The Guardian 2024-07-07 08:12:22


Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian wins Iran presidential election

Victory reflects deep dissatisfaction with direction of country and could bring greater cooperation with west

The reformist Masoud Pezeshkian has pulled off a stunning victory in the Iranian presidential runoff, reflecting deep dissatisfaction with the direction of the country in recent years and opening potential new avenues of cooperation with the west.

Pezeshkian won 16,384,403 votes to defeat the ultra-conservative Saeed Jalili, who received 13,538,179 votes, on a final turnout of 49.8% – a big increase on the record low turnout of 39% recorded in the first round. In the first round, Pezeshkian came top, defeating three Conservative rivals. The turnout included more than 1m invalid votes.

Pezeshkian has been an advocate of letting women choose whether to wear the hijab and ending internet restrictions that require the population to use VPN connections to avoid government censorship. He said after his victory: “The difficult path ahead will not be smooth except with your companionship, empathy and trust.”

Under the slogan “For Iran”, Pezeshkian had promised to be a voice of the voiceless, saying protests must not be met with the police baton. Although some regard him as naive in high politics, a large part of his campaign was deliberately framed around his personal integrity, as well as his absence from ministerial office for the past decade. There were immediate calls from his backers to release political prisoners from jails, a symbol of the pent-up demands he may struggle to satisfy.

Pezeshkian faces a minefield in trying to bring about change, and although he has said he is loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he has also said he will resign if he feels he is being thwarted, and will then call on the population to withdraw from the political process.

The precise powers of the president in the field of foreign policy are disputed, but Pezeshkian argued in successive, often acrimonious TV debates that he could not bring about change, including the lowering of 40% inflation, unless he could secure the lifting of some sanctions, which would require a less confrontational approach to international relations.

During the campaign, he said Iran had found itself inside an economic cage as a result of its foreign policy, and needed to be more cooperative to see if sanctions could be lifted.

His in effect running mate in the campaign had been the former foreign minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear deal in 2015 that led to a lifting of sanctions before Donald Trump pulled the US out of the plan in 2018.

Zarif said sanctions meant Iran had been bypassed. The stock market rose on the news of the reformist victory.

Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator close to the supreme leader, had claimed Iran could thrive by building stronger economic ties away from the west. Far from Iran being a cage, he said, Iran was a sanctuary.

Pezeshkian’s victory is all the more remarkable since no reformist was allowed to stand in the last presidential election in 2021, and it was thought the high tide of Iranian reformism had long passed, with many voters convinced there was no point going to the polls since a “shadow government” took all the decisions.

The repression of the “women, life, freedom” protests in 2022 only added to a sense that the path to change through the ballot box was closed. Many senior reformists from the green movement as well as political prisoners inside Evin jail had called for a boycott.

But after Pezeshkian topped the first round – defying the rule of Iranian politics that reformists lose if turnout is low – his campaign team grew in confidence that he could win if more voters took part in the runoff.

It also became clear that supporters of the more centrist conservative Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf were not going to transfer their votes to Jalili, with whom they had sharp ideological differences. Zarif urged the abstentionists to vote, saying: “Those who did not participate in the first round, you sent your message in the first period, now you must complete your message with your presence.”

Another leading Pezeshkian backer, the former communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, said: “We must prove the people are the people, not those who consider themselves guardians of the people.”

On Saturday evening, reformists became nervous that a sudden surge in late votes was a sign of the regime seeking to rig the result, something it has been accused of doing before. There were reports that government funds were being used to send clerics into rural villages to solidify support in Jalili heartlands.

But then late on Saturday, government news channels leaked that Pezeshkian had won before the Iranian election headquarters declared him the official victor, sending his supporters into the streets of Tehran.

About 5,000 had attended his final election rally in a football stadium in Tehran, suggesting his campaign might not have sparked the support he needed among abstentionists. After a quiet campaign in the capital, his jubilant supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran to celebrate a victory that few saw coming.

In parliamentary elections earlier this year marked by low turnout, the conservatives trounced reformists. Ghalibaf’s authority as speaker of the parliament has, meanwhile, been weakened by his defeat in the presidential elections. The political complexion of the parliament will be one of the many obstacles facing the new president since it has the power to impeach ministers.

