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Racism on the rise in Wales’ schools MSs told

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CHILDREN as young as three-years-old are involved in racism, with prejudice on the rise in Wales’ schools, a Senedd committee has been told.

The Senedd’s equality committee took evidence from Race Council Cymru and Cardiff University as part of an inquiry on the Welsh Government’s anti-racist Wales action plan.

Uzo Iwobi, founder and chief executive of Race Council Cymru, told MSs that children are increasingly facing racism-fuelled physical and verbal attacks while at school.

She said: “In one week, we had 15 phone calls from schools across Wales narrating different incidences of racism involving children as young as three, which is horrific.”

Prof Iwobi stressed that racism is learned behaviour as she highlighted the need to educate parents as well as pupils.

She added: “One of the little girls refused to come to school because she had been told she should live on a tree because her family looked like monkeys or some words to that effect.”

Prof Iwobi warned that official rates of reporting of hate crime have dropped while contacts with charities, such as Race Council Cymru, have significantly increased.

The barrister and law lecturer told MSs that communities do not have confidence in the police, saying people have reported incidents in the past but nothing has changed.

She recalled a vicious attack on a 14-year-old boy outside school by two white children which parents did not want to report to authorities.

“Many people are beginning to feel like this is everyday racism,” she said. “This happens to us time and time and time again.”

She added that Race Council Cymru was advised to cancel black history celebrations in Llanelli this year due to the negative reception of asylum seekers.

Prof Iwobi raised concerns about a significant increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia due to the Israel-Gaza war.

She told the committee that women wearing Hijabs in particular are increasingly facing hate, citing the example of a Muslim who was egged on the streets of Cardiff last week.

She said community leaders report that Wales is almost no longer a safe place to be Jewish.

Prof Iwobi said: “Sadly, with the protests ongoing – it has resulted in more targeting against others who are not protesting.

“It is a very frightening experience to be out there involved in community work at this time.”

The committee heard that ethnic minorities are overrepresented in almost every aspect of the criminal justice system.

Prof Iwobi described the prison system as clearly institutionally racist and biased against black men in particular.

She called for an overhaul of the justice system and a roll-out of anti-racism training.

Robert Jones, a lecturer at Cardiff University, highlighted sentencing disparities and a lack of trust in the legal profession during the meeting on Monday November 20.

Raising concerns about the lack of a disaggregated picture for Wales, Dr Jones described the Ministry of Justice as “almost geographically illiterate”.

By contrast, MSs heard that Home Office data – which is broken down by police force – shows disproportionate use of stop and search on black and mixed ethnic groups in Wales.

Dr Jones warned that evidence is lacking: “Before we even begin to think about tackling the problem, our understanding of the problem still has some way to go.”

He called for investment in research to provide more of an in-depth understanding, saying the Wales Governance Centre is working on a Welsh criminal justice observatory.

In written evidence, Dr Jones described racial disproportionality within criminal justice in Wales as systematic and consistent.

He pointed out that many of the necessary levers to tackle racism are not devolved, raising concerns about the “jagged edge” of the Welsh justice system.

“Wales is unique, it’s an anomalous system,” said Dr Jones.

“It has a legislature and an executive that doesn’t have the justice function – the only common law country in the world to have that anomaly.”

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Lifeboat rescues yacht stranded on rocks off Pembrokeshire coast

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A LOCAL lifeboat was called into action yesterday afternoon, May 26, after a 40-foot yacht became stranded on rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast. The incident occurred at Horse Rock, Ramsey Sound, at low tide.

At 2.38pm, the St Davids all-weather lifeboat was dispatched following a request for assistance. The French vessel, which had three people on board, had struck Horse Rock. Fortunately, the yacht was freed without sustaining any damage by the time the volunteer crew arrived.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, RNLI St Davids Lifeboat reported: “St Davids all-weather lifeboat was requested to launch at 2:38pm on Sunday 26th May to aid a 40-foot yacht stuck on rocks in Ramsey Sound. The French vessel, with three people onboard, had hit Horse Rock at half tide. The volunteer crew were soon on scene and found the yacht had managed to free itself without damage.”

The lifeboat crew conducted a thorough assessment to ensure the safety of both the crew and the vessel. Once it was confirmed that everything was in order, the yacht was able to continue its journey to Fishguard Harbour. The lifeboat then returned to its station.

This successful rescue highlights the vital role of the RNLI and its dedicated volunteers in ensuring the safety of those navigating the challenging waters around the Pembrokeshire coast. The quick response and professional handling of the situation by the St Davids lifeboat crew ensured a positive outcome for all involved.

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Second row Max Douglas becomes latest Scarlets signing

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THE SCARLETS say they are delighted to secure the signature of highly-rated Australian forward Max Douglas.

The 24-year-old has just completed his second season with the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan.

Before his move to the Japanese top division, the 6ft 7in Douglas, who has played in the second row and back row, featured for the Waratahs in Super Rugby and the Manly club in Sydney.

He will link up with the Scarlets in the summer.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Max is a young, athletic second row who has experience in Super Rugby and more recently in Japan’s top division.

