Thursday, May 26, 2016

Poverty is cancer causing

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Hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths around the world may have occurred as a result of the recession of 2008, experts have said.

Unemployment and austerity were associated with more than 260,000 extra deaths of cancer patients in countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a study has shown. Those countries with universal health coverage (UHC), such as the UK, and a record of increased public health spending, had fewer casualties.

Lead scientist Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, from Imperial College London, said: “Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide so understanding how economic changes affect cancer survival is crucial. We found that increased unemployment was associated with increased cancer mortality, but that universal health coverage protected against these effects. This was especially the case for treatable cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal [bowel] cancer.”

The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, looked at links between unemployment, public health care spending, and cancer deaths in more than 70 high- and middle-income countries. The data included fatality rates for several “treatable” cancers including breast, prostate and bowel cancer, and other more deadly cancers such as those of the lung and pancreas.

Higher unemployment was associated with increased mortality from all the different cancer types, especially treatable cancers, between 2008 and 2010. Lack of access to care may have been a factor that contributed to these excess deaths, researchers said.

An estimated 260,000 more cancer deaths than would have been expected without the recession occurred in the 35 member states of the OECD alone. In countries with universal health coverage the link between unemployment and excess cancer deaths disappeared. These were countries where UHC was enshrined in law and where 90% of the population had access to health care.

Of the OECD countries, 26 had universal health coverage while nine including Russia and the US did not.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Poverty is genetically damaging

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Being poor can change your genes and increase your chances of depression. Living in poverty can cause changes to people’s DNA that make them more likely to become depressed, anxious and possibly take drugs, according to a ground-breaking new study.

Researchers in the United States found that teenagers from deprived backgrounds tended to undergo changes to a gene that increases the activity of a part of the brain involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response and panic attacks. This increased activity in the amygdala has been linked to a greater risk of depression.

They also found that a low socio-economic status was associated with low levels of serotonin, sometimes referred to as the happiness hormone.

In recent years, studies have shown that not only can genes be changed by the environment and even social interactions, but these ‘epigenetic’ changes can then be passed on to the next generation.

In a new paper in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry, scientists from Duke University in the US described how this might help explain why depression appears to run in some of the poorest families.

Deprivation was associated with “a host of negative outcomes including poorer general health and increased risk for mental illness including depression, anxiety, and addiction”, they wrote.

“Low socio-economic status may confer risk through a variety of mechanisms, including higher levels of perceived and objective stress and cumulative environmental risk such as poor housing quality, noise pollution, and exposure to violence,” the researchers added.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr Johnna Swartz, said their work had shown how these kinds of problems were affecting the genes of the people concerned.

“This is some of the first research to demonstrating that low socio-economic status can lead to changes in the way genes are expressed, and it maps this out through brain development to the future experience of depression symptoms,” she said.

“These small daily hassles of scraping by are evident in changes that build up and affect children’s development.”

They studied changes involving a specific gene, called SLC6A4, in 132 adolescents aged between 11 and 15 over a period of two years. People from poor backgrounds were found to accumulate greater quantities of a chemical tag on or near the gene that made their amygdala more responsive to photographs of fearful faces that were shown to then while their brain was being monitoring by an MRI scanner.

Study co-author Professor Douglas Williamson said: “The biggest risk factor we have currently for depression is a family history of the disorder. Our new work reveals one of the mechanisms by which such familial risk may be manifested or expressed in a particular group of vulnerable individuals during adolescence.”

And Ahmad Hariri, a Duke professor of psychology and neuroscience, added: "As they enter into young adulthood they are going to be experiencing more problems with depression or anxiety - or maybe substance abuse. "The extent to which our measures of their genomes and brains earlier in their lives continue to predict their relative health is something that's very important to know and very exciting for us to study.

Selling Repression

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Despite the suspension imposed after more than 600 anti-coup protesters were killed by security forces in Cairo in August 2013, 12 EU members, including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK remain among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment, flouting an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt a human rights group said in a statement. They risk complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, according to Amnesty International. The items that have been sold to Egypt by the EU states through exports and brokering have included: small arms, light weapons and ammunition; armoured vehicles; military helicopters; heavier weapons for use in counterterrorism and military operations, and surveillance technology.

"Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated," said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director at Amnesty International.

"We would like to see an embargo on all items that are used by the internal security forces in these sorts of serious violations," Brian Wood, head of arms control and human rights at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera. "We want perpetrators to be brought to justice because you cannot have a secure country without respect for human rights and the rule of law," Wood said. "The Egyptian government is on a completely wrong course." 

In 2015 alone, rights groups recorded more than 1,250 forced disappearances and 267 alleged extrajudicial killings, in addition to 40,000 political prisoners.

El Salvador's Suffering

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When we talk about all the children from Central America being sent to the US by their parents, alone across hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, you have to ask why.

Here's one explanation from El Salvador. The country is facing a record wave of murders — 22 killings a day, on average, in the first three months of 2016. For years, the nation has been considered one of the deadliest on earth.

Rape at the hands of relatives and a lack of sex education (El Salvador has no formal curriculum on sex education, and schools are not required to provide it) are driving pregnancies among girls in El Salvador, which is struggling to stem one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America. More than a third of all pregnancies in the Central American nation are among girls aged 10 to 19, and girls as young as 9 have become pregnant. Rape and incest at the hands of grandfathers, fathers and other relatives is often the cause of pregnancies in girls aged 10 to 14, although there are no official figures.

"With adolescent pregnancies there's always a component of violence through either incest, or violence in the family, or domestic violence," Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza, explained. "Fathers migrate, leaving mothers to be the sole breadwinner. Mothers find work in the garment factories and work all day so children are free, left alone," he said. "They are completely vulnerable." 

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among teenage girls worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among girls under 16 compared to women in their early twenties.


Initiatives to develop a nationwide curriculum on sex education have been opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and some evangelical groups. In 2008, the church blocked a manual for teachers, created by the education ministry, from being used to teach sexual health in schools.

