Posts from the ‘deaf’ Category

Disabled Invisible? Or the Government and Media Blind, deaf and Dumb?

The 11TH of May 2011 will go down in history. Sadly, only a small sector of the British population will be aware of why.

The conservative government are bull dosing a welfare reform through parliament that will effect hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled individuals. Not only are local councils cutting services to their disabled constituents but the government is putting disabled people under siege by dramatically changing the benefits they are entitled to claim.

Not only will the long term sick and disabled only be allowed to claim Employment support Allowance [esa] for twelve months but the transformation of disability living allowance will not be recognised as something that helps disabled people live their lives. Taking the mobility component from people in residential care who are able, with that extra financial support, to visit friends and families and go to social groups that improves their quality of life, will reduce them to emotional despair. With that component gone, it will leave many isolated and unable to keep in contact with relatives and friends whilst participating in social activities that keep them integrated and active.

The extremely generalised assessment process neither assists those in need or accurately assesses disabled individuals needs correctly. And if found “fit to work” physically, is not to say someone is mentally prepared or actually able. Putting disabled people in to the “lion’s den” of the commercial workplace is going to destroy people. Having rejection upon rejection, while being virtually “bullied” by job centre Plus advisors so they can meet their targets, will mean many people are placed in frightening situations and pushed into a potentially soul destroying path.

Imagine, applying for a job, being interviewed over the telephone only to be told, when you have a disability that they are not sure how they can accommodate your needs, time and time again. Regardless of laws against discrimination, some of the reasons employers cannot employ a disabled person are not always their fault. For blind people, working with money is not practical, employers wouldn’t feel comfortable with money exchanging hands from a blind person to a sighted or vice versa in case the notes are not accurately identified or fraud is being committed. Blind people’s assessment of their own money often takes longer than that of a sighted person, so time pressure would be on them. And that’s if the technology, such as a cash register is accessible. Many are not and never will be in our lifetime.

Wheelchair users can only access buildings with ramps and lifts. And in fire situations, lifts can never be used. Not many employers are willing to take a risk of putting a wheelchair user on the sixth floor in case there is a fire. Some organisations have a buddy system but even if their intentions were their, many insurance companies would not cover the company for such circumstances.

The assessment deems myself “fit to work” if all criteria I have read and been informed about so far is accurate, because I have a guide dog. With the RNIB recently publishing a statistic 92% of employers would not employ someone with a visual impairment, where does that huge misconception that employers have no issue employing the blind come from? do the people behind this horrendous attempt at assessing disabled and sick people for work take into account that despite wanting to work, many being qualified, the employers are not able to for physical or legal reasons employ the disabled. And do these great minds who have created this ludicrous test not think that just because someone has a guide dog or a wheelchair that it can suddenly change employers or insurance companies minds? Changing the “being able to walk” criteria to “being mobilised” was a very devious thing for this government to do. Many disabled could “mobilise” themselves but for how long or how successful are many other questions that are not addressed.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, [if she can call herself that], stated that it is a system that is not working if there are more alcoholics and drug addicts claiming DLA than the blind. Well, Miss Miller, if your government has your way under personal independent payments, there will be very few blind people claiming dLA’s successor. Not to mention the fact that the statistics tell a different story? This is people’s futures, Ms Miller, not Jack and Ori.

The media have done nothing but promote the government’s propaganda efforts by publishing in various news sources that 94% in the Mail and 75% in the Daily Express incapacity benefit claimants are deemed “fit to work”. That figure blows my mind. Take away the fact for many disabled, they want to work but are refused employment because of their disability or lack of support into work, what about those suffering from cancer, HIV, MS, chronic arthritis that physically cannot work efficiently every day? That represents only six percent of incapacity claimants? Well, of course not. As usual, the press are promoting government support for tight reform with miscalculated, misinformed, and mostly outright . wrong statistics

The media proved yesterday how much they didn’t care about this society’s disabled. The only major news programmes to cover the march were ITV evening news who did a good piece of coverage and Channel four’s news at seven. BBC had mentioned it during the day but it was missing from it’s popular six o’clock showing on BBC 1 while it was covered on it’s website reasonably well. Sky News, one of the biggest news channels in the UK and streamed around the world mentioned it maybe once but nothing on their website at all. They were able to cover all the things going on in Libya, many foreign stories, even the sentencing of actress Lindsay Lohan but nothing on its website about the thousands of disabled marching through London to protest against the cuts.

It angers me that only the Guardian have been forth coming and extremely supportive of 11TH May protests; having constant updates on a live blog and several write ups both on its online distribution and paper broadsheet. A huge thank you to the Guardian, ITV News, and Channel 4 for having some great coverage of the protest and even interviewing Liam Burns, the shadow work and pensions minister.

None of us expect to be top of the hour news, or front page in the news papers but for crying out loud, we are still here, in our millions as a disabled community! Can this government not hear us? Do they not understand? If they want to cut the deficit, which we all agree on, why target those of us who fight enough in our every day battles with discrimination! I know cuts need to happen, but why are they cutting the quality of our lives? Why are they not recognising blindness as a disability, assessing it below even the threshold to gain a place on the into work scheme under the new ESA benefit, despite having input from organisations such as RNIB who feels their input has been ignored? How can they “assume” that my guide dog makes me more employable than a cane user who may have more sight? How can they say someone with MS can work for eight hours every day if they don’t see them in pain and unable to get up for work because every muscle in their body hurts? How can an abled bodied so called health professional, who is repeatedly passing people fit to work who clearly are not, capable of assessing someone if they’ve never dealt with that disability, some even come across it? If they are not willing to understand and take a fifteen minute snippet with a rigid questionnaire to assess someone’s abilities, it is clearly just a tick in the box and one more person off the sick and disabled list, the better, right, Mr cameron and co?

