Month: July 2019

  • Four equality and human rights watchdogs have heav

    first_imgFour equality and human rights watchdogs have heavily criticised the government for its failure to address the serious concerns raised in a “damning” UN report on the rights of disabled people across the UK.A year on from the report by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (pictured), in which it told the UK government to make more than 80 improvements to how its laws and policies affect disabled people’s human rights, the four bodies have concluded that it has taken only “limited steps” to address those concerns.In a new report, they say they are concerned at the government’s failure to produce a comprehensive strategy to show how it will implement the committee’s recommendations.And they have criticised the UK government’s “continuing reluctance” to accept the conclusions of a ground-breaking inquiry by the committee that found in late 2016 that it was guilty of “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights.This week’s report was put together by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, collectively known as the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM), which is tasked with monitoring progress on implementing the convention in the UK.The UKIM report says the picture emerging from recent evidence is “deeply concerning”, as disabled people across the UK “continue to face serious regression of many of their rights”.It concludes: “Social protections have been reduced and disabled people and their families continue to be some of the hardest hit.“More and more disabled people are finding it difficult to live independently and be included, and participate, in their communities on an equal basis.”The report by the four watchdogs looks at the seven areas in which the UN committee asked the government for a progress report.On independent living, UKIM says there has been “limited progress”, with evidence that adult social care is at “crisis point”, while the closure of the Independent Living Fund has led to a “postcode lottery for support”.On social protection, UKIM says the UK government has failed to act on research showing the “disproportionate and significantly adverse effect of welfare reform on disabled people’s rights to independent living and to an adequate standard of living and social security”.And it says it remains “seriously concerned” at the government’s continuing failure to assess the cumulative impact on disabled people of multiple reforms that have affected living standards and social security.On employment, the UKIM report praises the “very positive first step” made last year by the government in launching plans to increase the number of disabled people in work by one million in 10 years – despite strong criticism of those plans by disabled people’s organisations – but says that further reform of the work capability assessment process is “urgently needed”.UKIM says some work has been done to tackle prejudice and negative attitudes towards disabled people, but it warns that nothing appears to have been done to address the committee’s main concerns in this area, with “no steps taken to tackle the negative attitudes towards those claiming social security benefits, and, more broadly, to promote the human rights model of disability”.The UKIM report also warns of continuing barriers to accessing justice for disabled people in England and Wales, with a “substantial decrease in the number of disabled people being granted legal aid” as a result of reforms introduced through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.And it criticises the “continued lack of action” in setting up systems to “ensure that disabled people and their organisations are involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of legislation, policy or programmes that affect their lives”.UKIM also criticises the failure of the UK and devolved governments to make any effort to spread awareness of the committee’s 2016 and 2017 reports, pointing out that neither of them have been published on the UK government’s website.In response to the UKIM report, a government spokeswoman said in a statement: “We’re committed to building a society which is fully inclusive of disabled people across every area of their lives, from transport and housing to healthcare and employment.“Our response to the UN sets out our progress over the last year, including the creation of a new inter-ministerial group on disability and society, which will drive progress against the implementation of the UN convention.“While we’ve made significant progress, there is always more we can do. We’re determined to continue making progress in creating a society that works for everyone, where all can participate fully, and be included in society.”She said the government would spend an estimated £54 billion in 2018-19 on benefits to support disabled people and those with long term health conditions, up from £44.7 billion in 2010-11, while nearly 600,000 more disabled people had moved into work in the four years to 2017.Last month, Disability News Service reported that the UK government – in its own report to the UN committee – appeared to have decided that there was a need for improvements in just six of the 25 areas it was asked to respond on.Its response to most of the UN committee’s recommendations was to ignore or dismiss the criticisms and defend its existing policies, with Inclusion London describing its report as “deeply unsatisfying”. A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

