Is surge pricing the fairest way to manage demand?

Is surge pricing the fairest way to manage demand?

In the 1950s, the New York subway faced a problem that will be familiar to users of public transport all over the world.

At peak times, it was overcrowded; at other times, the trains were empty.

The mayor commissioned a report, which concluded the problem was subway riders paid a flat fare. No matter where you boarded, how far you travelled, or when you made your trip, it would cost you 10 cents .

Might there be some more sophisticated approach? Perhaps so. The report’s foreword singled out a proposal from one of the 17 authors, economist William Vickrey.

"The abandonment of the flat-rate fare in favour of a fare structure which takes into account the length and location of the ride and the hour of the day is obviously a sensible step provided the mechanical problems involved can be solved," he said.

Vickrey’s basic idea was simple: when the trains were busy, charge more . When they were quiet, charge less. The peaks in demand would become less spiky. The subway would be more comfortable and reliable, could carry more people without having to build new lines, and could raise more money, all at once. A great idea.

But how to charge all these different prices? Not with an army of ticket clerks and inspectors; that would take too much time and money, so an automated solution must be found.

What was needed was a coin-operated turnstile that could charge different rates for different journeys at different times. But this was not easy to deliver in 1952. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations that helped create the economic world.

It is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen to all the episodes online or subscribe to the programme podcast . To give a sense of the scale of the challenge for William Vickrey, consider a dilemma faced by the Coca-Cola company. A Coke had cost a nickel – five cents – for decades .

Coca-Cola would have liked to increase the price by a cent or two but it couldn’t.

Why? Its 400,000 vending machines took only nickels and redesigning them to take two different denominations of coin would be a logistical nightmare. A standard Coca-Cola cost five cents from 1886 until 1959 In 1953, Coca-Cola tried instead to persuade President Eisenhower – in all seriousness – to introduce a 7.5 cent coin. That attempt failed – and Coca-Cola’s price remained five cents until 1959.

But Vickrey wasn’t daunted and described a contraption that would solve the problem.

"Passengers put a quarter in the entrance turnstile, get a metal check with notches indicating the zone of origin to be inserted in an exit turnstile, which would, through electro-mechanical relays, deliver an appropriate number of nickels according to the origin and time of day," he said.

It sounds clever, so you may be wondering why you haven’t heard of it.

One clue comes from the title of the speech in which Vickrey gave that description, My Innovative Failures In Economics. He began that speech by saying: "You are looking at an economist who has repeatedly failed in achieving his objective." William Vickrey spent his career considering practical economic solutions to urban problems The variable-price electromechanical Vickrey Turnstile was never built.

So why are you reading an article about a non-existent invention? It’s because the idea itself was so important, even if it was initially too complicated to be put into practice.

Vickrey’s fellow economists often said he was just too far ahead of his time. He eventually won a Nobel Memorial Prize for his work, in 1996 , just three days before his death.

Vickrey was proposing what is often called "peak load pricing" by economists, and "dynamic pricing" by management consultants.

In its simplest form, it’s an old idea. "Early bird specials" – offering a cheap deal to restaurant diners at quiet times – date back to the 1920s. It’s an easy sell to customers and requires no electromechanical wizardry. More things that made the modern economy:

How a razor revolutionised the way we pay for stuff

How the humble S-bend made modern toilets possible

The horrific consequences of rubber’s toxic past

How do people learn to cook a poisonous plant safely?

But the idea has appeal in far more complex settings.

Whether you’re running a subway system or an airline, trying to fill a concert hall or balance an electricity grid, it can be very costly to add extra capacity just to meet a short-term peak in demand – and it is wasteful to carry unused capacity around at other times. Varying prices make sense.

US Airlines was an early pioneer of the idea, after deregulation meant the company had to compete fiercely in the late 1970s. By 1984, the Wall Street Journal reported Delta Air Lines alone employed 147 staff to incessantly tweak prices. Thomas Cook: Why did prices rise for new flights?

Why your bananas could soon cost more in the afternoon

Timing is everything: Working out when to buy online

Peak-load pricing no longer requires an army of pricing specialists. A company such as Uber can effortlessly match supply and demand with an algorithm. Uber’s "surge pricing" promises to end that painful three-hour wait for a taxi on New Year’s Eve; there’s always a price for a car right now. The Uber driver app on the windscreen of a car, showing surge pricing is in effect in Washington DC But consumer acceptance may be more of a problem. "You’re almost at their mercy because you don’t want to wait longer for a cab," one disgruntled customer told the Houston Chronicle after being charged $247.50 (£203) for a 21km (13-mile) ride in Houston, Texas. Although, it’s worth pointing out he chose to pay so much because he couldn’t bear to wait for a cheaper journey.

Consumers can feel exploited by some forms of dynamic pricing – especially when, as with Uber, prices can double or halve in a matter of minutes.

A 1986 study by behavioural scientists Daniel Kahneman, Jack Knetsch and Richard Thaler indicated people found price surges infuriating.

Having once despaired over the lack of a 7.5 cent coin, Coca-Cola unsuccessfully attempted another technological solution in 1999, when it flirted with a vending machine that on sweltering days would raise the price of an ice-cold Coke . It was so unpopular, the company had to backtrack.

But peak-load pricing is likely to play an increasing role in the economy of the future.

Consider a smart electricity grid fed by intermittent power sources such as wind and solar power. When a cloud covers the Sun, your laptop might decide to stop charging, your freezer might switch itself off for a minute, or your electric car might even start pumping energy into the grid rather than sucking it out.

But all that would require those devices to respond to second-by-second price changes. Drivers who want to use part of Interstate 66 in Arlington, Virginia, during rush hour are charged a variable price according to traffic levels William Vickrey was also fascinated by the possibilities offered by congestion pricing on roads, designed – just as his turnstile was – to smooth out demand and ensure limited capacity was used well.

