Month: July 2019

A former care minister has suggested that the Libe

first_imgA former care minister has suggested that the Liberal Democrats might be in favour of reopening the Independent Living Fund (ILF).Norman Lamb (pictured), who was care minister in the coalition for nearly three years, told Disability News Service (DNS) that it was “intolerable” that former ILF-users were now facing cuts to their support packages, after the fund’s closure on 30 June.And he called on the government to act, potentially by reopening the fund.He spoke out after hearing from DNS how disabled campaigners were warning that “dangerous” cuts to support were now exposing government promises that former ILF-users would not lose out from its closure.ILF was run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and when it closed on 30 June was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.But the coalition government decided that it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.The transition process has been hit by reports of delays in reassessments for former ILF-users and cuts to their care packages, and government pre-closure statements and pledges appear to be falling apart.Lamb was speaking to DNS two days after delivering a well-received speech to his party’s annual conference in Bournemouth, which highlighted the need to address a possible £5 billion funding shortfall in social care by 2020.He told DNS that the ILF principle was “one that I strongly support”, as it “enables people to determine their own priorities”.Lamb said he was concerned not only about former ILF-users, but also about many other disabled people who faced the “full, emerging, developing crisis in social care”.He said: “I think the government needs to recognise what is actually happening… look closely at the evidence and act on it.“What would be intolerable is if people with complex disabilities were not getting the care packages that they need to enable them to lead the best life possible in those circumstances.”He added: “The consequences of the funding squeeze that we now face are potentially disastrous.”He pointed out that ILF had been funded by DWP and that it was a DWP decision to close it, with the first steps taken by the Conservative minister for disabled people Maria Miller in December 2010.Lamb said: “They need to reflect on what’s happened. They need to recognise the evidence of what is actually happening and rethink this.“Because of the general squeeze on budgets, [it appears] they are not being protected… so they need to go back to the drawing board and recognise actually that this approach of giving money to people with highly complex disabilities to enable them to choose their priorities and dictate how the money is spent is a good one and they ought to be prepared to revisit in the light of the evidence.”Asked whether the cuts to support for former ILF-users should have been predicted by coalition ministers, he said: “I am prepared to accept that, but they should act on this now that the evidence is emerging of what is happening.”He said he had an “open mind” on whether ILF should be reopened, but he said it was “intolerable” if former ILF-users were losing out because they had been “subsumed” within a larger local authority system that itself was facing extreme funding pressures.He said: “It needs to be addressed by government, either by reopening the fund, or by coming up with some other solution to ensure that people with complex disabilities get the support that they need.”He added: “The bottom line in all of this is how much as a society we are prepared to pay to support people with complex needs that go beyond medical need. That’s the very thing I have been trying to highlight this week.”Lamb said that the idea of splitting responsibility for disability between three departments – DWP, the Department of Health and DCLG – was “not particularly rational”.He said: “I am open-minded about the mechanisms you use and I think there is lots of scope for rationalising it and simplifying who is responsible within government for supporting these people.“But the bottom line is in my view as a civilised society we need to be prepared to come up with enough money to support people with complex needs properly to enable them to live a decent life.”Lamb told delegates earlier in the week that he was “starting a national conversation” about the “emerging crisis” in funding of both health and social care.And he said he was interested in the idea of a clearly-identified contribution to NHS and social care to be included on people’s pay-slips, as well as a right for local areas to raise additional funds for the NHS and social care if they chose to do so.Lamb pointed in his speech to his party’s many achievements on mental health in the coalition, including halving the number of people in mental health crisis who end up in police cells; drawing up the first national standards for mental health crisis care; initiating a service to divert people with mental ill-health, learning difficulties or autism away from prison; setting a “zero suicide ambition” for the NHS; and trebling the number of people accessing psychological therapies.He told delegates: “Our mission must be very simple: equality. Nothing more, nothing less. We must end the historic injustice suffered by those with mental ill-health.”last_img read more

