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Police Talk To Prince Philip About Not Wearing a Seatbelt

By Aasma Day

Police have spoken to the Duke of Edinburgh after he was pictured driving a new Land Rover without a seatbelt just 48 hours after his crash with a car carrying two women and a baby.

Norfolk Police are reported to have given “suitable words of advice” to Prince Philip after images were published showing him back behind the wheel of a replacement Freelander on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

The 97-year-old passed a police eyesight test on Saturday morning as the investigation into Thursday’s crash continues, with police saying “any appropriate action” will be taken if necessary.

His apparent ticking off has angered people on social media who believe he has been given special treatment because of his royal position.

What the #DukeofEdinburgh got a talking to by the police, only 48 hrs after rolling a car the public highway. @NorfolkPolice what makes the #DukeofEdinburgh any different from anyone else. #unfair it shouldn’t matter who you are. Thank god no one was killed. pic.twitter.com/oaZhKsLI1p

— Ellenbear38 (@ellenbear38) 19 January 2019

#PrincePhilip#Norfolk#Police#jokers Give him kindly advice WTF! I’ll try that one next time I get pulled over. Not impressed, one rule for the elite and the shit stick for the rest of us. Currently carries a minimum penalty of £100 fixed penalty fine. pic.twitter.com/8K1QjPt5Ns

— step (@beatthesystem1) 20 January 2019

#PrincePhilip had a motoring accident which can happen to anyone of us,he was entitled to be driving under uk law BUT what i do find unacceptable is the fact while driving without a seat belt the police only had a word with him i am sure the majority of us would have been fined

— mike gargett (@MikeGargett) 20 January 2019

Meanwhile, a mother-of-two who was injured in the dramatic car crash has claimed no one from the Royal Family has contacted her to offer an apology.

Emma Fairweather, 46, broke her wrist when the Kia she was travelling in hit a Land Rover being driven by the Queen’s consort near Sandringham.

Her friend suffered cuts to the knee and the nine-month-old baby boy was unharmed say police.

Although a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman saidPrince Philip exchanged “well-wishes” with the injured women following the collision, Fairweather told the Sunday Mirror this was not the case.

She told the paper: “I still haven’t had any contact from the Royal household.

“Maybe he should prioritise that over test driving his new car.”

Fairweather has questioned whether the duke should continue driving, and added: “It would mean the world to me if PrincePhilip said sorry but I have no idea if he’s sorry at all.”

The duke reportedly said “I’m such a fool” as he was pulled from his wrecked Freelander on Thursday after it flipped on its side from the impact in the crash in Norfolk.

The crash happened asPhilip‘s Freelander pulled out of a side road on to a stretch of the A149 which was earmarked by the local authority for possible safety measures.

At a meeting, coincidentally scheduled for Friday, Norfolk County Council approved plans to lower the speed limit on the road from 60mph to 50mph, backed by speed cameras.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokeswoman said the force was aware of the photographs taken on Saturday showing the driver not wearing a seatbelt and said that “suitable words of advice have been given to the driver”.

She said: “This is in line with our standard response when being made aware of such images showing this type of offence.”

Buckingham Palace has not commented on the images.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/police-talk-to-prince-philip-about-not-wearing-a-seatbelt_uk_5c444683e4b027c3bbc28f05

      

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Universal Credit Claimants Are Being 'Trapped In A Downward Spiral Of Debt And Hardship'

By Nicola Slawson

Universal Credit claimants are left “swimming against a tide of unmanageable repayments” when they are forced to take loans ahead of their first payments, it has been claimed.

The comments come as the government has responded to a damning report by the work and pensions select committee, which raised concerns about claimant debt.

The controversial new welfare system, which combines six benefits payments into one, encourages claimants to take out a loan while they wait for their first payment.

Many people are forced to take out the interest-free loan – called an advance payment – because the first payments of the new benefit take at least five weeks to come through after claimants apply, and in the meantime their existing benefits are stopped.

The loans have to be paid back within 12 months.

The department for work and pensions “aggressive approach” to collecting debts can compound matters further, leaving claimants “swimming against a tide of unmanageable repayments” which “pile debt upon debt, trapping people in a downward spiral of debt and hardship”. Frank Field, chair of the committee, said.

In its recent report on support for childcare costs under Universal Credit the Committee expressed deep alarm at DWP’s suggestion that parents struggling to find the upfront payment for childcare, to enable them to get back into work, should take out a budgeting advance.

The department claimed budgeting advances are “not a loan”, despite the government’s own website stating that they are.

Frank Field.

Field said: “It is simply irresponsible of government to suggest that the way around this policy’s inherent problems is for struggling, striving parents to take on more debt – still more so to claim, untruthfully, that it is not a debt at all. It clearly is.”

The committee had already raised serious concerns about DWP’s approach to claimant debt and to recovering debt in its previous report about the new benefit system.

Regardless of how DWP describes them, the advance payments are a debt which must be repaid out of current income going forward, the committee said.

Persistent debt can prevent claimants from finding and staying in work, and the extra costs and pressures of debt can quickly spiral out of control, the committee found.

Yet, as the report noted, debt advice is not routinely offered as part of the service intended to help claimants navigate the transition to Universal Credit.

On Sunday, the committee published the government’s response to that report, alongside an exchange of correspondence on the question of claimant debt.

The DWP asked the Trussell Trust, 11 days before Christmas, to promote advance payments to claimants coming to their network of food banks because they are suffering hardship and hunger during the 5 week wait.

In a letter to the DWP following the request to the food bank charity, Field said he was “very concerned” that DWP did not mention that advances are a loan which must be repaid.

The committee has heard substantial evidence that many people who need to rely on food banks will already be swamped by debt, he said.

The “help” the department is offering would “simply pile another debt on top and add to [households’] misery”.

He added that Citizens Advice has also expressed to the committee in multiple evidence submissions the view that advance payments are simply another form of debt.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/universal-credit-claimants-are-being-trapped-in-a-downward-spiral-of-debt-and-hardship_uk_5c439270e4b027c3bbc251ec

      

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Two Dead After Contracting Pigeon Droppings Infection At Glasgow Hospital

By Press Association

Two patients have died after contracting a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings at a hospital.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) has launched a probe into the death of one patient at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, with the cause still to be determined.

The health board said the second patient affected – who was elderly – died of an unrelated matter.

Control measures were immediately put in place after the two cases of Cryptococcus were detected.

A spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the families at this distressing time.

“Due to patient confidentiality we cannot share further details of the two cases.

“The organism is harmless to the vast majority of people and rarely causes disease in humans.”

