Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
The entire Indian delegation in the UK for G7 talks must self-isolate after two Covid cases were detected. India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pulled out of face-to-face talks, saying he was aware of exposure to possible Covid positive cases. India is not in the G7 group of nations, but delegates from the country had been invited as guests. Jaishankar met home secretary Priti Patel in person on 4 May, but will now meet delegates virtually. The G7 consists of seven advanced economies - UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA. Their official summit will be next month, but ministers from India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa have been invited as guests as the UK tries to deepen ties with other regions. India is currently on the UK's red list, meaning travel from there is banned, but some people are exempt, including representatives of a foreign country.
As Nick James of the Animal Health Agency reported at our April prayer gathering, the recent round of bird flu is over and there has been good progress in the battle against bovine TB. At the same event, one family said that their farm was finally clear of TB after being shut down for fifteen months. Give thanks for answered prayers. Pray for livestock farmers who have suffered outbreaks of these diseases or feel threatened by future outbreaks. Pray that the agency will be alert to future threats (including approaching swine fever).
Ioannis Dekas, a father of four sons, became concerned after he found one of his boys had accessed pornography. He said this was a wake-up call for him and his wife, making them confront the potential danger to their son and the impact on them all as a family. Mr Dekas wants the government to put in place the age verification requirements set out in part three of the Digital Economy Act - a law that was passed in 2017 but not acted on. Mr Dekas is seeking a High Court hearing to consider whether the government should tighten youngsters' access to pornography. He wants the government to implement proof of age in order to gain access. New research suggests the majority of 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK have recently seen porn. The government is currently preparing a new Online Harms Bill, which is expected to be put before Parliament later this year.
Lancashire NHS Trust is extending trials of an algorithm that creates music playlists to reduce suffering. They are offering it to staff who worked in critical care during Covid to ease anxiety and stress. It will also be offered to recovering critical care patients and outpatients with chronic pain, hoping to reduce opiate prescriptions. The technology is a musical ‘drip’, playing songs to patients and monitoring their heart rates as they listen. A 90-year-old might be prescribed big band music, while a 50-year old gets Paul McCartney. An algorithm allows the software, linked to a streaming service like Spotify, to change forthcoming tracks if the prescription doesn’t appear to be working. Its artificial intelligence assesses the tempo, timbre, key, time signatures, the amount of syncopation and the lowest notes. All these factors affect the heart rate and blood pressure response to the music. A trial of Alzheimer’s patients showed promising results.
Those who work within our parliament have been put there by God. Romans 13:6 says, ‘This is why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.’ Paul’s letter to Timothy tells us to pray for those in authority so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. With elections next week, may God inspire wise voting so that those elected produce peaceful lives for their communities. The media is reporting infighting and ignominy in Downing Street. Pray for God to inspire our MPs and advisors to promote truth with humility and honesty. Pray for anything that is hidden to be revealed and for God to use the tangle of accusations to bring positive change and honest discussions. Pray also at this time for all Christians working in politics to shine their wise Godly influence into and onto every discussion and decision. May the hallmark of our society be justice and righteousness.
Almighty God, You desire Spirit-led praise and worship to rise regardless of circumstances. We pray for Your people to fix their eyes upon Jesus, dwelling in peace beyond all understanding, releasing worship to your throne. May Your presence also rest upon our communities, streets and homes, releasing hope, strength and joy so that Your people grow into the persons You intend them to be. Father, may Your people step into situations You have opened for them. We ask you, Abba Father, to reform our nation and release more Christians into every government structure, into commerce, and into industry, so that Your Church influences our society with heaven’s justice and righteousness. Father, send Your fire to remove all the dross; may the wind of Your Spirit blow through Your church in these times of change, shaping every new foundation laid.
We recently prayed for a teacher now in hiding after showing images from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in a lesson about blasphemy. In the wake of the furore Ms Akram, a Muslim Labour councilor, posted a message on Facebook saying she was 'shocked and saddened' that the teacher was forced to go into hiding. She added, 'To the teacher, if you need to leave Batley - which I wouldn't blame you! - come to Slough. We will welcome you and your family.' Her local Muslim community say Ms Akram was disrespecting the Prophet, and now she is receiving death threats. A petition is now online with over 1,300 signatures describing her as 'evil'. Angry protesters have picketed Slough Borough Council for three weeks demanding she resign. Pray for the education authority and schools curriculums to be free to decide what children are taught in school - not parents.
TikTok is facing legal challenges from the former children's commissioner for England over how it uses children's data. The claim is filed on behalf of millions of UK and EU children who have used the video-sharing app. TikTok takes children's phone numbers, videos, exact location and biometric data, without sufficient warning, transparency or the necessary parental consent required by law. The children could each be owed thousands of pounds. TikTok said the case was without merit and would fight it. In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7m by the Federal Trade Commission for mishandling children's data. Also, South Korea fined them because of how they collected children's data, and they were investigated by the UK's information commissioner's office because Musical.ly, which is incorporated into TikTok, was hosting content published by users aged under 13. 13.44% of British 8- to 12-year-olds use TikTok, despite its policies forbidding under-13s on the platform.
Fares Maatou, aged 14, was stabbed to death trying to defend his school friend from the 14- and 15-year-old attackers who rode away on his electric bicycle. The attack happened at 4.00 pm in east London, and Fares was still wearing his school uniform. Two boys were arrested, and another 15-year-old boy is also being held in connection with the murder. Pray for Fares’ family as they mourn the loss, and for the school friends who saw the attack. Two days earlier a 14-year-old schoolgirl was dragged into bushes and raped as she walked on open land near Wigan. The attack happened between 4.00 and 5:30 pm. A 14-year-old boy has been arrested. Pray for the girl, who is now receiving care from specialist officers. Pray also for her family as they cope with the after effects of the incident.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of joining a London protest twelve years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service. Her husband said she has not been taken to prison yet; she plans to appeal against the sentence. Mr Ratcliffe said, ‘The threat is there, and it is bigger than we were fearing. I think the worst case got a bit closer.’ He maintains that his wife was imprisoned as leverage for a debt owed by the UK over its failure to deliver tanks to Iran in 1979; also, her case may be caught up with the negotiations over limiting Iran's nuclear material enrichment. Her sentence may indicate that the Iranian regime is unhappy with the negotiations taking place in Vienna. Things could get worse for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other jailed dual nationals.