The first round of voting on 28 June had the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. Iranian officials have long pointed to turnout as a symbol of the legitimacy for the country’s Shia theocracy, but Khamenei said those who stayed away from the polls had not done so due to opposition to the regime.

The snap presidential election was caused by the death of Ebrahim Raisi, the incumbent, in a helicopter crash in May. Raisi had been seen as a potential successor to the 85-year-old supreme leader, and his death has thrown that succession into disarray. The decision is taken by an 88-strong body, the assembly of experts.

The west will now have to make a judgment on whether to help Pezeshkian or maintain the blanket of sanctions due to the continued escalation of Iran’s nuclear programme, and its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Iran is enriching uranium at near weapons-grade levels and maintains a stockpile large enough to build several nuclear weapons, but does not yet have the warheads or missile technology.

It is also providing Russia with drones for use in Ukraine. Pezeshkian’s second foreign policy adviser alongside Zarif was a former ambassador to Moscow, Mehdi Sanei.

The US state department said the election would not lead to any change in the US approach to Iran. The US officials pointed to the boycott of the elections by a large part of Iranian voters and wrote: “The elections in Iran were not free and fair. As a result, a significant number of Iranians chose not to participate at all.”

The statement added: “We have no expectation that these elections will lead to a fundamental change in Iran’s path or greater respect for the human rights of citizens. As the candidates themselves have said, Iran’s policy is determined by the leader.”

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Profile

Masoud Pezeshkian: the former heart surgeon who became president of Iran

The reformist’s life has been shaped by conscription duty in a deprived city and great personal tragedy

The shock election of Masoud Pezeshkian as Iran’s new president is as much a testimony to his personality as to his politics.

A former heart surgeon and health minister, he came across in the many presidential TV debates as a man of great personal integrity and humility, desperate to bring the country together after it had been divided domestically and abroad.

In the end, it will only be his opponents’ fear of his continued popularity that will help Pezeshkian wield influence in the warren that is Iran’s notoriously multi-level and factional politics.

It is an uphill task since, although the turnout in the runoff was higher than in the first round, it is the second lowest in Iranian presidential campaigns, showing many Iranians remain sceptical about politicians.

Pezeshkian’s life has been marked by personal tragedy, which has shaped him.

His wife, who he met as a fellow medical student, and youngest son died in a crash 30 years ago after his car hit a rock returning from a family trip to Tabriz. She was a trained gynaecologist and her loss affected him deeply, bringing him to tears even now.

He never married again, bringing up his remaining three children largely alone, learning to cook and teach them. His daughter, Zahra, accompanied him, wearing the hijab and holding his hand, when he registered to stand for the presidency this time. She has a master’s degree in chemistry and is regarded as a political adviser.

He reportedly speaks many languages including, apart from Farsi, Azeri, as well as some Kurdish and Arabic. His father was Azeri and his mother Kurdish. During one TV discussion he broke into good English to quote Einstein’s famous saying: “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Pezeshkian’s 2024 campaign was his second full attempt to run for the presidency.

He first entered politics in 2006 as MP for Tabriz, building his popular base over successive elections.

Although he has a sharp tongue when he lashes out against corruption and the merchants of sanctions, his overall demeanour is suited to the role of a cooperator, often saying he will defer to experts on how to solve the country’s economic problems. He often left some of the sharpest attacks on his “Taliban opponents” to be made by his supporters.

But he faces an uphill task uniting the country, since his conservative opponents deeply resented being described as the Taliban by the reformists and viewed him as an agent of the west and his supporters, people that had succumbed to the western internet filter breakers.

He will also have to decide whether or how to reconcile himself with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Pezeshkian was born in September 1954 in Mahabad, a city in West Azerbaijan province known for having a large population of Azeri and Kurdish ethnic minorities.

He repeatedly reflects on his Azeri heritage, even though Mahabad is a predominantly Kurdish city, although he stresses he sees Iran as a unitary state. He is an advocate of ethnic rights as a way of keeping the country united.

At the age of 19, during the era of the Shah, he served his conscription duty in Zabul – one of the most deprived cities in Sistan and Balochistan province, an experience that was said to be his political awakening.

He returned to his home town to start his medical training and served as a doctor and fighter during the Iran-Iraq war.

