“I agree it was crass,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted on Monday, adding that his staff were not involved in the advertisement, which was part of a “partner campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security.”

Reactions to the advertisement dovetailed with broader criticism that officials have not found ways to communicate effectively with workers facing tenuous employment during the pandemic. Fatboy Slim, a popular British DJ and music producer, said that the government was “throwing the arts under a bus.”

The anger came after beta version of a quiz developed by the British government to help people prepare for career changes became the subject of gallows humor among arts workers last week. The Department of Education quiz asked 50 questions to help respondents decide what careers might best suit them.

But those who took the quiz were often perturbed by the suggestions. This reporter took the test last week and was advised to consider a new career in boxing or as a soccer referee. On Twitter, other users shared images of recommendations that they become lock keepers or airline pilots.

The ballet advertisement, published on the website of training firm QA, appeared to suggest that a ballet dancer named Fatima could soon have a job in cybersecurity, although she did not yet know it.

It was part of a campaign dubbed “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot” — part of CyberFirst, a program launched in 2019 by Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre that encourages young people to get training for careers related to technology.

But for many in the British creative and arts industries, it was interpreted as a further sign that the government did not support them amid venue closures and dwindling opportunities.

Others retweeted the image with a hashtag for “Save

Real estate is the most valuable asset most people will ever possess, and insuring against natural disasters like floods and storms is common sense.

Or so you might think. Two government-mandated programs are in financial straits, with critics asking if they should exist at all.

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is still kicking the financial can down the road to avoid raising rates because coastal property owners do not want to pay their fair share. Meanwhile, San Antonio-area homeowners are allowing their federal flood insurance to lapse as memories of past floods fade.

When disaster strikes—and we know it will—taxpayers will be left picking up the tab for others’ foolish decisions.

TOMLINSON’S TAKE: Unscrupulous developers will strike back against flood measures

The windstorm association, a quasi-government entity known as TWIA (TWEE-ah), provides coverage to more than 190,000 properties in 15 coastal counties that no private company will insure. That includes 57,433 properties in Galveston, 36,691 in Nueces, 29,524 in Brazoria and 24,311 in Jefferson.

TWIA requires property insurers to contribute to the association to lower the costs for high-risk property owners. But the Legislature also requires the owners to pay their fair share, and lately, they have been getting a considerable discount.

Hurricane Harvey and other storms have drained TWIA’s cash reserves, and the growing severity of hurricanes means premiums need to go up. In December, TWIA’s actuaries determined that TWIA needed to raise premiums 44 percent on residences and 49 percent on businesses.

TWIA’s staff recommended the board begin by raising rates just 5 percent to put the insurer on the path to solvency. But property owners reacted as if TWIA planned to evacuate the Texas coast permanently.

State Rep. Todd Hunter led an angry crowd into the Dec. 10 board meeting in Corpus Christi. They demanded an independent

You may be curious why the administration doesn’t simply take its time and make sure that the program, which would surely be received gratefully by senior citizens, is implemented effectively and smoothly. Except you’re probably not actually curious about that because you recognize what’s happening: Trump wants this done before Election Day to capitalize on that goodwill in the form of votes.

None of this is subtle. Sure, a White House spokesman told Politico that the plan “has nothing to do with politics.” It’s just that the team is trying to figure out how to make it happen before Nov. 3, a date with no special significance whatsoever.

When this was first proposed, the New York Times reported that pharmaceutical companies balked at the idea of distributing what they referred to pejoratively as “Trump cards”: cash handouts tied explicitly to the president. But Trump’s team made very clear that the cards would not bear Trump’s name, perish the thought.

According to Politico’s new reporting, the cards will instead be accompanied by a letter signed by Trump. No politicking here, no sir. It’s not as though Trump is trailing among voters over 65, a group he won in 2016. Were that the case, one would think that he’d release some sort of video explicitly focused on seniors, maybe calling them his favorite people in the world. Maybe putting “favorite” in all-caps, to really emphasize it.

The issue here isn’t only that Trump’s clearly trying to leverage the government in ways that will benefit him personally, the sort of thing that might get a fella impeached. What’s more remarkable is how expensive it is — how expensive his cumulative efforts to leverage the presidency to aid his campaign will turn out to be.

Here is a brief shopping receipt.

$19 million. Those

By Elisa Anzolin and Gavin Jones

ROME/MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s love affair with cash is fading. The coronavirus is turning Italians off notes and coins and the government is launching a raft of incentives to accelerate the trend, believing plastic payment can curb rampant tax evasion.

The Treasury estimates some 109 billion euros of tax is evaded annually, equal to about 21% of the revenue actually collected. The government believes the problem can be tackled by boosting digital payments which, unlike cash, leave a trace.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is offering refunds on some money spent electronically, tax breaks for outlets with card machines and a new 50-million euro ($58.93 million) state lottery for card users only.

The coronavirus, which forced the government to lock down the economy between March and May, is helping his efforts.

“We have seen a surge in digital payments since the lockdown, I think mainly because of people not wanting to touch notes and coins,” says Cinzia Di Siena, who has run a pharmacy in southern Rome for the last 13 years.

A study published last week by credit association Assofin, market research firm Nomisma and pollster Ipsos said the lockdown was a “major occasion for Italians to try out non-cash payments,” with almost eight out of 10 making purchases online.

It reported that 31% of Italians increased their use of e-commerce during the lockdown, versus 23% of respondents in the United States, 18% in Germany and 16% in Britain.

Despite the recent trend, Italy is nowhere near the level of cashless purchases seen in much of northern Europe. European Central Bank data shows card payments in Italy last year accounted for 12.3% of GDP, versus a euro zone average of 16.6%.

CASH PRICE OR CARD PRICE?

Many Italian market stalls and taxi drivers will

By Sam Holmes and Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia pledged billions in tax cuts and measures to boost jobs on Tuesday to help pull the economy out of its historic COVID-19 slump in a budget that tips the country into its deepest deficit on record.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government has unleashed A$300 billion in emergency stimulus to prop up growth this year, having seen the coronavirus derail a previous promise to return the budget to surplus.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday announced A$17.8 billion in personal tax cuts and A$5.2 billion in new programmes to boost employment in a recovery plan aimed at creating one million new jobs over the next four years.

Those measures are forecast to push the budget deficit out to a record A$213.7 billion, or 11% of gross domestic product, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

“There is no economic recovery without a jobs recovery,” Frydenberg said in prepared remarks to parliament. “There is no budget recovery without a jobs recovery.”

Australia’s unemployment rate hit a 22-year high of 7.5% in July as businesses and borders closed due to strict lockdown measures to deal with the coronavirus.

While the number of deaths and infections in Australia from COVID-19 has been low compared with many other countries, the hit to GDP has been severe. Underlying the budget forecasts was an assumption that a vaccine would be developed in 2021.

Australia’s A$2 trillion economy shrank 7% in the three months ended June, the most since records began in 1959.

In its new projections, the government expects unemployment to rise to 7.25% by the end of the current fiscal year and then fall to 6% by June 2023. Australia’s GDP is expected to shrink 1.5% for the current fiscal year before returning to growth