INDEPENDENT 2024-03-10 16:06:25


Man, in 30s, dies after being shot outside theatre in south London

A man has died in a shooting outside a theatre in south London in the early hours of this morning

Passers-by tried to perform CPR on the victim, a man believed to be in his 30s, after he was found with a single gunshot wound in Catford Broadway in Lewisham at 4.30am.

He was pronounced dead at the scene opposite Lewisham Town Hall and Catford Broadway theatre, an area described as always busy by locals.

Horrific mobile phone footage shows a woman giving the victim chest compressions before paramedics could arrive.

Pictures on Sunday morning show a forensic tent in the town centre as officers search for clues.

There has been no arrest at this time.

One local told The Independent: “It’s the busiest part of Catford. Always busy, it was quite surreal seeing it so dead on a Sunday morning.”

Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry responsible for policing in South East Area said: “My sympathies and thoughts are with the family and loved ones of this young man who has lost his life in very tragic circumstances.

“The incident took place in a busy part of south London and I’m hopeful there will have been a number of witnesses who I would appeal to come forward. I know such a shocking incident will cause great concern in the community and want to reassure residents that we have assigned significant resources to this investigation.

“We also have officers patrolling the local area and I would urge those with concerns to talk to them. They are there to support you.”

Boris Johnson flew to Venezuela for secret talks with autocrat Maduro

Boris Johnson secretly flew to Venezuela last month for talks with the country’s autocratic leader President Nicolas Maduro.

The former prime minister is reported to have taken time out from a holiday in the Caribbean to travel by private jet for the discussions.

Mr Maduro was re-elected in 2018 but only after judges banned his main opponents from taking part, a move which plunged the country into a severe political and economic crisis.

Since then Venezuela has come under intense international pressure to hold a free and fair election.

Tensions were also inflamed last year when the country claimed sovereignty over an oil- and mineral-rich area of neighbouring Guyana, which Guyana disputes.

British minister for the Americas and Caribbean, David Rutley, met with Guyanese President Irfaan Ali in December to stress the UK Government’s backing for Guyana.

Lord Cameron was told of the summit, by a text message, when Mr Johnson was already en route, according to the Sunay Times, which broke the story.

The war in Ukraine was among the subjects reportedly discussed, amid concerns the country could supply weapons and military support to Russia.

But a spokesman for Mr Johnson said that the visit’s purpose was to “emphasise the need for Venezuela to embrace a proper democratic process.”

He told the BBC that the ex-PM “repeatedly made clear there can be no hope of normalisation in relations until Venezuela fully embraces democracy and respects the territorial integrity of its neighbours”.

“He also set out the case for the cause of Ukrainian victory to the government of Venezuela.”

The spokesman also said the trip came at “no cost to the UK taxpayer nor the Venezuelan government”.

It is not the first time that an overseas trip by the former PM has caused controversy.

Last year senior military figures accused him of “looking for publicity” in a warzone after it was revealed he planned to visit Ukraine.

The former head of the army, Lord Dannatt, also warned that the ex-prime minister was a “loose cannon” whose plan could upstage Rishi Sunak.

Liverpool vs Man City LIVE: Goals and updates with Salah sub for Reds

Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield in a clash that marks the end of an era in the Premier League – and could yet decide this season’s title race.

Although Arsenal now lead the standings after their late victory over Brentford on Saturday night, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are set to fight for the title once again after a pair of epic battles that went to the final day in both 2019 and 2022. With Klopp leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, the Reds out are to win their second title under the German, while Guardiola and City are aiming to win an unprecedented fourth in a row.

Anfield is ready for a classic, but who will come out on top in the final meeting between Klopp and Guardiola in the Premier League? Follow live updates from Liverpool vs Manchester City in today’s live match blog below and get the latest match odds here.

First photo of Kate released after abdominal surgery

The first official photograph of the Princess of Wales has been released since her abdominal surgery in January.

Surrounded by her three children, the image was posted online on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ X page, with a message: “Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

The photo was taken by Prince William in Windsor earlier this week.

Kate has been missing from the public eye since her operation, resulting in unprecedented speculation about her whereabouts.

Till now, the Palace has not revealed the exact details of the princess’s condition but said previously it was not cancer-related, and that Kate wished her personal medical information to remain private.