After the war, he specialised in cardiology and heart surgery at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. In 1994, he rose to the level of the university’s chief administrator and then became an MP for Tabriz. It was there, he admits in a video circulated by his opponents, that he enforced the hijab, and threatened those who did not comply with being sent home.

He says his views have developed since then and he is on record as opposing the suppression of the 2019 oil price protests and the 2022 protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

He has said: “Girls and women are our own and not foreigners. We have no right to force girls and women regarding citizenship rights. We will not be able to cover women’s heads through coercion.”

The “morality police” are once again seeking to enforce the hijab, with varying degrees of success judging by the streets of Tehran, and, once inaugurated, Pezeshkian will face an early test to see if he can change the enforcement climate.

Despite efforts by his opponents to portray him as a continuation of the unpopular government of President Hassan Rouhani, he never served in the eight years of his administration, instead only acting as health minister between 2001 and 2005 under the government of Mohammad Khatami.

He ran for the presidency in 2013 and 2021 but in his second attempt he was blocked by the 12-strong guardian council that vets candidates, an exclusion for which he demanded an explanation.

The appointment of Javad Zarif as an adviser gave him an analytical framework in which to argue the link between the state of the economy and the need for better relations with the west, portraying his opponent, Saeed Jalili, as an advocate of a siege economy.

To achieve the target 6% growth he said: “We would need $200bn annually in investment, which is impossible under current conditions, therefore solving our international issues is crucial.”

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Biden’s doctor reportedly met with top neurologist at White House

Parkinson’s expert at Walter Reed medical center has visited White House eight times since August 2023 – report

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Joe Biden’s doctor met with a leading Washington neurologist at the White House this year, it was reported on Saturday.

The report came after Biden on Friday ruled out taking an independent cognitive test and releasing its findings publicly, in an interview with ABC News arranged following his disastrous performance in last week’s presidential TV debate with Donald Trump.

According White House visitor logs reviewed by the New York Post, Dr Kevin Cannard, a Parkinson’s disease expert at Walter Reed medical center, met with Dr Kevin O’Connor, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who has treated the president for years.

The visit took place at the White House residence clinic on 17 January. Cannard has visited the White House house eight times since August 2023. On seven of those visits, most recently in late March, he met with Megan Nasworthy, a liaison between Walter Reed and the White House.

Biden has consistently rejected taking any cognitive test, including in August 2020 when he dismissed a reporter’s question with: “Why the hell would I take a test?” He has continued to dismiss the need for one and, according to aides, has not received one during his three annual physical exams during his term in the White House.

The Washington Post on Saturday reported a White House aide saying that O’Connor, who has been Biden’s doctor since 2009, has never recommended that Biden take a cognitive test.

O’Connor has said that his most important job is to offer Biden an affirmative “Good morning, Mr President” – to get Biden off the on the right track each day.

During Biden’s ABC News interview on Friday, the anchor George Stephanopoulos, who was communications director in the Clinton White House, asked Biden if had taken specific tests for cognitive capability. “No one said I had to … they said I’m good,” Biden replied.

Later in the broadcast, Biden was asked if he would do an independent neurological and cognitive exam and release the results. “I get a cognitive test every day,” Biden said. “Everything I do – you know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”

Pressed on the issue, he said: “I’ve already done it.”

Questions about Biden’s mental state continued on Saturday when the two radio hosts who interviewed him briefly on Thursday said that the Biden campaign had given them a list of approved questions. Wisconsin radio host Earl Ingram said that Biden aides had sent him a list of four questions in advance, about which there was no negotiation.

“They gave me the exact questions to ask,” Ingram told the Associated Press. “There was no back and forth.”

Philadelphia civic radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders told CNN she had received a list of eight questions, from which she approved four. Both interviews had been scheduled to restore Biden’s credibility following his meandering debate performance with Donald Trump a week earlier.

Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said it is “not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees” and that acceptance of the questions was not a prerequisite for an interview to go ahead. However, both interviews had been structured for Biden to tout his achievements for Black voters.

On Saturday, Trump sarcastically called on Biden to “ignore his many critics and move forward, with alacrity and strength, with his powerful and far reaching campaign”. Last week, Trump’s campaign pre-emptively launched attack ads against vice-president Kamala Harris, who is polling better in a Trump match-up than the president.

