search expand

UK clarifies foreign, domestic response to cost of living crisis

Monday, March 14, 2022

Wikinews received clarification earlier this month from the United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) regarding the government’s response to the cost of living crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The UK anticipated Russian action against Ukraine for several months, and has coordinated a response with NATO and the European Union. Many “swift retributive responses including an unprecedented package of sanctions” promised in January were imposed after the Russian invasion began in February.

They now include “financial, trade, aircraft, shipping and immigration sanctions” to urge Russia “to cease actions which destabilise Ukraine, or undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine.” Most recently, it includes a commitment made by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng Tuesday to phase out Russian oil and natural gas in the UK by the end of the year.

The announcement came the same day United States President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil, coal and gas.

However, a UK government spokesperson told Wikinews: “We cannot have a cliff-edge where oil and gas are abandoned overnight. Turning off the taps would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk and we would be even more dependent on foreign imports.”

The European Commission was more cautious, planning to cut Union dependence on Russian imports by two-thirds this year, before ceasing altogether “well before 2030”. But whereas Russia supplies 40% of the EU’s natural gas, much of the UK’s energy is produced domestically.

The spokesperson contrasted the British situation with that of the EU: “Our single largest source of gas is from the UK Continental Shelf and the vast majority of imports come from reliable suppliers such as Norway.

“There are no gas pipelines directly linking the UK with Russia. Imports from Russia made up less than 4% of total UK gas supply in 2021.

“Ministers and officials continue to engage constructively and regularly with energy intensive industries and our priority is to ensure costs are managed and supplies of energy are maintained.”

A government FAQ published February 25 adds the UK has three liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, while Germany has none. The fact sheet urged “European countries on the continent reduce their reliance on Russian gas both through alternative supplies, including the global [LNG] market”.

A press release from Tuesday specifically named Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and called the invasion “illegal”. The spokesperson said: “We continue to monitor the impacts that Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is having on the cost of living in the UK, so we keep our approach under review.”

The release asserted Russian oil “is already being ostracised by the market”. And in any case: “In a competitive global market for oil and petroleum products, demand can be met by alternative suppliers. We will work closely with international partners to ensure alternative supplies of fuel products.”

But high inflation, already associated with the rising cost of petrol, has seen prices rise in all key areas. Before the Russian invasion, the Bank of England forecast inflation to rise to about 7% in spring, from 5.4% last year. And economists cited by The Guardian reportedly project inflation to rise to almost 8% next month.

Consultancy firm The Centre for Economics and Business Research more than halved its growth expectations for 2022 from 4.2% to 1.9% Tuesday. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the £9 billion package by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak “would now offset only about one fifth of the rise in household energy bills.”

The government spokesperson said: “We recognise the concerns people have about the cost of living, which is why we have set out a generous package of support worth around £21bn including a £150 council tax rebate from April and a further £200 energy bill discount in October – cutting energy bills quickly for the majority of households.”

They added: “We are already providing support to families worth around £20 [billion] this financial year and next, including cutting the Universal Credit taper to make sure work pays, freezing alcohol and fuel duties to keep costs down, and providing £9.1bn to support 27 million households with their energy bills.”

As hinted, all measures were introduced prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

On February 3, it was announced those in England in Council Tax bands A-D would get £150 off their council tax payments. It was also announced there would be a £200 discount on all Britons’ energy bills in autumn. The £200 would be repaid automatically over the next five years, which Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer likened to a loan.

During Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) Wednesday, he derided Sunak for proposing “a forced £200 loan for every household paid back in mandatory instalments”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the government for their £20 billion support package, calling the measures “unprecedented”. He added he plans to set “out an energy independence plan for this country in the course of the next few days to ensure that we undo some of the damage of previous decisions taken”.

