[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 2 points 3 hours ago

Maybe you should read that link too, and maybe a few others before making such statements.

The whole idea of anarchism and communism is to abolish hierarchy. Things being the way they are now doesn't mean it is inevitable for them to always be like this.

It says more about you and how much you have to unlearn of your indoctrination (as well as how powerful and successful it is) that you can't see beyond it, than it does about the possibility of a better future outside of the social constructs you are familiar with (and which have only been around for a tiny blip of human history).

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 3 points 4 hours ago

They touch on it in 3, but I agree it could probably use its own bullet point.

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 3 points 6 hours ago* (last edited 5 hours ago)

even communism has a 1% north Korea is a good example of this

Lol, tell me you know nothing about communism without saying you know nothing about communism

(a hint for those who won't even click the link because challenging their bias is too scary: communism by definition cannot have a 1%, and using North Korea as an example of it is like using Nazis as an example of socialism)

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 0 points 8 hours ago* (last edited 7 hours ago)

Both title and comic are toxic bullshit that ignores the material reality of most peoples lives, akin to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons people aren't happy, most of which far beyond their control, the idea that wanting to be happy is to blame, rather than those reasons, is gaslighting (no, no, it isn't the systemic issues you're facing that are to blame, it's your unwillingness to grin and bear it!).

E: your sneaky edit doesn't change anything, the comic isn't talking about "desire" or whatever the specific Buddhist definition of the word is, it very specifically says "happiness". Also, an idea coming from Buddhism doesn't make it true, right, nor especially profound, see "karma", which is just a form of the just-world fallacy.

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 9 points 8 hours ago

Labour have shown no sign of opposition against any of the recent plans to cut benefits (or anything else the Tories have done for that matter), and have generally shown the same contempt of disabled people that Tories do.

The idea that they'll do anything to stop and/or overturn anything the Tories are trying to push though is laughable.

129

Amy Westervelt and Kyle Pope have covered climate disinformation for a combined 20-plus years – here’s their guide on how to decode it

Increasingly sophisticated and better-funded disinformation is making climate coverage trickier both for journalists to produce and for the public to fully understand and trust.

But telling the story, and understanding it, has never been more urgent with half of Earth’s population eligible to vote in elections that could decisively impact the world’s ability to act in time to stave off the worst of the climate crisis.

Swayed for 30 years by fossil fuel industry propaganda, the media has been as likely to unknowingly amplify falsehoods as they were to bat them down. It’s only in recent years that more journalists started to shy away from “both-sides-ing” the climate crisis – decades after scientists reached an overwhelming consensus on the scope of the problem and its causes.

The good news is that while the fossil fuel industry’s PR tactics have shifted, the stories they’re telling don’t change much from year to year, they are just adapted depending on what’s happening in the world.

When politicians talk about how much it will cost to act on climate change, for example, they almost always refer to economic models commissioned by the fossil fuel industry, which leave out the cost of inaction, which rises with every passing year. When politicians say that climate policies will increase the cost of gas or energy, they count on reporters having no idea how gas or energy pricing works, or how much fossil fuel companies’ production decisions, not to mention lobbying for particular fossil fuel subsidies or against policies that support renewable energy, impact those prices.

1. Energy security

From fueling wars to preserving national security, the fossil fuel industry loves to trumpet its role in keeping the world safe, even when it is engaging in geopolitical brinksmanship that makes everyone decidedly less so. In the context of national security, it’s worth noting that the US military started funding net-zero programs back in 2012 and listing climate change as a threat multiplier in its Quadrennial Defense Review a decade ago. But oil companies and their trade groups ignore that reality and instead insist the threat is in reducing fossil fuel dependence.

We’ve seen this recently in the industry’s messaging around the Russia-Ukraine war, when it mobilized even before Putin to push the idea that a global liquified natural gas (LNG) boom was a fix to short-term energy shortages in Europe. The industry has been noticeably quiet on the Israel-Palestine war, but is pushing general “we keep you safe” messaging that emphasizes global instability. In the US, energy security narratives often have nationalistic undertones, with messages pushing the global environmental and security benefits of US fossil fuel over that from countries like Qatar or Russia.

It is true that energy self-sufficiency contributes to any nation’s stability, but there’s no rule that says energy has to come from hydrocarbons. In fact, it’s well-documented that depending on an energy source vulnerable to the whims of world commodity markets and global conflicts is a recipe for volatility.

2. The economy v the environment

In 1944, when it looked like the second world war would end soon, PR guru Earl Newsom pulled together his corporate clients–including Standard Oil of New Jersey (ExxonMobil today), Ford, GM and Procter & Gamble – and crafted a top secret post-war strategy to keep the US public convinced of the “worth of the free enterprise system”.

From school curricula to Hollywood-crafted animated shorts to industry presentations to media interviews, the fossil fuel industry has hammered these themes repeatedly for decades. And, in a classic move, industry spokespeople point to studies that industry groups, like the American Petroleum Institute, commission as proof that taking care of the environment is bad for the economy.

In 2021, a peer-reviewed paper entitled “Weaponizing Economics” tracked the activity of a group of economic consultants who were hired by the petroleum industry for decades. “They produced analyses that were then used by both companies and politicians … to tell the public that it would just be way too expensive to act on climate, and that in any case, climate change was not going to be a big deal, so the best thing to do would be to do nothing,” the paper’s co-author Ben Franta, head of the Climate Litigation Lab at Oxford University, said.

These tactics also show up in ads that remind us to balance a desire for reduced emissions with the need to keep the economy going. One BP ad recently running on NPR, New York Times and Washington Post podcasts states that oil and gas equals jobs and argues for adding renewables, rather than replacing fossil fuels.

3. ‘We make your life work’

The fossil fuel industry loves to argue that it makes the world work – from keeping the lights on to keeping us riveted by smart phones and TV, and clothed in fast fashion. It’s genius: create a product, create demand for the product, and then shift the blame to consumers not just for buying it but also for its associated impacts.

“Basically it’s a propaganda campaign,” said Brown University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle. “And you don’t have to use the words ‘climate change’. What they’re doing is they’re seeding in the collective unconscious the idea that fossil fuels equals progress and the good life.”

Advertisements like Energy Transfer Partners’ “Our Lives Are Petroleum” campaign, which has been running since 2021, also serve the purpose of shaming people into keeping quiet on climate unless they have successfully rid their own lives of hydrocarbons. The logic goes: if you use a phone or drive a car, or really, if you live in the modern world at all, you’re the problem. Not the companies that have worked for decades to make their products seem indispensable and block any alternatives to them.

4. ‘We’re part of the solution’

Nothing keeps away regulation like promises of voluntary solutions that make it seem like the fossil fuel industry is really trying. In a 2020 exposé, Greenpeace’s investigative newsroom, Unearthed, caught an Exxon lobbyist on camera explaining this tactic had worked with a carbon tax to head off emissions regulations and how the company was pursuing the same strategy with plastic. Working with the American Chemistry Council to roll out voluntary measures like “advanced recycling”, the lobbyist, Keith McCoy, said the goal was to “get ahead of government intervention”.

As with climate change, McCoy explained, if the industry can make it seem as though it was working on solutions, it could keep outright bans on single-use plastics at bay. Today, this narrative shows up in the industry’s push for carbon capture, biofuels, and methane-based hydrogen solutions like blue, purple, and turquoise hydrogen. We also see it in the industry’s embrace of the term “low carbon” to describe not only fossil fuel–enabling solutions like carbon capture, but also “natural gas”, which industry lobbyists are successfully selling to politicians as a climate solution.

5. ‘The world’s greatest neighbor’

Just in case people still aren’t accepting of dirty air, dirty water and climate change, the fossil fuel industry funds museums, sports, aquariums, and schools, serving the dual purpose of cleaning up its image and making communities feel dependent on the industry and thus less likely to criticize it.

Both journalists and their audiences have more power to combat climate disinformation than it might feel when they’re awash in it. Understanding the industry’s classic narratives is a good starting point.

Debunking false claims is a critical next step.

