Lacuna goes live at www.lacuna.org.uk

After months of hard work on the part of the web design, editorial, and visual content team (not forgetting our brilliant contributors), LACUNA- A Writing Wrongs Project is live! Head over to http://www.lacuna.org.uk and let us know what you think of the magazine! We hope you love it as much as we do. Our first edition, “On Protest” features original writing and creative content from Jon Snow, Andrew Williams, Rebecca Omonira, Shashank Joshi, Lesley McIntyre and more.

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Why would ordinary people take to Twitter to advocate the firebombing of total strangers?

Residents angry at their portrayal by Channel 4 (published in The Independent)

Residents angry at their portrayal by Channel 4 (published in The Independent)

Answer- in response to the screening of a Channel 4 documentary purporting to follow the lives of people who receive their primary income from the welfare state. Controversial documentary “Benefits Street” , which was shown last night at 9pm, was presented as an attempt to:

reveal the reality of life on benefits, as the residents of one of Britain’s most benefit-dependent streets invite cameras into their tight-knit community

The response from some Twitter users was immediate and vitriolic. Jess Denham, writing in The Independent today reported a selection of these tweets, which included:

“I want to walk down #BenefitsStreet with a baseball bat and brain a few of these scumbags,”

“Set fire to #Benefits Street”.

“Watching benefits street from last night, such scrounging bastards”

It has been stated that the police are investigating criminal activities which were filmed as part of the documentary, as well as exploring the threats made towards the residents who featured in the documentary. But why would people react so violently to what is, after all, a highly selective portrait of the lives of a tiny minority of those individuals who claim benefits? One explanation may be found in the number of popular myths which abound regarding the welfare state. A Trade Union Congress report, published in January 2013, highlighted common voter misconceptions regarding the use and abuse of the welfare state. The infographic produced as part of this report demonstrates that respondents, on average, over-estimated the percentage of the welfare budget spent on providing benefits to unemployed people by a massive 38%.  Perceptions of benefit fraud were even more grossly inflated, with the average figure given by participants for the amount of the welfare budget claimed fraudulently standing at 27%, in contrast to the actual figure of 0.7%. Lacuna’s second edition, Austerity and Prosperity, which is due to be published in May 2014, will explore the origins and persuasive power of these myths, and offer alternative perspectives on existing debates. To ensure you don’t miss out on this or any other exciting coverage, subscribe to our mailing list, “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @Lacunamagazine.

Merry Christmas from Lacuna!

Merry ChristmasThank you to all our subscribers for your support this year. We hope you have a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the exciting new content we will be posting in the run up to Lacuna’s launch in February 2014!

In the meantime, please check out this fantastic video from the Open Society Foundations, first published in March 2013.

To make sure you don’t miss any of our new content, subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on Twitter and like our page on facebook.

Caesareans, Transparency, Torture and Prisoner Votes – the Human Rights Roundup

Another excellent Human Rights Roundup from the UK Human Rights blog. Subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on twitter, and like our facebook page for more quality content like this.

UK Human Rights Blog

HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular raging winter storm of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

The Government received an unwelcome early christmas present this week, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee reporting that a blanket ban on prisoner enfranchisement had no rational basis. Meanwhile, Britain’s potentially unlawful treatment of detainees with regard to rendition and torture are coming to light with the Gibson Inquiry, and a senior judge has announced that perhaps, after the ‘forced Caesarean’ escalation, there needs to be more transparency in the family courts and Court of Protection. 

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BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award honours: “an ordinary woman who fought with a mother’s love for what she believed was right and simply refused to give up”

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams, whose fifteen year old son Kevin was killed in the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989, has been honoured by the BBC at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Anne, who campaigned tirelessly on behalf of her son alongside the families of the 95 others who died at Hillsborough, passed away three days after the 24th memorial service at Anfield in April this year. She was awarded the Helen Rollason award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. The Liverpool Echo reports:

Having lost her beloved 15-old-son Kevin in 1989, Anne was at the forefront of those challenging the original inquest verdicts for many years, refusing to give up on the fight for justice despite seeing three memorials to the Attorney General and a petition to the European Court of Human Rights all rejected.

Her tireless campaigning, along with new evidence she uncovered, helped lead to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and, though she received her terminal diagnosis just six weeks after their historic report of September 2012, she was in attendance at the High Court last December to see the accidental death verdicts quashed and new inquests, set to begin next March, ordered.

LACUNA’s first issue: “On Protest”  to be published in February 2014, features an interview with the Chief Civil Servant to the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report. The publication of this report finally vindicated the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and brought to light previously unseen documents which implicated South Yorkshire Police, amongst others, in the disaster and subsequent cover-up. To read more about this story, and find out what it takes to bring about effective change through protest subscribe to our mailing list , like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration- A happy birthday?

Birthday CakeToday is the 65th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world’s most translated document. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was published in 1948 in response to the events of World War II, sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled without distinction.

The European Court Blogspot writes:

After World War II and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow such devastating conflict. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a document which would guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere, always.

How close are we to achieving this aim? What barriers stand in the way? To read more about these questions, and to submit your own answers, subscribe to our mailing list, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The scandals we choose to ignore

On the way to London to meet Lacuna’s extremely talented writer in residence Rebecca Ominora. We are interviewing for a story on austerity and immigration. For a taster of Rebecca’s incredible work in this area, look at this piece. More details on this story to follow. Don’t miss out: subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on twitter and “like” our facebook page.

reporting & writing

 (This article was originally published by the New Statesman magazine)

The unknown whereabouts of 150,000 people refused residency in Britain made headlines last month. The UK Border Agency took the usual flack for failing to exercise a “clear strategy” to deal with these cases. A Labour MP playing two populist cards with one hand – immigration and bonuses – demanded the removal of bonuses from senior UKBA officials. The pattern is a familiar one.

Yet there are far worse practices for which the border agency ought to be held to account. It is troubling barometer of public opinion that this is the issue that we choose to get up in arms about when far greater injustices occur within the immigration system on a daily basis.

Gladys, a young dental nurse from Zimbabwe, is just one typical victim out of thousands, whose liberty depends on the caprice of border agency…

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