BBC 2024-06-11 18:06:52


UN Security Council backs US Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan

By Ana FaguyBBC News, Washington • Raffi BergBBC News

The United Nations Security Council has voted to support a US resolution backing a ceasefire plan for the war in Gaza.

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 in a televised statement on 31 May. Mr Biden described it then as an Israeli ceasefire proposal.

The proposal submitted by Israel to the US and fellow mediators Qatar and Egypt – reportedly lengthier than the summary presented by Mr Biden – has not been made public and it is unclear whether it varies from what the president presented. The proposal was agreed to by Israel’s three-man war cabinet and has not been divulged to the wider government. Some far-right ministers have already made clear they oppose it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not said directly whether he supports the plan as laid out by President Biden.

The resolution was approved shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Mr Netanyahu, in an attempt to build support for the ceasefire 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 supports parts of the plan, and it released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution.

Hamas emphasised its demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, as well as the exchange for Palestinian prisoners. The group said it is ready to cooperate with mediators and enter “indirect negotiations”.

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 10 days after President Biden said the Israelis had agreed to the plan.

While Mr Biden presented the peace initiative as an Israeli one, the US is also aware Israel’s own fractious ruling coalition is approaching the plan with reluctance. This extends to outright opposition by some far-right ministers who are threatening to trigger a collapse of the government if the deal progresses.

The resignation of former general and centrist Benny Gantz from the war cabinet on Sunday has deepened that sense of instability.

  • Jeremy Bowen: Netanyahu walks tightrope as US urges deal

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.

Explaining its abstention, Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia raised concerns over the clarity of the deal and whether Israel had truly accepted the plan to end its military operation in Gaza, as the resolution states.

“Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated … what specifically has Israel agreed to?” Mr Nebenzia asked.

Despite voting in favour, China also expressed concerns over the text. Its UN ambassador questioned whether this time would be any different to the three previous Security Council resolutions on the conflict, which were not implemented despite being legally binding.

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

While the US had previously vetoed similar measures, saying such a move would be wrong while delicate negotiations were continuing between Israel and Hamas, it abstained rather than vetoed 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.

Four US college instructors stabbed in public park in China

By Laura Bicker & Frances Maoin Beijing and Singapore

Four US university tutors are in hospital after they were stabbed by an unknown assailant at a public park in China.

The Iowa Cornell College instructors were injured in a “serious incident” during a daytime visit to the park in the northern province of Jilin, a college statement said.

Iowa Representative Adam Zabner said his brother, David, was one of the four instructors injured in the incident, which he described as a stabbing.

China’s foreign ministry says that none of the injured are in a life-threatening condition.

Mr Zabner said the group had been visiting a local temple on Monday when they were attacked by a man with a knife.

He said his brother had been stabbed in the arm at Beishan Park in Jilin city and was recovering in hospital.

“He has not yet been released this morning but he’s doing ok,” he told CBS News.

Cornell College said the four instructors had been teaching “as part of a partnership with a university in China”. The group had been accompanied by a member of Beihua University at the time of their visit to the park on Monday.

China’s foreign ministry that the injured were immediately rushed to hospital where they received treatment.

Spokesperson Lin Jian would not answer questions about whether the assailant was in custody, adding that further investigation was needed.

“This was an isolated incident and the investigation continues. China is widely considered one of the safest countries in the world and China will continue to take relevant measures to ensure that foreigners are safe in the country.

“We believe this will not damage relations with other countries,” he said.

A US State Department spokesperson had earlier told the BBC they were aware of reports of a stabbing incident in Jilin, but could not provide more information.

Images circulating appear to show at least three people bleeding and lying on the ground.

However the incident appears to have been quickly censored on China’s internet.

On Tuesday, searches for terms such as “foreigners Jilin” produced no results despite the search term trending on Weibo.

Internet users instead resorted to discussions under adjacent topics while some were also seen asking for more information about the incident.

Online commentator Hu Xijin, who is formerly the chief editor of China’s Global Times, had earlier posted on Weibo that China has been seeing a growing number of foreign visitors and the Chinese are “typically friendly” toward them. He described the incident as a “chance event”.

The post has since been removed.

There are also few reports about the incident in Chinese state media.

Mr Zabner said his brother, a Tufts University doctoral student, had visited China before and was on his second trip to the country with Cornell College.

Amid tense diplomatic relations, Beijing and Washington have sought to re-establish people-to-people exchanges in recent times.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China in the next five years, while Chinese diplomats say a travel advisory by the US State Department has discouraged Americans from going to China.

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.

Warning shots from South as NK soldiers cross border

By Joel GuintoBBC News

South Korean soldiers fired warning shots after North Korean troops crossed the border by mistake, Seoul’s military said on Tuesday.

The incident at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on Sunday comes as tensions continue to rise between the two Koreas.

A small group of North Korean soldiers carrying field tools including pickaxes entered South Korea at 12:30 local time (05:30 GMT), Seoul’s military said. They were among 20 who were in the border area at that time.

They retreated immediately after the South Koreans fired the warning shots.

In recent weeks, the North has flown hundreds of rubbish-filled balloons to border towns in the South.

Seoul has responded by broadcasting propaganda and K-pop music to the North using loudspeakers. Activists have also flown propaganda balloons into the North.

There was no notable movement from the North in the DMZ after its troops retreated on Sunday, Seoul’s military said.

“Inside [the border area] the vegetation is overgrown, and the border markers are hidden. There are no paths, and they were wading through the overgrowth,” it said.

On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, threatened the South with “new counteractions” if it continues loudspeaker broadcasts and does not stop activists from sending balloons.

Last December, Mr Kim ended all efforts at a peaceful unification with the South, accusing Seoul of “hostility” towards the North.

Since then, the North demolished a highly symbolic unification monument in Pyongyang and ended all communication with the South.

Earlier this month, South Korea suspended what remained of its 2018 military agreement with the North, which will allow it to resume drills and propaganda activities such as loudspeaker broadcasts.

South Korea had partially suspended the agreement last November, following the North’s launch of a spy satellite.

In recent months, Seoul detected North Korean soldiers planting landmines along the border and disconnecting railways to the South. North Korean soldiers were also seen installing guard posts within the DMZ.

Singapore Airlines turbulence victims offered payouts

By João da SilvaBusiness reporter

Singapore Airlines has offered to pay compensation to those who were injured on a London to Singapore flight that encountered severe turbulence.

The airline said it will pay $10,000 (£7,800) to those who sustained minor injuries, in a Facebook post.

For passengers with more serious injuries, the airline is providing “an advance payment of $25,000 to address their immediate needs” and further discussions to meet “their specific circumstances”.

A 73-year-old British passenger died and dozens more were injured when flight SQ 321 encountered turbulence over Myanmar and was diverted to Thailand in May.

Singapore Airlines has not yet responded to a BBC News request for further information on how many people will be entitled to the payments.

More than a hundred people who had been on SQ 321 were treated in Bangkok hospital after the incident.

Early investigations showed that the plane accelerated rapidly up and down, and dropped around 178ft (54m) over 4.6 seconds.

Passengers described how crew and those not wearing seatbelts were sent flying and slammed into the cabin ceiling.

A hospital in Bangkok where passengers are being treated said there were spinal cord, head and muscle injuries.

There were 211 passengers – including many Britons, Australians and Singaporeans – and 18 crew on board the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at the time of the incident.

The company said it would offer a full fare refund to all passengers on the flight, including those who did not suffer any injuries.

On top of this, Singapore Airlines said passengers will received delay compensation in accordance with European Union or United Kingdom regulations.

The airline also offered S$1,000 ($739; £580) to all passengers to cover immediate expenses and it arranged for loved ones to fly to the Thai capital where requested.

Under international regulations, airlines must offer compensation when passengers are injured or die while on a plane.

The incident brought attention to seatbelt practices, as airlines usually allow passengers to undo their belts during normal cruise conditions.

Eight more die as India faces longest heatwave

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

A severe heatwave continues to wreak havoc in India as the eastern state of Odisha on Monday reported eight deaths within a 72-hour period.

Official figures released in May suggested 60 people died between March and May across India due to heat-related illnesses.

But the number is likely to be much higher as heat-related deaths go under-reported in rural areas.

Officials say India is in the middle of the longest heatwave it has ever seen as temperatures crossed 50C in some areas recently.

“This has been the longest spell because it has been experienced for about 24 days in different parts of the country,” Mrutyunjay Mohapatra of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told the Indian Express newspaper.

Parts of northern India have been experiencing extreme heat since mid-May, with temperatures hovering between 45-50C in several cities.

Some areas of the country have also been impacted by water shortages, with extreme heat placing huge demands on supplies.

Earlier this month, at least 18 polling officials deployed for the final phase of the general elections died of heat-related illnesses in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, authorities said.

On 31 May, at least 33 people, including election officials, died of suspected heatstroke in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.

The monsoon, which hit India’s southern coast in Kerala state on 30 May, is expected to bring some relief as it spreads to northern parts of the country in the coming days.

  • Is India ready to deal with extreme temperatures?
  • Heat kills at least 15 in India as temperatures near 50C

The IMD has predicted an above-average monsoon season for the country this year.

But Mr Mohapatra said that “heatwaves will be more frequent, durable and intense, if precautionary or preventive measures are not taken.”

The weather office has predicted heatwave conditions for northwest and eastern India for the next five days.

India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, relying heavily on coal to generate power for its needs.

“Human activities, increasing population, industrialisation and transport mechanisms are leading to increased concentration of carbon monoxide, methane and chlorocarbons,” Mr Mohapatra said.

