HARROW YOUTH ELECTIONS 2016: Young people make themselves heard


VIJAY SHAH via Harrow Times

Youngsters in the Harrow borough in north-west Greater London will have a chance to make their voices heard in the forthcoming elections for the Harrow Youth Parliament next week and decide the next direction for their community and borough’s youth services, local paper the Harrow Times reports today.

The Youth Parliament, which is the largest and most active of any of Greater London’s 32 boroughs, has called on young Harrovians to go out and vote in the 2016 elections, enabling them to challenge decisions made by councillors, get involved in important decisions affecting them and their local communities and express their opinions and concerns to decision-makers.

Polls are open from February 8-12 and thousands of Harrow’s young people are expected to cast votes for Youth Parliament representatives to speak for them on the local government stage. The elections are open to Harrow residents aged 11-18 years only. Seventy seats in the Parliament are to be filled, along with two seats for the borough in the National Youth Parliament, the Harrow Times reports.

Annual Sitting 2009

Annual Sitting 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Current chairperson of the Harrow Youth Parliament (HYP), Dina Khatum said to the Times recently: “Harrow Youth Parliament’s extensive local and national involvement has played an active role in getting young people’s voices heard.

“We try, both with our external activities and internal projects, to do as much as we can to improve the lives of Harrow for young people by representing their views to decision makers.”

The HYP came into existence in 2004, and in its nearly twelve years of operations have helped influence and shape many key regulations regarding Harrow Council‘s provisions for young residents, as well as speaking on behalf of teenagers across the nation.

Lists of candidates contesting the 2016 HYP elections are being put on public view in the borough’s youth centres, schools and sixth-form colleges for voters to choose the Members of Parliament they will be backing.

The elections are supported by Harrow Council’s Electoral Services and organised by the borough’s Youth Development Team.

Youth Parliaments are an important means of getting youth interested in politics. They help give future decision makers a taste of the democratic process and a chance to represent young people in key decisions including the annual debate at the House of Commons. They have been key in helping many of their young members a foothold into local and national politics.

Last year more then 12,000 ballots were cast in the Harrow borough– one of the highest turnouts in London.

The adult Harrow councillor in charge of the portfolio for young people and children’s services, Simon Brown, commented: “By taking part in the youth elections you can help shape the future of young people.

“Challenge us, share your views and speak up on issues that matter to you.

“I encourage you all to vote in this year’s election and look forward to working closely with new members of our fantastic Harrow Youth Parliament.”

In 2015, the HYP has been active in running various projects, including improving relations between schools, between young people and the police, and setting up activities during school and college holiday periods. The Parliament also won a contract with MOPAC in their police and youth community work.

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“Chance for young people to have their say in the 2016 youth elections next week” – Beth Cherryman, Harrow Times/Newsquest (London) Ltd/Gannett (6 February 2016) http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/14257155.Chance_for_young_people_to_have_their_say_in_the_2016_youth_elections_next_week/?ref=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
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CHICAGO BA FLIGHT: Pilot applauded after making emergency stop at Heathrow Airport



A British Airways pilot has been hailed a hero after a mechanical emergency forced him to make a stop at the UK’s Heathrow International Airport, potentially saving hundreds of passengers’ lives, Chicago-based news station WGNTV reports.

Flight BA295 was en route to Chicago, U.S.A. and was two hours into the flight when a malfunction developed with the landing wheels, causing the pilot to take evasive measures and return the plane back to Heathrow, it was reported. The pilot was able to land the stricken plane without any problem after two of the five sets of landing gear broke down, having notified everyone on board.

Boeing 747-400 takes off from London Heathrow ...

Boeing 747-400 takes off from London Heathrow Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a safety precaution to prevent the plane from tipping over due to the instability caused by the damaged wheels, passengers were asked to exit from the rear first. Several of them commented that the experience left them feeling scared but relieved that the pilot, who is currently unnamed in reports, acted calmly in dealing with the emergency.

