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Politics

EU rejected: Scottish taxpayers to no longer foot cost of free uni tuition for EU students

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Richard Lochhead MSP, Scotland’s higher education minister said the SNP led administration would save £19million a year. It comes after SNP MSP Alex Neil said the country could no longer afford the subsidy for “rich EU kids” at the “expense of our own kids.”

Currently, EU law states the government’s free tuition fee policy for Scots requires EU students to be treated the same.

But after the Brexit transition period, the Scottish Government will no longer be obliged to cover the cost for students from EU nations.

However, students already in university, or starting this autumn, will continue to be exempt from fees for the duration of their course.

Speaking in Holyrood this afternoon, Mr Lochhead said the money saved will go towards encouraging more Scottish students into university.

Overseas students attending university in Scotland currently have to pay fees ranging from £9,000 to more than £31,000 per year.

Figures show that more than 21,500 EU students studied at Scottish universities in the 2018/19 academic year, with 15,300 students receiving government funding while the cost of providing funded places to EU students was around £97m.

Mr Lochhead said in Holyrood this afternoon: “It’s with a heavy heart that we have taken a difficult decision to end free education for new EU students from the academic year 2021-2022 onwards, as a direct consequence of Brexit.”

Mr Lochhead said the Government from the money it saves will also seek to create an “ambitious scholarship programme to ensure the ancient European nation of Scotland continues to attract significant numbers of European students to study here”.

READ MORE: Sturgeon humiliated: Rees-Mogg says independent Scotland bankrupt

Although he argued the higher education sector is “performing wonderfully well”.

However, Jamie Greene MSP, Scottish Conservative education spokesman, warned universities face “deep, cutting financial problems” and an estimated “black hole of around half a billion pounds”.

Meanwhile, his Labour counterpart Iain Gray, added: “It was welcome to hear [Mr Lochhead] pledge to keep the funding previously devoted to fees for EU students in the sector.

“However, the failure to provide any new money to secure the future of colleges and universities was very disappointing.

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“While UCAS figures indicate that international student applications are up, it’s not good enough for the Scottish government to cross their fingers and hope that they appear despite all the uncertainties around COVID-19 and a second wave of cases.

“Without a contingency plan for our universities, it leaves yet more uncertainty for the sector.”

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, said it is “reassuring” the money saved will remain in the sector.

Professor Nolan said it provided an opportunity “to fully-fund the undergraduate education of Scottish students and shift the public funding of degree places on to solid ground for the first time in years”.

However, she stressed that a move to international fee status for EU students from 2021 represents a big change to policy and funding at “a challenging time for higher education”.

Scottish Funding Council (SFC) data also showed Universities face a loss of around £72m due to COVID-19 in the 2020/21 academic year.

They are expected to suffer a collective operating deficit of between £384m and £651m.

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World News

China ALERT: UK warns Beijing has ‘underestimated’ response to Hong Kong law

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The UK has taken a strong stance against the security law in Hong Kong which some have claimed violates basic democratic rights agreed in the Sino-British declaration in 1984. Hitting back at Beijing, member of the China Research Group and MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake warned the state had vastly underestimated the international outrage to its sanctions. Although he insisted the Government had made good progress against China, he said the UK should be “tough” and not be afraid of Xi Jinping’s state.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “There are real implications with the new legislation.

“It’s been described as Gestapo level stuff, and that’s exactly what it is.

“I think it’s underestimated the international outrage at its actions.

“I think we should be tough.

“We shouldn’t look at this and be afraid of China because it has an economy much bigger than ours.

“I think we should start with what’s right regardless of China’s size.

“And so I think that does mean using peaceful sanctions but I think we should look at all options economic and international.

“I think it’s heading completely the wrong direction.”

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In a worrying sign of tensions between the UK and China, fellow MP and chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood warned the two countries could be heading for a new Cold War.

Mr Hollinrake added: “I think we could be heading down that direction.

“This is not about China. Actually, it’s not about Chinese people.

“This is about the Chinese state.

“We’ve got to internationally work together to stand up to China and get them to see there’s got to be a sort of a two way street.”

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Under the agreement signed between the UK and China, which came into force in 1997, Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights and freedoms were to remain unchanged.

With the implementation of the new security law last week, however, certain freedoms have now been restricted.

Matters such as undermining the power of China, collusion with foreign states and attempt to break away from Beijing will now be classed as illegal.

