Guardian Headlines

 

Australian tourist had been missing in Zimbabwe for nearly a week before search began

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 01:04:20 GMT

The 67-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was travelling alone when he left a luxury lodge to travel to Victoria Falls national park

An Australian tourist reported missing late last week in Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls already had been missing for nearly a week before that, according to new information released Monday by national park officials.

The 67-year-old tourist, whose name has not been released, was reported missing Friday in the area near the Zimbabwe Victoria Falls national park, and officials said at the time that a search with sniffer dogs was under way.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo said on Monday that the missing tourist was male, and that he had last been heard from on 17 February.

The tourist, who was traveling alone, was staying at a luxury lodge about 3km from the rainforest park. He told the lodge management on 17 February that he was heading into the park, Farawo said.

However, the man was not seen entering the park on CCTV footage reviewed later, nor was he among those recorded as entering the park, as normally is done for accountability and security purposes, Farawo said.

“We have replayed the CCTV footage, physical records at the entrance of the falls have no record of him entering and our search team has been checking the rainforest. There is no sign of him,” Farawo said.

“We are looking at other leads because it seems he never entered the rainforest,” he said.

Farawo did not disclose any other details, saying investigations were still under way.

Such incidences are rare in Victoria Falls, a destination that attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe for its majestic water curtain that tumbles down more than 108 metres from the Zambezi River to a gorge below, sending up a mist visible from miles away.

The parks agency deployed a team that included the police and rangers with sniffer dogs, professional ground trackers and drones to track the Australian tourist on Friday, said Farawo.

A few cases have been recorded in other parks. A German tourist reported missing last October in Matusadona national park, which teems with wild animals in northern Zimbabwe, was found alive and in good health three days later.

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French journalist arrested in Ethiopia accused of ‘conspiracy to create chaos’

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 13:03:14 GMT

Antoine Galindo is accused of conspiring with rebels, but press freedom groups say no evidence has been found and call for his immediate release

Ethiopian authorities have detained a visiting French journalist for being part of a “conspiracy to create chaos” in the east African country.

Antoine Galindo, a reporter for the Paris-based Africa Intelligence (AI) news website, was arrested by plainclothes security officers at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel on Thursday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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Africa’s largest mosque inaugurated in Algeria after years of delays

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 08:14:42 GMT

Prayer room of Great Mosque of Algiers, beset by political wrangling and cost overruns, accommodates 120,000 people

Algeria has inaugurated a gigantic mosque on its Mediterranean coastline after years of political upheaval transformed the project from a symbol of state-sponsored strength and religiosity to one of delays and cost overruns.

Built by a Chinese construction firm throughout the 2010s, the Great Mosque of Algiers features the world’s tallest minaret, measuring 265 metres (869ft).

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Monday briefing: Charting the forgotten crisis in Sudan

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 06:57:55 GMT

In today’s newsletter: With tens of thousands dead, millions displaced and no sign of the war abating, a ‘deafening silence of global indifference’ threatens the country’s future

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Good morning. “There is a certain kind of obscenity about the humanitarian world, which is the competition of suffering,” the UN’s aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said this month. “We must not forget Sudan.”

But with international attention largely focused on Gaza and Ukraine, that is exactly what’s happening. Tens of thousands have been killed in the civil war that broke out last year between the Sudanese army and the RSF militia, and there are now more displaced people – and specifically more displaced children – than in any other country in the world.

Conservatives | Rishi Sunak has been urged to break his silence over a mounting Islamophobia row over Lee Anderson’s claim Islamists had “got control of” Sadiq Khan. After Sunak failed to use the word “Islamophobia” in his statement responding to Anderson’s suspension from the Conservative party, Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi said: “What is it about the prime minister that he can’t even call out anti-Muslim racism and anti-Muslim bigotry?”

Public services | Britain’s stretched public services will buckle under the weight of the spending cuts planned for after the election, economists have warned, as Jeremy Hunt prepares for another round of tax reductions in next week’s budget. The expected spending levels could mean cuts equivalent to those undertaken by David Cameron’s government from 2010 to 2015.

Ukraine | Volodymyr Zelenskiy has given a figure for the number of Ukrainian battlefield casualties in the war with Russia for the first time, acknowledging that 31,000 soldiers have been killed and saying 2024 will be decisive for the outcome of the conflict. That figure is much lower than the US estimate of about 70,000.