The Non-Event World Summit

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The two-day World Humanitarian Summit kicked off on May 23 in Istanbul. Do you recall the media headline reporting? There were  5,500 participants, 55 head of states, in this first-ever summit solely focused on the humanitarian crises facing the world today.  With the exception of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (and she was there to negotiate with Turkey on the return of refugees in return for an end of visas for Turks coming to Europe), no other leader from the richest countries or of the UN Security Council attended. Nor could the Summit mobilise the much-needed resources it had hoped for. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed strong “disappointment” on the absence of leaders of the most powerful countries.

Although they reiterated their appeal for solidarity to aid the most vulnerable people on Earth – 130 million victims of conflicts and natural disasters, none of the attendees could hold out or offer any hope soon. The resources required to rescue the lives of tens of millions of human beings represent only 1 per cent of the total world military expenditure. 80 per cent of the UN humanitarian resources is spent on man-made crises. The funding gap for humanitarian action of an estimated 15 billion dollars, according to UN estimates but to put it in perspective the world is producing 78 trillion dollars of annual Gross Domestic Product.

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a leading humanitarian organisation with over 5000 humanitarian workers across more than 25 countries explained humanitarian assistance does not reach thousands of victims who are among the most vulnerable of all. “In Fallujah, Iraq, there are now over 50,000 civilians who are besieged, prey to the Islamic State (IS), Engeland cited as an example. “Nobody is helping them, nobody is reaching them, he warned. The Iraqi government is not helping them, the humanitarian organisations cannot reach them.” There are thousands of victims like them who are in dire need but are not reached. In Yemen, Engeland said, there are 20 million civilians among the most vulnerable, while stressing that coalitions supported by Western countries are attacking civilians. Egeland expressed hope that leaders can ask themselves if they can at least stop giving arms, giving money to those armed groups that are systematically violating the humanitarian law, and bombing hospitals and schools, abusing women and children. Fighting parties, be they governmental or militias or opposition or rebels, still get weapons that they use to blow up hospitals and kill civilians, he warned. “Let’s blacklist that armed group and that army and that government…We lack governments saying they will also uphold humanitarian law and the UN refugee convention, keeping borders open and keeping the right of asylum sacrosanct,” Egeland added and then emphasized that “all borders should be open… in Europe, in the Gulf states… in the United States…As Europeans, when we initiated the refugee convention we really felt that asylum was important when we were the asylum seekers. Why don’t we think it’s equally important now, when we are those to whom people come for asylum?” 

Oxfam attended the event but decried the "conspicuous absences" of key world leaders who "dodged their responsibility to protect civilians from the ongoing suffering of wars and natural disasters," executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement. Oxfam's country director for Turkey, Meryem Aslan, told CBC News the organization was disappointed that "lip service" continued to be paid in some areas. "We were hoping for a stronger commitment to accountability and ending impunity," she said. "There were no such bold actions."

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, warned, “the less we help in conflict zones, the more people will move,” and that “sticking people in camps is not the solution.”

The "political communiqué" signed by summit participants is not legally binding. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) criticized the event as nothing but a "fig-leaf of good intentions" and pulled out earlier this month, in part over the world's failure to protect civilians in conflict zones and the failure of the UN to hold states accountable. 
"States increasingly and shamelessly brush aside legal frameworks that once ensured a minimum of hope and humanity for people caught up in crises and war, and for those fleeing violence and despair," Stephen Cornish, executive director of Doctors Without Borders Canada, told CBC News in an email Tuesday. "The World Humanitarian Summit could have been an opportunity to address these vital issues but failed to do so."

Benefit sanctions lead to self-harm, crime and destitution

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Benefit sanctions lead claimants to self-harm, crime and destitution, warns internal research, commissioned by Salford City Council, suggests that a sudden loss of income by removing benefits could damage mental health. It adds that evidence provided by Salford Central Food bank, run by the Trussell Trust, shows that 62 per cent of referrals for emergency food in 2014 were made by claimants who had received a benefit sanction. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has always strongly denied a link between sanctions and food banks.

Contrary to the DWP’s insistence that the threat of sanctioning encourages social security claimants to move from benefits into work, the system at present causes “damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution”, the report’s authors claim.

“People on benefits are already struggling to afford food, heating and essential costs. They can’t save so they have no financial safety net. They live in dread of being sanctioned  which isn’t the right frame of mind for job hunting, volunteering or going back into education,” said City Mayor, Paul Dennett.

The new report also places a particular emphasis on the plight of Salford’s young people, claiming that the 18 to 25 age group are most the affected by sanctions. The council commissioned Connexions – the Government agency tasked with providing advice and guidance to young people – who highlighted “significant” numbers of young people were moving away from state support.

 “This impacts on them financially but also denies access to programmes of education, training and employment therefore exacerbating the issue. Their families are also negatively impacted as they may be feeding and clothing the young person from a limited household income,” the report claims.

The report, DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On, continues: “Despite the drop in numbers in Salford receiving a benefit sanction for those who are sanctioned the impact is devastating. A ‘financial shock’ such as a sanction causes both immediate and longer term impact as most people do not have the means to save, so have no safety net. This presents an emergency need for money to buy food, pay for heating and essential travel costs.”


The report says that the rate of people being sanctioned in the area has not reduced over the previous 12 month period. But, critically, it adds: “Register sizes are decreasing and we believe this is in part due to a growing number of ‘disappeared’. These are claimants who drop their benefit claim or who move off benefit but do not take up employment. The Government has refused to publish destination data.”

It concludes: “From the wide range of responses we have received from Salford agencies working with claimants, despite the fall in sanctions, the impact of sanctions both on claimants and services within the City cannot be overstated and the harsh regime will be expected to include additional groups as Universal Credit rolls out nationally this year.”

The report follows on from an interim study, published in October 2014, which suggested that sanctioning could lead to extreme hardship, reliance on loan sharks, shoplifting and depression. The fresh findings appear to reinforce this bleak picture of life on a benefit sanction in the City of Salford.

Rebecca Long Bailey, the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, said to The Independent that the research "shows charities are increasingly having to step in to support claimants who are thrown into crisis due to delays and sanctions".  Ms Bailey added: “As an MP, I have seen some truly horrific cases, where the effects have been severe damage to my constituents’ mental and physical health, as well as the tragic case of David Clapson, who was found dead in his flat from diabetic ketoacidosis, two weeks after his benefits were suspended. His sister discovered her brother’s body and found his electricity had been cut off, meaning the fridge where he stored his insulin was no longer working. They must know that sanctioning people with diabetes is very dangerous but the system treats people as statistics and numbers. This report shows where we are in Salford today, one year on from the original report. Sadly, it illustrates the devastating impact sanctions have on the lives of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.”

