Housing benefit cuts for young people may be scaled back : Guardian.


‘Poor Must Learn to go Without’, Says err…Rupert Ponsonby, 7th Baron de Mauley

Scriptonite Daily


Conservative Environment Minister Lord De Mauley has today called on the poor to reconsider their buying habits and resist the temptation to spend more money on the latest electronic gadgets, clothes and food that they will not eat” in efforts to recapture the spirit of “make, do and mend”.  In a week that has echoed with unchecked privilege, this takes the biscuit.

Make, Do and Mend?


The current Environment Minister, Rupert Ponsonby, 7th Baron De Mauley was educated at Eton, the fees for which are currently more than £30,000 a year (more than the average UK wage). He went on to marry the daughter of Lord Fanshawe of Richmond (former Tory MP and peer), Lucinda.  He is a hereditary peer and succeeded his uncle, the 6th Baron De Mauley.  He is the proud owner of myriad farmland and property in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. It…

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UK: Benefits cap trial begins in London – 150413 1325z


Iain Duncan Smith. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions


Benefit cap

DWP: “The benefit cap is part of the Welfare Reform Bill that received Royal Assent on 8 March 2012.

From April 2013 a cap will be introduced on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. This will mean that workless households should no longer receive more in benefits than the average earnings of working households.

In the first instance, the cap will be administered jointly by DWP and local authorities through deductions from Housing Benefit payments. In the longer term it will form part of the new Universal Credit system.

More detailed information about the cap can be found in the factsheet and the latest impact assessment below:


The benefit cap will be implemented from April 2013, starting in four local authorities in London – Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. These were chosen as London has the highest percentage of potential benefit cap claimants and a diverse cross section of residents. This will be a phased roll-out with the remaining local authorities implementing the cap from the 15 July 2013, with all appropriate households capped by the end September 2013.

A phased roll-out allows us to:

  • test our systems and processes end to end in a controlled live environment
  • ensure the supporting products and services for both staff and claimants are effective
  • ensure there is a measured approach to rolling out the cap to affected households
  • build capacity to learn and respond to issues raised in the initial phase of rollout to inform national rollout.

How you can help to support those affected

It’s important that claimants potentially affected by the cap are aware of the impact it could have on them.

Finding work and qualifying for Working Tax Credit may be the best way to ensure that the cap doesn’t apply and we will be offering employment support to all those potentially affected.

You can help them to understand what the cap might mean for them and encourage them to take up the offer of support and to respond proactively by finding work.

Households that aren’t affected by the cap

The cap won’t apply to households where a partner or any dependant child qualify for Working Tax Credit or receive any of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • War Pension Scheme payments (including War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension and War disablement Pension).

Those affected may avoid or reduce deductions to their Housing Benefit if they:

  • negotiate the rent to a more affordable amount
  • move to cheaper accommodation, if possible
  • become entitled to an exempting benefit if the qualifying conditions are met.

There is also additional funding available through the discretionary Housing Payment scheme to support vulnerable households. This will be distributed to local authorities in the normal way.

How we are informing those affected

From the beginning of May 2012 we have been writing to all claimants potentially affected by the cap to give them as much notice as possible. An online calculator is available which can be used to get an estimate of how their Housing Benefit might be impacted at:

Claimants will need to be aware which benefits they receive and how much their award is for, in order to understand how the cap might affect them. They can get this information from their award letters or by contacting the departments that pay their benefits.” – DWP

News Reports

Benefits cap trial begins in London

guardian.co.uk Monday 15 April 2013 07.16 BST

“A cap on the amount of benefits people can receive begins on Monday in a policy that is being trialled in parts of the capital.

The cap, being introduced in four London boroughs – Croydon, Bromley, Haringey and Enfield – will see couples and single parents receive no more than 500 a week in benefits. The limit for single people is 350, although there are some exemptions.

National implementation of the cap will begin in July, and the policy is scheduled to come fully into force by the end of September.

The cap is being brought in to cut spending and to bring benefits payments into line with average income.

