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BBC earns extra £250million in ONE YEAR after forcing over-75s to pay licence fee

BBC licence fee ‘no longer fit for purpose’ says expert

Over-75s were entitled to a free television licence up until August last year, when pensioners were then forced to cough up the annual charge due to budget cuts. But the corporation’s annual report for 2020/21 has shown it made £3,750 million from the annual TV licence. The report also showed the extra licence fee payments from pensioners helped contribute to a rise of £250million from last year.

Dennis Reed, director of the Silver Voices campaign group, called on the Government to stop the charges for older people earlier this year.

He said: “The BBC is calling the people carrying out these visits ‘customer support officers’ but their job is to enforce payment.

“They will be asking people why they haven’t got a licence

“Clearly, the BBC is not going to do anything other than enforce the licence fee. It is now time for the Government to act.

The BBC released its annual report for 2020/2021 today

The BBC released its annual report for 2020/2021 today (Image: GETTY)

“I’m sure they don’t want to see senior citizens in their 80s and 90s, who have paid tax throughout their lives, fined up to £1,000 and carted off to jail.”

Former England cricket captain Lord Botham also lashed out at the corporation for charging pensioners licence fee payments.

In a new letter to The Telegraph, Lord Botham wrote: “Viewers can see that the moral crime here is that the BBC has broken its promise to the over-75s that it would pay for their licences.

“A grassroots revolt against the licence fee is under way, and it is being led by pensioners.

READ MORE: Family of 10 ‘living on top of each other’ in council house

The licence fee also increased from £157.50 to £159 in April

The licence fee also increased from £157.50 to £159 in April (Image: GETTY)

“The BBC is one scandal away from a wholesale licence fee rebellion.”

It comes as the licence fee also increased from £157.50 to £159 in April.

The black and white licences also rose from £53.00 to £53.50.

Meanwhile, the annual report also showed Gary Lineker is still the top earner, despite last year agreeing to a pay reduction of around £400,000.

It was announced last year that the Match Of The Day host had taken a pay cut, which reduced his pay from £1.75 million to £1.36 million.

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The black and white licences also rose from £53.00 to £53.50

The black and white licences also rose from £53.00 to £53.50 (Image: EXPRESS)

Zoe Ball remained the broadcaster’s second highest paid talent after requesting a pay cut when agreeing a new two-year deal as Radio 2’s breakfast host.

She asked to reduce her pay by 28 percent to £980,000 to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Zoe Ball is a world-class broadcaster hosting Radio 2’s flagship show and her professionalism and commitment to the Breakfast Show is extraordinary.

“She’s hugely talented and has made the show her own, with many millions of listeners tuning in each morning to the nation’s most listened to Breakfast Show.”

The extra licence fee payments from pensioners helped provide a rise of £250million

The extra licence fee payments from pensioners helped provide a rise of £250million (Image: GETTY)

Speaking during the launch of the report, BBC director-general Tim Davie said discussions with top on-air talent over reducing their pay packets had been “mutual and constructive”.

He added: “I am not going to give information on the specifics of the conversations.

“All I would say is I think everyone recognises the strategy, which is getting value to audiences and, without being funny, most conversations are mutual and constructive.

“Now, clearly as a management team, we want to get more value and we are willing to make tough decisions to that extent.

The BBC has faced backlash over its licence fee charges

The BBC has faced backlash over its licence fee charges (Image: GETTY)

“I think these conversations have all been constructive, as with Zoe Ball where she came forward and said she wanted to adjust the salary.

“I think everyone is absolutely with the programme on that one.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for a comment.

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Author: Rachel Russell
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: UK Feed

The Delta variant is forcing parts of Australia back into lockdown

Most of Australia is under fresh COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers rise and the Delta variant threatens to overwhelm the country’s contact tracing apparatus. Sydney, the country’s largest city, went into a lockdown on Saturday evening, as did much of the surrounding region. The lockdown is expected to last until July 9.

Right now, the federal government estimates that there are 271 active cases, and reports 58 hospitalizations.

The scale of the outbreak is smaller than those in the United States, but Australia has also controlled the pandemic successfully for most of the past year and a half, lifting initial lockdowns last summer. However, it’s kept tight restrictions on foreign travel—most people can’t fly anywhere besides New Zealand, and incoming travellers are required to quarantine. So far, the entire country has reported 910 total deaths over the course of the pandemic, which is fewer than in North Dakota alone.

“Covid zero [sic] became the de facto strategic goal of Australian public health policy,” wrote Bill Bowtell, a health policy expert who helped craft Australia’s HIV response, in a Guardian op-ed. “It delivered the precious gift of time to regroup, free from the pressure of rising caseloads, unnecessary social and economic disruption, and death.”

But, he argued, Australia has failed to capitalize on that success with a fast vaccine rollout, leaving itself vulnerable to outbreaks.

The bulk of the new cases are in the southeastern state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located. According to the Guardian, 120 cases in this most recent outbreak have been linked to a Sydney suburb called Bondi. Yesterday, the state reported 23 new cases, three of which were picked up overseas.

That prompted concern and travel restrictions in New Zealand as well, after one Australian tourist reportedly tested positive after returning home from Wellington, the neighboring nation’s capital.

In response, the New South Wales government has imposed a two-week stay-at-home order for the metro area, although it includes broad carvouts, including travel to childcare, weddings, and funerals. The state also resumed a mask requirement.

