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UK to welcome more than 20,000 refugees following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan

Reports claim that a number of these refugees will be housed in hotels near Manchester Airport

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Jan Chipcase / Wikimedia Commons

The UK is set to welcome more than 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that 5,000 people will be eligible to be resettled in Britain during the first year of the program, with women and girls given priority status, with the rest to be admitted in the ‘long term’.

Those deemed to be at the highest risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban will also be given priority for settlement. 

The Prime Minister, who will address MPs today on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last twenty years.

“Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help. I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK.”

Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese added that planes carrying people from Afghanistan are expected to land here in Manchester ‘at any moment.’

He said: “They’re on their way. We’re expecting planes to be landing at any moment. We’re certainly not going to turn our back on those people.

“But what we are going to do is to continue to make the case that actually, if we’re really a caring country, we need to make sure we put the proper resources and systems in to be able to support these people very quickly, get them out of hotels and get them into homes.

“We’re definitely not going to be refusing to take people, but we will continue to make the case for proper support.”

Following the departure of American troops on Sunday, the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul, almost two decades after they were initially defeated by the US. The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, abandoning the presidential palace to Taliban fighters.

Under the Taliban’s rule, Sharia Law, women and girls are stripped of most basic human rights, including the right to have an education, work, and leave the house without a male relative. While the Taliban have promised to take a more modern approach to their ruling, concern for the safety and wellbeing of Afghan women and girls is still rife.

For more information on how you can help the refugees fleeing Afghanistan, visit the following links:

British Red Cross
UNICEF
AllWeCan.org
United Nation Refugee Agency 
Refugee Council

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Energy bills set to rise even higher in worrying new prediction

Households will soon be faced with annual bills of over £4,000

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Energy bills are set to rise even higher than previously predicted, according to worrying new figures released today.

Energy consultancy firm Cornwall Insight has forecasted that the average household will be paying £3,582 a year, £200 higher from the £3,359 originally predicted earlier this month.

And from January, the amount is expected to rise even higher to £4,266 before continuing to rise in April to £4,427.

The previous forecast for April was £3,729 – that’s a rise of £650.

Cornwall insight said it had increased its forecast due to the continuing rise in wholesale prices and an expected change in methodology for how the energy price cap is calculated.

Dr. Craig Lowrey, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, described the predicted increase in January as a ‘fresh shock’.

Read More: Ofgem boss issues warning to people planning energy bill boycott

He said: “The cost of living crisis was already top of the news agenda as more and more people face fuel poverty, this will only compound the concerns.”

However, Dr. Lowrey explained that without the more frequent changes to the price cap, more energy suppliers might be in danger of collapse.

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He said the change in how the price cap is calculated was necessary to prevent suppliers going bust, but added: “Rather than critiquing the methodology of the cap, it may be time to consider the cap’s place altogether.

“After all, if it is not controlling consumer prices, and is damaging suppliers’ business models, we must wonder if it is fit for purpose – especially in these times of unprecedented energy market conditions.

“It is essential that the government use our predictions to spur on a review of the support package being offered to consumers.

“If the £400 was not enough to make a dent in the impact of our previous forecast, it most certainly is not enough now.”

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Avanti West Coast slashes timetable and suspends ticket sales to Manchester ‘until further notice’

The disruption is expected to last for the rest of the month

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Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast has slashed its timetables and suspended ticket sales to Manchester ‘until further notice’.

The company said severe staff shortages caused by ‘unofficial strike action’ by ASLEF members is the reason for their reduced services, which are expected to be impacted for the rest of the month.

As a result of this, services will run on a reduced service, with trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly being the worst affected.

Train frequencies between the capital and Manchester will be reduced to as few as one per hour, rather than the usual three.

There will be just four Avanti West Coast trains per hour from Euston travelling to Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

Avanti West Coast said that many passengers have experienced short-notice cancellations in recent weeks and they hope the reduced timetable will allow them to run a reliable service.

Ticket sales and closed reservations have also been suspended from August 14th to September 11th ‘to minimise the number of people disrupted’.

A statement from the company said: “From August 14th, until further notice, we will be introducing a reduced timetable on our services. This is due to the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels, as well as unofficial strike action by ASLEF members.

“As a result of the above, including the majority of drivers declaring themselves unavailable for overtime, our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations on our network which has had a severe impact on their plans.

“The reduced timetable is being introduced to ensure a reliable service is delivered so our customers can travel with greater certainty. This decision was not taken lightly, and we are sorry for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this will cause.”

The company went on to urge rail unions to ‘engage in meaningful industry reform talks around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century’.

Their statement concluded: “If you’ve already booked to travel with us from August 14th onwards and your train is cancelled, your ticket will be accepted on the Avanti West Coast service before or after your original booked train.”

Alternatively, passengers can claim a full, fee-free refund from their point of purchase if they can no longer travel due to the amended timetable.

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‘Grease’ star Dame Olivia Newton-John has died aged 73

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Grease actress Dame Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of seventy-three.

A representative for the Cambridge-born actress confirmed the news tonight, saying Olivia ‘died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends’.

Her death comes after a thirty-year-long battle with breast cancer.

Her husband John Easterling confirmed the news in a Facebook post on her official page, writing: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends.

“We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over thirty years sharing her journey with breast cancer.

“Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.

“In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).

“Olivia is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.”

Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and again in 2013, though she chose to keep her diagnosis private the second time around.

When she was diagnosed for the third time in 2018, she was informed the cancer had spread to the base of her spine. However, she remained optimistic and was determined to beat the disease with the help of her husband. 

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