That’s now becoming a reality. Drivers in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC, can switch into a free-flowing lane on Interstate 66 during rush hour if they’re willing to pay the variable charge, which can be as much as $40 (£33) for 15km when traffic is particularly bad .

Vickrey had tried to show this idea could work, in the mid-1960s: he built a prototype, using a simple computer and a radio-transmitter to tally every time he used his own driveway.

But as with the turnstile, sometimes good ideas just need to wait for the technology to catch up.

The author writes the Financial Times’s Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen to all the episodes online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

A Taliban escapee, a baby and the story that followed their chance meeting

A Taliban escapee, a baby and the story that followed their chance meeting

Francis Amos has wide eyes, round cheeks and a bright smile that reveals a solitary front tooth. He is eight months old and is better at making friends than his dad.

On a warm Saturday afternoon, my son and I swam in a hotel pool in Batam, Indonesia. The resort overlooked the sea; the skyscrapers of Singapore, about 10 miles away, lined the sky blue horizon.

At the end of the pool, a young man with black hair noticed my son’s solitary tooth. He shook his hand and smiled. "Where are you from?" he asked.

"He’s from England," I replied. "And you?"

"Afghanistan," he said. "I’m a refugee."

Then, as the sun dipped and the sky turned orange, the refugee told me his story. It involved death threats, a Taliban hijacking, a mystery saviour and years of detention.

Lots of refugees have similar stories – or far worse. But this is his. And it’s here because of a chance meeting in an Indonesian pool. Shams Hussaini (also known as Erfan) is 21 and grew up in Sang-e-Masha, a highland town overlooked by the Hindu Kush mountains.

He has two younger brothers and a younger sister, and comes from an ordinary, poor family. His father made shoes and farmed the small plot of land by their mud-and-stone house.

Shams is too young to remember life before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but he knows what it was like. The school was closed, he says. People did not have access to education.

Shams is a Hazara, the third biggest ethnic group in Afghanistan. They are Shia Muslims, look different to other Afghans, and have suffered decades of persecution, not least from the Taliban.

So after 2001, things improved. They could barely get worse.

"Hazara people are supporters of education," says Shams. "They are supporters of knowledge and light. People started going to school, people started going to university."

They taught English at Shams’ school, but only one hour a week. So, aged 12 and encouraged by his uncle and other relatives, he went to a private centre. When he finished the advanced class, aged 15, the director offered him a job.

The role involved teaching basic classes and travelling to the capital, Kabul, to pick up materials – books, paper and so on. The money wasn’t great but Shams needed to earn. His parents had died leaving him, a teenager, as head of the family.

"When I looked at my younger brothers and sister, I thought I must do something to change their lives," he says. "I had to do everything in my ability to bring a little positive change."

On 10 December 2014, Shams left his house and took a bus to Kabul to pick up materials for his English centre. He hasn’t seen his family since. Shams at his English learning centre in Afghanistan The Taliban may have been ousted in 2001, but they never went away. In Sang-e-Masha, they targeted the English school’s staff and students.

"For them, English is the language of infidels," says Shams.

The school would receive threatening letters, both from the Taliban and local mullahs. Some mullahs would come from the nearby masjid (mosque) to argue.

"This is not an English learning centre," they would say. "This is a place for misleading the people."

For the mullahs, the sin of teaching English was compounded by teaching boys and girls under the same roof. They bullied Shams – and his family – but he was undeterred.

"We felt scared, but the hunger to help people who lived in illiteracy for decades was higher than the intimidation," he says.

And so, on that cold Wednesday in December, he boarded the bus to Kabul. It was the third time Shams had gone to Kabul since taking the job and every time, he was scared.

The capital is about 275km (170 miles) from Shams’ home and passes through Qarabagh, a place Shams calls the Slaughterhouse.

"The Taliban have killed and kidnapped hundreds and thousands of Hazaras on that highway," he says.

After three hours, the bus reached Qarabagh, and Shams’ worst fears were realised. Two Taliban, armed with guns, stopped the bus. They ordered Shams off.

Once outside, the Taliban slapped Shams and yelled in his face. Shams didn’t speak their language, Pashto, but the bus driver was able to translate, fearfully and frantically.

"Where is the English teacher?" the Taliban demanded, hands on their guns, eyes boring into him. "Are you the English teacher?" Shams teaching English in Indonesia Each time Shams denied it, he got slapped. He shook with fear. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Eventually, he became speechless. He was convinced he was about to die.

"The fear conquered all parts of my body," he says.

Then a woman left her seat, walked off the bus, and saved his life.

"Stop," she said, herself crying. "He’s not the person you’re searching for. He is my son."

Shams did not know the woman, but he did not say anything. The Taliban looked at Shams. He was 15, small, and seemed an unlikely teacher. Eventually, they let him – and the bus – on their way.

Shams had survived. But there was no celebration or near-miss euphoria. "I felt shattered on the inside," he says.

So, when he reached Kabul, he made a decision. He was not going back to the Slaughterhouse, and he was not going back to Sang-e-Masha. In a Kabul motel, Shams spoke to a driver who often took people from Shams’ district to the capital. Shams’ story was common, the driver said: many people reached Kabul and never went back.

Shams said he wanted to escape, so the driver found a smuggler who could help. The smuggler said he could send Shams to Indonesia, via India and Malaysia.

Once in Jakarta, the smuggler said, Shams could register with the UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency. Shams did not know Indonesia – he had never left Afghanistan – but anything was better than home.

He phoned his uncle (a small-scale farmer), who agreed to pay the smuggler $5,000 in instalments, and waited a week. Then, with his new passport in hand, he flew to Delhi then Kuala Lumpur. From there, he went to the coast to sail overnight to Indonesia.

Compared to some Afghan refugees, it was a quick escape. Those who flee to Europe, for example, often go overland, crossing thousands of miles in the backs of lorries. But Shams’ journey – though quicker – was not easy or safe.

When he reached the Malaysian coast, he expected a ferry. Instead he boarded a wooden boat, overcrowded with families, young couples and teenage boys. The sea was rough, the sky was dark, and, after an hour, it started to rain.

