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Ministers could limit the number of students in low-income art degrees in England | Higher education policy


The government is considering new plans to limit the number of creative arts students and other degrees with lower pay returns as part of its spending review negotiations, the Guardian has learned.

With outstanding student loans reaching £ 140bn last year, the Treasury is reportedly keen to reduce the number of students in England who take courses that produce lower wages and therefore less likely to repay their loans.

Sources say the Department of Education’s (DfE) review of post-18 education, promised alongside the spending review, is considering ways to limit the numbers. There is speculation that they could use new minimum A-level requirements to raise the entry bar for some courses and therefore reduce the number, especially at newer universities.

A source close to the government said: “They would like to check the numbers in specific subjects. The Treasury is particularly obsessed with negative returns in creative artistic matters.

The university regulator has already confirmed that it will cut its funding for artistic subjects by 50% – a decision described as “catastrophic” by artists and musicians.

The new speculation sparked an angry backlash from the bosses of national universities. Professor Steve West, Chairman of the UK Universities Vice Chancellors’ Group and University of the West of England Vice Chancellor, said: “Trying to choose any topic would be arbitrary and inevitably fueled by prejudices. “

He warned, “It would be a brave and foolish government to tell today’s GCSE students that there will be fewer opportunities in college for them than their older siblings.

Anne Carlisle, vice-chancellor of Falmouth University, who specializes in creative courses, said that restricting the number of students would lead to a decrease in the number of people working in the creative industries: “It’s amazing that this government thinks it can plan the workforce like that. “

She said: “I think part of the problem is that this particular government seems to have fewer members who really engage in cultural and creative events. It looks like the creative disciplines have been collectively forgotten by a group of people who are now making simplistic assumptions about their value. “

The government should abandon its “raw segmentation” of science and technology and arts and design, when in reality the disciplines are working together to solve complex problems, she said.

Anne Carlisle: “How incredible that this government thinks it can plan the workforce like that. Photography: Artur Tixiliski

In 2018, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies funded by the DfE showed that men with creative arts degrees earned less on average at age 29 than people with similar backgrounds who did not go to college at all. .

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank and former government special adviser, said he opposed the idea of ​​selecting particular topics, warning ministers would eventually regret appearing “anti- intellectuals and as if they only cared about money “.

He added: “If ministers are concerned that creative disciplines may not perform well in terms of income, put this information in the hands of young people, but do not oppose it if they are determined to succeed in these fields.” .

Social mobility experts warn that if ministers decide to deny loans to students with grades below A, it would penalize students from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said: “There is an important socio-economic determinant in the educational outcomes of young people. If the government is to implement a minimum qualification rule, it must ensure that it is based on the abilities of individuals and not on an approximation of the school they attended or the social class they attended. belong.

More than half of young people now enter higher education and the demand for diploma courses is increasing every year. The UK has just entered a 10-year explosion in the number of 18-year-olds in the population.

The government said in its interim response to the Augar exam in January that “we are currently too biased towards degrees first and foremost”, and before he was sacked, former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson scoffed at “dead end courts that leave people in debt”.

DataHE, a consultancy that advises universities on admissions, calculated that if the government attempted to freeze college places at pre-pandemic 2019 levels, by 2030, about a third of young people who would currently go to college would be unable to do so.

Mark Corver, its founder, said: “If ministers limit the number when demand increases, young people in the future will be much less likely to go to university. “

Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford, said no other country intends to cap university expansion. “The evidence that there are unfulfilled opportunities for people without a university degree is not strong, and politics does not make sense. Families generally and rightly consider graduates to be better off than non-graduates.

Hillman said, “The view that too many people are going to college is deeply rooted in the Conservative Party. But he warned that the government would not succeed in “leveling” troubled regions of the country without universities. “Southend doesn’t just need to become a city, it also needs a university of its own,” he said.

Professor John Cater, vice-chancellor of Edge Hill University in Lancashire, questioned the government’s definitions of success. “We actually have one of the most selfless groups of 18 year olds I can remember, and I don’t think they judge their chances in life solely on what they earn.”

