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Posted by Caron Lindsay

Today is Bi Visibility Day. This is the day that the B in LGBT+ is emphasised. Sadly, it is too often the only day when bisexual people are even thought about.

It is wonderful to see Stockport Town Hall lit up to mark the occasion:

This did not happen by accident. It was Lib Dem Councillor Lisa Smart who put a motion to Council earlier this month. She said:

As a society, we have definitely made progress on LGBT+ Equality over the past few decades but there is still a distance to travel. On Thursday evening we will be talking about the barriers still faced by those members of our community who are bisexual.

More than one in four bisexual employees hide their sexuality at work, compared with one in six among gay and lesbian employees. Bisexual people are more likely to experience mental health problems in general and are twice as likely to experience depression and/or anxiety.

Often in the council chamber we can have robust debates and strong disagreements about issues. My hope is that we can unite and come together to support the bisexual members of our community, take some steps to celebrate the bisexual community and let them know that they are valued in Stockport.

I have very happy memories of a bi-visibilty flashmob at Lib Dem Conference on Bournemouth Beach two years ago on this day. It was glorious sunshine and we all wore purple. Unfortunately, try as I might, I can’t find any photos of the occasion online. Can someone help me out?

As always, my plea is that if you hear anyone making biphobic comments, that you challenge them gently and help them to change their behaviour. That’s how we change the world – by winning one heart at a time. The same principles apply for other battles we have to fight.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Vince Cable’s message for Black History Month

Saturday, 23 September 2017 05:10 pm
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Posted by NewsHound

Over on the Black History Month website, as they gear up for the 30th year, Vince Cable has sent a message for this year’s Black History Month which starts next week.

Since its inception in 1987, Black History Month has given us many inspiring stories, reminding us of the tireless efforts of those who have fought for equality in the face of adversity, hate and indeed danger. They did so selflessly, so that future generations would enjoy the freedoms and opportunities they were denied.

I am really pleased to once again extend my support to this annual celebration of culture, identity and community in this its 30th year in the UK. As I think back over British history, I am overwhelmed by the remarkable legacies of BAME diaspora communities, whose contributions have transformed the political, economic and cultural landscape of this country for the better.

Undoubtedly, though, there is still so much more to be done. Levels of hate, prejudice and discrimination remain worrying and by some measures are on the increase, as evidenced in the recent Lammy Review. It is our duty to tackle this head on.

As a Liberal Democrat, I have a deeply held belief in the fair treatment of all people, regardless of race or background. That is why our party is committed to changing the structures, institutions and attitudes that still limit inclusion, diversity and equality.

Thank you to everyone involved in organising this year’s activities and I wish you all a very rewarding and thought-provoking month ahead.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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Posted by Caron Lindsay

On of my highlights of Conference was the debate on the emergency motion on delaying the rollout of Universal Credit because it is turning into a disaster for the people who are forced to claim it. People have to wait 6 weeks or longer for money. Imagine what that is like if you have no savings to get you through – a situation many people on low incomes will face.

The idea of Universal Credit is a very good one. It aimed to end the poverty trap which stopped people on benefits from getting work because it cost them to do so.

I made a speech from a Scottish perspective, outlining the principles of accessibility, fairness and confidence that were in our manifesto on social security and observing that Universal Credit meets none of them in its current form.

Other speakers gave some pretty harrowing examples of how people could lose their homes and have to rely on food banks to get by.

I am really hopeful, though, that we really are going to take this stuff to the Tories and try and get things changed.

The reason for my optimism is our new Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd. Remember all that energy he put in to regaining his Eastbourne seat? He seriously never stopped campaigning after 2015. Well, that energy and determination is going in to opposing the Tory Government and building alliances across the Parliament to force the Government to think again. Here, in full, is the speech that he made in the debate:

The Tories’ reputation for competence is an oxymoron of epic proportions. This is a party who have politicised our police force with their ridiculous introduction of police and crime commissioners, prevented councils from building new council homes from the receipts of Margaret Thatcher’s huge council house sell-off programme decades ago, which is a direct cause of today’s appalling housing shortage – and then today the complete shambles of what they’ve done with Universal Credit. Competence is not a word which springs to mind!

