The TV licence fee must be met by anyone who wishes to watch live television in the home, regardless of whether this is on the BBC or not. A standard TV Licence currently costs £159, and Britons can pay in a number of ways including via Direct Debit. Previously, the TV Licence was free for all over 75s, however, following a change in August 2020, this entitlement was removed.
Britons should therefore be looking out for a letter which will tell them more about the TV Licence arrangement.
The BBC says it will confirm the extended transition period put into place due to the pandemic is finishing at the end of the month.
The letter is to also contain details of the steps Britons will need to take to set up a TV Licence.
Details about Pension Credit will also be included, alongside guidance on whether someone is eligible for a free licence.
It stated: “These were promised at the beginning of this process but can now take place, subject to any further COVID-19 restrictions, and will begin in the autumn.”
However, some have seen this as a method of enforcement, and have hit back against the idea.
Dennis Reed, director of the Silver Voices campaign group, said: “Clearly, the BBC is not going to do anything other than enforce the licence fee.
“It is now time for the Government to act. 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.”
In July, the BBC says it will also be contacting licence holders regarding the annual renewal process.
Those who have joined the 75+ Plan or who are paying via direct debit, and those who have a free licence are to be sent their new licence automatically.
What’s the weirdest thing you learned this week? Well, whatever it is, we promise you’ll have an even weirder answer if you listen to PopSci’s hit podcast. The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week hits Apple, Anchor, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts every-other Wednesday morning. It’s your new favorite source for the strangest science-adjacent facts, figures, and Wikipedia spirals the editors of Popular Science can muster. If you like the stories in this post, we guarantee you’ll love the show.
FACT: Viagra might be a secret weapon against period cramps
By Purbita Saha
Sildenafil has only been on the market since the late ‘90s. In its brief history it’s helped tens of millions of people and made billions for Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.
But Viagra (the brand-specific name for the drug) wasn’t always meant to treat erectile dysfunction. It works all over the body, relaxing the muscles and dilating blood vessels, which could either lead to a boner or help with a slew of other conditions. The first clinical trials involving sildenafil were actually for angina and hypertension. Throughout the course of those studies, the attending nurses discovered that the pill had some… conspicuous side effects on people with penises.
The drugmakers saw a major money making opportunity and changed the drug’s focus. That’s a story plenty of folks have heard before. But what’s less known is that the medication also had soothing effects on study subjects experiencing pain from uterine cramping. A more recent clinical trial, run by Penn State University and the National Institute of Health from 2007 to 2011, followed up on this neglected result. It only included 25 participants, with a few receiving Viagra and a few receiving a placebo, so we have to take them with a grain of salt. But those patients did indeed experience massive relief from primary dysmenorrhea, a.k.a. period cramps, within just four hours. (It’s important to note they got the dose vaginally, not orally, which may have maximized the effectiveness and minimized other side effects.)
Those findings were reported almost eight years ago now, and for some reason there hasn’t been much research or buzz around Viagra and period cramps since. Which might point to a larger pattern in medicine—that there just isn’t a big appetite when it comes to understanding and treating reproductive issues that don’t have to do with penises.
FACT: Cats once dropped out of planes to help fight an army of rats
By Sara Kiley Watson
Weird stories tend to keep getting weirder over time—and the true-story turned urban-legend tale of public health officials who parachuted cats to a remote island to prevent a resurgence of the plague has certainly acquired some mythical add-ons over the years.
Basically, back in the 1950s, Borneo was having a bit of a mosquito problem. What was customary in the day (and still is in some places), was to knock out those nasty biting bugs with DDT. This thorough spritzing had some unexpected consequences, including that enough predatory creatures died off to cause a massive upswing in thatch-eating caterpillars. But the real problem was that cats kept keeling over.
To regain control over a now precariously poised situation for potentially disease-carrying and predator-free rats, the British Royal Air Force allegedly dropped 20 cats over the island in parachuted baskets to “wage war on rats which were threatening crops.”
Over time, the story has picked up multiple spins. Some sources claim that thousands of yowling cats were involved, while others say that the plague had already broken out amongst the people living there. The most popular fabrication is that this is a story of biomagnification. Listen to this week’s episode to separate feline fact from fiction.
Now, I’m not quite issuing a correction here. I’m not retracting my fantastic smoke enema expose. But I’m here to say that, while I wish it weren’t so, there may have been more to the idea than I thought back when that old episode aired. In May, researchers released a study that showed at least some mammals—mice and pigs, to be precise—can be saved from suffocation with the help of oxygen-rich enemas.
Lead researcher Takanori Takebe, of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, was inspired by non-mammalian animals that we already know can absorb oxygen through their intestines. Sea cucumbers, for example, suck water through these branching tubes just inside their anuses, expelling the liquid and absorbing the oxygen. There are also fish called loaches that, in addition to breathing through gills like most fish, can pop their heads out of the water to get gulps of air through their mouth, which are then absorbed by their intestines since they have no lungs.
So, it wasn’t totally far-fetched to think mammals might be able to get oxygen from their rear ends, but we obviously don’t just breathe through our butts every time we go swimming or anything as simple as that. Listen to this week’s episode to hear how Takebe and his team managed to turn a bunch of hypoxic mice and pigs into happy and healthy butt-breathers.
After getting his second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Yo-Yo Ma used his 15-minute observation period to put on a concert for everyone else who got vaccinated.
WASHINGTON — Legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma put on a surprise concert Saturday at a vaccination clinic in Massachusetts.
The world-famous musician had just received his second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at Berkshire Community College when he decided to transform everyone’s 15-minute observation period into a musical celebration.
According to The Berkshire Eagle, Richard Hall of the Berkshire COVID-19 Vaccine Collaborative explained that Yo-Yo Ma, a part-time Berkshires resident, “wanted to give something back.”
So after receiving his shot, Yo-Yo Ma took a seat along the wall of the observation area and played for his 15-minute observation time.
Berkshire Community College shared some clips of his performance on Facebook.
Saturday also marked one year to the date from when Yo-Yo Ma first posted about his #SongsOfComfort project amid the start of COVID-19 lockdowns.
“In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort,” he posted on March 13, 2020. The cellist began posting videos of himself and encouraged other musicians to join him in spreading music during the anxious time.
“Somehow music always has been comforting to me. This is what I do and this is the best that I can offer and I know many people are doing everything they can from what they know and this is just something that I can do,” Yo-Yo Ma explained to PBS Newshour back in March 2020.
In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my #SongsOfComfort: Dvořák – “Going Home”
Stay safe. pic.twitter.com/S28w6OlXiZ
— Yo-Yo Ma (@YoYo_Ma) March 13, 2020
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