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Business news – Wednesday 20th February

The ONS sums up positively for UK employment – The Office of National Statistics revealed in report today that the number of jobless in the UK has fallen to 2.5 million. Whilst this may seem a lot, this is 14,000 people less than the statistics for just three months earlier and a huge 580,000 less than a year previously.

This “transformed economy” bodes well for the popularity of the conservative party, who were actively tweeting the news. They should be wary of celebrating a complete turn-around too soon, however, as…

Music retailer HMV announces 37 planned store closures – Having entered into administration in January, HMV have had to announce that they will be closing a further 37 stores across  the country to try and re-structure the business to improve its prospects.

These closures will mean job losses of 464, and stores in London areas such as Heathrow are among some of the names listed.

Bank of England’s Governor out-voted – Sir Mervyn King’s planned “quantitative easing” strategy was out-voted at the Monetary Policy Council today.

This news had a large impact on the financial markets, with the pound taking a sharp drop against the euro and the dollar by 0.6% and 0.9% (respectively).

The governor had been hoping to increase the size of the quantitative easing programme from £375 bn to £400 bn in the hope that it would have positive knock-on effects on the UK economy. This is the fourth time that he has been out-voted at the MPC.

Local London News – Wednesday 20th February

NHS North West London to downgrade four A&E Units

Emergency care departments at Charing Cross, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Ealing hospitals will become 24-hour GP-led “urgent care” centres.

The decision was confirmed at a joint committee of Primary Care Trusts in Westminster.

NHS North West London predicts that the changes will save £1billion and will reduce the number of non-acute cases arriving at A&Es, which will improve the quality of care.

Critics say NHS Worth West London has failed to consult properly on these proposals. Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said the decision left a “second-class health service for millions of Londoners” and that the A&Es left would be “over-crowded and over-run”.

The “urgent care centres” will still offer outpatient and diagnostic services such as physiotherapy and X-rays, but would not treat life-threatening conditions.

These cases would be referred to the remaining five major acute hospitals with 24-hour A&Es and urgent care centres at Hillingdon, Northwick Park, West Middlesex, Chelsea and Westminster or St Mary’s hospitals.

Dr Mark Spencer, medical director of North West London NHS, said: “What we are recommending across north-west London is that we develop five bigger, better hospitals than we have at the moment.

Passengers on the East Coast Mainline face major delays

Power lines in St Neots, Cambridgeshire have caused severe problems between London and Peterborough.

Around 200 people were stranded at Kings’ Cross Station last night after the last train to Leeds was cancelled.

A rail replacement bus service was involved in a minor accident in Huntingdon.

East Coast Trains say no services are running between London and Peterborough. Limited services are expected to return later this morning.

The problems are having a knock-on effect for other parts of the line, which runs to York, Newcastle and Scotland.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson calls plans to move London homeless to the Cathedral City “social cleansing”.

Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste has been in talks with Kensington and Chelsea about working together to build houses for people in London and Peterborough.

Stewart Jackson said he could see “no advantages for the city”.

“This is about social cleansing in Kensington and Chelsea,” he said.

“It’s about getting rid of people they don’t want in their borough, who are on benefits, who they have a responsibility for – to house – who are statutorily homeless.”

An average property in Peterborough costs about £150,000. The average home in Kensington and Chelsea costs £1.5M. Kensington and Chelsea has a chronic shortage of affordable homes. The Borough has been exploring potential plans for “mutually beneficial housing arrangements” with several local authorities.

 

City life makes it harder to concentrate

Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London have studied a remote tribe in Africa – where some people have remained in the countryside while others have moved to urban areas.

It found the urbanised group found it a lot more difficult to focus their attention.

Researcher Karina Linnell says the difference in powers of concentration was much greater than expected.

Dr Linnell, from the university’s psychology department, carried out cognitive tests with the Himba tribe in Namibia in south west Africa – and also included a further comparison with young people in London.

She found that the Himba tribespeople who had stayed in a rural setting were much better at tests requiring concentration than members of the same tribe who lived in urban areas.

It seems that people living in cities have countless distractions competing for their attention, making them less able to focus on one activity.

 

News – Wednesday 20th February

Jury in Vicky Pryce case fails to reach a verdict and is discharged

The jury trying ex- minister, Chris Huhne’s former wife has not reached a verdict. She is on trial for charges relating to speeding points she took for him 10 years ago. She faces a re-trial, before a new jury on Monday.

Oscar Pistorius- Witnesses claim they ‘heard shots, screams, more shots’

A police officer has said that a witness heard gunshots and screaming, followed by more gunshots at the home of Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on the night that Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

During the second day of Pistorius’s bail trial, police suggested that he might flee, if bail was granted.

He denies the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp.

OFCOM auction raises less than forecast in 4G auction (2.34bn)

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had predicted that the auction would raise £3.5bn for the Treasury.