“We are endangering not only ourselves, but also our future generations.”

Fire at famous Bangkok market kills 1,000 animals

By Kelly Ng & Ryn Jirenuwatin Singapore and Bangkok

Around 1,000 animals were killed in a fire in Bangkok’s famous open-air Chatuchak market early Tuesday, gutting nearly 100 shops.

Birds, dogs, cats and snakes were burnt to death in their cages in the pet zone, which also included rats, pythons and geckos.

The blaze was started by an electrical short circuit, authorities said, adding that no human casualties or injuries have been reported.

The incident prompted renewed calls for authorities to shut the pet zone, which has long been criticised for the animals’ poor living conditions and has reportedly led to high rates of disease and death.

With tens of thousands of shops crowding narrow lanes, Chatuchak is one of South East Asia’s biggest markets.

It’s also the largest and best-known of Thailand’s weekend markets. It claims to draw nearly 200,000 tourists every Saturday and Sunday.

But the portion of the market selling pets is open through the week. This accounts for about four of the 27 sections in Chatuchak market and is arguably its most controversial trade.

This zone of the market is subjected to regular inspections.

“When I got here, everything was gone, all burned down,” says Amporn Wannasut, a shop owner who rushed to the market after being alerted to the fire.

“I couldn’t do anything because it was dark inside as well. I couldn’t help them at all. They were all gone.”

The 42-year-old sold turtles, pythons, and king snakes, among other reptiles, as pets.

“I don’t even know what to do next. I think we have to start all over again but I don’t know how,” she adds. “I froze some of the dead snakes so that we can calculate how much [money] we lost.”

The fire damaged most of the 118 shops in the pet zone, which covers about 1,400 sq metres (15,000 sq feet), according to a preliminary inspection.

When the BBC arrived at the market on Tuesday afternoon, shop owners were standing in line to register their requests for compensation. Some of them looked distraught and several were crying.

There were also people taking selfies in front of the destroyed shops, even as police officers warned them not to go near the affected structures, which could collapse.

Recounting her narrow escape, a shopowner called Meecha told online news outlet Thaiger that she was awakened by the animals’ cries in the loft above her shop.

“Suddenly, thick smoke filled the air, making it impossible to breathe,” said Meecha, who climbed through a window to safety.

Some shop owners do live in the market, but it’s unclear how many were there when the fire broke out.

According to the Chatuchak District Office, the blaze started around 04:10 local time on Tuesday (21:10 GMT on Monday) and was extinguished 30 minutes later.

Pictures online showed extensive sections engulfed in flames and cages charred. Some appear to have been burned out of shape.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) group said the fire “underscores the urgent need for action.”

“Animals are not ours to use for our entertainment… Peta urges the Thai government to ensure that this facility, where captive animals suffer, never reopens,” said the group’s senior vice-president Jason Baker.

The Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand described Chatuchak market as a “shame on Bangkok”.

“Many of these poor animals are smuggled into the country, often illegally. It is immoral, cruel, a health and safety hazard, and completely unnecessary,” the foundation’s director Edwin Wiek said.

“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration needs to act and stop this senseless cruelty to animals,” he said.

‘Becoming a totalitarian state’: UK judge on why he quit Hong Kong court

By Frances MaoBBC News

A high-profile British judge who resigned from Hong Kong’s highest court last week has warned the city is “slowly becoming a totalitarian state” and judges are being compromised by an “impossible political environment created by China”.

Lord Sumption’s comments on Monday came as a third senior foreign judge in the past week resigned from the Court of Final Appeal.

“The problem in Hong Kong has been building up over the last four years and I think all the judges on the court feel concerned about this,” Lord Sumption told the BBC’s Today programme.

“I have reached the point eventually where I don’t think that my continuing presence on the court is serving any useful purpose.”

On Monday he wrote in a newspaper op-ed that the city’s rule of law has been “profoundly compromised”.

Hong Kong’s government said it “strongly disapproves” of Lord Sumption’s opinions, calling them a “betrayal against Hong Kong’s judges”.

It highlighted remarks from the other leaving judges who said they still believed in the independence of the courts.

Canadian judge Beverley McLachlin, who resigned on Monday citing her wish to spend more time with family said: “I continue to have confidence in the members of the Court, their independence, and their determination to uphold the rule of law.”

But her departure as well as that of Lords Sumption and Lawrence Collins – another former UK Supreme Court justice- last week means at least six senior foreign judges have stepped down from sitting in Hong Kong since a major national security law (NSL) was imposed by China in 2020.

Lord Sumption has been much more overtly critical than his peers- arguing that the laws, which have been widely criticised as being draconian, have overridden the independent functioning of courts and heaped pressure on the judiciary.

“Intimidated or convinced by the darkening political mood, many judges have lost sight of their traditional role as defenders of the liberty of the subject, even when the law allows it,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

An ‘oppressive’ situation in Hong Kong

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Lord Sumption said it had become increasingly clear that Hong Kong’s supercharged security laws were being used to “crush peaceful political dissent, not just riots.”

Legal experts have for some time now warned about the city’s degraded rule of law in the wake of laws enacted by Beijing.

China and Hong Kong have defended the NSL laws as crucial to maintaining law and order in the city after major pro-democracy protests and unrest in 2019 and 2020.

But rights groups and Western governments say the law has been used to criminalise acts of free speech and assembly, leading to a near complete silencing of dissent in the global financial hub,.

More recently, the EU and the US heavily criticised as “politically motivated” the conviction of 14 democracy activists on 30 May for “subversion” . The defendants in the landmark Hong Kong 47 case face a minimum of 10 years in prison and could even be jailed for life.

That case “was the last straw”, Lord Sumption said, referencing the court’s assessment that organising a political primary was tantamount to a national security crime.

“The judgement… was a major indication of the lengths to which some judges are prepared to go to ensure that Beijing’s campaign against those who have supported democracy succeeds.”

He also emphasised the other major problem: “If China doesn’t like the court’s decisions it can reverse them.”

Such a precedent was set in 2023, when in the high-profile prosecution of Hong Kong billionaire Jimmy Lai, Beijing overturned the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling to allow the democracy activist his choice of lawyer.

He also spoke of further pressures on judges, describing in his op-ed an “oppressive” environment. He wrote of the government’s “continued calls for judicial ‘patriotism’” and the outrage sparked in the rare instances when a judge acquits or grants bail to an NSL defendant.

“It requires unusual courage for local judges to swim against such a strong political tide. Unlike the overseas judges, they have nowhere else to go,” he wrote.

Why are there foreign judges serving in Hong Kong?

It is a holdover from Hong Kong’s past as a British colony.

After the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the agreement between the countries stipulated that the special territory would continue to operate with its freedoms and systems for 50 years- including its common law legal system which operates in several other jurisdictions worldwide.

Currently there seven foreign judges remaining on the court– three British and four from Australia. Typically they are very experienced senior judges who have retired from their countries’ senior courts.

They operate as overseas non-permanent appointees; a typical appeal bench of five judges at the Court of Final Appeal will see a foreign judge hearing the case along with three other local judges.

Their presence was long seen as a sort of bulwark protection to help uphold the British-style common law legal system which has been key to Hong Kong’s stature as a global financial hub.

As recently as March this year, Hong Kong’s leader praised the foreign judges saying their appointments “help maintain a high degree of confidence in (Hong Kong’s) judicial system”. According to recent media reports, they are paid £40,000 per case.

Lord Sumption had said most of Hong Kong’s judges are “honourable people with all the liberal instincts of the common law.”

“But they have to operate in an impossible political environment created by China.”

Controversial presence

Since Hong Kong’s security laws kicked in, rights groups, critics and even the UK government had questioned the foreign judges’ continued presence on the court.

In 2020, a senior Australian judge was the first to step down from the court. James Spigelman directly cited the impact of the wide-sweeping National Security Law which hadn’t kicked into operation yet.

Two years later, UK Supreme Court justices Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge also stepped down following concerns raised by the British government.

Lord Reed, the chief justice of the top UK court, said he agreed with the government that serving Supreme Court justices could not continue to serve in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse a government that had “departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

The remaining judges on the court at the time – which included Lords Collins and Sumption – issued a statement shortly after defending their position.

They said they believed their “continued participation” would be “in the interest of the people of Hong Kong”.

But on Monday, Lord Sumption said he no longer believed this.

He told the BBC he had chosen to stay on the first few years “to see how things develop and to hope that one can make a positive contribution.” He had written he hoped “the presence of overseas judges would help sustain the rule of law.”

“It’s taken a long time to conclude that that is not realistic.”

His sharp criticism and the resignations of the other judges will further fuel concerns about Hong Kong’s status as an international city, particular as the latest resignations come just weeks after the city implemented a second, even more wide-scoping security law known as Article 23.

Legal scholar Eric Lai, told the BBC the two British judges had been “well known” for their support of Hong Kong’s legal system in the past and their commitment to the court in critical cases.

“Their change of mind to resign signals the worsening legal environment in HK,” he said.

But the city’s authorities defend the integrity of their legal system.

The chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal said last week the court would continue to function regardless of the resignations.

Andrew Cheung stressed the court’s independence: “All judges and judicial officers will continue to… administer justice in full accordance with the law, without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit”.

BMW China parts probe expanded by US Senate panel

By João da SilvaBusiness reporter

The head of the US Senate Finance Committee has expanded an investigation of BMW after the car maker was found to have imported vehicles to America that contained banned Chinese parts.

