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  • New Pound Coin: Man Claims To Have Been Given Fake £1 Despite 'Forgery-Proof' Claims
    Posted by Sarah Ann Harris on April 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    A charity worker suspects he has been given a fake new £1 coin - despite claims it is nearly impossible to copy.The new 12-sided piece only came into circulation last month with the Royal Mint proudly announcing it was “forgery proof” and the world’s most secure coin.But Roy Wright, 48, is convinced he has already stumbled across a counterfeit.He says the fake, stamped 2016, came in change from a Co-Op in Addlestone, Surrey and has subtle but significant differences to the real thing.It is heavier, the Queen’s head is more to the left, the edge is more rounded, it doesn’t have a hologram and there is no detail on the head of the thistle.The new coin is meant to feature a hologram at the bottom which shows a £ symbol and the number one depending on the light.There is also a secret high-security feature built into the coin designed to protect it from counterfeiting.Hundreds of “trial piece” coins were given to retailers to help calibrate or upgrade coin-handling equipment ahead of the real coin’s introduction on March 28.They are not legal tender and cannot be used in shops - although they are fetching decent prices on eBay.Wright said the coin was actually given to his partner last Friday when she went to the Co-op to buy a three-line Euromillions lottery ticket which cost £7.50.She paid with a £20 note and was given £12.50 change - two pound coins, a 50p and £10 note.Wright, who is a charity worker, said: “She came home and put the ticket and change on the bed. Later we ordered a kebab which cost £16 and had it delivered.“I always give a tip so I went to pick up the change from the bedside table.“I have a bedside lamp which casts a different shade to the main light and as the coin passed underneath it in my hands one of the coins looked a different.“I started looking at it more closely and paid the delivery man with another pound coin I had on me.“I then compared it against three of the normal pound coins and realised it was completely different. It has a different thickness and is a different colour.“The coin is completely different and is more rounded around the edge.“There is clearly space between the engraving lines, it’s a different size, the Queen’s head is to the left, and there is no detail of the head of the thistle - it’s just a blob.“The stem of the coin has got no detail on it, there are a lot of things wrong with it.”He added: “If I’ve just found one, how many are there in circulation already? It’s quite worrying. It’s supposed to be the impossible coin.”The new pounds were introduced amid reports that as many as one in every 30 old pound coins were counterfeit.The man is keeping the coin for the time being and has got it securely stowed in zip-up pocket in his Nike bag.The Royal Mint has been contacted for a comment but has not yet responded. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=SEE ALSO: + articlesList=58eb5492e4b058f0a0305307,5818586fe4b04660a43a0c3b,58d8e9bde4b03692bea76087 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Protecting Animals Is Key To Averting Drought Disaster
    Posted by Geoffrey Dennis on April 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Photo credit: SPANA I've coordinated relief efforts from the south east Asian tsunami to the North Korean cyclone. It's easy to become paralysed by the awesome scale of the challenge and the human misery. The only response is professional detachment, to focus on the job in hand. But invariably that cool, rational focus is impossible to sustain when it comes into contact with those who have lost everything, the people who are looking to you for hope in the most hopeless of places. So it was for me when I worked in Dabaab, what was then the world's largest refugee camp, on Kenya's border with Somalia. In this sprawling tented city, hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping war and famine were huddled together in a camp built for just 90,000, with failing infrastructure and poor healthcare. "I have lost everything. There is nothing to return to. This is now my home." These words were spoken to me by a young man of no more than 25, resigned to life in this desperate place. Alongside him was a second man, a few years older and with a similar story to tell, also escaping the chaos and conflict of Somalia. But although his story was a familiar one, he was not one of the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals. Three years after arriving in the camp, he had lost all expectation of returning to an independent livelihood - he was caught in an aid trap, dependent and hopeless. All that separated him from his neighbour was time: neither had any chance of rebuilding the lives they had lost. As I spoke to others around the camp, it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that while the international community has proved itself capable of mobilising in times of emergency, of delivering vast and vital relief operations that undoubtedly save lives, we have so often failed to protect livelihoods. Until we can do that, camps like Dabaab will swell in number and mass migration - now no longer an issue the developed world can ignore - will continue. But how to go about that strategic shift? Let's start with a simple fact that so many - including some of the humanitarian aid organisations - are apparently oblivious to. So often the people facing famine and insecurity - particularly in east Africa - are pastoralists. They may have no permanent homes and few possessions, but they do have animals - lots and lots of animals. Few people, even leaders of international aid organisations, recognise the extraordinary dependence of less developed communities on animals. Over a billion people worldwide depend on animals for their livelihoods, with half the world's population relying on them as their main source of power. Just one working animal can support the livelihoods of an extended family of up to 30 people. To foresee a humanitarian tragedy in pastoralist communities, you don't need a crystal ball. Just look at livestock health, a key precursor to famine. As I write, livestock are dying across east Africa, with communities facing the worst drought in years. 