Sunak announced changes to Universal Credit and the continued freeze of fuel levies during his autumn budget statement on October 27. The amount withheld workers making above the worker allowance threshold per pound was reduced from 63 pence to 55 pence. It follows the UK government’s cancellation of a Covid-19 uplift of £20 per week to Universal Credit in early October, which cut the income of six million claimants by £1040 per annum.

The fuel duty was frozen twelve years ago and has not been lifted since. It is estimated to save motorists £1900.

The statement also included a “radical simplification” of alcohol duties, reducing the taxable bands from fifteen to six and suspending a planned hike at a £3 billion loss to HM Treasury. This was encouraged by many organisations, including the British Beer and Pub Association.

Even so, the measures have been criticised as too meagre to address the reality of the situation. Ahead of Sunak’s spring statement slated for March 23, Conservative MPs have pressured the Chancellor to consider new measures. A source reportedly told The Guardian officials in HM Treasury are weighing options; publicly, they state “There’s only so much that can be done, and we’ve never seen oil prices where they are now.”

Analysts warned Britons from February 24 household gas and electricity bills could reach £3000 per year. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets announced it would lift a cap on default energy tariffs by 54% to £1971 from April.

Though oil prices stabilised to below USD120 per barrel Wednesday, Brent Crude briefly reached a 2008 high of $147.50 per barrel and remain substantially higher from before the Russian invasion. To minimise the effect this will have on British consumers, Sir Keir pushed for nuclear power, renewable energy and home insulation at PMQs.

Johnson defended his record on renewables, calling the UK “the Saudi Arabia of wind power”. The UK spokesperson told Wikinews “It’s the right thing to do to move away from dependence on Russian oil and gas across Europe and this means looking at more nuclear and much more use of renewable energy.”

However: “Companies and skilled employees right across the UK’s gas sector are working to maximise production through this winter, helped by several small new wells and fields that have come online in recent months and edged production up.” The example Wikinews raised over the Abigail oil field in the North Sea, which was greenlit for development by an Israeli firm on February 2, was not addressed. At the time, the director of the Oil and Gas Authority told Sky News oil and gas will remain a source of British energy for decades.

The government spokesperson continued: “The issues we are facing are a result of high international gas prices rather than supply, and further UK oil and gas licensing is unlikely to have a major impact in the short term.”

The Labour Party has urged a windfall profits tax to be imposed on excess profits made by major fossil fuel companies, including BP and Shell plc. Both companies reported historic profits for 2021 in February. BP saw profits of $12.8 billion from -$5.7 billion in 2020, and Shell $19.3 billion from $4.85 billion in 2020.

After BP’s announcement, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves tweeted “The chancellor’s energy plans last week left families more worried than ever. It’s time for Labour’s plan for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producers to cut bills.” However, when pressed at PMQs, Johnson urged a “a sober, responsible approach.”. He said: “The net result of [a windfall tax] would be to see the oil companies put their prices up yet higher, and make it more difficult for them to [divest] from dependence on Russian oil and gas.”

The UK government spokesperson told Wikinews: “A windfall tax could deter £14 billion worth of opportunities awaiting investment, which would risk both security of our energy supply, as well as almost 200,000 jobs that rely on the industry.

“Oil and gas companies in the North Sea are already subject to a tax rate on their profits that is more than double those paid by other businesses. To date, the sector has contributed more than £375 billion in production taxes.

“We keep all taxes under review but we do not comment on speculation about tax changes.

“The UK Government places additional taxes on the extraction of oil and gas, with companies engaged in the production of oil and gas on the UK Continental Shelf subject to headline tax rates on their profits that are currently more than double those paid by other businesses. To date, the sector has paid more than £375 billion in production taxes.”

The government is also criticised for its plan to retrofit homes with poor insulation. In March last year, the government’s flagship green homes grant was scrapped, having only installed 5800 energy efficiency measures.

The government spokesperson responded: “We are investing almost £6.6 billion to support the installation of energy efficiency measures in low energy performance homes including older properties with low income home owners and tenants.