In a letter to BMW North America, Senator Ron Wyden, asked whether it had stopped importing components suspected of being made by people from China’s Uyghur minority group in forced labour conditions.

BMW Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, BMW said it had “taken steps to halt the importation of affected products”.

It came after a two-year long investigation by Senator Wyden’s staff revealed at least 8,000 BMW Mini Cooper cars with banned parts had been imported into the US.

The report found that the cars contained components made by Chinese firm Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group (JWD).

“Is BMW certain that it is not currently importing vehicles containing components produced by JWD?”, Senator Wyden’s letter said, asking for answers by 21 June.

Other car makers named in the report included Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen.

The US Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) into law in 2021.

The legislation is aimed at preventing the import of goods from China’s north-western Xinjiang region where most Uyghurs live.

JWD was added to the UFLPA Entity List in December 2023, which means its products are presumed to be made with forced labour.

China has has faced accusations of detaining more than one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang against their will in recent years.

Beijing has rejected all allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denounced the UFLPA saying it “harms the survival and employment rights of the people in Xinjiang”.

Malawi VP’s plane may have crashed in forest, army says

By Wedaeli ChibelushiBBC News, London • Peter JegwaBBC News, Lilongwe

A plane carrying Malawi’s vice-president may have crashed in a forest in the north of the country, a senior military official has said.

Saulos Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.

The plane, a military aircraft, was flying in bad weather.

Soldiers have been searching Chikangawa Forest in an effort to find the plane.

In press briefing on Tuesday, Malawi Defence Force commander Paul Valentino Phiri said fog has reduced visibility in the forest, thus complicating search efforts.

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the mission must continue until the plane is found.

He told Malawians in an address on Monday evening: “I know that we are all frightened and concerned – I too am concerned.

“But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane and I am holding onto every fibre of hope that we will find survivors.”

However, Dr Chilima’s party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM), said they were “disappointed” with the search operation.

UTM officials alleged that the search started at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) despite the plane going missing at 10:00.

The vice-president and president come from different parties but the two teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

Dr Chilima, 51, was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

It was meant to land at the airport in the northern city of Mzuzu, but was turned back because of poor visibility.

President Chakwera said he has contacted the governments of various countries, including the US, UK, Norway and Israel, who had all offered support “in different capacities” to help find the plane.

Dr Chilima has been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.

He is widely loved in Malawi, particularly among the youth, AFP news agency reports.

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

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

Dr Chilima is married with two children

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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%).

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.

There was a cool reaction from the markets though – Apple’s share price fell by 1.91% on Monday, the day of the announcement.

  • What is AI and how does it work?

The partnership was also not welcomed by Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, who has 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 not responded to his allegations.

Smartphone maker Samsung also mocked its rival’s announcement.

“Adding ‘Apple’ doesn’t make it new or groundbreaking. Welcome to AI”, it posted on X.

It is not the first time the South Korean company has sought to undermine its competitor.

However the bigger concern for Apple will be whether its new AI tools will help it catch up with rival firms who have have been quicker to embrace the technology.

Apple usurped by Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in January, and was overtaken again by chip-maker Nvidia in early June.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

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

“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.

“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,” Mr Wood told the BBC.

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 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.

Gary Glitter told to pay victim £508,000 damages

Convicted sex offender Gary Glitter has been ordered to pay more than £500,000 to a victim he abused when she was 12 years old.

A High Court judge ruled that Glitter – whose real name is Paul Gadd – subjected the claimant “to sexual abuse of the most serious kind”.

The woman brought her claim after Glitter was convicted in 2015 of abusing her and two other young people between 1975 and 1980.

The disgraced pop star was jailed for 16 years and released in February last year after serving half his sentence. He was returned to prison six weeks later after it was found he had breached his licence conditions by reportedly trying to view downloaded images of children.

In a 13-page ruling released on Tuesday, High Court judge Mrs Justice Tipples said the woman was entitled to damages of £508,800.

“There is no doubt that the claimant was subject to sexual abuse of the most serious kind by the defendant when she was only 12 years old and that has had very significant adverse impact on the rest of her life,” Judge Tipples said.

The sum Glitter has been ordered to pay includes £381,000 in lost earnings and £7,800 for future therapy and treatment.

The court was told that as a result of Glitter’s abuse the woman who brought the claim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has been unable to work for decades.

Her barrister Jonathan Metzer said her experiences had a “dramatic and terrible impact” on her education, work and personal relationships.

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

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.”

‘Becoming a totalitarian state’: UK judge on why he quit Hong Kong court

By Frances MaoBBC News

A high-profile British judge who resigned from Hong Kong’s highest court last week has warned the city is “slowly becoming a totalitarian state” and judges are being compromised by an “impossible political environment created by China”.

Lord Sumption’s comments on Monday came as a third senior foreign judge in the past week resigned from the Court of Final Appeal.

“The problem in Hong Kong has been building up over the last four years and I think all the judges on the court feel concerned about this,” Lord Sumption told the BBC’s Today programme.

“I have reached the point eventually where I don’t think that my continuing presence on the court is serving any useful purpose.”

On Monday he wrote in a newspaper op-ed that the city’s rule of law has been “profoundly compromised”.

Hong Kong’s government said it “strongly disapproves” of Lord Sumption’s opinions, calling them a “betrayal against Hong Kong’s judges”.

It highlighted remarks from the other leaving judges who said they still believed in the independence of the courts.

Canadian judge Beverley McLachlin, who resigned on Monday citing her wish to spend more time with family said: “I continue to have confidence in the members of the Court, their independence, and their determination to uphold the rule of law.”

But her departure as well as that of Lords Sumption and Lawrence Collins – another former UK Supreme Court justice- last week means at least six senior foreign judges have stepped down from sitting in Hong Kong since a major national security law (NSL) was imposed by China in 2020.

Lord Sumption has been much more overtly critical than his peers- arguing that the laws, which have been widely criticised as being draconian, have overridden the independent functioning of courts and heaped pressure on the judiciary.

“Intimidated or convinced by the darkening political mood, many judges have lost sight of their traditional role as defenders of the liberty of the subject, even when the law allows it,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

An ‘oppressive’ situation in Hong Kong

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Lord Sumption said it had become increasingly clear that Hong Kong’s supercharged security laws were being used to “crush peaceful political dissent, not just riots.”

Legal experts have for some time now warned about the city’s degraded rule of law in the wake of laws enacted by Beijing.

China and Hong Kong have defended the NSL laws as crucial to maintaining law and order in the city after major pro-democracy protests and unrest in 2019 and 2020.

But rights groups and Western governments say the law has been used to criminalise acts of free speech and assembly, leading to a near complete silencing of dissent in the global financial hub,.

More recently, the EU and the US heavily criticised as “politically motivated” the conviction of 14 democracy activists on 30 May for “subversion” . The defendants in the landmark Hong Kong 47 case face a minimum of 10 years in prison and could even be jailed for life.

That case “was the last straw”, Lord Sumption said, referencing the court’s assessment that organising a political primary was tantamount to a national security crime.

“The judgement… was a major indication of the lengths to which some judges are prepared to go to ensure that Beijing’s campaign against those who have supported democracy succeeds.”

He also emphasised the other major problem: “If China doesn’t like the court’s decisions it can reverse them.”

Such a precedent was set in 2023, when in the high-profile prosecution of Hong Kong billionaire Jimmy Lai, Beijing overturned the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling to allow the democracy activist his choice of lawyer.

He also spoke of further pressures on judges, describing in his op-ed an “oppressive” environment. He wrote of the government’s “continued calls for judicial ‘patriotism’” and the outrage sparked in the rare instances when a judge acquits or grants bail to an NSL defendant.

“It requires unusual courage for local judges to swim against such a strong political tide. Unlike the overseas judges, they have nowhere else to go,” he wrote.

Why are there foreign judges serving in Hong Kong?

It is a holdover from Hong Kong’s past as a British colony.

After the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the agreement between the countries stipulated that the special territory would continue to operate with its freedoms and systems for 50 years- including its common law legal system which operates in several other jurisdictions worldwide.

Currently there seven foreign judges remaining on the court– three British and four from Australia. Typically they are very experienced senior judges who have retired from their countries’ senior courts.

They operate as overseas non-permanent appointees; a typical appeal bench of five judges at the Court of Final Appeal will see a foreign judge hearing the case along with three other local judges.

Their presence was long seen as a sort of bulwark protection to help uphold the British-style common law legal system which has been key to Hong Kong’s stature as a global financial hub.

As recently as March this year, Hong Kong’s leader praised the foreign judges saying their appointments “help maintain a high degree of confidence in (Hong Kong’s) judicial system”. According to recent media reports, they are paid £40,000 per case.

Lord Sumption had said most of Hong Kong’s judges are “honourable people with all the liberal instincts of the common law.”

“But they have to operate in an impossible political environment created by China.”

Controversial presence

Since Hong Kong’s security laws kicked in, rights groups, critics and even the UK government had questioned the foreign judges’ continued presence on the court.

In 2020, a senior Australian judge was the first to step down from the court. James Spigelman directly cited the impact of the wide-sweeping National Security Law which hadn’t kicked into operation yet.

Two years later, UK Supreme Court justices Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge also stepped down following concerns raised by the British government.

Lord Reed, the chief justice of the top UK court, said he agreed with the government that serving Supreme Court justices could not continue to serve in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse a government that had “departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

The remaining judges on the court at the time – which included Lords Collins and Sumption – issued a statement shortly after defending their position.