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said last week: “The benefit cap sets a clear limit for how much support the welfare state will provide – the average wage for working households.

“But it’s also a strong incentive for people to move into work and even before the cap comes in we are seeing thousands of people seeking help and moving off benefits.

“We have a very clear message: we will provide support to those who need it, but the days of outrageous claims giving people incomes far above those of working families are over.”

The government last week claimed the number of people expected to be hit by the cap had fallen from 56,000 to 40,000, with 8,000 claimants finding work through JobCentre Plus.

Duncan Smith hailed the figures, saying the cap had provided a strong incentive for people to look for jobs, even before it had started to affect their incomes.

But Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former chief economist at the Department for Work and Pensions, said there was no evidence that the cap had affected people’s behaviour.

The cap was originally expected to save 275m a year from the welfare bill.

Couples and single parents to get no more than 500 a week in trial in four London boroughs before national rollout” – guardian.co.uk

A Snapshot of Homelessness and Tent Cities


Tent City and the Seattle skyline

The beautiful skylines of our cities stand in stark contrast to an unpleasant and ever-expanding social issue: homelessness. Or as the late comedian George Carlin more accurately observed:

 “It’s not homelessness–it’s houselessness. It’s houses these people need. Home is an abstract idea; it’s a setting, a state of mind. These people need houses. Physical, tangible structures. They need low-cost housing.”

As workers’ wages continue to stagnate, living costs explode across the board, and social safety nets are slashed, an increasing number of people are facing homelessness. Local agencies and governments across the nation struggle to meet the need for emergency shelters, and many of them have turned to tent cities. The Seattle area has multiple tent cities. Some of our tent cities have been studied as model examples by agencies all over Canada and the U.S. While tent cities should serve as a stopgap measure—one tool in the effort…

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Homelessness following Halpin

In a society that appears to be becoming more unforgiving and less compassionate the plight of those without a home becomes even more accute

Homelessness affects more than just the individual and is ethically, socially and economically harrowing for all in society. Following years of decline, the 2010 economic downturn has seen an accrual of numbers resulting in a net increase of a third and the reports on Halpin have forced an issue undermined by a lack of media exposure back into the public realm.    

The startling death of Lee Halpin, an aspiring investigative journalist after having slept rough for just 3 of the 7 days intended, epitomises the intrepid venture of “fearless reporting” he wished to demonstrate. The tragic nature of the outcome of a good-willed proposal encourages tenacity to the notion that his proposals went awry with many saying that he has paid the ultimate price, and indeed he has, whilst post-mortem examinations are still taking place his death is suspected to have been the result of hypothermia. However, dark…

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Filmmaker,27, found dead


Lee Halpin

Lee Halpin, a 27-year-old filmmaker, was found dead 3 days after embarking on a project to spend a week living on the streets in his home city of Newcastle. He is believed to have frozen to death while making a documentary about sleeping rough on the streets. In a video explaining his project, he claimed he was applying for a position on a Channel 4 investigative journalism program. He said he hoped to show the channel he could be “fearless” – a key “value” of the broadcaster.

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6,000 tenants at risk as new planning regulations introduced


Focus Ireland has warned that new regulations on private rented accommodation may increase the risk of homelessness for tenants in bedsits.


The new regulations which came into force just over a week ago means that traditional bedsits, where tenants shared amenities – such as bathrooms will no longer be legally available to rent.

Focus Ireland revealed that there were 6,000 tenants living in such accommodations in Ireland including a number on the South Circular Road. With many of these tenants either being unemployed or having some type of disability the charity has raised concerns over their abilities to afford higher rent than the bedsits offer.

Although they have expressed certain concerns over the new regulations Focus Ireland does support the aims of the regulations, as they are designed to vastly improve living standards for those most vulnerable in the rent market.

