Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Children are being tortured in the UK. So why is no-one being prosecuted?

13 Oct

Pride's Purge

(not satire)

Around 20,000 children are estimated to be at serious risk of physical torture in the UK – some as young as 4 years old.

The kids are often held down by several adults and have bits of their tiny bodies cut off without any anaesthetic. Some of them will even die from the trauma.

Obviously this torture is illegal – however there has not been even one prosecution of the perpetrators in the UK. Not one.

How can that be?

The sad fact is that if I had included in the headline the letters FGM – Female Genital Mutilation – I suspect a lot of people reading this post now wouldn’t have bothered.

Why is this horrific crime so easy to ignore? Is it because the children in question are girls? Often from ethnic minorities? Or are some people worried about upsetting ‘cultural sensitivities’?

Well, this…

View original post 50 more words

An open email to Ed Balls MP

8 Jun

Dear Ed,
I hope you had a relaxing time at the grove, mixing with the puppet masters. Does this mean that it will be you & George facing each other across the dispatch box? I’m sure you were seen & spoken too by the right people. It is after all it is Mr Rockafella et al who decide who gets to walk through the for of Number 10 (Tony, Gordon, etc) I hope that your attendance this weekend is not perceived as a conflict of interest…… “7.7 Members of parliament must scrupulously avoid any danger of actual or PERCIEVED conflict of interest between their position & private financial interests”
Anyway I’m sure that the secret deals you have done Friday & Saturday will ensure your sorted financially for life. Enjoy whilst you can.

Alan Taylor-Shearer

About.me/alantshearer
Twitter: @alantshearer

Sent from my iPad

Sacked & Discriminated

31 Jul

Firstly let me state that I will not, at this time, be using the individuals real name. Lets refer to her as Helen. It also has to be stated that I am not in possession of all the facts as I was not present at the time when the following events took place.
On the 30th July 2012 I was waiting to see a doctor for myself when I was checking tweets and saw a tweet from Helen stating that she had been sacked today! Now if thats not shocking enough it seems that she was sacked in part because of her ill health. It seems that she ‘failed’ her annual assessment from her manager. This manager had included statements like ‘Walks around with her head down” she has in fact had some mental health issues for a while now but she had continued to work in the office of a large UK corporation and her work level had been up to standard. She had suffered some bullying previously along with a certain amount of work place intimidation in the same corporation. With all that in mind she had faced the assessment meeting with some trepidation and her manager had totally mismanaged the meeting to the extent that he had induced a panic attack in Helen. He dealt with this panic attack not by calling for medical assistance but by calling for the Police. Who attended the office and in full view of Helen’s colleages taken action against her. Helen had made a statement that she would have traded her mental ill health for the rest of her life in a wheel chair. The manager was “Unmoved” and promptly fired her, with immediate effect. The distress this caused in Helen was such that the panic attack was induced.
To my mind the distress, discrimination, and outright cruelty of this manager towards Helen is unforgivable. In a corporation of the size that Helen worked in should be, in 2012, a more enlightened place. One hoped that Helen would have been treated with respect and offered the necessary care required for a person as ill as Helen is. She is now seeking help from her union and may be taking further action against the corporation and the manager himself. I for one hope that she does and that she receives recompense and more importantly treatment for her illness. That’s what it is after all, Helen is ill, sick, unwell. She’s not a slacker, she’s not being lazy, she is ill.
Now I speak as one who also went through a similar kind of situation in 2010. Up until 2006 I was a forward looking, hard working, dependable RAF Police officer who was looking at a bright future. In 2006 I was involved in an incident in the middle east which has had a massive impact on my life ever since to this day. I was diagnosed with PTSD and medically discharged from the RAF due to “Severe Anxiety & depression Disorder” a title which has followed me ever since. I am currently receiving help from the ‘Combat Stress’ charity which is where I was when I was reading the tweets from Helen.
Helen is now in a very low depressed place brought on by the actions and attitude of her manager and the corporation where she had previously worked. Now this is fresh and the scars are deep for Helen, I hope that she will heal enough to be able to talk more about the events that lead up to her dismissal in more detail. So with that in mind I am going to leave the conclusion for now so that this developing story can unfold at Helen’s pace. Please keep her in your thoughts and lets hope that the illness that brought her to this dark place can be treated.

