The Telegraph 2024-03-03 16:30:36

Live Biden tells Gaza peace negotiators: ‘Get me a deal’

Joe Biden, the US President, told negotiators holding talks on a Gaza ceasefire to ‘get me a deal’, according to US officials.

The President made the remarks to the emir of Qatar and the president of Egypt, who are helping negotiate the terms of a temporary ceasefire, on Thursday, Axios reported.

Mr Biden is under major pressure from voters over the US alliance with Israel, and the president was punished at the ballot box by protesting young Democrats in the primaries last week.

Negotiators are working towards an agreement prior to the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan on March 10.

A potential deal could include a six-week pause in fighting, the release of approximately 400 Palestinian prisoners in return for the freeing of 40 Israeli hostages, as well as preparation for a gradual return of Palestinian citizens to the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

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JK Rowling says ‘it happened again’ as man caught filming in toilets identifies as woman

A man who was accused of secretly filming women in a female lavatory told police he identifies as a woman as he was arrested, with JK Rowling telling followers: “It’s happened again.”

The author shared news of the conviction on social media, writing: “That thing only evil, nasty bigots claim happens, and that never, ever happens, has happened. Again.”

The author shared a link on X to a report of the sentencing of Kurtis Mawson, 22, who secretly filmed women in a public toilet and sexually assaulted a tourist on Durham city bridge.

The court heard how Mawson was still inside the toilet cubicle when police arrived.

When an officer asked if anybody was in there, the perpetrator allegedly put on a high-pitched voice and answered “Yeah”.

The prosecutor said: “When challenged with what he is doing in a women’s toilet he said: ‘Just chilling’. He then said he was there as he identified as female.”

Rowling posted a series of comments on X stressing that women and girls should not have to “surrender” bathrooms to the very small number of “trans identified males” who she alleged pose a “proven danger” to them.

She wrote: “It is possible to want trans people to be safe and happy while recognising that there are risks to women and girls in eradicating single sex spaces. Women and girls are being pressured to surrender their hard-won rights to a group that poses a proven danger to them.”

Last year, an Edinburgh judge gave an eight-year prison sentence to transgender rapist Isla Bryson, 31, who committed the offences while still living as a man. Bryson only began living as a woman after being charged with rape.

Bryson only began living as a woman after being charged with rape.

Rowling added that: “Telling women and girls they must accept increased risk to themselves to appease male feelings is the very definition of the patriarchy you claim to stand against.

“Vulnerable women are paying the price for a fashionable fallacy that has serious, real world consequences.”

Mawson pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a female, voyeurism, three counts of making indecent photographs of a child and possessing an extreme pornographic image.

He also admitted breaching a sexual risk order and failing to comply with the sexual offender register.

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Burial plot near to Marilyn Monroe up for sale

Dedicated fans of Marilyn Monroe have been offered the chance to bid to be buried near to her, as a space in the crypt near the actress’ final resting place is offered for sale at auction…

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Beijing not open about Covid’s origins, scientists believe

Almost two thirds of UK scientists think China was not open and transparent about the origins of Covid, and more than a quarter think the pandemic leaked from a Chinese lab…

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John Bercow banished from US version of The Traitors

Former Commons Speaker John Bercow has been banished from the US version of The Traitors.

Bercow, who quit as speaker in 2019 after a decade at the helm, described the psychological reality show as “much more complicated than politics”.

Politics is child’s play by comparison,” the 61-year-old said.

The show sees competitors split, with secret traitors tasked with “murdering” the other faithful contestants at a remote castle in the Scottish highlands to win a financial prize that has risen to $250,000 (£197,500).

During the episode, Bercow was seen opening an envelope that read: “By order of the traitors, you have been murdered”.

He anticipated his departure earlier in the episode, after repeatedly expressing that former The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks was a traitor – to the dismay of other contestants.

“I’m not surprised in the slightest by my macabre fate,” he said after his exit.
”I was on to Phaedra and she wasn’t going to allow me to hang around any longer.”

Fellow contestant and TV star Trishelle Cannatella shed a tear, saying she was “entirely devastated” that Bercow had departed.

TV personality Chris “CT” Tamburello said: “I hope I am as functional as him when I am his age”, while Shahs of Sunset star Mercedes Javid joked: “I don’t think he’s old, I think people in England just don’t get Botox.”

The former MP for Buckingham was the seventh celebrity to be axed from the second US series of the reality show, hosted by Scottish actor Alan Cumming.

Bercow’s fate was chosen by Parks, who agreed with fellow traitor and Below Deck star Kate Chastain that she has the most chance of surviving the show without Bercow “because he’s most eloquent”.

“Oh god he talks so much,” Parks said, while Chastain added: “I know you miss the evening news but come on, you’re not the only speaker in this house.”

In 2022, a Commons Independent Expert Panel report upheld a finding that Bercow was a “serial bully” and said he should never again be allowed a parliamentary pass.

The ex-Speaker was accused of throwing a mobile phone and swearing at officials.

