LONDON STABBING EPIDEMIC: Sixth teen attacked in just 1.5 hours

London – VIJAY SHAH via MARK HODGE, ALEX MATTHEWS and The Sun

Six teenagers were stabbed in the space of just ninety minutes as the UK capital of London experienced a wave of violence largely against young people, giving the city a higher murder rate than New York for the first time in modern history.

Tabloid newspaper The Sun reported that six youths were stabbed in just 1 1/2 hours yesterday, including a boy of just 13 years of age, who was left fighting for his life. The wave of stabbings began with a man in his twenties being attacked in the east London district of Walthamstow, The Sun stated.

 

The stabbing of the 20-something happened on Friday lunchtime. Then at 5.30 pm local time, a 15-year-old was stabbed in East India Dock Road in the Poplar area of east London, followed by three males, two aged just fifteen, attacked in Grove Road, Mile End thirty minutes later. Then at exactly 6.57 pm, the thirteen-year-old was stabbed in Newham, east London, and was quickly taken to hospital by ambulance where he is in a ‘critical condition’. Then ten minutes later, another teenage male was stabbed in Ealing Broadway, west London, taking Friday’s toll of casualties to seven in the space of a handful of hours, according to Sun reporters.

In Ealing Broadway, a witness told The Sun Online how they chanced upon one of yesterday’s stabbing victims lying in a pool of his own blood. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Before I saw him, I heard a commotion as I approached but thought nothing of it.

“But then when I got there I saw a young male lying with blood visibly on his chest.

“And when I spoke to another witness, she said she saw three men fighting and two of them ran off after the chap had been stabbed three times.

“She said he had been stabbed once in the heart, or chest area, once in the stomach and once in the upper thigh.

“He didn’t move at all. It was really eerie. He was just very still for the whole time I was there.”

She added: “Youngsters don’t see the value in life at the moment.”

In Walthamstow, where the stabbing spree kicked off, police and ambulance crews and vehicles were reported to be ‘swarming’ over the site of the incident. Locals took to social media network Twitter to give their accounts and shock at the senseless violence. 

One witness said: “Another Stabbing on my road in Walthamstow. This is getting out of hand.

Another resident added: “Good lord, another stabbing in Walthamstow. Stay safe if you’re in London these next few days, very scary.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers and LAS attended the location.

“The victim – believed to be aged in his 20s – has been taken to hospital.

“We await an update as to his condition.”

The wave of stabbings and shootings in London over the past few weeks saw an innocent young woman, Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, aged only 17, gunned down by unknown assailants while chatting with a group of friends outside near her home in Tottenham, north London. She was believed to have been caught in the crossfire of a gangland feud between rival gangs in Tottenham and the neighbouring Wood Green, a phenomenon the British media had referred to as ‘postcode wars’.

Last Monday, Amaan Shakoor, aged 16, was shot dead after a gunman blasted him in the face outside a leisure centre in Walthamstow in a gangland killing. Friends believed he was the victim of mistaken identity. Also yesterday, Israel Ogunsola, eighteen years, was stabbed near his home in Homerton, east London. He was believed to have been friends with Tanesha Melbourne-Blake.

Scotland Yard said it is currently investigating 55 suspected murders since the beginning of 2018 – including the deaths of two children whose bodies were found in Sussex.

The Met police and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are under increasing pressure to put an end to the bloodshed after eight murder probes were launched in London in January, 15 in February and 22 in March.

SOURCES:

Sherrie Bachell via Facebook.

“BLOODY SPREE London knife crime worsens – Seven stabbed including SIX in 90 minutes as boy aged just THIRTEEN left fighting for his life” – Mark Hodge and Alex Matthews, The Sun/News UK/News Group Newspapers Limited (6 April 2018) https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5981153/mile-end-stabbing-attack-walthamstow-london-latest/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Scotland Police Cordon” – Michel Curi, Flickr (22 December 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/119886413@N05/16056676866

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BLUE PASSPORTS: British PM urged to explain passport decision to UK workers

London – VIJAY SHAH via PA/Aol

The British prime minister Theresa May has been urged to explain her government’s decision to provisionally award the printing of the UK’s post-Brexit passports to a French firm, reported AOL via news agency Press Association.

