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In Britain, ‘Warm Hubs’ Emerge To Beat Soaring Energy Costs in 2023

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STRATFORD UPON AVON, England— The foyer of the Other Place theater is a warm haven on a chilly late-winter day in Shakespeare’s hometown. Coffee-shop goers hold meetings, check emails, compose poems, and take sewing classes.

The Royal Shakespeare Company drama troupe opened a “warm hub,” which looks and feels like an artsy café in the picturesque streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, to welcome people struggling to heat their homes due to sky-high energy prices.

As rising food and energy prices force millions to turn down the thermostat or cut back on hot meals, thousands of warm hubs have sprung up across Britain this winter. Nearly 13,000 of these hubs were identified by the opposition Labour Party’s research. They are located in places as diverse as libraries, churches, community centers, and even a tearoom at King Charles III’s Highgrove country estate and are supported by a combination of charitable, community, and government funding.

A mutual friend told seventh-generation Stratfordian and artist/author Wendy Freeman about the Britain RSC’s welcoming hub. The only heat source in her “tiny house” is a coal fire. The highest inflation since the 1980s has caused a cost-of-living crisis, and she has had to make sacrifices like many others.


More people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet due to the combined effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine,

Freeman, 69, took advantage of the center’s warm, quiet environment to work on a poem. “You just adapt,” he said. “Simple things like using less water in the tea kettle. I was taught to “save the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.” I stick to eating seasonal, home-cooked meals.

She continued, “But it’s nice to go somewhere warm.

More people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet due to the combined effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic, and the economic aftershocks of Brexit. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it caused the price of natural gas used for heating to skyrocket, pushing the United Kingdom to the verge of a recession. This hit households and businesses particularly hard.

The annual inflation rate in the Bitain United Kingdom was just over 10% in January, with food prices rising by nearly 17% year-over-year. According to the Office of National Statistics, approximately 62% of adults are reducing their natural gas and electricity consumption to cut costs. Survey firm Survation found that one-third of households frequently have trouble making ends meet.

The average Britain household’s energy bill is still double what it was a year ago, despite the decline in oil and natural gas prices from their highs earlier this year. In many cases, prices will increase by 20% on April 1 due to a government-imposed price cap increase.

Former math teacher Anne Bolger discovered the cozy gathering place while out for a stroll and has been a regular visitor ever since. She occasionally stops by to do things like jigsaw puzzles, check email, and study for her math tutoring job.

Today is the day that I appreciate it because it’s so cold at home,” she said.


The average Britain household’s energy bill is still double what it was a year ago.

The hub operates once per week on Thursday afternoons in the RSC’s smallest of three performance spaces. On Tuesday, the space was occupied by a diverse group of people: theatre workers, actors on their way to rehearsals, and curious onlookers hoping to warm up. Free tea, coffee, Wi-Fi, a sewing table, board games, puzzles, and toys for children are provided.

Bolger, who is 66 years old, praised the store’s conduciveness to creativity Britain. People are meeting, conversing, and working in that area. I feel more connected and alive when I’m out and about, as opposed to at home.

This is exactly the kind of feedback the event planners hoped to receive. Warm hubs are said to alleviate energy poverty and isolation.

“The warmth is in the welcome as much as a warm building to come to,” explained Nicola Salmon, the RSC’s creative place-making manager overseeing the hub. Talking to someone is a natural part of being here.

Stratford, located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Britain London, is a thriving community thanks largely to its most famous son, William Shakespeare. On cold winter weekdays, visitors can be seen going through streets lined with Tudor-style half-timbering on their way to the birthplace of the Bard, the classroom where he was educated, and his grave in the 13th-century Holy Trinity Church.

Britain warm hub

Warm hubs are an emergency response that looks to be here to stay

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is Stratford’s major employer and cultural institution. According to Salmon, the company’s “warm hub” is an attempt to better connect with the local community. The town is “often perceived as affluent and well-off,” but it has “areas of great deprivation,” he says.

Warm hubs are an emergency response that looks to be here to stay, much like the 2,500 food banks in the United Kingdom.

In 2021, as pandemic restrictions left many rural residents in Britain isolated, the Warwickshire Rural Community Council, a charity serving the county around Stratford, opened a warm mobile hub in the form of a minibus converted into a pop-up outdoor café.

