Johnson’s Britain, homeless woman gives birth to twins

This September 2016 video from Canada says about itself:

All the times the Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau were style twins

From looking lovely in lace to fierce in florals, fashion icons Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and the Duchess of Cambridge have proved many times that they are on the same style wavelength when it comes to making a sartorial splash.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Duchess of Cambridge is Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William of Britain.

Now, a different side of Cambridge, a different Sophie, and different twins.

By Margot Miller in Britain:

Homeless woman gives birth to twins outside the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College

31 December 2019

At 7 a.m. on December 23, as a cold day dawned, a homeless woman gave birth to twins outside Cambridge University’s historic Trinity College.

The babies were born at 29 weeks, which is 11 weeks premature. They are currently receiving care along with the mother—known only as “Sophie” and aged around 30—in the nearby Rosie hospital, a specialist maternity centre.

Had it not been for the prompt assistance of the public, the mother and children may have died on the steps of one of the world’s richest universities. Staff from nearby supermarket Sainsbury’s as well as passers-by saw the woman in distress and called an ambulance.

This shocking event underlines mounting social inequality, which tipped many like Sophie into destitution and many more into poverty or debt. At the other end of the scale, the richest 500 on the planet increased their wealth 25 percent since last year to an almost incomprehensible $5.9 trillion.

In the UK, the total number of billionaires rose to 151. Yet more than half a million children in England live in homeless families or families on the verge of homelessness. One in 200 individuals is without a home.

Housing charity Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate declared, “Homelessness blights lives and leaves a lasting imprint of trauma, and yet 280,000 people in England are without a home this Christmas. And many are only days away from joining them…127,000 children in England will wake up homeless on Christmas day.

“As well as those facing serious ill-health or even death sleeping rough on our streets this winter, there are thousands of families trapped in grotty emergency B&Bs, with no space for children to sit and eat, let alone play.”

The charity’s latest report, “This is England: a picture of homelessness in 2019,” reveals the crisis at its most acute in London with one in 52 people homeless. The borough of Newham has the worst problem, where one in 24 are homeless, followed by Haringey and Kensington and Chelsea (both one in 29).

The figures for areas outside the capital include Luton (one in 46), Birmingham (one in 66) and Brighton and Hove (one in 75). Manchester has one in 102 people homeless.

Shelter indicated the figure 280,000—a year on increase of 13,000—is likely an underestimation, as it does not include sofa surfers and other forms of “rough sleeping”.

The organisation’s review of government data revealed for the first time the numbers threatened with homelessness—almost 220,000 people in England in 2019.

Since the 1980s, the state under both Conservative and Labour abrogated the responsibility of providing housing, beginning with the right-to-buy council housing policy introduced by then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and embraced by Tony Blair’s Labour government. Today, some councils build no new social houses and are selling off existing stock. Shelter estimates that 3.1 million new social homes are needed over the next 20 years, including 1.27 million for homeless families.

The shortage of housing is so critical that some families are housed in converted office blocks and even tiny shipping containers.

The lack of social housing and the shortage of affordable, private rented accommodation combined with the introduction of Universal Credit (UC)—a means-tested welfare benefit—have led to homelessness becoming a national epidemic.

The amount families receive under the UC benefit allocation for housing costs does not cover rising rents, and there is a five-week delay between applying for and receiving UC. This, plus the bedroom tax, whereby households living in social housing suffer a benefit cut if they have a spare bedroom, means a family or single person can very easily slip into destitution and homelessness.

Former Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith launched UC in 2013, as Secretary for Work and Pensions under Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. The punitive benefit was rolled out from 2016, designed to drive people into low-paying work and keep them there. That Duncan Smith has been bestowed a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list underscores the right-wing agenda of Boris Johnson’s Tory government, which will continue to shovel wealth from the working class to the very rich.

The previous Conservative government’s Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 was window dressing—placing new duties on councils to prevent homelessness without providing the necessary resources. In 2018, then Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced a totally inadequate £30 million grant for councils to tackle rough sleeping.

As always, it is working people rather than government officials who come forward to help.

“Imagine giving birth alone on the pavement, in the shadow of the richest college in Cambridge,” said Jess Agar, who launched a crowdfunding campaign for homeless Sophie on discovering her plight. “This is the reality for many people living on the streets,” she said. Within a few days, the fund exceeded its £22,000 target, reaching £24,688.