The latest on the illegal imprisonment of Roger Hayes

4 Jul

——– UK COLUMN LIVE – 12 NOON TODAY
————————————–

Join the UK Column for a special 30 minute edition of the UK Column Live at
12 noon today UK time, where Louise Collins and Brian Gerrish will discuss
the issues behind Roger Hayes’ withholding of council tax.

Roger’s actions were not a refusal to pay.

They were not a “tax protest”.

They were, and always were, about a whole range of /constitutional/ issues.

For the BCG, it is the rule of law which is paramount, and that rule of law
has been systematically undermined at an every increasing rate in recent
years.

The show will be streamed live on video at ukcolumn.org, and as audio only at
tnsradio.ning.com.

Accreditation, do I or don’t I?

12 Jun

You find me sat on a train heading back to kings Lynn from London a very angry & frustrated man. Why? Well I received this email after filling in a lengthy and detailed application for accreditation to go to team GB house and attend press conferences with the athletes. They wanted driving licence details, photographs for id cards all that kind of personal data. I sent that off and after a while I receive this email. I am reproducing it in full apart from the logos and images. I wouldn’t want to infringe any copy writes!!

Having trouble reading this email? View it on your browser.

TEAM GB MEDIA OPERATIONAL BRIEFING

When:

Tuesday 12th June
12:30 Arrival for 1.15pm start
12:30 Coffee and teas
12.30 Pickup of Olympic Accreditation for Written and Photographic Press

Where:

Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London
WC1H 0AL

Agenda

1:15pm

Director of Communciations Darryl Seibel Introduction and Welcome by Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt

1.25-4:30pm

• Team GB Communications Team
• Media Availability of Team GB
• Team GB House Media Operations
• Managing Victory
• General Media Operations in Olympic Environment:
• MPC Office / Media Ticketing
• News Service Team
• Website Overview
• Team GB Preparation Camp Media Operations and Athlete Availability
• LOCOG Press Operations Update (written) & Q+A
• LOCOG Press Operations Update (photography) & Q+A

4:30-5pm

ENR (Olympic accredited non-rightsholding broadcasters) Specific Briefing (ENRs should also attend the above briefing)

• News Access Rules
• Ticketing – Non-access
• Team GB House Operating hours

RSVP

Please RSVP by 12:00pm on Friday 8th June by e-mail to richard.dorman@teamgb.com

© British Olympic Association. The British Olympic Association is a company registered in England and Wales with its registered office at 60 Charlotte Street London W1T 2NU. Registered number is 01576093.
If you would like to stop receiving messages from the British Olympic Association please click here to unsubscribe

So like a good boy I RSVP to richard.dorman@teamgb.com well before the deadline with this email,

Dear Richard,
Please accept this email as my positive RSVP that I will be attending the press briefing on 12 June 2012.

Alan Taylor-Shearer

This email is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure. Dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail or the information herein by anyone other than the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail by mistake, please delete it from your system immediately and notify the sender.

I hear nothing, no reply not even an automated “we have received your email” thing. So I take it from the top email that I’m expected to attend and pick up my accreditation pack. So I travel on a train, on my own something I hate doing and find difficult at the best of times never mind when I’m stressed out to buggery like I am now.

