BBC 2024-06-11 09:09:35


UN Security Council backs US Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan

By Ana FaguyBBC News, Washington

The United Nations Security Council has voted to support a US-proposed Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan.

The proposal sets out conditions for a “full and complete ceasefire”, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of dead hostages’ remains and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the US-drafted resolution. Russia abstained.

The resolution states that Israel has accepted the ceasefire proposal, and urges Hamas to agree to it too.

It means the Security Council joins a number of governments, as well as the G7 group of the world’s richest nations, in backing the three-part plan that was unveiled by President Joe Biden on 31 May.

The vote is likely to increase pressure on both sides to respond positively to the plan with a view to ending the conflict. It also came shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to build support for the peace deal.

Just hours before the UN vote, Mr Blinken said his message to leaders in the region was: “If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say, yes.”

The group has previously said it supported parts of the plan, and it released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution.

Hamas is likely to demand guarantees the plan would lead to a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Its political leadership in Doha has yet to formally respond to the proposal, according to US and Israeli officials.

The proposal would end with a major reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has been largely destroyed in the conflict.

The first phase concerns a hostage-prisoner swap as well as a short-term ceasefire.

The second phase includes a “permanent end to hostilities”, as well as a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, according to a text of the US draft resolution.

The third phase focuses on the enclave’s long-term outlook, and it would start a multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Monday’s resolution comes weeks after President Biden said the Israelis had agreed to the plan.

But Mr Netanyahu has not endorsed the US proposal.

President Biden’s account on X, formerly Twitter, noted the passage of the resolution. “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire,” the post said. “This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, said: “Today we voted for peace”.

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Gaza as “catastrophic”, adding that the “suffering has gone on for far too long”.

“We call upon the parties to seize this opportunity and move towards lasting peace which guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Ms Woodward said.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

On 25 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

While the US had previously vetoed similar measures, it did not veto the March resolution.

Mr Netanyahu said at the time that the US had “abandoned” its prior position linking a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 251 people hostage.

The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 37,000 since Israel responded to its attack.

Netanyahu walks tightrope as US urges Gaza ceasefire deal

By Jeremy Bowen@BowenBBCInternational Editor, BBC News

If diplomats have groundhog days, when they are condemned to reliving the same 24 hours, perhaps Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, felt a certain weariness as his jet approached the Middle East on his latest trip.

It is his eighth diplomatic tour of the region in the eight months since the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October last year.

The politics of trying to negotiate an end to the war in Gaza and an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners were already complicated.

They are more tangled than ever now that the Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz has resigned from the war cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his political ally Gadi Eisenkot. Both men are retired generals who led the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as chiefs of staff.

Without Benny Gantz, the Americans have lost their favourite contact in the cabinet. Now he’s back in opposition, Mr Gantz wants new elections – he is the pollsters’ favourite to be the next prime minister – but Mr Netanyahu is safe as long as he can preserve the coalition that gives him 64 votes in the 120-member Israeli parliament.

That depends on keeping the support of the leaders of two ultranationalist factions. They are Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister.

That is the point at which Secretary of State Blinken’s mission collides with Israeli politics. President Joe Biden believes that the time has come to end the war in Gaza.

Mr Blinken’s job is to try to make that happen. But Messrs Ben-Gvir and Smotrich have threatened to bring down the Netanyahu government if he agrees to any ceasefire until they are satisfied that Hamas has been eliminated.

They are extreme Jewish nationalists, who want the war to continue until no trace of Hamas remains.

They believe that Gaza, like all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, is Jewish land that should be settled by Jews. Palestinians, they argue, could be encouraged to leave Gaza “voluntarily”.

Antony Blinken is in the Middle East to try to stop the latest ceasefire plan from going the way of all the others. Three ceasefire resolutions in the UN Security Council were vetoed by the US, but now Joe Biden is ready for a deal.

On 31 May, the president made a speech urging Hamas to accept what he said was a new Israeli proposal to end the war in Gaza.

It was a three-part deal – which has now been backed by a UN resolution – starting with a six-week ceasefire, a “surge” of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the exchange of some Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

The deal would progress to the release of all the hostages, a permanent “cessation of hostilities” and ultimately the huge job of rebuilding Gaza. Israelis should no longer fear Hamas, he said, because it was no longer able to repeat 7 October.

President Biden and his advisers knew there was trouble ahead. Hamas insists it will only agree to a ceasefire that guarantees an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an end to the war.

The destruction and civilian death inflicted by Israel in Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza during the raid to free four hostages last week can only have strengthened that resolve. The Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza say that 274 Palestinians were killed during the raid. The IDF says the number was less than 100.

Mr Biden also recognised that some powerful forces in Israel would object.

“I’ve urged the leadership in Israel to stand behind this deal,” he said in the speech. “Regardless of whatever pressure comes.”

The pressure came quickly, from Messrs Ben Gvir and Smotrich. They are senior government ministers, viscerally opposed to the deal that Joe Biden presented. It made no difference to them that the deal was approved by the war cabinet, as they are not members.

As expected, they threatened to topple the Netanyahu coalition if he agreed to the deal.

Neither Hamas nor Israel have publicly committed to the deal that President Biden laid out.

He accepted that the language of parts of it needed to be finalised. The ambiguity in parts of the proposal might in other conflicts, between other belligerents, allow room for diplomatic manoeuvre. But that would require a shared realisation that the time had come to make a deal, that more war would not bring any benefit.

There is no sign that the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is at that point. He seems determined to stick the course he has followed since 7 October.

Some reports out of Gaza said that Palestinians in the ruins of Nuseirat camp were swearing at Hamas as well as Israel for disregarding their lives.

The BBC cannot confirm that, as like other international news organisations it is not allowed by Israel and Egypt to enter Gaza, except under rare and highly supervised trips with the Israeli military.

It seems clear though, that vast numbers of Palestinian dead have strengthened, not weakened the resilience of Hamas. For them, survival of their group and its leaders equals victory.

They will focus on the fact that the killing of more than 37,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians – according to the health ministry in Gaza – have brought Israel into deep disrepute.

It faces a case alleging genocide at the International Court of Justice, and applications at the International Criminal Court for arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost two members of the war cabinet, Messrs Gantz and Eisenkot, who wanted a pause in the war to allow negotiations to free hostages. He is more exposed, without the political insulation they provided, to the hardliners, Messrs Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.

Perhaps Antony Blinken will urge him to call their bluff, to make the deal and satisfy millions of Israelis who want the hostages back before more of them are killed.

Mr Netanyahu might then have no choice other than to risk his government by gambling on an election.

Defeat will bring forward commissions of enquiry that will examine whether he bears responsibility for the political, intelligence and military failures that allowed Hamas to break into Israel eight months ago.

Or Benjamin Netanyahu might default to the techniques of procrastination and propaganda that he has perfected over all his years as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

If in doubt, play for time, and push arguments harder than ever.

On 24 July, he will return to one of his favourite pulpits, when he addresses a joint session of the US Congress in Washington DC.

Something better, for him, might emerge.

Macron snap election leaves rivals stunned after EU vote

By Laura GozziBBC News, Rome • Paul KirbyBBC News, Brussels

France’s political leaders are scrambling to prepare for snap elections after President Emmanuel Macron dissolved parliament in response to a stinging European vote defeat by the far-right National Rally.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned the two-round vote, starting on 30 June could have “the most serious consequences” in modern French history.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats were also heavily beaten in Sunday’s European elections by the conservative opposition, but he has ruled out holding early elections.

The conservative CSU premier of Bavaria, Markus Söder, said Mr Scholz’s government was essentially finished and needed to follow the French example.

Germany isn’t scheduled to hold fresh elections until 2025, but Mr Söder said the “country needs a new start”.

Macron ally Yaël Braun-Pivet, who’s president of the National Assembly said there had been an alternative to new elections, which involved a government pact , but “the president decided that path wasn’t open to him”. Without a majority in parliament, the government relies on support from other parties to pass legislation.

There was also frustration from the Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, that the vote was taking place three weeks before the capital hosts the Olympics.

Mr Macron’s Renew party polled less than 15% of the vote on Sunday, while the anti-immigration National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen and young leader Jordan Bardella, secured more than 31%.

European Parliament – the basics

  • The 720-member assembly is the only EU institution elected directly by voters across 27 EU members
  • It shapes the direction of EU laws that affect the lives of EU citizens, and also endorses the bloc’s annual budget
  • The EP supervises the work of the European Commission – the EU’s de facto government – and other EU bodies
  • The EP election results in theory have no bearing on national politics – but voters often use the occasion to send a message to their national government

The decision to hold new elections came as a shock across the political spectrum, with reports of a hastily organised meeting involving top RN leaders and Marion Maréchal from rival far-right party Reconquête.

There were calls for France’s bitterly divided left to rally round Socialist Raphaël Glucksmann, who scored almost 14% in the European vote.

President Macron joined German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, to mark the 80th anniversary of an infamous Nazi massacre in World War Two, when SS troops murdered 643 villagers in 1944.

President Steinmeier said it was fitting on the day after European elections that Europeans never forgot the damage done by nationalism and hate: “Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation that the European Union has worked.”

Alternative for Germany (AfD) came second in Germany’s European vote on Sunday, ahead of all three parties in the Mr Scholz’s coalition government, despite a succession of scandals involving the AfD’s top two candidates.

Its newly elected MEPs voted to exclude top candidate Maximilian Krah from their delegation in the European Parliament, after he was investigated for alleged links to Russia and China.

Meanwhile, President Macron is due to meet both Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni at a G7 summit this week in the Italian region of Puglia.

The three leaders are likely not just to discuss the outcome of Sunday’s European vote, but also whether to support Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to win a second term as president of the European Commission.

The Italian leader told Italian radio on Monday that it was “too early to talk about a second mandate” for the current Commission chief.

Ms von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party emerged as by far the biggest grouping in the next European Parliament.

Among the winners on the centre-right were Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who managed to lead his Civic Coalition party to a narrow victory over the right-wing-populist PiS party for the first time in a decade.

Mr Tusk is now one of Europe’s few leaders to have emerged from these elections with a stronger mandate.

The far-right Polish Confederation party won 12% of the vote, and one of its successful candidates is Grzegorz Braun – who provoked an international outcry in December when used a fire extinguisher to put out candles on a menorah in the Polish parliament placed there for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Czech President Petr Pavel said Europe should examine why support for far-right, conservative, nationalist parties was increasing and “needs to take notice of these voices”.

The Czech vote was won by the opposition ANO party of former prime minister Andrej Babis, which clinched seven of the available 21 seats in the European Parliament.

But it was also a good night for three small anti-system parties, including a new party called Motorists, who are campaigning against the EU’s Green Deal on measures on climate change and sustainability. One of the MotoristS MEPs will be controversial former racing driver Filip Turek, who was recently exposed for old social media posts revealing his passion for Nazi gestures and memorabilia.

The far-right fared unexpectedly poorly in Finland and Sweden. The Finns Party had been polling in third place but ended up with just 7.6% of the vote, while the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats slipped to fourth place with 13.2% of the vote.

There was also a surprise result in Denmark, where the Social Democrats of Mette Frederiksen were defeated by Green-Left party SF which polled more than 17% of the vote.

Ms Frederiksen, who is recovering from a physical assault in Copenhagen on Friday night, called the result “really miserable”.

Nine Hindu pilgrims killed in bus attack in India’s Jammu

By Cherylann MollanBBC News, Mumbai

Nine people have died and 33 injured after suspected militants fired on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in the Indian federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir, police officials said.

Officials had initially said after the incident on Sunday that the death toll was 10, but revised the figure later.

They said that the driver lost control after the attack, causing the bus to plunge into a gorge in Reasi district of Jammu.

While rescue operations have concluded, a search operation by the Indian army and police is under way to track down the attackers.

Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken “stock of the situation” and asked for the best medical care to be provided to the injured.

“All those behind this heinous act will be punished soon,” Manoj Sinha, the region’s top administrator, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Mr Sinha has announced a compensation of 1m rupees ($12000; £9400) to the next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 rupees to the injured.

The bus was on its way to the base camp of the famous Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi when it was fired upon.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet but Mohita Sharma, the district police chief, told Reuters that suspected militants had “ambushed the bus”.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for over six decades.

Since 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part. Since 1989, Indian-administered Kashmir has also seen an armed insurgency against Delhi’s rule, claiming thousands of lives.

Delhi accuses Islamabad of harbouring militants and disrupting peace in the region, a charge Pakistan denies.

The news of the attack broke as Mr Modi took oath as India’s prime minister for the third consecutive term at a swearing-in ceremony in Delhi.

On Monday, the Jammu police released the names of the victims, including the driver of the bus. They are from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Two of the victims are children, aged two years and 14.

Some survivors spoke to ANI news agency about their ordeal.

One of them said the driver had been shot and that the firing didn’t stop even after the bus fell into the gorge.

Amit Shah, who was home minister in Mr Modi’s previous government, expressed grief over the incident.

“The culprits of this dastardly attack will not be spared and will face the wrath of the law,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of main opposition party Congress, questioned the security situation in the region.

“This shameful incident is the true picture of the worrying security situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he wrote on X.

In 2017, seven Hindu pilgrims, six of them women, were killed after their bus, returning from the famed Amarnath pilgrimage site in Anantnag district, got caught in a gun battle between police and militants.

Read more stories from India:

Apple brings ChatGPT to iPhones in AI overhaul

By Zoe KleinmanTechnology editor • Liv McMahonTechnology reporter

Apple is to boost its Siri voice assistant and operating systems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT as it seeks to catch up in the AI race.

The iPhone maker announced the Siri makeover along with a number of other new features at its annual developers show on Monday.

It is part of a new personalised AI system – called “Apple Intelligence” – that aims to offer users a way to navigate Apple devices more easily.

Updates to its iPhone and Mac operating systems will allow access to ChatGPT through a partnership with developer OpenAI.

ChatGPT can also be used to boost other tools, including text and content generation. The test version will become available in the autumn.

Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, said the move would bring his company’s products “to new heights” as he opened the Worldwide Developers Conference at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

  • What is AI and how does it work?

The announcement was not welcomed by all. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, threatened to ban iPhones from his companies due to “data security”.

“Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI,” Mr Musk said on X. “They’re selling you down the river.”

Apple has faced pressure to introduce new AI features to its products after the rapid rise of rivals who have adopted the technology.

After it was usurped by Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in January, Apple was overtaken again by Nvidia in early June.

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said that while Apple’s new personal AI system “should help placate nervous investors”, its ChatGPT integration may reveal and create deeper problems for the firm.

“Arguably this sees Apple admitting its limitations given ChatGPT will kick in at a point where Siri is no longer able to help a user,” he told the BBC.

Apple has been largely absent in the avalanche of AI products released by tech firms in recent months.

Mr Cook told investors in 2023 that the company would approach the tech with care. On Monday, those plans were finally laid out.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

“Apple Intelligence” is not a product nor an app in its own right.

It will become part of every app and Apple product customers use – whether it’s a writing assistant refining your message drafts or your diary being able to show you the best route to get to your next appointment.

In that sense, it is similar to Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot – but you won’t have to pay extra to activate it.

Siri, the voice assistant Apple acquired in 2010, has been refreshed with a new interface and chattier approach to help users navigate their devices and apps more seamlessly.

Apple was keen to stress the security of Apple Intelligence during Monday’s keynote.

Some processing will be carried out on the device itself, while larger actions requiring more power will be sent to the cloud – but no data will be stored there, it said.

This is vital to customers who pay premium prices for Apple’s privacy promises.

The system “puts powerful generative models right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi.

“It draws on your personal context to give you intelligence that’s most helpful and relevant for you, and it protects your privacy at every step.”

What does OpenAI and Apple deal mean?

Apple’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT tech had been widely anticipated but it is an unusual move for a company that so closely guards its own products.

Google and Microsoft have recently faced scrutiny over errors made by their AI products in recent months, with the search giant rolling back a new feature in May after its erroneous answers went viral.

For years Apple also refused to allow its customers to download any apps outside of the App Store on the grounds that they might not be secure, and would not allow any web browser other than its own Safari for the same reason.

It only changed when forced to by EU legislation.

Is it a sign of recognition that even Apple can’t compete with ChatGPT right now?

If so, it tells us a lot about the current power of the AI supergiant OpenAI.

The firm did say it would integrate other products in future, but did not name any.

Apple announced that its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, will go on sale in the UK on 12 July. It has been available in the US since February.

Other new features announced on Monday include:

  • sending texts via satellite
  • scheduling messages to send at a later point
  • using head gestures (nodding for yes or shaking head for no) to control AirPods Pro
  • a dedicated app for passwords that is accessible across devices
  • the ability to hide certain apps or lock them away behind Face ID or passcodes.

Aircraft carrying Malawi vice-president goes missing

By Wedaeli ChibelushiBBC News

An aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president’s office has said.

The Malawi Defence Force aircraft “went off the radar” after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning, it added.

The plane was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

In a speech late on Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera said a search and rescue operation was continuing.

“Soldiers are still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found,” he said.

Mr Chakwera earlier cancelled his flight to the Bahamas, which was scheduled for Monday evening.

The reason for the aircraft’s disappearance is not yet known, General Valentino Phiri told Mr Chakwera. Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, told the BBC efforts to find the aircraft are “intensive”.

Mr Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago.

Mr Kunkuyu said: “The airport he was to land, which is in the northern part of Mzuzu, was the closest to where the funeral was taking place.”

In 2022, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts .

Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for this decision.

Who is Saulos Chilima?