The infection is caused by inhaling the fungus Cryptococcus, primarily found in soil and pigeon droppings.

NHSGCC said a likely source was found in a non-public area away from wards and the droppings were removed.

The health board said a small number of child and adult patients who are vulnerable to the infection are receiving medication and this has proved effective.

Teresa Inkster, NHSGCC lead consultant for infection control, said: “Cryptococcus lives in the environment throughout the world. It rarely causes infection in humans.

“People can become infected with it after breathing in the microscopic fungi, although most people who are exposed to it never get sick from it.

“There have been no further cases since the control measures were put in place.

“In the meantime we are continuing to monitor the air quality and these results are being analysed.

“It remains our priority to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.”

As an extra precaution the health board has installed portable HEPA filter units in specific areas, which filter the air continuously.

NHSGCC said that during the course of investigations, a separate issue arose with the sealant in some of the shower rooms.

Repairs are under way and the maintenance team is working to fix the issue as quickly as possible with minimum disruption, it said.

The health board added that as a further precaution, a specific group of patients are being moved within the hospital due to their clinical diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Scottish Labour’s shadow health secretary Monica Lennon said: “This is tragic news and our thoughts are with the families and friends of the two people who have died.

“Patients and the wider public need to be reassured as a matter of urgency that this unit is safe.

“The Scottish Government and health board must ensure an appropriate investigation proceeds at pace and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman must update parliament at the earliest opportunity.”

Scottish Conservative Glasgow MSP Annie Wells said: “This is an alarming revelation, and one which will be causing concern among staff, patients and families.

“It’s vital this situation is brought under control immediately before it escalates.

“An urgent investigation is required to get the answers families will be demanding.”

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/two-dead-after-contracting-pigeon-droppings-infection-at-glasgow-hospital_uk_5c437b3fe4b027c3bbc24d95

      

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Hostile Environment: Thousands Urge Home Office To Halt Removal Of 'Frail' Iranian Couple

By Press Association

Thousands of people have signed a petition against the removal of an Iranian couple whose family all live in the UK.

Mozaffar Saberi, 83, and Rezvan Habibimarand, 73, bought a flat in Edinburgh in the late 1970s and have four children, 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild who are all British citizens.

The couple spent time in the UK on visitor visas over the years but after visiting in November 2012 they made an application to remain on human rights grounds which was refused by the Home Office.

A second application was also refused and they are now appealing against the decision, with the case due to be heard on February 25.

The couple are distressed at the prospect of being separated from their family who all live in Edinburgh.

Their son Navid Saberi said: “It is very very stressful. They are elderly and not really keeping well and on top of their health problems it is a psychological effect, not knowing what is around the corner and what is going to happen in the future.

“The prospect of leaving three generations of children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild and going back to Iran has not been easy for them.”

He added: “They have got nobody in Iran. It is just beyond belief.”

The couple also look after their severely autistic grandson who is non-verbal in order to help their daughter, an NHS nurse who is a single mother.

Saberi said his parents have a strong emotional bond with the boy and it could have a detrimental effect on him if they have to leave the country.

John Vassiliou, partner at McGill & Co which is handling the case, said: “Mr Saberi is in his 80s, his wife is in her 70s. If they go back to Iran it’s difficult for British citizens to visit Iran, they can’t just fly over as if they were going to Spain or France.

It’s a very sad case. The main issue seems to be the change of Home Office rules in 2013 by the now Prime Minister. I’m working with the family & their lawyers to try & persuade the Home Secretary to do the decent thing. Although the word “decency” seems to be banned in his dept. https://t.co/KFswKt7COO

— Ian Murray (@IanMurrayMP) January 18, 2019

“They are showing lots of signs of old age physically and mentally and they just want to be with their family. If they go back to Iran they will be alone.

“They are very distressed by the whole process.

“If they go back to Iran they will be two old people living alone whereas here they are living in Edinburgh with all their family around them.

“Their family are all here and that social aspect and emotional support that they get here will disappear if they go back to Iran.”

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition on change.org calling on the Home Office to allow the couple to stay in the UK.

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, has voiced his support for the family.

He tweeted: “I’m working with the family & their lawyers to try & persuade the Home Secretary to do the decent thing.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available and in line with UK immigration rules.”

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hostile-environment-thousands-urge-home-office-to-halt-removal-of-elderly-iranian-couple_uk_5c436c42e4b0a8dbe171eb4f

      

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Boris Johnson's Claim The EU Will Offer Us Better Terms Than The PM's Deal Is A Gross Exaggeration

By Margot James

Boris Johnson set out the path to leaving the EU with no deal in his speech at JCB on Friday. He dismissed warnings about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, and said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Brussels will offer better terms, ie the UK to have the right to decide unilaterally to leave the backstop. Finally, he proposed that we up the ante by threatening to withhold half of the £39billion agreed as the divorce payment until the terms of a deal are met to our satisfaction.

MPs that represent manufacturers know how worried these companies are about the possibility of no-deal. With complex supply chains involving components manufactured across Europe and “just in time” manufacturing meaning that some manufacturers have as little as two hours worth of components on site at any one time, companies large and small are united in condemning the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal. They are supported in their view by all the bodies that represent both businesses and workers.

Most of the attention being paid to the prospect of leaving without a deal has been on the short-term consequences; I am equally concerned about the long term. Global companies, with manufacturing facilities across Europe and beyond, will look less favourably on the UK as the destination for the manufacture of their next model – or a new model altogether – if we leave the EU without access to the single market having been negotiated. The effects of these decisions will not be felt for a few years; but they are likely to have a significant and damaging effect on our economy for years to come.

Boris’s statement that it is “overwhelmingly likely” that Brussels will offer better terms is a gross exaggeration. A change as significant as the right of the UK to come out of the backstop (assuming we had to enter it in the first place) unilaterally, would require the re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) that has been signed off by all 27 member states. The EU have been very clear that they are not prepared to do this. Even if they were to change their mind would we want to take the risk that re-opening of that negotiation would give to those member states who think the terms of that WA are too favourable to us to demand changes (eg. Spain and France with reference to Gibraltar and fishing rights, respectively)?

I support the PM in her efforts to get improvements, or clarifications at least, to the operation of the backstop in a bid to make her deal more palatable to some of the more than 200 MPs who voted against it, but whatever she is able to achieve it might not be enough to satisfy Boris and some of his followers. So the time is fast approaching for the government to consider alternative options, which might include measures that complement the PM’s deal.

