Why I Just Can’t Quit Facebook

first_imgRelated Posts selena larson Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Since I deleted Facebook, I’ve felt somewhat alone. I suppose that could mean that I’m a terrible friend who has trouble maintaining long distance-relationships because of my selfish nature, or it means that Facebook does indeed strengthen our friendships, whether we want to admit it or not. I’ll concede that a little bit of both are true, and both factors contributed to my loneliness.Robin Dunbar, British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, says, “I suspect that Facebook’s one great contribution has been to slow down that rate of relationship decay by allowing us to keep in touch with friends over long distances.”So many of the relationships I valued in the past were reduced to Facebook friends after years of liking and commenting on statuses. And I really missed them. I made it my mission to strengthen those friendships by focusing more on the real interaction—calling someone or sending more personal photos in a text message instead of an Instagram post—and building up those relationships that had been reduced to a Like button.In a way, leaving Facebook made me realize who my real friends are. So now, rather than quitting Facebook, I’m going to cull my friends list from 418 to around 100 or so. It’s time to clean up Facebook. I’m no longer real friends with most of the people on my friends list, and I’m not getting pertinent news and information from the social network. By eliminating the noise and deleting some personal information, such as Likes and my location, I can go back to using Facebook for what it began as—a place for friends. Until there’s another service that all the people I care about use, I’m stuck under Facebook’s big, blue thumb. I can’t click Like on this situation. Lead image courtesy of Donna Larson; Dolores Park image by Selena Larson Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A few months ago, I began an experiment to see if I could abandon the social network that consumed so much of my precious free time online. I’ve since discovered that I rely on Facebook to help maintain friendships more than I want to admit. Abandoning Facebook meant abandoning those friends, which proved harder than I thought.On February 3, I posted:In honor of the 10th anniversary of Facebook, I am deactivating my account. There is too much to manage, and [to be honest] there is just too much noise. If you want to contact me, text is good, otherwise I’m on Twitter and Skype @selenalarson, or via email.My resolve didn’t last.After I said I was leaving Facebook, I received a handful of texts and Facebook messages saying, “No, don’t go!” But I wanted to stick with this experiment, so I just told my friends to text or tweet me if they wanted to stay in touch.I didn’t fully deactivate my account, because as the social reporter for ReadWrite, it’s impossible to cover Facebook without actually having an account. I still received occasional notifications that I had been tagged in a photo or invited to an event. But no one commented on my old photos, started conversations with me, or reached out to say hello. Give Up Friendships, Or Give Up Our Personal Data?My frustration with Facebook wasn’t that my friends posted too many Upworthy links—although they do, and I plan to remove them from my friends list. The problem was that Facebook knows more about me than many of those friends do. In order to use Facebook to stay in touch with people, I am giving it access to my own personal life on the Internet. Facebook knows what movies I like, where I live, who my best friends are, and what apps I use, because I have spent the last seven years giving it that information. Now that I’ve decided I prize my privacy more than my posts, it’s too late to back out. See Also: How To Remove Yourself From The InternetFacebook’s recent efforts to put more emphasis on personal privacy is a step in the right direction. But even the “anonymous login” feature Facebook introduced last week isn’t really anonymous. Third-party apps won’t know who you are, but Facebook will.Facebook is no longer just a place for friends, but a pervasive and invasive identity manager. The social network wants to be privy to what we do online, and control who gets that information. Facebook may be where my friends hang out, but it isn’t my friend. As real threats of invasive surveillance and data privacy violations continue to make citizens uncomfortable, tech companies are increasingly cognizant of maintaining the trust of their users. But it’s hard to take Facebook’s complaints about government surveillance seriously when it’s a far more efficient spy on our lives.Facebook: A Post Office For Virtual Pen PalsI moved to San Francisco just over a year ago after spending the previous two decades in Arizona. When I moved, I relied on social networks to keep me updated about what all my friends and family were doing. It made me a little sad that this was how we remained in touch, but I didn’t do much to change it. In the year since I’ve left Arizona, relationships have deteriorated. The friends I used to see every weekend while we basked in the sunshine have been replaced with digital incarnations of themselves, and most of them live on Facebook. Instead of getting face-to-face updates about who they’re dating, how their kids are growing up, or how challenging work is, I see it on Facebook.During the two months I spent away from the social network, I found myself missing those friends more than I had in the last year, and craved conversation and attention from them. I texted a few to say hello and that I missed them, and even called one (gasp!) and had an hour-long conversation. I’m embarrassed to admit that it was harder to remember to text my friends than Like their status on Facebook. Fear Of Missing Out Is A Real Thing Tags:#Facebook#facebook alternatives#privacy#Quit Facebook#social network last_img read more

