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Justice

Ian Watkins Trial

There have been a number of high profile abuse/paedophilia cases recently, with probably the most high profile being the Jimmy Saville case; but also, because it’s my home, the North Wales care home abuse scandal.

However, none feel like they’ve affected me personally as much as the Ian Watkins case.

I don’t know if this is because of the quite harrowing circumstances, and the fact that other cases have glossed over the details; or simply because I was a big fan of the Lostprophets for their first couple of albums.

I remember buying their singles and albums, and how great it was that Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja got so much airplay while I was in the university gym. This was back in the day when people used to record radio onto cassette, and I recorded every interview or mention. They lost me as a fan as they became more ‘poppie’, but I still loved fakesoundofprogress, they made some epic hits like Last Train Home, and they had some great covers as their B sides.

As I think of those songs now, I am reminded of how much I enjoyed listening to them. Usually this feeling prompts me to put those albums on, but not on this occasion. I don’t think I can ever bring myself to listen to them again; and there are 5 guys in the band who’ve done nothing wrong.

In a dream I had a few nights ago, Ian Watkins was crying and remorseful. I gave him a hug and cried with him. Then I wake up and, not only am I reminded of the facts of the case, but new evidence comes to light that the police could’ve acted sooner than they did. And a day later, even more people are coming forward.

Not only am I shocked and appalled by what he has done, I am also appalled at myself for admiring him, and being fooled about the type of person he is. It makes me question everyone else I look up to; and regard them with some suspicion about what ‘perks’ they use their celebrity status for.

There is no question that he has pleaded guilty to heinous crimes, and if it really was all because of the drugs, then he’s a bloody good advert for not taking drugs. I’m sceptical though. I imagine the police are correct that he has used his celebrity status to his own ends, but to some extent, that has also given him more publicity as a paedophile.

Peaches Geldof was right to apologise: I don’t know what websites she has been reading, but I have not read the women’s names anywhere, and in some cases I have read that the women cannot be named.

But I don’t understand why the women involved are not to be named. They abused their own children, and willingly gave them to another person to abuse. It is well beyond my comprehension how anyone could do this, high or not. They are also paedophiles, but for some reason they are protected.

I have no intention of naming them when they are legally protected, but I would like to understand why they are protected.

Activism Justice

Hillside Animal Sanctuary Farm Investigation

I would rather it stop altogether, but anyone who eats animals should demand better.

Staffordshire Trading Standards are already aware of the disgusting conditions these animals are forced to live in, as are the RSPCA. But perhaps they just need more of a push.

Trading Standards’ contact details are as follows:

Animal Health Division, Staffordshire County Council, Wedgewood Building, Tipping Street, Staffordshire ST16 2DH

01785 277875

animal.health@staffordshire.gov.uk

Activism Justice

Petition Against Forced Bullfighting

The Portuguese town of Viano do Castelo passed a ban on bullfighting in 2009. But this month, a local administrative court overruled their ordinance, set up a temporary bullring, and staged a fight.

Bullfighting is a cruel sport that kills and injures all animals involved. Viano do Castelo had every right to ban it in the town limits. A court should not overrule the city’s law.

Sign the petition condemning the court’s action.

Activism Justice

Stop Gambia’s Execution Spree

After 27 years of not using the death penalty, President Yahya Jammeh has decided to bring it back to ‘rid the country of all criminals’.

9 executions took place on 23rd August, without warning, time for appealing or even time to say goodbye.The remaining 38 inmates on death row are expected to be executed by mid-September.

Political dissent is being disguised as treason, which is a capital offence. The President has also threatened to behead all homosexuals.

Sign Amnesty’s petition calling for a retraction and restoring the unofficial moratorium of the death penalty.

Activism Justice

Teaching and Exam Board Scandal

I feel compelled to write about the Daily Telegraph’s recent expose on exam boards because I know one of the teachers who appears in a video on the website, and who has apparently been suspended following the article.

The man in question is Dr Paul Evans of Denbigh High School, and formerly Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin. He only ever taught me a few hours of General Studies, but to this day, I believe I would’ve studied History to GCSE and possibly A-level if he had taught me in Year 9. And I regret that. He was well-known throughout the school as being a great teacher, not only for his passion for his subject but also for his ability to communicate with students in a way that actually got through to them. I can’t remember if I had already left Brynhyfryd when I heard he was moving to Denbigh High, but I do remember thinking it would be a great loss to Brynhyfryd.

And now onto the scandal of – shock horror – teachers knowing that questions are cyclical and passing on this knowledge to other teachers and students. Frankly I would be concerned if a teacher with many years experience had not cottoned onto this fact. The real scandal here is the Daily Telegraph featuring an expose in 2011 when this has been going on since before I left school 10 years ago. British journalism is apparently in the same sorry state that the education system is in.

I was taught at GCSE and A-level in a way that allowed me to gain good exam results, because guess what? Teachers and schools are rewarded for good exam results! I was lucky to have many excellent teachers, including Dr Evans’s wife, who all had to deal with limited time to teach broad syllabuses, usually to large classes of varying educational standard.

