Category Archives: London

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When You Cycle With Friends, It’s About The Journey Not The Destination

I recently went on a ride with a friend whose cycling ability far exceeds mine. He’s called Henry and he’s a racing club cyclist. He often rides up to 100 miles at a time on the weekend, he’s raced in time trials, cycled at events in France, and is currently planning a bike tour of Europe. I invited him for a bike ride with me – despite the gulf between our abilities – because I thought it’d be a good way to catch up. 

We cycled 10 miles across London and stopped midway to have a coffee and croissant. We went on a quieter route so we could cycle side-by-side and chat. We laughed when I blamed my bike – which is a lot heavier than his Brompton – for being the reason I couldn’t get up the hill (it definitely was). And we successfully navigated around the busy London traffic. 

As a beginner, I obviously experienced many benefits of our ride, too. When my bike started squeaking (which would usually send me into a mild panic), he told me it was nothing to worry about. I didn’t have to work out the route we were going on because he knew the roads better than me, and I could quiz him while we were riding about the dos and don’ts of city cycling (“Are we actually allowed to cycle in bus lanes?” “Yep”). 

Surprisingly, there wasn’t one point where I noticed how much more experienced he was than me. This was probably also largely down to the fact he didn’t bring along his super speedy road bike or come dressed head-to-toe in lycra (phew!), but also because he could appreciate the joy of a casual ride on the weekend away from time trials and speed and any challenge of the sort. It was a mutually-enjoyable ride. I say that with confidence, because I asked him. 

“It was great to potter around London on our bikes, I really enjoyed our ride,” he told me (when I pressed him). “Contrary to the mega-mile club rides I do on my road bike, relaxed cafe trips like this are a great social event without the need to don the Lycra.”

Our bike ride was a social event – it was an outing in itself, not just a means to get from A to B.

Since I started cycling, I’ve been consciously using my bike more to get me places – to meet my friends at brunch, to my friends for dinner in the evening and I have (once) attempted to cycle to work. But on that Sunday morning, the ride itself was the main event. It wasn’t about reaching the destination, but enjoying the ride for everything it was in its simplicity: a way for two friends to catch up who have a shared interest of cycling. And coffee. 

After the ride, I felt so content. It motivated me to want to get out more with friends on my bike – and I know I’m not alone in this. Thomas Curran, an assistant professor in sport psychology at the University of Bath researches the motivation and emotion of sport psychology. He tells me cycling stands out among many other sports to be one that reaps the social benefits.

“There’s a number of different things people are willing to get off the sofa for and cycling seems to have captured a lot of people’s attention, a lot of people seem to be enthused by it,” he said. “One of the key reasons is that it offers an opportunity for people to share in an activity in a non-threatening way. You can have different skill levels and [if you’re in a cycling club] you can sit where you want from the fittest to plodding along at the back on a Saturday. There is always a range of ability in cycling and it’s in a safe space.” 

For the first time, I pondered the idea of a cycling club (I’m still pondering, if you were wondering). I know for a fact friends for life are born from these cycling clubs and I’m intrigued to find out more about them. So help me out: Are you in a cycling club? Do you run one? What do you love about it? I’d love to hear from you – email me amy.packham@huffpost.com. 

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Homeless Man Who Died Outside Parliament ‘Had Been Deported Twice From UK’

A homeless Portuguese national who died outside Parliament had been deported from the UK twice, it has been reported.

The man, who has not yet been officially named, was deported in 2014 and 2016, the Ministry of Portuguese Communities Abroad told Portuguese daily Expresso, according to the Mail.

Local media also reported that the first deportation took place after the man served prison time for sexually abusing a child.

Flowers and cards from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his staff, left by a member of his team at the underpass of exit three at Westminster Underground station ” alt=”Flowers and cards from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his staff, left by a member of his team at the underpass of exit three at Westminster Underground station ” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34974486″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

The man in his 40s, who is believed to have been a former model, was a regular at an emergency shelter run by central London homelessness charity The Connection.

Staff there said they had been helping him try to find a job and he had submitted an application form last week – hoping to become a waiter.