They say they’ve had conversations with organisations about these changes, but if that was true, then how was it that staff from over forty organisations representing disabled people across the board were marching alongside those people on 11TH May? Richard Leaman , Guide Dogs own chief executive marched alongside clients, dogs and staff alike to protest. Do you think if Guide Dogs as an organisation had agreed to the governments extraordinary changes that he would risk his reputation and the one of his organisation just “for kicks”?

Miller talked about the drug addicts and the alcoholics claiming both DLA and incapacity, and the media have publicised that fact over and over again, but what about those who are disabled who are going to get theirs cut? We didn’t make a life style choice to be blind, lame, deaf, or feel as though our body was on fire, we didn’t abuse the system so then why are we being punished, ignored, sidelined and forced into another system that has not worked for many?

I’ve claimed job seeker’s allowance. I claimed it for almost three years! During that time, neither I nor the job centre could find work. The disability employment advisors did not understand my needs as a blind client or how my blindness would effect me in the work place. No information was accessible to me. Not leaflets, their computer systems, the forms I had to sign every two weeks. It was only through my own research that I attended the royal national college for the blind and transferred to incapacity benefit. After I’d left college, I still couldn’t get work. And despite continued efforts to search, apply for different jobs, I am still unemployed. I was never understood and felt abandoned during that time. Ms Miller speaks of disabled people being abandoned on the current system, so what is she doing then? Throwing many into a system that is not designed to support people with extensive needs; Throwing them into a world of ignorance that no government has tried to change. She says attitudes have changed toward disabled people, really? I must have missed that evolution. We’re still pitied, avoided because people fear the unknown, shunned by others because we’re deemed too needy, patronised because we’re seen to be unintelligent and treated like second class citizens as we always have been, the media have only enhanced that point this week. And society’s attitudes have changed? Just because children are being educated more within mainstream education Ms Miller, it does not mean society’s attitudes have changed just because we’re not locked up and hidden away. The stigmas toward many disabilities still exist and many VI children are segregated within VI units within their school along with other special needs children. Being taught in the same building does not make society’s attitudes toward them any different!

Last year I started a home study degree which was funded by the university so I did not have any fees to pay. Because of the increase to come in for tuition fees, the scheme was cut at the end of my very successful first year. I couldn’t afford the fees and was forced to withdraw. I have and continue to try to gain work or qualifications to be “more employable” on a qualification basis but the truth is, unless my blindness miraculously disappears, or the attitudes of society, the employer’s being educated and insurance companies not deeming disabled people high risk enough to boot premiums to a devastating price change, I will remain unemployed from the mainstream workforce. I take offence to the many headlines calling incapacity and DLA claimants “scroungers” or “lazy” as While looking for work I’ve done everything in my power to gain employment. I’ve attempted study, I volunteer to gain work experience, I blog and participate in accessibility podcasts to widen my knowledge and experience while educating and informing the world best I can about blindness, access technology and guide dogs. I do not sit around, or enjoy four or five holidays to Spain, I do not own extravagant items or go out every weekend to clubs. I’ve tried, I continue to try to make my life productive and full but I can’t single handedly change the attitudes of employers.

Unless I gain employment within a sector for visually impaired or set up my own business, which I eventually would like to do, I will be punished for being blind and become isolated because I cannot fund my disability.

I keep hearing the phrase, “Genuinely disabled,” yet I and others seemingly do not fit into that category. As I stated earlier, the current assessment for ESA would maximumly gain a visually impaired person nine points or less and fifteen is required to qualify for the into work program. So, I clearly am not “disabled” according to these guidelines and to the media who have deemed many claimants to be “scroungers” and have insinuated “faking it”. What an actress I must be, to have faked blindness all my life!

Many do abuse the system and those people need to be caught out, no one would refute that. And that is why we are not asking this government to leave things the way they are but to listen, understand and implement changes suggested to them by the people who know. Realism and practicality need to be adopted here or else the government has outrightly broke its promise to protect the disabled and vulnerable in our society.

As MP Hunt said, stop providing abled bodied, healthy individuals from pushing out three or four children at the tax payer’s expense. If people want to reproduce, they should pay for them. My parents have worked every day of their lives and have contributed to this system and they, like others who are parents of disabled people are angry that it is more socially acceptable to get pregnant and have a child for the sole cause of living off of benefits when disabled families are having support, care and benefits cut.

Miller talks about the numbers of alcoholics and drug users on DLA and incapacity benefit, well stop them claiming it! Children born with disabilities don’t have a choice, soldiers fighting for this country don’t have a choice whether they are hit or not, police and fire service people do not have a choice if they are hurt while on duty, and yet those without the choices are the ones being punished.

