Author Archives: Lavinia Petrucci

The Labour party (and Nicki Minaj) want to save you from tuition fees

The leaked Labour manifesto has been confirmed on Thursday by Jeremy Corbyn. It includes what John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor for the Labour Party, had revealed in Mansfield on the party’s plan to make education free. This would result in an investment of more than £20bn in English schools by 2022.

 

Jeremy Corbyn has always been sure about scrapping tuition fees; even in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, in which they pledged to cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year, he later announced that they were going to eliminate them completely.

The manifesto states that Labour believes education should be free, and we will restore this principle. No one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt. There is a real fear that students are being priced out of university education. Last year saw the steepest fall in university applications for thirty years…Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.”

 

 

University students not only won’t have to pay their yearly fee, but there are also plans to abolish unpaid internships, which will make work experience accessible to everyone.

 

 

Some say that the leak was made on purpose in order to draw attention to the leadership, while others believe it was arranged to destabilise it showing a deep division within the party itself.

What matters is that this certainly caught the attention of young voters between 18 and 24, who started sharing the news on Facebook. The voting age will be reduced to 16 because the party believes that at 16 you deserve a vote given that they are eligible to pay tax, get married or even join the army.

Theresa May has highly criticised the Labour’s manifesto, saying it would take Britain “back to the past” and bring “chaos” to the country. The British’s right-leaning press has had a similar reaction.

 

 

 

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Source: MIKE COPPOLA/GETTY IMAGES FOR PEOPLE.COM

Meanwhile on Twitter, Nicki Minaj pledged to pay off fans’ student debt if they get straight A’s.

It all started with a 21-year-old student working two jobs who casually asked her to pay for his tuition after she was offering plane tickets for a contest.

 money friday nicki minaj cash nicki GIF

 

Within an hour, she made arrangements for around $30,000 (more than £23,000). This won’t be a one-time thing as the star has tweeted that she will do that again in a month or two. Her donations included summer schools and student loans.

Amanda and Alma, students at Texas Tech University give their view on the importance of what Nicki is doing for American students.

 

 

Even if Nicki did not say this is strictly for US students, here is something that could help understand the debt these students have to pay.

 

 

This is not the first time that she has supported education and has repeatedly told her fans to stay in school.

Let’s hope this will encourage other celebrities to help students as well.

 

Bye Bye Bye? The House votes to repeal and replace Obamacare

On Thursday, House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace its key parts. After having fought for this for months, the bill now will go to the Senate and Trump feels confident about it.

The bill passed with a vote of 217-213, with all 192 Democrats voting to oppose it and 20 Republicans joining them. The changes made by the GOP Proposal would alter some major factors that Obamacare had established.

 

Essential health benefits such as emergency room visits and women’s health services would not be a given, instead it would up to single states to choose what benefits to keep or whether to opt out of all of them.

Older people would have to pay up to five times more than younger consumers for fewer benefits. The new American Health Care Act repeals the Employer Mandate, which required all businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance.

Pre-existing conditions have been a big debate also thanks to Jimmy Kimmel’s speech about his newborn’s heart surgery. With Obama backing him up, but also with conservatives criticizing his approach and ideas.

Donald Trump has reassured that insurance for people with illnesses such as cancer or diabetes will be reduced. Earlier this week the President stated that this new healthcare plan “will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare”. The Republican Plan maintains the requirement that allows people under 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.

Since Obamacare became effective in 2010, it reduced the number of uninsured people by 20 million, with patients less likely to skip needed care. Given these premises it would have been difficult to introduce any new health care plan, let alone one with these conditions.

University of Westminster launches Creative Enterprise Centre

The University of Westminster hosts eight inspiring creatives to celebrate the start up of the Creative Enterprise Centre.

This networks allows students and alumni to find freelance jobs advertised on the software, according to their skills. It is highly focused on media, design and arts students. This gives young students the opportunity to get the name out there in this competitive industry.

 

 

The first panel at the event had four inspiring entrepreneurs with completely different backgrounds.

Alex Boden, co-founder of Pistachio Pictures, is a producer of the hit Netflix original series Sense8, Cloud Alas and PULP. He was named Moviescope “Producer to watch” in 2008 and its film PULP won Best Music Film at the 2015 NME Awards.

 

 

Jonathan Wilkins (Dines), founder and brand consultant of Studio Blup, a design agency that works with brands such as Adidas or Nike. He encouraged the students to think big and picture themselves in the position the want to be in.

 

Beanie Major, founder of In Detail, named one of the “30 best blogs ever” by Marie Claire. Who believes the best way to enter the market is to find your unique signature. Even if she was Evening Standard’s choice for 2017 Young Progress Maker, she still believes she hasn’t made it.

 

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Ringspiration by @rosadelacruzlondon

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Lucien Mansell, co-founder and director of FactorySettings. They create high-quality projects designing, fabricating and installing exhibitions.  Former clients include the National Theatre and the Museum of London.

 

Video Courtesy of The University of Westminster

If you were unable to attend the launch party, make sure you don’t miss the next even hosted by the Creative Enterprise Center: “Creative Currency: Talking Money”. It will cover the business side of freelancing and you can register to attend the free event here.

