FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2012, file photo, U.S. Sen. John Glenn talks with astronauts on the International Space Station via satellite before a discussion titled "Learning from the Past to Innovate for the Future" in Columbus, Ohio.COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pioneering astronaut John Glen is being showered with birthday recognition by people on social media, NASA and residents in his home state of Ohio.The first American to orbit the Earth was trending on Twitter on Monday as he turned 95.The NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland was among organizations tweeting about Glenn s birthday.It posted a 2012 photo of Glenn signing baseballs for fans during NASA Glenn Day at Progressive Field.Photos from Glenn s space and military careers also were abundant online.
Buzz Aldrin, 86, was medically evacuated from a tourist trip to Antarctica after he began suffering from altitude sickness and shortness of breath.After a week-long stay in a New Zealand hospital, the second man to walk on the moon is doing just fine.Adrin—a legendary astronaut with a mean right hook—was in the South Pole to experience Mars-like conditions and meet with scientists.After illness cut his trip short, doctors at Christchurch Hospital discovered congestion in Buzz s lungs which has since cleared.Antarctica isn t a popular destination for octogenarians for probably this exact reason, but let none say Aldrin is anything less than a champion of exploration and an absolute badass.News of Aldrin s improved health comes less than 24 hours after John Glen, the first astronaut to orbit the Earth, passed away at the age of 95.
See larger image Credit: Pascal Volk Bye, FeliciaIn many ways, I can t wait to kiss 2016 goodbye.It s been full of bad news, including the passing of greats like Muhamed Ali, David Bowie, and John Glen.There s been a rash of high-profile security breaches.There s an ongoing crisis in the Middle East.And let s not even talk about the election that doesn t seem to want to go away.
A Russian flag which briefly appeared on scaffolding outside Salisbury Cathedral on Sunday morning has been removed after it was spotted by workers.The move was labelled a “stupid stunt” by John Glen, the city’s MP.It follows the Novichok attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia almost one year ago.Russian flag hung from Salisbury cathedral this morning, but quickly removed before services— james mcc (@james1mcc) February 17, 2019Dawn Sturgess, from nearby Amesbury, was exposed to the discarded substance weeks later and subsequently died in July.
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. There were plenty of heartfelt and eloquent tributes to Prince Philip in the recalled parliament today. From Tory grandees such as Sir Bill Cash to the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing managed to unite politicians across the political divide. Even his infamous verdict that “we have 650 [MPs] and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time” didn’t deter the outpouring of goodwill.It was perhaps fitting that it fell to Boris Johnson to lead the speeches, given his own fondness for leavening his public duties with the odd risque gag or ten. As the prime minister listed all the qualities he most admired in the late Duke – a passion for the environment, a boyish fascination with science and technology, even a hint of rakishness  –  it was clear he felt the loss of a kindred spirit. When the PM said “he contrived to be at once politically incorrect and also ahead of his time”, the implicit parallel was unmistakeable.While Johnson hasn’t exactly followed Philip’s lead in putting his wife’s needs and career before his own, his speech underlined that public service can come in many different forms. And just a couple of hours beforehand, the rapid rate at which such service can be tarnished by politicians was all too evident when the PM ordered a review of David Cameron’s Greensill lobbying of government.It remains to be seen just how much more detail the Boardman review will unearth, but Cameron has done a pretty good job of trashing his own reputation so far. The grubby spectacle of a former prime minister repeatedly texting and phoning serving ministers on behalf of a firm of financiers will be hard to live down. Cameron’s own admission that he should have used “the most formal of channels” failed to grasp that an ex-PM really shouldn’t be lobbying anyone in government for profit.Testing to breaking point the maxim that what often matters in Britain is not just what you know but who you know, the former premier seemed to rely on his personal pulling power in pressing the interests of Greensill on Matt Hancock, Jesse Norman, John Glen and Rishi Sunak. For the chancellor in particular, as the man in charge of the nation’s finances, the political risks of this whole row are more than obvious.Sunak’s text message to Cameron on April 23 last year – in which he said “I have pushed the team” [of Treasury civil servants to find a possible Greensill solution]  – has been pounced on by his critics. Even though the Treasury points out that Cameron’s lobbying failed because Greensill was not given a penny in government-backed loans through the Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF), it’s