Terrorism laws to get tougher within weeks, government vows


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The home secretary said November’s attack “confronted us with some hard truths about how we deal with terrorist offenders”

Terror offenders will face more time in jail and be monitored more closely as part of new laws being introduced within weeks, the government has said.Automatic early release from prison will be scrapped for terror offenders while a minimum jail term of 14 years for serious crimes will be introduced.The Home Office said a bill would be brought before Parliament by mid-March.Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government had faced “hard truths” since an attack in London in November.Convicted terror offender Usman Khan had been on licence from prison when he fatally stabbed Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge on 29 November last year.Khan had been released from jail on licence in 2018, half-way through a 16-year sentence for terrorism offences.Following the November attack, the government launched an urgent review into the licence conditions of 74 terror offenders who had been released early from prison.On Tuesday it said it would also launch a review, led by Jonathan Hall QC, into the way agencies such as police and the probation service investigate, monitor and manage terror offenders.

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Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by a knifeman who had been released from jail on licence

Ministers also want to introduce lie detector tests – which are currently only used with sex offenders – to improve how probation officers handle released terrorists.The so-called Counter-Terrorism Bill would ensure people convicted of serious offences, such as preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation, spend a minimum of 14 years in prison.There is currently no minimum term for such offences.The Home Office said it would also increase counter terror police funding by £90m next year – roughly a 10% increase on this year’s funding.Other measures the Home Office pledged alongside the bill included:
Doubling the number of counter-terrorism probation officers
Increasing the number of specialist psychologists and imams working to de-radicalise offenders
Increasing the number of places in probation hostels to help police monitor offenders in their first weeks after release from prison
Investing £500,000 and reviewing the support in place for victims of terrorism
Ms Patel said the “senseless terror attack” in November “confronted us with some hard truths about how we deal with terrorist offenders”.”Today we are delivering on those promises, giving police and probation officers the resources they need to investigate and track offenders, introducing tougher sentences, and launching major reviews into how offenders are managed after they are released,” she added.Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the overhaul was “an admission of failure”.She said: “The fight against terrorism has been undermined by cuts to policing, including community policing, a lack of co-ordination between police and security services as well as the flawed Prevent programme.”Although head of counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu welcomed the extra measures, he said demand for counter terror work had gone up by a third in three years and insisted the anti-radicalisation programme, Prevent, was the “best hope” for reducing the terror threat in the long term.



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Harry and Meghan: Prince arrives in Canada ahead of new chapter


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Harry flew to Canada after attending a UK-Africa summit on Monday

The Duke of Sussex has arrived in Canada as he prepares for a new life away from royal duties. Prince Harry landed in Vancouver on Tuesday morning to be reunited with his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, and their eight-month-old son Archie. It comes after the duke said he was “taking a leap of faith” in stepping back as a senior royal, but “there really was no other option”.From the spring, the Sussexes will no longer be full-time working royals.They will stop using their HRH titles, no longer carry out royal duties or military appointments and no longer formally represent the Queen.The new arrangement was unveiled on Saturday, following days of talks with the Queen and other senior royals including Harry’s older brother, the Duke of Cambridge.

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Harry and Meghan visited Canada House in London after returning from their Christmas break

The duchess has been staying on Canada’s west coast with her son, after briefly returning to the UK earlier this month following an extended six-week Christmas break in Vancouver with Prince Harry.On Monday, Harry attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit – likely to be one of his last official royal engagements.After holding a number of private meetings – including with Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the duke flew from Heathrow Airport to Canada, BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said.

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Prince Harry spoke with world leaders at the UK-Africa summit, including Mr Johnson

He has been apart from wife Meghan for more than 10 days, after she flew back to Canada earlier this month. On Monday, a beaming Meghan and Archie were photographed walking her dogs, a beagle and a black Labrador, in a park near their home. Before she married, Meghan regularly featured her two dogs, Guy and Bogart, on her Instagram account.Archie, who was born in May, has not been back to the UK since the family’s Christmas break on Vancouver Island.

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The couple and son Archie spent time in Victoria over Christmas

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The Queen attended church near Sandringham on Sunday, the morning after the announcement about Harry and Meghan

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing with their royal schedule. For the first time, the couple hosted an evening reception for world leaders on behalf of the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Monday.On Tuesday, the duke will attend a United for Wildlife event at St James’s Palace.’The truth from me’Buckingham Palace’s announcement on Saturday night followed weeks of speculation about what Harry and Meghan’s new roles within the Royal Family would involve, after the couple’s surprise announcement they wanted to step back as senior royals.In his first speech since the revelation, Harry said he wanted people “to hear the truth from me… not as a prince, or a duke, but as Harry”.