Israel-Gaza war | The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is facing a shortfall of $450m from a budget of $880m as it confronts the biggest humanitarian crisis seen in the organisation’s 75-year history. Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency, said UNRWA had reached a “breaking point” amid reports that it has been forced to pause aid deliveries to northern Gaza, where there are increasing reports of famine.

Cinema | The owner of the stately home used in the film Saltburn has revealed he has ordered patrols of the grounds to stop trespassers making TikTok videos of themselves dancing to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s hit Murder on the Dancefloor, notoriously used in the film’s final scene, in front of the house. Charles Stopford Sackville said that the undisclosed fee for filming had “100%” influenced him to agree, but that he found the interest “quite weird”.

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Raiders kill at least a dozen worshippers at Burkina Faso church

Sun, 25 Feb 2024 22:18:48 GMT

Atrocity took place during Sunday mass in Essakane village and has been blamed on a jihadi group active in the region

At least 15 people have been killed and two others injured in a “terrorist” attack on a Catholic church during Sunday mass in Burkina Faso, a senior church official has said.

Calling for peace and security in Burkina Faso, the vicar general of the Dori diocese, Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, denounced “those who continue to wreak death and desolation in our country”.

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Australian tourist missing in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls national park

Sun, 25 Feb 2024 20:55:04 GMT

Zimbabwe’s national parks authority says a team, including police, sniffer dogs and drones, have been sent to search for the 67-year-old tourist

An Australian tourist has gone missing in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls national park, home to one of the world’s natural wonders, according to the country’s parks authority.

Tinashe Farawo, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said that the tourist went missing in the vast rainforest on Friday.

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Grand Cayman shooting leaves seven seriously injured at football match

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 22:02:35 GMT

Cayman Islands police believe incident in British Caribbean territory was ‘targeted attack’ that could be gang-related

At least seven people have been seriously injured in a shooting at a crowded football match in the Cayman Islands.

The shooting, which police believe could be gang-related, occurred late on Sunday in West Bay, located in the north-west point of Grand Cayman island, authorities said.

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Indigenous people sue over alleged Canadian secret medical experiment

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 18:56:01 GMT

First Nation members say in lawsuit that radiologists subjected them to a secret study without their knowledge or consent

Members of a First Nation in Canada have launched a lawsuit alleging they were subjected to a secret medical experiment without their consent that left them feeling “violated and humiliated”.

The class-action lawsuit, which was certified by the Nova Scotia supreme court in early February, revives the painful history of Canada conducting medical experiments on Indigenous peoples and the persistent discrimination they continue to face within the country’s healthcare system.

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US yacht couple probably thrown into sea by fugitives, Grenada police say

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 17:49:15 GMT

Ralph Hendry, 66, and Kathy Brandel, 71, probably dead after catamaran was seized by escaped prisoners in Caribbean last week

A US couple whose catamaran was hijacked last week in the Caribbean by three escaped prisoners were probably thrown into the ocean and died, according to police in Grenada.

The announcement is a blow to those who were independently helping search for Ralph Hendry, 66, and Kathy Brandel, 71, and had hoped they were still alive.

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Jair Bolsonaro: tens of thousands attend rally in support of Brazil’s former president

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 00:48:12 GMT

The former president called for amnesty for rioters who took part in an alleged coup, during his speech in São Paulo

Tens of thousands of supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have rallied in the country’s biggest city, in a show of strength against legal challenges that could put him in jail.

The far-right former president, who called the rally in São Paulo after being targeted by a police raid earlier this month investigating an alleged coup attempt, spoke for about 20 minutes to defend himself, while reminiscing about his time in power.

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Canada’s assisted dying laws in spotlight as expansion paused again

Sun, 25 Feb 2024 11:08:10 GMT

Canada has one of the highest rates of euthanasia in the world, with 4.1% of deaths aided by doctors, but moves to make it more accessible are being questioned

When Canada’s justice minister announced plans to legalise medically assisted dying nearly a decade ago, she acknowledged the proposed law might prove divisive. “For some, medical assistance in dying will be troubling,” Jody Wilson-Raybould told reporters in 2016. “For others, this legislation will not go far enough.”

