Tagged: crisis

Key Immigration Hearings—Week of February 29 0

Key Immigration Hearings—Week of February 29

There are several important immigration-related hearings on Capitol Hill during the week of February 22 that FAIR wants to make you aware of. Tuesday, March 1 at 10 a.m. EST The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security is holding a budget hearing for U.S.

Customs and Border Protection. Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske is the sole witness testifying at the hearing. Tuesday, March 1 at 10 a.m.

EST The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security is holding a hearing entitled, Transparency, Trust, and Verification: Measuring Effectiveness and Situational Awareness Along the Border. Three administration officials are testifying at the hearing: Ronald Vitiello, Acting Chief, U.S. Border Patrol; Randolph (Tex) Alles, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Air and Marine Operations, U.S.

Customs and Border Protection; and Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office. Tuesday, March 1 at 10 a.m.

EST The House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Executive Overreach is holding its first hearing entitled, The Original Understanding of Congress Role and How Far We ve Drifted from It. Four witnesses are testifying at the hearing: Matthew Spalding, Associate Vice President and Dean of Educational Programs at Hillsdale College; James Capretta, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Joseph Postell, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; and Stephen Vladeck, Professor of Law, American University, Washington College of Law. Wednesday, March 2 at 10 a.m.

EST The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing entitled, The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse.

Stay tuned here for more information.

Who's going to be left holding the baby, George? 0

Who's going to be left holding the baby, George?

Maternity services are underfunded, understaffed and struggling to cope, finds a survey by the Royal College of Midwives. The funding crisis that faces George Osborne as he delivers his spending review today is arguably the worst the NHS has ever seen, following five years of an unprecedented funding squeeze imposed across the health service. At the Royal College of Midwives, we ve seen the impact on maternity services.

M aternity services are overworked, understaffed and struggling to cope, with maternity unit closures, budget and training cuts as well as reduced services among the key issues highlighted in a survey of senior midwives . 1 The survey of Heads of Midwifery found that over two-fifths of maternity units had to close temporarily in the year ending April 2014 32.8 per cent, as well as in the year ending April 2015 41.5 per cent, because they couldn t cope with demand. The RCM say that the number of closures reflects rising demands on services due to increasingly complex births and low staffing levels. The RCM s annual overview of the state of maternity services, the State of Maternity Services Report 2015 , calculated that in England services are 2,600 midwives short of being able to cope with the number of births. 2 RCM have said that a failure to have the right numbers of staff to deliver the safest and best care ultimately leads to greater costs in the long-term.

RCM s survey found that well over a quarter of HoMs 29.5 per cent in 2014 and 29.6 per cent in 2015 reported they did not have enough midwives. As staffing shortages bite, as well inadequate funding, services are also being reduced. A tenth of Midwifery heads reported that they had to reduce services in 2014 and more than a tenth reported the same this year. 3 Services cut include fewer specialist midwives, fewer parent classes and less bereavement and breast feeding support.

The pressures on existing services led some HoMs to report having to provide additional midwifery services but without any extra budget. The survey also revealed that two-fifths of HoMs had reduced training for staff in the last year 21.9 per cent in 2014 and 20.3 per cent in 2015. Some of the comments from senior midwives illustrate the critical nature of the crisis in maternity services: Staffing is and will remain a safety issue and financial pressure.

The level of pressure everyone is feeling is now palpable. Worrying times. I am very concerned about the state of the NHS.

How is it possible to continue providing high levels of individualised quality care year on year with high cost reductions, cuts to training budgets and more women with complex needs? Stress in the workplace directly affects women’s care. The pressure all grades of staff are experiencing is palpable.

The continued pressure of adding services to the midwives portfolio without extra funding, because the service is apparently in tariff, this is not sustainable. So has Osborne come up with a solution? Yesterday s announcement NHS spending over the next five years was typical of the Chancellor.