  • Prior to his political career, Dr Chilima held key leadership roles in multinational companies like Unilever and Coca Cola
  • He is 51 years old
  • He is married with two children
  • Dr Chilima is described on the government’s website as a “performer”, “workaholic” and “an achiever”
  • He holds a PhD in Knowledge Management

More stories from Malawi:

  • High hopes of Malawi cannabis farmers are dashed
  • Malawians who abandoned Israeli farms deported
  • How a Malawi WhatsApp group helped save women trafficked to Oman

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A cartoon cat has been vexing China’s censors – now he says they are on his tail

By Tessa WongAsia Digital Reporter

As anti-lockdown protests flared across China’s cities in November 2022, hundreds of thousands around the world were glued to an unlikely source: a mysterious X account, fronted by a cartoon cat.

Protest footage, details about police movements, news of arrests – Teacher Li Is Not Your Teacher posted a torrent of real-time updates sourced from ordinary citizens.

Little of it could be found on China’s tightly-controlled state media or internet. All of it was curated by one person, sitting in a bedroom in Italy – an art school student named Li Ying.

Mr Li has since become a vital chronicler of information deemed politically sensitive by Beijing. His X account is a window into Xi Jinping’s China where authorities’ vice-like grip on information keeps tightening. From major protests to small acts of dissent, corruption to crime, it is zealously scrubbed off the Chinese internet, only to turn up on Mr Li’s account.

He says this has earned him the wrath of the authorities and, in an interview with the BBC, he painted a clear picture of how Beijing pressures dissidents overseas. He alleged the Chinese government is not only harassing him but also his friends, family and X followers in a coordinated campaign of intimidation.

The Chinese government has not responded to our questions and we are unable to independently verify all of Mr Li’s claims. But the tactics he detailed have been documented by activists, rights groups and other governments.

His activism was an accident, he told the BBC over the phone.

“It is the Chinese authorities’ unrelenting constriction of freedom of speech and media freedoms that has led me to slowly change from an ordinary person to who I am today.”

Li’s online existence began with writing and posting love stories on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform. “I was someone who had made love my main creative theme, I had nothing to do with politics,” the son of two art teachers explained. Even the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which Beijing stamped out, hardly made an impact on him: “I was just like many ordinary people, I didn’t think that the protests had anything to do with me.”

Then the pandemic struck. As China sealed itself off, Mr Li – by now studying at a prestigious art school in Italy – became desperate to find out what was going on back home. Scouring social media, he was shocked to read about the crushing lockdowns: “There were people starving, even jumping off buildings… the feeling at the time was of a lot of suffering and pressure.”

He started discussing these stories on Weibo. Some followers privately sent him their stories asking him to publish on their behalf, which he did. Censors took notice, and blocked his account.

Undeterred, he began a cat-and-mouse game, setting up a new Weibo account each time they shut one down. Fifty-three accounts later, he had enough: “I said okay, I’m going on Twitter.”

On X, unfettered by China’s censors, yet accessible through virtual private networks, Mr Li’s following grew. But it only really exploded, to more than a million, in late 2022 during the White Paper protests against China’s punishing zero-Covid measures.

His account became an important clearing house for protest information; at one point, he was deluged with messages every second. Mr Li hardly slept, fact-checking and posting submissions that racked up hundreds of millions of views.

Online death threats from anonymous accounts soon followed. He said the authorities arrived at his parents’ home in China to question them. Even then, he was sure life would return to normal once the protests died down.

“After I finished reporting on the White Paper movement, I thought that the most important thing I could ever do in this life was finished,” he said. “I didn’t think about continuing to operate this account. But just as I was thinking about what I should do next, suddenly all my bank accounts in China were frozen.

“That’s when I realised – I couldn’t go back anymore.”

Fears about Chinese espionage have been steadily growing in the West as ties with China sour. What worries them are reports that Beijing is surveilling and pressuring its citizens who live in foreign jurisdictions. China has dismissed these allegations as “groundless and malicious defamation”, and said it is committed to protecting the rights and safety of its people abroad.

But the accusations are mounting. Last year US authorities alleged that a Chinese police taskforce was using social media including X to harass Chinese targets online, and charged dozens for “interstate threats”.

Australia is reportedly investigating a Chinese espionage operation targeting residents and a former spy has told Australian media how he targeted a political cartoonist in Cambodia and an activist in Thailand. Rights group Amnesty International found that Chinese studying overseas who took part in anti-government protests were being surveilled.

Analysts trace China’s so-called transnational repression back to the decade-old Operation Foxhunt to catch fugitive criminals. They believe those tactics are now used to target anyone overseas that Beijing deems a threat.

Mr Li believes there are enough signs suggesting he is now one of these people. He said the police showed up at a company in China from which he had ordered art supplies in the past, demanding his Italian shipping information. He received calls from someone claiming to represent an European delivery service and asking for his current address, though he had never placed the order.

Details of his former address and phone number were published on the messaging platform WeChat. A stranger turned up at his former home, asking to meet him as he wanted to discuss a “business proposal”.

It is not clear whether Chinese authorities were directly behind these incidents. But this kind of ambiguity can be intentional as it stokes “an ever-present fear of persecution and distrust” in targets, said Laura Harth, campaign director for rights group Safeguard Defenders which recently highlighted Mr Li’s situation.

Beijing is accused of working with middlemen, such as Chinese businessmen based abroad, so the government can later deny direct involvement. Safeguard Defenders alleges the person who showed up at Mr Li’s former home is a businessman linked to one of China’s controversial overseas police stations.

“Often there are nationalists and patriotic people who work with the government in a tandem, symbiotic relationship,” said Yaqiu Wang, China research director at Freedom House. The thinking, she said, is “if I do this for the authorities then it’s good for my business”.

The pressure has ramped up in recent months, Mr Li said.

Authorities began surveilling and questioning his parents more – at one point the visits happened every day, he said. Even officials from the school they used to work for asked them to persuade Mr Li to stop.

“They are interrogating everyone in China who is linked to me, even WeChat contacts, trying to understand my life habits, understand what kind of restaurants I like to go to,” he said. One person was allegedly even pressured to confess he was Mr Li.

Followers on X have been telling Mr Li they have been asked to “drink tea” – a euphemism for police interrogations – since the end of last year.

He estimated a few hundred people have been questioned and told to unfollow him. Some people have been shown long lists of names purportedly of his followers, with one list running up to 10,000 names, according to Mr Li. He believes authorities did this to show the scale of their interrogations and intimidate him and his followers.

“Of course I feel very guilty. They only wanted to understand what is going on in China, and then they ended up being asked to ‘drink tea’,” he said. In February, he made these reports public with a warning on X – overnight, more than 200,000 people unfollowed him.

It’s unclear how the authorities tracked down X users in China, where the app is blocked. While some could have been identified through their tweets, many would have tried to conceal their identities.

It is plausible the Chinese government asked for user details, said Ms Wang. If so, X “should be transparent” about whether it agreed to any such requests. X has yet to respond to the BBC’s queries.

Shortly after Mr Li posted about the interrogations, anonymous accounts began flooding his inbox and X comment threads with spam. They sent crude cartoons of his parents and pornographic content; in recent weeks, he has received gruesome images from horror films, and photos and videos of cats being tortured – he said it’s because they know he loves cats. The BBC has seen screenshots of this.

These messages have hit a fever pitch in recent days, with one showing up in his inbox every few minutes. This coincided with Mr Li’s posts related to the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 ahead of its anniversary on 4 June, a taboo topic for the Chinese Communist Party.

Personal information about him and his parents, including their pictures, have been posted on a website promoted by anonymous X accounts. The website also alleges he is working for the Chinese government, in a seeming attempt to sow distrust among his followers.

A check on the website’s domain found it was set up in April and its registrant listed their location as China and Tasmania. Its IP address is hosted by a Hong Kong company.

It is not clear who is behind all of this, but Mr Li said it is a “psychological attack” aimed at wearing down his nerves.

China is not alone in going after overseas dissidents, said political scientist Ho-fung Hung of Johns Hopkins University, pointing to similar allegations against India and Turkey. “As more overseas communities become more active and social media connects them to people back home, authoritarian governments increasingly feel diaspora communities can pose a threat to them,” he said.

But in China’s case, he added, they are stepping up their tactics because of “the growing paranoia of the Chinese government” besieged by an economic slowdown and outward flows of money and talent.

Observers say this paranoia appears to be fuelling a uniquely intense repression of Mr Li. Ms Wang said what was happening to him had the signs of a “national, really high-level plan”.

“He has become the aggregator which people send information to, and that is very scary to the authorities… he has a kind of power that nobody else has had in the past.”

Wryly, Mr Li said he could be dubbed China’s “most dangerous cat” – a reference to his X profile picture, which he drew.

His government targets him because he stymies their vast efforts to censor negative news, and also because he represents a new generation of internet savvy, politically conscious Chinese youth, he said. “What this White Paper protest generation represents is exactly the kind of ideology they do not want everyone to see.”

His work has come at an enormous personal cost. He moves frequently within Italy, staying only a few months in each location, and hardly leaves the house. He hasn’t found steady work, and survives on online donations and earnings from YouTube and X.

He lives alone with his two cats, Guolai and Diandian. In previous interviews he had mentioned a girlfriend, but they have since parted ways. “I’m all by myself now,” he said matter-of-factly. “There was too much pressure. But I don’t feel lonely because I interact with a lot of people on social media.”

He admitted, though, that he is feeling the mental strain of his situation and the long hours he spends online. “I feel lately my ability to express myself has dropped, and I’m very unfocused.”

Though he recently renewed his passport, he believes Chinese authorities allowed this to keep tabs on him. It is a bitter gift from his government – once an avid traveller, he now feels trapped.

“I often mourn [the life I could have],” he added. “On the other hand, I don’t regret this.”

“I don’t see myself as a hero, I was only doing what I thought was the right thing at the time. What I’ve demonstrated is that an ordinary person can also do these things.” He believes that if his account shuts down, “naturally a new Teacher Li will appear”.

The thought of getting arrested scares him, but giving up is not an option. “I feel I am a person with no future… until they find me and pull me back to China, or even kidnap me, I will continue doing what I’m doing.”

By going public with his allegations, he hopes to expose the Chinese government’s tactics. But it’s also because he believes they crossed a line by escalating their repression, and wants to fight back. “I post something you don’t like, so you crush me, that is the process of a mutual fight. But doing all these things to my parents, I really don’t understand it.”

Now, he is making defiant plans to expand his operations, perhaps recruiting others to join his mission, or posting in English to widen his influence. The Chinese government “is really afraid of outsiders knowing what China is really like… [Posting in English] is something they are even more afraid of.

“They may feel they have a lot of tactics, but I actually have a lot of cards I can play.”

YouTube prankster voted in as Cyprus MEP

By Vicky WongBBC News

A popular YouTuber from Cyprus has been elected as an independent MEP to the European Parliament.

Fidias Panayiotou has previously described himself as a “professional mistake maker” and some of his online hijinks include trying to hug 100 celebrities – including Elon Musk – and spending a week in a coffin.

The 24-year-old has more than 2.6 million subscribers and – despite having no political experience – garnered the third-largest number of votes with 19.4%.

“It was a shock what happened, a miracle,” said Mr Panayiotou.

He told state broadcaster CyBC: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people.”

Last year Mr Panayiotou was forced to apologise after he caused outrage in Japan for a YouTube video in which he dodged train fares and a five-star hotel breakfast bill.

The clip, which racked up millions of views, saw him travel across Japan on its famed bullet train, while dodging fares by hiding in toilets and feigning illness.

But on Sunday, he celebrated his win with a gathering at Eleftheria Square in the island’s capital Nicosia, where he said: “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally.”

According to Politico, Mr Panayiotou declared in January he would run in the polls.

Appearing on Cypriot TV, Alpha Cyprus – where he wore trainers, shorts, a suit jacket and three neck ties – he admitted that he had never voted, knew little about politics and the EU, but that he could no longer stand the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels.

When Mr Panayiotou submitted his candidacy in April, he admitted that his goal was not to get elected but to motivate young people to get involved in politics.

The Mediterranean island nation has a population of about 900,000, of whom more than 683,000 were registered to vote in the weekend’s polls.

Turnout in Cyprus was at just under 59% – up from 45% in the 2019 elections, with analysts attributing the rise in part to the “Fidias factor”.

According analysis of exit poll data by news site Philenews, Mr Panayiotou won 40% of the votes from the 18-24 age group and 28% of votes from the 25-34 group.

Six Cypriot MEPs were elected.

Mr Panayiotou came third behind the conservative DISY (25%) which retained its two MEPs, and the communist party AKEL (22%) which lost one of its two MEPs.

Cypriot voters also elected an MEP from the ultranationalist party ELAM (11%) and the centrist party Diko (10%).

US civil rights hero James Lawson dies at 95

By Max MatzaBBC News

James Lawson, the black civil rights activist who travelled to India to study non-violent protest and served as chief strategist to Dr Martin Luther King Jr, has died at the age of 95.

Lawson, a Methodist minister, learned Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of civil disobedience and taught them to protesters opposing racial segregation in the US.

Through his workshops, he instructed countless activists on how to passively resist horrific violence and threats from the police and angry white mobs in order to expose the immorality of racism.

King repeatedly praised his methods, calling him in a speech the day before his assassination one of the great “noble men” of the black struggle in America.

King, who met Lawson when they were both 28-year-olds, also called his ally “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world”.

Lawson died in Los Angeles, where he lived, his family said on Monday.

The son and grandson of ministers, he was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1928.

Lawson said he was motivated to study non-violence when he was eight-years-old after he slapped a child who had called him a racial slur.

His mother, who was a passivist, asked him “what good” had become of his response. He vowed to never again use violence to resolve a dispute.

His non-violent beliefs were tested early on, when as a university student he refused to be drafted into the US Army to serve in the Korean War.

Lawson served 13 months in prison for draft dodging. After finishing his education, he travelled to Nagpur, India, to work as a missionary and study the resistance tactics developed by Gandhi.

After three years in India, he returned to the US, where he met King, a fellow Methodist minister, at Oberlin College in Ohio.

His belief in non-violence came at a time when opinion in black communities was divided over how to resist institutional racism and segregation.

King convinced Lawson to move to Nashville and begin studying at Vanderbilt University while also teaching non-violent protest techniques.

Several of his students went on to play prominent roles in the civil rights movement, such as future congressman John Lewis and future Washington DC mayor Marion Barry.

After King was assassinated in 1968, Lawson met and eventually befriended the man convicted of killing him.

“Martin King would have gone to visit him. I knew this,” he said of James Earl Ray, King’s killer.

Lawson went on to officiate Ray’s marriage in prison, and came to believe that he was not solely responsible for King’s death.

He was also a founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which played a key role in the racial equality protests of the 1960s.

In a 2020 speech during the funeral of John Lewis, Lawson said “many of us had no choice to do what we tried to do, primarily because at an early age we recognized the wrong under which we were forced to live”.

“And we swore to God that by God’s grace, we would do whatever God called us to do in order to put on the table of the nation’s agenda.

“This must end. Black lives matter.”

French officer held after 19-year-old allegedly shot dead

By George WrightBBC News

A French police officer is being questioned after a 19-year-old man was allegedly shot dead as he attempted to flee a traffic stop for speeding, prosecutors said.

The victim was among three people in the car when police tried to stop them near Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in Normandy, western France late on Sunday, the state prosecutor Pierre-Yves Marot said in a statement.

The driver allegedly refused to stop and continued driving, before then being halted by a second police car, according to the statement. All three occupants of the vehicle then attempted to flee on foot, it added.

One escaped, another was detained and another was allegedly shot by an officer in the chest, the prosecutor’s office said. The victim has not been named.

“The third person, a 19-year-old from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, was confronted by officers from the second patrol and knocked into one them while trying to flee,” the prosecutor alleged in quotes cited by the AFP news agency.

“The officer then used a stun gun” while a colleague drew and “used her service weapon, fatally striking him in the chest”, it added.

The officer was being held for questioning on Monday evening by the internal affairs department of police regulator IGPN.

It comes almost a year after intense and widespread rioting swept across France following the shooting of a 17-year-old during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. A policeman was charged with homicide.

Travel warning to fans as Pink restarts world tour

By Rosie MercerBBC News

American superstar Pink will kick off the European leg of her Summer Carnival Tour on Tuesday as she’ll get the party started in front of a sell-out crowd in Wales.

Tens of thousands of fans will arrive in Cardiff ahead of Tuesday’s gig, with authorities warning of travel disruption on the M4 motorway, while one railway line out of the city is shut.

The singer will return to the UK for the first time in five years for the show at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, with a full city centre road closure from mid-afternoon.

She will begin her European leg in the Welsh capital, then head to London, Dublin, Liverpool and Glasgow before nine gigs on mainland Europe.

Triple Grammy Award winner Pink, 44, said she was excited to be back in Wales during the month that the Principality Stadium celebrates its quarter-century.

“It’s been way too long since I’ve been in Wales,” added Pink, whose hits include Get The Party Started, Just Give Me a Reason and So What.

The Summer Carnival tour is in support of the singer’s ninth studio album, Trustfall, which was released last year, and her first gig since her show in Queensland, Australia, in March.

Who are Pink’s supporting acts?

Irish rock band The Script, American singer songwriter Gayle, and the DJ KidCutUp are listed as the special guests.

They will be warming fans up for Pink, whose Summer Carnival tour dates last year saw her singing beside a giant rainbow beach ball while dancers bounced on trampolines.

What time does the show start?

The stadium gates open at 16:00 BST.