Earlier this year, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, defended O’Connor’s decision not to administer a cognitive test when the issue came up following a report by the special counsel Robert Hur into classified documents found at Biden’s Delaware home that concluded Biden was a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”.

At that time, as now, the White House pushed back, accusing Hur of being part of a partisan smear campaign. “I’m well-meaning, and I’m elderly, and I know what I’m doing,” Biden said at a news conference. “My memory is fine.”

But the eight visits Kevin Cannard has made to the White House over the past 11 months are certain to raise further questions about the 81-year-old president’s mental abilities in the wake of his debate with Donald Trump and subsequent verbal mistakes, including during a radio interview on Thursday when he said he was “proud” to be the “first Black woman to serve with a Black president”.

Cannard has served as the “neurology specialist supporting the White House medical unit” since 2012 and published academic papers including one last year in the Parkinsonism & Related Disorders journal that focused on the “early stage” of the brain degenerative disorder.

Ronny Jackson, a Republican congressman in Texas who was White House doctor for Barack Obama and Trump, has previously called for Biden to undergo a cognitive exam and accused O’Connor and Biden’s family of trying to “cover up” problems with Biden’s mental abilities.

Jackson told the New York Post he believed that O’Connor and Biden “have led the cover up”.

“Kevin O’Connor is like a son to Jill Biden – she loves him,” Jackson continued, adding that ‘they knew they could trust Kevin to say and do anything that needed to be said or done”.

Last week, the White House initially denied but later confirmed that Biden had seen a doctor since the debate. It has said that the president’s performance was affected, variously, by a cold, over-preparation and jet-lag. Biden has said simply: “I screwed up.”

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Top Democrats plan crisis meeting despite Biden’s vow to fight on

House Democratic leader schedules virtual conference for Sunday as several members call for president’s withdrawal

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Congressional Democrats are to hold an emergency weekend meeting to discuss Joe Biden’s tottering presidential candidacy, after a primetime television interview failed to dispel doubts triggered by last week’s debate fiasco.

Hakeem Jeffries, the Democrats’ leader in the House of Representatives, scheduled the virtual meeting for Sunday with ranking committee members, according to multiple reports, even as Biden struck a defiant posture in Friday’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

In a 22-minute interview from a school library in Wisconsin, aired in full, the president brushed off his miserable debate display as “a bad night” and insisted he would only withdraw his candidacy if the “Lord almighty” ordered it.

But his posture appeared only to reinforce the views of those Democrats who had already publicly urged him to quit the race, while others were said to be privately infuriated by his seemingly insouciant attitude to the prospect of defeat at the hands of Donald Trump in November’s election.

On Saturday, Congresswoman Angie Craig of Minnesota became the fifth House member to publicly urge Biden to stand aside. Four others had done so before Friday’s interview.

“Given what I saw and heard from the president during last week’s debate in Atlanta, coupled with the lack of a forceful response from [him] following [it], I do not believe [Biden] can effectively campaign and win against Donald Trump,” she said.

Asked by Stephanopoulos how he would feel if he had to turn the presidency back to an opponent he and his party loathe, the president said: “I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do – that’s what this is about.”

The response seemed to minimise the consequences of handing over power to a rival who tried to overturn the results of the 2020, incited a mob to attack the US Capitol and vowed to seek “retribution” on his opponents if he won again, a threat that has unnerved many Democrats.

The convening of Democratic House members by Jeffries would follow a similar move even before Friday’s interview by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who called on fellow senators from his party to meet to discuss Biden’s candidacy. Warner has been reported to be leading an effort by Senate Democrats urging the president to stand aside.

Democrats who had already called publicly for an end to his candidacy reiterated the sentiment after Friday evening’s broadcast of the interview, in which Biden projected greater assuredness than in the 27 June debate with Trump, yet affected obliviousness to concerns over his mental acuity or loss of support in the polls.

Lloyd Doggett, a veteran Texas Democrat who had been the first congressman to call for Biden to withdraw last Tuesday, said the interview only confirmed his view.

“The need for him to step aside is more urgent tonight than when I first called for it on Tuesday,” he told CNN.

He added: “[Biden] does not want his legacy to be that he’s the one who turned over our country to a tyrant.”

