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Defense Secretary orders investigation into Afghan interpreter data breach


The Defense Secretary has ordered an investigation into a data breach involving the contact details of Afghan interpreters seeking to come to the UK, a government source confirmed.

The Department of Defense (MoD) said it had contacted those affected by the breach, with officials offering advice on how to manage the potential risk posed by the data disclosure.

Some of those whose information has been leaked are reportedly in hiding from the Taliban after militants took control of the battle-torn country last month.

A spokesperson for the department said: “An investigation has been opened into a data breach by the Afghan Resettlement Assistance Policy Team.

“We apologize to everyone affected by this violation and we are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again.

“The Ministry of Defense takes its responsibilities for information and data processing very seriously. “

A source confirmed that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace personally ordered the investigation.

Officials said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the details of the case but, according to the BBC, the breach refers to an email.

The broadcaster reported that more than 250 people seeking resettlement in the UK – many of whom are in hiding – were mistakenly copied into an email from the Department of Defense requesting an update on their situation.

Some of the email addresses were accompanied by photos, according to the report.

Shadow Labor Secretary of Defense John Healey said: “We told these Afghan interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk.

“The priority now is to urgently step up efforts to bring these Afghans safely to the UK.

“This is the Defense Department’s second major data breach this year, following the discovery of sensitive documents at a bus stop in Kent in June.

“Obviously the Secretary of Defense needs to get his house in order.”

The Defense Ministry has said it will take all necessary measures under UK GDPR rules.

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Hurricane Ida-related disaster recovery centers opened today in Morris and Essex – Morris County, NJ


Posted on September 20, 2021

Federal Emergency Management Agency announces disaster recovery centers and community visits

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) were opened today in Morris and Essex counties to help residents affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA ) also continued to plan visits to individual communities to increase its outreach efforts.

Morris County DRC is located at the Morris Plains Community Center, 51 Jim Fear Dr., Morris Plains, NJ and is open 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Essex County in the DRC is located at Kmart, where the county also operates a vaccination center, at 235 Avenue # 9413 West Orange, NJ It is open 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday; From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Federal officials will be available to explain disaster assistance programs, answer questions on written correspondence, and provide documentation on repairs and reconstruction to make homes more resilient to disasters. FEMA is also planning community visits to many heavily affected cities. Below is a list of towns, dates and locations in Morris County:

Currently planned community visits:

  • Sep 22: Mendham Township, Town Hall, 2 West Main St., Brookside, NJ 07926. 9 am to 5 pm
  • Sep 23 and 24: Township of Montville, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., parking at 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, NJ
  • September 25: Borough of Madison, Madison Public Safety Complex, 62 Kings Road, Madison, NJ, 2sd Floor, OEM office.
  • Sep 26: Boonton Township, 155 Powerville Road, Boonton Township, NJ 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

FEMA has said people in Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union and Warren counties are eligible to apply for disaster assistance. People can ask questions or search for additional information in person in the DRCs, in addition to being online or over the phone.


Read your letter of determination carefully

Hurricane Ida survivors who have already registered with FEMA and have requested disaster assistance may have or will receive a letter explaining the current status of their request. Learn more.

Anyone with a smartphone can download the FEMA app to find the location of each RDC. To download the FEMA app, please visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Other New Jersey RDCs include:

  • Hudson County: Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center, 1379 Paterson Plank Rd., Secaucus 07094
    • Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday
  • Hunterdon County: Union Fire Company # 1, 230 N. Main St., Lambertville 08530
    • ○ Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Bergen County: Ciarco Learning Center, 355 Main Street, Hackensack 07652
    • ○ Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Saturday; Close on Sunday
  • Mercer County: Hollowbrook Community Center, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Trenton 08638
    • ○ Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Middlesex County: Middlesex Fire Academy, 1001 Fire Academy Drive, Cafeteria B, Sayreville 08872
    • ○ Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Passaic County: Civic Center, 19 Warren Street, Little Falls 07424
    • Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Gloucester County: Mullica Hill Library, 389 Wolfert Station Road, Mullica Hill 08062
    • Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Somerset County: North End Volunteer Fire Company # 3, 169 North 8th Ave., Manville 08835
    • Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Union County: Elizabeth O’Donnell Dempsey Community Center for Seniors, 618 Salem Avenue, Elizabeth 07208
    • Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

If you have home or tenant insurance, you should file a claim as soon as possible. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

The fastest and easiest way to apply is to visit assistancecatastrophe.gov/.

If it is not possible to apply online, call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585). Toll-free telephone lines currently operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are using a relay service, such as Video Relay Service (VRS), closed captioned telephone service, or the like, give FEMA the number for that service.