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  • A note from the editor Please consider making a v

    first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Disabled campaigners have been left bemused and concerned by a report from an independent fiscal watchdog which shows the government’s introduction of personal independence payment (PIP) has led to a sharp rise in spending on disability benefits.Tory chancellor George Osborne (pictured) announced in 2010 that the new coalition government planned to cut spending and the number of claimants on disability living allowance (DLA) by 20 per cent by introducing a new working-age benefit.But instead of leading to a fall, the introduction of personal independence payment (PIP) from 2013 has instead led to accelerated growth in benefits spending, said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in its annual Welfare Trends Report.It said: “Disability benefits spending has risen faster than anticipated despite reform aimed to reduce it.“The transition to PIP was intended to save 20 per cent relative to DLA remaining in place, but appears to have cost around 15 to 20 per cent more.”There were concerns this week that these figures could prompt the government to attempt to tighten eligibility for PIP, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refusing to say if ministers were considering such a move.Disabled activists, including those who have campaigned to raise awareness of the unfairness of the PIP regime, have this week been left bemused by the report.Hundreds of thousands of disabled people have lost support under the move from DLA to the new PIP regime, but they appear to have been outnumbered by the number of successful new claimants.According to the OBR report, spending on disability benefits – PIP, DLA and attendance allowance (for older people) – continued to rise steadily between 2013-14 and 2017-18, with a rising proportion of the working-age population receiving either DLA or PIP.These figures are predicted to continue to rise, with the proportion of the population receiving one of the three benefits expected to increase from 7.9 per cent to 8.4 per cent between 2017-18 and 2023-24, and the proportion of working-age adults receiving DLA or PIP predicted to rise from 5.4 to 6.2 per cent.One explanation for the unexpected increase is that the rise of the internet and social media may have made it easier for disabled people to “navigate the system”, says the OBR.The OBR has also had to explain why its spending predictions in earlier years were so inaccurate.In December 2012, it predicted that moving to PIP would save £2.9 billion a year by 2017-18 and that introducing PIP would see a reduction in the number of claimants of 28 per cent by May 2018 (compared with what this number would have been under DLA).The report produces a series of explanations for this failure.It says the number of new PIP claims was higher than it had been for DLA; that success rates for new PIP claims were higher than expected; that fewer claimants were reassessed; that reassessment success rates were higher than expected; that fewer claimants were coming off PIP than expected; and that average PIP awards were “significantly higher” than expected.Another explanation for some of the rising spending is the string of successful legal actions taken against the government, which have led to more claimants being entitled to PIP, and more receiving higher rates of the benefit.The report says: “There is clearly a risk that future legal challenges to the Government’s interpretation of benefits legislation could expand coverage of the system further, increasing caseloads or average awards.”And it suggests that there is substantial potential for even higher growth in the number of claimants, adding: “The available data suggest there is likely to be a much larger number of people eligible for disability benefits than currently claim them, giving considerable scope for future growth in the caseload through higher take-up.”Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “The introduction of PIP saw DLA support cut for hundreds of thousands, thousands of people with mental distress unlawfully discriminated against and assessments which wrongly deny disabled people social security. And for what?”Disability News Service (DNS) spent months investigating allegations of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system, hearing eventually from more than 250 disabled people in less than a year about how they had been unfairly deprived of PIP.It continues to receive such reports today, more than two years after the investigation began.In one case – revealed by a secret recording – a nurse failed to mention a disabled woman’s near-fatal asthma attacks, accidental overdoses and repeated blackouts in her PIP assessment report.In October 2017, DNS revealed that complaints about the PIP assessment process had risen by nearly 900 per cent from 2015-16 to 2016-17.Earlier that year, DNS reported unpublished DWP figures which showed that nearly half of disabled people subject to “planned reviews” of their eligibility for PIP were having their existing award either cut or removed completely.Other DWP figures from 2017, obtained by Disability Rights UK (DR UK) showed that fewer than half (about 126,000) of the 254,000 people previously receiving the higher rate mobility component of DLA secured the same level of mobility support when reassessed for PIP.Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were among the disabled activists surprised by the OBR report, following years of research and hearing personal testimonies that showed how disabled people have been unfairly deprived of support as a result of the introduction of PIP.A DPAC spokesperson said that, although more people are receiving PIP than DLA, they have to “go through more hoops” to do so.She said OBR and DWP had “overestimated the savings” and this had been “driving the denial of PIP to many claimants”.DPAC said there would now be “concerns, as always, that changes will be made to limit the number of people eligible for PIP”.Stef Benstead, a disabled researcher and member of the Spartacus Network, said she believed the higher volume of PIP claims was “because the new benefit was publicised and discussed in a way that older benefits, like DLA and ESA (employment and support allowance) aren’t”.Many of those who had had DLA claims rejected may have thought it worth applying for PIP, particularly those with mental health conditions and high support needs, she said.And Benstead said the underlying problem was that the government did not understand disability.She said: “They have grossly underestimated the severity of the functional impact of chronic illness and disability; falsely believe that disability reduces over time; and wrongly think that disability is largely a simple matter to determine.“They simply didn’t realise how many people are severely disabled and how long that disability persists, so they underestimated how many people would be in receipt of PIP.”Despite the OBR figures, she believes that PIP does not capture the extent of disabled people’s disability and that award rates are too low, “particularly for mobility problems, domestic tasks, and remaining safe and as healthy as possible”.Ken Butler, welfare rights and policy officer for DR UK, said: “The OBR’s findings will feel like a kick in the teeth to the many thousands of disabled people whose incomes, independence and physical and mental well-being has been blighted by PIP.“Those hardest hit by austerity have been disabled people and this has been a deliberate result of government policy.“PIP is not just failing those disabled people deliberately excluded by its severe eligibility restrictions.“It is also failing those disabled people who are wrongly being refused entitlement to it.  “Over 70 per cent of PIP (and ESA) appeals are found in favour of the claimant.“What the government needs to do is completely overhaul the flawed PIP system and replace it with one that identifies the true extra costs of living with disability.”The Benefits and Work website added: “Once again a cost cutting reform has proved to simply be an expensive exercise in creating avoidable misery.“It happened with employment and support allowance, it has now happened with personal independence payment and it will happen with universal credit too.”A DWP spokesperson declined to say whether ministers were happy with the figures showing a rise in spending, rather than the intended cut; whether they would take steps to tighten eligibility for PIP; or what lessons ministers drew from the report.Instead, she said in a statement: “Our priority has always been to ensure disabled people get the support they’re entitled to.“PIP is designed to focus support on people with the greatest needs and that’s happening, with 31 per cent of people getting the highest level of support, compared to 15 per cent under DLA.“As with any major new benefit we have been flexible and adapted our approach, and we continue to make improvements to ensure PIP is working in the best way possible.”last_img read more