How to Migrate Timelines Between Video Editing Applications

first_imgIn Resolve go to Session and click Render.Under the Easy Setup tab select Avid AAF Round Trip (this will still work in Premiere).After selecting your desired export codec you can simply hit “Render”.Once completed you can jump into premiere and import the AAF file which will pop up as a single sequence.If you have multiple timelines you will need to export multiple AAF files. The clips should automatically pop up in Premiere. If a clip pops up the “media offline” error box you can relink the file by simply right clicking and selecting Relink. This technique also works with XML files out of Resolve as well.FCPX to PremiereTo export from FCPX to Premiere you have to use Resolve Lite.In Final Cut Pro X go to File > Export XML where you will be asked to name and save a new .fcpxml file format. The new .fcpxml file can be imported into Resolve.In Resolve click Load and select your FCPXML file.A dialogue box will pop up, click Ok. You will now be able to see your clips in the timeline.Inside of Resolve go to Session and Click Render.Under the Easy Setup tab select Avid AAF Round Trip (this works for Premiere, don’t worry).After selecting your desired export codec you can simply hit render. Your clips will now render.Once completed you can jump into Premiere and import the AAF file which will pop up as a single sequence.If you have multiple timelines you will need to export multiple AAF files. The clips should automatically pop up in Premiere.Migrating Timelines To FCPXPremiere to FCPXTo import Premiere Timelines into FCPX you must convert your Premiere project to a .fcpxml file format. The best way to use this is via DaVinci Resolve Lite which is free.In Premiere go to File>Export>AAF, choose a name, and click save.You can now import the .aaf file into Resolve Lite.Once inside Resolve go to Session>Export.In the dropdown menu Select Final Cut Pro XML Round Trip.Now select all the clips you want to send to Final Cut Pro and hit “start render”.Now jump back into FCPX and go to File>Import>XML.Avid to FCPX Move your video editing sequences from one application to another using these quick workflows.In an ideal world you would be able to open any video editing project file in any program, but it’s not that simple. Each video editing application has it’s own set of tools, workflow and effects, so the round tripping process is somewhat convoluted. This is where AAF and XML files come into play.AAF and XML files are designed to help migrate sequences between video editing apps. They make it possible to go from FCPX to Resolve to Avid to Premiere and anything in-between. However, there is a specific workflow that should be followed for each migration to ensure success. In the following post we will take a step-by-step look at the migration process between the big 4 editing softwares: Avid, Premiere, Resolve, and FCPX.For some of these workflows you will have to use DaVinci Resolve Lite as a bridge program. Thankfully Resolve Lite is free from BlackmagicDesign’s site.Migrating Timelines To PremiereAvid to PremiereImporting Avid sequences into Premiere is easy.In Avid, with your sequence or master clip selected in the bin, right click and hit “export.When the box pops up select “Untitled” from the dropdown menu and click the box that says “Options”.Under the “Export As” dropdown you can select AAF, click save.You will now be able to import the AAF file into Premiere. You can find out more information about this workflow by going to Avid’s site.Resolve to Premiere Migrating Timelines To ResolveFCPX to Resolve In Avid, with your sequence or master clip selected in the bin, right-click and hit “export.When the box pops up select “Untitled” from the dropdown menu and click the box that says options.Under the Export As dropdown you can select AAF and click save.You will now be able to import the AAF file into Resolve.In Resolve click the “Load” button.Select your AAF file and click Open.A dialogue box will pop up, click “Ok”. You should now see your Avid sequence in the timeline. Migrating Timelines To AvidResolve to Avid With your clips selected in Premiere go to File>Export>AAF.You will be asked to name the AAF file.You can now click import the file directly into Avid. Your sequence should auto populate the clips inside of Avid.FCPX to AvidTo export from FCPX to Avid you have to use Resolve Lite. Unfortunately this is the best workflow for going from FCPX to Avid.In Final Cut Pro X go to File > Export XML where you will be asked to name and save a new .fcpxml file format. The new .fcpxml file can be imported into Resolve.In Resolve click Load and select your FCPXML file.A dialogue box will pop up, click Ok.You will now be able to see your clips in the timeline.Inside of Resolve go to Session and Click Render.Under the Easy Setup tab select Avid AAF Round Trip.After selecting your desired export codec you can simply hit render. Your clips will now render.Once completed you can jump into Avid and import the AAF file which will pop up as a single sequence.If you have multiple timelines you will need to export multiple AAF files. The clips should automatically pop up in Avid. It’s a long process but it works.Have any other tips for migrating sequences between editing software? Share in the comments below.Resources:FCP X: Transfer Projects to Premiere Pro CC – Larry JordanExporting Projects for Other Applications – Adobe PremiereRound-Tripping with Avid Media Composer – Video 2 Brain In Final Cut Pro X go to File > Export XML where you will be asked to name and save a new .fcpxml file format.The new .fcpxml file can be imported into Resolve.In Resolve click Load and select your FCPXML file.A dialogue box will pop up, click “Ok”. You will now be able to see your clips in the timeline.Premiere to ResolveThe workflow from Premiere to Resolve is incredibly easy. Because Premiere has the ability to save AAF files or XML files you have options because Resolve accepts both AAF and XML files.In Premiere go to File>Export> AAF or XML.Save your file in the pop-up box.Jump to Resolve and click the Load button.You can now select either your AAF or XML file, select “Open”.A box will pop up, click Ok. You should now see your Premiere sequence in the timeline.Avid to Resolve Inside of Resolve go to Session and Click Render.Under the Easy Setup tab select Avid AAF Round Trip.After selecting your desired export codec you can simply hit render. Your clips will now render.Once completed you can jump into Avid and import the AAF file which will pop up as a single sequence.If you have multiple timelines you will need to export multiple AAF files. The clips should pop up in Avid.Premiere to Avid With your sequence or master clip selected in the bin right-click and hit “export”.When the box pops up select “Untitled” from the dropdown menu and click the box that says options.Under the ‘Export As’ dropdown you can select AAF and click save.FCPX can’t read AAF files so you will have to use DaVinci Resolve Lite, but don’t worry it’s free. You will now be able to import the AAF file into Resolve.In Resolve go to Session>Export.In the dropdown menu Select “Final Cut Pro XML Round Trip”.Now select all the clips you want to send to Final Cut Pro and hit “Start Render”. Your new .fcpxml file should be made.Now jump back into FCPX and go to File>Import>XML. You can now import the .fcpxml file in FCPX.Resolve to FCPXExporting to FCPX is easy in Resolve.Go to Session>Export.In the render settings dropdown menu labeled “Easy Setup” select “Final Cut Pro XML Round-Trip”.Now select all your clips in the timeline and hit “Start Render”.Resolve will create a .fcpxml file that you can now import into Final Cut Pro X.To do this in FCPX go to File>Import>XML and select your new .fcpxml file. You should now see your video clips in the timeline.last_img read more

