Burkina Faso has been suffering a decade-long insurgency that has displaced nearly two million people. On 12th & 13th January, 66 women and children were kidnapped by the militant jihadists in the north of the country while they were gathering food. The military found them 125 miles away boarding a bus at an airport security checkpoint. It is not clear if their captors have also been detained.
Jody Greene, the sheriff of Columbus County, who's gained national attention for refusing to remove a Bible verse from a wall at his office cited ‘a need for more Jesus’ as the reason for his decision not to comply with the demands of an atheist legal organisation to take it down. The organisation’s concerns about the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 being displayed on a wall at the Sheriff’s Office was posted in a Facebook post two weeks after they sent a letter to Greene asking him to remove the ‘exclusionary’ and ‘unconstitutional religious display,’ which proclaims, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ Green said the scripture is ‘very motivational to me and my staff.’ Companies spend thousands on motivational classes to come up with motivational slogans. My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all time, Jesus Christ.’
Three months ago, Christians Against Poverty (CAP), the debt relief charity, launched an online calculator service that over 21,000 have used to check if they are entitled to extra benefits. Over £6m in potential extra annual income has been found that was previously left unclaimed - meaning an extra 2,000 people are likely to see a boost to their household budgets. CAP’s Director of External Affairs said, ‘£15bn every year goes unclaimed in social security and benefits. That's money that you and I pay in our taxes to be there for us when life happens. But that’s currently sat on a desk in Whitehall when it should be in people's pockets.’
The Christian legal organisation ADF UK says local authorities fined army veteran Adam Smith-Connor as he ‘stood still and silent’ on a street for a few minutes before being approached by community safety officers. He had his back toward the clinic to be mindful of the privacy of staff and people attending the facility. But a buffer zone preventing prayer in the area of the clinic is established. He told the officers he was praying for his son, who is deceased. He said, ‘Twenty-two years ago I paid for my girlfriend to have an abortion. The consequences of this grieves me years later as I realise I lost my son Jacob to an abortion I had paid for. I stood outside a similar facility and prayed to God for my son Jacob. In my army medical training, I assisted in abortions, but now I pray for those who perform abortions. Adam is challenging the fine.
Moments before he went into Downing Street for the first time as prime minister, Rishi Sunak said ‘this government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.’ Three months later, he confronts issues challenging these promises. No PM wants a reputation for harbouring fixed penalty notices gathered whilst in office but being fined for not wearing a seatbelt was his second offence after his one as chancellor during the pandemic. The deputy prime minister has reportedly had 24+ civil servants make complaints against him. Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative Party Chairman, is determined to stay in post despite many unanswered questions over a £5m fine that was paid over a tax dispute while he was chancellor and that the prime minister knew about the whole thing.
‘Two or three Met Police officers per week will appear in court on criminal charges in the coming weeks and months’ said commissioner Sir Mark Rowley. ‘And the public should prepare for more painful stories as the force confronts violence against women and girls, domestic abuse and sex offences’. He spoke in the wake of PC David Carrick admitting on January 16th dozens of rape and sexual offences against 12 women and PC Hussain Chehab who pleaded guilty to child sex offences on 24th January. Sir Mark said, ‘We haven't applied the same sense of ruthlessness to guarding our own integrity that we routinely apply to confronting criminals. I'm deeply sorry for that. Lifting the stone and revealing painful truths will not be resolved overnight, and I mustn't pretend it will. I hope you understand that can't be done. We must prepare for more painful stories as we confront issues.’
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling for a radical redesign of England's social care system. They said their National Care Covenant will hold the government, communities and individuals responsible for caring for the elderly and disabled to account. It would include investment for communities and a new deal for unpaid carers. Rt Rev James Newcombe said, ‘We're aware that this is not going to be cheap. Our primary view is payment for it has to come out of taxation. We would like to see a covenant rather like the military covenant that currently exists in this country. It sets out clearly who's responsible for what, what we can expect, and helps us to recognise that whether it's from a financial point of view, or in terms of actually doing what’s necessary, we all have a part to play.’
Healthwatch gathers and champions the views of users of health and social care services, in order to identify improvements and influence providers’ plans. New data shows an increase in the number of people who avoid getting prescription medicines, booking NHS appointments and vital dental treatment for financial reasons. A tracker poll conducted with 2,000 adults found people who avoided an NHS appointment due to the cost of travel doubled to almost one in 10. Over one in 10 avoided booking an NHS appointment because of associated costs, - accessing the Internet and expensive phone calls. 39% said changes made to keep up with rising cost of living included avoiding dentists, NHS prescriptions, or even buying medicines over the counter. They are not turning on the heating and are cutting back on food. Consequently, 35% said their physical and mental health had gotten worse in the past two months.