When requesting help, have the following information ready:

  • ¨A current phone number where you can be contacted
  • ¨Your address at the time of the loss and the address where you currently reside
  • Your social security number, if available
  • ¨A general list of damages and losses
  • ¨If insured, the policy number or agent and / or company name

Disaster assistance may include financial assistance for temporary shelter and home repairs as well as other programs to help families recover from the effects of the event.

For the latest information, visit fema.gov/disaster/4614. Follow the FEMA Region 2 Twitter account on twitter.com/FEMAregion2.

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Inside Housing – News – Homes England board member becomes chairman of future registered for-profit provider


The former chairman of Homes England, who remains on the board of the government agency until next month, has been appointed chairman of a London-based company applying to become a for-profit social housing provider .

Simon dudley

Divide lines

The former chairman of Homes England, who remains on the board of the government agency until next month, has been appointed chairman of a London-based company looking to become a for-profit social housing provider #UKhousing

Simon Dudley, who is a senior independent director at Homes England, has been appointed by Square Roots Registered Provider, a division of developer London Square.

Square Roots is not currently registered as a supplier with the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). However, a spokesperson for the company said it was “in the process of applying to become a registered supplier.”

The spokesperson added: “The first step of the process has been completed and we are now at the second step of the bid. “

A spokesperson for RSH said it is not commenting on applications to join its registry of social housing providers.

Mr Dudley, who served as interim president of Homes England between summer 2019 and fall 2020, is due to leave the agency on October 22 of this year.

Homes England has gone through a number of management changes recently with boss Nick Walkley abruptly stepping down earlier this year, replaced by Hyde Group Managing Director Peter Denton. Peter Freeman, founder of developer Argent, took over as permanent president last October.

The agency administers the Affordable Housing Grant on behalf of the government, with for-profit providers eligible for funding.

Ask by Inside the accommodation If Mr Dudley’s appointment with Square Roots represented a conflict of interest, a Homes England spokesperson said: “Simon Dudley has declared the role in his register of interests and will not be part of any decision making concerning the registered supplier. “

Adam Lawrence, Managing Director of London Square, said: “London Square is committed to building more housing in Greater London and focusing on affordable housing.

“This is why we have established Square Roots as a housing provider and have already committed to seven sites in London where we will build over 800 affordable housing units.

“Simon Dudley has an exceptional record in the industry and Homes England has made it clear that the appointment has been declared and authorized by them.”

Mr Dudley declined to comment when contacted by Inside the accommodation.

In January of this year Mr Dudley was also appointed by the government chairman of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, set up to deliver Ebbsfleet Garden City in North Kent – which is expected to be one of the world’s largest wasteland housing developments industrial plants in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Dudley is a former leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council and, according to his register of interests, a member of the Conservative Party.

Square Roots, which was incorporated in November of last year, has also appointed Barbara Richardson as chief executive officer. She is a former head of the Royal Windsor Borough Real Estate Corporation and Maidenhead Council.

According to Square Roots, it has six sites to deliver approximately 700 condominiums and affordable rental housing.

Among its “business nature” list on Companies House is “the rental and operation of real estate from a housing association”.

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Prospects for small energy companies are “bleak” amid rising gas prices


The government wants energy companies to “stay afloat organically,” a cabinet minister said, as the growing energy crisis has led business leaders to declare the outlook “bleak.”

Wholesale gas prices have jumped 250% since January – with an increase of 70% since August alone, leading to calls for support from the industry.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is holding a new round of crisis talks with the energy sector on Monday, fearing more small suppliers could end up on the wall.

However, as industry executives say more needs to be done, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has not confirmed what action could be taken.

Mr Kwarteng previously said consumers would be protected from sudden price hikes thanks to the government‘s energy price cap. However, this puts pressure on suppliers – especially small businesses – who are unable to pass increases in wholesale gas prices on to their customers.

Four businesses have already closed and there are fears more could follow.

Some analysts have reportedly predicted that UK energy companies could be downsized to three-quarters over the next few months, leaving just 10.

On Monday, Peter McGirr, managing director of small energy company Green, said “the outlook is bleak.”

Mr McGirr told the BBC’s Today show: ‘It’s not that I have a bad business model or that I have a bad company.

“We just don’t have such deep pockets to keep going through this crisis. I think all the vendors are feeling the pinch, but some of them just have much deeper pockets to try to weather the storm. “

He said: “I think without any support mechanism put in place by the government it is unlikely that we will live through the winter.”

But Mr Cleverly said he “was not going to speculate” about government intervention.