A spokesperson for the charity said they were “deeply saddened” by his death on Wednesday morning.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those who laid flowers for the man at the scene.

An inquest into the man’s death is expected to be opened shortly, but police say it is not being treated as suspicious.

The man was found dead just a stone’s throw from Parliament” alt=”The man was found dead just a stone’s throw from Parliament” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34972805″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

A spokesperson for Westminster City Council, whose outreach workers discovered the man unresponsive just after 7.15am and desperately tried to resuscitate him, said: “This is a very sad incident and we will work with police as they establish the cause of death.

“In the meantime, anyone worried about a rough sleeper can visit StreetLink to alert our teams and allow us to provide routes off the street and into safety.”

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Great Portland Street Fire: More Than 50 Firefighters Tackling Blaze In Central London

More than 50 firefighters are tackling a huge blaze in London’s Great Portland Street.

London Fire Brigade said there are ten fire engines at the building, which is believed to be under construction.

A plume of think, black smoke could be seen across the capital.

London Fire Brigade said on Twitter: “The Great Portland Street fire is in a building under refurbishment. There are a number of gas cylinders involved in the blaze.

“A exclusion zone of 25 metres has been set up, as a precaution, as some cylinders can explode when exposed to heat.”

The Metropolitan Police Service are also at the scene.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Check back for the fullest version. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

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Activists use ‘Three Billboards’ to make a powerful point about Grenfell Tower fire in London

Activists in London recreated an iconic scene from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to draw attention to what they say is a lack of progress made in the investigation since the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people in June 2017. 

SEE ALSO: Adele pays an emotional visit to Grenfell Tower in London after the fire

Three billboards—identical in colour, and design to those in the film—were spotted across London on Thursday morning. 

The words “71 dead.” “And, still no arrests?” “How come?” were emblazoned across the three red roving billboards which were spotted at locations throughout the UK capital, including Parliament Square, home of the UK government.  Read more…

More about Uk, London, Grenfell Tower Fire, Grenfell Tower, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

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Love On A Möbius Strip: An Incredibly Improbable Trip

Einstein famously said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” Then he added, “And I’m not so sure about the universe.”

And it’s true, there’s a realistic possibility that the entire universe is infinite; it’s mathematically and physically possible. There was a period of time in my research when I was obsessed with this idea. I was fixated on the implication that you could leave the Earth and travel in a straight line to a planet in a distant galaxy on the edge of the observable universe and realise the galaxy was the Milky Way that you had left behind you, and the planet you had landed on was the Earth. There were also weirder possibilities that the Earth was reconnected like a Möbius strip — if you took a left-handed glove on that same trip, it would come back right-handed. 

The hazard for a scientist working on something so esoteric is the possibility that it just might not be true or it might not be answerable. I felt myself kind of navigating this precipice between discovery on the one side and obscurity on the other side. At the time I was working at Berkeley, living in San Francisco. I would spend a lot of time in the coffee shop across the street from my apartment. I was trying to find some kind of tangible connection to a more earthbound reality. And it was there that I met this guy named Warren.

Warren came charging past me the first day I saw him and pinned me with his blue eyes and said, “You’re the astrophysicist.” Which I knew. And then he had so much momentum after having built up the nerve to say this to me that he kept walking; he didn’t wait for my response. He went right out of the coffee shop and down the street.

And so it began.

It was like we were pulling so hard in such opposite directions that the tension kept both of us from floating away.

Warren is just everything I would never want in a man. He can’t drive, he’s never had his name on a property lease, he’s by his own confession completely uneducated, he’s a self-professed obsessive-compulsive. He comes from a really tough part of working-class Manchester. He writes songs like

Daddy was a drunk, daddy was a singer,

Daddy was a drunken singer.

Murdered in a flop house, broke and drunk…

You get the idea. It’s not good. So naturally I’m completely smitten. And he is mesmerising. He has all this intensity, all this energy. He’s full of opinions. He was going to start his own music station called Shut the Folk Up.

