Queen’s speech expected to tout ‘clear programme of social reform’
A “clear programme of social reform” is expected to be set out in the Queen’s speech later today. Chief among the reforms is a bill to give prison governors “unprecedented” new powers, according to the BBC.
David Cameron said the proposed reforms would “extend life chances for all.” Under the proposal, the governors of six prisons would be given control over budgets, decide which rehabilitation and education services to employ and have the authority to change the prison regime and rules on family visits, the BBC reported. Prisons would also be able to enter into contracts and generate income.
The Queen’s speech is also expected to mention plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, but with more detail yet to come, the BBC
Boardroom pay too high, says Standard Life chair
The chairman of Standard Life said that pay in the UK’s financial services industry is too high, the Guardian
A fifth of the Edinburgh-based company’s shareholders voted against its remuneration report for 2015. The protest vote would likely have been greater, but Standard Life’s new chief executive, Keith Skeoch, smoothed some ruffled feathers last week by reducing his potential £3.5 million long-term bonus by £700,000.
“My personal view is that pay in financial services is too high,” company chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone told a shareholders’ meeting recently. “… There is downward pressure on pay and I think that’s a good thing.”
Grimstone later told the media that executive pay needed something like “multilateral nuclear disarmament.” Standard Life couldn’t be alone in lowering executive pay and still attract top talent, he said.
UK has one of the worst records for workplace gender equality
The UK has one of the worst records for gender equality in the workplace, the Guardian
A new study from Glassdoor Economic Research ranked Britain 11th
out of 18 countries in a report that accounted for pay, board level representation and the gap between male and female employment. Britain finished behind the US, France, Spain and Sweden, among others.
Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for Glassdoor, said working mothers were especially hard-hit, with the gender pay gap even wider for them, the Guardian
“British working mothers are significantly worse off than those without family responsibilities, and this will not help the UK address its workplace diversity issues,” Chamberlain said.
Psychedelic mushrooms may be useful in treating depression
The psychedelic drug extracted from “magic mushrooms” may be useful in treating severe depression, Sky News reports.
A study published in the Lancet found that half of patients had reduced symptoms three months after taking psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in the mushrooms.
“Treatment-resistant depression is common, disabling and extremely difficult to treat,” Lead author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris said. “New treatments are urgently needed, and our study shows that psilocybin is a promising area of future research.”
While Carhart-Harris called the results of the studt “encouraging,” the authors warned that it was only a pilot study with a small sample size – too preliminary to draw any strong conclusions, Sky News
University to ban throwing mortarboards, Photoshop them in later
The tradition of throwing mortarboards in the air has fallen out of favor with health and safety officials in recent years, but one university has come up with a solution.
The University of East Anglia has sent out instructions to its students not to throw their mortarboards at graduation, according to a Guardian
report. The institution said that falling hats had injured a number of graduates in recent years.
However, students were told that the hats would be digitally inserted into photographs later if they mimed the act of throwing them, the Guardian
“As well as being safer, this will have the added advantage that even more of the students’ faces will be seen in this photograph,” the notice to students read.
Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
A canal kayaker got a shock recently when he paddled across an 18-foot-long python.
Fortunately, Sebastian Bishop didn’t end up in a real-life version of Anaconda – the reptile was already dead, according to the Mirror
The 44-year-old was kayaking in the Grand Union Canal in Aylestone when he saw the snake, an albino Indian python.
“I had been in the canal all day, just messing about having fun,” Bishop said. “As I passed under a bridge on the stretch at Aylestone I saw a long, slim shape just under the water. I went to investigate it and prodded it with my paddle. I lifted part of it up and was shocked to see it was a snake.”
Bishop dragged the dead snake to shore and a passerby called the RSPCA, but no one answered the phone so he had to leave the snake there, the Mirror
“I have been kayaking along the canal for about three years now, and it is the most unusual thing I have ever found,” he said. One would certainly hope so.
Naughty nanny robs bank to pay back another theft
A baby sitter has been accused of using her charges to help rob a bank in order to pay back money she had stolen from her employers.
Rachel Einspahr, 28, drove up to the drive-through teller at a bank in Severance, Colorado, after picking up two sisters – ages 7 and 1 ½ – whom she was babysitting, ABC News reported. She allegedly sent a note through to the teller demanding money for a man in the back of her car, saying he was threatening to hurt the girls. The teller believed the children to be in danger, and sent through $500.
But the children were unharmed, and one later told investigators there was never a man in the vehicle with them, ABC News
reported. Upon arrest, Einspahr allegedly told police that she robbed the bank in order to pay back money she had stolen from her employers.
She also allegedly said she’d considered robbing a bank in the nearby, larger city of Greeley, but then went back to Severance to pick up the children. So at least she took her responsibilities seriously.