Urged on whether he therefore ruled out the government from bailing out companies, he added: “We are looking at a range of options.”

But he said the government wants energy companies to “stay afloat organically.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “Businesses should ideally stay afloat through their own efforts. What we want to make sure is that we protect the integrity of our supply, we protect consumers, both commercial and residential, and we will discuss with industry how best to do this. “

The rise in gas prices has been blamed on a number of factors, including a cold winter that depleted stocks, strong demand for liquefied natural gas from Asia and reduced supplies from Russia.

Mr Cleverly said the shortage was due to the pandemic and told Good Morning Britain: ‘Because the global economy is sort of waking up from this pause imposed on us by Covid, we are suddenly seeing an increase in demand and therefore soaring gas prices has affected all kinds of sectors of the economy, it has impacted food production and we are looking to make sure that we protect these food suppliers. “

However, Emma Pinchbeck, director of Energy UK, a trade association in the energy sector, told Times Radio that the problem cannot be blamed on just one factor.

Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director of Renewable UK

Speaking to broadcasters on the tarmac at New York’s JFK Airport overnight, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I think people should be reassured that yes, there are a lot of issues at hand. short term not only in our country, the UK, but around the world due to gas supplies and shortages of all kinds.

“It’s really a function of the wake-up call of the global economy after Covid.

“We have to try to fix it as fast as possible, make sure we have the supplies we want, make sure we don’t allow the businesses we rely on to go bankrupt. We will have to do everything we can.

“But that will improve as the market begins to recover, as the global economy recovers.”

At the same time, ministers are grappling with warnings of potential shortages on the shelves as the ripple effect of rising gas prices trickles down to the economy.

Producers have warned that supplies of meat, poultry and soft drinks could all be affected due to a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

It follows the shutdown of two large fertilizer factories in Teesside and Cheshire – which produce CO2 as a by-product – with owners citing rising gas prices.

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said the country could be two weeks away from the disappearance of British meat from supermarket shelves.

Mr Allen told Sky News meat makers said they had between five and 15 days of supply left.

Mr Cleverly said: “We will continue to work with the sector to ensure there is food on the table and gas in the pipes and this will remain a priority for the government.”

For more stories of where you live, visit InYourZone.

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BP purchases natural gas produced by anaerobic digester and poultry litter


Sometimes poultry litter is more than just fertilizer, and BP is relying on this following a 15-year deal with CleanBay Renewables in Annapolis to turn it into natural gas.

The partnership, announced at the end of August, involves mixing poultry litter with water in a closed system called an anaerobic digester. One of the end products is biogas, which includes methane. Biogas can be turned into renewable natural gas and used to power vehicles.

“We have a portfolio of projects and a business strategy to develop 30 (facilities) across the United States, the first being in Georgetown,” said Thomas Spangler, executive chairman of CleanBay Renewables. “We have gone through a number of different structures and tested them with our partners to make sure investors are achieving their goals. After two years of discussions we have come up with this great deal.”

According to CleanBay Renewables, they can treat:

  • Over 150,000 tonnes of chicken litter per year per installation.
  • Generate more than 750,000 MMBtus of sustainable renewable natural gas.
  • Generate 125,000 tonnes of controlled release organic fertilizer.
  • Generate around 500,000 tonnes of reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions that will be available for purchase on the carbon markets.

Among the first locations slated for such a facility is Westover, in Somerset County, with a first shovel of earth slated for early in the first quarter of 2022. This is expected to be fully operational by mid-2024.

The rendering of the facility shows where the poultry litter would be processed and converted into renewable natural gas.

Typically, these facilities employ 26 full-time employees who work three shifts a day, 24 hours a day, year round. Completing a two-year construction period could also create an additional 250 jobs.

Under the terms of the agreement, “BP’s negotiating and shipping team will sell the fuel to its customers. RNG-fueled vehicles are expected to generate up to 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than those fueled by gasoline or diesel on a cycle basis, according to a U.S. Department of Energy study. of life. “

Natural gas infrastructure:Trees felled, installation progress: over 60% of Salisbury pipeline completed

Other projects in the region:Controversial chicken waste biorefinery advances in Sussex County

According to Spangler, the initial process behind the green light plans began with contacting the Somerset Economic Development Commission and county planning and zoning officials.

At the state level, the company approached the Maryland Department of Commerce, state labor agencies, and community colleges and universities in the region.

“We sat down with the (Somerset Economic Development Commission) and outlined what we wanted to do and before we even decided on the location they helped us out,” Spangler said. “In the beginning, Planning and Zoning sat down with us to walk us through the process long before any permit applications or mockups. This eliminated any concerns or requirements.

