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Monday, September 30, 2013

Osborne Unveils Tough ‘Help to Work’ Scheme

UK Chancellor George Osborne outlined a plan to force unemployed people who have been out of a job for more than two years to take a placement in order to continue receiving their benefits. The “Help to Work” scheme was announced by the chancellor at the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester. “There’s no option of doing nothing for your benefits. No something for nothing anymore. People are going to have to do things to get their dole and that is going to help them into work – that is the crucial point. This is all activity that is actually going to help them get ready for the world of work”, he told the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme. Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said that Osborne’s plan was “Groundhog Day welfare policy, with the same old headline-candy rhetoric about getting tough on claimants, but nothing addressing the root causes of failure of the labour market to provide enough decent jobs”.

Hundreds of Drunken Primary School Children Taken Every Year to UK A&Es

Nearly 300 children aged 11 or under were admitted to A&E in the UK in the past year after drinking too much, according to a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation, with a total of 6,500 under-18s admitted to hospital for the excessive drinking over the same period. While the data collected by Freedom of Information requests shows that fewer children have been drinking over the past five years, those that are drinking are doing so in greater quantities. “I think in under-11s, it’s mainly experimenting, but I think we see children in the 11 to 16-year-old range who are beginning to drink regularly. There are some encouraging signs in that the numbers of under-18s drinking is probably falling, but those that are drinking are probably drinking earlier and drinking more heavily, so we certainly can’t be complacent”, said Prof Ian Gilmore of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance. Ayrshire and Arran in Scotland had the highest number of cases in the past year, with 483. “We have had many cases where teenage, young teenage females have come in saying that they may have been sexually assaulted and they’re that intoxicated and are distressed and say, ‘I may have been’, but they don’t even know if they have been or not”, said Dr Morten Draegebo of the Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire.

Italy Plunged Back into Uncertainty by Berlusconi

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi faced rebellion within his own party after pulling his ministers from the grand coalition currently governing Italy and calling for fresh elections. “We have to explain to our citizens the reasons behind this. Forza Italia is not an extremist force and no one made pressured me into asking the ministers to quit”, said Berlusconi, with some ministers saying they did not agree with the direction the centre-right party was taking. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, returning from New York and finding his government in tatters after the move by Berlusconi, reacted that “in order to justify this stupid and irresponsible act, done entirely to cover his personal problems, [he] is trying use the excuse of the Iva tax [VAT] as an alibi”, referring to Berlusconi blaming him from preventing a sales tax rise. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has already said he does not favour fresh elections, fearing renewed financial instability in case of new political deadlock.

Israel’s Netanyahu to Counter Iran’s ‘Sweet Talk’ With ‘The Truth’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “tell the truth” about Iran and its nuclear programme during his speech to the UN’s General Assembly. “I will present our rights as a nation, our determination to defend ourselves and our hopes for peace. I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles”, said the Israeli leader upon arriving in New York. “I think that telling the truth today is essential to the security of the world and essential to the security of our state”, he added. Former Israeli foreign minister and current chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Avigdor Lieberman, wrote on his Facebook page that the Iranian president’s more moderate stance “is nothing but another deceitful trick similar to that of North Korea”.

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