20 million people are thought to be affected, with 12 million already dependent on food aid. Emaciated animals have lost their value and, once again, the spectre of famine looms. It's not too late to prevent the worst of this crisis, but we must act now. Waiting until famine is declared, once both the animals and any hope of a sustainable future for communities are dead, is not enough. By protecting cattle and working animals, often for short periods, perhaps just until the rains, won't just save lives, it will also save livelihoods. This ensures that when the immediate crisis is past, communities across the region can return to sustainable and independent lives. If we fail, the alternative is a life of dependency for millions of people, not just for today but for years to come. It's also a future of greater insecurity and conflict, migration and instability - and in a globalised world, these are no longer local problems. I've recently joined SPANA, an international NGO that is leading the way in finding animal-focused solutions to humanitarian crises. Photo credit: SPANA The last time east Africa faced a significant famine was 2011. Then, SPANA was able to protect livestock in villages across northern Kenya through a programme which fed 50,000 animals while providing water and vaccinations. When the autumn rains finally arrived, livestock numbers grew rapidly and communities quickly returned to independence. Across the border, in neighbouring Somalia, out of our reach, livelihoods were destroyed forever and communities broken. The lucky ones may have found their way to bleak places like Dabaab. Some young men, having lost their animals, were potential recruits for terrorist groups like al-Shabaab. Many more began long journeys in search of new lives elsewhere. Today SPANA is hard at work again, this time in one of the worst hit regions of Ethiopia. Alongside an emergency feeding programme, we are working on longer term measures, planting drought-resistant grasses to provide a sustainable food supply for livestock. Our work is local, community-focused and takes place away from the media spotlight. With attention turning once again to east Africa and another malnutrition crisis, the international community must learn the lessons of past failures. Once the animals are gone, we have lost all hope of protecting livelihoods and sustainable communities. If a future of dependency is our only solution, we will have failed once again. Photo credit: SPANA -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Small Business Saturday Turns Five Years Old
    Posted by Michelle Ovens on April 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Five years is a long time in the life of a small business. In five years the whole world can have changed - staff gone, new team, new office, growth, sometimes decline, changing markets, and not to forget that 40% of small businesses don't make it to five years.... It is this more than anything else that sits at the heart of Small Business Saturday. If we can stop more businesses failing, that can mean huge benefits to communities and the economy as a whole. How do we stop small businesses failing? Ah, it's an age-old question. Is there an inevitability to business failure? We just do not accept that to be the case. With support at start up, getting small businesses engaging with digital, help to grow and manage costs, help with marketing and eventually export, small businesses have so much opportunity to help themselves now that outstrips anything available in the past. Small Business Saturday was started in the US by American Express as a response to the financial crisis, with the ultimate goal of supporting small businesses through that. It has continued in the UK in the same spirit and over the last five years has achieved that and much much more. Small Business Saturday is a moment in time to discover, connect and re-connect with small businesses in your community, and customers have done that in their droves. Every year on the first Saturday in December since 2013, customers and traders have got out to give a bit of extra love to their local small businesses - both in their towns and online. The cumulative impact on small business success has been profound. Small businesses that make the most of the day have reported crowds of extra customers, enthusiasm and support from their neighbours and customers, and in many cases increased revenues year on year, not just coming from a Christmas rush. It is not just a day for shopping - in fact it is no longer just a day. Small Business Saturday is a movement to encourage engagement with and support of small businesses all year round. Whether it is the Inspire series events, regional activities, streamed content or online help and advice, the spirit of Small Business Saturday lives all year. And for customers, it is not enough just to go out on the one day - the small business community needs year round support. And that is what we have seen growing every year. Customers discover small businesses on the day and then go back time and time again. Small businesses meet customers, suppliers and ultimately friends through the campaign, which is as much as anything an excuse for a community to come together and support each other. If Small Business Saturday means anything, it means community. The small business community that can help, support and guide each other to avoid the year 5 cliff fall; the local community of customers who pop in, or click on, and develop a relationship with the business over time; the infrastructure of a community that comes out to support and help small businesses - with over 80% of local councils now supporting the campaign, there is something for you wherever you are in the UK. The strength of the campaign is the strength of small businesses - supporting, serving, employing, caring - small businesses sit at the heart of communities. Go to any town fair or village fete and small businesses are at the centre of them. Go to any school or hospital and local businesses are leading the fundraising and events. Look for those hiring apprentices, supporting those with mental health problems, hiring and training the homeless, reducing food wastage and cutting carbon emissions - small businesses are right there in the beating heart of it. Over the last five years of Small Business Saturday, we have felt this heart beating stronger and stronger, and for our fifth year we will be celebrating this spirit of community up and down the country with birthday parties, bus tours, events and celebrations. Be a part of this incredible movement and get involved right now www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com We need our small businesses as we need our strong communities. Let's make this the biggest year yet and wrap our arms around the smallest that do the greatest. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • On The Verge Of Extinction