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Media captionPrince Harry says it is “a great sadness that it has come to this”
“The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change,” he said.He said he had found “the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life” with Meghan, and wanted to make it clear they were “not walking away”.In their announcement, the couple said they wanted to work to become financially independent and split their time between the UK and North America.

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Media captionBBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond gives his five takeaways from Harry’s speech
Currently, 95% of the couple’s income comes from Prince Charles’s income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a vast portfolio of property and financial investments, which brought in £21.6m last year.It is understood the couple will continue to receive money from Harry’s father under the new agreement, although it is unclear whether this will come from the Duchy, his personal wealth, or a combination of the two.However, the pair will stop receiving money from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which makes up the other 5% of their income.



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Newspaper headlines: Harry 'flies to Canada' and Lord Hall steps down


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The Guardian leads with the announcement from Tony Hall, the BBC’s director general, that he will step down from the helm after seven years. The BBC has been warned it is now facing a “dangerous moment”, the paper reports, as Conservative MPs such as ex-culture secretary John Whittingdale raised questions over BBC funding and the licence fee. The new DG’s “biggest battle is likely to be over the corporation’s funding,” the paper says.

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The Financial Times suggests the timing of Lord Hall’s departure marks an attempt to “steal a march on Boris Johnson and minimise his influence” over who will lead the BBC through negotiations over its funding. But the paper’s top story is on the International Monetary Fund which has slightly cut its forecast for global economic growth for 2020. The newspaper suggests the forecast may overshadow the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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The Sun devotes its front page entirely to a photograph of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan, as she walked her dogs with baby Archie on Vancouver Island, Canada. The paper describes her as “beaming” and adds that Prince Harry is flying back to join them.

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The Daily Mail also reports that Prince Harry is flying back to Canada. But its top story focuses on another royal – the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips. The paper says he has appeared in two adverts for a dairy firm shown on Chinese TV which described him as a “Royal Family member”. According to the Mail, Mr Phillips did not respond to questions, including as to whether he was paid, and Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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The Times reports on the case of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert who was arrested in Iran in 2018 and jailed for spying. The paper says it has seen letters smuggled out of her cell, in which the University of Melbourne academic wrote that she felt “abandoned and forgotten”. She added that she is denied phone calls and visits.

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Photos of former couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston speaking at the Screen Actors Guild awards feature on many front pages. The Daily Mirror’s main story is on convicted murderer Jeremy Bamber, who claims he has new evidence which proves he could not have killed five members of his family in Essex in August 1985. Bamber says he has the “ultimate alibi”.

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The Daily Star reports on the latest after pranksters momentarily halted play at the Masters snooker tournament on Sunday, by setting off noises from an electronic whoopee cushion in the crowd. The Star says the “jokers” behind the noises “are threatening to hit more top sports events” in a bid to “brighten people’s days”.

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The Metro splashes on the UK’s counter-terrorism “blitz”, as the government reveals more details about their plans to get “tougher” on convicted terrorists. The paper says among the new measures being promised are lie detector tests, longer prison terms and a ban on dangerous offenders being granted early release. The lie detectors could be used to check terrorists have genuinely reformed, the Metro says.

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The Daily Telegraph also leads with the government’s “crackdown” on those convicted of terror offences. The paper reports that the new rules would mean all of those convicted of preparing or committing a terror offence will face a minimum of 14 years in jail.

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Tuesday’s i newspaper focuses on the HS2 rail project, after a leaked report suggested the cost of it could almost double to £106bn. The paper reports that new Tory MPs from the North and Midlands have called on Boris Johnson to scrap the project and instead spend the money on local transport upgrades.

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Brexit is the subject of the Daily Express’ main story. The paper accuses the EU of “plotting to delay” talks on a post-Brexit trade deal until March. It reports that the UK is ready to begin working on a trade deal immediately, but European officials have warned it could “take some time” before they are prepared.

A range of stories feature on the front pages of Tuesday’s newspapers.Confirmation that China’s new strain of corona virus can be passed from human to human makes many papers.The Guardian says the news has fuelled anxiety about the prospect of a “full-fledged outbreak”, while the Financial Times quotes the first statement of the Chinese President Xi Jinping on the crisis – calling for all steps to be taken to contain the virus.”Hall over now” is the Sun’s take on the announcement that the BBC’s director general, Tony Hall is to step down after seven years in the job. Its leader suggests that he’ll be remembered as “the BBC boss who betrayed over-75s” by stripping them of the free licences “he promised to” fund.

