Monday, 17 December 2018

British travellers will need to pay 7 euros to visit Europe post-Brexit

The fee will be waived for those under 18 and those over 70

British travellers will have to pay €7 to visit the EU after Brexit, the European Commission has confirmed.

From 2021, UK citizens will have to pay the fee every three years to pre-register for an electronic visa waiver, a system similar to the Esta scheme used by the US.

The pre-authorisation fee will be waived for travellers under 18 and those over 70, which means it will apply to an estimated 40 million Britons.

The proposed Etias (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) will see citizens of 61 countries outside the Schengen area required to pre-register for visa-free travel

Predictions British tourists would have to pay to visit the EU after Brexit were previously dismissed as scaremongering by Leave campaigners. Yet draft regulation for the new travel scheme makes clear the UK would be considered a “third country” and subject to the same rules as other countries.

“The European Travel Information and Authorisation System will apply to United Kingdom nationals once union law on free movement of union citizens ceases to apply to them, as to other visa-free third country nationals,” it reads.

Natasha Bertaud, coordinating spokesperson for Jean-Claude Juncker, confirmed that the Etias would apply to British tourists after Brexit, but that it was “way cheaper” than an Esta.

Despite government hopes that the UK could negotiate an exemption from the fee, a European Commission spokesperson told Sky News: “Once Etias enters into operation, all visa-exempt non-EU nationals who plan to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply via Etias.”

Research from Abta, the body representing travel agents, shows that more than £33bn is spent each year by British travellers in Europe.

In 2017, there were 72.8 million visits overseas by UK residents, an increase of 3 per cent from 2016, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics. Of the 10 most visited countries by Britons, nine are in Europe.

(Source: The Independent

The worst decision you can ever make is to have a child, according to science

This may spell bad news for new parents, but research has shown that having a kid is not paticularly beneficial to you.

If you've noticed that your friends are starting to raise little families of their own, and you fancy a slice of parental bliss, you may want to hear what the experts have to say about parenthood first.

Scientific studies have shown that having a child can severely effect numerous things in your life ranging from money to sleep and even sex.

Greg and Mitch, who host a YouTube science show, have detailed the damaging effects that a child can have on individuals as well as couples.

Here are a few of their key stats.

For starters, marriages have been shown to struggle significantly after the birth of a child.

Bustle report that 70 per cent couples experience slumps in their relationship within the first three years of a child's birth.

This can be attributed to a variety of things; including less intimacy, less money, differences in opinion on how to raise the child, and an overall lack of time spent together.

Ellen Walker P.h.D. told Psychology Today:

Marital satisfaction rates actually plummet after the birth of the first child.

So, if a couple has the idea that a baby will bring them closer, think again.

Sleep is also something that parents can kiss goodbye to. In the first two years of a baby's life a parent will lose six months of sleep, amounting to only 2.5 hours of sleep a night on average.

There is also a huge financial deficiency that is associated with children.

NBC News have reported that in America, having a kid can cost as much as $13,000 a year, which by the time they reach 17, will mean parents have forked out a total of $233,000.

Furthermore, mother's make roughly 3 percent less money than those that don't have children.

Finally there is the threat of overpopulation. Scientists predict that the world's population will exceed 10.5 billion by 2050.

If this happens, it will be harder for the population to produce enough food, water and shelter for everyone to survive adequately.

Therefore, by not having a kid you could be saving the planet.

Of course, this isn't to say don't have kids at all - but it is an example of just how challenging this responsibility can be.

(Source: The Independent)

My namesake found me after 24 years

She had known the story of how she got her name all her life and had always wanted to find me, writes Penny George sharing her experience with the Guardian. Read on: 

After I graduated from university in 1993, I went to work in Auckland for a year, teaching English to foreign students. I had always wanted to travel and my grandfather and one of my aunts lived in New Zealand, which made it an easy option. I quickly settled into my new life. Among my new friends were a Korean couple about my age, Kumlyong and Mihwa, who were in one of my classes. They were great fun; we laughed a lot.

Kumlyong and Mihwa had decided to emigrate from South Korea; the political climate there at the time was not good, and they were looking for somewhere open-minded and accepting. Canada seemed a good option. While their application was being processed, they moved to South Korea for a while, having just discovered that Mihwa was pregnant with their first child, a girl. I was sad to see them go, but we promised to stay in touch. Whenever I wanted to send them a letter, I had to find a Korean person to write the address on the envelope, because I couldn’t copy the Korean symbols accurately.

In one letter they sent me, they asked if they could name the baby after me. I felt so honoured and wrote straight back to say yes. I remember receiving one more letter, a few months later, with a picture of Mihwa holding the newborn Penny. Sadly, after their move to Canada and my return home to Scotland, we lost touch.

 ‘I feel as if I have found something akin to a long-lost daughter.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian
I travelled a lot over the years, living in Europe and Africa, finally settling into a career managing community energy projects in Africa for the Scottish government. But wherever I was, I would often think about my young namesake. With the advent of the internet, I searched regularly for Penny and her parents, but never with any luck.