KidCutUp is due to perform at 17:30, followed by Gayle at 18:15, The Script at 19:05, and Pink at 20:25.

Pink’s set is scheduled to last for just over two hours.

Will the stadium roof be open?

No. According to the Principality Stadium, the roof will be closed for the duration of the show.

Are tickets still available?

The show is officially sold out, but Ticketmaster has a number of resale tickets available on its website, ranging from £115 to £372 each.

All tickets are being issued digitally.

The stadium has advised fans who have bought tickets that they must have access to a smartphone to download the relevant ticketing app before they arrive.

Are there any road closures?

Scott Road and Park Street will be closed from 07:00.

A full city centre road closure will then be enforced from 15:00 until midnight.

The roads included in this are:

  • Duke Street
  • Castle St
  • High Street
  • St Mary Street
  • Caroline Street
  • Wood Street
  • Central Square
  • Westgate Street
  • Quay Street
  • Guildhall Place
  • Golate
  • Havelock Street
  • Kingsway from its junction with North Road to its junction with Duke Street
  • Cowbridge Road East from its junction with Cathedral Road to its junction with Westgate Street
  • Tudor Street from its junction with Clare Road to its junction with Wood Street
  • Plantagenet Street and Beauchamp Street from their junctions with Despenser Place to their junctions with Tudor Street
  • Station Terrace and Guildford Street from the junction with Newport Road to the junction with Churchill Way will be access for buses only
  • Penarth Road will be closed 30 minutes before the concert finishes and up to one hour after the concert ends

Trains, buses, parking, park and ride

Fans with tickets are being advised to walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible.

The M4 motorway is likely to be very busy and drivers are urged to check the Traffic Wales website before setting off.

Event parking is available at Sophia Gardens and the civic centre for a fee.

A park and ride service is being operated by Cardiff council from the Cardiff City Stadium in Leckwith. The first bus leaves at 09:00 and fans will be dropped off and picked up from Fitzhammon Embankment, opposite the stadium.

Transport for Wales will be providing extra capacity on trains in and out of Cardiff wherever possible, but said rail services would be very busy.

The Vale of Glamorgan line between Cardiff Airport and Bridgend will be shut while there will be engineering works between Gloucester and Severn Tunnel Junction.

Buses will be diverted due to the road closures. Full details of Cardiff Bus diversions can be found here.

Can I take my bag into the show?

Small bags and handbags no larger than a sheet of A4 paper are allowed in, but the stadium has said waiting times for fans with bags will be longer.

In addition, there are a number of things that you cannot take into the stadium – including professional cameras or audio/video recording devices, selfie sticks, lasers or flash lights, pyrotechnics, glass and flags.

A full list of what can and cannot be taken into the stadium can be found on the Principality Stadium’s website.

Where is Pink playing in the UK in 2024?

Pink’s Cardiff date is the first of her 18 shows in Europe, with nine in the UK and Ireland, before she returns to the United States in August.

So other than Cardiff, where else and when is Pink playing in UK and Ireland in 2024?

  • 15 and 16 June, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
  • 20 and 21 June, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
  • 24 and 25 June, Anfield, Liverpool
  • 28 and 29 June, Hampden Park, Glasgow

Michael Mosley died of natural causes, police say

By Nikos PapanikolaouKathryn ArmstrongBBC News

An initial post-mortem examination on the body of Dr Michael Mosley has concluded he died of natural causes, the BBC has been told.

The TV presenter’s remains were found in a rocky area on the Greek island of Symi on Sunday – four days after he went missing while on holiday.

Greek police spokeswoman Konstantia Dimoglidou told the BBC that the initial post-mortem found no injuries on his body that could have caused his death.

Dr Mosley’s time of death was around 16:00 (14:00 BST) on Wednesday, the day he went missing.

The 67-year-old father-of-four was reported missing after he set off for a walk from Agios Nikolaos beach – near where he was staying on the northeast side of the island – at about 13:30 local time (11:30 BST) on Wednesday.

Dr Mosley’s wife, Dr Clare Bailey Mosley, raised the alarm when her husband did not return.

Greek authorities conducted an extensive search for Dr Mosley amid high temperatures, deploying police officers, firefighters, divers and a helicopter.

The manager of a bar on Agia Marina beach – northwards along the coast from Dr Mosley’s starting point – found his body after the island’s mayor “saw something” by the fence of the bar and alerted staff, PA news agency reported.

Police said the initial conclusion that Dr Mosley died of natural causes was based on the position his body was found in, as well as a lack of injuries.

Separate toxicology and histology reports have now been ordered.

The BBC has seen CCTV footage, taken near the Agia Marina beach bar, that appears to show Dr Mosley disappear from view as he slowly makes his way down a hillside close to where his body was later found. He then collapses out of view behind a wall.

Dr Bailey Mosley said on Sunday that her family was “taking comfort in the fact” that her husband “so very nearly made it” to safety.

“He did an incredible climb, took the wrong route and collapsed where he couldn’t be easily seen by the extensive search team,” she said in a statement.

BBC reporter indicates area where a body was found

Dr Bailey Mosley also paid tribute to her “wonderful, funny, kind and brilliant” husband after the “devastating” news his body had been found.

“We had an incredibly lucky life together,” Dr Bailey Mosley said.

“We loved each other very much and were so happy together.”

The former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Lord Tom Watson, was among those to pay fresh tributes to Dr Mosley on Monday.

“He certainly changed my life. He gave me the idea that I wasn’t broken,” Mr Watson, who said in 2018 that he had “reversed” his type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Dr Mosley studied medicine in London and qualified as a doctor, and for the last two decades was working as a presenter, documentary maker, journalist and author.

He was known for his TV programmes including Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, and BBC Radio 4’s Just One Thing podcast. He also wrote a column for the Daily Mail.

Mr Mosley had been an advocate for intermittent fasting diets, including through the 5:2 diet and The Fast 800 diet.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan, who co-presented Trust Me, I’m a Doctor with Dr Mosley, told the BBC’s Breakfast programme she was initially “terrified” to take on the role but that he “put me at ease almost immediately”.

She added: “That really personable, accessible character [that] comes across on television, that’s exactly how he was in real life.

“He did incredible things for medicine and for public health in a way that I think few others have.”

Lord Watson recalled the moment he first read a book by Dr Mosley, saying it was “like a light came on in my life”.

“I just became a real fan of his work and, over the years, he’s helped me maintain that and help millions of others,” he said.

“And that’s what great journalism is: he explained very complex ideas of science in a very simple way.”

Former BBC creative director Alan Yentob, who worked closely with Dr Mosley during his time at the broadcaster, told BBC News: “It is a tragedy, there’s no question about it. But for many people, they’re reminded of how extraordinarily he helped to transform their lives.”

He described Dr Mosely as “an adventurer” with a “curious and creative” spirit, adding that he leaves behind an “incredible legacy”.

“He made people feel there was a real opportunity to change things and that the challenge was exciting and playful as well,” he said.

Science broadcaster Dr Chris van Tulleken, who also worked with Dr Mosley, said his former colleague had invented “an entire genre of broadcasting” over the course of his career.

He added that Dr Mosley’s work “quietly changed my daily practices”, from brushing his teeth while standing on one leg to sometimes fasting.

“He was giving people tools they could use that everyone could afford,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Calypso Haggett, Dr Mosley’s business partner and chief executive of The Fast 800 weight-loss programme, said in a statement that he was a “shining light for the whole team”.

“I had the great privilege of knowing Michael both professionally and personally. He really, truly was one of a kind and will be terribly missed by everyone,” said Ms Haggett.

“Michael has left an incredible legacy, which I know will live on and energise a continuous movement for better health.”

Downing Street said that Dr Mosley would be known “as an extraordinary broadcaster who used his platform to influence and change the way we think about many public health issues”.

Hardliners dominate Iran presidential candidates

By Kasra NajiSpecial correspondent, BBC Persian

Iran’s Guardian Council has approved six candidates to run in this month’s presidential election.

Almost all of them are Islamic hardliners close to the thinking of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The constitutional body vetted the 80 people who registered to stand on 28 June according to their religious and revolutionary credentials.

It appears to have approved candidates with a view to setting up hardliners to hold on to the presidency following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

One front-runner is Saeed Jalili, a former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and nuclear negotiator who is thought to be the favourite of Ayatollah Khamenei.

In his time as head of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, Mr Jalili repeatedly stonewalled the talks with five world powers while Iran advanced its nuclear programme.

He is seen by many as a largely tedious, hard-line Islamist ideologue with no executive experience.

The present Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, is another candidate with a good chance.

He is a regime insider and former general of the Revolutionary Guards who has also served as the country’s police chief and mayor of Tehran.

One of that pair might decide to leave the race at the last minute in order not to divide the votes.

Three other candidates – Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani, Vice-President Amirhossein Qazizadeh Hashemi and Mostafa Pourmohammadi – are also hardliners of various shades.

Mr Pourmohammadi is a former justice and interior minister who, along with Ebrahim Raisi, was a member of the so-called “Death Committee” that approved the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the late 1980s.

An exception to the hardliners is Massoud Pezeshkian, the member of parliament for Tabriz. A relative moderate, he has an outside chance of winning if turnout is very low.

Mr Pezeshkian could win the votes of many otherwise reluctant voters who may see a vote of him is a vote against the hardliners. He is also ethnically Azeri, and is thought to have the votes of the some in the north-east of Iran, where the bulk of the population are Turkish-speaking Azeris.

Leaving him in the mix might be a ploy to push up a turnout that otherwise could be historically low.

Two big names that have been denied a chance to run are the hard-line former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Ali Larijani, a three-time speaker of parliament hailing from a deeply conservative religious background.

Their rejection shows how narrow the choices have become in the elections where the voters will have little choice but select among the few hardliners with whom the supreme leader feels he can work.

With such choice of candidates, it is unlikely that the election will generate much excitement among Iranians.

They will see this as another occasion where the supreme leader has engineered the elections to produce an outcome he desires – another hard-line president and complete control of the levers of powers.

Just five more ways Michael Mosley made us healthier

TV and podcast presenter Michael Mosley was best known for offering tips on simple ways to improve our health and wellbeing, backed up by science – everything from when to exercise and what to eat to how to get more sleep.

He was often the guinea pig – willing to try out anything before recommending it to others (swallowing tapeworms and trying psychedelic drugs, for example).

“Michael wanted to look at whatever would help people live better, healthier lives,” says his former co-presenter on Trust me I’m a Doctor, Dr Saleyha Ahsan.

“Something that wasn’t a fad, that they could keep going at and which they didn’t feel guilty about.”

We pick out his top five health hacks:

Eat less on two days a week

He popularised the idea of intermittent fasting – eating normally on five days a week and much less than usual on the other two, in order to lose weight and boost your health.

It’s called the 5:2 diet, and it sparked huge interest when his Horizon TV programme Eat, Fast and Live Longer was broadcast more than 10 years ago.

Wanting to reverse his type 2 diabetes, he stuck to the diet for five weeks, eating fewer than 600 calories on fasting days, with a light breakfast and dinner and plenty of water and herbal tea in between. During that time, he lost nearly a stone and his blood markers, including glucose and cholesterol, improved.

The notion of fasting to cut calories got the nation talking and spawned fasting recipes, calorie-restricted menus and even a book.

To make it even easier, he challenged people to simply try staying away from food for 12 hours during the night, between 8pm and 8am – something called time-restricted eating.

Short bursts of exercise

Doing the recommended amount of exercise each week is a challenge for many. “When do I find the time?” is the frequent complaint.

Dr Mosley’s Just One Thing podcast researched the concept of “exercise snacking” – doing a few minutes of physical activity whenever possible, rather than scheduling one long gym session that might not happen.

For those with busy lives, he suggested shunning the lift and running up the stairs instead, and going for brisk walks, particularly first thing in the morning.

“We live at the top of a steep hill – I always cycle down to the town for the shopping and push myself hard on the way back,” he said on the podcast, illustrating how to make exercise an integral part of his daily routine.

He also investigated the more controversial concept of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT – short bursts of intense exercise with periods of recovery in between – as a way of maximising workout time.

Embracing the cold

Dr Mosley was fascinated by how cold temperatures could be harnessed to help our health and wellbeing.

He investigated the benefits of everything from taking cold showers to exercising in the cold and sleeping in a cool bedroom.

In interviews, he revealed how he liked to turn the heating down at home.

“I live in an old house which is expensive to heat – so we pile on layers of clothes and keep the thermostat at about 15 degrees,” he said, adding that his wife was less keen on the arrangement.

He discovered that turning the thermostat down by just a few degrees could improve fat and blood-sugar metabolism, boost your mood, and might even protect against type 2 diabetes.

When he went for a jog on a chilly day, he found out how exercising in colder weather can allow you to go further than on a hot day, enabling you to work harder, for longer, with less effort.

And he was also a fan of taking cold showers (like motivational speaker and extreme athlete Wim Hoff), admitting he started every morning in a warm shower and turned it to cold for around 30-to-40 seconds.

The body’s reaction to being immersed in cold water – the cold shock response – forces up the heart rate and makes you breathe more quickly, which is thought to be beneficial in short bursts.

Squats and planks

“It’s the best simple exercise you can do,” said Dr Mosley in a recent interview.

What was he talking about? Squats, press-ups and planks.

These are resistance exercises, working some of the biggest muscles in the body.

When muscles are tensed and held still, as these exercises demand, research suggests there is a sudden rush of blood when you relax, which can reduce blood pressure.

As they are potentially better than doing crunches or sit-ups for the core muscles, he would do squats every morning – before his cold shower, of course.

Food choices

Most of us know what we should be doing to eat healthily – eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and cutting back on fatty and sugar-laden foods being the primary objectives.

But are there hidden health benefits in some foods?

Thanks to Dr Mosley, we learned it’s potentially better to cook tomatoes than eat them raw. Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant, called lycopine, which helps the body fight off damaging chemicals, and cooking the red fruit lets the good stuff out and into the body.

And when it comes to beetroot, he concluded it was best to buy it raw and bake it, or drink the juice to enjoy this nitrate-rich purple veg.

Mosley looked at the merits of fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, and found they helped introduce live microbes into the gut and could improve the body’s immune system and reduce inflammation.

But he wasn’t against eating the odd bit of chocolate, particularly when it was dark – much healthier than the milky version, according to studies.

One unexpected discovery he made was that eating pasta cold is healthier than eating it hot.

When cold, it was found to act more like fibre and less like a starchy carbohydrate. In a small trial in hungry people, eating cold pasta led to a smaller spike in blood glucose and insulin than eating freshly boiled pasta.

Some of his health drives didn’t catch on, however – including consuming blood because of its nutritious properties and eating parasites to reduce appetite.

Why the EU might be about to make Chinese electric cars more expensive

By Theo LeggettBBC international business correspondent

With China accused of selling electric cars at artificially low prices, the European Union is widely expected to hit them with tariffs this week.

The BYD Seagull is a tiny, cheap, neatly styled electric vehicle (EV). An urban runabout that won’t break any speed records, but nor will it break the bank.

In China, it has a starting price of 69,800 yuan ($9,600; £7,500). If it comes to Europe, it is expected to cost at least double that figure due to safety regulations. But that would still be, by electric car standards, very cheap.

For European manufacturers that is a worrying prospect. They fear the little Seagull will become an invasive species, one of a number of Chinese-built models poised to colonise their own markets at the expense of indigenous vehicles.

China’s domestic auto industry has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Its development, along with that of the battery sector, was a major component of the “Made In China 2025” strategy, a 10-year industrial policy launched by the Communist Party in Beijing in 2015.

The result has been the breakneck development of companies like BYD, now vying with Tesla for the title of the world’s biggest manufacturer of electric vehicles. Established giants such as SAIC, the owner of the MG brand, and Volvo’s owner Geely, have also become big players in the EV market.

Last year, more than eight million electric vehicles were sold in China – about 60% of the global total, according to the International Energy Agency’s annual Global EV Outlook.

For policymakers in Europe and the US, however, this is a cause for concern. With Chinese brands having plenty of surplus capacity and moving into international markets, they fear their own companies will be unable to compete. They claim hefty subsidies for domestic production allow Chinese firms to keep prices at a level other firms will struggle to match.

According to a report by the Swiss bank UBS, published in September, the Chinese advantage is real. It suggested that BYD could produce cars at some 25% lower cost than the best of the legacy global carmakers.

It said BYD and other Chinese firms were “set to conquer the world market with high-tech, low-cost EVs for the masses”.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Alliance for American Manufacturing warned that the introduction of cheap Chinese cars could be an “extinction-level event” for the US auto industry. It called for a “dedicated and concerted effort to turn those imports back”, concluding that there was “no time to lose”.

Last month, the US took decisive action. The Biden administration raised its tariff on imports of Chinese battery-powered cars from 25% to 100%. Sales of Chinese-made EVs in the US are currently negligible; with the new tariffs, they are likely to stay that way.

The move was part art of a wider package of measures targeting imports from China that has been condemned by Beijing as “naked protectionism”.

At the same time, the US is subsidising its own car industry, through tax incentives that make domestically-produced vehicles cheaper to buy.

The EU appears to be taking a more moderate approach, despite tough rhetoric.

In her state of the Union address in September last year, the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced an investigation into Chinese imports.

“Global markets are now flooded with cheaper Chinese electric cars,” she said.

“Their price is kept artificially low by huge state subsidies. This is distorting our market.”

The initial results of that investigation are now imminent.

It is widely expected that the Commission will provisionally raise duties on EVs imported from China, from the standard level of 10% for third country imports to between 20 and 25%.

