130,000 homeless British children this Christmas


This 6 December 2018 video says about itself:

Child sobs as she find out she’ll be spending Christmas homeless

A video of a little girl sobbing after being told she has to spend her third Christmas in a hostel has highlighted the plight of the many young victims of Ireland’s housing crisis. The footage shows Poppy, four, sitting on a bed in a hostel in Dublin, Ireland, crying over not having ‘anywhere to stay’ this Christmas.

Poppy and her mother Leanne Dunleavy, 30, have been in and out of homeless shelters for the past two years.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 8 December 2018

130,000 homeless children this Xmas

MORE than 130,000 homeless children will be living in temporary accommodation this Christmas in Britain, according to estimates by the homeless charity Shelter.

In the borough in which Parliament sits, Westminster, one in every eleven children is homeless. In Kensington and Chelsea, one of the richest boroughs in the country, one in every twelve has no permanent home.

Shelter said: ‘This figure lays bare the true scale of Britain’s worsening housing crisis, despite repeated government pledges to tackle the problem.’ The report also estimated that 9,500 children would spend Christmas Day in a hostel or other temporary accommodation, warning that the UK’s housing crisis is now being ‘felt across a generation’.

Meanwhile, food bank use around the UK is soaring, as more and more people are driven to the brink of starvation by this government’s austerity measures.

Baby Banks have now been set up where desperate parents are forced to come to feed and clothe their babies. More and more families are needing to use baby banks just to get by.

Research shows that, this year alone, more than 35,000 families have used baby banks to obtain vital items such as bottles, clothes, cots, nappies, wipes, prams and pushchairs. Comparable to food banks, baby banks give away basic baby items – largely donated by members of the public – that are crucial to people in need.

The steep rise in the use of baby banks is partly attributed to the introduction of the Tory government’s hated Universal Credit. Working parents can’t earn enough to cover rent, food and utilities on top of the necessities required to bring up a baby.

Former Labour welfare reform minister and Labour MP, Frank Field, said: ‘All too many families are being crippled financially by the cost of basic items for their babies.

‘It is hard-up families who are paying the price for the economic upheaval and austerity of the past decade.’

There are now more than 100 baby banks across the UK, including Little Village, which has three locations in London, in Camden, Southwark and Wandsworth; Stripey Stork that offers support in East Surrey; and Cascade Baby Bundles in Cheshire that helps families with children up to the age of 10.

Hundreds die on UK streets as homelessness reaches record levels: here.

Figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics show that 726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018, a rise of 22 percent on 2017. This is the highest recorded death-toll since reporting began and it is expected that the number will be higher for 2019: here.

British Labour party Christmas video


Trump’s tax cuts for Trump, and Christmas


This satiric video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

21 December 2017

Republicans in Congress just jammed through their $1.5 trillion tax cut giveaway bill. President Trump is gleeful and we all get growing inequality for Christmas, hooray! The tax bill basically makes Christmas permanent for billionaires while phasing it out for lower and middle-income Americans.

Trump ‘tells wealthy friends after passing tax bill’: ‘You all just got a lot richer’. Analysts say President may be $15m personally better off: here.

This satiric video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

It is the high season for fighting back against the “War on Christmas,” a war that doesn’t seem to actually exist. President Trump is determined to oppose said imaginary war with a full-throated defense of Christianity and all things Christmas.

Parasitism and “tax reform”: Trump’s corporate tax cuts fuel stock buybacks, not investment: here.

London Grenfell Tower’s children’s alternative Christmas message


This video from London, England says about itself:

Grenfell survivor: ‘You just killed my son’ – BBC Newsnight

13 July 2017

Andreia Gomes was seven months pregnant when she escaped from the 21st floor of Grenfell Tower with her husband and their two daughters. The baby did not survive. The family have been telling their story – including how one of their daughters was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning – for the first time to Newsnight’s Katie Razzall.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Child survivors of Grenfell to give alternative Christmas message

CHILD survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire will wish “everyone in the world to have a house” in an alternative Christmas message to the Queen’s speech.

Five of the children who escaped the fire in west London that killed 71 people will speak of the importance of having a home in the Channel 4 broadcast on December 25.

The broadcast will hear from Megan Gomes, 10, and her sister Luana, 12, who lived on the 21st floor.

Both went into induced comas while they were treated for smoke inhalation.

Their family spent five months living in a hotel but were recently moved to a temporary flat where they will spend Christmas.

Megan said: “My Christmas message is that I think all families, children and parents should have a nice warm cosy home. I just want everyone in the world to have a house at least.”