Water crashed over the side of the boat. For the second time in a month, Shams thought he was going to die, this time in the Strait of Malacca. Shams’ stop-off points in Indonesia

"It was not supposed to be the place to die," he says. "I survived war in Afghanistan, the Taliban, and now I’m going to sink in the water?

"Negative thoughts were coming into my head. What would happen to my family? What would happen to my dreams? And these thoughts were coming into the heads of other people, too.

"I looked at their faces – it was obvious. They were all in a terrible state of fear."

Somehow they stayed afloat. They reached Medan, Indonesia, and drove to Jakarta, 1,900km (1,200 miles) away. There were six passengers in the car, and they were only allowed out at night – even if they needed the toilet.

After three days without food, and barely any water, they reached the capital. Shams found the UNHCR office and walked in. This, he thought, was the start of a new life.

It was. But not the way he imagined. Shams thought the UNHCR would listen to his story and offer him a place to stay. Instead, they registered him and asked him to leave the office.

"They said many people are like you – leave your number, go outside, talk to your friends," he remembers. "But I had no friends. I knew no-one in Indonesia."After two nights on the street he met some Hazara boys from Afghanistan, hanging round near the UNHCR. They told him there were detention centres near Jakarta but they were full. Instead, they said, he should go to Manado.The city was a three-hour flight from Jakarta, but the detention centre had space, the Hazara boys said. They also knew a woman who could arrange the flight.Shams didn’t want to be locked up – who would? – but he had no alternative. The streets of Jakarta were bleak – no food; no water; no hope.He didn’t have enough money for the flight, but he begged the woman and she relented. When he arrived in Manado he went to the immigration office and asked for somewhere to stay.Like the UNHCR, they asked him to leave. GettyAfghan refugees: In numbers 2.7m Number of refugees worldwide (second only to Syria) 92% Are in Iran or Pakistan 13,600 Are in Indonesia (asylum seekers and refugees) 56% Of Indonesia’s asylum seekers and refugees are Afghans Source: UNHCRAfter another night on the street, the immigration staff sent him to a house used as a "waiting room" until a detention centre had space.Shams lived there for 16 months.The house had seven bedrooms with up to 14 or 15 people sleeping in each. There was one toilet and one shower, but not enough water for both. Instead, they washed in a nearby river with buckets.There was drinking water and food, but it was basic – rice, potatoes, occasionally a chicken wing. "For 16 months, I don’t remember any vegetables," says Shams.But worse than the lack of vegetables was the lack of freedom.As an asylum seeker, he couldn’t study, couldn’t work, and couldn’t travel. He was trapped in the house; trapped in Indonesia; and trapped by his memories of Taliban gunmen."It felt like somebody had injected that fear into my mind, into my whole body," he remembers. "It was disturbing me all the time. I was hitting my head with my hands."Then, in 2016, he had some good news, of sorts. He was being locked up. The detention centre in Pontianak – on the other side of Indonesia to the house in Manado – was like a prison, with high fences, barbed wire and a leaking roof. So why was it good news?Because in Pontianak his application for refugee status would be considered. "Refugee" is a step-up from "asylum seeker" as it allows relocation to third countries, even if the chances are slim.But – while there was hope – it was a long, endless tunnel, with only a faint, flickering light at the end."Even criminals, there is a specific period of time for their confinement," says Shams. "But for refugees there was no such date. We had to wait and wait and wait." The detention centre in Pontianak Shams […]

Can Jeremy Corbyn Change The Political Weather?

Can Jeremy Corbyn Change The Political Weather?

Sign up now to get The Waugh Zone , our evening politics briefing, by email. Taking a Rayner cheque

When Jeremy Corbyn addressed a crowd in a key marginal seat in Lancashire today, he said he’d asked his party’s local candidate: “What’s the thing you want from a Labour government that will help Blackpool?” A member of the public immediately heckled: “Brexit!”

Without skipping a beat, Corbyn ploughed on and stressed that local poverty, food banks, Universal Credit and expensive rents were all the local priorities. The Labour leader had already trumpeted his party’s new further education pledge and later pushed hard on the politics of flooding.

The sense that he wants to talk about many more issues than Brexit was underlined when Labour told HuffPost UK it would make a formal complaint to Ofcom about SkyNews’ tagline ‘The Brexit Election’. With Nigel Farage standing his candidates aside in Tory seats, the B-word will certainly affect polling day, but will it be the key factor?

Corbyn will be pleased he’s made the political weather (pun intended) today, visiting Doncaster (alongside local candidate Ed Miliband ) and unveiling a new pledge for an extra £5bn in flood defences. Boris Johnson , looking like he was forced by Corbyn to hold an emergency Cobra meeting, hit back by sending 100 extra troops to Yorkshire. The PM also offered new cash help for firms and residents.

Johnson is similarly trying to defuse the Labour attack line on the NHS by talking about his own billions earmarked for the service. Corbyn again deployed his newest Brexit/NHS attack line, saying there was now “an alliance between Donald Trump and Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson ”, a “sweetheart deal” that would “threaten our public services”.

Farage denied he was Trump’s puppet today. But it’s worth reading in full what he told Newsnight’s Nick Watt last night. Asked what Trump would think of his decision to step aside in Tory seats, the Brexit Party leader relied: “His big fear which he expressed to me the other week was if we go down the route of alignment, it virtually wipes out the prospect of a trade deal with the USA.

“And now Boris is kind of saying we go in for a Canada-style trade deal and so he’d be very, very pleased to hear that. And pleased to think that with a bit of help from me his [Trump’s] position looks markedly better.” If that quote doesn’t appear on Labour adverts, I’ll be surprised.

In his first election campaign bulletin today, Tony Blair (who used to win elections not commentate on them) suggested Johnson would inevitably have to extend the UK’s Brexit transition period or face no-deal. Yet even Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said that getting a deal done by the end of 2020 was “possible…[although] I think the timeline will be very tight”.