10 months agoFulham striker Mitrovic named Serbia’s Player of the Year

first_imgFulham striker Mitrovic named Serbia’s Player of the Yearby Chris Beattie10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been named Serbia’s Player of the Year.He played a major role in Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League by scoring 12 times in the Championship following a January move from Newcastle.”It’s nice when you are appreciated in the country where you play, but there’s nothing more beautiful than when you are at home, with your people,” Mitrovic told the Serbian FA’s website.Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, ex-Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and former Manchester City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov are among the previous recipients of the award. About the authorChris BeattieShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Russian pay TV operator NTV Plus has added five ne

first_imgRussian pay TV operator NTV Plus has added five new channels to its line-up.Youth channel 2X2 airs edgy series from the US, Europe and Asia, including Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons.Music channel Europe Plus TV is a joint venture between Russia’s European Broadcasting Media Group and thematic channels distributor Red Media. It airs pop and chart music videos and programming from Russian and European artists.Healthy lifestyle channel Live! airs yoga, dance and aerobics classes, while educational channels Education and First Education offer arts and science programmes.last_img read more

Michael Shane Bloomberg has upped its managing edi

first_imgMichael ShaneBloomberg has upped its managing editor of Bloomberg Digital, Michael Shane, to the new role of global head of digital innovation.Shane will remain based in New York but will spend time in each region looking at new opportunities to grow audience, engagement, and revenue – focusing on six months to two-years or more into the future.According to a memo sent to staff by Bloomberg’s global head of digital, Scott Havens, Shane will also continue to partner with and work across many diverse teams – including editorial, product, engineering and sales – where he will help drive a “more aggressive slate of global innovation”.“Michael’s remit will also include business model and commercial innovation and he’ll have his keen eye on disruptive threats and opportunities that our industry poses,” said Havens.Shane joined Bloomberg in 2014, prior to which he worked at Vox Media, where he was part of the team that drove the growth of tech site The Verge.last_img read more

