The 4.45pm Link 65

Interesting piece from the curmudgeon on welfare reform.

We should not forget the extent to which every possible step was taken to discourage benefit claimants already under New Labour.

A friend of mine who works in what used to be called a Jobs Centre says it is heartbreaking to see the unemployed who have worked all their lives, sometimes in quite senior positions, now being put through the deliberately humiliating and onerous process of claiming benefit. They have to show they have applied every week for numerous often inappropriate jobs and continually provide evidence of their rejection.

She says that there really does exist a class of benefit scrounger who have no intention of working. They are precisely the ones who are not discouraged. They know how to fill the forms, happily send off a quota of hopeless online job applications every week, and don’t mind explaining themselves to a gormless eighteen year old clerk who has the power to send them and their family to starvation. It is the honest people humiliated at having to claim benefits who can’t cope and fall through the net.

That is the problem with making benefits harder to claim – you discourage the wrong people.

The interesting thing is that the staff do know broadly who are real and who are the scroungers – but they are not allowed to use discretion, but have to make decisions according to set procedures and criteria based on form filling and production of meaningless rejection letter paperwork.. Absolutely symptomatic of New Labour’s Britain.

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The 4.45pm Link 34

Labour Party man Brian Barder on how to salvage his party:

The positive way to signal a radical change of policy on the resort to military force, implying (but not necessarily stating explicitly) a promise never to repeat the Iraq criminal blunder, would be to declare formally that no future Labour government will ever again send British forces into action overseas unless (a) in response to an armed attack on sovereign British territory (as permitted under the UN Charter) or else (b) to participate in peace-keeping or peace-making operations expressly authorised by the United Nations Security Council. Labour would also do well publicly to endorse the present coalition defence secretary’s useful reminder that in any case Britain is not a “global policeman” ?” and should never again try to act as if it were. He who “punches above his weight” tends to end up on the canvas.

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Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative

The Center for Congressional Rights has launched the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative to “spearhead the fight to seek justice for the hundreds of men and minors who have languished at Guant’namo for more than three years and to seek redress for the abuse and torture many have suffered at the hands of military interrogators and private contractors there, at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at secret detention facilities around the world.”

Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative

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Liberty – No Torture, No Compromise

Liberty is one of the UK’s leading human rights and civil liberties organisations. They lobby Parliament, aiming to expose laws that undermine civil liberties and human rights, and work with politicians to correct them. They also challenge laws, by taking test cases to UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights and conduct research on diverse issues.

They have recently launched their No Torture – No Compromise campaign


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Foreign Affairs Select Committee

The UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its associated public bodies”.

In March 2005 the committee published damning criticism of Jack Straw’s FCO and its policies and practice on torture and extraordinary rendition. The week begining 24th October they will be hearing evidence on the ‘War on Terror’ and later in November will be holding an inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s 2005 Human Rights Annual Report.

With new evidence available on the brutality of extrodinary rendition and admissions by MI5 of its use of torture evidence, will Jack Straw’s continued obfuscation be tolerated? Will he be called to account for his previous misleading statements and quasi rebuttals?

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ICRC – International Humanitarian Law and the “war on terror”

The International Committe of the Red Cross is a unique organisation that works in conflicts around the world to try and minimise suffering by promoting international humanitarian law. In a recent paper they provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions and help set straight many of the misconceptions propgated by interested governments.

International Humanitarian Law and the “global war on terror”

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