  • Amy Westervelt is an award-winning investigative climate journalist, founder of Critical Frequency, and executive editor of Drilled Media

  • Kyle Pope is executive director of strategic initiatives and co-founder of Covering Climate Now, and a former editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 18 points 9 hours ago

Talk about taking the piss, the payment is already a joke considering the cost of energy nowadays, which means people need it more not less, and there is no way this is saving the taxpayer enough to justify the harm it will cause.
This is 100% a cruelty-is-the-point move.

87

Hundreds of thousands could lose out in England and Wales under disability benefit reforms after general election

Hundreds of thousands fewer disabled people could receive cold weather payments under the Conservatives’ planned post-election disability benefit reforms, according to an internal government report seen by the Observer.

The briefing, by civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), says that under the plans, new applicants for disability benefits in England and Wales would only qualify for cold weather payments if they passed a much harsher assessment than exists at present.

“We recognise that this recommendation will result in fewer low-income people being eligible for [cold weather payments],” the briefing says, adding that some higher-income people will gain access to them.

Cold weather payments worth £25 for every week of freezing weather between November and March are automatically given to people on certain benefits.

Working-age disabled people qualify for the payments via the work capability assessment (WCA), which decides whether people are sufficiently sick or disabled to get disability payments through universal credit.

The Conservatives intend to abolish the WCA after the next general election. Instead, universal credit disability payments will go to people who qualify for the separate personal independence payment (Pip) disability benefit.

The WCA became notorious in the 2010s for unfairly refusing disability benefit. But it has softened in recent years and now about 80% of applicants qualify for higher benefits or reduced requirements to look for work. By contrast, the Pip benefit assessment rejects nearly half of new applications.

The DWP briefing, which was written in October, recommends that once the WCA is scrapped in 2026, newly disabled people will need to pass the Pip benefit assessment in order to qualify for cold weather payments.

The briefing rejects the creation of a separate new qualifying test, as it claims it would add complexity to a system that has just been simplified.

“This is further proof of the brutal impacts that the government’s proposed overhaul of the disability benefits system will have on disabled people unable to earn an adequate income through paid employment, yet consigned to poverty through denial of social security payments,” said Ellen Clifford of Disabled People Against Cuts. “Many disabled people are unable to work full-time hours and are much more likely to be in low-paid employment than non-disabled people.”

It is likely that in the long run, hundreds of thousands of disabled people who would previously have qualified for cold weather payments will no longer do so. The briefing says that, as of February 2023, there were 850,000 claimants who qualified for benefit through the WCA and did not have a Pip.

However, the changes will not affect existing claimants until 2029 at the earliest, and at least some of them will receive transitional protection for an unspecified period after that. The immediate impact from 2026 will be on those applying for benefits for the first time.

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Under the changes, about 460,000 existing Pip claimants would qualify for cold weather payments for the first time. These claimants are less likely to be on the lowest incomes, and overall the changes are predicted to cut spending on cold weather payments by about £12m.

Peter Smith, director of policy at fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, said: “The additional energy costs faced by households with long-term disabilities is well evidenced, as is the mental and physical strain this brings.

“If these changes are made and eligibility is narrowed, the impact could be life-threatening – with fewer very vulnerable households able to access this lifeline during exceptionally cold weather or made to jump through ever more hoops.

“The UK government should be looking to increase support for energy bills for the most vulnerable, not restricting it for people who desperately need help.”

The DWP briefing also recommends other government departments apply the same changes in eligibility to entitlements such as free childcare, warm home discounts and help with healthcare costs, although disabled people may be able to qualify for these through other routes.

The DWP said: “While we do not comment on speculation, we have been clear that our structural reforms will be rolled out gradually from 2026 and transitional protection will ensure nobody experiences a financial loss at the point of moving onto the new system. We will always ensure our welfare system supports the most vulnerable, having made over 1.1m cold weather payments this winter, and will set out full details on any further reforms in due course.”

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 2 points 12 hours ago

Can't worry about silly things like ethics when all you care about is winning at capitalism.. 🙄
I genuinely don't think the people running these schemes think of kids in care (or poor people in general) as anything more than stock in their for-profit warehouse that is society.
They're despicable beyond words.

5

Lori and George Schappell were joined at the skull with separate bodies and lived on their own since the age of 24

The world’s oldest living conjoined twins have died at the age of 62 in their native Pennsylvania.

Lori and George Schappell died on 7 April at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, according to an obituary. A cause of death was not disclosed.

The Schappell twins were born on 18 September 1961 in Reading, in southern Pennsylvania. They were joined at the skull with separate bodies, sharing 30% of their brain and essential blood vessels.

George had spina bifida and used a mobility device. Lori pushed and steered George’s wheeled stool so the two could move around.

The twins represented the rarest form of conjoined twinning, which affects only 2% to 6% of conjoined twins, NBC Today reported.

George transitioned in 2007, with the Schappells becoming the first same-sex conjoined twins to identify as different genders, Guinness World Records reported.

George discussed his decision to come out with the Sun newspaper in 2011 when the siblings visited London to celebrate their 50th birthday and vowed to “continue living life to the full”.

He said: “I have known from a very young age that I should have been a boy.”

He added: “It was so tough, but I was getting older and I simply didn’t want to live a lie. I knew I had to live my life the way I wanted.”

The Schappells graduated from the Hiram G Andrews Center, a technical institute in Elim, Pennsylvania. They both worked for Reading hospital for a number of years.

The Schappells had distinct hobbies and interests.

George performed as a country music singer, traveling to several countries including Germany and Japan, according to Guinness World Records. Meanwhile, Lori was a lauded tenpin bowler.

The siblings lived on their own since the age of 24. They previously lived in an institution for people with intellectual impairments, despite not being mentally disabled, following a court order, New York Magazine reported.

Later, the two shared a two-bedroom apartment. Each sibling had their own room, alternating which room they would sleep in each night.

The Schappells said that, despite being conjoined, they were able to have privacy in the shared apartment.

“Just because we cannot get up and walk away from each other, doesn’t mean we cannot have solitude from other people or ourselves,” Lori said in a 1997 documentary.

For example, when George needed to rehearse his country music, the pair would go to his room, where Lori would remain quiet and allow George to practice.

While some conjoined twins have opted to be separated via surgery, such procedures weren’t available when the Schappells were born.

The twins also rejected the idea of separation.

“Would we be separated? Absolutely not,” George said in a 1997 documentary. “My theory is: why fix what is not broken?”

“I don’t believe in separation,” Lori said to the Los Angeles Times in a 2002 interview.

80

At least six people lock themselves in Grade II-listed York and Albany next to Regent’s Park and post notice

Squatters have taken over a pub in London leased by Gordon Ramsay that is up for sale with a guide price of £13m.

A group of at least six people locked themselves inside the Grade II-listed York and Albany hotel and gastropub, next to Regent’s Park, boarding up the windows and putting up a “legal warning” defending their takeover, the Sun reported.

In photographs taken before the windows were further boarded up, a person could be seen sleeping on a sofa in the bar, surrounded by litter.

On Saturday morning, two masked people wearing black tracksuits and carrying backpacks and carrier bags exited the property, running away from reporters before they could be approached for comment.

A notice taped to a door said the group had a right to occupy the venue, which they said was not a “residential building” and was therefore not subject to 2012 legislation in England and Wales that made squatting in a residential building a criminal offence.

The piece of paper, signed by “the occupiers”, also said: “Take notice that we occupy this property and at all times there is at least one person in occupation.

“That any entry or attempt to enter into these premises without our permission is therefore a criminal offence as any one of us who is in physical possession is opposed to such entry without our permission.

“That if you attempt to enter by violence or by threatening violence we will prosecute you. You may receive a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

“That if you want to get us out you will have to issue a claim for possession in the county court or in the high court.”

Ramsay called the police on Wednesday but was unable to have the people removed, it is understood.

Another notice asked passersby for “food and clothes donations or anything else you no longer want or need”.

The occupation of a person’s non-residential property without their permission is not a crime in England, though police can take action if crimes are subsequently committed, including damaging the property or stealing from it.