I said, “The gag is going to be that nobody’s going to understand his accent. Nobody will understand a word he says! He’ll just rant.” It was a Manchester accent, but it did seem even more tangled than one would expect. It was quite a brogue. He would talk so fast that the words would just slam together— it was really undecipherable. But when he sang, this big, beautiful, warm tone just lifted out of him; it was like this old- timey crooner, this rare crisp and clear sound. So I used to tell him, “If there’s anything that’s really urgent that you need me to understand, just, like, sing it to me, OK?”

So, Warren and I started seeing each other, and he never asked me about my work, which was quite a relief from my own sort of mental world. And it’s like we were both in exile. Warren was in exile from his actual country, and I was in a kind of mental exile. And he would obsess all day about music and melody, and I would obsess all day about mathematics and numbers. And it was like we were pulling so hard in such opposite directions that the tension kept both of us from floating away. 

After a few weeks of seeing each other, Warren decides we should live together, and he’s going to convince me that I should let him move in. So he gives me this argument— some fairly inventive logic, which I’m a little suspicious of, and laden with all kinds of Manchester slang I don’t really follow. But Warren can convince me of anything, just anything, so I relent, and he says, “I’ll be right back!” He’s so excited; he comes back in less than an hour, and he’s moved in. He’s carrying his guitar and what ever he can carry on his back, because he has this philosophy, “If you can’t carry it, you can’t own it.” Right? So he moves in with me.

And my parents are thrilled. Their recently Ph.D. confirmed daughter — I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from MIT — is living with an illegal immigrant who can’t spell words like “nonviable,” “unfeasible.” Even our friends are full of doubt. Our good friend, the musician Sean Hayes, is writing lyrics like

We’ll just play this one out until it explodes

Into a thousand tiny pieces

What’s your story universe

You are melody, you are numbers

You are shapes, and you are rhythms

Warren and I hear this, and we’re pretty sure it’s about us. And I’m filled with doubt too. I mean, this is a crazy situation; it’s totally improbable. And my fellowship’s coming to an end, and the only other offers I have are in England. And Warren hates England. He slumps when he describes the low-hanging skies and the black mark of his accent there, and the inescapability of his class, but he says, “Baby, you know, I’ll follow you anywhere. Even to England,” as though I’m bringing him to the acid marshes of hell.

But he makes himself feel better by convincing me we have to sell all our stuff, because you can’t own what you can’t carry. So we’re sitting on the steps of our apartment, and I watch stuff that I’ve been carting around my entire life just disappear. People come in and out of the coffee shop and stop to talk to us and say, “So you’re the astrologer?”

And I say, “Well, no, I’m more of an astronomer.” And they ask me about how is it possible that the universe is finite. And I explain how Warren and I could go on this trip from San Francisco to London, and if we kept going in as straight a line as possible we’d eventually come back to San Francisco again, where we started. Because the Earth is compact and connected and finite, and maybe the whole universe is like that. And Warren and I make this leap, his left hand in my right hand, and we board a plane to the UK. 

And it does suck. We have this very difficult wandering path, but finally I land a fantastic fellowship at Cambridge. It’s beautiful. But not before we spend a few weeks in a coin-operated bed-sit in Brighton. If you ran out of pound coins, your electricity went off and the lights went out. We often ran out of pound coins, and towards the end we were so despondent we would just sit in the dark. I could hear though not see Warren say things like “At least I don’t have to look at the wood-chipped wallpaper,” which for some reason really depressed him, this very English quality of the wood- chipped wallpaper.

But eventually we get to Cambridge, and my work takes a beautiful turn. I start working on black holes, these massive dead stars tens of kilometers across spinning hundreds of times a second ripping through space at the speed of light. This is very concrete compared to my previous research. So I’m excited about the direction my work’s turning in. I’m in Stephen Hawking’s group in Cambridge, which is very exciting, but he doesn’t pay me any attention at all. But I’m invited by Nobel laureates to Trinity College for dinner, and I get to watch this ceremony of dinner at this old, beautiful college from the privileged perch of high table.

Meanwhile Warren’s down the road in another college washing the dishes because it was the only job he could get. And as things go on, we both start to retreat into our mental worlds, me in my math and Warren in his melody, but it’s like we’re not really keeping each other from floating away so much anymore.