Still, Johnson clearly thinks that ‘getting Brexit done’ is perhaps his most powerful catchphrase of this entire campaign. His main message in key Labour marginals is ‘look, you don’t have to like everything the Tories do, but trust me and lend me your vote this time’.

I’ve said previously that I’m sceptical about all the claims that this election will see a big increase in tactical voting. A Deltapoll has found that just six per cent of voters are ready to vote for another party other than the one they believed in. That’s well below the 30% that Best for Britain says is needed to stop a Tory government.

If a party (like the Brexit Party, Greens or Lib Dems) simply doesn’t field candidates in seats, some of their supporters may just not vote at all. Yet the new YouGov poll, which adjusts for Farage’s party not featuring in key seats, is giving the Tories a huge 12 point lead tonight. Survation, which polled before this week’s big news, reported a narrower 6 point lead.

Well, if Johnson does win a big majority, it may just be because of the folksy, direct communication he displays in tonight’s party political broadcast. Proving that he’s a far better campaigner than Theresa May , the PM recites his key soundbites like a consummate actor (and as we all know even his ‘unscripted’ remarks are really scripted). Talking about liking Marmite, the Rolling Stones, Thai curry, steak and chips, fish and chips and taking his dog for a morning comfort break, he then slipped effortlessly into the politics.

For Labour supporters who despair at the polls, there was however one crumb of comfort today. Angela Rayner, standing next to Corbyn, proved just why she is an effective political communicator herself. Summoning up a real passion and authenticity about her own journey from teenage mum to senior MP, it got many thinking she would make an impressive future Labour leader. “Poverty is not just about being penniless, it is about being powerless,” was one of her best lines. And when she said the next Labour government could be even more transformational than the Attlee government, it felt like she meant it.

With Johnson often looking like he’s coasting, Rayner’s words felt like genuine anger. But perhaps it was also an anger that despite all of Johnson’s deceptions and U-turns, her own party was still 12 points behind – rather than 12 points in front – a government that has had nearly a decade in power. The Resolution Foundation’s new report (see below) sums up why Labour should be doing better in 2019.

Rayner also put her finger on something that will determine this election: not just pounds and pence, but power. When both parties are offering lots more spending, the key issue is who the voters believe and trust most – and who they think shares their values most. To coin a phrase, the voters may choose who is best placed to let them take back control of their lives, their public services and their communities.

There’s a whole month to go in this race of course and lots could change. But right now, for all the billions being offered by Corbyn, his personal poll ratings suggest that money can’t buy you love. Quote Of The Day

“What he’s done really is shape the Conservative Party in his own image. The Conservative Party is the Brexit Party.”

Arron Banks tells the Oxford Union why he’s backing Johnson Tuesday’s Election Cheat Sheet

Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson visited flood affected areas. Corbyn unveiled a new pledge to spend an extra £5.6bn over 10 years improving flood defences. After an emergency Cobra meeting, Boris Johnson sent an extra 100 troops to Yorkshire and announced new cash help for individuals and businesses.

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jeremy Corbyn led tributes to former health secretary Frank Dobson , who has died at the age of 79. The Holborn and St Pancras MP will be sadly missed by many who knew him.

The Labour party suffered a second cyber-attack in two days. The National Cyber Security Centre said the party took the necessary steps to deal with the attack. The attack was not believed to be by a foreign state and was deemed ‘low level but high profile’ by experts.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a fresh selection row after Labour picked one of his key allies to replace Keith Vaz in a normally safe seat. Claudia Webbe , an Islington councillor and long-time friend of Corbyn, was selected by a party panel on Tuesday to contest Leicester East.

Vaz’s seat has a huge majority, but Labour insiders fear a strong Tory challenge. Party chair Ian Lavery has distanced itself from conference policy on Kashmir for fear of losing British Hindu votes. Labour’s Tan Dhesi alleged “foreign interference” by the Indian nationalist BJP party in the general election.

Tim Walker , the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Labour marginal of Canterbury, has stood down after criticism he could split the Remain vote and harm Rosie Duffield ’s chances of survival. What I’m Reading

Feeling Poor, So Working More: Why The UK Has Record Employment – Resolution Foundation Got A Tip?

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Each week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.

Would You Know How To Help Someone Struggling On Their Commute?

Would You Know How To Help Someone Struggling On Their Commute?

Heads down, headphones in – commuting can be incredibly impersonal. People rush to and fro with little awareness for those around them. The objective is to get to work, not make friends, so other people tend to get tuned out.

And let’s be honest, it’s much easier to sit back, close your eyes, and listen to your music than it is to approach a stranger who may need a little support.

It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that a new poll has revealed nearly three quarters of people in the UK who have commuted to work by rail in a state of distress said no one around them did anything to help. Someone may be distressed as a result of a mental health problem or because they’re emotionally overwhelmed.

Some of the most widely shared concerns that prevent onlookers from intervening, according to the poll of 2,045 adults, include not knowing how to help, doing or suggesting the wrong thing, or assuming the person involved could react badly. Marjan_Apostolovic via Getty Images To coincide with World Kindness Day (13 November), Mental Health UK, which conducted the poll, is working with Network Rail to encourage people to help others on the daily commute. Their ‘ Brief Encounter ’ campaign aims to show that even short conversations can change someone’s life.

So how can you be a better commuter – and what could you do to help someone who may benefit from a little kindness? 1. Show others you’re happy to talk

Chris Zair, from London, became increasingly aware of society growing more insular, isolated and silent – especially on public transport – so he created Happy To Talk badges . Commuters can wear them to indicate they’re up for a chat with a stranger.

“A previous study found that short exchanges leave us, and the other person, in a more positive frame of mind,” Zair tells HuffPost UK. “Your friendly smile and quick chat, rather than putting your headphones in and looking away, may be the small dose of positivity that person needs.”

