Africa-EU Partnership to focus on youth investment

first_img Finance and Policy UNDP China, CCIEE launch report to facilitate low-carbon development Previous articleKhoza rejects involvement in bribe to collapse Eskom InquiryNext articleSMEs provide opportunity for Africa to grow its debt market Ashley TheronAshley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Low carbon, solar future could increase jobs in the future – SAPVIA Generationcenter_img AFD and Eskom commit to a competitive electricity sector Featured image: The African-EU Partnership BRICS African and European Heads of State, are gathering today for the 5th African Union – European Union Summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Under the central theme “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the President of the African Union and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission are in attendance.Africa-EU PartnershipThe two-day Summit held every three years in either Africa or Europe, take stock of the progress made in the implementation of commitments and provide political guidance for further work.“Taking stock of the progress made since the Brussels Summit in 2014, African and European Leaders will be given the opportunity to provide political guidance in order to jointly address current and future challenges and to deepen their strategic partnership, launched in 2007 with the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy,” the Africa-EU Partnership said.In addition, the leaders will discuss the future of AU-EU relations, and focus on investing in youth.This is a key priority for the AU and the EU as 60% of the African population is under the age of 25,  the Africa-EU Partnership explained in a statement.Young people have played a vital role on the run up to the #AUEUSummit starting on 29 November in Abidjan. As part of the Youth Plug-In Initiative, Upendo Abisai even took over @MimicaEU social media accounts last week. https://t.co/QC5KFe3JE1 #AUEUYPII pic.twitter.com/BT1RKGDWQr— European Commission (@EU_Commission) November 27, 2017Priority discussionsThe Summit will cover topics including, Peace and security; Governance including democracy, human rights, migration and mobility; Investment and trade; Skills development; and Job creation.last_img read more