As of the close yesterday the double bottom in go

first_imgAs of the close yesterday, the double bottom in gold was about 15 bucks away—and it’s a given that they’ll be gunning for it—plus more, if what they did to the silver price yesterday is any indication.And as I type this paragraph at 12:45 a.m. EDT gold, which had traded mostly flat for the greater part of the thinly-traded Far East trading day on their Friday, came under pressure shortly before 1 p.m. Hong Kong time—and is down a bit more than 10 bucks.  Silver came under the same price pressure shortly after 9 a.m. Hong Kong time and is down about two bits.  Platinum isn’t doing much.  Palladium tried to rally during the early going in Far East trading, but then got sold down below its New York close by 9 a.m. Hong Kong time—and is actually up a buck or so at the moment.  Volumes in both gold and silver are astonishingly high already.  The dollar index, which was trading flat, began to rally around 12:40 p.m. in Hong Kong—and is now up 40 basis points.Today, at 3:30 p.m. EDT, we get the latest COT Report for positions held at the close of Comex trading on Tuesday.  I’d guess we’ll see slight improvements in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver, but that is entirely inconsequential compared to what the report would show if one could be produced at precisely this moment.It’s obvious that JPMorgan et al are going all out to get as favourably positioned as possible in the Comex futures market, as I expect whatever lows are set going forward will never be seen again once the the inevitable rallies that will follow all this, begin.  The Fed meeting—and the ensuing ‘strength’ in the dollar index—are just the smoke screen that they’re using to do the dirty.And as I hit the ‘send’ button on today’s column at 4:57 a.m. EDT, I see that the HFT boyz and their algorithms are back—showing up in all four precious metals at 7 a.m. GMT in London.  The LBMA must open at 7 a.m. and not 8 a.m GMT this week.  They dropped the gold price another $18 in minutes—and at one point silver was down over 50 cents from its Thursday close.  Both are now off their lows by a bit.  Platinum and palladium also got hit as well, but they’ve rallied back to almost unchanged, at least for the moment.Here’s the silver chart as of 4:55 a.m. EDT.Gold volume has exploded to 95,000 contracts—and silver’s volume is 21,000 contracts.  The dollar index, which had been up over 50 basis points at one time, is now up ‘only’ 42 basis points.With today being month end—and Hallowe’en—it appears that JPMorgan et al have nothing but tricks up their sleeves for all the precious metal enthusiasts today—and I must admit that I’m not expecting great things when I roll out of bed and check the charts later this morning.But this too, shall pass.See you tomorrow. Silver price is now back to where it was in the first quarter of 2010The gold price wasn’t allowed to do much in early Far East trading on their Thursday—and developed a negative bias around 1 p.m. Hong Kong time—and by the time JPMorgan et al were through, with the low tick coming at 11:30 a.m. EDT, they had gold down around fifteen bucks from it’s Thursday close.  It recovered a few dollars off that low by noon, but then chopped sideways for the remainder of New York trading session.The high and low tick were recorded as $1,216.50 and $1,195.50 in the December contract.Gold closed yesterday at $1,198.80 spot, down $12.80 from Thursday’s close.  Net volume was very high at 195,000 contracts.The silver price didn’t do much in Far East trading up until shortly before 2 p.m. Hong Kong time.  At that point the HFT boyz and their algorithms showed up—and the rest, was they say, was history.  The low tick was in at 11:15 a.m. EDT—and from there it bounced off that low a few times before rallying a bit.  After 12:30 p.m., the price chopped sideways in a tight range until the 5:15 p.m. EDT close of electronic trading.The high and low in silver were reported as $17.205 and $16.33 in the December contract, which was an intraday move of a hair over 5 percent.Silver finished the Thursday session at $16.46 spot, down 63 cents from Thursday’s close.  That’s a new low price for silver going back to March of 2010.  Net volume was a whopping 74,000 contracts.Platinum also ran into the same not-for-profit seller shortly before 2 p.m. in Hong Kong.  It’s low came minutes before 12 o’clock noon in New York.  It rallied a few bucks from there before trading flat for the remainder of the Thursday session.  Platinum was closed down 17 bucks.The palladium price got smacked twice yesterday.  The first time was at the New York open at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening—and the second time was at the London p.m. gold fix on Thursday.  Like platinum, JPMorgan et al set the low of the day just minutes before noon EDI—and the price didn’t do much after that.  Palladium was closed down 16 dollars on the day.The dollar index closed at 85.99 late on Wednesday afternoon in New York—and then took three steps up to its 86.41 high tick, which came shortly after London opened on their Thursday.  From there it quietly sold back to the 86.00 mark by 12:20 p.m. EDT.  It gained some back by 2 p.m.—and then traded sideways into the close.  