Perhaps wear the badge to show you’re open to conversation – or simply keep your head up, headphones out, and be more mindful of your surroundings. 2. Look out for signs of distress

Being aware of your surroundings will help you pick up on signs that a person may be in distress. They may look withdrawn, be tearful or upset, seem agitated or they might even put themselves in a dangerous situation. Sometimes, though, there might not be any visible signs at all.

Passengers are encouraged to pay attention to their gut. If something feels off or strange, don’t ignore it – act. In its simplest form, this could be a quick smile at a passenger, an acknowledgment that you can see they’re struggling. Or even just passing them a tissue if they’re crying. 3. Approach the person discreetly

The next stage would be to approach the person and discreetly ask if they’re okay – maybe even mouthing it to them, if they’re sat opposite you. You’re likely to feel nervous and that’s perfectly normal, but what you’re doing could make a huge difference to them.

You don’t have to completely understand what they’re going through, says Mental Health UK, and you certainly don’t have to find a solution to their problems. But what you can do is listen, if they’re willing to talk.

It might be that the person is simply feeling ill, in which case you can help them off the train, bus or Tube and get them further support. 4. Offer reassurance

If the person is clearly struggling with their mental health, the key is to be empathetic and non-judgmental, and not to change the subject or tell them to “cheer up” – the latter can make people in distress feel worse.

Reassure them that the feelings they have are temporary and they won’t feel this way forever, advises Mental Health UK. “If it feels right to do so, remind them that they are not alone.” 5. Ask the right questions

You may find it easier to ask the person questions. Have they felt this way before? If they have, how did they get through it last time? Do they have anyone they could call?

Try to repeat back their answers in your own words and encourage them to concentrate on getting through the day, rather than looking too far into the future, suggests the charity.

As you build up trust, it’s important to ask if the person is suicidal or not, says Mental Health UK. “You can ask this question directly. Ask them, ‘are you thinking about suicide?’ or ‘are you having thoughts about ending your life?’

“Bear in mind that asking about suicide won’t make it more likely to happen.”

If you need urgent support and are worried the person is going to hurt themselves, call 999. You can also call the Samaritans, available 24/7 on 116 123.

Useful websites and helplines: Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email:

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on .

Uganda expected to charge 75 soon after raid of LGBT-helpful bar

Uganda expected to charge 75 soon after raid of LGBT-helpful bar


A human rights lawyer in Uganda suggests 75 women and men might be charged in courtroom instantly after legislation enforcement raided a gay-helpful bar. Activists join with it the most recent assault on the LGBT local people.

Nicholas Opiyo claimed Tuesday that legislation enforcement have unveiled 50 different individuals simply after Sunday’s raid within the capital, Kampala. He telephone calls the bar widespread with the LGBT local people as a put the place they won’t doubtless be judged.

Homosexual authorized rights activist Kasha Jacqueline states the bar is utilized for wellbeing outreach programs. Jacqueline rejects legislation enforcement allegations of drug possession.

A police spokesman denies the raid focused the LGBT local people.

Homosexuals cope with discrimination in fairly a number of elements of sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda punishes intercourse features “against the order of mother nature” with as much as on a regular basis residing in jail. Hard Rock opens 450-foot neon guitar-shaped hotel

How green are Premier League clubs?

How green are Premier League clubs?

Leicester launched new reusable cups in the concourses at King Power Stadium before the Premier League match and Arsenal FC Extinction Rebellion protests, flooding and wildfires mean environmental issues, climate change and sustainability are right at the top of the world’s news agenda.

But what are England’s leading football clubs – among the country’s most globally recognised brands – doing to help the environment?

BBC Sport has worked with the United Nations-backed Sport Positive Summit, which will host its first conference in 2020, to compile research into the sustainability of all 20 Premier League clubs.

They were asked to provide evidence of schemes in eight categories: clean energy

energy efficiency

sustainable transport

single-use plastic reduction or removal

waste management

water efficiency

plant-based or low-carbon food options

communications or engagement

The clubs were awarded one point per category if they had suitable initiatives taking place in their stadiums, training grounds and/or offices and half a point if plans were being developed in that area but were yet to fully materialise. What does the table show?

Above is a simplified version of the full table – available here – which breaks down every club’s score in each category, and highlights their specific schemes and initiatives.

This is the first time all of this information has been made public in one place, and Sport Positive Summit’s research is designed as an introductory and accessible resource.

The table will be updated when clubs introduce new schemes or develop existing ones, and Sport Positive Summit sees it as a tool to encourage more action and transparency on sustainability.

Its CEO, Claire Poole, said: "Our ambition by publishing this information is to educate and engage, both football and industry professionals about what top-flight clubs are doing to reduce their environmental impact, and for interested fans to easily access what their club is doing.

"We are all on a journey when it comes to reducing our impact on the environment, and we hope more awareness about these initiatives will help drive increased ambition across football and other sports." The Manchester City squad take the train from London back to Manchester What does the table not show?

Carbon footprints is the obvious omission.

While the study is a thorough indication of what Premier League clubs are doing to help/promote sustainability, it is not a complete picture of a club’s environmental impact.

That would require three stages of assessment to analyse:

> Emissions generated by the club directly

Emissions produced by others as a result of club’s activities

Emissions from any businesses or activities linked to club’s supply chains

That is complicated by the fact Bournemouth and West Ham do not own their own stadiums, and some clubs’ involvement in European competition naturally requires more air travel.

Poole said: "An accurate carbon ‘bootprint’ for each game or an entire season is difficult to credibly record, and will always be up for discussion.

"You would have to accurately account for where spectators, match-day staff, squads and other staff have travelled from and modes of transport used (which would vary every week).

"Then consider food and drink consumed at the game, energy used to power the stadium and broadcast, waste produced and so on.

"That is a massive undertaking alone, but what about the embedded carbon used to build the stadium infrastructure, or to fertilise the turf, or the carbon emissions of fans watching the game at home, at the pub, on their phone or tablet globally?

