Displaying items by tag: Government
AI false information
The UK competition watchdog has launched a review of the artificial intelligence market, as it warned of threats from AI tools including the distribution of false or misleading information. This announcement comes as global regulators increase scrutiny of the technology, look at the underlying systems, and foundation models behind AI tools such as ChatGPT. The US vice-president invited the CEOs of leading AI firms to the White House on 5 April to discuss how to deal with the safety concerns around the technology in a week when hundreds of millions of pounds were wiped from the share price of UK’s education company Pearson after a US provider of online help to students revised its financial forecasts and warned ChatGPT was affecting customer growth. Global companies like Google, Apple and Amazon may have to pay penalties of up to 10% of their turnover as the Government gives its competition watchdog more power.
Missionaries stay in Sudan
‘We are concerned by the ongoing conflict in Sudan and the effect this is having on the population’, commented Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, which represents 400 global bodies fighting poverty. ‘Some humanitarian workers are sheltering and will attempt to resume their work when it is safe to do so. We urge the UK government to deploy all the humanitarian and diplomatic levers at their disposal to support those in need when it is safe to do so.’ Caroline Duffield, a former international radio correspondent in Africa, said, ‘The decision on whether to stay or go is a matter for prayer and also for hope. It's just looking very, very difficult. People we've been in contact with ask us to pray that Christians remain hopeful and not give up on the possibility of a peaceful future for Sudan.’ Pray for God to give the Christians in Sudan strength, endurance and protection.
Nursing strike cut short by High Court
A judge has ruled that a planned strike at NHS workplaces across England must be shortened by a day. It will now end at midnight on 1 May, not 8pm on Tuesday 2 May. The Government had asked the High Court to assess if the last day of the planned action by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) fell outside their six-month mandate for strikes. The RCN general secretary said, ‘The full weight of government gave ministers this victory over nursing staff in the darkest day of this dispute. The government is taking its own nurses through the courts because of their simple expectation of a better pay deal. Nurses will be angered but not crushed by today’s order. It could make them more determined to vote in May’s re-ballot for another six months of strikes. Nobody wants strikes until Christmas. Today we should be in the negotiating room, not in the courtroom.’
Gambling white paper
On 27 April the Government unveiled its long-awaited white paper on gambling. The announcement of what it actually contains has been delayed at least four times since the review of gambling laws was first announced in 2020. Since then, there have been regular reports of individual cases of problem gamblers - but the government's solution has been crafted by three different culture secretaries without seeing the light of day. Current culture secretary Lucy Frazer says the rise of smartphones means ‘now there's a Las Vegas on every phone’ and believes she has a proposal which is suitable for the digital age. She said, ‘When gambling becomes an addiction, it wrecks lives. Gambling has always been measured in terms of money lost, but you cannot put a cost on the loss of dignity, loss of identity, and in some cases, loss of life that it can cause.’ Young gamblers could face a £2 slot machine limit: see
PM ‘alarmed’ at sex education in schools
Christian parents and teachers are distressed by Relationship and Sex Education that is being welcomed into the classroom. Now a 130-page report of inappropriate sex lessons read by the PM has prompted a call for a review into Sex Education. We can pray for an end to primary school children learning about masturbation; for an end to drag queens telling secondary school children there are scores of different genders and asking what they feel about oral sex. Also, there is supposed to be a review of guidance for schools on transgenderism, which has been consistently delayed. Much of the inappropriate teaching and the harmful school culture stems from the gender identity ideology which underpins nearly all RSE resources, and which leads to schools socially transitioning pupils, often without parents' knowledge, for example, the book ‘My Shadow is Pink’ for 4-year-olds. Pray for parents to be allowed to see the materials which schools are using.
Energy costs changing
The amount suppliers charge for energy was cut by Ofgem to £3,280 as wholesale prices fell. But bills will still rise in April as government help eases. Ofgem's announcement does not affect each household’s payment for energy units but it reduces costs that the government faces. Average household bills will rise from £2,100 to £3,000 annually in April because government help (Energy Price Guarantee) becomes less generous and a £400 winter discount on bills ends. The TUC’s general secretary said, ‘Energy bills are out of control. The government must cancel April's hike. As costs of wholesale gas plummet, ministers have no excuse for not stepping in.’ Under the government guarantee, a household using a typical amount of gas and electricity in England, Wales and Scotland is paying £2,500 a year. Without state support, that annual bill would have been £4,279 since January.
Overcrowded specialist schools
Half of schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities are oversubscribed. Since 2019 children needing specialist education have increased by 1/3rd. Schools have converted portable cabins and even cupboards into teaching spaces due to lack of room, putting pressure on staff and making pupils anxious. Maltby Hilltop School is a specialist school for pupils aged two to 19 with severe learning difficulties and complex needs. Lack of space and overcrowding in the main building meant Cohen's classroom was a portable cabin, with loud floors and thin walls. The 14-year-old is autistic and has PDA, a condition which leads to a rigid need for control when he's anxious. Cohen struggles to manage his condition if he's not in a calm environment and the school simply did not have enough physical space to provide it. He started having panic attacks and hyperventilating, so he had to leave school and miss out on life-learning skills.
Cabinet reshuffle, new department
Rishi Sunak has reshaped the government. Grant Shapps is secretary of state for energy, security and net zero - a new department. The government wants us to be a science superpower, but science has regularly moved departments, with many different ministers. Creating a new department enables it to be represented in cabinet. Kemi Badenoch becomes the new business secretary. Rachel Maclean is the new housing minister, the sixth person to hold the post in 12 months. She is tasked with solving the UK's housing crisis. Other government departments have also seen high turnovers since 2010, with twelve prisons ministers and ten immigration ministers. There have been five schools ministers, but Nick Gibb occupied the role on three separate occasions. Appointing Lee Anderson as vice-chairman sparked worries: he vigorously backs the death penalty and a Channel naval standoff, and believes food bank clients do not budget properly. See
Ukraine: Corruption crackdown
There have been Ukrainian anti-corruption reforms before, but stakes are higher now that Kyiv is receiving billions of dollars of financial aid from Western allies. Officials are warned through official and unofficial channels: focus on the war, help victims, reduce bureaucracy and stop doing dubious business. Some have not listened. Several senior officials have resigned as Zelensky begins a shake-up of government personnel. A top adviser, four deputy ministers and five regional governors left their posts on 24th January in the broad anti-corruption drive. There are bribery claims worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and officials living lavishly. Zelensky is responding to ‘key public demands’ that justice must apply to everyone and state officials cannot leave Ukraine unless on authorised business. Ukraine is historically corrupt. In 2021 Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 corrupt countries.
Hospital patient’s experience
One patient’s time in A & E: ‘I witnessed the devastation of thirteen years of government underfunding of emergency care. After I phoned 111 they told me to travel immediately to my local hospital’s emergency department. They booked me in for a 9pm arrival time. I imagined I would be seen then but there were sixteen ambulances waiting to offload their patients. The waiting room was a vision of hell. Every chair was occupied. Sick people looking dangerously unwell leaned against walls; the wait went on and on for all of us. I was seen by a doctor at 3am. During those six hours, I witnessed a man with what appeared to be cardiac symptoms collapsed onto the floor, possibly from a heart attack. A toddler was screaming “It hurts, it hurts!” for almost three hours without a break. It was devastating to hear. When I asked a nurse if this was an especially busy night, she said, “This is a quiet one”.’