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Saturday, June 28, 2014

When Lord Daniel Finkelstein makes a case for a crackdown on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance, does anyone hear?

Three days ago, Inside Housing featured this news story:

Further cuts to the poor are inevitable, says Tory peer

Lord Daniel Finkelstein, a Conservative peer and friend of George Osborne, said today that further cuts to the poor are inevitable.
In a debate at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester on whether the state has abandoned the poor, Lord Finkelstein said: ‘It’s a trick to believe it’s possible to do something about this problem of over borrowing without cutting people’s income. Any government that is elected will have to cut expenditure and that will undoubtedly fall on poor people.’

He said the solution was: ‘To refuse in future to make promises to people that we then can’t redeem.’

In response, I tweeted: Predictably, no mention by Lord Daniel Finkelstein of the need to crack down on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance. (

Much to my surprise, two days later Lord Finkelstein  responded: I only had 15 mins, but of course I am in favour of that. (

After favoring and re-tweeting his response, I  countered with  @Dannythefink I appreciate that clarification, but a tweet is akin to a tree falling in the forest that nobody hears. Would you be willing to contact "Inside Housing" ( and inform them that you agree with me on the need to crack down on corporate and personal tax evasion and avoidance? (

Silence from Lord Finkelstein. A tree has fallen in the forest that no one has heard.

Friday, June 27, 2014

[UK] Centre for Culture & Disability Studies: Seminar Reminder

Crip Displacements: Voices of Disability, Neoliberalism, and Resistance

Prof. Robert McRuer

Date: Tuesday 15 July, 2014
Time: 2.15pm–3.45pm
Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK

Theorists of neoliberalism, from David Harvey to Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, have placed dispossession and displacement at the center of their analyses of the workings of contemporary global capitalism.  Disability, however, has not figured centrally into these analyses. Professor Robert McRuer’s seminar attends to crip echoes generated by dispossession, displacement, and a global austerity politics.  Centering on British-Mexican relations during a moment of austerity in the UK and gentrification in Mexico, “Crip Displacements” identifies both the voices of disability that are recognized by and made useful for neoliberalism as well as those shut down or displaced by this dominant economic and cultural system.  Professor McRuer particularly focuses on two events from 2013: a British embassy good will event touting access in Mexico City and an installation of photographs by Livia Radawanski, from the same period.  Radwanski’s photos of the redevelopment of a Mexico City neighborhood (and the displacement of poor people living in the neighborhood) are examined in order to attend to the ways in which disability might productively haunt theories of neoliberal dispossession. 

Robert McRuer is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English at George Washington University.  He is the author of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (2006) and editor, with Anna Mollow, of Sex and Disability (2012). He is also a JLCDS editorial board member, contributor, book reviewer, and guest editor.

This seminar is part of the CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other dates include:

8 Oct 2014, Manifest Pleasures: Litany, Utopia, and Literary Autism, Julia Miele Rodas.

12 Nov 2014, Discourses, Decisions, Designs: An international comparative analysis of “special” educational policy making, Jessica Chong.

17 Dec 2014, It’s Not Gibberish: ‘Disabled’ Voices in Literature for Young People, ChloĆ« Hughes.

14 Jan 2015, It Must Be Simple: The Supreme Fiction at the Core of the Backlash to Access Debate, David Feeney.

11 Feb 2015, Authorship and the voice of disability in dance, Mathilde Pavis and Kate Marsh.

11 Mar 2015, Which Theory of Democracy for an Inclusive Society? A Pragmaticist Approach, David Doat.

13 May 2015, The Voice of the Disability Activist Movement in the US around the ADA:  A Hidden Minority or a Hidden Army, Lennard J. Davis.

17 Jun 2015, ‘Working together for positive outcomes’: The Appropriation of Voice and Participation in SEN policy, Claire Penketh.

For further information please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Associate Professor, Education, Culture, and Disability Studies

Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Editor in Chief, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Joint Editor, Literary Disability Studies

Telephone: 0151 291 3346
Office: HCA 001
Postal address: Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK, L16 9JD.

Recent Books:
Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sigmund Freud and David Freud: How they treated people with cerebral palsy

Sigmund Freud was an early researcher in the field of cerebral palsy; his great grandson, David Freud, is the architect of the bedroom tax, a much hated government policy which is hurting Wayne Blackburn, who has cerebral palsy.