They said they believed their “continued participation” would be “in the interest of the people of Hong Kong”.

But on Monday, Lord Sumption said he no longer believed this.

He told the BBC he had chosen to stay on the first few years “to see how things develop and to hope that one can make a positive contribution.” He had written he hoped “the presence of overseas judges would help sustain the rule of law.”

“It’s taken a long time to conclude that that is not realistic.”

His sharp criticism and the resignations of the other judges will further fuel concerns about Hong Kong’s status as an international city, particular as the latest resignations come just weeks after the city implemented a second, even more wide-scoping security law known as Article 23.

Legal scholar Eric Lai, told the BBC the two British judges had been “well known” for their support of Hong Kong’s legal system in the past and their commitment to the court in critical cases.

“Their change of mind to resign signals the worsening legal environment in HK,” he said.

But the city’s authorities defend the integrity of their legal system.

The chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal said last week the court would continue to function regardless of the resignations.

Andrew Cheung stressed the court’s independence: “All judges and judicial officers will continue to… administer justice in full accordance with the law, without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit”.

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 led 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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BBC Africa podcasts

Five ways Michael Mosley made us healthier

By Philippa RoxbyHealth reporter

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.

Take 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.

Embrace 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.

Do 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.

Make good 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.

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.

Wildfires threaten unique Brazil ecosystem

By Vanessa BuschschlüterBBC News

Firefighters are battling wildfires in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland.

The Pantanal is home to jaguars, giant anteaters and giant river otters.

Close to 32,000 hectares have already been destroyed by the fires in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, local media report.

Climate experts say this year’s wildfire season has started earlier and is more intense than in previous years.

Firefighters said their efforts to extinguish the flames were being hampered by high winds over the weekend.

The region has also seen less rain than in other years, which has made it easier for the fires to spread.

The number of fires from the start of the year up to 9 June has been 935% higher than in the same period last year, according to figures from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The rise is particularly worrying as the high season for wildfires is not due to start until July.

Mato Grosso do Sul state authorities declared an environmental state of emergency in April, saying low levels of rainfall were creating ideal conditions for wildfires.

The number of fires so far in 2024 is the highest since 2020, which was the worst year on record in terms of Pantanal fires.

In that year, about 30% of the Pantanal was consumed by fire.

The difference in the number of fire outbreaks so far this year compared to last year is already staggering.

Between 1 January and 9 June 2023, 127 fires had been reported. In the same period this year, that number was 1,315.

Vinicius Silgueiro from local NGO Instituto Centro da Vida told Reuters news agency that “what is most worrying is that even in the rainy season, we had this increase in fires”.

Mr Silgueiro warned that the situation would probably deteriorate further at the peak of the dry season in August and September.

Last week, Brazil’s federal government announced it would work together with the state governments of Mato Grosso do Sul as well as those in the Amazon region to combat wildfires.

Environment Minister Marina Silva said it was key to respond to fires more quickly while also doing more to prevent them from breaking out in the first place.

  • Published

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr says he is a “tormentor of racists” after three Valencia fans were sentenced to eight months in prison for abusing him at a match.

The racist chants were aimed at Vinicius during a La Liga game at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium on 21 May 2023.

The fans were found guilty of a “crime against moral integrity” with “aggravating circumstance of discrimination based on racist motives”.

“I’m not a victim of racism. I am a tormentor of racists. This first criminal conviction in the history of Spain is not for me. It’s for all black people,” Vinicius posted on X.

“May other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I’ll be here to collect. Thank you to La Liga and Real Madrid for helping with this historic conviction.”

It is the first time that a conviction for racism at a football match in Spain has been handed out and was a direct result of a complaint filed by La Liga.

An initial 12-month sentence was reduced by a third following an agreement reached at the preliminary investigation stage.

The fans were also banned from entering any football stadium in which La Liga and/or Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) matches are played for a period of three years, later reduced to two.

Brazil international Vinicius joined La Liga, Real Madrid and RFEF in bringing the case to court. The defendants read a letter of apology during the hearing.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said:, external “This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain, as it goes some way to redressing the disgraceful wrong suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those individuals who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse.

“La Liga will identify them, report them, and there will be criminal consequences.

“I understand that there may be some frustration at the length of time it takes for these sentences to be handed down, but this shows that Spain is a country that guarantees judicial integrity.

“We at La Liga can only respect the pace of justice, but once again we demand that Spanish legislation evolve to give La Liga sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism.”

Real Madrid said they “will continue to work to protect the values of our club and eradicate any racist behaviour in the world of football and sport”.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino hailed the sentences as a “positive step” and praised the “firm action”.

Writing on his Instagram Story, Infantino said: “Our message to people anywhere in the world who still behave in a racist way when they are dealing with football is clear: we don’t want you. These people have to be excluded, they are not part of our community and not part of football.”

South Korea to resume loudspeaker broadcasts over border in balloon row

By Shaimaa KhalilThomas MackintoshBBC News

South Korea has said it will resume propaganda broadcasts against North Korea for the first time in six years in response to Pyongyang’s campaign of sending rubbish-filled balloons across the border.

Over 300 North Korean balloons were detected over Saturday and Sunday with around 80 landing in the South carrying scrap paper and plastic sheets.

North Korea is yet to respond to the announcement, but Pyongyang considers the loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts an act of war and has threatened to blow them up in the past.

Last month North Korea appeared to send at least 200 balloons carrying rubbish over the border in retaliation for propaganda leaflets sent from the south.

Over the weekend North Korea resumed its waste campaign against its neighbour by sending balloons carrying sacks of rubbish over the border into South Korea.

It was in retaliation for activists in the South sending 10 balloons containing leaflets critical of the North Korean regime on Friday, according to AFP news agency.

South Korea’s military said there are no more balloons in the air adding that no hazardous materials have been found.

It has warned the public not to touch the balloons and to be aware of falling objects.

The public should report any sightings to the nearest police or military unit, the military added.

Following the latest batch of balloons, South Korea’s National Security Council said loudspeaker broadcasts on the border would resume on Sunday after agreeing to restart the loudspeakers for the first time since 2018.

On Thursday an activist group in South Korea said it had flown balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets criticising the leader Kim Jong Un, dollar bills and USB sticks with K-pop music videos – which is banned in the North.

In recent years, the broadcasts have included news from both Koreas and abroad as well as information on democracy and life in South Korea.

The South Korean military claims the broadcasts can be heard as much as 10km (6.2 miles) across the border in the day and up to 24km (15 miles) at night.

In May, a South Korea-based activist group claimed it had sent 20 balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets and USB sticks containing Korean pop music and music videos across the border.

Seoul’s parliament passed a law in December 2020 that criminalises the launch of anti-Pyongyang leaflets, but critics have raised concerns related to freedom of speech and human rights.

North Korea has also launched balloons southward that attacked Seoul’s leaders.

In one such launch in 2016, the balloons reportedly carried toilet paper, cigarette butts and rubbish. Seoul police described them as “hazardous biochemical substances”.

Trump has interview with New York probation officer

By Max MatzaMadeline HalpertBBC News

Donald Trump has had a probation interview as part of the sentencing process for his criminal conviction in the New York hush-money case.

The former US president did the interview virtually from his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, with a probation officer at the Manhattan court.

Trump was accompanied by his lawyer Todd Blanche, a source told CBS News, the BBC’s news partner.

The probation officer will use the routine interview, which lasted less than 30 minutes, to compile a pre-sentencing report for Justice Juan Merchan.

Trump was convicted last month of 34 counts of falsifying business records and is due to be sentenced on 11 July.

A spokesperson with the New York City mayor’s office said defendants are given the option of an in-person interview, or one via video link.

Further exceptions were probably made for Trump due to the high-profile nature of his case, an expert told the BBC.

It would be too disruptive for the former president to come to the probation office in New York City, said former New York Supreme Court Judge Diane Kiesel.

“The press would be all over the building and the Secret Service would have to be there, too,” she said. “It makes more sense to do it this way.”

Convicts in the New York Court system do not usually have their lawyers present for probation interviews, Ms Kiesel added.

However, Justice Merchan allowed Mr Blanche to appear alongside his client on Monday.

Pre-sentencing reports include information about nearly every aspect of a convict’s life, including where and when they were born, their marriages, criminal history, financial means, health and overall living arrangements.

The probation officer probably asked Trump to talk about the crime he was convicted of, Ms Kiesel said.

She said most defendants will simply say they intend to appeal against the verdict – as Trump has said he will do – or decline to comment.

The reports are used by the judge to inform what punishment should be given.

The interview is often an opportunity for a convict to argue for leniency in the sentence.

The reports of the interview are confidential and will only be made available to the judge, the defendant and the lawyers in the case, Ms Kiesel said.

Jurors found Trump guilty of falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments made to former porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Most legal commentators believe that Trump is unlikely to face any jail time, given his lack of criminal history and age.

Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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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Thousands head to Wales for Pink 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 17:15 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

Four US college instructors stabbed in public park in China

By Laura Bicker & Frances Maoin Beijing and Singapore

Four US university tutors are in hospital after they were stabbed by an unknown assailant at a public park in China.

The Iowa Cornell College instructors were injured in a “serious incident” during a daytime visit to the park in the northern province of Jilin, a college statement said.

Iowa Representative Adam Zabner said his brother, David, was one of the four instructors injured in the incident, which he described as a stabbing.

China’s foreign ministry says that none of the injured are in a life-threatening condition.

Mr Zabner said the group had been visiting a local temple on Monday when they were attacked by a man with a knife.