The UK plans to change the colour of its passport to dark blue from the current maroon once it leaves the European Union (EU) next year. Supporters of the withdrawal, dubbed ‘Brexit’ have called for a new passport design that reflects ‘Britishness’, but have been angered by the Government’s choice of awarding the tender for the new travel documents to the French-Dutch security printers Gemalto, rather than continuing their current contract with Basingstoke-based company De La Rue. Gemalto offered the cheapest price for the tender, which will only involve producing the blank passport books and biometric chips.

 

The CEO of De La Rue had earlier this week expressed scorn at the tender award, saying the PM should explain herself in person to the printery’s workers in the north-east of England. Martin Sutherland said that it was “disappointing and surprising” that the blue passport so championed heavily by Leave supporters as an ‘icon of British identity’ would be printed outside the country, in France.

Home Office ministers however said that the tendering process has not been finalised and that De La Rue would have the right to appeal the interim decision to award passport manufacturing to Gemalto.

Mr Sutherland said: “I think we have heard over the last few weeks and months ministers more than happy to come on the media and talk about the blue passports and the fact that the blue passport is an icon of British identity.

“Now this icon of British identity is going to be manufactured in France.”

Sutherland said his firm had been producing passports for the UK for the last ten years “without a single hiccup” but had been “undercut on price” and would appeal against the decision.

Referring to the factory employees of De La Rue’s printing unit in Gateshead, he said: “I’m going to have to go and face those workers, look at them in the whites of the eyes and try and explain to them why the British government thinks it’s a sensible decision to buy French passports not British passports.”

He added: “I would actually like to invite Theresa May or Amber Rudd (the British home secretary) to come to my factory and explain to my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon.”

Mr Sutherland said that his firm was “not allowed to compete for the French passport contract”.

Tory MP Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, branded the decision “completely wrong and unnecessary”.

Sir Bill said: “I think it is incongruous to say the least. It is completely unnecessary and it is symbolically completely wrong.

“Whatever the conditions which led to the decision in terms of pricing, the fact is that this is a symbolic event.”

Former cabinet minister Priti Patel told The Sun, a UK tabloid newspaper: “This should be a moment that we should be celebrating. The return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity.

“But to be putting the job in the hands of the French is simply astonishing. It is a national humiliation.

“I would urge Amber Rudd and the Government to look again at the powers they have to see what they can do.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake told the Press Association: “The blue passport saga is turning into a farce.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are running a fair and open competition to ensure that the new contract delivers a high quality and secure product and offers the best value for money for customers.

“All passports will continue to be personalised with the holder’s details in the United Kingdom, meaning that no personal data will leave the UK.

“We do not require passports to be manufactured in the UK. A proportion of blank passport books are currently manufactured overseas, and there are no security or operational reasons why this would not continue.”

SOURCES:

Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

“May urged to explain passport decision to British workers” – Press Association via Aol. (22 March 2018) https://www.aol.co.uk/news/2018/03/22/may-urged-to-explain-passport-decision-to-british-workers/?ncid=webmail

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Fly Away Home” – King Huang, Flickr (12 January 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/kinghuang/3193491202

 

 

POST-BREXIT UBS: Banking giant to move London jobs to Europe amidst uncertainty

London – VIJAY SHAH via KALYEENA MAKORTOFF and Independent

The uncertainty about the political and economic ramifications of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union next year have set European businesses with operations in the UK on edge in the past year. Now Swiss banking giant UBS is the latest bank to doubt its ongoing presence in Britain after the withdrawal, with UK newspaper The Independent reporting recently that the bank is planning to move jobs from London to Germany.

