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Other Stories - 2nd March 2018

Another busy week has passed – in case you missed them, here are some of the stories that caught Thrings' eye including a world with flying taxis, dirty dishcloths, profit for RBS and their fact of the week.

UK unemployment has risen for the first time in two years. New figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that the UK’s long run of falling unemployment might be over. They show that unemployment edged higher for the first time since 2016, although the figures still remained low at 4.4%. This represents as many as 1.47 million people being out of work. The Guardian

Uber is already imagining a world with flying taxis. If their CEO is to be believed, it’s closer than we think, too. Dara Khosrowshahi said last week that the Uber Air service could be operating within five to 10 years, with flying vehicles eventually becoming an affordable method of mass transportation. His remarks came during an investor forum in Japan, which Uber sees as a lucrative but currently untapped market due to stringent governing rules on the taxi market. Reuters

Your kitchen dishcloth might be dirtier than your kitchen. A new study by NSF International found that sponges and cloths used to wipe down kitchen surfaces are more likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria than the areas they clean. Coliform bacteria, which comes from the same family as E. coli were found in 75% of dish sponges tested in 22 families. Other items found to contain the bacteria included kitchen sinks, counter tops and cutting boards. BBC News

Study proves that anti-depressants really work. A major new study has apparently settled one of medicine’s big debates, after proving that anti-depressant drugs are effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression. The study analysed data from 522 trials involving 116,477 people, finding that 21 common anti-depressants were all more effective than dummy pills. Previous trials had suggested that the drugs were essentially placebos, but the Royal College of Psychiatrists has declared that the study “finally puts to bed the controversy”. The Telegraph

Royal Bank of Scotland reports its first profits in a decade. Continuing its recovery following the financial crisis in 2008, the bank, which is majority-owned by the taxpayer, made an annual profit of £752m compared with a £6.95bn loss the year before. The bank’s chief executive, Ross McEwan, described the news as “a really symbolic moment.” Optimism for the bank is tempered with caution, however, as it still faces a potential fine from the US Department of Justice over the alleged sale of financial products linked to risky mortgages. Channel 4

Are you getting enough sleep? If a new book is anything to go by, Britain is currently in the throes of an epidemic of sleeplessness. The Business of Sleep, by Professor Vicki Culpin, takes a forensic look at the physical and mental consequences of failing to get a good night’s rest. In it, Culpin suggests there has never been a time where “significant percentages” of working adults have been more sleep deprived. According to her research, the UK loses 200,000 working days a year to absenteeism caused by lack of sleep. The Guardian

The UK’s longest-serving nurse has retired. After 66 years of caring for NHS patients, Monica Bulman has decided to call it a day. Aged 84 she worked on Hutchings ward at Torbay Hospital as part of the specialist outpatient surgical clinic team for Endoscopy. Her retirement last year coincided with celebrations of the NHS’ 70th anniversary. “The NHS has been a huge part of my life,” she explained. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” Metro

Now that’s just taking the biscuit… A police officer has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing after being accused of taking a colleague’s tin of biscuits and then lying about it. The officer claims he intended to share a two-tier tin of biscuits he took from a communal area, and later offered to replace them. The Met Police explained that the matter related to whether or not he had breached professional standards. Sky News

Stat/fact of the week

Singapore awards Olympic medallists more handsomely than any other country. Although the International Olympic Committee doesn’t give medal-winners prize money, many countries reward their winners a bonus. Singapore tops the list, awarding gold medallists a hefty $1 million prize. The UK government doesn’t pay its athletes, and back in 2016 commented: “We believe that the drive, dedication and commitment required of Team GB athletes is motivated, first and foremost, by the desire to represent their country to the very best of their ability on the greatest sporting stage in the world.”

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