Ace Breaking News

PRESS RELEASE GOV.UK REPORT: List of education settings with confirmed RAAC in Schools


AceBreakingNews – As of today, fewer than 1% of all education settings have confirmed cases of RAAC.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.06: 2023:


The list of schools and colleges where the presence of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) was confirmed by 30 August has been published by the Department for Education today (Wednesday 6 September). The vast majority of school remain unaffected.

Thanks to the hard work of education leaders and local councils, the majority of settings have already been able to put mitigations in place to open on time, with 104 settings providing face-to-face learning for all pupils this week.

A further 20 settings have put hybrid arrangements in place, with some pupils learning off-site, whilst 19 have delayed the start of term by a few days to ensure pupils can return to face-to-face learning safely on site. Settings offering remote learning are expected to do so for a very short period of time, in most cases for a matter of days.

Only a very small number, 4, have needed to move to remote learning for a short period of time. 9 settings have since been found not to have RAAC.

The department has provided a dedicated caseworker for every school and college with confirmed RAAC, to provide tailored support including when face-to-face learning is in place. Funding for emergency mitigation work, including structural support and temporary accommodation, will also be available.

The department has received responses relating to 95% of schools built in the period where RAAC was used. Figures published today are likely to change over time as the final 5% return their questionnaires and surveys are carried out. Some will be added to the list of confirmed cases while others are resolved or found to be safe following further investigation.

Any responsible body or school that has notified the Department of suspected RAAC will be surveyed within the coming weeks and supported to put mitigations in place.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said:

I know this is the last way parents, teachers and children affected by this wanted to begin the new term, but it will always be my priority to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.

Thanks to the hard work of schools, colleges, councils, diocese and academy trusts, the majority of settings where RAAC has been confirmed have opened to all pupils for the start of term.

We will continue to support all impacted settings in whatever way we can, whether that’s through our team of dedicated caseworkers or through capital funding to put mitigations in place.

We are also expediting surveys and urging all responsible bodies to tell us what they know about RAAC, so we can be confident that settings are safe and supported.

The publication of the list follows the precautionary and proactive decision by the department to ask settings to vacate any space or building know to contain RAAC. The government increased the supply of temporary buildings, working with three national contractors, and accelerated the installation of these. Leading utility companies are also supporting to ensure that those classrooms can be opened.

On funding, the Chancellor has confirmed that the government will spend whatever it takes to keep children safe. This includes paying for the emergency mitigation work, including alternative classroom space where necessary.

The department has committed £1.8 billion in capital funding this year to support schools to stay operational, whilst 500 schools will also be transformed over the next decade through the School Rebuilding Programme. A further £1.5 billion has been made available for colleges through the Further Education capital transformation fund.

This week, the Department for Education has also written to a small number of responsible bodies, including local authorities and multi-academy trusts, who have not yet informed the department about the presence of RAAC in their school buildings. The department has asked all responsible bodies to respond to its questionnaire about the condition of RAAC by the end of the week.

*(RAAC): Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete

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American History

OTD 1860: Social Reformer & Pacifist Jane Addams Left Native Illinois to Philadelphia Enrolled at Women’s Medical College


AceHistoryDesk – Today in History – Social reformer and pacifist Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois.

Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.06: 2023: History Today News

Jane Addams. Gerhard Sisters, photographer, c1914. Prints & Photographs Division

After graduating from Rockford Female Seminary in 1881, Addams left her native Illinois for Philadelphia where she enrolled at the Woman’s Medical College

Poor health caused her to abandon her studies and she spent the next two years as an invalid. After regaining her strength, Addams embarked upon a tour of Europe where she would ultimately find the inspiration for much of her work in social reform in the world’s first settlement house, London’s Toynbee Hall.

Toynbee Hall was operated by its founder, Samuel Augustus Barnett, and resident university students. Toynbee Hall tackled the problems of urban poverty by providing social services and community enrichment to residents of the city’s deprived industrial district. Toynbee’s success prompted Addams and her traveling companion and college classmate Ellen Gates Starr, to plan a similar center for Chicago. In 1889, the two women rented a large vacant house, the former Hull mansion, on Chicago’s West Side and opened their doors to the neighboring, mostly immigrant, community.

Jane Addams and Hull House

Starr and Addams’ Hull House initially provided welfare assistance to needy families and recreation facilities for poor children. Hull House eventually expanded its services to include providing boarding rooms for female workers, a day care center, English literacy classes, academic courses, social clubs, and meeting space for union activities.