The terrible social plight of growing numbers of vulnerable impoverished such as Sophie contrasts with the soaring fortunes of the affluent. Cambridge’s richest college, Trinity—a bastion of wealth and privilege that has educated the scions of the ruling class for centuries—is a case in point as it sits on assets totalling £1.34 billion.

In May 2018, the Guardian revealed the prestigious colleges comprising Oxford and Cambridge Universities (Oxbridge) held assets—including priceless works of art and original manuscripts—worth a staggering £21 billion.

Oxbridge have used their credit ratings, higher than the Bank of England and UK government, to move into the bond market—issuing bonds worth hundreds of millions of pounds. In this way, Oxford raked in £750 million and Cambridge £600 million in recent years.

Cambridge’s previous £350 million bond issue financed an extensive property development. Trinity College used some of its money to buy shares in Arconic, the manufacturer of flammable cladding responsible for the social murder of 72 in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

The Paradise Papers revealed that Oxbridge holds millions in tax-exempt offshore investments.

Since 2014, the use by councils of public space protection orders to forcibly close homeless camps has more than trebled in five years.

This Christmas, charities have been working overtime to provide for the poorest, including Christmas dinner at many locations across the country. About 350 were fed at Birmingham’s New Street station, for example.

London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan opened the council’s City Hall to 100 selected homeless people, where he posed for a photo-op complete with Santa hat serving a three-course meal. Shelter calculated there were 170,068 homeless people on any given night in London!

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team,” said Khan. “But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more. …”

This is a lie. The resources do exist and in abundance to immediately house the homeless and provide safe decent housing for all under an emergency housebuilding programme. They reside, however, in the hands of an obscenely wealthy minority and global corporations and must be expropriated.

BRITAIN’S “shameful” homelessness crisis has caused a rise in the number of rough sleepers being crushed to death in bins, waste firms and charities warned today. The warning came with a new report commissioned by waste management company Biffa, the Open University and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management. It revealed that at least seven people taking shelter in waste containers have been killed after being tipped into bin lorries over the last five years: here.

English racist anti-Muslim women violence

This video from England says about itself:

Maz Saleem at Cambridge Stand Up to Racism

7 November 2015

Campaigner Maz Saleem talks about her experiences after her father was murdered by far-right racist terrorists.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Spate of attacks on Muslim women prompts protest

Thursday 13th July 2017

CAMPAIGNERS will hold a demonstration in Cambridge today in response to a spate of “cowardly” attacks on Muslim women in the city.

The past week has seen an escalation in targeted attacks on hijab-wearing women including an incident where a mother was abused while collecting her children from Mayfield School. When onlookers came to her aid they were also attacked.

In a separate nearby incident a Muslim woman had an egg thrown at her from a passing car.

Campaigners said that the attacks have led to the victims feeling “insecure, fearful and reluctant to leave the house.”

In response, campaign group Stand Up to Racism is co-ordinating a Solidarity Walking School Bus in which parents, children and supporters will show their solidarity with the victims by walking together along the route where the school run attack took place.

The group aims to show that “anti-racists are the vast majority and that we won’t let the weak but nasty racist minority divide us.”

Local Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: “Racism and Islamophobia has no place in our society.

“Any attack on a person because of the colour of their skin or religious belief is an attack on us all.”

Protest organiser Zareen Taj, who is also a parent-governor at Mayfield School, said: “The local community based around the school immediately rallied around to show their solidarity with the women faced with these cowardly attacks.

“By organising a Solidarity Walking School Bus we aim both to support them, but also to show that racists are a tiny minority, and are not welcome here.”

The rally will leave Mayfield Primary School on Warwick Road at 3.15pm today.

Rally against Islamophobia in Cambridge, England

This video says about itself:

Confused Islamophobes Target American Sikhs: The Daily Show

26 April 2016

Hasan Minhaj sits down with designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia to find out how Islamophobia is affecting America’s (non-Muslim) Sikh population.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Activists rally round Muslims after hate attack on mosque

Monday 12th June 2017

DEMONSTRATORS staged a display of solidarity with Muslims at the weekend after a hate crime targeting a mosque.

The Cambridge collective of Stand Up to Racism organised the rally after after strips of bacon were left on four cars outside the Omar Faruque mosque and cultural centre in the city on Thursday.

