EU May Shrink to Point Where it No Longer Has Major States – Juncker – Sputnik International

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to visit the United States on July 25, in a bid to add to improving EU-US relations, which were tarnished after President Donald Trump slapped import duties on steel and 10 percent duties on aluminum.

Speaking at the Carlos de Amberes Foundation in Madrid, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that against the backdrop of a growing global population, Europe may finally “shrink” to the threshold when there will be no major states there.

Describing Europe as “the closest continent,” Juncker predicted that no EU member will make up more than one percent of the global population within the next few years.


Source: EU May Shrink to Point Where it No Longer Has Major States – Juncker – Sputnik International


DWP ‘adding to suffering’ of terminally ill benefit claimants

The UK Government has faced strong condemnation after it rejected a cross-party proposal to amend a controversial element of disability benefit legislation for terminally ill claimants, with one commentator describing the decision as “cruel” and unjustifiable.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants who have been told they have less than six months to live can be fast tracked through the application process, but critics argue that this policy is too restrictive and should be rescinded or amended.

The SNP Scottish Government has already brought forward new legislation to rescind the six month limit, and now politicians from other political parties are calling on the UK Government to do the same across the UK.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has rejected the cross-party request, claiming the current system already provides sufficient levels of support for terminally ill PIP claimants.

Labour MP Madeleine Moon, whose husband died from motor neurone disease, gave an emotional speech in Parliament, calling for the law to be changed so that terminally ill patients don’t have to spend their last weeks of life worrying about how to pay household bills.

She told MPs: “I’ve talked to people who are worried about losing their homes, worried about how they’re going to pay fuel bills, how they’re going to provide food.


Source: DWP ‘adding to suffering’ of terminally ill benefit claimants

Trump criticizes Federal Reserve for rate hikes, breaking with tradition

President Donald Trump attacked the Federal Reserve on Thursday, saying he disagreed with the course taken by the central bank and its chairman, Jerome Powell, whom Trump nominated to the position last year.

“I don’t necessarily agree with it,” Trump told CNBC about the Fed’s two rate hikes so far this year. “I’m not thrilled, because every time we go up, they want to raise rates again. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.”

Markets whiplashed on Trump’s comments, with the Dow Jones dropping more than 100 points and the dollar taking a brief stumble.

The White House released a statement shortly after the president’s statement was released.


Source: Trump criticizes Federal Reserve for rate hikes, breaking with tradition

More thoughts from Roger Hargreaves on the Bill

The Small Places

Roger Hargreaves has kindly given me permission to reproduce two more posts for a Facebook discussion group on the DoLS about the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill.  I was going to stick them at the bottom of another post, but I think they deserve their a post of their own:

In support of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, the government notes in the Impact Assessment that “only about 4-8% of those assessed under DoLS are thought to have improved care as a result of the process.  For over 90% the staff could not identify benefits.”  The Briefing Note to the Lords then sets out one of the main reasons, that the stable door is being shut long after the horse has bolted: “DoLS require that the care home or hospital in which a person is deprived of liberty must apply to a local authority for authorisation. The Law Commission notes that…

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What’s in the mind of a megalomaniac? — The Secular Jurist

Whatever it is with Trump, then we all need to know and know soon, before any further damage is done in world relations.

Does Trump even know what day it is and where he is.


By Robert A. Vella Donald Trump has been in the White House for a year and a half, yet the turmoil surrounding his presidency began from his first day in office and has grown into a perpetual firestorm that has singed every continent on the face of our planet. That’s quite a feat for one […]

via What’s in the mind of a megalomaniac? — The Secular Jurist

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Thousands owed £340m in underpaid benefits after ‘major’ DWP error

MPs have criticised a “culture of indifference” at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), after a “major” error resulted in thousands of people being underpaid in benefits for several years.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) estimates that 70,000 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants have been underpaid a shocking £340 million in ESA, with those affected owed an average £5,000 each and some owed as much as £20,000.

However, some people look set to miss out entirely, because the DWP has only agreed to backdate payments to 2014, even though the errors in payments go back much further.