Read more…

Disabled and older people have compared a council

first_imgDisabled and older people have compared a council’s plans to cut £5 million from its adult social care budget to “social cleansing” and have accused it of “treating people no better than animals in Longleat”.The comments were included in The Voice of those Affected, a report by Healthwatch Merton into proposed cuts by Merton council in south-west London.The report was commissioned by the council after heavy lobbying by campaigners, and was based on comments by 72 service-users and carers during a series of focus groups.The report was released as more than 20 campaigners – many of them disabled people – protested outside the council’s offices before a committee meeting this week at which councillors discussed the proposed cuts.The protesters had heard that members of the council’s ruling Labour group had already voted in secret – although not unanimously – not to increase council tax for 2016-17, or to take advantage of new powers allowing councils to increase council tax by two per cent a year to boost adult social care spending.Six speakers, including Lyla Adwan-Kamara, chief executive of Merton Centre for Independent Living (MCIL), and two disabled people affected by the proposals, spoke to the council’s healthier communities and older people’s scrutiny panel about the report and the likely impact of the cuts.Adwan-Kamara said afterwards that those speeches “brought to life what was in that report, what had been happening to them and even worse what was going to happen to them”.Following those and other presentations and discussions, the panel rejected three proposed cuts – to care and support packages, to staffing, and to scrapping a respite service – and agreed to send them back to the council’s cabinet for “review and reconsideration”.People who took part in the Healthwatch Merton focus groups said the cuts would damage their health, sever social connections, and affect every aspect of their lives, leaving some believing that life was no longer worth living.Words and phrases used to describe the cuts included “disgusting”, “devastating”, “wickedness” and “survival of the fittest”.One told a focus group: “It is like social cleansing, they are trying to get rid of the people they don’t need.”One man in his 80s said – apparently quite seriously – that he would now have to “start practising to eat less from now on”, while another contributor said: “I will end up in my flat like a hermit, self-harming again.”Another said: “I was placed in a care home. It feels like a prison. I pay £600 per week to live somewhere I hate and I don’t use any of the services.”One focus group member said the council had become “less and less supportive”, and accused it of “withdrawing help and taking things back to Victorian times”, while another said: “I had to beg social services to take notice of me. What chance is there going to be for people that don’t have a voice like I did?”The report calls for the council to commission a more detailed, independent evaluation of the impact of the cuts on disabled and older people, and concludes: “One of the key feelings voiced was a sense of betrayal and abandonment by Merton Council.“People talked of being left behind, being left on the scrapheap, and not being treated equally.”The report says there were people crying in nearly every one of the focus groups, and it warns that if the cuts go ahead, people will “potentially be making heat or eat type decisions as they may need to pay for their own care, or pay more for services that they need”.After the scrutiny panel meeting, Adwan-Kamara told Disability News Service that it was the first time the council had “really listened to our members”, but that the £5 million in cuts was “still hanging over people’s heads”.She said of the Healthwatch Merton report: “I had a fairly clear view of what people would say, because we have been hearing this through our casework.“As a centre for independent living, we knew what the issues were, but to see those comments written down in black and white and made so explicit and clear was really emotional.”She said the Labour group’s decision not to increase council tax was “unconscionable”.She said: “They have that opportunity and they are refusing to take it. They have made a choice not to raise council tax, so they have made a choice not to support the most vulnerable people in Merton.”A spokeswoman for Merton’s Labour group confirmed the scrutiny panel had asked the cabinet to look again at the three proposed cuts to adult social care, and said the budget would now be considered by the cabinet on 15 February, with a final decision taken by the full council on 2 March.She said that the Labour group “intends to keep its promise to residents to freeze council tax” and would not take advantage of the two per cent increase option.Cllr Stephen Alambritis, leader of the council, said in a statement: “I promised residents a four year council tax freeze and if there’s one thing you can say about me I keep my promises.  “I’m a business-man and I believe in running a business-like council, making what we do more efficient so we can continue to deliver the services people need the most.”Cllr Mark Allison, the cabinet member for finance, added: “The government have cut council funding by more than 40 per cent but in Merton we have done our best to protect adult social care services by ensuring it gets a lower share of the cuts than other departments, and by adding a further £12 million to its budget.  “As a result we have managed to keep the amount we spend on adult social care virtually the same since 2010.”last_img read more