With support from Cadent, the private company that distributes much of Britain’s heating gas, the charity ran five hubs across the county a year ago. With the onset of winter and the accompanying increase in energy costs, the group quickly grew to 90, with services ranging from catered meals to repair clinics and classes on slow cooking to cut down on gas consumption.

A mobile hub will travel five days a week, and about 30 permanent hubs will remain open over the summer.

“People say we shouldn’t be in this situation, and we shouldn’t be,” said Jackie Holcroft, manager of the charity’s Britain warm hubs. To counter that, however, we are. And I think one of the most incredible things is how many people in Warwickshire have volunteered their time to help.

At the end of March, the RSC will shut down its warm space, but preparations are underway for its return in 2019.

Bolger, a regular, expressed his sadness over its impending absence. I don’t want the fuel shortage to last forever, but I hope this place remains operational.

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Messina Denaro: Notorious Italian Mafia Boss Dies

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Matteo Messina Denaro, one of Italy’s most wanted persons until his capture earlier this year, has passed away.

The 61-year-old man was believed to be a leader of the infamous Cosa Nostra Mafia for 30 years before his capture in January.

At his arrest, he was being treated for cancer and transferred from prison to a hospital last month.

Denaro was believed to be guilty of multiple murders.

In 2002, he was tried and sentenced to life in absentia for offenses, including his role in the 1992 murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. He once boasted that he could “fill a cemetery” with his victims.

In addition, he supervised racketeering, illegal waste disposal, money laundering, and drug trafficking on behalf of the Cosa Nostra organized crime syndicate.

Even though he had been on the run since 1993, it was believed that Messina Denaro was still issuing orders to his subordinates from various covert locations.

According to local media, he lapsed into an irreversible coma on Friday at a hospital in L’Aquila, central Italy, after requesting no aggressive medical treatment.


Matteo Messina Denaro, one of Italy’s most wanted persons until his capture earlier this year, has passed away.

In recent months, he had undergone surgery for cancer-related concerns but reportedly had not recovered from the most recent operation.

L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi confirmed Denaro’s demise by writing on X (previously Twitter) that it was “the epilogue of an existence lived without remorse or regret, a painful chapter of recent history that we cannot erase.”

In addition to his crimes, Denaro was believed to be Cosa Nostra’s final “secret keeper.” Numerous informants and prosecutors believe he possessed all the information and names of those involved in several of the Mafia’s most notorious crimes.

More than one hundred members of the armed forces participated in his January detention, which occurred at a private clinic in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, where he was receiving chemotherapy.


Matteo Messina Denaro, one of Italy’s most wanted persons until his capture earlier this year, has passed away.

He had been a symbol of the state’s impotence to reach the highest levels of organized crime syndicates for many years.

Italian investigators frequently came near to apprehending Denaro by observing his closest associates. This led to the 2013 detention of his sister, Patrizia, and a number of his associates.

Police also seized valuable businesses associated with him, isolating him further.

Police had to rely on digital composites to reconstruct his appearance in the decades following his escape from justice. His voice recording was not published until 2021.

A Formula 1 fan from Liverpool was detained at gunpoint in a restaurant in the Netherlands in September 2021 after being misidentified as Denaro.


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Leader Of Canada’s House Of Commons Apologizes For Honoring Man Who Fought For Nazis

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canada nazi

TORONTO — Sunday, Canada’s House of Commons speaker issued an apology for recognizing a World War II Nazi soldier.

Shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an address in the House of Commons, Speaker Anthony Rota drew attention to 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka with a standing ovation. Rota described Hunka as a combat hero from the First Ukrainian Division.

“In my remarks following the President of Ukraine’s address, I recognised a audience member. Since then, I’ve learned additional information that makes me regret my decision,” Rota said.

He added that neither his fellow lawmakers nor the Ukrainian delegation knew his intention to recognize Hunka. Rota noted that Hunka resides in his district.

“I wish to express my deepest remorse to Jewish communities in Canada and around the globe. Rota stated, “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Hunka could not be reached promptly for comment.

canada nazi

Sunday, Canada’s House of Commons speaker apologized for recognizing a World War II Nazi soldier.

During two separate standing ovations, Canadian legislators applauded, and Zelenskyy raised his fist in acknowledgment while Hunka saluted from the gallery. Rota called him a “Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.”

Zelenskyy was in Ottawa to garner Western support for Ukraine’s conflict against the Russian invasion.

Putin has portrayed his Ukrainian foes as “neo-Nazis,” even though Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.

