More straws in the wind :
They are born in France and called Louis, Laurent or Marie but they want to become Abdel, Said or Rachida. Such requests from immigrants’ children for name changes are mounting in the French courts and worrying a state that lays store on melding a single national culture.
In a sign of a new assertiveness, children with families from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are reversing the old custom in which immigrants from the old colonies gave French names to their children.
Driven by a feeling that they do not belong to their Gallic Christian names, the applicants are meeting resistance from judges who are reluctant to endorse what they see as a rejection of France.
Under France’s strict administrative laws, an official change of first name requires court consent. Until 1992 parents could only register their babies with names from an approved list.
“The way I look is out of sync with my name,” said Jacques, 25, who wants to adopt a name from his parents’ native Algeria. He rejected the standard view that a French name overcomes the persisting reluctance of French employers to recruit nonwhite minorities.
“There is a double-take when I send a job application and then turn up for the interview. They hesitate, as if the person they have summoned could not be me,” he said.
There is abundant evidence that, despite antidiscrimination laws, French employers discriminate against job-seekers with foreign names. Nadine, who is in her forties, failed to convince a Paris court to let her go back to Zoubida, the name she had before naturalisation. “I want to return to my roots,” she told Judge Anne-Marie Lemarinier, according to Le Monde newspaper.
“My name change makes me feel guilt towards my family.” The judge replied: “Madame, I can understand that you want to identify with your community but the law does not have to bend to people’s moods.”
Frédéric Grilli, a Melun lawyer who acts for applicants, said that there was a connection between the desire to claim Maghebrin (North African) identity and France’s three-year-old ban against girls wearing Muslim headscarves in state schools.
Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racism, a campaign group, said that France’s policy of integration was failing. “It rejects, stigmatises and consigns to the ghetto. This incites a retreat into community identity,” he told The Times.
“There is an enormous gap between political speeches on integration and the reality. But who can believe that changing a name can change something? It is sad to have got to that point.”
Another immigration scam. Damn clever these Chinese. You'd think such clever people could just read up to pass the 'citizenship tests', but no :
A criminal gang used elaborate James Bond-style spy gear to help Chinese immigrants cheat on citizenship tests. Two men have been jailed after using hi-tech hidden cameras, transmitters and surveillance gadgets to tell candidates sitting the exams the right answers. The Life in the UK test is the last step towards earning citizenship and those who pass are then entitled to apply for a British passport.
But there are fears unsuitable candidates may have earned the right to settle here thanks to a highly sophisticated scam to cheat the questions. Participants, who did not understand English, went in to a test centre in Wimbledon library, south west London, armed with a hidden shirt buttonhole camera, microphone and earpiece.
In a scam akin to a scene in a James Bond movie, two fraudsters sat outside in BMW car packed with hi-tech equipment and a laptop and directed them to tick the right answers via the secret link. When police first came across the pair they thought they were running a cashpoint fraud, skimming the cards of unsuspecting users. But it emerged they were helping Chinese nationals undertake the multiple choice immigration tests in the nearby building. Police fear the gang were earning thousands of pounds and a sophisticated network that could be spread across the UK.
In the Life in the UK test, applicants are asked a series of multiple choice questions about day to day life and traditions in the country. It is supposed to allow them to demonstrate they have a basic command of English and knowledge of the country they are hoping to settle in. But it has been open to abuse. Last year four men were quizzed over claims of a nationwide scam at a centre in South Yorkshire to help immigrants achieve British citizenship status.
In the latest case, Sergeant Dominic Washington, of Merton Borough police, said those behind the elaborate scam made thousands of pounds profit. He said: "When we first arrived at the scene it was very confusing as to what exactly was going on. However, working with colleagues from across the borough and the Met we believe that we have uncovered an established criminal enterprise that may be in operation in other parts of the country. We will now be educating colleagues about this type of crime, and hopefully its raised profile and extra vigilance from police will deter others from getting involved."
Steven Lee, 36, and Rong Yang, 28, of Redhill, Surrey, were jailed for eight months at Kingston Crown court earlier this week after they were found guilty of facilitating a breach of immigration law. Two Chinese men who took the test, Ka Hung Pang, 52, of Horsham, and En Zhuang, 38, of Deptford High Street, were sentenced to 180 hours community work for deception.