The UK’s ITV News further reported that Heathrow was forced to temporarily close down the affected runway. Passengers experienced delays as only one runway was still in use. The airport apologised on Twitter for the inconvenience to travellers and advised holiday-makers to check with their airline before leaving for the airport.

British Airways has not yet released a statement regarding the BA295 incident.

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“British Airways plane diverts to Heathrow for ‘technical reasons’ ” – ITV News/ITV plc (30 January 2016) http://www.itv.com/news/2016-01-30/british-airways-plane-turns-back-to-heathrow-for-technical-reasons/
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DBIS SCALEDOWN: UK Government department to shut Sheffield office, others


VIJAY SHAH via The Mirror

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, a government agency tasked with supporting business development and work initiatives in the United Kingdom, has announced this past Thursday it will be closing down its office in the northern English city of Sheffield and moving jobs to London, the Mirror reports.

The closure is due to go into effect by 2018, possibly seeing the loss of 250 jobs at the Sheffield office, and several other DBIS offices may also face the axe as the Department cuts back under the government’s cost-saving austerity programme and as DBIS leaders look to centralise their operations in the UK’s capital.

Often dubbed the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ for its efforts to promote business in the North of England, the DBIS may close another 12 or so offices, including six in the North, despite previous parliamentary intentions to encourage more investment and job creation in the region, which is one of the poorest pasts of the country, having lost many of its heavy industry output since the 1980s.

The DBIS plans have not been warmly received in Sheffield, a city of 563,749 inhabitants in South Yorkshire, once famed for its stainless steel cutlery manufacturing, but having experienced severe decline until recently. Local MP (Member of ParliamentNick Clegg , former party leader for the Liberal Democrats, told the Mirror: “This flies directly in the face of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.”

“I want to be clear that no one ever put this to me in Government and I would not have agreed to it if they had.”

Labour’s Shadow Civil Service Minister Louise Haigh also lambasted the ruling Conservative party’s decision to close the Sheffield and other northern offices, saying that the plan “demonstrates the utter contempt the Tories have for the North.”

DBIS civil servants have allegedly already been informed of the closure, scheduled for January 2018, with the department looking to move towards a “smaller workforce and more streamlined structures”, according to the Mirror. A spokesperson for UK prime minister David Cameron said “The Business Department, like all departments, seeks to operate as efficiently as it possibly can to deliver the best quality of service to provide the right kind of guidance and advice to ministers.

“This is part of their process of becoming leaner and more efficient.”

The DBIS plans to close its regional offices and focus on fortifying operations at its central HQ in London, where most government departments are situated. Currently the department oversees twelve other regional centres in the towns and cities of Billingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Darlington, Guildford, Gateshead, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Watford – all of which are likely to go with much job losses or relocations.

The DBS will possibly replace them with six ‘business centres’ and some staff will be offered the chance to relocate to them. Each of the new business centres will be connected to a particular business activity, for example higher education, but there will not be one in Sheffield, a huge blow to the city’s economy and business community.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “Sheffield needs jobs and London’s overheating. This move makes no sense and it exposes George Osborne’s empty rhetoric about the Northern Powerhouse once again.

“I’ve pressed Ministers to move public sector jobs out of London, as Labour did, and I’ll be challenging this decision at every opportunity.

“Well paid civil service jobs provide opportunities for local people. They enable graduates of our two universities to stay in the city.

“Their spending in the local economy creates more jobs. And we need more of the country’s top decision makers to experience life in the regions, not see everything through the distorted experience of London.”

Speaking to Sheffield-based civil servants this morning, the DBIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly said: “Today’s announcement is part of implementing our BIS 2020 strategic plans to modernise the way we work, reduce operating costs and deliver a simpler, smaller department that is more flexible and responsive to stakeholders and businesses.

“Our operating model needs to be designed in a way that works for this smaller workforce with more streamlined structures.”

“The decision to close Sheffield by 2018 has not been taken lightly. The unions are being consulted and will be involved throughout the process.