Support for the poultry sector

Chickens are walking in the chicken coop in 2019.

James Fisher, communications director for the Delmarva Chicken Association, pointed out that the poultry industry is one of the most lucrative market sectors on the East Coast, even compared to traditional farming.

He noted that more than half of the overall income earned on farms in the Delmarva region is attributed to poultry farms.

“The poultry industry is excited and optimistic about this new way that waste could be used by companies like (CleanBay Renewables),” Fisher said. “If this is added to the portfolio of options farmers have to swap their bedding for a fair market price, that’s good news. “

Is COVID causing chicken shortages? Does the United States have a chicken shortage? Chicken sandwich wars, key drivers of COVID-19

Air pollution and poultry:Judge decides Maryland must regulate air pollution from poultry industry

According to Fisher, the east coast is a great place for the poultry industry because of its long history.

Before 1920, raising poultry for meat was not widely practiced. According to the association, in 2020, the Delmarva chicken community earned $ 280 million in contract income, $ 741 million in non-benefit wages, and raised 570 million chickens.

“There are 10 processing plants that produce chicken on Delmarva and good soil conditions. There are fewer poultry houses in operation today than there were 20 years ago, but that is simply because they are more efficient at raising more chickens.

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IFS’s new student finance calculator shows: no easy choice for student finance reform – Institute for Fiscal Studies


Find out how different reforms would affect student loans using our interactive tool >>>

The student finance system in England is both unpopular among students and costly for the taxpayer. Reform now seems almost inevitable. Given the pressures on public finances from COVID-19, the Chancellor may want graduates themselves to shoulder a higher share of the costs. We have built a new student funding calculator, based on our detailed analysis of graduate income and student funding system, which allows users to examine the effects of changing any parameter of the system. It shows that it is essentially impossible for the Chancellor to save money without hitting graduates with middle incomes more than those with the highest incomes.

Reform is overdue

Students may fear bearing the costs of their degrees, but the taxpayer will bear on average nearly half of them. At a long-term cost to taxpayers of around £ 10bn per cohort, the current system of funding students for undergraduate degrees is costly to the public purse. Most of that cost, around £ 9bn, reflects the government cost of student loans, as around 80% of students are unlikely to ever repay their loans in full. For the 2021 cohort of new university graduates, our modeling suggests that 44% of the value of student loans will ultimately be paid by the taxpayer.

Besides its high cost, the current system has also been widely criticized on other grounds. The interest charged on student loans now far exceeds the government’s cost of borrowing, so the government makes significant profits by lending to high-income graduates who have taken out student loans (while their peers who have funded their studies by other means are stalled). The system also gives universities a free pass to admit as many students as they want to any course, leaving the government with little control over spending.

These concerns mean that reform now looks very likely. Lord Adonis, one of the architects of the UK income-tested student loan system, called the current system a “Frankenstein monster” and called for sweeping reform. The reports of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee and the Treasury Select Committee in 2018, as well as the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding in 2019, reached similar conclusions.

No easy options for the chancellor

Given the new pressures on public finances from the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the planned additional spending on adult education under the lifelong skills guarantee, the Chancellor is likely to wish that graduates bear a greater share of the costs. of their education. As the new IFS student finance calculator shows, this will be more difficult than it looks under the current framework of student finance.

Despite its many shortcomings, the current system has the desirable characteristic of being progressive: higher-income borrowers by far repay the most for their student loans, and lower-income borrowers pay less (see part a of figure below). Since the highest paying borrowers are already paying so much, any plausible way to raise more money from the system will shift the costs onto middle-income borrowers, but largely save those with the highest incomes.

Raising the student loan repayment rate would be the easiest way to raise more money, but appears to be both politically unpleasant and economically ill-advised. Count both employer and employee contributions to National Insurance (NIC) and student loan repayments as taxes – which they are effectively for everyone except the highest paying borrowers – the graduate employees who pay off their loans and earn above the loan repayment threshold (currently £ 27,295) will already pay half of any extra pounds that go towards paying tax on their wages once the new health tax and social care will come into effect (counting tax as a share of the cost of labor, ie gross income plus employer’s NICs). This figure rises to 58% for those earning above the threshold for the higher rate of income tax (currently £ 50,270) and 64% for those who also have a postgraduate loan from the government. .

Marginal tax rates as a percentage of labor cost (gross earnings plus employer NIC)

Gross salary

Non graduates


Graduates with postgraduate loans

£ 27,000




£ 30,000




£ 51,000




Note: Figures for tax year 2022-2023, assuming student loan repayment rates remain unchanged and the repayment threshold remains between £ 27,000 and £ 30,000 per year.