Anyway I get to the venue, the IOE (Institute of education) at Russell square in central London. Only to be told that I DON’T have olympic accreditation but that I should sit through the whole 4 hours of being talked at by olympic officials so that I understand how things are going to work, because O my goodness I will be put on the ‘non accredited’ list so that they can send me email alerts about press conference ‘opportunities’ where a lucky 70 will be chosen to attend as team GB house has limited facilities. Well sorry no if I don’t have accreditation then which agencies are going to accept non accredited and therefore unofficial images and interviews?? No one I expect so I’m not wasting my time and money trecking down there with almost no hope of gaining anything. So sorry team BODGE UP no you can stuff it. I’ve got better things to point my lens at. Thing is it wasn’t just me! No there were loads of freelances being told the same thing! I was the only one who made a fuss, pointed out the error to the team BODGE UP people and stomped off so very very angry. I was going to copy my angry tweets into this post but I ditched that version and also deleted a lot of swearing and very bad words. I’m a bit calmer now after writing this but if by some miracle a member of the TEAM BODGE UP does read this, then I’m not sure if this is a personal attack on you but it’s defo an attack on the way you are treating freelances and independent media people, sorry we cant all be from the BBC and AP. this could have been a fantastic opportunity for you to really help a veteran like me, yes that’s right I’m doing this photography and press lark because I was medically discharged from the RAF because my brain was injured by the things I saw & had to do in the middle east. I served for 11 years taking all the crap and shit that was thrown at me by enemies of this country and the appalling attitude of some members of our own armed forces. You could have been a real step forward in my progress back to health. But no, you have made what seems to be an arbitrary decision that you will let me know via email alert that you might choose me to come and attend a press conference. Well no, it’s accreditation to do the job properly or it’s nothing and on this case you have forced my hand to make the decision that it’s nothing. Your loss I say.

That’s it for now, but to all the other freelances out there that got the same treatment as I did today, write about it, tell everyone how you have been treated, it’s not right. You deserve better than this.

Peace

Alan

A rather worrying email from my union the NUJ

30 May

It was with a raised eyebrow that I read and then digested the following email from the NUJ (National Union of Journalists.  Its very worrying when you receive this kind of thing from any organisation but from one like the NUJ its very concerning indeed.  Here is the email in full:

 

“Message to all NUJ Members:

 

The NUJ – A Fighting Future

 

The NUJ’s ruling body, the National Executive Council, met over the weekend and endorsed an NUJ Recovery Plan to tackle the serious financial problems facing the union.

 

After detailed discussions and debate the overwhelming majority of NEC members voted to endorse the Recovery Plan, which was put together following a meeting of the union’s Finance Committee last month where a lengthy discussion took place over the pressing issues facing the NUJ, and a series of decisions reached.

 

The challenging industrial climate facing our members remains hugely difficult. Inevitably this has impacted upon the union’s financial situation. The unprecedented assault on jobs, particularly in the local and regional press, has led to many members leaving the industry altogether or moving to other sectors and paying lower subscription rates.

 

Despite significant and sustained recruitment we have seen membership drop sharply, down 18 per cent in the past five years, and whilst the union has budgeted for 2 per cent declines in subscription income over the past 3 years, this has dipped to 5 per cent in the last 6months. Despite a number of measures already taken in recent years and months the pressures on our budgets have continued, seeing the depletion of our assets and reserves.

 

Doing nothing is not an option. If no action is taken the union would face insolvency and the consequential prospect of a merger as soon as later this year. As general secretary and president of the NUJ we believe our independence is vital to the future sustainability of the union. The NEC’s decision to put in place a Recovery Plan now enables us to take action to prevent further financial decline and to turn the problems around.

 

At one level the solution is straightforward – we need to ensure the NUJ is living within its means, that spending is not outstripping income, and that we are in a position to rebuild reserves to ensure our union is in fighting shape and able to stand up and defend journalists and journalism now and in the future. This is not about managing decline – we have to plan our finances realistically and then put resources and effort into building, growing and organising our union.