We are not 'you and us' we are just 'us'

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Oldham, which a study by the Office for National Statistics recently found to be the most deprived town in England.  Fifteen years after riots pitted communities against each other, poverty is uniting residents of Oldham.

"I walk three miles from Shaw to Oldham every week no matter how the weather is, to come and collect the food here. I have to, I don't have anything else," says a middle-aged man in worn-out clothes as he devours his second portion of curry with egg.  He clutches a parcel of donated food - cereal, pasta and tinned goods.

Many others make the weekly pilgrimage to the Oldham Unitarian Church every Monday morning. The One World Cafe at the church serves a free meal to around 70 people every Monday. White, Asian and black users sit together. There are locals and refugees, old people and young, homeless people and substance abusers, Muslims and Christians all eating together. The church, in partnership with the Islamic charitable organisation UK Education and Faith Foundation (UKEFF), runs a weekly "food and support" service. The service provides free food, clothes and toys as well as legal, welfare and housing assistance, enabling a network of volunteers and support groups to reach out to local people in need of help.

Hasan is from Bangladesh. He arrived in the UK three years ago and, as an asylum seeker, isn't allowed to work. He has been using the service for nearly two months and says the food parcel "is a massive help for getting through the week". Still, his family cannot afford to use electricity or heat their home and he says he struggles to feed them.  The cafe offers more than just food for him. It's an opportunity to socialise. "Loneliness is one of my main problems in this town," Hasan says.

Johnny is an Oldham local and, as a heavy drug user, is one of the service's more vulnerable attendees. "UKEFF is one of the only places I can feel secure and relaxed and forget about the stress of my life," he says. "They are such giving people and I appreciate their help every week." After collecting his own parcel, Johnny volunteers in the cafe, serving food and tidying plates. "It's great because you can meet people from all walks of life here and, volunteer or not, everybody is treated and talked to at the same level," he says. "There is no judgement here."

During the 1950s and 1960s, migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh arrived in Oldham destined for the mills and factories, where they were often employed for lower wages than the locals. But the country's industrial decline during the 1960s and 1970s was sorely felt here and when most of the mills shut down, few job opportunities were left for the town's indigenous or migrant population. It still hasn't been able to rejuvenate its economy and many of its residents live in poverty.

During a weekend at the end of May 2001, racial conflict rocked the town. After increasingly frequent demonstrations by far-right groups and tit-for-tat incidents between different communities, street battles broke out. Hundreds were arrested and 82 police officers and 22 passers-by were injured as bricks and Molotov cocktails were hurled in what became known as the Oldham Riots.

The Rev Bob Pounder Oldham’s Unitarian Church's minister, a staunch trade unionist and workers' rights activist,who used to be the secretary of the Greater Manchester Fire Brigades Union and once went to Iraq while the country was enduring international sanctions to show solidarity with Iraqi workers, explains, "Our mission is to show that another world is possible and that underneath it all, everybody just wants change in the town, but that this is only possible when everyone cares about those with least in society."

Nasim Ashraf started UKEFF in 2009 to address "the concerns and issues in society but from an Islamic ethos… to help and feed the needy and destitute", believes high rates of unemployment fuelled the trouble. "I think when people have a lot of time on their hands due to unemployment they are going to look for someone to blame, which causes divisions and fighting. I think that's what caused the riots. People were bored and frustrated and the frustration has to be geared towards something," he says. "Being British-Asian/Muslim, I feel there is still a classification of 'them and us'. We are third or fourth-generation immigrants and we need to start telling people, 'Come on now, we are good guys, we are British, just as British as you are'," he says. "We love a bag of chips on a Friday night and when we go to hot places like Pakistan we get sunburnt just like you guys. We are not 'you and us' we are just 'us'. We are one humanity. It does not matter what religion you follow."

The Socialist Party seldom win popularity contests as we decline to support charities on the grounds that such organisations are merely trying to deal with the symptoms of capitalism rather than capitalism itself. Are we unfeeling and uncaring, when confronted with the evidence of great misery and poverty in the world? Hardly, but we understand that misplaced caring within a capitalist system is as useful to the poor and dispossessed as no caring at all. The Socialist Party believe that poverty is unacceptable and unnecessary, whereas religions tend to see poverty as acceptable and, perhaps,  even a necessary tool in their moral teachings. Charities are at best, ineffective, at worst, downright harmful in addressing society's needs.

First, they are ineffective, because they put the responsibility for dealing with some of our biggest problems in the hands of well-meaning but ill-equipped do-gooders. Thus, the government is very happy to relinquish this chore of providing essential services to charities eager to pick up the slack, charities who are accountable only to their trustees. The current government has made an art of such surrendering, and Cameron even speaks of the widening role of charities with pride. Crucial tasks are left to well-meaning amateurs rather than well-rewarded professionals, a practice that undermines workers. Don't get us wrong— we  know that volunteerism is the basis of a truly socialist society, but that's volunteerism across the board. In the past charities used to top up services mostly provided by the government. Now charities are involved in every aspect of our lives and there is seemingly nothing we will not trust them to do.

Charities are a poor way of dealing with society's problems. Even the most efficiently run charity is grossly inefficient because of the nature of the beast. Charities respond to constant needs with inconsistent sources of income subject to the tides of a boom/bust economy and the public's response to this year's advertising campaign. Corners are cut as charities try desperately to balance their books. Charities look for quick-fix schemes that will impress contributors; long-term planning is an approach they can ill-afford. This is why, in the long run, charities are likely to damage more than help a worthy cause. Charity is a means of economic oppression because it maintains an ideology that is directly in opposition to socialism. Charity reinforces so many misconceptions about society: that social change relies on us being nice and feeling generous with what little disposable income we have; and that the disadvantaged should wag their tails with gratitude every time the wealthy toss them a bone labelled "charity".