“It is my top priority that all our staff are fully briefed and consulted on the process. We will provide comprehensive support to all those facing a potential change or loss of job.

“In relation to the new business centres, we will be working closely with our Partner Bodies over the coming months to develop firm plans for their office locations.”

The DBIS is a relatively new government department, created in 2009  by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). It is headed by Conservative MP Sajid Javid who is also the president of the Board of Trade. The department is responsible for many aspects of business matters, law and education, along with the promotion of trades, scientific research and skills. The DBIS even has remit for business aspects concerning outer space and the postal services. Most deicisions on important policy areas are undertaken at DBIS HQ in Westminster, London.

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“‘Northern Powerhouse’ department to close Sheffield office and move 247 jobs to London” – Ben Glaze & Mikey Smith, Mirror/Mirror Online/MGN Limited (28 January 2016) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/northern-powerhouse-department-close-sheffield-7265022
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VIJAY SHAH via journalism.co.uk

If you have ever been curious of the benefits and uses of search engine optimisation (and enjoy nibbling the occasional pizza slice along the way) then a special workshop being held by journalism news site and trainer journalism.co.uk alongside lecturer Adam Tinworth may help give you a taster.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the technique of using selected keywords and tags to help make your article, website or blog more visible in search results in places like Google and Bing. While some blogging sites like WordPress provide SEO as standard, for many other providers, you are left on your own to figure out how to maximise your presence on search results and get a foot in on that coveted first page.

The vast majority of traffic to news sites and blogs still arrives via search engines, therefore maintaining good knowledge of the principles of SEO is extremely important for anyone with an online presence, whether writing news or running a business.

Google is by far the most popular vehicle for searches and has recently undergone some mammoth changes,  with the Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates shifting the search landscape beyond recognition. This has meant journalists and other having to adapt and move with the shift. The SEO knowledge of years gone by is now actually harmful to websites’ position in search results as Google now places emphasis on ‘high quality’ content and fresh information rather than simply keywords, to close the door on keyword spammers and link farms. Sadly many web publishers are still stuck behind in the times, suing models from 2008 that are doing them more harm than good.

To combat this problem, journalism.co.uk have launched a intensive and informative three-hour course at their offices in Brighton, where lecturer and visiting City University Journalism department professor Adam Tinworth will explain and guide attendees through the current principles of SEO, as well as techniques on improving the SEO value of already published content and sites. Prof. Tinworth has experience in digital journalism, blogging, training and publishing strategy. He has worked as a journalist for 20 years, and now as a consultant, has worked with several big names in media, including the Financial Times and the Telegraph, as well as smaller publishers and businesses. He has also been a blogger for a decade, writing at One Man & His Blog.

The workshop is ideal for media professionals such as employed journalists, freelancers, media students and others working in PR, marketing and communications. It will be held in an informal way in a relaxed setting. You will get free complimentary pizza as well as tea and coffee to keep your mind sharp, as well as opportunities to meet fellow professionals.

What will the course cover?

  • How to write for search
  • How to write great SEO headlines (that aren’t dull)
  • How to identify, analyse and use keywords – without overusing them
  • How to help search engines understand the meaning of your page
  • The role of linking in good SEO
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • How to keep up with SEO changes

Tutor(s): Adam Tinworth
Starts: 18:00 1 February 2016
Finishes: 21:00 1 February 2016
Location: Shaftesbury Court, 95 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 4ST
Price: £80 (inc. VAT)

You can book a place on the journalism.co.uk Brighton SEO workshop by visiting the third article in the ‘Sources’ below and clicking the small dark pink button marked ‘Book Now’ when you reach the journalism.co.uk site.

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CHARLES MANSON: California state governor rejects parole bid by killer’s follower

VIJAY SHAH via Fox News and Ace Breaking News

The leader of the California state government has rejected a bid for parole by a jailed follower of the Seventies cult leader and murderer Charles Manson, the U.S.’s Fox News service reports today.

