Car and house insurance faces FCA probe

Man looking at piggy bankImage copyright Getty Images

The way in which home and car insurance policies are priced is to be studied by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The regulator said it would look at scale of any harm to consumers from pricing practices, whom it affects and, if required, what actions should be taken to improve the market.

It has written to the chief executives of firms to set out that it expects them to treat customers fairly.

Citizens Advice has already warned loyal customers are being “ripped off”.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said: “This market study will help us examine the outcomes from general insurance pricing practices and inform how, if necessary, we should intervene to improve the market.

“If change is needed to make the market work well for consumers, we will consider all possible remedies to achieve this.”

The FCA said it had already found some firms were not complying with its rules about information that customers should receive when they renew their policies and could use its regulatory powers against those with whom it had concerns.

In the letter to the heads of insurance firms, Mr Bailey said: “There is a significant risk of consumer harm if your firm has not implemented an appropriate pricing strategy with effective governance and controls to determine and monitor your pricing activities and evaluate how your pricing decisions will affect consumer outcomes.”

The FCA said UK insurers generated £78bn in premiums from customers and that 82% of adults had one or more general insurance product.

Japan bullet train stops ‘scary’ safety drills

A Japanese bullet train, known as shinkansenImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Japan has one of the world’s most reliable railways and is known for its Shinkansen bullet trains

A Japanese railway firm has stopped an unusual training drill that required employees to crouch in tunnels while trains rushed past to “feel” the wind speed.

The West Japan Railway said the exercises were designed to improve safety awareness.

Trainee mechanics observed the trains which can hit speeds of 300km per hour.

The move to stop the practice, in place since 2016, comes after rising union pressure.

Japan is known for its high-speed rail network where bullet trains, or Shinkansen, snake across the country at hundreds of kilometres per hour.

Participants in the safety training would crouch down in a trench, in-between two sets of train tracks, as bullet trains whizzed by.

Squatting in the ditches – which are around one metre deep and one metre wide – allowed the workers to “feel” the strength of the winds generated by high-speed trains, a company spokesperson said.

Some 240 trainee mechanics had taken part in the drills, which could last up to 20 minutes.

The firm was moved to start the exercises after an incident in 2015 where a metal part fell off a train, and loose bolts were thought to be to blame.

The company said it wanted to “improve their worker’s skills of car inspection” and safety awareness after the accident.

But pressure from train workers unions to stop the practice had mounted.

The West Japan Railway Union said it called on the company to stop the program eight times since last year.

Members told the union of their fears of injury from debris and concerns about exposure to dust.

“I was worried that the ballasts (stones and sand on the tracks) could come flying at me and hit me,” one member said.

“I could not understand why such training was conducted… “, another member reported to the union.

People who had taken part described the drills as “scary” and “just like a public flogging,” according to Japanese media.

“The wind pressure was enormous. I felt as if I had been pressed down from above, and it was scary. I wonder what the meaning of such training is,” the Mainichi newspaper reported one participant as saying.

But the railway company said its decision to stop the exercises was not a result of outside pressure.

It will continue the drills from a new vantage point – employees will now observe the trains from outside the tunnel, behind a fence.

A spokesperson said the new sites were found “to be more effective for the training”.

Reporting by BBC’s Haruka Tsuboi in Tokyo

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Aquits Asia Bibi of Blasphemy: ‘We Are Grateful to God’

The Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of the death sentence Wednesday, ordering her release before a packed courtroom. 

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced the long-awaited verdict. She’s reportedly been taken to an undisclosed location and some expect she and her family will leave the country.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, praised the court’s decision.

“I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” he said.

The 51-year-old Christian mother was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed – an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

The alleged incident occurred when Bibi took a sip of water while she was working. Her Muslim colleagues accused her of contaminating the water because she was a Christian.

She’s been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of execution hanging over her head.

Human rights activists have been actively seeking her release over the past several years to repeal the Pakistani court’s death sentence.

No Pakistani Christian has been held on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she had lost her final appeal, she could have been put to death.

Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law), which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed.  

Even with the court’s decision to free her, she is likely not safe.

Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.

“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News. “These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.”

The church in Pakistan is urging believers around the world to pray for Bibi and her family. 

In 2016, her family gave a statement from Bibi to an Italian newspaper, La Stampa, saying, “I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”

Pakistan’s Supreme Court to Decide if Asia Bibi Will Live or be Executed Wednesday

The Pakistani Supreme Court will decide Wednesday whether Asia Bibi will live or be executed.

The 51-year-old Christian mother was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed – an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

The alleged incident occurred when Bibi took a sip of water while she was working. Her Muslim colleagues accused her of contaminating the water because she was a Christian.

She’s been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of violent execution hanging over her head.

Human rights activists have been working around the clock for the last several years to appeal the Pakistani court’s death sentence.

No Pakistani Christian has been held on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she loses her final appeal, she could be put to death.

Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law) which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against Mohammed.  

However, if the court decides to free Bibi, she is likely not safe.

Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.

“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News.

“These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.  We hope this time she will be completely exonerated and this wrongful conviction will finally be overturned as this is her last chance to be heard at court.”

The Church in Pakistan is urging believers around the world to pray for the success of her appeal. Meanwhile, Bibi’s husband Ashiq said Asia is confident she will soon be released from prison.

In 2016, her family gave a statement from Bibi to an Italian newspaper, La Stampa, saying, “I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”

Islamic Rioters Demand Asia Bibi’s Death After Pakistan Supreme Court Aquits of Blasphemy

Hundreds of radical Islamists protested in Pakistan Thursday against the release of Asia Bibi. The Christian woman was just acquitted after eight years on death row for blasphemy, allegedly for insulting Islam’s founder Muhammad.

