sight, choking small businesses that are already suffering.

Citizens have, at various times, been asked to collect every last receipt of their expenditures, in order to prove their income and expenses—otherwise, tax evasion is assumed, just as ownership of a car (even if purchased a decade or two ago) or an apartment (even if inherited) is considered proof of wealth and a “hidden income” that is not being declared. The “heroic” former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had previously proposed a cap of cash transactions at 50 or 70 euros on Greek islands that are popular tourist destinations, while also putting forth an asinine plan to hire tourists to work as “tax snitches,” reporting businesses that “evade taxes” by not providing receipts even for the smallest transactions.

All of these measures, of course, are for the Greeks’ own good and are in the best interest of the country and its economy, combating supposedly rampant “tax evasion” (while letting the biggest tax evaders off the hook), fighting the “black market” (over selling cheese pies without issuing a receipt, apparently), and of course, nipping “terrorism” in the bud.

As with the previous discussion I observed about Amazon being a satisfactory replacement for the endangered brick-and-mortar business, one learns a lot from observing everyday conversations amongst ordinary citizens. A recent conversation I personally overheard while paying a bill at a public utility revealed just how successful the initial and largely uncontested steps enacted in Greece have been.

In the line ahead of me, an elderly man announced that he was paying his water bill by debit card, “in order to build towards the tax-free threshold.” When it was suggested to him that the true purpose of encouraging cashless payments was to track every transaction, even for a stick of gum, and to transfer all money into the banking system, he and one other elderly gentleman threw a fit, claiming “there is no other way to combat tax evasion.”

The irony that they were paying by card to avoid taxation themselves was lost on them—as is the fact that the otherwise fiscally responsible Germany, whose government never misses an opportunity to lecture the “spendthrift” and “irresponsible” Greeks, has the largest black market in Europe (exceeding 100 billion euros annually), ranks first in Europe in financial fraud, is the eighth-largest tax haven worldwide, and one of the top tax-evading countries in Europe.

Also lost on these otherwise elderly gentlemen was a fact not included in the official propaganda campaign: Germans happen to love their cash, as evidenced by the fierce opposition that met a government plan to outlaw cash payments of 5,000 euros or more. In addition, about 80% of transactions in Germany are still conducted in cash. The German tabloid Bild went as far as to publish an op-ed titled “Hands off our cash” in response to the proposed measure.

Global powers jumping on cashless bandwagon

Nevertheless, a host of other countries across Europe and worldwide have shunned Germany’s example, instead siding with the IMF and Stiglitz. India, one of the most cash-reliant countries on earth, recently eliminated 86 percent of its currency practically overnight, with the claimed goal, of course, of targeting terrorism and the “black market.” The real objective of this secretly planned measure, however, was to starve the economy of cash and to drive citizens to electronic payments by default.

Indians stand in line to deposit discontinued notes in a bank in Jammu and Kashmir, India,, Dec. 30, 2016. India yanked most of its currency bills from circulation without warning on Nov. 8, delivering a jolt to the country’s high-performing economy and leaving countless citizens scrambling for cash. (AP/Channi Anand)


Iceland, a country that stands as an admirable example of standing up to the IMF-global banking cartel in terms of its response to the country’s financial meltdown of 2008, nevertheless has long embraced cashlessness. Practically all transactions, even the most minute, are conducted electronically, while “progressive” tourists extol the benefits of not being inconvenienced by the many seconds it would take to withdraw funds from an ATM or exchange currency upon arrival. Oddly enough, Iceland was already largely cashless prior to its financial collapse in 2008—proving that this move towards “progress” did nothing to prevent an economic meltdown or to stop its perpetrators: the very same banks being entrusted with nearly all of the money supply.

Other examples of cashlessness abound in Europe. Cash transactions in Sweden represent just 3% of the national economy, and most banks no longer hold banknotes. Similarly, many Norwegian banks no longer issue cash, while the country’s largest bank, DNB, has called upon the public to cease using cash. Denmark has announced a goal of eliminating banknotes by 2030. Belgium has introduced a 3,000-euro limit on cash transactions and 93% of transactions are cashless. In France, the respective percentage is 92%, and cash transactions have been limited to 1,000 euros, just as in Spain. Outside of Europe, cash is being eliminated even in countries such as Somalia and Kenya, while South Korea—itself no stranger to IMF intervention in its economy—has, similarly to Greece, implemented preferential tax policies for consumers who make payments using cards.