Every charitable donation strengthens the notion that our basic needs –food, shelter, adequate medical care, basic education –are actually privileges. We have no right to expect our needs to be met, and we are meant to grovel like the degraded beggars we are when by accident we get what we need. We are conditioned to rightfully expect little of our 'democratically elected' governments. Capitalism and Charity have hand-in-hand worked to turn us into a world of few benefactors and millions of beggars.

Some might ask, considering socialists are out for a society where each gives of their labour and its produce freely, why we might be so down on charity. Our answer is, is that for us, socialism is not about moralistic giving and self-sacrifice, but a condition of society wherein helping others is the best way of helping ourselves though working to help others. The fruits of the common effort of socialism will not be gifts but, rather, the common wealth of all.

"I had become convinced as Ernest was when he sneered at charity as a poulticing of an ulcer. Remove the ulcer was his remedy; give to the worker his product; pension as soldiers those who grow honourably old in their toil, and there will be no need for charity. Convinced of this, I toiled with him at the revolution, and did not exhaust my energy in alleviating the social ills that continuously arose from the injustice of the system." – Jack London, Iron Heel


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The EU Decision

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Many are still undecided between voting ‘Leave‘ or ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum  and it is no wonder, as both sides make entirely contradictory claims and mostly rely on the ‘fear factor’ or exploiting prejudice to gain an advantage. But a look at the forces behind each campaign reveals a clear fact: both represent vested interests. Big business, which benefits most from open borders and common trading rules, wants to stay in, while smaller firms who trade less abroad and have little to gain from ‘red tape’, tend to favour leaving the EU.

For the rest of us – the 99% who live by working for these businesses, whose share-holders get rich from our labours – what difference will in or out make?  Whether government officials sit in Whitehall, Brussels or the Town Hall, they will still serve the interests of the minority who own the planet's resources and everything required to make the things we need in life, while the rest of us remain slaves to the wages system, living in varying degrees of poverty and the fear of war and environmental destruction, which none of our so-called leaders can resolve.

One day we may have a genuine referendum and vote to take power for ourselves, so we can run the world for the benefit of all, not just for a few. Until then, I suggest our readers ignore calls to take sides in this pointless EU charade and look out for themselves and their families by making sure they are in a proper union – a trade union.


BLAIR FACED LIAR (weekly poem)

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BLAIR FACED LIAR

22/05/16. The Sunday Times reported that it had received
inside information that the Chilcot Report will damn Tony
Blair, Jack Straw and Sir Richard Dearlove over the Iraq War.

The pious words of Tony Blair, (1)
That righteous Christian chap;
Will soon by Chilcot be laid bare, (2)
The WMD fake scare,
Will seem as thin as Tony’s hair,
As well as priggish pap. 

And waiting, too, for Judgement Day,
Are Dearlove and Jack Straw;  (3)
By prompting the Iraq affray,            
With Labour’s dodgy dossier, 
Both of these reprobates know they,
Broke international law.     

‘Spin Doctor’ Campbell, could soon wear, (4)
A thin and sheepish grin;
Which through the stress of the affair,
Could lead to uttering a prayer,
(And needing Khaki underwear!) 
Whilst twisting out more spin.   

When conscience caves in to deceit,
And many thousands die; (5)
There are those shuffling on their feet,
Where once they bathed in self-conceit,
Who soon will be forced to retreat,
For telling the BIG LIE.  

(1) Blair has conceded that the Iraq War probably led to the creation of ISIS
but is still probably in psychological denial as indicated by his stated belief
that God (and history) will judge him for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

(2) The latest information is that the Chilcot Report will be published 6/7/16.

(3) Straw was Foreign Secretary and Dearlove was head of MI6 at the time.

(4) Alastair Campbell, Blair’s spin doctor, has persistently denied that the
WMD intelligence reports were ‘sexed up’.

(5) The US owned Huffington Post published a survey saying half a million
people died in the Iraq war and aftermath. Other surveys show between
200,000 and 650,000 deaths occurred.

© Richard Layton

Cutting Waste

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When it comes to feeding the world, the focus is usually on increasing food production but a vital point is often overlooked: how much of the food that is grown never reaches the plate. A third of the food we produce throughout the world actually never gets eaten. We're talking about so-called post-harvest loss. It's a huge waste of resources.

"In Africa, we face a lot of challenges with agriculture, particularly around food security," Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director for Africa at The Rockefeller Foundation told DW. "There is a general perception that Africa is facing a production gap but the reality is that Africa can feed itself." The problem, he concedes, is post-harvest loss. "Africa produces 100 percent of what it needs in terms of food, but 60 percent of that production is lost!"

Whereas in many developed countries, the biggest problem associated with post-harvest loss is food going to waste, which could still be eaten, the problem in many poorer countries lies in the production process. The situation is particularly bad when it comes to fruits and vegetables. In Africa, half of them never make it to the market. Overall, 40 percent of all staple foods go to waste. The reason is often inadequate storage in the places where the food plants are harvested. Cassava, for example, a starchy tuberous root that is a major staple food in large parts of the developing world, spoils within 24 to 72 hours after harvest unless it is processed. Damage to food plants during processing or transport are additional problems. Less than 5 percent goes towards post-harvest management.

By 2050 the world population would be close to 9.5 billion. By then, we will need a lot more food. There is more to the issue than just producing enough food for the world. On average, small farmers in developing countries lose as much as 15 percent of their income to post-harvest loss. This affects a staggering 500 million farmers. For many of them, losing 15 percent of their income can be the difference between providing for their families and going hungry.

Furthermore, there is the environmental impact.

"About 25 percent of global fresh water and one-fifth of global farm land is used every year to grow crops that never get eaten," says Biteye. "Both water and arable land are scarce in many parts of the world and when we need more of both to feed the growing population it often means the destruction of ecosystems and the overall biodiversity in those places."

A huge problem is cost. A number of companies have developed innovative ways to dry food or store it in airtight containers. "But the farmers still can't afford them," Prasanta Kalita, director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois says. That's why for Kalita, developing low-tech solution or taking existing local storage or drying techniques and improving them is an important part of reducing post-harvest loss.

The Narcissitic Rich

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How does income inequality — currently at historically high levels — affect the types of leaders we get in the workplace?