Eventually it starts to rain, and it rains forever. Woody Allen said, “Forever’s a very long time, especially the bit towards the end.” And a rainy winter in Cambridge is a very long time. Warren picks up a mandolin; he starts playing these Americana bluegrass tunes over and over again, you know, na na na na na na na. And it’s this manic soundtrack to our mounting insanity, and eventually we explode. It takes about six months of that relentless rain, but we explode, and it’s over. And all we see is how improbable we are; we see that we’re nonviable and unfeasible. Which are words, by the way, that Warren can spell by then. 

We both leave. We pack up everything we have, each of us just what we can carry. We end up in a bus terminal in London, clutching each other. I’m waiting for Warren to convince me, because he can always convince me, that we can do the impossible. But it’s like the light’s gone out in his eyes, and I disappear into London and he just… disappears. And the silence is total.

A graduate student of mine recently said to me, “The emotional dimension is the least interesting part of the human experience.” And I know scientists are odd, but I agree. I was like, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” So it’s difficult for me to recount how dark those nights were. Even in my worst moments I knew that my despair was just sort of not interesting. I needed to get back to mathematics and the universe and this connection because in its sheer magnitude it would diminish the importance of my personal trials.

I searched all over London until I found a perfect warehouse to move into, because I wanted to connect with a more earthbound reality while I was doing my research. I found the perfect place. It had broken windows and shutters. It was dead empty— no bathroom, nothing. I had the windows replaced, and I had a bathroom installed, and my unit became a part of this artists’ community building on the east end of London, along the canals.

So I had a great community around me, and I started a new life there, and I started to write. I got a book deal. It was a book about whether or not the universe was finite, and it was a diary about the terror of a scientist working on that really frightening divide between discovery and total oblivion. And it became a parallel story about Warren, about the unraveling of an obsessive-compulsive mind. I think if I’m honest it was also a way of still hanging on to him. This book kind of came out of me fully formed; it took one year.

When the book was finished, I delivered it to my publisher, and in part fueled by the London gloom and in part fueled by nostalgia, I decided I wanted to go back to San Francisco just to recuperate. To go back to where the book actually starts, when we sell all of our stuff on the steps in San Francisco.

I go back to California, and I take these beautiful walks in the city. San Francisco is so beautiful. And I find myself, despite myself — because I tell myself not to do it — walking past my old neighborhood. I end up going past my old coffee shop, and I’m going like three miles an hour, you know, there are like five thousand feet in a mile, and there’s like three thousand, six hundred seconds in an hour, so I’m going about four and a half feet, I figure, per second. It takes me about two seconds to go past this coffee shop window. 

You often think, What am I going to say when I bump into my ex? But, it’s just this electric moment between us. There’s this swell of warmth, and we laugh that we’re back where we started on this very spot in San Francisco.

In that time, because I’m looking at my building, my old apartment, full of sentiment, what I don’t realise is that on the other side of that window, inside the coffee shop, is Warren, who, after I left him in the London bus terminal, went back to California, came back to London, went to France, came back to London, and just recently returned to San Francisco, and got a job in the coffee shop, where he regaled the patrons with stories about his travels. He was so uprooted. But the light was back on in his eyes. And as he’s turning around to deliver a coffee, he lifts his head to see me, in those two seconds, walk past the frame of the window. And he shouts, “It’s self- service!”

He stumbles out of the coffee shop. People are grabbing muffins and coffees, they’re like, “Warren! What’s up?!” And he’s trying to get out of the coffee shop, trying to grab on to the handle of the door. He keeps banging his head. It’s like a bird trying to get out the window. And all of the sudden, the door swings open and deposits Warren in front of me.

You often think, What am I going to say when I bump into my ex? But, it’s just this electric moment between us. There’s this swell of warmth, and we laugh that we’re back where we started on this very spot in San Francisco.

I try to give him the essential data. I’m living in London Fields, and he tells me I’ve moved onto the block he lived on when he was nineteen and squatting in London. Out of the whole city of London. And he recognises the names of all the locals I can rattle off. And by the end of the conversation he’s saying, “I’m coming with you back to London aren’t I?”