The original concept of UC was ‘to make work pay’ and when we supported it in coalition it would have done. Since then though, over £3bn has been taken out of the programme. The work allowance, for instance, an amount people on benefits can earn before those benefits start being reduced, has been slashed to the bone. In some cases – to zero!  And the taper rate, which determines how much people get to keep of their benefits for every extra pound earned, has also been cut to ribbons!!

This has rendered the entire principle behind universal credit – to make work pay, something I and the Liberal Democrats passionately believe in – utterly worthless.

Universal credit is no longer a progressive, reliable policy; it is a complete train wreck. And the Conservatives are responsible!!

It gets worse. Housing payments made directly to the tenants; something I fiercely opposed at the time when I was on the Work and Pensions Select Committee – telling the ministers that it would lead to a shocking rise in rent defaults. And I remember so clearly the then Secretary of State chiding me for ‘not trusting that tenants would pass the money on to their landlords’….

The result?, and this is even before the full national UC rollout-out, have been every bit as bad as I feared; if not worse!

Latest figures from the likes of the  Peabody Group, a housing association which owns and manages more than 55,000 homes in London and the south-east, have said the rate of rent arrears among its tenants on universal credit is three times greater than those not on the new benefit. Three times greater!

or Gloucester City Homes which has more than 4,000 rented properties in their portfolio; they’ve said that 85% of its universal credit claimants are in arrears, compared to just 20% of all other tenants.

These are utterly shocking figures……

The Tories incompetence and ideological fixations over Universal Credit are leading to appalling consequences for thousands of people. And if UC is not checked. Stopped right now, in its tracks, so the failings can be addressed, it will be tens of thousands of our fellow citizens slipping into grotesque levels of debt.

Frankly, if we do not have a ‘pause’ I see thousands of families even losing their homes…..as I do not see the private sector landlords being as accommodating as local councils when their tenants fall into rent arrears….!

And the delays in recipients actually receiving their new Universal Credit payments are making a grim situation even worse. Conference: it is becoming common knowledge that many recipients on the UC pilots weren’t receiving their new rolled up Universal credit payments for two or even three months.

Imagine for a moment what this actually means? These aren’t folk who have lines of credit with the local bank. It’s people who are often disabled, disadvantaged, people who have been out of work for a long time. So for them to borrow money, we are talking loan sharks, pawnbrokers and pay day loan co’s.

In short these are some of the most vulnerable people in our country, being crushed under an initiative which is flashing red warning  lights of a strobe light intensity for all to see – and what is the government doing – NOTHING!

They are determined to continue the mass rollout – and in fact it comes to my own constituency, Eastbourne, in October.

I therefore believe it is crucial, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of people not yet on Universal Credit, but whose lives will be ruined if we don’t act; that the Lib Dems and Labour join together in calling for a pause to the rollout. To see if it can be rescued before it’s too late.

As the party’s DWP spokesman, I know the Labour shadow Secretary of State, Debbie Abrahams. I worked with her on the Work and Pensions Select Committee when I was last an MP.

So I am saying to her: Let’s both join together in demanding the government pause the Universal Credit rollout, and let’s do it now, together, before it’s too late?

Friends. I started the debate questioning the Conservatives wholly un-warranted reputation for competency.

So next time you see a Tory minister introducing yet another policy which has shambles written all over it like Universal Credit, stick a red nose on them as well as a pair of size 15 purple shoes and a spangled jacket – because you will then see what the Conservative party really stands for – and it’s not competency; it’s being a 22 carat, copper-bottomed, red nosed, purple booted clown…

Please join me in supporting this motion.