As talks between Britain’s prime minister Theresa May and the European Commission see trade deals and negotiations complicated and rejected left and right, UBS has said it expects to merge its British arm with its Germany-based European facility before the Brexit deadline of 29th March, 2019.

 

Many of the senior staff in London will be transferred to positions in Europe, mainly in Frankfurt, with the ‘lack of a Brexit transition deal’ being the main reason, causing considerable headache for UBS senior executives worried about possible fallout to the UK’s finance industry, of which UBS is a major player.

The move will mostly affect staff who serve Europe-based clients as well as those working in the bank’s central risk management and support services, which will be centralised in Frankfurt.

​UBS said its plans would be put in motion “in the absence of adequate transition relief being agreed and passed into law by the United Kingdom and the European Union”.

“The nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains unclear,” UBS said.

“Any future limitations on providing financial services into the EU from our UK operations could require us to make potentially significant changes to our operations in the UK and the EU, and to our legal structure.”

It added: “We further anticipate that some staff would be relocated as a result.”

Many in the UK financial industry had been hoping for the maintenance of ‘passporting rights’ which allow UK and mainland European institutions to operate seamlessly in each other’s territory with few restrictions, but the dithering in the Brexit negotiations casts doubts in any future interconnectivity between the two.

UBS had not formally stated how many jobs will move from Britain, but the Independent has stated that the number will be in the region of 200. The bank does plan to keep its UK wealth management, asset management and non-EEA investment bank business in the country, where it employs around 5,000 people, mainly in London.

“The timing and extent of the actions we take may vary considerably depending on regulatory requirements and the nature of any transition or successor agreements with the EU,” UBS said.

UBS follows in the wake of several other international finance leaders who are re-orienting themselves towards the Continent in the aftermath of Brexit. German firm Deutsche Bank plans to also move staff, possibly in the hundreds, out of London, while HSBC will relocate 1,000 jobs to France. Another thousand jobs will go with JP Morgan, which plans to beef up its European operations, while American heavyweights Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may also move staff across various EU locations, according to the newspaper.

SOURCES:

Sonel BC.

BritCits, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/britcits1/

“Brexit: UBS to move London jobs to Europe as lack of transition deal forces ‘significant changes’ ” – Kalyeena Makortoff, Independent (10 March 2018) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-ubs-london-staff-move-europe-transition-deal-investment-bank-a8247516.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“London’s financial district” – Michael Duxbury, Flickr (18 September 2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelduxbury/6159853445

NORTHERN IRELAND AFTER BREXIT: Residents to be able to keep EU membership

Belfast – VIJAY SHAH via JON STONE and Independent

As both the Brexit talks in Brussels and the situation over the status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic dominates political news in the U.K., the negotiation teams of the two sides have made a concession for residents of Northern Ireland, whereby they can still be EU citizens after Brexit is finalised in two years’ time, the Independent reported recently.

 

UK citizens born in the province will be able to continue their EU membership thanks to a deal struck by British prime minister Theresa May on Friday morning. The deal is a further continuation of an older agreement between the UK and EU whereby Northern Irish residents can apply for a Irish Republic passport. Even after the UK’s withdrawal, this agreement will be allowed to continue, meaning a Northern Ireland-born person can adopt Irish citizenship and therefore take advantage of border-free travel with the EU, as the southern part of Ireland is remaining within the union.

“Both Parties acknowledge that the 1998 Agreement recognises the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish or British or both and be accepted as such,” the joint text agreed by the two sides stated in quotes published by the Independent.

“The people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland.”

The EU Commission have also suggested that Irish citizens from both sides of the border resident in the province should also be able to continue enjoying their rights as EU citizens post-Brexit. The deal is part of a breakthrough in recent talks, which hit a stumbling block over the question of the Irish border. The UK and EU will now move on to discussing future trade agreements.

SOURCES:

Cindy Chak.