“The Heat and Buildings Strategy set out a comprehensive package of measures we are taking to kickstart the transition to low-carbon heat and build the market for heat pumps. This includes investment in a new £450 [million] Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the £950 [million] Home Upgrade Grant and the £60 [million] Heat Pump Ready research programme.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=UK_clarifies_foreign,_domestic_response_to_cost_of_living_crisis&oldid=4670182”
Posted in Uncategorized

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Communist Party candidate Johan Boyden, Toronto Centre

Friday, October 5, 2007

Johan Boyden is running for the Communist Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Toronto Centre riding. Wikinews interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Ontario_Votes_2007:_Interview_with_Communist_Party_candidate_Johan_Boyden,_Toronto_Centre&oldid=1838596”
Posted in Uncategorized

EU bans all Indonesian airlines as well as several from Russia, Ukraine and Angola

Friday, June 29, 2007

The European Union banned all of Indonesia’s air carriers yesterday, none of which presently operate services to Europe, as well as several from Russia, Ukraine and Angola. They are the latest additions to the already extensive List of air carriers banned in the EU. The ban is scheduled to come into effect on July 6. Just hours after the ban a Boeing 737 operated by one of the blacklisted airlines, TAAG Angola Airlines, crashed into a house during landing, causing at least six fatalities in Northern Angola.

Indonesia currently has 51 airlines, having grounded several and revoked the licences of others on June 25. The EU said that substandard maintenance and operation and a slow reaction by Indonesia to solve the problem were the main causes of the ban. EU holidaymakers who have booked flights with banned airlines via travel agents will be refunded for the services.

EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said of the ban “Once more, the EU blacklist will prove to be an essential tool not only to prevent unsafe airlines from flying to Europe and to inform passengers travelling worldwide, but also to make sure that airlines and civil aviation authorities take appropriate actions to improve safety.”

Operations and safety editor at Flight International David Learmount commented that Indonesia, whose airline industry was deregulated the early 1990s, is one of a handful of cases where deregulation has lowered safety standards instead of improving them, saying of the move by the EU “Standards in aviation safety have been going up dramatically on a worldwide basis, but there are still places where they are [of the standards of] the 70s and 80s. In Indonesia the safety watchdog was told earlier this year to pull its socks up, but the EU is clearly convinced that it has not done so.”

One unnamed EU official was reported by The Guardian to have described Indonesia’s civil aviation authority as “not very reliable”, referring to a lack of reaction to warnings of an imminent ban and requests that Indonesia reassured officials that the problem was being dealt with.

Indonesia has responded to the ban by saying that, according to information unseen by the EU, Indonesian safety standards are rising. Director-general of civil aviation at the Indonesian transport ministry Budhi Mulyawan Suyitno told Reuters new agency that, “Our data can show them that we have improved on every line. The US had already downgraded Indonesia’s safety rating earlier this year.

Also affected by the bans are Ukraine’s Volare Aviation, while Russia has imposed bans on four of its airlines after consulting the EU and restricted six others, Bulgaria has revoked the licences of six cargo airlines and Moldova has banned eight airlines.

Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines, subject of a controversial EU ban earlier this year, had restrictions on some of its aircraft lifted. The airline’s fleet of Boeing 777s and some of their Boeing 747s and Airbus 310s will now be allowed back into European airspace.

The announcements come after three accidents involving Indonesian airliners – the New Year’s Day crash of Adam Air Flight 574, which killed 102 people, the subsequent accident involving Adam Air Flight 172, which cracked in half on a hard landing but held together, preventing serious injury, and the March crash of state-run Garuda Indonesia Flight 200, which claimed 23 lives. All the accidents involved ageing Boeing 737 aircraft.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=EU_bans_all_Indonesian_airlines_as_well_as_several_from_Russia,_Ukraine_and_Angola&oldid=2536913”
Posted in Uncategorized

Calls for bottled water bans grow in Canada

Saturday, August 23, 2008

London, Ontario is the latest in a string of Canadian cities to have acted on increasing public demand to ban bottled water. On Monday, the decision to eliminate bottled water sales in city-run facilities was passed by London’s city council with a vote of 15-3 in favour. The move was driven by a desire to reduce waste and shipping, have a lower impact on the environment and promote tap water as a cheap and safe alternative.

