Building of the week: the plastic bottle house

Make Wealth History

An engineer in Algeria has developed an ingenious new house building technique on a desert refugee camp. He wanted to build a home for his grandmother that would beat the heat and sandstorms, and plastic bottles were readily available. Filled with sand and straw and encased into the walls, the bottles make a sturdy and weatherproof shelter. It’s also insulated, and the bottle house is five degrees cooler than its neighbours.

Six thousand discarded bottles are used in each new home, which is useful in itself. The refugee camps have been in place for 40 years, and no recycling facilities have ever been provided. There are huge piles of them to use up, helping to keep waste plastic out of the natural environment.

The bottle house is different to traditional buildings in the region, and was met with some initial scepticism. But it proved more resilient to rain than the…

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#Jews & #Muslims: Reckless language could lead us down a dangerous path!

Jews and Muslims: Reckless language could lead us down a dangerous path | SUN COMMENT | Marie Van der Zyl and Fiyaz Mughal (Tell MAMA) | 16th August 2017

Trevor Kavanagh’s article in The Sun on the 13th of August shifted between Brexit, immigration and grooming gangs – predominantly comprised of people of Pakistani heritage.

Such chilling language, which labels whole communities as a “problem”, and evokes the language the Nazis used about the Jews, should rally us to stand up and speak out, and now Jewish and Muslim organisations, as well as MPs, have done precisely this.

Of course, it is not the answer to hide from the fact that the perpetrators of some recent appalling rape cases were Muslims.

As Imam Qari Asim, of the Makkah mosque in Leeds, has previously said: “If it is cultural prejudices that have led these men to prey on white girls, seeing them as ‘easy meat’, then this needs to be addressed.”

But neither is the answer to be found in irresponsible language.

The term “the Muslim Problem” (especially capitalised as it was in the article) recalls the use of the term “the Jewish problem” by the Nazis in the 1930s.

Seventy years ago, in Germany, Poland and other countries in Europe, Jews were murdered, tortured, separated from their families and stripped of their identity, and suffered the most inhumane and degrading treatment, just because they were Jews.

We understand that today’s environment is a far cry from the murderous regime of the Nazis, but words can confirm prejudices, particularly if people read them in a prominent national newspaper like The Sun.

Maligning the entire Muslim community as a “problem” who are not really part of Britain, feeds in to a poisonous message — spread by both ISIS and the far right — that you cannot be a Muslim and truly embrace British values.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The overwhelming majority of British Muslims — like British Jews — share a love of our country and the freedom that we enjoy in the UK, including the freedom of the press and the human rights that many dictators deny their subjects.

British society and all our institutions have a duty to show Muslims, Jews and all religious minorities that they are a valued and integral part of our country.

If we push an entire community away to the fringes, this risks propelling some into the arms of extremists, who groom their victims to become terrorists; in much the same way as paedophiles groom their victims for abuse.

We believe that Trevor Kavanagh’s article crossed a line when he commented on “The Muslim Problem”.

It did not focus on Islamists, people involved in grooming scandals or criminals who happen to be Muslims. Those three words lumped 3 million Muslims together as a problem to be “solved”.

Our great country needs constructive solutions and community cohesion. Let us as UK citizens build strong, diverse, stable communities, where we protect everyone from harm, including those at risk of sexual abuse.

Let us talk about how we unite Muslims and Jews, and our countrymen and women of all faiths and none, against terrorism, sexual abuse and the many challenges we face in modern Britain.

This is a shared responsibility and let us remember the words of Jo Cox: “We have more in common than that which divides us.”

Let us embrace this message, seize the opportunities and grapple with the challenges we all share in Britain.

— Marie Van der Zyl is Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Fiyaz Mughal is the Director of Faith Matters and the Founder of Tell MAMA — a charity which monitors anti-Muslim attacks.

The article ended by asking what should be done about “the Muslim Problem”.