Few in the industry anticipate a reduction in tuition fees to £ 9,250 per year in the expenditure review, although sources say the Treasury and DfE have debated it. But vice-chancellors believe the spending review is likely to lower the loan repayment threshold as graduates start paying off debt sooner.

A spokesperson for the DfE said he had not commented on “speculation” about the spending review. She said: “There is no plan to limit the growth of the higher education sector.”

But she added: “The government is committed to raising the standards of education after 16 years by ensuring that everyone can acquire the right skills to secure well-paying jobs which are essential to sustaining the economy. “

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Laurels and barbs | | tribdem.com


(Left to right) James Blachly, Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra; Mark Addleman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSO; and Jessica Satava, Executive Director of the JSO.

THEaurel: Mark Addleman, 36, of Somerset, is the new chairman of the board of directors of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, the organization said. Addleman brings a strong and diverse background as Vice President of Somerset Trust Co. and also a musician with the Erie Philharmonic. Addleman, a former player with the Johnstown Youth Symphony Orchestra, is the Associate Principal Horn of the Erie Orchestra. “I will use my unique experiences in the art and business world to lead this entire team, the orchestra members, our staff, our executive director, our musical director and my fellow directors,” said Addleman. Congratulations, Marc.

Focus on black lives

Pitt-Johnstown students and faculty enjoy Black Lives in Focus ‘Celebrating Black Voices Through Art’ exhibit at an opening reception for the exhibit the campus is hosting this week in Johnstown , PA., Monday October 18, 2021. End of 30 pieces of art line the walkway between campus Whalley Chapel and Blackington Hall.

Laurel: The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown hosted a powerful outdoor exhibit – “Black Lives in Focus” – on the Richland Township campus. The multimedia display includes 31 pieces – including photos, drawings and quotes – and has moved from campus to campus through the Pitt system. “I hope that more and more similar exhibits will be presented to our students,” chemistry professor Manisha Nigam told reporter Josh Byers. Student Alexis Johnson said: “I think it’s really good that they’re trying to put more emphasis on black voices.” We agree.

Barb: Austin Michael Yannella, of Hastings, was convicted on Monday of drawing a gun when confronted with Patton Police Chief Travis Schilling during a traffic stop in July. Yannella, 24, was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, recklessly endangering another person, common assault and resisting arrest. Schilling testified that he used a stun gun on Yannella after the man was arrested, then brandished a .22 caliber revolver and told the officer he was going to have to kill him. Schilling said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the encounter. A witness to the incident said: “I was nervous, not for my safety, but for the officer’s safety. “


Westmont Hilltop subclasses return the earth for the official start of the new Price Field upgrades, at a press conference on Thursday, October 21, 2021.

Laurel: Students, staff and administrators from the Westmont Hilltop School District gathered on Thursday for a groundbreaking shovel to kick off a renovation project at Price Field, next to the elementary school. The new Price Field will have lights for night games. “I always like to play under the lights,” said Morgan Faight, a member of the soccer team. The $ 7.5 million project will also include a new track, grandstand and scoreboard. On the same day, the Westmont School Board approved the purchase of a $ 40,000 high-tech lighting package for the stadium, as well as a synthetic track surface.

Name change of the Tilly bridge

Reverend Clyde Williams, Jr. (left) and State Senator Wayne Langerholc, Township of R-Richland unveil a copy of the sign renaming the Prospect Viaduct to “Reverend Andrew William Tilly, Jr. Bridge” at ‘a ceremony on Friday, October 15, 2021.

Laurel: The viaduct that connects downtown Johnstown to the Prospect district was renamed in honor of Reverend Andrew W. Tilly, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church for 47 years. “It is such a heartwarming thing to happen because he was such a deserving person,” Deaconess Patricia Walker said in a ceremony Oct. 15. Tilly was a World War II veteran and faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He passed away in July 2020. Deacon Jeffrey Wilson credited State Senator Wayne Langerholc, Township of R-Richland with helping rename the overpass.

Laurel: Somerset County awarded a contract in the amount of $ 82,965 to Maust Excavating for a 0.4 mile segment of a trail around Lake Somerset. The trail is funded and completed in sections, with the last piece to be built in the spring, said Gerald Walker, Somerset County President. Commissioner Colleen Dawson said the next phase will extend the half-mile trail along Sechler Road to a parking lot near Wood Duck Road, as our David Hurst reported. The work is supported by a grant of $ 30,000 from the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission and $ 55,000 from Somerset Inc.

