UK retailers remove ‘staggeringly offensive’ mental health costumes from sale
Addressing the annual conference of his ruling Conservative party, Hammond said Britain was spending increasing amounts of its defence budget, the fourth largest in the world, on cyber intelligence and surveillance. “Last year our cyber defences blocked around 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure internet alone, so the threat is real,” he told delegates. “But simply building cyber defences is not enough: as in other domains of warfare, we also have to deter. Britain will build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and if necessary to strike in cyberspace.” He did not go into details on who was attacking Britain’s infrastructure, but government sources have said a large number of such assaults have originated in China or Russia. Separately, he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that clinical “cyber strikes” could disable enemy communications, nuclear and chemical weapons, planes, ships and other hardware. “Our commanders can use cyber weapons alongside conventional weapons in future conflicts,” he said in the newspaper. Hammond told the conference the government would recruit hundreds of experts in the coming months from a variety of backgrounds, including civilian computer experts, to join what he called a new Joint Cyber Reserve. The “reservists” would work alongside existing experts in various government agencies such as the Ministry of Defence and the GCHQ electronic surveillance agency. Hammond did not say how much the recruitment programme would cost, but the outlay is expected to run to hundreds of millions of pounds. In July, a group of lawmakers said Britain was losing the battle against cyber crime, saying online criminals in 25 countries had chosen the UK as their number one target. Government documents have spoken of foreign states seeking “to conduct espionage with the aim of spying on or compromising our government, military, industrial and economic assets as well as monitoring opponents of their regime”.
Walmart subsidiary Asda showed a man in a blood-stained white coat brandishing a meat cleaver to advertise its “Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume.” Tesco’s advertisement for its “Psycho Ward Costume” showed a man in an orange boiler suit branded “PSYCHO WARD” brandishing a hypodermic needle and wearing a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter in the film, “The Silence of the Lambs.” An Asda spokeswoman offered the company’s “sincere apologies for the offense” the costumes had caused. “This was an unacceptable error and the product was withdrawn immediately,” she said in a statement. “We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizable donation to Mind.” Tesco also issued an apology, saying in a statement: “We’re really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.” Mental health charity Mind welcomed the withdrawal of the costumes, saying the retailers had shown themselves to be “extremely misguided” by offering them for sale. Slept in. Have @asda withdrawn their ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume or are we going to organise a protest at HQ? #timetochange Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) September 26, 2013 Alastair Campbell “It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” spokeswoman Sue Baker said in a statement . However, Baker said the outcry the costumes provoked on the social media site Twitter was encouraging. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population,” she said. Mind and the group Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Change campaign to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. One of the campaign’s supporters is Alastair Campbell, who was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s media chief and who has publicly spoken of his battle with depression . Campbell was among those who tweeted his displeasure at the “brutally stigmatizing outfits.” “@asda and @tesco should sign up for one of the @mindcharity @Rethink_ @TimetoChange mental health training courses,” he tweeted .