Marie Van der Zyl, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Marie Van der Zyl, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters and the Founder of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks)

Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters and the Founder of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks)

Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh


Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh

“Reckless Disregard” A True And Compelling Story About One Father’s Fight

Parents Rights Blog

“Reckless Disregard” A True And Compelling Story About One Father’s Fight

Self-Represented Litigants have no less of a right to FAIR and MEANINGFUL due process under the federal and state constitutions as those individuals who choose to utilize an attorney for their legal affairs and issues. In fact, NOWHERE in any state or federal constitution does it specify that the hiring of a lawyer is a prerequisite to exercising one’s due process rights. Democratic principles dictate that we have the right to freely choose between self-representation and hiring a lawyer to handle our legal matters without suffering humiliation, prejudice, or penalization. After all, it is the parties to the litigation that ultimately have to deal with the consequences of the case’s outcome, and not the judge or the lawyers involved in the matter.

Dear Family and Friends,

First I’d like to thank all those who have kept me motivated and have encouraged…

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Widespread ‘Boyfriend model’ of #abuse not restricted to grooming gangs only!

The ‘boyfriend model’ of abuse is not restricted to grooming gangs |  | THE CONVERSATION | August 17, 2017

The “boyfriend model” of abuse, seen in the Newcastle sex exploitation trial is not new or rare. All perpetrators exploit the vulnerabilities of girls and young women, whether they are boyfriends, partners, husbands or members of a gang.

Former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal is now leading calls for urgent research into the “boyfriend model” – whereby a vulnerable person is manipulated to believe they are in a loving relationship with their abuser – as it has been at the heart of a string of national grooming scandals. But I think there is a more urgent need for honesty, as many women and girls are suffering abuse in their relationships every day. This may not make it into the news but it’s there and it needs to be addressed.

In Newcastle, 18 adults were convicted of rape and other offences against girls and young women aged between 13 and 25. The adults entrapped the youngsters into ongoing relationships, before exploiting them. Afzal sees parallels with the infamous Rochdale grooming case, which he oversaw as chief crown prosecutor in the northwest. His calls for research have been supported by Labour MP Sarah Champion who says research is needed to investigate why “hundreds of Pakistani men” have been convicted. Indeed, her stand on the subject led her to resign from the front bench this week after a newspaper article she wrote on the subject attracted criticism.

As Afzal and Champion say, there are similarities between these cases. The offenders used a model of abuse which involves seduction, followed by cruelty and rape. The seduction may involve alcohol, drugs and/or money so that the young victims are coerced into becoming involved and then silenced by their sense of guilt. It is also true to say that these convictions included large numbers of British Asian men.


A hidden crime

This is not new and it can be understood as an extreme version of the experience many girls have. Many young girls are taught by the media, social media, friends – and often family – that they need to look a certain way, act a certain way and attract young men.

Sadly it is too often the case, that when some girls find a partner, they may be treated with disrespect (she isn’t pretty enough, slim enough or sexy enough). Sometimes, they will walk away, but in many cases, the girls stay and try to please “their boy” by changing themselves. When they do, they become more trapped in the relationship. The net can draw tighter, when friends and family criticise the boy, forcing the girl to choose between them.

There are young men who do not exploit this – but a good number do. They may move on from criticising to chastising. They may use violence or emotional abuse and in some cases may also extort sex. Sometimes, this is revealed to someone and gets acknowledged as being “domestic abuse”. However, it is often never spoken of and acts to imprison young girls in unhappy relationships.

The men – and sometimes women – in the gangs in Rochdale and Newcastle (and elsewhere) have simply followed this pattern in a more organised way, often targeting girls who are already extremely vulnerable. The behaviour of these men is not so different from that of countless others and there is nothing particularly Asian about this kind of abuse. Their behaviour can be compared to that of white male celebrities such as Jimmy SavileRay Teret and Stuart Hall who also used manipulation to get what they wanted from youngsters.

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I prosecuted this lot and most of that lot

There is no community where women & girls are safe & listened to, we can make it so

Abusive relationships

The gang cases help to shine a light on a continuum of abusive relationships – and what we need rather than research, is awareness. All sexual abuse crosses cultural boundaries. Domestic abuse is staggeringly common, with the police receiving an emergency call about domestic abuse every 30 seconds. We use a range of different labels for abuse, depending how we want to categorise the case or story we are talking about. Sometimes it is “sexual exploitation”, sometimes “domestic violence” or “relationship rape”. Considering these terms sheds light on how interchangeable they are.