Aside from policy changes, practical everyday examples also exist in abundance. Just try to purchase an airline ticket with cash, for instance. It remains possible—but is also said to raise red flags. In many cases, renting an automobile or booking a hotel room with cash is simply not possible. The aforementioned Department of Homeland Security manual considers any payment with cash to be “suspicious behaviour”—as one clearly has something to hide if they do not wish to be tracked via electronic payment methods. Ownership of gold makes the list of suspicious activities as well.

Just as the irony of Germany being a largely cash-based society while pushing cashless policies in its Greek protectorate is lost on many Greeks, what is lost on seemingly almost everyone is this: something that is new doesn’t necessarily represent progress, nor does something different. Something that is seemingly easier, or more convenient, is not necessarily progress either. But for many, “technological progress,” just like “scientific innovation” in all its forms and without exception, has attained an aura of infallibility, revered with religious-like fervour.

People queue in front of a bank for an ATM as a man lies on the ground begging for change, in Athens. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)


Combating purported tax evasion is also treated with a religious-like fervour, even while ordinary citizens—such as the two aforementioned gentlemen in Greece—typically seek to minimize their outlays to the tax offices. Moreover, while such measures essentially enact a collective punishment regardless of guilt or innocence, corporations and oligarchs who utilize tax loopholes and offshore havens go unpunished and are wholly unaffected by a switch to a cashless economy in the supposed battle against tax evasion.

This is evident, for instance, in the case of “LuxLeaks,” which revealed the names of dozens of corporations benefiting from favorable tax rulings and tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg, one of the original founding members of the E.U. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, formerly the prime minister of Luxembourg, has faced repeated accusations of impeding E.U. investigations into corporate tax avoidance scandals during his 18-year term as prime minister. Juncker has defended Luxembourg’s tax arrangements as legal.

At the same time, Juncker has shown no qualms in criticizing Apple’s tax avoidance deal in Ireland as “illegal,” while having been accused himself of helping large multinationals such as Amazon and Pepsi avoid taxes. Moreover, he has openly claimed that Greece’s Ottoman roots are responsible for modern-day tax evasion in the country. He has not hesitated to unabashedly intervene in Greek electoral contests, calling on Greeks to avoid the “wrong outcome” in the January 2015 elections (where the supposedly anti-austerity SYRIZA, which has since proven to be boldly pro-austerity, were elected).

He also urged the Greek electorate to vote “yes” (in favour of more E.U,-proposed austerity) in the July 2015 referendum—where the overwhelming result in favour of “no” was itself overturned by SYRIZA within a matter of days. In the European Union today, if there’s something that can be counted on, it’s the blatant hypocrisy of its leaders. Nevertheless, proving that old habits of collaborationism die hard in Greece, the rector of the law school of the state-owned Aristotle University in Thessaloniki awarded Juncker with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to European political and legal values.

Cashless policies bode poorly for the future

Where does all this lead though? What does a cashless economy actually mean and why are global elites pushing so fervently for it? Consider the following: in a cashless economy without coins or banknotes, every transaction is tracked. Buying and spending habits are monitored, and it is not unheard of for credit card companies to cancel an individual’s credit or to lower their credit rating based on real or perceived risks ranging from shopping at discount stores to purchasing alcoholic beverages. Indeed, this is understood to be common practice. Other players are entering the game too: in late May, Google announced plans to track credit and debit card transactions.

Claudia Lombana, PayPal’s shopping specialist, stamps a guest’s passport as he visits the travel section of PayPal’s Cashless Utopia in New York (Victoria Will/AP)


More to the point though, a cashless economy doesn’t just mean that financial institutions, large corporations, or the state itself can monitor all transactions that are occurring. It also means that the entirety of the money supply—itself now existing only in “virtual” form—will belong to the banking system. Not one cent will exist outside of the banking system, as physical currency will simply not be in circulation. The banking system—and others—will be aware not just of every transaction, but will be in possession of all of our society’s money supply, and will even have the ability to receive a percentage of every transaction that is taking place.