Last week, a post on the British Army website which say the Princess of Wales will attend the Trooping the Colour 2024 show on the Horse Guards Parade in London on June the 15 was retracted.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said the princess was “doing her best to return to work” as soon as possible. It’s believed she will return to public duties after Easter.

Why did the internet turn so violently against Amber Heard?

In April 2022, it was impossible to escape Depp v Heard. Even if you weren’t streaming every second of the court proceedings between Johnny and Amber, your feeds were undoubtedly clogged with related content. And by “related content” I mean content that primarily trashed Amber Heard. Perhaps you saw tweets declaring #JusticeForJohnny and #AmberIsAnAbuser, or watched people hammily acting out scenes from their marriage on TikTok, layered over with audio of Heard alleging domestic and sexual abuse by the actor, like a dystopian pantomime. Or perhaps you found the trial slipping into your offline, “real” life when getting coffee – the tip jars labelled “Amber” and “Johnny”, with wads of cash stuffed into Depp’s.

At the time, a few journalists and legal experts covering the trial, such as Kat Tenbarge and Lucia Osborne-Crowley, smelt a rat, and suggested that at least some of the Amber Heard hate campaign must be inauthentic. After being inundated with suggested YouTube videos of Heard being “EXPOSED” on the stand, alongside ones of Depp visiting hospital patients dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow – videos I couldn’t seem to shake from my algorithm – I wrote a piece for Dazed, in which I accused die-hard Depp fans of having been “swept up in a highly-orchestrated, seemingly money-no-object PR operation”. But what if it was something messier, stranger, and more troubling, and instigated by bad-faith actors unrelated to the case?

Enter Who Trolled Amber? – a podcast investigation that is both overdue and revelatory. “This story’s horizons are broadening,” reporter and host Alexi Mostrous says in the third episode. Mostrous and his team began by digging into a vast dataset of tweets about Depp and Heard. Alarm bells started ringing almost immediately. One account had tweeted more than 370,000 times since 2021, which, Mostrous calculated, was a post every two minutes, 24 hours a day, for three years. They also find an ostensibly Chilean far-right “political troll who suddenly switches allegiances to attack Amber Heard; Spanish-speaking bot networks posting hundreds of pro-Depp tweets; Thai accounts that tweet once and go viral, and tens of thousands of identical messages left under Amber Heard videos on YouTube”.

The truly shocking revelation at the heart of the series is just how vast and complex the disinformation movement against Heard was. This was not one single campaign, but multiple, hybrid attacks – with bot armies and real people working in tandem. The Depp/Heard saga was never just a story about the public breakdown of a public marriage. Yet, this may well be why the disinformation campaign went under the radar: celebrity culture functioned as a smoke screen.

“There was obviously a huge amount of publicity about the case,” Mostrous tells me. “There were always rumours that there were bots and manipulation used. But I was surprised that, although this case involved so much media time and so much money, no one really picked up the bot issue and ran with it.” He suggests this might partly be because, at the time of the US trial, it wasn’t a pressing issue for the legal teams. “They were more focused on going through the evidence and establishing what had happened. And sometimes it takes a while for these things to settle. It’s not the sort of thing that you can easily analyse in the moment.”

Part of the issue is that “looking into this stuff is really, really difficult,” Mostrous notes. For starters, “there’s an accountability and a transparency problem”. In the world of manipulation, and hacking for hire, “there’s five to 10 to 20 steps between the client, and then his law firm, and then an investigations company based in London that they commission. And then the London-based investigations company commissions an independent but London-based security professional, who knows someone in Israel, who then subcontracts it out to someone in India, who does the hack or the manipulation, feeds the data back up the chain, and then, by the time it gets back to the law firm, there are no fingerprints.” Essentially, the industry is effective precisely because it’s so convoluted.

Yet, in another sense, mass online manipulation has never been simpler. “It’s easy these days to design pieces of software that can create and run multiple social media accounts that look quite genuine,” Mostrous tells me. “That’s not a particularly onerous process anymore, in a way it might have been five or 10 years ago.”

This leads to a conundrum for investigators. “There’s an imbalance between, on the one hand, manipulation campaigns being really easy to create, cheap to put in place, and potentially able to drive conversations,” Mostrous says. “On the other hand, they’re very difficult to detect. They’re super difficult for journalists and researchers, but they’re also not easy even for the platforms to detect, particularly in situations where they’ve cut back on safety teams and on their own resources.” Mostrous sums the situation up plainly: “There’s this imbalance between how easy it is to perpetrate, and how difficult it is to catch. That’s quite a worrying gap.”