A more realistic alternative on the table is to extend the term of student loans. Currently, all outstanding student loans are written off 30 years after students start repaying, which usually happens a year after leaving college. Many commentators, including the authors of the Augar Review, have suggested extending the loan term to 40 years.

While this would avoid increasing the additional income tax burden for borrowers in the first 30 years of their working life, the borrowers most affected by this change would still be those with high lifetime incomes but not very high (part b). The length of the loan does not matter for those with the lowest lifetime incomes, as most of them will not earn above the repayment threshold anyway and therefore will not make additional repayments. It also doesn’t affect the highest paying borrowers much, as most of them will pay off their loans in full in less than 30 years.

Another option is to lower the student loan repayment threshold, also recommended by the Augar Review (Panel c). Again, this would hit middle-income graduates the most. The lower paying borrowers would largely not be affected, as they would repay little anyway. Unless the loan interest rate thresholds are changed at the same time, the highest paying borrowers would even end up paying less because they would pay off their loans faster and earn less interest.

Average CPI payouts in real £ k by lifetime income decile, current system and reform options

Note: Panel a shows estimates for the current system (2021 entry cohort). Panel b shows the effect of extending the loan term to 40 years. Panel c shows the effect of lowering the repayment threshold to £ 20,000 (keeping the interest rate thresholds fixed). Panel d shows the effect of reducing the student loan interest rate to the RPI inflation rate. In panels b through d, the gray dots show the current system for comparison.

High interest rates mean some graduates pay back much more than they borrow

Finally, the changes in the accounting treatment of student loans introduced in 2019 mean that the Chancellor may wish to reduce the interest rates charged. Before the changes, any interest accrued on student loans was counted as a receipt in government accounts, while write-offs were only counted as an expense at the end of the loan term (or not at all if the loans were sold). This meant that – conveniently for a chancellor trying to balance the books – high interest rates on student loans dramatically reduced the short-term budget deficit on paper, whether or not the loans were ever repaid.

With the new accounting treatment, the incentives for the Chancellor have reversed: high interest rates to augment the short-term budget deficit. Indeed, only the share of student loans that the government expects to repay with interest is treated like a conventional loan; the remainder is considered an expense in the year the loans are issued. The higher the interest rate, the lower the portion of the loans that will be repaid with interest, and therefore the higher the amount of out-of-pocket expenses that counts for the deficit. Lower interest rates would still be a net negative for public finances in the long term, as the interest accrued on the portion of conventional loans would be lower, outweighing the reduction in expenditure when issuing loans. But the Chancellor is perhaps less concerned with the long term and more concerned with the next few years.

Lower interest rates would be a considerable advantage for the highest paid borrowers (panel d) and would make the system significantly less progressive. Nonetheless, there is a strong case for lower rates regardless of any accounting considerations. With the current interest rates on student loans, many high-income graduates end up repaying both far more than they borrowed and far more than it cost the government to lend them. Students whose families can afford to pay the fees up front and who are confident that they will earn enough to pay off the loan are worse off using the loan system. This erodes confidence in the system, which should be good business for all graduates. Low to middle income borrowers are generally not affected in financial terms, as they usually do not pay off their loans regardless of the interest rate, but even for them there can be unwanted psychological consequences in seeing their loan. Notional debt increase to ever higher levels due to the high interest charges.

Find out how different reforms would affect student loans using our interactive tool >>>

We are grateful to the Nuffield Foundation for funding this work, which is part of a larger program examining trends and challenges in education spending.

This research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation (grant number EDO / FR-000022637), with co-funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via the Impact Acceleration Account (ES / T50192X / 1) and the Center for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policies (ES / T014334 / 1).

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UK tech sector raised record £ 13.5bn in first half of 2021


Britain’s tech sector has raised £ 13.5 billion in the first six months of the year, nearly three times more than in the same period a year ago, new data shows.

Companies such as fintech giant Revolut, online video conferencing company Hopin, and online car sales platform Cinch were major contributors to the record investment.

The UK’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation by Dealroom, who calculated the numbers, said it means the UK is on track to make 2021 the most important year on record for investment. technological.

In the first six months of the year, the biggest fundraisers included Revolut raising £ 577m, Cinch with £ 1bn, cybersecurity platform Snyk raising £ 289m and Hopin £ 289m. sterling to make it the fastest growing tech company in Europe.

Details arrive ahead of London Tech Week and the government hopes to use the data to showcase the country’s position as a technology hub for Europe.