As Addams began to recognize the power of political organization to improve the living conditions of the people Hull House served, the center also became an important training ground and meeting place for social reformers. Investigations into a range of social problems took place at Hull House and it was a locale for developing national campaigns for labor rights and women’s suffrage.

Addams lived and worked at Hull House until her death in 1935. Just four years earlier, in 1931, she received the Nobel Peace Prize — the first American woman so honored. Her dedicated work towards peace included serving as an outspoken member of the peace movement, and protesting the United States’ entry into World War I, a cause of much public condemnation at the time. Addams also chaired the Woman’s Peace Party, organized and directed the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and served as the first woman president of the organization now known as the National Conference of Social Work (1910).

Learn More

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Australian News

ASEAN SUMMIT REPORT: Anthony Albanese drums up South-East Asian trade while two snubs dampen the mood — the key takeaways


AceBreakingNews – Australia brought an “open for business” message to this week’s gathering of South-East Asian leaders at the ASEAN summit, but questions about the future of the bloc are already stirring.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.06: 2023: ABC News Report:

Joko Widodo, seen from side profile, sits at a desk with his hands folded and headphones on
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo is hosting world leaders for this year’s ASEAN summit in Jakarta.  (Reuters/Pool: Yasuyoshi Chiba)none

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese used the summit in Jakarta to unveil a long-term plan to boost underwhelming economic ties with ASEAN nations, but other leaders are focused on territorial disputes and the growing rivalry between the US and China.

Several have warned that countries in the region shouldn’t be used as proxies for either of the two superpowers.

And with the absence of Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, some have also questioned whether ASEAN is still a relevant and effective bloc.

Here are the key moments from the 43rd Association of South-East Asian Nations summit.

With no sign of China or US, there were whispers of ASEAN’s relevance

While no leaders are saying it publicly, there is considerable disappointment in Indonesia that the heads of the world’s two great powers haven’t turned up this week to Jakarta.

Neither United States President Joe Biden or China’s Xi Jinping are attending the East Asia Summit, sending their respective deputies instead.

This isn’t a departure from past practice for China, which has traditionally sent its number two leader to the event. 

But Mr Biden did turn up to last year’s summit in Cambodia, and he’ll be heading to India later this week for the G20 (though Mr Xi won’t be).

The absence of the “big two” comes as ASEAN leaders grapple with the effectiveness of the organisation, with increasing concerns that the bloc has been unable to act as a united group on either South China Sea disputes or solving the political crisis in Myanmar.

Li Qiang, wearing a suit with red tie, sits at a desk behind a name plate that says CHINA and a microphone
With the group unable to reach a solution for the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, its seat at the ASEAN table remains empty.(Reuters/Pool: Yasuyoshi Chiba)

While there was discussion before the summit that ASEAN and China would agree to try to conclude a code of conduct in the disputed sea within three years, the negotiations have already been going for two decades.

The Philippines isn’t holding its breath, locking in expanded military base access with the US and seeking to organise joint naval patrols with Australia in an attempt to assert international law to resolve disputes.

The differences within ASEAN countries aren’t lost on the leaders hoping to salvage the bloc’s credibility.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned against South-East Asian nations acting as proxies for the great powers, warning it would be destructive for ASEAN.

A similar sentiment was echoed by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

No meeting with Xi, but the PM might settle for Li

While Mr Xi’s absence at ASEAN was expected, his decision not to attend the G20 summit in Delhi this weekend came as a surprise to many leaders.

Mr Albanese was likely among them.

There had been speculation for some time that both leaders would use the annual summit to meet in person, ahead of a possible visit by Mr Albanese to Beijing later this year.

There’s plenty to talk about — including ongoing restrictions on Australian wine exports, and the detention of Australians Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun.

Mr Xi has sent his second-in-charge, Premier Li Qiang, to both ASEAN and the G20 in his place.

It seems likely Mr Albanese will take the chance to meet Li at some point instead.

Anthony Albanese in a grey suit and tie holds up a purple booklet in front of three flags
Australian PM Anthony Albanese is hoping to catch up with China’s Premier Li Qiang, who has been sent in Xi Jinping’s place.(Reuters/Pool: Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Senior government officials have made clear it wouldn’t be unusual for an Australian prime minister to meet a Chinese premier.

Asked directly if he planned to meet Mr Li, Mr Albanese said they would certainly have the chance to chat.

“Over the next period, both here and at the G20, Premier Li will be present. We’ll certainly be in the same room.”

Albanese wants to make it clear Australia is open for business

The core pitch of Mr Albanese’s trip to the ASEAN summit is that Australia is very keen to do business.

