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UK government to consider cutting air passenger tax to help Flybe: media – The Guardian

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain could cut air passenger taxes on all domestic flights to help rescue struggling regional airline Flybe, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Finance minister Sajid Javid will meet later with representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Business to discuss the tax and a possible deferring of Flybe’s bill, the corporation said.

A possible deal could allow Flybe to defer a payment of more than 100 million pounds ($130 million) for three years, according to Sky News. Under the plan, Flybe’s owners would be required to invest tens of millions of pounds in fresh equity into the company as a condition of any deal.

Flybe’s flights appeared to be operating as normal on Tuesday, a day after news reports emerged suggesting it needed to quickly raise new funds to help it survive through the winter when demand for travel is lower.

That has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government which was elected in December. His Conservative party won new seats across regions served by Flybe, helped by a promise to improve connectivity between UK cities beyond London.

Flybe’s network of routes include more than half of UK domestic flights outside London.

Based in Exeter, south west England, it connects smaller cities such as Southampton to Newcastle and carries 8 million passengers a year between 71 airports in the UK and Europe.

Air Passenger Duty is a tax of at least 13 pounds levied by the UK government on passengers departing from UK airports which the aviation industry has long opposed as making them less competitive compared to their European rivals.

Flybe has in the past argued that the tax disproportionately affects it, making its flights more expensive compared to its rail and road competitors, because passengers traveling on return flights within the UK will pay it twice.

The DfT and Flybe declined to comment, while the finance department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Should the government cut APD for domestic UK flights, other airlines such as easyJet and British Airways , which fly routes such as London to Edinburgh, would also benefit.

Flybe has 68 aircraft and about 2,000 staff and was already struggling financially when it was bought by Connect Airways, a consortium created by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment adviser Cyrus Capital for $2.8 mln last year.

The airline, due to be rebranded Virgin Connect later this year, has suffered as the fuel price has risen in recent months, and news stories about its demise could cause a cash flow squeeze as potential customers stop booking.

Should Flybe collapse, it would be the second high-profile failure in Britain’s travel industry in less than six months after Thomas Cook went into liquidation last September, stranding thousands of passengers.

That followed the collapse of UK holiday airline Monarch in 2017 and Flybe competitor FlyBMI last year.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle and Kate Holton)

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Munk Debates – Jeff Jarvis: We'll figure out social media. It's too valuable to curb – National Post

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The following was adapted from remarks recently delivered on a Munk Debates podcast: “Be it resolved, social media is a force for good in the world.”

Social media itself is a misnomer. The internet is not a medium. The internet is not part of media. It’s the reverse. Media is now being subsumed into the internet along with every other sector of society. It’s not produced like a magazine or a newspaper. What social media is, instead, is conversation. Social media welcomes a few billion voices who are now heard, who would otherwise not have been heard in the hegemony of mainstream media.

I know this because I was a part of that problem in mainstream media. I was in a newsroom filled with old white men who look exactly like me, who were the ones making decisions yet didn’t have the life experience of so many others. Recently, in The New York Times, University of Pennsylvania Professor Sarah Jackson wrote a wonderful op-ed about all the people who have been brought out by the internet, such as African Americans and survivors of gendered violence. People have used hashtags as platforms to be able to assemble and create movements; hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #YesAllWomen. I personally learned a great deal from the hashtag #LivingWhileBlack, which shed light on experiences that I did not have. Social media has allowed these marginalized communities to have a voice.

Social media has allowed these marginalized communities to have a voice

I fear that if we allow a rising tide of moral panic around the internet to enforce regulation, we could cut off these voices. We could have the unintended consequence of trying to go back to a past that amplified voices of the few, not the many.

The internet is yet young. After Gutenberg’s press, it took a century and a half before anyone thought to invent a newspaper. We are 25 years away from the beginning of the commercial web. That is 25 years into this brand-new invention that is changing society and the way we live. Let’s have some faith in our fellow man and woman and user that we will figure this out. We figured out printing. We figured out telegraphs. We figured out the telephone. We’ve even figured out television. We will figure out the internet. Don’t shut off the value of the new voices we hear there.