A fresh delay in expanding the scope of who can access a medically assisted death has once again put a spotlight on the system, which critics and advocates agree is one of the most liberal in the world. But the two groups remain sharply divided on what that means for improving the quality of life – and death – in the country.

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Canadian university vending machine error reveals use of facial recognition

Fri, 23 Feb 2024 18:24:42 GMT

University of Waterloo dispenser displays facial recognition message despite no prior indication it was monitoring students

A malfunctioning vending machine at a Canadian university has inadvertently revealed that a number of them have been using facial recognition technology in secret.

Earlier this month, a snack dispenser at the University of Waterloo showed an error message – Invenda.Vending.FacialRecognition.App.exe – on the screen.

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Vogue China’s Margaret Zhang, youngest person appointed as an editor at magazine group, to step down

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 03:34:55 GMT

Australian Chinese former fashion blogger, whose appointment in 2021 was met with controversy, announces she is leaving the magazine

Three years after becoming the youngest person to hold an editor title at Vogue, Margaret Zhang is leaving her position as editorial director of Vogue China.

The Australian Chinese creative director announced her exit on Instagram on Monday, writing: “As we kick off a transformative Year of the Dragon, I’m excited to announce that I have decided to wrap up with Vogue and jump into the next chapter of my career.”

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Japan’s moon lander survives two-week lunar night after wonky landing

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 12:11:55 GMT

Unmanned Slim spacecraft responds to signal from Earth after touching down at awkward angle in January

Japan’s moon lander has responded to a signal from Earth, suggesting it survived the two-week lunar night, the country’s space agency has said.

The unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) touched down last month at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way. But as the sun’s angle shifted, it powered up for two days and carried out scientific observations of a crater with a hi-spec camera.

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Tuvalu names Feleti Teo prime minister after pro-Taiwan leader Kausea Natano ousted

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 05:21:11 GMT

Taiwan ambassador says ties remain ‘rock solid’ amid rumours island nation could switch allegiance to Beijing

Lawmakers in Tuvalu have selected Feleti Teo as the Pacific island nation’s new prime minister, weeks after an election that put ties with Taiwan in focus.

Former attorney general Teo secured the support of lawmakers who were elected last month, government secretary Tufoua Panapa told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

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‘Reality remains tough as ever’, says Japan PM as extra $660m pledged for Noto earthquake rebuild

Sun, 25 Feb 2024 05:59:05 GMT

The earthquake hit parts of the Ishikawa region on New Year’s Day killing 241 people and sparking a major fire, water remains cut off to some areas

Japan will spend an additional $660m rebuilding areas ravaged by a devastating New Year’s Day earthquake, prime minister Fumio Kishida said, taking the total amount of relief to $1.7bn.

The new financial aid was announced by the prime minister on Saturday as he visited the quake-hit areas.

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Apartment block fire in China’s Nanjing city kills at least 15, officials say

Sat, 24 Feb 2024 02:35:39 GMT

The blaze started on the first floor where electric bikes had been placed, according to officials, but the cause is still unknown

At least 15 people were killed and 44 injured in a fire at a residential building in eastern China’s Nanjing city, local authorities said.

The fire broke out early Friday morning, officials said at a press conference, with a preliminary investigation suggesting the blaze started on the building’s first floor, where electric bikes had been placed.

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Huge cybersecurity leak lifts lid on world of China’s hackers for hire

Fri, 23 Feb 2024 05:00:39 GMT

Leaked files shows range of services offered and bought, with data harvested from targets worldwide

A big leak of data from a Chinese cybersecurity firm has revealed state security agents paying tens of thousands of pounds to harvest data on targets, including foreign governments, while hackers hoover up huge amounts of information on any person or institution who might be of interest to their prospective clients.

The cache of more than 500 leaked files from the Chinese firm I-Soon was posted on the developer website Github and is thought by cybersecurity experts to be genuine. Some of the targets discussed include Nato and the UK Foreign Office.

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Australia politics live: Angus Taylor among Coalition MPs ejected from question time amid fuel efficiency standard debate

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:40:40 GMT

Follow the day’s news live

The trade minister, Don Farrell, is at the World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi where he had a sideline chat with China’s commerce minister, Wang Wentao, overnight.