The gathering on Saturday at the city’s Guildhall was initially planned to celebrate the result of the general election, which Cambridge Stand Up to Racism co-ordinator Richard Rose described as a victory for grassroots activism.

The result was also a slap in the face for the Tories’ anti-immigration dog-whistle politics and austerity, he added.

After the attack on the city’s mosque, Stand Up to Racism appealed to people to show their support for the Muslim community and celebrate multiculturalism.

Cambridge’s Labour MP Daniel Zeichner — an honorary member of the city’s Stand Up to Racism committee — was re-elected with a thumping 13,000 majority in the marginal seat, seeing off a challenge by Lib Dem candidate Julian Huppert.

Mr Rose said: “Cambridge Stand Up to Racism deplores the recent incident at Omar Faruque mosque, where bacon was left on cars of fasting Muslims.

“This offensive act in no way reflects the feelings of the vast majority of Cambridge residents, who are proud of our diverse, multicultural city.

“The divisive scapegoating politics fuelled by Theresa May was firmly rejected in Cambridge, as elsewhere.

“We are determined not to allow a small number of racists to divide us.”

Celebrate International Bat Night in English church, 28 August

This 29 September video from the USA says about itself:

Bats: Guardians of the Night

Visit Bat Conservation International to learn more about these amazing species and what we can do to protect them.

From Wildlife Extra:

Unique opportunity to celebrate International Bat Night

On Friday 28 August, to mark International Bat Night, The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) is offering wildlife enthusiasts, their families and friends the opportunity to stay overnight in a 13th century church inhabited by a colony of Natterer’s bats.

Guests are invited to sleep in the aisle of the church and sample “champing” (church camping) whilst learning more about the mysterious creatures overhead from bat experts on site.

The event will take place at The Church of St John the Baptist in Parson’s Drove, Cambridgeshire, a stunning Grade II* church which has been in The CCT’s care since 1974 and which is a long-time favourite of both bats and architecture enthusiasts.

An expert bat-handler will lead the evening with a presentation about the fascinating animals and everyone will have a chance to try out the bat detectors.

After sunset, the bats will appear from under the church roof and guests can help The CCT count them as they emerge for their night’s feeding.

The unique break was inspired by The CCT’s hugely successful champing holiday breaks, which give people the chance to stay overnight in some of the UK’s most beautiful churches.

Camp beds will be provided in the aisles of the church so guests can get some rest before rising at 4.30am to enjoy the spectacle of the bats swarming back to the church. A hearty breakfast will be provided at 8.30am.

The bat survey will be crucial in helping ecologists on site understand more about these mysterious creatures. For more information about the event please visit The CCT website here.

This event is suitable for children over eight. Families with younger children are welcome to join in without champing at the evening-only event. Tea, coffee and squash included in the ticket price and all children will receive a free bat toy!

Bat Champing Packages cost from £45 (£25 for under 16s) including breakfast, bat talks, bat detectors and bed in an aisle of a stunning 13th century church

Bat Watching Evening tickets are available for £5 (£2 for children)

Swift couple reunited in English nestbox

This video from England says about itself:

Special first moments of Swift arrival from migration – BirdLife nestbox

20 May 2015

This is the exciting moment the second swift arrived at the BirdLife nestbox, after the pair spent 9 months separated on their huge migrations to Africa! The pair exhibit some very interesting bond-affirmation behaviours. Imagine you had spent 9 months apart from your partner!

Video captured by Shaun Hurrell by filming the live feed screen which is in the BirdLife staff room. The swifts can’t hear the background noises, but they do get disturbed midway through by someone walking past the nestbox outside.

From BirdLife:

Special first moments captured on video when second swift returns from migration

By Shaun Hurrell, Sat, 23/05/2015 – 15:57

How would you behave when reunited with a loved one after spending 9 months apart? (and after spending 9 months without sitting down!)

For the BirdLife swifts, spending so long apart on their migrations to Africa is a yearly occurrence. But this is the first time the very first moments of being reunited have been captured on camera – from a nestbox on the side of the BirdLife offices in Cambridge, UK.

Swift, Apus apus, mate for life and tend to return to the same nextboxes year after year. However, the incredible little birds spend almost thier entire lives flying – they even sleep on the wing – and pairs take separate migration routes.

Recorded by BirdLife staff during their lunch, the footage above most likely shows a pair re-affirming their bonds in preparation for nesting.

