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Sat, 24 Mar 2018
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Capital lacks "affordable" solutions: Homeless families are being forced out of London as temporary housing costs soar

Homeless in London
© Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
Homeless families in London are being given temporary accommodation outside the capital because the spiraling cost of rent is draining council funds, new figures show.

According to London Councils (LC), the number of placements outside the capital rose from 113 between April and June 2012 to 551 between December and April 2016.

Authorities say they are forced to drag families far outside London because of the rising cost of temporary accommodation, which has doubled in the past five years.

The total spending of boroughs on per-night accommodation jumped from £90 million ($112 million) in 2011 to £203 million in 2015.

According to Katie Webb, head of policy at housing charity Shelter, one of the key causes of family relocation outside London is councils struggling to find cooperative landlords who will secure long-term licenses for temporary accommodation.


'We know where you live': Jewish center in Umea, Sweden closed after Nazi threats

Swedish Jewish center
© Hannah McKay / Reuters
A Jewish center in Sweden has been closed after Nazi threats, local media reports, adding that the building of the center was painted with the phrase "we know where you live" and has been vandalized with swastikas.

The incident took place in the city of Umea, northeastern Sweden, with some 120,000 residents. On Sunday, the local Jewish Association decided to close its premises and halt all activities "because of the vulnerability and strong threats," spokesperson Carinne Sjoberg told SVT broadcaster.

Aside from the swastikas and menacing phrase on the building, the association also received emails with threats, she said.

"Too many things have happened lately which mean that Jewish parents don't feel safe having their kids at the schools. Our children shouldn't live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it's not possible to operate if people are scared," she said.


Swedish employees getting injected with microchips

© James Brooks/AP
Self-described “body hacker” Jowan Osterlund from Biohax Sweden, holds a small microchip implant, similar to those implanted into workers at Epicenter
The syringe slides in between the thumb and index finger. Then, with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee's hand. Another "cyborg" is created.

What could pass for a dystopian vision of the workplace is almost routine at the Swedish startup hub Epicenter. The company offers to implant its workers and startup members with microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.

The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.

"The biggest benefit I think is convenience," said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter. As a demonstration, he unlocks a door by merely waving near it. "It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys."

The technology in itself is not new. Such chips are used as virtual collar plates for pets. Companies use them to track deliveries. It's just never been used to tag employees on a broad scale before. Epicenter and a handful of other companies are the first to make chip implants broadly available.

Comment: See also: Because key cards are so inconvenient, Belgian employees get microchipped


"Adios!": Mexican newspaper closes after 27 years over lack of journalist safety

Journalist safety
© Reuters
Journalists and activist protest against the murder of the Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach.
A regional newspaper in northern Mexico has announced it will shut down for security and economic reasons, shortly after one of its journalists was gunned down. The editor said he was not willing to have people pay for reporting with their lives.

The Norte de Ciudad Juarez newspaper announced that its Sunday issue would be its last, after more than 27 years in print. Editor Oscar Cantu Murguia informed readers of his decision in an editorial titled "Adios!", published on the front page and on Norte's website.

"Everything in life has a beginning and an end, and a price to pay, and if the price is life, I am not prepared for any more of my collaborators to pay it, nor am I prepared to pay it either," he wrote.

Cantu cited the death of journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea last month as the tipping point for the newspaper. She was shot dead in the city of Chihuahua, which is located in the eponymous state on the US border. Juarez is the largest city of the state.


Nothing will stop the flow of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to flee poverty - rescue NGO

© Sea-Watch / Facebook
The current EU policy of stemming the flow of refugees by cooperating with the Libyan military is profoundly wrong as migrants will cross the Mediterranean "either way" simply to escape dire plight in their home countries, a German rescue NGO said.

Frank Doerner, one of the chief managers at Sea Watch, a Berlin-based humanitarian NGO operating in the Mediterranean Sea, told Die Welt his organization expects the number of refugees dying at sea to skyrocket in 2017, saying "this year will be no good year."

"Many believe that people [migrants] weigh up rationally whether or not to attempt the journey [to the EU]," Doerner said of the reasons encouraging refugees to take dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean.

"People ask themselves - everything is better than where I come from, and if I'm going to die on my way, so let it be."

"They will come either way," he added.