 

But that means taking difficult decisions. Included in the Recovery Plan is a commitment to ensuring that staffing costs account for no more than 45 per cent of members’ subscription income. We have to say clearly that this will mean redundancies, and a consultation process over staff redundancies has been running over the past month and will continue as all options are considered and negotiated with the three staff unions within the NUJ. This will be a fair and transparent process with full involvement of all staff. A consultation with staff to ensure that the NUJ pension schemes are sustainable will also begin.

 

We will also introduce different ways of carrying out some areas of work, such as the delivery of union-funded professional training courses in England and Wales. However, as part of the plan a commitment has been made to retaining, and indeed improving, the range of current training we make available for members and ensuring that this is available in all nations and regions of the NUJ. The approach of this entire plan is to protect and retain the core industrial support we offer members.

 

The commitment was also made to rebuilding the NUJ’s reserves with a target of £2.5million over the next decade – a vital part of guaranteeing us a strong and sustainable future.

 

Some measures will come to you all as members to decide upon directly, through decisions at the Delegate Meeting in Newcastle in October. These will include a subscription increase of 5 per cent, which equates to rises of between 15 to 26 pence per week. This is a difficult “ask” in the current economic climate and we do it reluctantly but, in the spirit of this plan, needing everyone – staff, members and the union’s leadership – to work together to tackle the problems facing the NUJ.

 

There will also be a motion from the NEC in Newcastle calling for the Delegate Meetings to be held every 2 years, rather than the current “up to 18 month” cycle. The DM would be followed in the next year by either a national meeting, or series of regional meetings, to bring NUJ reps and activists together to tackle topical key industrial issues. The daily Freelance Loss of Earnings payment to freelance activists will also reduce from £50 to £35.

 

Despite the problems we face there is huge cause for optimism. There are major areas of growth, and opportunities for us to recruit and organise all those journalists and media workers who have yet been persuaded – or even asked – to join the NUJ. Building and organising our union is a key commitment within the Recovery plan with the establishment of a Recruitment and Organising Task Force to get out there and make this happen on the ground.

 

Every member can help with this. Please speak to your colleagues and friends about joining the NUJ and being part of a campaigning, active trade union which delivers for members in workplaces up and down the UK and Ireland. Remember all the successes your union has achieved. The NUJ has secured payouts and deals for its members worth over £2million in the past year alone, with expert legal advice and assistance. We act for members daily on issues ranging from equal pay, disability discrimination and bullying to unfair dismissal, copyright theft and unpaid fees.

 

As the voice for journalism as well as journalists, we punch above our weight on issues that matter to you – such as defending the fundamental principle of protection of sources against the increasing use of production orders, protecting pensions, pushing for media plurality and demanding a public interest test when our newspapers are bought and sold, and campaigning for quality journalism.

 

We’re campaigning hard on journalistic ethics, and as a core participant at the Leveson Inquiry we have been fighting to ensure the voice of working journalists is squarely put at the heart of a public inquiry that could have a major impact on our industry.

 

We are also campaigning for an end to press regulation on the bosses’ terms and a future regulatory system that includes journalists.

 

We are calling for the introduction of a conscience clause in journalists’ contracts so that when journalists stand up and refuse to be forced to breach their Code of Conduct they have protection against being dismissed.

 

We want recognition and genuine collective bargaining rights in those workplaces where journalists are denied that right from anti-trade union media owners.

 

These are difficult times for journalists in the industry and for the NUJ. This Recovery Plan is a practical package of measures to tackle the problems we face head on, with the collective commitment to ensuring our union not only survives the coming months but continues to flourish for generations to come.

 

We have been here before, and the way out is by acting together in the collective interests of the union we are all passionate about.

 

Please do all you can to be part of this Recovery Plan – and if you have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions please get in touch, michelles@nuj.org.uk. In Solidarity,

 

Michelle Stanistreet

NUJ General Secretary

 

Donnacha Delong

NUJ President”

So I would hope that writers, photographers & others would get behind this great union to protect the rights of photographers like me to do what we love.

If you can please get involved.

Crossing the thin blue line

4 May

20120504-233037.jpg

Crossing the lines.
A transition from the lines of the police, to the ranks of the british press.