Remembering Fred Edgington, one of Manchester’s finest

first_imgPreviousCOVID-19 UPDATE: Basic Reproduction Number, Pop-Up Sites, Multi-System Youth GrantNextNAIA issues update on 2020 fall sports Around the WebThis Video Will Soon Be Banned. Watch Before It’s DeletedSecrets RevealedMd: Do This Immediately if You Have Diabetes (Watch)Blood Sugar BlasterThis Weird Method Can Restore Your Vision Naturally (Watch)Healthier LivingHave an Enlarged Prostate? Urologist Reveals: Do This Immediately (Watch)Healthier LivingIf You Have Ringing Ears Do This Immediately (Ends Tinnitus)Healthier LivingWomen Only: Stretch This Muscle to Stop Bladder Leakage (Watch)Healthier LivingThe content you see here is paid for by the advertiser or content provider whose link you click on, and is recommended to you by Revcontent. As the leading platform for native advertising and content recommendation, Revcontent uses interest based targeting to select content that we think will be of particular interest to you. 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Arrow right #1 Icon Created with Sketch. By Mark Carpenter-Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” If anyone can say they were important because they had an impact on so many other lives, it is the late Fred Edgington. “Coach” Edgington passed away on June 7 at the age of 84, 84 of the most impactful years a man could spend on this earth. The list of things that Fred was involved with is a long one, beginning with his 35 years in education with the Manchester School District as a teacher. coach, and driving instructor, his 30 years as owner of Snappy Tomato Pizza in West Union, and his undying love for the Lord witnessed by many when they visited “Fred’s Song Fest.”If you ever met Fred Edgington, you certainly wouldn’t forget the meeting and he likely wouldn’t forget you either. He was definitely a “man of the people” and the number of people that he helped and touched in life in so many different ways is innumerable. The plaudits for an exceptional man could fill these pages, but perhaps it is best to just let some of the people who Fred impacted say it in their own words. The Defender reached out to the community for their remembrances of Mr. Edgington and what follows are the responses that were received, both humorous and touching, and seeming a lot about time spent in a Driver’s Ed car.Sarene Bellamy- “I took Drivers Ed with Fred in 1993. He used to take us driving and we would stop at every church bean supper he could find. And you learned not to tell him you hated bridges because you sent the rest of the day driving every bridge in Portsmouth. We were related through my grandmother and he always called me Hazel, that was also his mother’s name. We had a lot of fun driving the roads of Adams and Scioto County.”Walter Gray- “Fred was a teacher, coach, mentor and personal friend of mine. My freshman year in high school I was cut from the JV basketball team. On a personal note, this was very devastating and probably one of the worst nightmares of my life. It started a time in my young life where I headed down a not so favorable road to probable trouble. I became involved with a group of older teenagers that was not an intelligent move on my part. I began drinking alcohol fairly heavy and was involved in troublesome activities.Needless to say, this is where Fred Edgington became involved with my life. Fred saw some talent in the boys that didn’t participate at the freshman level and proceeded to start a freshman basketball team. He asked me to play on this team. We played in a couple tournaments, with Fred coaching. This simple gesture turned my life around. He told me to try out next year and I would make the team. Fred was the head coach at Manchester at the time and volunteered his time and effort to include some potential kids for the future. I continued to play basketball and baseball the remainder of my high school career. This is an example of what Fred Edgington did for so many young people in the Manchester area. He bought shoes for kids and who knows what else. He would give you the shirt off of his back.To add to his legacy, I believe that freshman basketball team Fred started in 1966 was the first freshman team in Adams County. Also, Fred started a Pee Wee basketball tournament, in Manchester, in the early seventies. I believe, also, this was the first Pee Wee tournament in Adams County. I have no way of verifying these events but I believe them to be true.To finalize, in 1996, my family purchased Safeway Driving School from Fred. We provided driver education to young adults for the next 22 years and at that time, I retired and shut the business down. So Fred’s Driver’s Ed business provided an essential service to the Adams and Brown County areas for numerous decades. Plus, gave me employment for 22 years.So, as you can see, Fred had a major impact in my life. I personally owe a lot to this man and will always feel indebted to him. RIP, Fred, I know you are in a better place where there is no more pain and your vision is a perfect 20/20.Matt Young- “During driver education, Fred and I approached one of the four way stops on the courthouse square. I stopped.He said, “Son, put it in park.” I had no idea. He then instructed me to open my driver door and he opened his. He then said, “Since you stopped on the crosswalk, I’m allowing the pedestrians to pass through.” I never stopped on a crosswalk again.”Amber Irwin- “Fred was my driving instructor in 1996. On the day I was supposed to drive with him, he came and picked me up at my house. After 15 minutes of driving, he looked over at me and said, ‘Young lady, you’ve been driving for awhile haven’t you?’ I was scared to death I was in trouble. I said, ‘Yes sir, since I was 12.’ He looked at me and smiled and said, ‘I thought so.’ No getting anything over on Mr. Fred Edgington.The second day he came to get me to drive, he brought a newspaper. He read it while I was driving. I accidentally went a little too fast around the sharp curve on 247 heading into Seaman. He kept reading his paper, maintaining his cool. I thought I got by with it, but a few seconds later, he said, ‘Hey young lady, you went a little too fast around that curve didn’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes sir.’ He said, ‘We won’t do that again, will we?’ I said, ‘No sir.’ Again, no getting anything over on Fred. He will be missed.Tracy Grooms- “I had Fred is a teacher and also as a Driver’s Ed instructor he would tell us in class many times if you are ever in trouble or in a position where you need money fast, I keep $40 in a cookie jar in the second cabinet on the top shelf in my kitchen. The back door is always unlocked if you feel you will be able to repay it, just leave a note with your name. If you can’t I will understand. He was such a giving person”Rob Meade- “Coach (Dave) Young used to tell a story about Coach Fred Edgington. He says that Fred threw a chair before Bobby Knight ever thought about it. It happened in a game I believe at Manchester. The referee told Fred to go get the chair and for every step that it took him to get off of the court it was gonna cost him a technical foul. Coach Edgington went out onto the floor, unfolded the chair, sat down, and called his starting five out onto the floor and had them carry him off so he didn’t take any steps. Word is the referee gave Coach Edgington a couple of technical fouls anyway.”Heather White- “Fred was my Driver’s Ed teacher… A memory of that experience I will never will forget. One evening after school he took the driver education class out to demonstrate parallel parking… of course he chose me to be the one to show the whole class. I got behind the wheel and was very nervous because I’d never done it before. He told me to pull the car up through the cones and I proceeded to do so…he yelled, ‘Give it some gas!’ I was going as slow as a turtle. I gave it the gas and I hit him because he was in front on the car walking me through the cones! Everyone laughed and he looked around at me and laughed at me also. I was done! He said, ‘Nope you’re doing this again!’ So he had me back out of the cones and we started again and again I was going slow, again with him walking in front of the car walking me through. He said, ‘Give that damn car some gas!’ I hit him again! This time he fell over the hood of the car and I slammed the brakes.He said, ‘Are you trying to kill me?’ Everyone laughed and I felt like crying. Fred just jumped up off the hood and said, ‘You’re not finished.’ He was laughing along with all of my classmates and I finished and he said, ‘Good job!’ I thought he for sure would fail me but I passed my drivers education with flying colors. He was a great guy. Prayers for his family and friends.Glenda Perry Abbitt- “Mr. Edgington was my Math and Driver’s Ed teacher but I’ll remember him mostly for his love of God. I loved that man.”Tiffany Ricketts- “My favorite memory of Fred Edgington was at a Manchester volleyball game in 2013, the sound system wasn’t working for the National Anthem, so Fred just started singing it and the whole crowd joined him. It was truly amazing!Natalie Frasher Murphy- “He taught drivers education I was a student of his. He would pick us all up early Saturday morning and he would have us drive him all over. He would pay his bills having us go to the drive-thru at a bank or getting a drink and a sandwich at the drive-thru. I think of him every time I come off the old bridge in Maysville and the yield sign. Fred once had to use his brakes when I was driving and didn’t yield. It came time for me to take my test and Fred met me at the testing location and I used the car he had trained me in. Fred was a bigger guy so when he got out of the car he put the steering wheel up. I was so nervous that I jumped in and buckled up, but never moved the wheel. I took my whole test driving with the steering wheel raised up. The test instructor was impressed that I passed with the wheel up. Fred got a good laugh and I’m sure I become the reason for telling people to check the wheel placement and review the yield sign policy at the bridge.”Nicole Grooms- “My Mom worked at Snappy Tomato Pizza when I was in elementary and junior high. I would walk to the store after school and Fred would take me on deliveries with him. He owned the place but he always worked. He would let me ride along and tell me stories of basketball and family. What a great man!Patrice Yezzi England- “My best memory of Fred (I have lots of memories between Driver’s ed and PE class) is the night my old Pinto wouldn’t start after a dance and he made me drive his new car home. I told I didn’t want to and what happened if I wrecked it? His reply? ‘Well, if you do then I wasn’t a very good Driver’s Ed teacher, now was I?’ Then he got mad when I brought it back with a full tank of gas.My sophomore year he was my PE teacher and there was a football game on picture day. Fred made us go over the hill and help get the field ready for the game that night. Did I mention the fact that it was sooooo hot that day and we had PE before we got our pictures taken? We were all sweaty messes in the yearbook that year! We girls were so mad at Fred! He was a good man and teacher and will be sorely missed.James Sandlin- “All these stories of Fred got me thinking. One day in the spring of my senior year, it was a very warm day. The windows on the third floor were open hoping to catch a breeze. Fred was teaching. Suddenly as he looked out the window and began yelling, ‘Oh no you don’t, you’ve kept us awake for the last three nights, you’re not gonna sleep now’ and out the door he went. After a few seconds most of us got up and went to the windows to see what was going on. It was his dog who was trying to sleep.So while he was gone, students did what students do. We played ‘Keep Away’ with Richard Cooper’s book. We tossed it about as he tried to intercept it. Until finally someone tossed it and out the window it went, coming to rest right in front of Fred on the sidewalk leading into the school. Fred was on his way back to class. We collectively said ‘Oh Hell’ ( or maybe something worse). We saw Fred pick up the book, look inside it, and then make his way to our room. He gets there, tosses the book to Cooper and says ‘Here you go Cooper’ and said ‘Okay, where did we leave off?’ Not a word about it. In our minds then, that was cool.My contact with Fred was more my senior year than any other. I ran Cross Country, Track and played baseball for Fred. He worked tirelessly for every student and athlete under his charge. If he didn’t coach you and you played another sport, he was interested in how you did. He encouraged students and athletes openly and often. He called me ‘Sandman’ and I called him ‘Coach.’ Every kid does not have a parent or parents who come and watch them play, having Fred as a coach was like having a parent there. He worked so hard on the track making sure it was ready. I was running in the County Track Meet in 1972, the mile run. Me and two other guys were approaching the last turn packed together. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Fred running to a position where he knew I could see him. He yelled ‘Kick Sandman, kick!’ That gave me a jolt of energy. I kicked. I finished second by about 1/10 of a second. I nearly won it because he believed in me and encouraged me.At our Athletic Banquet my senior year as he described my play in baseball, he said I was Manchester’s own Pete Rose. I loved that compliment. That in a nutshell is Fred Edgington for me. Guys like him impact kids in a very good way to which I’ve never forgotten. There is not a more honorable profession than teaching and Fred was one of the best.Gary McClellan- “Lots of people influence people. Fred Edgington at Manchester was one of those people. He coached about everything at Manchester but more importantly his wife Carol has put up with him all this time. Fred’s always busy taking care of other people and there are so many stories to tell. No one says anything derogatory about his guy, he’s been an influence just with his energy and positive attitude. He was an influence to me and to a lot of people. Thanks Fred.”Donnie Edgington (Fred’s son)- “Dad was always a big fan of Dave Tomlin. When he coached baseball at Manchester, he would have Dave come down and pitch batting practice. When Dave played for the Padres and later the Reds, Dad would always want to go down to Riverfront Stadium for those games.When they began the football program at Manchester, Dad was the first head coach and admittedly had no idea what he was doing, having never played football before. But while Mom was at Ohio University finishing up some classes, Dad made connections with the OU football coach and basically took private lessons to learn the game.Dad was also responsible for getting the track built at MHS, the one down over the hill behind the old school.”On a personal note, this writer also has many memories of Fred Edgington. My father once owned a grocery store in Ripley and Fred’s father was one of the grocery salesmen who often stopped in. Then later my Dad coached Pee Wee basketball and we were part of those Pee-Wee tournaments that were played in Manchester, In fact, my very last sixth grade game was played in the old Manchester gym, my Dad coaching one team and I think Fred coached the other. Anyway, I scored 29 points that night so I’m guessing Fred’s team was not a defensive powerhouse.In recent years, I seemed to run into Fred at a lot of MHS volleyball games where his voice could always be heard over the rest of the crowd, cheering on his girls even though he could barely see what was happening. And he always asked me how my parents were doing.But that is what Fred will be remembered for- his caring for other people. There is an emptiness in Manchester now, one that may never be filled. Fred and Carol Edgington were also known for their love of the Lord, exhibited here, hands held and raised to the skies. (Provided photo Pictured above, Fred and Carol Edgington, married over 60 years. Fred, a longtime Manchester educator, passed away recently at the age of 84. (Provided photo) Remembering Fred Edgington, one of Manchester’s finestLongtime MHS teacher and coach leaves behind a legacy of love and caringJune 17, 2020Mark CarpenterNews, Top Stories0 Top Searches Top Searches IndiansAdams CountySchool HomeNewsRemembering Fred Edgington, one of Manchester’s finest last_img read more