"Instead we decided to focus on categories that clubs control and that contribute to the overall ‘bootprint’ of games. Through initiatives like these, environmental impact of games will be reduced – and activity is indicative of a carbon reduction strategy." Moths, bats – and a minibus car share

Here are some of the more eye-catching schemes at Premier League clubs

Burnley: An informal ‘car share scheme’ established by the first-team players – Ashley Barnes and Ashley Westwood bought a minibus and share the driving of a pool of players to and from training on a daily basis.

Manchester City: Created wildlife corridors at City Football Academy that are now home to various types of moths, butterflies and bats while also providing nesting places for birds including kestrels.

Norwich: The Carrow Road pitch is watered via a bore hole and the training ground recycles the water from the pitches.

Southampton: St Mary’s was the first LED-lit stadium in Europe.

Tottenham: Installed a ‘green roof’ of flowering sedum plants at its training centre to enable the capture and re-harvesting of rain water across the site.

Manchester United: Say their annual carbon emissions have been reduced by more than 2,000 tonnes – equivalent to emissions produced by 400 homes for a year.

Newcastle: Declared itself the world’s first ‘carbon positive’ club in 2012 – meaning they invest in projects like tree-planting to offset emissions.

West Ham: Operates zero waste-to-landfill status, sending all plastic, cardboard, wood, paper, aluminium, pallets and ink cartridges for recycling and all food waste to an anaerobic digester.

Liverpool: Have no single-use plastic food packaging, instead using trays made out of compostable palm leaf and maize .

Arsenal: Switched to renewable electricity in 2017 and claim to be the first club in Europe to install a battery storage system – which can power the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium for a 90-minute match. Analysis – Premier League clubs ‘dipping their toe’

Professor Mike Berners-Lee, of Lancaster University’s Institute for Social Futures, and the author of There is No Planet B:

"Whilst is it great to see Premier League clubs staking steps and whilst there are some good actions here, it is only just scratching the surface and not yet addressing the most important areas.

"On the very positive side, powering stadiums with renewables is a very good thing, as is energy efficiency. It is good to see wildlife encouraged and some plastic reduction.

"I think overall, the measures listed are a start point – but they represent yesterday’s approach to carbon management.

"It is now widely understood we are in a climate emergency and the expectation is that all organisations get to grips properly with the big issues that relate to them. The Premier League has dipped its toe in so far."

Berners-Lee identified his five most important areas for clubs to address: 1. Fan travel is something the clubs could really take on, and this is the biggest thing they could do to take the carbon out of football. Public transport, coaches, buses, car share schemes? Are people encouraged to drive sustainably?2. International travel. This is tricky where there is a busy schedule but there is no getting around the high impact of flying. And I hate to say this but on a long-haul flight, first class has a far higher footprint than economy!3. Food is around a quarter of the UK’s carbon footprint. The most important message clubs can send out is a reduction in meat and dairy and in particular less beef and lamb (the highest carbon meats).4. Throw-away plastic has to be an issue that clubs could take a strong line on. Are water fountains available? Are all take-away outlets all using non-plastic packaging? Are people encouraged to bring their own cups and plates?5. Communication and engagement needs to take on the biggest issues relating to the carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of football. Manchester United players Scott McTominay and Phil Jones travel to a European away fixture Andrew Welfle, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester: "The clubs are all doing something, with varying degrees of commitment to sustainability. Are clubs talking to each other more to learn from their experiences and to push each other forward?"There are many items listed for each club – such as Chelsea’s 100% recycling at Stamford Bridge and their Cobham training ground – that should be standard practices across the clubs."Manchester United being certified to the Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon for its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions over five consecutive periods is highly commendable because having this standard over a long period of time demonstrates continual improvement, with targets and action plans to reduce this further." What did some of the clubs say? Arsenal’s operations director Hywel Sloman told BBC Sport: "We should be doing the right thing, acting in the right way and leading."Those have been our values since 1886 and those should be our values in all that we do. I think that’s really important. There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who look to what we do every single day."If we can be an example in this area, I think that’s a great thing."Asked if fans care about sustainability, Sloman said: "I think they do. Our fans want to be proud of Arsenal."I also think it’s a generational thing. I think every generation is significantly more environmentally aware than that last one – so I think we have a responsibility to our younger fans to actually ensure that we are providing that role model and that leadership for them." Manchester City’s head of sustainability, Peter Bradshaw, said: "Sustainability is important to Manchester City because, first of all, it actually makes good business sense. It’s the right thing to do in terms of where this football club came from – the community – 125 years ago."It’s about how to behave properly, engaging local people – and how thinking about the environment and social values really makes a difference to people’s lives in this city."The next steps are interesting because there is huge importance and huge focus on climate change in the way we need to operate as a nation, and as communities. The next steps are to to keep looking at these things to make sure that we continue to act responsibly."In a statement, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said: "As a club we have always taken our responsibility to care for our environment seriously."We have demonstrated this with the environmentally sensitive development of our training centre, where we have preserved historic hedgerows and planted for the future and which will see us adding an Environmental Centre and Nature Reserve there too."I am delighted that we have now brought our values to the new stadium to both play our part in the reduction of single-use plastics and raise awareness of the importance of doing so."A Premier League spokesman said: "Progress is being made and clubs are implementing new and more efficient ways of operating – such as reducing single-use plastic in stadia, reviewing suppliers and contractors and looking at energy sources and modes of transport used."The Premier League and our clubs play a huge role in communities both locally and globally and so it is important we encourage fans to make everyday changes to create a real difference."The organisation highlighted its Premier League Primary Stars programme, which helps educate children on plastic […]

General election 2019: Labour vows to outspend Tories on the NHS

General election 2019: Labour vows to outspend Tories on the NHS

Labour is promising to spend more on the NHS in England than the Tories if it wins the general election.

The NHS budget would rise to £155bn by 2023-24 – £6bn more than the government promised the front-line budget would reach by that stage when it set out its five-year plan last year.

Labour said the money would cut waiting times and boost mental health services.

