Lush cosmetics retailer, comes clean exposing spycop abuses…

Cosmetics brand Lush was praised by campaigners for its nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the spycops scandal and unfolding Establishment cover-up.

Lush’s spycops campaign is running from 1 to 18 June. Working with Police Spies Out of Lives, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the ongoing undercover policing scandal, where officers have infiltrated the lives, homes and beds of activists.

Customers will be asked to sign a postcard to Sajid Javid calling on the new Home Secretary to appoint a panel of experts to the inquiry, expand its remit to Scotland and to release the personal files of victims.

Campaigner Andrea, who was deceived into a long-term relationship by notorious spycop Carlo Neri, said she was delighted with Lush’s support. She said: “As victims of abusive undercover policing, we are dismayed by the current situation with the inquiry.

“So far, £10.5 million of public money has been spent on what seems like a vastly expensive cover-up.

Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith praised Lush founder Mark Constantine, telling the Star: “He promised to publicise the spycops issue in every store across the UK and he has lived up to his word.”

Mr Smith criticised negative responses on social media from former police officers, quickly amplified by the right-wing press.

“The backlash against exposing the truth about the dirty secrets the British state would prefer to stay hidden says a lot about the nature of the free press and their supposed role in holding power to account.”

Mr Smith said it was “turning into a secret inquiry,” adding: “The British state doesn’t want its dirty anti-democratic secrets aired in public.

“In its current form, the public inquiry is heading towards being a good old-fashioned Establishment whitewash.”

The inquiry has been beset by problems since it was launched in 2015.

There has been growing discontent among non-police or state participants, with concerns raised about former undercover officers being granted anonymity, as well as the slow speed of progress.

Campaigners were dismayed earlier this month when inquiry chairman John Mitting said the final report would not be delivered until December 2023.

Plenty of support for Lush’s campaign:

“To clear this up, this isn’t an anti-police campaign, it’s to highlight the abuse that people face when their lives have been infiltrated by undercover police,”

Lush’s campaign has not gone down well with the police: Criticism rarely does, they have a fragile image problem.

Make a stand and show support:

– Support Lush’s campaign. Visit a store and sign a postcard. Put a message of support on Lush’s Facebookpage, or tweet your support.

– Support Police Spies out of Lives.

– Sign the petition from the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

– Follow the #spycops hashtag on Twitter.

Advertisements

New charge for Devon & Cornwall police over death of Thomas Orchard in custody

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has informed the family of Thomas Orchard of its decision to bring a Health and Safety prosecution against the office of the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police concerning his death in 2012.  A first hearing will take place on 24 May 2018 at Westminster Magistrates court. The CPS decided against bringing charges under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.

Thomas died in 2012 following restraint while detained by Devon and Cornwall police.  Charges to be brought under section 3 of the Health and Safety Act relate to the Force’s use of an Emergency Response Belt (ERB), a piece of equipment used by officers during Thomas Orchard’s restraint. 

Image result for Thomas Orchard being arrested pictures
Thomas Orchard being booked into Heavitree Road police station

Thomas Orchard was a fit and physically healthy 32-year-old church caretaker, living independently in supported accommodation at the time of his death. He had a history of mental illness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. On 3 October 2012 he was arrested and detained by Devon and Cornwall officers in Exeter City Centre following reports of his bizarre and disorientated behaviour.

He was transported by police van to Heavitree Road Police Station. Upon arrival, in addition to the triple limb restraints applied, an ERB, made from a tough impermeable webbing fabric, was put around his face. The ERB remained held around his face as he was carried face down to a cell where he was left lying unresponsive on a cell floor. By the time officers re-entered his cell, Thomas was in cardiac arrest. He was transferred to hospital and pronounced dead on 10 October 2012.

Thomas’s family said, “We have spent the past five and a half years, since Thomas died in police custody, watching CCTV footage, listening to witness statements, reading reports, perusing documents which relate to the safety and well being of those in police custody, and witnessing the defensiveness of Devon and Cornwall Police. As a result, we have consistently told those in authority our view of what happened to our much loved son and brother on 3rd October 2012: his was a needless death caused – directly –by lack of care and negligence from the very people who should have been protecting him.

“More than anything else we want to see a change in police attitudes and behaviour, particularly towards those with mental health vulnerabilities. Despite almost six years having passed since Thomas’ death, the evidence suggests that few lessons have been learnt and that little has changed. We have, sadly, come to the conclusion that only a conviction will bring about a genuine commitment amongst police forces to instigate real change and improvement.

“Thomas died when he was 32 years old. We could not then have ever imagined how long we would have had to sustain our fight for justice. Today, as we contemplate what would have been his 38th birthday, our thanks go to those whose expertise has guided us, especially to our solicitors at Hickman and Rose, to all those at the charity, INQUEST, the Victim Support Service and to other families who have also lost loved ones in police custody. Thanks go, too, to our family, friends and colleagues who care with us and for us.”

Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST said: “The death of Thomas Orchard during a mental health crisis involved some of the most brutal use of restraint equipment by police that we have ever seen.  Since 2011 the CPS have had the power to bring corporate manslaughter charges against police forces. They have never used this power, and have chosen not to here. If not now, then when?

 “We have consistently seen the corporate role and responsibilities surrounding deaths in police custody delegated to the background, un-scrutinised and unchallenged.  This historic prosecution of Devon and Cornwall police is an important and necessary response.”

The solicitor for the family, Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose, said: “The family are pleased that the CPS has decided to prosecute Devon and Cornwall Police.

“This appears to be just the third time a chief constable has been prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in connection with a civilian’s death.

“The public will expect the CPS to fearlessly prosecute this case, without delay.

“Devon and Cornwall Police have failed to properly acknowledge public concern around Thomas’s death, including a repeated refusal to accept that they or their officers have a case to answer for their involvement in Thomas’ death. Now the courts will hear the case against the office of the chief constable. Thomas’ family have waited long enough.”

Forces warned over restraining belts on detainees’ heads

INQUEST

Thomas Orchard trial: CCTV shows police restraining him – video

The Orchard family outside a previous court hearing and, right, Thomas Orchard
The Orchard family outside a previous court hearing

Music producer and DJ Avicii has died, aged 28 “Wake Me Up”

The Swedish superstar was found dead in Oman on Friday.

Music producer and DJ Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, has died at the age of 28.

His publicist Diana Baron confirmed the news with an official statement issued to Billboard on Friday.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” Baron said.

“He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th.
“The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given.”
Avicii was a pioneer of the contemporary Electronic Dance Movement and a rare DJ capable of worldwide arena tours. He won two MTV Music Awards, one Billboard Music Award and earned two Grammy nominations. His biggest hit was “Le7els.”

Avicii’s hits include “Wake Me Up!” ”The Days” and “You Make Me.” He is the subject of the 2017 Levan Tsikurishvil documentary “Avicii: True Stories.”

Avicii had in the past suffered acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking. After having his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014, he cancelled a series of shows in attempt to recover. He quit touring in 2016 but continued making music in the studio.

“It’s been a very crazy journey. I started producing when I was 16. I started touring when I was 18. From that point on, I just jumped into 100 percent,” Avicii told Billboard magazine in 2016.

“When I look back on my life, I think: whoa, did I do that? It was the best time of my life in a sense. It came with a price – a lot of stress a lot of anxiety for me – but it was the best journey of my life.”

Last year, he posted this message on his website, promising to keep creating: “The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new.”

Rest in peace avicii, wake me up will always be a legendary song:

His last Instgram post dated 4 April was a picture of himself in a room with piano, and the caption: ‘It’s always sunny in California:

🌞🌫It’s always sunny in California🌫🌞

A post shared by Avicii (@avicii) on

 

Cambridge Analytica’s dirty tricks! media and political critics, who for years feted “big data,” suddenly pretend it’s a crime,

“We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then . . . give it a little push every now and again . . . like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda,’ because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?'”

That’s how Mark Turnbull, managing director of Cambridge Analytica — the election consulting firm that worked for Donald Trump; the Brexit campaign and dozens of other clients; political parties in Kenya, Mexico and beyond — described the company’s tactics to a “customer” who was, in fact, a reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News. The “information” in question referred to false information, which the company itself was proposing to create. Perhaps a little sting operation involving some “beautiful” Ukrainian girls? The company could catch it on a secret camera, and get it “into the bloodstream of the Internet.”

Cambridge Analytica: Undercover Secrets of Trump’s Data Firm

 

Whether and to what extent this constituted legal wrongdoing or a violation of service terms is still to be ruled on. Facebook says that users “knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked” and that Cambridge Analytica merely used the data beyond its original purpose, and was told to delete it, and has suspended it from its platform. Cambridge Analytica counters that it was misled and got rid of the data as it was instructed. Facebook argues that it did not violate its users’ self-selected privacy settings when it gave away their data, though regulators may argue otherwise.

Cambridge was hired by the Donald Trump campaign in June 2016, as Trump’s push to the general election started to slowly organize. The rationale behind that hire appears to be in large part to secure the support of the wealthy Mercer family, which helped found and fund Cambridge and which, ultimately, did mobilize behind Trump’s candidacy.

There are a few questions that have surrounded Cambridge’s role in Trump’s campaign. For one thing, the firm was employed both by Trump’s campaign and by a pro-Trump independent group called Make America Number 1 PAC. That group was a vehicle for the Mercer family to spend unlimited funds advocating for Trump’s candidacy.