Doerner then lashed out at mounting allegations that humanitarian NGOs are working with traffickers or encourage illegal immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

Comment: See also: Close to 150 refugees feared dead from capsized boat in Mediterranean

Arrow Down

Delhi man charged with holding captive and raping foreign woman for over 6 months

Indian police officers
© Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Indian police officers
A Delhi man has been detained by police for allegedly luring a 22-year-old woman to India from Uzbekistan, before holding her captive and raping her for six months, local media report.

The man, known only as Sonu alias Sumit, was charged with rape and "immoral trafficking" on Sunday, The Times of India reports.

Sonu allegedly met the woman online and while posing as a senior IT executive, offered her a job in India. After meeting her at the airport, he drove her to a house in the Mehrauli neighborhood of Delhi.

"Sonu took her passport and money, claiming that he needed to keep them as a security deposit. He then moved in with the woman and raped her for nearly half a year," a police officer told the Hindustan Times.

Sonu also reportedly forced her into prostitution and threatened her if she tried to leave the house. Eventually, the woman got in touch with a lawyer and filed a complaint with the police on Friday. Sonu was arrested after a medical examination of the woman confirmed the rape. Police are now investigating if he was part of a larger human trafficking ring.


Chechen officials deny media reports on mass detentions of gays

gay pride flag
© Gleb Garanich / Reuters
A Russian newspaper has reported that "over a hundred men" were recently detained in the Chechen Republic and at least three killed because of their possible homosexuality. A spokesman for the Chechen leader has denied the reports.

The report on alleged detentions and killings was published on Saturday by Novaya Gazeta.

Citing "a big number" of unnamed sources in the Chechen interior ministry, president's administration, prosecutor's office and the local LGBT community, it said "mass detentions" of men who are gay or are "suspected" of being gay have occurred in Chechnya recently.

The report resonated in the media and social media. On Sunday, an LGBT activist in St. Petersburg reportedly handcuffed himself to the Akhmat Kadyrov bridge, named after the former Chechen leader, to protest the alleged persecution in Chechnya.


Aborigine apartheid: UN envoy shocked at 'deeply disturbing' racism in Australia

australia aborigine flag
Racism against Aborigines in Australia is widespread and "deeply disturbing", a United Nations envoy said Monday, urging the government to work more closely with indigenous people.

UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz has been on a 15-day visit at Canberra's invitation to check on progress made since the last such trip in 2009.

She said she found racism against the indigenous population widespread. "As I have travelled across the country, I have found the prevalence of racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples deeply disturbing," she said.

"This manifests itself in different ways, ranging from public stereotyped portrayals of them as violent criminals, welfare profiteers and poor parents and to discrimination in the administration of justice."

Comment: That's what became of the natives; it's not much better for non-white/wealthy new arrivals:

Australian government's anti-immigrant poster shocks planet
Rape and self-immolation in Australia's refugee centers
Australian guard at 'immigrant processing center' blows whistle on torture, spying
Psychopathy in action: The 'atrocity' of Australia's detention regime: "The worst I've seen" - trauma expert


Russian soldiers give much-needed hope to war orphans in Aleppo

Syria children kids daughter girl refugee migrant immigration
© Help to children of Syria/vk.com
Officers from the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation took patronage over an orphanage located in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to RIA Novosti.

The damage wrought during the Battle for Aleppo extends beyond the ruins of what was once Syria's economic capital. Countless children lost their parents and found themselves alone, with no escape. Their plight compelled officers from the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation of Warring Parties to take responsibility for a local orphanage, RIA Novosti reported.

It took a year for war to arrive in what had been Syria's largest city, and when it did, the struggle between government troops and Islamist militants literally ripped the city in two. Between July of 2012 and December of 2016, Aleppo was rocked by the deadly clash as the opposing sides vied for control of its streets.


So much for 'containing Russia': Gazprom reports steady increase in gas exports to Europe

Gas exports oil refinery gazprom
© Igor Zarembo / Sputnik
The Russian national gas company Gazprom has reported a 3.3 percent increase in sales to Europe in March. There has been a surge in sales to Turkey, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

"In March, Gazprom's deliveries to foreign partners increased by 3.3 percent (496 million cubic meters) compared with March 2016," the company said in a statement.

"The countries that will be able to deliver Russia gas through the Turkish Stream have shown good dynamics of growth in demand. For example, exports to Turkey increased by 51 percent, to Serbia by 37.6 percent and to Bulgaria by 19.4 percent," Gazprom added.