However it is the lack of clarity on how the new…

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#Philippines: Disease alert as #flood toll jumps to 85, tropical depression #HELEN concern – Updated 12 Aug 2012 1337 GMT/UTC

At least 19 killed in Philippines Floods

Thursday, 09 August, 2012 at 07:11 UTC RSOE (NB: Newer updates below)

Ten cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and six provinces in Luzon have been placed under a state of calamity due to massive flooding caused by four days of non-stop monsoon rains.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that areas in Metro Manila that have been placed under a state of calamity were Marikina, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, San Juan, Pasig, Pasay, Caloocan and Pateros.

In Central Luzon, the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales and Bulacan as well as Laguna and Palawan provinces in Southern Luzon have also been placed under a state of calamity. Quezon City, which has the most number of families affected by floods, has yet to make a calamity declaration.

There are a total of 72,468 people affected by flooding in the city and majority of them or a total of 72,264 are staying in 57 evacuation centers. Quezon City and Marikina City have been hit by greater volume of torrential rains since Sunday night.

A massive evacuation has been ordered in Marikina City due to the overflowing of the Marikina River. A total of 246,808 people have been affected in 17 areas in Metro Manila.

The other regions affected by the monsoon rains were Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Western Visayas.

The NDRRMC said that a total of 454,093 families or nearly two million people in Metro Manila and the five other regions are affected by floods caused by the monsoon rains.

It has also confirmed 19 fatalities, nine of which died in a landslide in Quezon City and eight died from drowning. Flooding in Quezon City and other areas in Luzon were expected to continue due to the overflowing of major dams including La Mesa, Angat and San Roque. The water reserve in Ipo, Ambuklao and Binga dams are near spilling levels.

BE READY FOR BAD WEATHER and other emergencies – Advice and resources

Philippines Red Cross Lifeline Kit

Death toll from Philippines floods rises to 66
Saturday August 11, 2012 – 13:46 EST

The death toll from torrential rains that submerged most of the Philippines capital Manila has risen to 66.

  Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas reports from Manila, many of those who were forced out of their homes are now trying to return.

Nearly two weeks of monsoon rains across the Philippines’ main island of Luzon peaked with a 48-hour deluge earlier this week that battered Manila and surrounding regions.

The extra deaths occurred mainly in the provinces during the initial rain from Monday to Wednesday, but government officials in the outlying areas could not immediately report the casualties to Manila headquarters.

Ten people remain missing as the floods, which submerged 80 per cent of Manila earlier in the week, have largely subsided.

Radio Australia’s reporter in Manila, Shirley Escalante, says the massive clean up has begun.

“As floodwaters recede, tonnes of garbage has been left behind littering roads, parks and drains in the capital Manila and surrounding provinces,” Ms Escalante said.

Health officials are warning diseases like leptospirosis and diarrhea could spread easily.

Ms Escalante says authorities have price controlled basic food items like bread, noodles and canned goods, to ensure there’s enough to go around.

Relief effort

But the government says it’s struggling to cope with the scale of the relief effort which is expected to last for weeks.

Tens of thousands of people are continuing to stream into evacuation centres that are already overcrowded and unable to provide enough immediate relief goods.

The Social Welfare Secretary, Corazon Soliman, says local government units are being overwhelmed.

“We have evacuation centres that are congested, that is the whole problem,” she said.

More than 362,000 people were sheltering in evacuation centres on Friday, nearly 50,000 more than on Thursday.

Farmland inundated

Water remains waist-deep across a large part of a vital rice growing region to the north of Manila.

“We need something to eat. I haven’t gone to work or been paid for a week,” said Rogelio Soco, a construction worker and father-of-three in a small farming town outside Manila.

Mr Soco says the floods were the worst the area had seen since a huge typhoon struck in the early 1970s.

Other locals also say they haven’t experienced anything like it for decades.

Around the town of Apalit, formerly green rice paddies have been turned into an ocean of brown water.

‘Inadequate response’

Local non-government organisation Transform Asia has labelled the government’s response inadequate.

“The response really is not good enough,” the group’s chairwoman Reihana Mohideen told Radio Australia’s .