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica crisis keeps growing

It’s been a rough few days for Facebook.

The Menlo Park, California-based company is under siege from lawmakersregulatorsusersshareholders, and even its own employees amid revelations that Cambridge Analytics, a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, secretly harvested personal data from 50 million of its users.

The saga began on Friday evening, when Facebook posted a statement announcing it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and its British parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, from its platform. Facebook said its policies had been violated when Cambridge University scholar Aleksandr Kogan passed the data of millions of users, obtained through a personality test app, to Cambridge and SCL.

A pair of blockbuster reports from the New York Times and the UK’s Observer released Saturday explained the scope of the problem: Cambridge Analytica collected the data not only of the approximately 270,000 users who agreed to take Kogan’s personality quiz but also their friends, thus harvesting information on tens of millions of people without their knowledge or permission.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign also used Cambridge Analytica — according to the Center for Responsive Politics, his campaign paid the firm $5.9 million during the 2016 election. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and Super PACs supporting him paid the firm millions of dollars as well.

The reports about Facebook have sparked widespread backlash, and the company’s efforts to minimize the situation have fallen short. Facebook has tried to explain that what happened technically doesn’t count as adata breachand has hired a digital forensics firm to audit Cambridge Analytica. But it’s sort of too little, too late.

The fallout hit hard and fast over the weekend as the Times and Observer stories broke. The company has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market cap, and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook is percolating on Twitter. There are reports that the company’s chief security officer is headed for the exit. And as lawmakers in the US and Europe call for Facebook to shape up and explain what happened, it appears the tech giant’s troubles are far from over.

OFF TO FACEBOOK JAIL YOU GO! Over 300 cops and police staff disciplined for social media offences including grooming and sharing extreme porn

As many as 300 officers and police staff have been disciplined for online offences with some so serious they have been forced to leave their jobs

HUNDREDS of cops and other police staff have been accused of Facebook offences including online grooming.

Some have been sacked or suspended while others have been reprimanded.

Online offences

Trolling and sharing extreme pornography also feature among more than 300 serious incidents involving Facebook that forces have owned up to.

All occurred over the past two years, a study by a political think tank found.

But not all of the nation’s 43 police forces revealed data, meaning the true total is likely to be far higher.

Among the worst cases is suspected online grooming by a police employee in Merseyside.

Another there quit after posting “offensive messages in relation to a football match”.

In North Yorkshire, a crime victim’s family was harassed via Facebook.

In the West Country an officer was carpeted for posting an “inappropriate picture with a gun”.

Other police and staff nationwide have used Facebook to post racist abuse and leak operational information.

Facebook

One was hauled in for using Facebook’s messaging site to send saucy snaps while in uniform.

The probe by think tank Parliament Street found that six Met staff had resigned or retired since 2015 after incidents involving Facebook.

The. offences included dereliction of duty, abusive language and one dismissal for unknown “abuse”.

Experts at Centropy PR, which specialises in research into social media, last night slammed the scandal.

Boss Steven George-Hilley said: “It’s outrageous so many bobbies are behaving like this.

“Police chiefs need to take action to retrain employees who misuse Facebook.

“Those who put investigations at risk should be axed.”

Thousands of children ‘put in harm’s way by public institutions’

Some of England’s most vulnerable children are being needlessly put in harm’s way because their safety and wellbeing is ignored whilst the Government is focused on Brexit. So says State of Children’s Rights 2017, a new report from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, which has found that the Government is not doing enough to stop young children being:

  • subjected to the use of Tasers and spit-hoods by the police or locked up alone in police cells for days on end
  • forced to spend months living in squalid and overcrowded homeless accommodation that has not been vetted to make sure it is a safe place for children
  • denied timely access to desperately-needed local mental health care when they reach emotional crisis point

The charity says thousands of England’s most vulnerable children are experiencing dangerous situations whilst political leaders look the other way.

Louise King, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance says, “Due to Brexit, the political focus is dominated by trade, the economy and our negotiations with the EU. Meanwhile little or no attention is being paid to some of the huge danger experienced by struggling families and ill-protected children who are being failed by our public institutions. Government should ensure that Ministers have a legal obligation to consider how their decisions will affect children.”

The report finds that whilst the number of under-18s being arrested has dropped by more than half in the last six years, the use of hooding, Tasers, stop-and-searches and police-cell detentions, on children under 18 in England is increasing sharply.