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  • In Stunner City Strikes Down Major Mission Project

    first_imgIn a surprise reversal of its previous decisions, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to delay a major, 157-unit Mission District housing project on South Van Ness Avenue near 26th Street. Supervisor David Campos said he changed his mind at the last-minute and moved to support the appeal and delay the project after hearing “hateful and divisive” comments during the public hearing. “I came into this hearing thinking that I would vote against the appeal,” he said. “But for those of you who always wondered does public comment make a difference, I think this area is a perfect illustration that it does.”The decision concerned a housing development at 1515 South Van Ness Ave., which activists were appealing on environmental grounds — an argument that they have lost in delaying other projects. They argued Tuesday – as they have unsuccessfully in the past – that the project’s impact on gentrification should be studied before it went forward.Campos said those arguments won on Tuesday in part because of what he described as hateful comments made by Sonja Trauss, founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation. Trauss, speaking in support of the project, compared activist opposition to new market-rate housing in the Mission to the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump. By preventing new housing, activists were being as unwelcoming of newcomers as Trump, Trauss said.“When you come here to the Board of Supervisors and say that you don’t want new, different people in your neighborhood, you’re exactly the same as Americans all over the country that don’t want immigrants,” she said. “It’s the same attitude, it’s the exact same attitude.”Supervisor Aaron Peskin shook his head as Trauss spoke and sprang out of his seat, walking over to Supervisor David Campos across the chamber room. After another speaker lambasted activists for doing nothing about Mission gangs in the 1990s and called them hypocritical for only caring about the neighborhood now, it became clear that Campos was furious.He conferred with Supervisor Peskin and walked over to Supervisor John Avalos before returning to his seat. He then moved to delay the project until further study could be done by the city.“If there’s ever a time to stand by doing what is right, that is today,” he said.The board voted 9-0 to uphold the appeal — Scott Wiener and Norman Yee were absent. The vote means the 157-unit project put forward by Lennar Multifamily Communities will be delayed until the city conducts further study.At issue in the appeal was what activists called an outdated Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which governs development in the Mission District, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and Central SoMa. The plan, adopted in 2008, exempts projects that meet its guidelines from specific environmental review, a major sticking point for activists who say they are being waved through without regards to their full impact.The board’s decision comes after supervisors in the last five months have twice voted overwhelmingly against appeals launched on similar grounds.In July, a 395-unit development at 901 16th St. in Potrero Hill was cleared by the board 9-1. In September, the same appellants who testified on Tuesday gave similar arguments about gentrification and displacement in appealing a 330-unit project at 2000 Bryant St. in the Mission — but the project was unanimously approved after city staff said concerns about affordability should not be addressed under the state’s environmental law, known as the California Environmental Quality Act.Though city staff made the same argument on Tuesday, supervisors went against their analysis and recommended that the city study the “cumulative impacts” of market-rate projects coming to the eastern half of the city.“We are not paying attention to the entire environment, to the entire landscape,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “We are becoming out of balance, and it’s important for us to be in sync.”Reporting like this takes people, feet on the ground. Keep us there. Join Mission local today. Make the Mission a place that values reported content.Supervisor Campos, for his part, said the appellants “have to do a better job” connecting the issue of displacement with the specific legal issue based on the state’s environmental law.“I’m not happy [with] what was presented by the appellants,” he said. “I don’t think they did a good enough job in many respects.”Nevertheless, he later voted in favor of the appeal.The Lennar development had reached an affordability milestone in August by making 25 percent of its units available to low and middle income tenants. It was the first project in San Francisco to accomplish the feat without public subsidy or upzoning.The discussion on Tuesday steered away from affordability questions per se, though activists said they wanted a third or more of the units to be below-market-rate.It’s unclear whether Tuesday’s decision holds legal muster, since the appeal was based strictly on the state environmental law. Campos himself said he could be open to lawsuits, but was largely unperturbed. “Bring it on,” he said.Trauss said no single public comment from the audience should change the board’s mind “since it’s a legal question” whether the project should be approved. Trauss’s comment was not the only Trump-related one made during the three-hour public hearing. Spike Kahn, a landlord who owns several buildings throughout the city and is the founder of the Pacific Felt Factory arts space, said that in the wake of Trump’s election city supervisors had a particular obligation to “take a stand to protect our neighbors” by blocking projects in minority neighborhoods like the Mission.“How can we do better to walk the walk than to protect the Mission and our Latino community members?” Rick Hall, a neighborhood activist, drew a parallel between San Francisco’s sanctuary city status and the recent increased development. He said instead of being a sanctuary city for immigrants and others, the city welcomed only wealthy newcomers.“We will be a sanctuary city, but only to the undocumented rich,” he said.It was the comments made by those supporting the project, however, that upset supervisors. Many said those experiencing gentrification should be addressed more respectfully.Outside the chamber halls, it was a rare moment of happiness for Mission District activists. Typically a quiet crowd after housing decisions at City Hall, they were elated with what they called a “shocking” victory.“We think it’s the right decision,” said Peter Papadopoulos, a lead activist against market-rate development. “The impacts are clear.”Scott Weaver, a tenants rights attorney who took the lead in opposing the project and argued the appeal, said Campos sided with them because the project is in the Latino Cultural District and that he has an “affinity” for the designation.The Latino Cultural District is a symbolic designation by the city of the area around 24th Street. It has no housing guidelines, though Campos previously urged that all market-rate development be stopped in the area. Several speakers argued that the culture of the neighborhood would be eroded if more market-rate projects were allowed in.It’s unclear what’s next for the Lennar development. It must wait for the city to conduct further study, though it’s unclear whether the project would go forward as envisioned or not. Regardless, the Board of Supervisors is set to see more such appeals. A 117-unit development at 2675 Folsom St. in the Mission will be appealed on the same environmental grounds as the South Van Ness development by the same activists. If today’s decision is any indication, it too may be delayed. Tags: Affordable Housing • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img 0%last_img read more