But the Tories said Labour’s plan for a shorter working week would eat into the funding due to the need for more staff.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the working hours policy, announced at Labour’s annual conference in September, would "cripple our economy and cost the NHS billions every year".

But Labour said a 32-hour working-week would be phased in over 10 years so would not have the impact on NHS budgets claimed by the Tories, and it would also be offset by gains in productivity. Labour promise to spend more on NHS

NHS England budget

Source: Dept for Health/Labour

Announcing his party’s flagship election policy at the Royal Society of Medicine, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will say a "decade of Tory underfunding had driven our NHS into year-round crisis".

"Only Labour has a plan to rescue the NHS," he will add.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will say Labour’s policy of taxing the "richest in society" and reversing cuts to corporation tax will release money to spend on healthcare.

Lib Dem health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said: "Labour’s health announcement completely misses the point.

"They are ignoring the fact that Brexit is the biggest threat to the NHS – if Labour allow Brexit to happen, they cannot rescue our NHS." 11 charts on what’s happened to the NHS

Does UK lag other rich nations on health and care?

Labour’s proposals were welcomed by NHS leaders.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents managers, said the pledge represented a "significant extra investment" on top of what has been set by the government.

"If used wisely, it would help to transform services and retain front-line staff." Isn’t NHS funding already going up?

During the summer of 2018, the Theresa May government announced a five-year funding settlement for the front line of the NHS in England.

It also meant more money for other parts of the UK, although it is up to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide where that is spent.

In England it means the budget for NHS England will be £20bn more in 2023-24 than it was in 2018-19 once inflation is taken into account – a rise of 3.4% a year on average during the period.

Labour has promised to top this up by £6bn by 2023-24 – an annual rise of 3.9% on average over the coming years. But this front-line budget – £121bn this year – does not cover the entirety of health spending. Another £18bn is being spent on other areas, including training staff, building projects and public health schemes like stop-smoking services.

Labour has promised to increase these too. The most significant rise will be in the capital budget – for buildings, equipment and infrastructure. This year £7bn is being spent in this area after Boris Johnson increased the budget by £1bn shortly after he became prime minister.

Labour says by 2023-24 the budget will top £10bn a year – a sum health academics have argued is needed to deal with the backlog in repairs and bring spending in line with other wealthy nations.

The Tories have yet to set the budgets for these areas all the way through to 2023-24, although they have said investing in buildings and infrastructure is a priority. What would Labour’s extra money pay for?

In terms of the front-line budget, Labour says the extra £26bn in real terms by 2023-4 they will be investing will help reduce waiting times in A&E and for routine operations such as knee and hip replacements – both targets for how long patients should wait have been missed for the last few years.

They are also prioritising mental health, promising to fund more counselling services for schools, community mental health hubs and crisis teams.

The wider increases in the overall health budget will help fund the return of the bursary for nurses and midwives to fund their time spent studying at university – the government scrapped these in 2017 – while they will also benefit from the Labour policy of scrapping tuition fees.

Labour believes this will help address the shortage of nurses in the NHS. The party also wants to increase the number of GP training places from 3,500 a year to 5,000. Free prescriptions and hospital car parking will also be introduced. How do Labour’s funding plans differ from the Conservatives?

What is quite remarkable is just how similar the Tories and Labour are in terms of many of the areas they are focusing on.

Setting aside free prescriptions and car parking, which are not Tory policies, both parties are prioritising to train extra staff and invest in new buildings and equipment

Last week the Tories too pledged extra training places for GPs, saying they wanted to recruit an extra 6,000 GPs.

The prime minister has also promised there will be 40 major hospital building projects in the next decade – although only six have been given a guarantee of funding so far.

The Liberal Democrats are yet to give much detail about their policies – although they have promised a penny on income tax will be introduced, which will raise extra money for mental health, public health and social care.

General election 2019: Ex-Tory David Gauke to stand as independent

General election 2019: Ex-Tory David Gauke to stand as independent

Former justice secretary David Gauke is to stand as an independent candidate in the general election.

Mr Gauke was among the MPs expelled from the Parliamentary Conservative Party by Boris Johnson after he voted against a no-deal Brexit.

It meant he could not stand as a Tory candidate in 12 December’s election.

Speaking about his decision , Mr Gauke said a Conservative majority would be a "bad outcome for the country" and lead to a "very hard Brexit" being pursued.

Mr Gauke first confirmed his decision to stand in South West Hertfordshire – where he has been the MP since 2005 – at a political awards ceremony on Tuesday. Tories choose candidate to take place of Gauke

‘Thoroughly irresponsible policy’

He later added on Twitter: "A Conservative majority at the next general election will pursue a very hard Brexit.

"Given the refusal to extend the implementation period (IP) beyond 2020 and the obvious lack of time to negotiate a free trade agreement before then, this means we will be on WTO (World Trade Organization) terms by January 2021.

"Leaving the IP on WTO terms would be devastating to many sectors of our economy. It’s a thoroughly irresponsible policy.

"There are many excellent Conservative candidates who I wish well but a Conservative majority at the next election would be a bad outcome for the country." Reality Check: What does a ‘WTO Brexit’ mean?

Leaving the IP on WTO terms would be devastating to many sectors of our economy. It’s a thoroughly irresponsible policy.

There are many excellent Conservative candidates who I wish well but a Conservative majority at the next election would be a bad outcome for the country. — David Gauke (@DavidGauke) November 12, 2019 Report

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged not to extend the transition period that follow the UK’s departure from the EU under the terms of his Brexit deal.

The period would see the UK stick to the EU rules on issues such as freedom of movement until December 2020.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage cited Mr Johnson’s pledge as one of the reasons for his decision not to stand candidates in the 317 seats won by the Tories at the last general election, in 2017. Nigel Farage this week pledged not to stand Brexit Party candidates in seats won by the Tories in 2017 Mr Gauke told The Times : "I represent a form of liberal Conservatism, but the last few months have been increasingly uncomfortable…

"The principle issue of this general election is Brexit and I think that the Conservative Party has got it badly wrong.