    Posted by Dr Trevor Dines on April 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Pull in to a layby on the A412 between Ely and Newmarket and you can meet one of our rarest plants. But unlike the fabled lady's-slipper orchid, which is similarly restricted to a single native site, fen ragwort doesn't receive round-the-clock surveillance when in flower. Neither does it attract many visitors. In fact, millions of drivers hurtle past the spot blissfully unaware of its existence. Yet this verge-side ditch is the last place in Britain you can find native fen ragwort. It's just that you might have to move a few traffic cones and coffee cups discarded from the nearby burger van to see it. Fen Ragwort was once more widespread, growing in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. A plant of wet fens - places of reeds and water where its roots can get down into the thick peat - the places where it grew were drained and tamed for agriculture and the plant gradually disappeared. It was thought to be extinct but a single plant was found in this roadside ditch in 1972. Seed from here has since been used to reintroduce it to several former sites where it is doing well but, despite designation of the verge ditch as a Roadside Nature Reserve it's not exactly thriving. In its time it's been hit by a burning car and suffered a dose of herbicide, so it's amazing it's alive at all. It's not just fen ragwort. A new Plantlife study released today reveals the top ten threatened plants growing on Britain's road verges and shows that these roadside sites are the last remaining home to some incredibly rare species. These include sulphur clover, crested cow-wheat and wood bitter-vetch, which were once more commonplace, growing in meadows, pastures and woodlands. As the management of these habitats has changed over the last 60 years they've been lost from these sites and now appear most frequently on roadside verges. Better management of verges is therefore critical if these species are to avoid extinction. In total, Britain's verges play home to over 700 species of wild plants, more than in any other part of the landscape, and 12% (87) of those species are either threatened with extinction or headed in that direction. The tragic destruction of over 97% of our ancient wild flower meadows since the 1930s and the fact that almost 90% of the wild plants found on Britain's road verges provide nectar and pollen mean road verges now also present a refuge for many dwindling bee, butterfly, bird, bat and bug species. Bird's-foot-trefoil, which appears on many verges, is, alone, a food plant for a staggering 160 species of insects. For many of us, road verges are dull, inconsequential places that flash by in the wing mirror. But these findings underline just how fundamental verges are to the health of wildflowers and the wildlife they support. Sadly, road verges have been woefully disregarded for decades and are increasingly poorly managed for nature. Some exceptionally rare plants including velvet lady's-mantle and tower mustard are only hanging on thanks to the existence of some remaining well-managed verges. But we must not get complacent - only genuine management of much more of our road network for nature will safeguard these and other plants from extinction. Many local councils are now cutting earlier and earlier in spring. This means only plants that flower early, like cuckooflower and cowslips, have a chance to set seed before the mower strikes. Others struggle to survive under the thick thatch of mowings left behind. Biodiversity is declining rapidly as many summer-flowering plants disappear from our verges.Plantlife's vision for Britain's road verges is one where all verges remain safe for motorists but are also are managed for wildlife as a matter of course, restoring and expanding flower-rich habitats along our road network. Some strikingly simple changes to management - like cutting later in the year and harnessing the power of semi-parasitic yellow rattle to act as nature's own lawnmower - can significantly improve the biodiversity on our verges, bringing benefits for wildlife, for us and for future generations. Almost 20,000 people have signed Plantlife's petition calling for councils' management to better benefit wild flowers. Vibrant verges are an oasis of colour in an increasingly grey landscape and they can contribute to our health and wellbeing. For many of the 23 million people who commute to work by road the verge is their only daily contact with nature. The procession of colour from bluebells to betony through the year brightens our days, keep us in touch with the changing seasons and provide us with a real sense of place. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • As Public Attention Turns To Mental Health, Let's Not Forget Women And Girls
    Posted by Katharine Sacks Jones on April 24, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Princes William and Harry's work in highlighting how men can struggle with mental health problems is hugely welcome and will no doubt play an important role in raising awareness and helping to tackle stigma. But we must not forget that poor mental health affects women and girls too, disproportionately so. Figures released only last week showed that a quarter of young women reported having anxiety and depression. About one in five women now has a mental health problem, compared to one in eight men. Whilst rates of mental ill health have remained largely stable in men, they have steadily increased in women. Men remain far more likely to die by suicide, but there has been a worrying increase amongst women, up 8.3 per cent in a single year and now at its highest rate in England in over a decade. Meanwhile, young women are now the highest risk group for mental health issues. One in five self-harm and a staggering one in seven has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. The reasons behind mental health issues are of course complicated and individual. But we know that women and men have different mental health needs and experience mental health issues in different ways. Women are more likely to face conditions like eating disorders, anxiety and self-harm whilst men have higher rates of addiction and suicide. Women's poor mental health is often linked to the particular risks and challenges associated with being a woman: the pressures of children and caring responsibilities, poverty and the hyper-sexualisation of women and girls' bodies, especially under the magnifying glass of social media. But we know that physical and sexual violence is the single most significant risk factor for women. Of all women who have a common mental health disorder more than half have experienced violence and abuse. For one in four that abuse started in childhood. And for those with the most severe mental health problems, the links are even more pronounced. But women with mental health problems, especially those with experience of violence, abuse and trauma, struggle to get the vital support they need from mental health services. In response to a Freedom of Information request last year by Agenda only one of the responding mental health trusts had a women's mental health strategy, recognising women's mental health as an issue. Instead most mental health services take a 'gender blind' approach - meaning they don't recognise men and women's different experiences and needs. And this matters. For example, recent research for Agenda found the use of physical restraint against women and girls in mental health settings was widespread. This is despite the links between women's mental health problems and abuse. Because of these links, restraint is not only a frightening and humiliating experience but it also risks re-traumatising women and exacerbating their mental health problems in the long term. Women have also told us of how, when they were at their most vulnerable in mental health hospitals on 'suicide watch', being watched over by male staff made them feel unsafe and contributed to their mental distress. This lack of understanding about women's mental health needs is alarming and unacceptable. This is not to dismiss men's mental health concerns - this is a very