A ‘common market’ trading relationship, control of our borders, an end to payments in to the EU budget (apart from subscriptions to give us affiliate status to the many bodies that oversea EU wide initiatives and regulations), an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and exit from the common agricultural and fishing policies – all underpinned by our leaving the EU institutions would constitute a real Brexit while protecting our trade, jobs and the wider economy.

The impact of a common market solution on an independent trade policy is an obstacle which I accept might be too much for a number of those who voted the PM’s deal down last week. However it is worth assessing the need for an independent trade policy objectively. Trade agreements are important and none more so than the one we already have, effectively, with the EU. (The single market being a lot more than a trade agreement).

Between 45% and 50% of all British exports are still destined for Europe; and a further 11% go to third countries with whom the EU has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Trade deals are very difficult to negotiate and the negotiations usually take many years. Most countries, and all the big markets without exception, set challenging conditions. Countries like Brazil insist on a complex system of tariffs, quotas and the employment of local labour as part of any trade arrangement.

Britain’s largest single export market is the USA, with whom we have no trade deal but a good trading relationship. No doubt a good trade deal with the USA would grow the potential for exporters but it is likely to take many years to negotiate. A few years ago when the abortive negotiations between the EU and the US were underway, MPs received vast amounts of mail from constituents concerned about the negotiations. Some of it was misinformed – for example there was never any threat to the NHS – however, much of it was genuine and centred on America’s very different regulations governing processed food and intensive farming methods, many of which fall below Britain’s animal welfare standards. It will not be easy to conclude an agreement, which would be acceptable to the British public, involving these sort of issues.

Britain has had a negative trade balance for manufactured goods for many years and for many reasons. The fact that we sell less to so many of the growth markets in the world than do Germany, France and even Italy cannot be explained by a lack of trade deals. The success of German exports to China alone attests to the importance of factors, other than trade deals, in the winning of international business. Hence the negotiation of trade deals by the UK as part of an independent trade policy will not be a panacea. The fact is that global competition among exporters to the high growth markets of the world is very intense indeed, and no trade deal can mask the extent of that challenge to UK exporters.

There is also a mountain of evidence that most companies export more to markets close to home, and indeed global trade is growing faster between countries in the same region than average growth in trade across the world. So it is all the more important to protect our access to the EU single market at all costs.

Finally, I know the threat to withhold half the monies we have agreed if we don’t like the terms of the deal would be popular among some colleagues and parts of the electorate. However, it is worth remembering that the figure we accepted was based on spending commitments that were agreed by EU member states including the UK. The principles that underpinned the amount were that no EU member state should have to pay more or receive less because of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; that the UK should pay its share of the commitments made during the period of its membership and that the UK should neither pay more, nor earlier, than if it had remained a member state. It would be wholly dishonourable to renege on a negotiated settlement to which we agreed over a year ago because we haven’t got all we want out of the negotiations to date.

Margot James is the Conservative MP for Stourbridge and minister for digital and creative industries

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boris-johnson-speech-brexit_uk_5c436918e4b0bfa693c4182e

      

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Firefighters Rescue Woman Who Got Stuck Up Tree Trying To Save Her Cat

By PA / Press Association

A cat owner who climbed a tree to rescue her pet found herself in the same boat after she also became stuck and had to be saved by firefighters.

Maria Parry’s husband was forced to dial 999 after she became stranded 12 feet up the tree while trying to rescue her cat, Harry.

The nursery nurse, 34, who is scared of heights, tracked down Harry on Thursday, three days after he went missing from her house in Fareham, Hampshire.

She said: “I heard this meow, this scared meow, so I went over to the neighbour’s garden and saw him in the tree.

“I climbed up the tree by instinct. He was shaking, I just wanted to comfort him.

“He actually fell asleep when I got to him. When I reached up I could stroke him.”

But Maria said she realised she was also stranded when the wind picked up and branches started swaying, so she called her husband.

“He asked if I could come down and I thought, ‘right, I can’t talk because I’m actually scared now’,” she said.

“I didn’t realise I was really high up.”

She said he left work to help and arrived 15 minutes later, then phoned the fire brigade, adding: “I don’t think they were that bothered until they heard I was up there too.

“I think now it’s actually funny – but when I was up there it wasn’t.”

Parry ventured up the tree after borrowing a cat box from a neighbour, Deborah Baxter, a hypnotherapist who works from home.

She spent 45 minutes stranded before firefighters eventually helped her down with a ladder.

Baxter said: “She was really distraught and said, ‘oh, my cat’s up your tree’.

“He was in next door’s tree, so I said, ‘go around and take the basket with you’.”

But she grew concerned when she went to check on Maria 45 minutes later – and could only find the basket on the ground.

She said: “I looked out the back window and I just saw my cat basket and thought, ‘no cat, that’s strange’.

“I realised the cat was still up the tree. They were both there. Maria was up there I don’t know how long.”

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said it sent a crew to rescue the pair.

He added: “A cat was stuck up a tree and its owner had gone up to rescue it and also become stuck.

“The pair were rescued using a short ladder.”

Maria said she had only adopted Harry seven weeks before he went missing.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/firefighters-rescue-woman-who-got-stuck-up-tree-trying-to-save-her-cat_uk_5c433e83e4b0a8dbe171d3d8

      

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Labour Must Not Rule Out Second EU Referendum, Shadow Brexit Secretary Says

By PA / Press Association

Labour must keep open the option of a second EU referendum, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said.

Following the defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, he said the choice lay between instructing the Government to negotiate a close economic relationship with the EU based on a customs union, and a second referendum.

Speaking at the Fabian Society’s new year conference in London, he said that with time running out before before March 29, it now appeared “inevitable” the Government would have to apply for an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process.

He drew the loudest cheer, however, when he said Labour stood by the commitment made at the party conference last year in Liverpool that if it was unable to force a general election all options must remain on the table – including another referendum.

We are delighted to welcome shadow Brexit secretary @Keir_Starmer to the FEPS-Fabian New Year Conference #FEPSFAB19pic.twitter.com/4RgFvRds7U

— The Fabian Society (@thefabians) January 19, 2019

“That is a very important commitment. It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” he said.

“As I set out in Liverpool, a public vote has to be an option for Labour. After all, deeply embedded in our values are internationalism, collaboration and cooperation with our European partners.”

Starmer again made clear that he believed that in the event of a second referendum, the option of remaining in the EU must be on the ballot paper.

“I don’t think it is any secret I firmly believe there should be a Remain option – and there has to be a genuine Leave option,” he said.