Hayam Atmani, 10, who lived on the 15th floor of the tower, will also recall her memories of the night, as well as fond memories of her former home, including the spectacular views.

Hayam said: “Everyone came. They [Hayam’s friends] were just saying: ‘Oh that’s so cool! I wish I lived here.’ You could see the whole area, parks and stuff.”

Amiel Miller, 10, and his brother Danel, 7, who lived on the 17th floor, will recount how they heard people screaming on the night of the fire.

Channel 4 has broadcast a Christmas Day message since 1993 and is traditionally billed as an alternative to the Queen’s annual address.

The alternative Christmas message will air at 2.30pm.

What Christmas was like for my generation during the Great Depression. My only hope is that the similar pain that many people experience today will anger them as much as it did me, and help forge a new nation from the ashes of grave injustice, by Harry Leslie Smith: here.

Trump’s Christmas, black, LGBTQ journalists banned


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Speaks at Anti-LGBT Event

13 October 2017

On Friday, Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to address the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of evangelical conservatives organized by the Family Research Council, a prominent anti-LGBT group. Trump, who called himself a friend to the LGBT community during his presidential campaign, said at the event that he was “honored and thrilled” to speak there. During the event in Washington DC, guests who attended were reportedly handed flyers promoting a new book entitled ‘The Health Hazards Of Homosexuality’.

By Benjamin Butterworth:

LGBT and black reporters left off White House Christmas party guest list for first time in years

5th December 2017, 7:15 PM

The Trump White House has excluded LGBT and black reporters from its annual media Christmas party.

It is the first time since President George W. Bush that LGBT reporters have been left off the invite list, and the first time in 20 years that black groups have been excluded.

Chris Johnson, the chief political and White House reporter for the Washington Blade, one of the world’s oldest LGBT publications, is among those uninvited.

The first Mr Johnson knew of his awol invite was over Thansgiving.

“My first reaction was I assumed it must have been an oversight”, Mr Johnson told The Independent.

After emailing White House officials, he was passed between numerous spokespeople, none of which could answer his question.

“It is consistent with the White House press secretary not calling on me during the on-camera press briefings”, he told the newspaper, noting that he had been called on just twice in the last six months.

He believes that the issue over the invite is “just kind of consistent with the policy of the administration to exclude LGBTQ people”.

April D Ryan, the White House correspondent and DC bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, who is black, was also excluded from the invite list.

“I don’t think I was overlooked,” Ms Ryan told the Washington Post of this year’s party.

“I think they don’t like me. For whatever reason, they have disdain for me.”

Ms Ryan had been invited for the previous 20 years.

Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico have been invited as usual.

CNN, however, has opted to boycott the event this year.

A spokesperson for First Lady Melania Trump said: “As with Christmas parties in past administrations, this is off the record.

“This is not meant to be a news event, rather, it is an opportunity for the media and their guests to enjoy a reception at the White House this Christmas season.”

It’s not the first time Trump has ignored the LGBT community in recent days.

President Trump gave a statement to mark World AIDS day that somehow does not feature a single mention of the LGBT community.

‘VIOLENT ANTI-PRESS RHETORIC’ The U.S. press freedom ranking has dropped again due to Trump’s “violent anti-press rhetoric,” which is having dangerous effects, in the U.S. and abroad. [HuffPost]

Charlie Kirk’s Trump-cheering nonprofit “Turning Point USA” keeps accidentally hiring racists.

OMAROSA RELEASES SECRET ‘FIRING’ TAPE Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released a tape she secretly recorded of her being fired from the Trump administration last year, claiming it was to correct “the false story” that she tried to “storm” Trump’s residence afterward. Publicity surrounding the recording may also help her peddle a few more copies of her new tell-all book — as will her conveniently timed epiphany that Trump “is truly a racist.” [HuffPost]

COHEN: TRUMP SAID BLACK PEOPLE ‘TOO STUPID’ TO VOTE FOR HIM Cohen also reportedly will tell the committee that Trump regularly said derogatory things about black people, including that they are “too stupid” to vote for him. Here are the 10 most jaw-dropping lines from the leaked testimony. [HuffPost]

The notorious Indiana pizzeria that refused to cater for same-sex weddings has closed down.

Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, new film


This September 2017 video is called THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS | Official Trailer.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Charles Dickens and the writing of A Christmas Carol

8 December 2017

Directed by Bharat Nalluri; screenplay by Susan Coyne, based on the book by Les Standiford.

“No one could feel more deeply for Nature’s stepchildren, the blind, the dumb, and the deaf, nor more deeply–and this says even more–for the stepchildren of society .”