This past few days, I’ve felt disappointed, angry, concerned, surprised, shocked and proud for a variety of reasons. Proud of the ones marching; proud of the efforts by those who couldn’t make it who have expressed themselves on the web; proud of some journalists who have maintained their integrity by reporting the events as they are. I was surprised how quickly my MP responded to my email that I sent her only the night of the march and even more so of her support. And yet I’ve been saddened, shocked and rather disgusted with the lack of coverage by many media outlets. No need for breaking news but it still happened! It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest march of its kind in regard to the disabled people in numbers present at a protest, and that wasn’t news worthy? I was also disappointed by the lack of response by some visually impaired people I know. Some were fantastic online yesterday and others I know marched while some remained quiet and as though it wasn’t happening to them. You may not believe writing to your MP will work, or that you’ll lose followers or friends on social networks by mentioning it, but if they’re real friends or interested in what you have to say, isn’t that better than being ignored by the government? I’ve heard people say it won’t have made a difference, maybe not but maybe it will open some eyes. It’s our future and if we don’t help shape it, then we have no real future to call our own.

Miller in my book represents nothing but an empty promise and a cruel and misconceived idea of what disability and sickness really means and how it effects those with it. She was more interested in the prime minister’s question time than the people she’s meant to represent. Even in a committee meeting about the welfare reform, she was vague, unable to give detail or straight, decisive answers to questions posed to her. Cameron’s conservatives are ignorant and malicious. Despite what they’re telling the media the reality of the assessment process, changes to DLA put the disabled in poverty and isolation, stripping them of dignity and independence. No wonder their precious media won’t report it and are more interested in US politics, affairs abroad and war because it’s not affecting them. If Hunt had denied Murdock the deal for Sky, we’d hear about that all right in its entirety but a few blind, wheel chair bound, deaf and sick people are invisible to them. Why hear the cries of the needy while you’re sat eating your finest foods and enjoying your life? Why take notice of a bunch of disabled people, “We’ll get over it,” right? Why take from the rich, corrupt bankers when you can target the ones in need? It seems they have enough money to bail Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others out of debt, give money to the rebels fighting in Libya, donate millions to countries in need and all because they neglected their own people! I feel for other countries plights, but Prime Minister, you and your government are meant to be the British government, here to make Britain better, but you’d rather help other country’s people than your own vulnerable and disabled people! If you want to cut the deficit, give us a chance to live and change the attitudes of employers and society as a whole, because without those changes, we’ll remain invisible to all while we suffer.

If that’s the society we live in, then by God help us all. Because wait until they cut child services more, or petrol prices rise again, that will be top news. I hope anyone who has blatantly ignored this demonstration of courage and pride by the disabled people of Britain never finds themselves in a similar situation. Because where will your loyal government be then? Helping Pakistan, or fighting in the middle East, or bailing out European countries or lending money to some superpower, and giving you nothing!

“The Invisible Disabled,” it seems so but I pledge to you I will not go unnoticed and neither should you. The women who fought for women’s rights were taken seriously eventually , and some would argue there were many more but many were too afraid to fight the system then. Let’s fight for our right to live good qualities of life and to gain opportunities like everyone else. Change society’s attitudes for the better, Clegg and Cameron, don’t change our lives for the worst.

[note. I am totally blind and cannot comment in detail on how people’s disabilities effect them. Hope I grasped the concept of anger we’re all feeling]

Interesting entertainment links

That’s a Cut, SunnieDae1
Broken Britain’s We have A Dream Speech, hardest Hit
Hardest Hit, Day of Action, Scope for Equality

Operation of Osama Ben Laden’s Death: How the rest of the Western world may See it?

[Note to Readers]
I do not aim to offend in this blog. I have many American friends who I cherish dearly. I’m against terrorism, categorically but I feel I need to voice my observations of the recent events. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, I’m merely discussing how I see things have played out. I will never condone what Ben Laden has done or what he and his followers stand for. Extremism is dangerous and closed minded but ignorance is not productive either. We have free speech, and agree or not, hear me out and see things from others points of view. I’m no expert but I have opinions.
Thanks for reading.

Early hours, UK time, on Monday, 2ND May 2011, it was announced by President Obama of the United States that the leader of Al Qaida , Osama Ben Laden had been captured and killed by a special team of US Navy seals.

The world has seemingly been split over this announcement. His followers, naturally angry and seeking vengeance, some, like myself wanting answers before I make judgement on the situation, and for others optimism and even celebration of the world’s most wanted fugitive who lead the terror attacks against the Western World culminating in September Eleventh.

Before I go into what I want to explore here. I want to make a few things about myself very clear first as I know this article may seem anti-american to some.
first of all, I am not an American. But I have seen terrorism by other organisations in the UK and have grown up hearing about terrorist attacks all of my life with incidents by the IRA and the Spanish group ETA.
secondly, I was in america, attending an American university, on the first anniversary of September Eleventh and attended a memorial service for two former students who died in the attacks. I was touched and moved by this experience and couldn’t understand how others could hurt innocent people in such atrocious ways and how other humans can hold such hate for those with different beliefs.
Thirdly, I watched all the events of that day unfold on TV. It was surreal. Still is now if I see footage. I could not conceive, hardly can now, almost ten years on that something of that magnitude could happen in the world in which I lived. I was about to go off to university the week later, and the fear that rolled through me was horrendous! I was devastated for those victims and their families and for the world as a whole, the world I would never see the same way again.
Fourthly, I believe every human being has animalistic rights, I.E. food, water, sleep, etc. Human rights are more complex, right for equality, right to free speech, and so on. I also believe that if you take away someone’s human rights then, you in turn have given up your own rights. There is a huge difference in my head between human rights and animalistic rights. I also believe, if you have wronged you should ultimately be punished and the worse the crime, the harsher the punishment. We’ve become to free with handing out new identities to criminals in fear of vigil anti groups. Good, let them come. Why should we uphold human rights for those who have stripped others of theirs.
And finally. What Ben Laden has done to Western people is horrendous and he’s a disgusting being. I can’t even title him with human because there seemed nothing human about him. All those who have perished and suffered because of his organisation and its acts were innocent human beings who deserved more and their families absolutely deserve justice.