London’s new restrictions will be implemented over the next several months in buildings that are already equipped with water fountains. Bottled water will still be permitted at many city-run events, such as upcoming summer festivals. Privately-owned retailers will not be affected by the ban.

Other cities, such as Vancouver, Ottawa and Kitchener, that are already engaged in debate on the issue, may now be watching London carefully for how the ban plays out. Other areas have already begun to phone London with questions on the details of its new regulations. Toronto has begun taking a look at bottled water packaging as part of its waste diversion strategy, and its public school board is looking into the possibility of a total restriction on bottled water sales.

In recent years, an awareness of the energy that is required to manufacture, transport and recycle the product has spread nation-wide. Proponents of the ban point to the fact that it can produce as much as 150 times the volume of greenhouse gas when producing bottled water as compared to supplying the same volume of tap water. They also point out that the water that goes into bottled water products is not inspected as frequently as tap water in Canadian cities.

Some have taken this cause to heart more than others, such as British Environment Minister Phil Woolas, who called the use of bottled water “morally unacceptable.” Restaurant critic Giles Coren of The Times of London criticizes those who use the product as “the new smokers.”

Canada’s beverage industry has come down with criticism on the increasing opposition to bottled water. Spokesman Scott Tabachnick for Coca-Cola Co., which produces Dasani brand bottled water, commented on the convenience of the product: “It’s hard to bring your kitchen sink with you.”

It’s hard to bring your kitchen sink with you.

Vancouver City Councillor Tim Stevenson thinks that bottled water’s time has come and gone: “Bottled water companies have had a fabulous ride on an unnecessary fad.” Vancouver officials are still determining how bottled water restrictions, which have been voted for by the City Council, can be phased in.

Next month, the city is planning to initiate a marketing campaign encouraging Vancouver residents to choose tap water and to remember to carry reusable drinking containers whenever possible.

Renowned environmental activist Dr. David Suzuki has praised London’s decision, saying that it represents a turning point for people’s perceptions on the issue: “I’m really delighted that London has done this because it really makes us focus on some fundamental issues.” He hopes that someday people will “look at anyone who hauls out a bottle of water and say, ‘What the hell’s wrong with you?'”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Calls_for_bottled_water_bans_grow_in_Canada&oldid=2541609”
Posted in Uncategorized

Turner Broadcasting apologizes for Boston scare

Friday, February 2, 2007

An advertising campaign for shows on Adult Swim, a programming block on Cartoon Network, which is owned by Turner Broadcasting, gave local and federal law-enforcement a scare when devices were discovered on eight different bridges and roads.

The U.S. city of Boston was snarled in traffic jams January 31 as police investigated devices with flashing lights representing a cartoon character were placed around bridges and other areas throughout the city.

Different governmental agencies were brought in to help deal with the problem, which was later found to be no threat, as described by Boston Police Department spokesperson Eddy Chrispin. A bomb squad was deployed under supervision of the FBI, Boston police, the US Coast Guard, and different federal agencies.

The advertising campaign, for the widely popular program Aqua Teen Hunger Force, featuring characters from that series, was in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other major US cities.

Two people have been arrested for alleged participation in this incident.

Turner Broadcasting Systems hired New York marketing firm Interference Inc. which in turn hired individuals in the various cities to place the devices promoting the cartoon’s fifth season, scheduled for a February 23 premiere. Road and rail traffic was disrupted by police as they investigated and removed the devices.

The mostly flat devices resemble two-foot-square Lite-Brites with batteries attached to the bottom and visible wires.

G4TV has dubbed the incident “Aquagate” on its broadcast of Attack of the Show segment The Feed.

