BBC 2024-02-28 16:31:35


Alexei Navalny’s funeral to be held on Friday in Moscow

Alexei Navalny will be buried in Moscow on Friday, a spokesperson has confirmed.

The service will be held at Borisovskoye Cemetery, after a farewell service at a Moscow church.

In a speech on Wednesday, the opposition leader’s widow Yulia said she didn’t know if the funeral would be peaceful or if police would arrest those who came to say goodbye.

Alexei Navalny died suddenly in an Arctic prison earlier this month.

For years, he was the most high-profile critic of Vladimir Putin. His widow has blamed the Russian president for his death, as have many world leaders.

Few details have been released on the cause of his death, and Russian authorities initially refused to hand Navalny’s body over to his mother Lyudmila. They finally relented eight days after he died.

On Tuesday, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said his team were struggling to find somewhere to hold the ceremony – some funeral homes had claimed they were fully booked, she said, while others had refused when they found out who the event was for.

“One place told us that funeral agencies were forbidden from working with us,” Ms Yarmysh posted on social media.

Details of the funeral came as Ms Navalnaya addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

In it, she condemned Russia’s “brutal and sneaky” war in Ukraine, and said the West’s strategy for taking on Russia has not worked.

“You can’t hurt Putin with another resolution or another set of sanctions that is no different from the previous ones.”

Instead, she urged MEPs to take inspiration from her late husband, calling him “an inventor” who “always had new ideas for everything, but especially for politics”.

“You have to stop being boring,” she said.

Navalny’s team had originally wanted to hold the funeral on 29 February, but “it quickly became clear that there was not a single person around who could dig a grave on that day”, Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on X.

He implied that the reason for this was because Mr Putin is due to make a major speech on the same day.

“The Kremlin understands that nobody will care for Putin and his address on the day of Alexei’s farewell,” Mr Zhdanov wrote.

He also encouraged people to arrive early “to have a chance to say goodbye to Alexei”.

A farewell ceremony will take place in the morning, followed by the funeral service at 14:00 (11:00 GMT) and the burial at 16:00 (13:00 GMT).

Since Navalny’s death at a notorious penal colony in the Arctic Circle on 16 February, some 400 people have been arrested across Russia after laying flowers for him, according to human rights group, OVO-Info.

His funeral on Friday is likely to be subject to a heavy police presence.

Earlier this week, an ally of Navalny alleged he was about to be freed in a prisoner swap when he died – but that President Putin changed his mind at the last moment.

The Kremlin has said it was unaware of such a deal.

Additional reporting by Tiffany Wertheimer and Ben Tobias.

Alexei Navalny: More coverage

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  • STEVE ROSENBERG: Grief, defiance and hope among Navalny supporters
  • WATCH: Oscar-winning BBC documentary on Navalny

Prince Harry loses High Court challenge over UK security levels

Prince Harry has lost a High Court challenge against the government over the level of his security in the UK.

The Duke of Sussex failed to overturn a previous ruling which saw his security status downgraded after he stopped being a working royal.

The High Court found that decision was neither unlawful nor irrational.

Prince Harry will seek to appeal the latest ruling, with a legal spokesperson saying he “hopes he will obtain justice”.

His lawyers had argued the way the decision was made had been unfair, which the High Court ruling said was not the case.

Prince Harry launched the legal challenge after being told he would no longer be given the same degree of publicly-funded protection when in the country.

The Home Office had said his security on UK visits would be arranged depending on the perceived risk, as it is with other high-profile visiting dignitaries, and said on Wednesday it was “pleased” by the court’s finding.

Arguing against the duke’s challenge, Home Office lawyers previously told the High Court Prince Harry would still have publicly-funded police security, but these would be “bespoke arrangements, specifically tailored to him”, rather than the automatic security provided for full-time working royals.

Much of the legal proceedings, which covered security arrangements for senior figures, were held in private in December, with the ruling by retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane published on Wednesday morning.

It could have implications for the duke’s future visits to the UK, as he previously argued that the lower level of security has made it difficult to bring his family to the country.

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In the ruling, Sir Peter rejected the duke’s case, finding that there had not been any unlawfulness in reaching the decision to downgrade Prince Harry’s security status, and that any departure from policy was justified.

It found the decision was not irrational, or procedurally unfair.

In the 51-page, partially redacted document, Sir Peter said Harry’s lawyers had taken “an inappropriate… interpretation” of how he got security under the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (Ravec) which arranges security for members of the Royal Family and other VIPs. It has delegated responsibility from the Home Office, and has involvement from the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office and the royal household.

The ruling also found that the “‘bespoke’ process devised” for Prince Harry by Ravec “was, and is, legally sound”.