Mike Quigley, an Illinois congressman who was the fourth to urge the president to stand aside – after Doggett, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts – called aspects of the interview “disturbing”, adding that it showed “the president of the United States doesn’t have the vigour necessary to overcome the deficit here”.

Addressing Biden’s response to a putative Trump re-election, he told CNN: “He felt as long as he gave it his best effort, that’s all that really matters. With the greatest respect: no.”

Julián Castro, a former Democratic presidential hopeful and a member of Barack Obama’s cabinet, acknowledged to MSNBC that Biden had been “steadier” than in his debate performance but was in “denial about the decline that people can clearly see”.

Addressing Biden’s comments on a possible second Trump presidency, Castro said: “I think the most chilling was when Stephanopoulos asked him, ‘Well, what if you lose to [former President Trump,] then how are you gonna feel?’ and President Biden said, ‘Well, as long as I gave it my all,’ that, basically, that he would feel OK.”

“That’s not good enough for the American people. That’s not good enough with the stakes of Donald Trump winning.”

Other Democrats criticised Biden’s resistance to the idea of taking a cognitive test. He dismissed the suggestion out of hand by telling Stephanopoulos: “I take a cognitive test every day”, referring to the daily work of the presidency and running for re-election.

“I found the answer about taking a cognitive test every day to be unsettling and not particularly convincing, so I will be watching closely every day to see how he is doing, especially in spontaneous situations,” Representative Judy Chu of California told Politico.

Tim Ryan, a former representative from Ohio – who has also urged a Biden withdrawal – echoed that sentiment, telling the same network: “I think there was a level of him being out of touch with reality on the ground.”

He also said: “I don’t think he moved the needle at all. I don’t think he energised anybody. I’m worried, like I think a lot of people are, that he is just not the person to be able to get this done for us.”

Several Biden loyalists, including Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a chairman of his campaign, and John Fetterman, a senator from Pennsylvania, voiced their continued support. But even among supporters there were doubts.

Ro Khanna, a California congressman and Biden surrogate, issued a statement saying he expected the president to do more to show he has vigour to fight and win the election and “that requires more than one interview.”

“I expect complete transparency from the White House about this issue and a willingness to answer many legitimate questions from the media and voters about his capabilities,” Khanna said.

Gavin Newsom, the California governor who has been widely discussed as a potential successor to Biden, was campaigning on Saturday for the president in Pennsylvania’s Bucks county.

Kamala Harris, the vice-president, was due to make a public appearance at the Essence culture festival in New Orleans the same day.

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Netherlands fight back to see off Turkey and set up semi-final against England

The Netherlands lie between England and a place in next Sunday’s final, although that does not tell half the story of a night that swirled in every conceivable direction. In the end they overcame a relentless Turkey and did so, in large part, by resorting to the kitchen sink.

Or, as he is better known, Wout Weghorst. He watched from the bench as everything his teammates tried in the first half ran aground. After beginning brightly enough they buckled under the sheer will, aggression, energy and noise pulsating from their opponents and deserved to be a goal down at half-time. Ronald Koeman knew his players had been running into a brick wall and reached for the 6ft 6in totem, whose introduction eventually turned the tide and sent an orange wave heading for Dortmund.

Weghorst gave the Netherlands a decisive focal point but, before assessing his attacking impact, it is worth zeroing straight in on a remarkable piece of defensive work that kept them in the game. Turkey were looking capable of scoring a second goal, tearing the Dutch defence up on the break and striking a post through an extraordinary Arda Guler free-kick, when Bart Verbruggen spilled Kenan Yildiz’s drive in the 65th minute. The way was clear for Kaan Ayhan to gobble up the loose ball before Weghorst, lying on the ground, showed astonishing reactions to poke out a leg and save the day.

The game would surely have been up if Ayhan had converted. In the next significant action Weghorst was peeling off at the far post in the other penalty area, sought by the latest of several crosses from the left side. His volley, half caught in truth, was tipped wide by Mert Gunok and it was time to load the box again. Memphis Depay took the corner short, received the return pass and crossed on to the head of the towering Stefan de Vrij. The centre-back did the rest from 12 yards and Turkey, comfortably the better side for the middle 40 minutes, were deflated.