It is not known why the devices took police several weeks to notice, nor why the devices were believed to be dangerous.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Turner_Broadcasting_apologizes_for_Boston_scare&oldid=440478”
Posted in Uncategorized

Wikinews interviews candidate for Cleveland mayor Arthur Kostendt

Monday, June 14, 2021

Arthur Oliver Kostendt, a candidate running in the mayoral election of the US city of Cleveland, Ohio set to take place November 2, discussed his campaign and policies with Wikinews this spring.

According to Cleveland Scene, 29-year-old Kostendt is a member of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Republican Party but has referred to his campaign as “casual”. According to his web site’s personal biography, he was a cadet for the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), scout platoon leader for the 2nd Squadron of the 107th Cavalry Regiment of the Ohio Army National Guard and logistics officer for the 1st Battalion of the 145th Armored Regiment. He served in Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and assisted coalition force detachments in Southeast Asia.

Kostendt is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and summa cum laude graduate of Cleveland State University. He writes he uses an apostrophe to abbreviate his middle name as “Arthur O’Kostendt” instead of the customary period after the O to emphasise his Irish heritage.

A poll published May 5 by Baldwin Wallace University, which does not feature Mr Kostendt, has Dennis Kucinich and Basheer Jones leading in the mayoral race by 17.8 and 13.3 points, respectively, with a margin of error of up to five per cent either way. 48% of those surveyed were undecided. Incumbent mayor Frank G. Jackson, who won the 2017 Cleveland mayoral election with 59% of the vote, is eligible for a fifth term but announced on May 6 he would retire.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_candidate_for_Cleveland_mayor_Arthur_Kostendt&oldid=4626048”
Posted in Uncategorized

Icelandic Internet bank suspends UK accounts

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Icelandic internet bank, Icesave, has suspended all 300,000 of its UK customer accounts, leaving account holders in the United Kingdom unable to withdraw or deposit any funds. A message on its website posted this morning states:

“We are not currently processing any deposits or any withdrawal requests through our Icesave internet accounts. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers. We hope to provide you with more information shortly.”

The internet bank, owned by the Icelandic bank, Landsbanki (Landsbankinn), which was recently nationalised in an attempt to rescue it, has been hit by the global financial crisis. Reports from the United Kingdom suggest that the traders and city are preparing for the parent company to be declared insolvent, leaving customers to recover their monies through a financial compensation scheme being backed by the Icelandic Government. The plan will cover the first € 20,887 (Approx £16,300 / $28,720), the remainder of the customers funds being recovered through the UK’s own financial compensation system.

Following the decision to nationalise Landsbanki, the Icelandic Prime Minister, Geir Haarde, who introduced and signed the emergency legislation into law, stated:

“What we are doing here is saving a banking system – saving the domestic banking system – and making sure that it can function properly. And I think, also, through our declaration on domestic deposits in these banks and saving institutions, we have been able to avoid a run on the banks here, and therefore prevent it.”

In describing and explaining its actions in nationalising the bank, the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority issued this brief statement:

“Based on new legislation, the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority (IFSA) proceeds to take control of Landsbanki to ensure continued commercial bank operations in Iceland. Domestic deposits are fully guaranteed, as declared by the government. Landsbanki’s domestic branches, call centres, cash machines and internet operations will be open for business as usual.”

In response to the deepening world financial situation, the Dutch government has this afternoon increased its savers protection from €38,000 to €80,000 effective immediately, to help secure the financial status of its savers within Holland. Icesave also has a Dutch branch, icesave.nl – their website was unreachable at the time of this article.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Icelandic_Internet_bank_suspends_UK_accounts&oldid=778561”
Posted in Uncategorized

Tips For Choosing A Headstone In Connecticut

byAlma Abell

Burying someone you love is a hard thing to do, especially if it was unexpected and the deceased made no plans ahead of time. When it comes to choosing Headstones in Connecticut, you want the very best for your loved one, but sometimes the budget simply doesn’t allow for it. Below you will find some tips for choosing the best headstone possible to send your loved one off in the style that you feel they deserve.