Now to what happened, as we’ve been told.

I first must point out that since Monday I think the white house have changed the story at least twice with varying other accounts circulating the media realm. And although I do not believe everything I read, i do not discount everything I read either. [Even after my first draft of this article, more contradictory evidence has come to light].

The original story that came out on CNN from Obama’s live address was that Ben Laden had been found at a compound in Pakistan along with members of his family and was “engaged in a forty minute fire fight” which indicates to most people, that the Navy Seals were being shot at by Ben Laden and co. They later retracted this and said Ben Laden was unarmed but resisting capture while others engaged with shooting. [I’ll get to my thoughts in a minute].

They also said he was using women as human shields to which they later said his wife jumped at the US forces and was then shot in the leg where in their first story she had been killed.

The level of Ben Laden’s lifestyle had initially been reported to be extravagant and they valued the compound in which he was living at one million dollars to which they compared to the living conditions of many of his followers. This later was changed to a value of $250000, and pictures from inside the compound do not in any way reflect luxury. [Today, Pakistani officials revealed that it is likely, having been told by his wife that they had lived in the room in which they were found for the past five years]. Obviously, we cannot substantiate this claim. But the conditions were pretty poor.

It was also stated in Monday’s release that the president, his vice president and Hilary Clinton watched the live events unfold which on Tuesday was changed to, “for about twenty minutes, we didn’t know what had happened”.

OK, anyone who has seen either of these live press conferences will note the differences in “facts”. And while I grant them that some information, I.E. the identities of some of the dead or captured individuals may not have been ascertained, some other pieces of information would not have got lost in translation. The main two points for me are how long and how much of the “live” footage did the president and his pals watch. And secondly, either he was armed or he wasn’t. A “fire fight” would convey to anyone that both sides are fighting with arms. I do not doubt he “resisted capture”, most criminals do.

These things have not been fabricated by the press. They were spoken by a white house official and the president’s spokesman at that along with the head of the CIA. And as I said, some things may have been unclear at the first press conference but not all. The value of the compound for one thing. If they had been monitoring it for almost two years, as some have reported, then surely they would know from local records the value. And please do not get me wrong, I’m not defending Ben Laden here, I’m merely pointing out discrepancies and questionable actions by the US officials, but suggesting he was living better than he was, and to actually compare his living conditions as they originally portrayed them to be better than his followers is like listening to a petulant teenager twisting facts to piss off friends of someone if that person has wronged them. I do not expect, despite the horrific things he has done, for government officials to play childish tricks like that. I’m not concerned with upsetting his followers but it looks bad on them and with other things that have occurred questions their integrity. These are meant to be our leaders, the ones we pay taxes to in order for them to run our countries, provide plans of protection and in return for our taxes and votes, honesty, integrity and working with a professional attitude on the world stage should be automatic.

The next thing that didn’t feel right to me is the timeline of the whole thing. I am not a military expert or pretend to be, I am a mere mortal who wonders about things. From several sources, originally, from point of entry, the whole thing took forty minutes. OK, I can realistically conclude the fighting and such may have been under ten, even five minutes long. So they shoot him, swab him or however they took the dNA and photographed the whole thing. Then they got onto the old communications systems and were like, “so yeah, you want Ben Laden’s body to keep?” to a few different governments to which none did and then they gave him a Muslim send off and dumped him into the ocean. Oh, and before that happened, they’d left Pakistan, took off in the helicopter, and left the other burning and landed in Afghanistan and took him to a hanger and then dumped him after his traditional ceremony in the sea. Then they called the boss, told them all about their adventures, got the DNA test back and returned to base. All that in forty minutes? It does seem though that the forty minutes timeline comes from the fighting which was again refuted by Pakistani officials saying only one man was armed and was shot upon entry. So no fire fight without an opposite team to fight with, right? The speediness, regardless of the actual time though is still alarming. No information was given to the Pakistani military, which I’ll go into more detail later, and they flew in, landed, did the operation and collected evidence, set alight to a chopper that was damaged and then called the Pakistani military to collect the survivors. A defence minister from Pakistan said today that at the moment they realised foreign aircraft was in their airspace, they deployed fighter jets but they didn’t get to the compound before the US Navy Seals left. So either, Pakistan are trying to cover their own asses for a lack of knowledge of foreign aircraft in their airspace or the US were that fast or, yes, there’s another option. A former aviator said they looked as though they’d been modified, and not like the traditional Black Hawks, more like the F117 Stealth Fighter The pictures of the jet left behind, it looked as though some adaptations had been done to the jet to bounce radar and quieten the propellors. Whichever version, the timeline is heavily in question.

Putting aside some naivities from both the US president and defence crew and the British prime minister who have said between them that it is a relief, a success and the troops can start coming home soon are statements I roll my eyes at. Cameron was responsible for the “relief” comment. Typical bloody Tory, isn’t scared of anything while he’s in his nuclear proof shelter. Thankfully his foreign secretary and defence minister are slightly more realistic on this front and have practically informed the British public, who haven’t ignored the news all week because of the local elections, that a terror attack is imminent. Thanks for that, Wil and Liam, but I can’t complain, at least you’re not living on Cloud cracking up land.