that phrase “pushed” that smacks of favours.Allies of Sunak can see how it all looks but strongly deny any impropriety. I’m told the p-word stems from the chancellor being proud of the fact that he “pushes” civil servants, challenging them to interrogate policies and their own assumptions. Officials were already exploring alternative models to see if Greensill could help more small businesses, and the text to Cameron was a polite courtesy rather than a trigger for action, insiders say.Last spring, Sunak was indeed pushing civil servants, with policies like the unprecedented furlough scheme having to be processed through ministerial direction or even legal direction in the face of officials’ understandable nervousness about the sheer cost and scale of the plans. Any change to the Covid financing structure would have needed his approval, and in the end he rejected it.I’m told Sunak did not treat Cameron like an “old mate” precisely because they were not old mates. The pair had met just once when the new Richmond MP was elected in 2015. Although Cameron is reported to have said during the Brexit referendum ”if we’ve lost Rishi, we’ve lost the future of the party”, the two had no personal connection.Sunak’s other defence is that he last week proactively, voluntarily released his only two texts to Cameron. I understand that for at least a fortnight there was no clear guidance from the Cabinet Office, from Freedom of Information officials, from government lawyers, on whether the chancellor could or should publish his texts. In the end, believing he had “nothing to hide”, he went ahead. In doing so, he may well have created a transparency precedent.Which brings us back to Cameron, whose own texts the government felt it had no duty to publish. Bombarding a chancellor with texts, phone calls and emails for profit may be demeaning enough. But it’s the murkiness of his lobbying operation that makes Cameron’s own famous commitment to transparency curdle like sour milk.Cameron made a big play in opposition and government of his phrase “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. In a delicious irony, the phrase was first coined as a metaphor by former US Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, in a 1914 collection of anti-trust articles titled: “Other People’s Money: And How the Bankers Use It”.Sunak isn’t out of the woods yet. Although Labour’s urgent question on Tuesday on Greensill business interruption loans may technically fall within the remit of the business department, the chancellor could be proactive once more by turning up to the Commons to make his case. In James Graham’s political play Privacy, Sunak’s Richmond constituency predecessor William Hague had a memorable catchphrase: “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”.Given Boris Johnson’s own chaotic approach to the ministerial code (keeping Priti Patel in post, failing to replace Alex Allen as independent adviser), Sunak could emerge with credit if he can prove not just no impropriety on his part but also a commitment to open government. Notwithstanding the new Boardman “review” of the Greensill affair, just imagine if the Treasury select committee opted to investigate and hear testimony in public from each of the players?As for Cameron, how long ago it seems since he jibed Tony Blair “he was the future once”. It was Prince Philip, the reformer who pushed for the televising of the coronation, who did his bit to “let daylight in upon magic”. Brand new laws and rules on lobbying, either under PM Johnson or PM Sunak, could perform a similar public service for our politicians.Related...Boris Johnson Orders Probe Into David Cameron Lobbying RowTexts Confirm David Cameron Lobbied Rishi Sunak To Help Save Greensill CapitalLabour Urges Ministers To Tighten Rules On Lobbyists After Cameron Controversy
Debt impacts millions of us in the UK – and for many families and individuals, the pandemic will have only made things worse. Factors that can push people into debt include major life changes (of which there have been many this past year), becoming – and staying – unwell, not getting paid, living on a low income or needing to buy new things.If you’re kept awake at night by thoughts of your bank balance, or struggling to fend off panic attacks every time your bills go out, know that you’re not alone. Around eight million people in the UK are thought to be living in problem debt.A government scheme, called Breathing Space, hopes to help thousands of people struggling with such debt. Those who are eligible will be offered financial advice and given respite from debt enforcement action over a 60-day period. As part of the scheme, which has the potential to help 700,000 people in England and Wales, people will receive free debt advice to help them begin the long, but ultimately rewarding, journey out of the red. Past research by the Money Advice Service found 65% of people who received regulated debt advice were repaying their debts or had repaid them in full within three to six months.Being given breathing space from debt collectors is crucial to getting back on track, as research by debt charity StepChange found six in 10 people who weren’t protected from interest, charges and new enforcement action went on to take out even more credit to cope.What