Our analysis showed that higher parental income during one’s upbringing was related to higher levels of narcissism as an adult, and that higher narcissism was related to lower levels of engagement in relational, task, and change-oriented behaviors. Less engagement in these behaviors was associated with lower perceived effectiveness, and with less helping behavior and more counterproductive behavior in the group. In short, higher parental income indirectly impaired leadership performance by fostering narcissism, which in turn reduced engagement in important leadership behaviors.

Why does this matter for businesses? Well, narcissism has a complicated relationship with leadership. It has been linked with being evaluated positively and with the potential to emerge as a leader in groups of people that are not well acquainted. And in brief interactions (like a job interview), narcissists can often leave very positive impressions. But narcissism has also been linked to bad outcomes in the long run, because tendencies to prioritize oneself over others has negative effects on interpersonal relationships and group functioning over time.

Our findings suggest that a high-income background does not always translate into better performance, because while it might afford certain benefits, it can also foster a deep self-preoccupation that can impair leadership abilities. Conversely, and encouragingly, our findings suggest that people from humbler backgrounds often can succeed and perform just as well as people from greater wealth because they may not be prone to the same level of narcissistic tendencies.

Related research shows that higher income is related to lower concern and compassion for other people and lower tendencies to help them.

Capitalocene or the “Age of Capital”

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According to Pew Research, in 1970 three of every ten income dollars went to upper-income households. Now five of every ten dollars goes to them.

The Social Security Administration reports that over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year. That's less than an appropriate average living wage of $16.87 per hour, as calculated by Alliance for a Just Society.

For every $100 owned by a middle-income household in 2001, that household now has just $72.

Half or more of American families have virtually no savings, and would have to borrow money or sell possessions to cover an emergency expense. Between half and two-thirds of Americans have less than $1,000.

The typical black family has only enough liquid savings to last five days, compared to 12 days for the typical Hispanic household, and 30 days for a white household.

A JP Morgan study concluded that "the bottom 80% of households by income lack sufficient savings to cover the type of volatility observed in income and spending."

The number of families spending more than half their incomes on rent -- the 'severely' cost-burdened renters -- has increased by 50 percent in just ten years.

Fewer than one in three 25- to 34-year-olds live in their own homes, a 20 percent drop in just the past 15 years.

A new study that finds nearly a 15-year difference in life expectancy for 40-year-olds among the richest 1% and poorest 1% (10 years for women). Much of the disparity has arisen in just the past 15 years.

This story is about economics. As there is a worldwide surplus of labour, the companies and governments can do with you what they will. The disregard by the super-rich for the struggling poor has been ongoing for centuries, well before Dickens wrote of it. What is astonishing is the lack of solidarity amongst the poor and downtrodden--and those about to become part of that cohort -- and their seeming inability or desire to form a movement to overthrow their oppressors. The class war is what it is, and it's astonishing that so few are capable of seeing it despite feeling its effects. Anybody with any common sense and has eyes to see can see what in the hell is going on around them.

This is not rocket science. What we are living through is nothing less than class warfare of the elite ruling class against the working class under the support and administration of the state. We need solutions and a clear path for the working class people to implement to get ourselves out of this overwhelming state of domination and exploitation. In a nutshell, things are not going to change until the system is changed! The model for socialism is to move this planet into retrenchment, to take over all industries, to have a collective world system to manage all ecosystems, all fisheries, everything, and to make the commitment to rethinking everything to demand living more sustainably, living with durable goods, and dumping the throw-away consumerist attitude of capitalism, a world where the majority learns to live cooperatively and to wrest control of our respective destinies. The Socialist Party places a lot of hope in people’s ability to build a better world. Perhaps we are misguided and mistaken but what is the alternative. Capitalism cannot satisfy our human needs. It is falling apart on a hundred fronts.

We make a mistake when we try to predict the future and conclude everything will be the same, except more. We need to embrace change if we want to be prepared for the future but too often we're preparing for a future that doesn’t rectify the problems of the present. Our current geological epoch has been called as the Anthropocene, or “Age of Humans”, a term coined by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 due to the fact that humans are changing the face of the planet, and are clearly responsible for the current 6th mass extinction event and climate disruption. Socialists would prefer the term Capitalocene, or the “Age of Capital”. The former implies that humanity as an undifferentiated whole is culpable of the climate changes while the latter suggests that capital, and its system of class and power relations, are the real problem, the real driving force that has altered the planet so extensively. We should understand the historical forces of capitalism that have brought us to the edge. The logic of capitalism is to grow or die, and we are all being dragged towards the die part. We need targets of accountability, and we need remedies for the dispossessed. Socialists rightly put the blame for the environmental destruction at the doorstep of capitalism and the state.

 We must oppose the logic of addressing the symptoms rather than the cause. Having a clear vision of socialist principles is an essential ingredient to the growth of our movements. Our movement must be global, working across borders in solidarity with social movements everywhere. Socialism is all about empowerment. We must reject top-down organisations as well as any political party that seeks to retain power for themselves. Let’s build networks of communication and coordination.  The more we resist and express solidarity with each other the better our chances will be. Real hope comes from people looking at each other from side to side, not from bottom to top.

When the goal is to save humanity from extinction, half-measures won’t suffice. The reformist approaches of legislation and regulation failed; the revolutionary socialist approach is what is needed to save the world. Socialists have the responsibility to explain why tweaking the system will not draw us back from the brink of extinction.

Workers didn’t initiate industrial-scale fishing, logging or mining, and we didn’t start the wars. Working people may not have organised the exploitation and destruction of our biosystems, but whether you like it or not, you are a part of a struggle that will determine the outcome of the future of our planet. Your actions or lack of action will determine the fate of all life on this planet. We are responsible for our own actions. Doing nothing means there is no chance of averting the coming disaster. The answer lies in a socialist revolution. We must challenge all ideas of private ownership over natural resources. A full-blown political, social and economic revolution is what’s needed to fix the world.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Supplying Death

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A British-manufactured cluster bomb, BL-755 cluster bomb is designed to be dropped by UK-manufactured Tornado jets used by the Saudi Arabia,  has been found in a Yemeni village, all but confirming the banned weapons are being used by Saudi-led coalition forces in the Yemeni civil war.