Sideline chats are the unofficial official talks – it’s not considered a bilateral, but both sides have to agree to the talk in order for it to happen. So it’s not just a see them and grab situation between sessions. It’s a little more planned than that.

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NSW police commissioner criticised for quoting Taylor Swift while defending response to alleged double murder

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:22:56 GMT

Karen Webb was speaking to media about Jesse Baird and Luke Davies who were allegedly murdered by police officer Beau Lamarre

The New South Wales police commissioner, Karen Webb, is facing fresh criticism for referencing a Taylor Swift lyric in a media interview where she attempted to defend her response to the alleged murders of Sydney couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.

Webb was asked on Seven’s Sunrise program on Tuesday about her delay in speaking publicly after the alleged murders and whether she should face criticism over her handling of the case.

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Coles’s profit fall shows shoppers are starting to rebel against supermarket prices

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:20:45 GMT

Consumers are using their spending power to switch retailers and the major chains are scrambling to shore up customer loyalty

Shoppers are showing early signs of rebellion, leaving supermarket giant Coles unable to increase shelf prices to expand profits as households question the fairness of hikes at the country’s major chains.

On Tuesday, Australia’s second-biggest food retailer reported a modest 3.6% fall in half-year net profit to $594m and slight compression in profit margins amid increasing costs that it could no longer offset through product price hikes.

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Zachary Rolfe tells inquest of ‘compartmentalising’ his ‘short fuse’ before Kumanjayi Walker’s death

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:19:56 GMT

Inquest hears Rolfe had told NT police colleagues and family of his concerns about his job and his temper

A former Northern Territory police officer has told a court he had a short fuse and was miserable in the force in the lead-up to him shooting dead an Aboriginal man in an attempted arrest, but said he had been good at “compartmentalising” in a way that did not impact his work.

Zachary Rolfe shot Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker three times while trying to arrest him on 9 November 2019 in the remote community of Yuendumu, about 300km from Alice Springs. Walker, 19, stabbed Rolfe with a pair of scissors shortly before he was shot by the then constable.

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Former PM Scott Morrison says Australians put ‘too much faith’ in politics in farewell speech

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:18:29 GMT

Covid peak-era PM described his constituents as ‘quiet Australians’ who seek ‘the fair go for those who have a go’

Scott Morrison believes Australians “have put too much faith” in “imperfect” politics and institutions, leading to “disillusion” in society, in a wide-ranging valedictory speech on his retirement from federal parliament.

The former prime minister stood by his government’s legacy on the Covid response, the striking of the Aukus pact and opposition to rising global authoritarianism in China, Russia and Iran, in his final address in politics. Often referencing his faith and his family, who joined him in the House of Representatives, Morrison claimed he would leave the parliament without ill feelings.

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Daryl Maguire had ‘emotional hold’ over Gladys Berejiklian, Icac lawyer tells court

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 04:53:15 GMT

The disgraced MP for Wagga was a ‘special kind of serial pest’ but ex-premier’s shared vision of the future with him clouded her judgment, court hears

Gladys Berejiklian’s former boyfriend, the disgraced ex-MP Daryl Maguire, was a “special kind of serial pest” who had an “emotional hold” over the former state premier, a lawyer representing the New South Wales corruption watchdog has told a court.

Defending the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s findings of corrupt conduct on the part of Berejiklian, Stephen Free SC told the court of appeal Berejiklian’s “vision for her future” with her Liberal colleague had impacted her judgment.

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Sweden will complete its ‘long farewell to neutrality’ with Nato accession

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:00:14 GMT

For Swedes it means a dramatic change of national identity, while the alliance gets greater control of the Baltic Sea

Just a few short months ago, Sweden’s Nato membership seemed a very long way from being a done deal. Having submitted its application to join in May 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it seemed at times as though Stockholm might be left hanging interminably. While Finland, which had applied to join the alliance at the same time as its neighbour, became a member at record speed last April, Sweden got stuck in a diplomatic quagmire.

Last summer a series of Qur’an burnings in Sweden inflamed ties with Turkey, making a “yes” from Ankara look unlikely and at times inconceivable. And as recently as September, Viktor Orbán’s government was embroiled in a public war of words with Sweden over criticism of Hungary’s democracy and teaching in Swedish schools. Late last month, after Turkey’s parliament had given Sweden the green light, the Hungarian prime minister was still pushing for negotiations in a public letter to his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson.