Going into more detail on Prince Harry’s position, Sir Peter wrote in his ruling that the duke “considers he should receive protective security from the State, whenever he is in Great Britain, because of his position within the Royal Family and factors concerning his past and present situations. Ravec did not share this view.”

He went on to say that in January 2020, the cabinet secretary told Prince Harry’s private secretary “that the claimant should have no expectation of his existing security arrangements remaining the same” and this was “reiterated” at another meeting later in month.

Examples of the prince’s security concerns were also revealed in the judgement, which highlighted evidence submitted during the case.

It said a letter was sent by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private secretary in February 2020 to the then cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, in which the duke “could not see how he could have his security removed, unless the current risk to him and his family had decreased”.

It said the prince asked “who would be willing to put him and his family in a position of extreme vulnerability and risk – ‘a position that no one was willing to put my mother in 23 years ago – and yet today, with greater risk, as mentioned above, with the additional layers of racism and extremism, someone is comfortable taking accountability for what could happen. I would like that person’s name who is willing to take accountability for this choice please'”.

Last year, Prince Harry lost a separate legal bid to be allowed to make private payments for police protection when he was visiting the UK, in a case that also focused on concerns about reduced security since ceasing to be a full-time working royal.

In his ruling, Sir Peter found the offer from the duke to pay for his security would have been refused “on the basis that person is either entitled to the relevant protection as a member of the Ravec cohort, or they are not”.

A spokesperson for Prince Harry said he would appeal against Wednesday’s judgement.

“The duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with Ravec’s own written policy,” they said in a statement.

They added that “Ravec failed to apply its written policy to the Duke of Sussex and excluded him from a particular risk analysis”.

However, in Sir Peter’s ruling he said undergoing a risk assessment “is not a right or even a benefit. It is… an analytical tool”.

Prince Harry’s spokesperson argued that the “so-called ‘bespoke process’ that applies to him, is no substitute for that risk analysis”.

They added: “The Duke of Sussex hopes he will obtain justice from the Court of Appeal, and makes no further comment while the case is ongoing.”

Prince Harry, who was not present for the December hearing, lives in the US with his wife Meghan, and their two children.

Recent visits by the duke to the UK have been fleeting. Earlier this month, the 39-year-old spent just over 24 hours in the UK after travelling to the country for a 45-minute meeting with his father, after King Charles’ cancer diagnosis.

Prince Harry’s last appearance at a royal occasion took place in May, during the King’s Coronation.

That too was short, with the duke leaving immediately after the ceremony in Westminster Abbey. However, a source told US media outlet Page Six at the time that Prince Harry intended to make “every effort” to get back in time for his son, Archie’s birthday – which was on the same day.

Harry’s strained relationship with his family is also thought to have played a role in the shortness of his visits.

Following the ruling, a Home Office spokesperson said it was “pleased that the court has found in favour of the government’s position in this case, and we are carefully considering our next steps”.

They continued: “The UK government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate.

“It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements, as doing so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals’ security.”

While he did not appear in public after the ruling, Prince Harry appeared in a video for a charity of which he is a patron.

In a brief on-camera message for the WellChild Award nominations, the duke hailed the “extraordinary strength and spirit” of young people with complex medical conditions.

Valencia fire: Grenfell-style cladding fear after blaze

Families bereaved by the Grenfell Tower fire have laid flowers at the building in Valencia that was destroyed in last week’s fatal blaze.

Meeting emergency responders, they said there were direct parallels between the 2017 disaster in London and the fire in Spain, in which 10 people died.

Construction pictures suggest the cladding used on the building may be of a type now banned in the UK.

The manufacturer Alucoil has been contacted for a response.

Three people affected by the Grenfell fire travelled to Valencia to show solidarity to those who died, along with two people who were impacted by a fire at apartments in Milan in 2021.

Sawsan Choucair whose mother, sister, nieces and brother-in-law died in Grenfell said she was confronted by “the same scene of destruction, the same image, even the same smell of burning plastic.”

She said: “My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones. It is an unimaginable pain that we experienced, and it never goes away.

“For these Spanish families to experience it now is devastating.”

“My greatest fear is who’s next?”

Images of the construction of the building on Avenue del General Avilés, retrieved from Google Maps in 2008, suggest the cladding panels used were made by the Spanish multinational Alucoil.

The pictures show a protective covering marked “Larson”.

Alucoil has produced three types of cladding panel and the BBC has not been able to verify which ones have been used in the building. However, one of the cladding panels it produces, Larson PE, is known to be highly combustible.