Sigmund Freud (1865 – 1939)

First to Group a Wide Range of Motor Impairments

Dr. Sigmund Freud, a neurologist, was first to state that cerebral palsy might be caused by abnormal development before birth. Prior to that, orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Little had postulated that cerebral palsy was acquired at birth due to difficult labor. Freud disagreed, stating that difficult birth is “merely a symptom of deeper effects that influence the development of the fetus.” At the time, this conclusion was virtually ignored. It wasn’t until decades later that researchers began to support Freud’s theories.
Freud on the Cause of Cerebral Palsy
Freud disagreed with Little’s findings and fueled a debate that is still argued in courtrooms and researched within the medical community today. Freud noticed that many children who experienced birth asphyxia went on to develop normally with no indication of cerebral palsy. Little believed that birth asphyxia caused cerebral palsy.
Little’s background was orthopedic surgery, and Freud believed that this limited both the type of patients that Little saw and the way Little viewed their condition. Also, Freud was studying the brain and its pathways, which allowed him to see a connection between cerebral palsy and other conditions such as intellectual impairment and seizures. All this led Freud to state that these conditions were likely caused by problems occurring very early in the development of the brain and central nervous system, certainly before birth.
Despite this observation, researchers and doctors continued to follow Little’s conclusions. Freud wasn’t proven correct until almost a century later when research indicated only a small percentage of cerebral palsy cases, approximately 10 percent, were caused by birth asphyxia.
Freud First to Unite Motor Impairments Under One Term, ‘Infantile Cerebral Palsy’
Although the term ‘cerebral palsy’ was not used in the mid-1800s, Freud was first to unite the wide range of infantile motor impairments caused by abnormal brain development under one term: infantile cerebral palsy. This grouping is still relevant today, although Freud intended it as temporary classification; one that would be proven outdated by future research. Today, doctors and researchers continue working toward better methods for classifying cerebral palsy.
The Peculiar Birth of Sigmund Freud
Ironically, Freud was protected from asphyxia at birth. He was born in a Caul, which means he was born inside an intact amniotic sac. This happens most often in preterm birth, and can allow a baby to develop as if they were still inside the womb, not needing to breathe, protected from infection, and taking nourishment from amniotic fluids. According to the folklore of Freud’s day, birth in a Caul was an omen of future success. He was destined to be a great man.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Appeal from James Bloodworth of Left Foot Forward

Dear Friend,
Last month we hit our highest number of readers ever. Nearly 100,000 people read our piece on why women shouldn’t vote for UKIP published the day before the election. We’re expanding our readership and influence - but we could be doing even more.
We need funds to gear up for the run-up to the General Election so we can keep pushing against UKIP and the Tories. Advertising doesn’t pay very much and to remain independent and credible we need generous readers to step up. Want a fun way to help Left Foot Forward now?
Buy a ticket to our fundraising dinner next month - it’s only £45 and you get a meal, a chance to socialise with like-minded people and support Left Foot Forward during this critical time.
Gloria De Piero MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, will be joining us at the dinner which will take place on Tuesday, 15 July at 7 PM at Mumbai Square in London.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Help Stop the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Dave, a 38 Degrees member from Minehead in Somerset says “it’s absolutely essential that we campaign on this”. And tens of thousands of other 38 Degrees members agree - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is disastrous and together we have to do all that we can to stop it going through as it is. [1]

TTIP is a hugely influential trade deal between the US and the EU. 38 Degrees members recently voted to prioritise stopping the part of the deal which lets businesses sue governments that introduce new laws that could damage their profits. [2] This is already happening in other countries. Right now the Australian government is being sued by a tobacco company after introducing laws banning branding on cigarette packets. [3]

Sounds sinister right? It really is. And, unsurprisingly, negotiations over TTIP are shrouded in secrecy. The deal’s being thrashed out right now by politicians and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.

So if we’re going to beat this thing together, first thing’s first - we need to bring TTIP into the open. Let’s get TTIP out of secret negotiations, and into public conversation. We need to cause a massive public outcry to stop this trade deal from sliding under the radar.

Let’s create hard-hitting ads and splash them all over the country. From full page spreads in newspapers, to bus stops and billboards. The 38 Degrees staff team will work with an agency to come up with a brilliant design, and we’ll make sure it’s seen everywhere.

Together we can stop global corporations running our government and ruining our planet. Can you chip in a few pounds now to help fund a massive, people-powered ad campaign across the country?

TTIP would put the profits of big business ahead of everything else. It would weaken the rules which protect consumers, our environment, our welfare and health services, to much weaker levels seen in the USA. And it would stop future governments from rolling back privatisation of our public services, such as the NHS, energy companies, or the Royal Mail. [4]

There are a lot of things 38 Degrees members could do to stop this. A no-holds-barred nationwide ad campaign will shine a spotlight on these dangerous proposals. And it’ll be a first step towards making sure TTIP becomes too toxic for any of our MPs or MEPs to back.