According to local experts, the ‘wing flapping’ behaviour exibited in the video is a way of stopping aggression when the two meet again or when a bird attracts a new partner. However, courtship and encouraging a new prospective partner to use a nestbox are usually rather more drawn-out affairs than the behaviours displayed here, thus it is very likely that this is last year’s pair meeting up again and re-affirming their bond. Ahhhh 🙂

Spending only 3 months in Europe to breed, these swifts in Cambridge are ‘on loan’ from our central and southern African colleagues. Swifts have one of the longest migrations of any bird in the region of 22,000 km.

Every year, BirdLife staff wait with excited anticipation for the sound of screeching swifts around the BirdLife offices. But with knowledge of challenges migratory birds face in the Mediterranean and the huge threat of illegal killing, this is always a worry.

Swifts are already struggling because of the lack of traditional roofing eaves and spaces for them to nest, so installing a swift box on your house in Europe is one of the best things you can do to help the species.

Thanks to Dick Newell from Action for Swifts for installing the nestbox and camera at Bird Life’s offices in Cambridge, and to Edward Mayer and Mark Smyth from Swift Conservation for their advice.

The arrival of migratory birds signals a change in seasons, when life is in full swing. Use this cue to get out and enjoy nature, and at the same time give something back. Follow our advice and make simple changes to make your garden, balcony, or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive this year.

Spring Alive is a movement started by a BirdLife, organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) to encourage children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. This season, Spring Alive has provided easy-to-use information and directions to help you to help birds.

And once you have done it – share it – show and tell us about your achievements on the Spring Alive facebook and flickr pages!

Michelangelo bronze sculpture discovery in England

This video from Cambridge University in England says about itself:

Michelangelo bronzes discovered

2 February 2015

It was thought that no bronzes by Michelangelo had survived – now experts believe they have found not one, but two – with a tiny detail in a 500-year-old drawing providing vital evidence. – See more here.

They are naked, beautiful, muscular and ride triumphantly on two ferocious panthers. And now the secret of who created these magnificent metre-high bronze male nudes could well be solved. A team of international experts led by the University of Cambridge and Fitzwilliam Museum has gathered compelling evidence that argues that these masterpieces, which have spent over a century in relative obscurity, are early works by Michelangelo, made just after he completed the marble David and as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

If the attribution is correct, they are the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world.

A new article presents evidence that Michelangelo inserted his self-portrait into a sketch of his close friend, Vittoria Colonna, which is currently in the collection of the British Museum in London, England. This self-caricature of Michelangelo may serve as a tool for analyzing the artist’s probable bodily dimensions and even his state of health at the time. In the portrait of Michelangelo’s friend, a small figure can be seen standing in the area immediately in front of her abdomen and between the lines that form part of her dress. The caricature is leaning forward at an acute angle, as if he himself were drawing the portrait. The caricature may have been a signature of sorts: here.

Good British birds news in 2014

This video from England says about itself:

Some Special moments at RSPB Fowlmere in May 2014

A lovely long visit yesterday summed up some of the treasures and gems of RSPB Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire.

May is always a busy month but yesterday everything came together to show what this brilliant reserve has to offer.

This film is just a snapshot of what we saw yesterday, moments that included kingfishers, Brown Hares, Kestrels, Corn Buntings, yellowhammers and muntjac deer, damselflies and butterflies, sedge warblers and much more in addition to what you see in this video.

Quite simply RSPB Fowlmere is up there with many of the more well mentioned reserves around the country, it’s a little gem that if you take the time to explore and savour you will be rewarded.

From Martin Harper’s blog in Britain:

Good news from RSPB reserves in 2014

12 October 2014 10:19 PM

Through work and play, I have managed to visit about 25 of the RSPB‘s 210 reserves over the past year or so. And, with our AGM coming up in a couple of weeks, it seems timely to report on how they have fared this year. My instinct was this has been a good year: whereever I went, wildlife seemed to be flourishing and the spring and summer weather had been kind. But as our head of reserves ecology, Jo Gilbert, said to me the other day, the weather might have been good but you need the right management in place for good things to happen.