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By: Christie Rankin and Lavinia Petrucci

He can show you the world: a travel blogger on his adventures.

Dimitrios Fanourios was born and grew up in the Greek island of Euboea, the county’s second largest island, north of Athens.

As he writes on his blog variouscuriousstuff.com, after secondary school he quit his education to “set off in a quest of thrilling adventures and profound excitement”.

He has been in about a third of the world’s countries and works in order to be able to continue its adventures. While he is travelling, he takes touching and sometimes raw photos of what he encounters.

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Sunset in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Source: variouscuriosstuff.com

 

Q: I see you have been to many places and had quite a few adventures. Out of all of them which one would you say was most memorable or thrilling?

Difficult question. My life has indeed been full with so many thrilling adventures that it would be highly disfavoring to all the rest picking one out. For the sake of giving you an answer however, one of the most intensely carved in my memory would be the first time I climbed my islands highest mountain (Dirfys). That was my virginal mountain conquest, when I was still a little kid. It was a toilsome and terrifying ascent for me back then. And completing it, I had just got introduced to that new world up there, got the cognition that the earth ought to be my playground.

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Mount Dirfys  Source: dirfyswater.org

 

Q: Do you believe that people who do not choose to go to the destinations you have been to and opt for more touristic spots such as Paris or Berlin miss out on some important experiences?

They definitely do miss. Paris, Berlin or any other major touristic destination is just too easily accessible to anyone. And they are often not much different to each other in any substantial respect. Hotels and resorts, also, are identical to each other all over the world. It’s out there, throughout the random vastness of this planet, where the real treasures lie hidden. The ones which will render one privileged having witnessed them.

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Iron-containing dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia. Source: variouscuriosstuff.com

Q: Where do you get the money for traveling? Do you think it is the best way of spending money?

I improvise. Have been an adventurer all my life and have come with a great multitude of different ways to earn my living and fund my adventures. In work also, variety is of vital importance for me. There is always a way, it only needs imagination. Traveling is surely the best way to spend my money, for me. That of course does not apply to everyone. Different people like different things. What is important is to spend them, in anything one may like. What is pitiable, is to see people making money for the sake of making them alone, perceiving money as the ends in themselves, rather than the means to something more sublime. That is sad.

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Kids playing on the beach of Zanzibar North, Tanzania. Source: variouscuriosstuff.com

 

Q: You take a lot of amazing photos during your trips, which one is the most meaningful to you?

Same as in 1st question goes here, too hard to choose. By far more valuable than my physical pictures are though surely my mental ones. Some random images awaking in some random instance, depicting a place and/or a situation dug out from somewhere deep inside my memory’s caverns, coming forth veiled in mystery and interwoven with subtle emotions.

 

 

From his blog we can tell that sometimes travelling in these places is not always safe or easy. Like the many attempts to find an accommodation in Tambacounda, in the Senegalese Hinterland. Every hotel or guest house they would find on the map turned out to be abandoned locations, sometimes even just empty land. The only hotel they had found was at an unreasonable price, so he accepted an offer to live in local’s house for a cheaper price. Think of squat toilet and a water bucket for showering.

 

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Families in the Lake Bunyonyi area, Uganda. Source: variouscuriosstuff.com

From reading other anecdotes on his blog, his curiosity is clearly a constant.

When encountering scammers in India, he did not avoid them once he had figured out what they were, instead he played the game, trying his best to appear friendly and naïve, as he wrote on a post. He summarised their conversations and explained the scam they wanted to put in motion, the common “jewellery scam”.

Also, even if he had measures in order to make the bears move away from his tent in the Carpathian Mountains, he still couldn’t resist to go outside with his torch just to see the bear. How many people would do that?

Pret a déporter: Brexit’s impact on the British chain

How many times have you walked into a Pret a Manger and have been served by someone who is not British? Considering that only 1 out of 50 job applicants are from the UK it is safe to say the answer is a lot.

Some say this is due to the fact that its offer does not attract British workers.

Andrea Wareham, the director of Pret’s Human resources, told a parliamentary committee that she would not be able to fill the company’s position only with UK workers. Even if she stated that they pay above the national living wage and give great benefits, she admitted that some still not find this appealing.

Francesca*, an Italian Manager at Pret a Manger, differentiates its workers in London and those outside the capital. She highlights how the possibility to grow is a major factor in the company. She is confident in the fact that Brexit will affect Pret, and she uses the “Experience week” and everything the chain is doing to attract British workers as a proof of that. She also noted how the international atmosphere of Pret might scare workers from the UK.

 

Those who voted out of the EU because they didn’t want “their” jobs stolen, did not consider some of the sectors that are almost completely fueled by international workers.

Given that this chain was created in London and still holds 67% of its trade in the city, the number of immigrants is expected and normal for the specific economy of the capital. In fact, 65% of its non-UK workers are European Nationals, as you can probably tell by the high quantity of Spanish or Italian flags next to their name tags.