I went on to an excellent university where, like many universities, you can buy past exam papers to aid your revision. It is not difficult to notice that questions here are also cyclical. Or if you’re really lucky, they ask the same 10 questions every year, and you only have to answer 3. How many would you bother revising? I always chose 4, just in case they threw in something different.I have since gone on to study a module with the Open University, where I gained excellent marks for basically quoting their own textbook back to them.

It is absolutely disgusting that Dr Evans is being used as a scapegoat of this whole debacle, when it is plain to see from just one student’s point of view, that this is not cheating. It is simply the way things are done in this education system. Making Dr Evans out to be the bad guy and suspending him just shows how ridiculously out of touch the Daily Telegraph and Denbigh High School and anyone else badmouthing him is.

As quoted from Elizabeth Truss MP in this Guardian article, “It’s a mistake to say there’s a few rotten apples [in the exam system], this is a symptom of a wider problem with the way the system is structured, that we need to deal with.”

Activism Justice

A Living Wage

Video from Fair Pay Network about increasing inequality and working poverty in the UK, and the importance of a living wage.

Currently the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is £6.08 per hour for people over 20 years old.  Working a 40-hour week for 52 weeks of the year, this would give a gross annual income of £12,646.40. The Outside London Living Wage set by the Centre for Research in Social Policy is £7.20 per hour, giving a gross annual income of £14,976 under the same circumstances.

In 2010, an estimated 3.5 million employees aged 22 to retirement were paid less than £7 per hour. Incredibly, two-thirds were women and one-third were men; so one in five female employees – and one in ten male employees – were paid less than £7 per hour in the UK. (from The Poverty Site)

The situation of working poverty is worsening with the financial crisis, as wages are frozen (even inflationary rises have been abandoned by many companies) and living costs rise sharply, especially fuel.

You can check out whether you are earning an acceptable amount using the Minimum Income Calculator. Please bear in mind that this is a fairly rough estimate, based on assumptions about you and where you live.

Activism Environment Justice

WWF’s Timber Pledge

As a local authority I’m sure you buy all sorts of timber products, from office paper to wood for construction. But many local authorities don’t know where the timber they buy comes from, which means it could be from forests which have been logged illegally or unsustainably. This is devastating for forests and the people who depend on them.

By buying certified timber you can support sustainable forest management and help ensure a future for the forests around the world where our paper and wood comes from.

So far Cardiff is the only council in Wales to have made a pledge with WWF to improve the way they buy wood and paper products.  I’m asking you to commit to improving your timber purchasing by making a WWF pledge. I would like to know that the wood and paper you buy for use in our community is not damaging forests.

This is an important step towards ensuring that our community has a positive impact on forests and local communities in places like Indonesia and the Congo Basin where they rely on healthy forests for shelter, food and fuel.

Please make a WWF pledge.

Thank you.

Activism Justice

War on Want Report on Taxation

The central principle of progressive taxation – the more you earn the more you can afford to pay – has been broken down over the last few decades. Now some of the richest people in society pay a lower proportion of their income in tax than some of the poorest.

One of the key ways this is done is using tax havens such as Jersey or the Cayman Islands, which allow rich individuals and multinational corporations to escape paying their fair share to the exchequer. The UK loses around £18 billion to tax havens each year, while poor countries lose up to ten times that much.  If the tax system can be fixed, we could avoid deep spending cuts in the UK and take a giant step towards a world without extreme poverty.

A new report just launched by War on Want, the trade union PCS and the Tax Justice Network details just how to do that. The report recommends a number of measures that would begin to unwind the complex and highly profitable tax dodging industry.

Activism Environment Justice

Avaaz Climate Petition

Right now, a major climate fight is blowing up in Australia — the government is about to pass a law that would cut carbon emissions and get polluters to pay. But big businesses are trying to kill the bill.

This carbon pricing law is a win-win measure — it will push dirty businesses towards clean production and generate more resources for working families. If it passes, it will spur other major emitters to follow suit and could be the next best hope for our climate.

Sign the urgent petition to back this bold initiative

The measure would make polluting companies pay, encouraging them to become more efficient while funding technologies of the future and increasing support to the most needy.

Countries like Denmark, Sweden and Costa Rica have already introduced carbon-pricing, spurring innovation and reducing pollution. If we now embolden Australia — the worst rich country per person carbon polluter — to follow their lead, it will generate momentum for other major emitters such as China and the US to follow suit, boosting our chances of a global climate deal next year.

Activism Justice

Success for Amnesty Campaign

Three weeks ago, we asked for your help to make Royal Bank of Scotland end its investment in companies that produce cluster bombs – and you did us proud. Over 1,000 of you donated to an ad campaign to shame RBS. Over 11,000 of you emailed the bank’s Chief Executive. And hundreds more wrote, rang and tweeted your revulsion.

So I’m delighted to share the news that last week RBS changed their policy and agreed to cease investments in companies involved in the production of cluster munitions – thanks to you. At first RBS flat out denied our allegations. But in the end, it seems the threat of our ad campaign was just the pressure they needed to change their minds.

They have now committed to drawing up a new policy and have frozen their dealings with companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs while they do so. They’re also going to work with the UK Government and other banks to draw up a code of conduct. Find out what RBS said and how we’re going to hold them to account