Spruce Meadows Rewards Riders in the FEI Rolex Rankings

first_img We’ll send you our regular newsletter and include you in our monthly giveaways. PLUS, you’ll receive our exclusive Rider Fitness digital edition with 15 exercises for more effective riding. Email* Calgary, AB – Riders from 17 nations competing at the Spruce Meadows “National” will have the added incentive, and bonus, of competing for coveted FEI ROLEX Ranking Points in a total of ten FEI jumping events.  This was not a guarantee leading into the tournament after the FEI had established an exchange rate to the Swiss Franc that had a negative impact on a number of events that previously had been eligible for ROLEX Ranking Points.“In the past any FEI Spruce Meadows events with prize money of $25,000 or more allowed riders to gain ROLEX Points for world rankings,” said Spruce Meadows president, Linda Southern-Heathcott. “The exchange rate established at the start of 2010 by the FEI effectively relegated a number of top events which we feel was punitive to the riders and the sponsors.  The Spruce Meadows Organizing Committee worked with our “Friends of the Meadows” sponsors to make sure each of the effected events would continue to meet the standard in every respect so the riders could continue to gain ROLEX Points.”Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze (2008) and Rodrigo Pessoa (2004) have been very vocal in their displeasure of the FEI’s exchange rate position and its effect on the riders and the sponsors at Spruce Meadows.“ROLEX Points are very important to us and to earn them at Spruce Meadows against the best in the world is vital,” said Lamaze.  “I compete a lot in Europe against much lighter competition and there are points available only because of a favourable exchange rate given months ago to the Euro. It has not been fair to riders or the Spruce Meadows sponsors to be effected this way.”“The current system needs to be amended because the prize money carries too much weight,” said Pessoa.  “While prize money of course it is very important, so too are factors such as the venue, the quality of the entry and the nature of the competitions.  Any ROLEX Points earned at Spruce Meadows are well earned,” added the 3 time World Cup Champion. “Fortunately Spruce Meadows and its sponsors understand and appreciate the issue.”Through the entire 2010 Spruce Meadows season a total of 16 FEI competitions, that have formerly been ROLEX Ranking events, have the potential to be impacted. Spruce Meadows, working with the FEI and the International Jumping Riders Club will continue to work towards a resolution. Horse Sport Enews More from Horse Sport:Christilot Boylen Retires From Team SportAfter an exemplary career as one of Canada’s top Dressage riders, seven-time Olympian Christilot Boylen has announced her retirement from team competition.2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair CancelledFor only the second time in its history, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been cancelled but plans are being made for some virtual competitions.Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Statement on 2020 EventAs the Province of Ontario starts to reopen, The Royal’s Board and staff will adhere to all recommendations put forward by government and health officials.Government Financial Assistance for Ontario FarmersOntario Equestrian has recently released this update of several financial assistance packages available, including those for farm business. Subscribe to the Horse Sport newsletter and get an exclusive bonus digital edition! SIGN UP last_img read more

Stay at the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” mansion for $30/night

first_imgWIll Smith as the Fresh Prince and the Los Angeles mansion (Getty, Airbnb)If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to sit on a throne as the Prince of Bel Air, you’re in luck: The “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” house is officially welcoming visitors — but there’s a catch.Beginning Sept. 29, Airbnb is letting guests book one night at the Bel Air mansion where the iconic 1990s sitcom was filmed. Bookings will be available on Oct. 2, 5, 8, 11 and October 14, and will go for just $30/night (because it’s the show’s 30th anniversary).What’s the catch? The promotion is available only for residents of Los Angeles county. Airbnb enforced similar rules for its bookings at the last remaining Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon.Read moreWorld’s last Blockbuster for rent on AirbnbDylan who? Covid shifts focus off celeb-tied short-term rentalsWillow Smith pays $3M for Malibu pad Those who actually snag one of the sure-to-be-coveted spots will have access to a list of perks curated by the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, who’s been hyping the promotion on his Instagram account. Those include “[l]acing up a fresh pair of Jordans before shooting some b-ball in the bedroom” and “[d]onning a fly look from my closet, from argyle prepster to all-star athlete.” The house has also been decked out with plenty of “Fresh Prince” memorabilia, including photos from the set and Smith’s Bel Air Academy jersey from the TV show. Guests will stay in a “wing” that includes a king-size bedroom, bathroom, pool and dining room (though meals, including Philly cheesesteaks, are apparently provided).There’s been a flurry of activity surrounding the show’s 30th anniversary. Earlier this month, the original cast and crew got together for an unscripted reunion special, a dramatic reboot of the series was announced, and all of the original episodes of the series were released on the Peacock streaming platform. [LADN] — Dennis Lynch  This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