And I’m thinking, Are you out of your mind? I mean, what woman in her right mind is going to let this lunatic come back to London with her? There is no way.

About a year later, we’re married. Our rings, which were made by a friend of ours, are stamped with the lyrics “Melody and Number, Shapes and Rhythms” with no small dose of irony and defiance. About a year after that, we’re having a baby, and we’re laughing at how improbable this kid is.

We have no idea. When this kid is born, he is so beautiful, and afterwards a young medical resident comes charging into my hospital room, and he’s so excited he’s beaming. And I’m thinking, He sees how beautiful this boy is. But he’s carrying an X-ray, which he slaps on the window of my hospital room so the light can come through, and I can see it better. But I still don’t know what I’m looking at.

He says, “Your son’s heart is on the right side.” And he doesn’t mean the correct side, he doesn’t mean the left side. He means my son’s heart is on the right side.

And all I can think in this terrifying moment is Get Warren.

And the resident says, “Your son has dextrocardia with situs inversus; all his organs are on the opposite side.”

And I say, “Get Warren.”

And the resident tells me he’s so excited, because he never thought he’d ever see anything like this. To his knowledge, nobody else in the hospital’s seen it in real life. And he’s describing studies for me that are made up of only twelve cases because the numbers are so rare.

And then Warren’s there, and he’s saying in that rough, raw, beautiful accent what only he can convince me of, the totally impossible. He’s saying, “He’s perfect.”

And our now eight-year-old son is a perfectly formed mirror image of the more conventional human anatomy, a very rare and unlikely alignment. It’s as though Warren and I took our left-handed code on a Möbius strip around the universe and brought back this right-handed boy. And that boy, as intense and spirited as his father, is like a living testament to the incredibly improbable trip that we’re on.

This story is cross-posted from The Moth for Love Less Ordinary, a special edition of HuffPost UK’s Life Less Ordinary blog series. You can buy the book here and listen to Janna tell her story live here.

Life Less Ordinary is a weekly blog series from HuffPost UK that showcases weird and wonderful life experiences. If you’ve got something extraordinary to share please email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with LLO in the subject line. To read more from the series, visit our dedicated page.

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Sadiq Khan Is Right To Ensure Community Support For His Housing Plans

When I worked at Shelter 18 years ago, rough sleeping and homelessness were at an all-time high. The Labour government brought those numbers right down, but the crisis has returned under the Conservatives.

Under their watch, it’s harder for councils to build new social housing and invest in crucial estate regeneration projects. With many housing estates in desperate need of improvement, and thousands of new homes required to meet the needs of London’s growing population, we must adopt a new approach to housing.

No Londoners doubt the scale of the housing crisis, nor the need for action. But it’s clear that winning Londoners’ trust and support for building new homes is crucial if we are going to substantially boost the number of properties we build in the capital.

In cases of estate regeneration, the support and involvement of residents is more crucial than ever. That is why I welcome the introduction of mandatory ballots by Labour’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ahead of big estate regeneration schemes in London seeking his funding.

Many councils already do a great job consulting residents, developing their trust, and involving them in plans for estate regeneration. But having a ballot makes sure current and future residents will be at the heart of decisions about the future of their estates, and, crucially, can give everyone involved the confidence to proceed with plans.

Estate regeneration across the capital will get harder, not easier, if distrust sets in between residents and landlords. Rather than hampering ambitious plans, successful ballots, as a key milestone in a longer and wider consultation process, can help avoid projects running aground, by securing clear community support at an earlier stage. Put simply, forcing developments through against the will of local communities is not the way to get houses built in the long run.

Of course, on their own, ballots are not enough to make sure residents are involved in plans for their estate. And the Mayor can only directly influence the balloting requirement for those schemes where his funding is involved. But they are part of the Mayor’s wider approach to use his powers to fix the housing crisis and win Londoners’ support for his ambitious homebuilding plans.

London’s diversity is one of its greatest assets and social housing forms the foundation of our city’s mixed communities. It is vital that we protect it.

However, regeneration of social housing should always benefit local communities. too often in the past this has not been the case.

