Seven Romanian child ‘slaves’ found working on English farm

Shocking: Romanian children were pictured apparently working in a field in Worcestershire, helping to pick spring onions before they were picked up by officials

Romanian children, some as young as nine, have been found working as ‘slaves’ in near freezing conditions in the first discovery of its kind.

The seven children were discovered without food or water and dressed in thin summer clothing working among 50 Romanian farm labourers picking spring onions last week.

Some of the children were with their parents but others appeared to have been brought to the field in the back of a box fan on their own, the Gangmaster’s Licensing Authority (GLA) said.

The watchdog raided the field in the Kempsey area of Worcester with police last week after a GLA enforcement officer spotted the children working 24 hours earlier as she carried out investigations at another farm nearby.

The officer, Linda Boyle, said the children, five girls and two boys aged between nine and 15, were being made to work from 7.30am until dusk.

Read moreSeven Romanian child ‘slaves’ found working on English farm

Chicago: Schools Use ‘Risk Model’ To Predict Student Violence

In Chicago, school officials have created a “risk model” to predict which students are likely to be the victims of gun violence.

NBC Nightly News
sat down with Ron Huberman, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, to discuss how local data has been analyzed to determine which teens fit the pattern of students who fall victim to shooting.

Using the new “risk model,” schools are able to single out students that may be at high risk and reach out to them to participate in mentoring programs aimed at reducing their likelihood of getting shot.

NBC Nightly News reports.


Read moreChicago: Schools Use ‘Risk Model’ To Predict Student Violence

Senate Vote Fuels Bitter French Divisions As Largest Strikes Loom

Looks like the majority of the people of France – if we can trust the IFOP poll – have not understood that the raising of the retirement age has only happened because of the bankster bailouts and irresponsible government spending. There are more presents like this from the French government (and all other European governments) to come.

This is only the beginning.

Polls show that most people feel strikes against pension reform are justified, but the Senate vote in favour of the measures should be respected and the oil refinery blockades should end

Juliane Charton believes more people working will mean fewer jobs for young people. Photograph: Observer

A flurry of polls revealed yesterday that France is bitterly divided over continuing industrial action as the country braced itself for a further round of strikes, protests and blockades.

On Friday, the upper house of the French parliament voted in favour of a pension reform raising the retirement age to 62. Union leaders have called for two more general strikes and French schoolchildren have threatened continued protests through the holidays. As the authorities struggled to restore petrol supplies across the country following the blockading of France’s 12 oil refineries, opinion polls gave a confused and contradictory picture of the level of support for more industrial action.

In an IFOP survey, 63% declared the two new days of strikes to be “justified”, while a similar poll by Opinion Way found that, although around half of all French people sympathised with the strikes, 56% believed the parliamentary vote should be respected and the unions should stop industrial action.

The IFOP poll also found that 53% believed the raising of the pension age from 60 to 62 was acceptable, and Opinion Way declared that 59% disapproved of the action against petrol refineries and 63% believed the government was right to smash the blockades.

Read moreSenate Vote Fuels Bitter French Divisions As Largest Strikes Loom

Marseille close to standstill, worst strikes in 15 years cause French chaos

France’s worst period of strikes and civil disobedience for 15 years has brought the city of Marseille almost to a standstill.

People walk past piled up garbage in Marseille, the result of an eleven day strike by rubbish collectors Photo: AFP

The cars abandoned along the stretch of motorway leading to Marseille Airport made it look as if the inhabitants of France’s second city had fled some terrible disaster

Their owners had in fact parked as neatly as they could and dragged their suitcases to the terminal on foot to catch flights to holiday destinations and business meetings – the only way to get past the barricades that were thrown up by protesters on Thursday morning.

Marseille has been crippled by strikers. A fleet of huge ships cruises offshore, unable to dock, their lights reflecting against the still waters of the port at night. From the air it looks like a giant game of Battleships.

In the city centre, streets are still piled high with rubbish after the refuse collectors joined dock workers, train drivers, students and airport staff who have brought the city almost to a standstill.

The worst period of strikes and civil disobedience for 15 years erupted after President Nicolas Sarkozy tried to introduce austerity measures – in particular raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. As the anger rose, so did the piles of rubbish in Marseille’s streets.

“This city looks like a war zone,” said William Paterson, an American-French lawyer who has lived there for 18 years. “How can this be allowed to happen?”

Read moreMarseille close to standstill, worst strikes in 15 years cause French chaos

Nicolas Sarkozy Deploys Elite Unit GIPN Nicknamed ‘Sarko’s Stormtroopers’ To Deal With Rioting Students

* Marseilles, Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports affected
* Passengers forced to carry their own luggage off planes
* 3,000 of the country’s 12,000 petrol stations have run dry
* Disputes costing country £100million a day

Taking aim: Riot police fired flashball guns at student demonstrators in Lyon yesterday. Two thousand had gone on the rampage, burning cars and destroying shop windows

Armed with pump-action shotguns, sidearms and stun grenades the officers look like they belong in a war zone.