  • Tasers are still being used on hundreds of children in England with at least 519 uses in 2016 (an increase of 25 per cent from 2013). Last year, Tasers were discharged or fired in 42 of these uses and the youngest child fired on with a Taser was just twelve years old. (The UN Committee against Torture has said the use of Tasers on children should be banned.)
  • Twenty out of the 40 police forces in England currently use spit-hoods. Fifteen forces provided data indicating that spit-hood use on children is rising. They were used on at least 68 children in the first nine months of 2017 – including a ten-year-old boy – compared to at least 27 in 2016 and twelve in 2015.  Risk assessments drawn up by police forces reference the dangers of ‘breathing restriction and asphyxia’ posed to people wearing them. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has investigated the deaths of several adults following the use of spit hoods.
  • Thirty-three police forces in England admitted that between them they held, at least 22,408 children, “ including more than forty 10 and 11 year-olds overnight in police cells during the course of 2016. One child was detained for nearly five days. More than a third (36 per cent) of children, detained overnight in police cells were children from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. In London BAME children accounted for nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the 8,275 children detained overnight.

The study documents a rise in the number of children in homeless families whose health and wellbeing is put at risk by living in temporary accommodation that has frequently not been inspected and certificated as safe places for young children to reside.

  • Local authorities are not fulfilling their safeguarding duties and inspections are being carried out infrequently. Almost a third of 200+ local authorities, that responded to the charity’s FOI requests, do not have a safeguarding policy that applies when transferring children from local authority accommodation to private rental temporary accommodation. Over half said they did not have one for transferring children to local authority temporary accommodation or B&Bs.
  • Meanwhile there has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of families with children living in temporary homeless accommodation since 2010. And by the end of June this year 2,710 families with dependent or expected children were living in B&B accommodation, nearly four times more than in 2010 (740). Over a third of families (1,200) were living there for more than six weeks, which is against the law.

Eighteen year-old Fowzia, who lived in a B&B for six months said, “The B&B was horrible. There were no cooking facilities or fridge so we had no choice but to buy fast food and my mum was getting very little benefits. We had to all live in two small rooms. It was really squashed and my disabled brother had to share a bed with my mum. It was cold and dirty and when we complained, no one helped us or ever came to inspect it. At one point, someone broke into our room which scared us all.”

The charity’s analysis revealed that despite the significant ongoing investment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) this increased funding is still not reaching the frontline. Access and waiting times continue to be a postcode lottery whilst rates of suicide and self-harm amongst children have increased at alarming rates.

  • In 2016, nearly three per cent of 5-17 year olds (200,000 children) received specialist mental health treatment.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found CAHMS waiting times of between 35 days to 18 months in different areas.
  • Seven out of 10 children with severe mental health problems were admitted to hospitals outside of their local areas in 2016- 2017, an increase of 57 per cent from the previous year placing them far away from their family, friends and local services at a time when they are the most vulnerable.
  • Over a quarter of children referred to specialist mental health services are not accepted for treatment, most often because they do not meet the eligibility criteria for specialist CAMHS.

Read State of Children’s Rights in England 2017 here

 

Military test centre for frikkin’ laser cannon opens in Hampshire

UK arms giant QinetiQ has opened a new ‘centre of excellence’ for the development and testing of cutting-edge laser cannon. The new facility, named Dragonworks, will be an operational playground for lasers designed for the military.

 

Among other things, the facility in Farnborough, Hampshire boasts a dedicated clean room for assembling laser weaponry, as well as “the UK’s only Reflective Hazard Assessment Tool” (RHAT), designed to examine how laser energy is reflected from different surfaces.

The first key project to be undertaken at Dragonworks will be the assembly and testing of the Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) currently being developed by the UK’s Dragonfire consortium. Components are set to arrive in early 2018, when QinetiQ will begin building the weapon’s laser source, the company said on its website.

Testing of the prototype will begin on UK ranges in 2018, climaxing in a major demonstration in 2019, the British government said in September. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dragonfire-laser-directed-energy-weapons
Once the characteristics of the laser have been figured out, the LDEW is to be installed on a warship, The Register reported.

Peter Cooper, the Project Technical Authority in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which manages the Dragonfire contract on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, said that the new facility in Farnborough is “a key step in delivering the Dragonfire project and reflects the continuing UK MOD investment, supported and enabled by industry funding, amounting to tens of millions of pounds in UK industrial skills and capabilities and underpinning UK prosperity.”

In September of last year, the British government said that a £30 million ($40 million) deal for a new laser, which could “transform weapons technology of the future and the development of the UK’s first laser weapon,” had been finalized. Financial support comes from the government’s new £800 million ($1 billion) Innovation Fund, which is also sponsoring research into “cutting edge anti-missile systems, tiny insect-inspired surveillance drones, quantum gravitational detectors, advanced protective materials, and airborne threat-targeting laser weapons.”

It is hoped that a novel laser weapon could “complement or replace existing weapons systems with the potential for significant benefits.”Such a weapon could be employed to protect the UK’s land and maritime forces, including ships, from such threats as “missiles or soldiers from enemy mortars,” according to a government statement.