The debate is first thing on this iPlayer programme.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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Posted by Kieren McCarthy

Heavy-handed tactics during lead up to independence referendum

The Spanish government has come under increasing criticism for raiding the offices of the .cat internet registry in the lead-up to a referendum on Catalan's independence.…

TfL’s Uber decision is no victory for liberalism

Saturday, 23 September 2017 07:55 am
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Posted by Andy Briggs

The decision taken by Transport for London to revoke Uber’s licence undermines a key theme of Vince Cable’s speech from just a few days ago, a belief in competitive markets. Whilst the company has only operated in the capital for a relatively short time, the benefits it has bought to London’s transport market for both Londoners and tourists alike have been numerous. Uber not only provides a cheaper, more accessible transport solution to its customers, but it has also forced its competitors to innovate, an example being black cabs now accepting card payments, freeing their users from having to carry large amounts of cash. If the Liberal Democrats are to be a proud champion of enterprise, the party should feel no shame in its support for companies such as Uber, which provide choice to consumers in what is otherwise a monopolistic market.

It is reasonable to have concerns over safety, but to pretend that these concerns should be limited to Uber and not the wider taxi market is nonsensical. Indeed, it could be argued that by providing customers with information about a driver before they have arrived, as well as providing the means to track the driver’s whereabouts, Uber is comparatively safer than the average black cab. Liberal Democrat representatives in London should now look to work with Uber and TfL to insure the swift return of the 40,000 registered Uber drivers to the city’s streets, and to guard against a protectionist stitch-up that puts the interests of established transport providers ahead of the interests of consumers.

* Andy Briggs is a Liberal Democrat member who is currently studying for a Masters degree in Governance & Policy at the University of Southampton. You can follow him on Twitter @Briggs_AndyJ.

Comic for September 23, 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017 11:59 pm
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Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.
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Posted by Iain Thomson

Doesn’t stop them trying to put the frighteners, tho

DerbyCon  Security vendors are inserting language into their products' terms and conditions that attempt to silence critics, folks attending this year's DerbyCon conference were told on Friday.…

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Posted by Thomas Claburn

Hybrid BSD pact will be replaced by MIT deal for some projects

Faced with growing dissatisfaction about licensing requirements for some of its open-source projects, Facebook today said it will move React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license next week.…

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Posted by Iain Thomson

...And here's how

DerbyCon  A sprinkle of code and an understanding of the Windows digital certificate process is all that's needed for a miscreant to sneak malware past Microsoft's application whitelist within a corporate environment.…

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Posted by Thomas Claburn

See no evil, hear no evil, speak of no evil

Analysis  No one at Facebook had any idea anyone might use its ad tools to target "Jew haters," said COO Sheryl Sandberg earlier this week.…

Lib Dems react to Theresa May’s Florence speech

Friday, 22 September 2017 07:03 pm
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Posted by The Voice

Vince said that it was no wonder the Brexiteers were terrified of giving the people a say on the deal:

Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit

Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts.

Willie Rennie said the “delinquent’ May was trashing our relationship with Europe.

Theresa May is kicking the can down the road. Sixteen months on from the Brexit referendum this delinquent Prime Minister is trashing our relationship with Europe.

She seems incapable of deciding what kind of relationship she wants with Europe and that prolonged uncertainty is causing economic damage.

We were promised Brexit would be an easy negotiation and that £350 million each week would be invested in the NHS. Neither are true.

This makes the compelling case for a Brexit deal referendum even stronger.

Yesterday, the Lib Dems laid out seven tests for Theresa May’s speech. Tom Brake said that only one of them was even slightly met. 

Theresa May’s speech in Florence was a failure. She ruled out staying in the single market, she failed to ring fence the rights of EU nationals, she has failed to take ‘no deal’ off the table.

Theresa May, six months since Article 50, has once again failed to give answers.

There was so much waffle in this speech she should have made it in Belgium.

The seven tests were:

  1. Clamp down on dissent within the Cabinet

❌ No evidence she has clamped down on dissent, Boris Johnson is still in the Cabinet.

  1. Seek to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union

❌ Confirmed we will not be in them long-term (although will be for the transition period).

  1. Try to secure the greatest possible degree of Freedom of Movement

❌ Confirmed Freedom of Movement will be scrapped long-term (although will be preserved during transition period).

  1. Ring-fence the negotiation on EU citizens’ rights

❌ Didn’t do this.

  1. Indicate how much the UK is willing to contribute to settle liabilities and participate in EU projects

✔️ May accepted there were liabilities and UK will be willing to contribute.