In fact they are elite French policemen who were deployed to the historic centre of Lyon yesterday to deal with rioting students.

President Nicolas Sarkozy took the extreme measure in the face of growing protests against an unpopular law aimed at increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Nicknamed ‘Sarko’s Stormtroopers’, the GIPN (National Police Intervention Group) faced down 2,000 youngsters in Place Bellecour where cars had been set on fire and shop windows smashed.

The elite unit, whose motto is Cohesion Brings Strength, was set up in 1972 to deal with terrorists and hostage takers.

‘Deploying them on the streets was a tactical decision deemed necessary because of the acts of violence and vandalism aimed at the community,’ said an interior ministry spokesman.

Flare-up: Railway workers protesting on the streets of Paris yesterday

Batons, riot shields and tear gas are the GIPN’s first resort when dealing with troublemakers, but they were also armed with Heckler and Koch short-barrelled, pump-action riot shotguns designed for ‘defensive action’.

Verney-Carron flashball guns, which can stun protesters, were also used in Lyon yesterday.

The GIPN carry Sig Sauer Pro pistols, while their armed support mobile unit has sniper rifles and even Heckler and Koch machine pistols. The men always wear black body armour and helmets and cover their faces with balaclavas.

France’s increasingly militant trade unions have called for more industrial action today even though parts of the country are bordering on anarchy.

Clinch: Two students kiss in the road in front of riot police trying to control protests in Paris

Bernard Thibault, of the powerful CGT union, said: ‘There is no reason at all to stop. There is no alternative while the government remains intransigent. We need to continue with massive action as soon as next week.

‘We will ask the unions for strong action that will allow people to stop work and go on to the streets.’

The southern city of Lyon has resembled an urban guerrilla war zone this week, according to one local police spokesman.

There have also been clashes in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where students yesterday joined hundreds of thousands of others from around the city for a mass demonstration.

‘We will head for the senate and, if necessary, try to storm it,’ said one radical student leader who asked not to be named.

‘The government has pushed us to the brink and has threatened our entire future.’

Read moreNicolas Sarkozy Deploys Elite Unit GIPN Nicknamed ‘Sarko’s Stormtroopers’ To Deal With Rioting Students

France: Panic-Buying at Petrol Pumps – Industry ‘Losing at Least £100 Million a Day’

French industry ‘losing at least £100 million a day’ (Telegraph):

“If it is not stopped quickly, this disorder which is aimed at paralysing the country could have consequences for jobs by damaging the normal running of economic activity,” the President said in a statement yesterday.

Jean Pelin, director general of France’s chemical industries association, said that the strike had already cost his sector an estimated billion euros in lost turnover, around 100 million euros (£88 million) for every extra strike day.

“This is a severe blow for an industry that was just recovering from the (economic) crisis,” he told the Daily Telegraph. He said a little over half of the losses were due to a strike at Marseille’s Fos-Lavera port, where dozens of petrol tankers are unable to offload.

The president of France’s Assemblée of chambers of commerce and industry, Jean-François Bernardin, said that “tens of thousands” of businesses had been hit by the strike action, due to lack of fuel and transport disruption, while SNCF, the national rail operator said it was losing 20 million euros (£17.5 million) a day.

But workers in several key sectors showed no sign of ending a week-long strike against a plan to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62, which the government has said is essential to reduce France’s public deficit.

• A quarter of petrol stations run dry ahead of half-term break

• All 12 refineries and some fuel depots are blockaded

Passengers walk past riot police during a three-hour blockade of Marseille airport. Photograph: Jean-Paul Pélissier/Reuters

France faced another day of panic at the petrol pumps as refinery and oil depot protests continued despite government attempts to break the blockades over pension reforms. A quarter of the country’s petrol stations have run dry amid fears over how people would get away for the long half-term break that starts tomorrow. North and western France were the worst hit.

All of France’s 12 refineries and around 14 of its 219 fuel depots remained blockaded this morning. However, the environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said the situation was “tending towards improving”.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, yesterday ordered police to break up blockades at depots and a handful were lifted. But in towns including Caen and Ouistreham, as soon as depot blockades were dismantled there was panic-buying at local petrol pumps. Police could move in today to break the 10-day blockade of refineries.

Public transport in many major cities, including Paris, was running almost as normal this morning, although sporadic strike action continued in some parts of the country, including a three-hour blockade of Marseille airport.