exactly is Breathing Space?Breathing Space is a free government scheme that aims to relieve some of the pressure of dealing with your creditors, so you can focus on getting professional advice and getting out of debt.The hope is you’ll be able to get set up with a debt solution without worrying about being chased for payment or incurring extra charges. The scheme isn’t a payment holiday, so you’ll still have to continue paying your debts during this time (if you can afford to do so), but it does prevent action from being taken against you if you’re unable to pay.John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said of the launch: “This scheme will give people a breathing space from charges, distressing letters and bailiff visits, so they can tackle their problem debt with support from a professional debt adviser.” Who is eligible?You must live in England or Wales and you must owe at least one qualifying debt to a creditor. Most debts can be included in a Breathing Space arrangement.There are some factors that might make you ineligible for the scheme, however.  For example, you can only access Breathing Space once in a 12-month period, and you are ineligible if you’re already on a Debt Relief Order (DRO) or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). You also must not be an undischarged bankrupt, or subject to an interim order.The best way to find out if you’re eligible for the free scheme is to ring up a debt advice service, which will be able to submit an application on your behalf.Even if you are ineligible, there may be other ways to get help so it’s always worth reaching out for professional advice. You can access free advice through Citizens Advice, the charity Step Change, the Money Advice Service and National Debtline.I’m eligible – now what?You’ll be taken through the application process with a debt advisor. Once registered, the Insolvency Service will contact your creditors who won’t be able to add interest or fees to your debts, or take enforcement action, for 60 days.People using the scheme are urged to: keep up regular payments (for example: rent, mortgage, council tax, insurance payments and utility bills); continue seeking debt advice; and avoid taking out any more credit during the 60 days.During your time on the scheme, you’ll be in touch with a debt advisor who can help you get on top of your debt. They’ll give you advice relevant to your situation and will get you set up with a suitable ‘debt solution’.This could be a debt management plan (DMP), which helps you to manage your debts, paying them off at a more affordable rate; a debt relief order (DRO) which sees debts written off if you have a relatively low level of debt and few assets; or an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). The latter is a formal agreement allowing you to make affordable payments to your debts, usually over five or six years. At the end of the agreement, any unsecured debt left is written off. Other options for managing debtCreate a monthly budget and stick to it. Figure out what money comes into your account each month and what goes out – are there any direct debits or standing orders you can cancel to give yourself a break? If you have lots of credit card debt, think about switching to a 0% balance transfer card so you can have a break from all of the interest that’s been accruing. Speak to lenders or landlords about the possibility of a mortgage or rent payment holiday.Find out how you can reduce your monthly bills – often simply changing bill provider for a more competitive rate can save you money in the long-term. If you tell your existing provider you’re shopping around, they might offer you a better deal to encourage you to stay.Avoid rent-to-buy schemes on items like household appliances if you can because you could end up paying four times what an item is worth. If you can’t afford to buy an item up front, it’s worth finding out whether other forms of credit might be cheaper in the long run.Related...What It's Like To Actually Live On A Free School Meal 'Hamper'‘We Are Survivors’: A Year On The Covid Front Line For 6 British WomenWant To Dejunk? Here Are The 5 Best Sites To Shift Your StuffStruggling To Save? Here Are Four Top Tips On How To Get StartedMoney-Saving Tips For Every Room In The HouseThis Seven Step Plan Will Freshen Up Your Finances For 2021How 'Buy Now, Pay Later' Schemes Like Klarna Are Changing
David Cameron’s intense lobbying for collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital has been laid bare in 45 emails, texts and WhatsApp messages to ministers and officials.The Commons Treasury Committee published the former PM’s communications ahead of an evidence session with the firm’s founder Lex Greensill.Its inquiry is one of a series of probes, including one launched by Downing Street, as Westminster looks to understand the role Cameron played in securing Whitehall access for the company.Greensill is now being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority, having received allegations relating to the firm’s collapse that were “potentially criminal in nature”.Both Cameron and Greensill, who reportedly claimed to be a Downing Street adviser under the former PM, will give evidence to the Commons Treasury committee on the firm’s collapse this week.Before they gave