According to Matthias Schmidt of Schmidt Automotive Research, this would be a rather more proportionate response than the US move.

“The 100% tariff is just pure protectionism, regressive and stifles innovation, and prevents a competitive landscape for the consumer,” he says.

“If the EU imposes tariffs of no more than 25%, it will be more about levelling the playing field, and evening out the 30% cost advantage Chinese manufacturers have.”

Nevertheless, tariffs could hurt European companies as well as helping them.

Firstly, they would not just affect Chinese brands. For example, BMW’s iX3 electric SUV is built at a factory in Dadong and exported to Europe. The company also intends to import large quantities of Chinese-made electric Minis.

Both models would be subject to the tariffs, leaving the manufacturer to absorb the extra cost, or raise prices. The US manufacturer Tesla would also be affected, as it builds cars in Shanghai for export to Europe.

Secondly, although European makes have invested heavily in production in China in recent years, in partnership with local manufacturers, a number of them still export high-value models to Chinese markets.

If China wanted to retaliate by imposing its own hefty tariffs, these shipments could be targeted.

Small wonder then, that executives at European carmakers have been distinctly lukewarm about the EU’s initiative.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen Group’s chief executive Oliver Blume warned that the introduction of tariffs was “potentially dangerous”, because of the risk of retaliation.

Last month BMW boss Oliver Zipse told investors “you could very quickly shoot yourself in the foot” by engaging in trade battles, adding “we don’t think that our industry needs protection”.

Ola Källenius, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz has gone a step further, publicly calling for tariffs on Chinese EV imports to be lowered rather than raised, to encourage European companies to do a better job.

Support for the EU investigation has largely come from France. Yet even among French manufacturers, there is doubt as to whether tariffs are the correct approach.

Carlos Tavares, head of the Stellantis group which includes Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall/Opel and DS, has described them as “a major trap for countries that go down that path”.

He has warned that European carmakers are in a “Darwinian” struggle with their Chinese rivals, something that is likely to have social consequences as they pare back costs in an effort to compete.

Renault’s chief executive Luca de Meo, meanwhile, says “we are not in favour of protectionism, but competition must be fair”.

He has called for the adoption of a strong European industrial policy to promote the sector, taking inspiration from policies launched by the US and China – in an effort to compete with both.

Meanwhile, the UK is looking on with interest. The head of the country’s trade watchdog, the Trade Remedies Authority, has previously made it clear he would be ready to set up an investigation into Chinese EVs, if ministers or the industry wanted it.

So far it is understood no such request has been made. Ultimately, as a deeply political issue, it will be something for the next government to address, after the election.

What higher tariffs may give Europe is more time for both car manufacturers and policymakers to adapt to the challenge from China.

But many within the industry acknowledge that if Europe is to remain a major player in the global automotive sector, it will have to do much more than simply set up barricades at home.

Read more about electric cars

Billie Eilish: ‘I was ghosted. It was insane’

By Noor Nanji@NoorNanjiCulture reporter

She may be one of music’s biggest stars, but it turns out even Billie Eilish is not immune to being ghosted.

The American artist, 22, told the BBC podcast Miss Me? that she had “a crazy ghosting happen” last year, adding: “It was insane.”

Ghosting – for the uninitiated – is when a friend or romantic prospect suddenly cuts off all communication with you, without any explanation.

The What Was I Made For singer also said that she struggled to maintain friendships when she first found fame.

Eilish was just 14 when she unveiled her debut single Ocean Eyes. Since then, she has shot to worldwide stardom, scooping up multiple awards along the way.

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Speaking to Lily Allen and Miquita Oliver, Eilish said: “I’ve been ghosted for sure.”

She said the incident happened last December, adding it was “literally unbelievable. To this day, [he] never texted me again.”

“I was like, did you die? Did you literally die?,” she said.

“It was somebody that I’d also known for years and had a plan, the day of, on the phone, making a plan, this is my address, be there at 3pm – never heard from him again. Ever. I couldn’t believe it.”

Eilish said she later saw that he was dating someone else.

“And I was like ‘oh’. But I didn’t know people still did that. I genuinely didn’t know people did that.”

The singer and songwriter’s third studio album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, was released last month.

Earlier this year, she and her brother and collaborator Finneas O’Connell won the Oscar for Best Song with What Was I Made For?, which they penned for the Barbie soundtrack.

But Eilish said that stardom made it hard for her to have friends.

“Well I lost all of my friends when I got famous,” she said.

“I suddenly was famous and I couldn’t relate to anybody. It was tough. It was really hard.”

Eilish said that her best friend, Zoe, remained by her side. But her only other friends were her employees.

“And then it was my 20th birthday and I remember looking around the room and it was only people that I employ. And all 15 years or more older than me.”

She said one of those employees subsequently quit, out of the blue, and stopped talking to her.

“And it was the worst thing that happened to me. And that made me realise like ‘oh wait, this is a job’,” she said. “If they left me they would never see me again.”

Eilish said that since then, she finds it hard to be friendly to people she works with, “because I’m very freaked out by loss and I have a lot of abandonment problems,” she said.

But she added that she has worked hard on making new friends and rekindling old friendships.

“Exactly a year ago, I reconnected with a bunch of old friends and now, I have so many friends,” she said.

“I have a crew now! I could literally cry about it. It’s been the greatest thing that’s happened to me.”

She said that when she recently went with them to a party at Coachella, she burst into tears.

“I was like, “Guys, I have friends and I just love you guys so much, and it’s been so long since I’ve had friends. I cried… and it’s literally because I actually have friendship now again.”

The singer added that Allen’s track Smile had inspired her to make new friends.

In the 2006 song, Allen sings, “

“I used to want to cry hearing that line because I didn’t feel that way, because I didn’t have friends,” Eilish said.

“And I remember thinking I want to feel that way. And I want to listen to this song that I relate to in every way and hear that line about friends and be like, my friends got my through it.”

The temple storming still affecting Sikhs today

By Minreet KaurBBC News, Bedfordshire

Members of the Sikh community have been recalling what their families endured during one of the most brutal periods in the history of their faith.

It is 40 years since Indian armed forces stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar in Punjab, to remove Sikh separatists who were demanding an independent homeland, called Khalistan.

About 400 people, including 87 soldiers, were killed during Operation Blue Star, which was ordered by then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. But Sikh groups dispute this figure, claiming thousands died.

Sikhs across the world accused troops of desecrating the faith’s holiest shrine, and tensions led to an armed insurgency lasting more than a decade.

Here, Sikhs in Bedfordshire recount how the events of June 1984 have left lasting scars.

Rasal Singh is a volunteer in the Sikh temple in Luton, and runs a business in Bedfordshire.

His father, Nirmal Singh Chola Sahib, was killed in November 1990.

He said: “My father was arrested and taken to the local police station where he was tortured severely… It was tragic, he was brutally tortured.”

The father of three said his family “still suffer today”.

“The pain is still so raw, the absence of my father has left a void that never truly heals he was tortured and killed, it’s left a huge hole in my heart,” he said.

“After my dad was killed, my family became homeless, moving from place to place. Even after 40 years, my family is still hurting, and no justice has been served.

“I channel my pain into being a better parent, hoping to give them the sense of completeness that I missed.

“Every hug, every word of encouragement, every moment spent with them is a step towards healing.”

Gurjit Singh, from Luton, said his uncle, Paramjit Singh, was a police officer in Punjab before he was killed in the 1990s.

He said: “Innocent people were often tortured and targeted simply for wearing turbans or having beards.

“The police frequently harassed women under false pretences.”

He said his uncle became a target for harassment himself while trying to protect a group of women from his colleagues.

“They even targeted his family, including my father, who was also a police officer,” he said.

“My uncle had to flee the village, but eventually, they found him, tortured him in jail for 10 days, and then killed him in the fields, staging his death as an escape attempt.”

He said that his uncle fled, the whole family was arrested, including children and grandparents.

One family member was nine months’ pregnant and was denied medical care, suffering a stillbirth.

“Today after 40 years of fighting for justice, we still don’t have it,” Mr Singh said.

“Even political parties did not intervene.

“Punjab was in a state of lawlessness and danger. Our family has been shattered, and three generations have been unable to live a normal life.”

Harjinder Singh, from Bedford is a Sikh Activist for Sovereign Roots.

The campaign group provides education toolkits on the Sikh religion and political history of Punjab from the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

He said: “As we mark 40 years since the tragic attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, we remember the thousands of lives lost, including men, women, and children.

“An entire generation has been killed, leaving families and the global Sikh community in enduring pain.

“Today, we find ourselves with no refuge or voice to hear our pleas for justice. The memories of our lost loved ones demand that we seek an independent country, free from the oppression we have faced in India.”

More on this story

Why voters fall out of love with liberation movements

By Danai Nesta KupembaBBC News

Africa’s oldest liberation movement is in trouble and may be going the way of similar groups across the continent.

The African National Congress (ANC) – founded in South Africa more than a century ago – has lost its majority in parliament for the first time in 30 years, although it remains by far the country’s most popular party.

No longer, it seems, were large numbers of voters reflexively willing to give the party of Nelson Mandela their support because it had lead the struggle against the racist apartheid system.

This mirrors the decline of other parties that battled colonial rule and made it to power, which have subsequently fallen prey to corruption, cronyism and a disgruntled population hungry for change.

Some of those liberation movements which remain in power in southern Africa are accused of only doing so by stealing elections.

“It is inevitable that people will start to want change,” said researcher David Soler Crespo, who has written about the “slow death of liberation movements”.

“It’s impossible for the same party to be democratically elected for 100 years.”

However, they have managed to impose a strong grip, not only on the apparatus of power, but also on the psyche of the nation.

As the successful movements transitioned from the bush to the office, they touted themselves as the only ones that could lead.

They ingrained the movement into the DNA of the country, making it difficult to separate the party from the state.

In Namibia, the phrase “Swapo is the nation, and the nation is Swapo” used during its struggle against apartheid South African rule, remains potent.

Looking across the region, civil servants and government appointees, especially in the security forces and state-controlled media were often former guerrilla fighters, who may have put loyalty to the party before the nation.

“There is no line between state and party. It’s more than a party, it’s a system,” said Mr Crespo.

And the legacy of liberation is deeply embedded in the region’s culture, with stories of struggle shared across family dinner tables and national media continually reminding citizens of their hard-won freedom.

Liberation songs and war cries are sung in high schools, even at sports matches.

For citizens to move away from the liberation party is a big psychological wrench. But over time it does happen.

“People are no longer influenced by history when they vote,” Namibian social scientist Ndumba Kamwanyah told the BBC, reflecting on the declining support for Swapo, which has been in power since 1990.

Many of the parties espoused socialist ideologies, but these have often fallen by the wayside over time and people have questioned whether citizens are benefitting equally.

One of the first independence movements in southern Africa to feel this disdain for history was Zambia’s United National Independence Party (Unip), which came into power in 1964 as British rule ended.

Throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s it governed the country as the sole legal party, with founding father Kenneth Kaunda at the helm. But discontent grew and in 1990 there were deadly protests in the capital, Lusaka, and a coup attempt.

The following year, the first multi-party elections for more than two decades saw President Kaunda lose out to Frederick Chiluba. Unip, once all-powerful, has now all but disappeared.

Liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe remain in power but have all experienced a decline in support and vote share in general elections.

In Namibia, 2019 marked a watershed for Swapo as it lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

In the presidential election, Hage Geingob also suffered a sobering decline in popularity as his share of the vote dropped from 87% in 2014 to 56%.

The following year, Swapo suffered historic losses in regional and local elections.

Prof Kamwanyah, who campaigned for the party more than 30 years ago, says he maintains a deep respect for what the liberation government achieved in the past, but he is disappointed with the present reality.

“What the party is doing doesn’t reflect the core original values of why people died for this country,” the Namibian academic said.

Namibia will hold its general election in November and there is some speculation that it could suffer the same fate as the ANC.

“I think Swapo will win, but they will not get a majority,” Prof Kamwanyah said.

Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe, a 26-year-old Namibian activist, says there has been a generational shift.

“Our generation’s values don’t align with the government,” she told the BBC.

Ms Nthengwe has been at the forefront of many social movements in the country.

Young people value sexual and gender equality, she says, along with jobs and better healthcare.

“All the youth want is change, change, and more change.”

But whereas Namibia, along with South Africa, are seen as relatively open democracies, the governing parties in Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique have been accused of shutting down dissent in order to maintain their hold on power.

Election rigging, suppressing opposition parties and voter intimidation have been among their alleged tactics.

Adriano Nuvunga, chairperson of the Southern Defenders Observer Mission, has witnessed elections in Mozambique for the last two decades.

“All of the elections I’ve observed since 1999 were fraudulent,” said Mr Nuvunga.

He says he also saw voter intimidation and ballot tampering.

In Zimbabwe in 2008 Amnesty International documented unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment of opposition supporters between the first round and second round of the presidential vote. In fact most of Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by allegations of tampering or intimidation of the opposition, although this is always denied by the ruling party, Zanu-PF.

Following the 2022 elections in Angola, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against alleged electoral fraud.

The longer the liberation movements have stayed in power, the more they are accused of corruption and cronyism and not governing in the interests of the people.

Chris Hani, the late South African anti-apartheid hero, foresaw this when he said: “What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists who drive around in Mercedes Benzes and use the resources of this country to live in palaces and gather riches.”

But one former Zimbabwean liberation fighter, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC that many of the movements had not had enough time to come to grips with the world order.

He pointed out that Europe endured authoritarian monarchies ruling for centuries and they have had time to learn and adapt.

“Liberation governments are still playing catch-up in a world that wasn’t designed for them,” he said.

Overthrowing colonial and white-minority rule was hard, but governing has brought other challenges.

Leading a revolutionary movement requires a single-mindedness and strict loyalty, while running a country needs greater flexibility, collaboration and the ability to balance the interests of different sections of the population.

Some movements have fallen short on this. And they may not have much time left.

But Mr Crespo maintains that if these parties reclaim the ideals that brought them into government, listen to the youth and find themselves again, they may be able to hold on a little longer.

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A night of drama in Europe as EU parliament moves to right

While much of the European election reaction has focussed on French President Emmanuel Macron’s bombshell snap election announcement after the far-right National Rally won there, parties in other countries across the EU have been considering their gains and losses.

Although far-right and nationalist parties have made gains, the centre-right also performed well, holding its position as the largest grouping and managing to gain seats.

Centre-right parties came out top in Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain, and made significant advances in Hungary.

Here are some key takeaways from our correspondents around Europe.

Germany coalition suffers losses but no snap election

Damien McGuinness in Berlin

It has been a sorry sight for Germany’s three-party coalition government, but unlike Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he will not call for an election.

The alliance between the Social Democrats, Greens and liberals was already tricky, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant breaking economic and energy ties with Russia and renouncing former pacifist feelings.

This alienated some core supporters, created party rifts, and overall rattled voters. A huge surge in migration has also put strain on the resources of local councils.

While the government has managed to boost military spending and pivot away from cheaper Russian energy, it means money is tight.

Step in the populist far-right and far-left, who promise a quick return to peace and prosperity: “Just negotiate with Putin, and buy Russian gas again,” says the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

AfD came second with 15.9% and Scholz’s social democratic SPD came third with 13.9%. Coming up top was the conservative CDU party with an impressive 30% of the vote.

“We want to end the war so just stop sending arms to Ukraine and stop migrants coming,” says the new populist far-left party BSW led by ex-communist firebrand Sahra Wagenknecht.

Most German voters and politicians believe dealing with Moscow and migration is not that straightforward, and a majority in Germany support Ukraine.

But in times of insecurity and uncertainty, simple messages are seductive.

Italy’s PM made the vote about her – and it paid off

Laura Gozzi in Rome

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has cemented her grip on Italian politics.

She used the European elections to boost her own popularity by putting her name at the top of her party’s ballot, and it proved a successful gamble: with 29%, she has increased the vote gained by her party in the 2022 general election.

But there is another success story in Italy. The opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) performed better than hoped, with 24% of the vote – its highest result since 2014.

The result will boost the PD and lend credibility to its leader, Elly Schlein, who has seemingly managed to find her footing after just over a year at the helm of the country’s biggest opposition party.

Smaller parties in the governing coalition will have some thinking to do. Forza Italia – the party founded by late media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi – won slightly more votes than the once-mighty and now floundering League party, headed by Matteo Salvini.

Even the League’s founder, Umberto Bossi, declared he would vote for Forza Italia to signal his discontent at the direction the League has taken. Two centrist parties – one led by former PM Matteo Renzi – failed to hit the threshold required to send MEPs to the European Parliament.

But despite these internal going-ons, Italy has, rather unusually, emerged from the European elections as a pretty stable country – much more so, in any case, than some of its neighbours.

Dutch gains for Green-left and far-right

Anna Holligan in The Hague

Last November, anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV) leader – and long-time Marine Le Pen ally – Geert Wilders won a shock victory in the Netherlands’ national election.

The EU election predictions suggest the public sentiment hasn’t changed much since then.

The headlines: Green-Left parties secured the most seats, while the Freedom Party made the greatest gains.

The nuances: Centre-right parties had a strong showing.

Dutch and EU political veteran Frans Timmermans said: “This shows that a majority in the Netherlands wants to strengthen Europe and certainly not destroy it.”

While Geert Wilders – who until recently promised a referendum on Nexit (i.e. Netherlands’ exit from the EU) – posted five red love heart emojis on X. “Still the biggest winner with five more seats.”