The second season of the UK version of The Traitors, hosted by Claudia Winkleman, was recently won by 22-year-old “traitor” Harry Clark who outwitted his fellow contestants to win more than £95,000.

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CofE to hire ‘deconstructing whiteness’ officer

The Church of England is hiring a “deconstructing whiteness” officer to combat racial injustice.

The £36,000-a-year role is part of a new 11-person “racial justice unit” being set up by the Diocese of Birmingham to work across the West Midlands.

The job advertisement comes just a week after the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, approved a motion that told all parishes to draw up “race action plans”.

The Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover, told Synod on Feb 25 that Anglicans needed to “further embed racial justice” and should not be afraid of being called “woke”.

But critics of the new racial justice unit – which will work across the dioceses of Birmingham, Coventry, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield and Worcester – accused the Church of “drinking the critical race Kool Aid” and indulging in “student politics”.

“The irony of many of these projects is they are importing American perspectives and overlaying them on a country that is incredibly tolerant,” the Rev Daniel French, vicar of Salcombe, Cornwall, and co-host of the Irreverend podcast, told The Telegraph.

“No less than 80 per cent of the worldwide Anglican Communion is black, and their black theology is very conservative. But you never see the Church paying any attention to that.”

Attempt to end racism

Proponents of “deconstructing whiteness” argue that white people are more privileged than those of other ethnicities, that there are characteristics and habits which are distinctly “white” and that these are deemed by society to be the norm.

They argue that “deconstructing”, or dismantling, these ideas is the only way to end racism.

The job, whose advertisement does not itself define “deconstructing whiteness”, is one of 11 being funded by the Church of England’s national “racial justice unit”.

That unit is part of the Archbishops’ Council, an executive body which is led by the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has previously called the Church, which he has led since 2013, “institutionally racist”.

The Rev Marcus Walker, rector of St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London and chairman of the Save the Parish campaign group, said: “It’s hard to overestimate how shocking this is.

“This is the Church, whose scripture tells us ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek but all are one in Christ Jesus’, telling a whole category of person that one of their intrinsic characteristics – their ethnicity – needs to be deconstructed.”

He added: “When yet another round of figures show that yet again the CofE has lost an even greater portion of the population, I wonder if any of those in charge will ask themselves what part they played in telling so many Anglicans that they are no longer welcome in their church.”

‘A Photoshop joke’

The Rev Leonard Payne said he thought the advert was a “joke, a Photoshop job” when he first saw it and that the Church should spend the funds on overstretched parish ministry instead.

“There does seem to be some theological illiteracy and I’m afraid the key players here are the bench of bishops who in their efforts to balance the books, over-reach in their destruction of parishes,” he said.

The national racial justice unit was set up by the Church of England after it was recommended in its From Lament To Action race report, which was commissioned in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020.

It is led by the Rev Guy Hewitt, Britain’s former high commissioner to Barbados, who was a prominent campaigner for the Windrush generation of Caribbean migrants.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Birmingham said: “The CofE Birmingham is seeking to respond to the Lament to Action report. The strong relationships between neighbouring dioceses in the Midlands have led to a collaborative joint response to the report. 

“This approach has enabled the larger regionally deployed team you have identified, enabling a far stronger response to the Lament to Action report across the Midlands dioceses.”

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Former EastEnders star told not to leave theatre because of pro-Palestinian protests

Actress Tracy-Ann Oberman has revealed she was advised against leaving a London theatre because of pro-Palestinian protests taking place outside.

The star, who is playing Shylock in a West End production of The Merchant Of Venice, is Jewish and has been a vocal campaigner against anti-Semitism.

On Saturday evening – a day after Rishi Sunak’s speech pledging to combat extremism – she said she had been told not to leave the Criterion Theatre due to the protests.

The Met made 12 arrests at nearby Trafalgar Square: one for the theft of an Israeli flag; one for assaulting an emergency worker; one for being drunk and disorderly; and nine for failing to comply with the section 35 dispersal order.

The former EastEnders star, 57 said in a tweet directed at the Prime Minister and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer: “Another Saturday post matinee and I have been asked not to step out the theatre because of all the demonstrations and marches going on.

“London 2024 – ridiculous isn’t it.”

Pro-Palestinian activists have called for Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to be charged with aiding and abetting genocide just hours after the Prime Minister warned that democracy was being targeted by extremists.

A crowd of about 150 protesters made their way to the Houses of Parliament on Saturday and were heard chanting: “From the river, to the sea”.

About 30 officers watched on in central London as the protesters repeatedly shouted what the Campaign Against Antisemitism has previously described as “genocidal language”.

When The Telegraph asked one police officer why the chant was allowed, he said: “It depends on the context.”

The protest, organised by the fringe Palestinian Pulse organisation, was accompanied by a drum, trombone and trumpet band.

At one point, the protesters’ chant appeared to be directed towards the Prime Minister’s comments from Friday, as they shouted: “In our thousands and our millions, we are all Palestinians. We won’t be intimidated”.