The Metropolitan police said in a statement: “Police were made aware of squatters at a disused property in Parkway, Regent’s Park, NW1 on Wednesday 10 April. This is a civil matter and so police did not attend the property.”

In 2007, the film director Gary Love bought the freehold of the former 19th-century coaching inn.

He subsequently leased the property to Ramsay on a 25-year term with an annual rent of £640,000.

The Kitchen Nightmares host unsuccessfully attempted to free himself from the lease in a legal battle at the high court in 2015.

The venue went on sale at the end of last year with a guide price of £13m.

According to government guidance, squatters can apply to become the registered owners of a property if they have occupied it continuously for 10 years, acted as owners for the whole of that time and had not previously been given permission to live there by the owner.

48

Observer investigation finds that private companies made £105m despite not being registered with Ofsted

Hundreds of extremely vulnerable school-age children in England are being sent to illegal, unregulated homes every year because of a chronic shortage of places in secure local authority units.

An Observer investigation has established that councils placed 706 children, the majority of them under the age of 16, in their care in homes that were not registered with Ofsted, the children’s social care watchdog, in 2022-23.

Most of the providers that staff or operate unregulated homes are private companies. The investigation found that providers received nearly £105m from English councils last year – equating to almost £150,000 a child.

It is an offence under the Care Standards Act 2000 to operate a children’s home without an Ofsted registration, which the watchdog says prevents unsuitable people from owning, managing or working in homes. But the Observer has discovered that Ofsted did not prosecute a single provider in 2022-23, despite launching 845 investigations into suspected illegal children’s homes.

The children’s commissioner for England, Rachel de Souza, said she was appalled by the findings. “Some of these children will have experienced the worst trauma, abuse and neglect, with multiple and complex needs requiring genuine care – but instead they are placed in inappropriate settings which do not meet their needs, with little say in what happens to them, often miles from loved ones and sometimes denied basic rights like education.”

The illegal care system has expanded in recent years as local authorities have struggled to accommodate increasing numbers of vulnerable children, who pose a risk to themselves or others, or are being criminally or sexually exploited.

Many of these children, who often have troubled, traumatic pasts and histories of running away and getting into dangerous situations, are subject to court orders restricting their freedom, in order to keep them safe. However, there is a shortage of secure local authority-run homes that can provide therapeutic care in locked buildings. There are typically about 50 children each day awaiting a place.

As a result, family courts are having to authorise severe restrictions on children in unregistered homes, which range from rented properties and short-term holiday lets staffed by agency workers and security guards to supported accommodation designed for older children with minimal care needs. The staff, who are frequently required to restrain children, are not checked by Ofsted.

The new figures, compiled by the Observer and the charity Together Trust, show a 277% rise in numbers placed in illegal children’s homes in England between 2020 and 2023.

De Souza is particularly worried about children deprived of their liberty in unregistered placements: “These are the children with the highest level of need, in the country yet I often hear from children placed in makeshift, rented flats with no appropriate care in place.”

Few councils were prepared to name the companies involved, but the Observer obtained payment records from a handful of local authorities. Swindon borough council placed a child in a rented Airbnb property for a “short time” in 2022-23. The council said it placed the child there, with qualified staff, while it looked for suitable accommodation. Another council hired staff that year from two security companies to work alongside care workers in illegal children’s homes.

Ofsted said it needed new powers to take action against illegal providers, as it remained concerned that children were “at risk of harm” in unregistered homes. “The government promised additional powers in 2021 that would enable us to take action against illegal providers more quickly – these powers are urgently needed in the interests of children,” said a spokesperson.

Together Trust said council funding cutsleading to decline of community services, coupled with long delays for children in accessing mental health and disability support, have led to increased levels of need. “There remains a national shortage of safe, regulated homes for children in care, particularly those with complex needs,” said Lucy Croxton, the charity’s public affairs and campaigns manager.

The government has pledged to increase funding for secure children’s homes in recent years, including the building of two new secure homes in London and the West Midlands. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced in the March budget that the government would invest £165m over the next four years to increase the capacity of the children’s homes estate.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services welcomed the funding but warned that it was a “drop in the ocean”. Andy Smith, its president, said councils were forced to use unregistered homes because of the lack of suitable places. “We know that 15 secure homes have closed since 2002 … there is a need for more than just two homes.”

The Department for Education said that all children in care deserve to live in settings that meet their needs and keep them safe.

“Local authorities are responsible for providing safe, appropriate homes for children, and are held to account for the quality of care they provide,” said a spokesperson.

The department added that all providers of care for children under 18 must be registered with Ofsted, which it said had powers to prosecute.

It said that the funding announced in the budget built on £259m previously announced by ministers to “expand the capacity of children’s homes”.

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 16 points 2 days ago

I'm often 2 during a conversation (when my brain is too focused on trying to ignore everything else going on and listen), and then 1 for the rest of eternity after that, when it's generally too late to do anything about it, but my brain is happy to repeat the conversation forever more.. 🤦‍♀️

39

Neil Goodwin was charged over his protest outside parliament in 2023. However, a judge saw it for nonsense - and here, Neil tells all.

[Click to listen to the article, and support the Canary]

Last week the Canary ran my story A disabled man is being PROSECUTED for blocking parliament with his MOBILITY SCOOTER just before my trial at Westminster Magistrate’s Court. Here’s the full story.

The climate crisis: very real, and very now

On July 19 2023, exactly a year on from the hottest day on record, and the devastating Wennington wild fire in East London which completely destroyed four houses, I had travelled up to parliament to raise the alarm about the effects a climate catastrophe will have on the disabled community and vulnerable groups, the old, and the frail.

I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and the hottest day in 2022 really drained what little energy I usually have. I felt like the plants in my garden, completely wilted, my leaves turning brown. It was the first time that I’d had to be pushed into my garden in a wheelchair. We rescued an exhausted robin, unable to even fly up to the bird bath, cooling off in a tub of rancid water. It was truly horrifying.

In early July 2023, I attended a talk at the Southbank Centre with Greta Thunberg and was shocked to learn that the government was preparing to sign new, and very significant, oil and gas licenses.

I learnt that the Rosebank project, the UK’s biggest untapped oilfield 80 miles off the Shetland coast in the North Atlantic, would have the potential if it were burned to produce as much carbon dioxide as running 56 coal-fired power stations for a year.

So, at a time when the UN Chief António Guterres started using the term ‘Global Boiling’, to describe the acceleration of terrifying climate impacts, Rishi Sunak was preparing to effectively tear up our commitment to Net Zero and the Paris Agreement and block our only escape route from global catastrophe.

Warnings from the 1990s

I am a documentary film maker.

In the late 90’s, when ‘Global Warming’ was very much considered to be junk science, I made a film called ‘Turned out Nice Again – Britain under climate change’, which set out to show what life would be like in the-near-future, about 2060, if we failed to curb our use of fossil fuels. Stuff I thought I’d never have a front row seat to witness:

Turned Out Nice Again - Britain under Climate Change

It was during that time that I learnt that CO2 emissions take a while to affect the climate. Estimates range from between 10 to 30 years. So, the impacts we are experiencing today relate to past emissions, say the invasion of Iraq, and present emissions will affect the atmosphere roughly 10 to 30 years from now.

So, I knew that with CO2 it wasn’t simply a case of just turning off the tap. Phasing out needed to happen gradually and consistently, allowing the economy and society the time to adjust. It couldn’t be business as usual right up to the 2050 deadline, the deadline stipulated in the Paris Agreement, and then bother. It most certainly couldn’t involve utilising new oil and gas fields.

Disabled people taking a stand

So, extremely angry, I had travelled up to Westminster on a Wednesday, as I say, exactly one year on from the hottest day and the Wennington wild-fire, and at around the time PMQ’s would have been winding up and parked my mobility scooter right outside the Carriage Entrance to parliament.