The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, threw out the parole application for the follower more than forty-six years after Manson and his cult wrecked havoc in southern California, bringing terror to its well-heeled neighbourhoods, a crime spree that still is recounted today.

The bid applicant, a Bruce Davis, was originally jailed for the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, which occurred in 1969. Manson’s cultists were most notorious for the bloody murder of actress Sharon Tate and six others, before they were apprehended and jailed by local police.

The governor ruled that Davis, now aged 73, still poses a threat to society and a danger to public safety and will remain behind bars. Gov. Brown has already blocked two previous parole applications by Davis, and an earlier bid for jail release was annulled by previous state governor and former film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The killer is currently detained at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, in California’s south, where he is serving a life sentence for the slayings of Hinman and Shea. In addition to the murders, he was also sentenced for ‘conspiracy to commit murder and robbery’, according to Fox.

Since he was put behind bars, Davis has become a devout Christian and studied at the jail’s school, earning himself a doctorate in religious philosophy and is now a prison minister carrying out devotional service to his fellow inmates at the Colony.

His attorney, Michael Beckman, said that California’s Board of Parole Hearings has fulfilled all legal processes in recommending that his client be made eligible for parole. However, Los Angeles County prosecutors opposed the parole bid on the grounds of the sadistic nature of the murders of the two entertainers, alongside the intention of Charles Manson, Davis’ one time leader, to spark a race war between white and black Americans which would benefit his cult.

Bruce Davis was born in Monroe, Louisiana state in October 1942, the youngest of two children. He was a school dropout who moved west to California after becoming interested in the new hippy subculture that was taking shape in the 1960s. He met Charles Manson and his band of followers in 1967, where he made a niche for himself handling stolen credit cards and churning out fake identification for the Manson ‘family’. In 1970, after the murders of Hinman and Shea, Davis was ordered by Manson to turn himself in and was then duly sentenced for the two murders and as a criminal accessory.

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“California gov rejects Manson follower’s parole bid” – Associated Press via Fox News – U.S. Home – California/FOX News Network, LLC. (23 January 2016) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/01/23/california-gov-rejects-manson-followers-parole-bid.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
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SPACEX: Private space exploration firm to test fire rocket on US West Coast


Private space travel company SpaceX is to test-launch a rocket carrying its Jason-3 satellite from an air base in California, USA, technology website TechCrunch reported yesterday.

The launch will be scheduled at precisely 10:42 AM Pacific Standard Time (7:42 PM London time) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, located 9.2 miles north-west of the small town of Lompoc. The launch will give SpaceX, one of a fleet of new privately owned space travel concerns, a chance to test out the capabilities of its Falcon 9 rocket. Engineers will attempt to land the Falcon on a floating ‘drone ship’ somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, it was reported.

Falcon rocket, Space Exploration Technologies,...

Falcon rocket, Space Exploration Technologies, (SpaceX) (See talk page for GFDL permission notes and SpaceX contact information) Note: this was the cover shot for a spring, 2004 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So far, the Falcon programme has been a successful one for the firm, who made a previous test launch in December 2015 and landed their rocket on a launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida state, the iconic homeland of space exploration veterans NASA. That test launch was lauded by the space travel community as a step towards greater diversity in space travel as well as a stage in the development of reusable rockets.

The previous Friday, SpaceX carried out a ‘static fire test’ on the recovered engines from the rocket launched in December. The company’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk, reported on Twitter that the data from the static test ‘looked good’, with the only minor problem being that one of the rocket’s outer engines had ‘thrust fluctuations’, beleived to be because it has swallowed surrounding debris from the rocket or outside it during the launch.

In today’s launch, the Falcon 9 will attempt to land on a drone ship floating on the ocean. This will be SpaceX’s third attempt at this notoriously difficult experiment, with the previous two tries frustrated by the instability of the rocket, the size of the pad and the movement of the ocean causing the ship to move about at its location. Succeeding today will mean SpaceX’s rockets will be considered safer and easier to use, potentially opening up more business for the firm from space tourists and other exploration partners.