I LOVE MY ‘FOREIGN’ SPOUSE: defend the rights of cross-border couples., Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/139807999382936/

“Brexit: Northern Irish will be able to remain EU citizens under deal” – Jon Stone, Independent (8 December 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-northern-ireland-keep-eu-citizenship-irish-border-a8099176.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Tuesday: my Irish passport arrived” – Sarah-Rose, Flickr (20 March 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/oh_darling/6999195061

EHI LIVE 2017: Two days left until leading healthcare event

Birmingham – VIJAY SHAH

People in the world of healthcare technology are eagerly awaiting the arrival of ehi LIVE 2017 in just two day’s time, as the UK’s leading get-together for experts and users of digital healthcare gets ready at Hall 1 of the NEC Arena in Birmingham on the 31st October and 1st November 2017.

 

ehi LIVE, an event which aims to bridge the gap between medical technology, clinicians and their patients, is a yearly occurrence and is organised by international exhibitions agency Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions. ehi LIVE will look at key developments in the digital healthcare field, such as hospital record keeping, cybersecurity, healthcare innovations and new methods of bringing technology into patient-doctor interactions. The event also plays host to a special ‘Knowledge Hub’ which features experts in the fields of digital health and cyber security, offering their thoughts on the latest developments and concepts such as the cloud, wearables, informatics, ‘big data’ and social media, and how these can benefit patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare providers such as the NHS.

ehi LIVE will host nine individual conferences within the event, alongside an exhibition with a lineup of 150 companies and providers in healthcare. An expected total of more than 4,000 attendees are expected to visit the event over the two days. There will also be a late night drinks bash and an awards ceremony.

Key speakers taking the stand at ehi LIVE 2017 include Will Smart, the chief information officer of NHS England; Claire Murdoch, the National Mental Health Director, also from the English NHS, alongside their colleague Dr. Robert Varnam, head of general practice development. Also speaking will be Prof. Daniel Ray (data director and informatics professor at NHS Digital in Leeds) and Paul Park, a CCIO at Oxfordshire CCG. Exhibitors include Elsevier, Fujifilm, Hospedia, HP, IBM Watson Health and LG Electronics, among many others in household names and new entrants in the digital healthcare field.

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is employed by Informa.

SOURCES:

“Informa Accounts” – HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/informa-accounts

ehi Live 2017, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/EHILive

“ehi LIVE, UK’s largest ehealth exhibition 31Oct- 1Nov 2017, Birmingham” – ehi Live/Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions/Informa https://www.ehilive.co.uk/en/home.html

“EXHIBITOR LIST” – ehi Live/Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions/Informa https://www.ehilive.co.uk/en/exhibit/exhibitor-directory.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

ehi Live 2017, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/EHILive

 

CAMBRIDGE PREGNANCY CITIZENSHIP DEMAND: NHS compels UK woman with Polish surname to prove her residence

Cambridge – VIJAY SHAH via NICOLE MORLEY and Metro

A British-born pregnant woman who changed her surname to her husband’s Polish-origin one was forced by a hospital to prove her citizenship or be refused ante-natal care under the National Health Service (NHS), online news site Metro.co.uk (Metro) reported yesterday.

Emma Szewczak-Harris from Chesterton, a suburb of Cambridge, who is eight months pregnant, was asked to prove she was a British citizen by a letter sent from the city’s Addenbrooke Hospital, despite her still retaining her maiden name in her double-barrelled surname and having a typically English first name. The mother-to-be told Metro that the letter and actions of Addenbrooke Hospital made her feel a ‘second-class citizen’, and that it was a ‘disgrace’, especially given the fact that Szewczak-Harris was not asked for residency proof in previous appointments.

 

Szewczak-Harris said: “I’ve absolutely no idea why I received it other than my surname,

‘As I’m pregnant, I’m going to the hospital a lot at the moment, but no one has at any point asked for my credentials which – as a born and bred Brit – are completely sound.

So I’m stumped and angry that women in my condition, who are anxious enough as it is, should be made to worry about their access to care.’