The prime minister used a speech to an Indo-Pacific forum on the sidelines of the summit this morning to unveil the new South-East Asian Economic Strategy, aimed at driving trade and investment in the region.

It’s a business relationship that’s already very much alive — as a region, South-East Asia is already Australia’s second-largest trading partner after China.

But Australian companies are seemingly reluctant to invest their money in the region, with more money invested in New Zealand than all of South-East Asia combined.

All of this has a security backdrop.

The government is keen to diversify Australia’s trading partners, and reduce China’s dominance in two-way trade.

The PM pointed out that Nicholas Moore, the government’s special envoy to South-East Asia who authored the new strategy, gave a rare briefing to the National Security Committee of Cabinet on the trade plan.

But for all the rhetoric around lifting trade, the commitments to actually implement the new blueprint are so far relatively few.The PM launched the blueprint at a meeting on the sidelines of the summit.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

About $95 million has been committed to set up new “deal teams” shoring up Australian investment in South-East Asia, along with new business and young professional exchange programs.

But the big-ticket items out of the report — such as easing migration and visa processes for people in South-East Asia to live and work in Australia and changing foreign investment rules — have been left untouched for now.

Migration and visas in particular have been a key issue raised among some ASEAN countries, particularly Indonesia.

Mr Albanese told the travelling Australian media those sorts of big shifts would take more time.

“This is a strategy for 2040, not a strategy for September or October,” he said.Loading…

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Ace Daily News

U.K NEWS & VIEWS: Poverty in Britain is firmly linked to the country’s mountain of private wealth – Labour must address this growing inequality


AceNewsDesk – Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has said that a Labour government would not raises taxes on wealth, capital gains or higher incomes. She does not, she says, see “the way to prosperity as being through taxation.”


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.06: 2023: The Conversation by Published: September 5, 2023 4.15pm BST


Britain is asset rich. National wealth – a mix of property, business, financial and state assets – stands at almost seven times the size of the economy. That is double the level of the 1970s.

This has not come about as a result of investment and productivity growth. Instead, much of this private-wealth mountain is unearned – the product of windfall gains, resulting from state-driven asset inflation, the mass sell-off of former public and commonly held assets (from land to industries) and the exploitation of corporate power. As philosopher and civil servant John Stuart Mill quipped during the Industrial Revolution, it’s “getting rich while asleep”.

This has widened the wealth gap. The top tenth of Britons now holds nearly half of the UK’s private wealth. The poorest half’s share, meanwhile, has never exceeded one-tenth. 

As a former US supreme court justice Louis Brandeis famously declared – a century ago – it was possible, in the US, to have either democracy or great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few – but not both. 

Britain today badly fails Brandeis’s democracy test. Yet, the Labour party’s leaders have no declared plans – at least, as yet – to close this gap.

A homeless person on the pavement.
Inequality in the UK has been growing since the 1970s. Tim Gainey/Alamy

Radical thinking

In its early history, Labour drew on a number of radical, egalitarian thinkers to develop the case for a greater level of equality including via common ownership of assets. As Britain’s first professor of sociology, Leonard Hobhouse put it:

Some forms of wealth are substantially the creation of society and it is only through the misfeasance of government that such wealth has been allowed to fall into private hands.

Historian and Christian socialist Richard Henry Tawney, meanwhile, warned that assets used simply to extract payments from others, and not to perform a positive role, allowed “property without function”.

Clement Attlee, who became prime minister immediately after the second world war, accepted that poverty was essentially due to inequality and excessive private ownership. He set out to reduce wealth inequality through a mix of higher taxes, nationalisation of key industries and a commitment to collectivism. 

The course of poverty and inequality is ultimately the outcome of the conflict over the spoils of economic activity. It also traces the interplay between rich elites, governments and societal pressure. 

Largely as a result of Attlee’s policies, Britain achieved peak income and wealth equality and a low point for (relative) poverty in the late 1970s. This period turned out to be the high water mark of egalitarianism. 

Since then, these gains have been overturned, amid a return to the high-inequality politics of the pre-war era. Child-poverty levels have doubled. A small financial and corporate elite has seized a growing share of economic gains.

Former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s governing philosophy of a private “property-owning democracy” brought a shift from collectively to individually owned wealth. It ushered in a string of policies, from the discounted sale of council homes to the sale of cut-price shares through rolling privatisation. 

Yet the key outcome of that philosophy has been an erosion of Britain’s common wealth base. A towering nine-tenths of the national asset pool is now privately-owned while the share that is in public ownership has fallen from around 30% in the 1970s to one-tenth today. 