It is no longer marketed by the company but, according to marketing materials, it was available as late as 2018, the year after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Larson PE has a layer of polyethylene, a highly flammable plastic.

This product, along with another more fire-retardant version, Larson FR, would likely be banned for use on many buildings above 18m in the UK today, due to changes in the law following the Grenfell Tower fire, though the new rules are complex.

Experts say a third version, Larson A2, with the highest performance in fire, would not have been on the market in 2008.

In a video of the early stages of the fire, seen by BBC News, the flames are spreading in a similar way to those in the Grenfell disaster. The fire is moving up and down the edges of the cladding panels.

The Larson PE product is similar to Reynobond PE, the cladding blamed for allowing the Grenfell fire to spread so quickly. Both have been given, in some tests, a European classification of E for reaction to fire.

The ratings go from A1, which is best, to F.

Products with an E rating make a “high contribution to fire” according to the European standard.

The BBC has contacted Alucoil for a response.

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MLK Jr, a misunderstood icon of US history

“My work is simply an attempt to say to America that you have a marvellous ideal, and that you should live up to it,” said Martin Luther King Jr in an exclusive 1961 BBC interview. What is the truth behind the mythology that surrounds the civil rights leader?

“It is never easy for one to accept the role of symbolism without going through constant moments of self-examination,” the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr told the BBC’s Face to Face programme in 1961.

The BBC’s interview took place between two milestones in the civil rights movement. It was recorded six years after King led the 381-day boycott of Montgomery’s buses following Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man, and two years before he made his I Have a Dream speech at the 1963 March on Washington. John Freeman’s interview explores the early experiences that helped to form King’s political and ethical outlook.

Martin Luther King Jr is known as the face of the mid-20th Century fight for civil rights, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the only non-president whose birthday is a US holiday.

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Born in a deeply segregated Atlanta, Georgia, on 15 January 1929, he was initially named Michael after his father Rev Michael King, who was senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. However, on a trip to Germany, King Sr was inspired to change his name and his son’s name to Martin, after the leader of the Protestant Reformation.

Growing up in the church and experiencing a “relatively strict” upbringing, King Jr enrolled in Morehouse College at the age of 15 and joined his family’s long line of pastors, earning a degree in divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary. Later, at Boston University, King earned a doctorate in systematic theology.

“I had no idea that I would be catapulted into a position of leadership and the civil rights struggle,” says King.

Watch: ‘I don’t think anyone in a situation like this can go through it without confronting moments of real fear’.

MLK’s legacy plays a principal role in the messy project of the United States. Even his most famous speech, I Have a Dream, is quintessentially American: inspired by the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

“My work is simply an attempt to say to America that you have a marvellous ideal, and that you should live up to it,” says Martin Luther King in the BBC interview.

“This problem can be solved in the United States if enough people give themselves to it; if they devote their lives to breaking down all of the barriers that separate men from men on the basis of race or colour,” he says.

Yet that was still a long way off. “The vast majority [of Black Americans] still confront problems of economic insecurity and social isolation,” King told the BBC in 1961.

Watch: ‘We struggled for 381 days, but at the end of that, we returned to thoroughly integrated buses’.

Today, his daughter, Dr Bernice King, tends to agree with her father’s assessment. Bernice King tells the BBC that “token integration” remains pervasive and perfunctory.

“You’ll see a little bit more than one token chosen, but it’s still not a true representation across the board, especially in places of significant influence.”

Legacy is top of mind for Bernice King: the legacy of her family, herself and the greater mission of nonviolent resistance. Her father represents a “vast yet comprehensive” inspiration for her work as a lawyer and minister.

“He had this great capacity to understand humanity and to speak in a way that pierced through and awakened people to a greater sense,” she says.

Watch: ‘In my days in Atlanta as a child, there was a pretty strict system of segregation’.

Bernice King is MLK’s youngest child, now the CEO of the King Center, a non-profit education site founded by her mother Coretta Scott King.

As a child, “I knew that I would have influence in some arena related to serving humanity,” Bernice King says. She was five years old when her father was killed by a white supremacist in Memphis, Tennessee.

Remembering Dr Martin Luther King’s memory “is a powerful political tool” in the story of the US, says Dr Hajar Yazdiha, a sociology scholar who wrote The Struggle for the People’s King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement, which traced 40 years of the misuses of King’s legacy (such as using MLK quotes to oppose the Obama presidency). The sanitisation of Dr King’s life story has “dangerous consequences for democracy”, says Dr Yazdiha, who believes that the stakes of misrepresenting such a key figure in US history are high.