Windber Rambler Lettermen's Club

Windber Rambler Lettermen’s Club members (left to right) Chad Manippo, Judy (Portante) Pallone, Todd Bostock, John Venzon, Lou Elias and Bob Portante accept a check for $ 25,000 on Tuesday October 19, 2021, from a donor anonymous for the club fund for scholarships and athletic support.

Laurel: An anonymous donor helped the Windber Rambler Lettermen’s Club reach their fundraising goal of $ 80,000 for 2021 with a donation of $ 25,000. The club offers scholarships to student-athletes in the Windber area, through a fund with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. The club’s army and navy veterans fundraise for the Dec. 11 football competition between the two military academies urging individuals to donate in honor of the military or navy .

Barb: A man was arrested and charged with raping a woman on a Philadelphia-area train on October 13. After the alleged attack, public transport officials and police said other passengers were present and did nothing to stop the attack, with some even recording the incident on their cell phones, as reported. see on the security video. However, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said passengers were getting on and off the train and many probably weren’t aware of what was going on. instead of calling the police ‘is wrong. One person, who filmed part of the incident, gave the video to police as evidence.

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Opinion: Retroactive shutdown of approved public projects is a dangerous policy


It is now less than a month before voters go to the polls and vote on the ballot Question 1. The question itself is phrased in such a way that many citizens of Maine are asking for clarification.

Issue 1 is an attempt to stop the major power line corridor already under construction by Central Maine Power by banning the construction of power lines on approximately 43,300 acres of land in Somerset and counties Franklin, known as the Upper Kennebec area, and to require legislative approval for these future projects anywhere else in Maine.

This ban would be retroactive to 2020 and any project involving public lands would be retroactive to 2014, and would now require a two-thirds approval vote by members of the Legislative Assembly for projects already approved as well as for the future.

You can understand why so many people have asked for clarification on what exactly they are voting on. It’s a bit convoluted.

I have voters on both sides of the project and I respect their views. Concerned citizens in western Maine have voiced opposition to a corridor on environmental grounds and fear hydropower will only benefit Massachusetts. Others cite climate benefits and the potential to bring cheaper hydropower to our energy grid, which is operated by ISO New England. The main fuel used for generating electricity in the grid is natural gas, 72% at the time of writing. Natural gas and others have a vested interest in preventing more hydropower from entering the grid.

Naturalists see the 53 mile, fifty-four foot wide portion of the corridor as a destruction of Maine’s natural beauty and will have a negative impact on our wildlife. Outdoor enthusiasts see the same part as an additional area for outdoor recreation with little impact on our wildlife.

Both parties claim money from out-of-state is involved in the attempt to influence voters in Maine. According to Ballotpedia, by early September the two sides had already spent around $ 41.4 million to support or oppose the measure, and campaign fundraising reports back claims the money is coming from outside. of Maine, as well as competing energy sources.

If this project had just been proposed and tabled in the legislature, it would be a difficult decision, but it is not. This project has already gone through all the required approval and hearing processes. It has received all the necessary permits under two successive administrations, has made investments, hired people and is already underway.

What this question and some supporters are now asking is to allow the legislature to step in and make these permits null and void by retroactively changing the rules. It sets a precedent for all future legislatures, a body that changes composition every two years, to do so.

To compare what is attempted here when the legislature approves compliance with federal tax law, or when the legislature changes existing rules and regulations, is misleading. This will retroactively amend laws without granting exemptions for those who have followed the rules and regulations currently in place.

Any business wishing to invest in Maine must be confident in its business dealings when it follows and complies with all existing laws, rules, and ordinances.

In this case, it’s easy to vilify an energy company and use that as reasoning to support this ballot question, but it doesn’t just target CMP. It defines future policy, and dangerous policy.

Imagine you want to start a business. You go to your city, study all the existing laws, rules and ordinances required by the municipality and state. You then hire the right professionals to design and build your small business. You hire workers and contractors and invest in the necessary equipment and materials. You are very careful to make sure that you have obtained all the required permits and that you have followed the rules.

