Mia Farrow urges students to support Darfur

December 11, 2007 at 4:50 pm (Africa)

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MIA FARROW has appealed to students to raise awareness for the atrocities taking place in Darfur, speaking at the Fund4Darfur launch held in London earlier this month.

The Hollywood actress, campaigner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador delivered an impassioned speech at the event in Maida Vale, backed up with photos of her experiences from her seven visits to Darfur since 2004.

The Fund4Darfur is a project of the Aegis Trust, the leading UK-based genocide prevention organisation. Farrow was joined by actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Clare-Hope Ashitey at the December 2 launch. Speaking after her presentation, Farrow emphasised that people, and especially students, could help the cause by educating and promoting awareness to everyone around them.

Farrow explained that students have a vital role as they have many outlets at university to make people aware of the crisis hit region. “They are a pivotal generation that can start a movement of change. If we can gather students from all over the world to support this initiative and put pressure on those who have the power to make things change, then eventually governments will have to listen.”

The recent press attention for Gillian Gibbons’ imprisonment in Sudan has astonishingly given the region more exposure in a matter of days than it has ever received before. One attendee at the launch said: “Over 200,000 Darfuris have been brutally murdered since 2003 and 2.4 million displaced from their homes, however, people seem to care more about the naming of a teddy bear.”

Commenting on the incident Farrow said: “The situation with Gillian Gibbons demonstrates the palpable insanity and cruelty of that regime, and this is only one woman. Imagine what would happen to her out of the public eye.”

Farrow discussed why there was general apathy towards Darfur. “It’s a question of our levels of priorities, we have the leverage and power and we must do our utmost to stop it” she said.

We have to look at Darfur through the prism of Rwanda not the prism of Iraq; then it is very clear what we must do. ‘Never again’ was uttered by so many after the Holocaust, but it simply hasn’t been adhered too.”

Money raised for Fund4Darfur will go to help survivors of the Darfur‘s ethnic cleansing, both in the region and those in the UK facing destitution and the threat of return to Khartoum.

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Beijing’s Genocide Olympics

December 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm (Africa)

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ANTI-GENOCIDE CAMPAIGNERS have called for sponsors of the Beijing Olympic Games to withdraw their support, citing that the Chinese Government is contributing towards the current atrocities in Darfur.

Darfur activists gathered at an eleven hour summit in London on December 2 to celebrate Darfuri culture and highlight what can be done to ease the crisis hit region.

Hundreds of people attended ‘Act for Darfur – The 11th Hour’, which included performances, films, exhibitions, testimonials, music, discussions, speakers and workshops spread throughout the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

Hollywood actress and devout activist, Mia Farrow, joined guests and artists from Darfur and delivered the keynote address to a packed theatre. After highlighting the dire situation in Darfur, she focused on the position of China, hosts of what she dubbed the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

“As Khartoum’s largest and closest business partner, China has provoked outrage from the international community for underwriting genocide in Darfur. In recent months, Beijing has responded with steadily increasing talk about its commitment to promoting peace in the region. But it has taken no meaningful action,” she said.

Farrow supports the Dream for Darfur campaign, linking China’s Olympics to the ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Speaking on behalf of the US organisation, Farrow urged sponsors such as Adidas, Visa and Coca-Cola to back out: “Sponsors are supporting China’s efforts to position itself in glowing terms on the world stage. But they are silent about China’s role in the Darfur genocide, and in their silence, they are complicit.”

China, which is the biggest buyer of Sudan’s oil, has consistently rejected accusations it is worsening Darfur’s agony by supporting the Sudanese government. A representative from the Chinese Embassy in London said: “China plays a constructive role in the Darfur issue and this role can be seen by all.”

On July 31 this year, China took a step forward by joining a UN Security Council vote to authorize, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the deployment of 26,000 civilian police and troops to Darfur.

22-year old, Emile James, a student from South London who attended the London event said: “Despite claims by China and Sudan that the situation in Darfur is improving, the evidence I have seen here today presents a very different picture. I think it’s wrong that a country that has such a tentative human rights record and faces such damaging accusations should be allowed to host the Olympics.”

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The Role of an MP

December 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm (Politics)

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WITH AN average of 67,000 people to represent on a daily basis, the job of a British Member of Parliament (MP) is an immense task. Every politician that takes on the role will tell you that no 24 hours is the same in the life of an MP, so what is it that makes such a vital occupation so unpredictable?

Putney’s Conservative MP, Justine Greening, described how she decides as the day develops what the most effective way to divide her time between Westminster and her constituency will be. Her day usually begins with surgeries where constituents come to her with problems such as immigration and transport issues, some of which may require urgent attention. “You have to gauge what is most important and balance that with all the other day-to-day practicalities that must be carried out as well as acting as a figurehead for the local area.”