All of these forms of abuse are problems created by abusive behaviour towards girls and women. To create a society where young girls are not so easy to abuse, we have to start to consider relationships differently. It is helpful to understand the links between the average boyfriend who demands sex every Saturday night and the man who rapes youngsters that another man has lured to a party.

Both are rapists in law, although the ordinary boyfriend rarely gets charged with any offence. The criminal justice system is more interested in the bigger cases. To create change, we need to hold all men accountable for their crimes. Both of these men exploit girls’ wishes to have a boyfriend. So another way to make a difference is to ensure that girls can find self-respect without being in a relationship.

The abuse revealed by the case in Newcastle is horrifying. But routine rape and cruelty goes on within many ordinary homes, around the country, attracting little attention. All of the survivors of this abuse suffer a great deal. All need justice and society needs to find ways to make changes. I don’t believe that it is useful to label particular groups of men as more likely to rape and exploit. Instead, there needs to be a national conversation about relationships and men’s attitudes to sex and women, or these cycles of abuse will continue.

Disclosure statement

Kate Cook is part of a group of researchers who currently receive funding from the Lloyds Foundation. Kate is a feminist activist with links to rape crisis and the Campaign to End Rape.

10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Avoid

“Learning how to use the Law of Attraction is as much as about increasing your self-knowledge as it is about learning specific techniques and skills. Consequently, maintaining the right mindset for manifestation requires self-worth, a positive social environment and a high EQ—in other words, emotional intelligence.

While scientists and psychologists think some people might be genetically predisposed to a higher EQ, there’s also encouraging evidence that you can actively change and shape it. And one of the best places to start is by examining and regulating certain emotionally toxic behaviors. Here are ten major ones to avoid, and advice about what to do instead.

1. Emotional Repression
Firstly, and most obviously, emotionally intelligent people don’t push away their feelings—even the unpleasant ones. They’re in tune with everything from joy to fury, anxiety and ambivalence, and they let themselves truly experience the whole gamut of emotions. To enhance your capacity to do this, schedule a simple daily mindfulness exercise in which you ask “How do I feel?” and let the unfiltered reality flow through you.”

Parental Alienation

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Solicitor Ismail now EastEnd headteacher gets 95% of pupils to university!

Lawyer turned East End head gets 95% of pupils to universityANNA DAVIS | | EVENING STANDARD | 15 August 2017

Top marks: Mouhssin Ismail gave up a six-figure salary at a City law firm to  go into teaching and is now head of Newham Collegiate  Sixth FormTop marks: Mouhssin Ismail gave up a six-figure salary at a City law firm to go into teaching and is now head of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Nick Edwards

A headteacher who gave up his six-figure City lawyer salary for the classroom is on the brink of sending 95 per cent of his pupils to the best universities in Britain.

Mouhssin Ismail left global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to become a teacher in his old inner city neighbourhood of Newham in 2009.

He is now in charge of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form, where in his first year of results 190 of the 200 east London students have been offered places at Russell Group universities.

Of those, nine have had offers from either Oxford or Cambridge — and one has been given an unconditional offer to study at MIT in the US.

The sixth form college serves one of the poorest areas of the country.

Mr Ismail said: “I am immensely proud of what they have achieved. For many of these students the idea of going to Oxford or Cambridge or Bath, Manchester or Bristol would have been inconceivable two years ago. Now it is within touching distance.” He attributes the sixth form’s success to being able to offer students the same opportunities as they would get at top independent schools.

These include work-experience placements in Abu Dhabi with top law firm White & Case LLP, weekly Oxbridge tutorials with graduates and contacts across many professions.

Mr Ismail said: “We prepare our students the way they would be prepared at top private schools.

“If pupils have on their CV a week-long work experience placement at White & Case, it is inevitably going to make them stand out when applying for jobs.”

He added: “They go to mock interviews and visit Oxbridge colleges.

The 38-year-old London School of Economics graduate said his decision to leave law came on the night he was drafting a £50 million banking and finance deal.

