INDEPENDENT 2024-03-02 10:40:04


Met Office issues weather warning for snow across parts of UK

Some Britons have been warned to prepare for snow today as the Met Office issues a weather warning in some areas of the country.

Gloucester, Worcester, and Wiltshire residents will see a spell of snow amounting to 3cm in some places today as the forecaster warns that the weather could affect train and car journeys.

The yellow weather warning came into place at 6am on Saturday and is set to remain until 10am – affected major cities Bristol and Bath.

“Rain will turn to snow at times this morning,” the Met Office said.

“Not everywhere will see snow, and it may not settle on roads in some places. However, a few spots could see 1 to 3 cm accumulate. From mid morning any snow should turn to rain or die out, with lying snow thawing rapidly.”

The warning added: “Some roads and railways likely to be affected with longer journey times by road, bus and train services.”

The forecasters shared the warning to X, formerly known as Twitter, and received reports of snow from people on the ground.

One X user shared a picture of their back garden blanketed in snow and said: “Can confirm snow in Gloucestershire!”

National Highways also shared a warning for drivers in the South West and urged them to drive carefully.

“Please allow extra time this morning if you’re travelling in the region as there’s been a flurry of snow across our network,” it said.

“Be reminded that gritting doesn’t prevent snow from settling on the road. A yellow Met Office snow warning is in place until 10:00.”

The Met Office’s weather forecast predicts snow further north later in the day also.

Throughout the day, most of the country can expect rain showers as well as “chilly” temperatures, with showers spreading into Scotland overnight falling as hill snow.

Sunday will to complete the forecast of a gloomy weekend, with a cold start expected.

It comes after the Met Office revealed that England and Wales had their respective warmest Februarys on record according to provisional Met Office statistics.

The average temperature in England for February 2024 was 7.5°C, topping the previous record of 7.0°C set in 1990. Wales saw an average mean temperature at 6.9°C for the month, marginally ahead of 1998’s record of 6.8°C.

Here’s the Met Office’s full weather forecast for the coming days:

A cold start with some frost. Generally unsettled with showers, these persistent at times, with snow possible in the morning. Some brighter interludes away from showers, though cloudy in the north of Scotland with rain. Windy around coasts. Feeling chilly.

Frequent showers across the north of England, spreading into Scotland overnight and falling as hill snow. Elsewhere, clear skies and lighter winds allowing some patchy frost and fog to develop.

A cold start with fog clearing. Rain becoming confined to the northeast of Scotland, with a chance of some rain in the far east. Otherwise mostly dry with sunny spells.

Generally unsettled with rain and showers, and often breezy. Heavy rain possible in the southwest on Monday. Turning drier and more settled towards the weekend and temperatures staying around average.

‘Huge relief’ as Sarah Ferguson’s friend provides cancer update

The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson has reportedly been told that there appears to be no further spread of her skin cancer, after two back-to-back health scares.

Ms Ferguson was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in January, just six months after treatment for breast cancer and undergoing breast reconstruction surgery.

The ex-wife of Prince Andrew underwent examinations of the skin in the area around the malignant mole, and learned that it was all “free of cancer”, the Daily Mail has reported, citing her friend.

“She’s undergone further surgery following the melanoma diagnosis to examine the area around the mole that was found to be malignant and her lymph nodes,” said the friend of the duchess, who was not named.

“The good news is that these have all been found to be free of cancer so it looks like there has been no spread of the disease and the prognosis is good, though she’ll have to have regular check-ups going forward.

“It’s a huge relief for Sarah and the entire family after the most stressful time and an anxious wait for results.”

Doctors have advised her to be vigilant and undergo regular check-ups every 12 weeks while still refraining from using the term “cancer free” for her, sources close to the duchess said.

“She is very lucky that the melanoma was caught early thanks to the vigilance of her dermatologist, who asked for a number of moles to be checked while she was undergoing reconstructive surgery after her mastectomy,” her friend said.

Her friend said that she will now be “banging the drum” to make more people aware of the need for regular check-ups and urging people not to miss mammograms or getting moles checked.

“Her intention will be to get the message out about the importance of being vigilant about checking the size, shape, colour and texture of moles. If melanoma is caught early, it can be treated very effectively,” her friend added.

The mother of princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wrote in late January that she was in “shock” after being diagnosed with a malignant melanoma after undergoing surgery for breast cancer, but added that she remains in “good spirits”.