Soon they were behind after Denzel Dumfries, who had come back from an offside position, was found unattended on the right and curved a glorious low centre across the face of goal. It was met by a mixture of Cody Gakpo and the right-back Mert Muldur, who both hurled themselves at the ball, and their combined force sent it flashing past a helpless Gunok.

Four days previously Gunok had been Turkey’s hero with a late save for the ages from Austria’s Christoph Baumgartner. Moments like that can leave the impression your name is on the trophy but football has a habit of turning the tables. With Turkey pushing ferociously for an equaliser in the first minute of added time, their substitute Semih Kilicsoy timed his run perfectly and jabbed towards goal from six yards. Verbruggen should have had no chance but somehow, diving to his right, scooped clear to give them a bitter taste of their own medicine.

How vigorously they had fought, their every run and challenge so intensely meant. Before Verbruggen’s stop they were also denied extra time by a monumental block from Micky van de Ven when Zeki Celik took aim at a seemingly open goal. What Vincenzo Montella’s team lacks in control, it atones for in gusts of pressure that threaten to blow opponents away.

One such first-half spell resulted in an opener that raised the roof. They had survived a couple of Netherlands half chances and gained impetus when Guler, magical to watch once again, delivered deliciously with his weaker right foot and watched the centre-back Samet Akaydin crash his header past Verbruggen from an angle.

Akaydin was playing because Merih Demiral, their surprise matchwinner against Austria, was suspended. Therein lay the match’s other subplot, confirmed by the presence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the stands. Turkey’s president had not shown up simply for fun: Demiral’s two-match ban, handed down after he celebrated with a “wolf” gesture associated with an extremist nationalist group, had caused a diplomatic incident with Germany.

It was an obvious, choreographed show of defiance. Erdogan was there to stand by his men, who hardly needed any greater encouragement from the side. Before the game there had already been a flashpoint when a fans’ march to the stadium was stopped by police, a number of those supporters having decided this was a moment to perform the salute en masse. The debate about banning it in Germany will surely intensify.

The football argument was won by the Netherlands, though, and what a turnaround it has been since Austria outplayed them at this venue in the group stage. At that point the knives were out for Koeman and his skilful but sometimes ragged side. Now a blunter instrument has taken them within reach of Europe’s summit.

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England into Euro 2024 semi-finals after dramatic shootout win over Switzerland

As if to sum up the weirdness of this England team stumbling into the semi-finals of Euro 2024, perhaps the only time they looked in control against Switzerland was when it went to penalties. Before then? Choked play in the final third, chaotic defending in extra time and touchline inertia were the overriding themes – or at least they would have been had another moment of individual brilliance, this time from the magnificent Bukayo Saka, not saved Gareth Southgate again.

Switzerland had England on the ropes when Breel Embolo made it 1-0 after 75 minutes. Murat Yakin’s team were dominant for much of the second half, raising the prospect of Southgate’s 100th game in charge being his last. His decisions had not worked – again. Harry Kane was off the pace – again. It was reactive from Southgate when he introduced Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze and Luke Shaw with 12 minutes left – again.

Logic suggests England should be out. The reality is they forced extra time when Saka, with their first shot on target, made it 1-1 out of nothing. They scrapped from there, with Shaw defiant on his first appearance in five months. Eze, out of position at left wing-back, would also impress. That said, England were hanging on at the end. Xherdan Shaqiri hit the angle of post and bar with a corner. Jordan Pickford made an excellent save from Zeki Amdouni.

England have been baffling during these Euros, with Kieran Trippier chugging away on the left and Phil Foden struggling to reproduce his club form, but here they are. For all that Southgate has seemed to be making it up as he goes along, some elements of his process-driven management remain intact. All those hours devoted to studying the psychology of penalty shootouts, of working out how to banish the demons and remove the random factor, paid off.

It was Switzerland, who have lost five of their six shootouts, who cracked; the outstanding Manuel Akanji who saw the crucial kick saved by Pickford; Southgate who keeps defying the narrative around English football.

The man who missed against Germany in Euro 96 has taken England, who have won three out of four shootouts under him, to a third tournament semi-final. Southgate has his faults, but his man-management cannot be doubted. His faith allowed Saka, denied in the shootout against Italy at Euro 2020, to have his moment of catharsis from the spot here. Belief in the collective ensured that Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose England career has never truly taken off, came on to finish Switzerland off by crashing the final penalty past Yann Sommer.