I had dressed up the basket on the front to look like it was on fire, with a warning sign showing a wheelchair bound person caught between a fire and a flood; referencing the Wennington wildfire:

Image

Also, the danger from flash flooding, which was tragically emphasised in the run up to my plea hearing by the death of an 83-year-old Chesterfield woman called Maureen Gilbert, who drowned in her home during Storm Babet, as she was unable to escape the rapidly rising water inside her terrace home owing to mobility problems.

‘I cannot run from a climate emergency’

I had carried a placard with fake flames coming out of the top that said, ‘I cannot run from a Climate Emergency’. Neither run literally, because of my disability, nor run from what I felt was my social responsibility to try and spotlight the implications of a climate emergency, not just for the disabled community, but for all vulnerable people – the old and the frail.

I had asked the first police officer who approached me, I believe my arresting officer, to turn on his body cam and record a safety announcement. Me detailing my various disabilities. I also have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an arthritic like condition that fuses your joints, that has left me with a completely fused neck, and completely fused lower spine, called a bamboo spine.

I explained exactly why I was there, and I was told that I was liable to be arrested:

Image

I remember asking him to see it not as an arrest, but a demonstration in how difficult it would be to save someone like me from a fire at a moment’s notice and to carry me to the safety of a police cell. To see it as an exercise in preparedness. To which, I remember him saying, ‘If you were in a burning building, I’d throw you over my shoulder and carry you out.’

And I remember thinking, if you threw me over your shoulder, it would be like throwing a 13 stone ironing board over your shoulder, as my back and neck are almost entirely fused, and you’d probably drop me and/or break my neck in the process. It certainly wouldn’t be that quick and easy.

Surrounded by cops

My plan was to attract a swarm of cops around me, then use them as bait to attract the press, thereby elevating my protest into newsworthiness, then get nicked.

No D locks, no superglue, no seriously pissed off commuters, just a very uncooperative seriously disabled man on a ‘burning’ mobility scooter, a potential public relations nightmare, saying, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re strong enough’. Or indeed, only if you’ve got suitably accessible police infrastructure. Which I had hoped to find out.

I was given every opportunity to leave, invited on numerous occasions to carry out my protest along the pavement, away from the entrance. But it felt right to remain just where I was. Right in the middle of what they like to call, ominously, The Sterile Zone:

Image

It’s strange, but I felt both my strongest and weakest at the same time. Surrounded by cops, one of whom apparently had a best friend with MS. None of whom could lay a finger on me, through fear of breaking something.

Who knew that fragility could become a super-power? Through-out, the burning issue of climate change held aloft, perhaps barring the way of the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who’s motorcade would have usually swept past right about then.

One of the police mentioned a secret tunnel right through to Downing Street and a short journey by golf cart.

Finally nicked

I was arrested under the 143 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which I thought was quite apt, as I sincerely believed that I was acting socially responsibly raising these urgent issues, especially for the disabled, the vulnerable and the frail. Those who would be shoved onto the front line of the government’s war against the weather.

I later found out that that particular law had made it illegal to carry a sleeping bag in Parliament Square, in answer to Brian Haw’s more than a decade of dissent and Occupy.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t plucked to safety from my flaming mobility scooter. So, no dodgy optic of me being carried away.

I waited eight months for my day in court. With countless sleepless nights, abject terror and righteousness slugging it out all through the winter, fretting over fines, and legal costs, and the bailiffs seizing my stuff. You can take the tele, but don’t take my Penny Black!

Preparing for court

So, I had done myself a favour and talked to Andy at Green & Black Cross, who straightened me out on quite a few things.

Stuff like, the district judge that I would be getting at my trial last week, having a better understanding of the law than your ordinary magistrate, preferring to be addressed as ‘sir’ or just plain ‘Judge’ to ‘Your Honour’, and that he doesn’t wear the silly Les Misérables head gear. Unlike my nightmares, where he’s also wearing a black hankie.

The good news was that I wouldn’t be getting the dodgy hanging judge Silas Reid, the one who is trying to take away jury trials, basically redact that last little bit of the Magna Carta, and does you for contempt for even mentioning the word ‘climate’. He’s terrorising Just Stop Oil in the Crown Court.

I’d decided to represent myself, as, even though legal stuff just goes right over the top of my head, I’d learn on my feet and try and blag my way through the proceedings. Apparently, you get more leeway. Plus, I’d have a great McKenzie friend, called Josh, courtesy Green & Black, to whisper advice.

Climate change and the impact on disabled people

On the day, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) got off to a very bad start by disclosing crucial documents a quarter of an hour before the hearing. Very shoddy, I must say. But understandable, considering the mountain of paperwork Just Stop Oil is generating. No wonder the guy looked depressed. This apparently pissed-off the judge big time.

Before we got underway, there was just time to take the plea of a Met police officer accused of groping a colleague.

Right from the off, the judge began by making it clear that the existence of a climate emergency was not in question. So, all that evidence I’d gathered, and helpfully stuffed into a ‘bundle’ for the judge and CPS, couldn’t be heard.

I’d spent a lot of time looking at the government’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP,) particularly an outlook from Stephen Belcher, the Chief Scientist at the Met Office:

Climate change is happening now… Heavy rainfall events that can lead to flash flooding are expected to become more frequent and intense across the country. Summer temperatures above 40oC, seen for the first time in July 2022, will become more commonplace by the end of the 21st century.

Also the ‘UK Climate Change Risk Assessment’ (CCRA), the latest one published in January 2022, six months before the Wennington wild fire. Its Executive Summary sounding like an Extinction Rebellion leaflet:

Climate change is happening now. It is one of the biggest challenges of our generation and has already begun to cause irreversible damage to our planet and way of life. We have clear evidence demonstrating the pace of warming in recent decades and the impacts we will face should this continue. As we redouble our efforts to achieve net zero, we must also continue to raise ambitions on adaptation to ensure the UK is resilient to the challenges of a warming world.

CCRA3 landed on cabinet desks in January 2022, six months before the Wennington wild fire, giving us a snapshot of what the government knew about the seriousness and challenges of climate change at that point in time.

So the case would almost entirely revolve around Article Ten of the Human Rights Act 1998, and The Freedom of Expression, and how reasonable I was acting in pursuing this right.

Eight hours of cops bleeding their hearts

The prosecution set out the issues. I was arrested blah blah blah… and showed the body cam footage of my arrest. Me looking almost sullen. Even rude. Not saying a word, as my arresting officer cautioned me.

By that time, I had had two hours of eight cops worth of near constant questions and pleading and befriending and guilt trips. ‘My best friend has got MS.’ ‘I’m a lesbian.’ ‘My dad is dying of cancer and I was planning on visiting him.’ That kind of thing. So, I looked exhausted:

Image

My arresting officer took the stand. I counted five mentions of Just Stop Oil, who were being mass arrested on Parliament Square at the time of my action. Sorry JSO, but I was keen to distance myself from you.

The judge asked me what if there was any campaign group that I was connected to. I told him I was loosely affiliated with DPAC, Disabled People Against the Cuts, although my placard had said DPACC, Disabled People Against Climate Change.

It turned out that the Met had just the one suitably modified van to transport disabled people to the nick, codenamed Pixie1 (my old road protestor mates will appreciate the name). And that had been on its way to Croydon that day with part of the latest Just Stop Oil mass arrest. JSO had been having their last big bash before the summer recess and had pretty much used up every available van and cell inside the M25, including Pixie1.

I’d heard of the arrest of a disabled JSO protestor called Ari, who had been arrested, and witnessed the police practically begging a black cab to take her to the station, and had often wondered whether the cops could possibly handle a group action.

CPS trying their best to smear a disabled man

The CPS and the judge went to great lengths to try and ascertain the size of the gap I had left at the entrance, which they agreed was a double gate.

Did I block anyone? No.

Would I block anyone? Perhaps.

Slowly they scrolled through the grainy, partly obscured Body Cam footage looking for the right angle. Looking to see if I had completely blocked the highway, or whether a vehicle could still get by. Once I realised what they were doing I couldn’t help but give a little chuckle. I had the perfect photo taken by my mate Gareth Morris, where you could clearly see the gap.

