Day: June 1, 2017

LABOUR PLEDGES £200 SAVINGS ON SEASON COMMUTER TICKETS

Labour has pledged to save the average rail commuter more than £200 a year by forcing companies to limit fare increases on season tickets.

The party said a Labour government would restrict the amount train operators could raise ticket prices by linking any change in fares to a lower measure of inflation than the one currently used.

The Conservative manifesto from the 2015 election promised that regulated fares could rise by no more than the retail price index (RPI). Instead, Labour wants to cap them at the consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation which tends to be lower. The most recent figure for CPI over the previous 12 months was 2.7%, against 3.5% for RPI.

As with the current cap, it would apply only to regulated fares, which make up about 45% of the total and fall under the authority of the relevant transport minister in England, Wales and Scotland.

Labour says that using official projections for the levels of CPI and RPI over the next parliament, the user of the average-cost annual season ticket of just under £2,800 would save £1,000 in total by 2022 under the party’s formula.

The party has already pledge to take the rail companies back into public ownership. However, this will happen over a period of time, as the individual franchises expire. Labour would aim to introduce further caps or reductions over time as more companies became publicly owned.

The party said that since 2010, regulated rail fares as a whole had risen by just over 27%, meaning the average cost of a season ticket had risen by almost £600.

Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “Under the Conservatives, rail fares have sky-rocketed and tickets are some of the most expensive in Europe.

“Labour will take Britain’s railways back into public control and put more money into people’s pockets by capping fares. This will save commuters £1,014 on their rail season tickets over the next parliament, as part of our plan to promote services for the many, not the few.”

The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said rail privatisation had failed and it would take “more than tinkering around the edges” to improve services.

“The 2017 Tory manifesto has failed to make any commitment to keeping rail fares frozen in real terms, meaning rail fares are likely to rise above inflation if the Conservatives win the general election,” he said.

A Conservative spokesman said: “Once again Jeremy Corbyn simply hasn’t done his sums. Renationalising the railways will either add billions of pounds to our national debt or hit ordinary working people in the pocket with higher taxes. It’s yet more economic shambles from Labour.”

GUARDIAN


 

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NO GRADUATION FOR YOU – UNIVERSITY TELLS FINAL YEAR STUDENTS IN EMBARASSING ADMIN GLITCH

Officials at the University of Edinburgh were left red-faced after a system glitch sent emails to students sitting final-year exams informing them that they would fail to graduate as planned.

Students who were registered to graduate this summer received a mysterious email headed “Graduation ceremony cancelled – no award”, sent shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

“We are now advised that you are not expected to complete your studies until later in the year, and therefore we presume that you may be eligible to attend the next available graduation ceremony,” the email read.

View image on Twitter

After queries from worried students the university quickly apologised for the confusion, assuring students eligible to graduate that their ceremonies would go ahead as planned.

“This email was issued in error so please ignore it. No graduations have been cancelled,” Barry Neilson, Edinburgh’s service excellence programme lead said in a message to the students affected.

“We are still looking into the root cause of this error. Meanwhile we would like to apologise unreservedly for any stress that this error has caused you at what we know is a stressful time.”

The university said the emails were thought to have been caused by a software system error.

“There was no breach of our systems and no student data was compromised. The university has written to all students affected to reassure them that their graduations have not been cancelled and asking them to ignore the emails,” the university said.

BLACK AND ASIAN KIDS ENJOY READING MORE THAN WHITE KIDS – NATIONAL LITERACY TRUST

Black and Asian children enjoy reading more than white children, a study by the National Literacy Trust has found.

Twenty-five per cent of white children involved in the survey of 42,406 pupils aged eight to 18 said that they “very much” enjoy reading, compared to 27.8 per cent of black respondents and 28.2 per cent of Asian children.

At the other end of the enjoyment spectrum, a higher number of white children reported that they liked reading “not at all”, with 9 per cent giving that answer compared to 6.7 per cent of black children and 5.3 per cent of Asian children.

The annual survey also shows that the number of primary school children saying they enjoy reading has reached record levels.

Close to 78 per cent of children aged eight to 11 like having their nose in a book while 55.2 per cent of pupils aged 11-14 also enjoy reading.

We must continue to do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.Jonathan Douglas, National Literacy Trust

However the study also shows a continuing gender gap, with boys less likely to enjoy reading than girls. Enjoyment of reading also drops off sharply as boys get older, with twice as many boys aged eight to 11 reporting that they enjoy reading compared with boys aged 14 to 16.

There is a similar fall among girls, but it is less dramatic, with 82.8 per cent of those aged eight to 11 taking pleasure in picking up a book compared with 53.3 per cent of those in their late teens.

The survey also found that the gap between the reading age of pupils who enjoy books compared with classmates who dislike reading increases over time, with 10-year-olds having a reading age 1.3 years ahead of their peers, up to 3.3 years at the age of 14.

Jonathan Douglas from the trust said: “When children enjoy reading and have books of their own, they do better at school and later in life, so we must continue to do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”

NIGERIA TO ESTABLISH SCHOOLS FOR WOMEN WHO GAVE UP ON EDUCATION TO GET MARRIED

The Federal Government is to establish special schools for women who dropped out of school to get married, Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, has said.

“All women that married at an early age will have the opportunity to continue with their education from their marital homes.

“The schools will be in two categories so as to avoid problems emanating from the establishment of the schools.

“The first category is for those who started their schooling but due to one reason or the other dropped out.

“The other category is for the Adult Literacy classes that will be established in all local governments to assist women attain certain literacy level.

“In the Adult literacy schools, the women will also be empowered with skills training during their lessons.