To Mr Obama and his crew who said they’d succeeded and the troops are coming home. Erm, really? Successful? OK, sure, wonder if you’ll be saying that if, God forbid another attack should happen. I truly hope not but the war in terror is not over, just because you captured a leader who hasn’t been doing very much leading in the past ten years has commanders, and devout followers. This is not over, you just lit the taper for the fireworks to start. And successful? You caught the leader of the Taliban, after over nine years of war, billions of dollars, thousands of lives lost and you consider capturing one man who’s been, by all accounts locked away in a room in Pakistan, next door to the army camp where your soldiers train Pakistani soldiers, a success? I don’t call it a success. Until we change the minds of these extremists, prove, [although this is going to be mere impossible now, was pretty damn difficult before but a million times worse now], to them that we are not what they think we are, the success element of this war has not been achieved. Or maybe, for the government it has. But that’s another conspiracy theory which I won’t detail here.

So to conclude that our leaders are actually morons or they think the general public believes that claptrap has little bearing on other things we still must discuss.

There are a few factors that closely relate here and I must be careful how I word some of my forth coming paragraphs. I am not accusing or assuming, just saying things how I see them from the things we have been told.

Ben Laden was “apparently” resisting capture, [no shock there, the guy’s been on the run for ten years, sitting under the military’s noses, both Pakistani and American alike and they shoot him in the head and stomach. There are varying versions of this story, the American one and the one from Ben Laden’s daughter. I wasn’t there, so only the ones in the room know what happened. But they admitted to shooting him in the head and chest, despite being unarmed yet resisting arrest. The change of story could, at a push be a confusion in translation but the incident happened on Sunday night US time, or there abouts, the first press conference was held on Monday where details of this so called “fire fight” was given and then Tuesday the story had changed to him being unarmed. Surely the first question asked or detail given, how did he die?

I’ve done a little public relations during my time and I know one thing for sure, talking to the press, it is imperative you give the correct information the first time around to the best of your knowledge. One minute, people had seen it all, OBama reportedly “watched Ben Laden killed” yet there was confusion still after a few hours of passing, with a brief undoubtedly being held prior to press? Such a huge announcement, no government in their right mind would rush that and give an not briefed report. If there was video footage, it would have been watched or should have been before anyone spoke to the press. We know there is footage, the seals wear cameras on their helmets. Hilary Clinton spoke today in Rome and said she didn’t know what they were watching when the White House photographer took the now rather famous picture. Seems everyone had a little amnesia about the TV get together all of a sudden?

This bothers me for so many reasons. I don’t give a crap if the White House make a huge public relations screw up, that’s their business and rarely should you trust anything that comes out of a politicians mouth, but what bothers me as a human being that he was shot in the head and chest and was unarmed. Some were armed, and killed as they attacked, fine, but no matter who it is, I have a problem with, dare I say it? Execution style shooting. I’ve seen enough TV and movies, read enough news paper articles and books to perceive disarm first if you can. No one is going to tell me, a man who has been confined to a specific area for a length of time, with no weapons can face off to at least one heavily armed soldier. The fact that they are refusing to release a photo of his body because the “images are too graphic” screams volumes to me.

I know many think he got what he deserved by being shot, no matter how brutally but to me death is the easiest way out. Even that side of the story, one minute it was a kill mission, the next capture where possible then, he had to be killed, he could never have been tried, etc, etc. The excuses, seem to me, keep on coming. I have a few words for you on that point of trial would have been hard, Saddam Husain.

It’s not only the apparent dodginess about the no photo, questionable timelines, contradictory tales in press conferences that bother me, and many others, but these government officials continue to harp on about human rights, democracy, the geneva convention and yet I see none of this practiced in this situation. I don’t blame anyone for hating him, he was a vile being but it seems awfully hypocritical of people on the one hand to be screaming human rights, democracy to countries like Libya and syria and Egypt and then in one mission show no regard to any of the so called principles they preach about.

Trials to prove guilt or innocence have been around for millennia and to kill someone who is not armed when you are with all kinds of technical weaponry, it feels barbaric. Europeans have come under immense attack today in blog entries because of our lack of exuberance for his death. I perceive our mood to be cautious, anxious and as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury said with several others, a man being shot dead so brutally unarmed leaves you feeling uncomfortable. I agree with them. Not because I think what he’s done is remotely OK, his actions were sick and depraved but he should have been captured. I’ve read many angry Americans talk about “innocent lives” and how those in the towers were “unarmed”, yes, I agree but by shooting him with such brutality doesn’t make that justified or right. Forget the moral side of humanity for a moment, there are far many other implications involved by shooting a man who you could easily have captured with a disarming shot rather than “blow his brains out”. But I’ll get to that.

Some people’s reactions to the announcement bothered me as much as the circumstances surrounding his death. People celebrated! They were literally dancing and jumping for joy at the news of his death. I know some argue that some Al Qaida members did the same after September eleventh and I didn’t like that either. No matter what a person has done, celebrating their death is rather tasteless, inhumane, and not at all dignified. And as I have pointed out all week, he was one man. One man who once upon a time, worked with the US government and yes, turned out to do hateful things but celebrating a death makes me look on individuals with a sense of sadness. There is far too much hate in this world, adding to it doesn’t make you the better person.

so, what would have been better? I don’t pretend to have all the answers. And to be honest, the handling of this by the White House has been a complete disaster. Conspirators have so much to go on. The mere things I’ve raised here to start with, the lack of a body, proof of images, timing politically will only fuel those fires. The accusations flying around now from the US that Pakistan officials knew Ben Laden was there and that was why they didn’t tell them about the operation.