Behind the headline grabbing figures very real risks remain. To be sure, it is welcome that the calls of health unions, campaigners and the medical profession for some form of frontloading over the spending review has been heeded and 3.8bn next year will help alleviate some of the immediate pressure of the financial crisis brought on by five years of an unprecedented funding squeeze imposed over the last five years. However, changing the ring-fence from the whole health budget to NHS England means that large areas of health spending will be subject to cuts.

At the RCM, we are greatly concerned that what the Chancellor is giving with one hand, he is taking away with another. Cutting funding for training bursaries is a ludicrous false economy that will only exacerbate shortages and escalate costs down the line. Saddling nursing and midwifery staff with student debts during a decade of NHS pay restraint is not the way to attract, recruit and retain the new full time staff we need.

And let s not forget, the NHS as a whole is a long way from being out of the woods. The 8bn funding agreed as part of the NHS Five Year Plan was aimed at plugging the spending gap. If the government is genuine about delivering new models of care and 7 day services across the NHS, then further investment will be needed.

We can t continue to rely on the goodwill of an over-stretched and under-valued workforce providing free over time. Transforming care cannot be done on the cheap. Neither can we take for granted that the NHS will be able to find the 22bn savings that Simon Stevens has committed to.

Three quarters of savings made under the Nicholson Challenge of the last five years came on the back of tariff cuts and pay restraint, neither of which are sustainable going forward. This is a huge whole that no-one seems prepared to honestly acknowledge. This problem will really hit hard in the middle of this parliament, as the spending profile outlined today shows a huge dip in funding following the initial injection of 3.8bn.

Increases of just 500m and 900m face the NHS between 2018 and 2020. If the savings have failed to emerge and the health service continues to cope with deficits while struggling to phase in seven day services, those years could be very difficult indeed. Further cuts to public health will also weaken exactly the kind of local preventative interventions that we need to manage demand on health services over the long run.

Combined with the massive cuts expected to local authority budgets, with further impacts on the provision of social care, the ability to manage demand and to deliver the integration between local government and the NHS that is central to the transformation of healthcare is being further undermined. The TUC-led All Together for the NHS campaign has spent the run up to this week s Spending Review highlighting the various ways in which the government s squeeze on NHS funding has impacted on different services . From A&E waiting times, to staff shortages, over-stretched GPs, cancer care and mental health services are under increasing pressure despite the best efforts of fantastic NHS staff. 4 Notes The RCM surveyed Heads of Midwifery (HoMs), asking questions about staffing levels, recruitment and retention, morale and motivation and budget cuts.

The survey was conducted in June/July 2014 and June/July 2015.

For more information please visit the RCM website 5 .

References ^ a survey of senior midwives (www.rcm.org.uk) ^ State of Maternity Services Report 2015 (www.rcm.org.uk) ^ RCM have said (www.rcm.org.uk) ^ has impacted on different services (touchstoneblog.org.uk) ^ RCM website (www.rcm.org.uk)

“It Looks Like A Warzone” 0

“It Looks Like A Warzone”

In the aftermath of last night’s warning 1 of an “imminent” terror threat in Brussels when OCAM Crisis Center and the government raised the country’s terror alert to the highest level, today the escalation continues and the Belgian capital looks like not only a ghost town but something out of a Call of Duty warzone after authorities deployed special forces, and APCs, shut the metro, locked down shopping centers, closed sporting events, and warned the public to avoid crowds, train stations, airports and commercial districts because of a “serious and imminent” threat of an attack. As Reuters reports, a 2 week after the Paris attacks carried out by Islamic State militants, of whom one suspect from Brussels is at large and said by authorities to be highly dangerous, Brussels was placed on the top level “four” in the government’s threat scale after a meeting of top ministers, police and security services. “The advice for the population is to avoid places where a lot of people come together like shopping centers, concerts, events or public transport stations wherever possible, ” a spokesman for the government’s crisis center said. As AFP reported earlier, the spike in the terror threat is due to a risk of attacks by “weapons and explosives” The local security forces are taking no chances, and as can be seen on the photos below, APC have been deployed as the city barricades itself with the use of roadblocks at strategic locations.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel declined to give the reason why the authorities raised the alert level but told a news conference the government would review the security situation on Sunday afternoon and that the decision to raise the threat level was taken based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.” The metro system would remain closed until then, in line with the recommendation of the crisis center, he said. The reason for the dramatic escalation is that chemicals and explosives were among the items found in the during a police raid on Vandepeerboom Street area in the immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek 3 , a rundown area where Paris attacker Abdelhamid Abaaoud was suspected of operating a terrorist cell. L’Echo has more: A search was conducted on Friday at the home of a suspect placed under arrest, federal prosecutors said on Saturday.