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  • NATHAN Brown says Saints need to be more consisten

    first_imgNATHAN Brown says Saints need to be more consistent if they are to build on recent performances.A win over Widnes and a home point against Hull have given the club a solid start to the campaign – but there is still much improvement to come.“We played ok against Hull and at one point it looked like we would win easy,” he said. “But through their good work, some of our mistakes and misfortune, I suppose we may have been lucky in the last five minutes to get a draw.“Our commitment and effort were really good and we have to keep looking at improving and tidying up in a few areas.”Saints travel to Bradford on Saturday (2pm) and face a team in good form with two wins from three.“They have played well and from a pure attacking point of view their halves are quick and dangerous,” Brown continued. “Jarrod Sammut and Brett Kearney are fliers that can threaten the line as good as any combination in the comp. They also have that resolve they created last season.“For us though we just have to keep on improving. There were signs of that in our last game, but we need to do things consistently well for long periods. When we do that we will be hard to beat.“We are continuing to learn as a team and as a coaching staff too. The more we play and the tighter the situations we get in then the more we learn about the type of personnel we have here.“We have picked up three points from the last four – that is good – and we know it could have been worse and better too. The past three weeks have been a real learning curve.”Saints will head into the match without the services of Paul Wellens who will miss the next three to four weeks with a calf injury.He joins Lance Hohaia and Josh Perry on the sidelines but Gary Wheeler will be in the coach’s thoughts this weekend.“Gary had a couple of mishaps in preseason which delayed his progression,” Nathan added. “But he has been training well. He contributed well for Rochdale in Sunday’s match against Oldham and is training well. He is always a player that will be in contention for the first team.“If he plays consistently then people are aware of what a talent he is. He is adaptable and can play in a number of positions as he has awareness of the game and speed too. But he needs luck with injury.”last_img read more

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  • Businesses get ready to wrap up for the season

    first_img Britt’s Donuts will be open for this Labor Day weekend before closing up shop but owners say not too many people come out for the final stretch. “The week before school starts back up, a lot of people stay at home spend their money on clothes and things, you know, for the kids and when school start back, it really stops a lot of people form coming down,” Nivens said. The end of the season is always very bittersweet for the Britt’s Donuts owner.Related Article: Locals chipping in to rebuild iconic pier decimated by Florence “I’ve been here forty three years. The donut shop done been here seventy eight but we always look forward to closing down. We always look forward to opening it back up too. But we look forward and in a way we have to,” Nivens said. Megerle Shows provides the carnival rides and says they will also be open through this weekend too. A manager says this season did not well for them and they’ve seen better years for business. Nivens says the rides draw lots of visitors.“They brings a lot of people into the area. It gives people things to do, you know, the rides do. And that draws a lot of people,” Nivens said. CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — You can smell what’s left of summer, and fresh made donuts, in the air in Carolina Beach. Some businesses are getting ready to bid farewell to the season. “It has been a very good season. We had right bit of rain in August but overall, it usually works out, pretty much the same or a little bit better, usually,” Bobby Nivens, Britt’s Donuts owner, said.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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  • Cape Fear River Watch annual StriperFest happening this weekend

    first_img There will be a Live and Silent Auction & Banquet Friday night and all day Saturday is packed with educational events at the Coastline Convention Center. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This weekend you can help restore the Cape Fear Fishery and have fun doing it!It’s the Cape Fear River Watch’s annual StriperFest. Kemp Burdette joined Good Morning Carolina Anchor Hannah Patrick to talk more about the event.- Advertisement – last_img

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  • Suspect in fatal Burgaw shooting turns himself into police

    first_imgCorey Alexander Todd (Photo: Burgaw Police Department) BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The Burgaw Police Department says the man wanted for allegedly shooting and killing a man in February turned himself into police this afternoon.Police say Corey Alexander Todd, 21, is charged with first degree murder. He is in jail under no bond.- Advertisement – Todd is expected to be in court Thursday morning.On February 26, Rakeem Brown was shot while walking in the area of Satchwell and Bodenheimer Streets in Burgaw.Rakeen Brown spoke to WWAY in 2014 after his brother was killed. (Photo: WWAY)Brown later died from his injuries at Pender Memorial Hospital.Related Article: Mother charged with child abduction makes first court appearancelast_img read more