When I showed them Gareth’s pic, and that there was plenty of space, the prosecution argued that a vehicle still wouldn’t be able to pass by safely. Whereupon the judge gave me my second spontaneous chuckle of the day, pointing out there were plenty of policeman there to stand between me and a vehicle, to make sure it was safe. He really had it in for the CPS that day.

‘Doing my bit’

I trundled my wheelchair up to the stand, where I dropped my notes, and made a futile attempt to pick them up. I told the court that according to the MS society’s website:

excessive heat can often make MS worse. Which when you consider that we already suffer greatly from fatigue, often mentioned as one of the worst symptoms of MS, the promise of more days, perhaps entire weeks, of 40-degree heat, would make life impossible and intolerable.

I broke down twice on the stand. Once when I spoke of my devastated garden on 19 July 2022, and once when I spoke of the tragic and terrifying drowning of Maureen Gilbert, during Storm Babet, one of the people I said the government had thrown onto the front line of their war against the weather.

I told the judge that I saw this as doing my bit as a 58-year-old man and decried the 20 somethings who were being imprisoned for demanding a future. A future that I felt that I could at least now look in the eye.

A judge sees sense

We waited for the verdict for about half an hour. Me convinced that, whilst the judge might say nice things about my convictions, his hands would be tied legally.

When he came back, after the usher had demanded ‘All Stand’, and according to my friend Saskia’s excellent notes, he mentioned ‘reasonable excuse.’ That ‘The defendant was there to protest under Article 10’. That it had been about ‘Government failure and the granting of new fossil fuel leases.’ About ‘How this would affect people with disabilities. How high temperatures directly affect people with MS.’ The risk of fires, and ‘on the anniversary of the Wennington fire.’

I was so made up that I’d been successful in linking all these elements together on my day in court.

I was, ‘peaceful and dignified.’ And, crucially, there were doubts that it I ‘can be properly said to have been blocking the gates.’ That, ‘Not one vehicle entered or left’ whilst I was demonstrating, so there was ‘no evidence of obstruction.’ I was ‘fully cooperative’ and moved once I had secured my day in court. I was “passionate, articulate and honest in everything that [I] said’. I was proper blushing by this stage, but still expecting the words, ‘but’ or ‘unfortunately’.

He went on. Exploring ‘the balance of rights under Article 10’, and ‘reasonable excuse’, about ‘Zeigler’, which gets mentioned a lot. To be honest, there were loads of legals that just went over the top of my head, including the classic what the hell does that mean? line ‘The occupation was more than minor but less than major.’

I fought the law…

Whereupon, he suddenly blurted out ‘Not guilty. You are free to go.’ Leaving me to just stare into space, until the usher finally chucked me out.

So yes, I can now say that I fought the law, and the law… lost. No guesses as to what tune I first played when I finally got home.

Featured images and additional images via Gareth Morris

102

Neil Goodwin was charged over his protest outside parliament in 2023. However, a judge saw it for nonsense - and here, Neil tells all.

[Click to listen to the article, and support the Canary]

Last week the Canary ran my story A disabled man is being PROSECUTED for blocking parliament with his MOBILITY SCOOTER just before my trial at Westminster Magistrate’s Court. Here’s the full story.

The climate crisis: very real, and very now

On July 19 2023, exactly a year on from the hottest day on record, and the devastating Wennington wild fire in East London which completely destroyed four houses, I had travelled up to parliament to raise the alarm about the effects a climate catastrophe will have on the disabled community and vulnerable groups, the old, and the frail.

I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and the hottest day in 2022 really drained what little energy I usually have. I felt like the plants in my garden, completely wilted, my leaves turning brown. It was the first time that I’d had to be pushed into my garden in a wheelchair. We rescued an exhausted robin, unable to even fly up to the bird bath, cooling off in a tub of rancid water. It was truly horrifying.

In early July 2023, I attended a talk at the Southbank Centre with Greta Thunberg and was shocked to learn that the government was preparing to sign new, and very significant, oil and gas licenses.

I learnt that the Rosebank project, the UK’s biggest untapped oilfield 80 miles off the Shetland coast in the North Atlantic, would have the potential if it were burned to produce as much carbon dioxide as running 56 coal-fired power stations for a year.

So, at a time when the UN Chief António Guterres started using the term ‘Global Boiling’, to describe the acceleration of terrifying climate impacts, Rishi Sunak was preparing to effectively tear up our commitment to Net Zero and the Paris Agreement and block our only escape route from global catastrophe.

Warnings from the 1990s

I am a documentary film maker.

In the late 90’s, when ‘Global Warming’ was very much considered to be junk science, I made a film called ‘Turned out Nice Again – Britain under climate change’, which set out to show what life would be like in the-near-future, about 2060, if we failed to curb our use of fossil fuels. Stuff I thought I’d never have a front row seat to witness:

Turned Out Nice Again - Britain under Climate Change

It was during that time that I learnt that CO2 emissions take a while to affect the climate. Estimates range from between 10 to 30 years. So, the impacts we are experiencing today relate to past emissions, say the invasion of Iraq, and present emissions will affect the atmosphere roughly 10 to 30 years from now.

So, I knew that with CO2 it wasn’t simply a case of just turning off the tap. Phasing out needed to happen gradually and consistently, allowing the economy and society the time to adjust. It couldn’t be business as usual right up to the 2050 deadline, the deadline stipulated in the Paris Agreement, and then bother. It most certainly couldn’t involve utilising new oil and gas fields.

Disabled people taking a stand

So, extremely angry, I had travelled up to Westminster on a Wednesday, as I say, exactly one year on from the hottest day and the Wennington wild-fire, and at around the time PMQ’s would have been winding up and parked my mobility scooter right outside the Carriage Entrance to parliament.

I had dressed up the basket on the front to look like it was on fire, with a warning sign showing a wheelchair bound person caught between a fire and a flood; referencing the Wennington wildfire:

Image

Also, the danger from flash flooding, which was tragically emphasised in the run up to my plea hearing by the death of an 83-year-old Chesterfield woman called Maureen Gilbert, who drowned in her home during Storm Babet, as she was unable to escape the rapidly rising water inside her terrace home owing to mobility problems.

‘I cannot run from a climate emergency’

I had carried a placard with fake flames coming out of the top that said, ‘I cannot run from a Climate Emergency’. Neither run literally, because of my disability, nor run from what I felt was my social responsibility to try and spotlight the implications of a climate emergency, not just for the disabled community, but for all vulnerable people – the old and the frail.

I had asked the first police officer who approached me, I believe my arresting officer, to turn on his body cam and record a safety announcement. Me detailing my various disabilities. I also have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an arthritic like condition that fuses your joints, that has left me with a completely fused neck, and completely fused lower spine, called a bamboo spine.

I explained exactly why I was there, and I was told that I was liable to be arrested:

Image

I remember asking him to see it not as an arrest, but a demonstration in how difficult it would be to save someone like me from a fire at a moment’s notice and to carry me to the safety of a police cell. To see it as an exercise in preparedness. To which, I remember him saying, ‘If you were in a burning building, I’d throw you over my shoulder and carry you out.’

And I remember thinking, if you threw me over your shoulder, it would be like throwing a 13 stone ironing board over your shoulder, as my back and neck are almost entirely fused, and you’d probably drop me and/or break my neck in the process. It certainly wouldn’t be that quick and easy.

Surrounded by cops

My plan was to attract a swarm of cops around me, then use them as bait to attract the press, thereby elevating my protest into newsworthiness, then get nicked.

No D locks, no superglue, no seriously pissed off commuters, just a very uncooperative seriously disabled man on a ‘burning’ mobility scooter, a potential public relations nightmare, saying, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re strong enough’. Or indeed, only if you’ve got suitably accessible police infrastructure. Which I had hoped to find out.

I was given every opportunity to leave, invited on numerous occasions to carry out my protest along the pavement, away from the entrance. But it felt right to remain just where I was. Right in the middle of what they like to call, ominously, The Sterile Zone:

Image

It’s strange, but I felt both my strongest and weakest at the same time. Surrounded by cops, one of whom apparently had a best friend with MS. None of whom could lay a finger on me, through fear of breaking something.