While making Who Trolled Amber, Mostrous knew he and his research team would have to be rigorous. “What we didn’t want to do was to find some bots and then just say, okay there are some bots, that means something dodgy happened,” he explains. “Because if you take basically any major public discussion on social media, there will be a small proportion of that conversation that is driven by bots. That doesn’t mean that there’s some nefarious bad guy masterminding it.”

Yet, in this case, it wasn’t a “small proportion”. “What was surprising, at least according to one of the researchers,” Mostrous says, “was that 50 per cent of the conversation around Amber had been inauthentically generated.”

Obviously, this doesn’t mean there weren’t huge numbers of real people who were interested in the case. They made up the majority of accounts tweeting about Depp. However, Mostrous found they were only posting about the trial a handful of times. Bot accounts, by contrast, were tweeting up to 1,000 times a day, meaning “the majority of tweets that were posted, were inauthentic”.

In the podcast, Mostrous compares the role of bots in the Depp/Heard story to that of the agent provocateur, “encouraging and inciting ugly elements that were already present”. Daniel Maki – a former spy who put Mostrous onto the case in the first place – puts it slightly differently. “We’re looking at something here that feels beyond just the general din of the crowded bar,” he says. “This is somebody getting up on stage, ripping off their pants and throwing eggs at people in the audience”. You couldn’t ignore it, even if you tried. But was this amplification or instigation? In other words, who started it?

To begin to answer this, it helps to look at the timeline. The database of tweets the podcast team first digs into were from April 2020 to January 2021 – over a year before the US trial began. One 48-hour window proved to be crucial. On 6 November, Depp announced on Instagram that he’d been fired from the third Fantastic Beasts movie. (A week earlier, a UK trial had ruled against Depp, allowing The Sun newspaper to label him a “wifebeater”.) In the two days that followed Depp’s announcement, a rash of suspicious bot activity flooded the internet. What’s significant about this finding, is that this also took place 15 months before the US trial. Essentially, this suggests that by the time most people were engaging with the story, it was already too late. While it remains unclear and unverifiable who or what initiated the bot activity, the groundwork had already been laid for Heard to be damned in the court of public opinion.

“There was potentially a lot of manipulation, a lot of inauthenticity before the trial,” Mostrous agrees. “During the trial, there were lots of people who were like, ‘okay, we can make money out of this case’, because they had a constant supply of video images that they could cut and splice, and they could make Amber look bad and they could get clicks. But in a way, that was the more predictable end of things,” he says. “By that time, the internet’s opinion on Amber had already been formed.”

Yet, at the same time, this strategy wasn’t plucked out of thin air. After all, the #AmberIsAnAbuser content played into a narrative as old as time itself: “man suffering at the hands of a manipulative, deceitful, evil woman”.

“When you take a step back from this, actually the most interesting thing is the online misogyny,” Mostrous suggests. “There’s so much of it. It makes you quite depressed, because there was a groundswell of hate that was there, just waiting for a case to come up”. As Who Trolled Amber? continues, Mostrous and his team explore possible links between the trolling against Heard and the country of Saudi Arabia. But perhaps there doesn’t need to be a single purpose behind the campaign. “This is a propaganda war,” cyber security expert EJ Hilbert says in the series. The goal is division; destabilisation.

“A lot of disinformation campaigns, especially political ones, have as their ‘objective’ just a sense of instability,” Mostrous agrees. “We saw that in the Russian bot campaign before the US election. I think the more we understand about misinformation campaigns, the more we’re seeing that actually, because they’re so easy to set up, they’re not just limited to political issues anymore.” Indeed, misinformation may be more effectively deployed on issues that approach politics side-on, provoking a culture war.

“There’s no reason why the Depp-Heard case wouldn’t have fallen into that category,” Mostrous tells me. “Because it kind of brings up so many culture war issues about ‘Should you believe all women?’, and “Hasn’t the MeToo movement gone too far?’, and all of that stuff that people, on both sides, feel really, really strongly about.”