Set Your Budget

The first thing you will want to do is set a budget. As hard as it might be to sit down and consider what you are spending during this time of crisis, it is something that must be done. If no insurance was left behind, then you will already be in a bad place financially. Talk to the funeral director at the funeral home you choose to see what your best and most inexpensive options are.

Keep it Simple

If you are looking to save money on the headstone of a loved one, you will need to keep the lettering and design options to a minimum. Some headstone dealers charge by the letter and many charge more for elaborate designs.

Keep it Small

When searching for the best Headstones in Connecticut keep the overall size of the headstone on the small size, as the larger the headstone the more expensive it will be. Omitting the flower base from the top of the headstone can also save you a few dollars if it comes down to that.

Do Your Research

You will want to do your research so that you can find the best price available on the headstone that you are searching for. You can find headstone at the cemetery, funeral home, some specialty monument dealers and on the Internet as well.

These are just a few tips to help you find the headstone that you are looking for, even when you are working on a budget. You can also visit Shelleybrothersmonumentsct.com for more information today. From keeping it small to keeping it simple, you should be able to find a nice headstone even if you are working with a budget.

Wikinews interviews 2020 Melbourne Lord Mayor Candidate Wayne Tseng

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

2020 Melbourne Lord Mayor candidate Wayne Tseng answered some questions about his campaign for the upcoming election from Wikinews. The Lord Mayor election in the Australian city is scheduled to take place this week.

Tseng runs a firm called eTranslate, which helps software developers to make the software available to the users. In the candidate’s questionnaire, Tseng said eTranslate had led to him working with all three tiers of the government. He previously belonged to the Australian Liberal Party, but has left since then, to run for mayorship as an independent candidate.

Tseng is of Chinese descent, having moved to Australia with his parents from Vietnam. Graduated in Brisbane, Tseng received his PhD in Melbourne and has been living in the city, he told Wikinews. Tseng also formed Chinese Precinct Chamber of Commerce, an organisation responsible for many “community bond building initiatives”, the Lord Mayor candidate told Wikinews.

Tseng discussed his plans for leading Melbourne, recovering from COVID-19, and “Democracy 2.0” to ensure concerns of minorities in the city were also heard. Tseng also focused on the importance of the multi-culture aspect and talked about making Melbourne the capital of the aboriginals. Tseng also explained why he thinks Melbourne is poised to be a world city by 2030.

Tseng’s deputy Lord Mayor candidate Gricol Yang is a Commercial Banker and works for ANZ Banking Group.

Currently, Sally Capp is the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, the Victorian capital. Capp was elected as an interim Lord Mayor in mid-2018 after the former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle resigned from his position after sexual assault allegations. Doyle served as the Lord Mayor of Melbourne for almost a decade since 2008.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_2020_Melbourne_Lord_Mayor_Candidate_Wayne_Tseng&oldid=4598699”
Posted in Uncategorized

China overtakes Germany as world’s biggest exporter

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chinese officials have said that their country’s exports surged last December to edge out Germany as the world’s biggest exporter.

The official Xinhua news agency reported today that figures from the General Administration for Customs showed that exports jumped 17.7% in December from a year earlier. Over the whole of 2009 total Chinese exports reached US$1.2 trillion, above Germany’s forecast $1.17 trillion.

Huang Guohua, a statistics official with the customs administration, said the December exports rebound was an important turning point for China’s export sector. He commented that the jump was an indication that exporters have emerged from their downslide.

“We can say that China’s export enterprises have completely emerged from their all-time low in exports,” he said.

However, although China overtook Germany in exports, China’s total foreign trade — both exports and imports — fell 13.9% last year.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=China_overtakes_Germany_as_world%27s_biggest_exporter&oldid=3255271”
Posted in Uncategorized