Interestingly, the biggest celebrations I witnessed in the parliament bar last night were being held by two relative newcomers, at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Pro-EU Volt (from none to two MEPs) cheered and toasted beneath an archway of blue and yellow balloons.

While outside the revolving doors, the unmistakable Farmer Citizen Movement leader Caroline van der Plas was taking in some fresh air alongside the party’s new MEP Jessika van Leeuwen.

Both were initially predicted to gain two MEPs, although the latest prediction suggests BBB will win just one.

Hungary sees a new opposition appear

Nick Thorpe in Budapest

In Hungary, Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party won both the European and municipal elections.

But the real victory of the night went to Peter Magyar, a 43-year-old lawyer whose centre-right Tisza party replaced the old opposition.

Fidesz got 44% and Tisza 30%. Tisza was created just three months ago. They will have 7 MEPs, to 11 for Fidesz, and will apply to join the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament.

“We defeated the old and the new opposition,” Viktor Orban consoled his supporters.

But in practice the political system he built, in which Fidesz acts as a “central force field” in which several other small, ineffective parties have to operate, is over.

Far-right party claims ‘new era’ in Austria

Bethany Bell in Vienna

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader, Herbert Kickl, has told a crowd of cheering supporters that his party’s victory in the European elections marked “a new era in politics”.

And the next step, he said, is the chancellery.

Austria will hold parliamentary elections in the autumn. Neither of the past two leaders of FPÖ, Hans Christian Strache or Jörg Haider, were able to deliver first-place for their party. But now the party is feeling confident.

Writing in the centre left-leaning Der Standard newspaper, editor-in-chief Gerold Riedmann said the FPÖ had become a melting pot of people who have “concerns about migration; who don’t think Putin is all that bad; who felt humiliated by vaccination and coronavirus; who think climate protection is unnecessary; and who simply want to teach everyone a lesson”.

With most of the votes counted, the FPÖ won 25.7% of the vote, just ahead of the conservative People’s Party at 24.7%. The Social Democrats got 23.3%, the Greens 10.9%, the liberal Neos 10.1%.

How Gaza hostage raid ended with Israel striking crowded streets

By Jon DonnisonBBC News
Grief in Gaza as scores killed in IDF hostage raid

Two days after Israel’s operation to free four of its citizens from central Gaza, more details are emerging of how Saturday’s rescue mission unfolded and of the hostages’ eight months in captivity.

The Hamas run Health Ministry says at least 274 Palestinians were killed and almost 700 injured in the assault.

Israeli special forces freed female hostage Noa Argamani using the element of surprise – but another team which had freed three male hostages came under attack prompting the Israeli military to launch massive air strikes on crowded nearby streets as covering fire, killing scores of Palestinians.

After weeks of meticulous planning and acting on intelligence, the green light for the operation dubbed Seeds of Summer was given by Israel’s war cabinet last Thursday evening.

Around 10:00 local time on Saturday morning and in broad daylight, two teams of Israeli special forces, some disguised as Palestinians, crossed into Gaza. It’s thought they were travelling in at least one truck and in civilian cars.

The streets of the densely populated Nuseirat refugee camp were busy with people shopping in a nearby market.

The targets were two residential apartments a few hundred meters apart.

Eyewitness Isaam Jameel Arouqi told the BBC some of the Israeli soldiers came from a truck full of furniture.

He said there were two in civilian clothes and around 10 in masks and military uniforms.

“Suddenly, special forces came out of it and started shooting,” he said.

Speaking from hospital, Mr Arouqi says he was shot three times in the chest and stomach.

There are reports of a second truck with mattresses on top from which a second team emerged, possibly using a ladder to get into one apartment.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says the operation to free 25-year-old Noa Argamani went smoothly as special forces took her captors by surprise, and quickly killed the guards.

Israel’s Channel 12 television, which has spoken to Miss Argamani’s family, says the young woman told them she had been asked to wash the dishes on the morning of the raid.

According to Channel 12, she suddenly saw the Israeli soldiers with masked faces who said “Noa it’s the IDF”.

One solider asked if he could pick her up over his shoulder.

Only then did she realise what was happening.

After being transported by car she was then flown out of Gaza by helicopter.

Her 246-day ordeal was over.

The IDF says the simultaneous operation to free Shlomi Ziv, 40, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Almog Meir, 21 from the second apartment was more challenging as by this time the element of surprise had been lost.

More is known about the family who the Israeli military says were holding the three men.

Ramy Abdu, the chairman of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor organisation, said initial evidence showed the Israeli special forces used a ladder to enter the family home of Dr Ahmed Al-Jamal.

His 36-year-old, son Abdullah al Jamal is a one-time freelance journalist who had also worked for Hamas as a spokesperson.

The special forces shot Ahmed and Abdullah dead along with several members of their family, Mr Abdu said.

The IDF’s Chief Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari who was able to watch and listen to the operation unfold live via video link says the code name for the hostages was “diamonds”.

He described hearing with relief the words “the diamonds are in our hands”, signalling the three hostages had been freed.

But it was getting the three male hostages out of Gaza where things began to go wrong.

By now the IDF says their forces were coming under heavy fire from Palestinian fighters.

It’s reported that at least one of the vehicles that they were leaving in broke down.

The Israeli military decided to send in more support, attacking from the air, from the sea and on the ground with massive force.

Mobile phone video from the scene shows people diving for cover as missiles whistled in and gunfire rang out.

Later footage showed bodies strewn in the street.

It was in these moments that so many Palestinians are likely to have died.

“Many people were in the streets, scared and running away. It was as if it were Judgment Day. No one knew where to go,” Mohammed Mahmoud Hamed told the BBC.

“There were many people killed, so many that we couldn’t even get to them. They couldn’t rescue or retrieve the bodies, especially those who were wounded. People were scared to go rescue them because of the intense shooting and bombing,” he said.

The Israeli military said aircraft “struck dozens of military targets for the success of the operation”.

The two hospitals in central Gaza, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ hospital in Deir al-Balah and al-Awda, a facility in Nuseirat, were already at breaking point and were quickly overwhelmed with bloodied casualties including many children laid out in the corridors.

At al-Awda sitting at the bedside of his young daughter, her head bandaged, was Mohamed al Assar.

“Two of my daughters were killed and the rest were wounded,” he said.

“My wife, my daughter Raghad, my daughter Reem, Minnah, Jannah, all of them were wounded and two were martyred, may their souls rest in peace.”

Sam Rose the Director of Planning at Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinians, said many of his staff in the camp were caught up in the assault.

“We had scores of staff literally hiding under the stairs for several hours as helicopters, tanks, naval shells, as troops on the ground fought intensely in the surrounding areas,” Mr Rose said.

Reunions after four Israeli hostages freed in IDF raid

There have also been some details of the conditions the four Israeli hostages were kept in.

The IDF said they were in locked rooms and not in cages.

Channel 12 television says Noa Argamani has told her family she was moved between several different apartments during eight months of captivity but was not held in tunnels.

She recounted thinking she was going to die on a number of occasions, including once when a missile was fired into a building where she was staying.

Ms Argamani said she was given food but not enough and that she was rarely allowed to go outside for fresh air and only when disguised as a Palestinian woman. She was also allowed to shower on a handful of occasions.

The freeing of the four hostages has been celebrated in Israel with relief and praise for the military operation.

But in Gaza there is outrage at the number of dead and wounded that the Israelis left in their wake on one of the bloodiest days of the war so far.

SA rapper mourns daughter, 9, killed in car crash

By Danai Nesta KupembaBBC News

South African rapper Shebeshxt is mourning the death of his nine-year-old daughter after she died in a car crash.

“My life will never be the same without your presence,” the rapper said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.

The musician was travelling with three passengers to perform at the African National Congress (ANC) Siyanqoba Rally celebration concert in the northern Limpopo province on Saturday when the car collided with a heavy motor vehicle and overturned.

In addition to losing his daughter, the rapper, whose real name is Lehlogonolo Katlego Chauke, also shared that he had lost his foot in the crash.

“My heart is so so broken.. I’m trying to adjust the accident that left me in trauma and so many tears. Loosing [sic] my f##t was enough, not too loose [sic] my daughter,” he wrote on X.

Condolences and prayers from fans and the music community have been pouring in.

Limpopo Artists Movement (LAM) said in a statement on Monday: “We cannot imagine the pain and grief they must be experiencing, but we want them to know that they are not alone.

“The entire artistic community stands in solidarity with them, offering comfort and support. Shebe is not only a talented artist but also a valued member of our creative fraternity.”

Videos of the crash have been circulating online. In one clip, Shebeshxt is seen lying on the ground while paramedics attend to him.

Tidimalo Chuene, the spokesperson for the transport department in Limpopo, told local media the cause of the crash was under investigation.

This is Shebeshxt’s second car accident this year.

In January he was involved in a crash which left him unharmed but his car was written off.

Shebeshxt’s popularity grew after his song Ke Di Shxt Malume became hugely popular on TikTok and has been on a steady rise in the music industry in South Africa, but he has become a controversial figure.

Earlier this year a video of the rapper pulling out a gun while performing was widely shared on social media.

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Two-in-one flu and Covid jab passes advanced trial

By Michelle RobertsDigital health editor, BBC News

Drug company Moderna says its combined flu and Covid vaccine, which targets the two diseases in a single shot, has passed a vital part of final-stage scientific checks.

The phase-three trial shows the vaccine arms the body with protective antibodies.

And it does so as effectively as separate flu and Covid shots, results suggest.

Fewer injections would be more convenient and simpler, Moderna says.

Chief executive Stephane Bancel told BBC News he hoped the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine could be made widely available in 2026 – or perhaps, 2025.

“We are very delighted about the results, because it’s the first time in the world that a company is able to show positive phase-three results combining in a single dose flu and Covid vaccine,” he said.

“You get one dose, one needle,” which meant “ease and peace of mind for the consumer”.

Competitors Pfizer and BioNTech are testing a similar two-in-one mRNA vaccine against flu and Covid.

Scientists hope mRNA vaccines will be faster to make and update than the current ones used against flu, and be a better match for ever-changing strains.

In the continuing Moderna trial, the mRNA-1083 jab produced a higher immune response than the licensed comparator vaccines.

It matched or bettered currently approved flu jabs, including high-dose ones designed for older people.

And it was better than Moderna’s existing Covid booster, Spikevax, at making the body produce disease-fighting antibodies – probably because it had been designed to fight more recent variants circulating around the world, Mr Bancel told BBC News in an interview.

Older people

The results are from 8,000 volunteers – all aged over 50 and half over 64.

Moderna said it had focused on older people because they were most likely to continue to be offered Covid vaccines.

But it plans ultimately to offer the new jab to younger people also.

Any side effects were generally mild – a bit of soreness where the needle went into the skin and some tiredness – as with regular vaccines.

The company plans to present the findings at a medical conference, as well as submit them for publication.

Prof John Tregoning, an immunologist at Imperial College London, said work on a dual vaccine was “a promising direction of travel”, but that the science world awaited the full data for scrutiny.

Moderna is also developing an mRNA vaccine against a disease called cytomegalovirus, for which it hopes to have late-stage trial results this autumn.

Currently, there is nothing to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies against CMV.

YouTube prankster voted in as Cyprus MEP

By Vicky WongBBC News

A popular YouTuber from Cyprus has been elected as an independent MEP to the European Parliament.

Fidias Panayiotou has previously described himself as a “professional mistake maker” and some of his online hijinks include trying to hug 100 celebrities – including Elon Musk – and spending a week in a coffin.

The 24-year-old has more than 2.6 million subscribers and – despite having no political experience – garnered the third-largest number of votes with 19.4%.

“It was a shock what happened, a miracle,” said Mr Panayiotou.

He told state broadcaster CyBC: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people.”

Last year Mr Panayiotou was forced to apologise after he caused outrage in Japan for a YouTube video in which he dodged train fares and a five-star hotel breakfast bill.

The clip, which racked up millions of views, saw him travel across Japan on its famed bullet train, while dodging fares by hiding in toilets and feigning illness.

But on Sunday, he celebrated his win with a gathering at Eleftheria Square in the island’s capital Nicosia, where he said: “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally.”

According to Politico, Mr Panayiotou declared in January he would run in the polls.

Appearing on Cypriot TV, Alpha Cyprus – where he wore trainers, shorts, a suit jacket and three neck ties – he admitted that he had never voted, knew little about politics and the EU, but that he could no longer stand the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels.

When Mr Panayiotou submitted his candidacy in April, he admitted that his goal was not to get elected but to motivate young people to get involved in politics.

The Mediterranean island nation has a population of about 900,000, of whom more than 683,000 were registered to vote in the weekend’s polls.

Turnout in Cyprus was at just under 59% – up from 45% in the 2019 elections, with analysts attributing the rise in part to the “Fidias factor”.

According analysis of exit poll data by news site Philenews, Mr Panayiotou won 40% of the votes from the 18-24 age group and 28% of votes from the 25-34 group.

Six Cypriot MEPs were elected.

Mr Panayiotou came third behind the conservative DISY (25%) which retained its two MEPs, and the communist party AKEL (22%) which lost one of its two MEPs.

Cypriot voters also elected an MEP from the ultranationalist party ELAM (11%) and the centrist party Diko (10%).

Graduation ceremony finally happens, 50 years later

By Max MatzaBBC News

Fifty years after a tornado warning led to the abrupt cancellation of a high school graduation for students in Moore, Oklahoma, the class of 1974 has finally walked across stage to receive diplomas.

On Saturday, the graduates got their moment to wear blue caps and gowns and celebrate the academic achievements of their youth.

The event 50 years ago was never rescheduled, and for years the class of 500 pupils had discussed the idea of holding a formal graduation ceremony for themselves.

“Our grandchildren are gonna see us graduate,” one man eagerly told The Oklahoman newspaper ahead of the event.

On 23 May, 1974, the high school seniors had just taken their seats in a football stadium under darkening skies when a school administrator came to the microphone to advise people to urgently seek shelter.

“Maybe one song, maybe one speech, and then the superintendent gets up and says you graduated, you’re done,” Mike Wilson, a local sports announcer who helped lead the effort to reschedule the event, told TV station KOCO-TV.

Rains soaked the students in their formal attire as they hid under bleachers and drove away from the school to find safety.

A school trip planned for the following day meant that the event couldn’t be moved, and graduates were instead told to unceremoniously pick up their diplomas from the gymnasium before the school year ended.

Moore High School Principal Rachel Stark, a 1988 graduate, told The Oklahoman that she was glad to have helped arrange for the belated ceremony.

“It’s very unique,” Ms Stark said. “I’ve never heard of it before. They’re still a part of our community… so we’re gonna do it for them.”

On Saturday, around 200 graduates formally recieved their diplomas. The weather was sunny and warm, with only a slight chance of storms.

Family members of 1974 class members who had died were encouraged to walk across the stage on behalf of the late graduates.

Class President Bob Baker gave a modified version of the speech he had planned for a half-century ago, and the two valedictorians, Phyllis Clark and Lloyd White, also spoke, graduate Sterling Crim told the BBC.

The event took place after the school hosted a belated ceremony for another students whose own commencement events were delayed, those who graduated at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the New York Times.

“The older you get, you just look back and think you’ve missed out on something,” Mr Wilson told the newspaper.

No tornado ever touched down in Moore that day, but the city has been hit by other deadly storms.

In 1999, a tornado with winds over 300mph struck Moore, killing 36 people.

Another tornado outside Moore in 2013 left 91 people dead.

Apple brings ChatGPT to iPhones in AI overhaul

By Zoe KleinmanTechnology editor • Liv McMahonTechnology reporter

Apple is to boost its Siri voice assistant and operating systems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT as it seeks to catch up in the AI race.

The iPhone maker announced the Siri makeover along with a number of other new features at its annual developers show on Monday.

It is part of a new personalised AI system – called “Apple Intelligence” – that aims to offer users a way to navigate Apple devices more easily.

Updates to its iPhone and Mac operating systems will allow access to ChatGPT through a partnership with developer OpenAI.

ChatGPT can also be used to boost other tools, including text and content generation. The test version will become available in the autumn.

Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, said the move would bring his company’s products “to new heights” as he opened the Worldwide Developers Conference at the tech giant’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

  • What is AI and how does it work?

The announcement was not welcomed by all. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, threatened to ban iPhones from his companies due to “data security”.

“Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI,” Mr Musk said on X. “They’re selling you down the river.”

Apple has faced pressure to introduce new AI features to its products after the rapid rise of rivals who have adopted the technology.

After it was usurped by Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in January, Apple was overtaken again by Nvidia in early June.

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said that while Apple’s new personal AI system “should help placate nervous investors”, its ChatGPT integration may reveal and create deeper problems for the firm.

“Arguably this sees Apple admitting its limitations given ChatGPT will kick in at a point where Siri is no longer able to help a user,” he told the BBC.

Apple has been largely absent in the avalanche of AI products released by tech firms in recent months.

Mr Cook told investors in 2023 that the company would approach the tech with care. On Monday, those plans were finally laid out.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

“Apple Intelligence” is not a product nor an app in its own right.

It will become part of every app and Apple product customers use – whether it’s a writing assistant refining your message drafts or your diary being able to show you the best route to get to your next appointment.

In that sense, it is similar to Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot – but you won’t have to pay extra to activate it.

Siri, the voice assistant Apple acquired in 2010, has been refreshed with a new interface and chattier approach to help users navigate their devices and apps more seamlessly.

Apple was keen to stress the security of Apple Intelligence during Monday’s keynote.

Some processing will be carried out on the device itself, while larger actions requiring more power will be sent to the cloud – but no data will be stored there, it said.