Read more…

Labours policy on universal credit has again beco

first_imgLabour’s policy on universal credit has again become mired in confusion after its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, promised to scrap the government’s “catastrophic” and “iniquitous” benefit system if his party wins the next general election.Such a move would be seen as a significant victory for disabled activists and allies who have pushed the party to promise to scrap universal credit, instead of pledging only to halt the rollout of the system and fix its many flaws.Interviewed after the party’s success in last week’s Peterborough by-election, Corbyn told Channel 4 News (pictured): “We are ready for a general election, and that general election will deliver a Labour government.”He added: “If you voted Remain in 2016, and you’re on universal credit, if you voted Leave in 2016 on universal credit, you actually want to get rid of universal credit. That’s what Labour offers.”Despite Corbyn’s comments, what seemed to be a significant change in policy appeared not to have been noticed by any mainstream media.And the party’s press office today (Thursday) issued a statement that conflicted with what Corbyn said, merely stating again that a Labour government would pause the rollout of UC and try to make it fit for purpose.A party spokesperson said: “Universal credit isn’t working and cannot continue in its current form.“Labour will stop the roll-out, and ensure our social security system genuinely protects people from poverty.”Disabled activists, particularly Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), have campaigned for the government – and any future Labour government – to “stop and scrap” universal credit (UC).Only last week, DPAC released new research which detailed media articles on UC published between January and May this year, which it said was “a damning record of UC systemic and catastrophic failures”.It said that UC had reached a point where it was “unable to adapt to claimants’ complex circumstances, and is forcing people with the least resources into further poverty, homelessness, and hunger”. DPAC said it was calling for UC to be scrapped because it had become a social security system “which not only does not offer security, but actively undermined people’s ability to cope with the hazards of life”.A DPAC spokesperson said last night (Wednesday), in response to Corbyn’s comments, but before the party had released its statement: “We welcome it as it’s the only credible position that Labour or any other party can take given UC’s well-evidenced fundamental failings, enormous waste and terrible harm but we remain unsure of Labour’s position until there is a firm public commitment.”It is not the first time that Labour has appeared to call for UC to be scrapped and then retreated from that position.Last October, the party had to back-track after deputy leader John McDonnell said in a television interview that UC was a “shambles” and “iniquitous” and added: “I think we are moving to a position now where it is just not sustainable. It will have to go.”But the party’s press office later stressed that Labour’s position was that “universal credit in its current form simply isn’t working”.Labour’s work and pensions secretary, Margaret Greenwood, was also heavily-criticised by disabled activists after telling the party’s annual conference in Liverpool last September that the government must “stop the rollout of universal credit and fix its many flaws”, rather than calling for it to be scrapped. A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