  1. Rule out the so-called ‘No Deal’ option which would have devastating consequences for UK Plc

❌ Didn’t do this.

  1. Announce you will legislate for a ‘Vote on the Facts’ (a referendum on the deal) before the UK leaves the EU

❌ Didn’t do this.

 

 

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Posted by Shaun Nichols

And who's going to stand up for the Arnold Palmer?

In what might well be the most California thing ever, America's golden state has settled a lawsuit against sports drink maker Gatorade for sullying the good name of water.…

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Posted by Maya Dusenbery

Jen Brea was a 28-year-old grad student when her health began to deteriorate after a high fever. As she suffered from recurrent infections, profound dizziness that left her unable to stand, and eventually terrifying neurological symptoms, doctors told her that she was stressed, or just dehydrated, and finally that a repressed trauma was the source of all her ailments. 

Eventually, Brea was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome in the US. And now her documentary on the disease—which she directed mostly via Skype since she’s been bed-ridden for much of the last six years—is coming to select theaters.

I interviewed Brea and include her story in my forthcoming book on gender bias in medicine. It’s estimated that one million people in the US—and 17 million worldwide—have ME/CFS. Over 80 percent of them are women, and sexism played a large role in the public and the medical system’s reception to the disease.

In the US, the condition first came on the radar after a large outbreak near Lake Tahoe in the mid-eighties. But, unable to figure out the underlying cause, the medical community quickly suspected it of being nothing more than the psychogenic symptoms of neurotic women. The media derided it as “yuppie flu,” its sufferers stereotyped as burnt-out “educated white women.” (In reality, the disease, like many health problems, disproportionately affects low-income patients and people of color.) Meanwhile, myalgic encephalomyelitis, a name given to sporadic outbreaks of a similar-sounding illness that had occurred throughout the first half of the twentieth century, had already begun to be reframed as cases of “mass hysteria” on the basis that it was mostly women who were impacted.

Unrest, which tells Brea’s story, as well as the stories of a few other ME/CFS patients from around the world, discusses this history of neglect by the medical system for the last thirty years. After all, Brea is also an advocate. She co-founded #MEAction, a platform for ME/CFS advocacy efforts, that organized the Millions Missing protests to demand more funding for research on the disease (there has been unbelievably little) and recognition for the millions of patients affected by it (many health care providers continue to believe it’s largely a psychiatric condition).

The film itself isn’t heavy-handed or preachy though. It simply lays bare what life is actually like for severely ill ME/CFS patients. Brea initially began an iPhone video diary with no intention of turning it into a documentary; it was just an outlet for herself when she could no longer read or write. So much of the footage is extremely raw and painful. The film is rooted in a faith that if people truly understood what the disease did to its sufferers, it couldn’t possibly continue to be dismissed and minimized. As such, Unrest‘s greatest potential will come if people beyond those affected, directly or indirectly, by ME/CFS see it—especially those in the medical community who too often belittle it and those in the media who too often uncritically accept some of the bad science that’s been done on it.

So see it and also help spread the the word. While Unrest tells the very particular story of ME/CFS, the film will no doubt resonate with any woman who has ever had a doctor dismiss her symptoms as “stress” or who suffers from other poorly understood conditions that disproportionately affect women and have been similarly neglected—like fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, to name a few. Which, sadly, is a whole lot of us.

If you’re in the NYC area, you can see Unrest at IFC this weekend. San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles—you’ll have a chance the following one. See all upcoming screenings here.

Bonus viewing: Check out Brea’s great TED Talk too.

Mathew’s Musings 22 September 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017 03:55 pm
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Posted by Mathew Hulbert

I’ve been to the vast majority of both spring and autumn party conferences since I joined the Lib Dems back in March 2010 and I can honestly say I enjoyed the one that ended in Bournemouth, on Tuesday, the best.

I think I’m finally starting to work out the ebbs and flows of conference; when best to put in a speaker’s card with a chance of actually being called; when to take time out with friends and not fill your whole rota with yet another fringe meeting (as good as they almost always are); how to network with like-minded fellow travellers to push a cause/campaign, and so on.