He said that with the raft of legislation that still needed to get through Parliament before Brexit, it was difficult to see how an extension to Article 50 could be avoided.

“It seems inevitable to me that the Government will have to apply for an extension of Article 50,” he said.

Stop what you’re doing and listen now to John Major @BBCr4today offering a way forward #BrexitChaos

— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) January 19, 2019

“So, it’s time for us to inject some honesty into this debate, and to identify the credible solutions that remain.

“In the coming weeks Parliament will have the chance to take control. That starts by being open about the dilemmas we face, and the credible choices that are still available.”

Earlier, Sir John Major called for a free vote for MPs to break the deadlock in Parliament over the way forward on Brexit.

The former prime minister – whose time in office was beset by divisions over Europe – said the Commons had “comprehensively” killed Mrs May’s plan.

He said there now needed to be a series of “indicative” votes to establish which, if any, the various alternative proposals could command the support of a majority of MPs.

As an “act of statesmanship”, he said all the party leaders should give their MPs a free vote to allow an “honest representation” of opinion in the House.

“It is the only way to get an absolutely honest answer from Members of Parliament and if it is a free vote it removes the danger of resignations from Government or the opposition frontbench because they disagree with their leader’s policy,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“It is a unique way of doing it but I think it is justified.”

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sir-keir-starmer-says-labour-must-not-rule-out-second-eu-referendum_uk_5c430e9de4b027c3bbc21a5b

      

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5 Massive Donald Trump Stories You Missed This Week Because Of The Brexit Shambles

By Chris York

Donald Trump (probably) blaming the shutdown on the Democrats.

Believe it or not, there is more to life than Brexit.

As Westminster seemingly tears itself apart and the rest of the nation collectively succumbs to political apathy, a smidgen of consolation can perhaps be snatched from the fact that things in the US of A are still completely bonkers.

Here are five stories you may have missed this wee…

The shutdown

First things first – the US government is currently in the middle of the longest shutdown in the country’s history.

Infographic supplied by Statista.

It’s testament to just how all-consuming Brexit is over here that this hasn’t been headline news all week.

The stand-off is between Donald Trump and the Democrats over his demand for $5.7 billion (£4.4bn) to help fund a US-Mexico border wall.

That ultimatum, which congressional Democrats have rejected, has prevented Congress from approving legislation to restore funding to about a quarter of the federal government.

That means around 800,000 federal workers are currently not being paid.

Infographic supplied by Statista.

Trump’s wall has become far more than just a physical entity – as one of his central campaign promises it has come to define his presidency and he may well have painted himself into a corner.

The president can’t afford to backdown for fear of alienating his support base but at a wider level, a majority of Americans don’t want the wall.

Infographic supplied by Statista.

As a result, Trump’s repeated attempts to shift the blame for the shutdown onto the Democrats are failing and many hold him and his Republican party responsible.

Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019

Infographic supplied by Statista.

As the shutdown grinds on the effects multiply – imagine being employed by the government and being told that you either can’t work or have to work but not get paid. This is the current reality for 800,000 Americans.

At a wider level, the shutdown poses a very real threat to the US economy. Analysis from Trump’s own advisors has said growth is being affected twice as badly as previously thought and could lead to economic contraction very soon and, ultimately, the possibility of a recession.

One thing is certain – Trump is stubborn and nothing in his behaviour as president so far suggests he is likely to back down.

On Monday, Michael Corbat, chief executive of Citigroup, described the situation as “talking ourselves into a recession”.

The danger for Trump is that being blamed for a shutdown is one thing but being blamed for a recession is quite another.

The State of the Union address

There are of course two sides to every story and Trump isn’t the only one playing politics with the shutdown.

On 29 January, the president is due to give the annual State of the Union address to Congress.

The event is a highlight of the US political calendar and is a chance for the president to highlight achievements so far and make the case for policy in the year ahead.

Trump at the 2018 State of the Union.

Traditionally the Speaker of the House, currently Democrat Nancy Pelosi, invites the president to make the speech but on Wednesday she wrote to Trump saying “as long as government is shut down we are not going to be doing business as usual”.

Pelosi cited security concerns – the very people who provide protection for the US’s top politicians during the event, the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department, are the same ones affected by the shutdown.

She suggested Trump should either postpone the speech or submit it in writing instead.

Today, I wrote to @realDonaldTrump recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the @SecretService, the lead federal agency for #SOTU security, faces its 26th day without funding. https://t.co/K2oL8WGvqopic.twitter.com/g3fIlxDbbK

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 16, 2019

While on the face of it this may appear to be about the security of the nation’s lawmakers, any downgrade of the biggest presidential speech of the year would be a humiliation for Trump.

Predictably, he has not backed down and instead gave what appeared to be a rather petty response – grounding Pelosi’s government aircraft so she couldn’t embark on a planned trip to Egypt, Brussels and Afghanistan.

He wrote: “In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I’m sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”

Dear Madame Speaker: https://t.co/b6V391mlafpic.twitter.com/D17o2iKlJS

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 17, 2019

Just how underhand this response was quickly became apparent – the trip to Afghanistan was being kept top-secret for security reasons and Trump’s letter blew any chance of it going ahead, even if she “flew commercial” as he suggested.

Two other things also need to be noted – Trump is yet to visit troops in Afghanistan despite approaching the halfway mark in his presidency.

And on the same day he denied Pelosi the use of a government plane his wife, Melania, flew to their Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida – aboard a government plane.

The Russia investigation

Since 2016, barely a week has gone by without the reporting of a revelation that would have at the very least hugely embarrassed if not potentially toppled previous presidents.

But even in the teflon-coated White House that Trump currently occupies, two bombshell news items last weekend prompted a noticeable shift in how it responds to allegations of collusions with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In short:

  • Trump was accused of going to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his meetings with his Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion seizing the notes of his own interpreter, the only other person resent at the meeting
  • and it was revealed the FBI had investigated whether Trump has been working on behalf of Russia, against US interests. The New York Times reported the probe began in the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the FBI in May 2017 and said the agency’s counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether his actions constituted a possible threat to national security.

The president initially responded as he usually does in such situations – loudly and on Twitter, attacking the “failing New York Times”, “Lyin’ James Comey” and insisting, without any proof, that he has been “FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President” (this is a questionable claim).

Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019

I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019

Not content with leaving his tweets to speak for themselves he then turned to the ever-friendly Fox News.

In an interview with Jeanine Pirro, he was asked outright if he “had ever worked for Russia”.