The Australian government is trying to head off a national outbreak, and people who have travelled to the region since June 21 are also being asked to stay at home

But other cases appear to be slipping through Australia’s net. In Australia’s Northern Territory, a gold miner became infected at a quarantine hotel, then took a charter flight back to the mine. Now, health officials are tracking down about 900 miners who might have carried the virus across the country. The Northern Territory went into lockdown as of Sunday.

[Related: The Delta variant is on the rise in the US]

This outbreak has triggered extra alarms because many of the cases are suspected to be the highly contagious Delta variant.

That variant, first detected in India, is not only more contagious than the original strain of COVID, but is also more contagious than the Alpha variant, first detected in the UK. It appears to be more deadly as well. And unlike Alpha, it’s adept at reinfecting people who have already recovered from COVID.

Delta kicked off a round of lockdowns in the UK when it arrived, and sent authorities scrambling to deliver second doses of the vaccine—fully vaccinated people are strongly protected, but half vaccinated people still appear to be vulnerable.

Low vaccination rates are also driving the urgency in Australia. Although around 30 percent of the country has received one dose, only about five percent of Australians are fully vaccinated. (Australia hasn’t administered any Johnson & Johnson, which requires only a single shot.) In New South Wales, just 4.3 percent of people have completed the series. In three other states, fewer than one percent of people have.

That’s in part because Australia relies heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine, some of which is manufactured in the country. But this spring, the AstraZeneca vaccine came under intense scrutiny after European regulators determined that it was possibly linked to extremely rare, but deadly, blood clots, especially in young people. In April, Australia stopped giving AstraZeneca to almost anyone under 50, and turned to its much more limited supply of Pfizer instead.

As this outbreak has taken off, the government has lifted that restriction, and allowed anyone over the age of 40 to request the AstraZeneca vaccine. Currently, anyone over 40 is eligible to be vaccinated, as are those older than 16 who do frontline work or have a high-risk health condition.

And Monday’s news that a “mix-and-match” course of AstraZeneca and Pfizer provides powerful protection could give the country more flexibility in its vaccination program.

Still, in an interview last week, when asked if Australians could expect to fly by Christmas of 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “That’s too far away to… I mean, I would certainly hope so.”

And that means that Australia is yet another sign of what might be to come in under-vaccinated swaths of the United States. Last week, Anthony Fauci estimated that 20 percent of cases in the United States are caused by the Delta variant. Within a month or so, the variant will likely be the dominant strain, accelerating transmission in a country that already has far more SARS-CoV-2 circulating than Australia. As WNYC reported, the Delta variant is so transmissible that it might cause fast-moving outbreaks even in a population that is was 40 percent vaccinated. And with vaccination rates below 50 percent in the South, Midwest, and mountain West, future surges in individual pockets seem almost certain.

Philip Kiefer

Author: Sara Chodosh
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Family accused of forcing waitresses at Houston bar to perform sex acts

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A Houston family is being accused of coordinating a sex trafficking operation in which waitresses working at a bar were forced to perform sex acts on customers.The U.S. Attorney’s office said 54-year-old Maria Botello and her children — 28-year-old Edgar Botello and 31-year-old Yudy Lucatero — along with her nephew, 23-year-old Arian Botello, coerced waitresses working at Puerto Alegre in southwest Houston to engage in commercial sex acts.

According to a criminal complaint filed on March 30, the family members were allegedly doing this for 13 years, from 2007 to 2020.The complaint states Maria would coordinate dates with clients who paid $ 70 for every 15 minutes with the waitresses. Her son and nephew were “the enforcers” who used weapons, threats and intimidation to keep the women compliant, according to the complaint.

“The investigation also revealed Lucatero and Maria Botello discussed the rules and procedures in relation to the sex trafficking,” read a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office[1] on Thursday.

The victims allegedly included adults and at least one minor.

Authorities also identified another victim who was brought to the U.S. specifically to work at the bar when she was 17, according to the complaint. While she was there, she was allegedly forced to engage in commercial sex.

All four family members are expected to make their initial court appearances before a judge at 2 p.m. on Friday.If convicted, the family members each face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says anyone who may have been victimized by suspected traffickers, or who has information about potential victims, is urged to contact the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Victims Services[2] office at 713-494-5869 to file a report.

Spanish speakers may contact Homeland Security Investigations[3] at 1-866-347-2423.

Follow Jessica Willey on Facebook[4], Twitter[5] and Instagram[6].

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

References

  1. ^ read a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office (www.justice.gov)
  2. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Victims Services (www.tabc.texas.gov)
  3. ^ Homeland Security Investigations (www.ice.gov)
  4. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  5. ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
  6. ^ Instagram (www.instagram.com)

Jessica Willey

Chelsea star Mason Mount may be forcing Marina Granovskaia to rethink summer transfer plan

At 22 years of age, Mount has the world at his feet at a team who can go on to achieve something great and he’s bound to be monumental for the club for years to come.

The problem Granovskaia faces now is targeting the right players to get the best out of Mount for the long haul.

They’re bound to be active in the window with a number of players expected to leave such as Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko among others who are currently on loan.

That will give Chelsea money to spend on new recruits, but bringing in another attacking midfielder is now longer a necessity.