And good things have been happening. Here Malcolm Ausden from Jo’s team offers some highlights…

Stilts & the Spanish Connection

Following recent breeding in the UK by Little Bitterns, Great White Egrets and Spoonbills, 2014 was a spectacular year in the UK for another wetland species – Black-winged Stilt. Two large influxes of stilts occurred in Britain this spring, with the majority of birds turning up on shallow, fresh or brackish lagoons (these are a rare habitat in the UK) on RSPB reserves. Larger numbers of stilts usually occur in Northwest Europe when their main breeding areas in Spain are dry in spring. Single pairs of stilts then settled to nest at Cliffe Pools RSPB Reserve in Kent, and at Medmerry RSPB Reserve in West Sussex, with a third pair dropping an egg (which appears to have been quickly predated) at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB Reserve in Cambridgeshire. The pairs at Cliffe and Medmerry received 24-hour protection, and both hatched chicks, with the Medmerry pair going on to fledge three young. This is only the third time that Black-winged Stilts are known to have fledged young in this country, the last time being 27 years ago. An additional pair of stilts also bred successfully at another site in the UK this year. At Medmerry, the stilts nested on an area designed to prevent flooding of land and property upstream.

We have been taking into account the requirements of bird species that have the potential to establish (or re-establish) regular breeding populations in Britain, in our design of new wetland habitat on RSPB Reserves. For example, at our exciting coastal wetland re-creation project at Wallasea Island Wild Coast in Essex, we are aiming to provide suitable conditions for breeding Spoonbills. [I shall say more about Wallasea after my visit in early November].

Inexperienced youngsters

Another potential wetland colonist in the UK is Glossy Ibis. At Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire, the inexperienced male of a pair of young ibises built a late nest, although unfortunately his companion was unimpressed with it. This is the first Glossy Ibis nest ever recorded in Britain. The nest was built in an area that we have created as part of the Environment Agency’s Regional Habitat Creation Programme, to help offset projected future losses of coastal grazing marsh as a result of climate change.

Breeding waders

Lowland wet grassland waders have had a good breeding season in general (high numbers and good productivity), undoubtedly due to hard work by our reserve staff, but also probably helped in part by it being a good vole year. In the Netherlands, productivity of lowland wet grassland waders tends to be higher in years with good numbers of voles, presumably because predators focus their efforts on eating these instead of birds’ eggs and chicks. At Otmoor in Oxfordshire, there were 96 pairs of Lapwings (the previous highest since we acquired the site was 82), 61 pairs of Redshank (previous highest of 54), and 14 pairs of Snipe (previous highest of 13). Numbers of breeding waders were also well up at Rainham Marshes in Essex, with Lapwings up from 27 pairs in 2013 to 38 in 2014, and Redshank increasing from 18 to 31 pairs over the same time period. These are also the highest breeding numbers of both species since we acquired the site.

Importantly, Lapwings had a productive breeding season on RSPB reserves as a whole, with an average of 1.2 young fledged per pair at sites where we have installed anti-predator fencing. Lapwings are thought to need to fledged and average of between 0.6-0.8 young per pair to maintain a stable breeding population.

The effects of landscape-scale re-wetting of degraded peatlands as Dove Stone in the Peak District during the last few years, are also becoming apparent. In addition to providing carbon and water quality benefits, it has resulted in increases in breeding Dunlin (39 pairs this year compared to 15 in 2010), Golden Plover (92 pairs this year compared to 77 in 2010) and Curlew (42 pairs this year compared to 36 in 2010).

Other news

Bitterns had another fabulous year across RSPB reserves, witha total of 71 boomers on RSPB reserves. A highlight was a further increase in numbers of boomers at Ham Wall in Somerset up from an amazing 15 in 2013 to an even more amazing 20 this year (there were only 11 boomers in the whole of the UK in 1997!). Bearded Tits were also confirmed as breeding at Loch of Strathbeg in Aberdeenshire for the first time.

Corncrake numbers also recovered following a widespread decline between 2012 and 2013. At the Nene Washes (where Corncrakes are being re-introduced), there was an estimated 22 calling male Corncrakes (with 17 on the RSPB reserve itself). Twenty-one of the birds at the Nene Washes have been caught and, of these, an impressive twelve were wild-bred birds. The remaining nine were zoo-bred birds released in 2013. This is very encouraging, given the recent run of bad years, particularly following late spring flooding there in 2012. There were just 6 calling males at the Nene Washes in 2012, and seven in 2013.