Through the 1990’s I was a Police constable in the South Yorkshire Police Force. As well as the day to day community policing I was called upon to take my place in the thin blue line at a number of public order incidents including demonstrations. This inevitably put me in the front line and sometimes in contact with the press. Now I think its safe to say that at the time my attitude toward photographers and reporters was one of them being a necessary evil and to be avoided or removed from the scene when possible. I was subject to orders from above to prevent any of the press getting close to a scene and of course under no circumstances was I to speak to the press as this may have been construed as a statement and taken as policy so I was effectively gagged by my bosses. I often felt that the way to deal with these annoyances was to be intimidating and whilst never physically aggressive I could be very threatening in my manner and use of language. This was probably having a worse effect than physical violence in many ways. In 1999 I made a career move and joined the RAF as a police officer spending the next 11 years serving in the gulf and around the world. Carrying out just the same duties as I had as a civilian police officer but this time with the military discipline required and very often carrying and using a fire arm. Again I was brought into contact with the press as they transited in and out of war zones and whilst they did their job in theatre. Once again I was given to believe that these reporters were an annoying distraction and I was very dismissive of them and often obstructive.

Before going any further I think its right to point out that my opinions reflect the work we as photographers and journalists do in the legitimate public arena.

So you have got to be reading this and asking how on earth this guy ended up writing a piece for “I’m a photographer not a terrorist”? Well without going into to much detail I was medically discharged from the RAF and as part of that process I came to see that my attitudes and thinking and personal beliefs were contrary to the established thinking of the services and that I needed to regain my own views and opinions which had been repressed and shut away for almost 20 years. Thanks to a number of people and publications giving me my chance to get a break and get published I was to take a big step down the road to recovery by joining the NUJ and finding freedom to express myself.

20120504-234023.jpg

I recently discovered how threatening it must have been to face me at an accident on the streets of Lincoln UK when I was faced with a police officer at the scene of an incident I had intended to cover. I say intended as it became very clear very quickly that I was not going to get the pictures I needed to cover the story of a road accident. I had arrived after the people involved had been transported to hospital and the forensic examination was underway whilst the vehicle’s involved where still in situ. I approached the scene and snapped a couple of wide establishing shots then moved closer, remaining on the pavement which was not closed or restricted and along with other members of the public looked on at the scene. A couple of people had, of course taken out their camera phones and were snapping away. The very moment I raised my Nikon Pro camera a PC indicated to his Sgt and I was approached by the Sgt. I of course identified myself as a member of the press and a conversation began which basically involved the Sgt telling me that should any of these pictures be published ANYWHERE on the net or in a paper that I would be visited and I would be made to explain to the grieving family why distressing pictures had been published. So I was made to feel emotionally blackmailed and whilst there was no attempt to confiscate my camera or images this course of action was far more effective for the officer than any kind of physical assault. When I reviewed this incident whilst writing this I can recognise a lot of the actions I had taken in my previous life and having now had a sample of my own medicine I can tell you its horrid. I had gone into my journalistic photography with a thought that my previous police and military experience would be an advantage when covering stories. I have soon come to realise that how I did my previous job and how I was expected to do that job goes totally against the rights and freedoms that we have come to expect in our society. I have gone on to cover stories and I was even photographing the recent student protest in parliament square from within the police lines and photographing into the student protestors from the view of the police. My experience of police tactics was invaluable for staying safe in that situation but I still had the feeling that I was in the way, a distraction & an annoyance.

20120504-234341.jpg

So I write as a photographer who has been on the thin blue line but couldn’t continue with the restrictions, the suppressing of views and opinions, the intimidating of the press and the continued aggression in public spaces. I write as a journalist who has a view, who has an opinion, who see’s injustice and intimidation on our streets and has felt its touch whilst out in the public arena. I fully support what this group of professional photographers and news gathers stand for and are striving to achieve.