TIME United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Sets Out New Migration Restrictions

David Cameron hopes his proposals will reverse the increase in migrants from European countries

David Cameron gave a long-awaited speech on immigration within the European Union (E.U.) on Friday, proposing new limits on welfare benefits and tax credits for migrants.

He outlined his objective as “to make our immigration system fairer and reduce the current exceptionally high level of migration from within the E.U. into the U.K.”

Under his plans, migrants who want to claim certain benefits from the U.K. would have to wait four years.

Cameron’s speech comes after months of negotiations within the British parliament and also with other European leaders, notably Chancellor Angela Merkel.

MORE: Study says European migrants contribute $32 billion to the U.K.’s economy

His package of proposals will require signifiant changes to the current treaties that govern the European Union. The plans will go ahead only if Cameron is re-elected after May’s general elections.

A spokeswoman from the European Commissions has responded by saying the ideas are “part of the debate” and need to be “examined without drama.”

[BBC]

Read more: Pope urges ‘aged and weary’ Europe to accept migrants and reject hunger

 

TIME psychology

Reading Harry Potter Provides Clues to Brain Activity

Harry Potter
Warner Bros.

Researchers have identified the magic going on inside our brains while we read

Scientists have been using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to work out what happens in different parts of the brain when people read and connect words with the ideas behind them.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pennsylvania performed scans on the brains of eight people as they read the ninth chapter of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s famous series.

Leila Wehbe, a graduate student who conducted much of the research, told CMU’s News site that the chapter is about Harry’s first flying lesson. “It turns out that movement of the characters — such as when they are flying their brooms — is associated with activation in the same brain region that we use to perceive other people’s motion,” she said.

Scientists said their research could eventually reveal what’s happening in the brains of people who struggle to read and people with dyslexia.

TIME Music

One Direction Bumps Taylor Swift From No.1 Spot

28th Annual ARIA Awards 2014 - Show
One Direction, Harry Styles and Liam Payne perform on stage during the 28th Annual ARIA Awards 2014 at the Star on Nov. 26, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Cameron Spencer—Getty Images

The British-Irish boy band has outsold Taylor Swift in this week's Billboard chart

The band’s new album ‘Four’ sold 387,000 copies in the U.S. in its opening week, the second biggest sales for an album this year, according to figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.

Swift, who took her music catalog off streaming platform Spotify, sold 1.3 million copies of ‘1989’ earlier this month. But the British-Irish band have now ousted Swift after three weeks at the top of the charts.

One Direction is the only band to have its first four albums debut at the top of the Billboard chart since it was established 58 years ago. It also scored the most first-week streams ever on Spotify.

MORE: Why only Taylor Swift could leave Spotify

[NYT]

TIME Social Media

Flintstones to Lance Armstrong: 8 of the Best Letters to the Editor

People can get really mad and mildly amusing

Reading a letters page in a British newspaper will quickly reveal that you can never predict what will get a reader’s stiff upper lip quivering. In no particular order, here’s TIME’s pick of the best letters to the editor ever.

It’s not all bad though, whatever Harry says. Here’s how Dinah used to put world events in context.

Phil writes in to highlight the pitfalls of modern technology.

Jasmin reminds us all of the powerful effects of home schooling.

Joey emails in to complain about sports commentators overdoing it.

Another reader remains pretty impressed with Lance Armstrong’s achievements.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Britain without someone getting angry over the correct use of the English language.

But it’s not just Brits who write in. Here’s our favorite example from the Washington Post, from one reader who was concerned with defending the reputation of The Flintstones.

TIME United Kingdom

Scotland to Be Handed ‘Biggest Transfer of Powers’ in a Historic Move

Commission set up after the independence referendum urges the biggest transfer of power in Scotland's history

The Scottish Parliament is set to be given new powers over tax and welfare as part of a deal following September’s referendum, when the country voted against independence.

The Smith Commission, after a month of talks between British political parties, has recommended that Scotland be given further powers. Speaking on Thursday, Lord Smith of Kelvin, head of the Commission, urged for Scotland to have responsibility for an estimated £14 billion of income tax and welfare benefits, the Guardian reports.

The British government welcomed the report, but Scottish ministers said it was disappointing and fell far short of promises made during the referendum campaign.

More constitutional change in the United Kingdom is expected over the coming years, allowing for more devolution within England and Wales.