evidence, the committee published Cameron’s messages to ministers and officials.And wow, they are toe curling.Here are the most cringeworthy moments as Cameron tried and failed to secure access for Greensill to the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF):‘Love DC’Cameron’s lobbying began on March 5 2020 with a message to the Treasury’s top civil servant Tom Scholar.He was Cameron’s Europe adviser, during the ex-PM’s ill fated renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU that preceded the Brexit vote in 2016.But that bruising experience doesn’t appear to have soured their relationship.Cameron had one ask: for a phone number for Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England.But signing off, he asked Scholar: “Can I give you lunch once the budget is done? Love Dc.”It appears to pay off, as two hours later a call was set up between Cameron and Cunliffe, according to the messages.The following day, Cameron texted Scholar again suggesting they could meet chancellor Rishi Sunak for “an elbow bump or foot tap”.Once again, he signed off: “Love Dc”.CAPS LOCK ONA couple of weeks later and all is not well for Cameron.On the night of April 1 he tells Scholar a decision on Greensill’s involvement in the CCFF is “getting urgent”.The next morning, he seeks to underline this point with that most desperate of texting techniques - CAPS.“Greensill do early payment in the NHS. All your Pharmacies are paid immediately {by us) rather than waiting months for the NHS to cough up. That is CASH (effectively very cheap credit)into businesses NOW, rather than waiting ages for action by banks.”Covid PlatitudesBy this point, the UK was heading towards its first coronavirus lockdown.But it did not stop the intense lobbying efforts by Cameron, who regularly addressed arguably the biggest crisis since the Second World War early in his messages before turning to the business at hand.In one text to Scholar, Cameron wrote: “Thinking of you in these impossibly difficult times. Glad you are at the helm.”In another, he said: “Hope you are staying calm”.Later, while texting a senior minister (more on this below), Cameron acknowledged they would be “maniacally busy” but nevertheless asked for help with Greensill.A Hatchet Buried?The following day and things have gone from bad to worse for Cameron.“Again Greensill have got a ‘no’,” he tells Scholar. “Am genuinely baffled.”His love also appears to be fading as he asks Scholar for “5 minutes for a call”, adding that the Treasury’s refusal “seems bonkers”.In his sign-off, Cameron makes clear it is time to round-up his old Tory colleagues for support.“Am now calling CX [the chancellor], Gove, everyone. Best wishes. Dc.”Yes, Michael Gove, who Cameron once described as a “foam-flecked Faragist” who “twisted” the truth while backing Leave during the Brexit referendum, in a betrayal of the former PM that led to these two old friends falling out spectacularly.No matter, Cameron was happy to enlist Gove in his lobbying efforts, asking if the Cabinet Office minister had “a moment for a word” and adding: “I am on this number and v free. All good wishes Dc.”Cameron also texted chancellor Rishi Sunak and junior Treasury ministers Jesse Norman and John Glen as his lobbying efforts widened.‘Key Points’Cameron was famously a PR man before entering the Commons and rising to become prime minister.And all his best press office skills were on display as he sent around a one page summary of how great Greensill is and why the Treasury should be keen to work with the firm.On April 3 he sent the summary to Norman and senior Downing Street adviser Sheridan Westlake.A day later, he manages to get the document in front of Sunak.He followed up with a text message: “Just sent a one pager that I hope clarifies things. Really appreciate your time. Best wishes. Dc.”‘One Last WhatsApp’Weeks later and we are in mid-May. Lengthy discussions, including several text messages with Sunak and officials, have still not led to Greensill being granted access to the CCFF.The discussions appear to be hung up on the fact that the firm’s work could help foreign firms with UK government cash.On May 18, Cameron is keen to address the concerns, using a lengthy message to forward correspondence from Lex Greensill to Sunak and saying the firm “can (now) guarantee that BoE [Bank of England] funds will only be used by UK businesses”.One minute later he explains to Sunak that he has sent “one last whatsapp with a solution”.But it was not one last WhatsApp.The next month, Cameron makes a last ditch bid to call on his old colleagues, texting Glen and business minister Nadhim Zahawi, who became an MP when Cameron became PM in 2010.Cameron attempts to charm Zahawi, praising him for being “v solid in the media” before obtaining a number for a Richard Sharp.In June, several messages are sent to Sharp, Westlake and Glen.But by June 26, it appears Cameron’s extensive efforts have failed.He finishes his correspondence with a text to Glen: “Thanks for your help with this. Sorry the answer is a ‘no’ but we appreciate the engagement. All good wishes. Dc.”Related...David Cameron's Repeated Lobbying Of Treasury And Bank Of England RevealedNo Evidence Of Tory 'Favouritism' In £17bn Covid Contract Awards, City Lawyer ConcludesThe Key Points From The Queen’s Speech 2021