He said: “After a couple of years, I felt unfulfilled. I didn’t think, ‘that’s great, I have just done another £50 million  deal,’ I thought, ‘am I making a contribution to society?’”

Ostriching and adverse inferences

Very informative reasoning by suespiciousminds.
Would love to see equivalent write up for ‘ostriching’ by LA especially against parents requesting assessment for family reunification.


The law in relation to decisions not to engage with assessments and the consequences that may flow from this

I ended up scratching my head about this issue about a month ago – where a parent doesn’t engage with assessments and doesn’t provide samples for drug testing, what can the Court do about it? It seemed a very obvious answer that the Court would be invited to draw adverse inferences from the failure to cooperate, but I couldn’t easily lay my hands on the authority for that proposition. It turned out to be more elusive than I had imagined, so having done the research and written it up, it was rather vexing to receive an email minutes later to say that the parent was now willing to engage rendering all my hard work pointless.

So, waste not want not. At the very least it might save someone else having to…

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#DueProcess #Practice #Procedure #Irregularity #UnilaterallyWritingToCourt


I have no plans to expand this blog to cover issues relating to procedure in Employment Tribunals.  However there are certain passages of the judgment  of Mr Justice Kerr in Jones v The Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills (Practice and Procedure: Bias, misconduct and procedural irregularity) [2017] UKEAT 0238_16_2906 that are of general importance in relation to procedural fairness. Not least it highlights the dangers of writing to the court or tribunal unilaterally without copying in the other side.  Something that has already featured this week.

“…  unrepresented parties whose case seems weak may, it is well known, sometimes behave in a manner that would try the patience of a saint.  Employment Judges sometimes have to have the patience of a saint to do their job and are appointed because they are considered to have it, among other reasons.”


The claimant was appealing against a decision of the Employment Tribunal. Part of the grounds of the appeal related to unfair conduct.  The appeal was allowed.  Kerr J took the opportunity to make some observations in relation to procedural fairness.

“78.            This case provides the opportunity to give emphasis to the importance of procedural fairness.

79.            First, I do not read the judgment of Barling J in the Drysdale case – see in particular at paragraph 49 – as meaning that the question whether a trial is fair or unfair is a Wednesbury issue or a case management issue.  It is not.

80.            Secondly, unrepresented parties whose case seems weak may, it is well known, sometimes behave in a manner that would try the patience of a saint.  Employment Judges sometimes have to have the patience of a saint to do their job and are appointed because they are considered to have it, among other reasons.

81.            Third, in this jurisdiction as in many others, the “equal footing” aspect of the overriding objective means taking particular care to observe the duty referred to by Neuberger J in the Maltez case, to ensure a party is not procedurally prejudiced through absence of representation.  The duty is as important where the unrepresented party appears to have a weak case as where her case appears strong.  The apparent weakness of the party’s case is not, it goes without saying, a reason to treat that party with any disfavour in procedural matters.

82.            Fourth, communication from one party to the ET without copying the other party should almost never occur and requires specific justification in accordance with the Rules, as the Lord Judge LCJ said at paragraph 7 of his judgment in Mohamed v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No. 2) [2010] EWCA Civ 158:

“7. It is an elementary rule of the administration of justice that none of the parties to civil litigation may communicate with the court without simultaneously alerting the other parties to that fact. …”

Other than in the case of Rule 32, the ET Rules provide in Rule 92 to the same effect.  Unfortunately, there are cases where Rule 92 is not observed.

83.            The impropriety is particularly serious where the party communicating unilaterally with the Tribunal is represented while the other party is not.  Communications going the other way, from the Tribunal to one side and not the other, require specific justification and very careful thought indeed, especially when the party omitted from the communication is the unrepresented one.  There is a real risk of undermining confidence in the impartiality of Judges and the administration of justice if that principle is not scrupulously observed.

84.            Fifth, I recognise that the obligation to explain procedural matters to an unrepresented party is not always easy.  It includes, in particular, the tension – baffling to a non-lawyer – between conflicting propositions: (1) that a witness attending under compulsion may give evidence without having provided a written statement; (2) that the Court will normally not hear a witness who has not provided a prior written statement; and (3) that the Court may attach little weight, or such weight as it thinks fit, to a signed statement from an absent witness.  Those propositions can be difficult to reconcile for lawyers as well as non-lawyers and I am not surprised that the tension between them caused confusion in this case.

