A note from the editor:For nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, 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 remember 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… The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has repeatedly breached freedom of information laws in an apparent attempt to prevent the release of secret reports written by disabled people recruited to work within its jobcentres.Two years ago, DWP published a work, health and disability green paper, Improving Lives, in which it revealed plans to recruit about 200 new “community partners”.Ministers said these community partners would have “personal and professional experience of disability” and would support work coaches in jobcentres.The aim was for them to “provide valuable first-hand insight” into the issues faced by disabled people in “securing and sustaining employment”, with work coaches able to draw on their local knowledge.The community partners, many of whom were to be seconded from disability organisations, would also help map local provision of peer support and service-user groups.But Disability News Service (DNS) has since learned that these community partners submit regular reports on their work, often based on their experiences of visiting jobcentres.For years, DNS has been reporting on the alleged failure of DWP jobcentres to safeguard disabled people left in vulnerable situations because of flaws in the benefits system.Many of these failings have led to the deaths of benefit claimants and have subsequently been reported on in secret DWP peer reviews (now renamed internal process reviews).The deaths of disabled people such as Lawrence Bond, David Clapson and Alan McArdle – and many others – have been linked to alleged failings of policy or practice within jobcentres.DNS therefore submitted a freedom of information request to DWP in May, asking to see any of the reports written by community partners working in London Jobcentre Plus districts in 2017 and 2018, in case any of them included concerns raised by Community Partners about such failings.Such requests are supposed to be answered within 20 working days, but there has so far been no written response from the department’s freedom of information department.On 5 July, DNS emailed DWP’s freedom of information team to ask why it had failed to respond to the request, and followed that up with another email on 19 July, warning that the failure to respond was a clear breach of the Freedom of Information Act.DNS has since spoken to a civil servant in DWP’s freedom of information team, who promised to try to find out why no response had been sent.She told DNS this week that she had repeatedly attempted to secure a response from the jobcentre operations team and had warned them that they had breached their legal duties under the act.She said she did not know why they had failed to respond to the request.She told DNS: “I chased it again this morning and I don’t know why it has taken so long. I have reminded them of their duty to reply in time and that is where I am with it.“You have every right to go to the Information Commissioner’s Office [to lodge a complaint].“I have tried. I don’t know why they are digging their heels. I am sorry.”A DWP spokeswoman refused to explain the reason for the repeated breach of the Freedom of Information Act.But she said in a statement: “Any issues relating to FOI requests can be dealt with by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.“If you are unhappy with the handling of an FOI request please contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.“The latest statistics show that DWP answered 95 per cent of FOI requests within 20 working days, exceeding the information commissioner’s compliance threshold of 90 per cent. “As you know, DWP spokesperson statements must come from the DWP press office, and we regularly provide you with statements, as we are doing so in this instance.“Please can you therefore use the above wording in your story instead of quoting from phone calls with DWP employees.”
One driver from San Francisco, Al Aloudi, who has been driving for Uber and Lyft for about seven years, said the message he sent supporting Lyft’s legislative agenda was an accident. “I took the action by mistake because I didn’t know what it was for,” he said. After talking about it with other drivers, he refused to sign the petition for Uber.Aloudi said he clicked through the message without reading because it was presented in the same manner as other communiques the companies make him sign, like new terms of service, or other paperwork that he has to consent to before he can log in and use the app.Uber drivers recently received this message via the app they use to access the system and drive. It requested drivers to sign a petition which would then be sent to state legislators. Photo by Eric Murphy.Lyft spokesperson CJ Macklin denied that Lyft’s similar effort was a “petition” and said there was