The highly controversial weapons were banned in conflict decades ago. Amnesty International discovered the unexploded munition during an inspection of a village in northern Yemen. Since the 1980s and 1990s the UK is thought to have sold large numbers of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia and the UAE (which is also part of the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition), and the weapon is known to be in the ordnance stockpiles of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


“Cluster bombs are one of the nastiest weapons in the history of warfare, rightly banned by more than 100 countries, so it’s truly shocking that a British cluster munition has been dropped on a civilian area in Yemen,” Amnesty International’s head of UK Arms Controls said, “Given that this type of cluster bomb is very likely to have been used in combination with Tornado war planes which the UK has also sold to Saudi Arabia, there’s even a possibility that British support personnel might have been involved in the cluster bombing of Yemen. This would be an absolute scandal if confirmed.”

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Social immobility

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 Two Italian economists documented the fact that the wealthiest families in Florence today are descended from the wealthiest families of Florence nearly 600 years ago.

Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Mocetti of the Bank of Italy — compared data on Florentine taxpayers in 1427 against tax data in 2011. Because Italian surnames are highly regional and distinctive, they could compare the income of families with a certain surname today, to those with the same surname in 1427. They found that the occupations, income and wealth of those distant ancestors with the same surname can help predict the occupation, income and wealth of their descendants today.
“The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago.”

They find strong evidence that socioeconomic status is incredibly persistent. The wealthiest surnames in Florence today belong to families that, in 1429, were members of the shoemakers’ guild — at the 97th percentile of income. Descendants of members of the silk guild and descendants of attorneys — both at the 93rd percentile in 1427 — are among the wealthiest families today. Some of the wealthiest families in Florence today had ancestors who were prosperous shoemakers in the 1400s.


It’s no surprise that wealth and status can be inherited and persist for centuries. Other research has found that descendants of Japan’s samurai – 140 years after the end of the order — remain elites in Japan. A similar conclusion with regard to Sweden going back to the 17th century. The implication is that there's much less economic mobility over the long run than short-term figures would lead you to believe

Is "God" on our side?

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Speaking during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta the Pope criticised the "theology of prosperity" according to which "God shows you that you are just if he give you great riches," calling it mistaken. The pontiff told the audience "you cannot serve both God and riches."

Pope Francis spoke out against rich bosses that exploit their workers calling them 'blood suckers'.  He said that exploiting the working people to enrich a person is "like sucking blood." The exploitation of labour is a mortal sin, he said. He pointed to those who are given only seasonal work, "with no opportunity for a pension, without health insurance." Employers who do this "are true leeches and they live by spilling the blood of the people whom they make slaves of labour."

Vatican Radio also reported that Pope Francis told a story of a young girl who told him about working 11 hours a day for €650 a month (around £500). Her employer hold her take it or leave it, because there were more people that wanted the job. These rich people, the pope said, "grow fat on their riches."

He finished by saying that people think "that slaves no longer exist: they exist. "It's true, people no longer go to Africa to capture them in order to sell them in America, no. "But it is in our cities. And there are these traffickers, these people who treat the working people without justice."


Despite the similarity of appeals, socialists spurn the irrationality of religion. 

Neither God nor Master 
Banish gods from the skies and capitalists from the earth 

Refugees and migrants - the global figures

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The refugee debate creates the impression of unprecedented mass migration. That image is completely incorrect. The real question, when we look at migration globally, is why there is so little of it.

Take a tape measure. Unroll the tape to about two meters (six feet) and place one end against a wall. The distance between you and the wall corresponds to the world population of about 7.3 billion people. The number of people worldwide who left their native countries in the last five years -- in other words, migrated -- takes up about one centimeter (three-eighths of an inch) of the tape measure. That number amounted to 36.5 million, or 0.5 percent of the world's population. All others, or 99.5 percent of the global population, are non-migrants, or people who were living in the same country in 2015 as in 2010. They represent the other 199 centimeters on the tape measure.

Those who are unfamiliar with the true scale may perhaps see "waves" of immigrants rolling in or an "onslaught" about to take place. They see entire nations unpacking their things to set up house in Europe and Germany, provided they survive the journey. One shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that the entire world is on the move. It merely depicts the movements of the 0.5 percent of the world population that became international migrants in the last five years. All others, the 99.5 percent, have not moved at all.

The share of the global volume of migration that affects Europe is only a fraction of the whole. Just to be clear, a fraction of a small fraction of a very small fraction can still be a big number. We don't care how many or how few of them there are because each of them is seeking a better life. There are always real people behind the numbers, percentages and tenths of percentages.

Just how many people are actually on the move? And how many are going from where to where? Is it true that the numbers are constantly growing? Or are they in fact declining? Who actually counts the migrants? Who is considered a migrant and who a refugee? And are the numbers we constantly read and hear about figures that actually make sense?

"The truth is that the global migration dynamic has remained constant at a low level for more than half a century," explained Guy J. Abel, a social statistician and population researcher at the Wittgenstein Center for Demography in Vienna.

The basic problem, Abel explains, is that all migration figures come from the United Nations, which measures migration by combining the numbers of migrants and refugees from all countries. The UN defines migrants as "persons living in a country other than where they were born." The data are derived from individual countries' censuses and refugee registries.

In a recent press release, the UN announced the latest total number as follows: "The number of international migrants -- reached 244 million in 2015 for the world as a whole, an increase of 71 million, or 41 percent, compared to 2000."

244,000,000: What a huge number! 41 percent -- an increase of almost half!

First, let's take a look at the 41 percent increase. It relates to absolute numbers, which are not reasonable benchmarks here. In 2000, the UN counted 173 million migrants. That was 2.8 percent of the global population of 6.1 billion at the time. Since then, the world population has grown to 7.3 billion, so that the 244 million migrants in 2015 make up 3.3 percent of that total.

So why doesn't the UN communicate the information as follows: "Since the year 2000, the share of migrants in the world population grew by 0.5 percentage points?" Because it sounds less concerning?

