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UK gov buries secret report on soaring reliance on foodbanks and welfare system

uk dwp
© Wikimedia - UK Government
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is sitting on its own 'secret' investigation into foodbank use. It should have released it in October 2019. Now, an SNP MP has put the issue back on parliament's agenda. But one campaign group told The Canary that it thinks the DWP 'buried' the report on purpose.

The DWP: foodbank Britain

As the Guardian reported, more and more people in the UK are using foodbanks. The Trussell Trust said that in 2018/19, as many as 3 million food parcels were given out by all UK foodbanks. Around 2% of households in the UK received a parcel. Moreover, the Trussell Trust alone gave out over 800,000 food parcels between April and September 2019. This was a 23% rise on 2018.

The Trussell Trust also says that foodbank use has increased in areas where the DWP has rolled out Universal Credit. And it says that over 60% of people referred to foodbanks have had "problematic experiences with the benefits system". These include:

Comment: Life for the many in the UK has been on a downward spiral for well over a decade, but there's no hiding from the "unprecedented" rise in infant mortality; the rather sudden plunge in life expectancy for the poorest; the surge in foodbank use; the blatant and deplorable signs of childhood poverty; the underfunded and deteriorating National Health Service, as well as the understaffed and overstretched police force - to name but a few of its problems.

See also: Democracy in meltdown: In almost every country, people's faith in democratic systems is at rock-bottom levels

And check out SOTT radio's:


Attention

'He went mad': Soldier livestreams his rampage through shopping mall in Thailand, killing 30, injuring 58

Thai soldier
© NATTAYA NGANIEM/via REUTERS
A person runs away during a Thai soldier's shooting rampage in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand February 8, 2020
A Thai soldier has killed at least 30 people in a mass shooting and injured 58 before taking hostages inside a shopping mall while taking selfies and livestreaming on social media.

The man, who police identified as a junior army officer, opened fire in a shopping center in Korat, also known as Nakhon Ratchasima, in northeast Thailand. Before the attack he killed his commander and two others, stole weapons and ammunition and fled in a stolen Humvee.

Terminal 21 mall was full of Saturday shoppers when the attack occurred. A video posted to social media show people running inside the building and fleeing outside as multiple shots are fired.

Eye 1

Funding for women's group under review after call for ban on man-woman relationships

Tweet Gabrielle Bouchard

Tweet by Gabrielle Bouchard.
The Quebec government says it will re-evaluate the $120,000 annual public funding it gives to the province's biggest women's federation after its president suggested that heterosexual relationships should be banned.

Gabrielle Bouchard, president of the Federation des femmes du Quebec, made the controversial comment Tuesday on Twitter, before issuing an apology on Facebook and during televised media interviews later in the day.

Bouchard says her original tweet was in reaction to news that a man out on parole after being convicted of killing his female partner had been arrested in the slaying last week of a 22-year-old woman in Quebec City.

Attention

Indiana U defends, then cancels, 'Sex Fest' featuring BDSM demos, 'kink' and 'sex toys'

indiana university sexfest
New video and photos out of Indiana University show an individual being publicly whipped as part of a university-sponsored "sex fest."

The Indiana University Health Center's three-day 4th annual sex fest includes booths showcasing various sex toys and flogging mechanisms, complete with diagrams showing students how to use them. Some of the exhibits include free cupcakes and contraceptives, as well as free HIV testing, according to the Indiana Daily Student. Attendees also receive t-shirts that say "I love sex."


Comment: Their fourth?


On Tuesday, Debbie Herbenick hosted Lexx Brown James, a licensed marriage and family therapist, on a panel titled "Kick-off to Kink."

Wednesday's events included a "Kink Workshop" and educational booths demonstrating the "safe use of different sex toys." Students were also invited to a workshop on "contract development and boundaries."

Student congressman Matt Ahmann (@realMattAhmann) tweeted a video of part of the event, which included a man whipping a woman while she was tied up. Ahmann shared the video with Campus Reform.


Comment: Apparently this is what passes for 'higher education' in American universities. See also:


Snakes in Suits

Canadian scientist at center of Chinese bio-espionage probe found dead in Africa?

Dr. Frank Plummer
Update (1135ET): It seems that Mr. Plummer made a habit of getting the biological material he was working on "stolen," as we found a report from 2009 in the Winnepeg Free Press that details the theft of 22 vials of biological material was "confirmed by scientific director Dr. Frank Plummer."
Plummer, allegedly, alerted authorities to the missing material on the same day a former vaccine researcher was arrested by FBI special agents after U.S. Customs discovered the vials stuffed in a glove in the trunk of his car at the Manitoba-North Dakota border crossing.

Some of the vials included genes from the deadly Ebola virus, but local scientists say the material is not infectious.

But more than a week after the theft came to light, police said no one from the lab has reported the incident.

Plummer has said the researcher signed a form declaring he did not steal anything from the lab and understood he was not allowed to. The national lab does not conduct searches of staff when they exit the lab and does not routinely take inventory of the thousands of vials containing non-infectious biological substances.

However, court documents allege the former researcher stole the vials on his last day of work at the virology lab in January because "he did not want to start his research over from the beginning when he entered into his next fellowship" with the National Institutes of Health at the Biodefense Research Laboratory in Maryland.
All very curious.

Stop

Oops! PayPal freezes magazine's paychecks for mentioning 'Iran'

US-Iran flags
© Reuters / Patrick Fallon
quick, sanction it!
Writers for a Jewish magazine in New York have had their paychecks frozen after PayPal flagged the transactions as a violation of US sanctions against Iran - because one payment included a note referencing the country.