From the perspective of the company, they have already expanded their trade in Europe. For now, it is only France with 14 outlets in Paris and one in Nice, but with this possible decline the chances of a bigger expansion are very high.

Mark*, who is a British student working at Second Cup, has noted how the choice of working in a coffee shop usually depends on the social situation: someone from the working class would work there, but those born in a wealthier family would leave those kind of jobs to others.

 

Sarah*, working at Caffè Nero, argued that British people are lazy, so this job is not suitable for them due to their low levels of patience. She states that if you are not from here they don’t really respect you and she and her colleague are looking forward to see and “laugh” once Brexit will have its effects.

Svetlana* from Greggs was sure about the catastrophic effects of Brexit, given that she thinks that 90% of the employees in companies such as Costa or Starbucks are foreign.

 

Some may say that the fall of big chains will be positive for independent businesses, but this would be less relevant and achievable in London, which would be a ghost town without European workers.

 

 

*names were changed for privacy purposes

Roma’s stadium won’t be built in a day

Rome is a complicated city; every mayor seems to fail at the job and Romans swing from extreme pride to complete criticism. The main city’s football team stadium project is no stranger to this.

Roma’s president James Pallotta wants to create a stadium for its team, who currently shares the state-owned Olympic Stadium with Lazio. He stated that all the money spent on the project will come from private funds, as well as the billion euros that will be put in the extension of one metro line. Along with the stadium the plan included three skyscrapers, restaurants and shops that would have created 12.000 new jobs (prioritising local Roman citizens).

So what’s not to like?

One of the main arguments against it concerns the area chosen for the project, Tor Di Valle, where there is (or more appropriately was) a hippodrome. Some claimed this area has an architectural and cultural value, but Roma’s Facebook page posted a video shot by a drone of the disastrous situation of this territory.

Rome’s ex urban planning chief was strongly against the plan, calling it an “eco-monster”. His opinion is supported by some art critics who believe this would ruin the city’s skyline. It should be considered that this infrastructure will be nowhere visibly near important historic landmarks. The stadium’s architect will be Dan Meis, the same who designed facilities such as the Seattle Seahawks stadium and the Lakers’ Staple Centre and the three skyscrapers project would have been handled by the famous Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the new World Trade Centre after 9/11.

 

Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic famous for his blunt statements said that he will continue fighting against this project and declared that “if they don’t change their mind I will call Isis and ask them to put bombs in the skyscrapers and everything will be solved.”

 

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Source: Leggo.it

 

The stadium will also give a new experience to the team’s supporters, who are used to seeing the games from quite a distance due to the all-weather running track in the Olympic Stadium that won’t be in the new one.

Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi and her populist party Five Star Movement, is split on the matter. Even if those against it mostly aim to a reexamination of the area, do that they won’t operate and build on that many hectares. The party has already withdrawn Rome’s nomination for the 2024 Olympics, so denying this project would send a clear message.

The final agreement with the city council was on March 3rd and its outcome can be considered a loss for international investors in Italy, but not for AS Roma supporters who will have their stadium anyway. Half of the ground of the original plan was cut and they eventually settled for shorter buildings instead of skyscrapers.

This drastic change has brought the American investors to change their mind on some of the public works that they were going to fund. Most of them included roads, a bridge and the transports needed to get there. This also is why those who were previously in favour are now reluctant to accept the changes considering the weight they had on the project itself.

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Source: IlTempo.it

The land they were going to build on has been reduced by 50%, with 60% less in the business park (the area not related to the stadium itself).

In a time of crisis for Europe and Italy, we should ask ourselves if pride is worth more than innovation. When this is not undermining the country’s own investors, we should be welcoming and supportive of those who would want to invest and help the economy.

#ShePersisted: Senator Warren’s interruption turns into a feminism rallying cry.

Democratic Senator Elisabeth Warren was interrupted by the presiding Senate chair Steve Daines while she was giving a speech reading a letter written in 1986 by the widow of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King.

 

King wrote that she wanted to block Sessions from a federal judgeship. The subject that was being debated was the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

 

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell did not let her finish the speech, later saying “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted”. This statement was immediately used on social media as a feminist rallying cry, as well as the hashtags #LetLizSpeak and #ShePersisted.

Images of Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks or Hillary Clinton were used along with the quote. When Daines interrupted her, he cited Senate Rule XIX and its stipulation that “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” The Senate voted 49-43 to prevent her from speaking for the rest of the debate on Sessions. She went on and did a Facebook Live to read the entire Kings’s letter.

Warren arrived in the senate in 2013 and rose as a progressive icon, taking an aggressive stand against Wall Street. This is not the first time she was subject to limitations on her freedom of speech, given that she was warned after reading a statement made by former Senator Edward Kennedy, which labelled Mr Sessions a disgrace.

Conservative media such as Fox News, see Warren as a bad influence on potential Democratic voters, so helpful to the Republican party. Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, said on the Mike Gallagher Show (Salem Radio Network) that the silencing of Senator Warren was “long overdue.”

 

Conspiracy theories started to spread, believing how this was all a Republican plot to promote Warren as a presidential candidate, considering that they believe she would lose to Trump in 2020.