Black Grouse also had a good year on RSPB reserves, with an impressive 55 lekking males at Geltsdale in Cumbria (up from 27 in 2013). Numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes also increased for a third year running on RSPB reserves, mainly due to a further increase on RSPB-managed mires on Fetlar, Shetland to 20 males in 2014. We also now have a better idea of where our phalaropes winter, thanks to the amazing results from a geolocator fitted to one of them (see here).

At Coquet Island in Northumberland (which I watch very closely whenever I am staying at my family’s hut), there was an increase in number of breeding Roseate Terns from 78 pairs in 2013 to 93 pairs this year. Coquet Island supports virtually the entire UK breeding population of Roseate Terns. Little Terns also had a better breeding season on reserves in 2014, with total numbers up slightly. At Langtone Harbour in Hampshire, 36 pairs fledged 28 young following raising of their nesting islands using shingle over the last couple of winters, to reduce the risk of the nests of these and other seabirds being flooded outduring storms. Little Terns are likely to become increasingly vulnerable to the combined effects of rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion, and pressure from human disturbance and generalist predators.

While we need to wait for the State of UK Birds report to get a fuller picture of this year’s breeding season, it is heartening that our reserves have performed well. And we have our magnificent reserves teams and their army of volunteers to thank for that.

No free speech about UKIP in Britain?

10 reasons to vote UKIP, critical poster

By Rory MacKinnon in Britain:

Green Party activist visited by police over Ukip tweet

Tuesday 13th May 2013

Free speech under threat as comments were ordered to be removed

OUTRAGED Green Party peer Jenny Jones condemned yesterday a police visit to the home of an activist who used Twitter to expose Ukip’s racist policies as “bully boy tactics.”

Ms Jones is writing to Home Secretary Theresa May after police were sent to doorstep Green Party member Michael Abberton at his Cambridge home on behalf of a thin-skinned Ukip councillor.

Mr Abberton revealed that officers visited on Saturday in connection with a tongue-in-cheek graphic he had tweeted last week titled “10 reasons to vote for Ukip.”

The “reasons” — ranging from their pledges to scrap maternity leave and holidays to raising income tax for 88 per cent of the population — were supplemented with links to Ukip materials.

Officers asked Mr Abberton to remove the tweet and ordered him not to tweet about their visit.

The activist removed the tweet as a gesture of goodwill but unmasked the intimidation attempts on his blog, writing: “A complaint had been made but with no legal basis. Not a police matter. So why did they come to my home in the middle of a Saturday afternoon?

“Why would a political party, so close to an election, seek to stop people finding out what its policies are or its past voting record?

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman confirmed that a Ukip councillor had taken “exception” to the tweet and filed a complaint on Friday.

“Inquiries were made as to whether any offences had been committed under the Representation of the People Act but none were revealed and no further action was taken,” he said.

The spokesman said it was “certainly not the advice” of police not to tweet about such visits.

“This is not 1930s Germany,” he said.

But the Green’s peer Ms Jones was far from satisfied, telling the Morning Star that she intended to raise the matter with the Home Secretary.

Ms Jones said the officers’ decision to go doorknocking was “absolutely astonishing.

“It sounds horrific,” she said.

“It’s all about freedom of speech. As a politician I know there are terrible things people say about me and you just have to live with it.

“The police need to understand that there’s no role for this unless there’s actual abuse.”

And Green Party leader Natalie Bennett added: “This is a very disturbing occurrence.

“Just the sheer fact of the visit is deeply damaging to free speech and is going to intimidate a lot of people thinking about whether they really are free to speak their mind.”

Ukip Cambridgeshire group council leader Paul Bullen — a magistrate in Huntingdon and Cambridgeshire’s Family Proceedings Court — denied all knowledge of the affair, adding that he “could not see” his fellow Ukip councillors making such a complaint.

He repeatedly declined to say whether he would ask them whether they had been involved, stressing instead that he knew “absolutely nothing.”

“If I looked at every bit of mud-slinging against Ukip in the last three months, I’d spend my whole life on the internet,” he said.

Earlier this month the right-wing party’s would-be Stockport councillor Harry Perry was suspended over a series of tweets asserting that “Islam is evil” and Muslim children were the “devil’s kids,” that Pakistan should be “nuked” and that gay, lesbian and bisexual people were an “abomination before God.”