Read more…

With Theresa May in Northern Ireland David Liding

first_imgWith Theresa May in Northern Ireland, David Lidington and Emily Thornberry stood in for the main party leaders at PMQs today. The pair usually offer spikier, more humorous exchanges than those of the main party leaders, but this week presented us with a much less entertaining viewing experience. Brexit had raised tensions, and the Prime Minister’s de facto deputy appeared terrified of committing news.Andrew Bridgen made a contribution worth noting.The Tory backbencher and hardline Brexiteer was the first to ask a question, and took the opportunity to highlight a recently surfaced video of Jeremy Corbyn in 2009 calling the EU a “Frankenstein” and making the case against repeated referendums in Ireland. (“I’ve just got a feeling they’re going to keep on voting until they get the answer they want,” the Labour leader said, echoing the arguments of anti-‘people’s vote’ campaigners.)Bridgen used this footage as evidence that Corbyn agrees with him that there should be no second EU referendum, and asked Lidington to concur. This particular Tory backbencher can hardly be expected to follow any party line, but it shows the Conservatives as a whole have not yet decided whether to emphasise Corbyn’s long-held Euroscepticism, and in turn Labour’s splits over the EU, or ignore it and claim the opposition wants to “frustrate” Brexit.Thornberry kicked off with a gag.To the delight of members on the Labour benches, Thornberry started: “I’m so glad to renew my acquaintance with the minister for the Cabinet Office – or as the newspapers always call him, effectively the deputy Prime Minister. Surely the only occasion these days when the words Prime Minister and effective are used in the same sentence.” This is why people look forward to these ‘fake’ PMQs – though unfortunately this was the only witty comment of the session.Lidington was shifty.It was widely expected that Thornberry would press her sparring partner on customs union membership, as David Lidington is known to be one of those in government pushing for a softer Brexit. The Tories were fully expecting that approach; as Ken Clarke said later, the two were “trying to find detailed point on which they disagree” though could reach an agreement in five minutes if it were left to them.It looks as if Lidington was indeed afraid that the Shadow Foreign Secretary would succeed in forcing a slip-up. The Cabinet Office minister employed the Prime Minister’s usual tactic of not answering any questions, and no repartee was forthcoming. Once the head-to-head with Thornberry was over, he was much more relaxed, with a strong and lengthy attack on the SNP government in response to Ian Blackford and an emotional reply to a colleague’s question concerning the recent house fire in Stafford.Thornberry backed Article 50 extension.Although Labour did whip for the Cooper amendment (advocating Article 50 extension if the government could not pass a deal by the end of February), and Keir Starmer has described a Brexit delay as “inevitable”, which practically everyone in Westminster agrees with, the opposition party is not entirely comfortable supporting the move. The fear remains that it risks confirming perceptions of a metropolitan Labour Party blocking Brexit, so Corbyn and his spokesman are careful to frame this outcome as being the fault of the government.But Labour is getting more comfortable about explicitly endorsing it. Without caveats, Thornberry asked: “Does the minister not agree that the sensible, cautious thing to do at this late stage is to seek a temporary extension of Article 50, so that we have time to see whether negotiations succeed or if they do not to pursue a different plan?”.Thornberry summed up the reasons for backing customs union membership.“The technological solution is a non-starter. A permanent backstop will never be acceptable to the ERG or the DUP. The only solution that will actually work is a full customs union,” she argued. While a customs union will never be acceptable to the ERG/DUP either, it is key to getting Labour on board with the deal. Whether a Brexit deal passes is still a question of whether the non-binding political declaration on the UK’s future relationship with the EU is changed.The Tory frontbench was more male and pale than ever. No effort was made to make up for the gender diversity usually provided by the Prime Minister, and the two sitting either side of Lidington couldn’t look more like Tory caricatures. It seems Conservative chair Brandon Lewis was ignoring his own advice again. In the i today, Katy Balls reveals that Lewis recently “helped give a presentation declaring that the key to winning the next election was by appealing to female voters”. He then attacked a Labour parliamentary candidate for appearing to ‘like’ a ‘dick pic’ on Twitter. (Sally Keeble says she was hacked.) And today Lewis helped give the impression that his party has not addressed its racial and gender diversity issues.Tags:PMQs /Labour /Emily Thornberry /Brexit /David Lidington /last_img read more

Read more…

WPD arrests three in monthlong narcotics and gang investigation

first_imgHarris, Allen, Graham (Photo: WPD) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Members of the Wilmington Police Department’s Gang Unit concluded a month long narcotics and gang investigation Friday, resulting in the arrest of three Wilmington people.Wilmington Police executed warrants for Marcqueice Graham, 19, Rone’quia Harris, 26, and Roderick Allen, 17. Police seized two hand guns, one of which had an altered serial number, 7.7 grams of marijuana, heroin packaging material, a grinder and $275 cash.- Advertisement – Police say Graham, a validated member of Folk Nation: Gangster Disciples 720 gang, is charged with possession of firearm with altered serial number, possession of marijuana up to 1/2 ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia.Harris is charged with possession of marijuana up to 1/2 ounce and possession of drug paraphernalia.Allen, a validated member of Folk Nation: Gangster Disciples 720 gang, is charged with trafficking Heroin, sell and deliver schedule I, sell and deliver within 1000 feet of a school. Allen was also charged in a 2016 drive-by shooting.last_img read more

Read more…

Meet Lily 2yearold Beagle

first_img Lily’s previous owner told New Hanover County Animal Services she is both crate trained and house trained and has lived with male and female dogs as well as male cats. However, she is not familiar with children.Lily is responsive to certain commands like “sit”, “stay”, “down” and “come”.If you think she could be the perfect addition to your home, head to New Hanover County Animal Services.Related Article: Is there a safe temperature to leave a dog in a car?County residents can adopt for $70.Adoption services are available between Noon and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday or Saturday from 8 a.m. to Noon. This Saturday, though, there will not be adoption hours because of the Free Rabies Clinic.To see other animals available for adoption, click here. NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — If you need a little extra love in your life, meet Lily.She is a 2-year-old Beagle who absolutely loves to cuddle and is looking for a place to call home.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Read more…