Towards the end of Who Trolled Amber, Mostrous describes the investigation as “a warning”. Recently, I’ve encountered similar warnings in Naomi Wolf’s Doppelganger and Sian Norris’s Bodies Under Siege, books that examine coordinated far-right attacks on reproductive rights across the globe. Is this a cultural tipping point, then, where we can start to get to grips with disinformation campaigns? Or has the horse already bolted?

“I think we are slowly coming to terms with the fact this is a big problem,” Mostrous muses. “But at the same time,” he adds, “the technology isn’t standing still either.” As with most tech issues, as we try to catch up, everything accelerates. “One of the things I do worry about is that it’s quite easy to focus on obvious examples of misinformation,” Mostrous says. Deepfake videos, for instance. “Whereas actually, I think if we look at really effective misinformation campaigns, they don’t create lies out of thin air. It’s more that they pose as people who are putting out little bits of truth, but the truth is taken out of context – it’s the out of context bit that drives a real sense of division. And that’s much harder to deal with.”

Effective disinformation relies on information overload. It’s an abuse of how we consume news online now, Mostrous suggests: “If we’re just going scroll, scroll, click, click, flick, flick, then we don’t have time to parse the real from the fake. It’s the same with the Russian attempts to subvert the US elections. They didn’t put out lies or fake news, so much as they harnessed and weaponised real news, in a way that increased division. I think that’s the real danger that we’ve got to face up to.”

‘Who Trolled Amber?’ is available now

A culinary tour of the Algarve: from wine and seafood to desserts

The Algarve, on Portugal’s southern coast, is the country’s most popular holiday destination for good reason: it boasts over 100 miles of beautiful beaches, charming villages, and endless culture and activities. But one of the best reasons to visit is the region’s incredible food. As befits its proximity to the sea, fish and seafood are an absolute highlight, but the region’s diverse cuisine boasts dishes to suit every taste and palate.

To help you find your perfect foodventure, travel experts Jet2holidays offer breaks in more than 50 amazing destinations, including the Algarve. All holidays include accommodation, return flights, transfers and 22kg baggage, all wrapped up in an ABTA and ATOL-protected package for a low £60pp deposit*. There are thousands of Free Child Places** available, and infants under two go free✝. Meaning it couldn’t be easier to book your next break with the Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2023 and Tripadvisor’s Best UK Airline.

Here we explore some of the region’s must-try dishes, foodie locales and immersive experiences, so you can start planning your own culinary-infused getaway.

Whether you’re in a bigger, buzzier town such as Lagos, Albufeira or Faro, or enjoying the serenity of a smaller seaside resort like Olhão or Praia da Luz, you’ll find many of the same delicious local specialities on restaurant menus.

Must-eats include conquilhas à algarvia, a mix of plump clams fresh from the Atlantic, cooked with garlic coriander, olive oil, lemon juice and slices of succulent Portuguese sausage. There’s nothing better than tucking into a plateful, using bread to mop up the juices, and savouring a crisp glass of white wine at an al fresco eatery overlooking the ocean. You can’t miss the Algarve’s mouth-watering shrimp bisque either: a rich, creamy soup made with just-caught prawns and thickened with day-old bread. Served with a squeeze of lemon, it’s a beach holiday in a bowl.

Sardines are another Algarve must-sample, often simply grilled and served with potatoes, but in the beach town of Portimão, they’re cooked in a blend of herbs and spices, placed on a thick slice of bread, and served with a fresh tomato, cucumber, red pepper, onion and oregano salad. Locals tuck into the fish first, then enjoy the oil and herb-soaked crust afterwards. You might also spot diners eating their supper straight from a metal pot; this is a cataplana, in which a hearty stew of onions, peppers and tomatoes mixed with fish and shellfish is simmered and served.

Portuguese piri-piri chicken is one of the Algarve’s most popular dishes. Known as frango assado, the chicken is grilled or barbecued with a spicy, piri-piri chilli sauce marinade for a favourite the whole family will love. Wild boar, known as javali, is another crowd pleaser: just like pork, it can be served grilled, oven-baked or in rich stews.

If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, you’ll enjoy the tradition of petiscos, essentially light bites or snacks. Order a few of these small plates to share – perfect washed down with a chilled beer – options include the likes of cod fritters, fried prawns, sliced chorizo, or a selection of cheese and charcuterie.