Breaking her silence for the first time since the news emerged, she also gave her thanks to those rallying around her and praised the medics who cared for her in a social media post.

She had several moles removed during breast reconstruction surgery, with one of them being identified as cancerous.

Her diagnosis was one among a series of health scares to hit the royal family. It comes as King Charges was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer during a check-up last month on an unrelated, enlarged prostate that proved to be benign.

A statement issued by Buckingham Palace read: “His Majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”

Around the same time, the Princess of Wales was recuperating after being discharged from hospital at the end of January, having undergone successful, planned abdominal surgery.

Ms Ferguson is now planning to travel to Australia in the next few days to see her sister and celebrate. She is slated to take part in the Global Citizen Now forum in Melbourne.

“She is overjoyed”, her friend said.

Fashion icon and ‘geriatric starlet’ Iris Apfel dies aged 102

American interior designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel has died at the age of 102.

The self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” worked for decades in the textile industry before she soared to fame as an octogenarian with recognition of her eccentric design sense.

Apfel’s signature look was characterised by her oversized glasses, layers of chunky jewellery and colourful and eclectic clothing, with her bob-cut white hair.

The death of the “extraordinary” Apfel was confirmed by her commercial agent, Lori Sale, who did not provide a cause of death. It is believed she died at her home in Palm Beach, Florida.

The news came on her verified Instagram page on Friday, which a day earlier had celebrated that Leap Day represented her 102nd-and-a-half birthday.

Born on 29 August 1921 to a Jewish family in New York, Apfel began by studying the history of art and specialised in interior design, becoming an expert on textiles and antique fabrics.

She and her husband Carl Apfel owned a textile manufacturing company, Old World Weavers, and specialised in restoration work, including projects at the White House under six different US presidents. Apfel‘s celebrity clients included Estee Lauder and Greta Garbo.

Apfel’s public profile skyrocketed in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City curated a show dedicated to her, titled Rara Avis, which means “rare bird” in Latin.

The museum celebrated her style, describing it as “both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic”. It happened out of sheer luck as the museum was looking for a last-minute replacement but ended up becoming a hit and gained an avalanche of publicity.

She amassed nearly 3 million followers on Instagram, where her profile declares: “More is more & Less is a Bore”. On TikTok, she drew a following of 215,000 as she shared insights on fashion and style while also promoting her recent collaborations.

“Being stylish and being fashionable are two entirely different things,” she said in one TikTok video. “You can easily buy your way into being fashionable. Style, I think is in your DNA. It implies originality and courage.”

In 2011, she told The New York Times: “When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

She then became a subject of the documentary Iris, an Albert Maysles production first aired in 2014. It became available for movie enthusiasts a year later in America and Britain.

It was hailed by movie critic Manohla Dargis of The New York Times as “an insistent rejection of monocultural conformity” and “a delightful eye-opener about life, love, statement eyeglasses, bracelets the size of tricycle tires and the art of making the grandest of entrances”.

In 2016, Apfel appeared in a television commercial for the French car DS 3, became the ambassador for the Australian brand Blue Illusion, and initiated a collaboration with the start-up WiseWear. The following year, Mattel crafted a unique Barbie doll in her likeness, although it was not available for sale.

She described herself as the “accidental icon”, which later became the title of her autobiography she published in 2018 filled with her mementoes and style musings.

When asked for fashion advice in 2017 by the Associated Press, she said: “Everybody should find her own way. I’m a great one for individuality. I don’t like trends. If you get to learn who you are and what you look like and what you can handle, you’ll know what to do.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Lone killer whale kills and eviscerates great white shark in 2 minutes

Scientists have published dramatic footage of the moment a lone killer whale hunted and ate a great white shark off the coast of South Africa, in the first documented incident of its kind.

Researchers said the “unprecedented” display of predatory prowess unfolded in a matter of just two minutes, from the moment the orca struck the shark on its pectoral fin to the extraction of the fish’s nutrient-rich liver.

The attack occurred off the coast of Mossel Bay in South Africa on 18 June 2023 and involved a killer whale who has previously been observed by scientists, nicknamed Starboard, attacking a juvenile great white shark.

“The astonishing predation, off the coast of Mossel Bay, South Africa, represents unprecedented behavior underscoring the exceptional proficiency of the killer whale,” said Dr Alison Towner from Rhodes University, who led an international research team on the discovery.