So what happens if your spending habits or your choice of travel destinations raises “red flags”?

What happens if you run into hard times economically and miss a few payments?

What happens if you are deemed to be a political dissident or liability – perhaps an “enemy of the state”?

Freezing a bank account or confiscating funds from accounts can take place almost instantaneously. Users of eBay and PayPal, for instance, are quite aware of the ease with which PayPal can confiscate funds from a user’s account based simply on a claim filed against that individual.

Simply forgetting one’s password to an online account can set off an aggravating flurry of calls in order to prove that your money is your own—and that’s without considering the risks of phishing and of online databases being compromised. Many responsible credit card holders found that their credit cards were suddenly canceled in the aftermath of the “Great Recession” simply due to perceived risk. And if you happen to be an individual deemed to be “dangerous,” you can be effectively and easily frozen out of the economy.

Those thinking that the “cashless revolution” will also herald the return of old-style bartering and other communal economic schemes might also wish to reconsider that line of thinking. In the United States, for instance, bartering transactions are considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service. As more and more economic activity of all sorts takes place online, the tax collector will have an easier time detecting such activity. Thinking of teaching your child to be responsible with finances? That too will have a cost, as even lemonade stands have been targeted for “operating without a permit.” It’s not far-fetched to imagine that particularly overzealous government authorities could also target such activity for “tax evasion.”

In Greece, while oligarchs get to shift their money to offshore tax havens without repercussion and former Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has been acquitted for failure to submit a declaration of assets, where major television and radio stations operate with impunity without a valid license while no new players can enter the marketplace and where ordinary households and small businesses are literally being taxed to death, police in August 2016 arrested a father of three with an unemployed spouse for selling donuts without a license and fined him 5,000 euros. In another incident, an elderly man selling roasted chestnuts in Thessaloniki was surrounded by 15 police officers and arrested for operating without a license.

Amidst this blatant hypocrisy, governments and financial institutions love electronic money for another reason, aside from the sheer control that it affords them. Studies, including one conducted by the American Psychological Association, have shown that paying with plastic (or, by extension, other non-physical forms of payment) encourage greater spending, as the psychological sensation of a loss when making a payment is disconnected from the actual act of purchasing or conducting a transaction.

But ultimately, the elephant in the room is whether the banking system even should be entrusted with the entirety of the monetary supply. The past decade has seen the financial collapse of 2008, the crumbling of financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers in the United States and a continent-wide banking crisis in Europe, which was the true objective behind the “bailouts” of countries such as Greece—saving European and American banks exposed to “toxic” bonds from these nations. Italy’s banking system is currently teetering on dangerous ground, while the Greek banking system, already recapitalized three times since the onset of the country’s economic crisis, may need yet another taxpayer-funded recapitalization. Even the virtual elimination of cash in Iceland did not prevent the country’s banking meltdown in 2008.

Should we entrust the entirety of the money supply to these institutions?

What happens if the banking system experiences another systemic failure?

Who do you trust more: yourself or institutions that have proven to be wholly irresponsible and unaccountable in their actions? The answer to that question should help guide the debate as to whether society should go cashless.


Related Topics:

Greece Bans Cash*

IMF to Greece: Sorry We’ll Destroy You*

In the Move towards a Cashless Society India’s GDP Growth Slumps*

India’s Cashless Villages not Really There Yet, But the Nightmare Has Begun*

E.U. Desperate to Raises Taxes Starts Cashless Society Project November 2017*

Ban Cash to Help Central Banks stinks of Total Control – NWO’s Cashless Society*

You Pay more while Banks Profiteer in a Cashless Society…that’s the Convenience*

Hackers Use Dridex Malware To Steal Millions From U.K. Bank Accounts*

Hackers Steal $1bn from Banks*

Congress Want to make it Illegal to Hold cash, Bitcoin, or Other Assets outside of a Bank*

Cashless Society: Use Credit Cards at Your Peril*

Sweden: Money Laundering and Emptying your Account Easier in Cashless Society*

$45 Million Stolen from Banks Worldwide Shows How Easy It is in a Cashless Society*

Hurricane Sandy Challenges a Cashless Society!