serious issue too - but there needs to be an understanding across the sector that men and women's mental health needs are different and they need different responses. Right now, the statistics paint a worrying and worsening picture about the state of women and girls' mental health. This shows that mental health services are not working as well as they could - and, if we are to avert a mental health crisis amongst women and girls, we need action. That's why our Women in Mind campaign is calling for the Government and the health service to take women's particular needs, and especially their history of abuse and trauma, into account in mental health services. Thanks to interventions by high profile people like senior members of the Royal Family, public attention is now focused on mental health issues. So let's ensure that women and girls' experiences and needs form a key part of the story - and that the government takes the opportunity to improve mental health services for all. For more information about Agenda visit: www.weareagenda.org -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Sex-For-Rent: Not A Scandal, Just A Rinse And Repeat
    Posted by Julian Vigo on April 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Last week the BBC covered the landlord advertisements which offer accommodation in exchange for sex with young women.  Although charities have described the adverts as exploitative, this is not considered an illegal act in the UK.  While there have been several good pieces published over the past few days on this problem which rightfully attack the usurpation of women's bodies, the central issue of class largely remains peripheral to such critiques.  Indeed, inasmuch as these are women's bodies being exploited, these are nonetheless poor women's bodies and feminist critiques must take account of class issues hand in hand with sex-based discrimination. In a country where council housing has been all but demolished since the Thatcher years, housing is at Britain's most precarious state with homelessness augmenting visibly week by week throughout parts of London, like Hackney and Tower Hamlets.  The legal loopholes through which rent is extracted from humans has taken on perverse proportions from Airbnb where hosts can command extortionately high rents thus driving up the local rent threshold as has been critiqued in cities like New York and Berlin which have recently taken action against such practices, to landlords who make homes out of unsafe office spaces and warehouses where roommates do not even know each other as the landlord plops in strange figures without the household's consent  And more recently the sex-for-rent deals which have been featured over 100 times on Craigslist this past year have made a media splash. As Poppy Noor details the legal autonomy of the individual is held up under British law with the one exception of late-term abortion, she argues that sex-for-rent "can't work in this manner because their very legality rests on ambiguity. The adverts rely on covert language and sexual innuendo to remain legal, and so a number of them commit to ironing out the further detail in person."  So attacking the legality of these forms of advertisement would depend upon controlling the language of ambiguity which is essentially impossible, legally speaking. There lies the question of bodily autonomy, an issue that comes up over and over again in the debate between prostitution abolitionists and pro-sex work advocates.  How can you negotiate your autonomy while the other holds control over the contract and your safety? Although women are the primary victims targeted by these adverts, this form of exploitation is not new.  I remember in December 1987 when looking over Village Voice adverts from Washington D.C., on my way to New York City and I found an apartment share whose rent was a bit cheaper than the rest. But when I called up the telephone number to arrange a viewing of the room, the man on the other end of the line said, "I should let you know that if after the first month we have not established a sexual relationship, I will have to ask you to move out."  I was quite young and shocked.  I just let out a "Ewww" and hung up. But the reality today is that the most vulnerable individuals in search of housing in our society are women and homeless youths and it is not enough to claim that sexism is at the base of this problem alone.  Indeed, there are men who are also exploited by these adverts and neither the left nor feminists should be surprised at this practice of rental exploitation.  It's been around in various forms from marriage, to indentured servitude, to the increasing numbers of land owners in the United Kingdom. While living London, I noticed the incrementally precarious nature of renting.  While what is called the "buy-to-let" sector has been under relentless criticism over the years in the UK, it has until very recently been the driving force behind untenable rents in London and around much of the country.  Different from years past when landlords were expected to earn money only after years of renting, today's market maintains a quick pay-off mentality as the kinds of mortgages that buy-to-let landlords have prohibit them from renting to the most disenfranchised and have hiked rents up to the degree that most Londoners are living as Ross, Phoebe and Chandler well until retirement.  Across the country, Brits are spending half their income on renting, so it should come as no surprise that women will be the most exploited of renters. Meanwhile, in London Bloomsbury has been turned into international student housing as the UK education system has been angling for international students, primarily from China, in order to get them to fill the coffers of graduate programs and overpriced housing.  Foreign students study at major British universities while others take certificates at acting and music schools in the area.  But the UK is not alone in this as the US has long been offering video game design courses, encouraging Chinese immigration for study in higher education, and even setting down American campuses in China to begin this recruitment process. The brute reality is that while the usual victims of the housing crisis will inevitably tend to be women, the one commonality across the board is that the perpetrator is inevitably greed.  In the big scheme of things, when a woman is given the choice between homelessness or housing, how she "pays" for her survival is incidental to the wealth of the "lordship" to whom she is indentured.  What sex-for-rent establishes is yet another way in which neoliberal capitalism and patriarchy work together to market housing options as "free choice" when today they are a postmodern form of slavery. The larger question that we must ourselves as a society is why so many walk into our friend's second, third, or fourth home, gasping in awe and admiration. Why do we value that which hurts so many of our brothers and sisters? It is time for us to have a frank discussion about greed and exploitative economic practices. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Publishing Still Matters - But Who'll Pay For It?