Trump responded: ”I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked…the most insulting article I’ve ever had written and if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked…the most insulting article I’ve ever had written & if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”- @realDonaldTrump on NYT FBI report pic.twitter.com/cIB4Sk9ZA1

— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) January 13, 2019

The thing is, he didn’t actually deny it, something that was noticed by reporters who asked him the same question the next day.

Speaking from the South Lawn before departing the White House for New Orleans, Trump called former FBI and Justice Department officials “known scoundrels” and “dirty cops”.

He added: “I never worked for Russia.”

Shifting the goalposts?

Later on in the week, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave a combative interview to CNN which all of a sudden led some to suggest the White House was shifting the goalposts once again against charges of collusion.

Backing up Trump’s claim that the president had never worked for Russia, Giuliani insisted he had “never said there was no collusion” between the president’s 2016 election campaign and the Kremlin – only that he’s said Trump himself was never involved.

Aside from the fact Giuliani has made numerous claims that seemed to suggest both Trump and his associates have never colluded, the statement effectively laid out a defence against further revelations against members of the campaign team.

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign… I have not. I said the President of the United States,” Pres. Trump’s attorney @RudyGiuliani tells @ChrisCuomohttps://t.co/Jy0gttT6Acpic.twitter.com/JGISmtgrdy

— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) January 17, 2019

Speaking after the interview aired, CNN’s Don Lemon suggested there was a deliberate tactic being employed by Giuliani which was to pre-emptively deflect from anymore damaging revelations that come to light.

He said: “Quite a performance, right? But make no mistake, there is a method to this madness.

“The president’s attorney, as he always does, laying out the groundwork there for what is to come. So stay tuned to that.”

The tower in Moscow and a rare statement from Mueller

On Friday, Senior Democrats pledged to investigate a report that Trump directed his personal lawyer to lie to Congress about negotiations over a real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election.

The report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials, said that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow project — even as Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia.

This particular revelation is another twist in the ongoing saga over Michael Cohen, the president’s former “fixer” who has already been jailed for his part in hush money payments paid to woman who allege they had affairs with Trump.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said “we will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true”, adding that “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date”.

If the President directed Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop.

— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 18, 2019

If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.

— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 18, 2019

But then something remarkable happened – the normally silent Special Counsel’s office issued a statement calling the report “not accurate”.

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterisation of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.Robert Mueller’s spokesman

Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, later said the publication stands by its reporting and the sources who informed it.

“We urge the special counsel to make clear what he’s disputing,” Smith said.

In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.

— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 19, 2019

Trump and Kim’s bromance

Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The announcement followed a meeting between Pyongyang’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, a hardline former spy chief.

The meeting marks a sign of movement in denuclearisation efforts that have stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore last year.

Sarah Sanders, White House spokeswoman, said: “President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearisation and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February.

President @realDonaldTrump looks forward to a second summit with Chairman Kim, which will take place near the end of February. Location will be announced at a later date.

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 18, 2019

And finally…

On a lighter note, here’s a bonus item for you.

It was revealed on Thursday that Steve Carell will star in a new workplace comedy inspired by Space Force, the new branch of the US armed services announced by President Trump.

And it’s going to be made by the same people who made The office.

A video announcing the series posted on Twitter, said: “On June 18, 2018 the federal government announced the creation of a 6th major division of the United States Armed Forces.

“The goal of the new branch is ‘to defend satellites from attack’ and ‘perform other space-related tasks’ or something.

“This is the story of the men and women who have to figure it out.”

.@SteveCarell will star in a new workplace comedy series he co-created with #TheOffice‘s Greg Daniels about the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services: the Space Force! pic.twitter.com/6GEFNgP18w

— See What’s Next (@seewhatsnext) January 16, 2019

We can all agree that this is going to be epic.

space force pic.twitter.com/BTy0nLBZ6N

— Trump Draws (@TrumpDraws) June 19, 2018

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/trump-roundup-uk-news_uk_5c41b05fe4b0bfa693c257e3

      

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A £1,000 Meal By Richard Corrigan Is Up For Grabs – If You Can Help Identify This Diner Who Left Without Paying

By Isabel Togoh

Celebrity chef Richard Corrigan has offered a £1,000 reward for information about a customer who “dined and dashed” at one of his upscale London restaurants.

The restaurateur, 54, posted a picture on social media of a man who he said racked up a £1,500 bill and “finished with a Cuban (then) walked in to the night” after eating at Corrigan’s Mayfair on December 18.

I’m still looking for Mr pimpernel who walked into the London fog with out paying before Christmas 1000corrigan eating pounds , if anyone knows him . pic.twitter.com/t6X6BWqQ3x

— Richard Corrigan (@CorrigansFood) January 18, 2019

Corrigan, who has won Great British Menu three times, renewed his appeal on Twitter on Friday, saying there was “1000 Corrigan eating pounds” on offer for anyone with information about the man he called “Mr Pimpernel”.

Corrigan, who was awarded his first Michelin star in 1994 when he was head chef of Stephen Bull in Fulham and a second at Lindsay House in Soho in 2007, told The Times: “I was sitting near him at one point and thought there was something odd.

“He was sitting there by himself with a very expensive bottle of wine and there was just something that wasn’t right about it.

“Half an hour later the restaurant’s manager went into the back and told me that the customer had left without paying.”

The diner’s three-course meal included partridge foie gras, truffles and a souffle.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/recognise-this-odd-diner-it-might-get-you-a-ps1000-meal-on-richard-corrigan_uk_5c42efd9e4b0bfa693c3d169

      

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Jayme Closs: Everything We Know About The Teenager's Abduction

By Sara C Nelson

Jayme Closs was snatched from her home after her parents were murdered in October

Last week a thin, dazed and dishevelled teenager who had been missing for almost three months was found alive, wandering in a remote wooded area of Wisconsin.

Jayme Closs vanished from her family home in October, following an attack which saw both of her parents brutally murdered.

The next time she was seen was 88 days later, hastily dressed in shoes and clothes clearly too big for her, as she begged a dog walker for help.

What happened?

On 15 October the bodies of James, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, were found in their family home in Barron, Wisconsin.

The front door had been blown off its hinges and both adults had suffered fatal gunshot wounds. Most disturbing of all, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Jayme was nowhere to be seen.

Police issued an amber alert for the teenager immediately, dispatching some 200 officers to help search for her. Investigators said they did not consider Jayme a suspect, and warned they believed the teenager was in danger.

The FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to Jayme’s location, an amount later doubled to $50,000 by the Jennie-O Turkey Store, where the Closs couple work.

How did Jayme escape?