According to the data, more than 1,400 UK tech companies have benefited from the £ 13.5 billion raised and the investment is more than double that made in the next largest market – Germany, which has managed to raise 6 , £ 2 billion.

The UK now has 105 unicorns – businesses worth over $ 1 billion (£ 720million) – with 20 established in the past six months, including Tractable, Zego and Depop.

By comparison, it took 24 years – from 1990 to 2014 – to create the UK’s first 20 unicorns.

The UK also has 12 $ 10bn (£ 7.2bn) tech companies, seven of which were established this year alone.

Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation, said: “The UK tech industry is on track to set a new investment record in 2021.

“The success of established companies like Wise, Darktrace and Depop shows that there is a clear path for UK tech companies to make an impact globally.”

Fintech companies are particularly popular in the UK, due to the strong banking sector already in place in the country.

According to Tech Nation, 11 of the 20 companies that became unicorns in the first six months of 2021 were in fintech, led by Revolut, valued at £ 23 billion.

Health technology is the second biggest area of ​​growth, especially during the pandemic, followed by transportation technology companies.

London continues to attract the most liquidity in venture capital, followed by Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge.

In Scotland, start-ups have raised £ 53.5million this year, including £ 35.9million for alternative protein company Enough and a round of workspace platform at Desana.io request.

Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook vice president for Europe, Middle East and Asia, and member of the Digital Economy Council, said: “The UK tech sector is maturing rapidly and the country now has a status. leader alongside Silicon Valley and China.

“It is an exciting time to be a part of this industry and we should encourage talented young people to understand that the best careers of the future can be found in companies that create innovative products and services that help businesses and individuals. . “

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pushed for the UK to exit Brexit as a tech hub.

He said: “Our technological revolution is creating jobs, stimulating growth and stimulating investment across the country.

“We have a number of cities on the map as technology hubs and new businesses emerging at a rapid pace. “

New Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As Digital Secretary I will push our pro-tech agenda to even higher heights and make sure every corner of the UK benefits from the technological revolution. . “

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Police: Man arrested after assaulting Pittsfield officer who responded to disturbance


A Pittsfield man was arrested on Sunday afternoon after he repeatedly “butted and punched” a police officer who responded to a report of unrest involving at least five people in Washington Street in Pittsfield, police said.

Michael J. Antonino, 40, was charged with assaulting a police officer and taken to Somerset County Jail, according to Pittsfield Police Chief Pete Bickmore.

“They got a call at 3:46 p.m. for a disruption at 160 Washington St. and Constable Michael Cray responded,” Bickmore said in a telephone interview. “While he was on his way, dispatchers told him that at least five people were fighting. When Officer Cray arrived he hired Antonino and Antonino assaulted him by repeatedly hitting him and head butting him.

Cray, who was Pittsfield’s only officer on duty, called for reinforcements and Maine State Police, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and Clinton Police Department responded, according to Bickmore, who said that Cray had suffered minor lacerations and had been treated by Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital Rescue.

Bickmore said his department typically only has one agent per shift.

“This is our allocation for our budget right now,” he said.

When asked if it was safe to have only one agent on a shift to respond to such an incident, Bickmore said: “This is absolutely an agent safety issue, and it should always be two agents answering a call like this. “

“Even though we get reinforcements from the state police and the sheriff’s office, you don’t know where they are,” he said. “They can be a few minutes or 20 minutes or more, and the first few minutes are critical. This is the second incident in less than 24 hours in which Pittsfield police officers are assaulted. “

Bickmore was referring to a burglary on Saturday night in which a woman who had been arrested kicked and bit two Pittsfield officers and a Somerset County Sheriff’s Corrections officer.

Bickmore said his department has treated Antonino in the past, but could not provide details of these incidents.

” Previous

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Scottish Covid Vaccine Testers ‘Treated Like Second Class Citizens’ | Scotland


Scottish vaccine volunteers are treated like ‘second class citizens’ pending approval of the Novavax vaccine, an MSP said, as they continue a months-long fight to have their vaccines recognized in the database NHS Scotland standard.

Trial participants fear that the introduction of vaccine passports north of the border next month will put them at a further disadvantage because they cannot access the standard electronic version – having only one piece of paper.

Some have been abused online by anti-vaccines while others have felt compelled to lie to get an approved dose, despite having no information on the side effects of the vaccine mixture.

Their fate was brought to light on Sunday when the Observer reported that England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam had asked ministers to withhold all UK clinical trial data from the EU if the European countries continued to deny entry to volunteers in the Novavax and Valneva trials.

