Hi and welcome back to the regular link roundup.
First, some a slew of links on the Rwanda situation :
‘Campaigners accuse the government of creating an alternative reality to suit its ‘cruel’ deportation agenda’
The Home Office is claiming that asylum seekers are “fine” with being sent to Rwanda, even after they have threatened to kill themselves in detention as they wait to be removed to Africa, according to internal documents seen by the Observer…’
‘After the Home Office said the Afghan detainee was OK with being sent 4,500 miles to east Africa, he attempted to kill himself twice; once by drinking shampoo and once by hanging himself. Last week, he told volunteers that he was planning to throw himself off the third floor of Colnbrook immigration removal centre at Heathrow.’
‘A high court hearing on 10 June was told that the Home Office misled refugees about UN involvement in Rwanda plans…’
From the BBC’s Mark Easton on Twitter :
‘I fled Rwanda due to homophobia – I fear for gay refugees being sent there’ (Metro) A moving, first person account and essential reading :
‘We must not permit the goal of combating human trafficking to be misused in an effort to prevent people from applying for and receiving asylum.’
‘I strongly condemn the UK Government’s decision to send LGBTQ+ people to Rwanda and I urge all human rights activists to oppose it.’
Meanwhile, in the UK, communities are fighting back. ‘I don’t want to live in a society where people are kidnapped from their homes’: the neighbours fighting immigration raids’ (Guardian)
‘Across the country Home Office detentions have been thwarted by local people and activists forcing the release of detainees. What’s behind the grassroots backlash?’
‘Immigration campaigner finds sympathy at festival’ (Henley Standard)
At the same time, the Home Secretary is apparently missing in action :
Cost of living crisis
Whilst the hot weather continues for now, many of our members are concerned about the cost of living crisis, especially the knock-on effect of the expected winter fuel rises. As the price of family visas and visa renewals – to keep families together – has skyrocketed, we can expect that many will be feeling the pinch.
‘Cost of living spending calculator: See which prices have gone up – and the surprising luxuries that have gone down’ (Sky News) An interesting tool to compare prices of various goods.
The article goes on to mention that price increases are not uniform – indeed, the prices of some non-essential luxury items (such as watches and handbags) has actually decreased, presumably as people cut back spending to the essentials. This will be comfort to few and once again highlights how the most vulnerable in society are exposed during economic crises.
‘Staggering £25bn down the drain as 9 in 10 Brits plan to cut back with third of all UK households now in ‘financial distress’’ (City AM) highlights the urgency of the situation in numbers, thanks to a survey from Grant Thornton and Retail Economics :
‘Close to £25bn-worth of discretionary outgoings in the “cut-back economy” may be lost this year as close to nine in 10 people plan to reduce their spending over the year ahead.
‘More than a third (36 per cent) of UK households are “financially distressed” and plan to cut back across most, if not all, of their non-essential spending, as low incomes and high debt levels leave little room for manoeuvre, according to a new report.
‘Around a quarter (25 per cent) of households are deemed to be comfortable but cautious, meaning they are financially secure but will cut their spending as a precaution.’
Interesting analyses from a wide range of experts (including former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and commentator-at-large Will Hutton). I think Mariana Mazzucato correctly nails it here as a productivity crisis, caused by decades of underinvestment in technologies versus a focus on short-termism. She writes :
‘It is energy prices and corporate profits, not wages, that are driving the current inflationary pressures: corporate profits in the UK have increased by 34% since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, 90% of those increases made by the top 25 multinationals.’
‘… The current business model is wedded to short-term profits, which has meant that many companies are not investing their profits back into the system but extracting them through practices such as share buybacks, which boost share prices and stock options for executives.’
‘To tackle inflation, the UK government has implemented an energy profits levy, a 25% windfall tax on the profits of UK energy firms for the next 12 months. This is a step in the right direction, but it must go further. Government loans, grants and bailouts should be made only on the condition that profits are reinvested, and that they foster a green transition.”
(also linking the global climate crisis – which in the current hot weather will be on many people’s minds – to the productivity crisis).
OK I just thought this was hilarious.
‘Foreigners can now stay in Portugal for six months under a new work-seeking visa approved Wednesday, eliminating the quota regime for immigration, Ana Catarina Mendes, the minister of foreign and parliamentary affairs announced.’
This sounds interesting and could be useful for some, at least once the summer holiday flurry is out of the way (it’s no surprise that -so many people- want to travel in 2022, after the last two years).
For something completely different –
‘Facts these days seem so grim. They feel like storm clouds: all too real and ready to bring more lightning than much-needed rain.’
‘But last week we got a reminder of other kinds of facts, the kind that bring us awe and comfort and context — even joy. The kinds of facts that prompt scientists to break down in tears: facts — made sublime through imagery — of the cosmos itself. Last week we saw the first images from a new space telescope.’
‘Those images and the facts they embody also matter; they are the antidote to the others.’
The first images of the much-anticipated James Webb Telescope came out, a timely reminder that the affairs of nations and governments – even the most oppressive and tyrannical – are as nothing in the face of a vast and ancient cosmos, which cares nothing for the latest populist loudmouth. In ancient Rome, even successful generals would have the words ‘Remember that you too are mortal’ in their ears, and maybe some of today’s ‘here today gone tomorrow’ politicos could do with a similar reminder. All things in time must pass.