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Black Women In England Experience More Serious Birth Complications, According To New Data Analysis 

Pregnant Black women in England are six times more likely to suffer from preeclampsia and other serious birth complications when compared to their white counterparts, according to data from the National Health Service.

Artist Sir Frank Bowling To Sell Signed Prints To Buy Art Supplies For 100 Schools

One of Britain’s most celebrated abstract painters, Sir Frank Bowling, is selling signed prints of his work to help buy art supplies for 100 schools in England. His goal is to inspire young people to embrace their creativity in a time where art programs are having their budgets constantly cut.

library

UK Campaigners Claim That Millions Have Been Wasted Creating Nationwide Library Website 

The UK’s public libraries have been facing major difficulties within the past few years as the government have been indecisive and delayed plans on how to spend millions of pounds for funding a nationwide library website. 

The website was initially called the “Single Digital Presence” (SDP) but was later renamed LibraryOn. LibraryOn is one website that was made to act as a hub for all public libraries on one website, and allow the public to access collections across the country, according to reports from The Guardian.

Campaigners this past weekend, however, have criticized the government and the British Library and Arts Council England (ACE) over the lack of development of LibraryOn, and many are beginning to lose their patience. 

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On the government’s and ACE’s end, the delays in development are due to the fact that in England alone, there are only 150 library authorities that each have their own independent technology and management systems. The LibraryOn plan has been in the works for the past 10 years, and while government funds have been allocated to ACE and the British Library, little action has been done. 

The libraries campaigner, Tim Coates, told the Observer that these failures by the government are disheartening and disappointing. 

“We’re now 10 years later and – after several reviews and studies and about £6m – they have singularly failed even to decide what it is they ought to do.”

“Their obsession with consultation with ‘the sector’ has meant they have failed to grasp what people want and will use – which, simply, is easy access to the extensive library collections across the country. It should be like the website for John Lewis – that, wherever you are, it doesn’t depend on their individual shops,” Coates stated

The plan for a national digital resource for the UK’s libraries was initially introduced in recommendations in William Sieghart’s 2014 Independent Report for England, which was commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). 

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The Guardian also quoted an eminent arts figure who chose to remain anonymous: 

“It’s appalling. The government’s done nothing since that report. Libraries have been left behind in the 1970s. The digital revolution hasn’t really impacted them. They are stuck behind their own local authority IT system. The point of the digital presence would be to empower them.”

“We look at the way other nations are investing in their children and their futures through libraries and wonder what the hell we’re doing,” said Nick Poole, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. 

Poole also explained that within the past 10 years, 15% of libraries have closed, and another 15% are dependent on volunteers to keep them up and running. 

He went on to say that the need for a digital presence for the UK’s library system has been present since the rise of computers, but the delays in development are also due to fears that more libraries will close. 

“We want to see really strong face-to-face libraries supported and extended by a really strong digital scheme,” he added. 

LibraryOn has received around £3.8 million in funding since 2018, which is when the British Library took over management of the project.

wedding

Conservative Clergy In Church Of England Protesting Same-Sex Marriage Blessing Plan

The Church of England recently announced plans to offer blessings for the civil marriages of same sex-couples, a move that many conservative clergy and parishioners are protesting, stating that it’s against biblical teachings. 

heat wave

Record High Temperatures Hit Europe, Prompting Multiple Heat Warnings 

The UK and other parts of Europe are gearing up for one of the hottest summers to date. Multiple countries, including France and Britain, have issued extreme heat warnings and are working to combat the spreading of multiple wildfires.

British authorities have declared a national emergency and issued a “red extreme” heat warning for the first time in England’s history. Meteorological services in France have placed a majority of the country under the highest possible alert level for heat. 

Forecasters are predicting that Monday and Tuesday will see record-high temperatures in Britain, rising up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius); the current record is 101.7 degrees Fahrenheit (38.7 Celsius) which occurred in 2019. 

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Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution researcher in the UK, recently spoke to the media stating that climate change is making extreme heat events much more common, especially in the summer months. 

“The chances of seeing 40°C days in the U.K. could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence,” he said in a statement

Spain, Portugal, and France are evacuating thousands of their residents due to the threat of ongoing wildfires caused by the extreme temperatures. Authorities have also been warning of degrading air quality in these areas as well, especially in more heavily populated cities. The north of Italy is currently experiencing a state of emergency as well due to the heat and the droughts it’s causing. 

The hospitals in these countries are also becoming overwhelmed due to the additional services they need to provide to help combat the negative impacts of the heat. Additionally, rising Covid-19 cases are putting extra pressure on the hospitals and healthcare services in these nations. 

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Spain’s public Carlos III Health Institute estimate data showed that 350 people died in the country last week due to the heat. Over 800 heat-related deaths were reported by the institute in June, where temperatures reached levels between 104 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (40-43 Celsius). 