The first attempt, made in January 2015, also failed because the booster ran out of hydraulic fluid required to direct its descent. The second attempt, made in April 2015, was closer but ultimately failed when a control valve stopped responding to commands seconds before touchdown, according to TechCrunch.

SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann, at a press conference held this past Friday, justified the reason for this latest experiment and his company ‘switching things up’. He said that he company was unable to receive environmental clearance to land the rocket at Vandenburg so opted to try again with the floating drone ship. He also said that the choice to use the ship was not a reflection of the Falcon 9’s capabilities and that a landing on dry soil was no problem at all. Sadly, unlike previous launches, SpaceX will not be able to provide streamed footage of today’s event due to the difficulties in using a good internet connection far out at sea.

Sunday will mark the last launch of the company’s Falcon 9 v1.1 generation of boosters. SpaceX now has an upgraded version of the rocket with increased thrust capabilities which was used in the successful December flight from Florida.

On board the Falcon 9 will be the $180 million Jason-3 satellite, developed by space agencies NOAA and NASA. The satellite will eventually be launched by SpaceX to enable observations of our planet’s sea levels and detect any changes possibly attributable to global warming.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 with an ambition of revoultionising space travel and producing rockets that will one day enable people to dwell on other worlds. It designs, manufactures and launches rockets, of which the Falcon model has been its most well known version. The company, which has 3,000 employees enjoys a close partnership with the U.S. national space agency NASA.

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EUROPEAN REFUGEE CRISIS: Berlin considers tightening border controls


The government of Germany, which has recently welcomed in hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing poverty and the wars in Iraq and Syria, has now voiced the need for European Union member states to strengthen their borders to cope with the ‘waves of refugees’, the Spanish newspaper Expansión has reported.

The measure to enact limits was tabled by the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in an interview published in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung today (16 January 2016). In the interview, Schäuble said it was a priority for member states to collectively seek a solution to the refugee crisis and also spoke in favour of allocating resources and EU budgets, if necessary, to secure the security of external borders. Several EU member states, most notably Greece, Italy and those in the Balkans, have received at their ports and roads several thousand displaced people and are struggling to manage the inflow.

(c) C. Michelides/Wikimedia Commons

“The solution of these problems must not fail for lack of resources,” said Schäuble , who suggested that the money needed for the border reinforcement plan could be gathered via taxation within the union, for example through a levy on petrol, if the European Union and member state budgets are unable to provide enough funds themselves.

“Then we would have the means to address the refugee crisis in Europe. Why not make an agreement at European level if it is so urgent? That is a task” he added.

Schäuble also expected some opposition to his plans and said that even if there are countries not willing to help foot the bill, Germany would not fail to do so itself and would form a ‘coalition of the willing’ of EU member nations prepared to cough up funds for his border reinforcement plan. The finance minister also emphasised the need to protect Europe’s external borders in order to protect the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone, which allows people easy access to travel between different states within the EU.

“Not everyone who wants to can come to Europe. (The plan) must be achieved based on control and cooperation with neighbouring states. But the time to do it is finite,” he said. Schäuble also insisted that the refugee crisis can only be solved at the ‘European level’ otherwise it will not be only be Germany that is affected but those EU states at the forefront of the current humanitarian crisis, such as Austria, Hungary and the Balkans members.

Finance ministers from the EU member states have recently signed on a €3 billion package to be made available to Turkey to provide assistance and facilities to refugees bound for Europe to accommodate them in its territory, hwowver many EU observers say that this will only have partial impact on resolving the refugee crisis.

