Young Iraqi woman painter interviewed

Teenage Iraqi artist Samaa al-Ameer

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Friday, February 14, 2020

‘Love is the best medicine for Iraq

Teenage artist tells the Star how she hopes her paintings will communicate the voice of Iraqi women to the world

DISABLED teenage Iraqi artist Samaa al-Ameer insisted that “love is the best medicine” for her country today as she hoped to use her paintings to communicate the voice of Iraqi women to the world.

Ms Ameer, 16, spoke to the Morning Star hoping to spread a Valentine’s Day message of “peace, tolerance and love” as the country spirals into violence and chaos, with armed militias and Iraqi security services attacking those demanding change.

She explained how the anti-government protests started in October with Iraqi youth raising the slogan “scared people cannot create freedom.”

But Ameer said that she was saddened to be prevented from accompanying her father to the demonstrations in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square “because of my disability.”

“I knew the amazing role of the Iraqi women there, especially the young ones, having seen their images on television screens and in photographs”, she said.

Her mother suggested that she made some paintings of the demonstrations and presented them as gifts to the protesters.

“I made two paintings; one of them is titled ‘The Rain of Iraq Hearts’ and I published them. But I said that any cultural activity is meaningless without going to Tahrir Square,” she said.

She explained that her mother had to work hard to convince her father to take her to the square, which has been central to the uprising and the scene of a violent backlash with security services firing teargas and live bullets at those gathered there.

Ameer’s mother heard her speaking of her sadness at being unable to attend the protests and meet the young people demanding revolutionary change.

She persuaded her father to allow her to attend “because she knows very well that I am a girl of principles and she teaches me the importance of making my words correspond with my actions.

“My father and mother took me to Tahrir Square on the last day of 2019. I found there a beautiful picture of Iraq and l looked attentively at the Freedom Monument,” one of the city’s most well-known and best-loved statutes and a symbol of revolution.

“Because my country has suffered from difficult and critical circumstances, I raised two banners announcing my campaign for spreading a culture of love, peace, tolerance, and co-existence, banishing hatred,” Ameer explained.

The banners read “Love is the best medicine for Iraq” and “by love we can build Iraq.”

Samaa told the Star that she hoped to use her artwork to raise the voice of Iraqi women who are playing a leading role in the uprising.

Scores have been killed and arrested in protests across the country, but refuse to be intimidated.

At least 600 people are believed to have been killed since the uprising began.

Ameer called for an end to the violence and urged Iraqi’s to “fill your heart with love to build your country.”

New British Conservative attack on disabled people

This August 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

90 people a month are dying after being found ‘fit for work’

“This is another crude stick to beat claimants with” says Steve Topple as the government keeps fit-for-work documents secret for ‘commercial interests’.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Tories use first day back to attack the disabled

DWP removes option for claimants to choose whether work assessment outcomes are reported to GPs

THE new Tory government has wasted no time in targeting Britain’s most vulnerable, using its first day in Parliament to backtrack on disability rights.

Yesterday morning the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) removed the option for disability claimants to choose whether the outcome of work assessments is shared with their GP.

It means that the DWP can send letters to doctors telling them not to sign patients’ sick notes if they have been found “fit for work” by the notorious work capability assessments (WCA).

The option was only added to the ESA50 claim form — on the advice of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which had previously informed the DWP that it had “not complied with data protection obligations” — on December 5, to be scrapped 11 days later.

Disability-rights activist Linda Burnip said the removal of the option on the first day of the new government presents an “ominous sign” for the future of disabled people.

Ms Burnip, who founded the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, said the change was what “disabled people were dreading before the election.”

She said: “This is going to make things so difficult for disabled people, it’s going to put them more at risk.”

People with disabilities have routinely been declared fit for work after going through the DWP’s humiliating assessments. This is despite many claimants having serious disabilities that prevent them from being able to work.

The notorious tests, carried out by poorly trained staff hired by outsourced private firms, have been slammed by doctors.

In a 2018 survey carried out by medical magazine Pulse, 645 GPs said their patients had been refused welfare benefits, counter to the GPs’ opinion that they were unable to work.