Jef Lettens is hero of Fenix Toulouse in Leon

first_imgChekhovskie Medvedi won away clash in Austria against Fivers 32:30.STANDING: Click to comment ShareTweetShareShareEmail Ferran Sole (Fenix Toulouse): Secret of Spanish success is team-spirit ShareTweetShareShareEmailCommentsBM Abanca Ademar had the chance to win the match of the EHF European League, but goalkeepers of the French Fenix Toulouse Jef Lettens saved a point for his team “eye to eye” with.This is the third point for the French team, who outplayed North-Macedonian RK Metalurg Skopje in the first match last week.Match has been played in front of 758 fans in Leon.26 – Abanca Ademar: Slavic (Ghedbane); Jaime Fernández (1 p), Lucin (2), Marchán (7), Semedo (4), Gostovic (1), Gonzalo Pérez (4); Feutchmann (3), Pedro Martínez (3), Piechowski, Kisselev, Casqueiro, Donlin (1).26 – Fénix Toulouse: Lettens (Almeida); Chelle (2), Ben Halima, Gilbert (2), Jakobsen, Abdi (5), Ilic (6, 2 p); Marmier (1), Kempf (3, 1 p), Borzas (4), Sokolic, Leventoux (2), Tribillon (1). 4.Ademar101026:261 1.Toulouse211059:553 Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published.Comment Name Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. HBC Nantes shocked by Fenix Toulouse – Montpellier save point in Istrescenter_img “It’s not easy to be a newcomer in Fenix Toulouse” 5.Met. Skopje100129:330 3.Chekhovskiye Medvedi110032:302 2.Wisla Plock110032:232 Recommended for you 6.Aon Fivers200253:640 Related Items:Fenix Toulouse, Jef Lettenslast_img read more

First Enviro400EV debuts with Metroline

first_imgThe first BYD ADL Enviro400EV has entered service, with London operator Metroline.It has gone onto route 43, operating out of Holloway garage.The entire route will be converted to electric within the next few weeks.Along with route 134, which Metroline intends to convert to electric by the end of summer, it will be the first full-electric double-deck route in London.The BYD ADL Enviro400EV was unveiled in May, marrying ADL’s popular double-deck body with Chinese battery manufacturer BYD’s electric chassis.With a daily range of 200 miles, the buses need only be recharged at night, when demand on the grid is lowest.BYD has previously worked with Metroline to trial five prototypes.Adrian Jones, Engineering Director at Metroline, says: “The launch of the new electric buses on route 43 is a triumph for both Metroline and for London.“Providing a new challenge for Metroline’s engineering teams, we worked closely with engineers at BYD to develop these new buses, using what we learnt from our trials with their prototypes.“As a result, they are perfectly designed to deliver Londoners to their destinations, while helping to keep London’s air cleaner with zero-emissions.”last_img read more

Family of children killed at Fulton County bus stop “not interested” in financial restitution

first_img Google+ By Tommie Lee – February 14, 2020 0 361 (Source: https://goo.gl/apvBBL/ License: https://goo.gl/VAhsB) The mother of three children struck and killed by a motorist at their bus stop says she has no interest in any restitution money.Brittney Ingle says she doesn’t want any restitution from Alyssa Shepherd. She and her husband were also not interested in the restitution hearing itself. That hearing would have helped cover funeral expenses, and was set for Friday afternoon but had to be moved.The hearing will also determine possible financial restitution for the family of the fourth child, Maverick Lowe, who suffered severe injuries in the crash that killed Ingle’s children. WhatsApp IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market WhatsApp Pinterest Pinterest Twitter Google+ Family of children killed at Fulton County bus stop “not interested” in financial restitution Facebook Facebook Twitter Previous articleElkhart man suspected in murder of his uncle in 2015Next articleButtigieg’s rocky record on race gets a closer look Tommie Leelast_img read more

Anti-piracy mission leader

first_imgRear Admiral Hervé Blejean of France has been appointed force commander of the EU’s anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, with effect from tomorrow (6 December), taking over from Commodore Peter Lenselink of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Blejean, a graduate of France’s naval academy, was most recently commander of the Combined Task Force 150, a multinational naval counter-terrorism operation in the Horn of Africa.last_img