Unions will meet this afternoon to decide whether to call another day of national strikes next week to stop the movement petering out over the school holidays. Moderate unions are doubtful about continuing the protests, with the senate due to vote in favour of the contested pensions bill by tomorrow night. But more hardline unions favour calling for another nationwide day of stoppages and street demonstrations, possibly next Tuesday or Thursday.

Read moreFrance: Panic-Buying at Petrol Pumps – Industry ‘Losing at Least £100 Million a Day’

UK: Every email, phone call and website visit to be recorded and stored

Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans.

The plans are expected to involve service providers storing all users details for a set period of time Photo: GETTY IMAGES

It will allow security services and the police to spy on the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet.

Moves to make every communications provider store details for at least a year will be unveiled later this year sparking fresh fears over a return of the surveillance state.

The plans were shelved by the Labour Government last December but the Home Office is now ready to revive them.

It comes despite the Coalition Agreement promised to “end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”.

Any suggestion of a central “super database” has been ruled out but the plans are expected to involve service providers storing all users details for a set period of time.

That will allow the security and police authorities to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public if they argue it is needed to tackle crime or terrorism.

The information will include who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages.

The move was buried in the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which revealed: “We will introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework.

“This programme is required to keep up with changing technology and to maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do to protect the public.

Read moreUK: Every email, phone call and website visit to be recorded and stored

Chinese Pensioners Tracked by GPS

Forgetful grandparents in Shanghai are being tracked by satellite to help their children keep an eye on them.

Shanghai has 3.2 million residents aged 60 or above and by 2020 one-third of its population will be over 60 Photo: EPA

A pilot scheme in China’s most advanced city will give GPS devices to 35 families to track their elderly relatives.

If the seniors move a certain distance away from their home, a text message with their exact position is sent to their families.

The device can also inform relatives if its wearer has been motionless for longer than ten hours.

“Protecting elderly people, especially those with mental health problems, by keeping them from wandering off, is a major challenge. We often get reports that old people are lost, or that they have wandered off,” said Gong Linglin, the deputy head of the office in charge of ageing-related issues, who said the scheme particularly targeted people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.

Read moreChinese Pensioners Tracked by GPS

School Garden Food Grown By Teachers And Students Forbidden In School Lunchrooms, Has To Be Sold Or Given Away

This is outrageous! This is education!

Bombard the government with emails and protest, so that these kids can eat what they have grown for lunch.

Those kids developed a connection with nature and that is priceless. Now let them also have the benefit from it. This is so important. There are already enough zombies out there.

The only good thing about this article is that some schools give the food to the kids to take it home with them.

Most school garden produce is forbidden fruit in CPS lunchrooms

Kayla Howard (left) and Destiny Stewart, 7th-grade students at Victor Herbert Elementary school in Chicago, carry plants toward their school’s new garden. (Antonio Perez/Tribune)

It’s harvest time in Chicago Public School gardens full of chubby tomatoes, heavy squash and fragrant basil.

These urban oases, carefully tended by teachers, students and volunteers, range from several square feet to several acres of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and some schools even grow plants year-round in school greenhouses.

But one thing the more than 40 gardens have in common is that none of the produce ever finds its way into CPS lunchrooms. Instead, because of rules set by the district and its meal provider, the food is sold or given away.

The policies are in place despite the high obesity rate among Illinois children and experts’ concerns that young people are eating few fresh vegetables. Meanwhile, a studies suggest children eat and accept vegetables much more readily when they have helped grow them.

But in a district that touts its use of some local produce in the lunchroom, the most local of all remains forbidden fruit.

Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recently toured a CPS school garden at the Academy for Global Citizenship on the Southwest Side. There, two second-grade girls showed her the eggplant, squash and tomatoes they grew, along with the chickens they kept for eggs.

“Ideally, all of those products would make it from the garden to the lunchroom,” Merrigan said.

But rules created by CPS and its meals supplier, Chartwells-Thompson, prevent that from happening.

“In order to use food in the school food program, it would need to meet specific/certified growing practices,” CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

These requirements would include eliminating all “pesticides and insecticide” applications and using only “commercially prepared organic compost and fertilizers,” said Bob Bloomer, regional vice president of Chartwells-Thompson.

Commercial vendors, though, don’t have to abide by these rules. They can sell the district produce treated with several pesticides and grown in nonorganic fertilizer.

But produce grown by the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences on its 25-acre farm wouldn’t make the grade because, for example, it treats its corn with a single pesticide.

Instead, the high school ends up selling most of the bounty — including pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, greenhouse basil, farm-raised tilapia, fresh eggs and blueberries. Other schools give away the produce or send it home with kids.

Read moreSchool Garden Food Grown By Teachers And Students Forbidden In School Lunchrooms, Has To Be Sold Or Given Away