Like many of us, when I first went to Conference (Birmingham, Autumn 2011) I was overawed by seeing MPs (we had more of them then) and Ministers (yes, we had them too) I’d only previously seen on TV…and you could actually go up and talk to them (and the nicer ones would even reply.)

I was pleased, in Bournemouth, to grab a few words with Tim Farron in the Conference bar on one of the evenings.

I told him how sorry I was that he’s no longer our leader and that he’s a good man with much more to contribute to our cause.

His ex-leader’s platform speech reminded me (though I didn’t need to be) just what a talented orator he is

And, yes, as ever with a Tim Farron speech, I shed some tears whilst in the hall listening to it.

Tim has the ability, when speaking, to touch people’s hearts…that talent must continue to be put to the good of the party.

Vince Cable’s speech didn’t make me cry, but it was statesmanlike, full of vision and direction, but also with a clear economic message which-unique among our current Commons team-Vince is perfectly placed to provide.

There is always a danger, especially for us, that our Conference sees us talking to ourselves but getting little to no coverage beyond the Conference walls.

I hope Vince’s speech, at least, got and gets a wide airing.

It is a message that will inspire liberals and social democrats across party lines and those with, currently, no party affiliation.

The road back, for us, is a long one…but, with Vince at the wheel, we have steady hands and a sensible head to take us along the next part of the journey.

And, the bad news…<

After such a great party conference, it was disappointing to see our latest Party Political Broadcast.

I know some members like it…and it may play well in hipster London, but in vast swathes of the country, I venture, people will be left untouched

The whole appeal of Vince Cable is that he’s a serious man for serious times.

We should be redoubling on that message at every opportunity, not seeking ways to ‘promote’ what he’s not.

He’s not (particularly) hip or ‘down with the kids.’

He’s serious, he’s statesmanlike, he’s an ideas man.

I’m all for ensuring voters know about the rounded personality of leaders…such as Vince enjoying dancing and skiing, but basing a whole PPB around the hat that Vince wears, I personally think is just a bit naff.

That we (I assume) spend not inconsiderable amounts of money for ‘professionals’ to  come up with such guff, really does make you wonder.

The new PPB is like a clique which most people don’t belong to and end up just feeling alienated against.

I repeat, it may go down well in London…but not in formerly industrial heartlands such as the North and the East and West Midlands.

I give it one out of five.

We can and must do better
Light-ing up down under

So, you’re a social liberal party in New Zealand

You’ve been in government (as part of succeeding Coalitions of both centre-left and centre-right) since 2002…but with only one Member of Parliament.

That MP, Peter Dunne, has decided to step down at the next election (being held today) and you stand next to no chance of retaining his previous electorate or gaining the required 5% needed to get some list MPs into Parliament under New Zealand’s MMP electoral system.

What do you do? Give up, right?

No, not if you’re Damian Light, the new and young (he’s in his thirties) and very enthusiastic leader of ‘United Future.’

He knows what an uphill struggle he and his party faces, but he’s thrown himself into the recent election campaign with gusto and made a name for himself in a very short space of time.

He’s been christened the Ryan Gosling of New Zealand politics.

The likelihood is still that our friends in United Future won’t return an MP this time, but I’m sure that Damian Light will continue to ensure his party’s flame continues to flicker.

Whether in our out of Parliament, New Zealand needs its social liberals to talk, as Damian has done so well, about drug law reform, the need to tackle climate change, to have a focus on future generations, and so much more.

Damian stepped up to the plate, when others might have run for the hills.

That is true leadership.

* Mathew Hulbert is Vice Chair of Bosworth Constituency Lib Dems and a former Councillor.

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Posted by Andrew Orlowski

And things are looking even worse for the X

iFixit’s teardown of the new iPhone 8 confirms that the screen and battery remain relatively replaceable, despite the addition of Qi-compatible wireless charging coils in the unit.…

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Posted by Rebecca Hill

Consultation opens on codes of practice for Digital Economy Act

The UK government has offered more detail on how public authorities can pass around the data they hold on citizens – a mere five months after the Digital Economy Act passed into law.…

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