And that is another point. Again with the hypocrisy. A camp near to the compound was where Pakistani soldiers were being trained by American troops. So that’s one thing, it was happening under their noses to. Another point is this, the US flew into Pakistani air space, raided a Pakistani citizen’s property all without consulting/informing the Pakistani government in fear of betrayal. I wonder how the US government would respond for a foreign military operation to take place without their prior knowledge? I know what would happen. Human rights, the Geneva convention and all such things would be dragged up and the Pakistanis would probably have to be disciplined by the UN or some international organisation.

To want information from a so-called Ally, and you in return refuse to share information that will happen on their territory? It seems as though its one rule for them and another for everyone else.

I don’t doubt there are corrupt individuals on the governments around the world. In countries like Pakistan, where the Taliban is supported by some, it wouldn’t surprise me. But it seems so unbelievably double standard that it makes me, as a British person rather angry.

The whole thing has more questions than answers around it. But I do not believe we have been given anywhere near an accurate account of events, nor do I believe we ever will. I cannot say in my heart I think it was handled well, especially politically. I do think he should have stood trial, disarming with a bullet to a leg/shoulder would have done it and they say he would have become the focus as a martyr. He already has. By killing him and then coming out to the public with such sketchy views and with no release of a photo, he already is a martyr. As I said earlier, Saddam was tried and he’d been a part of terrorism for a many number of years. Sure, there was no september eleventh but he was a disgusting being.

Even Hitler who was responsible for such disgusting acts was never killed by another’s hand. He didn’t stand trial either but he took his own life.

For pictures to be so graphical, more probably happened than we’ve been told. Pictures that surfaced of unknown bodies today online showed horrendous images and it really raises questions about lawful killing. A lawyer said today, it would be hard to ascertain what happened but he would have liked to see him stand trial. Another lawyer said this would pose many problems for international law. The US has said the killing was lawful under US law, but they weren’t in the US and international law would be upheld while on foreign soil. Lawful or not, it poses many awkward questions about their actions. If stealth was used they clearly meant to approach the compound quietly, granted but if radar blocking systems were used, this poses other issues.

Am I glad they caught him? I can’t say it had made any difference to me before. But now, they have, I fear severe retribution. Should he have died? In my opinion, no, death is an easy way out, how do you suffer in death? Do I think the body should have been brought back to the US? Yes, initially. May have avoided a lot of confusion. Should the photos be released? Yes, and the video tape although this will not quell the conspiratory theorists. Do you think he’s dead? I have no idea. A source, from high in the government told the Alex Jone’s show that he had been told by a general who he would name in front of a grand jury, that Ben Laden had died in 2001 from a medical condition and they kept it secret until a convenient time. Why wait so long? Because they wanted a reason to go to war and this hunt for ben Laden gave it. This and others have even suggested the US orchestrated the whole september eleventh. Do I believe that is true? I believe anything is possible but would like to think that some humanity remains in these people and that they are not the terrorists against their own people. Do I think, if this is the case and the war on terror was based on a sick fabrication, as VietNam was, is that right? No, money, time, intelligence and most of all valuable lives have been lost in this war. I hope for America’s sake, that they check their story, be honest about the events and motives, and maybe this will work out. Do you think they planned to kill him all along? yes, this I do believe. I don’t buy the graphical image crap. Husain was executed on television for goodness sake, if that wasn’t going to create a martyr out of him, nothing would. The pictures would tell a fuller story though I believe, and sorry to say it, but I think that’s why those pictures are staying hidden right now, to restrict us from some knowledge. Hey, they probably don’t trust us either, right? Not to mention the fact that it was suggested the instructions were to kill unless he wasn’t wearing any clothes as he could have concealed a suicide vest. The guy was apparently in his pyjamas. For some reason, logic tells me not even a crazy nutcase like Ben Laden would be chilling in his PJs, indicating he was planning on going to bed with a suicide vest on. He may roll over in his sleep and detonate the bugger. Not sure blowing up the place he was living would have sent such a message considering he had no idea the Navy seals were coming. I apologise for my sarcasm but being fed different stories from the official sources makes me rather annoyed. One minute, kill him, the next capture if he surrenders, and the next only don’t kill him if he’s in his bloody birthday suit? Come on guys, even those who think he got what he deserved and believe death was the best punishment, can’t you see what a circus this is? Doesn’t it concern you that whilst the officials spin more stories than Roald Dahl, high intelligent people who either still work for your government or have worked for them previously are questioning the protocol and pointing out things your government are not willing to admit.

