“Discriminatory” bank shuts Palestine Society’s account

first_imgCo-op bank closes Palestine Society’s bank account 19 clubs and societies co-release press statement condemning the “discriminatory action”, including five OUSU liberation campaigns and Wadham SU PSC has filed legal action under sections 13 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010 and has similarly called for members and supporters to move their funds away from Co-operative Bank accounts.They have said, “It appears that the decision was taken because of PSC’s support for Palestine. A decision based on active support of Palestinian causes – or on the nationality or religion of the Palestinian people – would be discriminatory. It is in the wider public interest to ensure that banks are held to account for their decision making processes; a bank cannot be above the law by virtue of its status.”A group of more than 15 Oxford student clubs and societies have condemned the bank’s actions. These include Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, the Oxford University Labour Club, the OUSU Women’s Campaign, the Oxford Students’ Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Wadham College Student Union.A statement co-released by the groups reads, “We, the undersigned student clubs and societies at the University of Oxford, condemn in the strongest possible terms the discriminatory action taken by the Co-operative Bank against the Oxford Students’ Palestine Society, in closing their account. The bank has offered no transparent explanation, asserting that the Palestine Society, a university registered society, is ‘high risk’ and ‘no longer fit[s]’ within the Co-op’s ‘risk appetite’.“We view this as part of a process undertaken by the Co-operative Bank in the context of racist and discriminatory ‘counter-extremism’ measures, which has involved closing down the accounts of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and over 20 Palestine Solidarity Campaign branches and Palestinian human rights groups across the UK.” Oxford University’s Students’ Palestine Society (Pal Soc) has revealed that its bank account had been closed by the Co-operative Bank.A statement released today claimed that there was “no reasonable justification for this action,” and that the bank’s stated reason for the account closure was that the society is “high risk” and “no longer fits within [the bank’s] risk appetite.”A spokesperson for Pal Soc wrote, “The closure of Pal Soc’s account is part of a recent broader attack on solidarity organisations advancing Palestinian human rights across the UK. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), together with a further 20 grassroots organisations working for Palestine have also had their accounts closed by the Co-operative Bank. Pal Soc has therefore resolved to join the legal case launched by PSC against the Co-operative Bank on the grounds of discrimination. PSC and its legal team believe the Bank’s actions are discriminatory and contravene the Equality Act 2010.”They further called for “all Oxford University student societies, JCRs, MCRs, individual faculty, staff, and students, as well as all College and University bodies to show their solidarity by withdrawing their bank accounts from Co-op, and until such time as the bank accounts of all those grassroots and civic rights associations working for Palestine in the UK are reopened.”Student societies including @OxUniLabour and @RMF_Oxford in solidarity w PalSoc against @CoopBankUK account closure: https://t.co/gentCCYCyp— Oxford PalSoc (@PalSocOxford) December 11, 2015center_img Society to join Palestine Solidarity Campaign in legal action against the bank A group of students are preparing an SU motion to close our @CoopBankUK charities account after they shut down Oxford PalSoc’s #NotMyCoOp— Wadham SU (@WadhamSU) December 11, 2015But a representative for The Co-operative Bank explained that the closure was entirely a reflection of its legal obligations.She told Cherwell, “I would like to reassure you that this is not a reflection on the work carried out by many of our customers throughout the world, or a statement about the causes they support. We remain a committed supporter of many charities which can meet the industry level requirements.“In common with all banks, we have to perform due diligence on our customers, their accounts and the payments they make to ensure the Bank complies with anti-money laundering obligations and to manage the Bank’s risk. This is part of our normal banking processes and is an area where the Bank has made some changes recently to bring it into line with the industry generally. You may have seen in the press recently that there can be significant financial penalties when banks do not have adequate controls in place so these changes are timely and appropriate.“For customers who operate in, or send money to, high risk locations throughout the world, advanced due diligence checks are required by all banks to ensure the funds do not inadvertently fund alleged or proscribed activities. Depending on the particular circumstances it may not be possible for us to complete these checks to our satisfaction and the decision to close a number of accounts (including the PSC and some of its affiliates) is an inevitable result of this process. Unfortunately, after quite extensive research, the charities involved did not meet our requirements or, in our view, allow us to fulfil our obligations.“I would emphasise this is not a political or discriminatory decision but one based on our obligations. Clearly we have to meet our legal and regulatory requirements and we believe in the round our decision is consistent with our ethical policy. Our position has been discussed with and has the support of the Values and Ethics Committee which noted this is primarily a matter of adhering to banking regulations. I would also like to emphasise that these decisions have been made by the Bank’s management and have not been influenced by external agencies or our shareholders.“This does not mean that we cannot or will not facilitate humanitarian, educational, medical and human rights donations to the Gaza region. Many well known, national, registered charities do excellent work in these fields in Gaza and elsewhere and we make regular donations to some of these organisations through our current account and credit cards.”last_img read more