–Franz Mehring on Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, published on December 19, 1843, is the story of the dramatic moral transformation of the wealthy, miserly, misanthropic businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, under the influence of several ghostly spirits who pay him a visit on Christmas Eve.

The spirits help Scrooge see the error of his dreadful ways, including the mistreatment of his overworked and impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a crippled son, known as Tiny Tim. Scrooge’s initial comment about Tim, who is not expected to live long, is cruel and Malthusian: “If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge’s brutal comments about the benefits for the poor of prisons, workhouses and “the Treadmill” also come back to haunt and shame him (“Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief”).

A Christmas Carol struck a chord with readers in the 1840s, in the midst of the social misery produced by the rise of capitalist industry, and it has remained a staple of popular world literature ever since.

Dickens (1812-1870) began successful public readings of the book in 1849, which he continued until the year of his death.

Modern audiences are more likely to know the novella, or elements of it, from the numerous film and television adaptations. In fact, nearly 20 movies based on A Christmas Carol have been made since 1901, including seven silent versions. Reginald Owen (1938), Alastair Sim (1951) and Albert Finney (1970, in a musical version) are among the leading performers who have taken on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in film.

There have been, as well, dozens of theater, radio and television adaptations (with Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Ralph Richardson, Fredric March, Alec Guinness, Michael Hordern, George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, among many others, as the immortal miser). There are even five operas based on the work.

Perhaps inevitably, most of the various “second-hand” versions tend to play up the more sentimental and melodramatic aspects of Dickens’ book, which is also an attempt to present something of a panorama of English reality at the time and introduces dozens of characters from various walks of life.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, is a biographical fantasy that involves an effort to bring A Christmas Carol once again to the screen, this time by reinventing it. For this purpose, the filmmakers turned to the 2008 novel of the same title by Les Standiford, which includes Dickens himself as a character along with his literary creations.

The movie opens as Dickens (Dan Stevens), at the peak of his popularity following the publication of Oliver Twist, is ending his 1842 North America tour. (His travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation includes a condemnation of slavery, linking the plight of the poor in England to that of the slaves in the US).

After his return to London, Dickens’ career undergoes a serious decline over the next several years, with the failure of his next three novels (Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge), thereby increasing his financial difficulties. (“London is not a place for a man without money”, Dickens explains in the film). Under intense pressure, Charles begins composing A Christmas Carol.

His publishers, however, see no great potential in a Christmas tale, and give him six weeks to complete the book. Accompanied by his friend and literary agent (and real-life biographer), John Forster (Justin Edwards), Dickens goes to a restaurant where the arrogant William Thackeray (1811-1863), a rival novelist best known for Vanity Fair (1848), taunts the hard-pressed Charles. It’s not long, however, before the writer draws his first inspiration from a rich man’s funeral that is absent of mourners.

Also feeding his imagination is one of his servants, Tara (Anna Murphy), a young, literate Irish immigrant who sparks his interest in a ghostly world (“Spirits crowd over us on Christmas eve”). As the story begins to take shape, Charles interacts with his characters (“Get the name right, and if you’re lucky, the characters will appear.”), most prominently the wizened Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Jacob Marley (Donald Sumpter), Scrooge’s deceased business partner, emerges from the darkness: “I wear the chains I forged in life–Your chains are all around you–past and present and what is to come.”

The arrival of his irresponsible father, John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce), is an impediment to Charles’ work. It is also the occasion for flashbacks to his early adolescence, when Dickens was forced to work at a blacking factory (pasting labels on pots of boot polish) for six shillings a week, 10 hours a day Monday through Saturday, after his father was taken off to debtors’ prison. Tens of thousands of people unable to pay their debts were incarcerated in such institutions each year in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain.

Even Charles’ relationship with his pregnant wife Kate (Morfydd Clark)–“Sometimes I feel your characters mean more to you than your own flesh and blood”–and the rest of his household, run by Mrs. Fisk (Miriam Margolyes), becomes strained.

Developing something of a writer’s block, Charles is stumped as to whether Scrooge will be reformed and whether Tiny Tim will live or die. In the end, Scrooge’s redemption also redeems Charles’ relationship with his father (“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another”). Commissioning eight engravings from John Leech (Simon Callow), Charles manages to write the book and scrape together the funds to have it illustrated, printed, bound and distributed to shops in six weeks’ time!

The Man Who Invented Christmas is intended as a piece of light entertainment, and it accomplishes certain of its goals. Stevens as Dickens is the energetic, spirited artist at the mercy of the market. At times amusing, the movie does manage to convey the fact that life in Victorian England is insecure and precarious, and that even the successful Dickens feels the shadow of the debtors’ prison as he races against the clock to fulfill the outrageous demands of his publishers.