You open your business with great enthusiasm. You have made your dream come true.

Now imagine the heavy hand of the government rushing in and retroactively amending existing laws, rules and ordinances to declare your business illegal. Not only will you lose your investment of time and money, but you could potentially be fined for breaking rules that weren’t there when you started your trip.

Question 1 allows this to happen. You cannot deny the retroactive part of this question. It is clearly printed in black and white and will undoubtedly have future impacts on more than just CMP. Some financially supporting this issue have tried to deflect attention from this concern by alleging that elected officials supporting this project have been bought off by campaign contributions. It is unfortunate that they attack the integrity of public officials by implying that they could be influenced in such a way, all in an attempt to support their misguided orientation and reluctance to debate this part of the issue publicly.

I sincerely believe that people and businesses should know that if they choose to invest in Maine they follow the rules and do whatever is asked of them, the government can be trusted to keep their word and not retroactively cancel contracts and agreements.

We have all seen what can happen when excessive government efforts are left unchecked. As a member of the 130th Legislature in Maine, I do not support granting this power to lawmakers. Masters should be skeptical of this effort.

Note: This is a Maine Point of View (PoV) column. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of The Maine Wire or the Maine Policy Institute.

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Somerset County man accused of letting dogs die in cages


SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – A Boswell man faces felony charges after state police reported he had left two dogs dead in cages for several months.

Mark Paxton, 40, moved from his home to the 900 block of Ralphton Road in Jenner Township in 2019, although his neighbors told police he would come and feed the dogs left at the house and pick up his mail, according to the charges laid. .

After Paxton did not return for several months, the neighbors called the police.

Somerset State Police investigated Paxton’s former home on October 18 and reported finding two dogs dead in cages, noting that they had been dead for many months.

Paxton refused to question police despite several attempts, the affidavit noted. It is also reported that during the investigation, police discovered that Paxton never changed address on his driver’s license and truck.

He is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, cruelty to animals, neglect of animals as well as summary charges for failing to update his ID.

Paxton was released on bail after being arraigned, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 3.

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Michael Gove: UK government leveling up does not threaten Scottish decentralization


MICHAEL Gove has insisted that the UK government spending additional funds on Scottish projects in decentralized areas is “increasing” rather than threatening the country’s constitution.

The UK Government’s Upgrading Secretary stressed his administration wanted to ‘strengthen’ decentralization and said he would be happy SNP ministers ‘take credit for the good things happening in Scotland’, even though the funding comes from the UK. Treasury.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association, Mr Gove, who is also UK Government Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, confirmed that the Westminster Upgrade Fund had received offers from local councils across Scotland .

READ MORE: Michael Gove and Why English ‘Leveling Up’ Matters for Scotland, by Andrew Dunlop

Boris Johnson’s administration has come under fire for planning to spend money on decentralized policy areas, such as transport infrastructure as part of the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund and the Leveling Fund.

The Scottish government has warned it is “beyond disappointment” with the position taken by British ministers.

But Mr Gove said “the leveling up is about making sure we are making the playing field more level across the UK”.

He added that the Scottish public “needs to see both governments serve them appropriately”.

Mr Gove said Tory ministers at Westminster “want to work with the Scottish government” to ensure that “it” uses the powers at its disposal more vigorously and effectively “.

He added: ‘There are a number of areas where the Scottish government, whether led by Nicola or led by someone else, has the means to make a difference.

READ MORE: Upgrade: MPs warn Boris Johnson’s flagship could be inconsistent flop

“Devolution can work – the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament can better serve the people of Scotland. These are their priorities, but we want to help them make them happen.

Mr Gove claimed that alongside the UK government he could spend more money north of the border “beyond” the funding regulations agreed by the Scottish government.

He said: “It sounds like a really good thing to me.

“It does not bypass the devolution regulation, it increases it. ”

A UK government intervention plan is to modernize the A75 – a key road in South West Scotland.

Mr Gove was asked if he would be happy to ignore the decentralization of transport policy and move forward anyway.