Innovative education

first_imgWhat will higher education look like in 2050? That was the question addressed Tuesday night (Nov. 30) by Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University.“We’re at the end of the fourth wave of change in higher education,” Crow began, arguing that research universities followed the initial establishment of higher education, public colleges, and land-grant schools in the timeline of America.In less than a half-century, he said, global market competition will be at its fastest rates of change ever, with several multitrillion-dollar economies worldwide. According to a recent Pew Foundation projection, the nation’s population could reach 435 million, with a large percentage of those residents economically disadvantaged. In addition, climate change will be “meaningfully disruptive” in many parts of the world.The everyday trends seen today, such as declining performance of students at all levels, particularly in math and science, and declining wages and employment among the less educated, will only continue, Crow maintained, and are, to say the least, not contributing to fulfilling the dream of meritocratic upward mobility, quality of life, sustainable environment, and longer life spans that most Americans share.“How is it that we can have these great research universities and have negative-trending outcomes?” Crow said in a talk that was part of the Science and Democracy Lecture Series sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology & Society. “I hold the universities accountable. … We are part of the problem.”Among the “things that we do that make the things that we teach less learnable,” Crow said, are the strict separation of disciplines, academic rigidity, and conservatism, the desire of universities to emulate schools at the top of the status hierarchy, and the lack of scalability that would allow a large number of students to be educated for a small amount of money.Since 2002, when Crow took the helm at Arizona State — which he calls the “new American university” — he has led more than three dozen initiatives that aim to make the school “inclusive, scalable, fast, adaptive, challenge-focused, and willing to take risks.”Among those initiatives were a restructuring of the engineering and life sciences schools to create more linkages between disciplines; the launch of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Sustainability; the start of a Teachers College to address K-12 performance and increase the status of the Education Department at the university; and broadened access, increasing the freshman class size by 42 percent and the enrollment of students living below the poverty line by 500 percent.Universities must start, Crow noted, “by becoming self-reflective architects, figuring out what we have and what we actually need instead of what legend tells us we have to be.” Research universities today have “run their course,” he added. “Now is the time for variety.”A discussion panel afterward consisted of Cherry Murray, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and professor of physics; History Department Chair James Kloppenberg, the Charles Warren Professor of American History; and Daniel Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, and professor of environmental science and engineering.During that discussion, Crow clarified and expanded on some of his points. He discussed, for example, the school’s distance-learning program, which he feels can address issues of scalability without a loss of quality. “Nearly 40 percent of undergrads are taking at least one course online,” he said, which helps the school to keep costs down while advancing interactive learning technologies.He said that Arizona State is working to increase the transfer and completion rates of community-college students, of whom only about 15 percent, historically, complete their later degrees. “We’ve built a system that will allow them to track into universities,” particularly where “culturally complex barriers” beyond finances impede even the most gifted students.last_img read more

Mobile wallet wars heat up – ‘PayPal had to do something’

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Robert McGarveyCall the $280 million PayPal (EBAY – Get Report) reportedly paid for Paydiant the price of reclaiming a spot in the battle over mobile payments.“The wallet wars have begun and PayPal had to do something,” said Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based international payments gateway company BlueSnap.His point: Over the last year, as Apple (AAPL – Get Report) debuted Apple Pay, Google (GOOG) bought many of the assets of the failing Softcard, and Samsung (SSNLF) bought LoopPay, PayPal had fallen out of the mobile payments conversation. “PayPal bought their way back to a place at the table,” said Dangelmaier.“This mobile payments market is still very fragmented,” said Brian Billingsley, CEO of payments company Klarna North America. “Nothing has really taken off in mobile. But the feeling is that, soon, there will be winners and losers and companies are spending money to grab a spot in the front.” That is what has fueled the recent buying spree, as well-moneyed heavyweights throw dollars around to shore up their positions. continue reading »last_img read more