After 26 years of living in the country and using the NHS, I’ve never had my identity policed until now,’ 

‘Am I going to go into labour and then be denied treatment?”

The letter, which was seen and shared by Metro, told Szewczak-Harris that she had failed to provide documents at her last appointment proving that she was entitled to free NHS treatment as an expectant mother, before giving a list of suitable proofs of identity and residence. It was dated October 12 and was issued by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Furthermore, the letter demanded Szewczak-Harris supply the necessary documentation by a deadline of October 30, 2017.

A hospital spokesperson said the letter had been sent out as part of a ‘pilot scheme’ aimed at preventing patients from abroad taking advantage of NHS treatment for free and that the hospital had a policy of asking non-emergency maternal care patients to bring proof of residence with them to appointments.

A Cambridge University Hospitals spokesman said: “The Department of Health has asked the trust to pilot a scheme to allow us to better monitor and collect payment from overseas patients who are not eligible for free NHS treatment.

‘This brings us into line with national NHS guidelines and how many other trusts operate.

‘From August 1, 2017 all non-emergency patients in maternity and urology have been asked in their appointment letters to provide two forms of identification when they attend – one to prove identity and one as proof of residence. Once you have provided this information you will not be asked again.

‘If a patient is not eligible for free NHS care, they will be charged for any treatment we give to them and, from October 23, there is a statutory requirement to withhold treatment where clinical staff assess if this routine aspect of their care can wait until they return to their home country.”

Szewczak-Harris said she was not going to reply to the letter.

“What are they going to do? I’m entitled to that,” she said. “My husband is very angry about it. He has faced this kind of thing before but as someone who works in medicine on the Addenbrooke’s site, he’s horrified about it. This makes us feel like second-class citizens.”

Hospitals in England may be required to check the residency and immigration status of all patients who use their services from October 23 (tomorrow) according to campaign group Docs Not Cops. The controversial ruling on English NHS trusts could mean people unable to prove their nationality would have to pay for treatment upfront. The rule is a sign of the UK Conservative government’s hardening stance on immigration and in particular, government fears of ‘health tourists’ from outside the UK coming to the country to help themselves to free treatment.

SOURCES:

Renata Soares Barros.

We Are #StopBrexit – We Are The 48%, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Pregnant Brit forced to prove nationality by NHS after taking Polish husband’s name” – Nicole Morley, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (21 October 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/21/pregnant-woman-denied-nhs-treatment-after-taking-polish-husbands-name-7016266/amp/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“February 5, 2010 – Paperwork” – Caitlin Childs, Flickr (5 February 2010) https://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdcoregirl/4335907588

 

BRADFORD SHOOTING: Man shot three times after Friday prayers

Bradford – VIJAY SHAH via CHARLIE MOORE, Daily Mail and MIB

A man is in hospital in the northern English city of Bradford after been shot at three times after he left prayers at a mosque in the city, online British South Asian news site MeanwhileInBritain.com and national newspaper Daily Mail reported.

The unidentified man had finished Muslim Friday (Juma’ah) prayers at the Jamia Abu Hanifa mosque in Hustler Street in the Barkerend district, central Bradford when assailants wearing balaclavas shot him just a hundred yards from the mosque. The gunshots terrified other worshippers at the mosque when the incident took place at 2pm local time, MeanwhileInBritain.com said.

 

Witnesses saw three men, faces obscured, pull up on the road in a car and immediately open fire on the victim. A member of the congregation who was praying when the shooting occurred said: “I saw lots of police and a man laying on the floor who had been shot. We heard the gunshot while we were inside praying.

‘There was an ambulance and about five police vehicles including two riot vans on the scene’

‘I have been told three men in balaclavas pulled up in a car and shot a man.’

The victim, who survived the shooting but was struck in a leg was taken to hospital. Bradford police say the shooting had nothing to do with the mosque. A statement from them said: “Police were called to Undercliffe Street, Bradford at 1.57pm today following a report of gunshots.