In London, with his introduction of City Hall’s first ever good practice guide to estate regeneration and mandatory ballots of residents, Sadiq is showing what Labour can do in office. But beyond the capital, as Jeremy Corbyn says, Labour is committed to giving residents the right to a ballot across the country.

When we are in Government, we will be able to put local people first, not property speculators. We will deliver real regeneration for the many, not the few.

Sarah Jones is the Labour MP for Croydon Central

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NHS March In London Sees Jeremy Corbyn Blame ‘Tories And Austerity For Crisis’

Thousands of protesters marched in London on Saturday calling for an end to the NHS ‘crisis’” alt=”Thousands of protesters marched in London on Saturday calling for an end to the NHS ‘crisis’” data-credit=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”913662908″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Thousands of health workers, patients and union members took to the streets in London on Saturday protesting against a “crisis” in NHS funding which Jeremy Corbyn has blamed on “Tories and austerity”.

The Labour Leader posted a video on Twitter today saying that it “can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that our NHS is crisis”, with the exception of Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and the “rest of the Tories”.

“In the face of all the evidence – patients being treated in hospital corridors, people dying in the back of ambulances, hospitals in dire need of repair- they are refusing to give our NHS the money it needs and needs now.

“The NHS will only survive if we fight for it.”

Slogans such as “No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts” were chanted as protesters gathered at Gower Street and shook banners criticising the Health Secretary’s salary. A sculpture of a vulture tearing into the NHS was also displayed.

The event, called ‘NHS in crisis: Fix it now’, was organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together and called on the Government to provide more beds, staff and funds to ease the problems facing the service. 

Activists, some of whom were bused in from cities such as Bristol and Nottingham, marched through central London from midday, then held an hour-long rally opposite Downing Street. 

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said: “Our NHS is in intensive care, starved of the resources necessary to meet the needs of our ageing and diverse society.”

Actor Ralf Little recalled how his mother suffered a stroke and had been saved by NHS staff for free while his mother-in-law paid thousands for a routine operation in Florida.

Protesters called on the Government to provide more beds, staff and funds to ease the problems facing the NHS” alt=”Protesters called on the Government to provide more beds, staff and funds to ease the problems facing the NHS” data-credit=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”913662890″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

He said:  “My mother-in-law spent two nights in hospital, had a minor operation, and was discharged two days later. She has excellent insurance so was only presented with a bill for $2,500.

“My mother was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, received expert emergency care, stayed in hospital for two weeks to recover, was treated daily by consultants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and nursing staff, was escorted home in a taxi and checked on three times a day for a further five weeks.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, who attended the demonstration, earlier said: “We should be celebrating the 70th year of our NHS, yet the NHS is going through its worst winter on record. We have a fight on our hands for the future of a universal public NHS.”

“Meanwhile, brilliant, dedicated staff have suffered year after year of pay misery and are having to do more, with less, for less. ”

Royal College of Nursing president Cecilia Akrisie Anim told the rally: “Nursing staff are bearing the brunt of the enormous pressures facing the NHS.

Slogans such as ‘No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts’ were chanted as protesters gathered at Gower Street ” alt=”Slogans such as ‘No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts’ were chanted as protesters gathered at Gower Street ” data-credit=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”913667442″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

“Staff at every level are experiencing burnout and many of our colleagues are turning their back on jobs they love. It’s no surprise that nursing staff feel overstretched and undervalued. There are now more than 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone.

“2018 is 70 years since the formation of the NHS and nurses have always been at the heart of it. Urgent action is needed to address the current crisis – if none is taken, it is our patients who will suffer. We will continue to speak out to defend our NHS.”

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Norwegian Air claims record for shortest transatlantic flight, propelled by 200 mph tailwinds

A bunch of lucky passengers may have made aviation history this week on a Norwegian Air Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from New York to London. The plane rode tailwinds of more than 200 mph on Jan. 15, allowing it to make the trip in just 5 hours and 13 minutes.

According to Norwegian Air, that’s the fastest transatlantic trip ever for a subsonic commercial aircraft. 