On 10 January, the frantic teenager escaped from where she was being held captive and flagged down a passer-by in the town of Gordon, about a 90-minute drive from her home in Barron.

The passer-by then dashed to a neighbour’s house to call the police. As they waited for officers to arrive, homeowner Peter Kasinskas retrieved his gun and stood watch in case Jayme’s captor returned, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Kasinskas said Jayme looked: “Tired, skinny. You know, dirty. She hasn’t – probably hasn’t bathed in quite a while, if at all. Yeah, she just looked rough, she looked rough. Yeah, she didn’t really have any emotion, she was kind of probably in shock, you know, relieved… it’s probably too much for her brain to really handle right then.”

Jeanne Nutter, the dog walker who first encountered Jayme, told the Associated Press: “She just said: ‘I’m lost, I don’t know where I am.’ She said ‘I don’t know where I am’ a couple of times and I explained, ‘you’re in Gordon, Wisconsin.’

“And then when I knew who she was, I said ‘Jayme, you’re really an hour and a half or so from home.’”

Minutes later, police stopped a suspect based on Jayme’s description, who is alleged to have told investigators he had been driving around looking for her.

Who is the suspect?

Jake Patterson, 21, was arrested on the same day Jayme was found. A day later, investigators announced he was being held on murder and kidnapping charges.

Little is known about what Patterson did for money, though it has since emerged that he applied for a job on the very day he was arrested.

Managers at a local alcohol warehouse say they received an online application from Patterson, who was trying to secure a nighttime position. In his CV he described himself as an “honest and hardworking guy. Not much work experience but I show up to work and am a quick learner”.

Jake Thomas Patterson, the 21-year-old man accused of kidnapping Jayme Closs

Patterson wrote in his high school yearbook that he planned to join the US Marines after graduation, but military records show he lasted only about five weeks before being prematurely discharged in October 2015 at the rank of private.

Marine spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock said Patterson’s early discharge indicated “the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards”.

Jayme’s surviving family have no links to Patterson and it’s not known if he had any interaction with her parents. Although he spent just one day working at the same turkey plant as Jayme’s parents two years ago, investigators say he did not know them.

Photos of the remote cabin where Jayme was allegedly held show an unfinished ceiling, a three-car garage and an empty box of adult female nappies by the bins. A sign over the door reads ‘Patterson’s Retreat’.

What do we know so far?

According to the authorities, Patterson confessed to killing Jayme’s father with a shotgun while the teenager and her mother cowered in a bathtub. He is then alleged to have kicked down the bathroom door and killed her mother after forcing her to help tape up her daughter’s mouth, hands and ankles.

He told police he had spotted the teenager outside her home while driving to a short-lived job at a cheese factory. She was getting on the school bus and “he knew that she was the girl he was going to take”, according to court documents.

He is alleged to have prepared for the abduction by buying a ski mask, shaving his head so as not to leave any hairs as evidence and replacing his license plates with stolen ones. Twice he drove to the Closs family home ahead of the final attack, but was frightened off after seeing lights on and people there, prosecutors said.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald holds up the booking photo of Jake Thomas Patterson, who allegedly kidnapped Jayme Closs, during a press conference last week

Jayme told police she was woken up on 15 October when the family dog began barking, also waking her parents, as a car entered their driveway. James Closs was shot through the front door, while Jayme and her mother Denise barricaded themselves in the bathroom.

After allegedly kicking down the door, Patterson ordered Denise to tape up her daughter, then shot her dead before dragging Jayme into the boot of his car.

On his way to his cabin around 66 miles away, Patterson claims to have driven past several police cars responding to reports of the shooting.

During her months in captivity, Jayme was reportedly kept trapped under a bed when the suspect left the house or had visitors. He would surround the bed with plastic boxes, laundry bins and barbell weights so that she was unable to move without him noticing. She was often kept for up to 12 hours at a time with no food, water or access to a toilet. He threatened violence if she tried to escape, warning her that “bad things could happen” if anyone found her there, prosecutors say.

On the day of her escape, her captor is said to have told her he would be away for a few hours, giving her time to double her efforts and force her way through his barricades. Once out, she put on a pair of his shoes – on the wrong feet in her haste – and rushed outside into the path of a woman who was walking her dog.

What happens now?

On 14 January, Patterson was formally charged with two counts of murder – both punishable by life in prison – and one count of kidnapping and armed burglary.

He will be held on $5million bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Speaking after a court hearing, Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright said Jayme “deserves enormous credit” for her bravery and escape.

Her aunts say they are supporting the teenager – and are not pressing her about her nearly three-month-long ordeal.

Lynn Closs and Sue Allard told CBS This Morning that they’re proud of Jayme, and said her strength is “incredible”.

Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her family home in 2002

Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, told the Associated Press that everyone endures different mental and psychological trauma after kidnappings, but Jayme will have to confront the fact that there “is no going back to the way things were”.

“Probably one of the more difficult issues is going to be finding that new sense of normalcy in her life,” said Smart, now a 31-year-old mother-of-three. “Not recreating the old but (creating) the new and learning to be OK with that.”

Smart said she would feel defensive when people asked her why she didn’t run or scream when her captors sometimes travelled with her out in the open. Smart was found nine months after her disappearance while walking with her kidnappers in a Salt Lake City suburb by people who recognised the couple from media reports.

“My brain heard that question as: ‘You should have tried harder. You should have run, you should have yelled, this is somehow your fault,’” Smart said. “So, I would just caution her community and anyone able to interact with her to really think about the questions they are asking her.”

Madeleine McCann has not been seen since she vanished during a family holiday in 2007.

Meanwhile, the parents of missing Madeleine McCann, who vanished during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007 welcomed the “great news” of Jayme’s escape.

In an online post, Kate and Gerry McCann said: “Jayme is an example of why we never lose hope and never stop searching.”

A rare occurrence

Abductions of children by strangers remain rare, according to US data.

On average, fewer than 350 people under the age of 21 have been abducted by strangers in the US per year since 2010, the FBI says. From 2010 to 2017, the most recent data available, the number has ranged from a low of 303 in 2016 to a high of 384 in 2011, with no clear directional trend.

That makes the cases of Jayme and Elizabeth highly uncommon.

Hundreds of thousands of young people are reported missing to the FBI each year. The circumstances of the disappearance is only recorded about half the time, but in cases where they are, only 0.1% are reported as having been abducted by a stranger. The vast majority, typically more than 95%, run away.

The FBI data does not record how many reported abductions are confirmed as actual kidnappings.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but they’re certainly the cases that capture our attention because they strike at our worst fears,” Robert Lowery, a vice president at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said.