The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement stating that Rota had issued an apology and accepted complete responsibility for the invitation to Hunka and the recognition in Parliament.

The statement asserted, “This was the proper course of action.” “Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Ukrainian delegation were informed in advance about the invitation or the recognition.”

The First Ukrainian Division was also called the Waffen-SS Galicia Division and the SS 14th Waffen Division. It was a volunteer unit under Nazi command.

The Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies stated on Sunday that the division “was responsible for the unfathomable mass murder of innocent civilians.”

canada nazi

Zelenskyy was in Ottawa to garner Western support for Ukraine’s conflict against the Russian invasion.

“An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and Second World War veteran who fought against the Nazis, and an explanation must be provided as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of the Canadian Parliament and received recognition from the Speaker of the House and a standing ovation,” the statement read.

B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO, Michael Mostyn, said it was outrageous that Parliament honored a former member of a Nazi unit, saying Ukrainian “ultra-nationalist ideologues” who volunteered for the Galicia Division “dreamed of an ethnically homogenous Ukrainian state and endorsed the idea of ethnic cleansing.”

“We expect an apology to be imminent. We anticipate a sincere repentance. Mostyn said before Rota’s statement, “Parliament owes an apology to all Canadians for this outrage and a detailed explanation of how this could have occurred at the heart of Canadian democracy.”

Members of Congress from every party stood to salute Hunka. A Conservative party spokesperson stated that the party was unaware of his past.

Sebastian Skamski stated that Trudeau’s Liberal party would have to explain why he was invited based on the allegations of this individual’s troubling history.


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President Macron Says France Will End Its Military Presence In Niger In 2024

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PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that France will terminate its military presence in Niger and withdraw its ambassador from the country following the deposal of the democratically elected president.

After French troops withdrew from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years in response to coups, the announcement is a significant, if expected, setback to France’s policy in Africa. France had stationed thousands of troops in the Sahel region at the request of African leaders to combat jihadist groups.

Since the coup in July, France has maintained approximately 1,500 troops in Niger and has repeatedly refused an order by the new junta for its ambassador to depart, stating that it does not recognize the legitimacy of the coup leaders.

In recent weeks, tensions have escalated between France and Niger, a former French colony. Macron recently stated that diplomats survived on military rations while cooping up in the embassy.

Macron stated in an interview with France-2 television that he spoke with deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on Sunday and informed him, “France has decided to bring back its ambassador, and in the coming hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”

He added, “And we will terminate our military cooperation with the Niger government because they no longer wish to fight terrorism.”

He stated that the troops would be withdrawn progressively, most likely by the end of the year, in coordination with the coup leaders ”because we want it to occur peacefully.


President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that France will terminate its military presence in Niger and withdraw its ambassador from the country.

He stated that France’s military presence at the time was in response to a request from the government of Niger. Since the rebellion, military cooperation between France and Niger had been suspended. The junta leaders claimed that the government of Bazoum was not doing enough to safeguard the country from the insurgency.

The junta is subject to sanctions imposed by Western and regional African powers.

In August, the junta gave French Ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to depart the country. The rebellion’s leaders revoked his diplomatic immunity after the deadline passed without France recalling him.

In New York on Friday, the military government that seized power in Niger accused U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of “obstructing” the West African nation’s complete participation at the U.N.’s annual meeting of world leaders to appease France and its allies.

According to experts, after repeated military interventions in its former colonies over the past few decades, France’s era as Africa’s “gendarme” may eventually end as the continent’s priorities shift.

Andrew Lebovich, a research fellow with the Clingendael Institute, a think tank, said the decision marks both an acceptance of a “harsh reality for France in the region and may possibly put some limits on the U.S. deployments in Niger, though as we have seen the U.S. and France have not followed exactly the same positionings in Niger.”

Rida Lyammouri, senior fellow at the Policy Centre for the New South, a think tank based in Morocco, stated that Niger would experience the loss of French support in its fight against violent extremist groups.

“France has been a dependable partner in providing support for Niger’s operations, and Niger has no alternative to fill this void, at least in the short and medium term,” Lyammouri stated.

Macron withdrew French forces from Mali last year due to tensions with the junta following a coup in 2020 and from Burkina Faso more recently for similar reasons. Both African nations had requested that French forces withdraw.

In addition, France suspended military operations with the Central African Republic, accusing its government of failing to halt a “massive” anti-French disinformation campaign.


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