I think we are trying to blame social media platforms for the behaviour of the people using them. The truth is, what we don’t like is that behaviour and that is what we have to deal with. We have to establish a norm that says, “Don’t encourage that behaviour. Don’t feed the trolls.” The behaviour we should be going after is not that of the platform. It is that of our fellow man and woman, our fellow citizen. And you renegotiate these norms through parenting and education and other things that take time.

We are trying to blame social media platforms for the behaviour of the people using them

What is really happening right now is society is relearning how to have a conversation with itself and we’re screwing it up. We’re doing it badly. We’re trolling each other, we’re letting bad guys come in to the medium and exploit it. Companies are doing greedy things. But this is all part of a long process, and we have to value the voices that we hear around us and stop concentrating on the negativity. We’ve got to start to look out for the nice flowers in the field, not just the dandelions. And we’ve got to understand that there are things of value that people are saying if only we will stop and listen.

Jeff Jarvis is the Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism Innovation and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in the City University of New York. He is the author of “What Would Google Do?,” “Public Parts,” “Geeks Bearing Gifts,” and “Gutenberg the Geek” and is cohost of the podcast “This Week in Google.” He’s on Twitter @jeffjarvis.

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Queen Elizabeth shows flexibility as social media shifts power to her grandchildren – Toronto Star

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For the last 66 years, Queen Elizabeth has skilfully walked the tight rope between being a bulwark of tradition, keeping things more or less as they have always been and skilfully adjusting as England and the world spun forward around her.

Nothing was ever new; just enhanced.

As the Queen has adopted new technologies — from televising her coronation and annual Christmas speech to increasing the use of social media — who can ever forget her “phone drop” to promote the Invictus Games or her arrival by parachute with James Bond at the opening of the London Olympics — she has, by and large, sought to preserve the decorous traditions of the British monarchy.

The give-and-take (or lack thereof) between tradition and modernity is precisely the tension that fascinates so many. It is this tension that is the dramatic underpinning of Netflix’s biographical drama, “The Crown,” which this week got some real-life experience to add to this theme.

The makings of this new episode began when the Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, trademarked “Sussex Royal” and posted a photo to their Instagram account announcing their intention to step back from their royal duties, seek financial independence and take up a new life in North America, all the while honouring “our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”

While news coverage has been devoted to the announcement’s substance, the medium here is equally as important as the message. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have effectively used social media to leap over their 93-year-old grandmother and family. The Queen of England now finds herself embroiled in a singularly modern predicament: an asymmetrical communications campaign that pits individuals against institutions.

Again and again, we have seen a similar dynamic play out in such situations. While institutions are hamstrung by tradition, bureaucracy, and red tape, individuals are empowered by social media to be self-defining, agile and swift.

Case in point: While Harry and Meghan could rush out their campaign as if it were a lifestyle-brand-in-a-box, (along with the post they launched a website, complete with glossy photographs, inspirational quotations from the likes of Desmond Tutu with web copy written in the tone of an Instagram influencer), the Queen had to resort to issuing her rebuttal statement in two sentences printed on Buckingham Palace letterhead.

The generational divide could not be more clear; nor the implications. This is not a fair fight.

While it may be unpleasant to go up against one’s own family, this dynamic yields the couple a few distinct advantages. First, their new media relations strategy circumvents the depraved British tabloids, and their antiquated “royal rota” system.

While the Royal Family has tolerated no end of vitriol from the press (remember Waity Katie? Or Fergie, the Duchess of Pork?), rationalized by the adage, “We pay, you pose,” Harry and Meghan seek to change the rules, an objective made all the more urgent by the press’ clear double standard when it comes to covering Meghan Markle versus Kate Middleton.

As those same British tabloids have reported breathlessly on the behind-the-scenes machinations at work throughout this entire episode, another advantage has become apparent.