One protester held aloft a piece of cardboard saying: “Rishi you are the extremists, not us”. They then began chanting: “Rishi Sunak, resign.”

The demonstration was organised just days after George Galloway was voted in as MP in Thursday’s by-election in the former Labour stronghold of Rochdale.

A group of six police officers was positioned to guard Westminster Pier, not far from where protesters were filmed throwing flour.

One placard referred to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, as “Satanyahu” and another accused the British government of being “complicit” in the deaths of “30,000 innocent Palestinians” in Gaza.

The central London protest was one of a number held across the country.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) singled out Barclays bank for its day of action, assembling at nearly 50 locations, including the branch on Tottenham Court Road in central London.

Protesters marched from Mornington Crescent to the Barclays branch, accompanied by the controversial “from the river to the sea” chant and flanked by a mass of police officers.

At the Barclays branch on Tottenham Court Road, the police ordered protesters to move across the road, citing Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

Among those was Peter Frankental, from Chingford, who carried a sign that read: “Aaron Bushnell: an act of bravery and courage that will not be forgotten”, referencing the member of the US Air Force who died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington in protest at the conflict in Gaza.

Asked whether he would condone a similar action outside the Houses of Parliament, he said: “Yes, certainly, it’s a supreme act for somebody to take their life in that way for what they believe in.

“Very few people would be prepared to do that and it communicates a strong message.”

Luca Salice, 67, co-chair of the Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign, dismissed the Prime Minister’s rhetoric around extremists as an election ploy and said protesters were actually grateful for the police.

“Rishi Sunak is losing an election. He is scrambling”, Mr Salice said, adding: “I don’t think our protests are extremist. I don’t see how being in favour of human lives is extremist.”

Mr Salice, an Italian who now lives in Camden, added: “There could be one or two extremists who come into the protests. I can’t say that is impossible and luckily we have the police here, who are working with us.

“They are helping us organise this protest and making sure they are safe. And whenever they see the odd person who may do something wrong, it is up to them to arrest them.”

Mr Sunak warned that there had been a “shocking increase” in extremist activity in Britain in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has said that weekly pro-Palestinian marches “made our capital city a no-go zone for Jews, and repel law-abiding Londoners”.

The PSC targeted Barclays branches in Croydon, Hammersmith, Haringey, Harrow, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Streatham, Tower Hamlets, Willesden and Wimbledon.

It comes after the Home Secretary James Cleverly said pro-Palestinian protesters had “made their point” and questioned: “What are these protests genuinely hoping to achieve?”

The group has called for a boycott of the British bank because it claims Barclays holds “substantial financial ties” with arms companies supplying weapons to Israel.

The protesters later moved on from the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill, where they passed by an anti-World Health Organization rally being led by Piers Corbyn, before turning up along Whitehall and past the Cenotaph.

They walked up the other side of Whitehall to Downing Street, passing by a rally of 30 Pakistanis supporting the country’s jailed former president Imran Khan.

Shadowed by 40 Met officers and with 13 police vans parked along the middle of Whitehall, the protesters chanted: “Rishi Sunak you’re a liar, we demand a ceasefire”. One protester wore a white and black striped prison uniform and a Keir Starmer cutout face mask.

Protesters climbed the platform around Nelson’s Column and continued chanting, with others gathering around the statue’s base.

At 4.50pm, three young girls not older than 10 years old took to the megaphone and started chanting: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

The crowd joined in and the trio were cheered.

Police issued a section 35 dispersal order at 5pm and started breaking up the protest at Nelson’s Column with at least 60 officers.

It came after Maytal Abramovich, a 44-year-old Israeli tourist from Jerusalem, started waving the Israel flag in a one-woman counter protest on the pavement on the road opposite Nelson’s Column.

As she told The Telegraph that if Hamas wanted peace “they could have had it”, a pro-Palestinian protester grabbed the flag from her hands and disappeared into the crowd of demonstrators.

Police made no attempt to get her flag back to her. “As you can see we’re trying to deal with quite a lot,” one officer said.

Mrs Abramovich confronted the protesters, and one shouted at her: “You’ve been killing people for 70 years” and one white woman said “you’re European, you look like me, Palestine is the Middle East, not Europe” in an apparent denial of her Jewishness.

“Our greeting is shalom, shabat shalom, it means peace,” Mrs Abramovich said.

There were at least five arrests made for breaching the dispersal order, and at least 100 uniformed officers were at the scene.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “These protests are why a staggering 90 per cent of British Jews say that they would avoid travelling to a city centre if a major anti-Israel demonstration was taking place there, according to our polling. Our urban centres have become no-go zones for Jews.

“It has now reached a point where a Jewish actress starring in an adaptation of a Shakespearean play about antisemitism is being told to stay indoors for her own safety. Which other demonstrations are having this kind of effect?

‘‘On Friday night, the Prime Minister made a speech demanding that the police finally take firm action against surging antisemitism and extremism in our country. If Britain is to remain a bastion of tolerance and decency, the authorities must restore order on our streets.”

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