    Posted by Dale Lately on April 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    In 1761, a businessman opened shop in a modest address in London. Nobody noticed; after all, modest businesses open all the time. There's no blue plaque on the site and most of us have never heard of him. But we should. Because when Joseph Johnson - a publisher originally from Liverpool - opened his press for the first time, he was precipitating a publishing revolution whose echoes would sound down through the ages. The late Enlightenment was a time that saw an unprecedented rise in literary output, most of it from what would now be considered small presses and home publishing. With the big-money and specialized industries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries still to emerge, a publisher might also be printer, book-seller, distributor, advertiser, agent and many other things beside (Johnson also sold patent medicine as a sideline). His concern for authors is almost unheard of today. As scholar Leslie Chard explains, Johnson not only fed and often housed his authors, but "served as banker, postal clerk and packager, literary agent and editor, social chairman, and psychiatrist." It was this nurturing that saw some of the most important publications of the Enlightenment see their day. Johnson would go on to publish Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Thomas Malthus, as well as feminist economist Priscilla Wakefield and religious dissenters such as Joseph Priestley; he would have also published Thomas Paine's manuscript of Rights of Man were it not for government intervention. So a single publisher ended up helping to bring about feminism, secularism, Malthusian economics, and one of the most important political earthquakes in history. And yet he did it all from a modest series of addresses, on a modest income, with often modest returns. He did it, in a manner of speaking, because he took the time to care about his authors. I mention Johnson because I've just heard that an indie publisher from Liverpool, Dead Ink, is currently appealing for crowdfunding help. Because this represents a kind of hybrid between the digital and analogue worlds, I'd like to take a moment this time to discuss the implications of this. Dead Ink is part of a vibrant underground literary scene currently bubbling up in the North and Scotland, a scene which includes small presses like Tilted Axis, Peepal Tree, Blue Moose, Saraband and 404 Ink as well as short story outlets like Comma. Like many of those houses, Dead Ink describes itself as a platform "to develop the careers of emerging authors" and has commenced valuable projects such as the compendium of working class voices "Know Your Place", anti-elitist "Landscape Punk", as well as publishing award winning authors like Naomi Booth. Here's the thing though. There's a difference between the publishers above and something like Bloomsbury or Random House. The outfits above don't make money. I don't mean that that they fail to make money. They never expect to. These kind of publishers operate for the most part on non-market models. The fact is that niche publishing in the age of the web can only usually expect to sell a few hundred copies of a title. Books that actually recoup costs and make serious money are thin on the ground. Instead we have a whole universe of fascinating indie, experimental literature that can only exist because people care - take Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, a leftfield work that went on to win major prizes but only happened in the first place because a small indie publisher recognized her talent. Someone, in other words, had just enough resources to take a risk. A generation ago, arts councils with healthy budgets could afford to patronize presses like Dead Ink. But seven years into a government that sees creativity as a loss to GDP, indie outlets are struggling for grants. The same will be even worse in the US under Trump. And hence the crowdfunding. I've written in these pages about some of the problems of Kickstarter and its relation to creativity; certainly there are concerns about drawing on fans for donations (a couple of years ago prize-winning author Julian Gough offered to sell his own blood to fund a book.) But I also recognize that this is the new reality. Back in Johnson's day, there was no indie market and your books swam or sunk according to the whims of the general public. Today many authors will simply not get a voice if some kind of funding outside of the market is found. "We're hoping to give a platform to authors that we feel aren't represented in the mainstream," Nathan Connolly, publishing director of Dead Ink, told me. These include stories about anarchist squatters, green politics; they want to publish female accounts of toxic masculinity and the dangers of city bankers indulging in woolly lifestyle tourism. Urgent subjects for urgent times. As a writer myself, I think it's sad that crowdfunding rather than state patronage or book sales are the new normal for supporting leftfield literature. But I also think it's better to do it this way than not do it at all. We live at a time when incisive social commentary is more important than ever and yet harder and harder to monetize - hence the major newspapers we see now appealing for donations. "I wanted to work in publishing, but I couldn't afford to do an unpaid internship in London. So I started Dead Ink," Connolly told me. His aim - like many loosely grouping themselves into what they're calling the "Northern Fiction Alliance" - is to shake up a London-centric publishing industry, to beat a path from places like Liverpool to the heart of the nation's cultural consciousness. They're big aims. No doubt it'll be a challenge. But I also think it's good that someone takes on that challenge. I remember another publisher who had a similar idea: Joseph Johnson. Like these small presses, Johnson cared less about the bottom line than he did about writers. He nurtured authors and their talents, realising that important ideas need to be heard. The rest is history. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Celebrating LGBT Lives In Care Homes
    Posted by Jane Ashcroft on April 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Looking after and valuing older people in our society is fundamental - especially as our population gets older - but it is by no means a simple task. Alongside physical well-being, there are emotional and mental health needs to consider, too. That means providing personalised care, designed around every individual. This is something the team at Anchor take very seriously, and recently we've been working with Middlesex University on a project funded by Comic Relief to make sure the needs of LGBT people living in care homes across the country are being understood and met. Worryingly, a Stonewall report into Life of British Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual peoples in later life in Britain has revealed that nearly half (47%) of LGB people would feel uncomfortable telling health and social care staff about their sexual orientation. And more than two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual people (70%) don't feel they would be able to be themselves living in a care home. Empirical evidence from the Stonewall report supports these fears, with a quarter (24%) of health and social care staff in the UK admitting to hearing colleagues make negative remarks about lesbian, gay or bisexual people. One in three women and one in four men will need care at some stage in their life and with lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 less likely to have children they could be more reliant on professional care services as they get older. Moving into a care home means a change of environment and way of life which can be distressing. For all these reasons it's vital that the care being provided in the UK is as inclusive as possible. So, what should care homes be doing? A good place to start is communication, to understand the problems LGBT people come across when they move into care homes. With this in mind, Anchor and Middlesex University developed an audit tool. This is being made available so all care providers can assess the level of inclusivity of LGBT people in their homes. Through a series of interviews with care staff, Middlesex University and Anchor were able to develop an action plan to improve the lives of LGBT people with care needs, creating a tailored approach for older LGBT individuals. Another focus of this action plan is equal representation. Since working with Middlesex University, Anchor has pledged that we will have at least one LGBT champion in every care home, as well as continue running year-round activity programmes but incorporate the celebration of LGBT culture and events, creating an inclusive environment. Educating staff is another key element in the action plan and something Anchor is already doing. We have set up an Equality & Diversity staff group and will be developing training sessions for staff. These create a more open environment where care home residents feel free to approach staff with concerns, without having to hide who they truly are. This strategy will be implemented in Anchor's care homes across the country, and we hope to take away key learnings and share them wider in the sector so that we can celebrate and improve the lives of older LGBT people in care homes across the country. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Nepal Earthquakes: Two Years On
    Posted by Tanya Barron on April 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Two years ago today, I found myself caught up in one of the world's most devastating natural disasters, the Nepal earthquakes. On this morning, in 2015, I was visiting one of Plan International UK's projects in Eastern Nepal when the building we were in started to shake. Before I knew what was happening, we had taken shelter as people ran from buildings screaming. Later, I discovered that Nepal had been hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and three weeks later would experience another one a similar size. In 30 years of development work, I've never seen anything like it. My thoughts are still very much with those whose lives changed forever as a result of the earthquakes. In total, close to 9,000 people died and nearly 900,000 homes were destroyed. The disaster led to a collapse in infrastructure, pushing 700,000 people below the poverty line and devastating Nepal's education system. In a matter of minutes, one million children had their education disrupted, with 8,000 schools destroyed or damaged. In the time since the earthquake, Plan International has provided a way back into education for 35,000 children through temporary schools set up straight after the disaster and state-of-the-art permanent schools which are safe, earthquake-proof and disabled-friendly. The recovery is progressing well but faced with a challenging terrain which makes it difficult to transport building materials, only a few hundred permanent schools have been reinstated. Along with building schools, Plan International has helped nearly 300,000 people by rebuilding water points, supporting the construction of safer shelters and providing families, particularly women, with access to longer-term employment, but we still have a long way to go. The road to recovery is a long one, especially after a disaster of this scale and that's why it's so important that the international community continues to support efforts to get Nepal back on its feet. I've followed Nepal's progress carefully over the past two years, feeling a personal connection to the country and its people. Seeing the smiling faces of children as they attend their new schools, built by Plan International, is incredibly heart-warming. One girl who's benefiting from a new, safe, earthquake-resistant school is 14-year-old Manju from Dolakha in Nepal. For the past two years she's been attending a temporary school. Manju said: "If we were not in school, we would be just like our parents, who can hardly write their names. We would just be working on the farm, and doing traditional work. "In the old school, if there was an earthquake, we didn't have safe, open spaces for us to go to. Now, with the new school, it will be much bigger and so if the shaking starts, we can all come together." As much as it is about providing opportunities for these students, it's also about making them feel safe and protected against any future emergencies. Experiencing the earthquake first-hand and seeing people lose their livelihoods and homes was heart-breaking, but with the amazing support of the British public, families in Nepal are starting to get their lives back on track. To find out more about Plan International UK's work in Nepal, visit: www.plan-uk.org/nepal -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • In Pursuit Of Truth: Darwin Day And Alfred Russel Wallace
    Posted by Claire Meadows on April 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    It's widely acknowledged by all who think rationally that we are living in worrying times. I myself have taken to adopting a 'fight or flight' response to watching the news. Should I pull a 'three wise monkeys' and make out like everything is okay? Or do I sink into the breach and confront things head on? Most of the time I confront things. And when I do, I find humour is essential. But it's actually funny how unfunny people find certain things. Like religion. And within religion, the thorny issue of evolution. The Pew Research Centre found in 2013 that 24 % of Americans still believe that a 'supreme being guided the evolution of living things' for the purpose of creating human beings. That's a third of the population. Which makes the work of Jim Himes an uphill struggle in certain quarters. The Democratic Representative for Connecticut's 4th congressional district has assumed the role for promoting Darwinism in the House of Representatives. Himes believes that it's the type of legislation that is needed when there is increased scepticism about science. Himes is now in charge of the legislative proposal on the commemoration of the birth of Charles Darwin - Darwin Day - which was previously the remit of New Jersey Representative Rush Holt. Himes stresses the need for facts and truth, both of which, as we know from our daily dose of legislative stupidity, are suffering under the Trump Administration. An admirable man is Himes. And in Darwin there is a lot to be admired. But let me tell you a little about someone else who is just as important to the theory of evolution. Someone whom I'm almost sure you haven't heard of but is essential to the story of this pivotal discovery - the one, no less, that finally allowed science to take over the narrative from religion about man's origins. His name is Alfred Russel Wallace. And here is my case for Wallace Day. Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin, was a man who combined intellectual curiosity and determination with sheer guts and a touch of recklessness. Unlike Darwin, who came from the privileged classes, he had no money, no official support and was self-taught. Yet at the turn of the 1850s he ventured off into Southeast Asia, without ever having been abroad before or speaking any foreign languages, and set about discovering many new species from beetles and butterflies to flying frogs. According to adventurer and author Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, who physically retraced Wallace's footsteps across SE Asia and which he recounts in new Wallace biography 'An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles', the naturalist's life was a "grand and improbable hero's journey" while the man himself was a "skimmer" who contributed to many different scientific disciplines. He is far from alone in his admiration. G.K Chesterton labelled Wallace as one of the two "most important and significant figure[s] of the nineteenth century", while academia feted him with awards. But despite Wallace formulating his own theory of survival of the fittest by natural selection in 1858, set forth in the 'Ternate Paper', named after the island off Indonesia where it was penned, it's Darwin who got all the credit. This is despite the fact, according to Sochaczewski, that prior to Wallace sending the paper to Darwin for his thoughts, Darwin had not published one word on the subject. Yes, he'd been thinking about evolution ("as had many other folks," notes Sochaczewski), had opened a notebook in the 1830s on the subject, but nothing more. Wallace, by contrast, had already published in scientific journals at least two important papers about it. Yet when the theory was put before their peers at the Linnean Society, it was described as a 'joint paper' between Darwin and Wallace, with Darwin getting top billing. Wallace didn't even know the meeting was taking place, being on the other side of the world. There is even the suggestion, Sochaczewski told me, that Darwin may have plagarised his peer, or at the east used his own contacts to influence his claim for priority. If that didn't seal things then Darwin's publication of 'On the Origin of Species' the following year certainly did. A bestseller, the book cemented in the public's mind that Darwin discovered evolution, with Wallace left on the sidelines. Wallace, however, never complained. His genius came with equal humility and, in fact, he championed Darwin until his death in 1913. "How could you not like that guy?" says Sochaczewski, and I have to concur. Here's a figure who like Darwin transformed the way we know the world, but who did it all by himself, overcoming huge barriers in the process. We admire Darwin, but can be inspired by Wallace. I may not be in quite as a prestigious position as Representative Himes, but for these reasons I am happy to put forward a national Wallace Day any day of the week. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Ukip Policy Event Ends With Questions Over Beekeepers' Rights And Paul Nuttall Fleeing Journalists
    Posted by Jack Sommers on April 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Ukip’s first event of the election campaign has seen the party deny they want to ban beekeepers from wearing protective gear and Paul Nuttall run away from journalists.The party told reporters it would stand on a platform that included banning the Muslim face veil at a policy announcement in London on Monday - one of a range of policies that Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas condemned as “full-throttled Islamophobia”.When one journalist asked if this would extend to banning beekeepers from covering their faces, Ukip deputy leader Peter Whittle branded the question “ridiculous”.After the event, Nuttall hid in a room as journalists stood between him and his exit.The party leader knew he would be asked whether he planned to stand in the election, just two months after he failed to be elected in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.Clacton MP Douglas Carswell quit the party earlier in the year, meaning it will go into this election with no incumbent MPs. The party has also seen its support slip as other parties embrace Brexit.Journalists camped outside the door of the room Nuttall was in, even managing to get a snap of it.Paul Nuttall is barricaded behind these doors, there are a lot of journalists outside wanting to know if he is standing in June. pic.twitter.com/VCbfpg6UvF— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) April 24, 2017First exclusive picture INSIDE the Paul Nuttall's hideout. pic.twitter.com/JZdWINknEH— Darren McCaffrey (@DMcCaffreySKY) April 24, 2017Paul Nuttall is currently locked himself in this room and is refusing to say if he will fight a seat at the election. pic.twitter.com/T439bC0Kzl— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) April 24, 2017Nuttall eventually emerged and tried to move past the gaggle of journalists, who immediately began shouting to ask whether and where he would stand.Nuttall said: “The NEC’s meeting at the end of the week, I can’t say anything before that, ok? So let’s kill it dead.”As journalists clamoured with more questions, he pleaded with them to focus on the policies announced at the event.As well as the veil ban, the “integration agenda” included annual medical checks for girls at risk of FGM and making grooming a hate crime where the victim was a different race to the perpetrator.A representative of every paper on Fleet Street followed Nuttall down a corridor repeatedly asking whether he wanted to stand. Nuttall repeatedly said he would not comment before the NEC met.The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope - who had also asked the beekeeping question - even tried to get into Nuttall’s cab before being pulled away.Video: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall refuses to say where he will stand and @christopherhope tries to hop in his taxi: pic.twitter.com/cZZESqdlxS— Vincent McAviney (@Vinny_LBC) April 24, 2017As debate on whether Nuttall will stand intensifies, the discussion about who might be affected by a veil ban did the same on Twitter.What about people who wear really, really big sunglasses? https://t.co/pCfIJbyYXn— Anita Singh (@anitathetweeter) April 24, 2017@LOS_Fisher @christopherhope what about brides, will they be able to wear a veil without being tasered by the police?— Iain (@Iain_Whiteley) April 24, 2017@evansma Firemen. Covering their faces running into burning buildings.— Darren Boyle (@misterscoop) April 24, 2017Margot Parker, Ukip’s equalities spokeswoman, told the event the veil ban would not stop nuns wearing their habits, because they “don’t cover their face”. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • No Time For Nostalgia
    Posted by Carole Walker on April 24, 2017 at 11:55 am