“For example, there are water pumping stations in the area that I went to. They pump out 15,000 litres of water a day and they were completely overwhelmed. They did not have the capacity to deal with the amount of water.”

She said many victims had been living in squatter colonies without proper drainage systems.

“The devastation that you travel through to get to these centres of flooded huts – this is the face of poverty,” she said.

“Housing is inadequate. There’re no proper drainage systems. The roads get flooded so quickly, and you don’t have water catchment to catch and store this water. There’s inadequate power supply.”

Her comments were echoed by urban planner Nathaniel Einseidel, who said the Philippines had enough technical know-how, and access to financing, to solve the ongoing flood problems.

“It’s a lack of appreciation for the benefits of long-term plans. It’s a vicious cycle when the planning, the policies and enforcement are not very well synchronised,” said Mr Einseidel, who was Manila’s planning chief from 1979-89.

“I haven’t heard of a local government, a town or city that has a comprehensive drainage masterplan.”

This week’s rains were the worst to hit Manila since Tropical Storm Ketsana killed 464 people in 2009.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje warned that the Philippines must prepare for more intense rains caused by climate change, describing the latest deluge as the “new normal”.

– ABC (via http://www.weatherzone.com)

Meanwhile AFP says

 Philippine authorities scrambled to provide food and other emergency provisions Saturday to more than two million people affected by widespread flooding, as the death toll rose to 66, officials said.

The flooding that submerged 80 percent of Manila early in the week has largely subsided, allowing people to return to their homes, but more than 100 low-lying towns and cities to the north remain under water.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos said the huge displaced population, including 441,000 people crammed in crowded evacuation camps, would need to be fed and taken care of for at least another seven days.

“The bulk of our operations involves relief, but also clean-up,” Ramos told AFP.

“Volunteers are packaging 100,000 food packs for immediate distribution.”

The government’s disaster co-ordination council said it was serving nearly 758,000 people displaced by floods on Saturday, significantly more than the previous day as tens of thousands trickled into evacuation centres overnight.

But with 2.68 million people affected, up from 2.44 million on Friday, many are having to fend for themselves.

In Calumpit, a farming town about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Manila, unmarried construction worker Ronaldo Cruz stepped out of his house, stuck in waist-deep floods, to ask for food from better-off neighbours and relatives.

“We’ve been waiting for relief aid, but none has arrived,”

said the 32-year-old, who lives with seven other relatives.

“Perhaps there isn’t enough to go around,” he told AFP.

With evacuation centres packed to capacity and houses inundated by flood water, many residents of Calumpit are forced to live on their rooftops.

The UN World Food Programme said it was providing 52.5 tonnes of high-energy biscuits and hiring trucks to help the government transport other relief supplies.

“WFP is saddened by the humanitarian impact of the non-stop rains over the last week in the Philippines,” its country chief Stephen Anderson said in a statement.

The UN body said it also plans to distribute supplementary food to about 77,000 children in the flooded areas.

The government said Saturday that 66 people had been confirmed killed, up from 60 on Friday.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms or typhoons each rainy season. But this week’s rains were the worst to hit Manila since Tropical Storm Ketsana killed 464 people in 2009. – Reliefweb

Youtuber “I rode the yellow dump truck from my place to the supermarket. The usual 10-minute ride took 45 minutes because vehicles are carefully treading the flood at 5 kph. LOL! The flood is still widespread in Sandoval Ave., Pasig City.”

See here how people go about their daily lives like one person here making the gas delivery with his motorbike.

12 Aug 2012:

MANILA (AFP) – Emergency relief officials and doctors deployed to flood devastated communities in the Philippines on Sunday to prevent outbreaks of disease as the death toll jumped to 85.

The flooding that submerged 80 per cent of Manila early in the week has largely subsided but more than 150 towns and cities around the capital remain under water, affecting more than three million people.

Amid the ongoing relief operation, the weather bureau warned of a low pressure area developing some 850km to the east in the Pacific Ocean that could turn into a storm and bring more rain.

