Communities Editor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, London
Julie's Feed
Jul 23, 2009
via UK News

Is 82 days a fair holiday for MPs?

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown is gearing up for his holidays, which he is expected to take mainly in his Kircaldy constituency and the Lake District.Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg are travelling overseas for their summer breaks.Parliament is in recess from July 21 to October 12, but Brown says he and most MPs will not use the long break as “an extended vacation,” reports the Guardian.”The idea that people are taking 82 days holiday is wrong. I am having a few days holiday, and I am getting on with the job,” he said.How much holiday time should MPs get?

Jul 15, 2009
via UK News

How have you reduced your carbon footprint?

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A new government policy document proposes that the low carbon sector will continue to grow despite the recession.The number of people employed in the sector could rise to more than 1 million people by 2015, compared to 880,000 today.The government is promoting the expansion of Britain’s nuclear programme and the use of such renewable energy sources as wind, solar and tidal power.According to the United Nations, many simple things can be done to reduce a person’s carbon footprint, the measure of the impact human activities have on the environment.A carbon footprint is a measurement in tonnes (or kilograms) of carbon dioxide equivalent of all greenhouse gases we produce by burning fossil fuels for such activities as electricity, heating and transportation.Just under half of personal emissions come from things under an individuals’ control, according to the United Nations, which recommends some simple steps to cut your footprint:* Use a traditional wind-up alarm clock, not an electronic one: save almost 48 grams (g) of carbon dioxide (CO2) each day.* Brush with a non-electric toothbrush: avoid nearly 48 g of CO2 emissions.* Replace a 45-minute workout on a treadmill with a jog in a nearby park: save nearly 1 kilogram of carbon.* Heat bread rolls in a toaster, not an oven, for 15 minutes: save nearly 170 g of CO2.* Take the train rather than the car to the office: a distance of as little as 8 km (5 miles) can save 1.7 kg of CO2.* Shut down your computer and flat screen during the lunch break and when you leave work: this cuts CO2 emissions generated by these appliances by one-third.* Install a water-saving shower head. This will save 10 liters of water per minute and halve CO2 emissions of a three-minute hot shower.* Switch from regular 60-Watt light bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps.* Dry clothes on a washing line instead of a tumble dryer: knock 2.3 kg of CO2 off your total.* Pack a light suitcase: world savings of 2 million tonnes of CO2 a year are possible if every airline passenger cuts their baggage to below 20 kg and buys duty free goods on arrival.

Jul 13, 2009
via UK News

Does swearing make you feel better?

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What a relief! A new study from Keele University shows that swearing can lessen the pain of injury.Volunteers recruited for the study were first asked to put a hand in a tub of icy water for as long as possible and repeat a swear word.A second run through of the experiment involved volunteers simply using a commonplace word as they dunked a hand in icy water.When volunteers didn’t swear they were unable to keep a hand in the water for as long as they could when they swore.From this, the researchers deduced that swearing apparently has a “pain-lessening effect.”When you get hurt do you swear? Does it make you feel better?

Jun 12, 2009
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Online vote to decide Saatchi show finalists

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The Saatchi Gallery in London, known for its role in launching conceptual Britart in the 1990s, is collaborating with Google to exhibit the work of winners of an international online photography prize competition.

More than 3,500 student photographers from around the world submitted images to try and win a chance to show their work at Saatchi, a trip to London, 5,000 pounds and to illustrate personalised iGoogle Internet homepages.Public online voting begins Friday on the work of 36 shortlisted photographers from which the six finalists will be chosen for the week long Saatchi exhibit opening on June 24.The overall winner will be selected from among the six by a panel of art critics and artists.Shortlisted works include narrow, panoramic images of animals, toys, abstract designs and nature. Click on the links below to see slideshows:

Jun 12, 2009
via UK News

Eye-to-eye with Simon de Glanville’s pigeons

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Pigeons create controversy among city dwellers whether they are being pilloried as “rats with wings” or celebrated as endlessly feedable feathered friends.Through photographer Simon de Glanville‘s pictures, viewers come eye-to-eye with the creatures.Over the past 10 years, De Glanville has taken pictures of pigeons, squirrels and dogs for a project entitled “London Wildlife”. His favourite locations for photographing urban wildlife include London’s Peckham, Brixton and Chinatown neighbourhoods.What is your opinion of pigeons? Do these pictures change your perspective on pigeons?

Jun 11, 2009
via UK News

Is Britain being too slow in promoting broadband?

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A new report from Ofcom, reveals that more than 30 percent of homes in Britain don’t have basic broadband service.The study will become part of the government’s Digital Britain report, which is intended to help keep the UK economically and culturally competitive by promoting broadband access.”We hope the research will help assist an informed debate on the options available to society to help ensure that the social and economic benefits of the Internet are spread as widely as possible,” the media regulator said in a statement.”The inclusion of everyone into the digital world has emerged as an important principle in our society.”The research identified three main groups:- Those intending to get the internet in the next six months: Two in 10 people currently without the internet said they were likely to get connected in the next six months. They are more likely to be younger, regular internet users outside of the home who are working and have children.- The self-excluded: 42 percent state lack of interest or need as their main reason for not wanting to take up the internet. The self-excluded tend to be older and retired and 61 percent have never used a computer. This group shares a sense of indifference, with many struggling to come up with any reasons why they should have the internet at home.- The financially/resource excluded: 30 percent of people stated that the internet was too expensive or that they didn’t have the knowledge or skills to use it. Three in 10 respondents in this group said the cost of a computer was the main reason for not having an internet connection, while 37 per cent said it is too expensive.Ofcom’s research explores ideas to encourage internet use – including half-price computers and discounted monthly tariffs.What steps, if any, should be taken to ensure that all British residents get access to broadband if they want it even if they can’t afford it?

Jun 1, 2009
via UK News

Time to dump premium-rate?

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The thought of ringing up a mega-corporation with a query or complaint elicits a mental – and at times even audible – groan from among the most stoic of people.

The frustrations felt at wasted time spent pushing buttons on the dial pad leading to endless tedious messages in the hope of reaching an employee with a modicum of knowledge is often compounded by the thought that there is a financial cost for the effort.

    • About Julie

      "I am the communities editor for the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London where I blog, micro blog, write stories, make videos, audio and work on the AlertNet and TrustLaw news websites. AlertNet is a humanitarian news website covering wars, conflict, natural disasters, food and health emergencies. TrustLaw is covers good governance and women's rights. I moved to the foundation in 2010 after two years with the Reuters UK website. Find me @jmollins or +Julie Mollins."
      Hometown:
      Toronto
      Joined Reuters:
      January 31, 2005
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