A US Justice Department study in 2002 reported that 99.8% of children reported missing were found alive.

The NCMEC says that abductions by strangers are the rarest type of cases of missing children. Strangers are most likely to attempt to abduct a child as they head to or from school, the centre said.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/everything-we-know-about-the-abduction-of-teenager-jayme-closs-and-the-brutal-murder-of-her-parents_uk_5c3df8c3e4b0e0baf541496b

      

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Thousands Of People With Learning Disabilities Are Stuck Living In Hospital – Despite Promises From The NHS

By Jasmin Gray

Stephen Andrade-Martinez – who is just 23 – has spent almost six years as an inpatient

“The care Stephen received was inhumane. It has to stop.”

Stephen Andrade-Martinez, who has learning disabilities and autism, is 23. He has already spent almost six years living in inpatient wards – a quarter of his life. One of the placements was 80 miles away from his family.

“Stephen finally came home in December, but the long-term impact of being kept in a hospital unnecessarily is apparent everyday,” his mum, Leo, said. “He is self-harming, hitting and biting himself.

“He says he wants to sleep on the floor as that is what he did in the assessment treatment unit,” she continued, adding that he is suffering from “huge panic attacks”.

Leo believes the sedation her son received as an inpatient has led to the loss of the limited speech he once had. “He is suffering from so much trauma – it’s just heartbreaking.”

Stephen’s story is not unique – and campaigners fear thousands more people could be forced to spend years of their life in hospital unnecessarily after the NHS shelved key targets to cut the number of people with learning disabilities in inpatient units.

In 2015, in the wake of the public reaction to the Winterbourne View scandal – which saw patients with learning disabilities subjected to physical and psychological abuse at a private hospital near Bristol – the NHS vowed to make improvements to community care, that would mean it would be able to cut between 35% and 50% of inpatient beds.

“In three years we would expect to need hospital care for only 1,300 – 1,700 people where we now cater for 2,600,” health service documents predicted.

Three years later, in November 2018, 2,325 people with learning difficulties and/or autism were still inpatients.

Last week, NHS England pushed back its own deadline by another five years, vowing to cut the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in hospital to less than half the levels seen in 2015 “on a like-for-like basis” by 2023/24.

For the families and charities who expected this goal to be achieved by March 2019, it’s too little, too late.

“It’s extraordinary they are taking another five years to deliver changes that were first talked about in 2011 following the Winterbourne View scandal,” says Dan Scorer, head of policy at learning disability charity Mencap.

“Here we go again with another target being missed and another deadline being set way into the future while more than 2,000 people are in these places at risk of restraint, overmedication and seclusion. It’s just not acceptable.”

It’s an opinion echoed by Stephen, the father of 17-year-old Bethany. Suffering from autism and extreme anxiety, the teenager has been locked in a seclusion cell for two years. According to her family, she is only able to communicate with visitors through a hatch.

“I’m disappointed that the announcement will mean that children and adults with autism and learning difficulties will continue to be locked in these horrific places for the foreseeable future,” Stephen said.

“My daughter will hopefully be out of the ATU [Assessment and Treatment Unit] this year, but I feel that the NHS plan lets down every person with a loved one in an inpatient setting.”

This is the last pic of Beth and Me together before she was locked in a seclusion room in an Assessment and Treatment Unit.

For being Autistic.

Does she look like she needs to be kept in a cell?

Sign the petition.https://t.co/sHRI2LNwsspic.twitter.com/MlcR3x86M9

— Bethany’s dad (@JeremyH09406697) November 26, 2018

In November – after hearing about the cases of Bethany and others – health secretary Matt Hancock launched a review into the long-term treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism.

To shelve the learning disability inpatient target before hearing the outcome of the probe is “frankly disgusting,” Stephen added.

“It’s a failure to ignore the fact that these places are unsuitable for those with autism and learning difficulties,” he said. “It’s a failure to spend more money keeping people in the settings that would be better spent providing cheaper and more suitable community placements.”

But for Vivien Cooper, founder of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, it is not just the number of people in inpatient units which is the issue. The amount of time patients spend in hospital is another major concern.

Despite aims published by the health service to reduce hospital stays for those who require specialist in-patient support to an average of 85 days in some areas, data shows that at the end of November 2018, 58% of patients – 1,345 people – had been in hospital for more than two years.

These are places which are not designed for people to stay for a long time – they are not homesDan Scorer, Mencap

“It takes a long time to get people out,” Cooper said. “In that inpatient unit they are taken away from everything that is familiar to them – familiar routines and familiar people. They are therefore very distressed and their distress manifests itself in their behaviour.”

She continued: “The inpatient response to this behaviour is usually restrictive – it will be use of physical restraint, it will be the use of medication to subdue people or the use of restrictive practices like seclusion or segregation.”

Faced with this kind of treatment, many patients’ behaviour becomes even worse, Cooper added. It’s a cycle of escalation that can see patients trapped in hospital for years.

“These are places which are not designed for people to stay for a long time – they are not homes,” Scorer said. “People are supposed to be going there for short periods of assessment and treatment and coming back to the community within a matter of a few months.

“These environments can be very damaging and ultimately the reason people are going in is because the right support is not available for them in the community.”

But – according to the NHS long-term plan – the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in inpatient care has dropped by almost a fifth since 2015.*

A spokesperson for NHS England said the health service had “rightly backed the biggest single shift in care for people with a learning disability or autism in history”, supporting an extra 635 people who had been in hospital for more than five years to live in the community “as independently as possible”.

“The NHS long term plan continues to build on significant progress investing in earlier intervention and ramping up specialist community services, including seven day a week crisis care, all of which will reduce the need for inpatient care,” they added.

*NHS estimates based on data taken from March 2015 and November 2018.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/learning-disabilities-hospital-nhs_uk_5c3c7d4ae4b01c93e00ba170

      

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Life After My Traumatic Brain Injury Will Never Be The Same Again, But I'm Taking It One Step At A Time

By Zalehka Price-Davies

I have no memory of the accident.

Inside my head I’ve made a picture from what others have told me, like something from a film, and not like anything I ever imagined would become part of my reality. I call it my out-of-body experience, I was floating above my bed, watching as if I’m in it yet completely unaware of my surroundings and what has happened.