Many provinces around Manila remained inundated as overflowing dams continued to release water, the national disaster coordinating agency said. Relief workers were dealing with “clogged pipelines and trash everywhere. Sanitation has emerged as a key problem,” Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang told AFP.


dost_pagasa (Philippines Weather Bureau):

At 5:00PM (PhT) 08/12/12 The active LPA East of Northern Luzon has developed into Tropical Depression #HELEN

At 4:00pm today (PhT) the center of TD “HELEN” was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 750 km E of Casiguran, Aurora (16.7°N 130.2°E). Maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center. It is forecast to move West Northwest at 11 kph.

Estimated rainfall amount is from 10 – 20 mm per hour (heavy – intense) within the 350 km diameter of the Tropical Depression #HELEN

As of 7:00PM, the center of Tropical Depression #Helen was estimated at 720KM East of Casiguran, Aurora (16.8°N 129.9°E)

TD #HELEN is expected to enhance the HABAGAT that will bring rains over Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao especially the Western section.

As of 6:00PM (PhT), the center of Tropical Depression Helen was est. at 740KM East of Casiguran, Aurora (16.7N, 130.0E).

As of 7:00PM (PhT), the center of Tropical Depression #Helen was estimated at 720KM East of Casiguran, Aurora (16.8°N 129.9°E).

Severe Weather Bulletin No. 1 Issued at: 5:00 p.m (PhT)., 12 August 2012 http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/wb/fcst/pf.pdf

Philippines President Aquino assures Tarlac flood victims of help

By Joelyn G. Baluyut (reliefweb)

TARLAC CITY, Tarlac, Aug11 (PIA) — President Aquino assured monsoon flood victims in his home province of Tarlac that government will help in their recovery.

Speaking before residents in Barangay Apulid in Paniqui town Friday, the Chief Executive said he admires the resiliency of the residents to immediately rise from the tragedy. He added that such trait is a positive sign of brighter things ahead.

Aquino distributed relief goods in the village and in Barangay Sta. Lucia in Capas town together with secretaries of Social Welfare Dinky Soliman, Energy Jose Almendras, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Joel Villanueva, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCSDO) Ramon Carandang, Aurora representative Sonny Angara, and former party-list representative Risa Hontiveros.

In an interview, one of the evacuees in Brgy. Apulid, Elena Salcedo, 79, said, “This is even worse than typhoons Pedring and Quiel, I was scared but with the President here I am very thankful because he had seen what our current situation is and it brings me hope that soon we’ll be back to our normal lives.”

Meanwhile, Paniqui Mayor Dors Rivilla said, “evacuees will be probably be staying in the evacuation centers for three to four days until the rain stops to ensure their safety.”

In the municipal level, we are doing our best to avert such a situation again and we are asking government to assist. Our area is a catch basin, the mayor explained.

He also cited the construction of P16 billion Balog-Balog Irrigation Multipurpose Project (BBIMP), a megadam in the western part of Tarlac which will help in the mitigation of flooding in low-lying areas of the province.

The Department of Agriculture explained that the project would irrigate about 39,150 hectares of farmlands in the municipalities of Concepcion, Gerona, Pura, Ramos, Paniqui, La Paz, Victoria, and Tarlac City.

A total of 250 and 200 packs were distributed by the DSWD-3 to barangays Apulid and Sta. Lucia evacuation centers. A pack is composed of three kilos of rice, six assorted canned goods, six noodles, and coffee.

Based on Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) figures, there are now 619 affected families or 2,291 individuals and 1,1864 families or 9,169 individuals covering Paniqui and Capas towns respectively. (CLJD/JGB-PIA 3)

Red Cross steps up rescue and relief operations for flood-stricken families

The Philippine Red Cross has stepped up its rescue and relief operations for flood-stricken families rescuing a total of 7,525 persons and assisting in the evacuation of more than 200,000 individuals with the help of Red Cross 143 volunteers. Persons rescued were from Valenzuela, Rizal, Caloocan, Manila and other affected areas.