This is vital to customers who pay premium prices for Apple’s privacy promises.

The system “puts powerful generative models right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi.

“It draws on your personal context to give you intelligence that’s most helpful and relevant for you, and it protects your privacy at every step.”

What does OpenAI and Apple deal mean?

Apple’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT tech had been widely anticipated but it is an unusual move for a company that so closely guards its own products.

Google and Microsoft have recently faced scrutiny over errors made by their AI products in recent months, with the search giant rolling back a new feature in May after its erroneous answers went viral.

For years Apple also refused to allow its customers to download any apps outside of the App Store on the grounds that they might not be secure, and would not allow any web browser other than its own Safari for the same reason.

It only changed when forced to by EU legislation.

Is it a sign of recognition that even Apple can’t compete with ChatGPT right now?

If so, it tells us a lot about the current power of the AI supergiant OpenAI.

The firm did say it would integrate other products in future, but did not name any.

Apple announced that its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, will go on sale in the UK on 12 July. It has been available in the US since February.

Other new features announced on Monday include:

  • sending texts via satellite
  • scheduling messages to send at a later point
  • using head gestures (nodding for yes or shaking head for no) to control AirPods Pro
  • a dedicated app for passwords that is accessible across devices
  • the ability to hide certain apps or lock them away behind Face ID or passcodes.

UN Security Council backs US Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan

By Ana FaguyBBC News, Washington

The United Nations Security Council has voted to support a US-proposed Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan.

The proposal sets out conditions for a “full and complete ceasefire”, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of dead hostages’ remains and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the US-drafted resolution. Russia abstained.

The resolution states that Israel has accepted the ceasefire proposal, and urges Hamas to agree to it too.

It means the Security Council joins a number of governments, as well as the G7 group of the world’s richest nations, in backing the three-part plan that was unveiled by President Joe Biden on 31 May.

The vote is likely to increase pressure on both sides to respond positively to the plan with a view to ending the conflict. It also came shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to build support for the peace deal.

Just hours before the UN vote, Mr Blinken said his message to leaders in the region was: “If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say, yes.”

The group has previously said it supported parts of the plan, and it released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution.

Hamas is likely to demand guarantees the plan would lead to a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Its political leadership in Doha has yet to formally respond to the proposal, according to US and Israeli officials.

The proposal would end with a major reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has been largely destroyed in the conflict.

The first phase concerns a hostage-prisoner swap as well as a short-term ceasefire.

The second phase includes a “permanent end to hostilities”, as well as a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, according to a text of the US draft resolution.

The third phase focuses on the enclave’s long-term outlook, and it would start a multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Monday’s resolution comes weeks after President Biden said the Israelis had agreed to the plan.

But Mr Netanyahu has not endorsed the US proposal.

President Biden’s account on X, formerly Twitter, noted the passage of the resolution. “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire,” the post said. “This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, said: “Today we voted for peace”.

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Gaza as “catastrophic”, adding that the “suffering has gone on for far too long”.

“We call upon the parties to seize this opportunity and move towards lasting peace which guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Ms Woodward said.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

On 25 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

While the US had previously vetoed similar measures, it did not veto the March resolution.

Mr Netanyahu said at the time that the US had “abandoned” its prior position linking a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 251 people hostage.

The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 37,000 since Israel responded to its attack.

Michael Mosley died of natural causes, police say

By Nikos PapanikolaouKathryn ArmstrongBBC News

An initial post-mortem examination on the body of Dr Michael Mosley has concluded he died of natural causes, the BBC has been told.

The TV presenter’s remains were found in a rocky area on the Greek island of Symi on Sunday – four days after he went missing while on holiday.

Greek police spokeswoman Konstantia Dimoglidou told the BBC that the initial post-mortem found no injuries on his body that could have caused his death.

Dr Mosley’s time of death was around 16:00 (14:00 BST) on Wednesday, the day he went missing.

The 67-year-old father-of-four was reported missing after he set off for a walk from Agios Nikolaos beach – near where he was staying on the northeast side of the island – at about 13:30 local time (11:30 BST) on Wednesday.

Dr Mosley’s wife, Dr Clare Bailey Mosley, raised the alarm when her husband did not return.

Greek authorities conducted an extensive search for Dr Mosley amid high temperatures, deploying police officers, firefighters, divers and a helicopter.

The manager of a bar on Agia Marina beach – northwards along the coast from Dr Mosley’s starting point – found his body after the island’s mayor “saw something” by the fence of the bar and alerted staff, PA news agency reported.

Police said the initial conclusion that Dr Mosley died of natural causes was based on the position his body was found in, as well as a lack of injuries.

Separate toxicology and histology reports have now been ordered.

The BBC has seen CCTV footage, taken near the Agia Marina beach bar, that appears to show Dr Mosley disappear from view as he slowly makes his way down a hillside close to where his body was later found. He then collapses out of view behind a wall.

Dr Bailey Mosley said on Sunday that her family was “taking comfort in the fact” that her husband “so very nearly made it” to safety.

“He did an incredible climb, took the wrong route and collapsed where he couldn’t be easily seen by the extensive search team,” she said in a statement.

BBC reporter indicates area where a body was found

Dr Bailey Mosley also paid tribute to her “wonderful, funny, kind and brilliant” husband after the “devastating” news his body had been found.

“We had an incredibly lucky life together,” Dr Bailey Mosley said.

“We loved each other very much and were so happy together.”

The former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Lord Tom Watson, was among those to pay fresh tributes to Dr Mosley on Monday.

“He certainly changed my life. He gave me the idea that I wasn’t broken,” Mr Watson, who said in 2018 that he had “reversed” his type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Dr Mosley studied medicine in London and qualified as a doctor, and for the last two decades was working as a presenter, documentary maker, journalist and author.

He was known for his TV programmes including Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, and BBC Radio 4’s Just One Thing podcast. He also wrote a column for the Daily Mail.

Mr Mosley had been an advocate for intermittent fasting diets, including through the 5:2 diet and The Fast 800 diet.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan, who co-presented Trust Me, I’m a Doctor with Dr Mosley, told the BBC’s Breakfast programme she was initially “terrified” to take on the role but that he “put me at ease almost immediately”.

She added: “That really personable, accessible character [that] comes across on television, that’s exactly how he was in real life.

“He did incredible things for medicine and for public health in a way that I think few others have.”

Lord Watson recalled the moment he first read a book by Dr Mosley, saying it was “like a light came on in my life”.

“I just became a real fan of his work and, over the years, he’s helped me maintain that and help millions of others,” he said.

“And that’s what great journalism is: he explained very complex ideas of science in a very simple way.”

Former BBC creative director Alan Yentob, who worked closely with Dr Mosley during his time at the broadcaster, told BBC News: “It is a tragedy, there’s no question about it. But for many people, they’re reminded of how extraordinarily he helped to transform their lives.”

He described Dr Mosely as “an adventurer” with a “curious and creative” spirit, adding that he leaves behind an “incredible legacy”.

“He made people feel there was a real opportunity to change things and that the challenge was exciting and playful as well,” he said.

Science broadcaster Dr Chris van Tulleken, who also worked with Dr Mosley, said his former colleague had invented “an entire genre of broadcasting” over the course of his career.

He added that Dr Mosley’s work “quietly changed my daily practices”, from brushing his teeth while standing on one leg to sometimes fasting.

“He was giving people tools they could use that everyone could afford,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Calypso Haggett, Dr Mosley’s business partner and chief executive of The Fast 800 weight-loss programme, said in a statement that he was a “shining light for the whole team”.

“I had the great privilege of knowing Michael both professionally and personally. He really, truly was one of a kind and will be terribly missed by everyone,” said Ms Haggett.

“Michael has left an incredible legacy, which I know will live on and energise a continuous movement for better health.”

Downing Street said that Dr Mosley would be known “as an extraordinary broadcaster who used his platform to influence and change the way we think about many public health issues”.

Macron snap election leaves rivals stunned after EU vote

By Laura GozziBBC News, Rome • Paul KirbyBBC News, Brussels

France’s political leaders are scrambling to prepare for snap elections after President Emmanuel Macron dissolved parliament in response to a stinging European vote defeat by the far-right National Rally.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned the two-round vote, starting on 30 June could have “the most serious consequences” in modern French history.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats were also heavily beaten in Sunday’s European elections by the conservative opposition, but he has ruled out holding early elections.

The conservative CSU premier of Bavaria, Markus Söder, said Mr Scholz’s government was essentially finished and needed to follow the French example.

Germany isn’t scheduled to hold fresh elections until 2025, but Mr Söder said the “country needs a new start”.

Macron ally Yaël Braun-Pivet, who’s president of the National Assembly said there had been an alternative to new elections, which involved a government pact , but “the president decided that path wasn’t open to him”. Without a majority in parliament, the government relies on support from other parties to pass legislation.

There was also frustration from the Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, that the vote was taking place three weeks before the capital hosts the Olympics.

Mr Macron’s Renew party polled less than 15% of the vote on Sunday, while the anti-immigration National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen and young leader Jordan Bardella, secured more than 31%.

European Parliament – the basics

  • The 720-member assembly is the only EU institution elected directly by voters across 27 EU members
  • It shapes the direction of EU laws that affect the lives of EU citizens, and also endorses the bloc’s annual budget
  • The EP supervises the work of the European Commission – the EU’s de facto government – and other EU bodies
  • The EP election results in theory have no bearing on national politics – but voters often use the occasion to send a message to their national government

The decision to hold new elections came as a shock across the political spectrum, with reports of a hastily organised meeting involving top RN leaders and Marion Maréchal from rival far-right party Reconquête.

There were calls for France’s bitterly divided left to rally round Socialist Raphaël Glucksmann, who scored almost 14% in the European vote.

President Macron joined German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, to mark the 80th anniversary of an infamous Nazi massacre in World War Two, when SS troops murdered 643 villagers in 1944.

President Steinmeier said it was fitting on the day after European elections that Europeans never forgot the damage done by nationalism and hate: “Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation that the European Union has worked.”

Alternative for Germany (AfD) came second in Germany’s European vote on Sunday, ahead of all three parties in the Mr Scholz’s coalition government, despite a succession of scandals involving the AfD’s top two candidates.

Its newly elected MEPs voted to exclude top candidate Maximilian Krah from their delegation in the European Parliament, after he was investigated for alleged links to Russia and China.

Meanwhile, President Macron is due to meet both Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni at a G7 summit this week in the Italian region of Puglia.

The three leaders are likely not just to discuss the outcome of Sunday’s European vote, but also whether to support Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to win a second term as president of the European Commission.

The Italian leader told Italian radio on Monday that it was “too early to talk about a second mandate” for the current Commission chief.

Ms von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party emerged as by far the biggest grouping in the next European Parliament.

Among the winners on the centre-right were Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who managed to lead his Civic Coalition party to a narrow victory over the right-wing-populist PiS party for the first time in a decade.

Mr Tusk is now one of Europe’s few leaders to have emerged from these elections with a stronger mandate.

The far-right Polish Confederation party won 12% of the vote, and one of its successful candidates is Grzegorz Braun – who provoked an international outcry in December when used a fire extinguisher to put out candles on a menorah in the Polish parliament placed there for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Czech President Petr Pavel said Europe should examine why support for far-right, conservative, nationalist parties was increasing and “needs to take notice of these voices”.

The Czech vote was won by the opposition ANO party of former prime minister Andrej Babis, which clinched seven of the available 21 seats in the European Parliament.

But it was also a good night for three small anti-system parties, including a new party called Motorists, who are campaigning against the EU’s Green Deal on measures on climate change and sustainability. One of the MotoristS MEPs will be controversial former racing driver Filip Turek, who was recently exposed for old social media posts revealing his passion for Nazi gestures and memorabilia.

The far-right fared unexpectedly poorly in Finland and Sweden. The Finns Party had been polling in third place but ended up with just 7.6% of the vote, while the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats slipped to fourth place with 13.2% of the vote.

There was also a surprise result in Denmark, where the Social Democrats of Mette Frederiksen were defeated by Green-Left party SF which polled more than 17% of the vote.

Ms Frederiksen, who is recovering from a physical assault in Copenhagen on Friday night, called the result “really miserable”.

A cartoon cat has been vexing China’s censors – now he says they are on his tail

By Tessa WongAsia Digital Reporter

As anti-lockdown protests flared across China’s cities in November 2022, hundreds of thousands around the world were glued to an unlikely source: a mysterious X account, fronted by a cartoon cat.

Protest footage, details about police movements, news of arrests – Teacher Li Is Not Your Teacher posted a torrent of real-time updates sourced from ordinary citizens.

Little of it could be found on China’s tightly-controlled state media or internet. All of it was curated by one person, sitting in a bedroom in Italy – an art school student named Li Ying.

Mr Li has since become a vital chronicler of information deemed politically sensitive by Beijing. His X account is a window into Xi Jinping’s China where authorities’ vice-like grip on information keeps tightening. From major protests to small acts of dissent, corruption to crime, it is zealously scrubbed off the Chinese internet, only to turn up on Mr Li’s account.

He says this has earned him the wrath of the authorities and, in an interview with the BBC, he painted a clear picture of how Beijing pressures dissidents overseas. He alleged the Chinese government is not only harassing him but also his friends, family and X followers in a coordinated campaign of intimidation.

The Chinese government has not responded to our questions and we are unable to independently verify all of Mr Li’s claims. But the tactics he detailed have been documented by activists, rights groups and other governments.

His activism was an accident, he told the BBC over the phone.

“It is the Chinese authorities’ unrelenting constriction of freedom of speech and media freedoms that has led me to slowly change from an ordinary person to who I am today.”

Li’s online existence began with writing and posting love stories on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform. “I was someone who had made love my main creative theme, I had nothing to do with politics,” the son of two art teachers explained. Even the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which Beijing stamped out, hardly made an impact on him: “I was just like many ordinary people, I didn’t think that the protests had anything to do with me.”

Then the pandemic struck. As China sealed itself off, Mr Li – by now studying at a prestigious art school in Italy – became desperate to find out what was going on back home. Scouring social media, he was shocked to read about the crushing lockdowns: “There were people starving, even jumping off buildings… the feeling at the time was of a lot of suffering and pressure.”

He started discussing these stories on Weibo. Some followers privately sent him their stories asking him to publish on their behalf, which he did. Censors took notice, and blocked his account.

Undeterred, he began a cat-and-mouse game, setting up a new Weibo account each time they shut one down. Fifty-three accounts later, he had enough: “I said okay, I’m going on Twitter.”

On X, unfettered by China’s censors, yet accessible through virtual private networks, Mr Li’s following grew. But it only really exploded, to more than a million, in late 2022 during the White Paper protests against China’s punishing zero-Covid measures.

His account became an important clearing house for protest information; at one point, he was deluged with messages every second. Mr Li hardly slept, fact-checking and posting submissions that racked up hundreds of millions of views.

Online death threats from anonymous accounts soon followed. He said the authorities arrived at his parents’ home in China to question them. Even then, he was sure life would return to normal once the protests died down.

“After I finished reporting on the White Paper movement, I thought that the most important thing I could ever do in this life was finished,” he said. “I didn’t think about continuing to operate this account. But just as I was thinking about what I should do next, suddenly all my bank accounts in China were frozen.

“That’s when I realised – I couldn’t go back anymore.”

Fears about Chinese espionage have been steadily growing in the West as ties with China sour. What worries them are reports that Beijing is surveilling and pressuring its citizens who live in foreign jurisdictions. China has dismissed these allegations as “groundless and malicious defamation”, and said it is committed to protecting the rights and safety of its people abroad.

But the accusations are mounting. Last year US authorities alleged that a Chinese police taskforce was using social media including X to harass Chinese targets online, and charged dozens for “interstate threats”.

Australia is reportedly investigating a Chinese espionage operation targeting residents and a former spy has told Australian media how he targeted a political cartoonist in Cambodia and an activist in Thailand. Rights group Amnesty International found that Chinese studying overseas who took part in anti-government protests were being surveilled.

Analysts trace China’s so-called transnational repression back to the decade-old Operation Foxhunt to catch fugitive criminals. They believe those tactics are now used to target anyone overseas that Beijing deems a threat.

Mr Li believes there are enough signs suggesting he is now one of these people. He said the police showed up at a company in China from which he had ordered art supplies in the past, demanding his Italian shipping information. He received calls from someone claiming to represent an European delivery service and asking for his current address, though he had never placed the order.

Details of his former address and phone number were published on the messaging platform WeChat. A stranger turned up at his former home, asking to meet him as he wanted to discuss a “business proposal”.

It is not clear whether Chinese authorities were directly behind these incidents. But this kind of ambiguity can be intentional as it stokes “an ever-present fear of persecution and distrust” in targets, said Laura Harth, campaign director for rights group Safeguard Defenders which recently highlighted Mr Li’s situation.

Beijing is accused of working with middlemen, such as Chinese businessmen based abroad, so the government can later deny direct involvement. Safeguard Defenders alleges the person who showed up at Mr Li’s former home is a businessman linked to one of China’s controversial overseas police stations.

“Often there are nationalists and patriotic people who work with the government in a tandem, symbiotic relationship,” said Yaqiu Wang, China research director at Freedom House. The thinking, she said, is “if I do this for the authorities then it’s good for my business”.

The pressure has ramped up in recent months, Mr Li said.

Authorities began surveilling and questioning his parents more – at one point the visits happened every day, he said. Even officials from the school they used to work for asked them to persuade Mr Li to stop.