Hoggard high students walk out on anniversary of Columbine shooting

first_img Their signs called for an end to gun violence and that’s something these students say they want to see happen soon.Today is the anniversary of the Columbine shooting and these students say they want to make their voices heard.“At this point, I’m past patiently waiting for congress to step up to the plate and do something about it,” student Vivian Hornstein said. “They’ve been talking about change for 20+ years. It’s time to talk about change and it’s time to make the change now and step up to the plate, and that’s what we’re out here to do.”Related Article: One arrested, one injured after shooting in Pender CountyAccording to a school spokesperson, the students who left campus will receive detention.A Columbine remembrance rally is also planned for tonight in front of the Federal courthouse in downtown Wilmington. 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Even with the knowledge of being punished for skipping school, Hoggard High School students took part in a nationally planned school walk out.About a dozen students left school just before 10 a.m. to walk down to the intersection of South College Road and Shipyard Boulevard in front of Rite Aid to stand in protest.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Read more…

Police rescue woman attacked bitten multiple times by dog

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police says they rescued a 31 year old woman from a pit bull attack Wednesday night.Officers responded to the 1200 block of Spofford Circle around 10 p.m. after receiving a 911 call from a neighbor, who had also been bitten.- Advertisement – 1 of 2 Officers responded to the 1200 block of Spofford Circle where a woman was attacked by a dog. (Photo: WWAY) Officers responded to the 1200 block of Spofford Circle where a woman was attacked by a dog. (Photo: WWAY)center_img Officers say when they got there they found the pit bull standing aggressively over Mary Hinson, of Wilmington. Hinson was unconscious and had multiple bite wounds. Officers tased the pit bull, causing it to retreat, giving them the chance to get to Hinson. EMS transported Hinson to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where she underwent surgery. Police say she is in stable condition.Related Article: Insta-gram: Teen accused of using platform to advertise weedDuring the investigation, officers learned Hinson did not have permission to be on the property from the owner, Sherry Spivey, who is currently in jail.Officers located multiple dogs inside the house, which is in very poor condition. New Hanover County Animal Control took the dogs into custody.WPD is continuing to investigate this incident.We will have the latest tonight on WWAY News.last_img read more

Read more…

Lifeguards go onduty for the summer

first_imgLifeguard CAPE FEAR REGION, NC (WWAY) — Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start to summer, but it’s the official start to lifeguards being on-duty in along our coast.According to Wrightsville Beach and Kure Beach Fire departments, lifeguards on those beaches will be on-duty for the season starting Friday.- Advertisement – Carolina Beach Fire Department says their lifeguards will be on the beach completing training Friday and will officially start Saturday.last_img

Read more…

European survey for lesbian gay bisexual trans intersex nonbinary and other gender

first_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> To support equal treatment legislation and policy making, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched an EU-wide LGBTI survey, with a questionnaire that is available online for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people over the age of 15 living in the European Union, N. Macedonia, and Serbia.Based on the survey results, national and European policy makers as well as non-governmental or civil society organisations will be able to better target their advocacy strategies and activities to support the LGBTI community to live and express themselves freely without any discrimination.The European LGBTI Survey counts on the participation of a large and diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and Intersex people from each country. This is the second wave of an EU-wide effort to collect LGBTI experiences in the framework of the ever largest survey made in this field. Besides occasional news reports about discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, there is very little comparable data collected across the EU about the everyday experiences of LGBTI people with respect to discrimination.The survey is being commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The implementation is done by Agilis, a statistical consultancy firm and the communication by Homo Evolution, an organisation dedicated to communication for the LGBTI community. WhatsApp SharePrintlast_img read more