And as a sweet treat to finish any meal, try the dom rodrigo, a delicious, sticky, pyramid-shaped dessert dating from the 18th century, which combines sugar, egg yolks, ground almonds, cinnamon and fios de ovos (a traditional Portuguese sweet, made by boiling eggs in sugar syrup).

Fancy recreating some of these dishes yourself? Book into a local cookery class, where you can learn how to make the food you’ve enjoyed here when you’re back home. Further immersive experiences can involve meeting and chatting to local producers, or getting a tour of a local market with a chef before cooking with ingredients you’ve bought.

There are also several excellent food markets throughout the towns and villages of the Algarve, and it’s worth spending some time wandering around them and marveling at the glossy, farm-fresh produce on offer.

The most popular market in Algarve is Olhão market. Set in twin bright red-brick buildings facing the Ria Formosa lagoon, Olhão Mercado Municipal comprises two market halls. One sells fresh fish directly from the boats. The other fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, flowers, dried fruits and Portuguese sweets. On Saturday mornings, visitors can experience a much larger farmers’ market, where local farmers and producers exhibit and sell their products directly on the streets around the market building.

Another must-visit is the monthly market in the small town of Moncarapacho, just beyond Olhão, which sells fruit, vegetables and fish, and boasts a range of food stalls so you can eat as you wander. In Lagos you’ll find a typical farmers’ market, where you can pick up fresh eggs, olives, homemade jams, sweets and home-baked bread, while the lively Loulé Municipal Market is located in a historic building that dates back more than 100 years and offers plenty of tasty produce, including fresh fish and organic food.

Finally, for those seeking a tipple, as well as the tales and terroir behind it, the Algarve boasts a wealth of vineyards where you can sample different varieties and learn about their production. The wine region here consists of four DOCs (a ‘designation of controlled origin’, signifying high quality and authenticity): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira, which benefit from a warm, sunny climate, perfect for growing vines. You’ll find crisp whites such as Arinto, Malvasia Fina and Crato Branco, ideal for summer sipping, but also robust, velvety reds, such as Negra Mole, Castelão and Trincadeira. Saúde! (Portuguese for ‘Cheers!’)

To make it even easier for you to enjoy the ultimate break in the Algarve, Jet2holidays provides the perfect package holiday, looking after you at every step of the way with award-winning customer service and In-Resort Customer Helpers to ensure your stay goes smoothly.

With accommodation to suit every budget and need, Jet2holidays offers a range of hotels, apartments and villas with a variety of board options, from Self Catering to All Inclusive Plus.

Fly to the Algarve from 11 UK airports: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and London Stansted. To find out more and start planning your trip, visit Jet2holidays

*On bookings made ten weeks or more before departure. Full payment required by balance due date.

** One free child place per two paying adults. Subject to availability. T&Cs apply, please see www.jet2holidays.com/promotions#fcp for further details.

Applicable for all infants under the age of two years on the date of return. Infants are not entitled to a flight seat (they must be seated with a parent or guardian) or a 22kg baggage allowance.

The expansion of free childcare is threatened by unbelievable promises

When Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, announced 30 hours a week of free childcare for all working parents in the Budget a year ago, the scheme seemed too good to be true. The Independent warned that it was a lot less ambitious than it sounded, in that the expansion of free hours would start modestly next month.

The expansion to the largest number of children would be saved up for September this year, just before the likely date of the general election. And the completion of the “30 hours a week for all” would be a cheque postdated to September 2025.

As the first phase of the expansion approached, however – and it is now only three weeks away – it became increasingly clear that all was not well in the delivery of even his first, modest phase. What is supposed to happen in April is that, in addition to the existing 30 hours of free care for children aged three and four, children aged two will receive 15 hours of free care.

Gazza says he’s a sad drunk – I prefer to remember the football genius

Poor old Gazza. Hearing him talk this week on some podcast about how he used to be a happy drunk but now he’s a sad drunk and about how he lives in his agent’s spare room, seeing the footage of him, his face ravaged by self-loathing surgical procedures, there can be no other reaction: poor old Gazza, how did it come to this? 

Pretty simple really. Fame did it to him, lanced him through the soul. Ill-equipped to handle it from the start, he has been chewed up and spat out by celebrity.

And now, a couple of generations on from his heyday as Paul Gascoigne, the man whose footballing talent once electrified a nation, this is what he is known as: a victim. That is the only currency he has left to trade in.