Some trials will also be heard behind closed doors while Beijing will have the ability to determine how the law is interpreted.

In response, the UK has condemned the law as a direct violation of their agreement with Beijing.

Boris Johnson has also offered citizenship to 350,000 UK passport holders in Hong Kong while a further 2.6 millions will be eligible.

Australia has also offered citizenship to students and has suspended its extradition treaty with China.

Both measures from the UK and Australia have been met with threats from China’s foreign ministry not to intervene in domestic relations.

Due to the low point in relations, Mr Johnson has also been urged to revoke Huawei’s presence in the 5G network.

Mr Johnson has faced pressure to reverse the decision and a recent report from the national Cyber Security Centre has been submitted to Government.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the report raises serious question security questions over Huawei.

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World News

‘Tories put cost on BBC’ Kuenssberg shifts blame as Dowden grilled over TV license fee

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BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg hit out at the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden as she said it was the Conservative Government’s decision to put the cost of the licence fee on the organisation. Her grilling comes just hours after the BBC announced it is scrapping free TV licences for the over 75s which Boris Johnson has said is the “wrong decision”. The free TV licence for over-75s will be means-tested from August 1.

Ms Kuenssberg asked: “As Culture Secretary, how do you respond to the BBC’s decision to scrap the free licence fee for most over 75s given that it was the Conservative Government’s decision to put this cost on to the organisation in the first place?”

Mr Dowden replied: “I very much regret the decision that the BBC has taken.

“We gave the settlement to the BBC back in 2015, they said that it was a good settlement.

“I regret that they couldn’t find efficiency savings to avoid having to impose the licence on the over-75s on the way that they have set out.”

The end of the free TV licence for over-75s will feel like a “kick in the teeth” to pensioners, campaigners have said.

The BBC has announced that means-testing will begin in August, stating that continuing the universal entitlement would hit “programmes and services”.

The new scheme was originally meant to start on June 1, but was delayed and kept under review because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Age UK said the start of means-testing will feel like a “kick in the teeth” to pensioners and called on the Government to “sit down with the BBC urgently” to work out a deal.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams called on the Government to “sit down with the BBC urgently to keep these TV licences for over-75s free”.

She said: “We’re bitterly disappointed by this decision on behalf of the millions of over-75s who have had a torrid time over the last few months and for whom this must feel like another kick in the teeth, during a terrible year.”

Ms Abrahams added: “Everyone needs to understand that under the BBC’s scheme many hundreds of thousands of the poorest pensioners will be facing a bill they will simply be unable to afford to pay.

“That’s due to its flawed design – you only get a free licence if you are receiving Pension Credit but as many as two in five of all the pensioners on the lowest incomes do not receive this benefit, even though they are entitled to it.”

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The charity is worried about the “mental health of older people living on their own,” and those for whom “the TV really is their window on the world”.

The BBC said safety would be at the “heart” of the scheme, as “no-one needs to take any immediate action, or leave their home, to claim for a free TV licence or pay for one”.

The free TV licence was introduced in 2000, but the BBC agreed to take on responsibility for funding the scheme as part of the charter agreement hammered out with the Government in 2015.

The broadcaster, which faces increased competition from streaming giants, has said it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.

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World News

US bomber planes spotted flying over Scandinavia as historic declaration nears collapse

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According to the Norwegian broadcaster, NRK, US bombers and warplanes are frequently flying higher latitudes suggesting Washington is “tightening its grip over the High North”. Some Scandinavia countries are considered to be no longer neutral.

Military advisor Per Eirk Solli at Northern University in Bodø said: “Recently we saw US bombers cruising over Sweden and Norway.

“The fact that the modern strategic bomber B-1B Lancer is flying over previously neutral Sweden is brand new.

“We have not seen that before.”

Last month, two US B-1 supersonic bombes flew over Sweden accompanied by Swedish jets.

They then continued over Norway and were flanked by Norwegian F-35 fighter jets.

Since May, a number of other US bombers, including B-52s and B-2s appeared near Norway.

Mr Solli said Sweden joining the US in military exercises is a “whole new development”.

He said: “If we compare activity over the last couple of years, US and Allied activity is increasing faster than Russia’s.

“What we see now, which is also new, is that Americans have begun to use their modern naval ships and bombers to send geopolitical signals.