‘Officers attended and found a male in his twenties with a leg wound.

‘The injury is not believed to be life threatening and he has been taken to hospital for further treatment.

‘Enquiries are continuing at the scene although the injury is believed to be consistent with that of a firearms discharge.

‘Anyone with information is asked to contact Bradford CID on 101, quoting log 984 of today (Friday 20 October).”

Inquiries are continuing.

SOURCES:

British Asians UK, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/BritishAsiansUK/

“Man is shot by ‘three men in balaclavas’ near mosque in Bradford” – Charlie Moore, Mail Online News/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (20 October 2017) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5001624/Man-shot-three-men-balaclavas-near-mosque.html

“MAN IS SHOT BY ‘THREE MEN IN BALACLAVAS’ AFTER JUM’AH PRAYER NEAR MOSQUE IN BRADFORD” – MIB/Meanwhile In Britain/Meanwhile In UK (20 October 2017) http://meanwhileinbritain.com/man-is-shot-by-three-men-in-balaclavas-after-jumah-prayer-near-mosque-in-bradford/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Crime Scene” – Alan Cleaver, Flickr (16 May 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4121423119

UBER: Disruptive taxi app firm stripped of licence by London’s TfL

London – VIJAY SHAH via SARAH BUTLER, GWYN TOPHAM and The Guardian

San Francisco-based taxi app company Uber has had its application to renew its public carriage licence turned down by Transport for London (TfL) after its business practices and safety record were called into question by critics, the Guardian newspaper reported today.

The company, founded by Travis Kalanick in 2010, operates in 400 cities around the world and is well known for its cheap prices, its large pool of contracted drivers and its ease of use. But the company has come under fire in London its ‘lack of corporate responsibility’, and its disruptive effect on the city’s indigenous ‘black cab’ licensed minicab trade. Uber has been accused of not properly vetting its drivers’ criminal records and for not doing enough to investigate alleged sexual assaults by contracted taxi drivers.

The move by TfL has created a massive shock in London, with many customers and drivers of Uber condemning the decision not to renew the firm’s licence, which enables it to operate on the city’s streets. Black cab drivers and motoring safety groups however, have expressed support for the decision, blaming Uber for increasing traffic and stealing trade from established cab firms.

 

TfL is said to have rejected Uber’s licence renewal on the basis that it is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator, according to the Guardian newspaper. The current Uber licence will expire on the 30th of September and the company’s UK arm plans to launch an appeal against TfL’s decision.  Uber works with 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users, called ‘riders’ in London alone.

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi in a message to the app’s staff issued yesterday said: “The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation,” he wrote. “It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.

“It’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in. That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles – we will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision – but rather building trust through our actions and our behaviour. In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.”

TfL was supported by London’s city Mayor, Sadiq Khan, employment rights campaigners and a federation of black cab firms. Uber has in the past been slated for not giving its drivers full employment status and not paying them a living wage, according to its critics. Uber’s customers and drivers have expressed dismay, along with Trade Minister  Greg Hands.

TfL said it had rejected the company’s application to renew its licence because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks. TfL has also accused Uber of employing special cloaking software to make it difficult for authorities to access the app and records for such purposes as law enforcement.

Khan said he fully supported TfL’s decision, saying all companies needed to “play by the rules”.

He said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”

But Hands, who is also minister for London, said: “At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded.

“Uber must address safety concerns and it is important there is a level playing field across the private hire market.

“But a blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, all while showing that the Mayor of London is closed to business and innovation.”

Sam Gyimah, a Conservative justice minister and MP (Member of Parliament) for the East Surrey political constituency, said it was “possible to have effective regulation of Uber without penalising the consumers who benefit from more choice and lower prices”.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents London’s black cab drivers, said the mayor had made the right decision.

“Since it first came on to our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets,” he said.

Uber said in a statement the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” the company added.