Ukip Enfield candidate William Henwood told British comedian Lenny Henry via Twitter in March to “emigrate to a black country” and compared Islam with “the Third Reich, strength through violence against the citizens.”

Criticise Ukip on Twitter? You could get a visit from the police. Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is questioning why Cambridgeshire Police officers visited blogger Michael Abberton’s home after he sent out a fact-checked list of ten Ukip policies on Twitter: here.

Police ask blogger to remove tweet about Ukip: here.

Prominent British Asian Ukip supporter quits over ‘racist populism’. Sanya-Jeet Thandi, who defended Ukip on Channel 4 News, urges other supporters to abstain from voting in EU elections: here.

HOPE Not Hate said yesterday that it is taking the first steps to legal action against Ukip after leader Nigel Farage accused its campaigners of violence: here.

UKIP chickened out of an invitation to a debate on the justice system hosted by the Prison Officers Association (POA), it was revealed at the union’s annual conference yesterday: here.

Newly-elected UKIP councillor under investigation for claiming ‘poofs and dykes’ are ‘perverts’: here.

NEWLY elected Ukip councillor Dave Small was suspended by his party yesterday after being accused of racism and homophobia: here.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady joined other high-profile figures yesterday in condemning anti-migrant rhetoric, warning Ucatt conference delegates that exploitation was workers’ real enemy: here.

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British politician criticized for racism

This video is called Racism In England Against British Pakistanis (British Nationals).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ukip ‘disowns’ Cambridgeshire councillor Peter Lagoda following complaints he used ‘racist and offensive’ language

Party claims local politician remains suspended since he was charged with benefit fraud last year

Ukip has been forced to deny links to a local councillor in Cambridgeshire after he was reportedly made to apologise to firefighters for using “racist” and “deeply offensive” language.

Peter Lagoda was the subject of a formal complaint from one member of the fire service when, during a visit to a station last month, the councillor described his north African sister as a “w**” and relatives in Germany as “Mongols” whose children had “slanty eyes”.

When questioned about the incident, Mr Lagoda admitted using the language but said it was in the context of a “private conversation” and that he must have been misunderstood by the firefighters because his “English must be greater than theirs”, according to the Huffington Post.

He told the website: “Yes, my cousin married Mongols and now all their little children are ever so cute and they have slanty eyes.

“They’ve taken it the wrong way and my English must be far greater than theirs because I looked in the dictionary and a person from Mongolia is called a Mongol. It’s always the British that bastardize words.”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “w**” is an offensive term used to describe foreigners, especially those who are not white.

Mr Lagoda is listed on the Cambridgeshire County Council website as being a member for Ukip, and according to the Huffington Post it was the party’s local group that forced him to write an apology to the firefighters he offended – a letter he says “shouldn’t have gone out”.

Yet a spokesperson for Ukip insisted he has not been an “acting councillor” for the party since he was suspended last year after being charged with benefit fraud.

The spokesperson said Ukip takes the incident “very seriously”, but added: “Councillor Lagoda was suspended from the party before this incident occurred. He is not an acting councillor for Ukip now and he was not an acting councillor for Ukip at the time of this incident.”

Other local politicians rounded on Ukip following Mr Lagoda’s comments. Martin Curtis, head of the Cambridgeshire council’s Conservative group, told the Times: “As far as I’m concerned he is still a party member. He still sits with the UKIP group at our council. He still sits in their group meetings as well. They say they are disowning him but it doesn’t look like it from the outside.”

Labour MEP Richard Howitt told the Huffington Post the remarks were “very shocking” and “deeply offensive”, and criticized Ukip for letting him remain a member.

“The national leadership of Ukip consistently try to distance themselves from what is the overt prejudice and racism that exists in their membership, but their failure to remove the whip from this particular councillor cries out loud about the true nature of the party,” he said.

Mr Lagoda becomes the latest in a string of party members to be involved in controversy in recent months.

Earlier in February, a BBC Newsnight investigation found that the party’s former Commonwealth spokesman Mujeeb Bhutto used to be the “boss” of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan. Bhutto, who is still a wanted man in Pakistan, has claimed the charges against him were “simply because of political rivalry”. He told Newsnight he admitted to leading the kidnapping gang in 2005 to avoid the risk of deportation and being hanged.