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a level four heat alert, the highest possible level, which warns of illness and possible death even for the healthiest of individuals due to the heat. 

People throughout Europe who live in poorer areas are more likely to live in buildings without access to air conditioning or greener spaces which have trees to offer natural cooling through shade. Christian Huyghe, scientific director at France’s National Institute of Agricultural Research discussed that this is likely just the beginning of the damage the world will experience from climate change. 

“What we see now is just the very beginning of the potential impact of climate change.”

Emergency orders and evacuations will likely continue this week as temperatures remain high.

UK Fighting against Covid-19

UK To Roll Out Additional Covid-19 Vaccines For Vulnerable People And Elderly 

The UK announced this week that it will be rolling out an additional Covid-19 vaccine for the elderly and clinically vulnerable populations. Adults over the age of 75, nursing home residents, and anyone who’s immunocompromised will be given an extra dose of a Covid vaccine in the spring. 

Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said the rollout is a part of a “precautionary strategy for 2022,” adding that individuals over the age of 18 will be offered Pfizer/BioNTech or the Modernas vaccine for the spring dose, while 12 to 18-year-olds will be given Pfizer/BioNTech exclusively. 

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“An extra booster shot will be given 6 months after an eligible individual’s most recent dose. For older people in the U.K., this will be the fourth vaccine dose they have been offered. For people with a severely weakened immune system, it will be the fifth vaccine shot they have been offered. The bulk of the population has been offered three shots, two vaccinations and one booster,”  the JCVI said.

“There remains considerable uncertainty with regards to the likelihood, timing and severity of any potential future wave of Covid-19 in the U.K.”

“There may be a transition period of a few years before a stable pattern, such as a regular seasonal wave of infection, is established,” the JCVI said.

A majority of the UK’s oldest, and most vulnerable, adults received their most recent Covid vaccine in September or October. The JCVI noted that “the immunity this group gained through their booster shot may wane substantially before the fall, when we plan to roll out a wider booster program.” 

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Details on the fall program have not been published yet. 85% of those aged 12 and older in the eligible population of UK residents have received their two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and two-thirds of that group has received a booster shot.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also preparing to announce and end to all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England, a move which many medical professionals have criticized. 

Most of England’s Covid restrictions have already been lifted. The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus is one of the few requirements still in place. 

Johnson is also planning to announce that access to free Covid tests will be scaled back, even though the nation recorded 25,696 new cases this Sunday alone. About 508 individuals per 100,000 people are currently infected with Covid-19 in England. 

“Thanks to our COVID-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe. It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the National Health Service, and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus,”  U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement on Monday.

Elizabeth II Announces Camilla Will Be Queen At Platinum Jubilee 

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II announced at her historic Platinum Jubilee that the Duchess of Cornwall will be known as Queen Camilla when Charles becomes King. When Charles and Camilla married in 2005, she initially took on the title “Princess Consort,” despite having the right to the title of Queen. At the time, the choice was made out of respect for Charles’ first wife, Diana. 

It’s expected that the Queen consulted her direct heirs, Charles and William, before making this decision. The announcement suggests that the family agreed that the British public would be ready to accept Camilla as Queen. 

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As Queen Elizabeth approaches the 70th anniversary for her accession to the throne, she also laid out her vision for the royal family’s transition into the next phase of their reign. 

“I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me.” 

“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” the Queen stated. 

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The monarch is the only individual who can define royal titles, however, the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s union in the 90s led to some complications when it came to the future of the throne. 

Diana famously stated that there were “three” individuals in the marriage between her and Charles, the third being Camilla, who Charles later confessed to having an indiscretion with during the end of his marriage with Diana. 

As time progressed, Camilla began to be seen in a different light to the public, and this recent announcement confirms her role in the family’s future. 

“As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service. I have a sense of hope and optimism for the year ahead. I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it. It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign,” she shared.

The monarch ended her message by stating she looked forward “to continuing to serve you with all my heart and hope this jubilee will provide an opportunity for people to come together after the difficulties of recent years.”

England, Scotland, And Northern Ireland Loosen Travel Restrictions For Vaccinated Americans 

Fully vaccinated Americans can now visit England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland without quarantining beginning next week. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement on Twitter this week. 

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.” 

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Initially the updated requirements were just for individuals in the US and UK, but Scotland and Northern Ireland said they would also be joining England in waiving their 10-day isolation requirement for fully vaccinated individuals from the European Union and US. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, announced this week that they recommend all US citizens remain in the country and don’t travel to the UK specifically due to rising Covid case numbers in both nations. 

Visitors to England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland will still be subject to Covid testing upon their arrival. Pre-departure testing as well as testing upon arrival will still be enforced, and vaccinated Americans must provide proof of US residency as well as proof of vaccination. 

American travelers must also fill out a patient-tracker form so that authorities are able to contact them should someone they traveled with test positive. Travelers returning to the US must also show a negative Covid result in order to board a US-bound international flight. 

