Mike Barton, Police Chief, Says UK Should Decriminalize Drugs Because Drug War Is Failing
Slept in. Have @asda withdrawn their ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume or are we going to organise a protest at HQ? #timetochange Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) September 26, 2013 Alastair Campbell “It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” spokeswoman Sue Baker said in a statement . However, Baker said the outcry the costumes provoked on the social media site Twitter was encouraging. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population,” she said. Mind and the group Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Change campaign to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. One of the campaign’s supporters is Alastair Campbell, who was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s media chief and who has publicly spoken of his battle with depression . Campbell was among those who tweeted his displeasure at the “brutally stigmatizing outfits.” “@asda and @tesco should sign up for one of the @mindcharity @Rethink_ @TimetoChange mental health training courses,” he tweeted . Campbell alleged that Amazon still carried mental health patient costumes and called for people to tweet the company, asking it to withdraw them. But in response to an inquiry from CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said: “The item you refer to is not available on Amazon.co.uk.” Soccer player and broadcaster Stan Collymore who has also spoken out on depression, also took to Twitter to criticize the stereotype he said Asda and Tesco’s costumes had promoted. Collymore tweeted: “Do you actually realise how many people are hanging themselves because of being frightened of the stigma?
Number of pilgrims In 2012, there were 44 reports of Hajj fraud made to British police, but the true scale of this criminality is thought to be much greater, according to the CBH . For most pilgrims, Hajj will be a truly memorable experience, the fulfilment of a religious obligation that is required once in a lifetime for Muslims. According to the Council , this year has been particularly challenging, due to changes in Hajj rules that include a reduction in quotas, and a clampdown on the number of repeat pilgrims, prohibiting visits from those who have made the pilgrimage in the last five years. The cutbacks are due to the expansion of the Masjid al-Haram mosque, which will be carried out over the next three years. Despite the reduction of the UK Hajj quota from 25,000 to 20,000 people, CBH CEO Rashid Mogradia expects the level of criminality to increase. We expect the figure to be at least around the 1,000 mark, maybe a few thousand, Mogradia told Al Arabiya. Level of fraud The problem is people often dont come forward and report it [fraud], out of embarrassment or repercussions from the tour operators themselves. People are frightened of the consequences of taking it further, said Mogradia. People know who these people are, and they often feel that its not worth taking it forward, so they suffer in silence, he added. This is the case despite the increasing cost of Hajj packages, and the fact that saving up for the pilgrimage is a long-term commitment for many. Fraudulent companies are charging similar amounts of money [to legitimate tour providers], you cant distinguish by price, Juel Choudhury, director of British company Premier Hajj, told Al Arabiya. Theyre not ripping them off with prices, theyre selling a package they cant fulfil, Choudhury added. In a statement published by the City of London Police, Commander Steve Head described Hajj fraud as a devastating crime that every year is robbing Muslims of a once in a life-time opportunity to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. In the statement, Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, emphasized the need for prospective pilgrims to be vigilant and ensure that only reputable operators with proper license are used. How to avoid being a victim Mogradia explained how to avoid becoming a victim of Hajj fraud. Number one: check that the tour operator is signed up to an ATOL scheme. Number two: check that the company has the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj accreditation.
Britain already relies heavily on Norwegian imports to meet its needs and analysts say this dependency is set to rise as Russian gas will mainly go to continental Europe, while shipments of overseas liquefied natural gas (LNG) will mostly head to Asia, where customers pay more for gas. The new gas year starts on October 1, when European gas buyers and sellers adjust supply volumes ahead of the peak demand winter heating season. But Norway’s biggest gas field Troll, which accounts for around 35 percent of its gas production, has had its capacity reduced for much of this year, and its operator says supplies will be limited until 2014. “We expect to see somewhat reduced capacity into the winter at the Troll field due to technical issues at Troll A,” said Morten Eek of the field’s operator Statoil, adding that its remaining capacity would still allow the company to “more or less” meet production quotas. Norway’s gas system operator Gassco said production capacity would be reduced by 34 million cubic metres per day until September 2014, compared with a capacity of up to 120 mcm of gas per day before the outage. Norway exported 103.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) of pipeline gas in the 2012/2013 gas year, which ended on September 30, including 29.8 bcm to the UK, up from 25 bcm during the previous gas year of 2011/2012. For the first eight months of 2013, Norwegian exports to Europe fell four percent to 68.6 bcm from 71.3 bcm during the same period in 2012. “Norway normally produces gas at full capacity during the coldest months, and Troll’s outage leaves no flexibility to ramp-up production to meet peak demand in case both the UK and continental Europe freeze,” said Anette Einarsen, an Oslo-based gas analyst at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. News about Norway’s gas outage extending throughout the winter has forced British gas traders to buy more forward contracts in order to hedge against any further supply disruptions from Britain’s key gas supplier. LOW FLEXIBILITY Should Norwegian supplies not meet demand in case of a cold British winter, UK customers could begin importing gas from continental Europe, which receives most of its gas from Russia. But analysts say such a switch would come at a high cost, forcing British customers to pay above Russian oil-indexed gas prices to attract flows from continental Europe. Point Carbon estimates Russian oil-indexed price at 74-78 pence per therm, compared with current UK spot prices of under 65 pence and average winter prices of below 70 pence per therm. Russia sells most of its gas under long-term contracts linked to the price of oil, while Norway has switched increasingly to a pricing model based on gas spot markets such as Britain’s National Balancing Point (NBP).
UK Muslims fall victim to Hajj fraud
Writing in The Observer, the national intelligence leader for the Association of Chief Police Officers also suggested the NHS should supply class-A drugs such as heroin and cocaine to addicts. He said: “Not all crime gangs raise income through selling drugs, but most of them do in my experience. “So offering an alternative route of supply to users cuts off the gang’s income stream. “If an addict were able to access drugs via the NHS or some similar organisation, then they would not have to go out and buy illegal drugs. “Drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available. “I think addiction to anything – drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc – is not a good thing, but outright prohibition hands revenue streams to villains.” Under Mr Barton’s direction, Durham Constabulary launched Operation Sledgehammer, a sustained campaign to “get in the faces” of organised crime gangs. He has previously claimed to seek inspiration in the way notorious Prohibition-era mafioso Al Capone was finally brought down not for bootlegging, but tax evasion. The officer, who has served for nearly 34 years, said he had witnessed a worsening drug addiction problem since prohibition began in 1971 with the Misuse of Drugs Act. He argued that pushers had made billions from adulterated drugs, transforming them into local folk heroes for young people. “Decriminalising their commodity will immediately cut off their income stream and destroy their power,” he said.