85.            Finally, Employment Judges responding to allegations of bias, which are frequently made and much less frequently justified, should avoid language which smacks of advocacy when responding.  To do so can lend credence to otherwise unjustified allegations.  In the present case, rhetorical flourishes using language such as “strikingly silent” and “inconvenient truth” were misplaced and regrettable.

86.            It would be useful if Employment Judges could consider observing a practice I have often myself observed, which is to introduce a hearing at which one party is represented but the other is not, by explaining to the unrepresented party that both the represented party and the Tribunal have a heavy responsibility to ensure that the unrepresented one will not in any way be prejudiced by lack of representation.

87.            The appeal is allowed and the case will be remitted for a retrial before a different Employment Judge.”


US slams India on its Independence Day

“Kolkata-born British writer Supriyo Chatterjee wrote on India’s birthday: “Today 15 August 70 years ago, India became independent. Here are some facts and numbers on India you don’t see.”

Here are some of those facts and figures:

While country is home to 101 billionaire, 55% of country’s 1.1 population lives below the poverty line.
India’s defence budget for 2017 is an estimated $53.5 billion. It is the world’s largest arms importer. It buys three times as much arms from the international market as Pakistan and China, its neighbors and rivals, accounting for 14% of all arms imports globally from 2009-2013. The USA is the largest provider (40%), followed by the Russians (30%) and the French (14%). Israel provides 4% of the imports but is growing in importance. India spends 7% of its budget on defense but only 2.4% of GDP on health and less than 3% on education.
200 million people go hungry in India.
1.3 million Indian children die a year before their first birthday. 1.6 million children die every year before age of 5. 43.5% of all children under-fives are underweight. Infant mortality rate is 46.07 deaths/1,000 live births. Almost half of children drop out of school before 15 years of age.
Maternal mortality rates are 200 deaths/100,000 live births.
Only 46.9% of the total 246.6 million households have toilet facilities. Of the rest, 3.2% use public toilets while 49.8% ease themselves in the open. 32% of the households use treated water for drinking and 17% still fetch drinking water from a source located more than 500 metres in rural areas or 100 metres in urban centers.
Unemployment stands officially at 9.8%, but the real figure is much higher.
More than 135,000 road accident deaths are reported every year, most of them being cyclists and pedestrians.”

Rehmat's World

On August 15, 2017 while the Indian government of Narendra Modi and its Hindu extremist allies were celebrating country’s 70th birthday, its top ally United States blasted New Delhi of committing heinous religious policies against its minorities especially 150 million-strong Muslim minority.

On August 15, US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson unveiled the US state department’s 2016 International Religious Freedom Report.

Authorities frequently did not prosecute members of vigilante “cow protection” groups who attacked alleged smugglers, consumers, or traders of beef, usually Muslims, despite an increase in attacks compared to previous years. Courts also issued decisions on several long-standing cases related to religiously motivated violence and riots. Christian and Muslim activists stated the government was not doing enough to protect them against religiously motivated attacks. The government filed a Supreme Court petition challenging the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords the institutions independence in hiring and…

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Social Worker Struck Off For Belittling And Endangering Domestic Violence Victim

Researching Reform

A social worker has been struck off after an audio recording emerged in which he made degrading comments about a victim of domestic violence, and shared her whereabouts with the man convicted of assaulting her. The incidents took place within a child protection investigation.

The man had been accused of standing on the pregnant woman’s face and threatening to pour oil on her. She later escaped by jumping out of a window.

The social worker, who has not been named, called the woman a “pathological liar” and said she was “bi-polar”. The HCPC conduct and competence committee reviewing the case said the social worker’s tone in the recording was “wholly disrespectful” and “bordering on degrading”.

Of greater concern was the social worker’s decision to tell the man accused of abusing the woman, the location and times of meetings she would be attending, putting her and her unborn child at risk. He…

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