Mr Gove said: “Do we really think a citizen of Stranraer, Whithorne or Lockerbie is going to say ‘oh well done, thank you very much – Scotland is stronger now that we have kept this road in its current conditions? No.

“It’s practical cooperation. I think it would be strange if the SNP put ideology ahead of cooperation.

Mr Gove was also asked about the Scottish Government’s kudos for the vaccine rollout and leave program – both UK government policies with money sent to Holyrood via the Barnett formula.

He said “it doesn’t matter” if the SNP takes credit for the UK government’s upgrade program.

Mr Gove added: ‘I am more than happy that Scottish government ministers take credit for the good things that are happening in Scotland. I just want good things to happen in Scotland.

“If Kate Forbes gets credit for investing in Scotland, so much the better. It’s good for me. My job is to make sure the UK government is working for everyone.

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Maine environmental groups take legal action to protect last Atlantic salmon, force dams to shut down


The Shawmut Dam on the Kennebec River in the Shawmut area of ​​Fairfield is seen July 13. Environmental groups are suing to force the dam and three others to suspend operations during the next periods of fish migration. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel File

A group of environmental organizations filed court documents Thursday in an attempt to shut down operations at dams in Maine to protect salmon.

Atlantic salmon is classified as endangered by the federal government. They used to swim upstream and spawn in almost every river north of the Hudson River, but only return to Maine. Conservation groups want a judge to stop or reduce operations at four dams on the lower Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan to help the fish.

Brookfield Renewable owns the dams. The company is a subsidiary of a larger Canadian company that owns many state dams.

The groups said in a statement that the dams “create an impenetrable barrier that prevents endangered Atlantic salmon from traveling from the Gulf of Maine to the main spawning habitat of the Sandy River.”

The Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine filed the preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court in Maine.

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing legal fight over the fate of the dams. Brookfield sued Maine state agencies last month with a complaint that the agencies acted inappropriately in drafting fish passage policies.

The legal record of environmental groups “can only delay existing regulatory processes and the implementation of solutions for fish passage,” said Brookfield spokeswoman Miranda Kessel.

The groups want the judge to close or limit operations to three of the four dams to facilitate the safe passage of salmon for two periods. One is from October 15 to December 31, when adult salmon migrate downstream after spawning. The other is from April 1 to June 30, when the young salmon migrate downstream. At a fourth dam, the organization wants the company to open up all options for the salmon to pass safely.

Most of the salmon offered for sale in large grocery stores is farm-raised, but wild salmon of all species is endangered on America’s coasts. In Alaska, native tribes that have relied on fish for centuries say the populations of kings and chum are nearly extinct.

The loss of salmon has not only affected subsistence fishermen, but also commercial activities such as processing facilities.

Meanwhile, concerns about the potential closure of the Shawmut Dam have already caught the attention of local officials and the governor as part of a separate federal process to renew permits for the facility. In August, Governor Janet Mills said she would “not allow” the closure of the Sappi Somerset plant in Skowhegan, in response to concerns raised by Brookfield as part of its federal license renewal process. Brookfield has raised concerns that the state would consider removing the Shawmut Dam to allow passage of fish, which dam officials said could lower water levels to such an extent that the The plant would not be able to properly dispose of the wastewater and would not be able to operate.

But Mills and David Madore, communications director at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, appeared to rule out the possibility, with Madore saying “shutting down the plant would be an unacceptable result.”

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The end of some of the madness in New Jersey


We all remember the days when restaurants were forced to pitch tents outside of their usual facilities to accommodate their customers. It was at least a way to stay alive and in business when the state instituted ridiculous rules to prevent the spread of COVID.

Many restaurants in many towns in New Jersey kept them going and were able to expand their businesses after the panic subsided.

In some towns, tents lined the streets of major business districts. It was unsightly and inconvenient, but for a brief time they were useful and necessary to keep businesses alive under the ridiculous restrictions of the Murphy administration.

In a pretty town in New Jersey, the tents are finally falling on Main street in Metuchen. They were to stay in place until the end of the year, but the work on the gas lines must be completed before the cold sets in, so they go down at the end of this month.

These tents and temporary structures didn’t seem safer than letting people in. At least in the main buildings you have ventilation and ventilation systems. In most of these temporary tents, there were few or none at all.