Greening won her seat in 2005 and was appointed Shadow Minister for the Treasury in July, 2007. She is the Conservative’s youngest female MP but doesn’t see this as an obstacle. “Once someone has won a seat through public vote, you immediately gain the respect of the established MPs.”

Greening must spend significant time in Westminster participating in debates and voting on legislation, but she said she “focuses on working with residents to make sure views are listened to and acted upon.” If a constituent presents an issue that conflicts with party policy she said: “I have to decide what is in the best interest of the constituency. Whatever the situation, I maintain contact with the person involved and explain if and how the problem can be dealt with.”

Greening must also be aware of her Labour opposition candidate, Stuart King, who is rallying support since the loss of the Labour seat in 2005.

Mr. King spoke of three main tasks facing a candidate MP: “As leader, I have the role of a motivator and must ensure people become and remain active. Furthermore, I am the principal spokesman and figurehead for the party and must always be available for the public and media,” he said.

“The crucial part of my job is getting out there, visiting constituents and promoting campaign objectives. The most difficult part of the job is finding time to implement ideas and campaign objectives, while fulfilling a full time job,” he said. “The luxury an MP has is that they can dedicate themselves fully to their constituents, whereas the candidate has such a small time frame to work with.”

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Halloween attack

December 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm (Brunel MA)

A HUNT for a gang of Halloween-masked robbers is underway after a 21-year old woman was attacked on her way home from a fireworks party.

Three men surrounded the victim in an alleyway off Augustus Road, West Hill, as she walked to her East Putney residence shortly after 10pm, November 5.

One man held a screwdriver to her side and threatened to stab her unless she handed over all her valuables. The two other men then searched her and took her bag, including her mobile phone, wallet and camera, before running from the scene.

The woman quickly raised the alarm to passers-by on Augustus Road and Putney police arrived shortly after. She was taken to the station to give a statement and did not require any medical treatment.

“We are treating the robbery very seriously and appeal to anyone who may have seen the three men in the area on bonfire night” said a representative from Putney police.

Police have issued descriptions for the three men. The man with the screwdriver was black, wearing a dark hooded top with blue jeans. The second was also black, in a grey tracksuit with a hooded top wearing a gold sovereign ring. The third was white and wearing a black bomber jacket.

Anyone with information should contact Putney Police Sector Office on 020 7350 1122.

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Open for Dogs

December 11, 2007 at 4:16 pm (Brunel MA)

PETS COULD soon be accompanying their owners to work thanks to a campaign to give dogs freer access to shops and businesses.

The Kennel Club launched the campaign ‘Open For Dogs’ at the Discover Dogs exhibition at Earl’s Court on November 10 and 11. Stickers were distributed for local businesses to display in their windows, letting people know dogs are welcome.

43% of dog owners, taking part in a recent Kennel Club survey, are concerned about combining their work commitments with owning a dog. Just 11% of the people surveyed currently take their dog to work.

According to the health industry, dog ownership enhances your life by giving companionship, creating new relationships, bonding families, reducing stress levels, and increasing the amount of exercise taken.

“Millions of dog owners would benefit if more places allowed dogs – and so would the businesses. From cafes, restaurants and libraries to taxis, shops and offices. These are places we all go to, and need to go to, so why should dogs not be allowed to accompany us, as well behaved dog citizens?” said a Kennel Club spokesman.

Dog owner, Marshall Burns, who attended Discover Dogs said: “My dogs are the centre of my life: Always honest, never judgmental. A constant in a rapidly changing world. I can’t imagine life without them. ”The campaign has been met indifferently from local businesses.

A clothes shop owner on Putney High Street said: “I allow small dogs that are well trained into my shop. It depends on the type of dog and the type of shop. I wouldn’t put a sign in my window saying no dogs, what about dogs for the partially blind? On the other hand, I don’t think it’s safe to leave dogs outside shops in London.”

To request a sticker, and support the ‘Open for Dogs’ campaign, contact 0870 606 6750 or www.the-kennel-club.org.uk

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Rush hour rage

December 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm (Brunel MA)

AN ABUSIVE train attendant has enraged Putney commuters who insist his aggressive demeanour is a threat to their safety.

The South West Trains customer services attendant has been verbally abusing passengers travelling from Putney to Waterloo in the morning rush hour. He demands passengers to get on the train quickly and then proceeds to signal the driver to close the doors before all the people are on.

An online forum has been set up by an angry customer for people to vent their fury. Investment Banker, Anna Broadhurst, 32, said: ‘I heard him use the f-word to curse the passengers who do not board the train quickly enough. He starts blowing his whistle shouting, “are you all deaf – stand clear of the doors!” while passengers are still getting off the train. It always causes unnecessary panic which I fear will one day result in an accident‘.

The South West Train Customer Service website states: “All our employees, whether rail operators or customer service assistants, receive customer service training. Our courses are customer focused and stress the importance and impact employee attitude has on our passengers”.

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