In a damning report published today, the PAC blast the Department for taking longer than 6 years to rectify the problems that were causing the underpayments, “even when it was painfully obvious that it was underpaying a significant number of people”.

“It failed to design a process that reflected its own legislation”, the PAC said. “It failed to subject that process to proper scrutiny. It failed to listen to its own staff, claimants, or external stakeholders and experts who told it things were going wrong and that it needed to slow down.”

The DWP are now finally beginning to repay the arrears, but there is no plan to compensate sick and disabled ESA claimants who have missed out on passported benefits like free prescriptions and free school meals.


Source: Thousands owed £340m in underpaid benefits after ‘major’ DWP error

A New Reason for Trump to Release His Tax Returns: Helsinki – Bloomberg

In case you’ve forgotten about them, President Donald Trump’s personal income tax returns still matter. So do the Trump Organization’s business relationships and finances. If you ever doubted either of those things, consider the president’s meeting in Helsinki on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During their press conference, the subject of “compromising” information arose at the very end of their briefing.

“Sir, do you — does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?” Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press reporter, asked Putin.

Trump shook his head and smirked, gazing down at his lectern. Putin chuckled.

“Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow,” Putin replied, before noting that it was impossible to gather intelligence on the multitude of Western businesspeople who visit Russia. Trump was never important enough in his pre-presidency days to warrant the Kremlin’s attention, he added.


Source: A New Reason for Trump to Release His Tax Returns: Helsinki – Bloomberg

Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

Nearly 8 million family carers in the UK are “propping up the care system” by providing unpaid care for relatives and other loved-ones, whilst also paying a significant personal and financial price for the care they provide, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

Research has calculated that around 7.6 million adults are giving up their time to provide unpaid care for relatives, up 1 million since 2005 and equal to almost 15% of adults living in the UK.

In their report published on Monday, the SMF says the proportion of family carers providing 20 or more hours of unpaid care each week has increased from 24% in 2005 to reach 28% in 2015, with family carers providing an average 19.5 hours of unpaid care each week.

In total, family carers are sacrificing 149 million hours to care for loved-ones every week, equal to 4 million paid care-givers working full-time hours.

However, this level of unselfishness can have a devastating impact on the carers’ health and work prospects, with family carers less likely to be in employment than non-carers and more likely to earn far less.


Source: Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

EU begins screening Macedonia, Albania for mid-2019 accession talks | Reuters

EU governments last month delayed by at least a year a decision to allow membership talks with Macedonia and Albania after France and the Netherlands demanded more reforms to tackle organized crime and corruption.

Johannes Hahn, the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, told reporters in the Macedonian capital Skopje he was happy “to announce today the official launch of the screening process with your country”.

Hahn explained the screening would allow Macedonia and neighboring Albania to become familiar with EU legal norms and the EU to gauge their preparedness to comply with them, especially the chapters on rule of law.

“This shows our very strong engagement to accompany you in your reform efforts and to turn your EU integration perspective into reality,” Hahn said, promising the EU door would be open.


Source: EU begins screening Macedonia, Albania for mid-2019 accession talks | Reuters

‘Scandal’ of new rail station set to be built without step-free access to trains | DisabledGo News and Blog

A new rail station being built as part of a multi-billion pound regeneration programme will not enable wheelchair-users to board trains without the help of staff and a ramp, disabled campaigners have warned.

Brent Cross West Thameslink is being built as part of the £4.5 billion Cricklewood Brent Cross development in north-west London, a partnership between Barnet council and the private sector.

But current plans for the station, which is due to open in 2022, are that it will be step-free from the entrance to the platform, but not from the platform to the train.

This appears to be because building the higher platforms necessary for wheelchair-users to board trains without manual ramps and assistance would mean freight trains would have to slow down when passing those higher platforms.

Campaigners believe that although most freight trains will pass through the station’s dedicated freight platform, some will be routed through passenger platforms, and it could delay the passenger services behind them if they are forced to slow down.

The controversy could prove embarrassing for Govia Thameslink Railway, the company which will run Thameslink services through the station.


Source: ‘Scandal’ of new rail station set to be built without step-free access to trains | DisabledGo News and Blog