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The Midweek Newspapers in 3 minuets; Police crackdowns in Bahrain, Welfare crackdowns in Britain…(17/02/20110)

Inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, a similar movement in Bahrain against their autocratic government fell victim to an immense police crackdown last night, with 5 people being killed and the destruction of their camp in Pearl Square, central Manama.

Hundreds of security forces used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators who had been camped out in Pearl Square calling for political reform.

"Police are coming, they are shooting teargas at us," one protestor said amid the chaos. Another said: "I am wounded, I am bleeding. They are killing us."

The protests are against the monarchy rule of the country, where the Al Khalifa family (a Sunni family) rule over a predominately Shia population.

By the morning, the square appeared nearly empty of protesters. Abandoned tents, blankets and rubbish dotted the area, and the smell of teargas wafted through the air.

One protester said he had driven away two people who had been wounded by rubber bullets.

Clearly, the ruling Al Khalifa family and the military weren’t willing to let what happened to Egypt happen to them, and used an over-zealous response to cut the protests off in their infancy.

"We were asleep and they started slicing through our tent," said Nabeel Ebrahim, who was sleeping alongside two trauma surgeons from Salmaniya hospital. "They started firing gas from the overpass and attacking us from all directions."

But it was not just protestors that were clamped down on, ambulances and civilians trying to help also felt the wrath of police, too.

Ambulances are being prevented from arriving at Pearl roundabout to collect dozens of wounded people thought to be trapped there.

They were quickly beaten back by riot police firing sound grenades and teargas as they charged towards the demonstrators, who retreated to the hospital grounds. Several more were wounded in the clashes.

One ambulance driver said he was stopped by police, who violently removed wounded protesters from the back of his vehicle and ordered him at gunpoint to leave.

The police were always going to clamp down hard on any signs of protest following the success of the peaceful demonstrations in Egypt, especially somewhere like Bahrain, were there has been strained relations between the ruling Al Khalifa family and the Shia population, following years of perceived discrimination towards the country’s religious majority. The use of force in Bahrain is likely to be replicated by other autocratic regions facing protest aswell, in particular Libya, where police statements released said ‘that protests will be met by lethal force.

Other papers were more concerned with the major UK story of the day; welfare-state reform.

Work and Pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith has outlined new reforms that will be – reportedly – the biggest welfare shake-up in 60 years. These include;

  • A single universal credit to come into force in 2013
  • Tax changes to enable people to keep more income
  • Changes to the disability living allowance
  • More details of the back-to-work programme
  • Those refusing to work facing a maximum three-year loss of benefits
  • Annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family
  • Review of sickness absence level

Response has been mixed to the proposals. Naturally, the Daily Mail and other right wing press were abso-fucking-lutely delighted about it, considering to them everyone without a job is a Burberry wearing sponge with 3 kids.

In an interview with the Mail, Mr Duncan Smith pledged that it would no longer be possible for anyone to choose a ‘life on benefits’, which he says has fuelled mass immigration over the past decade.

Yeah it’s the old ‘people choose to be employed, foreigners come here for hand-outs’ shtick again. The thing is, there is no point incentivising people returning to work and reforming the benefit system, when there’s no work for these people to go into. These reforms are on the back-drop of massive redundancies facing both the state and private sector. 2,000 jobs were axed from Manchester City Council alone, so it seems senseless to spend resources encouraging people to return to work when you just booted them out of the job they already had! (……..and, breath….)

Although an estimated 2.4 million people would be better enough, and estimated 1.6 would be worse off, and as chief executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr states, "To reduce the housing allowance for those out of work means punishing people for failing to find a job in a very difficult job market,". Taken into account the £2.1bn cost to establish these reforms, it makes you ask the question; why now?

The other issue I have with it is that, is Duncan-Smith’s insistence on the family and his attempt to govern alongside his prominent Christian beliefs, including a cap on benefits paid to single-parent families, and this excerpt from the Mail, stating new plans to give kick-backs to married couples:

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Best Daily Mail reader comment

  • Let in a lot more immigrants in and make them do the work and pay tax while the rest of us live on benefits and live a life doing what we would like to do instead of spending our lives slaving away for little or no reward.

- Gaz, n/e, 17/2/2011 2:37

Posted on February 17th, 2011
2 notes
  1. stay--in--bed said: That Daily Mail comment is amazing. Let’s elect that dude. Haha
  2. lostintransgressions posted this
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