How Cameron can be ‘big’ again

first_imgLONDON — In late March 2010 I joined a scrum of Britain’s best (and worst) political journalists as they descended en masse on the Coin Street neighborhood center in Waterloo to hear David Cameron espouse his political philosophy. The theme of the day would be a phrase he first wheeled out months before at the Guardian, when giving the Hugo Young lecture, in honor of a giant of liberal journalism. Casting himself as a compassionate, liberal conservative, Cameron said that his animating purpose in politics, his passion and mission, could be summed up by the phrase “Big Society.”This would put flesh on the bones of an excellent assertion he made when he became Tory party leader back in 2005, having beaten the Eurosceptic libertarian David Davis. “There is such a thing as society,” Cameron said in an implied retort to Margaret Thatcher’s counter-view, “it’s just not the same thing as the state.” By the time we got to Coin Street, barely six weeks before he would be elected PM, Cameron had explicitly declared the Big Society his conservative creed. Eleven would-be Cabinet ministers were there to add ballast to this declaration, including future Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. *  *  * It’s been downhill ever since. That sunny morning  —  buzzing with special advisers, charity chiefs, lobby hacks and the infuriating posh twentysomething women with long hair and double-barrelled surnames that were a feature of Cameron’s early leadership — was a high point for the Big Society as a political initiative. There are several reasons for this; but two main ones above all. The first is that this Tory government, like all its predecessors, has been captured by an economic narrative — in a word, austerity. The likes of Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ philosopher-king who resides in the Cabinet Office, talked profusely a decade ago about how the coming conservative administration would make sociocentric reforms its priority, rather than econocentric ones. The Tory brand, however, is about economic security above all. It’s true that thefinancial crisis was always going to make economics the central concern of the last Parliament. But that crisis predated the Coin Street appearance by a couple of years: Even in 2010, Cameron hoped that social reform would be his legacy.David Cameron | EPAAlas, the sheer power of Osborne within his administration, the fact that Labour weren’t trusted on the economy, and the ease with which the Conservatives could slip into a familiar narrative of fixing the mess they inherited from Labour — not that Labour was actually to blame this time, given the economy was growing by May 2010 — meant that economic recovery became the first priority of Cameron’s leadership. Or, if you like, of Cameron’s time as the face and front man of Osbornomics.*  *  *The second reason is Lynton Crosby, and all that came with him. The Australian strategist is Westminster’s voodoo doll, a much misunderstood and maligned creature. Contrary to reputation, he is softly spoken, highly decent, and — like Rupert Murdoch, by the way — surprisingly liberal on some issues, such as immigration and gay marriage. He is just ruthless in pursuit of victory, and casts himself as a man employed to secure that victory at all costs — even if it means adopting unpleasant political positions and phrases. Crosby’s method is uncomplicated. For three decades he has fought elections on a single idea — security — whether it be economic or national. All else is distraction. Crosby distils politics into a simple choice, between security and insecurity, and demands total obedience to that message. The Big Society, an amorphous, suspiciously intellectual idea is a voguish diversion. It’s true that it was struggling as an idea before he turned up. The flight of top personnel proved something was awry early on. Lord Nat Wei, the former management consultant ennobled to oversee the Big Society, left sooner than anyone expected. 3. The public don’t buy it Perhaps it really is true that many would-be Tory MPs found, back in 2010, that they drew blank faces when they mentioned the Big Society while canvassing. It is certainly the case, as Crosby’s masterful campaign showed, that clarity of message, starkness of choice, and fear of the alternative is what motivates British voters, rather than fuzzy ideals of harmony. Yet the argument that the public don’t buy it is hard to reconcile with the fact that most of them don’t understand it, and that to a large extent the project never got going. Perhaps if they did understand it, and it had been rolled out competently, more of them would buy it.A new nameIt would be as well for advocates of the Big Society to admit its shortcomings. Oliver Wright, the Independent’s political editor, was first to reveal a charity watchdog was investigating the Big Society for misuse of government funds, as well as other questionable behavior. A major audit of the whole initiative was brutal in its clarity about the Coalition’s failure to reach the targets it had set itself. Yet in other, smaller ways, planks of the Big Society have thrived. The best example is the Behavioural Insights Team led by David Halpern, now spun out of the Cabinet Office. His squad of wonks, dubbed the “Nudge Unit” in honor of the bookwritten by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, has made back over 20 times the original investment in it, delivering £300 million in savings by nudging Britons into better decisions while hardly affecting their freedom. With simple but effective techniques, this unit has increased adult literacy, encouraged the unemployed into work, and collected huge amounts in unpaid taxes.The impressive work of the Nudge Unit, chronicled in the just-released book from Halpern, is one very good reason to press ahead with the Big Society. An even better one is that this is where advances in political philosophy, to the extent that they are possible in our time, are headed. In Tom Friedman’s phrase, today’s world is fast: The intersection of markets, the effects of Moore’s Law, and the exigencies of Mother Nature are making us ever more inter-connected. The clash of ideologies that dominated the 20th century won’t dominate the 21st; managing globalization, resource wars and the reversal in democracy’s fortunes, will. To these problems we bring extensive discourses about the efficacy of the state and markets, but a much smaller body of knowledge about the science of society. That knowledge is expanding; and with it, the opportunity for reforms that improve lives and