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Tony Hall will step down from his role in the summer

The i newspaper is among many papers to speculate on possible contenders to succeed Lord Hall – publishing a list of seven “runners and riders”. More than half on the list are female, as the newspaper ponders “will a woman be next?” The Daily Telegraph’s editorial paints a bleak picture. “The BBC needs to change to survive,” it claims, as it suggests that the new DG will face a “monumental” task, with the future of the BBC less clear than ever. Meanwhile, in the newspaper’s front page Matt cartoon, corporation staff are shown having a whip-round for the departing Lord Hall. The accompanying caption reads: “A fiver for men and a tenner for women”. “Royal Peter for hire in China” is the Daily Mail’s front page headline as the constitutional headache created by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex continues to fascinate. The paper claims it can exclusively reveal “in a fresh twist to the row” that the son of Princess Anne – Peter Phillips – is using his royal connections to sell milk on Chinese TV. According to the Mail, Mr Phillips did not respond to questions, including as to whether he was paid, and Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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The latest on Harry and Meghan continues to feature in the papers

The Sun carries a front page photo of Meghan and baby Archie out for a walk in a Canadian Park yesterday as Harry left the UK to join them. A full picture spread follows – showing the duchess walking two dogs – followed at a short distance by two protection officers. Counter-terrorismUnder the headline “terrorists to be denied early release from prison”, the Daily Telegraph leads with details of what it describes as the government’s “crackdown” on terrorism which will see stricter controls and tougher punishments for the most dangerous offenders.”Boris blitz on terror” is the Metro’s take as it sets out how lie detectors could be used to check terrorists have genuinely reformed before they are released from prison.But the Mail’s coverage sounds a note of caution on suggestions that the detectors could also be used to establish whether released offenders have broken the conditions of their parole. Professor David Canter of Liverpool University points out for the benefit of the paper’s readers, that polygraph tests aren’t 100% foolproof – and that the findings from such tests aren’t admissible in courts as evidence.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel says the government had faced “hard truths” since an attack in London in November

The front page of the Times suggests there are grounds for “growing optimism” over Britain’s economic outlook.It reports a new assessment by the International Monetary Fund that the British economy will grow faster than that of any other major European country this year and next if there’s an orderly Brexit. The forecast marks a contrast with the IMF’s global predictions. Under the headline “downbeat IMF outlook diverts Davos focus from climate goals”, the FT reports that forecasts for global economic growth for this year and next have been cut – casting a shadow over the opening of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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Meanwhile, the Times also reports that the health watchdog has been forced to retract 38 inspection reports into care and nursing homes, mainly in the north of England, after finding that significant sections of them had been “faked”.The same patient quotes and other duplicate material were found in 78 reports. Some were allowed to stand after the copied and pasted material was removed – but re-inspections have had to be ordered for nearly 40 homes. The Care Quality Commission tells the paper that it had identified three individuals who were responsible – and immediately removed them from inspection activity. Many papers ponder the enormous political headache being created by the HS2 project. The Financial Times sets out in detail not only the spiralling costs of the line, but also that those funds could provide 200 flagship hospitals, or 1.7 million social homes – as much a stated priority for the government as narrowing the North-South divide. Hugo Gye’s analysis in the i newspaper is blunt: “Johnson has sat on the fence for long enough”. He says while the spiralling costs of HS2 had been common knowledge for months, Mr Johnson had avoided making a call on its future ahead of the general election, knowing a decision either way would anger thousands.Now, says Gye, the PM cannot walk the tightrope much longer and must face a major test rather than “ducking divisive decisions”.

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Prize-worthy? Indoor plants will have their own category at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show

“Chelsea’s potty idea” is the Daily Mail’s scathing view of a new houseplant category to be introduced by the Royal Horticultural Society at its famously glamorous London show this May. RHS Director Helena Pettit advises cheerily: “People are increasingly recognising the benefits of indoor greenery.” But the paper smells a rat, not roses. It paints the change as a bid to appeal to millennials who live in cities and don’t have a garden.The curious hunt for the “Devon turnip tosser” – as one headline puts it – features across many tabloids and broadsheets. The Telegraph reports that Devon and Cornwall Police are looking for a “prolific vegetable thrower” who’s attacked motorists from a bridge over a main road near Torquay 17 times since November. Swedes, mangel wurzels and turnips “the size of footballs” have all been weaponised, according to officers. They say whoever’s responsible has to be caught before a tragedy occurs.