"The easy thing to do would be to go quietly, but I feel that I have to make a stand and make the case that we are heading towards an outcome that we will deeply regret."

Earlier, Gagan Mohindra was chosen as the Conservative candidate for the constituency.

Mr Mohindra is a member of Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council.

Some parties are yet to choose their candidates for South West Hertfordshire, but Tom Pashby has been selected for the Green Party and Sally Symington will represent the Liberal Democrats.

UMC Leaders Call for ‘New Form of Unity’ over LGBT Debate

UMC Leaders Call for ‘New Form of Unity’ over LGBT Debate

In the midst of a long-standing debate on LGBT issues, eight current and former bishops of the United Methodist Church have signed a statement calling for a “new form of unity” after years of discord, according to the Christian Post .

“The events transpiring since the adjournment of the Special Session of General Conference illustrate how deep our division is,” the statement said. “Sadly, even greater discord, chaos and fighting loom on the horizon at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.

“This is why we recognize our beloved United Methodist Church no longer can continue in our current form of unity. It is time to quit undermining our mission. It is time for the entire church to come together to figure out how to be the people called Methodists in a new way—to seek a new form of unity.”

The debate has focused largely on the teachings of the Book of Discipline which states that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” In a 438-384 vote recently, delegates agreed to uphold the teaching. But an increasing number of bishops hope to create a more progressive Methodist denomination.

“It is time to end our conflict that undermines all our efforts to proclaim the Gospel,” the statement continued. “It is time to bless, support and free one another to be the church we feel God calls us to be.”

In 2020, delegates will discuss potentially splitting the denomination or allowing churches to decide their own stance on LGBT issues individually, known as the “One Church Plan.”

The Rev. Jeff Greenway, chairman of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a conservative UMC advocacy group, said that he supports splitting the denomination.

“All the members of our council, both laity and clergy, have given years of service to The United Methodist Church; they have faithfully supported it with their talents, their time, and their service. So it was obviously a very hard and painful decision to conclude some form of separation is the only viable way forward given the great impasse that threatens the denomination and its local churches,” he said.

Bishops who signed the statement are Scott Jones, resident bishop of the Texas Conference; Mike Lowery, resident bishop of the Central Texas Conference; Mark Webb of the Upper New York Conference; and Eduard Khegay, resident bishop of the Moscow Area in the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Christian Ouellet

Local podcast looks at horror from LGBT perspective

Local podcast looks at horror from LGBT perspective

Andrew Huff, Michael Henry and Matty Zaradich. Photo courtesy of FriGay the 13th
On their podcast FriGay the 13th, co-hosts Matty Zaradich and Andrew Huff use an LGBT perspective to discuss horror in entertainment, horror in real life and how they creep into each other. "[It’s] rooted in friendship, rooted in a desire to have fun and do something creative and do something cool," Zaradich described.

"Our tagline has always been we’re a horror podcast— a podcast that talks about horror in real life and horror in the media, but what we found, from an LGBT perspective, our topics have gone all over the place," said Huff.

Zaradich and Huff—who both identify as gay and live in Chicago—met a few years ago through Huff’s now husband Michael Henry, who is also the podcast’s producer. When they would all get together, they described, the conversation would always veer toward politics and horror movies. One night, they decided to pair these interests and deliver it in a horror podcast. FriGay the 13th launched in February 2018.

Both have been long-time lovers of horror. Huff, originally from Northern Michigan,recalls being a horror fan pretty much his entire life. His mom was a horror fan and at an early age, he said, he was introduced to the genre with starter horror movies and then moved on to scarier films.

Zaradich grew up in a very Catholic home in northwest Indiana and his favorite horror movie, "The Exorcist" was absolutely banned from his home. He added he still found ways to sneak it in and "there was always a fascination with horror because it’s sort of life at its extreme."

"I think a bit of it is because horror is something LGBT people are not afraid to look in the face because we’ve had to face it so often in our real lives," said Zaradich, offering bigotry, violence, rejection and being kicked out of the home as possible examples people from the community have faced. "…you see people in situations you’ve been in before and it helps you to make sense of the horror you’ve experienced in your own life. When you see people that survive in a horror film, it sort of reminds you—not to be too heroic about it—but it sort of reminds you of yourself. LGBT people have to go through quite a bit that non-LGBT people just don’t in American societies and I think horror films help us make sense of our lives…"

Outside of the podcast, Zaradichis a customer success manager for a major social media company and Huff works in healthcare marketing.

"I think we felt the need to do something that was super creative, fun and something that was very different for all of us," explained Zaradich. "It’s been so fun to come together to do the actual show itself and to create really good content that speaks to a number of different groups of people, but most especially to LGBT people…"

At first the podcast focused on politics. The format then evolved into distinctly themed episodes where the co-hosts talk about a specific topic in one segment and then link it to a couple of horror movies in the second segment.

"We would pick a distinct theme and kind of talk about a topic [within] that theme and then pick a couple movies to go along with it," said Huff. "So it’s been an ever-evolving podcast I would say… the elevator pitch is: horror in real life and in the media from an LGBT perspective."

"When you connect it to horror films ( a particular topic like white nationalism ), it makes it a little bit more digestible, than trying to get out there in the world and make sense of all of this," said Zaradich. "The arts will always imitate life for better or for worse and we think and hope we’re helping people make sense of what’s going on in the world."

Listeners can find FriGay the 13th on all podcast platforms. The team emphasized they also love hearing from their listeners through all of their social media platforms.

"It’s really interesting how the LGBT community bleeds into the horror community because there is a weird sect of gay people that are looking for a community to belong to," said Huff, explaining some of their listeners are from the LGBT community, some are horror fans and a portion overlap. "It’s kind of amazing that we found such a niche, but it’s a niche we didn’t even know was there, but is actually pretty big."

To learn more about FriGay the 13th, visit .