Remember the new phenomenon (strangely prevalent in certain towns) of 'cash for crash" fraudsters ? The guys who brake sharply in front of you, supply witnesses to the accident, and who all turn out to have been injured in the bump ?
It looks as if a toxic mix of cash-for-crashers and ambulance-chasing persoanl injury solicitors (those "if you've been involved in an accident - and it wasn't your fault - call us" adverts in local radio and Classic FM), plus the happy fact that whiplash injuries are self-reported, is spurring a boom in personal injury claims for whiplash.
Over 430,000 people claimed for whiplash in 2007, up by a quarter in the last five years. These claims cost nearly £2 billion a year in compensation.They have to say that last bit. After all, some of these claims might even be kosher. The ABI report (pdf) reflects this ambivalence - outrage at the ripoff tempered by the knowledge that you can't start calling all the punters crooks. There's lots of stuff in it about getting the headrest set up properly. But the key bits are :
Treating whiplash injuries now costs the NHS approximately £8 million a year in consultation fees.
The UK is the whiplash capital of Europe: 75% of motor personal injury claims are for whiplash, compared to an average of 40% throughout the rest of Europe.
Many drivers and passengers are at risk: 75% of drivers are unaware how head restraints should be correctly positioned.
"Over 432,000 people make a whiplash claim every year – equivalent to one in every 140 people in the UK. This is six times more than the total number of people who make workplace injury claims every year. And the problem is getting worse – the number of people with cause to make a whiplash claim has increased by 25% over the last five years, so it is no surprise that whiplash now leads to nearly £2bn per year in compensation payments – accounting for 20% of the typical car insurance premium."That means my family's stumping up about £200 pa in whiplash claims. Admittedly our premiums are high because our eldest is a driver.
At the same time that whiplash claims are rising, the Government’s road casualty statistics suggest that our roads are getting safer ... We must also consider why, though, we seem to have such a greater tendency to get whiplash than the rest of Europe. Do we really have weaker necks? Part of the answer must lie in our failing personal injury compensation system and our no-questions-asked approach to whiplash ... it is important that it is not always assumed that everyone in a car collision is likely to get whiplash, and that GPs take this into account in their more rigorous approach to handing out sick notes.Translation - "these ******** are ripping us off - or more precisely, ripping the non-claiming motorist off - after all, we just raise the premiums. The personal injury firms and the 'injured' are conning us - and the GPs are turning a blind eye"
This increase in whiplash claims contrasts with the Government’s road casualty statistics, which indicate that the number of ‘slight’ injuries from road traffic collisions is falling ... Whiplash claims form a much higher proportion of personal injury claims in the UK than elsewhere in the EU.Translation - "therefore it's likely that most of the claims are fraudulent"
"The diagnosis of whiplash injuries is dependant on self-reported symptoms .."
Translation - "So if you say your neck hurts you'll get the money ... the solicitors are coaching the claimants - not that they need much encouragement .."
The current level of legal costs is completely disproportionate. For every £1 paid by insurers in personal injury compensation, an additional 88p is paid to claimant representatives in motor claims under £5000. The majority of whiplash claims fall in this bracket;Translation - "Like a large number of claimants, the solicitors are crooks who are in it for the money. They're making nearly as much as the claimants"
It (the current system - LT) encourages the practice of solicitors paying for details of those involved in road collisions. Once the solicitor has paid a ‘referral’ fee to organisations that collect such information, the solicitor has a vested interest in ensuring a claim materialises.
Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) estimates that those detected fraudulent claims based on ‘staged’ accidents represent 5% of whiplash claims, costing the insurance industry between £75 - £110 million per annum.So the 'cash-for-crash' industry is a £100 million pa industry. And we're paying them through our premiums.
In addition there are opportunistic fraudulent claims, which are less easily detected and therefore difficult to measure.If whiplash is diagnosed on self-reported symptoms, once word gets round you're dependent on the general level of honesty in a society. Oh dear.