Official DWP figures also reflect this: 68 per cent of employment support allowance (ESA) claimants assessed as fit for work at their initial assessment later successfully had the decision overturned on appeal.

If found fit for work, claimants no longer receive ESA and must apply for jobseekers’ allowance or universal credit if their doctors decide not to sign a sick note exempting them from work.

Some GPs have been influenced not to sign off patients by work capability assessment results. In 2016 James Harrison died after the DWP told his GP to stop issuing him sick notes after he had been judged fit for work.

Ms Burnip highlighted the risks of this information being exchanged between the government and doctors.

“To some extent, doctors might as well not exist any more in relation to benefit claims because they are totally ignored,” she said. “You have someone who has seven or eight years’ training and their opinion counts for nothing.”

The DWP U-turn comes after PM Boris Johnson said earlier this year that working harder would help people with mental-health disorders.

“It comes back to the whole concept of work,” Ms Burnip said. “I mean I suppose if you’re an MP it’s quite a nice job. But if you work in some grotty factory for 40 hours a week, work isn’t really quite as rewarding.”

The Conservative Party had not responded to a request for comment before the Star went to print.

Boston police destroys homeless disabled people’s wheelchairs

This 10 August 2019 video says about itself:

Police Destroy Wheelchairs For The Homeless, Throw Out Their Possessions

Police in Boston Tuesday night reportedly destroyed three wheelchairs belonging to homeless city residents in a garbage truck compactor as part of a crackdown targeting the city’s transient population.

“Operation Clean Sweep” began August 2 after a county corrections officer was allegedly struck during a fight involving a number of people on “Methadone Mile”, a stretch of the city near Massachusetts Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard where there are a number of clinics and treatment centers. The area has a high homeless population, many of whom have been the target of the operation in the five days and counting it has continued.

Read more here.

British police dodgy facial recognition

This 6 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Cities Are Banning Facial Recognition Technology | WIRED

A handful of US cities have banned government use of facial recognition technology due to concerns over its accuracy and privacy. WIRED’s Tom Simonite talks with computer vision scientist and lawyer Gretchen Greene about the controversy surrounding the use of this technology.

From daily News Line in Britain:

STATE SPYING: Police launch facial recognition app – UN slams state spying on disabled

9th August 2019

SOUTH Wales Police have launched a facial recognition app which is to be installed on their officers’ phones, prompting human rights campaigners Liberty to exclaim: ‘This technology is intrusive, unnecessary, and has no place on our streets.’

In a three-month trial of the new police facial recognition app which has already prompted a legal challenge, 50 officers will be given the app.

The force’s use of facial recognition technology prompted a legal challenge by a man whose picture was taken by officers while he was out shopping.

Some other forces have already trialled the technology including the Metropolitan Police.

Hannah Couchman, of Liberty, said: ‘It is shameful that South Wales Police are rolling out portable facial recognition technology to individual officers while their so-called pilots are being challenged by Liberty in court. Far less intrusive means have been used for decades by police to establish a person’s identity where necessary.’

Meanwhile, the UN’s investigator into global poverty has said innocent people are being caught up in the mass surveillance system used by the UK’s welfare state to ‘combat benefit fraud’.

Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty, described it as a tragedy that people imagined that ‘the ever-more intrusive surveillance system by the UK welfare state’ was used only against alleged ‘welfare cheats’.

‘It’s not. It will soon affect everyone and leave the society much worse off. Everyone needs to pay attention and insist on decent limits,’ he said.

Alston said the UK’s surveillance system stood the presumption of innocence on its head. He said this was because everyone applying for a benefit was ‘screened for potential wrongdoing in a system of total surveillance’.

Rick Burgess, an activist with Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, said fears that footage of his members and supporters demonstrating was being passed from police to the DWP had had a ‘chilling effect’ on people’s willingness to protest.

‘There are people who are not protesting today because they are terrified by what the DWP might know about them,’ he said. ‘The idea that information the police gather at protests about some of those taking part could be passed to the DWP for welfare fraud investigations is Stasi-like.’

USA: CLASS ACTION AGAINST FACEBOOK OVER FACIAL RECOGNITION A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a group of Facebook users can move forward with their class action lawsuit challenging the company’s use of facial recognition technology. [HuffPost]