But even light entertainment has certain responsibilities. In the popular vein too, opportunities have been missed here. The simplistic, unnecessarily slight film makes only insubstantial, passing references to poverty among children–a major issue then as it is today. (Unhappily, “Dickensian” is a term that cannot yet be retired to the museum shelf.) Related to that, too much emphasis is placed on secondary psychological factors in The Man Who Invented Christmas, such as the father-son relationship.

Dickens was an immense figure, deeply affected by the social and economic transformations of his day, and not merely as the result of his own personal experiences.

The influential American critic Edmund Wilson, commented: “It is difficult for British pundits to see in him the great artist and social critic that he was. … [Dickens] was nevertheless the greatest dramatic writer that the English had had since Shakespeare, and he created the largest and most varied world.” Whenever the novelist comes to deal with institutions, Wilson went on, “he makes them either ridiculous or cruel, or both at the same time.” (“Dickens: The Two Scrooges,” 1941)

The origins of A Christmas Carol were not as slight and jovial as The Man Who Invented Christmas would have us believe. According to letterpile.com: “Charles Dickens was involved in charities and social issues throughout his entire life. In early 1843 he read a government report describing the conditions of women and children employed in mines and factories, it described the abuse of the laborers. [Friedrich Engels read the same report, which documented that children as young as eight were hauling coal carts 11 hours a day.] He was stricken down by these victims. Dickens vowed he would strike a ‘sledge hammer blow,’ on behalf of the ‘poor man’s child.’”

“The idea for the Carol came to him in October 1843, while doing a talk [in industrial Manchester, England, where the average life expectancy of a laborer in 1842 was 17]; he thought the best way to bring attention to the horror that was happening, would be to write a story instead of an article.”

In A Christmas Carol, a boy and a girl, Ignorance and Want, are hidden in the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present. “‘They are Man’s, and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’”

Is this so remote from our own time?

London Grenfell disaster survivors’ homeless Christmas


This 1979 music video from Britain says about itself:

Greedies (Sex Pistols & Thin Lizzy) – A Merry Jingle TOTP2

Steve Jones, Paul Cook & Phil Lynott

The song is an amalgam of the songs We wish you a merry Christmas, and Jingle Bells.

Unfortunately, for many people in Theresa May’s Britain Christmas won’t be very merry.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Grenfell survivors fear homelessness for Christmas

Thursday 7th December 2017

GRENFELL Tower survivors have demanded “urgent action” to rehouse them in time for Christmas.

Four out of five displaced households are still without a home following the devastating blaze that killed 71 people almost six months ago on June 14.

Currently 103 households from the west London block remain in hotel rooms, a further 11 are in serviced apartments and four are staying with friends, Kensington & Chelsea Council confirmed.

The local authority was accused of making “one broken promise after another” having previously expressed confidence that every survivor would be out of emergency accomodation by Christmas.

Shahin Sadafi, chairman of Grenfell United — an elected body set up by survivors and bereaved relatives — said: “First it was three weeks, then six months, now they are saying a year.

“We are talking about people who have been through the traumatic events and have lost so much, stuck in hotel rooms and make-do accommodation.

“It’s been six months and we’re now just a fortnight away from Christmas. It’s not too late to put this right but it needs urgent action now.”

A heated public meeting of the scrutiny committee that oversees the Grenfell Tower response on Tuesday night saw the local authority attacked by former residents.

Tiago Alves, a 20-year-old who lived on the 13th floor of Grenfell Tower, told the meeting: “You are trying to eat away at us slowly, slowly, slowly, in an attempt to break us up.”

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for housing Kim Taylor-Smith admitted rehousing had been “desperately slow” due to a lack of houses to offer survivors.

See also here.

Meanwhile: Rich Londoners spend thousands of pounds hiring professionals to do their Christmas decorations: here.

Theresa May’s Britain, children homeless


This video from Britain says about itself:

Homeless at Christmas – family life in a B&B | homelessness | Shelter

30 November 2014

“I thought homeless was being on the street… I wasn’t living in my own house – that’s being homeless.”

Nigel’s boys are just two of the 90,000 children that will be homeless this Christmas.

That 2014 figure of 90,000 children is outdated now; as the British Conservative government has made ‘progress’ in its war on poor people.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

128,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas Day

Wednesday 6th November 2017

A STAGGERING 128,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless on Christmas Day as Tory austerity takes its toll.

Homeless charity Shelter revealed yesterday that tens of thousands of children will spend Christmas living in temporary accommodation — bed and breakfast houses and hostels — with whole families crammed into one room, sometimes three to a bed, with no cooking facilities and shared toilets.