Around 1,000 Scots have signed up for the Novavax trial, which began in the fall of 2020, a sizable cohort of 15,000 across the UK, and the early results were seen as extremely promising. But the Guardian also saw a notification sent to trial participants in northern England this week of a new regulatory approval delay of at least two months, meaning they won’t see each other. offer booster shots.

The email from the local trial’s medical manager said: “Novavax is unable to provide advice on the safety of receiving 2 doses of an authorized vaccine or a booster of one. vaccine authorized after having previously received 2 doses of the Novavax vaccine. “

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has urged the Scottish government to tackle the irregularities. “It is concerning that those who have volunteered to test new vaccines that could protect us all are being treated as second-class citizens,” he said.

While Scottish government ministers have repeatedly reassured volunteers that clinical trial participants have the same status as someone vaccinated through the NHS program, volunteers wonder how much it really is even when they don’t are not included in the NHS Inform database, cannot get a QR code on their phone, and only have a paper document of their status.

A participant from Aberdeen said: ‘We have to self-isolate as if we haven’t been vaccinated, our contact details aren’t on the NHS Inform website, we can’t download a QR code – and when the vaccine passports will come into effect next month, all of us have a paper letter, which is not equal to an app on your phone.

She added: “I did not participate in this trial to fight against my own government. People don’t understand what it takes to participate in a trial, and if we had known, we would never have signed up.

Asked about the situation after her Covid declaration last Tuesday, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated that “no one who has participated in a trial will be disadvantaged”.

She said: “All clinical trial participants have already received a letter from their principal investigator, which can be used to prove their trial status. This provided an interim measure to allow people to access national sites where certification is required.

“Recently, we also issued participants with an immunization record that contains a 1D barcode and security features compatible with all immunization records.”

Passports for vaccines will be required in Scotland in many contexts. These include visiting nightclubs, indoor seated venues with over 500 people in attendance, and non-seated events with over 10,000 people.

The Scottish vaccine volunteers point out that most site and travel staff will be trained to handle QR codes, not paper certificates. Although the UK Department for Health and Welfare insists it is working with decentralized administrations to ensure a coherent approach, these participants are angry at what they claim is the Scottish government’s refusal to register their contact details online, as happens automatically for anyone with an approved vaccine. .

Michaela, another volunteer from Aberdeen, said trial officials told her the only way to get the certification she needed to visit family in the EU was to formally withdraw from the trial and to go to a reception center. Initially, she was turned away when the vaccinator realized that she had already received a test dose.

“Eventually I decided there was no other way but to lie,” she said. “I felt disappointed and like I had to conduct my own experiment because I don’t know if there are any side effects from mixing the vaccines.”

Another Glasgow volunteer, who works in the health field, also felt she had no choice but to lie to get a vaccine approved. After her child caught Covid, she described the ‘kick in the teeth’ of learning she was considered unvaccinated for the purposes of self-isolation – just as the rules were changed to allow close contacts to return to work if they are fully immunized.

She said, “In what world doesn’t that put trial participants at a disadvantage? I couldn’t go to work, leaving my team understaffed and affecting patient care.

Novavax told the Guardian that it expects “final deposits” to the MHRA to take place over the next two months, and that “in addition to working day and night to complete the submission process, we are doing all of our work. possible to advocate on behalf of participants in the clinical journey ”.

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As leaders meet again at UN, climate and COVID top the list | Covid-19


UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Last year no leader came. This year will be quite different – sort of.

As the coronavirus pandemic still rages in many parts of the world, leaders from more than 100 countries are heading to New York this week for the annual high-level United Nations gathering – a semi-locked COVID-inflected affair that takes place in one of the cities hardest hit by the pandemic. This will be a change from the last in-person General Assembly meeting in 2019 – and very different from last year’s fully virtual version as well.

Expecting Them: Sized challenges enough to frighten anyone who runs a country, from an escalating climate crisis and serious vaccine inequalities to the future of Afghanistan under its new Taliban rulers and to escalating conflicts in Myanmar and in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed to many other signs of a more chaotic, precarious and dangerous world: increasing poverty and hunger; technological advances “without safeguards” such as lethal autonomous weapons; the risks of climate degradation and nuclear war; and the growing inequality, discrimination and injustice that drives people onto the streets to protest “as conspiracy theories and lies fuel deep divisions within societies”.

The UN chief keeps repeating that the world is at “a pivotal moment” and must shift into high gear towards “a greener and safer world”. To do this, leaders must give multilateralism ‘teeth’, starting with joint action to reverse the global failure to fight COVID-19 in 2020 and ensure that 70% of the world’s population is vaccinated. during the first half of 2022.