Uber’s maverick business model have caused it to get in hot water in numerous world cities. There were protests against the app in places as far apart as Rio de Janeiro and Paris. Last year, its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after allegations of sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters and a fiery exchange with one of his company’s drivers, caught on camera. Many observers say that the decision by TfL could deal a fatal blow to Uber.

SOURCES:

Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

“Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility” – Sarah Butler and Gwyn Topham, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (23 September 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/22/uber-licence-transport-for-london-tfl

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Uber app” – freestocks.org, Flickr (12 January 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/freestocks/23707913564

 

EU FLAG PROMS: ‘Brexiteers’ angered by Royal Proms pro-EU flag distribution

London – VIJAY SHAH via JEFF FARRELL and The Independent

As the United Kingdom heads for its possible withdrawal from the European Union in two years’ time, supporters of EU withdrawal, informally known as Brexiteers, have hit out at a pro-EU campaign group who distributed EU flags to visitors at a music festival, The Independent reports.

The campaign group, EU Flag Proms Team, a previously unknown collective which favours UK remaining part of the European Union, had planned to distribute EU flags and banners outside the Royal Albert Hall in London, which plays host to a televised classical music festival, the Proms, which is specially promoted by the national public service broadcaster BBC. 

 

During the final day of the festival, known as the Last Night, EU Flag Proms team members planned to give out the 10,000 blue and yellow flags free to concertgoers to support EU closeness, while wearing t-shirts with the slogan “thank EU for the music EU”. EU Flag Proms explained the unusual stunt was to highlight how music is a universal language” that transcends borders.

It is a tradition among audiences at the Proms to wave national flags when national anthems are played, so for example the Union Flag (Union Jack) is waved when the song “Rule Britannia” is performed. As many classical composers featured at the Proms are from mainland Europe, it was hoped that the Proms’ visitors would be more supportive of Europe as a whole. The BBC’s own symphony orchestra featured music by the late composers Jean Sibelius and Richard Wagner, from Finland and Germany respectively.

A spokesman for EU Flags Proms Team told The Telegraph paper: “During the Age of Enlightenment Mozart, Handel and Bach all lived and worked for part of their lives in London.

“Presumably under the Brexit dark ages, they would not be welcome. What an appalling backward step for our country.

“We hope that the EU flags will remind the audience, the musicians and those watching from all over the world that music is a universal language that unites people, breaking down barriers and promoting communication, understanding, and peace.”

Leading supporters of Brexit, however have condemned EU Flag Proms, claiming that music can also be a signifier of national identity. Vociferous and controversial Brexit supporter, Nigel Farage, former leader of the right-wing nationalist UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), said to the Independent that he hoped Brexiteers would stage a similar counter-campaign distributing UK flags to Proms visitors. He said, referring to EU Flag Proms explanation for their campaign: “As for this airy fairy ‘music crosses all borders’ nonsense, music is also an important part of national symbolism in every part of the world.”

Farage said he planned to contact a former UKIP donor, Aaron Banks to possibly bankroll the counter-campaign, but due to the donor being abroad, the UKIP Union Flag giveaway did not take place for the Proms this year.

EU Flags Proms Team last year staged a similar Brexit protest outside the Royal Albert Hall, and handed out 2,500 EU flags to members of the public who turned up for Last Night of the Proms 2016.

British politicians are currently in negotiations with the European Union over the terms of withdrawal from the Union, which the UK was one of the first members of since it joined in 1973. The UK Brexit negotiation team has been slammed at home for heading into the talks unprepared and the EU has also been criticised for demanding a £50 billion ‘divorce settlement’ from the UK, for various projects and commitments made during the UK’s membership of the union. The United Kingdom plans to withdraw completely in 2019 after the two-year notice period after it triggered the Article 50 clause this year. There have been calls for a second referendum, either on the terms of Brexit or the withdrawal itself.

SOURCES:

Sarah Harness.