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Poland’s rightwing opposition criticises Tusk’s education shake-up

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:00:13 GMT

Coalition government to slim down school curriculum after cramming of subjects under previous nationalist administration

Poland’s new government is seeking to slim down the material taught in schools by about 20%, saying a cramming of the curriculum under the previous rightwing populist administration has left teachers and students exhausted.

Speaking during a school visit in the Silesian town of Mysłowice over the weekend, the education minister, Barbara Nowacka, said she was consulting experts on how to narrow down the curriculum, which will come into force in secondary schools after the summer break, from 1 September.

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‘I don’t want to tell him scary things’: a mother’s tale after fleeing Kyiv

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:00:12 GMT

On 25 February 2022, Viktoria, 35, gave birth to her son in a bunker beneath the Ukrainian capital just as the Russian bombing started. Two years on, she speaks about her family’s experience of being displaced and seeking safety abroad

The day after I gave birth to Fedir, the shelling started very hard around Kyiv. We lived near Irpin and Bucha. After I saw a falling shell from my apartment window, we decided to leave. My husband and I packed up without knowing where we were going. We had spent so long getting the place ready for the baby, but Fedir only got to sleep in his bed for four nights.

The drive to Lviv took 17 hours. My first experience of motherhood, as we couldn’t stop, was learning to feed and change Fedir in the back seat of the car. On the journey, we saw military checkpoints, tanks. It felt unreal. Arriving in Lviv, it was hard to find an apartment to rent. The city was full of displaced people. As my husband was born in the Russian federation, the landlord we eventually did find demanded a double deposit. We paid it – it was better than going back.

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Macron refuses to rule out putting troops on ground in Ukraine in call to galvanise Europe

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:28:18 GMT

French president admits no consensus exists on such a move as he urges fellow European leaders to take action rather than wait for US aid

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he refused to rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine, but said no consensus existed on the step, at a meeting of 20 mainly European leaders in Paris convened by Macron to ramp up the European response to the Russian military advances inside Ukraine.

Protecting France’s strategic ambiguity he said “there is no consensus to officially back any ground troops. That said, nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we can to make sure that Russia does not prevail.”

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Putin ‘gains every day’ Congress fails to send Ukraine aid, top Biden official says

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:11:18 GMT

President Zelenskiy says 'millions will be killed’ if US aid is not approved within one month

Vladimir Putin “gains every day” the US House does not pass a new aid package for Ukraine, Joe Biden’s national security adviser has warned, as its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, warned of dire outcomes unless Ukraine receives US military aid within one month.

Ahead of a crunch week in Washington that could end in a government shutdown – in part made possible by hardline Republican opposition to new support for Kyiv – Jake Sullivan told CNN that “the reality is that Putin gains every day that Ukraine does not get the resources it needs, and Ukraine suffers”.

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Russia could attack Nato states if west fails to support Ukraine, Macron says

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 19:40:25 GMT

French president tells Paris conference Moscow ‘must not and cannot’ win the war and that Europe’s security is at stake

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has called for western countries to step up their support for Ukraine, warning that Moscow’s actions in recent weeks signal that Russia could attack Nato states in the next few years.

Speaking at the opening of a hastily convened conference of 20 mainly European leaders in Paris designed to speed up the supply of weapons and financial aid to Ukraine, Macron said Russia “must not and cannot win this war” and that Europe’s own security was at stake.

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Joe Biden hopeful a Gaza ceasefire could be reached by next Monday

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 01:23:41 GMT

US president says in New York ‘my hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a ceasefire … my national security adviser tells me we’re close’

Joe Biden has said he believes a new, temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is possible by next Monday.

The US president offered the update spontaneously during a visit to New York on Monday, in response to reporters inquiring about when he expected a ceasefire could start.

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In Gaza, scouts’ community-building and survival skills are a new lifeline

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 16:10:19 GMT

The Palestinian Scouts Association, once a recreational outlet, is deploying volunteers to help people displaced by war

Sahar Abu Zeid was perhaps an unlikely member of the Gaza City branch of the Palestinian Scout Association. She first got involved in 2017, aged 25, shortly after finishing an accounting degree, and quickly fell in love with the outdoor lifestyle and sense of community the organisation provided.