In January, the Ukip councillor David Silvester was suspended from the party in the wake of comments suggesting recent storms could be blamed on David Cameron’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

In November last year, one of the party’s MEPs Stuart Agnew sparked a furore after he said women don’t “have the ambition” to get to the top in business because babies “get in the way”.

And a month earlier, the MEP Godfrey Bloom was famously suspended from Ukip for describing women who don’t clean their fridges as “sluts”, hitting out against sending aid to “bongo bongo land” and physically hitting a reporter over the head with a party brochure.

Party leader Nigel Farage has previously responded to the rows by pledging to cleanse the party of anyone with “extremist, nasty or barmy views” – while insisting that there have been similar “outbreaks” of such views from people “of all political persuasions”.

BBC debates between Clegg and Farage: A political fraud: here.

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English corncrake news

This video is called The corncrake (Crex Crex).

From Wildlife Extra:

Corncrakes released onto Nene Washes to boost English population

Three Tenors‘ Hit the Stage at the Nene Washes

July 2013. ‘The ‘Three Tenors’, a trio of male corncrakes, are performing at the RSPB‘s Nene Washes nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, in an initiative aimed at expanding the breeding population of this scarce UK species which is the subject of a reintroduction programme in England.

Retired from breeding programme

The three birds, affectionately named the ‘Three Tenors’ by staff at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust (PCT), are, in the best operatic tradition, males of European origin. The birds have been retired from the current captive breeding programme which is seeking to re-establish a breeding population in England following its extinction as a regular breeding bird in the 1980s. Their voices, rather than their genes, are now being redeployed!

The Trust, which plays a key part in rearing corncrakes released as part of the Corncrake Reintroduction Project, has carefully selected the trio, which have been transferred from the breeding facilities at Pensthorpe in Norfolk to attract birds returning to the Washes following migration with their distinctive ‘crexing’ call.

Hoped they will attract females

Tape recordings of crexing males have been trialled before. However, this doesn’t allow a realistic ‘dialogue’ to be established, which can hold the attention of other birds for long enough to convince them to stop over. It’s therefore hoped that the ‘Three Tenors’ will establish two-way conversations and attract returning birds to new areas; expanding the current breeding range, and encouraging them into other suitable habitat

Having once been widespread across the UK, the range of corncrakes has contracted due the introduction of mechanical mowing and the intensification of grassland management, notably the switch from hay-making to silage production. The result is that corncrakes in Britain are now heavily concentrated in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Population in England

Following habitat improvement measures implemented in the 1990’s in Scotland, population increases have been noted at key breeding sites in the Western Isles, but corncrakes did not return to breed in England. So, the partners in the Corncrake Reintroduction Project (Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Zoological Society of London, RSPB and Natural England) established the Nene Washes project and now hope that the ‘Three Tenors’ can help expand the range of English corncrakes, alongside the ongoing captive rearing and release programme.

Chrissie Kelley, Head of Species Management at the PCT comments: “We’re delighted to have been able to sponsor this ‘gala performance’ and expect the ‘Three Tenors’ to sing their hearts out to help re-establish corncrakes in England.”

Jonathan Taylor, RSPB Warden at Nene Washes comments: “The corncrake’s rasping call was once a familiar sound of the English summer but many people will be unfamiliar with it. We are innovating with our partners to give corncrakes a home in Cambridgeshire and, if successful, we’ll have helped to address the loss of wildlife from our countryside described in the recently-published State of Nature report.”

The birds were relocated from Pensthorpe to the Nene Washes on 24th April 2013 and have settled in to their new surroundings. They are being cared for by highly experienced RSPB staff and monitored closely by the project partners. The new enclosures have been built at a secret location within an area of suitable habitat for corncrakes.

Corncrake re-introduction project

As a result of studies in the 1990s, it became clear that corncrakes need access to tall (20cm+) invertebrate rich vegetation throughout the breeding season, which birds can easily walk through, and also that they are susceptible to mechanical mowing of meadows. Armed with this critical knowledge, the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, the RSPB, Natural England, and the Zoological Society of London got together to collaborate in a project to restore the corncrake as a breeding species once again in lowland England.

The site chosen for the release was the RSPB’s nature reserve on the Nene Washes, near Peterborough, due to its size and habitat suitability. The Washes are considered to be of international importance for their spring assemblage of breeding waders and other birds of wet grassland and overwintering flocks of ducks and swans.

Ireland’s corncrakes – no longer in every acre: here.