We Are The 48% – #StopBrexit, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Brexiteers furious over thousands of EU flags handed out at Last Night of the Proms” – Jeff Farrell, The Telegraph (9 September 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-flags-brexit-last-night-proms-bbc-royal-albert-hall-london-a7938206.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Flagging Support” – Dave Kellam, Flickr (24 February 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/davekellam/414918350

BBQ OMG: 11 million barbecues to fail this summer

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

It is the middle of summer, and in the UK, that of course means barbecue season. Families and people across the land will be pulling out their grills from the shed after a year of hibernation to fry tonnes of burgers, chops, sausages, kebabs and other meat and vegetarian products, but not all of them will reach the perfect sizzling conclusion, with a group of researchers claiming that up to 11 million British barbecue parties will be ruined this summer alone.

The main reasons for flaming failures, according to the research by meat trade agency Simply Beef & Lamb, are poorly cooked BBQ foods, followed by unwanted company, drunken guests and snacks or drinks running out. Other al fresco eating experiences could also be derailed by a lack of alcohol and bad taste in music or radio station selection. Burnt or undercooked food was the biggest risk factor for a ruined BBQ, with one in five Britons (22 per cent) complaining about it, according to the study, which surveyed a sample of 2,000 adults.

 

 

The massive amount of failed BBQs this year can also be put down to lack of skill in the relevant techniques with the study showing that one in five barbecue organisers struggling with the finer points of well prepared meat and poultry, and almost a quarter (24%) of participants going as far as branding the UK’s collective barbecuing a national disgrace. Twenty seven per cent of the sample claimed to be disgusted by seeing their food cooked on a dirty grill, with another twenty one per cent put off their burgers by guests exhibiting nasty eating habits or ‘table manners’. One in five respondents were annoyed by the British phenomenon of the ‘back-seat BBQer’ – guest who do not cook a single thing themselves but will hover around the person manning the grill, dispensing unwanted advice and criticism of their grilling finesse. Other respondents complained about groups of people huddling around the grill, public displays of affection, a lack of food and drink variety, and controversially, having to cater for vegetarian guests who cannot eat meat.

Simply Beef & Lamb also stated that the average adult will either attend or start up four barbecues in 2017, which adds up to 108 million cookouts among the UK’s 27 million households. The agency’s spokesperson, Nick White, spoke with SWNS news outlet, encouraging British families and friends to keep barbecuing, especially with steak:

“Following our survey, we are launching a campaign to get Brits grilling like Americans, Aussies and Argentinians.

‘We’re asking Brits to banish boring barbecue food and to come together to ‘raise the steaks’.’

‘It’s a misconception that steak is difficult to cook on the barbecue – it’s actually one of the quickest and tastiest meats to prepare on the grill.

‘There are numerous ways to enjoy it, from cutting it into kebabs to marinating it in different flavours.”

TOP 10 SIGNS A BARBECUE HAS FAILED:

  1. Undercooked food
  2. Rain
  3. Burnt food
  4. Bad company
  5. People who are too drunk
  6. Not enough food
  7. Poor BBQ skills
  8. No alcohol
  9. Bad music
  10. Boring and predictable food

TOP 10 BARBECUE BUGBEARS:

  1. Dirty BBQ grill
  2. People with bad eating manners
  3. Criticism and advice from ‘back seat’ BBQ-ers
  4. The amount of smoke from the BBQ
  5. Drunk arguments
  6. Same old bangers and burgers
  7. Vegetarians being awkward
  8. Couples’ public display of affection
  9. All the men huddling around the BBQ
  10. The fact you spend hours cooking and then everyone is too drunk to eat

SOURCE:

“Flaming Failures! 11 Millions Barbecues Will be Spoiled this Summer” – SWNS digital/72Point (1 July 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/07/flaming-failures-11-millions-barbecues-will-be-spoiled-this-summer/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Texas – Driftwood: The Salt Lick BBQ – Barbecue pit” – Wally Gobetz, Flickr (17 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/8061453680