Before the new war between Hamas and Israel, scouting was one of the only affordable and accessible recreational outlets in the isolated Palestinian territory, she said. Now, the practical and teamwork skills Abu Zeid learned are being put to use in previously unimaginable circumstances.

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Middle East crisis: Israeli government blocking ‘lifesaving aid’, Human Rights Watch says; Palestinian Authority PM resigns – as it happened

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 15:01:35 GMT

Human rights body says Israel not following ICJ order on Gaza aid provision; Mohammad Shtayyeh submits resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas

The UN rights chief has decried disinformation and other attacks that aim to “undermine the legitimacy” and work of the UN and other institutions, describing them as “profoundly destructive”.

Speaking at the opening of the UN human rights council’s main annual session, Volker Turk criticised widespread “disinformation that targets UN humanitarian organisations, UN peacekeepers and my office”.

The UN has become a lightning rod for manipulative propaganda and a scapegoat for policy failures.

This is profoundly destructive of the common good, and it callously betrays the many people whose lives rely on it.

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UN warns Rafah attack would be ‘nail in coffin’ of Gaza aid as deliveries halve

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 14:41:39 GMT

Amount reaching starving territory dropped 50% in February despite severe shortages of basic necessities

The amount of aid reaching Gaza fell by half in February from the month before, the UN has said, as its secretary general, António Guterres, said an Israeli assault on Rafah would be “the nail in the coffin” of deliveries to the starving territory.

“February registered a 50% reduction of humanitarian aid entering Gaza compared to January,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on X. “Aid was supposed to increase not decrease to address the huge needs of 2 million Palestinians in desperate living conditions.”

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SNP to push for another Commons vote on ceasefire in Gaza

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 00:04:06 GMT

Move presents fresh challenge to speaker and Labour party after last week’s chaotic scenes in parliament

The Scottish National party will push for another vote on a Gaza ceasefire this week, creating a fresh challenge for the speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, and the Labour party after last Wednesday’s chaotic scenes in the Commons.

Hoyle faced calls to quit after his decision to break with precedent and allow Labour to table a vote during an SNP debate calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which prompted a walkout by Conservative and Scottish Nationalist MPs.

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More than half of UK exporters affected by Houthi disruption, survey shows

Sun, 25 Feb 2024 22:30:08 GMT

Costs are escalating amid delays, according to British Chambers of Commerce research that shows UK retailers have also been hit

More than half of UK retailers and exporters have been affected by the disruption to Red Sea trade from Houthi rebel attacks on cargo ships, research by a leading business lobby group suggests.

The price of shipping a container from Asia to Europe has gone up by as much as 300% for some businesses, while logistical delays have added up to three to four weeks to delivery times, according to the survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

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‘Why are you asleep?’ Rahul Gandhi pleads with India’s low castes to vote out Modi

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 04:00:10 GMT

On his 4,000-mile march across the country, congressman tells voters to wake up to the vast gulf between them and the rich

His voice hoarse from all the speeches he had made during his 4,000-mile march across the breadth of India, Rahul Gandhi urged people at a rally in Uttar Pradesh state to think hard.

Specifically, to think hard about caste. “Are there any of you Dalits or other low castes in the judiciary?” the leading face of India’s opposition Congress party, asked the crowd. “Are any of you in the media? Do any of you own even one of India’s 200 top companies? Of the civil servant class which rules this country, are any of you among them?

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India confronts Google over Gemini AI tool’s ‘fascist Modi’ responses

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 09:42:29 GMT

Junior minister accuses tech firm of violating country’s IT laws with ‘downright malicious’ answers

A response from Google’s AI platform suggesting that some experts believe the policies of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, polices to be “fascist” has provoked a confrontation between the company and the government.

The journalist Arnab Ray last week put the question as to whether Modi was a fascist to Google’s generative AI platform, Gemini. He received the answer that Modi was “accused of implementing policies some experts have characterized as fascist”.

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Indian runaway train travels 43 miles without a driver

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 08:54:58 GMT

Inquiry ordered after 50-carriage freight train set off on its own when driver disembarked at station in Jammu

Indian Railways has ordered an investigation after a runaway freight train loaded with gravel travelled 43 miles (70km) without a driver.