“They are interrogating everyone in China who is linked to me, even WeChat contacts, trying to understand my life habits, understand what kind of restaurants I like to go to,” he said. One person was allegedly even pressured to confess he was Mr Li.

Followers on X have been telling Mr Li they have been asked to “drink tea” – a euphemism for police interrogations – since the end of last year.

He estimated a few hundred people have been questioned and told to unfollow him. Some people have been shown long lists of names purportedly of his followers, with one list running up to 10,000 names, according to Mr Li. He believes authorities did this to show the scale of their interrogations and intimidate him and his followers.

“Of course I feel very guilty. They only wanted to understand what is going on in China, and then they ended up being asked to ‘drink tea’,” he said. In February, he made these reports public with a warning on X – overnight, more than 200,000 people unfollowed him.

It’s unclear how the authorities tracked down X users in China, where the app is blocked. While some could have been identified through their tweets, many would have tried to conceal their identities.

It is plausible the Chinese government asked for user details, said Ms Wang. If so, X “should be transparent” about whether it agreed to any such requests. X has yet to respond to the BBC’s queries.

Shortly after Mr Li posted about the interrogations, anonymous accounts began flooding his inbox and X comment threads with spam. They sent crude cartoons of his parents and pornographic content; in recent weeks, he has received gruesome images from horror films, and photos and videos of cats being tortured – he said it’s because they know he loves cats. The BBC has seen screenshots of this.

These messages have hit a fever pitch in recent days, with one showing up in his inbox every few minutes. This coincided with Mr Li’s posts related to the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 ahead of its anniversary on 4 June, a taboo topic for the Chinese Communist Party.

Personal information about him and his parents, including their pictures, have been posted on a website promoted by anonymous X accounts. The website also alleges he is working for the Chinese government, in a seeming attempt to sow distrust among his followers.

A check on the website’s domain found it was set up in April and its registrant listed their location as China and Tasmania. Its IP address is hosted by a Hong Kong company.

It is not clear who is behind all of this, but Mr Li said it is a “psychological attack” aimed at wearing down his nerves.

China is not alone in going after overseas dissidents, said political scientist Ho-fung Hung of Johns Hopkins University, pointing to similar allegations against India and Turkey. “As more overseas communities become more active and social media connects them to people back home, authoritarian governments increasingly feel diaspora communities can pose a threat to them,” he said.

But in China’s case, he added, they are stepping up their tactics because of “the growing paranoia of the Chinese government” besieged by an economic slowdown and outward flows of money and talent.

Observers say this paranoia appears to be fuelling a uniquely intense repression of Mr Li. Ms Wang said what was happening to him had the signs of a “national, really high-level plan”.

“He has become the aggregator which people send information to, and that is very scary to the authorities… he has a kind of power that nobody else has had in the past.”

Wryly, Mr Li said he could be dubbed China’s “most dangerous cat” – a reference to his X profile picture, which he drew.

His government targets him because he stymies their vast efforts to censor negative news, and also because he represents a new generation of internet savvy, politically conscious Chinese youth, he said. “What this White Paper protest generation represents is exactly the kind of ideology they do not want everyone to see.”

His work has come at an enormous personal cost. He moves frequently within Italy, staying only a few months in each location, and hardly leaves the house. He hasn’t found steady work, and survives on online donations and earnings from YouTube and X.

He lives alone with his two cats, Guolai and Diandian. In previous interviews he had mentioned a girlfriend, but they have since parted ways. “I’m all by myself now,” he said matter-of-factly. “There was too much pressure. But I don’t feel lonely because I interact with a lot of people on social media.”

He admitted, though, that he is feeling the mental strain of his situation and the long hours he spends online. “I feel lately my ability to express myself has dropped, and I’m very unfocused.”

Though he recently renewed his passport, he believes Chinese authorities allowed this to keep tabs on him. It is a bitter gift from his government – once an avid traveller, he now feels trapped.

“I often mourn [the life I could have],” he added. “On the other hand, I don’t regret this.”

“I don’t see myself as a hero, I was only doing what I thought was the right thing at the time. What I’ve demonstrated is that an ordinary person can also do these things.” He believes that if his account shuts down, “naturally a new Teacher Li will appear”.

The thought of getting arrested scares him, but giving up is not an option. “I feel I am a person with no future… until they find me and pull me back to China, or even kidnap me, I will continue doing what I’m doing.”

By going public with his allegations, he hopes to expose the Chinese government’s tactics. But it’s also because he believes they crossed a line by escalating their repression, and wants to fight back. “I post something you don’t like, so you crush me, that is the process of a mutual fight. But doing all these things to my parents, I really don’t understand it.”

Now, he is making defiant plans to expand his operations, perhaps recruiting others to join his mission, or posting in English to widen his influence. The Chinese government “is really afraid of outsiders knowing what China is really like… [Posting in English] is something they are even more afraid of.

“They may feel they have a lot of tactics, but I actually have a lot of cards I can play.”

Aircraft carrying Malawi vice-president goes missing

By Wedaeli ChibelushiBBC News

An aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president’s office has said.

The Malawi Defence Force aircraft “went off the radar” after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning, it added.

The plane was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

In a speech late on Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera said a search and rescue operation was continuing.

“Soldiers are still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found,” he said.

Mr Chakwera earlier cancelled his flight to the Bahamas, which was scheduled for Monday evening.

The reason for the aircraft’s disappearance is not yet known, General Valentino Phiri told Mr Chakwera. Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, told the BBC efforts to find the aircraft are “intensive”.

Mr Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago.

Mr Kunkuyu said: “The airport he was to land, which is in the northern part of Mzuzu, was the closest to where the funeral was taking place.”

In 2022, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts .

Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for this decision.

Who is Saulos Chilima?

  • Prior to his political career, Dr Chilima held key leadership roles in multinational companies like Unilever and Coca Cola
  • He is 51 years old
  • He is married with two children
  • Dr Chilima is described on the government’s website as a “performer”, “workaholic” and “an achiever”
  • He holds a PhD in Knowledge Management

More stories from Malawi:

  • High hopes of Malawi cannabis farmers are dashed
  • Malawians who abandoned Israeli farms deported
  • How a Malawi WhatsApp group helped save women trafficked to Oman

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Netanyahu walks tightrope as US urges Gaza ceasefire deal

By Jeremy Bowen@BowenBBCInternational Editor, BBC News

If diplomats have groundhog days, when they are condemned to reliving the same 24 hours, perhaps Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, felt a certain weariness as his jet approached the Middle East on his latest trip.

It is his eighth diplomatic tour of the region in the eight months since the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October last year.

The politics of trying to negotiate an end to the war in Gaza and an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners were already complicated.

They are more tangled than ever now that the Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz has resigned from the war cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his political ally Gadi Eisenkot. Both men are retired generals who led the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as chiefs of staff.

Without Benny Gantz, the Americans have lost their favourite contact in the cabinet. Now he’s back in opposition, Mr Gantz wants new elections – he is the pollsters’ favourite to be the next prime minister – but Mr Netanyahu is safe as long as he can preserve the coalition that gives him 64 votes in the 120-member Israeli parliament.

That depends on keeping the support of the leaders of two ultranationalist factions. They are Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister.

That is the point at which Secretary of State Blinken’s mission collides with Israeli politics. President Joe Biden believes that the time has come to end the war in Gaza.

Mr Blinken’s job is to try to make that happen. But Messrs Ben-Gvir and Smotrich have threatened to bring down the Netanyahu government if he agrees to any ceasefire until they are satisfied that Hamas has been eliminated.

They are extreme Jewish nationalists, who want the war to continue until no trace of Hamas remains.

They believe that Gaza, like all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, is Jewish land that should be settled by Jews. Palestinians, they argue, could be encouraged to leave Gaza “voluntarily”.

Antony Blinken is in the Middle East to try to stop the latest ceasefire plan from going the way of all the others. Three ceasefire resolutions in the UN Security Council were vetoed by the US, but now Joe Biden is ready for a deal.

On 31 May, the president made a speech urging Hamas to accept what he said was a new Israeli proposal to end the war in Gaza.

It was a three-part deal – which has now been backed by a UN resolution – starting with a six-week ceasefire, a “surge” of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the exchange of some Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

The deal would progress to the release of all the hostages, a permanent “cessation of hostilities” and ultimately the huge job of rebuilding Gaza. Israelis should no longer fear Hamas, he said, because it was no longer able to repeat 7 October.

President Biden and his advisers knew there was trouble ahead. Hamas insists it will only agree to a ceasefire that guarantees an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an end to the war.

The destruction and civilian death inflicted by Israel in Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza during the raid to free four hostages last week can only have strengthened that resolve. The Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza say that 274 Palestinians were killed during the raid. The IDF says the number was less than 100.

Mr Biden also recognised that some powerful forces in Israel would object.

“I’ve urged the leadership in Israel to stand behind this deal,” he said in the speech. “Regardless of whatever pressure comes.”

The pressure came quickly, from Messrs Ben Gvir and Smotrich. They are senior government ministers, viscerally opposed to the deal that Joe Biden presented. It made no difference to them that the deal was approved by the war cabinet, as they are not members.

As expected, they threatened to topple the Netanyahu coalition if he agreed to the deal.

Neither Hamas nor Israel have publicly committed to the deal that President Biden laid out.

He accepted that the language of parts of it needed to be finalised. The ambiguity in parts of the proposal might in other conflicts, between other belligerents, allow room for diplomatic manoeuvre. But that would require a shared realisation that the time had come to make a deal, that more war would not bring any benefit.

There is no sign that the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is at that point. He seems determined to stick the course he has followed since 7 October.

Some reports out of Gaza said that Palestinians in the ruins of Nuseirat camp were swearing at Hamas as well as Israel for disregarding their lives.

The BBC cannot confirm that, as like other international news organisations it is not allowed by Israel and Egypt to enter Gaza, except under rare and highly supervised trips with the Israeli military.

It seems clear though, that vast numbers of Palestinian dead have strengthened, not weakened the resilience of Hamas. For them, survival of their group and its leaders equals victory.

They will focus on the fact that the killing of more than 37,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians – according to the health ministry in Gaza – have brought Israel into deep disrepute.

It faces a case alleging genocide at the International Court of Justice, and applications at the International Criminal Court for arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost two members of the war cabinet, Messrs Gantz and Eisenkot, who wanted a pause in the war to allow negotiations to free hostages. He is more exposed, without the political insulation they provided, to the hardliners, Messrs Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.

Perhaps Antony Blinken will urge him to call their bluff, to make the deal and satisfy millions of Israelis who want the hostages back before more of them are killed.

Mr Netanyahu might then have no choice other than to risk his government by gambling on an election.

Defeat will bring forward commissions of enquiry that will examine whether he bears responsibility for the political, intelligence and military failures that allowed Hamas to break into Israel eight months ago.

Or Benjamin Netanyahu might default to the techniques of procrastination and propaganda that he has perfected over all his years as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

If in doubt, play for time, and push arguments harder than ever.

On 24 July, he will return to one of his favourite pulpits, when he addresses a joint session of the US Congress in Washington DC.

Something better, for him, might emerge.

French officer held after 19-year-old allegedly shot dead

By George WrightBBC News

A French police officer is being questioned after a 19-year-old man was allegedly shot dead as he attempted to flee a traffic stop for speeding, prosecutors said.

The victim was among three people in the car when police tried to stop them near Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in Normandy, western France late on Sunday, the state prosecutor Pierre-Yves Marot said in a statement.

The driver allegedly refused to stop and continued driving, before then being halted by a second police car, according to the statement. All three occupants of the vehicle then attempted to flee on foot, it added.

One escaped, another was detained and another was allegedly shot by an officer in the chest, the prosecutor’s office said. The victim has not been named.

“The third person, a 19-year-old from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, was confronted by officers from the second patrol and knocked into one them while trying to flee,” the prosecutor alleged in quotes cited by the AFP news agency.

“The officer then used a stun gun” while a colleague drew and “used her service weapon, fatally striking him in the chest”, it added.

The officer was being held for questioning on Monday evening by the internal affairs department of police regulator IGPN.

It comes almost a year after intense and widespread rioting swept across France following the shooting of a 17-year-old during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. A policeman was charged with homicide.

Nine Hindu pilgrims killed in bus attack in India’s Jammu

By Cherylann MollanBBC News, Mumbai

Nine people have died and 33 injured after suspected militants fired on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in the Indian federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir, police officials said.

Officials had initially said after the incident on Sunday that the death toll was 10, but revised the figure later.

They said that the driver lost control after the attack, causing the bus to plunge into a gorge in Reasi district of Jammu.

While rescue operations have concluded, a search operation by the Indian army and police is under way to track down the attackers.

Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken “stock of the situation” and asked for the best medical care to be provided to the injured.

“All those behind this heinous act will be punished soon,” Manoj Sinha, the region’s top administrator, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Mr Sinha has announced a compensation of 1m rupees ($12000; £9400) to the next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 rupees to the injured.

The bus was on its way to the base camp of the famous Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi when it was fired upon.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet but Mohita Sharma, the district police chief, told Reuters that suspected militants had “ambushed the bus”.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for over six decades.

Since 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part. Since 1989, Indian-administered Kashmir has also seen an armed insurgency against Delhi’s rule, claiming thousands of lives.

Delhi accuses Islamabad of harbouring militants and disrupting peace in the region, a charge Pakistan denies.

The news of the attack broke as Mr Modi took oath as India’s prime minister for the third consecutive term at a swearing-in ceremony in Delhi.

On Monday, the Jammu police released the names of the victims, including the driver of the bus. They are from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Two of the victims are children, aged two years and 14.

Some survivors spoke to ANI news agency about their ordeal.

One of them said the driver had been shot and that the firing didn’t stop even after the bus fell into the gorge.

Amit Shah, who was home minister in Mr Modi’s previous government, expressed grief over the incident.

“The culprits of this dastardly attack will not be spared and will face the wrath of the law,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of main opposition party Congress, questioned the security situation in the region.

“This shameful incident is the true picture of the worrying security situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he wrote on X.

In 2017, seven Hindu pilgrims, six of them women, were killed after their bus, returning from the famed Amarnath pilgrimage site in Anantnag district, got caught in a gun battle between police and militants.

Read more stories from India:

YouTube prankster voted in as Cyprus MEP

By Vicky WongBBC News

A popular YouTuber from Cyprus has been elected as an independent MEP to the European Parliament.

Fidias Panayiotou has previously described himself as a “professional mistake maker” and some of his online hijinks include trying to hug 100 celebrities – including Elon Musk – and spending a week in a coffin.

The 24-year-old has more than 2.6 million subscribers and – despite having no political experience – garnered the third-largest number of votes with 19.4%.

“It was a shock what happened, a miracle,” said Mr Panayiotou.

He told state broadcaster CyBC: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people.”

Last year Mr Panayiotou was forced to apologise after he caused outrage in Japan for a YouTube video in which he dodged train fares and a five-star hotel breakfast bill.

The clip, which racked up millions of views, saw him travel across Japan on its famed bullet train, while dodging fares by hiding in toilets and feigning illness.

But on Sunday, he celebrated his win with a gathering at Eleftheria Square in the island’s capital Nicosia, where he said: “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally.”

According to Politico, Mr Panayiotou declared in January he would run in the polls.

Appearing on Cypriot TV, Alpha Cyprus – where he wore trainers, shorts, a suit jacket and three neck ties – he admitted that he had never voted, knew little about politics and the EU, but that he could no longer stand the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels.

When Mr Panayiotou submitted his candidacy in April, he admitted that his goal was not to get elected but to motivate young people to get involved in politics.

The Mediterranean island nation has a population of about 900,000, of whom more than 683,000 were registered to vote in the weekend’s polls.

Turnout in Cyprus was at just under 59% – up from 45% in the 2019 elections, with analysts attributing the rise in part to the “Fidias factor”.

According analysis of exit poll data by news site Philenews, Mr Panayiotou won 40% of the votes from the 18-24 age group and 28% of votes from the 25-34 group.

Six Cypriot MEPs were elected.

Mr Panayiotou came third behind the conservative DISY (25%) which retained its two MEPs, and the communist party AKEL (22%) which lost one of its two MEPs.

Cypriot voters also elected an MEP from the ultranationalist party ELAM (11%) and the centrist party Diko (10%).

  • Published

T20 World Cup, Group D, New York

South Africa 113-6 (20 overs): Klaasen 46 (44); Tanzim 3-18

Bangladesh 109-7 (20 overs): Hridoy 37 (34); Maharaj 3-27

Scorecard. Table

Heinrich Klaasen hit a vital 46 as South Africa claimed a nervy four-run victory over Bangladesh that put them on the brink of securing a place in the T20 World Cup Super 8s.

A combination of the pitch, poor shot selection and good bowling from Bangladesh saw South Africa teetering on 23-4 after they won the toss, as Tanzim Hasan Sakib snaffled 3-18.

Klaasen hit three fours and two sixes in his 44-ball innings as he shared a 79-run partnership with the dependable David Miller to help South Africa recover to compile a defendable 113-6.

Bangladesh made a decent fist of the run chase and at 94-4 with three overs remaining were probably slight favourites.

However, when Kagiso Rabada took the key wicket of Towhid Hridoy for 37 the momentum swung back to the Proteas.

Bangladesh required six off the final two balls and a sizable contingent of their fans momentarily thought they had done it when Mahmudullah heaved a Keshav Maharaj full toss down the ground, only for Aiden Markram to pouch a catch inches from the boundary.

Offered another chance with a full toss from Maharaj off the final ball of the match, Taskin Ahmed could only slice it for a single.