MORE: Scotland’s vote signals big change for U.K. and the rest of Europe

[Guardian]

TIME United Kingdom

Ferguson Protests Spread to Britain

People gather outside the US embassy in Central London,
People gather outside the US embassy in Central London, supporting the protests in Ferguson on Nov. 26, 2014. Andrea Baldo—LightRocket/Getty Images

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. embassy in London on Wednesday night.

Several hundred people marched in London in solidarity with protestors in the U.S., condemning the decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrators held candles and placards outside the U.S. embassy and observed a minute’s silence before marching across central London to the Houses of Parliament, BBC reports. Many held their hands up and chanted the slogan of American campaigners: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.

The protest was attended by relatives of Mark Duggan, a young black man shot dead by a police officer in London in 2011 and Sean Rigg, a black musician who died in police custody in 2008.

MORE: The one battle Michael Brown’s family will win

Carole Duggan, Mark’s aunt, told the crowd: “We know the pain of losing somebody at the hands of the police. We stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson. I feel they are very strong and brave people.”

[BBC]

TIME United Kingdom

Save the Children Staff Call Tony Blair’s Award ‘Morally Reprehensible’

Former British prime minister Tony Blair attends the 2nd annual Save The Children Illumination Gala at the Plaza in New York, Nov. 19, 2014.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair attends the 2nd annual Save The Children Illumination Gala at the Plaza in New York, Nov. 19, 2014. Erik Pendzich—Demotix/Corbis

The charity faces major backlash for its decision to give an award to former British prime minister

A week after the U.S. branch of Save the Children (STC) presented Tony Blair with a “global legacy award” in New York, almost 200 staff at the charity have signed an internal letter saying the award is “inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values.”

The letter says that U.K. management were not consulted about the award and want it to be withdrawn since it was not only “morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally.”

The American arm of STC presented Blair with the award at a gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York on Nov. 19 for his “leadership on international development”, citing his debt relief work and the Make Poverty History campaign.

A separate online petition calling for STC to revoke the award says Blair’s “legacy in Iraq overshadows his achievements in Africa”, adding that many see him “as the cause of the deaths of countless children in the Middle East.” The petition had gathered more than 97,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

[Guardian]

TIME Italy

Shakespeare’s City of Love Plans to Build High-Rise Cemetery

The futuristic tower would be Verona's tallest building

An Italian company is planning to build the country’s first high-rise cemetery — a 33 storey tower with space for 24,000 graves — in Verona, the city where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet.

Council officials have given initial approval to plans submitted by Cielo Infinito (Infinite Sky), the company which offered €11.5 million ($14.3 million) for a plot of land on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Verona’s main cemetery has been completely encircled by buildings and can no longer expand, a city spokesman told The Times, explaining why the plan won support.

As cities around the world expand and space to bury bodies decreases, other countries have turned to high-rise cemeteries as a solution: the tallest currently stands at 32 storeys in Santos, Brazil, while Israel and India are also planning their own vertical graveyards.

[The Times]

TIME brazil

Rio Unveils 2016 Olympic Mascots

Handout shows the unnamed mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro
The mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games are pictured in front of the Copacabana beach during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro, Nov.23, 2014. Brazil Olympic Committee/Reuters

The official mascots represent the wide variety of Brazilian flora and fauna

The 2016 Rio Organizing Committee revealed the official mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic games in Brazil: a yellow feline creature standing for the Olympics, and a green foliage-headed one for the Paralympics.

“The Rio 2016 mascots represent the diversity of our culture, of our people,” said Rio 2016 brand director Beth Lula on Sunday. “They represent our joy, our way of being. Both of them are magical creatures with super powers and relate naturally with the young audience, who we want to engage with our event so much.”

Both mascots are currently nameless but the Brazilian public will be asked to decide between Oba and Eba; Tiba Tuque and Esquindim; and Vinicius and Tom.

[Reuters]

TIME U.K.

Soccer Club Will Not Let Convicted Rapist Train

The club was criticized for initially agreeing to allow the soccer star to train

British soccer club Sheffield United has withdrawn its offer to let convicted rapist Ched Evans use their training facilities following his release from prison, according to a statement made Thursday.

Sheffield United had agreed to allow Evans to train with them again after the Professional Footballers’ Association argued the soccer star should be free to resume his career.

MORE: Soccer star convicted of rape returns to training amid angry debate

The club has now reversed the decision, citing the unexpected intensity of the public reaction.

A string of patrons resigned from the club and more than 165,000 members of the public signed a petition calling on the club not to allow Evans to play again.

Evans played for Sheffield United for three years before he was convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman. He served two and a half years of a five-year sentence and was released from prison last month.

 

 

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