“The fact that Sweden is also involved in this signalling together with the US is a whole new development.

“We see that the US is returning to a more traditional deterrence.

“And in addition to balancing militarily against Russia, the Americans are doing the same to China now.”

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Jeffrey Harrigian, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Air Force in Europe, defended the military exercises and said they strengthen the relationship with their allies.

He said: “The exercises strengthen the partnership with our allies, and demonstrate our ability to respond worldwide, from anywhere.”

For more than a hundred years, Sweden and Finland remained neutral but according to Norwegian Defence Minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, they no longer do.

He said: “Sweden and Finland previously referred to themselves as neutral countries.

“They no longer do. Now they refer to themselves as non-allied, but are part of Western defence cooperation.

“This is new, but it’s also something Sweden and Finland want.”

Norway’s Labour leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, previously expressed concern NATO was not paying enough attention to Russia.

But he has seemingly changed his tune and said: “We must never get into a situation where other states are pushing up the level of tension in our proximity without us being involved.

“It is in Norway’s interest to ensure low voltage.

“There is every reason to pay attention.”

The relationship between Norway and Russia has been strained over recent years.

Both countries have accused each other of espionage and both are concerned with each other’s military presence.

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

Meghan Markle’s fans dismiss survey crowning Kate most popular royal – ‘Nope, it’s Meghan’

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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was among the members of the Royal Family included in a poll run by the Daily Mirror. And, contrary to the expectation of many, Kate came out on top, gathering the consensus of 35 percent of the voters. 

The Queen, who is usually the country’s favourite, came in second place with 928 votes out of 4000 respondents.

The country’s beloved monarch was followed by Prince William and his brother Prince Harry.

Meghan came in sixth place, proceeded by the Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne.

Zara Tindall, who doesn’t have a royal title, is the seventh-most loved member of the Royal Family, and performed better than Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. 

Many royal fans took to Twitter to comment on the surprising results of this poll.

While several were pleased to see Kate on top of the list, some Meghan fans voiced their disagreement.

A few spoke up under a video shared by the Good Morning Britain’s Twitter account showing Lorraine Kelly discussing the results with the Mirror’s royal editor Russel Myers.

Twitter user Tony Blight, referring to Kate’s performance in the poll discussed in the clip, said: “Not at all! Definitely Meghan”

Social media user Dianarare replied, saying: “Meghan Markle has never been the number 1 since joining the Royal Family”

To which Meghan’s fan said: “That’s an opinion I suppose, wrong but valid.”

Another Sussex fan, Olivia, also showed her disagreement on Twitter by simply writing: “Nope, it’s Meghan”.

A third, Trini Romeo, accused Kate of not speaking up about important causes such as racial inequality which Meghan and Harry have done in the wake George Floyd’s death on May 25.

They wrote: “I haven’t heard her once talk about the racial injustice in the world but Harry and Megan has.”

Another Twitter user, Louisa, said: “Meghan would have top the list but she is no longer in the family.   

“In my heart Meghan has topped the list.”

Many royal fans welcomed the crowning of Kate as most popular royal at the moment.

Dawn wrote: “Kate and Wills have been amazing during lockdown, zooming schools, NHS, mental health charities and much more.

“They’re an asset to the UK”.

Anita Jaeckel revealed she appreciates Kate despite not being a supporter of the monarchy.

She said: “I’m not a royalist by any means, but I do find Kate comes over as a very lovely and caring person, not at all fake. William chose well.”  

Another, Suki, labelled Kate a “credit to the Queen” before hailing the Duchess of Cambridge as our future Queen.

Sara added: “I am an American who absolutely loves the Duchess of Cambridge, I am particularly appreciative of her work in mental health especially for mothers.”

Kate and Prince William have spent lockdown at their Norfolk residence, Anmer Hall, with their three children – George, Charlotte and Louis.

Appearing several times on conference calls and even carrying out the first-ever royal interview on video link with the BBC, Kate and William spoke about the importance of mental health for the general public and frontline workers.

They also opened up on the difficulties of homeschooling children and, as lockdown measures ease, Kate and William have visited several non-essential shops to hear about their struggles during the crisis.   

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

TV licence fee over-75s: What is the TV licence cost for pensioners?