    At the Eastern Counties Vintage show, rows of lovingly-restored tractors show the changing face of British agriculture. There is of course nostalgia for these simpler, slower machines and the farming traditions of past decades. But there is also a real concern about how farmers will cope with the challenges of Brexit and the uncertainties ahead. This may not feature much in the election campaign, but it is the biggest concern for many voters at this gathering at the Norfolk showground. Many of the exhibitors represent businesses dependent on farming: truckers, feed manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and clothing. Many of those who have come for a day out are from farming communities. Agriculture accounts for just over 1% of GDP, but almost three quarters of land in the UK is used for farming, providing more than half of the food we eat. There are 142,000 farm businesses across the country. Their stewardship of the countryside is also vital for the tourist industry. British farmers currently receive around £3 billion in subsidies under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the Chancellor has pledged to maintain current levels of funding until 2020. But not one of the political parties has said what it would do after that date. Many farmers, and firms dependent on them, are already having to take decisions which will affect their businesses well beyond the end of the decade. "Without the EU payments, lots of farmers will go bust" is the verdict of one who runs a West Norfolk family farm. He does not like the word "subsidy" but says that without the CAP funds he currently receives, his business would not be profitable. Many local growers rely heavily on seasonal labour, mainly from Eastern Europe. They have no idea what will happen when free movement of people from the EU comes to an end. They worry too about the future trading relationship with Europe, our biggest export market. Despite this, it is hard to find anyone here who wants to stay in the European Union. Norfolk, apart from the cathedral city of Norwich, voted for Brexit - as did most rural parts of Britain. Those I spoke to have a long list of complaints about the rules and regulations emanating from Brussels. There are many echoes of the slogans from the Leave campaign, as people talk of "taking back control of our country". There is a readiness to adapt to new circumstances and a surprising confidence that the government will step in to support farmers. "This country cannot afford to live without its own grain and livestock" a tall young farmer in a designer sweatshirt told me. "The government won't have to give all that money to Brussels, so it can spend it at home". The former Environment Secretary and leading Brexit campaigner Owen Paterson has said Brexit is an opportunity to tailor new policies which will work for UK farmers, consumers, environmentalists and the wider rural economy. So far there are few clues of what will emerge. Environmental campaigners are already concerned about what will Brexit will mean for targets on pollution, environmental standards and protection for wildlife. Voters at the Norfolk showground, gazing at the vintage tractors and steam-powered milking machines of the past, know it won't be easy to ensure their voices are heard in the election campaign. But critical decisions lie ahead. And they will be pressing those vying to represent them to set out a clear vision for the future of British agriculture, outside the European Union. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Sir David Attenborough Reveals Memory Problems' Effects On His Documentary Making
    Posted by Ashley Percival on April 24, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Sir David Attenborough has admitted problems with his memory are making his job harder. The broadcaster told The Telegraph he struggles to recall “proper names”, which makes writing his scripts for documentaries difficult. Sir David said he is “coming to terms” with the fact he can “run into problems” when it takes him longer to find the right words.Speaking about a recent trip to the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, he added to the paper: “There were these searing yellow fields and I can’t think of the damn name. I wanted to say something about it but I couldn’t and it wasn’t until we got quite close to Geneva that I thought, of course, oil seed rape.”It was recently announced David will be lending his expertise to a new series of ‘Blue Planet’, following the huge success of ‘Planet Earth’ last year.Speaking of the new series, which will air 16 years after the original, he said: “I am truly thrilled to be joining this new exploration of the underwater worlds which cover most of our planet, yet are still its least known.”He’s also set to win himself a legion of new young fans, after joining the CBeebies family.He has lent his voice to ‘Attenborough’s Adventures’ - a five-part animated series on CBeebies’ Storytelling app, which will centre around his specialist subjects of nature and wildlife. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=READ MORE: + articlesList=58187699e4b04660a43a3585,5790cc16e4b0e438dbd9f2ad -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • Captain America Chris Evans To Follow In Tom Hardy’s Footsteps By Reading CBeebies Bedtime Story
    Posted by Rachel McGrath on April 24, 2017 at 11:38 am

    In today’s edition of ‘Sentences We Never Thought We’d Type’, we’d like to introduce exhibit A: CBeebies are absolutely smashing it lately. Following Tom Hardy’s Bedtime stories, which you can listen to here and here (thank us later), they have announced that none other than Captain America himself, Chris Evans, is going to be lulling us to sleep next. Chris will read the appropriately titled ‘Even Superheroes Have Bad Days’, written by Shelly Becker and Eda Kaban, on Wednesday 10 May at 6.50pm. Are these shows aimed at kids? Yes - we’ve been here before… - they are. But is that going to stop us from tuning in? Absolutely. Not. The actor has shared his excitement ahead of the show, which is sure to delight parents more than children, stating: “I’m honoured to be the next guest on ‘CBeebies Bedtime Stories’ which is such a special show.“I hope families have as much fun watching as I had reading!” Chris, the honour and the pleasure is all ours. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

  • This Is What Happens When Lightning Perfectly Strikes A Tree
    Posted by Sophie Gallagher on April 24, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Ever wanted to know what the entrance to hell looks like? Well stop the search, because we’ve found it for you. Deep in rural Missouri, the gates to the underworld have successfully lodged themselves inside an otherwise unsuspecting-looking tree.The area in mid-west America, has been suffering with severe thunderstorms, and weather warnings over the weekend, and during one particularly bad spell an oak tree was struck by lightning.This tree was hit by lightning in Baldwyn, MS. It burned the inside. From @jkroxie pic.twitter.com/OKXNMZrmVi— James Spann (@spann) April 22, 2017After the storm passed, a photographer Janis Melton snapped a picture of the tree that is continuing to burn at the core but staying in tact on the outside.People were keen to offer explanations for the bizarre phenomenon; saying that the heartwood or centre of the plant is dead and has very little moisture so is acting like a tinderbox. But the outside sapwood is still alive and full of water so doesn’t catch.This also explains how forest fires can start during rainy seasons as the tree harbours the flames until the surrounding woodland dries out, when it spreads. Despite the perfectly reasonable explanation, the internet is still convinced there is something more sinister at work.preeeeeetty sure this is a portal to hell but ok yea lighting https://t.co/JiD7sA127W— grand kenyan (@KariukiMachine) April 23, 2017Sheeeit, I know the fires of Mordor when I see them. The eye of Sauron is upon you, town of Baldwyn. https://t.co/Uz1xmKNeS8— A.M. Novak (@BookishPlinko) April 23, 2017Clearly an Oblivion Gate.#ElderScrolls https://t.co/auOsBOOw1I— Warruz (@Warruz) April 23, 2017Seems like a solid metaphor for… lotsa things. https://t.co/zH5ZLLL3Bz— Dining With Poirot (@Poirot_Dines) April 23, 2017Pretty sure this is a sign of the apocalypse. https://t.co/WU2h7nMUdC— Gwendolen Crane (@GwendolenCrane) April 23, 2017And tbh we’re inclined to agree. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]