Archive for January, 2013

Azerbaijan’s youth fined £470 for protesting

Written by Mike on . Posted in Blog, Free expression

Azerbaijan has just passed a strict anti-protest law clearly in violation of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. This morning 12 young people were fined a significant amount of money
after Saturday’s protest. I hope they take this all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Via – Khadija Ismayilova

Ebulfez Gurbanli-500 AZN (£395)
Babek Hesenov-600 AZN (£472)
Renad Najafov-600 AZN (£472)
Rashad Hasanov-600 AZN (£472)
Zakir Rehmanov-400 AZN (£318)
Vusal Bayramov-500 AZN (£395)
Tural Abbasli – 600 AZN (£472)
Ulvi Hesenli 600 AZN (£472)
Mehemmed Ibrahim 500 AZN (£395)
Isayev Hemid 500 AZN (£395)
Kazimzade Azer 400 AZN (£318)
Elisoy Eltac 300 AZN (£238)

Update (4.45pm), another 8 sentenced:

13. Subhi Hesenov 400,
14. Turgut Gambar 500 azn
15. Abil Huseynov 400 azn
16. Rail Abbasov 300 AZN
17. Turkel Azerturk 600 AZN
18. Ramin Hacili 450 AZN
19. Tezexan Mirelemli 500 AZN
20. Rauf Memmedov 300 AZN
21. Firuz Agayev-300 AZN

How to install Linux (TAILS, Lubuntu) onto a USB stick

Written by Mike on . Posted in Blog

1. First download the universal USB installer available from Pen Drive Linux.

2. Then select the variant of Linux you wish to use from the drop-down list

TAILS 0.15 is 853 mb – it’s a distribution ideal for human rights defenders with a TOR-enabled browser included. It also deletes all data stored each time you reboot…

Lubuntu, a lightweight variant of Ubuntu, needs 4 gb to install. But will run on a Pentium III system with as little as 128mb of ram.

3. Set your bios to boot from a USB stick (learn how here). That’s it!

Lewisham pay day loan firms are parasites pushing people into debt

Written by Mike on . Posted in Articles, Labour, Lewisham Council

This article on pay day loans was originally published by the News Shopper.

I once borrowed from a legal loan shark. I took out a loan of £100 and a week later, for the privilege, I had to repay £120.

At the time, I was between jobs and the Nationwide had helpfully slashed my overdraft.

I was lucky enough to escape this debt trap and pay back my debt – but for families across Lewisham using a loan shark is an everyday reality. In fact, Lewisham has London’s worst pay day loan problem – according to the Step Change consumer credit counselling service.

If you walk down Lewisham High Street, these pay day firms offer loans at rates up to 4,000 per cent. That’s a rate over 200 times even what an average credit card charges. Rip-off Britain is alive and well.

Yet, it’s clear that people don’t realise how expensive these loans really are. Normally when there’s a lot of competition, the price of a product falls – but even as new shops have opened up in Lewisham, the interest rate charged hasn’t fallen and may have gone up. The market just isn’t working.

In Lewisham, the average person who uses these short-term loans owes £530 and has two separate loans. We’ve got to help these people out of their debts.

At the end of September, Lewisham’s councillors debated legal loan sharks. We heard evidence that made my blood boil. I told our meeting that one loan company had sent an employee out in costume to promote their loans during the Olympic torch relay through Lewisham; another councillor said employees of one firm had given out leaflets outside the job centre queue in Catford.

Unanimously, with cross-party support every councillor backed Labour’s motion to try and tackle these parasites.

There’s a lot we would like to do but sadly the government won’t let us. We want the ability to stop new loan shops opening in the same way we can stop too many late night bars from congregating in the same street, and we would like the government to set a maximum cap on the interest that can be charged.

But there’s a lot we can do. The council supports Lewisham Plus Credit Union, an alternative to the big banks that can provide low cost loans to people. The cost of a loan with the credit union could be up to 20 times less than with one of the legal loan sharks.

You can help too. Instead of the miserly rates offered by the high street banks, you can save with the credit union so they can lend more to families at a reasonable rate – you could even earn a better rate of interest on your savings!
This article on pay day loans was originally published by the News Shopper.

Local people need to pass this message on to their family, friends and neighbours, as credit unions don’t have big advertising budgets but rely on word of mouth recommendation.

I’m also calling for Lewisham’s residents to sign a national petition calling on the government to give councils the powers to hold back the endless spread of legal loan sharks.

The recession has made this problem worse, with more people relying on credit to make ends meet. But it’s a false economy as the unregulated wild west of legal loan sharks is shackling the UK’s poorest borrowers with the highest price for credit in Europe.

Yet, this industry doesn’t need to exist – for most people their local credit union or building society can lend them money cheaper. Together we can help people out of their debt traps, but as a community we need to take action, and now.