Displaying items by tag: Government
Birmingham City Council issued a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to deter people from gathering outside an abortion clinic with placards and pictures to protect patients from being harassed and intimidated when entering. 40 Days for Life Birmingham are concerned as the order makes it illegal to pray outside the clinic. They are taking the council to court, saying, ‘Through this action, we are not asking anyone to agree with what we believe; others have the right to disagree. We ask for justice, despite our different beliefs. It is disproportionate and unnecessary to ban prayer connected to abortion in an area near a Catholic church and to ban the words “baby” or “mum” in text or imagery.’ The PSPO comes after the Government voted for nationwide ‘buffer zones’ outside abortion clinics. Anyone breaching them faces up to six months in jail for a first offence and up to two years for several offences.
India’s religious diversity is under threat from the spread of religious intolerance as well as government policies and laws. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh arm of the BJP promotes a Hindu nationalist agenda and is dividing communities on religious grounds, leaving the nation’s religious minorities unsettled about their future. Pray for India’s government today: transform their hearts to treat every individual and community with respect and to protect their right to freedom of religion or belief. Pray also that the appointment of India’s first president from an indigenous community, President Draupadi Murmu, will bring positive changes for all India’s indigenous communities. Heavenly Father, we pray for Your protection over all the nation’s religious minorities. We pray that those in power will respect and acknowledge the right of everyone to freedom of religion or belief. Where there is unrest, bring peace, and where there is persecution, we ask for impartiality.
Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, once called ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ can no longer claim that title as the Juche doctrine is now its religion, with the Kims as its deities. Christian church information is limited. It survives as an underground church where meetings are held in secret. If members are caught, they will go to prison or a labour camp. Intense media control means that few North Koreans have heard the name of Jesus. The government dictates people’s lifestyle through generic provisions and limiting personal differences. Much of North Korea is underdeveloped., and natural disasters and military spending have strapped the economy. In the past fifteen years, two million people have died due to food shortages. The country relies on foreign aid to feed its people. North Korea is accused of torture, slavery, public executions, forced abortions, infanticides, as well as detaining possibly as many as 200,000 political prisoners.
At the end of September, 401,537 patients had waited over 52 weeks to start treatment. The total number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment is a record high 7.1 million. NHS England and the government have set a goal of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March 2025. Meanwhile nurses are about to strike nationally, for the first time ever, sending up distress flares about the state of their service. The majority of NHS members voted to strike for fair pay and safe staffing. Strikes will be at NHS trusts or health boards which meet relevant legal requirements. Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members, but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action. Nurses worry they cannot care as they should.
The latest interest rate rise by the Bank of England means its benchmark interest rates have hit 3% for the first time since 2008. The interest rate affects mortgages, repayments on credit card debt and the interest paid on savings accounts. They have been rising since December in an effort to curb the rate at which the cost of everyday goods and services are rising. This latest rise follows economic turmoil under Liz Truss, though things have calmed slightly since Rishi Sunak took over and promised to issue a plan to repair the nation's finances later this month, but tax rises and spending cuts are expected. The Bank of England’s outlook for the UK economy is a downturn lasting for two years and the unemployment rate will nearly double.
Along with over thirty other charities, Sanctuary Foundation, which helps people welcome Ukrainian refugees into their home, has written to ask the Prime Minister for assurances the Homes for Ukraine scheme will continue to get government backing and support. There is concern the initiative is being ‘quietly phased out’. Host families are worried that ministers will not increase support to match rising costs of living. Households receive £350 a month for hosting someone from Ukraine, but there are calls for that amount to be doubled. Since March, over 96,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK, but a BBC investigation found that in 14 months 116 unaccompanied child refugees from across the world have gone missing from UK hotels. They were temporarily housed by the government, but charities fear they risk being exploited.
The day after the Prime Minister said she was committed to the 45p income tax cut which Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had announced ten days earlier, he reversed the decision, saying the plans had become a ‘distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing the country’. A few hours later former culture secretary Nadine Dorries accused the Prime Minister of ‘throwing her Chancellor under a bus’, and called for a general election. Having backed Liz Truss for Tory leadership, she now said the PM ‘must take to the country’ if she wants a new mandate, adding that there was ‘widespread dismay’ that much of the work she had done while in office was now on hold. Meanwhile, Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt called for benefits to be increased in line with inflation - a move promised under Boris Johnson's government. Liz Truss has said her priority is ‘growth, growth, growth’ and she will challenge anyone trying to stop it.
When asked if he would allow fracking in the back garden of his home in Somerset, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said, ‘Yes, of course I would, particularly if I get royalties’. Fracking has been a controversial subject within local communities and amongst MPs due to its association with minor earthquakes. In 2019, at oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla's Lancashire fracking site, over 120 tremors were recorded. Most were too small to be felt. The government recently published a new review from the British Geological Survey, considering any changes to the science around the practice. The report concluded, ‘Forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes remains a scientific challenge for the geoscience community.’ Mr Rees-Mogg also said that the UK would build a prototype nuclear fusion power plant - ‘the first of its kind’ - in Nottinghamshire by 2040.
The Scottish government's chief legal officer has come under fire after saying that prayer vigils outside abortion clinics could be 'far more damaging' than verbal protest. Addressing the UK's supreme court about abortion clinics in Northern Ireland, Dorothy Bain KC said she believed ‘standing in judgment’ was just as psychologically damaging for women. She wants prayer vigils to be excluded from ‘buffer zones' - areas where protesting or handing out leaflets are banned - outside abortion clinics. The Catholic Church has labelled Mrs Bain's remarks as ‘absurd and alarming’, and have condemned her comments. Everyone has the right to express and offer our opinion on religious belief, and more importantly, religious practice. The Church said, ‘To be told they can't stand silently in prayer, in this case, outside an abortion clinic or a hospital that carries out abortions is really, frankly, chilling and extremely worrying.’
Thousands of defiant protesters flooded Tehran streets on the ninth day after the suspicious death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while held in custody for not properly wearing the hijab headscarf. The regime cracked down with force, killing at least 41 and shutting down the web and social media for 80 million citizens, but outrage over Amini’s death has only expanded. Officials claim Mahsa died due to underlying health issues; her family says that is not true. Women defiantly burn their hijabs and headscarves and cut their hair. The USA announced it will expand Iranian internet services to support free-flowing information.The internet is needed when protesters want to organise themselves and share footage of what is happening with the outside world. Also billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is giving the country Starlink, a satellite constellation providing internet access to 40 countries - a true game-changer.