“The women will be trained how to make soap, local soft drink, candle, pomade, cake, local hair dressing, tailoring and other small businesses.” the minister told newsmen on Thursday in Katsina.

Alhassan appealed to religious and traditional leaders to continue supporting ongoing efforts to boost the enrolment of the girl-child into schools nationwide.

She said that the education of female children was very important as such the leaders should encourage parents to send them to school.

 

MAN WHO CONSPIRED TO KIDNAP HIS OWN FATHER FOR N1MILLION ARRESTED

A man who conspired with others to kidnap his father has been arrested.

According to the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Odude  the kidnapping took place at Igboora in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area on May 17 at about 6 p.m.

The suspect confessed that he collected a share of less than N1 million from the ransom money received although he said that his father never offended him.

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Kidnapper says he collected less than 1million naira from the ransom money

The suspect with his co conspirators will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

Similarly, six suspects said to be involved in the kidnapping of popular Ibadan-based oil magnate and Chief Executive Officer of Bovas Oil and Gas Limited have also been arrested.

Items recovered from the suspects included firearms, nine vehicles, one motorcycle, N1.2 million, musical instruments, knife and phones.

YORUBA COUNCIL OF ELDERS (UK) SUSPENDS TWO OF IT’S MEMBERS OVER ACTIONS UNBECOMING OF OMOLUABI

The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) of Europe and America has suspended a couple that are two of its top members in the UK  for actions unbecoming of Omoluabi.

According to the leader of the Europe Chapter of the Council, Otunba Mobolaji Falase, the action was taken by the leadership of the organisation to show their displeasure with the suspended members and their disgraceful supporting role in instigating the split up of the community organisation which serves as an umbrella body for people of Nigerian descent in the United Kingdom and going further to register a rival organisation with the same name.

Otunba Falase added that the regretable action to suspend the affected members was taken because they felt their actions brought the Yoruba Council of Elders into disrepute and that the organisation could not be seen to be harbouring members who work to cause division instead of harmony in the community.

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Otunba Falase

Lastly, he expressed the organisation’s collective shame that Yoruba elders who are community leaders could be found practising such divisive actions rather than engaging in ways to lead, heal and bring the community together.

BARONESSJ.COM


 

THE WORLD IS PLUNDERING AFRICA’S WEALTH OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR

 

More wealth leaves Africa every year than enters it – by more than $40bn (£31bn) – according to research that challenges “misleading” perceptions of foreign aid.

Research by campaigners claims aid and loans to the continent are outweighed by financial flows to tax havens and costs of climate change mitigation

Analysis by a coalition of UK and African equality and development campaigners including Global Justice Now, published on Wednesday, claims the rest of the world is profiting more than most African citizens from the continent’s wealth.

It said African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation.

This led to an annual financial deficit of $41.3bn from the 47 African countries where many people remain trapped in poverty, according to the report, Honest Accounts 2017.

The campaigners said illicit financial flows, defined as the illegal movement of cash between countries, account for $68bn a year, three times as much as the $19bn Africa receives in aid.

Tim Jones, an economist from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “The key message we want to get across is that more money flows out of Africa than goes in, and if we are to address poverty and income inequality we have to help to get it back.”

The key factors contributing to this inequality include unjust debt payments and multinational companies hiding proceeds through tax avoidance and corruption, he said.

African governments received $32bn in loans in 2015, but paid more than half of that – $18bn – in debt interest, with the level of debt rising rapidly.

The prevailing narrative, where rich country governments say their foreign aid is helping Africa, is “a distraction and misleading”, the campaigners said.

Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner for Global Justice Now, said: “There’s such a powerful narrative in western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them. While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.”

The report points out that Africa has considerable riches. South Africa’s potential mineral wealth is estimated to be around $2.5tn, while the mineral reserves of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are thought to be worth $24tn.

However, the continent’s natural resources are owned and exploited by foreign, private corporations, the report said.

 

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The headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Campaigners said illicit financial flows account for $68bn a year. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with Isodec (Integrated Social Development Centre) in Ghana said: “Development is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people, rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments. The bleeding of Africa must stop!”

However, Maya Forstater, a visiting fellow for the Centre for Global Development, a development thinktank, said the report did not provide a meaningful look at the issues.

Forstater said: “There are 1.2 billion people in Africa. This report seems to view these people and their institutions as an inert bucket into which money is poured or stolen away, rather than as part of dynamic and growing economies. The $41bn headline they come up with needs to be put into context that the overall GDP of Africa is some $7.7tn. Economies do not grow by stockpiling inflows and preventing outflows but by enabling people to invest and learn, adapt technologies and access markets.

“Some of the issues that the report raises – such as illegal logging, fishing and the cost of adapting to climate change – are important, but adding together all apparent inflows and outflows is meaningless.”

Forstater also questioned some of the report’s methodology.

The coalition of campaigners, including Jubilee Debt Campaign, Health Poverty Action, and Uganda Debt Network, said those claiming to help Africa “need to rethink their role”, and singled out the British government as bearing special responsibility because of its position as the head of a network of overseas tax havens.

Dr Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist at the London School of Economics, commenting on the report, agreed that the prevailing view of foreign aid was skewed. Hickel said: “One of the many problems with the aid narrative is it leads the public to believe that rich countries are helping developing countries, but that narrative skews the often extractive relationship that exists between rich and poor countries.”

A key issue, he said, was illicit financial flows, via multinational corporations, to overseas tax havens. “Britain has a direct responsibility to fix the problem if they want to claim to care about international poverty at all,” he said.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including preventing companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens from operations in African countries, transforming aid into a process that genuinely benefits the continent, and reconfiguring aid from a system of voluntary donations to one of repatriation for damage caused.

 
GUARDIAN

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