It does not matter. It was not a question of security. It was about showing that we are doing something and getting people to comply. The goal was not an effective vaccine or herd immunity. It was a matter of compliance.

If the state can scare you and threaten you enough to comply, then mission accomplished. We are living through the scariest times in recent memory, not because of a virus or even a foreign invader, but our government and the people who will blindly follow their nonsense. We have failed the test of being a free people.

There is a chance for redemption if we vote against the disconnected, elitist and aristocratic left that buries this state and steals our freedom. But at least he doesn’t send nasty tweets, does he?

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. All opinions expressed are those of Dennis Malloy.

Early voting locations in every county in NJ

Each county in the state will have between three and 10 early voting locations, open daily for the 2021 general election from October 23 to 31. The sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Sunday, when they will close. at 18 hours

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India passes the billion-dose milestone of Covid vaccine


India has administered a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

About 75% of India’s total eligible adult population has received at least one dose, while about 30% are fully immune, officials said.

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people is the second to exceed one billion cumulative doses after China, the most populous country, did so in June.

Coronavirus cases have fallen sharply in India since the devastating months earlier this year when the highly transmissible variant Delta, first detected in the country a year ago, was infecting hundreds of thousands of people daily.

People get vaccinated against coronavirus in Hyderabad, India (AP)

India confirmed more than 18,400 new cases on Thursday. Active cases represent less than 1% of its total caseload, now more than 34 million, including more than 450,000 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Authorities have stepped up the vaccination campaign in recent months, which experts say has helped control the epidemic. The country began training in January.

Still, there remains a worrying gap between those who have only received one injection and those who are fully immune.

Increasing the second dose is “an important priority,” said VK Paul, head of the country’s Covid-19 task force.

“We would like to see that number increase. Full coverage is absolutely essential, ”he said.

India said earlier it aims to vaccinate all eligible adults by the end of the year, but experts say the current pace of vaccination will need to increase to meet that target.

Health workers celebrate administration of 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine in India
Health workers celebrate the administration of one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine in India (Rajanish Kakade / AP)

Billboards announcing the achievement with a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were displayed across New Delhi. Outside the house of a local city politician, locals gathered to hand out candy.

Officials said they would mark the milestone in vaccination centers and hospitals where frontline workers will be celebrated.

India, a major supplier of vaccines to the world, halted exports in April as cases in her country increased and did not resume exports until early this month. The government is now optimistic that the increase in the country’s vaccine supply will be sufficient to cover its international and national commitments.

The two main suppliers have increased their production, with the Serum Institute now producing around 220 million doses per month and Bharat Biotech around 30 million, Paul said.

Serological surveys carried out in June and July showed that more than 60% of the population had antibodies against the coronavirus, reducing the likelihood of another massive outbreak in the months to come, according to some experts.

Members of India's ruling party hand out sweets
Members of India’s ruling party distribute candy to celebrate the administration of one billion doses of vaccine (Altaf Qadri / AP)

Even states where infections were swelling a few weeks ago, such as Kerala, have seen a steady decline.

“There is a sense of comfort that India has suffered the worst of the Delta variant, but this has to be accompanied by a sense of caution,” said K Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India.

“Even if cases increase, we are unlikely to see the scale of the outbreak sooner – if it did, it would be quite unexpected.”

In recent months, life in India has returned to normal. The markets are bustling with activity, tourists can enter the country after a 19 month hiatus, and it is preparing to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights.

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UK signs trade deal with New Zealand – but that might add nothing to GDP | International exchange


Britain has struck a trade deal with New Zealand, a key ally, as ministers hope to stem the country’s dependence on China – but the deal is unlikely to add any value to gross domestic product from the United Kingdom.

Although the Department for International Trade called the deal a “breakthrough” achievement which was a “vital part” of Boris Johnson’s commitment to level up, the PM has been accused of selling off British farmers.

Tariffs of up to 10% are expected to be removed on a range of UK goods, including clothing, buses, ships and bulldozers. The price of sauvignon blanc, manuka honey and kiwifruit produced in New Zealand is expected to drop after 16 months of talks.