South Africa, who have won all nine of their T20 internationals against Bangladesh, are unbeaten in the tournament so far with three victories and top Group D.

Proteas hold nerve to deny Tigers

This match had the potential to be an anti-climax after India’s win over Pakistan 24 hours earlier, but it delivered a thrilling contest played out against a colourful backdrop as Bangladesh fans descended on Eishenhower Park in their numbers.

The temporary stands shook with fans clad in green and red, some dressed as tigers, as their bowlers wrestled the early initiative.

Tanzim trapped Reeza Hendricks lbw for a golden duck and the decibel level climbed again when Quinton de Kock misjudged a pull and was bowled by the Bangladesh seamer.

Markram and Tristan Stubbs came and went in quick succession to leave South Africa in deep trouble, but they had been in a similar position against the Netherlands a few days previously.

On that occasion Miller was the key batter and his measured approach here, alongside the more aggressive Klaasen, stymied Bangladesh’s early enthusiasm.

Klaasen’s superb knock came to an end when he tried to heave Taskin (2-16) into the stands, only for the ball to skid through and clatter into middle stump before Miller perished to spinner Rishad Hossain.

Bangladesh’s innings began positively, with excellent running between the wickets a feature throughout, as they made South Africa work hard in the field.

Hridoy twice dispatched Maharaj over the ropes – the first courtesy of a biff down the ground in the ninth over, and the second whipped over square leg five overs later.

There was a pivotal moment off the second ball of the 17th over when a delivery from Ottniel Baartman hit Mahmudullah on the pad and the ball raced away for four leg byes.

However, because Mahmudullah was given out lbw on the field by the umpire – subsequently overturned on review – the ball went dead the moment the finger was raised, which meant the four byes did not count.

It might not have been so crucial had Hridoy’s lbw review, after he was struck on the pad attempting work Rabada off his legs, been overturned.

But the technology showed the ball was just clipping leg stump so Hridoy had to go and Bangladesh’s hopes – despite Maharaj almost blowing it with two full bungers – effectively went with him.

‘We should have won’ – reaction

Player of the match, South Africa batter Heinrich Klaasen: “It was not a nice one to watch, it was good that the boys got it over the line.

“It’ll be good confidence for the boys, we’ve had three pressurised games now.”

Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto: “We should have won. Last couple of overs they bowled well, it can happen in cricket.”

South Africa captain Aiden Markram: “Sometimes when you get on the right side it makes for good entertainment.

“It was fantastic for Klaasen and Miller to get some runs and the two of them were a great partnership.”

  • Published

Charlie Dobson took 400m silver to gain his first major individual medal at the European Athletics Championships, as team-mate Molly Caudery won pole vault bronze in Rome.

Dobson, 24, clocked a blistering 44.38 seconds to set a personal best in the final.

But that was not enough to deny Belgium’s Alexander Doom, who triumphed in a championship record 44.15secs.

Gold medal favourite Caudery, crowned world indoor champion in March, could not improve on a second-time clearance at 4.73m, as Switzerland’s Angelica Moser took a surprise victory as the only athlete over 4.78m.

Those medals took Great Britain’s tally to nine following golds for Dina Asher-Smith and the women’s half marathon team on Sunday.

Elsewhere during Monday’s evening session, Laviai Nielsen ran a personal best 50.71secs to finish sixth in the women’s 400m final, in which Ireland’s Rhasidat Adeleke (49.07secs) took silver behind Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek (48.98secs).

Anna Purchase recorded a best throw of 69.24m to finish eighth in the women’s hammer final, as Sara Fantini won table-topping hosts Italy’s eighth gold.

Mark Pearce placed 13th with a time of eight minutes 26.92 seconds in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase final, won by Frenchman Alexis Miellet (8:14.01).

Daryll Neita cruised to victory in her women’s 200m semi-final, effortlessly confirming her place in Tuesday night’s medal race in a time of 22.51secs.

The men’s 200m final was won by Swiss athlete Timothe Mumenthaler in 20.28secs.

Delight for talented Dobson

Dobson has tasted success as part of Britain’s men’s 4x400m relay quartet in recent years, winning European gold and world bronze, but travelled to Rome seeking individual silverware in his first major 400m final.

Two years ago, he was tipped as a future star by former British 400m record holder Iwan Thomas, while Colin Jackson believes, external he is set to be Great Britain’s breakthrough athlete at Paris 2024.

The signs look promising. Despite breaking the 45-second barrier for the first time only last month when he ran a personal best 44.46secs, Dobson’s unbeaten semi-final time of 44.65secs appeared effortless as he qualified fastest for Monday’s final.

And he further lowered his lifetime best in a duel for gold with world indoor champion Doom, only losing touch in the closing stages.

“This is already far more than I expected this season to be honest,” Dobson said.

“I would have been happy with one sub-45 to get the Olympic standard but this, on top of everything so far this season, is incredible.”

Disappointment despite medal for Caudery

Caudery has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence over the past 10 months that she arrived at these championships as the standout favourite for gold.

The Cornwall athlete was seeking a first major outdoor title following her breakthrough indoor success in Glasgow at only her second global championships three months ago.

But, despite boasting a world-leading height of 4.86m in 2024, she struggled to build momentum in the final and required second attempts at 4.68m and 4.73m before bowing out.

Caudery’s disappointment at bronze speaks volumes of her recent progress, and she will now continue to build towards her Olympic debut in Paris.

“It was a really great competition. I think the fact I’m a little disappointed, isn’t a bad thing,” Caudery told BBC Sport.

“I just got a bronze medal at the European Championships. If I had told myself that a year ago, I would’ve been absolutely over the moon. But I think I have a new expectation of myself. It was so close but I’m still so happy.”

Nielsen ‘proud’ after ‘one of toughest weeks’

Nielsen achieved a personal best performance in the 400m final after a distressing week.

Following her final, the 28-year-old, fourth at the world indoors, revealed her coach recently suffered a cardiac arrest.

“This has been one of the toughest weeks of my life – I’m so proud of myself,” Nielsen told BBC Sport.

“My coach Tony suffered a cardiac arrest a week ago. He’s recovering well but it was the scariest moment of our lives.

“I think I’m very resilient and I need to remain as focused and clear headed as I can. It’s not easy to stand up there on your best day – but to stand up there on your worst day is just so promising for the rest of the season.”

Hodgkinson among Britain’s morning qualifiers

In the morning session, reigning 800m champion Keely Hodgkinson progressed to Tuesday’s semi-finals by controlling her heat to win in 2:02.46.

Team-mate Alex Bell is also through after finishing third in 2:00.98 in her heat, as is Erin Wallace who ran 2:00.90 to take one of the non-automatic qualifying spots.

Neil Gourley won his heat to reach the men’s 1500m final, clocking 3:44.05, while the other was won by Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen in 3:37.65, as he seeks to complete his third successive European golden double in Wednesday’s medal race.

They will be joined by Adam Fogg, who was added to the final start list after being impeded by a fall which caused him to finish 10th in 3:40.83.

Lina Nielsen will contest the women’s 400m hurdles final after running a personal bet 54.43secs to finish second in her heat, but Jessie Knight (56.01secs) missed out.

Alastair Chalmers ran a personal best 48.76secs but that was not enough to take him through to the men’s 40m hurdles final.

What gold medals will be won on Tuesday?

There are eight gold medals to be won during Tuesday’s evening session, with live streaming on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app from 18:00 BST.

The men’s and women’s 400m hurdles finals featuring Norway’s world record holder Karsten Warholm and Dutch star Femke Bol take place at 20:05 and 20:15.

Eilish McColgan makes her return from injury in the women’s 10,000m final at 20:30, alongside British team-mates Megan Keith and Jessica Warner-Judd.

Then, in the women’s 200m final at 21:50, Daryll Neita bids to complete a British sprint double following Asher-Smith’s 100m gold.

European Athletics Championships medal table

  • Published

Defending champion Katie Boulter edged out Harriet Dart in a marathon all-British tie to reach the second round of the Nottingham Open.

Opening her grass-court season, third seed Boulter won 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-5 in a contest lasting three hours and 13 minutes.

But the enthralling match was tainted as a frustrated Dart repeatedly argued with the chair umpire over what she believed to be incorrect line calls.

Their dispute reached its height during a change of ends in the second set, after a ball from Boulter was called out but overruled by umpire Kelly Rask.

In response, Dart offered a £50,000 bet that the ball in question was out.

“The ball is so far out, this is embarrassing. You’re embarrassing yourself. You should be embarrassed,” the 27-year-old told Rask.

After asking to speak to the tournament referee, Dart then accused Rask of “threatening” her with a code violation.

Speaking after the match, Dart said the line calling was “pretty appalling” and called for technology to be used across the sport.

On her dispute with Rask, she said: “Give me a code violation or don’t. I think she was a bit embarrassed by the situation. We are all professionals here.

“I have played so many tennis matches in my career and this one was a little bit disappointing with some of the things. I think she can also reflect on that.”

British number one Boulter will play Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland or Canada’s Rebecca Marino in the second round.

The 27-year-old’s victory in Nottingham 12 months ago was her first WTA title.

“That was an absolute battle,” Boulter, ranked 30th in the world, said of her contest with Dart.

“[Dart] is an incredible grass-court player. I tried to do the best I could because she was playing seriously good stuff.

“I would have taken a much easier win, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I’ve seen a three hour, 13 minute grass-court match. I’m not sure that’s possible.”

Earlier, British number five Heather Watson progressed to the second round with a 4-6 6-0 6-4 rain-disrupted win over American Kayla Day.

Watson will next face sixth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Elsewhere, British duo Lily Miyazaki and Emily Appleton were both beaten in the first round.

Fellow Briton Emma Raducanu will begin her Nottingham campaign on Tuesday against Japan’s Ena Shibahara, while top seed and world number 10 Ons Jabeur opens against Colombia’s Camila Osorio.

In the men’s Challenger event at Nottingham, second seed Dan Evans’ match with Switzerland’s Dominic Stricker was suspended at 6-3 4-6 because of poor light and will resume on Tuesday.

Fellow Briton Paul Jubb beat seventh seed Duje Ajdukovic 7-6 (7-1) 6-4, while Cameron Norrie is seeded top and faces Sho Shimabukuro in his opener on Tuesday.

Draper wins in Stuttgart as Murray prepares for final grass-court swing

Elsewhere, Jack Draper got his grass season off to a winning start, reaching the second round of the Stuttgart Open where he could meet fellow Briton Andy Murray.

British number two Draper defeated Austrian Sebastian Ofner 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5).

“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really hard and got over the line. It’s good to be back on the grass,” Draper, 22, said in his on-court interview.

Murray starts his Stuttgart campaign against American Marcos Giron on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old is preparing for what looks set to be his final Wimbledon, having previously said he does not plan on “playing much beyond the summer”.

He will team up with brother Jamie in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon in what will be their first Grand Slam appearance as a pair.

Earlier this month, Jamie Murray told BBC Sport it was “now or never” for the brothers to play together.

Wimbledon starts on 1 July.

  • Published

Sale flanker Tom Curry has been named in England coach Steve Borthwick’s 36-man squad for the tour of Japan and New Zealand, with seven players from the champions Northampton also included.

Curry has only played just over half an hour of rugby since last year’s Rugby World Cup because of a serious hip injury.

Among the Saints contingent is uncapped wing Ollie Sleightholme, who scored a try in the Premiership final win over Bath.

England face Japan on 22 June before Tests against the All Blacks on 6 and 13 July.

“The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season,” said Borthwick.

“With the changes in climate, playing conditions and contrasting styles of rugby from the two opponents we face, we will be challenged on and off the field.”

There are six uncapped players in the party, with Sleightholme joined by the Harlequins pair of prop Fin Baxter and centre Luke Northmore, the Sale back-three players Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, and Bristol hooker Gabriel Oghre.

“For some of the younger players it will be their first time touring abroad with England,” added Borthwick.

“Travelling together is a great way to build closer bonds and provides an important opportunity for new players to settle into our environment.”

Curry is included despite the warnings from his club coach Alex Sanderson that he would need to be carefully managed after such a long injury absence, and he will tour alongside twin brother Ben.

Bristol’s Harry Randall is selected as one of three scrum-halves, alongside Premiership finalists Ben Spencer and Alex Mitchell.

With George Ford ruled out, there are only two specialist fly-halves in Marcus Smith and Fin Smith, although full-back George Furbank can provide cover.

After facing Japan in Tokyo, England meet the All Blacks in Dunedin and then Auckland as they bid to become the first side since 1994 to win a Test match at Eden Park.

“The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast,” said Borthwick.

“New Zealand’s home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

“Historically it is not a place England have had much success, but we are determined to change that.

“The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want.”

England squad

Forwards: Fin Baxter (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins), Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Theo Dan (Saracens), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Ben Earl (Saracens), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George (Saracens) – captain, Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Marler (Harlequins), George Martin (Leicester Tigers), Gabriel Oghre (Bristol Bears), Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks), Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs), Will Stuart (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

Backs: Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs), Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints), George Furbank (Northampton Saints), Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby), Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), Luke Northmore (Harlequins), Harry Randall (Bristol Bears), Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), Fin Smith (Northampton Saints), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)

  • Published

Britain’s Emma Raducanu says she is in a “really fit place” as she prepares to start her grass-court season at the Nottingham Open.

The 21-year-old skipped the French Open to focus on her fitness, having not played since losing in the first round of the Madrid Open in April.

Raducanu, who had wrist and ankle operations last year, faces Japan’s Ena Shibahara in the Nottingham first round on Tuesday.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy. I feel really strong,” said Raducanu, who played her first WTA match at Nottingham in 2021 before going on to win the US Open later that year.

“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were.

“So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule. It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations.”

Raducanu had surgery on her right wrist and an ankle in May last year before a further operation followed on her left wrist.

It required her to use a mobility scooter to get around, with her admitting it was difficult to “shut your body down”.

“I think it’s very easy for me to lose sight of where I was exactly a year ago because it is pretty much a year ago to this day, this month,” she said.

“You get so caught up in your own world that you want more and more and more. But a year ago I was on a scooter scooting around and I didn’t know – there was an element of doubt.

“To be healthy and to be here, I need to cherish it.”

  • Published

It is more than two weeks since Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United beat Manchester City in an FA Cup final billed as potentially his last game.

United chiefs launched a review into the club’s season following that surprise win over rivals City, yet there is still no decision about the Dutchman’s future.

The build-up to the game was dominated by talk of manager Ten Hag’s chances of keeping his job.

Some went so far as to state that Ten Hag would be sacked no matter what the outcome at Wembley, saying the Dutchman would pay the price for a terrible season in which United finished eighth – their worst performance since the 1989-90 campaign when Sir Alex Ferguson came close to losing his job.

Ten Hag stood his ground and in an interview in the Netherlands said he had been told new co-owners Ineos wanted to rebuild the club “with me”.

It turned out that assessment was a bit of a stretch.

Ten Hag was reflecting his impression of a number of previous conversations with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Sir Dave Brailsford and Jason Wilcox, the Ineos team initially responsible for running the football side at Old Trafford following the change of ownership.

In reality, United were committed to a full review at the end of the season, with the manager’s future seen as part of that.

It is fair to say most members of the media and many fans thought the review would have been completed by now and Ten Hag would know his fate.

But in beating City – and ensuring European qualification they had looked set to miss out on – the 54-year-old became the first United boss to win trophies in successive seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson.

That allowed him to issue a blunt warning to his employers: “When I started here I said I am here to win and also that I want to build a team. I am doing both. But if they don’t want me any more I will go and win and games and trophies somewhere else.”

Ten Hag headed off on holiday and United’s hierarchy began their end-of-season review, stressing no decision around the manager would be taken until it was complete.

Within a couple of days it became apparent that anyone who thought the review would just be a speedy resume of the season or a box ticking exercise to put an appropriate gap between Ten Hag’s triumph and a dismissal were wrong.

United sources were adamant they had not set a timeline on the review. Assumptions of a resolution by the end of last week were also incorrect and, as we move into a third week, still there has been no suggestion an announcement is pending.

In the meantime, Ten Hag can only wait.

When he was linked with now filled vacancies at former clubs Ajax and Bayern Munich in the spring, it was underlined his only interest was managing United, where he still has a year left on his contract.

Various names have been touted as his successor, including Kieran McKenna, who has since signed an extension to his contract at Ipswich, Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Thomas Frank.

This weekend, it was reported, including by BBC Sport, that Thomas Tuchel no longer wishes to be considered for a vacancy that presently does not exist, having met Ratcliffe in Monaco in the last week. United have not confirmed the meeting, nor expressed a view on the optics around such a chat.

In addition, interest in Mauricio Pochettino, who was in the frame for the United job when Ten Hag was appointed and is out of work after his exit from Chelsea, has also cooled.

With all their players either on international duty or their summer break, United have no urgent need to make a final decision.

Brighton, for example, are viewed as a model club when it comes to forward planning but Roberto de Zerbi announced he was quitting on 18 May, a week before the FA Cup final, and they have still not named a replacement.

But all eyes are on Old Trafford and it seems no-one, including Ten Hag, can be sure what the eventual outcome will be.

  • Published

The Netherlands and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been ruled out of this summer’s European Championship through injury.

De Jong, 27, played just three times for his club since suffering an ankle injury in March.

De Jong was included in Ronald Koeman’s Euro 2024 squad despite struggling with his recovery, but has been forced to pull out of the tournament.

The Netherlands begin their Euros campaign on Sunday when they play Poland in Group D at 14:00 BST, while they also face France and Austria in the group stage.

De Jong has played 54 times for his country, scoring twice.

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