The politics of revisionist history is not just about keeping us from understanding the past. It’s about ensuring we cannot understand the present – Dr Hajar Yazdiha

“Our collective memories are the stories that make up our national identity, our understandings of who we are as a nation and as a people,” Dr Yazdiha tells the BBC. “The way we tell the story teaches us who the heroes and villains are, both in the past and today.”

Warning against the danger of “crafting a comfortable and quotable King” at the 2023 commemorative service for her father, Bernice King says that she “constantly studies and discovers” the complexities of Kingian non-violent resistance. “There’s a great misunderstanding of my father because we’ve just studied a little portion of him that fits or aligns with the work we’re doing.”

The dangers of becoming a symbol

There is a risk of skewing history when a person becomes a symbol of a continuing movement, argues Dr Yazdiha. “The politics of revisionist history is not just about keeping us from understanding the past. It’s about ensuring we cannot understand the present, because if we were to understand the roots of our present-day problems, we might be moved to come together and mobilise for deeper systemic change.”

Both Bernice King and Dr Yazdiha point to the misreading of King in the US education system, especially the neatly tied and rose-tinted tales of the civil rights movement in textbooks. King’s own remarks have been used in recent years to restrict education in the US, with laws passed in 44 states prohibiting racial education. There are even bans against books about MLK.

“It’s been a consistent problem, the issue from the education standpoint,” Bernice says. “I feel that is the place where we ought to discuss, to dialogue. That’s the whole purpose of education.”

Bernice Albertina with mother, Coretta Scott, and uncle, AD King, shortly after the assassination of her father, Martin Luther King Jr (Credit: Getty Images)

It’s a deep and dangerous irony that King, today one of the most celebrated figures in US history, is misunderstood, says Dr Yazdiha – emphasising that he was a fierce campaigner against militarism, poverty and racism, which he called the “three evils of society“.

“I turn to the legacies of the civil rights movement as guidance, because they remind us that this messy work is not about pitting one group against another or reversing the power structure to dominate other people,” says Dr Yazdiha.

For those who knew and studied King, “the long and bitterbut beautifulstruggle for a new world” is still worth fighting for. “I’m his daughter, and I do a lot of self-examination in light of the things that he’s saying,” says Bernice. “How do we work through the complexity of these issues? How do we create a coexistence that doesn’t suppress, silence or sideline?”

In History is a series which uses the BBC’s unique audio and video archive to explore historical events that still resonate today.

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The cheapest plant milk to make at home

Plant-based milks have skyrocketed in popularity. But they’re still more expensive to buy than cow’s milk. Lucy Sherriff explores if it’s cheaper just to make her own.
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I often like to say that I was drinking plant-based milks before it was cool. I’ve had a dairy allergy my entire life, but it used to be pretty hard to find dairy-free alternatives – the only option I had for my morning cereal was a particular brand of soya milk – a thick and slightly sweet grey liquid. It didn’t bother me because I never knew any different.

But how times have changed! The choice of plant milks is now intimidatingly large. Along with their popularity has come controversy too, including an EU-wide ban on giving products dairy-like names

This popularity is partly driven by consumers’ growing preference for more sustainable food and drink choices. “They’re attractive to people who are concerned about climate change and want to lower the carbon footprint of their diets,” says Aviva Musicus, adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard’s T H Chan School of Public Health.

Producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk and it uses nine times more land, a 2018 study found. 

Despite their explosion in popularity, they remain substantially more costly compared to dairy milk. Coffee shops often still charge extra money for dairy-free cappuccinos, and in US supermarkets plant-based milk costs an average of $7.27 (£5.73) a gallon compared to $4.21 (£3.32) a gallon for cow’s milk. (This is in part due to dairy farms having an exceptionally efficient supply chain simply because they’ve been around for so long).

And just because they don’t come from a cow doesn’t mean plant-based milks have a low impact on the environment. “Not all plant-based diets conferred the same health and environmental benefits,” says Musicus, who conducted research on the impacts of plant-based diets.

Almond milk, which is the favourite dairy-free option in the US, has a particularly bad rep. California produces 80% of the world’s almonds and one single almond grown in the state uses 4.6 litres (one gallon) of water. The way almonds are conventionally farmed is also bad for bees. There are also problems when it comes to rice and coconut milk. Rice is a water-guzzling crop, and there can be ethical problems in the coconut supply chain.

So it’s over to oat, hemp and soy, which are all more environmentally friendly options.

But our dietary choices are partly influenced by cost, and if plant-based milks cost more because of the process and packaging involved, then could the problem be solved by just making it ourselves? I set myself this sustainability challenge and was surprised to find that evenwhen making milk at home worked out to be more expensive than buying milk in store, I actually really enjoyed doing it – and it was incredibly easy. I enjoy being in control of where my food comes from and what goes into it – and this felt like one step closer to that.