The only way I can describe first waking up in the High Dependency Unit in Dublin was having a nurse either side of me talking in what seemed a different language to me. My first feeling I remember (I say feeling but at that moment it was complete confusion) was that I had been taken away to a different universe, not initially sure of where I was – which is ironic as my accident happened while I was on a long weekend away in Ireland. ​

I opened my eyes to these two nurses talking and they were, from what my memory tells me, giving me a bed bath. I remember the cold sensation, combined with the mixture of me not understanding what they were saying and desperately looking around trying to figure out where I was.

My next memory is having my loved ones close by and a consultant pointing and asking me questions. It is this moment that has been embedded into my memory, the first time I realised it wasn’t a different language, I just couldn’t understand or process the words people were saying.

The first time I was aware that something was wrong when I was handed a whiteboard and pen. I had lost the ability to talk and lost all my communication skills. In my mind I thought I was talking – I would think it was all a dream and that people were just not understanding me. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me, tears falling down my face because I felt so trapped in a body that didn’t work.

I remember being frustrated and trying to talk, shout, at my mum after she handed me my phone, because I couldn’t read my contacts. I couldn’t remember the name of my place of work, yet I knew I had to be in work. In these moments everything was backwards, everything was terrifying. Every time I closed my eyes and open them to speak there were no words, just sounds which, looking back, was like listening to a baby talk.

I managed to write the word ‘home’ down on a piece of paper. That’s all I wanted. I just wanted to go home and believe that this was a nightmare I had woken up to, not my new reality.

It was nine long, terrifying days for my family, until I was finally allowed to go home in the air ambulance, it was a complete blur. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I was to learn what had happened.

I had sustained a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain after falling down seven steps. They say your body or mind protects you from such a trauma so you don’t remember. This so-called ‘protection’ is bittersweet – it’s allowed me to disconnect myself from what happened, but I have no memory of a moment that played such a huge part of my life.

The months of rehab, to be able to learn to talk, walk, read and write never prepared me for the transition from hospital to home. I thought learning everything again would be the hardest part, but there are no words to explain how hard leaving hospital and coming home was.

Life with a brain injury will never be the same again. Standing, looking in the mirror, seeing a girl staring back at me who I knew nothing about… I felt my whole world had been ripped from underneath me. My family struggled to understand and felt helpless watching me crumble in front of them. The shell remained but inside I was every kind of broken you can imagine.

Until the day I rang the charity Headway. My words to them were simple. Tears rolling down my face, I just said: “I need help with my head”.

Headway gave me a lifeline. They invited me in along with my family and offered us a great support system. They explained what I was going through was normal for someone with a brain injury and that everything was ok and that I was going to be ok – it’s just a matter of time and learning a new way of life.

For the first time I was made to realise that what had happened was real, and for the first time I wasn’t on my own. I realised that there are people that understand and can support you with a life with a brain injury.

I wouldn’t be the girl I am today if it wasn’t for them. They gave me the lifeline I needed, supported me through the biggest and hardest life-changing battle I’ve ever faced and continue to give me that support. The friends I’ve made within my recovery have given me even better chance of being the new me.

This journey has not been the easiest, it’s been the scariest for sure, but because of the help I received, I have the power to help other traumatic brain injury survivors and show them that they are not on their own, like I felt at my new beginning.

It’s been three long years since my accident and I’m still in recovery, but every day is one step forward. I have learned it’s about accepting, adjusting and understanding that there is no magic wand – time is the only healer with a brain injury, and that’s ok. I have Headway to thank for giving me the best chance possible within my recovery and for giving me a new second chance of life.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/traumatic-brain-injury_uk_5c420216e4b0bfa693c33ada

      

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Donald Trump To Meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un Next Month In Second Summit

By Isabel Togoh

US President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month, the White House has confirmed.

The announcement followed a meeting between Pyongyang’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, a hardline former spy chief.

The meeting marks a sign of movement in denuclearization efforts that have stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore last year.

Sarah Sanders, White House spokeswoman, said: “President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February.

President @realDonaldTrump looks forward to a second summit with Chairman Kim, which will take place near the end of February. Location will be announced at a later date.

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 18, 2019

“The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.”

Despite the summit announcement, there has been no indication of any progress over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, or over Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

Trump declared after the Singapore summit in June that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over. But hours before Kim Yong Chol’s arrival, Trump unveiled a revamped US missile defence strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat.”

The first summit resulted in a vague commitment by Kim to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

But he has yet to take what Washington sees as concrete steps in that direction.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, is widely tipped to host the next summit, although a venue has not been formally announced.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/donald-trump-to-meet-north-koreas-kim-jong-un-next-month-in-second-summit_uk_5c423566e4b027c3bbc1ac98

      

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Duke of Edinburgh Privately Contacted And ‘Exchanged Well-Wishes’ With Women Injured In Car Accident

By PA / Press Association

The Duke of Edinburgh has exchanged “well-wishes” with the two women injured in the dramatic car crash that saw his Land Rover roll across a busy A-road.

Philip contacted the driver and passenger privately following the accident on Thursday, and Buckingham Palace said the duke underwent another medical examination, this time at hospital, as a precaution following doctor’s advice.

The Queen’s consort was found to have “no injuries of concern” after his check-up on Friday morning. He was first examined soon after the accident by a doctor at Sandringham who gave a similar verdict.

The duke was lucky to walk away unscathed following the crash when the Land Rover Freelander he was driving rolled following a collision with a Kia, close to the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

Despite being aged 97 and having had a hip replacement operation last year, Philip appears to have no lasting problems following the crash.

A source said: “The duke’s routine in the coming days will continue as normal.”

Norfolk Police said two women – the 28-year-old Kia driver, who suffered cuts to her knee, and a 45-year-old passenger who broke a wrist – were treated at the local Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn that day and discharged.

There was also a miraculous escape for a nine-month-old baby boy who survived unhurt in the Kia, police said.

A palace spokeswoman said: “On doctor’s advice, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn this morning for a precautionary check-up.

“This confirmed His Royal Highness had no injuries of concern. The duke has returned to Sandringham.”

She added: “Contact has been made privately with the occupants in the other car and well-wishes exchanged.”

Eyewitness Roy Warne helped the stricken duke out of his car and said the royal, who was left very shocked by the accident, asked if everybody was all right and was overheard telling police he had been “dazzled by the sun”.

The crash happened on Thursday afternoon as Philip’s Freelander pulled out of a side road onto a stretch of the A149 which was earmarked by the local authority for possible safety measures.

At a meeting, coincidentally scheduled for Friday, Norfolk Country Council approved plans to lower the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph, backed by speed cameras.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/duke-of-edinburgh-exchanged-well-wishes-with-women-injured-in-car-accident_uk_5c4229b2e4b0bfa693c36b77

      

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