The Quezon City Red Cross assisted in the search and rescue of the victims of the landslides in Commonwealth where three persons were given first aid and transported to nearby hospital.

The Red Cross as well has provided hot meals to more than 191,344 persons in various evacuation centers.

PRC Chairman Richard Gordon has directed Red Cross to deploy all life-saving equipment such as amphibian, rubber boats, ambulances and trucks and intensify further its rescue and relief operations to assist more people, especially in worst hit areas.

Gordon will personally hand over relief goods to the University of Sto Tomas Hospital, Epifanio Delos Santos Hospital and University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Hospital for distribution to patients, crew and staff. The PRC Chair will also discuss partnership with hospital officials for better medical and health services to people in distress.

Earlier, the Red Cross has provided generator to Epifanio delos Santos Hospital and assisted as well in providing fuel for the generator of the UERM Hospital.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said more relief operations and hygiene promotion will be conducted in some of the 566 evacuation centers where 49,220 families are still sheltered. The Red Cross will also set up welfare desks in the evacuation centers to provide psychosocial support and other welfare needs of the affected families.

Pang said, the Red Cross will also conduct quick assessment of the situation and furthers needs of the affected families in Metro Manila and other flooded areas.

The Red Cross will continue to work round the clock with more areas still under water.

Red Cross in full action responding to floods

The Philippine Red Cross is responding around the clock to the worsening flood situation in Metro Manila and nearby provinces triggered by continuous southwest monsoon rains, prompting hundreds of families to evacuate to higher grounds.

The Red Cross Emergency Response Teams have so far rescued a total of 250 persons in various flood-stricken areas in Valenzuela, Rizal and Quezon City.

The Red Cross life-saving vehicles including its amphibian, rubber boats, 6 X 6 trucks and ambulances are on full swing surveying flooded areas and assisting in rescue operation and evacuation of families trapped by rising flood water.

PRC Chairman Richard Gordon has directed all chapters and Red Cross 143 volunteers to remain vigilant in responding to the situation and ensure the safety of the affected families.

More than 6,000 persons were served with hot meals and another 2,000 more were provided with food items in 63 evacuation centers that were visited so far, by Red Cross response teams, according to PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang.

Pang also said the Red Cross is now preparing more relief aid for immediate distribution to affected families.

The PRC medical and social worker teams are now on alert for deployment to evacuation areas to ensure the health and well-being of the flood-stricken population, particularly the most vulnerable group.

The PRC Blood services are also on stand by to ensure that blood requirements are met anytime the need arises.

PRC is coordinating closely with MMDA, local government units and other concerned agencies to do more, do better and reach further to affected families.

Twitter updates on the Red Cross response to flooding: https://twitter.com/philredcross

IFRC news bulletin (pdf download) http://t.co/e34cVLLS

The PRC welcomes donations in cash for flood-affected families. You may send or deposit your donations to the following:

Banco De Oro
Peso: 00-453-0018647
Dollar: 10-453-0039482

Peso: 151-3-041631228
Dollar: 151-2-15100218-2

Philippine National Bank
Peso: 3752 8350 0034
Dollar: 3752 8350 0042

Unionbank of the Philippines
Peso: 1015 4000 0201
Dollar: 1315 4000 0090

All Check/Cash for the account of Philippine Red Cross (Swift Codes)
Banco De Oro

Bank of the Philippine Islands


Philippine National Bank

Unionbank of the Philippines

For your donations to be properly acknowledged, please fax the bank transaction slip at nos. +63.2.527.0575 or +63.2.404.0979 with your name, address and contact number.

SMS and G-Cash

Text RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart)

Text DONATE<space>AMOUNT<space>4-digit M-PIN<space>REDCROSS to 2882

You can donate the following denominations:
Globe: 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000
Smart: 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 or 1000.


Philippine floods: Stranded using Twitter for help (BBC News 8 August 2012)

TROPICAL DEPRESSION #HELEN – Published 12 Aug 2012 1350 GMT/UTC