Who knew that fragility could become a super-power? Through-out, the burning issue of climate change held aloft, perhaps barring the way of the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who’s motorcade would have usually swept past right about then.

One of the police mentioned a secret tunnel right through to Downing Street and a short journey by golf cart.

Finally nicked

I was arrested under the 143 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which I thought was quite apt, as I sincerely believed that I was acting socially responsibly raising these urgent issues, especially for the disabled, the vulnerable and the frail. Those who would be shoved onto the front line of the government’s war against the weather.

I later found out that that particular law had made it illegal to carry a sleeping bag in Parliament Square, in answer to Brian Haw’s more than a decade of dissent and Occupy.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t plucked to safety from my flaming mobility scooter. So, no dodgy optic of me being carried away.

I waited eight months for my day in court. With countless sleepless nights, abject terror and righteousness slugging it out all through the winter, fretting over fines, and legal costs, and the bailiffs seizing my stuff. You can take the tele, but don’t take my Penny Black!

Preparing for court

So, I had done myself a favour and talked to Andy at Green & Black Cross, who straightened me out on quite a few things.

Stuff like, the district judge that I would be getting at my trial last week, having a better understanding of the law than your ordinary magistrate, preferring to be addressed as ‘sir’ or just plain ‘Judge’ to ‘Your Honour’, and that he doesn’t wear the silly Les Misérables head gear. Unlike my nightmares, where he’s also wearing a black hankie.

The good news was that I wouldn’t be getting the dodgy hanging judge Silas Reid, the one who is trying to take away jury trials, basically redact that last little bit of the Magna Carta, and does you for contempt for even mentioning the word ‘climate’. He’s terrorising Just Stop Oil in the Crown Court.

I’d decided to represent myself, as, even though legal stuff just goes right over the top of my head, I’d learn on my feet and try and blag my way through the proceedings. Apparently, you get more leeway. Plus, I’d have a great McKenzie friend, called Josh, courtesy Green & Black, to whisper advice.

Climate change and the impact on disabled people

On the day, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) got off to a very bad start by disclosing crucial documents a quarter of an hour before the hearing. Very shoddy, I must say. But understandable, considering the mountain of paperwork Just Stop Oil is generating. No wonder the guy looked depressed. This apparently pissed-off the judge big time.

Before we got underway, there was just time to take the plea of a Met police officer accused of groping a colleague.

Right from the off, the judge began by making it clear that the existence of a climate emergency was not in question. So, all that evidence I’d gathered, and helpfully stuffed into a ‘bundle’ for the judge and CPS, couldn’t be heard.

I’d spent a lot of time looking at the government’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP,) particularly an outlook from Stephen Belcher, the Chief Scientist at the Met Office:

Climate change is happening now… Heavy rainfall events that can lead to flash flooding are expected to become more frequent and intense across the country. Summer temperatures above 40oC, seen for the first time in July 2022, will become more commonplace by the end of the 21st century.

Also the ‘UK Climate Change Risk Assessment’ (CCRA), the latest one published in January 2022, six months before the Wennington wild fire. Its Executive Summary sounding like an Extinction Rebellion leaflet:

Climate change is happening now. It is one of the biggest challenges of our generation and has already begun to cause irreversible damage to our planet and way of life. We have clear evidence demonstrating the pace of warming in recent decades and the impacts we will face should this continue. As we redouble our efforts to achieve net zero, we must also continue to raise ambitions on adaptation to ensure the UK is resilient to the challenges of a warming world.

CCRA3 landed on cabinet desks in January 2022, six months before the Wennington wild fire, giving us a snapshot of what the government knew about the seriousness and challenges of climate change at that point in time.

So the case would almost entirely revolve around Article Ten of the Human Rights Act 1998, and The Freedom of Expression, and how reasonable I was acting in pursuing this right.

Eight hours of cops bleeding their hearts

The prosecution set out the issues. I was arrested blah blah blah… and showed the body cam footage of my arrest. Me looking almost sullen. Even rude. Not saying a word, as my arresting officer cautioned me.

By that time, I had had two hours of eight cops worth of near constant questions and pleading and befriending and guilt trips. ‘My best friend has got MS.’ ‘I’m a lesbian.’ ‘My dad is dying of cancer and I was planning on visiting him.’ That kind of thing. So, I looked exhausted:

Image

My arresting officer took the stand. I counted five mentions of Just Stop Oil, who were being mass arrested on Parliament Square at the time of my action. Sorry JSO, but I was keen to distance myself from you.

The judge asked me what if there was any campaign group that I was connected to. I told him I was loosely affiliated with DPAC, Disabled People Against the Cuts, although my placard had said DPACC, Disabled People Against Climate Change.

It turned out that the Met had just the one suitably modified van to transport disabled people to the nick, codenamed Pixie1 (my old road protestor mates will appreciate the name). And that had been on its way to Croydon that day with part of the latest Just Stop Oil mass arrest. JSO had been having their last big bash before the summer recess and had pretty much used up every available van and cell inside the M25, including Pixie1.

I’d heard of the arrest of a disabled JSO protestor called Ari, who had been arrested, and witnessed the police practically begging a black cab to take her to the station, and had often wondered whether the cops could possibly handle a group action.

CPS trying their best to smear a disabled man

The CPS and the judge went to great lengths to try and ascertain the size of the gap I had left at the entrance, which they agreed was a double gate.

Did I block anyone? No.

Would I block anyone? Perhaps.

Slowly they scrolled through the grainy, partly obscured Body Cam footage looking for the right angle. Looking to see if I had completely blocked the highway, or whether a vehicle could still get by. Once I realised what they were doing I couldn’t help but give a little chuckle. I had the perfect photo taken by my mate Gareth Morris, where you could clearly see the gap.

When I showed them Gareth’s pic, and that there was plenty of space, the prosecution argued that a vehicle still wouldn’t be able to pass by safely. Whereupon the judge gave me my second spontaneous chuckle of the day, pointing out there were plenty of policeman there to stand between me and a vehicle, to make sure it was safe. He really had it in for the CPS that day.

‘Doing my bit’

I trundled my wheelchair up to the stand, where I dropped my notes, and made a futile attempt to pick them up. I told the court that according to the MS society’s website:

excessive heat can often make MS worse. Which when you consider that we already suffer greatly from fatigue, often mentioned as one of the worst symptoms of MS, the promise of more days, perhaps entire weeks, of 40-degree heat, would make life impossible and intolerable.

I broke down twice on the stand. Once when I spoke of my devastated garden on 19 July 2022, and once when I spoke of the tragic and terrifying drowning of Maureen Gilbert, during Storm Babet, one of the people I said the government had thrown onto the front line of their war against the weather.

I told the judge that I saw this as doing my bit as a 58-year-old man and decried the 20 somethings who were being imprisoned for demanding a future. A future that I felt that I could at least now look in the eye.

A judge sees sense

We waited for the verdict for about half an hour. Me convinced that, whilst the judge might say nice things about my convictions, his hands would be tied legally.

When he came back, after the usher had demanded ‘All Stand’, and according to my friend Saskia’s excellent notes, he mentioned ‘reasonable excuse.’ That ‘The defendant was there to protest under Article 10’. That it had been about ‘Government failure and the granting of new fossil fuel leases.’ About ‘How this would affect people with disabilities. How high temperatures directly affect people with MS.’ The risk of fires, and ‘on the anniversary of the Wennington fire.’

I was so made up that I’d been successful in linking all these elements together on my day in court.

I was, ‘peaceful and dignified.’ And, crucially, there were doubts that it I ‘can be properly said to have been blocking the gates.’ That, ‘Not one vehicle entered or left’ whilst I was demonstrating, so there was ‘no evidence of obstruction.’ I was ‘fully cooperative’ and moved once I had secured my day in court. I was “passionate, articulate and honest in everything that [I] said’. I was proper blushing by this stage, but still expecting the words, ‘but’ or ‘unfortunately’.