The winning bidders are Everything Everywhere; Hutchison 3G UK; Niche Spectrum Ventures, a BT subsidiary; Telefonica (O2); and Vodafone.

4G mobile broadband should provide smartphone and tablet computer users with much faster download speeds.

David Cameron marks the Amritsar Massacre of 1919

Mr Cameron is the first British Prime Minister to pay his respects at one of the bloodiest massacres in British history.

Hundreds of people were shot dead by British troops in 1919, while they attended a public meeting in Amritsar.

Mr Cameron is visiting Amritsar in the state of Punjab at the end of a three-day trip to India.

The prime minister said the massacre was “a deeply shameful event in British history”.

A Syrian footballer has been killed in Damascus

Sana news agency says two shells landed near the Tishreen stadium where Al-Wathba and Al-Nawair teams were preparing to train.

Several other players were injured in the attack “by terrorists”, Sana said.

 

Business news – Wednesday 20th

Apple Falls Victim to Hackers – Apple Mac has announced that it has fallen victim to a hacking attack.

Apple employees are reported to have visited a software website which infected the Apple system with a malware specially designed to attack Apple’s famous “Mac” computers.

The news agency Reuters was told that this is one of the first attacks on Mac computers, as opposed to the rival Windows system which is usually targeted.

Apple has announced that it will release a new piece of soft-ware as soon as possible to protect its users against the virus.

Local London – Tuesday 19th February

North: London Loses Four A&E Facilities – The Accident & Emergency departments of the hospitals in Charing Cross, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Ealing hospitals as part of a “Primary Care Trust” effort to improve other services. This follows a large-scale change to South-East Lewisham’s NHS health-care.

Local residents will now be re-directed to Hillingdon, Northwick Park, West Middlesex, Chelsea and Westminster or St Mary’s hospitals.

South: Royal Visit – Today the Duchess of Cambridge visited a drug addiction centre in Clapham, South London, on her first outing of the year.

Pictures show her with a growing bump and a “healthy” tan which indicate that her pregnancy is so far proceeding well.

West: Ealing involved – A West London charity shop has thrown itself into the public eye by opening a website aimed to encourage people to donate anything that they no longer need.

The charity, which is a joint venture between ECVS (a social enterprise board)  and Ealing Council works to raise money for nine community groups in the borough.

East: Former Headmaster out-raged at mural removal – The removal of street mural created by school-children in East London has been met with out-rage by the school’s former Headmaster.

Sean McGrath was the head-master of Stepney Green School for 6 years until 2006. In 2002 he organised the creation of a street mural out-side of the school’s gates through the work of his school-children and the artist Jean Powell.

The mural was recently taken down, however, for “safe-keeping” whilst the school is under-going reconstruction. Mr McGrath responded to this removal by writing to the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Rushanala Ali to demand that it be replaced for the community to enjoy.

Business, entertainment and sport – Tuesday 19th February

Get your latest categorized news by clicking on the relevant tab under “news”…

Local London – Tuesday 19th February

Here’s a taster of the news features that can be found here 

Ambulances will be more in demand than ever...

Ambulances will be more in demand than ever…

North: London Loses Four A&E Facilities

South: Royal Visit to Clapham Charity

West: “Ealing Involved” launches website

East: Former Headmaster out-raged at mural removal 

“Shut Guantanamo” campaign

Campaigners will gather outside the U.S. Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square on Thursday to protest about the American detention camp: Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo was opened in January 2002 to house detainees connected with terror in Afghanistan and now Iraq. The camp, which is located in Cuba, is infamous for its use of torture and for violating its detainees human rights with unacceptable living conditions.

In January 2009 Barack Obama signed an order that promised to shut down the detention centre, and to end George Bush’s “War on Terror”. In February of 2013, however, Guantanamo is still open, and there is very small chance that it will be closed in the near future.

A London demonstration to "close" Guantanamo

A London demonstration to “close” Guantanamo

The London Guantanamo campaign will protest for its closure for the 6th year a row, and has pledged to do so every February until Guantanamo is closed…

We have set our live reporter Helen-Ann on the case:

The 20th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty

The 7th February is the 20th anniversary of the controversial Maastricht Treat.

In brief: this was an agreement signed by the European Community in Maastricht, The Netherlands, which led to the creation of the single euro currency, as well as the “3 pillars” of the European Union.

Just last week, the Prime Minister David Cameron promised the British population a referendum on whether to stay in the EU if the Conservative party is re-elected. In today’s environment of europhiles and eurosceptics, therefore, the anniversary could not be more topical…

We sent our political reporter Fern Tomlinson to find out more… Here is a little teaser of the “exclusive” that she won:

The EU referendum - a contentious issue

The EU referendum – a contentious issue

News // Women are Accepted into Combat Roles in US Army

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The Pentagon has announced that it will accept females in combat roles for the first time into the US military. This could come into effect as early as 2014. The decision was made by Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta. This may open up hundreds of positions to women across the country and marks a historic moment for the US military.