‘Day of Rage’ Protesters Target Queen’s Speech to ‘bring down the government’*

‘Day of Rage’ Protesters Target Queen’s Speech to ‘bring down the government’*

© DAY of RAGE: March on parliament on day of Queen’s Speech / Facebook


Protesters are marching on Downing Street to “bring down the government” over its response to the Grenfell Tower fire, amid appeals to ensure their grievances are not overshadowed by violence.

Three protests, including a “day of rage” demonstration, are being held to coincide with the Queen’s Speech, the formal unveiling of the government’s legislative agenda.

Day of Rage protest getting more heated outside Downing Street. pic.twitter.com/c8POfOrTIt

— Simon Jones (@SimonJonesNews) June 21, 2017

Flares lit outside Downing St – bit tense for 5 mins pic.twitter.com/7UrL31ebc7

— Andy Lines (@andylines) June 21, 2017

One protest organized by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary (MJF), is demanding local housing for the displaced residents of Grenfell Tower and for all residents who do not have immigration papers to be given a permanent right to remain in the U.K.

Organizer Karen Doyle told RT what happened at Grenfell Tower amounts to “mass murder” and the government must be held accountable.

“What happened in Grenfell … was the result of a government that has consistently put business interests and money and profits above the lives and safety of people – working class people, immigrants – for years. They’re being squeezed out of London to make way for big business.

“We are furious. We are so furious at what happened in Grenfell – potentially 100 lives lost from negligence and disdain of poor and immigrant communities.”

Doyle added: “We want to take that anger to parliament and we want to say that this government has got to go. This is the day Theresa May tries to get back to business as usual and we’re not prepared to let that happen.”

Other events on Wednesday include a demonstration organized by Stand Up to Racism called “Protest the Queen’s Speech – no to May / DUP racism & bigotry!”

London Socialist Party is hosting a Facebook event called “May Must Go! Protest the Queen’s Speech.”

Those taking part in the protests have been urged to remain peaceful, amid fears that anger over the Grenfell disaster could be hijacked for violent means.

The Clement James Centre, which has been helping Grenfell Tower residents,  told the Guardian that affected residents “do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means.”

Asked about his support for the demonstrations, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he backed the right to take direct action but only if it is peaceful. He urged protesters to “follow the lead of Gandhi.”

To everyone planning on demonstrating against Theresa May’s government over the next few weeks, it is vital that these protests are peaceful

— John McDonnell (@johnmcdonnellMP) June 20, 2017

“Today, people have got the right to be angry. What they haven’t got is the right to be violent,” he told the BBC.

He added that the Tories have “no right to govern,” and that Labour would exploit May’s weak mandate in the House of Commons to reverse Conservative cuts to public services.

Police officers have appealed for calm from protesters marching on parliament.

The demonstrations come at a time when the Metropolitan Police is stretched, following three terrorist attacks in the capital in recent months.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted: “#day of rage – just what our emergency services need right now.”

#DayOfRage – just what our emergency services need right now.

— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) June 21, 2017

Police say they have put an “appropriate policing plan in place.” Road closures and armed police patrols were in place this morning.

May’s speech will be ‘her first and last,’ Tories say

May’s agenda was stripped of Tory pledges after May’s election campaign left her party without enough MPs to pass more contentious plans. Instead, she focused on what little clout she has on pushing through Brexit.

May was forced to endure the embarrassment of putting her Queen’s Speech before parliament without knowing if it can be passed. She wrote it having failed to secure the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs needed for her Commons majority.

Speaking ahead of her speech, May appeared to acknowledge the limitations of her plans.

“The election result was not the one I hoped for, but this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent,” May said in a statement, which suggests criticism of her remote response to the Grenfell Tower fire has hit home.

A string of promises from her manifesto have been ditched, including U-turns on plans to axe universal school meals, and dump the triple lock on pensions. The major roll-out of new grammar schools also looks set to be put on ice.