Read more…

Local drag racing drivers for UK Doorslammer event

first_imgS. Debono PhotographyS. Debono Photography Drag racing driver Rosello Cassar, who this year is celebrating his 20 years of racing, is celebrating this anniversary with his MK1 Escort at Santa Pod in England.Ruth Galea PhotographyBetween the 17th and 19th of May, Cassar will be competing at Doorslammers – an event that was extremely popular in the seventies and eighties at the raceway, Santa Pod. A few years ago this event resumed with a much bigger, new format and is quickly becoming popular, attracting huge crowds and many drivers.Apart from Cassar, there will also be another Maltese drag racing driver Paul Fenech who will be racing another Escort MK1 belonging to Andy Harris.Both Cassar and Fenech are members of the Malta Drag Racing Association, as well as regular and successful drivers at the Ħal Far Raceway.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=a7617b59&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=128&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=a7617b59&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more

Read more…

Vodacom App store reaches 100 000 downloads

first_imgAdvertisement The program will launch in Johannesburg on 7 October 2011 at the Protea Fire and Ice Hotel in Melrose Arch from 6-9pm and in Cape Town on 10 October 2011 at Vodacom’s main auditorium in Century City from 6-9pm. This is free for those wishing to attend.“We see the Apps store as the embryo of an ecosystem. We’re looking forward to building a network of successful local developers, so they can help develop apps that help South Africans,” said Prins Mhlanga, Vodacom Managing Executive of Digital Media.“With our apps initiative, we hope to complement and enhance this already vibrant community,”said Mhlanga. – Advertisement – The program promises to be a valuable knowledge sharing and learning exercise for the industry as a whole. Those attending will be provided with the opportunity to:–       engage with the most renowned industry specialists in the mobile apps marketplace;–       discuss tools to monetize apps–       identify training opportunities in the mobile apps environment; and–       gain insight into Vodacom’s innovation incentives and available technical and commercial support.The Vodacom Apps Store was launched on 1 September 2011, and features a catalogue of over 140 000 applications powered by Appia, one of the world’s largest open application marketplaces. All Vodacom customers who wish to access Vodacom apps can do so by visiting http://vodacom.mobi/apps on their cellphones or from the apps feature on Vodafone live!“The opportunities for further development in the Vodacom Apps Store are significant considering it also supports all major platforms including Android, Blackberry, Java, Symbian and Windows Mobile,” concluded Mhlanga.Developers and interested parties are invited to register for the Vodacom Developer Programme at www.vodacom.co.za/developerSource: itnewsafricalast_img read more

Read more…

Official PayPal app for the Samsung Gear 2 now available

first_imgAdvertisement PayPal’s dedicated app for the smartwatch  which was announced during the launch of the Samsung Gear 2 at Mobile World Congress earlier this year is now available.The app allows you to check-in at local stores to pay for purchases, redeem offers, receive payment notifications, view and manage recent transactions directly from your wrist.The version currently available is listed as 1.40. – Advertisement – If you’ve got a Gear 2 and a compatible device, head on over to Samsung’s app store or use the Gear manager to download the PayPal app.Credit: Android Centrallast_img read more

