UK inflation negative, first time since 1960; ‘Only a quarter of employees in permanent jobs’; Pleas for euthanasia in India

1 UK inflation negative, first time since 1960 (Katie Allen in The Guardian) Inflation in Britain has turned negative for the first time in more than half a century, giving a boost to household finances and bolstering expectations that interest rates will remain at a record low for the rest of this year.

The Office for National Statistics said its consumer price index measure of inflation was down 0.1% in April from a year ago. That compared with the inflation rate at zero in February and March. Statisticians said this was the first time the CPI had fallen since official records began in 1996 and the first time since 1960 based on comparable historic estimates.

The fall in living costs will be welcomed by many as it means workers’ wages go further, after years when pay was falling in real terms. But for savers it means interest rates will remain low and there are also warnings negative inflation is a symptom of underlying weakness in Britain’s economic recovery.

The main downward effect on price changes in April came from air fares and ferry tickets. The largest upward effect came from motor fuels, which rose this April but fell between March and April in 2014. The Bank of England had already forecast inflation would turn negative at some point this year but predicted it would soon pick up again. Economists agree there is little reason to fear the UK will fall into outright deflation, as seen between 1921 and 1933, which is regarded as a sustained fall in the cost of living, not a temporary decline below zero.

2 ‘Only a quarter of workers in permanent jobs’ (BBC) Only one quarter of workers around the world have permanent jobs, according to a report by the International Labour Organization. The remaining three quarters of the workforce are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, along with informal jobs often without a contract. The ILO also found that many workers not in full-time employment have no pensions or benefits.

Part-time jobs outpaced full-time ones between 2009 and 2013 in a majority of countries where the data was available. The ILO says flexibility in employment does have some advantages, but it also adds to the risk that workers will be exploited.

The study shows an increasingly diversified global workforce, said director-general Guy Ryder, with some forms of “non-standard” work helping people get a foothold into the job market. Women were a big part of the current trend of rising part-time employment, according to the ILO. They accounted for 24% of people working less than 30 hours per week across 86 countries – nearly double the percentage of men at 12.4%.

Meanwhile, the income gap between permanent and non-permanent workers has also increased. Benefits such as pensions and unemployment benefits are still mainly available for permanent employees. The ILO is calling for policies by governments to ensure income security for all types of workers, not just those on “stable contracts”.

3 Plea for euthanasia in India (Khaleej Times) Pleas for euthanasia were made not only on behalf of nurse Aruna Shanbaug, but kin of many others in similar vegetative state also had sought end of their lives in a dignified manner. Most of these pleas were, however, rejected. Shanbaug, a nurse in Mumbai hospital, lay comatose for 42 years after being sexually assaulted by a ward boy and her case meandered through courts.

Those fighting difficult and debilitating illnesses had also pleaded for euthanasia in the absence of proper treatment or the funds required for the same. Euthanasia is an act of intentionally ending a life to end pain in the case of terminally ill patients or those in a persistent vegetative state. Passive euthanasia – withdrawing life support of patients in a persistent vegetative state – is, however, legal in India.

Some of the instances of euthanasia pleas: 2013, Dennis Kumar, Tamil Nadu: A porter, Dennis Kumar from Kanyakumari district sought permission from the district collector to grant euthanasia for his infant son, who had been suffering since birth from an unknown disorder. Unable to pay for his treatment or see his son suffer, Kumar felt euthanasia would relieve both his son and him of their misery. The plea was rejected by a court.

2008, Jeet Narayan, Uttar Pradesh: Jeet Narayan of Mirzapur had pleaded for euthanasia for his four sons who were all paralysed below the neck and were confined to bed. He had written in 2008 to President Pratibha Patil, who rejected his plea.

The Supreme Court on March 7, 2011, ruled out active euthanasia—the administration of a lethal injection to end lives of terminally ill patients. The court permitted only passive euthanasia for patients who were either brain dead, or were in a persistent vegetative state or were supported entirely through a ventilator or any artificial life support.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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