He went on. Exploring ‘the balance of rights under Article 10’, and ‘reasonable excuse’, about ‘Zeigler’, which gets mentioned a lot. To be honest, there were loads of legals that just went over the top of my head, including the classic what the hell does that mean? line ‘The occupation was more than minor but less than major.’

I fought the law…

Whereupon, he suddenly blurted out ‘Not guilty. You are free to go.’ Leaving me to just stare into space, until the usher finally chucked me out.

So yes, I can now say that I fought the law, and the law… lost. No guesses as to what tune I first played when I finally got home.

Featured images and additional images via Gareth Morris

14

We're in the middle of a plague

[Click to listen to the article, and support the Canary]

The NHS killed Sophia Mirza on 15 November 2005. Sophia lived with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS). In July 2003, psychiatrists got cops to smash the door into Sophia’s home down and forcibly take her to a secure psychiatric unit, where she was imprisoned against her wishes for two weeks before a tribunal ordered her release. This ultimately led to her death.

In January 2024, Olivia Jane Mott travelled from the UK to Dignitas in Switzerland to end her own life. She lived with ME. On 27 March 2024, Lucy Mayhew died. She lived with ME.

Right now, Millie McAinsh is dying in an NHS hospital because doctors don’t believe her illness is real. They previously sectioned her under the Mental Health Act, enforced Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding (DoLS) measures on her, and are forcing her to have treatment she doesn’t want. Millie lives with ME. So does Karen Gordon – in an almost identical situation to Millie.

So, nearly 20 years after the NHS killed Sophia, people living with ME are still dying while the state either lets them or actively brings it about. The obvious question is why? Well, the Canary has extensively documented the answer to that.

However, the less obvious but perhaps more necessary question is why are we allowing this to happen?

ME/CFS: inaction, inaction, inaction

The answer to that is a complex melting pot of issues, including (but not limited to):

  • ME/CFS is still poorly misunderstood – or rather, made out by the medical profession, the state, and media to be.

  • The ME community exists in the most part of people online who are a) clued-up on the issues, and b) have a diagnosis in the first place. Read this about fibromyalgia and ME diagnoses.

  • People have their own political views which play into how they respond to situations of injustice, abuse, and discrimination. We’re a mixed bag of left, right, and no wing.

  • The full force of the media and state has been consistently putting its boot on the neck of the ME community.

  • Charities and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) within the community tend to work to their own agendas – not collectively.
    But one of the most pressing one is the community’s inability, and in some cases unwillingness, to protest.

Where are the protests? Where are the occupations?

Campaigning, protesting, and taking direct action have throughout history been the way ordinary people have brought about change. Be under no illusions: it is NOT politicians, charities, or the state who do – and even when they have, it’s because people like you and me have forced them to.

However, this has always been the circle that (until this point) cannot be squared: severely chronically ill and disabled people cannot easily protest. They’re bodies often won’t let them. So, they need allies and advocates to do it for them.

Yet where are the protests from non-chronically ill allies?

I seem to recall some shoes being placed outside the Department of Health and the BBC a few years ago (I’m being wry – I was there). Otherwise, the ME community doesn’t protest – unlike nearly every other marginalised group in the UK.

For example, me and my partner Nicola were literally blocking one of the main arterial roads into Westminster with other disabled people a few weeks ago. It was over benefit-related deaths. Cops kettled disabled wheelchair users and threatened people with arrest.

Yet that pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of people who have died under the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regime; one the UN said caused “grave” and “systematic” violations of chronically ill and disabled people’s human rights.

ME/CFS: we literally have nothing to lose

So, why has the ME community not embraced direct action and protest as part of its strategy?

I can’t safely answer that. That’s for all of us to reflect on. I think there’s elements of class within this. Many marginalised communities are also socioeconomically marginalised by the state. That is, they’re poor in every sense. Specifically, not only does the state marginalise you for, say, your ethnicity or disability, it also marginalises you economically.

As American writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin summed up:

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.

Black people, disabled people, refugees, non-working people all have the least to lose – therefore, civil disobedience isn’t as daunting.

The ME community needs to fully recognise its own marginalisation and take that to its very core. Millie is a case in point for us all: she has little to lose, now – and things can’t get much worse.

Shut up and sit down

There’s another element to this lack of protest and direct action.

Regarding Millie, I keep seeing comments, and am also being told privately by quite well-known figures in the ME community, that:

Things are going on behind the scenes.

But:

You shouldn’t really do ‘x, y, z’ as it will make the situation worse for Millie.

And:

The ME/CFS charities are working with Millie’s family.

If I hear another comment along these lines I’ll scream.

Whatever the ME charities and those in the self-appointed (which they are, unless people with ME took a vote on it that I missed) upper echelons of the community have been doing since the NHS killed Sophia on 15 November 2005 HAS NOT WORKED. If it had, Millie and Karen would not be in the situation they’re in.

Olivia would still be alive.

Lucy would still be alive.

And Merryn, Maeve, and Kara Jane would still be alive.

Nothing has worked in 20 years.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams once said in parliament regarding the tens of thousands of disabled people that have died on the DWP’s watch:

Does the minister think that it is unacceptable that any government policy should cause their citizens to take their own life or to die? If he does, should there not be a moratorium on this policy until it is got right? Surely one death is one too many.

Why has the ME community for decades accepted so many deaths of its own?

It is past time that the ME community realised that we are perpetually going round in circles, doing the same things over and over again – and that they are not working.

It is also past time that the ME community stopped allowing certain gatekeepers to govern how it conducts itself and how it responds to the abuse medical professionals and the state inflicts on its members; abuse that is not inflicted on those same gatekeepers.

And it is past time that the ME community stopped putting its faith in charities who take hundreds of thousands – sometimes millions – of pounds every year in donations and yet demonstrably achieve absolutely nothing with it.

That is, the ME community and its allies in other chronic illness communities like long Covid need to take matters into their own hands. Enough really is enough this time.

Get our acts together, or we are as good as dead

Larry Kramer was the founder of direct action group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Him and his supporters advocated for disruptive civil disobedience in the face of the HIV/AIDS crisis that was sweeping the US in the 1980s.

ACT UP members repeatedly got arrested for actions like blocking roads. However, Kramer and his group changed the course of HIV/AIDS: how it was viewed by the public, how it was represented by the media, and ultimately how it was treated by medical professionals.

He once said:

I was trying to make people united and angry. I was known as the angriest man in the world, mainly because I discovered that anger got you further than being nice. And when we started to break through in the media, I was better TV than someone who was nice.

The ME community has been “nice” for far too long. It’s not like we’re complaining about potholes, tree-felling, or London’s ULEZ scheme. We’re fighting against the state-run health service literally killing members of our community. Yet, all those three other examples I gave have seen bigger – and often more civilly-disobedient – protests than the ME community has ever engaged in.

Crucially, though, Kramer famously screamed in the middle of a meeting of AIDS activists who were arguing among themselves and utterly disorganised:

Plague! We are in the middle of a plague! And you behave like this! Plague! 40 million infected people is a plague! Until we get our acts together, all of us, we are as good as dead.

So, get their act together they did.

The ME/CFS community needs it’s own ‘plague’ moment

The ME community’s “plague” moment should have been Sophia’s killing in 2005.

But it wasn’t.

It should have happened at the start of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

But it didn’t.

It should have been Merryn’s, Maeve’s, Kara Jane’s, and every other person with ME’s deaths because of how the system has treated them.

But it wasn’t.

So, I ask you this: is it going to take the NHS killing Millie for the ME community to have its “plague” moment and finally ‘get its act together’? Because that cannot happen.

Millie’s story – ending with her returning home to safety – must be a watershed moment for all our sakes. It must be a moment where we as a community stare at ourselves in a mirror until our eyes collectively bleed and ask ourselves whether what we are, and have been, doing is right – and if we should continue with it.

And I can tell you now: the answer to those questions is ‘no’.