Out of the blue, a couple of weeks before Christmas last year, my phone beeped. It was a slightly hesitant message from a young Korean-Canadian lady who said she thought she might be named after me. She asked if I had lived in New Zealand in 1994. I was completely overjoyed. I had had no idea whether “Little” Penny even knew the story behind her name, so to discover that she had been looking for me gave me a warm feeling.

We ended up messaging all evening and I discovered that Penny was now 23 – which made me feel ancient. She had known the story of how she got her name all her life and had always wanted to find me, but her parents had not been able to remember my surname. However, that day, her father had come across one of my old letters, with my surname on the envelope. Armed with this, Penny did a search on Facebook and her mother recognised me instantly.

We chatted a lot via Messenger after that. Penny told me that she feels incredibly lucky to have grown up in Canada, surrounded by diversity and acceptance, and that she is grateful to be fluent in English. She said she is often asked why she has her name – not a common one in Canada and particularly unusual for a Korean-Canadian.

After a few months, Penny ended up making plans to travel with her family to Europe, tagging on Scotland at the end to allow the Pennys to meet. I went to meet her and her family at Edinburgh airport at the end of August this year. Waiting felt like being in a film; almost surreal. I recognised her straight away. I hugged Little Penny and adored her instantly. She has a lovely voice that makes her sound older than she is and she comes across as a very calm person – very unlike me. Within a few hours of meeting, we found ourselves looking for things we had in common, as if we were genetically related. That made everyone laugh.

None of us could believe that we had found each other after 24 years. Penny and I have stayed in regular contact. She is working three waitressing jobs while she decides what she wants to do with her life. I hope to visit them all in Canada in the next couple of years.

I have no children of my own, so in a strange way I feel as if I have found something akin to a long-lost daughter. I often complain about social media and how everyone is buried in screens instead of engaging with the real world. But I have to acknowledge that Little Penny would never have found me were it not for Facebook.

Kids spend less time outdoors than prisoners

While inmates at maximum security prisons in the U.S. are guaranteed at least 2 hours of outdoor time a day, half of children worldwide spend less than an hour outside, reports

A survey of 12,000 parents in 10 countries found that one-third of children (ages 5 to 12) spend less than 30 minutes outside each day. The survey, sponsored by Unilever laundry detergent brands OMO and Persil, inspired a new marketing campaign – “Dirt is Good – Free the Children.”

The short film below – documenting prisoners’ responses to the survey – is part of that campaign:

Prisoners at a maximum security facility in Indiana called outdoor time the “highlight” of their day.  “You take all your problems and frustrations and just leave them out there,” one prisoner said. Another said “it keeps his mind right.”

When asked how they would feel about having their “yard time” reduced to one hour a day, inmates responded that it would build more anger and resentment. One inmate said it would be “torture.” A prison guard said it would be “potentially disastrous.”

The prisoners are shocked upon learning that most children have less than an hour of outdoor time per day, one of them calling the news “depressing.” Another said if he could have one wish granted it would be that he could take his kid to a park.

Another study found that one in nine children “have not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months.”

Huffington Post reported recently that with children today spending only half the time their parents did outdoors, we are producing an “unsociable, unimaginative and inactive generation.” Only half of children have ever built a sandcastle at the beach or had a picnic outside of their own yard, and over a third have never played in the mud. Also, about half of children opt for screen time alone over playing with others outdoors.

In addition to “unsociable, unimaginative and inactive” – our culture’s lack of outdoor time is producing children who are physically and mentally ill:

“We are physically active when we spend time outdoors, so we are less likely to become obese. When sunshine hits our skin, we form Vitamin D, which helps with a number of health issues. Peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that time spent outside lowers rates of heart disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer. Kids with ADHD focus better when they spend time outdoors. And, nature time leads to more positive moods, as well as lower stress and anxiety.”

(Source: Return to Now)

Five-week-old baby dies after being mauled by family pets

Boy loses battle for life after Staffordshire bull terriers savaged him when he was just two weeks old

A five-week-old baby has died after being savaged by his family’s two dogs.

Reuben McNulty was left fighting for his life after the Staffordshire bull terriers pounced on him at home in Cambridgeshire last month.

He died in hospital on Thursday, police said.

Reuben McNulty, who died in hospital after being attacked by
his family's dogs ( Amy Litchfield )
Paramedics were called to the family house in Wykes Road, Yaxley, following the attack in the early hours of 18 November. The boy, who was just two weeks old at the time, was taken to Peterborough City Hospital with severe head injuries and later transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he later died.

His parents, Daniel McNulty and Amy Litchfield, are believed to have been questioned by police and released pending further enquiries.

Following the incident, a man at the property who did not want to be identified said: “They’re in bits, they’re devastated.”

Ms Litchfield’s father, Paul, told The Sun it had been a “freak accident”.

Cambridgeshire Police said both of the animals had been destroyed.

A statement from the force said: “A 28-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man, both from Yaxley, who were arrested on suspicion of child neglect, have been released under investigation.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and has been handed to the coroner.”

(Source: The Independent)