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  • British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

    first_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrint FILE PHOTO: A British Airways Boeing 747 comes in to land at Heathrow airport in London, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: A British Airways Boeing 747 comes in to land at Heathrow airport in London, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourists and investors.“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.WhatsApplast_img read more

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  • South Africa MTN earnings up

    first_imgAdvertisement MTN announced an interim dividend of 273 cents per share.Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 3.9% to 25.2 billion rand and by 14.0% on a constant currency basis.MTN subscribers increased by 7.5% since December to 152.3 million while MTN South Africa delivered a sound performance for the period increasing its subscriber base by 5.1% to 19.8 million for the six months to end June 2011. This was mainly due to growth in the prepaid segment which increased its subscriber base by 5% to 16.2 million subscribers. – Advertisement – At end June 2011 there were 4.6 million 3G devices on the network, of which 2.6 million were smartphones.Blended average revenue per user (Arpu) decreased by 18.5 rand to 133.8 rand per month, mainly due to lower interconnect rates and the prepaid versus postpaid mix, the group said.Prepaid Arpu decreased by 12.4 rand to 99.8 rand, while postpaid Arpu declined by 37.9 rand to 290.6 rand due to an increase in lower Arpu telemetry SIM cards diluting the postpaid base, MTN said.The group said that continued investment in transmission (undersea cables and fibre) and radio technologies (2G, WIMAX and 3G), as well as mobile data solutions and sourcing of appropriate handsets, enabled it to increase data revenues (excluding SMS) by 24.1% to 3.558 billion rand and total data revenues (including SMS) by 14.2% to 6.950 billion rand.Data growth was still primarily driven by South Africa.Data revenue (excluding SMS) overtook SMS revenue for the first time and contributed 6.3% and 6% respectively of total revenue, MTN said.Capital expenditure for the period of 5.71 billion rand was 32.8% lower than the comparative period following delays in the rollout of certain capital expenditure projects and a 603 million rand currency impact.“We expect to step up the pace of rollout in the second half of the year to make up for the delays. Full year capital expenditure guidance has been revised marginally up to 22.165 billion rand,” the group said.Mobile Money had been implemented in 12 countries and Nigeria was expected to introduce this using a partnership model.At end June 2011, MTN highlighted 5.1 million registered mobile money subscribers, with Uganda and Ghana, each accounting for 37% of the total.Looking ahead, MTN said that it was confident of the opportunities that existed within its footprint and of its ability to profitably maintain and grow its market share.“The group will continue to evolve its business model to better support ICT convergence and cost optimisation through various initiatives. Operations in countries affected by local political tensions continued to operate satisfactorily with the group taking precautionary measures wherever necessary,” it concluded. – I-Net Bridgelast_img read more

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  • Chinese hackers took control of NASA satellite for 11 minutes

    first_imgAdvertisement The successful attacks occurred in 2007 and 2008. The more serious of the two happened in ’08 when NASA had control of the Terra EOS earth observation system satellite disrupted for 2 minutes in June, and then a further 9 minutes in October. During that time, whoever took control had full access to the satellites’ systems, but chose to do nothing with it.The second hack affected the Landsat-7 satellite on two occasions, one in October of ’07, the other in July of ’08. Unlike the Terra OS incident, this hack did not see control taken away, but access was gained.We only know about these hacks because of a report becoming available this month. It is entitled the 2011 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and made available online at the USCC website (link below). The specific details can be found on page 216 of the document, which is actually page 224 of the PDF. – Advertisement – It is suggested such malicious cyber activity in relation to satellites can be carried out to either destroy the system rendering it useless, or to exploit it to see what the “enemy” sees and gain intelligence on “ground-based infrastructure.”Interestingly, the report points to the use of ground stations outside of the U.S. to control satellites as weak points. The reason being they use the Internet for data access and communication, not a closed link. We don’t know if that is still the case, but we’d hope not, or at least hope that the communication link is using better encryption and security checks.Read the report online at the USCC website (PDF)last_img read more

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