While it is not uncommon for orcas to hunt down large animals individually, and there are documented cases of killer whales predating great whites as a group, the Mossel Bay incident is the first time an orca has been recorded killing a great white shark on its own.

It offers insights into the predatory behavior of orcas, suggesting that their hunting strategy of plundering great whites for their livers could be driving sharks away from certain areas along the coast around Cape Town.

The video of Starboard single-handedly hunting down an 8.2ft juvenile great white shark was captured by a tourist boat passing closely at 2pm and the sequence of events was journaled and studied in the African Journal of Marine Science.

Almost an hour after arriving, Starboard appeared near the surface and at around 3pm the researchers and tourists witnessed the male orca grip the left pectoral fin of a shark and “thrust forward with the shark several times before eventually eviscerating it” within less than two minutes, it said.

A few moments later, it again emerged: this time with “a bloody piece of peach-coloured liver in its mouth”.

Starboard’s other male companion, Port, was around 329 feet away from the site of the attack and did not get involved.

“Killer whales, or orcas, usually team up when they hunt, although they can hunt solitarily,” Dr Towne said. “The unusual aspect was witnessing Starboard, the killer whale, hunting a white shark alone and in a remarkably rapid timeframe.”

The duo has been under scientists’ watch since they were seen in drone footage in 2022 working together to hunt down white sharks. Traveling vast distances along South Africa’s eastern coastline, reaching as far as Namibia, researchers believe they began targeting great whites as early as 2015. It wasn’t until 2022 that aerial footage documented the orcas killing a great white shark, according to Towner.

“This sighting revealed evidence of solitary hunting by at least one killer whale, challenging conventional cooperative hunting behaviors known in the region,” said Dr Towner.

“These are groundbreaking insights into the predatory behavior of this species,” she said. “The presence of these shark-hunting killer whales possibly ties into broader ecosystem dynamics. Rapid developments in this phenomenon make it challenging for science to keep pace.”

One of the scientists who witnessed the attack, Dr Primo Micarelli, a co-author of the new study from the Shark Studies Centre and Siena University, said: “Seeing Starboard carry a white shark’s liver past our vessel is unforgettable.

“Despite my awe for these predators, I’m increasingly concerned about the coastal marine ecology balance,” Mr Micarelli said.

The livers of great whites are massive organs, comprising about a third of their body mass, and rich in lipids. The orcas discard the remainder of the carcass, exhibiting selective feeding behavior observed in other carnivores like harbor seals, brown bears, and wolves.

Bob Mortimer shares irreparable damage caused by ‘very unhealthy year’

Bob Mortimer has shared the extent of his medical issues after telling his fans he’s “not very healthy right now”.

The comedian, who had major heart surgery in 2015, first opened up about his ongoing medical issues in September 2022, revealing that he ended up in hospital after filming Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.

Mortimer’s health issues meant he had to be replaced for an episode of the lifestyle series. The TV star chose his friend Lee Mack to join Whitehouse – a decision that divided viewers who complained about the lack of chemistry between the pair.

At the time Mortimer revealed his health issues, he also said he had recently discovered that his rheumatoid arthritis had returned after 29 years.

However, it was an illness that Mortimer got in 2023 that led to him having what he described as “a very, very, very unhealthy year for me”.

In fact, the comedian went so far as to tell his co-star Paul Whitehouse in a new interview: “You know what? It was worse than my heart period.”

Last year, Mortimer got shingles, a skin infection that causes a painful rash and is caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox.

He revealed in a new article featured in Metro on Friday (1 March) that he’s lost the usage of several muscles, which has left him with a “terrible feeling” that he might no longer be able to exercise by going for runs.

He said: “The muscles I’ve lost, I’ve lost… But other ones can compensate for it, you know what I mean?”

Mortimer said that, while he “can make the other muscles stronger”, he has “a terrible feeling I’m never going to be able to run again”, adding: “You know that I used to like to run, Paul.”

In 2015, the TV star had a triple heart bypass operation after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

Gone Fishing was born when Whitehouse, who Mortimer had known for 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after the surgery.

How to help create a smokefree generation

“Some people can just stop and then never smoke again, but for most it’s hard,” says Tim Eves a 45-year-old father of three from West Sussex.

“It’s just getting through those initial tough few months. Once you do the benefits hugely outweigh the stress of giving it up.”