By staking out a clear, public position and then negotiating, the couple most likely stymied attempts by the Queen’s courtiers to delay or dilute their plan. Declaring their intention for a clean break was perhaps the only way for Harry and Meghan to break through the institutional monarchy’s resistance to doing things new.

But if there is a resistance to things new, the Queen, herself, demonstrated last week a willingness to enhance.

In the days since the launch of Sussex Royal, the Queen has followed a playbook of her own. She took charge, summoned all the influence of her court, gathered her family for the so-called Sandringham Summit, and after its conclusion, released a statement cautiously endorsing her grandson’s plan.

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But the real news was how the statement was written. One royal historian, speaking to the BBC, remarked that its tone was “unusually personal” with its several references to “my family” or “my grandson.” What’s more, it abandoned the use of formal titles, referring instead to “Harry and Meghan.”

Her Majesty demonstrated, once again, just what it means to enhance.

Jaime Watt is the executive chairman of Navigator Ltd. and a Conservative strategist. He is a freelance contributing columnist for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @jaimewatt

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Social media mobilized to identify found film photo

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Social media gets blamed for a lot of things but it’s not all bad. Here’s a little story about people helping people via social media.

It was a bit of Sunday fun for Victoria’s John Carlow, recently. Well, I guess the story has a longer history than that. A few years ago Carlow bought an old Brownie Target 620 camera from a shop in Cowichan Bay. Carlow, a photographer, had initially intended to use it merely as a mantle decoration but recently he opted to prepare it for use again. He opened the body of the camera to discover a roll of 620 black and white film, shot, rolled and ready for processing.

What could possibly be on that film? Was the film even viable to process? How long had the camera been sitting in that store anyway? Where did it come from? Carlow had so many questions.

The Cowichan Bay thrift store he bought it from is long gone so that lead ended in a dead end.

“This shot film could be 40-plus-years-old for all I know,” he said. “I sourced a lab in Vancouver that still processes 620 film. I got the negatives back and could tell the exposed film had suffered considerably… years..heat..etc… I had a local store process five of the eight frames on the roll that showed any exposure at all.”

Luckily for Carlow, one image survived.

The photo, though battered and of poor resolution, showed an old building. Carlow’s goal: to identify that structure.

Carlow posted it on his personal Facebook and Facebook and Instagram photography pages to no avail. It was suggested he pop on over to the Old Victoria Facebook page given members of that group love history.

“I posted first thing in the morning on the weekend and reaction was immediate,” he said. “People thought [the camera] was a great story itself , and then the sleuthing and suggestions started.”

Over the course of the day, the post generated a couple of hundred responses. Some guesses seemed close, some were off the mark completely, Carlow said.

“There were lots of guesses for the Cowichan Valley and rest of the Island, as Cow Bay is where the camera was purchased,” he explained. “Some people just wanted to talk about the cars in the photo. Some people wanted to talk my last name and family history!”

Carlow said it wasn’t until around dinner time that a Facebook user named Douglas Lewis was able to identify the structure in the fuzzy photo.

“He presented compelling and well documented evidence,” Carlow explained. “Everything seemed very clear to me from that point on. There are one or two folks who aren’t convinced, but they present no evidence to back up what they are saying.”

The building? Mahon Community Hall on Saltspring Island.

The Island’s Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association’s agricultural hall was built in 1902 thanks to a loan from a man named Ross Mahon and, after his tragic drowning death in 1903, the Association named the new hall “Mahon Memorial Hall”.

School District 64 bought the property in 1942 and a community supported restoration project took place in the early 1980s to upgrade the roof among other improvements. It’s still used by the community to this day for concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, craft sales and the like.

“I was very pleased and forwarded the information to the Islands Historical Society,” Carlow said. “I’d like to present the photo for the archives.”

The photo captivated Carlow so much, he even went to Saltspring Island to look at the building in person.

“We have walked past this area many times, but now it means so much more,” he said. “I’m sure we would have figured it out eventually. I’m impressed by the amount of people that took to the story. It was a positive experience overall.”

There you have it, a positive outcome all thanks to social media.


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