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Trump impeachment trial set to open in US Senate


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Media captionA beginner’s guide to impeachment and Trump
For only the third time in history, an American president is facing an impeachment trial, with hearings set to start on Tuesday at 13:00 (18:00 GMT).Such a trial could, in theory, lead to President Donald Trump being removed from office. That outcome would be a huge shock – we’ll explain why later – but the very fact a president is facing trial is significant.Here are seven questions and answers that will help you understand the trial.1) What is impeachment?Put simply, it’s a process that allows senior figures in government to hold other officials (like judges, the president and cabinet members) to account if they’re suspected of committing offences while in office.Those offences can include “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.After someone is impeached, they then go on trial in the Senate, the members of which will decide whether they are guilty or not. It’s a political trial not a criminal one.2) What is Mr Trump accused of?He’s facing two articles of impeachment, or charges.Firstly, he’s accused of seeking help from Ukraine’s government to help himself get re-elected this November. He’s alleged to have held back millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine and dangled a proposed White House meeting with Ukraine’s president, both as bargaining chips.In exchange, witnesses say he wanted Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden, the man who’s leading the Democratic race to challenge him in the election. Polls suggest Mr Biden would beat him if chosen as the Democratic candidate.
The Trump-Ukraine story explained
Trump impeachment – your questions answered
Secondly, after the White House refused to allow staff to testify at the first impeachment hearings last year, Democrats accused Mr Trump of obstructing Congress (the part of the US government that writes and brings in laws, and which was investigating him).Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and his legal team say the “flimsy” charges are a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution”.It’s worth emphasising that this has nothing to do with the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. That ended with no further action against Mr Trump himself.3) Why is there a trial?This is what led us to this moment:

August 2019: A whistleblower made allegations against President Trump

October – December: An investigation took place, with hearings in the House of Representatives (controlled by Mr Trump’s Democratic rivals)

December: Democratic leaders from the House voted to impeach Mr Trump

January 2020: The case was passed up to the Senate (controlled by Mr Trump’s Republicans), where the trial will take place
4) What does a Senate trial involve?The US Constitution is a bit vague when it comes to the specifics of managing impeachment. But there are general rules based largely on the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. In that case, he just about kept his job.The only other president to face an impeachment trial was Bill Clinton in 1999. He too survived.
Viewpoint: Evidence for impeachment thin
Why only two articles of impeachment?
Two people are deciding how the trial will be conducted: Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, and his Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer.They’ll both have to agree guidelines for evidence, witnesses, duration and arguments. But because the Republicans control the Senate, Mr McConnell has the final say over the format of the trial. Senators will vote on the rules of the trial on Tuesday.A few rules have already been laid out: there is to be no live tweeting from the chamber, and no outside reading material should be brought in. Senators are also not allowed to speak to those sitting near them while the case is being heard.

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Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (right) will be key players in the Senate trial

Senators will hear from both sides – prosecutors from the House of Representatives and lawyers from the White House – as well as from any witnesses. After that, senators will be given a full day to deliberate before they vote on whether to convict Mr Trump.A two-thirds majority of 67 votes in the 100-seat Senate is required to convict and oust Mr Trump. But because there are only 47 Democrats (and 53 Republicans) in the Senate, the president is widely expected to be cleared.In the unlikely event of Mr Trump being found guilty, he would be removed from office and Vice-President Mike Pence would be sworn in as president.A simple majority of senators – 51 – could also vote to end the trial should they wish.5) Who are the main players?Each senator, including Mr McConnell, has delivered an oath promising to deliver “impartial justice” during the trial. But Mr McConnell – the most senior Republican in the Senate – last month said “I’m not an impartial juror” and has also said he and his party are working hand-in-hand with the White House.”Everything I do during this, I’m co-ordinating with the White House counsel,” he told Fox News, to the fury of senior Democrats.

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He won’t be presiding over the trial – that job has gone to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, although the 100 senators will ultimately act as both judge and jury. Justice Roberts is there to make sure the trial sticks to the predetermined rules.A group of seven Democrats will act as impeachment managers – essentially prosecutors for the House, who will present its case for impeachment to the Senate. They include Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, both frequent targets of Mr Trump’s anger.President Trump’s defence team will include special prosecutors from President Bill Clinton’s impeachment – Ken Starr and Robert Ray. Alan Dershowitz, whose past clients include OJ Simpson, is also part of the team which will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.