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“Given where we are today … with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.”

“Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Monday. 

United Airlines announced that it would have six daily flights between the US and London starting in August. The airline plans to resume additional flights in the coming months as well. 

“Today’s announcement is yet another major milestone in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic with the opening of one of the most important markets from the U.S.” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, in a news release.

Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association trade group, urged U.S. leaders to “follow the U.K.’s lead and set a timeline to reopen its borders to travelers. We encourage them to start with vaccinated travelers from the U.K., E.U. and Canada. The reality is there’s no difference between a vaccinated American and those vaccinated in the U.K., the E.U. and Canada.”

Real Estate Home & Keys

UK Housing Market Showing Major Increases In Housing Prices

House prices in the United Kingdom rose by 8.5% throughout 2020, this marks the largest annual growth rate for the nation since October 2014, according to new official figures released by the government. 

In December 2020, the average price of a house in the UK hit £252,000, which is equivalent to $355,370 in the United States. Government leaders believe this increase is due to the pandemic, but also due to the stamp duty holiday which is projected to finish at the end of March this year. 

The Office for National Statistics released figures this week that showed north-west England as experiencing the highest growth in pricing. Housing rose by 11.2%% last year for that sector, and prices in London rose by just 3.5%. By the end of 2020 the average price of a home in England was around $327,048 in American currency (£269,000).

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“In Wales prices grew 10.7% to an average of £184,000 ($223,706). Scotland had an 8.4% increase to an average of £163,000 ($198,174), while in Northern Ireland a house would typically set buyers back £148,000 ($179937) – up 5.3% on the figure for December 2019,” according to reports.

The fact that so many individuals have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has obviously stunted how many individuals are willing to put their homes on the market during the worst global health and economic crisis in decades. There’s simply not enough supply to meet the demand, even if that demand is exponentially smaller than normal. 

The Office for National Statistics also claimed that the average price of detached properties rose by 10% in 2020 compared to a 5% growth in pricing for flats and maisonettes. 

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“Recent price increases may reflect a range of factors, including pent-up demand, some possible changes in housing preferences since the pandemic, and a response to the changes made to property transaction taxes across the nations.”

In July 2020 the chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday as a means of getting the property market moving. The holiday released property purchases in England and Northern Ireland up to the value of £500,000 ($607,897) from tax payments, according to reports. 

Sarah Coles is a personal finance analyst in the US who claims there’s already hopeful signs that the market will begin to cool down. “Early calculations from Halifax are that house prices fell back 0.3% in January, while the RICS survey showed sales had plummeted, and estate agents expect things to get worse as we go through the spring. A shortage of properties on the market should keep prices from falling, but there’s not going to be a great deal of enthusiasm for more rises.”

Coles went on to explain that “the chancellor could breathe some new life back into the market in the budget if he makes some kind of concession for people mid-sale when the stamp duty rules change. However, there’s no guarantee he’ll do this, and, even if he does, buyers and sellers may be reluctant to get back into the race.”

Lying About High-Risk Travel In England Can Get You Up To 10 Years In Prison 

England announced new Covid-19 travel and border policies this Tuesday that state anyone arriving in the country and found to have lied about a recent trip to a country on the British government’s travel ban list could face up to 10 years in prison as a means of curbing the spread of the virus and all the new variants appearing throughout the world. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told citizens this Monday that all UK residents, as well as those in Ireland, arriving into England from places on the governments “Red List” will have to purchase a quarantine package that costs around $2,400 per person. This package covers accomodation, virus testing, and other essential services. 

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Individuals who choose not to abide by these restrictions, including those arriving from a Red List country without a hotel already booked to quarantine in, could be subject to a series of heavy fines in addition to a potential prison sentence, according to Hancock.

“I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation. People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.”

There are about 33 countries on the UK’s Red List for travel due to the slew of new variants appearing. If you enter into the UK from a country not on the list, you can simply quarantine at home, for those who do, however, must buy the coronavirus package mentioned above, and will be placed on “variant surveillance testing” as well. 

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Hancock claimed that all of these policies will be going into effect as of Thursday of this week, and the government has created contracts with 16 hotels to give them an additional 4,600 rooms for the quarantining measures.

“Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on our red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”

Scotland is also tightening its rules on international travel, requiring all citizens entering into the nation on an international flight to quarantine in a designated hotel. “Airports and airlines are battling to survive with almost zero revenue and a huge cost base, and practically every week a further blow lands. Aviation-specific financial support is urgently needed to ensure our sector can get through the year,” Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, and Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines U.K, said in a statement. 

All of these measures will be indefinitely enforced until more citizens are vaccinated and the pandemic seems to subside more in general. 12.6 million UK residents have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine so far, and the British government is set to announce the next phase of its vaccine rollout program at the start of next week.