A senior Tory backbencher told the Independent: “This is going to be her first and last Queen’s Speech.

“She has very little leeway to get things through – if you look at grammar schools for example, how can that possibly be a part of it?

“The whips are going to be telling her, ‘you have very little political capital. Don’t waste it on things like that.’”

Another backbencher told the newspaper the Queen’s Speech will be all about Brexit.

“It will be Brexit-heavy because that’s pretty much the only big thing that everyone can agree needs to happen – putting disagreements about how it will happen aside.”  

Number 10 ‘chaos’ holds up deal with Tories

Meanwhile, the Tories have held talks on forging a “confidence and supply” deal with the DUP, which has 10 MPs.

Sources in Northern Ireland told the Press Association, however, that “negotiations haven’t proceeded in a way that DUP would have expected.” The party is urging the government to give “greater focus” to negotiations, with a warning that it “can’t be taken for granted.”

The DUP has blamed chaos in Number 10 for the hold-up of a deal. One DUP source told The Times that dealing with Downing Street was like wading through treacle to get the simplest thing done.

After initial signs of progress, the Tories were forced to row back on a premature announcement that agreement had been reached, and talks have now dragged for 11 days without reaching a conclusion.

May’s deputy, Damian Green, the first secretary of state, told the BBC there’s “still … every possibility of a DUP deal. The talks have been taking place in a constructive way.”

He added: “Clearly, two political parties, we have some differences. But we have a lot in common.

“We’re both unionist parties at heart. We’re both obviously very concerned with combatting terrorism, we both have similar views about delivering a good Brexit for this country and obviously we’re both very, very concerned with the Irish border issue.”

May will need the DUP to back her legislative program when it goes to a vote next week in order to stay in Number 10. Sources on both sides suggested that a deal may be ready by Thursday.


Related Topics:

The Great Repeal Bill allows the Tories to Strip Away more Human Rights*

London Residents Speak the Truth about the Grenfell Tower Fire

For British MP Grenfell Tower Fire Was an Inside Job*

Thousands Protest in London as Pressure Builds on Theresa May*

Grenfell Tower Block Fire Survivors Storm London Town Hall*

Grenfell Tower Resident Praise Muslim Youth for their Bravery in Helping Survivors*

London Residents Speak the Truth about the Grenfell Tower Fire

London Residents Speak the Truth about the Grenfell Tower Fire

Related Topics:

For British MP Grenfell Tower Fire Was an Inside Job*

Grenfell Tower Block Fire Survivors Storm London Town Hall*

Muslims Ramadhan Waking may have saved Grenfell Tower Residents’ Lives*

Thousands Protest in London as Pressure Builds on Theresa May*

U.K: This Victorian Disease has infected over 6,000 People since September*

Food Poverty in the U.K. Causing Soar in ‘Victorian’ Illnesses*

U.K. Breaking the Social Contract Set’s it Back to Post-WWII*

Bank Bail-outs Behind Behind U.K.’s Collapsing Public Services*


Europe Closes Borders to Refugees as Latin America Opens*

Europe Closes Borders to Refugees as Latin America Opens*

Colombia is home to the largest population of displaced people in the world, even more than from Syria or Iraq. | Photo: UNHCR


On World Refugee Day, teleSUR looks at some of the inclusive policies in Latin America in favour of those who have been displaced.

The population of displaced people in the world has reached its highest number in history.

Every three seconds, a person is forced to leave their home, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR. More than 65 million people have been displaced worldwide in 2016, and about half of them are children and teenagers.

But despite the crisis, rising anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe and Northern America continue to frustrate the global response. On World Refugee Day Tuesday, teleSUR looks at how refugees, facing tightened borders and other challenges in Europe, are turning to Latin America for support, as its laws and policies allow them to find shelter and a new life away from war and violence.

Latin America home to world’s largest displaced population

According to UNHCR, displaced Colombians are the largest population in the world seeking refugee. And the small country of Ecuador has received the largest amount.

A joint report published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council says Colombia has the largest internally displaced population in the world, with approximately 7.2 million people uprooted.