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6) Will Mr Trump give evidence?He could choose to appear before the Senate himself, but it’s much more likely that White House lawyer Pat Cipollone and Mr Trump’s own lawyer Jay Sekulow will speak on his behalf.They, like the impeachment managers, will be able to question witnesses and deliver opening and closing statements. Mr Trump is also represented by Ken Starr – who investigated Bill Clinton – and famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

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Media captionTrump says Democrats will “regret” impeachment
Mr Trump is very keen for Mr Biden to testify along with the original whistleblower. Democrats want several senior White House officials to testify, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton.But there may not be any witnesses at all if Republicans decide they would rather keep the trial short, which is possible. A simple majority of senators – 51 – is needed to agree whether witnesses (including Mr Trump) will be called or not.
A timeline of the Trump-Ukraine story
Who’s who in the Trump-Ukraine story?
Senators can ask questions of witnesses or counsellors, but only by submitting them in writing to Justice Roberts.Witnesses may not necessarily appear on the Senate floor. They could be interviewed by a committee of lawmakers, and footage of the testimony would be aired during the trial instead.Mr Clinton’s trial had no live witnesses.

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Monica Lewinsky testified in a recorded interview during her former lover Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999

7) When will this all be over?After the House presents the articles of impeachment to the Senate – a process that took three days in Mr Clinton’s trial – senators must remain in session every day except Sunday until they make a final decision.This means that the four Democratic senators who are running for the presidency – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet – will have to leave their campaigns behind for the length of the trial.The trial is likely to last for weeks but how many is anybody’s guess – Mr Clinton’s took almost a month. Democrats will hope it is all done by February and the start of the 2020 primary elections, which will decide their nominee to run against (probably) Mr Trump.



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Men make 'Earth sandwich', nearly 12,500 miles apart


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“I felt that I was making something bigger than me,” said Angel Sierra (right) after linking up with Etienne Naude (left)

Two men in New Zealand and Spain have created an “Earth sandwich” – by placing bread on precise points, either side of the planet, at the same time.The man behind the sandwich, Etienne Naude from Auckland, told the BBC he wanted to make one for “years”, but had struggled to find someone in Spain, on the other side of the globe.He finally found someone after posting on the online message board, Reddit.The men used longitude and latitude to make sure they were precisely opposite.That meant there was around 12,724km (7,917 miles) of Earth packed between the slices – and some 20,000km between the men, for those forced to travel the conventional route.The first “Earth sandwich” is credited to the American artist Ze Frank, who organised two slices of baguette to be placed in New Zealand and Spain in 2006.Others have since followed – although not all reported examples have been bona fide, opposite-point Earth sandwiches.Wanting to create his own, Mr Naude, 19, used an online longitude and latitude tool called “tunnel to the other side of the Earth” to find his exact opposite point.Learning it was in southern Spain, he then asked a “bunch of friends and family if they knew anyone from Spain in that region” but none did.So two months ago, he posted on the Spain section of the online message board Reddit. He got “a few replies” and found one person close to the precise location.Angel Sierra, a 34-year-old chef, told the BBC he replied to the message because “it can help to show how people can work together across the globe…I felt that I was making something bigger than me”.”But no, I didn’t know that earth sandwich was a thing,” he added.Six times Reddit wasn’t completely awfulOnce the men were in contact, then came the tricky part – making a sandwich with another person when you are on opposite sides of the planet.”It was quite hard to organise since it’s 12-hour time difference,” Mr Naude said. “And there’s lots of things to arrange, such as the kind of bread, the time, the [precise] location, et cetera.”Mr Naude only had to travel a few hundred metres to find a suitable public spot on his side of the world. Mr Sierra had to travel 11 km (6.8 miles).”It’s quite tough to find a spot which isn’t water on the New Zealand end – and where public roads or paths intersect in both sides,” Mr Naude said.As if he hadn’t gone to enough effort, Mr Naude – a computer science student at Auckland University – made specially-decorated white bread for the occasion.

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Etienne Naude’s Earth sandwich design, showing two slices of bread either side of the globe

Using a “near top of the range laser cutter”, he burnt an “Earth sandwich” design onto 20 slices of bread, then used one slice to mark his exact, tightly-defined sandwich spot in New Zealand.His counterpart used nine slices of unmarked bread to make sure he covered the exact spot.The composite picture, showing both men, their bread, and their co-ordinates, was then posted on Reddit – to the delight of other users.”Holidays give me lots of free time to do strange things like this,” wrote Mr Naude in response to one commenter.One user said that – with their longitude and latitude and calculations – they were within one foot of the precise opposite point.
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The scientific name for points opposite each other on the Earth’s surface is antipodes – a term sometimes used to describe New Zealand, as it is roughly opposite the UK.According to World Atlas, only around 15% of “territorial land” is antipodal to other land.The UK, Australia and most of the US do not have antipodal land points – the other side of the world is water.World Atlas says “the two largest antipodal areas inhabited by humankind are located in East Asia and South America”.

