Bruce Springsteen announces UK return

Springsteen is know as the “the Boss”. Photo Credit: Craig O’Neal

Legendary singer Bruce Springsteen has confirmed he will play a string of concerts across the UK in 2019.

Though no confirmed shows have been announced as of yet, Springsteen recently announced it was “time to get back to my day job”, confirming his return to musical form with a new studio album with his E Street Band.

A new studio album would mean the first new material released by the artist since 2014’s “High Hopes” however “Springsteen on Broadway”, a greatest hits performance covering Bruce’s mammoth 46 year career will premiere on Netflix December 15th.

Springsteen last toured the UK in 2016, which included a stop at Glasgow’s Hampden stadium. Known for his mammoth performances, the singer played for over three hours at the famed football stadium.

Bruce and the gang will be well rehearsed for next year’s dates, currently playing five nights a week as part of the Broadway shows in New York City. Though Springsteen turns 70 next year, it seems the iconic American hero is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

1p and 2p coins could be scrapped thanks to a rise in electronic payments

The penny could become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise in contactless and digital payments.

Phillip Hammond has told of his controversial plans to get rid of the 1p and 2p coins, as well as the £50 note, in the Autumn budget.

This comes after the Treasury revealed that 60 percent of all 1p and 2p coins are used only once before being put away into savings. It was also revealed that in eight percent of cases these coins are just thrown away.

According to the Treasury’s consultation document, the government and the Royal Mint have:

“needed to produce and issue over 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.”

One of the strongest criticisms of these changes comes from charities, who believe they will be strongly affected by these changes.

1p coins may be scrapped due to proposed changes made by the Treasury | Image Credit: Gizmodo

According to Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy Volunteering at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), although there has been a massive rise in electronic payments, the majority of donations to charities are given in cash.

He said:

“Giving by cash methods remains, by some distance, the most popular way of giving to charity. 58 percent of donors give to charity using cash.

“Giving coins to charity is the starting point on a journey for lots of people. Direct Debits bring in more money to charities, but giving loose change underpins Britain’s culture of giving.

If we are going to scrap coins and notes then we need to think about ways to give smaller charities different ways to get people on the journey of giving to good causes.”

He added:

“Perhaps we should be thinking creatively about how we can encourage people to give them to good causes instead.

“As society moves from cash to digital payments we particularly need to help small charities get ready as the people who give pennies today are the people who give pounds tomorrow.”

Members of the public have taken to Twitter to express their concerns about the possible changes. Twitter user Jay believes that arcades, charities and homeless people will feel the impact of the scrapping of one and two pence coins.

 

Twitter use @wallin_08 believes that these changes will have a negative affect on many industries | Image Credit: @wallin_08 on Twitter

On the other hand, some believe that this could result in people donating higher amounts to charities instead, giving 5p or 10p coins instead.  Twitter user Alexander believes that “charities stand to benefit from this.”

Some members of public believe that getting rid of low value coins may result in charities receiving higher donations | Image Credit: @Xandyballs on Twitter


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Facebook bans Britain First

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen and leader Paul Golding have both seen their pages banned

Facebook has removed the pages of the anti-Islamic Britain First group as well as its leaders profiles.

This action was taken after the social media company said that the group had repeatedly violated its community standards policy. Ignoring its final warning.

The Britain First Facebook page before it was shut down.

Just earlier this month, Britain First’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after be found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.

The groups Facebook page has over 2 million likes. The pages of its two leaders also had a huge following.

The group will not be allowed to create any further pages to serve as a replacement.

Facebook judged that several of the posts were designed to promote both religious and racial hatred against Muslims.

Just a few of the antisocial posts include:

  • A photo of the top leaders of the group with the caption “Islamaphobic and Proud”
  • A caption of Muslim immigrants with animals.
  • Multiple videos and images posted with the aim of inciting hate against Muslims

Facebook said that it is an open platform that allows free expression of people opinions but any political views should be expressed without hate.

These actions come after much public outcry for the page to be shut down.

Facebook’s community standards document says “Organisations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook.”

Twitter suspended the accounts of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, after its new anti-abuse rules came into force last December.

Previously President Donald Trump has come under criticism for retweeting anti-Islamic videos posted by Jayda Fransen.

 

 

Pre-Historic Briton Breakthrough

Scientific analysis shows a Briton’s remains from 10,000 years ago had dark skin and blue eyes.