“He is comfortable with the ball hand, which suits how we are looking to play and is excited about coming on board and being part of the Scarlets journey over the coming years.

“Max is another strong addition to our forward pack following the signings of Marnus van der Merwe and Alec Hepburn and we are looking forward to welcoming him here to Parc y Scarlets this summer.”

Max Douglas said: “I’m really excited to be joining the Scarlets. This is a club with a strong history and I’m excited at the challenge of trying to contribute to that.

“I’m looking to bring over some of the experiences and learnings I’ve gained from my time in Australia and Japan to hopefully add to what is a really strong playing group.

“I can’t wait to meet all the players and staff and get into our work.”

Douglas is the Scarlets’ fourth signing to be announced ahead of the 2024-25 campaign with Exeter Chiefs prop Alec Hepburn, Toyota Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe and Nottingham full-back Ellis Mee on their way to West Wales.

Tongan second row Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams have also signed new contracts with the club.

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Brawdy space radars campaign launched over safety fears

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A CAMPAIGN group, fighting against proposals to for a deep space radar dish array in north Pembrokeshire has been launched, saying it would be one “of the most health-hazardous military installations ever proposed anywhere in the UK”.

The UK/US military plans for a 27-dish Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC) at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy is part of AUKUS, a three-way security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to build three DARC radar installations around the world, one in each of the three countries.

The radars would track foreign countries’ communications and military satellites in space, so that British, US and Australian aircraft could then destroy them with anti-satellite missiles at will.

Pembrokeshire Herald report from December 2023

A scoping report was submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council early last year, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, which said DARC would track active satellites some 22,000 miles above the Earth.

That application stated: “The Ministry of Defence has a duty to protect the UK national interest around the world. This includes the Space Domain, which offers both the UK and its Allies an important strategic advantage, but also emerging threats and vulnerabilities that need to be monitored.”

It added: “As part of the ongoing investment into this domain, the UK is working with its allies to identify a location for a new deep space monitoring facility to protect and defend its interests.
“An area of brownfield land at Cawdor Barracks has been identified as one of the potential locations for the delivery of the installation.”

It added: “The Deep-space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) is a United States Space Force (USSF) led programme that aims to set up three geographically dispersed radar sites to increase global Space Domain Awareness with the UK and Australia being offered to host one of the three sites.”

Cawdor Barracks is currently the headquarters of the 14th Signals Regiment, which is due to relocate from 2028. Late last year, Cawdor was identified as the preferred UK site, with the-then UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps.

It was said that retention of the base for DARC would create up to 100 jobs.

The DARC scheme would be subject to an as-yet unsubmitted planning application.

A new campaign group, PARC Against DARC has been officially launched today, May 29, hoping to stop the scheme, describing the proposals as the proposals are “one of the most health-hazardous, tourism-ruining, skyline blighting military installations ever proposed anywhere in the UK”.

PARC Against DARC, which is to is to host a public launch meeting at Solva Memorial Hall at 7pm on June 27, has asked: “When did Dewisland, Pembrokeshire or humankind ever vote for the US military to control all of space?”

PARC (Pembrokeshire Against Radar Campaign) was originally set up back in 1990 when the US Military unsuccessfully attempted to build a similar radar installation on the Dewisland peninsula, north Pembrokeshire.

The revamped 2024 operation already has support from groups including Welsh and UK organisations such as CND and Stop the War Coalition, as well as individual supporters.

One of them is Keith Griffiths, architect and owner of Roch Castle, Twr y Felin and Pen Rhiw Priory known collectively as the Retreats Group, who said the scheme “will be a huge eyesore to the National Park and of no economic benefit locally”.

“Any new use should benefit the local economy and respect the beauty of the surrounding Pembrokeshire Coast National Park,” he added.

More detail in this informative Youtube video

A spokesperson for PARC Against DARC said: “The fight is on. We fully intend to win the battle to stop the radar as they did in the 90s. The MOD are making out as if it’s just a formality to gain planning permission for this huge project, even insinuating in their press that they just need to ‘run it past the local parish council’ or such like.

“This is simply not the case; we know that major infrastructure projects like these require specialist planning permission which can only be granted by Pembrokeshire County Council, and that there will be several environmental impact assessment stages they’d have to clear long before they could ever begin building.”

“Our plan is to fight them at every level and on every front to make absolutely sure that these proposals are never passed by our elected representatives in County Hall.

“We will build on the strong history of the previously victorious campaign and echo all of its strengths & successes. Last time there were huge rallies, marches and demonstrations and ultimately the entire county stood strong together to fight off the proposals.

“We are absolutely confident that we will create this avalanche of opposition once again so that these plans will never see the light of day.”

The campaign group has also launched a change.org petition webpage and an online crowdfunder page, along with social media pages.

Identifying Cawdor as the preferred site last year, Grant Shapps said: “As the world becomes more contested and the danger of space warfare increases, the UK and our allies must ensure we have the advanced capabilities we need to keep our nations’ safe.”

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