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Seven Kings stabbing: Fight 'part of ongoing dispute'


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Police were called at about 19:40 GMT on Sunday to reports of a disturbance in Elmstead Road.

A fight in which three men were stabbed to death may have been part of an “ongoing dispute”, police have said.The victims, in their late 20s and early 30s, died in Seven Kings, Ilford, east London, on Sunday evening.Two men, aged 29 and 39, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.The Metropolitan Police said it believed the five men were involved in another altercation the previous evening at the nearby Krystel Banqueting venue.It is thought those involved were known to each other and were from the Sikh and Hindu communities, the Met said.

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A number of crime scenes remain in place

Det Ch Insp Paul Considine said: “At this early stage, I do not believe this was gang or race-related.”But I believe there may have been an ongoing dispute between those involved.”We believe the five men were involved in an altercation the previous evening at Krystel Banqueting that spilled out onto the High Road.”He appealed for anyone who may have seen either incident to contact detectives.The Met said a fight broke out between two groups who were armed with knives in Elmstead Road just after 19:30 GMT on Sunday.Emergency services were called and the three victims, who are yet to be formally identified, were pronounced dead at the scene.One eyewitness described the aftermath of the fight as “absolute chaos”.

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Extra officers will be on patrol in the Seven Kings area, police said

During a visit to the area on Monday, London mayor Sadiq Khan described what had happened as “shocking, horrific and scary”.The stabbings bring the number of homicide investigations launched by the Met in 2020 to six.



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Brexit: What is a level playing field?


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“Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech at the London School of Economics. She was talking about what kind of access the United Kingdom could have to the European single market after Brexit.It is a question set to dominate negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal, which will probably begin about a month after the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), on 31 January. And the answer depends, to a large extent, on what’s known as the level playing field. To what does a level playing field refer? It is a trade-policy term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country undercutting their rivals and gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in other countries. In other words, it’s about fair and open competition – and it’s an important part of the EU single market, which is a group of countries that have agreed to make it as easy as possible for people, goods, services and money to move around between them.

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Part of a trade negotiation is working out how widespread level playing field provisions should be. But the areas in which the EU is most insistent they must be maintained are:
workers’ rights
environmental protection
taxation
state aid (or subsidies for business)

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Is the EU trying to make the UK a special case?Yes and no. On the one hand, almost all trade agreements involve level playing field provisions, because all parties are keen to ensure their businesses aren’t operating at a commercial disadvantage. And the closer a trading relationship is, the stricter those rules become. But the EU is also taking other factors into account – notably, that the UK is one of the world’s largest economies and is right on its doorstep. The political declaration that sets out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK makes this link explicit. Given the “geographic proximity and economic interdependence” of the two sides, it says, the future relationship must include “robust commitments to ensure a level playing field”.What this means in practice is if the UK wants a trade deal that involves zero tariffs (no taxes on goods crossing borders) and zero quotas (no limits on the amount of goods that can be traded), the EU will expect it to sign up to stricter rules than those set out in other recent EU trade agreements with countries such as Canada or Japan. It’s because there is far more trade involved and the stakes are higher. What are the options? Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants a zero-tariff zero-quota deal but also insists on the UK’s right to diverge or move away from EU rules and regulations when it wants to. So that could mean sticking close to EU rules in some areas but not in others. The EU adds a third zero to the equation – “zero dumping”, which means the strictest level playing field rules it can negotiate. One option is to have what are known as non-regression clauses, which means the two sides would agree not to water down the shared rules they currently have. Another, tougher, option is to insist on what’s called dynamic alignment, which would mean if the EU changed its rules in the future, the UK would automatically make the same changes.

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And that’s partly what the trade negotiations will be about?Yes. And both sides are – predictably – digging in a bit. The early signs are a number of EU countries, including those that do a lot of trade with the UK, are taking a tough line and insisting on dynamic alignment in several policy areas, including state aid and environmental regulations that affect businesses. But that won’t be acceptable in London. Last week, Chancellor Sajid Javid told the Financial Times: “There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker.” Former Prime Minister Theresa May’s initial version of the withdrawal agreement with the EU contained a series of legally binding level playing field provisions within it. Boris Johnson’s version doesn’t – it relegates most of those rules (apart from some that relate to trade between Northern Ireland and the EU) to the non-binding political declaration. So agreement on a level playing field regime is going to have to be negotiated before the end of the post-Brexit transition period, in December 2020. And it is fair to say the two sides will begin a long way apart. Not only is there disagreement on what should be covered, there is also no meeting of minds yet on how any future disputes should be resolved. It’s another reminder that, after Brexit, the UK will remain a friend and partner of the EU but it will also become a rival.