Academics from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man-Britain’s oldest full skeleton-was discovered in 1903. College  researchers used the succeeding genome analysis for facial reconstruction.

The research reinstates the fact that the lighter skin characteristics of the more recent Europeans is a modern phenomenon. This analysis provides important insights into the very first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.

The research into the Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal as well as feature in a Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of the 10,000-year-old Man.

The museum’s research leader in human origins, Prof Chris Stringer said:

“I’ve been studying the skeleton of Cheddar Man for about 40 years, so to come face-to-face with what this guy could have looked like – and that striking combination of the hair, the face, the eye colour and that dark skin: something a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined and yet that’s what the scientific data show.”

This is the first genome analysed from a prehistoric Briton of this age.

Updates to Follow.

The Hedgehog Problem Spikes

The furry garden friend of every UK home continues to be under threat.

At least half the population of our native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

A spokesperson for BHPS-Emily Wilson-highlighted many reasons why Hedgehog’s are in difficulty:

“The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

With approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, Wilson went on to suggests that “farmers play a vital role” in helping protect and maintain Hedgehogs habitat.

However the report was not all doom-and-gloom for Sonic and suggested some positives for urban furze-pig’s.

Although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline appears to be slowing. Sightings have increased by 20% since 2014 in an annual survey of 600 urban gardens by PTES.

It has been suggested that this is because of the more than 4,500 hedgehog highways creations since 2015. The highways involve cutting holes in the bottom of fences, linking over 9,000 gardens, as part of the Hedgehog Street project and is extremely beneficial to an array of furze-pig.

Hedgehog Highways Prevent Segregation in Urban Habitats. Image : Animal Facts Encyclopedia

The State of Britain’s Hedgehog Report also illustrated the importance of ‘Hedgehog Champions’.

PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 volunteers or Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.

Emily Wilson continued by pinpointing the importance of volunteers stating:

“Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions.”

For more on how to become a Hedgehog Champion and help your furry garden neighbour, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

James Bulger killer sentenced for indecent images

Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for possessing images of children.

Appearing via video link at the Old Bailey, Venables pleaded guilty to possessing more than 1,000 indecent images of children earlier this morning and has since been sentenced.

Previously released on licence in 2001 after serving eight years in prison for the murder of the two-year-old, he was sent back to prison in November after he was caught with the pictures. Appearing via video link from custody during a hearing at the Old Bailey in London, he admitted to having indecent images of children and possessing a manual teaching how to have sex with children “safely”.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told the court:

“The manual is a disgusting and sickening document which falls far below any recognisable standard of morality.”

As he was being taken to a police station, the court heard that Venables admitted he had “let people down” and told officers he had “stupid urges”.

Mr Mably told the Old Bailey that Venables had software on his computer to browse the dark web and admitted downloading the material from there.
James parents, Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, were in court to hear the proceedings.

It is the second time Venables has been caught with such images, having been jailed for two years in 2010 after admitting charges of downloading and distributing child pornography.

The court heard that a report had found that Venables was a “high risk of real harm to children” in the future.

Edward Fitzgerald QC on behalf of Venables said: “He has asked me to apologise to all those he has let down. He apologises to the family of James Bulger for the renewed distress he has caused by his renewed offending.”

He said that the “relapse” had been quickly detected, adding: “Jon Venables still has the capacity for good and a capacity to change.”

Scottish economy sees 0.2% growth

The Scottish economy grew by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2017, according to new figures.

Between July and September last year, annual GDP growth in Scotland was 1.6% lower than the UK. However, production was up by 1.2% in Scotland with the overall economy growing by 0.6% annually, in comparison with 1.7% for the UK as a whole.

Construction was down for a seventh quarter in a row, falling by 2.9%. The Scottish Government’s figures also showed that GDP per person saw no change at 0%.

 

Scottish and UK Growth Rates | Source: Scottish Government

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said:

“It’s particularly heartening to see services continue to expand, and production up by 1.2%, with a return to growth for manufacturing.”

“Although more modest than we would like, it is encouraging to see the economy grow by 0.2% overall.”

 

 

National Obesity Week: Donut sugar-coat it anymore.

One in four adults in the UK is considered obese. It is a rising concern amongst healthcare practitioners, with much of the population still not taking the issue seriously.

This week, the National Obesity Week aims to shed light on the growing issue of obesity in adults and children in the UK through workshops and events. Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, spoke about his organisation’s actions and his opinions to tackling the issue.