The index finished the Thursday session at 86.18—up 19 basis points on the day.Once again the gold shares got crushed, as the HUI closed lower by 7.44%—the biggest one-day decline that I can remember—and I can remember quite a lot.  The HUI is down almost 12 percent in the last two trading days.The silver equities fared better, but that’s only a relative term in this situation, as Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index got hammered for another 5.65 percent.The CME Daily Delivery Report for Day 1 of the November delivery month showed that 2 gold and 44 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Monday.  In silver, the only short/issuer was Jefferies—and R.J. O’Brien and Canada’s Scotiabank stopped 25 and 18 contracts respectively. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.As I said in yesterday’s missive, barring any surprises, the November delivery month will be a yawner—and it’s certainly lived up to its advanced billing.The CME Preliminary Report for the Thursday trading session showed that November open interest declined by 207 contracts and now sits at only 67 contracts left—minus the two in the previous paragraph.  In silver, the November open interest is now down to 164 contracts, minus the 44 posted for delivery tomorrow that were mentioned above.There was another withdrawal from GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant took out 38,449 troy ounces and, once again, there was no change in SLV.Since there were no withdrawals or additions to SLV during the reporting week, which ended on Wednesday,  there was no report from Joshua Gibbons yesterday.For the second day in a row, there was no sales report from the U.S. Mint.I’ll certainly be interested if they update their sales report for today, which is the last business day of the month.  If they don’t, the sales report for Monday should be quite something, as the mint has now gotten into the practice of withholding sales at the end of the month if it pushes silver eagles sales for the current month, too high.There was no gold received at the Comex-approved depositories on Wednesday, but 96,450.000 troy ounces were shipped out—and that amount is precisely 3,000 kilobars, probably heading to China.  The link to that activity is here.It was a very quiet day in silver, as nothing was received—and only 7,060 troy ounces were shipped out.Nick Laird surprised me with the latest withdrawal from the Shanghai Gold Exchange for the week ending October 24.  It was another very chunky amount, as 59.684 tonnes were reported withdrawn—and here’s Nick’s most excellent chart.Once again I don’t have a lot of stories for you today—but there are several in here that fall into the absolute must read category so I hope you can make time for them.Since the commercials are so collusive and in control of the technical funds’ trading activities, they can do with the technical funds as they see fit. I truly believe that the key to understanding the manipulation is to know that the commercials control everything that the technical funds do; just like a puppeteer controls a puppet. If it were otherwise, we wouldn’t see the clear pattern in managed money behavior in silver (and other COMEX/NYMEX metals) of massive technical fund buying as prices rise and selling on declining prices, always ending in extreme positions at reversal points. With this in mind, the only explanation that seems plausible to me as to why the commercials let the technical funds off the hook the last two occasions of extreme managed money shorting is because the commercials were biding their time and waiting for a more opportune time to put it to the technical funds. Let’s face it, the technical funds have been like the goose that laid golden eggs for the commercials. You don’t cook and eat a goose like that without a thought. What I’m saying is that the commercials know that they can maneuver the technical funds into any extreme position at any time they want and that earlier in the year the commercials let the technical funds off the hook because they knew they could do it again whenever the commercials desired. (That’s my explanation, but if anyone has a different take, please drop me a note). – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 29 October 2014Yesterday’s price action in all four precious metals in general, but gold and silver in particular, should have come as no surprise, as JPMorgan et al attempt to drive as many of the Managed Money traders as possible off the long side and onto the short side in gold.I must admit that I was more than taken aback by the hatchet job that they managed to perform on the silver price, because with the Managed Money already holding a record short position, the selling had to come from somewhere other than the Commercial category—and that only leaves the small traders in the Nonreportable category as the long sellers/short buyers.Of course it’s possible that the Managed Money has gone even shorter than they already have, but without a Commitment of Traders Report to look at, it’s impossible to tell—and none of the price action of the last three trading days, including today, will be in the COT Report that comes out later this afternoon.Here are the 6-month charts for both both gold and silver—and as I mentioned at the top of this column, the silver price is now back to where it was in the first quarter of 2010.last_img read more