Schäuble stated that he was convinced that Germany has not reached the limit of capacities for resources to aid refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, but that he felt there was a ‘malfunction’ in the German federal system. The finance minister added “We will have to devote considerably more resources, but will not achieve control problems in the “countries of origin” of refugees,…”

He went on to applaud the hospitality of his home country and other EU nations in welcoming and settling refugees, but said that there was a limit to how much the EU could take in, in terms of population and finance, and that the crisis could harm the efficiency of member states.

Schäuble’s comments in the Süddeutsche Zeitung interview are at odds with the official policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has made considerable efforts to make her country a welcoming place for refugees. Recent events since the refugee crisis began, such as a wave of sexual assaults in Cologne over the New Year period and a spate of attacks on asylum centres by neo-Nazi and far-right extremists have made many German policymakers feel uncomfortable with that official policy, while other EU states, including Great Britain have put in place strict quotas on how many refugees they are prepared to accept.

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“Berlín subraya la necesidad de reforzar las fronteras de la UE para hacer frente a la oleada de refugiados” – EFE, Expansión – Economía – Política/Unidad Editorial Información Económica S.L. (16 January 2016) http://www.expansion.com/economia/politica/2016/01/16/569a20aeca4741674b8b4642.html
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EXPRESS COURIERS: Warning about alleged card-cloning delivery scam


A Facebook user has put out a warning on the social media site about an alleged card-cloning scam being perpetrated in the London area using the delivery of parcels to people’s addresses as a cover, the Half-Eaten Mind exclusively reports.

The user, Chris Gladman, first shared the warning on the 6th December, 2015 and it is now going viral. In his letter, Gladman reports the experience of a victim of the scam who received a phone call from an individual purporting to be from a delivery company named “Express Couriers”. The scammer asked the victim if they were going to be present at their home to sign for a package in their name and told them that the package would arrive in an hour.

In the incident, which was said to have occurred on the Wednesday preceding Gladman’s letter, a uniformed delivery man arrived at the victim’s house within the hour with a package said to contain flowers and a bottle of wine, which confused the victim as there was no special occasion and they were not expecting any such deliveries.

The victim inquired as to the sender’s identity, but the delivery worker claimed to not know who sent the gifts and that they were only delivering the parcel. The delivery worker did however claim that a card would be sent separately, and the victim also is said to have discovered a consignment invoice along with the gifts. Gladman reports that the card never in fact came.

The delivery worker then went on to tell the victim that the gift would be charged to them at a fee of £3.50 as it had contained alcohol and they needed to confirm that the package was not being delivered to a minor, and to prevent the package from being left on the property where it could be stolen.

The victim offered to pay in cash, but the delivery person insisted that all payments be made by credit or debit card for legal and safety reasons. The victim, satisfied with the explanation, is said to have then got her husband, who was now on the scene, to pay the fee with his card. The delivery worker, who claimed his name was John, then produced a card payment device with a ‘small screen and keypad’. The victim’s husband entered his PIN and collected a receipt of payment for the mysterious parcel. The delivery driver then left the premises after wishing them good day.

A few days later, Gladman said that the couple found that £4,000 in total had been stolen from the husband’s account from several ATMs, and he surmises that the card payment machine was in fact a cloning device that skimmed off the data stored on the victim’s husband’s card, and combined with the entered PIN, was used by the fraudsters to steal money from the couple.

The couple reported the incident to their bank and to the local police, who are said to have confirmed that similar scams by Express Couriers were already known to them.

At the end of the letter, Gladman warns others to be vigilant about receiving strange parcels from delivery companies they have never heard of. He said “Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!”

There has been no official statement from the police or other agencies regarding such a scam in the London area, but people are advised as a matter of course to always be aware and careful of unknown visitors to their home.

Chris Gladman
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BNP: Far-right racist political party officially ‘defunct’


VIJAY SHAH via GapBaGap.com

The U.K. far-right anti-immigration political organisation the British National Party (BNP) has been officially declared defunct after party members failed to pay its registration fee to the Electoral Commission at the beginning of this year, according to GapBaGap.com and reported widely by British media yesterday.