He said his brother had been stabbed in the arm at Beishan Park in Jilin city and was recovering in hospital.

“He has not yet been released this morning but he’s doing ok,” he told CBS News.

Cornell College said the four instructors had been teaching “as part of a partnership with a university in China”. The group had been accompanied by a member of Beihua University at the time of their visit to the park on Monday.

China’s foreign ministry that the injured were immediately rushed to hospital where they received treatment.

Spokesperson Lin Jian would not answer questions about whether the assailant was in custody, adding that further investigation was needed.

“This was an isolated incident and the investigation continues. China is widely considered one of the safest countries in the world and China will continue to take relevant measures to ensure that foreigners are safe in the country.

“We believe this will not damage relations with other countries,” he said.

A US State Department spokesperson had earlier told the BBC they were aware of reports of a stabbing incident in Jilin, but could not provide more information.

Images circulating appear to show at least three people bleeding and lying on the ground.

However the incident appears to have been quickly censored on China’s internet.

On Tuesday, searches for terms such as “foreigners Jilin” produced no results despite the search term trending on Weibo.

Internet users instead resorted to discussions under adjacent topics while some were also seen asking for more information about the incident.

Online commentator Hu Xijin, who is formerly the chief editor of China’s Global Times, had earlier posted on Weibo that China has been seeing a growing number of foreign visitors and the Chinese are “typically friendly” toward them. He described the incident as a “chance event”.

The post has since been removed.

There are also few reports about the incident in Chinese state media.

Mr Zabner said his brother, a Tufts University doctoral student, had visited China before and was on his second trip to the country with Cornell College.

Amid tense diplomatic relations, Beijing and Washington have sought to re-establish people-to-people exchanges in recent times.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China in the next five years, while Chinese diplomats say a travel advisory by the US State Department has discouraged Americans from going to China.

Fire at famous Bangkok market kills 1,000 animals

By Kelly Ng & Ryn Jirenuwatin Singapore and Bangkok

Around 1,000 animals were killed in a fire in Bangkok’s famous open-air Chatuchak market early Tuesday, gutting nearly 100 shops.

Birds, dogs, cats and snakes were burnt to death in their cages in the pet zone, which also included rats, pythons and geckos.

The blaze was started by an electrical short circuit, authorities said, adding that no human casualties or injuries have been reported.

The incident prompted renewed calls for authorities to shut the pet zone, which has long been criticised for the animals’ poor living conditions and has reportedly led to high rates of disease and death.

With tens of thousands of shops crowding narrow lanes, Chatuchak is one of South East Asia’s biggest markets.

It’s also the largest and best-known of Thailand’s weekend markets. It claims to draw nearly 200,000 tourists every Saturday and Sunday.

But the portion of the market selling pets is open through the week. This accounts for about four of the 27 sections in Chatuchak market and is arguably its most controversial trade.

This zone of the market is subjected to regular inspections.

“When I got here, everything was gone, all burned down,” says Amporn Wannasut, a shop owner who rushed to the market after being alerted to the fire.

“I couldn’t do anything because it was dark inside as well. I couldn’t help them at all. They were all gone.”

The 42-year-old sold turtles, pythons, and king snakes, among other reptiles, as pets.

“I don’t even know what to do next. I think we have to start all over again but I don’t know how,” she adds. “I froze some of the dead snakes so that we can calculate how much [money] we lost.”

The fire damaged most of the 118 shops in the pet zone, which covers about 1,400 sq metres (15,000 sq feet), according to a preliminary inspection.

When the BBC arrived at the market on Tuesday afternoon, shop owners were standing in line to register their requests for compensation. Some of them looked distraught and several were crying.

There were also people taking selfies in front of the destroyed shops, even as police officers warned them not to go near the affected structures, which could collapse.

Recounting her narrow escape, a shopowner called Meecha told online news outlet Thaiger that she was awakened by the animals’ cries in the loft above her shop.

“Suddenly, thick smoke filled the air, making it impossible to breathe,” said Meecha, who climbed through a window to safety.

Some shop owners do live in the market, but it’s unclear how many were there when the fire broke out.

According to the Chatuchak District Office, the blaze started around 04:10 local time on Tuesday (21:10 GMT on Monday) and was extinguished 30 minutes later.

Pictures online showed extensive sections engulfed in flames and cages charred. Some appear to have been burned out of shape.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) group said the fire “underscores the urgent need for action.”

“Animals are not ours to use for our entertainment… Peta urges the Thai government to ensure that this facility, where captive animals suffer, never reopens,” said the group’s senior vice-president Jason Baker.

The Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand described Chatuchak market as a “shame on Bangkok”.

“Many of these poor animals are smuggled into the country, often illegally. It is immoral, cruel, a health and safety hazard, and completely unnecessary,” the foundation’s director Edwin Wiek said.

“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration needs to act and stop this senseless cruelty to animals,” he said.

Singapore Airlines turbulence victims offered payouts

By João da SilvaBusiness reporter

Singapore Airlines has offered to pay compensation to those who were injured on a London to Singapore flight that encountered severe turbulence.

The airline said it will pay $10,000 (£7,800) to those who sustained minor injuries, in a Facebook post.

For passengers with more serious injuries, the airline is providing “an advance payment of $25,000 to address their immediate needs” and further discussions to meet “their specific circumstances”.

A 73-year-old British passenger died and dozens more were injured when flight SQ 321 encountered turbulence over Myanmar and was diverted to Thailand in May.

Singapore Airlines has not yet responded to a BBC News request for further information on how many people will be entitled to the payments.

More than a hundred people who had been on SQ 321 were treated in Bangkok hospital after the incident.

Early investigations showed that the plane accelerated rapidly up and down, and dropped around 178ft (54m) over 4.6 seconds.

Passengers described how crew and those not wearing seatbelts were sent flying and slammed into the cabin ceiling.

A hospital in Bangkok where passengers are being treated said there were spinal cord, head and muscle injuries.

There were 211 passengers – including many Britons, Australians and Singaporeans – and 18 crew on board the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at the time of the incident.

The company said it would offer a full fare refund to all passengers on the flight, including those who did not suffer any injuries.

On top of this, Singapore Airlines said passengers will received delay compensation in accordance with European Union or United Kingdom regulations.

The airline also offered S$1,000 ($739; £580) to all passengers to cover immediate expenses and it arranged for loved ones to fly to the Thai capital where requested.

Under international regulations, airlines must offer compensation when passengers are injured or die while on a plane.

The incident brought attention to seatbelt practices, as airlines usually allow passengers to undo their belts during normal cruise conditions.

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”.

Five ways Michael Mosley made us healthier

By Philippa RoxbyHealth reporter

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.

UN Security Council backs US Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan

By Ana FaguyBBC News, Washington • Raffi BergBBC News

The United Nations Security Council has voted to support a US resolution backing a ceasefire plan for the war in Gaza.

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 in a televised statement on 31 May. Mr Biden described it then as an Israeli ceasefire proposal.

The proposal submitted by Israel to the US and fellow mediators Qatar and Egypt – reportedly lengthier than the summary presented by Mr Biden – has not been made public and it is unclear whether it varies from what the president presented. The proposal was agreed to by Israel’s three-man war cabinet and has not been divulged to the wider government. Some far-right ministers have already made clear they oppose it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not said directly whether he supports the plan as laid out by President Biden.

The resolution was approved shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Mr Netanyahu, in an attempt to build support for the ceasefire 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 supports parts of the plan, and it released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution.

Hamas emphasised its demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, as well as the exchange for Palestinian prisoners. The group said it is ready to cooperate with mediators and enter “indirect negotiations”.

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 10 days after President Biden said the Israelis had agreed to the plan.

While Mr Biden presented the peace initiative as an Israeli one, the US is also aware Israel’s own fractious ruling coalition is approaching the plan with reluctance. This extends to outright opposition by some far-right ministers who are threatening to trigger a collapse of the government if the deal progresses.

The resignation of former general and centrist Benny Gantz from the war cabinet on Sunday has deepened that sense of instability.

  • Jeremy Bowen: Netanyahu walks tightrope as US urges deal

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.

Explaining its abstention, Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia raised concerns over the clarity of the deal and whether Israel had truly accepted the plan to end its military operation in Gaza, as the resolution states.

“Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated … what specifically has Israel agreed to?” Mr Nebenzia asked.

Despite voting in favour, China also expressed concerns over the text. Its UN ambassador questioned whether this time would be any different to the three previous Security Council resolutions on the conflict, which were not implemented despite being legally binding.

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

While the US had previously vetoed similar measures, saying such a move would be wrong while delicate negotiations were continuing between Israel and Hamas, it abstained rather than vetoed 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.

Warning shots from South as NK soldiers cross border

By Joel GuintoBBC News

South Korean soldiers fired warning shots after North Korean troops crossed the border by mistake, Seoul’s military said on Tuesday.

The incident at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on Sunday comes as tensions continue to rise between the two Koreas.

A small group of North Korean soldiers carrying field tools including pickaxes entered South Korea at 12:30 local time (05:30 GMT), Seoul’s military said. They were among 20 who were in the border area at that time.

They retreated immediately after the South Koreans fired the warning shots.

In recent weeks, the North has flown hundreds of rubbish-filled balloons to border towns in the South.

Seoul has responded by broadcasting propaganda and K-pop music to the North using loudspeakers. Activists have also flown propaganda balloons into the North.

There was no notable movement from the North in the DMZ after its troops retreated on Sunday, Seoul’s military said.