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 8 points 3 days ago

Except you don't choose your family, and probably have no control over who you work with, which definitely isn't the case for May who has actively chosen to stand by Clarkson and their joint brand because, if nothing else, the heaps of money it makes him matter more than not supporting a violent asshole who abuses your other co-workers (or as they see them - "staff").

[-] DessertStorms@kbin.social 27 points 4 days ago

A lot of people here saying you're over thinking things, but as a chronic pain patient, I know exactly how suspicious and damn right shitty some healthcare professionals can be, and how horrible, and guilty, they can make you feel for something completely innocent because they've been drilled about "pill seekers" or whatever (but were never drilled anywhere near as hard about prescribing responsibly, only profitably) and don't care enough to actually look at why you're taking them.

I do agree with most of the comments that being flagged by anyone is probably not something that should be concerning you at all, you are prescribed the meds by a doctor, and especially after a procedure that has painful recovery, no one will think twice about it.

But it is so fucking important for people to see the kind of impact that clamping down on patients (the stress, panic, anxiety, fear, guilt despite having done nothing wrong, and so on) instead of the doctors doing the irresponsible prescribing.

I hope you manage to calm your concerns, and feel better soon.

1

Waking and baking, both track and vape take a minute to kick in..

35

Foo Fighters cover to kick morning brain in to gear

147

Disabled activist Neil Goodwin was arrested under the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act outside parliament

The below article is an opinion piece from Neil Goodwin, an activist who was arrested for blocking an entrance to parliament with his mobility scooter

[Click to listen to the article]

I’m in Westminster Magistrate’s Court at 10am on Wednesday 3 April, charged with blocking the entrance to parliament in my mobility scooter; I’m disabled, living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a bit of what I am hoping to tell the judge.

Protesting the climate crisis as a disabled person

On 19 July 2023, exactly a year on from the hottest day on record and the devastating Wennington wild fire, I travelled up to parliament to protest. It was a Wednesday, and Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) was on – the busiest day of the week for parliament and for the media who cover it.

I positioned myself in front of the carriage entrance, facing towards the road:

[Photo]

I had dressed up the basket on the front of my mobility scooter to look like it was on fire, with a warning sign on the from showing a disabled wheelchair user caught between a fire and a flood – referencing the Wennington wildfire exactly a year previously.

It also referenced the danger from flash flooding, which was tragically emphasised in the run up to my plea hearing by the death of an 83-year-old Chesterfield woman called Maureen Gilbert, who drowned in her home during Storm Babet, as she was unable to escape the rapidly rising water inside her terrace home owing to mobility problems.

I carried a placard with fake flames coming out of the top, that said, ‘I cannot run from a Climate Emergency’. Neither run literally, because of my disability, nor run from what I feel is my social responsibility to try and spotlight the implications of a climate emergency, not just for disabled communities, but for all vulnerable people – the old and the frail.

Cops provide a concerning response

I asked the first police officer who approached me, I believe my arresting officer, to turn on his body cam and record a safety announcement – me detailing my various disabilities.

I explained exactly why I was there, and I was told that I was liable to be arrested.

I remember asking one officer, I think my arresting officer, to see it not as an arrest, but a demonstration in how difficult it would be to save someone like me from a fire at a moment’s notice and carry me to the safety of a police cell. To see it as an exercise in preparedness, as it were – to which, I remember him saying:

If you were in a burning building, I’d throw you over my shoulder and carry you out.

I remember thinking, if you threw me over your shoulder, it would be like throwing a 13-stone ironing board over your shoulder, as my back and neck are almost entirely fused, and you’d probably drop me and/or break my neck in the process. It certainly wouldn’t be that quick and easy.

I was given every opportunity to leave, invited on numerous occasions to carry out my protest along the pavement, away from the entrance. But it felt right to remain just where I was: right in the middle of what they like to call the Sterile Zone.

Now prosecuting disabled people to acting ‘socially responsibly’

It’s strange, but I felt both my strongest and weakest at the same time. Surrounded by cops, one of whom apparently had a best friend with MS, yet none of whom could lay a finger on me, through fear of breaking something.

Who knew that fragility could become a super-power; the burning issue of climate change held aloft, perhaps barring the way of prime minister Rishi Sunak who’s motorcade would have usually swept past by then.

So, I was arrested under section 143 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which I thought was quite apt, as I sincerely believe that I was acting socially responsibly raising these urgent issues, especially for disabled, vulnerable and frail people; those who will be shoved onto the front line of this Tory government’s war against the weather.

I pleaded ‘not guilty’ because I don’t think that I did anything wrong. My mum told me to tell the judge that I had seen the error of my ways – when in fact some of us were beginning to feel a real terror in our days:

[Click through to article to watch video]

43

Disabled activist Neil Goodwin was arrested under the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act outside parliament

The below article is an opinion piece from Neil Goodwin, an activist who was arrested for blocking an entrance to parliament with his mobility scooter

[Click to listen to the article]

I’m in Westminster Magistrate’s Court at 10am on Wednesday 3 April, charged with blocking the entrance to parliament in my mobility scooter; I’m disabled, living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a bit of what I am hoping to tell the judge.

Protesting the climate crisis as a disabled person

On 19 July 2023, exactly a year on from the hottest day on record and the devastating Wennington wild fire, I travelled up to parliament to protest. It was a Wednesday, and Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) was on – the busiest day of the week for parliament and for the media who cover it.

I positioned myself in front of the carriage entrance, facing towards the road:

[Photo]

I had dressed up the basket on the front of my mobility scooter to look like it was on fire, with a warning sign on the from showing a disabled wheelchair user caught between a fire and a flood – referencing the Wennington wildfire exactly a year previously.

It also referenced the danger from flash flooding, which was tragically emphasised in the run up to my plea hearing by the death of an 83-year-old Chesterfield woman called Maureen Gilbert, who drowned in her home during Storm Babet, as she was unable to escape the rapidly rising water inside her terrace home owing to mobility problems.

I carried a placard with fake flames coming out of the top, that said, ‘I cannot run from a Climate Emergency’. Neither run literally, because of my disability, nor run from what I feel is my social responsibility to try and spotlight the implications of a climate emergency, not just for disabled communities, but for all vulnerable people – the old and the frail.

Cops provide a concerning response

I asked the first police officer who approached me, I believe my arresting officer, to turn on his body cam and record a safety announcement – me detailing my various disabilities.

I explained exactly why I was there, and I was told that I was liable to be arrested.

I remember asking one officer, I think my arresting officer, to see it not as an arrest, but a demonstration in how difficult it would be to save someone like me from a fire at a moment’s notice and carry me to the safety of a police cell. To see it as an exercise in preparedness, as it were – to which, I remember him saying:

If you were in a burning building, I’d throw you over my shoulder and carry you out.

I remember thinking, if you threw me over your shoulder, it would be like throwing a 13-stone ironing board over your shoulder, as my back and neck are almost entirely fused, and you’d probably drop me and/or break my neck in the process. It certainly wouldn’t be that quick and easy.

I was given every opportunity to leave, invited on numerous occasions to carry out my protest along the pavement, away from the entrance. But it felt right to remain just where I was: right in the middle of what they like to call the Sterile Zone.

Now prosecuting disabled people to acting ‘socially responsibly’

It’s strange, but I felt both my strongest and weakest at the same time. Surrounded by cops, one of whom apparently had a best friend with MS, yet none of whom could lay a finger on me, through fear of breaking something.

Who knew that fragility could become a super-power; the burning issue of climate change held aloft, perhaps barring the way of prime minister Rishi Sunak who’s motorcade would have usually swept past by then.

So, I was arrested under section 143 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which I thought was quite apt, as I sincerely believe that I was acting socially responsibly raising these urgent issues, especially for disabled, vulnerable and frail people; those who will be shoved onto the front line of this Tory government’s war against the weather.

I pleaded ‘not guilty’ because I don’t think that I did anything wrong. My mum told me to tell the judge that I had seen the error of my ways – when in fact some of us were beginning to feel a real terror in our days:

[Click through to article to watch video]

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DessertStorms

joined 9 months ago