Tim was a smoker for around 12 years, but gave up with help from a local support group who introduced him to nicotine patches and gum.

“I won’t pretend it isn’t hard,” he adds. “The first few months, you have it in your head that you’d love to have just one cigarette. But now, if we happen to be in the pub it doesn’t even enter my head.”

Taking the first step to go smokefree may sound daunting, but quitting smoking offers significant health benefits – and can save you money.

Tobacco is the single most important entirely preventable cause of ill health, disability and death in this country, responsible for 80,000 deaths in the UK each year.

It causes around 1-in-4 cancer deaths in the UK and is responsible for just over 70 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

Smoking also substantially increases the risk of many major health conditions throughout people’s lives, such as strokes, diabetes, heart disease, stillbirth, dementia and asthma.

Smoking increases the chance of stillbirth by almost half and makes children twice as likely to be hospitalised for asthma from second-hand smoking.

And a typical addicted smoker spends £2,400 a year.

Jo Howarth, 52, from St Helens, Merseyside, finally kicked her addiction after 20 years of on-and-off smoking.

“I was quite anti-smoking as a young teenager, but I started when I was 16 because I wanted to fit in with the cool crowd,” she says.

“I knew it was bad for me, but it was so hard to give up. I tried cold turkey, hypnotherapy and at one point I had a staple in my ear, but I never lasted more than about six months.

“After I got married, I wanted to conceive so I cut down to one a day but the moment I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I stopped.

“As soon as the reason outweighed the addiction, I found a reason to stop and as a hypnotherapist I know that pinpointing why you’re addicted is the key to stopping.

“I used to think that smoking calmed me down, but now I realise that’s a myth – it was just the deep breaths I was taking while I did it. Without it I’m so much healthier and I’m determined to stay smokefree for my kids.”

Smokers lose an average of 10 years life expectancy – around one year for every four smoking years.

Smokers also need care on average 10 years earlier than they would otherwise have – often while still of working age.

‘’Smoking is based on addiction and most people wish they had never taken it up,” says Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer.

“They try to stop and they cannot. Their choice has been taken away. As a doctor I have seen many people in hospital desperate to stop smoking but they cannot.”

The government is now working on creating a smokefree generation.

The new proposals give citizens more freedom. Smoking is not a choice, it is an addiction, and the large majority of smokers and ex-smokers regret ever starting in the first place.

Creating a smokefree generation will be one of the most significant public health measures in a generation, saving thousands of lives and billions of pounds for our NHS and the economy, and levelling up the UK by tackling one of the most important preventable drivers of inequality in health outcomes.

New laws will protect future generations from ever taking up smoking as well as tackling youth vaping by:

Alongside the Bill, there will be new funding to support current smokers to quit by doubling the funding of local ‘stop smoking services’ (to nearly £140 million) as well as £30m of new funding to crack down on illicit tobacco and underage sale of tobacco and vapes.

It is a dark day indeed when Galloway gains a platform in parliament

Never knowingly understated, George Galloway, the freshly recycled member of parliament for Rochdale, declared in his speech at the count that his victory will “spark a movement, a landslide, a shifting of the tectonic plates in scores of parliamentary constituencies”.

There is some doubt about that, even though the issue of the war in Gaza – and Sir Keir Starmer’s attitude to it – has undoubtedly distressed many voters. Sir Keir has lost support for his “balanced” approach, and not just among Muslim voters (though they are not some homogenous bloc that can be shepherded around by Mr Galloway).

The young and those on the left are also especially moved by the plight of the Palestinian people, and disgusted by Israel’s conduct of the war. Even so, these groups will not be turning to the painfully Islamophobic Conservatives, and that is the crucial electoral factor that will spare Labour serious harm.

Rwanda plan costs soar to £500m – but will it ever work?

Immigration remains a major concern for voters, particularly those precious members of the electorate who opted to vote Conservative at the 2019 general election. Yet despite successive pledges, a procession of “tough” home secretaries, strong rhetoric, a constant flow of new laws, and the personal intervention of the prime minister, the news flow on the issue has rarely been favourable. The latest developments seem to be no different…

The latest figure squeezed out of the government by the National Audit Office, an independent watchdog doing crucial work, suggests that more than £500m will be spent on the scheme even before a single refugee is deported. The bulk of the money is irrecoverable; some £370m has been pledged to Rwanda under the terms of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund, with no conditions on individuals being sent over.