“Inside [the border area] the vegetation is overgrown, and the border markers are hidden. There are no paths, and they were wading through the overgrowth,” it said.

On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, threatened the South with “new counteractions” if it continues loudspeaker broadcasts and does not stop activists from sending balloons.

Last December, Mr Kim ended all efforts at a peaceful unification with the South, accusing Seoul of “hostility” towards the North.

Since then, the North demolished a highly symbolic unification monument in Pyongyang and ended all communication with the South.

Earlier this month, South Korea suspended what remained of its 2018 military agreement with the North, which will allow it to resume drills and propaganda activities such as loudspeaker broadcasts.

South Korea had partially suspended the agreement last November, following the North’s launch of a spy satellite.

In recent months, Seoul detected North Korean soldiers planting landmines along the border and disconnecting railways to the South. North Korean soldiers were also seen installing guard posts within the DMZ.

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.

There was a cool reaction from the markets though – Apple’s share price fell by 1.91% on Monday, the day of the announcement.

  • What is AI and how does it work?

The partnership was also not welcomed by Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and Twitter/X, who has 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 not responded to his allegations.

Smartphone maker Samsung also mocked its rival’s announcement.

“Adding ‘Apple’ doesn’t make it new or groundbreaking. Welcome to AI”, it posted on X.

It is not the first time the South Korean company has sought to undermine its competitor.

However the bigger concern for Apple will be whether its new AI tools will help it catch up with rival firms who have have been quicker to embrace the technology.

Apple usurped by Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in January, and was overtaken again by chip-maker Nvidia in early June.

What is ‘Apple Intelligence’?

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

“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.

“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,” Mr Wood told the BBC.

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 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.

‘Becoming a totalitarian state’: UK judge on why he quit Hong Kong court

By Frances MaoBBC News

A high-profile British judge who resigned from Hong Kong’s highest court last week has warned the city is “slowly becoming a totalitarian state” and judges are being compromised by an “impossible political environment created by China”.

Lord Sumption’s comments on Monday came as a third senior foreign judge in the past week resigned from the Court of Final Appeal.

“The problem in Hong Kong has been building up over the last four years and I think all the judges on the court feel concerned about this,” Lord Sumption told the BBC’s Today programme.

“I have reached the point eventually where I don’t think that my continuing presence on the court is serving any useful purpose.”

On Monday he wrote in a newspaper op-ed that the city’s rule of law has been “profoundly compromised”.

Hong Kong’s government said it “strongly disapproves” of Lord Sumption’s opinions, calling them a “betrayal against Hong Kong’s judges”.

It highlighted remarks from the other leaving judges who said they still believed in the independence of the courts.

Canadian judge Beverley McLachlin, who resigned on Monday citing her wish to spend more time with family said: “I continue to have confidence in the members of the Court, their independence, and their determination to uphold the rule of law.”

But her departure as well as that of Lords Sumption and Lawrence Collins – another former UK Supreme Court justice- last week means at least six senior foreign judges have stepped down from sitting in Hong Kong since a major national security law (NSL) was imposed by China in 2020.

Lord Sumption has been much more overtly critical than his peers- arguing that the laws, which have been widely criticised as being draconian, have overridden the independent functioning of courts and heaped pressure on the judiciary.

“Intimidated or convinced by the darkening political mood, many judges have lost sight of their traditional role as defenders of the liberty of the subject, even when the law allows it,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

An ‘oppressive’ situation in Hong Kong

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Lord Sumption said it had become increasingly clear that Hong Kong’s supercharged security laws were being used to “crush peaceful political dissent, not just riots.”

Legal experts have for some time now warned about the city’s degraded rule of law in the wake of laws enacted by Beijing.

China and Hong Kong have defended the NSL laws as crucial to maintaining law and order in the city after major pro-democracy protests and unrest in 2019 and 2020.

But rights groups and Western governments say the law has been used to criminalise acts of free speech and assembly, leading to a near complete silencing of dissent in the global financial hub,.

More recently, the EU and the US heavily criticised as “politically motivated” the conviction of 14 democracy activists on 30 May for “subversion” . The defendants in the landmark Hong Kong 47 case face a minimum of 10 years in prison and could even be jailed for life.

That case “was the last straw”, Lord Sumption said, referencing the court’s assessment that organising a political primary was tantamount to a national security crime.

“The judgement… was a major indication of the lengths to which some judges are prepared to go to ensure that Beijing’s campaign against those who have supported democracy succeeds.”

He also emphasised the other major problem: “If China doesn’t like the court’s decisions it can reverse them.”

Such a precedent was set in 2023, when in the high-profile prosecution of Hong Kong billionaire Jimmy Lai, Beijing overturned the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling to allow the democracy activist his choice of lawyer.

He also spoke of further pressures on judges, describing in his op-ed an “oppressive” environment. He wrote of the government’s “continued calls for judicial ‘patriotism’” and the outrage sparked in the rare instances when a judge acquits or grants bail to an NSL defendant.

“It requires unusual courage for local judges to swim against such a strong political tide. Unlike the overseas judges, they have nowhere else to go,” he wrote.

Why are there foreign judges serving in Hong Kong?

It is a holdover from Hong Kong’s past as a British colony.

After the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the agreement between the countries stipulated that the special territory would continue to operate with its freedoms and systems for 50 years- including its common law legal system which operates in several other jurisdictions worldwide.

Currently there seven foreign judges remaining on the court– three British and four from Australia. Typically they are very experienced senior judges who have retired from their countries’ senior courts.

They operate as overseas non-permanent appointees; a typical appeal bench of five judges at the Court of Final Appeal will see a foreign judge hearing the case along with three other local judges.

Their presence was long seen as a sort of bulwark protection to help uphold the British-style common law legal system which has been key to Hong Kong’s stature as a global financial hub.

As recently as March this year, Hong Kong’s leader praised the foreign judges saying their appointments “help maintain a high degree of confidence in (Hong Kong’s) judicial system”. According to recent media reports, they are paid £40,000 per case.

Lord Sumption had said most of Hong Kong’s judges are “honourable people with all the liberal instincts of the common law.”

“But they have to operate in an impossible political environment created by China.”

Controversial presence

Since Hong Kong’s security laws kicked in, rights groups, critics and even the UK government had questioned the foreign judges’ continued presence on the court.

In 2020, a senior Australian judge was the first to step down from the court. James Spigelman directly cited the impact of the wide-sweeping National Security Law which hadn’t kicked into operation yet.

Two years later, UK Supreme Court justices Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge also stepped down following concerns raised by the British government.

Lord Reed, the chief justice of the top UK court, said he agreed with the government that serving Supreme Court justices could not continue to serve in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse a government that had “departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

The remaining judges on the court at the time – which included Lords Collins and Sumption – issued a statement shortly after defending their position.

They said they believed their “continued participation” would be “in the interest of the people of Hong Kong”.

But on Monday, Lord Sumption said he no longer believed this.

He told the BBC he had chosen to stay on the first few years “to see how things develop and to hope that one can make a positive contribution.” He had written he hoped “the presence of overseas judges would help sustain the rule of law.”

“It’s taken a long time to conclude that that is not realistic.”

His sharp criticism and the resignations of the other judges will further fuel concerns about Hong Kong’s status as an international city, particular as the latest resignations come just weeks after the city implemented a second, even more wide-scoping security law known as Article 23.

Legal scholar Eric Lai, told the BBC the two British judges had been “well known” for their support of Hong Kong’s legal system in the past and their commitment to the court in critical cases.

“Their change of mind to resign signals the worsening legal environment in HK,” he said.

But the city’s authorities defend the integrity of their legal system.

The chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal said last week the court would continue to function regardless of the resignations.

Andrew Cheung stressed the court’s independence: “All judges and judicial officers will continue to… administer justice in full accordance with the law, without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit”.

Gary Glitter told to pay victim £508,000 damages

Convicted sex offender Gary Glitter has been ordered to pay more than £500,000 to a victim he abused when she was 12 years old.

A High Court judge ruled that Glitter – whose real name is Paul Gadd – subjected the claimant “to sexual abuse of the most serious kind”.

The woman brought her claim after Glitter was convicted in 2015 of abusing her and two other young people between 1975 and 1980.

The disgraced pop star was jailed for 16 years and released in February last year after serving half his sentence. He was returned to prison six weeks later after it was found he had breached his licence conditions by reportedly trying to view downloaded images of children.

In a 13-page ruling released on Tuesday, High Court judge Mrs Justice Tipples said the woman was entitled to damages of £508,800.

“There is no doubt that the claimant was subject to sexual abuse of the most serious kind by the defendant when she was only 12 years old and that has had very significant adverse impact on the rest of her life,” Judge Tipples said.

The sum Glitter has been ordered to pay includes £381,000 in lost earnings and £7,800 for future therapy and treatment.

The court was told that as a result of Glitter’s abuse the woman who brought the claim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has been unable to work for decades.

Her barrister Jonathan Metzer said her experiences had a “dramatic and terrible impact” on her education, work and personal relationships.

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Longevity is a rare gift in football management, but Didier Deschamps has certainly been afforded that as France coach.

The 55-year-old has been in charge since 2012 and in that time he has led his country to three out of five possible finals and won one World Cup.

That success in 2018 meant he joined a select few who have won a world title both as a manager and a player, and this summer he has the chance to make more history.

Should he lead France to glory in Germany, he will become only the second person to win a European Championship as both a player and a manager, after German Berti Vogts, and the first to have achieved the ‘double double’

Not bad for someone who was once dismissed as a “water carrier”.