Trade between the UK and New Zealand now stands at £ 2.3 billion a year, and the government said this would increase as the deal would make it easier for small businesses to enter the neo market. -Zeeland – as well as removing barriers to advanced technology and service businesses.

It follows the recent trade agreement with Japan and the agreement in principle with Australia. The focus on the region is part of Johnson’s 10-year plan to steer UK foreign policy towards the Indo-Pacific, strengthening the alliance and position of democratic countries in the region to make them more competitive against China.

New Zealand is heavily dependent on China for trade, with more than 30% of its exports to Chinese markets. The country has been criticized in the past for adopting slightly softer rhetoric on China than some of its allies – a position critics say is the result of trade dependence. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta previously urged exporters to diversify and reduce their vulnerability to geopolitical shocks like Australia’s trade war.

New Zealand Opposition Leader Judith Collins told The Guardian this month that by failing to offer free trade deals, the United States and the United Kingdom were “leaving the door open” to the Chinese domination in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ardern said Covid-19 has taught the country that “we need to have so many options for our world-class products to ensure certainty for our primary producers, our economy and our people.”

The deal could increase New Zealand’s GDP by $ 970 million, or about 0.3%. However, last year’s analysis by the UK government found that its effect on UK GDP would likely have “a limited effect … in the long run” – between positive growth of 0.01% and negative growth of – 0.01%.

Boris Johnson said: “This is an excellent trade deal for the UK, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and strengthening our ties with the Indo-Pacific. This will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, lowering costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers. “

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “This is one of our best deals ever and secured at a crucial time in our recovery from Covid.”

“This deal will immediately lower costs for exporters, create opportunities for New Zealand businesses to grow and diversify their business, while boosting the economy as we recover from Covid-19. “

Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers Union, said she would open the country’s doors to “significant additional volumes of imported food – whether or not produced to our own high standards – while not ensuring almost nothing in return for British farmers “.

She added: “We should all be concerned that there is a huge downside to these deals, especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture. The government is now calling on UK farmers to take on some of the most export-oriented farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can allow us to do so.

“It is incredibly disturbing that we have heard almost nothing from the government on how it will work with agriculture to make this happen.”

Labor shadowy international trade secretary Emily Thornberry echoed the criticism and said the deal would generate just £ 112million more exports for UK businesses than pre-pandemic levels. Referring to the price of a new national flagship, she said the total business value of the deal would be “less than half the cost of Boris Johnson’s new yacht”.

Thornberry said: “This is a deal where the only big winners are the mega-companies that run New Zealand’s meat and milk farms, all at the expense of UK farmers who are already struggling to compete. But for UK jobs, growth and exports, this deal is another massive failure. “

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Lloyds Bank closes branch in Somerset – See details here


The banking group, which includes Lloyds and Halifax, said the closures were the result of lower customer visits.

The announcement will reduce the number of Lloyds Banking Group branches to 1,475, according to Unite Union.

Unite said closing all 41 Lloyds Bank branches and seven Halifax branches would mean thousands of customers would be denied access to essential services and cash.

Lloyds Bank logo. Credit: Lloyds

The union also added that the closures could lead to up to 178 job cuts.

Unite also said he believed there should be a legal commitment for the banking industry to protect public access to cash and in-person banking services.

Lloyds Banking Group Retail Director Vim Maru said: “Like many other businesses, we have seen people use our branches less frequently in recent years, and this decline continues.

“Our branches remain a fundamental part of how we serve our customers, but we need to ensure that the size of our branch network reflects the number of customers who want to use them. ”

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “Lloyds Banking Group’s announcement of the closure of 48 additional bank branches is a complete betrayal of the communities and staff who have long supported this highly profitable business.

“This industry needs to start taking its corporate social responsibilities seriously and stop neglecting its obligations to its customers and its workforce.

“Banks are leaving people behind in a rush to close bank branches and forcing consumers to use cashless to increase their mega-profits. It’s a classic example of putting profits before people.

Where does the Lloyds Bank branch in Somerset close?

Lloyds Banking Group will close a branch in Somerset.

It will close its branch in Crewkerne.

The branch will close from March 7, 2022.

See the full list of UK closures.

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