The charity carried out a study into the devastating effects of the government’s austerity programme by talking to some of the victims.

Among them were twins Ellie and Amy, aged 15.

Amy said: “We’re living in a B&B. It’s a small room with five people living in it. It’s got one double bed and one single bed.

“It’s not even a proper bed – it’s a camp bed. Three people sleep in the double bed with one person at the bottom and two people at the top.”

Sarah, 40, lives in one room in a B&B with her husband and children, including her three-month old baby.

She said: “We sleep on the bed, they play on the bed, we eat on the bed. There’s just no place for anything.”

Natalie, 31, and her children have been in a hostel for over a year – despite a statutory six-week limit on the time families are forced to stay in temporary accommodation.

She said: “There was no heating here, so me and the kids were constantly getting ill. It was ridiculous.

“Watching your kids emotionally go through it can make you feel quite inadequate as a mother, a parent. You feel guilty.

“Just watching your kids suffer. You know, they suffer socially, they suffer at school, they suffer at an emotional level.”

Ellie said: “It’s hard to concentrate at school because there’s the worry about coming home. It’s just stressful.

“There’s nowhere we can relax or get any privacy. Before it was much better. We had our own home right near school and right near our friends.

“We all had our own rooms and a cooker and a fridge. We could eat proper meals. I just want it to be like it was before.”

Shelter said Britain was suffering its highest level of child homelessness for a decade with 140 families becoming homeless every day – and that the problem will worsen through the Tory-created housing crisis.

The charity’s head Polly Neate said: “It’s a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year for the last decade.

“No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone 128,000 children.”

Labour has pledged to introduce a national house-building programme to create 250,000 social housing homes a year once elected.

Shadow housing minister Melanie Onn said: “It is heartbreaking that 128,000 children will wake up on Christmas morning with no place to call home. The Conservative government is failing them.

“This shames us all. Ministers must back Labour’s national plan to end this homelessness crisis.”

See also here.

Help a Hungry Child: Food banks could run dry this Christmas as demand soars, warns charity. Government must end ‘litany of horrors’ facing millions with insecure access to food, says Trussell Trust: here.

British government ruins workers’ Christmas


This video from Britain says about itself:

18 November 2017

Thousands of people on universal credit will not receive a payment at Christmas.

Thousands of low-paid people on universal credit will receive reduced payments or none at all over Christmas.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 20 November 2017

‘CRUEL PUNISHMENT’ OF POOREST PEOPLE! – Xmas Universal Credit to be stopped

TENS of thousands of low paid workers on Universal Credit may not be paid over the festive season or may get a reduced payment.

Those hit will be some of the 67,000 people who claim the benefit while working and who are paid weekly. This is because there are five paydays in December, so their monthly income will be too high to get any or some of the benefit. Some will have to reapply.

The government defended the system, saying the majority were unaffected. The Department for Work and Pensions warns on its website: ‘If you’re paid weekly by your employer, you will get either 4 or 5 payments of earnings within a Universal Credit assessment period. Depending on the amount you get paid this may affect your Universal Credit.

‘When you have 5 weekly earnings payments within an assessment period, your income may be too high to qualify for Universal Credit in that month. If this happens you will be notified that your income is too high and you will no longer get Universal Credit. You can re-apply the following month as you should only get 4 wage payments in your assessment period then. You will need to be prepared for a month when you get 5 wage payments in one assessment period and budget for a potential change in your monthly Universal Credit payments.’

Kayley Hignell, from Citizens Advice, said the way Universal Credit was calculated brought ‘significant budget challenges’. She said: ‘People need to know that if they’re getting extra income in one month… it may stop their Universal Credit payment, and that they then subsequently need to put in a new claim to make sure that they continue to get those payments. If you’ve got extra money in the month, don’t necessarily bank on the fact that your Universal Credit is going to stay the same, because it could change either in this month or the next.’

Dave Wiltshire Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance commented: ‘This is just a very cruel punishment of the poorest people. Labour must immediately demand that these vicious Christmas cuts are stopped and demand the abolition of Universal Credit.’

Speaking to Andrew Marr, yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: ‘There are no unemployed people,’ when asked about the threat to jobs posed by new technology. Asked to clarify, he said the government had not forgotten the 1.4m unemployed in the UK, saying people were finding work ‘at a remarkable rate’.

Responding to Hammond’s comments, Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: ‘The Chancellor is living on another planet’.

Over the next four years, 37 percent of UK children will be living in relative poverty, according to the latest Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report: here.