Again, although I have dealt with the things I know through reliable resources and mentioned a few speculations, most of this is my opinion. In parts, I must sound to some as though I’m defending ben Laden or those who protect him but I just want to show that hypocrisy is writhe in our world. Human rights for the guy who killed a three year old child, new identity, new life and the same for a mother who stood by and watched her child slowly murdered over repeated abuse, both horrific people yet some think it’s OK to shoot an unarmed person in the head and chest and fly into airspace and carry out military operations without the prior knowledge to the country in which you are in.

as I opened, I said a person’s human rights are revoked if they violate another’s human rights. I do not discriminate that and do not believe ben Laden deserved to be treated well or right. But I do believe in the right to trial. And these people who “ordered” to kill him are the same people preaching human rights and democracy to the world. America’s military are in libya, and other conflicted countries fighting for human rights yet how does this look? It’s almost like they played into the Al Qaida’s hands. By killing him, they’ve created a martyr, with or without the photographs. already some are calling the sea in which he was dropped, “the Martyr’s sea”. even the Muslim funeral they claim to have given him in which they said he was treated better than any of his victims has been deemed wrong and was deemed religiously improper.

Regardless of what we think of him and the awful things he’s done. What about those who love him? Because clearly they did. Again, not saying he should have been allowed to be free but what about those who are left behind. He had children, that was their father. Regardless of his actions, regardless of their beliefs, they may hate him for all we know, but what about their rights? The adults in that compound may or may not have had a choice whether to be there or not. But there were children, young children, a two year old child. They, despite their parentage, are innocent and deserved a little humanity. They deserved the right to say goodbye, take his body, surely? If they had wanted too. Because the US killed him, did that mean they had property of his body too? With Islamic scholars it to not be a proper Islamic burial, and the burial at sea, even ordinary people question what was being covered up?

I think anyone in their right mind would have shown ben Laden nothing but contempt but if captured, if tried, then executed, many wouldn’t be writing articles like I am, or questioning the government’s actions at all. We are meant to live in a world of democracy and fairness. At least that’s what is preached on a daily basis. it’s the reason Nato has countries militaries fighting in Libya right now. How can we on one hand fight for human rights and preach about it and the Geneva convention and such, then say killing an unarmed man is justified. I understand why many of the Clergy have said they feel uncomfortable with that factor, only made worse by the wheel of stories. As Christians, they feel that seeking vengeance is a ugly matter and destroys the soul and its God’s duty to ultimately judge and punish. It seems very unchristian-like and looks more like vengeance than a form of justice.

Whatever the truth, the Americans who celebrated in the street with effigies of Ben Laden’s head with the statue of liberty will never understand why the rest of the world questions the US actions and decisions. maybe it’s merely a difference in cultures. The death penalty has been dormant for many years here now and most Europeans don’t see death as a punishment. Maybe it’s the maturity too. Europe’s history spans millennia while the US is still only half a millennia old.

Average people are questioning the so called facts. Mainstream media is questioning in ways I never expected to see in regards to Ben Laden. And this is probably why, Europe’s not dancing with joy. We know there are repercussions to come from Al Qaida, but more than that, there will be repercussions to come from this muddled mess of what I think the US hoped to be a dramatic victory. At home, maybe they have got that, worldwide the mood is quite cool and curious.

However the international world moves forward from this, however we are divided by views or beliefs, there’s one thing certain, this is the start of something huge and the pantomime to come out of the white house this week will do the US no favours internationally. They may have killed the leader but it took more than one man to commit all those terrorist acts. The world will be watching, with an anxious air.

Ignorance is Bliss; for the Government

Many knew that when the conservatives took over power, those on the lower end of the income bracket would get screwed over. Others knew that the vulnerable in society, despite repeated promises from said government would be left even more vulnerable and up the creek without a paddle. While few knew that some necessary changes would need to be put into place for the economy to recover but also knew that those who cannot help themselves would bear the brunt of these changes. Wherever you stood within these three areas, you were right.

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, read an online article from any leading British media outlets, watched the national and local news programmes within the last year know that this country is in financial disarray. Back in October when the chancellor made his budget speech, there was a promise to protect the elderly and the disabled. This promise has recently been shown for what it truly is; a glossy lie.

We all are aware cuts need to be made, no one is actually arguing that fact but the level of which this coalition government is stampeding its path is only going to end in misery for many.

I, like many others agree there are abusers of the benefits system but it is safe to say that these benefits sustain a good quality of life for many. The new assessments being brought in for those on incapacity, while weeding out those “fakers” will put many disabled people An on the breadline and B in a severe state of vulnerability. And that’s not even taking into consideration the future preposed changes to Disability Living Allowance. And why? Because this government has not thought through how the assessments will affect a wide range of individuals with varying levels of disabilities and illnesses.

Already the assessment was reevaluated because it deemed terminally ill individuals fit for work. And even after these changes to the assessment process, many disabled organisations say the assessment is too harsh and not detailed enough to assess accurately.

For example, a lady on the national news today who suffered with a brain haemorrhage 10 months ago, who lost feeling in her right side and has limited vision has been deemed fit to work. What this government has not taken into consideration, are the many barriers that a disability will bring up for not only the individual but the organisation that will employ them.

For an abled bodied person, reading, writing, moving around unaided, being alerted to dangers or alerting others to danger are natural abilities. For someone with a hearing impairment, sight impairment or physical impairment, this is not always possible. For example, one of the questions on the test is can you pull a pen from your pocket with both hands. Many people could do this, even wheel chair bound individuals, depending on their condition. Someone with a visual impairment could pull the pen from their pocket but would not be able to use it in many situations. For those visually impaired people, many would use other formats to write and read with compared to the majority of individuals. For someone who is deaf, they may not hear the suggestion. In an assessment environment, their focus is likely to be on the assessor but in the work place, other tasks could distract and they may not hear a command to take a note.