The party, once headed by Oxford-educated firebrand Nick Griffin at the height of its popularity, was widely derided by many for its far-right and racist stance, including its support for the repatriation of all non-native Britons and immigrants. its overt nationalism, and its reputation as a collection of ‘thugs in suits’. It has in recent years being losing ground to other far-right nationalistic outfits, such as the English Defence League and Britain First.

English: Nick Griffin MEP speaks at a British ...

English: Nick Griffin MEP speaks at a British National Party press conference in Manchester. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Electoral Commission, which is a statutory body responsible for the compulsory register of all political parties in the United Kingdom, said that BNP treasurers failed to pay the mandatory £25 registration fee in order to maintain its entry on the register. The deadline for payment was the 7th of January this year, according to newspaper Metro. According to the BBC, all political parties must be registered officially under the provisions of the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000.

The lack of registration means that BNP councillors will not be able to run for office using the party’s logos or its name until the registration issue is resolved. This occurred despite the party having a notice period of six months.

Sources within the official defunct party however denied that the party had ceased its involvement in the political process. One spokesperson was quoted by GapBaGap.com as saying “If it (the failure to be registered) has happened, it was an oversight”.

The Commission confirmed that the BNP has been officially removed from the register. It also added that the party, which succeeded in gaining two seats in the European Parliament in 2009, had ‘failed to meet the annual requirement to submit its registration details on time’. A source at the Commission commented: “The last date a notification can be sumbitted…is six months after the deadline for submission of a party’s statement of accounts”.

Its then-leader Nick Griffin was the face of the party, which was widely hated for its alleged racist nature, until he lost his seat as an MEP in 2014, before eventually losing the BNP leadership itself in the following internal struggle as the party began to falter. Griffin was eventually expelled from the party five months later and replaced by chairman Adam Walker.

The BNP’s accounts, last filed in September 2014, showed the party was in serious financial disarray after it lost £50,000 worth of deposits filed for the contesting of European elections, and the total leftover assets were a mere £45,756 remaining.

The BNP does still have the option of ‘returning from the dead’ and becoming officially registered for elections again, should it be able to muster the funds to pay the £25 registration costs, the Electoral Commission said. The registration process takes up to 3 weeks to complete, including a 10-day long ‘public consultation’. A BNP spokesperson however said that the party would fix its registration issue ‘within a couple of days’.

The BNP was founded in 1982 by John Tyndall as a breakaway faction of the notoriously racist National Front and headquartered in Wigston, Cumbria. The party’s main platform is the promotion of a ‘British nationalist identity’ and the repatriation of immigrants and even their British-born children. It also advocated the re-introduction of the death penalty and is opposed to same-sex marriage, multiculturalism and the existence of Islam in the UK. Despite fielding candidates for European Union elections, the BNP was opposed to EU membership.

It has been condemned as fascist and a outlet of neo-Nazism by many inside and outside politics. An electoral breakthrough in 2008-2009 led to the BNP holding over fifty local council seats, forming the official opposition on Barking and Dagenham Council, winning a seat in the London Assembly and having leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons elected as Members of the European Parliament (MEP) in the North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions respectively.

Facebook, Facebook Inc https://www.facebook.com/topic/British-National-Party/113465761997303?source=whfrt&position=3&trqid=6237746580447216645
“The BNP has officially ceased to be a recognised political party” – GapBaGap.com/GapBaGap (8 January 2016) http://gapbagap.com/?p=9197#
“BNP removed from official list of political parties” – BBC News – Politics/BBC (8 January 2016) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35261637
“British National Party” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party
“File:Nick griffin bnp from flickr user britishnationalism.jpg” – britishnationalism & Parrot of Doom, Wikimedia Commons (10 June 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nick_griffin_bnp_from_flickr_user_britishnationalism.jpg


TOP OF THE FLICKS: The UK’s 50 most popular movies of all time


VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digitalhub

A recent survey among UK cinemagoers has revealed that the Seventies musical Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, is the most popular film of all time, SWNS news service reported recently. The romance between high school exchange student Sandy and her beau Danny, set in the 1950s with an iconic soundtrack from the era of fast Harleys and milk bars topped the most popular movie of choice in the poll amongst 2,000 British adults commissioned by www.OnePoll.com. On its release in 1978, Grease blew up the box office, receiving record numbers of cinemagoers thanks to its catchy songs and memorable performances, and it has been lauded by movie critics to this day, with review site Rotten Tomatoes, giving the film a four star rating of 78 per cent.