There is a lot of pornography on the internet The

first_imgThere is a lot of pornography on the internet. There are a lot of teenagers with smartphones. It seems obvious that teens would watch.But maybe it isn’t.In The New York Times magazine, Maggie Jones writes that parents underestimate how much pornography their kids watch on their phones. And many teens who watch porn before taking sex ed or forming sexual relationships end up with skewed ideas about intimacy, consent and pleasure. Combine this with mainstream depictions of sex and relationships, and, as Jones writes:These images confound many teenagers about the kinds of sex they want or think they should have. In part, that’s because they aren’t always sure what is fake and what is real in porn. Though some told me that porn was fantasy or exaggerated, others said that porn wasn’t real only insofar as it wasn’t typically two lovers having sex on film. Some of those same teenagers assumed the portrayal of how sex and pleasure worked was largely accurate. That seems to be in keeping with a 2016 survey of 1,001 11-to-16-year-olds in Britain. Of the roughly half who had seen pornography, 53 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls said it was “realistic.” And in the recent Indiana University national survey, only one in six boys and one in four girls believed that women in online porn were not actually experiencing pleasure: As one suburban high school senior boy told me recently, “I’ve never seen a girl in porn who doesn’t look like she’s having a good time.”Solutions like removing pornography from the internet or smartphones from teenage life are difficult to the point of being technologically or socially impossible. So some educators are trying something new … porn literacy.For this show, we’d like to hear your stories about how pornography has affected you or your children’s ideas about sex. Call us at (855) 236-1212 and share your story. And don’t worry, you won’t have to tell us your name.GUESTSMaggie Jones, Contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine; @maggiepjonesDr. Emily Rothman, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. Co-author of the course, “The Truth About Pornography: A Pornography-Literacy Curriculum for High School Students Designed to Reduce Sexual and Dating Violence”; @emrothmanAl Vernacchio, Sex educator & speaker. Author of “For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values and Health”; @alvsexedErika Lust, Adult film director and producer; creator of the pornography education website “The Porn Conversation,” designed to be a resource for parents; @erikalustFor more, visit https://the1a.org.© 2018 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio. Copyright 2018 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.last_img read more