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Sperm donations from dead men should be allowed, study says


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Sperm donations taken from men after they have died should be allowed, a study says.The analysis, which is published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, claims that opt-in post-death donations could be a “morally permissible” way of increasing the stocks available. In 2017 in the UK, 2,345 babies were born after a sperm donation. However, there is a growing shortage of donations around the country because of strict regulations. Sperm can be collected after death either through electrical stimulation of the prostate gland or surgery, and can then be frozen. Evidence suggests that sperm harvested from men who have died can still result in viable pregnancies and healthy children, even when retrieved up to 48 hours after death has occurred.In the analysis, Dr Nathan Hodson, from the University of Leicester, and Dr Joshua Parker, from Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital, argue that such a method falls into similar territory to organ donation. “If it is morally acceptable that individuals can donate their tissues to relieve the suffering of others in ‘life-enhancing transplants’ for diseases, we see no reason this cannot be extended to other forms of suffering like infertility,” they said. However, it could raise questions about consent and family veto, and there are concerns about the integrity surrounding the anonymity of the donor, they added.

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In 2014, a national sperm bank serving the UK opened in Birmingham with a government grant of £77,000. Fewer than two years later, the bank had closed its doors and stopped recruiting donors. Only nine signed up after its launch, with one of those later dropping out.Since 2005, the law says that sperm donors in the UK must agree that any children born from their donations can contact them when they turn 18. ‘Challenging stigma’Former donor Jeffrey Ingold, from London, told the BBC that he believes that allowing donations after death could persuade more men to consider becoming donors. “I do not see how introducing a system that makes sperm donation similar to organ donation could be anything other than a good thing,” he said. “For me, donating sperm was never about my own genes or anything like that, but it was about helping friends in need.”I also think that having this kind of process might go some way in challenging the stigma or preconceived ideas society has about sperm donation.”He added: “If people knew more about the process and were able to make more informed decisions about whether to become a sperm donor, I think we’d see a lot more people opting in to doing so.”

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Jeffrey Ingold believes the spread of misinformation is stopping men from becoming donors

However, Prof Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, argued it would be a “step backward” in the donation process. “I’d much rather that we invested our energy in trying to recruit younger, healthy, willing donors who stand a good chance of being alive when the donor-conceived person starts to become curious about them, and would have the opportunity to make contact with them without the aid of a spiritualist.”Legal precedent In 1997, a woman won the right to be allowed to use her dead husband’s sperm.Stephen Blood caught meningitis in February 1995, two months after trying to start a family with his wife Diane.He lapsed into a coma and died before agreeing in writing for his sperm to be used, although two samples had been removed at Mrs Blood’s request.The 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act banned Mrs Blood from using her husband’s sperm without his written consent.However, the Court of Appeal later ruled Mrs Blood should be allowed to seek fertility treatment within the European Community but not in the UK.Mrs Blood gave birth to her son Joel – using her husband’s frozen sperm – in 2002, and the following year she won a legal battle to have her late partner legally recognised as the father.



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Stuart Bingham: Masters champion 'will always have haters' despite victory