SEE ALSO: Planes flew from New York to London at near-supersonic speeds due to powerhouse jet stream

Those tailwinds — which hit 202 mph, according to Norwegian — propelled the plane to a top speed of 776 mph relative to the ground, also known as its groundspeed. The Dreamliner is the fuel-efficient plane Boeing unveiled in 2007. It boasts more leg room and larger windows than your average commercial jetliner, smart LED lighting, and the use of lightweight composite materials. Read more…

More about Climate, London, Airplane, Extreme Weather, and New York

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Oil Giant Shell Bids For London Minicab Licence

Shell-backed app FarePilot has applied for a private hire operators licence in London” alt=”Shell-backed app FarePilot has applied for a private hire operators licence in London” data-credit=”Toby Melville / Reuters” data-portal-copyright=”Toby Melville / Reuters” data-provider=”reuters” data-provider-asset-id=”RTS95HZ” data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Oil giant Shell has been urged to protect workers’ rights as it bids to make an entrance into the London minicab market.

A subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch firm is applying for its own operating licence in the capital.

The app, dubbed FarePilot, has been available to drivers since last year and currently uses algorithms to advise them on the most lucrative locations to offer rides for services like Uber.

FarePilot “was created to help private hire & taxi drivers make more money and spend less time on the road,” its website states.

But now the app, in which Shell’s technology ventures arm has a majority stake, is taking steps to become a Private Hire Operator, allowing it to give work directly to drivers.

Asked whether FarePilot, which Shell says is “not a ride-hailing business”, had submitted a licence application, a spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost it had done so.

“But only in London,” they added. FarePilot wouldn’t comment further on the application, despite claims it was readying for an imminent launch.

FarePilot currently helps cab drivers make more money by directing them to lucrative hotspots” alt=”FarePilot currently helps cab drivers make more money by directing them to lucrative hotspots” data-credit=”FarePilot” data-portal-copyright=”FarePilot” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”206046494″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

It’s prompted warnings from trade unions for the firm to guarantee drivers’ employment rights after a string of tribunals affecting other taxi apps, including Uber.

If its application is approved, FarePilot could eventually challenge the US tech firm, and others such as Lyft, as well as British-based operators like Addison Lee.

A FarePilot spokesperson added in a statement on Friday: “Drivers often ask us however if we could further help them by giving them driving jobs and this is something that we are investigating but no decisions have been taken to go live with such a product.

“Should this materialise, we will ensure that all the correct commitments – including licences and procedures – are in place prior to going live. We cannot comment any more at this time.”

‘Shell can lead’

Uber in particular has faced difficulties in the capital after an application to renew its operating licence was rejected by regulator Transport for London (TfL) last year over safety grounds.

It is now appealing that decision through the courts.

In addition, Uber has faced a raft of PR challenges, and a defeat over employment rules.

One union leader said drivers would welcome a new entrant to the market, and that any new player had the chance to lead by protecting workers’ rights.

James Farrar, chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, has written to chief executive Ben van Beurden to seek assurances that Shell will give an assurance it will protect drivers.

“I would like to have your personal assurance that FarePilot will not violate employment laws and will honour the right of drivers to be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour logged on to FarePilot and that they will be paid holiday pay, will not suffer discrimination and that Shell will not interfere with whistleblower rights,” he wrote to van Beurden.

Farrar told HuffPost on Friday: “Shell isn’t some bootstrap, bro-culture, Silicon Valley start-up, it’s a $250bn business that’s learned corporate social responsibility the hard way.

“We think that drivers should get the Living Wage for each hour they work and holiday pay too.

“Shell can move in, do these things, and be a real leader in the market.”

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Anthony Small, Former Boxer Charged, With Terror Offence

British boxing champion-turned Muslim convert Anthony Small has been charged with encouraging terrorism, police said.

The 36-year-old, from south east London, is accused of encouraging acts of terrorism after posting a video on social media in September 2016, according to Scotland Yard.

He is due to appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Small reached the height of his fighting career in 2009 when he became British and Commonwealth champion, but quit the ring in 2010 because it clashed with his religious beliefs.  

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