The prime minister has become the third senior Con

first_imgThe prime minister has become the third senior Conservative figure in a week to refuse to say in front of television cameras whether his party plans to tax key disability benefits after the general election.David Cameron was asked by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon in last night’s (2 April) leaders’ debate on ITV how his party planned to find the £12 billion-a-year in welfare cuts announced by the chancellor in last month’s budget.Cameron refused to say where those cuts would come from and whether they would include taxing disability benefits.Last week, the BBC reported that it had seen leaked documents that suggested the Conservatives were considering taxing disability benefits as one way to cut the social security bill by £12 billion a year by 2017-18.Among the options, drawn up by civil servants in the Department for Work and Pensions, were an introduction of means-testing for the contributory form of employment and support allowance (saving a possible £1.3 billion a year), taxing disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and attendance allowance (possibly saving £1.5 billion a year), and restricting eligibility to carer’s allowance (saving £1 billion a year).George Osborne, the chancellor, refused to promise that there would no further cuts to disability benefits, when interviewed by Channel 4 News, but would only say that the party would “protect the most vulnerable”.And Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, said on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that the party might not provide any details before the election of how they would find most of the £12 billion in cuts, because “no decisions have been made”.But Duncan Smith added: “What throughout I’ve always said is I didn’t come into this job after years looking at this to just make cheese paring cuts.“What we’ve come in to do is to reform the welfare system, so that we don’t waste money on organisations and groups and things that don’t actually help life change.”So many people tried to sign an open letter on the Disabled People Against Cuts website – calling on Duncan Smith to “come clean about cuts affecting disabled people” – that the site crashed.And Richard Exell, a disabled senior policy officer at the TUC, said in a column that taxing DLA and PIP would be “particularly felt by low-paid disabled workers”.He also said that the government’s own figures suggested that more than 600,000 disabled people “could find it more difficult to keep their jobs or to move into employment if their DLA or PIP became liable for tax, reducing their ability to pay for services that remove barriers to employment”.Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said that it was “really concerned about the BBC’s report that officials have developed options for politicians to make spending cuts that would again unfairly hit disabled people and carers”.A DR UK spokesperson said: “DLA/PIP is not an out-of-work benefit; but it could become one, because if it is taxed it will certainly act as an incentive not to work.“It makes no sense to tax DLA/PIP since the purpose of the benefit is to help cover the extra costs of disability – things like getting around, and getting support – and so create more of a level playing-field between disabled people and other citizens.”The DR UK spokesperson added: “Furthermore, many disabled people already pay most, if not all, of their DLA/PIP over to local authorities if they get social care support – what we might call the ‘care tax’.  In effect, what this proposal would do would be to tax a tax.”A letter, published this week by the Guardian, and signed by leading disabled campaigners and organisations, including members of the WOWcampaign, Black Triangle, Disabled People Against Cuts, Pat’s Petition and People First England, called for the next government to carry out a proper assessment of the “human cost” of the cuts already made by the coalition before even contemplating any further cuts.The letter said: “The news of some leaked documents, explaining further horrendous cuts to carers and sick and disabled people, have left them terrified of what is going to happen.“We would have thought it imperative that any government respecting human rights would check the consequences of the cuts disabled people and carers have already endured, before imposing further draconian cuts.”Of the seven party leaders who took part in the ITV debate, only two were willing to mention the issue of disability poverty.Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens, said that two-thirds of the households affected by the bedroom tax included at least one disabled person, and she pointed to the imminent closure of the Independent Living Fund, whose users were having their support “slashed away”.Bennett said: “We have to be a human, fair, decent society. We have to support the most vulnerable.”Sturgeon also raised the issue of cuts to welfare, when she asked Cameron: “You’re proposing an additional £12 billion in welfare cuts. Where are those cuts going to fall? Who’s going to pay the price of those cuts?”She added: “Let’s explain what that means: one million people on disability benefit across the UK are going to lose £1,100 of their benefit. That’s not the kind of economic plan I want.”Cameron said: “In the last parliament we found £21 billion of savings in welfare because everybody knows that welfare was overblown and needed to be properly dealt with.“What is the alternative to making cuts in welfare? Putting up taxes and working people’s pay. I don’t want to see that happen.”last_img read more