Masters 2020: Bingham wins thrilling Masters final – best shots

Stuart Bingham says he “will always have haters” after becoming the oldest winner of the Masters and claiming his second Triple Crown event title.Bingham, 43, defeated Ali Carter 10-8 in a thrilling final at Alexandra Palace to add to his shock World Championship triumph five years ago.He missed the 2018 Masters as he served a six-month ban for betting breaches.Bingham, who had denied betting on his own matches, said people “still call me a cheat”.The Basildon player was sanctioned in October 2017 for breaking rules which state players are not allowed to bet on their own matches or those involving other professionals.But despite a World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) probe acknowledging there was no suggestion that Bingham aimed to “influence matches or engage in any corrupt activity”, some critics on social media have still not forgiven him for the incident.The detractors also suggest he got lucky by winning the 2015 World title in Sheffield, while this latest victory came in a tournament which seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan decided not to enter.
Stuart Bingham beat Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson, David Gilbert and Ali Carter to win the 2020 Masters”The people in the game know my World Championship win was not a fluke,” he told BBC Sport. “You will always have haters, even with winning this.”People will say I got lucky or I won because Ronnie was not playing. No matter how much you explain to them, or talk to them about what did not happen with the betting, they don’t believe you – they will still call me a cheat.Asked if the criticism hurt, Bingham tapped the Paul Hunter Trophy beside him and said: “It did, but with this little beauty now, it does not hurt any more. You can say what you want, I am more strong-minded and I will get on with my life.”Bingham aims to complete Triple Crown seriesBefore this month’s tournament, Bingham’s record at the Masters was dreadful, with eight first-round defeats from nine previous appearances.But he has now won two of snooker’s biggest prizes – along with a record £250,000 winners’ prize money – and will aim to complete the Triple Crown series by winning the UK Championship.Should he manage to do so, he will join an elite list of only 11 players to have achieved the feat, including seven who are still competing.
Players who have won all three BBC events – the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters – now have a golden crown on their waistcoats, as John Higgins has in this pictureBingham had led 5-3 after the first session of the final, but fell 7-5 behind to Carter before launching a devastating comeback of his own, winning the match in style with his only century break of the whole tournament.”I have been close to getting to the UK final three times and it would be great [to win it],” he said. “If I play like I did then anything is possible. If it does not happen, then I have still had a good career.”Every tournament I am winning, I am putting myself into the history of the sport and to claim that would be fantastic. Growing up as a kid, watching the likes of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, to have a chance to be amongst that would be unbelievable.”The money is great, it helps you live and that comes and goes, but my name is etched on the trophy forever. That means the world to me.”More tattoos to come

Bingham has a keen interest in tattoos and has an animal inked on his back every time he wins a trophy.Currently, he has three lions to signify his wins in England at the World Championship, English Open and Premier League, a koala for the Australia Open, a barbary ape for the Gibraltar Open and a double-headed dragon for claiming the Shanghai Masters and Welsh Open.When asked what he will get done next, Bingham was open to suggestions.He added: “I would like to keep the animal theme going, what can we come up with? My tattooist was with me and I will see what he says. I want to get my sleeve done, maybe it will just be a symbol of the trophy?”

A device planted in the crowd gives the fans a laugh during the Masters final



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'We'll get it all on the table and sort it out' – Jones encourages England players to talk about Saracens


Saracens have made mistakes but it’s time to fix it – Jones

England are to hold talks to resolve any anger among the squad resulting from Saracens’ salary cap scandal.Seven members of Eddie Jones’ 34-man squad play for Sarries, who will be relegated at the end of the season.None of Jones’ current squad have been critical of the club’s conduct in public but Jones will preside over discussions at England’s training camp.”We have got to debrief Saracens,” Jones said. “We need to get everything out on the table and sort it out.”Jones’ squad begins a seven-day training camp in Portugal on Thursday, to prepare for their Six Nations opener against France on 2 February.The party includes the influential Sarries trio Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola, and Jones will encourage a frank exchange of views in the Algarve.”We are not robots,” Jones said. “You don’t know how long it is going to take. It could take longer, but we will sort it out.”It’s common sense – say what you feel. If players are angry about it then say it, get it out on the table.”We have got players from potentially 12 different clubs – 12 different ideas of what is right and what is wrong – and we will help them sort it out.”I’m mindful of it (any tensions), but it’s also a great opportunity for us and the squad to get even tighter because problems are always there.”Now obviously there’s quite a large problem at the moment, but if we can solve it and relationships get stronger because of it, the binding factor for all the players is they all want to play for England, they want England to win so that’s a unifying force.”‘Sarries have made mistakes, now it’s time to fix it’Premiership Rugby conducted an investigation into potential salary cap breaches by Saracens last year and their initial punishment was announced days after England’s World Cup final defeat last November.Sarries have since accepted relegation to the Championship and this is the first time the England squad will get together since losing to South Africa in Japan.”It’s been a difficult time,” said Jones. “They’ve obviously made mistakes Saracens, and now is the time to fix it, but our job is to make sure people remember the good things about English rugby, so we’ve got a great opportunity against France to put rugby back on the back pages for the right reasons.”Saracens players can still play for England even if they are playing in the second tier but the club’s director of rugby Mark McCall has said the squad will be broken up.”It’s a difficult situation,” Jones added. “You sign for a club with a perception of what’s going to happen, and then it gets taken away.”But they’re good players, they know how to prepare well for games, they know where to put issues that aren’t pertinent at that particular time, because for the next 10 days the only thing they’ve got to worry about is getting right to play against France.”They know they’ve got to be in the best condition because otherwise they won’t get picked, and they want to get picked – they’ve all got a lot of pride and passion to play for England.”



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