Read more…

How absence of real democracy could ruin your startup

first_imgUgandan internet users resorted to VPN solutions to access social media sites after the country’s operator blocked access. This Google Trends graph shows the interest in “VPN” as a search query over the last few days. Credit: Google Trends Advertisement I SPENT most of yesterday evening thinking about my O’Level History lessons. About the chapters we learnt about various African kingdoms, and a question that was common in most examinations: the factors that lead to the growth of Kingdom A, Kingdom B, e.t.c We used to joke about how any of such questions, regardless of the kingdom in question always had to have “strong and/or able leaders” among the responses. It was a bit of a template response.In those kingdoms, there was no democracy. The King’s word was law. It didn’t matter what their subjects felt. They didn’t have the power to think: they only needed to fight. Fight FOR their king. – Advertisement – “The Kingdom of Dahomey [for example] was an important regional power that had an organized domestic economy built on conquest and slave labor, significant international trade with European powers, a centralized administration, taxation systems, and an organized military,” reads this Wikipedia article. Dahomey was located in the area of present-day Benin.And such seems to be the situation in Uganda today. With the same president since I was three months old, you get a sense of a “more of the same” standard of life. And the inevitable expectation to discuss case studies of how neighbors – Rwanda especially – have made tremendous strides in the direction of development. And Kenya. Actively embracing technology to build for a future we, back in Uganda, only read and write about. A future where a guarantee of constant power supply would enable you to dream about services that require 99.9% uptime.Then came this week. The week that started with calls for Uganda’s social media users to ensure they participate in the election and to dispel the notion they only just talk without action. You could feel the excitement. The anticipation. The hope. The energy!Then came 18th. And all this was blown away in just one morning!Let me explain:At around 6am on polling day, I was going through my phone as I waited for the team we were meant to work with that day. A friend texted me about why MTN Mobile Money was down, and if I knew how long it could take before it was restored.I had no idea.Moments later, I learnt that actually, Mobile Money services, as well as Social Media, had been “disabled” by Uganda’s Communications regulator “due to a threat to Public Order and Safety”, a text message from one of the operators read.The UCC has directed MTN to disable all SocialMedia & MobileMoney services due to a threat to Public Order & Safety. pic.twitter.com/BqPcUyW0QF— MTN Uganda (@mtnug) February 18, 2016For Uganda, this was quite new, although it wasn’t surprising. Most of my colleagues who said they weren’t going to vote in this election said the reason was because their “votes don’t count” and that government was going to rig, one way or the other.But we didn’t immediately see the correlation between mobile money as a service and public order and safety. As we explored ways to bypass the blockade, MTN sent further text messages reminding customers that the call centers were going to be closed in just a few hours: 1400hrs local time, the country’s largest operator said.Ugandan internet users resorted to VPN solutions to access social media sites after the country’s operator blocked access. This Google Trends graph shows the interest in “VPN” as a search query over the last few days. Credit: Google TrendsIt felt like the country was shutting down. I got calls from friends as we drove out of town to our constituency, trying to enquire how MTN could actually shut down a 24/7 call-in service. The MTN employees in charge of communications I spoke to said they had no prior knowledge of this shutdown, suggesting this was an impromptu requirement.I’ve spent the 10 months in the Communications Sector, specifically the telecommunications industry. Part of my work has been understanding – and helping others understand – how revolutionary mobile money is, and why it is set to be the future of payments, especially in sub-saharan Africa.I have worked with youth developing solutions that rely entirely on Mobile Money for payments. In October 2015, MTN said over 70% of all utility bill payments in Uganda were going through its platform, and announced that it had hit a monthly transactions record of over 40 million. Airtel said a  month later that it was facilitating about 20million transactions. That’s a combined 60million transactions a month. Or two million every day.From the MTN Mobile Money perspective, over the last three days, over four million transactions have been blocked. From an revenue perspective, Uganda’s largest taxpayer has directly lost a minimum of UGX. 2,000,000,000; taking the minimum transaction charge of UGX 500/=. Of course the actual figures would be higher.While announcing their preliminary observations of this month’s general elections, one of the EU observers said; “… I’ve spoken with your president; he wants to develop the country, he says, but in most cases, development and democracy go hand in hand.” He makes an important point.With unemployment so rampant, the greater majority of the 60,000+ mobile money agents rely on daily performance to pay their employees – an estimated 160,000, according to MTN. Others – also about 50,000 Ugandans – rely on Mobile Money for lighting. A solution called ReadyPay, available on a pay-to-own basis using MTN Mobile Money, works like a phone top-up to enable the user to make affordable daily Mobile Money payments.Thousands of hardworking Ugandans being exposed to risk of inability to afford a meal by impunity!These are real problems, affecting real people. Imagine if the US government could arbitrarily shutdown PayPal! If we’re asking our developers to make mobile money as integral as, perhaps, PayPal is, then we have to guarantee that it will be available when users need it.Something we can’t!In the absence of guarantees that such arbitrary, politically motivated, blockades won’t occur, it becomes difficult to convince innovators to develop solutions that actualize a cashless economy. Because you WILL get stuck if you’re onboard a taxi hoping to pay using mobile money, and realize that, without notice, your government asked the operator to shut it down.But why?It’s unclear. But Opposition Party FDC claimed that the had been holding about UGX. 500 million that was meant to facilitate their field agents. We have over 500 million meant to facilitate our election observers blocked on our phones – FDC’s Yusuf N. #UgandaDecides— Masake Anthony (@masakeonline) February 19, 2016This is bad and should be condemned in the strongest terms.Sad day for #internet & #ict use for Uganda #ugandadecides https://t.co/dczexn4dwx— CIPESA (@cipesaug) February 18, 2016But unfortunately, representatives of government don’t think so: We did (shutting down social media) what a responsible govt should do and we have no regrets with that – Min. of ICT #UgandaDecides— Masake Anthony (@masakeonline) February 19, 2016#thecapitalgang@OfwonoOpondo: Social Media was not closed by the NRM. It was closed by the government of Uganda— 91.3 Capital FM (@913CapitalFM) February 20, 2016Impact on Online PublishersRelatedly, shutting down social media has direct consequence on online publishers, like PC Tech Magazine, who rely on the networks for traffic. In a case where social media accounts for, say, 40% of your traffic, a your local traffic would have fallen significantly since the ban came into effect – until, at least we had enough users browsing via VPNs.Issues affecting traffic directly affect revenue, especially when implementing visitor-based monetization solutions like Google AdSense.Yet, such effort isn’t necessarily worth it by any measure. Within 24 hours since social media sites were blocked, 1.4million VPN apps had been downloaded from the Android Play Store. And various other users were using VPN iOS apps.Beyond ICT, the good old tourism business would probably be most affected by negative stories published about a country that’s considered undemocratic. For the last 6 days, Uganda has been the focus of international media, with the vast majority of the coverage being negative. Unfortunately, this same international media will not be told of a more public-interest positive story to publish about Uganda soon.Good for development? “You can make your own conclusions,” as the European Union Election Observers said when asked if they considered this election free and fair. Or maybe, like in Dahomey, the strongest leaders aren’t always the most democratic. But that has its consequences.last_img read more