Paychecks for nine contributors to Jewish Currents have been snarled in the ever-growing US sanctions dragnet, all because the 'payment purpose' field on one of them read "January plus Iran piece," publisher Jacob Plitman told Gizmodo on Wednesday.

Airplane

Bodies of 5 people killed in Alaska plane crash recovered

CRASH
The bodies of a pilot and four passengers killed in a small airplane crash in southwest Alaska were recovered, troopers said.

All five people died after a Yute Commuter Service plane leaving Bethel on its way to Kipnuk crashed 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Tuntutuliak on Thursday, Alaska State Troopers said.

A recovery team found the first body Thursday and the remaining four bodies on Friday, Anchorage Daily News reported.

The recovery team was made up of troopers, volunteers from Tuntutuliak, the Bethel Fire Department and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The site of the crash is only accessible by snowmachine and air, Troopers public information officer Tim DeSpain said. The wreckage is in an area of flat, snow-covered tundra, said Clinton Johnson, chief of the Alaska Regional Office of the NTSB.

Ambulance

8 killed, dozens injured in overnight brawls in south Kazakhstan

Eight people were killed in clashes in Kazakhstan

Eight people were killed in clashes in Kazakhstan
Eight people died and dozens others were hurt in clashes involving hundreds of villagers in Kazakhstan's south, Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev said Saturday.

"Several dozen people were injured, eight died," Turgumbayev said after clashes Friday in the Jambyl region, some three hours drive from Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called an emergency government session Saturday where he said the situation was "under the control" of police and the national guard.

"Tonight, in a number of settlements in the Kordai district of Zhambyl region, clashes and group fights between local residents took place," Tokayev said.


Quenelle

Brazil: Workers' Party not to partner with Bolsonaro's allies, seeks to end neo-liberal agenda

Meeting of the Workers' Party (PT), Brazil, Feb. 8 2020.
© Twitter/ @ResumendelSur
Meeting of the Workers' Party (PT), Brazil, Feb. 8 2020.
The Brazilian left will create a 'Popular Front' to defeat neoliberal politicians in the municipal elections.

Brazil's Workers Party (PT) Saturday announced that it will participate in the October municipal elections without making alliances with the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) or the Democratic Party (DEM), which are supporting President Jair Bolsonaro's Neoliberal policies.

"Our party will seek to establish a 'Popular Democratic Front' with the participation of the leftist parties, social movements, progressive sectors, the Brazil Popular Front, and the People Without Fear Front," Federal lawmaker and PT president Gleisi Hoffmann said.

She also explained that the Workers' Party seeks to "build the social and popular strength necessary to prevent setbacks and defeat the Bolsonaro administration's policies."​​​​​​​

The PSDB and DEM are supporting the Brazilian far-right government's agenda, which seeks to reduce social investment, privatize public assets, and facilitate business inside the Amazon.

Pirates

Afghanistan: US 'contractor' reportedly taken hostage by Taliban


Comment: 'Contractor' is just a euphemism for soldier... the Pentagon is so sensitive about public reaction to troops coming home in body-bags from interminable unwinnable wars that they've 'outsourced' US troops' pay to mercenary companies, but they're still US soldiers on a US mission, whatever exactly that is...


Art Frerichs
© Fox 32 screenshot
Art Frerichs, father of kidnapped contractor in Afghanistan
A multi-department effort to recover an American contractor has been launched after it was alleged that a Taliban-aligned group kidnapped the US citizen late last month.

Mark R. Frerichs, a 57-year-old government contractor from Lombard Illinois, was captured on January 31 in Afghanistan's southeastern city of Khost by militants linked to the Taliban, according to Newsweek, citing US officials.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the officials revealed that Frerichs, who is also a former diver of the US Navy, had regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012. While few details were offered about the 57-year-old's alleged capture, the sources did confirm that a joint effort to locate and rescue him had been launched by the US Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As for the group responsible, Washington currently believes the American was kidnapped by members of the Haqqani network, which is affiliated with the Taliban, Newsweek reported. Two Western hostages, Kevin King of the US and Australian national Tim Weeks, were previously exchanged for three senior commanders of the Taliban-aligned group back in November 2019. The two individuals had been in captivity for three years before an agreement was reached.

However, no group has publicly taken responsibility for Frerichs' alleged kidnapping.

Comment: WGN9, 6/2/2020 Lombard, Illinois man taken hostage
Family members in the western suburbs turned down WGN's request for interviews. However, Frerichs father, Art Frerichs, spoke to the Daily Herald and said he has faith that the president and the FBI will find his son.

DePaul University security and terrorism expert, Tom Mockaitis, says Friday Frerichs was operating in a dangerous area. The 57-year-old was reportedly kidnapped in the Afghanistan city of Khost which sits on the border of a mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mockaitis' interview is included in the video:


FOX 32, 6/2/2020: Mark Frerichs' father's comments
American forces have launched a ground-and-intelligence-gathering mission over the past few days to try to locate Mark. The search in part has been hindered by severe winter weather, which has prevented overhead drone surveillance and made it difficult to navigate the terrain.

According to Mark's LinkedIn page, he's a civil engineer and managing director of a company called International Logistical Support, who, over the last 10 years, has worked in several military conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa. Mark also served as a deep diver in the U.S. Navy, according to Newsweek.