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The BBC has announced today it will press ahead with controversial plans to end free TV licence for pensioners. From August, pensioners will have to pay for a TV licence unless they are eligible for Pension Credit. Former Director General Tony Hall confirmed earlier this year that the free licence would be scrapped, but it was first meant to go ahead in June but was pushed back.

Lord Hall said that despite reviewing the situation in the pandemic, the broadcaster would go ahead with the changes.

“The board took the decisions to delay a few months ago. We are preparing for an August launch,” he said earlier this year.

“However they made it clear at the time they would review the situation closer to the time.”

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi they were “under severe financial pressure” and a further delay would have had an impact on programmes.

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The BBC has previously warned making no changes would lead to “unprecedented closures” of services.

The news caused an uproar when it first came to light.

More than 630,000 people signed a petition set up by the charity Age UK, which called on the Prime Minister to take action.

Free TV licences for the elderly have been provided by the Government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement.

A spokesperson for the BBC explained the BBC’s predicament to Express.co.uk.

They said: “The Government decided to stop funding free TV licences for the over-75s in 2015, and Parliament gave responsibility to the BBC to make a decision on the future of the scheme.

“There was no guarantee that the BBC would continue to fund free licences for the over 75s, as the Culture Secretary at the time has confirmed.

“The BBC conducted an extensive consultation to help inform its decision which sought views on a range of options.

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“We reached the fairest decision we can in funding free TV licences for the poorest older pensioners, while protecting BBC services.

“If the BBC funded all TV licences for the over 75s it would mean the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and several local radio stations.”

Only over-75s on pension credit will continue to get the freebie from August.

Around 3.7 million households which previously got it will now have to pay.

How much does a TV licence cost?

The TV licence costs £157.50 – almost as much as the weekly State Pension amount.

The BBC has now said there will be a “Covid-safe” payment system, meaning people can apply online, and there will be a dedicated phone line and support staff.

“No-one needs to take any immediate action, or leave their home, to claim for a free TV licence or pay for one,” a statement said.

TV Licensing will write to all licence holders aged over 75 with clear guidance about how to pay, it said.

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

Commons in hysterics as Rees-Mogg tells SNP COVID-19 would bankrupt independent Scotland

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Jacob Rees-Mogg shut down SNP spokesman Tommy Sheppard during an argument over finances for devolved administrations. The Commons leader explained coronavirus would have bankrupted Scotland if it was an independent nation. He told MPs that as a nation whose economy is “dependent on the oil price”, Scotland would be “bankrupt” as a result of COVID-19 if it had voted to leave the union in 2014.

During the Commons debate, Mr Sheppard asked: “The Chancellor must be peeved that his grand announcement yesterday received such a mixed response with many industry bodies saying it is insufficient.

“When we debate this on Monday, will the leader try to persuade his friend to listen to others and seek consensus?

“It is increasingly bizarre that the Chancellor insists on a one size fits all approach when everyone else knows that different sectors are affected differently.”

The SNP spokesman pushed for the furlough scheme to extended while he questioned the financial situation devolved administrations are “forced” to operate under.

He continued: “Everytime I ask about devolution powers, the leader gives me an answer about money. I’m not sure if he is evading the question or does not understand it.

“The fiscal framework of devolution was not designed to respond to a global pandemic and it needs to be changed.

“To give this week’s example, the arts rescue package announced on Monday includes repurposing capital spending in England.

“Why will the Government not allow the Scottish Government to do the same?”

Mr Sheppard argued smaller countries have “proven more agile and effective” in tackling the economic repercussions of coronavirus.

During business questions, Mr Sheppard made the case to Mr Rees-Mogg that more people than ever support Scottish independence and the country would be financially better off on its own.

He said: “Now we hear from many Cabinet members that Scotland’s salvation is due to the strong arms of the union, implying that only big countries can deal with the pandemic.

“But that is not true, in fact many small countries have proven more agile and effective but if the leader does believe this, can he explain why support for Scotland becoming an independent country is now running at 54 percent, an all-time historic high?”

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Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “Because of the strength of the United Kingdom, the Barnett consequentials have led to £4.6 billion being available to be spent in Scotland and this shows the success of economic management of the United Kingdom over 10 years of coalition and the Conservative government.

“The ability to answer the challenges of 2008 to ensure that the public sector finances got back into proper shape so that we were in the position where we could afford to deal with a fundamentally different crisis, which required a fundamentally different response, which required the expenditure of tax payers money, is a tribute to the strength of the United Kingdom.