From ‘water carrier’ to serial winner

Deschamps’ career both as a player and an international manager stands among the best.

Widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation, the former Marseille, Juventus and Chelsea player won two French league titles, three Serie A championships, and two Champions League trophies.

His unglamorous yet key role was famously described as that of “a water carrier” by his former France team-mate Eric Cantona, who suggested his role was simple – win the ball then give it to more creative team-mates.

“Deschamps gets by because he gives 100%, but he’ll never be anything more than a water carrier,” Cantona said in an interview in 1996.

“You find players like him on every street corner.”

Deschamps could not resist a retort. “How many players can you find on street corners who have won two European Cups?” he replied.

But in the main he did his talking on the pitch.

A natural leader, he became the youngest captain to lift the Champions League with Marseille in 1993 then led his country to World Cup success five years later.

Former France defender Lilian Thuram, who was Deschamps’ team-mate in that 1998 win, told BBC Sport: “Deschamps, the captain, he was the one who led the way. He was a true leader of that team.

“Knowing him then, you can see how he became a manager and won the World Cup, because he had that drive within him.”

Management a natural next step

When Deschamps retired from playing in 2001, moving into management seemed the sensible progression for someone praised throughout his career for his leadership skills.

He had spells in charge of Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before becoming France manager in 2012.

His arrival came two years after a catastrophic World Cup in 2010 for Les Bleus under Raymond Domenech.

The France squad was fractured, with players refusing to train in protest at the French Football Federation’s decision to send home striker Nicolas Anelka after he argued with Domenech.

Unity was something Deschamps emphasised above all else when he took charge and he soon fashioned a cohesive side that once again was a force at major tournaments.

They reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, losing to eventual winners Germany, and made the final of Euro 2016, which they hosted, but were beaten 1-0 by Portugal.

The upward trend continued, though, as France triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A crucial moment in that success came after they beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling last-16 match.

Afterwards, some of the players had gone out and were noisy on their return, waking up those sleeping when defender Adil Rami sprayed a fire extinguisher in the hotel corridor.

Philippe Tournon, France’s press officer at the time, told the BBC documentary ‘How To Win The World Cup’ that Deschamps’ response highlighted his man-management skills.

“My room was next to Didier’s and I thought he was ready to tear them apart,” he said.

“Didier had a word and, with his sixth sense of his relationship with the players and the unity of the group, told me ‘if I lay into them it might break something we’ve been building for five or six weeks’.”

Deschamps, of course, is not flawless and after they were knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16 by Switzerland he was criticised for getting his tactics and team selections wrong.

He responded to the critics and doubters by leading France to their second successive World Cup final in Qatar two years later, where they were beaten on penalties by Argentina after a thrilling 3-3 draw.

One last chance for European glory as a coach?

During that World Cup run, Deschamps was again praised by those who played for him.

“Our coach believes in us being a group, being a team,” striker Antoine Griezmann said.

“We’re a group that lives well together. I see it in training, too. Everyone gives 100 per cent and we have the perfect set-up to take us as far as possible.”

The French Football Federation agreed, rewarded Deschamps with a new contract to keep him in charge of France until the 2026 World Cup.

France are among the favourites to triumph in Germany and lift their first European Championship in 24 years.

Should they succeed, the “water carrier” will have earned the right to be considered arguably the greatest international manager of all time.

  • Published

Table tennis player Bruna Alexandre is set to become the first Brazilian to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics after she was selected for her country’s Olympic team for Paris 2024.

The 29-year-old sustained a blood clot when she was just a few months old which resulted in her losing her right arm, but she started playing table tennis aged seven.

She won two bronze medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and singles silver and team bronze at Tokyo 2020.

She follows fellow table tennis players Natalya Partyka of Poland and Australia’s Melissa Tapper who have also competed at both Games.

Partyka first appeared in Beijing in 2008 and followed that up at London 2012 before being joined by Tapper in Rio and Tokyo.

Croatian Sandra Paovic competed at the 2008 Olympics before suffering a spinal injury in a car accident which left her with restricted movement, but she returned to table tennis and won gold at the 2016 Paralympics.

Others to have featured at the Olympics and Paralympics include South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius and swimmer Natalie du Toit.

“I’m very happy for this opportunity to represent all Brazilians with disabilities at the Olympic Games and to show that I can play on equal terms with any athlete,” said Alexandre, who uses other sports like skateboarding and futsal in training to help with her balance and co-ordination.

“I have a dream of becoming a Paralympic champion, and playing against athletes without disabilities makes me stronger in my pursuit of this goal.”

The Olympic table tennis events take place from 27 July-10 August in Paris before the Paralympics start on 28 August.

  • Published

Former Gloucester and Leicester lock Ed Slater said he wants to “thank” Rob Burrow for giving a voice to him and so many other people with motor neurone disease.

Rugby league great Burrow died aged 41 on 2 June, more than four years after being diagnosed with MND.

Slater, 35, has been living with MND, a degenerative condition that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, since being diagnosed in 2022.

“Rob was a special human, he has left us so many incredible stories and that’s just his rugby career alone, how successful he was defying the odds, the size of the spirit he had,” Slater told BBC Breakfast.

“Then you move on to his life with MND, his devotion to Lindsey [Burrow’s wife] and the kids and then of course leading so many of us out of the darkness by shining a light on MND.

“That’s why when I heard Rob had passed away the first words I could think of were ‘thank you’.

“So many people now have that voice including myself and that’s a real gift he’s been able to give the MND community.”

Slater and Burrow are among a number of high-profile sportspeople who have campaigned and raised massive awareness of MND after being diagnosed.

Former Scotland rugby union lock Doddie Weir, who died in November 2022, and ex-footballers Stephen Darby and Len Johnrose are among those to have brought the condition into the wider consciousness.

Slater made 78 appearances for Gloucester after joining the Cherry and Whites in 2017 and was still playing for them when he first began to experience symptoms.

He previously captained Leicester and won the Premiership title there in 2012-13 during a seven-year spell with the club.

The two sides now contest the Slater Cup whenever they play each other in the Premiership.

Slater says he experienced “difficulties” with losing his mobility and speech but was given advice from Burrow which helped.

“That brought on a lot of fear and I spoke to Rob about that and he explained that although he understands, the fact that Lindsey and the kids are around him every day he said he’s never been more comfortable,” Slater said.

“What he was saying to me was if you have your family that’s OK, it might not be how you want it to be but see the beauty in that.

“That’s what I focus my mind on when I have those difficult thoughts.”

Slater – with support from his wife, Jo, with whom he has three children – began adapting his life soon after his diagnosis and recorded his voice, with MND known to affect speech.

He also has an eye gaze system that uses his voice, to enable him to communicate using eye movements, as Burrow did.

“It won’t be long before I have to use it regularly – that’s going to be essential,” Slater said.

“Being able to talk to the kids will be so important – if Frank wants to talk about Charlton [Athletic – the club Slater supports], or Edie about dance or Flo about playing in goal.

“The smallest things are the biggest things it will give me an opportunity to carry on.

“Those conversations are so important keeping me connected, albeit I won’t be physically – that will help.”

Slater said Burrow’s legacy in rugby and the profile he has put on MND will “continue with us”.

“The more we see how shocking life is with MND… knowing [there is] no treatment and no cure adds to that message as well because it’s so cruel,” he said.

“If we continue to do that with fantastic people and the amazing community with MND I hope we will make big steps in trying to find treatment and a cure.”

  • Published

What next? That’s the question I’ve been asked a lot since I announced earlier this year that I would be retiring, and especially since I played my final game for Celtic a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t taken any coaching badges, which was a deliberate decision. For some people, coaching or managing is the obvious option when they stop playing, but it is not something that has ever been ingrained in me.

I still want to give something back, though. I am not a goalkeeper anymore but I love to talk about the art of goalkeeping, as well as how it has changed so much in my time – and how it keeps on evolving.

I’m going to be doing that quite a lot in the next few weeks while I’m working for the BBC at Euro 2024 and I can’t wait to get started.

‘Giving a goalkeeper’s perspective’

The reason I wanted to get into punditry is to educate people who are interested in goalkeeping, and hopefully I can help people understand the position a bit better.

I’ll be trying my best to do that by giving a goalkeeper’s perspective, which can be very different to that of an outfield player. Sometimes when a goal goes in, the analysis you see on TV is about how the keeper should have done better, or has made a mistake.

That can be the case, of course, and I am not here to protect goalkeepers from criticism, but part of the way I analysed my own performances during my career was to work out exactly why things happened.

There is often a lot more to a goal than might first appear and I want to try to explore and explain that, and all the different variables that can affect the goalkeeper – from the positions they take up and how they work with their defenders, to the movement of the ball and everything else that is happening in front of them.

These are things that might seem simple but they really aren’t – and I am willing to go into that detail.

I’ll be learning new things myself too, including how to be a pundit – I fully understand I am not going to be brilliant at it to start with.

It feels weird to be described or introduced as a former goalkeeper, because I have only just left a trade that I was working in as a professional for more than 20 years – I made my senior debut for Shrewsbury Town in April 2004, when I was 17.

Although I went to four major finals with England, being on this side of things at a tournament is all new to me.

In the past I have just been focused on myself, and what I needed to do as a goalkeeper, rather than finding out very much about other players from other teams we weren’t up against. But as I’ve said, I am not a goalie anymore, so I am looking forward to that changing when I am in Germany.