About 50 carriages set off solo on Sunday, from the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir to Punjab, before being brought to a halt by wooden blocks placed on the tracks.

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Pakistan election: coalition against Imran Khan says deal reached to form government

Wed, 21 Feb 2024 00:51:23 GMT

Shehbaz Sharif expected to become prime minister again after plans for coalition government announced between PML-N and PPP parties

Imran Khan’s political rivals have announced details of a coalition agreement, naming Shehbaz Sharif as their joint candidate for prime minister amid continuing concerns about the legitimacy of the recent elections.

Khan’s rivals said at a news conference of party leaders late on Tuesday that they had secured the required majority of votes to form a coalition government. The parliament will elect Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the new prime minister when the inaugural session of the National Assembly is convened later this month, the party leaders said.

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UK minister says he ‘cannot disprove’ claims Afghans were unlawfully killed

Tue, 20 Feb 2024 18:59:46 GMT

Johnny Mercer tells UK inquiry of reports SAS had killed civilians between 2010 and 2013

The UK’s minister for veterans, Johnny Mercer, has effectively admitted in front of a public inquiry that he believed members of the SAS had engaged in dozens of unlawful killings of Afghan civilians between 2010 and 2013.

Mercer told the inquiry on Tuesday that at one point, shortly after first becoming a minister in 2019, Mercer said he told the then defence secretary, Ben Wallace, that “something stinks”. His boss replied: “There is no new evidence, Johnny,” and the cabinet minster chose not to take any further action.

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UK special forces blocked resettlement applications from elite Afghan troops

Mon, 19 Feb 2024 15:41:48 GMT

MoD conducts review but stands accused of conflict of interest while public inquiry investigates conduct of SAS in Afghanistan

Elite Afghan commandos who fought alongside the British military have had their applications to relocate blocked by UK special forces despite evidence that they had served alongside them in dangerous missions against the Taliban.

Documents leaked and shared with BBC Panorama show that Britain’s secretive special forces were given a veto power over resettlement, prompting claims that hundreds of Afghan veterans have been left in limbo or danger in their native country.

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Jeremy Hunt’s ‘dubious’ financial planning lacks credibility, says IFS

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:00:12 GMT

Chancellor should resist temptation to announce unfunded tax cuts in March budget, advises leading thinktank

Jeremy Hunt’s financial planning is “dubious” and “lacks credibility” and the chancellor should not announce tax cuts in next week’s budget if he cannot lay out how he will fund them, an economic thinktank has said.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculates that Hunt would need to find £35bn of cuts from already threadbare public services if he plans to use a Whitehall spending freeze to pay for pre-election giveaways.

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February dip sends UK food price inflation to nearly two-year low

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:01:07 GMT

Shoppers helped by falling energy costs and supermarket competition as meat, fish and fruit prices drop

Tumbling energy costs and a price war between Britain’s supermarkets have slowed food inflation to its lowest rate for nearly two years in a boost for households trying to cope on stretched budgets.

The cost of meat, fish and fruit dipped in February, meaning food prices rose 5% on last year, down from 6.1% in January and the lowest since May 2022, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shop price index.

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‘Health emergency’: 15% of UK households went hungry last month, data shows

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:01:06 GMT

As millions skip meals and are unable to regularly afford groceries, the Food Foundation warns of widening health inequalities

Millions of people – including one in five families with children – have gone hungry or skipped meals in recent weeks because they could not regularly afford to buy groceries, according to new food insecurity data.

According to the Food Foundation tracker, 15% of UK households – equivalent to approximately 8 million adults and 3 million children – experienced food insecurity in January, as high food prices continued to hit the pockets of low-income families.

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UK trails other countries on waiting times for cancer treatment, study finds

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:01:06 GMT

Research compared access to radiotherapy and chemotherapy in Australia, Canada, Norway and UK

Cancer patients in the UK wait up to seven weeks longer to begin radiotherapy or chemotherapy than people in comparable countries, research has revealed.

The stark findings are yet more damning evidence of the extent to which the UK lags behind other nations, as experts warn that people’s chances of survival are being affected by long waits for treatment.

