High Court told that Napier barracks is ‘unsafe and entirely unsuitable’ to house refugees

A former army barracks being used by the Home Office to house asylum seekers is “unsafe and entirely unsuitable”, the High Court has heard. The Napier Barracks in Kent has been used to accommodate hundreds of asylum seekers since last September, despite the Home Office being warned by Public Health England that it was unsuitable. Six refugees previously housed at the barracks, all of whom are said to be “victims of either torture or human trafficking or both”, say conditions are “appalling”, with no mental health support and just one nurse on site. Almost 200 people tested positive for coronavirus during an outbreak at the barracks in January…

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World leaders are using Facebook to manipulate their populations

Facebook has allowed politicians to use a loophole on the platform to “deceive and harass” their citizens, according to a Guardian investigation. Company internal documents and an account from a whistleblower show that world leaders have been able to get away with political manipulation on the site, particularly in poorer, non-western countries such as Afghanistan, Bolivia, and Mongolia. By contrast, Facebook was much quicker to address political manipulation of the platform in richer countries or cases that received substantial media attention, for example in the US and South Korea. Former Facebook employee Sophie Zhang came forward to reveal how Facebook was slow to take action on political manipulation she…

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The fight for justice in Minnesota intensifies after the police kill another Black man

Minnesota police shot and killed a Black man on Sunday, as the trial for the officer accused of killing George Floyd continues in Minneapolis. Brooklyn Center police shot Daunte Wright, 20, after they pulled him over for a traffic violation, according to his mother, Katie Wright. A medical examiner said yesterday the gunshot was the cause of Wright’s death, and ruled it a homicide. Katie Wright said her son called her after being told to get out of the car by police. She heard “scuffling” and then her son’s phone was hung up. She then spoke to Wright’s girlfriend, who told her he had been shot. Wright’s mother…

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Thousands still languish in UK prisons with no release date

In the UK, if you’re found guilty of something that is deemed an imprisonable crime, you’re sentenced to a period of time in prison, right? And when you’ve served your time, you’re released, yes? Well, no. Not if you’re one of thousands of people stuck in prison with no end date. Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences were introduced in 2005. If you were given an IPP sentence, you were sentenced to a minimum time that you would have to spend prison, but not given a date when you would be released. It was up to a parole board to decide on your release date. It has been…

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Loyalist rioting isn’t at all ‘complicated’. It’s just history repeating itself.

On 9 April, when writing in Byline Times about British loyalist rioting in the north of Ireland, Otto English (Andrew Scott) wrote: The roots of the violence that flared up over the past week on the streets of Belfast are like everything else in Northern Irish politics – complicated. And, given English’s approach to that article, you’d have to agree that politics in the north of Ireland is indeed “complicated”. Because before dealing with the “complicated” matter of loyalist rioting, English wrote four paragraphs (195 words) implicating Irish republicans in those riots. Except that English is wrong. The riots have nothing to do with Irish republicans. And politics…

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The Home Office is forcing people back to Napier barracks to face ‘prison like’ conditions

Refugees are being moved back into Napier Barracks despite enduring concerns over conditions and coronavirus. One resident who arrived last Friday said the military site in Kent is “like prison”, despite claims from the Home Office that improvements have been made. More people are expected to arrive on Tuesday, the PA news agency understands. Accommodation for asylum seekers in Napier Barracks in Kent (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration/PA) The barracks in Folkestone has been dogged by allegations of poor conditions and was hit by a major outbreak of Covid-19. Nearly 200 cases of coronavirus were detected, leading to asylum seekers being moved off the site to…

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Children’s Laureate warns of ‘vast inequality’ in primary school libraries

Children’s laureate Cressida Cowell has warned of “vast inequality” in the provision of primary school libraries, and said the gap in educational achievement and opportunity “remains stark, worrying and urgent” as she called for Boris Johnson to ring-fence a yearly investment of £100m. Reading The author, known for books including the How To Train Your Dragon series, has written an open letter signed by former laureates including Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, saying: It is heart-breaking to see just how unevenly this fundamental opportunity is distributed. The letter said the lack of access to libraries means millions of children – particularly those from the poorest communities worst-hit by…

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People urged to protect butterflies this spring – and boost their mental health

People are being urged to take steps to help butterflies and moths this spring as part of a project which experts said could boost the mental health of those who take part. Boost The campaign by charity Butterfly Conservation to prevent further declines in species of butterflies and moths comes after research found last year’s lockdown saw an increase in the amount of people spending time in nature. The University of Cumbria study revealed 83% of respondents said they had taken time to notice butterflies and bees. A short amount of time spent in nature can alleviate stress and make people feel happier and more energised, according to…

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Police officer fired after pepper-spraying Black US army officer

One of two police officers accused of pepper-spraying and pointing their guns at a Black US army officer during a traffic stop has since been fired, authorities in Virginia have said. Two officers from the town of Windsor are accused of drawing their guns, pointing them at US Army second lieutenant Caron Nazario and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution. Town authorities said in a statement they were joining calls from election officials, including governor Ralph Northam, to request an investigation by Virginia State Police into the December 2020 encounter. Caron Nazario was pepper-sprayed during the incident in December (Windsor Police/AP) Nazario was also…

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Muslim health professionals urge community to get vaccinated even whilst observing Ramadan

Mosques are preparing for Ramadan after the holy month had to be observed during coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions last year without the usual community prayer gatherings. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, begins with the first sighting of the new moon. It’s expected on 13 April this year in the UK, although this may change. Vaccinations Many Muslims abstain from all eating and drinking during daylight hours. But Muslim medical professionals have urged those fasting to still get vaccinated against coronavirus. Salman Waqar, from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), spoke to the PA news agency. He said Muslim scholars across the world have said vaccinations do…

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