I am going to listen to everyone around me, make the most of their experience and take in as much as possible – I am open-minded, open-eyed and looking forward to everything the next few weeks might bring.

‘England have what it takes’

One of the reasons I am so excited about for this tournament is I believe England have a great chance of winning it.

I know a lot of our players well from my time with the squad, especially some of the defenders – Kyle Walker and John Stones regularly played in front of me at international level – and I’ve known Kieran Trippier since we were teenagers at Manchester City.

They are top-class players who will have a huge say in how we do this time. I am looking forward to watching them from a personal point of view, but also to assess them from a professional viewpoint, to see how much they have grown since I was last with them.

I played under Gareth Southgate too, and I feel like his confidence has increased a lot since my time with the squad, when he had just stepped up from the Under-21s to take the England job on an interim basis.

He’s had success at the past two tournaments, reaching the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup and then the final at the last European Championship, and it also seems like everyone loves playing under him, which is so important.

For everything that is talked about by people outside the squad, it is what happens in the camp that really matters and Gareth has built an environment where they will feel safe and will be very focused.

It looks like the manager and players understand each other and what it takes to go the distance, so they will be able to put themselves in the best position to execute all the planning and hard work that they have already put in.

‘I want my Scottish pals to do well’

England are definitely good enough to go all the way in Germany – if you look at all the squads, then along with France we are incredibly strong – but I know what goes into winning a tournament and it is not quite as simple as just having the best players, so we will have to see how it plays out.

I’ll be watching Scotland closely too, of course, because of my old team-mates from Celtic who are in their team. How Scotland do doesn’t bother me, but I want my pals to do well.

I’ve got personal connections with players from lots of other teams at these Euros too, and it’s the same for all of them. Ultimately they are my friends and I want what is best for them, no matter what country they are from.

In the past I had to face my mates at tournaments and try to get the better of them, so what will be quite refreshing this time is that I won’t have to put those friendships aside.

I’m not on the pitch this time, so it doesn’t matter what I do. Instead I can just be happy for my pals to be out there on the biggest stage, and fingers crossed they will perform.

  • Published

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won for the sixth time this season in an eventful Canadian Grand Prix.

McLaren’s Lando Norris led the race twice but had to settle for second, Mercedes showed improved form, while both Ferraris failed to finish.

BBC Sport F1 correspondent Andrew Benson answers your questions following the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

After his performance at Montreal, do you think Daniel Ricciardo will retain his seat at RB in 2025? – David

Ricciardo’s performance for RB at the Canadian Grand Prix – qualifying a superb fifth and finishing in the points in eighth place despite a five-second penalty for jumping the start – was exactly what he needed after an unconvincing start to the season.

Ricciardo was the subject of some harsh criticism from Jacques Villeneuve, who was a pundit for Sky television over the weekend, with the 1997 world champion asking: “Why is he still in F1?”

Ricciardo did not take kindly to that. But, whatever one thinks of Villeneuve’s comments, the fact is that Ricciardo has not been performing as Red Bull expected since he returned to F1.

He replaced Nyck de Vries with the team who were then called Alpha Tauri midway through last season and was unlucky to break his hand in a crash at the Dutch Grand Prix, only his third race after returning, and miss five races.

But in the events he did feature in last year, he was more often than not slower than team-mate Yuki Tsunoda – apart from a starring performance in Mexico. And the trend has continued this year, with the odd exception such as the sprint qualifying session in China and now Canada.

Ricciardo is 7-2 down on Tsunoda in grand prix qualifying sessions this year and slightly slower on average. And the problem with that is that Red Bull don’t rate the Japanese as a top-line driver.

This is why Ricciardo has gone from being considered a potential replacement for Sergio Perez in the main Red Bull team, to being at risk of losing his seat.

Reserve driver Liam Lawson is waiting in the wings. But Ricciardo is currently protected by team principal Christian Horner. It remains to be seen which way Red Bull go in choosing a partner for Tsunoda at what is now called RB in 2025.

Do you see Carlos Sainz returning to a top-flight team in the near future? – Mick

Carlos Sainz is being let go by Ferrari at the end of the season because they have signed Lewis Hamilton for 2025 to race alongside Charles Leclerc.

Sainz had hopes of landing another seat in a top team given there were theoretical vacancies at both Red Bull and Mercedes, but those have been dashed.

Red Bull have re-signed Sergio Perez for another two seasons – a decision not everyone in F1 really understands, given the Mexican’s fluctuating performances – and Mercedes are very much on a path to promoting their Italian protege Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

That has left Sainz with a choice between Sauber, who will become Audi in 2026, and Williams for next season.

He is Audi’s first choice – they want him to lead their team into their new era in F1. And on paper this looks the most attractive option – a major manufacturer with a big budget committed to success in the medium term.

The problem is that Sauber are F1’s worst-performing team this year and most believe it is going to take Audi quite some time to turn them around. Williams might be a more appealing short-term option.

The top teams in F1 have made clear their views on drivers and Sainz is clearly not in their minds – if he was, he would not be in the situation he is. That being the case, it’s hard to see him ending up in an elite car again in the near future. But in F1 you never know what will happen, so it cannot be ruled out.

When one car follows another, ‘running in dirty air’ is bad but ‘getting a tow’ is good. What’s the difference and when does each apply? – Chris

They are effectively products of the same effect, but at different parts of the circuit.

‘Running in dirty air’ means that the car behind is close enough to the car in front for the airflow over it to be affected.

To perform at their optimum, F1 cars want nice, clean airflow. Running behind another car means the airflow that hits a car is not clean – therefore it’s ‘dirty’. So the aerodynamics do not work as well, which means a loss of downforce. A bit like turbulence in an aeroplane.

That means a drop in performance during cornering caused by a loss of aerodynamic load, which in turn means the tyres need to work harder, so they slide, overheat and also lose grip.

But that’s during cornering.

A ‘tow’ is something that happens down a straight. The car in front punches a hole in the air, which means there is less air resistance for the car behind, so it is effectively sucked along and gains top speed, making overtaking easier.

The irony with the 2022 rules was that while they made following a little easier than before, by ensuring the airflow behind a car was less disturbed, so cars could run closer together, they reduced the tow effect, so overtaking has not become noticeably easier.

Do you think Red Bull re-signing Sergio Perez is to appease Max Verstappen to keep the harmony? – Ed

Verstappen was asked this exact question by BBC 5 Live pit-lane reporter Rosanna Tennant in Canada, and he said: “I don’t think it has anything to do with that. People always make up stories but things are not linked to each other.

“I am happy where I am at the moment. I have a contract till ’28 and the dream and the target is still to end it after ’28, to really run out the whole contract. And then after that I don’t even know if I want to continue in the first place.

“I don’t think about it too much. I am just very happy Checo has signed. It is better for him knowing what you’re doing in the coming years. We have always worked really well together. We have good stability in the team and it has always been nice and calm like that and that is also very important within a team.”

Verstappen’s answer somewhat glosses over the tensions that arose between the two drivers in 2022, when the Dutchman believed Perez had crashed deliberately in Monaco qualifying to secure his grid position ahead of Verstappen.

And it does not address his own reality. Insiders have made it clear to BBC Sport that there is a possibility Verstappen will leave Red Bull for 2026.

The decision to keep Perez was made by team principal Christian Horner. And it was made in the interests of stability – there were tensions in the team when Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were paired at Toro Rosso in 2015-16 and Horner had no desire to risk that happening again.

With no Red Bull junior driver making a convincing case to be promoted alongside Verstappen, Horner preferred the status quo.

As a new fan, I am wondering why do the full wet tyres never get used and only the intermediates? – Harrison

The first-order answer to this is that the extreme wet tyre is not very good. The drivers call it ‘the safety car tyre’, because it really only is useful for driving behind the safety car when it’s too wet to race.

It displaces more water than an intermediate but has less grip unless there is a lot of standing water on the track.

So drivers will always want to be on the intermediate, because it’s the faster tyre.

The intermediate has the added advantage that it can be run for much longer as conditions dry up, while the extreme wet starts to overheat very quickly once there are no longer large amounts of water on track.

You could see all this in the opening laps of the Canadian Grand Prix. Nearly everyone chose inters for the start, even though the track was still very wet and had a lot of standing water.

But the Haas drivers went for full wets, and for a brief period at the beginning, when the track was still very wet, they were the fastest cars on track.

But after about five laps, with the track slowly drying, they were not, and then they had to pit very soon after.

With DRS being dropped from the 2026 season and the introduction of movable front and rear wings, will this make racing more exciting? – Anil

No-one knows. The new rules have come about as a result of a situation F1 created for itself.

The new engines were decided upon first. They have been a success in attracting new manufacturers – Audi and Ford are coming in, and Honda are staying as a result of them.

But the engines created a problem. They have close to 50% of their power coming from the hybrid system, much more than now. But how to recover all the necessary energy having taken off the MGU-H (motor generator unit – heat) and only allowing recovery from the rear axle, to avoid the risk of stability control coming in by stealth?

The answer was to make the cars faster on the straights, to make the braking distances longer, to give more time to recover the necessary energy. Hence the active aerodynamics.

And once the active wings are needed for that, they can’t be used for DRS. So another way of giving a car behind an advantage needed to be found. Hence the push-to-pass idea.

But it’s fair to say the teams have significant concerns about the new regulations in the way they are currently written – the cars will be too fast on the straights and too slow in the corners, they say.

Their concerns were mollified a little when FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis indicated in Canada that he was open to making whatever changes were necessary. But a lot of work needs to be done before everyone has confidence the 2026 rules are in a good place.

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