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Carrying chickens by their legs should remain unlawful, say UK campaigners

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:01:06 GMT

Defra proposal to relax farming rules accused of breaking Tory pledge to raise standards post-Brexit as the practice can cause pain

Proposals to legalise the carrying of chickens by their legs in the UK would represent an unacceptable dilution of animal welfare standards and the first such weakening of regulations in the area since Brexit, campaigners have said.

The government’s Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) has made the recommendation despite acknowledging it to be a “welfare compromise” that can cause “pain, discomfort and breathing difficulty” leading to distress and injuries such as fractures and dislocations.

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Chancellor should axe all budget statements, say manufacturers

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:01:06 GMT

Make UK says limiting big policy changes to one per parliament will give companies more stability

The chancellor should axe the annual spring budget and autumn statement in order to provide greater certainty for Britain’s manufacturing industry, according to the main trade body representing the sector.

The head of Make UK is calling for the twice-yearly fiscal events to be dropped as part of a package of calls for the government to overhaul its policies on taxing and spending.

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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs accused of sexual assault by male music producer

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 05:32:54 GMT

Allegations, which rapper and mogul denies, is the latest in a series of lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault

Sean Combs, the rapper and mogul known as Diddy, was sued Monday by a music producer who accused the hip-hop mogul of sexually assaulting him and forcing him to have sex with prostitutes.

The suit, filed in federal court in New York, accuses Combs of repeated instances of unsolicited groping and sexual touching. It also says the man had to work in a bathroom while Combs showered and walked around naked.

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Explosive device detonated outside Alabama attorney general’s office

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 02:57:04 GMT

Steve Marshall, state’s attorney general, says no staff or personnel injured by explosion in Montgomery on Saturday

Officials in Alabama said on Monday they had launched an investigation into the detonation of an explosive device outside the office of the state’s attorney general at the weekend.

“Thankfully, no staff or personnel were injured by the explosion. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (Alea) will be leading the investigation, and we are urging anyone with information to contact them immediately,” the attorney general, Steve Marshall, said in a statement.

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Odysseus craft’s moon mission to be cut short after sideways landing

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 01:53:55 GMT

Intuitive Machines, private company behind lander, says mission will end after five days rather than the expected to seven to 10

Flight control engineers expect to lose contact with the private US moon lander Odysseus on Tuesday, cutting short the mission five days after its sideways touchdown, the company behind the spacecraft, Intuitive Machines, said.

It remained to be seen how much scientific data might be lost as a result of the shortened life of Odysseus, which, according to previous estimates from the company and its biggest customer, Nasa, would have otherwise operated on the moon for seven to 10 days.

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Elon Musk makes ‘things good’ with California bakery after $2,000 pie fiasco

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 01:44:49 GMT

Tesla had ditched an order for 4,000 mini pies, but the X owner paid the debt after the incident received attention

A California bakery that claimed Tesla did not pay an order worth thousands of dollars said the outstanding bill has been settled, after billionaire Elon Musk promised to “make things good” following press coverage of the incident.

Musk’s company Tesla had ditched an order for 4,000 mini pies from Giving Pies, a Black-owned bakery in San Jose, in central California, bakery owner Voahangy Rasetarinera said on the cafe’s Instagram account five days ago.

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Biden and Trump to visit US-Mexico border on same day

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 00:04:46 GMT

Biden says he ‘didn’t know my good friend, apparently, is going’ as he plans Brownsville visit while Trump heads for Eagle Pass

Joe Biden and Donald Trump will both travel to the US border with Mexico on Thursday, dueling visits by the president and his probable opponent for re-election underlining the importance of immigration as an issue in the coming campaign.

Biden will visit Brownsville, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley, while his presidential predecessor will head for Eagle Pass, about 325 miles distant.

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US supreme court appears skeptical of social media content moderation laws

Mon, 26 Feb 2024 23:59:18 GMT

World’s biggest social media firms challenge state laws blocking them from moderating certain content or banning users

Members of the United States supreme court expressed skepticism regarding two laws being debated in oral arguments Monday, both of which deal with how social media platforms moderate content and could have broad implications for freedom of speech online.

Filed by NetChoice, an association representing the world’s largest social media firms, both cases challenge state laws blocking social media platforms from moderating certain user content or banning users. Arguments Monday lasted longer than many experts anticipated, extending into a marathon four-hour session.

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