Image credit: SANCDA website

He said: “The chief cure to tackle obesity is to revert to a healthy lifestyle, to eat well and to exercise.  It is not easy to accomplish and may take weeks or months to accomplish.

“Our forum will be submitting evidence to Holyrood to include proper monitoring of children’s excess weight as a function in stemming the appalling rise of childhood obesity. The chief event this week has been set to assist in publicising the initiative of Tameside General Hospital in Manchester where sugar – a significant cause of obesity – is to be banned from its staff and visitors restaurants.”

Infographic on obesity in the UK in 2017 / Image credit: n-compass northwest website

While genetics may play a role in our body weight and size, it is not the ultimate cause of obesity. Research taken by the University of Edinburgh suggested that lifestyle differences were the cause of the obesity rates in Scotland.

Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh said: “Our findings reveal that the factors that have the greatest impact on regional obesity rates can be modified.

“This is good news because it means we can do something about the problem and potentially narrow the health gap between areas that are least and worst affected.”

The biggest issue lies in the population’s denial of the fact. Many still uphold the idea of having good health and lifestyle when in fact, the numbers suggest a different story.

Infographic on the effects of obesity / Image credit: n-compass northwest website

According to statistics from the Scottish Government, a fifth of children in their first year at primary school is at risk of being overweight or obese. Children as young as two have been sent for treatment and weight management in the Lothian district.

The Scottish Government is concerned by the rise in childhood obesity in the country and hopes to improve the situation through various positive actions. Maureen Watt, a former Public Health Minister, stated that: “Obesity is a notable public health issue in most of western Europe and in Scotland there is no exception. The Scottish Government is committed to addressing it by taking action to improve diets and encourage physical activity.”

Infographic on the effects of obesity / Image credit: n-compass northwest website

Many organisations in Scotland are in support of raising awareness of this growing problem as well. Edinburgh Leisure is dedicated to creating opportunities for those who want to get active and lead healthier lives.

Conor McLean, a Weight Management Development Officer at Edinburgh Leisure said:”Leading a healthy and more active lifestyle can improve your health and wellbeing, bettering your quality of life and minimising risk factors which can lead to long-term health conditions.”

Several companies, such as The Data Lab, have even extended their hands to other countries to further the research. The Edinburgh-based innovation centre decided to collaborate with Unicef to bring together data scientists in Scotland and strategists in the US. Its goal is ti examine the relationship between obesity and other health issues, with the hope of understanding and predicting the treatments needed for these conditions in the future.

There will be a talk held by the National Obesity Forum in Edinburgh on the 21st February regarding the policy priorities in tackling obesity in Scotland. More information and tickets can be booked here.

Cabinet Reshuffle promotes women and ethnic minorities

Theresa May has created her own generation of Tory ‘rising stars’ as her cabinet shuffle reached its conclusion yesterday.

The Prime Minister has brought in fresh talent across her cabinet, including an increase in the number of female and ethnic minority cabinet ministers.

She stated that her new government now looks ‘more like the country it serves’, after axing a number of white male MP’s over 50, and bringing in younger, female members from minority backgrounds. She insisted that this move will help her focus more on important issues such as health, housing and social care in the UK.

After these decisions yesterday, female representation in Parliament has risen from 25% to 30% and the number of female MP’s has now risen from 30 to 37, and minority MP’s from 4 to 9.

Edinburgh named ‘the best city in the world to live in as a millennial’

The Scottish capital beat off competition from Auckland, Sydney and Tokyo to be named the city providing the best quality of life for your money.

Vienna came in a close second in the study conducted by Movehub, with Berlin taking the third spot on the list.

Edinburgh beat off competition from Vienna and Berlin to take the prize

Affordability and lifestyle within some of the world’s biggest cities were examined against average monthly costs such as renting a one bedroomed flat, paying for public transport and the availability of cheap places to eat and drink. It also took into consideration each cities safety score.
The data was gathered through a range of sources such as Deutsche Bank, the UN and TripAdvisor.

According to the report, Edinburgh had one of the best scores for rent relative to income as the cost of rent only accounts for 30% of average monthly earnings.

The breakdown for Edinburgh is as follows:

Cost of public transport: £58
Income: £1739.89
Rent: £565.43
Density of cheap eats: 84.32
Cost of cappuccino: £2.54
Safety Index: 10

However, this study comes just months after Bank of Scotland reported that rising house prices in Edinburgh were forcing citizens out of the city. According to the report, it is now cheaper to live outside of Edinburgh and commute in instead of working and buying a home in the capital.

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