“And where would Scotland be had they gone for independence in 2014 with their revenue dependent on the oil price that has subsequently collapsed? They would be bankrupt. Bankrupt.

“He calls for bankruptcy, Her Majesty’s Government has provided solvency and support for the people of the whole of the United Kingdom.”

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World News

How Kate Middleton’s family became ‘instrumental’ in Royal Family before she met William

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Speaking on Amazon Prime documentary Kate Middleton: Working Class to Windsor, royal experts analysed the Duchess of Cambridge’s journey from young middle-class student to Prince William’s wife, arguing her parents’ choice for her education was instrumental in hers and her siblings’ success in life. Katie Nicholl, Vanity Fair Royal Correspondent, said: “The Middleton’s are hugely interesting because they’ve been more instrumental and influential than any other family that has married into the house of Windsor.”

Former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole echoed: “What they did is what good parents have always done.

“They’ve invested in education.

“It cost them a lot of money, they sent all of their three children to good schools.

“In the case of Kate to Marlborough school, which is one of the top public schools, which means private in British terms, where she did quite well.”

Later in her studies, the Duchess met Prince William at St. Andrews University, where she shared a dorm room with him.

They became good friends before their romantic relationship blossomed.

For a while, Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton were centre stage, especially around the 2011 Royal Wedding and during the early years of Kate’s marriage to Prince William.

They were seen laughing and joking with the Royal Family at Ascot and were even invited to board the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012.

The signal was clear that this normal middle-class family were being warmly accepted into the royal fold.

However, by 2016 Prince William’s in-laws were conspicuously absent from key events such as Ascot and The Royal Windsor Horse Show.

They were not even at St Paul’s Cathedral for the thanksgiving service for the Queen’s 90th birthday that same year.

They appeared at Wimbledon, but as guests of the All England Club, not the royals.

According to a 2016 article by royal expert Katie Nicholl in the Daily Mail, they were associating less with the Royal Family in private too.

For example, they went on several deer stalking weekends at Birkhall in Scotland previously, but Charles apparently stopped inviting them.

This is in stark contrast to just a few years earlier when the Middletons were aboard the Elizabethan paddle steamer for the flotilla on the Thames or riding into Ascot in one of the Queen’s carriages on Ladies’ Day.

They had even travelled in one of only three landaus that followed the Queen’s carriage after attending a lunch at Windsor Castle with a gathering of her friends.

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One royal source said: “I don’t believe the Middletons were on the Queen’s personal list of invitations this year, and it was unusual for them not to be there because they love racing.

“One gets the impression that perhaps a bit of distance is being enforced.”

One possible explanation for this is Charles’ apparent resentment about how the Middletons got to spend more time with their mutual grandchildren than he did.

One friend said: “Charles feels very much that the Middletons get more than their fair share of time with George and Charlotte.

“In comparison, he sees them very little and he bears a bit of a grudge about that.”

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

BBC licence fee row: How Director General dodged probe in awkward exchange

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The BBC has announced that it will go ahead with a plan to end free TV licences for most over-75s. The decision had been announced earlier this year but was stalled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Over-75s currently enjoy free TV licensing as a result of heavy subsidies.

The new rules means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from August 1.

Only households where someone receives the Pension Credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

The BBC said the new scheme is “the fairest decision” but the Government said it was “deeply frustrating”.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said the decision had “not been easy”, but the broadcaster is “under severe financial pressure” and a further delay would have had an impact on programmes.

It is said that the broadcaster lost £35million a month as a result of the delay in implementation.

It has previously warned that no changes would have led to “unprecedented closures” of services.

The corporation must make an extra £125million in savings this year because of the pandemic.

The licence fee has long been a point of controversy for the BBC.

Originally introduced as a radio licence by the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1923, those wishing to listen to the corporation’s services were required to pay 0.50p per annum.

Fast-forward nearly 100 years and cash-strapped Britons are now made to pay a hefty £157.50 per year.

The Government’s May 2016 white paper announced that the licence fee will only rise every year for five years from April 2017 in accordance with the BBC Charter.

The increase in price per year has left many dumbfounded.

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What equally as many Britons might not know is that the Culture Secretary formally sets the licence fee – not the BBC.

Despite this, many corporation staff have questioned its financial practices.