Another aspect of the criteria to receive the new employment support allowance is if you have a guide dog. Apparently, the government foresee a blind individual capable of employment if they have a guide dog. I’m absolutely uncertain how my guide dog makes me more employable than someone who is a cane user or someone who uses neither. Your choice of mobility aid has little bearing on how you perform in a job. My guide dog will not assist my work. He’ll help me get to and from and around the work place, providing I’ve learnt the route prior, as would a cane user. Clearly, someone in government has not explained to these individuals what a guide dog does and does not do. The same apparently applies to an individual using an electronic wheel chair. So, guide dog owners, electric wheel chair users, you should know that your dog and chair clearly help you do a job. And because of these reasons, we are deemed fit to work immediately and would be put instantly on job seekers allowance.

If anyone has dealt with the job centre and has been disabled and has had a great result, I.E., got into employment that you’ve maintained, congratulations, you have to be in the minority and very lucky. Many disability employment officers, like the government, have no idea what a disabled person’s needs and abilities potentially can be.

And for one moment, put aside the assessment, the criteria and walk with me into the work place. Many, and the RNIB estimate, 92% of employers would find it difficult or mere impossible to employ a visually impaired individual. OK, government, please consider the fact you tell us a million jobs have been created in the past three months and now tell us how many of those jobs are going to be doable from a disabled person’s point of view. And not even that, how many of those prospective employers, would employ someone who is visually impaired, deaf or a wheel chair user. And not necessarily because of their own ignorance, lets face it, they’re also dealing with the economy right now. And does the government know that anyone who is disabled automatically has an increase on a risk assessment for any work place or public building? If they’re not aware of this, they should be. Because, risk assessments lead to insurance and higher risks means a higher premium. Can many companies afford a higher premium?

As much as I don’t think this to be a valid reason for a company not to employ a disabled individual, I understand it in the current economic climate.

Thus far, we’ve only talked about the physical disabilities. Does this assessment take into consideration those individuals who have mental disabilities? I’m sure someone with a learning difficulty could indeed pull a pen from their pocket when asked in a calm, controlled environment. Would that be possible in a stressful work place? Highly doubtful.

In short, the changes to incapacity benefit, although necessary to a degree are being done with such ignorance that not only is this government putting people in more vulnerable situations, they’re not helping everyone into a secure job. I do not mean secure as in financial, I mean in the practicality sense of the word. Someone who is visually impaired would struggle working in a visual environment. Likewise, someone who is deaf would find it challenging to the point of stressfulness in an auditory environment. The government want people into work, but realistically what are they going to do to ensure that happens? Many disabled individuals of working age, want to work and would give anything to work. But is putting them on the poverty line with virtually little, specialised assistance into work the right way to go? And this is before I get to disability living allowance.

Many disabled organisations understand the people they work with. Research shows getting work is not as easy as the government would have everyone else believe. Putting this aside, living with a disability, regardless of work or not is a costly affair. Again, some individuals may use little of their disability living allowance, while others may fluctuate over the months and many others depend solely on it to live day to day with their disability.

I cannot speak for someone in a wheel chair, or a deaf person but I as a visually impaired individual rely a lot on my disability living allowance to buy computer equipment so I can read emails, search for jobs, shop independently, read letters and books accessibly. I also use the mobility component to get to places I’m unfamiliar with. Despite what our oh so wise government believes, my guide dog does not have a map inside of his head and I cannot type a post code and he’ll take me there. He only works from my commands. So if I don’t know an area, he won’t know it either and we could become lost and vulnerable. So, taxis are often a way to get around. I attempt to use public transportation where possible and of the do but there are times taxis are necessary and sometimes my only option. They are expensive and on occasion I have to pay someone to assist me somewhere. For example, shopping for clothes items. I need someone to help me around the store and although shop assistants can be helpful, it is not always the case.

A minister recently said that after three years you shouldn’t need any further financial support when it comes to your disability, I’d like to see him try. You have to replace equipment, I.E., colour detectors/scales or bigger things like computers or washing machines even. People do not realise that using a launderette is not a task for the faint hearted disabled individuals. For a wheel chair user, I’d imagine it troublesome getting to the place, with all of your laundry, then many machines are probably not designed for wheel chair access. For someone who is blind, using the machines at all would be impossible without tactile access or someone helping never mind actually getting there with your laundry.

For anyone to say that living with a disability can be got used to after so many years is an ignorant and cruel statement. Without living with one, how would you know?

I’m not expecting everything to be given to me on a plate, I never would. But I want this government and any future ones to not just penalise individuals and put them on the breadline with no hope out. They need to change people’s attitudes, change legislation for insurers and companies. Make public buildings accessible to all. Put the disability discrimination act into practice and enforce it because right now, disabled people still have no rights. David Cameron talked about the happiness and quality of life for the citizens of this country, I see nothing but misery ahead for many disabled individuals. Some have said without their DLA, their lives would not be worth living. Without help into work, without changing people’s attitudes, without punishing disabled people and actually help through work experience in practical jobs and having an assessment process that was realistic for the individuals being tested and not just convenient to down the governments numbers, I don’t see life in this country worth living either. It’s a bleak future for anyone suffering with a disability right now.

The government do need to save money, they do need to get disabled people into work but not without support and not at the expense of those people’s rights. A right to live. This could be done correctly and competently but as this new system stands, they will be putting their disabled exactly where many suspected they would, at the bottom of a pile of trash.

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