That is larger than those from other war-torn countries such as Syria with 6.3 million displaced and Iraq with 3 million.

Maria Clara Martin, the representative of the UNHCR in Ecuador, told teleSUR that is important to realize that a refugee is someone whose physical integrity is in danger and is forced to seek shelter elsewhere.

“A refugee doesn’t choose to leave their country, doesn’t want to leave their country, but generally has to leave their country,” Martin said.

“A refugee is not a migrant that comes to a country searching for a better life for economic reasons or for better opportunities, a refugee is a person that has to flee from his home, has to leave behind in many cases his family, friends, job due to persecution, from religious, ethnic, nationality, political reasons or from a conflict.”

The Colombian refugees have sought shelter for years as the South American nation has suffered over 50 years of a bloody internal civil war between armed rebel groups, government forces and right-wing paramilitaries that has killed some 260,000 people and victimized millions more.

On the other hand, fumigations with glyphosate in large areas with coca crops in Colombia and the impact on the health of the population by the chemicals used has increased the number of asylum applications.

The organization reports that Ecuador has received the largest number of Colombian refugees with more than 60,000. Venezuela is home to the second largest population with over 7,000 refugees and another 173,673 in refugee-like situations. According to the most recent census, some 720,000 Colombians live in Venezuela, though unofficial estimates put the number much higher. Panama and Costa Rica also host significant populations of Colombians refugees, according to UNHCR.

On average, 418 people cross the border between Colombia and Ecuador each month as refugees.

From 1989 to 2016, a total of 233,049 people applied for recognized of refugee status in Ecuador, most of them from Colombia, as 95 percent of those who are sheltered in Ecuador are Colombian citizens.

Renata Dubini, director of the Bureau for the Americas at UNHCR, told teleSUR that the organization is working to strengthen the assistance for vulnerable communities in Colombia, home of the largest internally displaced population in the world, even after the government signed the peace deal with the FARC to end 52 years of civil war.

Despite the historic peace accords, several security issues still loom large as the implementation of the deal rolls out, and Dubini said the UNHCR is focusing its strategy on the opportunity the end of the war could mean for the victims of the internal conflict, especially in rural areas.

“Many have tried to go back, but they are waiting for concrete changes, there’s a mistrust,” Dubini said.

“They need to feel they are welcome. Little by little we will see them returning, but we can’t push them to go back.”

Refugees seek shelter in the region

While Europe is establishing a closed door policy in the face of an unprecedented crisis and a massive influx of migrants fleeing war and conflict, Latin America and the Caribbean are considered to be a world benchmark in receiving refugees.

According to Dubini, there is a historic tradition towards refugees in the region.

“There is a strong political commitment in the region, the balance of the work we have done in the region is positive. Latin America has a long tradition in protecting refugees,” she said.

Statistics show there was a 257 percent increase in the number of asylum-seekers in the Caribbean region between the mid-2015 and mid-2016. Refugees came from nations within the region, such as Haiti, as well as from other countries including Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Nigeria. Belize, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago were the three main destinations for these refugees.

Those who reach Ecuador to apply for refugee status come from up to 70 nationalities, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

“The most common thing is to find refuge in the closest places to where one is, but in many cases they come from even further due to several reasons, but they’re always looking for security,” Martin explained, adding that personal safety, violence, armed conflicts, femicide, economic crisis or persecution could be cause for displacement.

“The biggest challenge (for refugees) is to integrate into a society,” Martin said, noting that Colombian refugees have an advantage of speaking the same language as Ecuadoreans, a challenge that refugees from other regions have to confront.

“Many have to overcome the traumas that they bring with them, they’ve gone through very difficult situations, they’ve seen horrible things in many cases.”

Irene van Rij, head of UNHCR’s Field Office in the coastal city of Guayaquil, the country’s largest city where some 11.5 percent of the people who seek refuge in Ecuador are located, agreed that it’s often an uphill struggle for refugees who settle in the country.

“It’s never easy to be a refugee and come to a new country,” she told teleSUR.

“They no longer have the social support system that they used to have in Colombia, where they know their neighbours, where if they have a problem, they have their uncles or their aunts, and their entire family that they can rely on.”