create happier, more prosperous, and hardly less free societies, in which the institutions that generate bonds of affection are nourished. This is what the Big Society aimed at. That it spectacularly missed its target is no reason not to take aim again. If Cameron  —  who said he came into politics to achieve these goals, and whose only professional life beyond politics was in corporate PR  —  wants a new name for an old idea, perhaps he could call it “Social-ism.” As distinct, that is, from socialism. The latter was the great ideological casualty of the 20th century; the former could be Britain’s defining political contribution to the 21st. Steve Hilton, Cameron’s close friend and senior adviser who personified the Big Society and was its main instigator in Whitehall, left for America when his wife got a big job at Google. Rohan Silva, another senior adviser, also left No. 10 to launch himself as an entrepreneur. By the time Osborne hired Crosby to run the election campaign, the Big Society was sacrificed on the altar of expedience. It was said that it didn’t go down well “on the doorstep,” a phrase trotted out by politicians who blame voters for their own failings. The hiring of Crosby was proof, though none was needed, that the Tories would fight the 2015 election on economic rather than social recovery: a strategy completely vindicated by their surprise win. *  *  *My central contention here is that this is a great shame. Almost everything you think you know about the Big Society is wrong. Myths include the notion that it was a cover for austerity; that it was a new idea; that there was no proper intellectual heft to it; that it was unpopular among the public.On the contrary, the Big Society brought together strands of thought and policy which, in an era of globalization and technological change, will play an ever bigger role in smart government through the 21st century — whatever label it eventually appears under. For that reason, I believe it is overdue a resurrection. Before that process can begin, we have to understand what it is, and the myths that envelop it. This is a brief breakdown. For the best pamphlet-length exposition, you need Jesse Norman.What is the Big Society?At base, it encourages the diffusion of power from the state to society by tapping into the hidden wealth of nations, to use the title of David Halpern’s seminal book. What does this mean in practice?1.  Extra state support for charities It’s important to know that a charity reliant entirely on state support is not a charity — it’s a “quango.” Charities (and I say this as Patron of one) have different sources of income: government (both central and local); individual; corporate. But the Big Society was supposed to encourage charities and community groups to expand their energies and efforts, and in so doing help to alleviate some common social ills. Part of this required additional funding, which is why the Big Society Bank was set up, and huge funds were given to the likes of Locality, a group of community organizers.center_img 2. Public service reform This was the animating mission of Blair’s final years in power. In his memoirs he says he clung on in No. 10 to stop Gordon Brown undoing those reforms. Cameron’s early leadership took Blair’s side of the argument. He said he wanted to give the public greater ownership of public services, by making them “more human.” Perhaps the best example of this is the free school agenda, where parents have been encouraged to set up their own schools. 3. Behavioral economicsRemarkable academic strides have been made in the past 20 years on human motivation and decision-making, casting Homo Economicus, the rational being who is fully informed, into history’s dustbin. Behavioral economics and  social psychology have yielded a literature, from Freakonomics to The Tipping Point and Predictably Irrational, which shows us to be socially conditioned and highly emotional beings. In his book, Norman updates Michael Oakeshott’s distinction, in On Human Conduct, between civil and enterprise associations – the former being groups that get together without substantive aim; the latter a grouping that has some ultimate achievement in mind. For Norman, there is a third type of association: the philic – groups bonded by love, reciprocity and affection. Generating as many of these bonds as possible, and using them for social goals, is a central feature of the Big Society.4. Open data If knowledge is power, power is knowledge; and any project to spread power must make information widely available. One of Silva’s signature achievements in government was pioneering open data. The Coalition admirably made huge amounts of government data available to the public for the first time. That is why recent moves to restrict freedom of information are regrettable. Three mythsThat is a brief synopsis of what the Big Society is. Here is a synopsis of what it isn’t. In other words, three myths about the Big Society.1. It’s a cover for austerityOpponents of austerity tended to deride the Big Society primarily because the ideas came from the same place. But there was a problem with this argument: Those enforcing austerity didn’t need any cover. They talked about little else. Osborne even changed his appearance to suit the theme of austerity. His Budgets banged on about little else. The argument that Big Society was a “cover” can only be espoused by stupid people who don’t understand the idea, haven’t been paying attention for the past five years, or both. A lot of the same people seem very alert to the reality of austerity when championing Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy for Labour. 2. The Big Society is a new idea In politics, there is no such thing as a new idea; only fresh labels for old ones. Obviously there is the comparison with LBJ’s Great Society. More to the point, David Willetts, the Tory thinker, was writing pamphlets about civic conservatism in the early 1990s. For him, an over-emphasis on the state, individuals and markets had missed out on the thing in between. We need a politics of institutions, whether little platoons or massive clubs, because it is institutions that bring us together best. David Blunkett’s “Scarman Lecture” (2003), Labour’s “Together We Can” Action Plan (2005) and Hazel Blears’ “Active Citizens” speech (2006) all aimed at the Big Society. If the Prime Minister agrees with my diagnosis for Social-ism, and I have reason to believe he might, I’d suggest Labour’s return to socialism would furnish him with an excellent opportunity.Amol Rajan is editor of  the Independent, in London.last_img read more