Read more…

Senior Facebook executive arrested in Brazil over data access

first_imgA senior Facebook executive Diego Dzodan was detained in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, 1 March, 2015 after he refused to grant police access to data from WhatsApp. Image Credit: Facebook Advertisement A senior Facebook executive Diego Dzodan was detained in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday after he refused to grant police access to data from WhatsApp, an instant messaging service that is owned by Facebook saying it was a decisive to a criminal investigation.AFP reports that the social media exec was arrested in his home and is being held awaiting questioning from the authorities.  Facebook said in a statement that its disappointed with the extreme and disproportionate measure of having a Facebook executive escorted to a police station in connection with a case involving WhatsApp, which operates separately from Facebook. Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have.” – Advertisement – The company added saying: “Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have.”Washington Post reports that Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, was taken into custody on his way into work following a judicial order from a judge, said Matt Steinfeld, WhatsApp spokesman. According to WhatsApp Inc., they reported saying, they don’t keep messages that are delivered to the recipients. “No one, not even WhatsApp, can intercept people’s messages.” They added.The dispute can be traced back four months when the Brazilian police requested for a wiretap after officers investigating that a drug trafficking gang was using WhatsApp to discuss business. Brazilian media reported at the time.[related-posts]After Facebook refused to comply with the request for information, authorities imposed daily fines two months ago that started at about $12,500. A month ago, the fines rose to about $250,000 a day.The case reflects the growing conflict between technology firms, intelligence services, governments and so much more around the world over access to customer data.  The disagreement in Brazil somehow reflects to the disagreement between the tech giant Apple Inc. and the intelligence agency FBI in the United States.Where the company (Apple Inc.) is refusing to give the government access to data from an iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists that was involved in the San Bernardino, California, shootings which happened last year on December 12. A similar case happened to Whatsapp Inc. on December 17, 2015, where Brazil temporarily shut down access to WhatsApp for 48 hours for failure to comply with a July court order in a criminal case.Tonight, a Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for more than 100 million people who rely on it in her country.We are…Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, December 17, 2015Both WhatsApp and Facebook are hugely popular in Brazil, where WhatsApp has got more than 100 million users.Earlier this week when WhatsApp Inc. was celebrating its seventh birthday, they planned on putting an even greater emphasis on security features in the coming months. Although U.S. law enforcement says it supports encryption, it has expressed frustration with its inability to gain access to user data in criminal and terrorism cases.last_img read more

Read more…