But as is often the case with the United Nations, it remains to be seen whether the high-level meetings, which start on Monday and end on September 27, actually make progress.

After COVID-19 forced leaders to deliver pre-recorded speeches remotely at last year’s meeting, more than 100 heads of state and government and more than two dozen ministers decided to come to New York this year despite the pandemic. This reflects the unique role of the United Nations as a global public forum for the 193 member countries, whether small or large, weak or powerful.

The annual gathering of assembly world leaders – known as the General Debate – has always been a place where presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and other senior officials can discuss local, regional and global concerns in public meetings and functions or private, and during lunches and dinners. . In other words, it creates a space for carrying out the delicate business of face-to-face diplomacy, which is seen as much more productive than online virtual meetings.

Richard Gowan, director of the International Crisis Group at the UN, said the first in-person meeting of the General Assembly since the start of the pandemic – although some 60 leaders have chosen to give pre-recorded speeches – is not only symbolic but an opportunity to “show that the international cooperation is important.”

“For the leaders of the poorest countries, this is also a rare opportunity to speak publicly about the ongoing aftershocks of COVID-19,” he said. “It’s also, frankly, quite fun coming to New York. Many of these leaders are stuck in their capitals.

After four years of Donald Trump representing the United States in meetings, this week will see Joe Biden make his first appearance as president when the general debate opens on Tuesday. Gowan said that “the really important question is exactly how he frames relations with China.”

“He won’t be criticizing China as openly as Trump, especially in 2019 and 2020,” Gowan said. “But I think Biden will try to portray China as a country that challenges the rules-based world order and a country that should not be trusted to lead the international system.”

The pandemic is not only something world leaders need to discuss, but also something to deal with on the ground: a key issue ahead of the meetings has been COVID-19 entry requirements for leaders in states – United – and at the UN headquarters itself.

Traditionally, the first speaker after the Secretary General presents his State of the World Report is Brazil. Its president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is not vaccinated, reiterated Thursday that he does not plan to be vaccinated anytime soon. Bolsonaro’s rationale: He had COVID-19 and therefore, he says, he has a high level of antibodies.

Entry into the United States requires a vaccination or recent COVID-19 test, but New York City has a vaccination requirement for convention centers, and it considers the General Assembly Hall – which does not. is technically not American soil – is part of it.

Assembly Speaker Abdulla Shahid said in a letter Thursday that the UN relies solely on an honor system. This means that there will be no New York City police to screen people entering the UN headquarters.

Many diplomats say they will keep a close watch on the last scheduled speakers on the last day, September 27, because each has something controversial.

North Korea has just tested new cruise missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons. In Myanmar, generals toppled the democratically elected government in February. The Guinean army overthrew the democratically elected president a month ago. And in Afghanistan, the Taliban seized power on August 15 when the Afghan army did not fight as the last American troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of war.

The credentials of Myanmar’s current ambassador, the country’s ousted democratic government, are challenged by the military junta, but UN officials say the General Assembly’s credentials committee will not meet to hear the protest only after the end of the week’s meetings. And the Taliban have yet to submit a letter challenging the credentials of the previous government’s ambassador.

Among those delivering pre-recorded statements this year are the presidents of Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. French President Emmanuel Macron was supposed to deliver a prerecorded statement, but the government has said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will now deliver the country’s speech in person on the last day.

France and China have reacted angrily to the surprise announcement by Biden, alongside Australian and British leaders, of an agreement to supply Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. Australia had signed a contract worth at least $ 66 billion for a dozen French conventional diesel-electric submarines and their construction was already underway.

France, the United States’ longest-serving ally, responded by recalling its ambassadors from the United States and Australia on Friday, and the implications of the dispute for Asian and global security will certainly be hot topics in private meetings this week. .

The action begins Monday morning when the Secretary-General brings together world leaders and global pop group BTS to highlight the 17 UN goals for 2030 ranging from eradicating poverty and protecting the planet to achievement. of gender equality, providing every child with a quality education and ensuring a healthy life for all.

An hour later, around 40 world leaders will take part in a closed-door meeting on climate change co-chaired by Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the run-up to November’s big climate event in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We need urgent progress on money, cars, coal and trees,” British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said. This means raising $ 100 billion to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change and get countries ambitious emission reduction plans, she said.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch, said world leaders must also deal with human rights crises.

“They must be clear that there can be no status quo with serious rights violations and support UN action which will impose real costs,” he said. “Violent leaders around the world need to know that the world is watching them and that they could one day be held accountable for serious violations. “

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