We know how much of a stir massive ad campaigns like this can cause in Westminster. During the gagging law campaign, after a key vote in the House of Lords, one peer cited newspaper ads funded by 38 Degrees members as an important reason why he voted the right way. [5]

If nobody is talking about the issue, then it’s easy for the government to go ahead and agree to this dangerous deal. Will you chip in now so these ads can be designed, printed and put up across the country as soon as possible?

Thanks so much for being involved,

Megan, Bryony, Blanche & the 38 Degrees team

PS: TTIP is a pretty complicated issue. But there are lots of helpful resources out there to understand it more clearly.

This report by John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, is good place to start. It looks at the many problems with TTIP, and deals that allow businesses to sue governments, in a clear, but thorough way.

[1] 38 Degrees: TTIP- Poll results:
[2] ACTA: Investor-to-state dispute settlement is a rigged system:
Corporate Europe: Civil society groups say no to investor-state disput settlement in EU-US trade deal:
[3] BBC: Philip Morris sues Australia over cigarette packaging:
[4] John Hilary: The transatlantic trade and investment partnership: A charter for deregulation:
[5] Hansard: Transcript of a debate on the gagging law in the house of lords. Lord Walton of Detchant references our newspaper advert in the link below:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill had its first parliamentary reading last week. It allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill people with just six months to live who wish to end their lives. Here, a leading campaigner warns of the dangers to all those with special needs.

Petition | Follow through on your declared support for the idea that Assisted Dying should not be legalised. |

It is my belief that debt-ridden governments have increasingly come to regard sick and disabled people as financial burdens on the state—resulting in euthanasia being proposed legislatively as a "final solution" to stem the rising tide of disability benefit claims.

When government ministers opine that the benefits bill is unsustainable, what they're implicitly stating is that government can no longer afford to look after their most vulnerable citizens

—Samuel Miller, in a June 15, 2013 letter to McGill University bioethicist, Margaret Somerville

I hope that you are not correct in your assessment of what is happening but I fear that you might be.

Even though the situation for vulnerable people and for important values looks grim I believe that ethics will eventually prevail. We must remain hopeful and not give up the good fight. 

—Margaret Somerville 


Friday, June 6, 2014

EU published its first report on the implementation of the UN Convention

Brussels, 6 June 2014 | On 5 June 2014, the European Union published its first report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The EU ratified the Convention in 2010 making it the first international human rights treaty ever ratified by a regional organisation like the European Union. The EU has the obligation to prepare and submit a report on the actions it took to give effect to the Convention. Considering this as a historic moment for the rights of persons with disabilities, EDF welcomes the publication of the EU report as an evolving and dynamic process to which it would like to contribute by sharing the clear and structured view of 80 million persons with disabilities.

The EU report offers a complete description and information on the actions taken by the European Commission. However, it misses the opportunity to involve the Council and the European Parliament, as well as the Commission at its highest political levels. The report also fails to include civil society, first and foremost organisations of persons with disabilities, as well as to trigger a substantial debate on the role of the EU in implementing the rights of persons with disabilities.


Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without ustel +32 2 282 46 04 | fax +32 2 282 46 09 -

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Web Accessibility: No More Time To Waste! If Not Now, when?

Brussels, 5 June 2014 | This Friday 6 of June the Transport, Telecommunication and Energy Council will meet and discuss the state of play of the Web Directive. Unfortunately, during the last two presidencies of the EU, there has been no further progress on the Proposal for a Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites in Council. EDF wants to see the forthcoming Telecommunications Council conclusions include a clear political commitment to ensure rapid progress on this Directive during the forthcoming Italian Presidency. This would make a real difference to 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

The Parliament’s report on the proposal for a Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites introduced extremely valuable changes to the Commission’s proposal. These changes would benefit the majority of citizens across the EU and would boost the web-developing European marketplace, giving a perfect example of how a piece of legislation can contribute to inclusive growth in the digital field.

EDF regrets that the Greek Presidency failed to take this very important legislation further, and hopes that the forthcoming Italian presidency will treat the web directive as a priority.


Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without ustel +32 2 282 46 04 | fax +32 2 282 46 09 -

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sam, things are dire

Sam, things are dire. I lost my appeal on 29 March, they upheld the decision of ATOS and the DWP. I am 'Fit for Work' and am now waiting for my Benefits to be stopped. I am now attending the district mental health team I am so stressed. I am to have a Return to Work interview in a few weeks and expect to return to the system of 40-50 job applications every week. As I am not able to retire until 2024 I see the next few years as being bleak indeed. I can only hope that I die soon.