When they come to Ecuador, said van Rij, they have to rely on themselves.

“We try to help them by building community centers, to bring together Colombians and Ecuadoreans who live in the same neighborhoods because people are just trying to move on with their life and ensure a better future for their children.”

In Ecuador, no one is illegal by law

Ecuador’s Constitution, considered one of the most progressive constitutions in the world after being drafted through a constituent assembly and approved in 2008, recognizes the principles of human mobility and universal citizenship, as well as the right of asylum and refuge for all.

The country’s pioneering “No one is illegal” immigration policy has become a trailblazing example for activists around the world who are pushing forward similar legislation in their own countries. Ecuador has had first-hand experience responding to the needs of its own migrants, as more than 2 million Ecuadoreans were forced to leave the country during the banking and economic crisis set off in 1999.

Former President Rafael Correa made support for migrants abroad a key issue for his administration, and after the country regained political and economic stability, his left-wing government invested in programs to encourage migrant to return home to Ecuador.

“If any country understands human mobility, it is Ecuador, because it itself has produced many people that have left and started to live in other countries and all these people also fall under the new Mobility Law,” van Rij, head of the Guayaquil field office, said.

Article 40 of the Ecuadorean Constitution recognizes the right of every person to migrate. “No human being shall be identified or considered as illegal because of his or her migratory status,” reads the text.

“People who are in asylum or refugee status will enjoy special protection that guarantees the full exercise of their rights,” continues Article 41. “The state shall respect and guarantee the principle of non-returning, in addition to emergency humanitarian and legal assistance.”

The Andean nation took its constitutional right to human mobility even further when the National Assembly approved unanimously in April the Organic Law of Human Mobility, which establishes rights and obligations for migrants, immigrants, persons in transit, those who require international protection and victims of crimes of human trafficking and illegal migrant trafficking.

According to Martin, the UNHCR has upheld Ecuador as an example and hopes the policy will start to reverberate more broadly around the world. “People have the right to be treated with dignity, to have security, education, to work with dignity, to live with dignity, health,” Martin said. “That is the meaning of not being illegal. You can’t penalize someone who is fleeing to save their life or for not having a passport.”

In Ecuador, there are no refugee camps, people are integrated,” said Martin.

For Martin, the work is tiring and difficult because the experiences refugees have endured are sometimes almost too intense to handle. But she says her hope is renewed each day as she learns about the positive experiences that many have had in the country after finding refuge in Ecuador.

“I met a group of Afro-Ecuadorean and Afro-Colombian women that had created an association and started their own business of selling textiles and clothes, and they were such a success that they were giving jobs to other Ecuadoreans” Martin said.

“Those are the stories that move you.”


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Teens with No Engineering Experience Invent Solar Tent for Homeless, Win Grant from MIT*

Teens with No Engineering Experience Invent Solar Tent for Homeless, Win Grant from MIT*

Due to a flailing economy, homelessness is on the rise in cities such as Los Angeles. Fortunately, a new innovation developed by students at San Fernando High School may help those who are stranded on the streets — at least until a more permanent solution is presented.

Bored Panda reports that with absolutely no experience, a group of young females invented a solar-powered tent that rolls up into a backpack. Together, the 12 females were recruited by DIY Girls, a non-profit organization that empowers young women from low-income families in LA to pursue fields in technology and engineering. Overseeing the project was executive director of DIY Girls, Evelyn Gomez.

The girls primarily used YouTube videos and information found via Google searches to produce a tent that offers major benefits to homeless individuals. Throughout the process, they learned skills such as sewing, coding and 3D printing.

Fortunately, their hard work paid off. Not only did they win the world’s respect, the team won a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT program. In result, they will present their invention at MIT’s EurekaFest on June 16th. Because the high school students come from low-income families, they almost couldn’t afford the trip. Compassionate strangers, friends, and family members, however, donated to a GoFundMe campaign that raised over $18,000. Now they can go and enjoy their time in the well-deserved spotlight.

It’s a deserved victory for the twelve teenagers who are making a positive difference in the lives of others.


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