no pre-written text in the message field.Though Aloudi mistakenly took action through Lyft, he says he actually supports AB5, in contrast to the rideshare companies’ legislative agenda, because it will offer him wage protections that don’t currently apply. Aloudi’s Uber app showed that he had made $63.61 on a recent day driving in San Francisco when his app was activated for 7.5 hours, meaning he made about $8.50 per hour. “With AB5, I can have minimum wage for that,” said Aloudi.If Aloudi had been considered an employee, he would have to be paid San Francisco’s minimum wage of $15 an hour. That comes out to $112.50 for that day of work — nearly twice as much.He says his low pay is in part due to the lack of available rides for him to pick up — because of the high volume of rideshare drivers in San Francisco. Aloudi is not guaranteed a minimum number of rides or a certain wage for a day’s work. On one particularly bad day, Aloudi showed he was only able to take a single ride worth about $18 while his app was activated for more than 5 hours. Multiple drivers also mentioned that Uber and Lyft had cut the portion of fares that goes to drivers in recent years.Jay Wierenga of the California Fair Political Practices Commission says the money Uber and Lyft spent on the in-app messages drivers received will be tracked as a lobbying expense. “It’s really not that different than, say, SEIU urging its members to contact legislators on particular bills,” said Wierenga.Veena Dubal, a professor of law at UC Hastings, said that it is legal for employers to tell employees that they support or oppose legislation, and calls the practice that Uber and Lyft used “clicktivism.” “This is an augmented power that app companies have to put words in the mouths of drivers,” said Dubal. When Aloudi clicked through the notice Uber sent him, it auto-filled a message that he was able to add to. Assemblywoman Gonzalez, who introduced AB5, had harsh words for the rideshare companies. “Uber and Lyft need to stop lying to their drivers. Nothing in AB 5 would prevent employees from working with multiple apps or hamper their flexible schedules – only Uber and Lyft can do that,” she said in a statement.Disclosure forms from both Uber and Lyft show both companies have lobbied on AB5 in 2019. White, the Uber spokesperson, says that the bill is listed in their disclosure form only because the company “referenced the bill in our work answering questions and advocating for an alternative.”Combined, the two companies spent a total of about $336,700 on lobbying in the first quarter of 2019. At a Tuesday press conference at Uber headquarters, rideshare drivers alleged that Uber and Lyft are sending them deceptive political communications, urging drivers to support the companies’ legislative agenda in Sacramento. Uber sent its drivers an in-app notification asking them to sign a petition with a pre-written message that they could add to and send to their legislators.Uber and Lyft have been pushing for legislation that would protect them from a 2018 California Supreme Court decision ruling that delivery drivers for a company called Dynamex were employees, and not independent contractors, as Uber and Lyft current classify their drivers. The ruling also introduced a three-part test to determine whether workers should be considered employees or independent contractors.A bill inspired by that court decision, AB5, introduced in December by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would turn that decision into California law — making it harder for rideshare outfits and other companies to classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Uber spokesperson Davis White said the company is at work on an alternative bill.The drivers at the 1455 Market St. press conference held signs saying “AB5 Protects Drivers” and “Yes AB5.” They said that being considered employees of Uber or Lyft would help improve their wages and benefits. “We deserve a living wage. We deserve benefits. We deserve transparency. We deserve a voice at work,” said Rebecca Stack-Martinez, a driver organizing with an advocacy group called Gig Workers Rising. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Address
The Scottish international has played nine times for the club since joining from Hull KR.“As a result of bringing in Ben Barba, we’ve had to take a look at the make-up of our squad for this season and the next,” Saints CEO Mike Rush said. “We have therefore had to create space in our top 25 squad and have reluctantly agreed for Adam to join Wakefield.“Adam has worked hard since he joined the club but with a pack that includes international forwards, has found gaining first team game time difficult.“We wish Adam all the best at Wakefield and thank him for his efforts in the Red Vee.”Adam began his career at Huddersfield in 2010 before moving to Hull KR for the 2013 season.There he played close to 90 games – and won the club’s Young Player of the Year award.
COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — An inmate at the Columbus Correctional Institution is accused of trying to kill a corrections officer. Now he’s charged with attempted murder.The District Attorney’s Office says a Grand Jury indicted Keenan Lynard Jones, 24, on Wednesday. Investigators say he attacked Ricky Dale Graham on August 3.- Advertisement – The Grand Jury indicted Jones for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a dangerous weapon in prison.The SBI and Columbus County Sheriff’s Department investigated.Jones was in prison for failing to register as a sex offender, according to the Department of Public Safety. He was previously convicted of indecent liberties with a child.Related Article: Wilmington police officers who shot man during stand-off will not face charges
The riverwalk in downtown Wilmington (Photo: WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One of the top travel destinations on the rise is Wilmington, according to TripAdvisor.From beaches to cities to outdoor getaways, Wilmington came in third for the up and coming destinations for travelers in 2018.- Advertisement – According to a news release, the Travelers’ Choice Destination on the Rise awards recognize 44 destinations around the world selected by measuring year-over-year increase in positive TripAdvisor traveler review ratings for accommodations, restaurants and attractions, as well as increase in search and booking interest. This is the sixth year of the awards.TripAdvisor says Wilmington boasts ‘a vibrant riverfront city with the pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk winding along the Cape Fear River, connecting many of the city’s charming shops, cafés, and nightlife with waterfront hotels, parks and the Port City Marina.TripAdvisor touts Wilmington’s annual festivals, such as Riverfest, Wilmington Beer Week and the North Carolina Azalea Festival, which attract crowds year-round.Related Article: 25 years after spurning NBA Jam, Jordan invests in esportsKapaa, Hawaii was named the top U.S. destination.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Shots rang out during a party early Sunday morning in Shallotte.According to the incident report, it happened around 2 a.m. in the 4000 block of Ruby Way.- Advertisement – The driver’s side window was shot out of a Toyota and plywood siding was damaged by a bullet, according to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies say one person had a minor injury from glass. Shell casings were found at the scene.The shooting is still under investigation.
Deputies are currently on the scene and more information will be released when available. Police lights (Photo: MGN Online) DELCO, NC (WWAY) — The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a dead body was found Tuesday afternoon in a field in Delco.Columbus County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michelle Tatum says the body was found on Livingston Chapel Road around 4 p.m.- Advertisement –
While the site is open, the visitor’s center is still closed while mold remediation continues.Mckee says the site is a safe haven for people where you can be one with nature and history.“If you’re a history buff you’ve got the history that you can reflect on. But, if you just want somewhere that is quiet and you want something that’s quiet and you want to just take in the nature and take in the environment and everything. This is the perfect place.”Related Article: Brunswick County issues evacuations; shelters to open inlandMckee was worried St. Phillips Church would be damaged in the storm, but it stood firm.The Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site will be open weekly Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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 BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It survived being burned by the British and countless hurricanes including Florence. Now after two and a half months, the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site is open again.Site Manager Jim Mckee says Florence brought extensive damage to the property where over 50 trees were down across the 120 acre site.- Advertisement –
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tuesday night completed a week-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.The UNCW Upperman African-American Cultural Center held a discussion of continuing civil rights work. The keynote speaker Bakari Sellers is successfully known as the youngest african american politician in the country at age 22.- Advertisement – It was an inspirational night for many who came to hear Sellers at the Upperman Center hosted event.Sellers talked about the need to continue Dr. King’s work to address injustice anywhere.We caught up with sellers about his controversial and now deleted tweet about the weekend protest between Catholic High School students and a Native American elder in Washington D.C.Related Article: MLK Celebration Committee holds Battle of the BandsIn the tweet, Sellers called the teen in the standoff with the elder “deplorable” and went on the say “some pple can also be punched in the face.”Sellers took the tweet down and has since turned the story around as a push for better conversations to take place in the community.“For me it’s coming to auditoriums like this showing people and living by an example that you want to carry on Dr. King’s legacy,” said Sellers. “I think we’ll do that. I think many times we get caught up in the heat of the moment with that social media dominates the world that we live in today.”Sellers addressed a packed Kenan Auditorium during the event titled “When tomorrow is Today: The Fierce Urgency of the Now!”.He says he hopes there comes a time where that elder and the students sit down to try to have a better understand of one another.“To have a conversation like this tonight I think is very healthy,” said Sellers.
Ink & Arms 2019 (Photo: Kate Cornell) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Convention Center is buzzing with excitement this whole weekend at the Ink & Arms Tattoo and Gun Expo.This expo celebrates the freedom of self-expression and the right to bare arms.- Advertisement – Dr. Blasphemy is the Master of Ceremonies, he said that the mission of this event is to tattoo as many people as possible, and make sure everybody leaves with a smile.He feels that Wilmington is a special place to hold this convention.“You couldn’t pull off this type of show in some of the other cities,” Dr. Blasphemy said. “This wouldn’t work in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, but it works down here in a community that open arm embraces us!”Related Article: Medical staff attend annual NHRMC trauma symposiumBlasphemy explained that another goal of the event is to shatter stereotypes about people with tattoos and guns.