I tried making oat, soy and hemp milk – the three most environmentally-friendly plant-based milks (Credit: Lucy Sherriff)

The wild card: hemp

I decided to experiment with the poster child of the hippie community: hemp. It took a little extra effort to source – I had to go to a big supermarket rather than my local one – so when it comes to convenience, hemp is not your friend. I’ve always found hemp milk to be watery with a strange aftertaste so I was curious to see if I could get a better flavour by making it at home.

The answer was, not really. Next time I’ll try adding a dash of vanilla extract and a couple of dates to balance the earthy nutty taste. But it was very easy to make – unlike most nuts, no straining was needed. I added the seeds, water and salt to the blender and whizzed it for one minute.

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The cost? The 32 fluid oz (950ml) of hemp milk cost me about $6 (£4.73). To make this amount of hemp milk, you need 4oz (113g) of hulled hemp seeds, which costs $4.50 (£3.54). So, in this case, it does usually work out cheaper to make your own – especially if you buy the seeds in bulk.

The tastiest one: almonds

I didn’t go out and buy any almonds – they cost about $12 for a 10oz (280g) bag – as I felt using what I had in the cupboard was in the true spirit of sustainability. They were roasted, which added an extra je ne sais quoi. I had to soak the almonds in water for a minimum of six hours, so they went in the fridge overnight. The next day I blended the soaked nuts and water for a couple of minutes. Then I had to squeeze my nuts. The recipe called for a nut bag, which I do not own, so I settled for kitchen towel. I squeezed the mixture through the kitchen paper, and it got messy. Next time I’ll invest the couple of dollars to buy one.

The almonds made just under 700ml (23floz) of milk. The cheap almond milk costs about $4 (£3.15) for 32floz (950ml), the fancier stuff comes in at $7 (£5.51) for 28floz (829ml) so it’s decidedly not cheaper to make your own. Although it is far tastier than the milk I buy from the store – it was richer and didn’t have this weird aftertaste that I find most almond milk has.

Trusty and reliable: oat milk

This is the one that I was most looking forward to because my household gets through oat milk by the gallon. And I don’t like that a lot of oat milks use xanthan gum or oil – the thought of pouring oil over my cereal weirds me out – in their recipes to get the milk to that creamy texture.

I did a lot of research on this one because I had heard horror stories of gloopy slime. Oats are sensitive. Rolled oats must be used – none of those quick cook or steel cut types. And the key for the perfect texture is ice cold water – heat makes oats starchy and gummy. There’s no soaking involved, and you actually shouldn’t wring oats out like one does with almonds – that’s how they get slimy and grainy. And don’t over blend! Just 30 seconds should be enough. I didn’t need a nut bag, I used a sieve and it worked just fine.

You need to add ice cold water to make your own tasty oat milk (Credit: Lucy Sherriff)

The organic oats I buy cost $11 (£8.7) for 16oz (450g). This recipe called for 4oz (113g) of oats that made almost 24oz (710ml) of milk (you do lose some in the straining process). The oat milk I buy costs $6 (£4.73) for 64floz (1.8l), so it’d cost me $8.25 (£6.5) to make the same amount. It wasn’t cheaper to make it myself, but I enjoyed using organic oats and controlling what went into the milk. I liked the result so much I even made a second batch, this time with dates – and then another load with a pinch of salt. My favourite was the final sweet-and-salty combination of dates and salt. I have ambitious goals of branching out into chocolate or vanilla oat milk.

I’ll admit it was a fun experiment, and I very much enjoyed tailoring the taste with pinches of salt, or a couple of dates here and there. I love cooking though, and as it was an experiment it didn’t feel like a chore. It’s also nice to know that if I bought in bulk I would be saving on packaging and I’m definitely open to experimenting with other “milks”. Perhaps I’ll try peas next time – although I’ve heard pea milk tastes rather grassy.

But I can’t imagine rushing around in the morning meticulously measuring and blending because I forgot to make milk the night before.

Carolyn Dimitri, a food systems economist at New York University, agrees. “I think [plant milks] are easy to make at home,” she says. “The trade-offs: you need time to make the milks at home, so you would need to factor in the time cost in addition to the money cost of the ingredients. In general, people value convenience and so I can’t imagine the typical person would be willing to make plant-based milks regularly.”

The most compelling reason for making plant-based milks at home, Dimitri continues, is what drew me the most – homemade milk doesn’t contain additives such as gums and thickeners.

As always, it comes down to whether it’s more time-efficient to make my own, or just add a carton of oat milk to my trolley at the supermarket. But it’s the perfect choice for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

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