Here's the situation. The UN doesn't receive enough money. Its World Food Program, for example, is radically underfunded, as are its aid campaigns for Syria. Coming from this position of need, the UN always turns up the volume when announcing its figures. Dependent as it is on money from its members to relieve its distress, the UN underpins its appeals with dramatic terms like "all-time high," "new maximum" and "record low." By doing so, it contributes significantly to the imbalance in the migration debate.

But the bigger problem lies in the number itself, 244 million. Why?

"The figure has several serious weaknesses," says Abel, and yet it is spread around the globe by hundreds of media organizations, press agencies, NGOs, politicians and even academics. Numbers like these, or their international equivalents, from which they are derived, serve as the basis for debates, studies and laws. Why? Because there is no more credible source than the UN. This widespread perception leads to phrases like these: "The world has 41 percent more migrants now than in 2000, UN reports" (Toronto Star). "UN: Number of global migrants soars to 244 million" (Newsweek). Or, conversely and especially distorting, on the website of Swiss television: "Fewer and fewer people are living in their native countries."

The number, 244 million, isn't incorrect. It just says very little about all the things you would want to know when you think about migration.

For one thing, according to the UN's definition, the 244 million correspond to the total aggregated migrant stock in the world. This means that anyone who ever left their country of birth and is still alive is part of this number. It includes the man who runs the nearest kebab shop, who has been in Germany for 20 years. It includes the Indian professor of nuclear physics, who took a job at a German university in Göttingen in the 1980s. It includes the Swedish designer who has lived in Berlin since the mid-1990s. It includes Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola. The Klitschko boxing champions. And many other examples. It even includes the author of this article, who was born in Switzerland. Are these the people you imagine when you think of migration?

According to Abel, "244 million is a number that says nothing about how many people migrated from which country to which country, and when."

The situation is further complicated by mismatched data sets. Most countries do not compile detailed migration statistics. The UN figures include many assumptions and estimates, because the survey methods of the 200 countries included are highly variable -- and differ greatly in terms of reliability. Still, they are the best numbers we have. Whereas the UN measures migrant stocks, Abel estimates migrant flows over certain periods of time. A flow corresponds to the migration of at least one person to another country in a five-year time period. In other words, Abel uses UN and World Bank figures to detect changes in the total migrant stocks of about 200 countries every five years since 1960. Using algorithms, he calculates the minimum amount of migrant flows that must have taken place between all of these countries every five years to reflect the changes in migrant stocks. Let's assume we know how many foreign players were playing for all German Bundesliga football clubs in 2010 and 2015, but we don't know how many switched from which team to which team. Guy Abel can figure it out. "It's roughly like that," says Abel. It's complicated, he adds, "but it works."

Nikola Sander also conducts research at the Wittgenstein Center. She points out  "The general perception of migration suffers from a Eurocentric worldview. People believe that the entire world wants to go to Europe. But when you look at our graphics, you quickly realize that this isn't true."

The largest global migrant flows take place within individual world regions, not across continents. This is evidenced by the thickest arrows in the chart, which point from Africa to Africa, from the Middle East to the Middle East, and from East Asia to East Asia. The arrows represent the migrations of hundreds of thousands of people from places like India to Dubai or from Syria to Lebanon.

- Significantly more Europeans migrate within Europe than Africans to Europe.

- A much larger number of people migrate within the Middle East than from the Middle East to Europe.

- The largest transcontinental flow continues to move from South to North America, although it has decreased considerably compared to the period from 2005 to 2010.

- North America and Europe remain the most important target regions for international migration, although North America has a significantly smaller out-migration than Europe.

- Europe's share of the total migration volume has declined.

- Migration paths do not lead primarily from very poor to very rich countries, but rather adhere to a graduated model. "People move to countries where the economy is somewhat stronger than in their native country," says Sander. She means from Bangladesh to India or from Zimbabwe to South Africa, for example.

- East and Southeast Asia are developing from typical source regions into target regions of international migration.

- What has changed in the long retrospective view is the general direction of migration: from North-South to South-North and now, increasingly, to South-South. In earlier centuries, it was the Europeans who emigrated or colonized other parts of the world, which is just another form of migration.

- But the most surprising result of Abel's calculations is that overall global migration has been on the decline in the last five years. "Significantly on the decline," says Abel.

The number of migrating migrants between 2010 and 2015 (36.5 million) is more than 8 million fewer than in the previous five-year period (45 million). The global migration rate reached an historic peak between 1990 and 1995, a time when the Iron Curtain had fallen, Afghanistan had descended into civil war and there was genocide in Rwanda. The 0.5 percent figure for the last five years is the smallest value since 1960. Which declining flows are behind this decrease, given that Europe is supposedly being "overrun" at the moment? They are simply processes that are much bigger than what we now see at Europe's doorstep. Dubai, for instance, has lost much of its appeal, and migration from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to the economically weakening emirates has shrunk considerably. The same applies to migration to Qatar. In the last five years, migration from East Asia to North America has declined by more than half, from 3.4 to 1.6 million. Even Mexicans, now finding more jobs at home, are no longer as likely to migrate to the United States as they were before 2010. The Spanish economic crisis led to a dramatic decline in labor migration from Latin America and countries like Morocco and Romania: from 2.3 million to 120,000. Migration to and within Europe also declined significantly between the 2005-2010 and 2010-2015 periods, from 11 million to 7 million (although the difference would be less large if the available figures continued until the present).

If we look back further, it becomes apparent that the absolute number of migrant flows has grown continuously since 1960 (with the exception of the last five years). However, the share of migrants in the world population has been virtually constant for more than half a century, consistently hovering around the 0.6 percent mark every five years. "There appears to be a historic rule of thumb," says Abel, "which is that for every five-year period, six out of 1,000 people are on the move." This stability is also apparent even if one does not count those who are currently migrating, but rather all people who have been living outside their native country for any period of time, as the UN does. In that case, migrants have made up about 3 percent of the world population since 1960. This is why people who study migration are not as interested in the problem of growing migration numbers. Instead, they are more likely to address the question of why there is so little migration.

What distinguishes a refugee from a migrant?