Some weapons have been discovered, but no explosives or explosive belt. The suspect was arrested Thursday in the series of searches carried out in Brussels. The person concerned is suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks and participation in activities of a terrorist group.

The find came as Belgium s capital entered a security lockdown. The government has warned that there could be a repeat of Paris-style attacks in the country s capital, prompting the closure of subways in Brussels and the deployment of heavily armed police and soldiers. Fears that terrorists may use chemical or biological weapons quickly spread to Paris where according to the Guardian 4 , security has been stepped up at key water supply sites in Paris, after the French prime minister warned the country could not rule out attacks from chemical or biological weapons .

The heightened security comes as reports claim that biohazard suits have been stolen from a Paris hospital, the Telegraph reports. Eau de Paris, the municipal water company, yesterday told Le Parisien that access to its sites has been limited to only the necessary service personnel, and that they have been accredited by the defence ministry. Furthermore, we learned today that one more suspect from last Friday’s terror attack has been arrested in Brussels which has quickly emerged as the nerve center of last week’s Paris attacks.

As Reuters further adds, the crisis center website said it was calling on local authorities to cancel large events, urge people to avoid crowds, postpone soccer matches, close the Brussels metro for the weekend and stepping up the military and police presence. Suspected militant Salah Abdeslam, 26, returned home to Brussels from Paris after the attacks, when his elder brother Brahim blew himself up at a cafe. Fears of the risk he still poses prompted the cancellation last week of an international friendly soccer match in Brussels against Spain.

The crisis center said weekend games in the top two professional divisions should now be postponed. The alert level for the whole country was raised following the Paris attacks to level three out of four, implying a “possible or probable” threat. Previously, only certain sites, such as the U.S.

embassy, were at level three. Belgium, and its capital in particular, have been at the center of investigations into the Paris attacks – which included suicide bombers targeting a France-Germany soccer match – after the links to Brussels emerged. Three people detained in Brussels are facing terrorism charges.

As a reminder, French authorities have said the attacks were planned in Brussels by a local man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, who fought for Islamic State in Syria and was killed in the siege of an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis on Wednesday. Salah Abdeslam, who was from the same Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek and is said by officials to have known Abaaoud in prison, was pulled over three times by French police but not arrested as he was driven back to Brussels early last Saturday by two of the men now in custody.

As well as Abdeslam’s brother, a second man from Molenbeek, Bilal Hadfi, was also among the Paris suicide bombers. Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told reporters he wanted a register of everyone living in Molenbeek because it was not clear at present who was there, with authorities conducting door-to-door checks of every house. “The local administration should knock on every door and ask who really lives there,” Jambon said. Curiously when Donald Trump suggests doing something comparable in the US, immediate comparisons with Hitler emerge.

Meanwhile, as the photos below show, soldiers are already on guard in all key parts of Brussels, including at the institutions of the European Union headquartered in the city. Brussels is also home to the headquarters of NATO. Finally, Belgium’s interior ministry has released the following list of recommendations what the local population should do while the terror threat is at its highest level.

Average: Your rating: None Average: 3.9 ( 18 votes) References ^ last night’s warning (www.zerohedge.com) ^ Reuters reports, a (www.reuters.com) ^ police raid on Vandepeerboom Street area in the immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek (www.lacapitale.be) ^ according to the Guardian (www.theguardian.com)