The façade of a high-rise building.
Margaret Thatcher’s government focused on private property at the expense of common wealth. I-Wei Huang/Alamy

Rising inequality

The property-owning dream is bypassing the current generation. The number of first-time home-buyers now stands at less than half its mid-1990s rate. 

The public’s ownership of corporate Britain has shrunk and is largely confined to the rich and affluent. More than a half of shares in the nation’s quoted companies are owned overseas up from 8% 60 years ago – largely by giant US asset management companies and sovereign wealth funds. They are displacing the share once held by UK pension and insurance funds.

Labour today remains largely silent on the critical distinction between new wealth creation that contributes to the common good, and extraction that serves the powerful few. In 1896, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto defined economic activity as either the “production or transformation of economic goods” or “the appropriation of goods produced by others.” 

Such appropriation or extraction was widespread in the Victorian era but less prevalent in the post-war decades. Today, it is once again common practice. 

Wealth surges that are not linked to new value creation have a malign socioeconomic impact, including upward redistribution from those without to those with assets. Many large companies have been turned into cash cows for executives and shareholders. House price rises benefit existing property owners, at the expense of all renters. 

Taxation is one way of rebalancing – if only marginally at current rates – these gains and losses. However, Labour has been eroding its historic mission of greater equality. 

As Labour prime minister between 1997 and 2007, Tony Blair’s ambitious commitment to cut poverty ultimately failed because Britain’s model of extractive capitalism was allowed to continue unchecked. 

On the day of Thatcher’s death in 2013, he said he’d always aimed to build on her achievements, not reverse them. He bought into the argument that surging rewards at the top were deserved and that poverty had nothing to do with the process of wealth accumulation. 

History cannot be clearer, though. Poverty levels soared during the 1980s because of the sharp rise in the share of national income accruing to the rich, a trend that left less for everyone else. 

Current Labour leader Keir Starmer has said that the fight against poverty requires more than “tinkering at the edges.” A successful strategy would require a new set of embedded pro-equality measures. Yet, like Blair, he appears to be downgrading the anti-inequality goal. 

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Australian News

FEATURED AUSTRALIA REPORT: Claude the koala unmasked as prolific plant thief 😊😊


AceNewsDesk – For weeks on end, Australian nursery owner Humphrey Herington has been racking his brain to identify the elusive thief eating his seedlings.

Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.06: 2023: By Tiffanie Turnbull: BBC News, Sydney

A koala sits on a pole near seedlings
Claude the koala was caught red-handed

At first he thought it was escaped goats. Then perhaps a pesky possum.


The last thing he expected was to walk into work one day and find a “cheeky” koala, dazed and too stuffed to move, surrounded by stripped eucalypt plants.

“He looked like he was full. He looked very pleased with himself,” Mr Herington told the BBC.

Staff are now building a koala-proof fence around their seedling tables to thwart the marsupial – dubbed Claude – whose snacking on several thousands plants has cost the nursery A$6,000 (£3,000; $3,800).

Ironically, the plants Claude devoured were being grown to boost koala habitats in the region – the species is endangered.

The team at Eastern Forest Nursery, near Lismore in northern New South Wales, had first noticed plants were being chewed a few months ago.

“There weren’t really any signs – there was no tracks or anything – to indicate what it could have been,” Mr Herington said. 

They set a possum trap – to no avail – and even examined animal droppings for clues. But the culprit was only caught when they became a little too greedy.

“We came out to work one morning and there he was, sitting there on a pole.”

“And there were lots of plants missing that morning… I guess that day he must have had a really big feed and was too tired to go back to his tree.”

With Claude unmasked as the leaf thief, Mr Herington gently wrapped him in a towel and moved him to some trees about 300m (984 feet) from the nursery.


“But a couple of days later, he came back and continued with his nightly visits,” he said.

But Mr Herington isn’t mad, he’s rather amused. Koalas aren’t exactly known for their agility or ingenuity.

“I just couldn’t believe that it was a koala,” he said. “I was shocked but I was also… a little bit impressed.”


Tinged with that though, is concern.

“I’ve been here for 20-odd years and this hasn’t really happened before,” Mr Herington said. “Is it that there is a shortage of food?”

In 2022, koalas were listed as endangered along most of Australia’s east coast, after a dramatic decline in numbers.

The once-thriving marsupial has been ravaged by land clearing, bushfires, drought, disease and other threats.

In 2021 a NSW inquiry found koalas would be extinct there by 2050 unless there was urgent action. There may be as few as 50,000 of the animals left in the wild, some conservation groups say.

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