One of them migrates voluntarily, while the other is forced to do so. However, the UN migration figures toss both categories into the same pot. Some 15 million of the 244 million UN migrants are refugees. Another problematic number is also quoted very often: 60 million. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) usually refers to 60 million "persons of concern," but this is usually simplified in the debate to mean "60 million refugees."
"This number also needs to be scrutinized more closely," says Sander. About 35 of these 60 million people, or more than half, are internally displaced persons, or refugees in their country: homeless Syrians in Syria, uprooted Afghans in Afghanistan. Their plight is usually no less severe than that of internationally migrating refugees - often it is even more serious. But because they have not crossed a national border, they are not considered refugees under the Geneva Convention. They are the kinds of internally displaced persons the right-wing like, because they remain in their native countries -- often enough to die there. But this doesn't prevent the agitators from exploiting their large numbers, which don't even affect them, for political gain.

The number of refugees in a narrower sense -- namely those who have left their country, fall under the provisions of the Geneva Convention and are entitled to protection as refugees -- is significantly lower. As of mid-2015 (more recent figures do not exist), the UNHCR estimated their number at 15 million worldwide.

Unfortunately, the same thing applies to refugees as to migration as a whole: The UN and aid organizations use threatening language when they announce the relevant figures. For instance, according to an announcement by the UNHCR, the number of displaced person is now at "a level not previously seen in the post-World War II era." This statement was gratefully snapped up by the media around the globe. The relentlessly lurid expression "more than after World War II," inspired by the UNHCR, already makes no sense given that the world's population was only about 2 billion after World War II. If an estimated 60 million people were refugees in Europe alone at the time, it was already 3 percent of the world population -- almost four times as much as today. Why doesn't the UNHCR write: "The share of refugees in the world population today is less than a quarter of what it was in the period after World War II?" Isn't 60 million enough?

The UN needs money and is constantly sounding the alarm. But its dramatizations create more fear than a willingness to help in the individual countries and the public. They also lead the paradoxical situation that actors on the left and right sides of the political spectrum use the same blustering rhetoric to talk about migration. Aid organizations and the left are fueling the fire because they want to inspire pity. Right-wing populists are sounding the same tune because they want to generate fear. It's just the truth that is hard to sell. The truth is it's bad. It's been bad for a long time. It's even been far worse before than it is today. But by no means is it "overwhelming mankind" -- and certainly not Europe. The problem could be overcome, if only the will to do so existed.


Buy a Royal

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Prince Andrew, the parasitic Grand Old Duke of York was due £4million in commission from a business deal in corrupt Kazakhstan, leaked emails reveal. The Queen’s son was working as a special trade envoy when he helped kick start the £385 million venture on behalf of Swiss and Greek clients. Andy Pandy is well-known for prostituting his royal position in the interests of Big Business and dictators.

In April 2011, the Prince used his relationship with Kazakh oligarch Kenges Rakishev to help a Greek utility firm and a Swiss finance house bid for infrastructure contracts. Aras Capital, from Zurich, and EYDAP, Greece’s largest water firm wanted to build water and sewage networks in two of Kazakhstan’s largest cities. For his role, Prince Andrew was reportedly to be offered a commission fee of one per cent – or around £3.83million.

Sadly the deal went sour when Kazakh police opened fire on a group of striking oil workers, killing 14, and EYDAP pulled out for fear of being caught up in political turmoil and the poor prince lost out.


Friday, May 20, 2016

EU migrants - the figures

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There are 2.1 million EU workers in Britain. But more British nationals are in work too. Citizens of other EU countries now account for 6.8% of the British workforce, compared to 4.8% three years ago and 2.6% a decade ago.  

The numbers of EU workers in Britain has risen by 700,000 since 2013, they are outnumbered by the extra one million Britons who have gone into employment in the same period. The number of British citizens working in the UK labour force is now at the near-record level of 28 million. That compares with 3 million foreign nationals.

Economist Jonathan Portes has pointed out, it is not a zero-sum game in which there are only a fixed number of jobs to go round: “It’s true that, if an immigrant takes a job, then a British worker can’t take that job – but it doesn’t mean he or she won’t find another one that may have been created, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.”

The UK Statistics Authority also stresses that the number of people in work is not the same as the number of jobs in the economy. The ONS figures are estimates of the numbers of people in employment, so it is nonsense to talk about them showing “foreigners taking British jobs”. They also stress that the figures do not reflect new migration, since they only cover those migrants who come to work, and some of those newly employed may well have been in the UK for some time.

The latest figures show that the lion’s share of the increase in the past year – 131,000 of the 224,000 extra workers – are from western European countries such as France, Italy and Spain rather than eastern European countries such as Poland. Numbers have also increased from Romania and Bulgaria, but that is regarded as a short-term peak following the lifting of labour market restrictions. A recent UCL study showed that the typical profile of a European migrant in Britain was no longer a Polish plumber, but a young, single French or Spanish graduate working in the financial, technology or media industries. The number of people from eastern Europe working in Britain has stabilised at around the 900,000 mark, as the gap in disposable income between Poland and Britain has almost halved since the mid-2000s.

Those who arrived in Britain in the last four years paid £2.54bn more in income tax and national insurance than they received in tax credits or child benefit in 2013-14. The Office of Budget Responsibility has estimated that their labour contribution is helping to grow the economy by an additional 0.6% a year.

The most recent research from the centre for economic performance at the London School of Economics says “the areas of the UK with large increases in EU immigration did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers. The big falls in wages after 2008 are due to the global financial crisis and a weak economic recovery, not to immigration.”

Several studies have shown a small negative effect of migration on the wages of low-skilled workers in certain sectors in certain parts of the country, particularly care workers, shop assistants, and restaurant and bar workers. The effect has been measured at less than 1% over a period of eight years.

The LSE’s Jonathan Wadsworth said: “The bottom line, which may surprise many people, is that EU immigration has not harmed the pay, jobs or public services enjoyed by Britons. In fact, for the most part it has likely made us better off. So, far from EU immigration being a “necessary evil” that we pay to get access to the greater trade and foreign investment generated by the EU single market, immigration is at worse neutral, and at best, another economic benefit.”

Figures for 2015 suggest that 1.2 million people born in the UK live in other EU countries – 300,000 in Spain. The latest ONS figures also show that 155,000 are working abroad for less than 12 months at a time, while 101,000 overseas short-term migrants are working in Britain.