In 2010, the New Statesman spoke to the BBC’s Director-General at the time, Mark Thompson.

Mr Thompson left the role in 2012 and is now the CEO of The New York Times.

He pointed towards the fact that at the time, spending on staff expenses was down – that is, from £188,284.98 in the summer of 2009 to £173,527.04 from September to December 2010.

NS writer James Macintyre notes that “there are breathtaking individual examples of careless spending, such as a £646.79 bill for a chauffeur-driven car claimed by the BBC’s head of technology, Erik Huggers, on a trip to Korea”.

When asked how the BBC could justify its continuing to ask many cash-strapped Britons for the annual licence fee – for example, “a single mother on a council estate struggling to pay the bills,” Mr Thompson was awkward in his response, almost evading the question.

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He replied: “That is true and important. The BBC is owned and paid for by the British public, many of whom are living on small incomes.

“The licence fee is a significant expense, and it is very important that every penny of it is spent wisely.

“At the same time, you know, most people outside the UK and probably most people inside the UK want the BBC to be the world’s greatest and best broadcaster.

“It costs us billions of pounds to be that.”

Many have responded negatively to the BBC’s decision to scrap the over-75s free licence.

Free TV licences have been provided for the over-75s by the Government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement.

Responding to the news, Conservative MP Matt Warman tweeted: “The BBC’s decision to press ahead with charging most over-75s the full licence fee is deeply frustrating, as I said in Parliament today. The Corporation’s settlement – to which they agreed – is generous and sufficient.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said: “The refusal of the Government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal.

“Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic. For the Government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”

Source: Read Full Article

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World News

Trump humiliation: Why Eric Trump earned brutal ‘biggest mooch’ nickname’

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Donald Trump has struggled to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak currently gripping the US. This morning, it was reported that more than three million people had tested positive for COVID-19 there. Over 131,000 deaths have been recorded.

On Tuesday, the US broke its record for most new cases reported in one day.

Despite the intensity of the outbreak in the US and it currently being the worst in the world, Trump and his administration continue to downplay the severity of the crisis.

The White House announced its intentions to press forward on some reopenings across states, including schools.

Some states never fully went into lockdown, such as South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

US Vice President, Mike Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, argued rules should not be “too tough”.

He said cases were flattening out, while Trump said on Tuesday that the US is “in a good place” regarding the pandemic.

Many have criticised Trump’s handling of the pandemic, arguing he has used it to push his reelection campaign set to take place later this year.

Trump’s family has largely supported him in his battle against COVID-19 – notably his sons, who have pushed coronavirus conspiracy theories and condemned individual states for imposing strict lockdowns.

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Eric Trump, the middle Trump child, in May claimed the pandemic will “magically all of a sudden go away and disappear” and everyone will suddenly be in favour of reopening the country.

He added that he believed the Democrats were using the coronavirus as a strategy to stop his father being reelected, claiming that the “Democrats are trying to milk this for everything they can, and it’s sad”.

Eric often appears on the Trump family’s favourite news channel – Fox News.

He does not make headlines as much as his sibling Don Jr and Ivanka.

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The 36-year-old has worked for his father’s company, and appeared on 23 episodes of “The Apprentice” US as a boardroom judge.

He has since played a role in helping to organise his father’s presidential campaigns and runs the family business alongside brother Don Jr.

Born into wealth and privilege, Eric attended some of the most expensive private schools the US had to offer growing up.

Stories are aplenty from his time during school, in which a young Eric has been portrayed as slightly behind his peers academically, prone to being the class clown and making memorable mistakes.

One such memory that has stood the test of time, reported City & State New York in 2017 during an interview with Eric, is a yearbook nickname.

Despite his family being one of the wealthiest in the country, if not the world, Eric reportedly had little access to cash while studying at Hill School in Pennsylvania.

City & State explained: “When his roommates ordered food from Hing San, he would haunt the doorway, looking for french fries.

“On excursions to the cineplex, classmates remember having to buy the billionaire’s son a movie ticket.

“His scavenging even earned him a yearbook superlative: ‘biggest mooch.’”

The nickname appears to have stuck with him for the rest of his school days.

According to Business Insider, Eric has been described as having “Trump genes, but not the Trump brand”.

Further, he and his wife, Lara, have been called the “most normal, least controversial Trump couple”.

The middle son will likely play a central role in the bid to get Trump reelected in November.

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