Andorra’s abortion rights revolution

first_imgSome doctors require women to listen to their fetus’ heartbeat, or look at ultrasound images before they agree to provide them with information on seeking an abortion abroad. Most women travel to France or Spain for the procedure, which will often cost them hundreds, in some cases thousands, in travel expenses and extra fees.Last year, some 124 Andorran women got abortions in Catalonia’s private and public health centers, according Catalonia’s ministry of health. Data is not available for France, and Andorra does not collect statistics about women who leave the country to end their pregnancies.A general view of the border between Spain and Andorra. Potential legal repercussions of getting an abortion can easily be avoided — it’s only a short distance to France or Spain, where the treatment is legal | David Ramos/Getty ImagesThe women make their journeys discreetly. “In Andorra, these things aren’t usually talked about,” said Tatiana Navarro, an Andorran journalist.Joana Ferreira, a 16-year-old activist, said her friend described the experience of seeking an abortion abroad as “cold.” “She didn’t have help from anyone,” Ferreira said. “She had to go the clinic alone.”The silence surrounding abortion in Andorra creates uncertainty over what, exactly, is legal.Eric Sylvestre, an Andorran doctor who supports legalizing abortion, said it’s unclear whether doctors can be punished for giving advice on abortion or recommending a woman visit a particular clinic abroad. Speaking to a group of activists on a recent Saturday, Mendoza pulled up a PowerPoint slide, eliciting laughs and cheers from the audience. Above the faces of nine of Andorra’s most powerful men — including members of the church and of parliament — Mendoza had written in bolded letters, Camps de nabs — “sausage fest.”In the hilltop Pyrenean country, the Catholic Church holds great sway | David Ramos/Getty ImagesMendoza pointed to a picture of Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicília, who together with the president of France, currently Emmanuel Macron, is one of the country’s two “co-princes.”“This is the man who said we were the venom poisoning the tree of the institution,” she said.“If we don’t have a little bit of humor here, we can’t survive.” * * *For women living in Andorra, the process of arranging an abortion is often traumatic — and expensive. ENCAMP, Andorra — There were no demonstrations in Andorra, until feminist campaigners took to the streets.For decades, the mountaintop microstate was synonymous with winter sports and tax-free shopping — not political protests. Wedged between Spain and France, the independent principality, one of the world’s smallest countries, has largely been spared the mass social movements that have rocked its neighbors.The country’s women’s rights campaigners want to change that — they’re pushing to overturn Andorra’s strict abortion law, which forces women seeking to terminate their pregnancies to seek treatment outside the country. In Andorra, which is not a member of the European Union, the “right to life” is enshrined in the constitution. Abortions are illegal in all circumstances, even when the woman’s life is at risk.Women who receive an abortion within the country’s borders can face up to six months of house arrest; doctors who perform the procedure can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and barred from practicing medicine for up to five years.The silence surrounding abortion in Andorra creates uncertainty over what, exactly, is legal.Potential legal repercussions can easily be avoided — it’s only a short distance to France or Spain, where the treatment is legal — but the stigma attached to the procedure is high. In some cases, women lose their jobs if their decision is made public.“There’s a lot of fear,” said Vanessa Mendoza Cortés, whose feminist activist group Stop Violències is spearheading efforts not only to legalize abortion, but to shift the conversation around women’s reproductive rights.Breaking the long-held taboo is no easy feat in a country that is ruled — literally, Mendoza pointed out — by the Catholic Church, and is unaccustomed to grassroots organizing. According to Eric Jover, a spokesperson for the Andorran government, giving advice is fine — but actively promoting and advocating abortion is not.Opponents of the push to legalize abortion say their resistance is not motivated only by tradition and religion — the effort could threaten the stability of the country itself.Last year in Andorra, 60 people marched on International Safe Abortion day; this year, a march in support of women’s rights drew some 500 people.While Andorra’s parliament makes laws, they must be signed off by one of its two co-princes before they can go into effect.The French president has been reticent to make a statement on whether Andorra should legalize abortion, even if he has “always defended the right of women to their own bodies,” as he said on a visit to Andorra last month.The bishop, meanwhile, has made it clear he will not green-light any new abortion law passed by the government — and would resign if Macron were to approve it in his stead. In a general election earlier this year, every major party took a public position on abortion. The governing party, Demòcrates per Andorra, for example, has pledged to create a support system for women who leave the country to receive abortions — a proposal activists and liberal lawmakers have slammed as hypocritical.“The government says, ‘This is a crime, but don’t worry about it we’ll help you do it another place,’” said Rosa Gili, a member of the Social Democratic party in the Andorran parliament.Many credit the massive turnout at last year’s International Women’s Day marches in Spain for inspiring Andorran women to stage their own protests.Still, things are moving. Last year, the country’s health ministry made emergency contraception available without a prescription — a move activists considered a major victory.Many credit the massive turnout at last year’s International Women’s Day marches in Spain for inspiring Andorran women to stage their own protests. In March this year, hundreds of Spanish women traveled Andorra to lend their support to their demonstration.For Mendoza, the heated debate is also personal. “The best thing,” said Vicky Moreno, from Vilanova i la Geltrú, “would be for the church to go off into the mountain.”Meg Bernhard is a freelance journalist based in Brussels and Barcelona. Also On POLITICO Late attempt to halt decriminalization of abortion in N. Ireland fails By Ashleigh Furlong Abortion debate goes mainstream in Malta By Jillian Deutsch She’s been called a “feminazi” and received death threats. Once, a commentator wrote to her, “You’ll know what it means to abort when they rape you.”But Mendoza maintains it’s a fight worth fighting. After the meeting she held with activists, the group joined some 200 people at a nearby park, where they waited to begin a two-hour march into the capital, Andorra la Vella.A general view of Andorra la Vella, Andorra | David Ramos/Getty ImagesA few dozen had come by bus from Barcelona to offer support. “From the outside, you can’t see what’s happening in Andorra,” said Remedios Merchan, an activist from Mataró.Make noise, be seen, don’t get hit by cars, Mendoza instructed the activists through her megaphone. The women headed down the highway in a sea of purple — the color of the abortion rights movement — shouting “If the pope were a woman, abortion would be legal” and “join the cause!”As night fell on the outskirts of Andorra la Vella, the protesters stopped by a Catholic Church where worshippers were attending Saturday evening mass.They leaned a white cross reading “Get out of our ovaries” against a stone pillar and tossed clothes hangers — each bearing the name of a woman who died from a clandestine abortion, not just in Andorra but around the world — on the ground. What would happen next is hard to predict, but abortion opponents say the standoff would tip the country into a constitutional crisis.“You can’t have legalization about abortion thinking that it wouldn’t have secondary effects on our constitutional model,” said Jover, the government spokesperson.“If the Andorran people decided that the elements associated with the abortion law are more important than our institutional elements … it could be done, but we would have to change our institutional model.” * * *The fledgling women’s rights movement doesn’t yet boast big numbers. Last year, 60 people marched on International Safe Abortion day; this year, a march in support of women’s rights drew some 500 people.But in the micro-state of only 77,000 people, their efforts have been loud enough to put the issue on the national agenda.last_img read more