Bibi’s family says she plans to leave the country as Islamists raged for a second day against the country’s Supreme Court verdict, blocking roads and burning tires. Protesters are calling for her to be publicly hanged.

The Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of the death sentence Wednesday, ordering her release before a packed courtroom. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced the long-awaited verdict.

Bibi has reportedly been taken to an undisclosed location and she and her family look for a way to flee Pakistan.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, praised the court’s decision. “I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” he said.

The 51-year-old Christian mother was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed – an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

The alleged incident occurred when Bibi took a sip of water while she was working. Her Muslim colleagues accused her of contaminating the water because she was a Christian.

She’s been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of execution hanging over her head.

Human rights activists have been actively seeking her release over the past several years to repeal the Pakistani court’s death sentence.

No Pakistani Christian has been held on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she had lost her final appeal, she could have been put to death.

Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law), which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed.  

Even with the court’s decision to free her, she is likely not safe.

Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.

“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News. “These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.”

The church in Pakistan is urging believers around the world to pray for Bibi and her family. 

In 2016, her family gave a statement from Bibi to an Italian newspaper, La Stampa, saying, “I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Aquits Asia Bibi of Blastphemy

The Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of the death sentence Wednesday, ordering her release before a packed courtroom. 

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced the long-awaited verdict. She’s reportedly been taken to an undisclosed location and some expect she and her family will leave the country.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, praised the court’s decision.

“I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” he said.

The 51-year-old Christian mother was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed – an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

The alleged incident occurred when Bibi took a sip of water while she was working. Her Muslim colleagues accused her of contaminating the water because she was a Christian.

She’s been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of violent execution hanging over her head.

Human rights activists have been working around the clock for the last several years to appeal the Pakistani court’s death sentence.

No Pakistani Christian has been held on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she loses her final appeal, she could be put to death.

Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law) which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against Mohammed.  

However, if the court decides to free Bibi, she is likely not safe.

Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.

“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News.

“These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.  We hope this time she will be completely exonerated and this wrongful conviction will finally be overturned as this is her last chance to be heard at court.”

The Church in Pakistan is urging believers around the world to pray for the success of her appeal. Meanwhile, Bibi’s husband Ashiq said Asia is confident she will soon be released from prison.

In 2016, her family gave a statement from Bibi to an Italian newspaper, La Stampa, saying, “I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”

Islamic Rioters Demand Asia Bibi’s Death After Pakistan Supreme Court Acquits of Blasphemy

Hundreds of radical Islamists protested in Pakistan Thursday and Friday against the release of Asia Bibi. The Christian woman was just acquitted after eight years on death row for blasphemy, allegedly for insulting Islam’s founder Muhammad.

Bibi’s family says she plans to leave the country as Islamists raged for a second day against the country’s Supreme Court verdict, blocking roads and burning tires. Protesters are calling for her to be publicly hanged.

The Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of the death sentence Wednesday, ordering her release before a packed courtroom. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced the long-awaited verdict.

Bibi has reportedly been taken to an undisclosed location and she and her family look for a way to flee Pakistan.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, praised the court’s decision. “I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” he said.

The 51-year-old Christian mother was arrested in 2009 after her Muslim co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed – an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

The alleged incident occurred when Bibi took a sip of water while she was working. Her Muslim colleagues accused her of contaminating the water because she was a Christian.

She’s been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of execution hanging over her head.

Human rights activists have been actively seeking her release over the past several years to repeal the Pakistani court’s death sentence.

No Pakistani Christian has been held on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she had lost her final appeal, she could have been put to death.

Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law), which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed.  

Even with the court’s decision to free her, she is likely not safe.

Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.

“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News. “These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.”

The church in Pakistan is urging believers around the world to pray for Bibi and her family. 

In 2016, her family gave a statement from Bibi to an Italian newspaper, La Stampa, saying, “I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”

Miraculous: Bullet-Riddled Bible Saved Life of WWI Veteran

A bullet-riddled copy of the Bible saved the life of a British World War I soldier after stopping the live fire of a German machine gun — that is, according to the veteran’s daughter, who said that her hero father carried the scar-torn good book with him for the rest of his life.

Holocaust Survivor Lives Through Synagogue Shooting — He Was Four Minutes Late

Private Leslie Friston was recovering in a makeshift hospital bed following a gas attack in 1917 when a German aircraft flew overhead and opened fire, piercing the facility’s tin roof. That’s when two bullets came hurtling towards Friston in his hospital bed before they were abruptly stopped by his soldier’s Bible, which lay on his bedside table.

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“He said the Bible saved his life as it took the brunt of the attack,” said his 87-year-old daughter Ena Thompson, according to Sky News. “If the bullets had landed just a few inches further towards him, he would not have survived — and I wouldn’t be here today.”

After surviving the war, Private Friston brought the Bible home with him, and it never left his side until his death in 1958.

“He was incredibly lucky and I think he knew this as he kept the Bible with him for the rest of his life,” added Thompson, who is now in possession of the precious item.

“It still has his name and his service number in it which he wrote,” she said. “When I hold the Bible I just get a special feeling. It might sound a bit strange but it makes me feel comfortable and happy.”

“It’s a nice feeling that it saved his life. It makes me feel close to him,” she added,

Thompson recalled her story recently as part of the Royal British Legion’s 2018 Poppy Appeal ahead of Armistice Day on Nov. 11.

“It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if things had gone differently all those years ago,” she said.  “We owe it to that generation to remember their sacrifices.”

(H/T: Sky News)