It’s sequel, Grease 2, as well as its numerous stage show spin-offs still continue to pull in audiences nearly forty years after its initial release.

Second place in the OnePoll survey went to time travelling caper, Back to the Future, closely followed by Eighties kitsch romance Dirty Dancing and Christmas favourites Home Alone and Love Actually.

(c) SWNS digitalhub

Remarkably – despite being one of the highest grossing films of all time, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, is far down the list in 24th place – behind the likes of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.

 A spokesman for www.OnePoll.com, said: “The results suggest Brits have a particular fondness for feel-good movies.

 “Interestingly, the most popular films are relatively old – perhaps because evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding respondents of their childhoods.

 “This might explain why movie studios invest so much money in remakes and sequels as seen with the new Star Wars movie and the forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot.”

 Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark came fifth, followed by Nineties favourite Titanic, which catapulted stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio into the limelight. Jurassic Park, the classic UK-made song and dance ditty Mary Poppins and children’s film series Toy Story completed the top ten of most adored films in UK cinemas.

Other popular films to feature in the top 50 include The Shawshank Redemption (11), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (17), Jaws (21) and The Lion King (25). Finding Nemo (27), Avatar (35) and Mean Girls (48) also made the list.The most popular film among men is Back to the Future, followed by Steven Spielberg’s classic swashbuckling tale, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Jurassic Park movies and their latest released sequel, Jurassic World, about a prehistoric theme park off the coast of central America, and which were also directed by Spielberg, came third among male cinema fans, with the Star Wars series coming off a respectable seventh.

Grease is solidly first place for women while Dirty Dancing is second. Third place belongs to Richard Curtis’ Christmas romance, Love Actually.

Action and adventure was found to be the most popular genre, followed by comedy and sci-fi. Romance only came sixth.

Despite recent box office misfires Johnny Depp, most famous for starring as the titular character of Edward Scissorhands, and the affable rogue Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is Britain’s most favourite actor followed by Tom Hanks and western movie legend and archetypal gunslinger, Clint Eastwood.

Dames Helen Mirren and Judy Dench are the most popular actresses among those polled, with multi Oscar winner Meryl Streep in third place.

Top 50 most watched movies
1. Grease
2. Back to the Future
3. Dirty Dancing
4. Home Alone
5. Love Actually
6. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
7. Titanic
8. Jurassic Park
9. Mary Poppins
10. Toy Story
11. The Shawshank Redemption
12. Bridget Jones’ Diary
13. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
14. The Wizard of Oz
15. Forrest Gump
16. Die Hard
17. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
19. The Goonies
20. Ghostbusters
21. Jaws
22. The Terminator
23. Top Gun
24. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
25. The Lion King
27. Finding Nemo
28. Elf
29. The Silence of the Lambs
30. Alien
31. Monsters, Inc.
32. The Matrix
33. It’s a Wonderful Life
34. Avatar
35. Gladiator
36. Life of Brian
37. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
38. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
39. Edward Scissorhands
40. Groundhog Day
41. The Godfather
42. Pulp Fiction
43. Rocky
44. The Dark Knight
45. Singin’ in the Rain
46. Casablanca
47. Mean Girls
48. Psycho
49. Romeo and Juliet
50. Gone with the Wind
“Top 50 Most Watched Movies of all Time” – SWNS digital/72Point (31 December 2015) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2015/12/top-50-most-watched-movies-of-all-time/

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