Displaying items by tag: UK
Catloaf Software’s ‘Text with Jesus’ app allows users to have real-time text conversations using Artificial Intelligence (AI) with digital Mary, Joseph apostles, prophets, and Jesus. Catloaf said technology gives new ways to interact with scripture and explore faith. Another ChatGPT based app offers ‘Biblemate’ claiming it answers any question using only the Bible and theological insights. However some Christians view this technology as heretical. Minister and technologist, Chris Goswami, welcomes the tool but emphasises that it should never be seen as Spirit-filled, highlighting the limitations of AI's spiritual understanding. Meanwhile an animal advocacy group used ChatGPT to modify Genesis with a vegan perspective, replacing animals as beings and the use of plants for clothing not animal skins. Catloaf said they’re not looking to replace traditional Bible study but to offer a tool that makes Bible narratives immediate and personal.
Greenpeace activists unfolded 200 square metres of oil-black fabric over the home of Rishi Sunak and unfurled a banner saying ‘Oil Profits or Our Future?’ in front of the manor house, protesting against North Sea oil and gas drilling licences amidst a summer of escalating climate impacts. See Christian Aid warned the Government that issuing 100s of new oil and gas licences ‘flies in the face of climate science.’ They went on to state that ‘Now more than ever, UK’s Government must show leadership and strengthen their climate plans to protect millions in low-income countries. Instead, these wrongheaded priorities on new oil and gas licences obliterate the UK’s net-zero commitments and lets down people on the frontline of the climate crisis. The Prime Minister needs to put people and planet first.’ Pray for the government to acknowledge the calls from environmental campaigners and recognise that there needs to be an end to North Sea drilling.
Meteorologists predict wet weather until September see, and this has a very real impact on farmers. The Farming Forum reported, ‘In this post, we shed light on the critical issues faced by farmers and their potential implications on cereal crops. Excessive rain has caused significant losses to the wheat harvest. When grains become wet and drop to the ground, they become challenging to collect efficiently. This leads to an increase in wastage and financial strain for farmers. Wet conditions make it almost impossible to harvest, so farmers must use specialised, incredibly costly headers, making it labour-intensive and time-consuming. High moisture content in wheat and grain makes it difficult to preserve quality. Cereal with 16% moisture content risks contamination by mycotoxins, a potential health risk. Moist cereal crops blown over by wind creates mould growth. This threatens the quality of the cereals and poses health risks for both humans and livestock.’
A Foreign Office internal government assessment reveals poor countries are being short-changed from the £900m Overseas Development Assistance Budget as other UK government departments raid the aid budget to spend it in the UK. A £30 million cut to aid for South Sudan this year will leave 27,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition, potentially causing 3,000 deaths. Aid to that region has shrunk by 1/5th since 2017 and they are one of the frontline states suffering the hardest climate crisis - which the UK caused historically. The report also reveals that the 49% cut to UK's Pan Africa aid budget significantly impacts women's sexual health across Africa. Thousands more women will die in pregnancy and childbirth while the number of unsafe abortions will increase by about 185,000. The Foreign Office said the cuts are temporary, to meet savings targets and will increase in the future as a commitment to support Ukrainian refugees ends.
On August 3rd, the Bank of England’s base rate rose again to 5.25%. The last time it was 5.25% was in 2008. The Bank expects inflation to fall below 5% in the final quarter of 2023, while the government pledges inflation will be 5% or below by 2024. The Bank's increase influences the cost of borrowing, making mortgages more expensive, while at the same time offering greater returns on savings accounts. The theory is that raising interest rates makes it more expensive to borrow money, so people have less to spend, reducing demand and inflation. Meanwhile, rising interest rates, higher energy costs and squeezed consumer spending have weighed on retailers with Wilko homewares now on the brink of collapse, putting 12,000 jobs at risk. They have filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators after failing to find enough emergency investment. Wilko has 400 UK stores. See
As food prices soar the government is discussing plans for supermarkets to introduce price caps on basic food like bread and milk to limit the rising cost of living. A voluntary agreement with major retailers could see price reductions but there are no plans for a mandatory price cap. The idea of a freeze on basic food items is said to be at the ‘drawing board stage’. Supermarkets will be allowed to select which items they would cap and only take part in the initiative on a voluntary basis. The rate of inflation can be calculated in various ways, but the main measure is the Consumer Prices Index which tracks the prices of everyday items in an imaginary ‘basket of goods’. Expensive food may overtake energy bills in the cost-of-living crisis. Security tags are being fitted to expensive food, coffee jars are replaced with dummies, and some stores are limiting the number of items on shelves to reduce theft. See
The Met Police will stop attending emergency mental health incidents from September, only responding if there is an ‘immediate threat to life’, thus freeing up officers untrained in mental health issues to deal with crime. The Royal College of Psychiatrists called this ‘unhelpful’. Police are concerned about ‘mission creep’ - police filling gaps left by cuts to other services. But when Robert Peel birthed the Met the police were ‘paid to give full-time attention to everyone in the interests of community welfare’. Community welfare includes the confused elderly man gone missing or the young girl in the street distressed. The Met’s plan was adopted by Humberside Police’s Right Care, Right Person scheme in 2020. Now mental health calls are dealt with by mental health professionals. It successfully improved outcomes, reduced demand on all services, and has the right care delivered by the right person.
St Mungo's homeless charity launched a month-long strike from May 30th in a pay dispute. Trade Union members are picketing outside London, Brighton, Bristol, and Oxford offices. St Mungo's said they cannot afford to meet the union's demands for a backdated rise of 10%, calling the strike ‘unprecedented and disproportionate’. Unite union are ‘taking a stand following a pitiful 2.25% pay rise for the last financial year, 2021/22.’ The charity had already applied a rise of 1.75% to salaries in that year. Meeting Unite’s request for the last and current financial years would cost £9.7m and leave the charity not ‘financially viable.’ Plus, all eligible staff have already received an average 5.5% rise for the financial year 2022/23 and some also received £700 to help with their cost of living. Altogether, offers already made equal a 10% rise for the lowest paid. See also Shrewsbury homeless charity needs help.
On May 29th Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, accompanied by Mrs Cottrell and his chaplain, Rev Dr Jenny Wright, shared an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican in a bid to promote Christian unity. Before the trip, Archbishop Stephen expressed his hope for Christians of all denominations to work together more closely and unite in their desire to share God's love. He also met with representatives from the Dicastery for Evangelisation, the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He said, ‘meeting with sisters and brothers within the Roman Catholic Church is so encouraging. I pray that Christians of all denominations can work in unity, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we share the love of God with the many who long for hope and meaning in their lives.
Across the British Isles, campaigners are seeking to allow the terminally ill to get lethal drugs to end their lives. Jersey’s consultation on ‘assisted dying’ centred on how, not whether, the law should be changed. However, 1,400 responses argued firmly against assisted suicide. More respondents to the Isle of Man’s ‘assisted dying’ consultation were opposed to the principle of assisted suicide than for it. Member of the House of Keys, Dr Alex Allinson, who is driving the move to change the law, said the findings would ‘inform’ the drafting of legislation. The House of Commons Health Committee was ‘overwhelmed’ by the number of Christian responses to its call for evidence. MPs are currently hearing evidence on access to palliative care and the role of medics. Scotland’s proposal to legalise assisted suicide is delayed over concerns about legislative competence and will be brought forward later this year.