A mental health charity has been heavily criticise

first_imgA mental health charity has been heavily criticised for its decision to announce a partnership with a controversial US insurance giant that has made significant financial gains from government incapacity benefit reforms that it influenced through its lobbying.The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) said the new partnership with Unum would see the two organisations work together to tackle the stigma of mental health in the workplace and encourage employers to safeguard the mental health of their employees.But disabled activists who learned of the partnership this week are horrified that a mental health charity would join forces with an organisation that has made money from the controversial programme to reform incapacity benefits and has bragged about steering government policy on those reforms.They point out that many thousands of people with mental distress have either died or had their health further damaged by the reforms.Mo Stewart, the disabled activist who has led efforts in the UK to raise concerns about Unum’s influence, has written to a trustee of the charity to alert him to the company’s background.She told Disability News Service (DNS) she had “spent the past six years researching the links between this American insurance corporate giant with the British government*, their funding of a research centre to produce policy-based research that was used to justify the introduction of the fatally flawed WCA, and the fact that they were identified as the second worst healthcare insurance company in America”.She said: “It remains cause for serious concern that this American corporate giant continues to infiltrate the agencies concerned with the welfare of our most vulnerable people.”Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of the user-led, grassroots network Shaping Our Lives, also raised concerns about the partnership.He said: “Organisations like MHF (and Mind and Rethink etc) hog the resources, the credibility and still largely sign up to a traditional psychiatric/medical model which isn’t really working and isn’t really helpful.“For this sort of thing to be lurking as well means – well – what friends and allies have we really got, if such liaisons are underpinning organisations claiming to speak for us?”Unum was once described by a senior US law official as an “outlaw company” and it has been repeatedly exposed in the US courts for its refusal to pay out on large numbers of genuine insurance claims by disabled people.In 2011, Unum launched a major marketing campaign to promote the need for its income protection insurance (IPI) policies, just as the coalition began its three-year programme to reassess about 1.5 million existing claimants of old-style incapacity benefit through the work capability assessment (WCA).Disabled activists insist that the hated WCA is simply a public sector version of the tests used by companies like Unum to justify turning down valid IPI claims, and that by making the process of applying for the out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance (ESA) harsh and stressful, it has made IPI look more attractive.Three years ago, DNS revealed the existence of a Unum document from 2005 which bragged that government policy on disability assessment and management was “moving in the same direction” as Unum’s own views, and was “to a large extent being driven by our thinking and that of our close associates”.In 2002 – six years before the Labour government launched the WCA and the new ESA – Unum submitted a detailed memo to the Commons work and pensions committee.In the memo, Unum called for fundamental reform of the welfare system, and said the government “must ensure both that work always pays more than benefits, and more importantly that it is clearly seen to do so”, while laying out proposals with a strong resemblance to the ESA/WCA reforms that would be introduced several years later.The Unum memo suggested retaining a form of IB for those “genuinely incapable of undertaking any work whatsoever”, as Labour did with the ESA support group.It stressed in the memo that the company – then known as UnumProvident – was “confident that its policies and approach to [IPI] claim management and rehabilitation can be replicated more widely for those on IB” and that it would “particularly welcome the opportunity to put them into practice”.Despite this memo, and other evidence, John Letizia, head of public affairs for Unum UK, said in a statement: “Unum does not and never has lobbied on the topic of welfare reform or related matters.”He said: “As with many other businesses, Unum partners with various organisations on issues of mutual interest.“Our research in this case aims to tackle the stigma of mental health in the workplace in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, a fantastic charity with who we wish to help reach and educate businesses on this important issue.”The Mental Health Foundation refused to respond to the particular criticisms of Unum, but a spokesman said: “As a UK mental health charity that seeks to reach the broadest possible audience, we are always looking for ways to amplify our message and to develop new evidence to ensure everyone is able to enjoy good mental health.“That includes entering into partnerships with companies to help increase our reach and our capacity to undertake new research.“These are sometimes difficult judgements to make and we are guided by an assessment of whether the output of a partnership will break new ground and positively benefit people’s lives.“To that end, we took a decision, which we stand by, to work with Unum on an important project which we are confident will uncover fresh insights on how employers can build a more supportive environment for people experiencing mental distress into their everyday business activity.”He added: “On the issue of welfare reform, like many charities we have raised concerns about the disproportionate effect on mental health that some welfare reform measures have had.“We remain concerned, and as an organisation that speaks truth to power, we continue to raise questions and promote debate through our policy, research and campaigning activities.“We will not hesitate to raise any concerns directly with Unum, if needed, and have found them open to constructive dialogue.”*Her book, Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition Of The UK Welfare State, will be published later this year by New Generation Publishinglast_img read more