Yet England will need to be better against the Netherlands on Wednesday. They were already one lifeline down after their escape against Slovakia and there was unease at the outset at seeing Southgate unveil a rejig that still had Trippier patrolling the left flank.

The shifts were subtle rather than revolutionary, Foden floating in an inside-right position, a compact 3-4-2-1 designed to match and stifle Switzerland. In terms of Trippier’s role, Southgate was worried about Dan Ndoye, particularly as Ezri Konsa was in for the suspended Marc Guéhi at left centre-back.

England would never look fully secure. Konsa, who did well on his sixth cap, blocked a shot from Embolo in the 25th minute. Kobbie Mainoo cut out a cross from Ndoye. John Stones halted a run from Granit Xhaka.

Many of England’s best moments came from the bright and skilful Mainoo, who always wanted the ball. Declan Rice seemed more imposing. Bellingham was more involved, one blistering run ending when Fabian Schär hauled him down.

Saka, who had a vital role at right wing-back, had Michel Aebischer’s number. Mainoo produced a delightful turn to make space in midfield. On 44 minutes, with Aebischer beaten by Saka, Switzerland were relieved that Xhaka stopped Mainoo from converting the cutback.

England needed more quality in the final third. Their final ball lacked conviction and they made such a mess of one corner that the ball ended up with Pickford. The half ended without either goalkeeper making a save, a sign that Southgate’s tactics were neutralising not only the Swiss but also Bellingham, Foden and Kane, who had touched the ball nine times.

Switzerland, having seemed inhibited, pressed more after half-time. Embolo turned Konsa but shot straight at Pickford. Kane tried to turn Akanji, only for Switzerland’s No 5 to gently level England’s captain off the ball. All the noise came from the Swiss fans. Xhaka and Remo Freuler were bossing midfield. Switzerland still decided to tweak their approach, Silvan Widmer and Steven Zuber on for Ruben Vargas and Fabian Rieder. Aebischer volleyed over. England were penned in.

There was no response from Southgate. Switzerland’s goal duly arrived. Widmer and Zuber combined before Ndoye was allowed by Konsa to fizz in a low ball. A touch off Stones took it on and Kyle Walker lost Embolo, who slid in to beat Pickford.

Southgate reacted, Palmer, Eze and – at long last – Shaw coming on for Mainoo, Trippier and Konsa. All or nothing, Gareth. This was the cavalier England and, moments after the changes, Saka took a pass from Rice and cut inside, bending a left-footed shot through the bodies and beyond the unsighted Sommer.

England had equalised with their first shot on target for the second consecutive game. Why are they so slow to seize the initiative? They had the team full of fun guys on now, with Eze and Saka playing as wing-backs. Embolo and Ndoye would spurn chances before extra time.

Rice stretched Sommer after the restart. Another collision with Akanji ended with Kane tumbling past Southgate and into England’s dugout, which is where he would stay. On came Ivan Toney. Eze and Palmer tried to make things happen.

Alexander-Arnold came on, then Shaqiri and Amdouni. England wanted penalties. Palmer scored his. Pickford checked his notes, delayed and dived to his left to save Akanji’s weak effort. Bellingham, Saka and Toney were nonchalant. Schär, Amdouni and Shaqiri responded, but Alexander-Arnold’s emphatic effort made it 5-3.

Sweet Caroline blared out. Southgate hugged his backroom staff and tried to make sense of it all.

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Jon Landau, Oscar-winning Titanic and Avatar producer, dies aged 63

Titanic became first film to gross $1bn globally, and Landau topped that with Avatar, and Avatar: The Way of Water

Jon Landau, the Oscar-winning Titanic and Avatar producer who helped bring director James Cameron’s visions to life, has died at 63.

Alan Bergman, co-chair of Disney Entertainment, announced Landau’s death in a statement on Saturday. No cause of death was given.

“Jon was a visionary whose extraordinary talent and passion brought some of the most unforgettable stories to life on the big screen. His remarkable contributions to the film industry have left an indelible mark, and he will be profoundly missed. He was an iconic and successful producer yet an even better person and a true force of nature who inspired all around him,” Bergman said.

Jon Landau helped make history in 1997 with Titanic, which became the first film to gross $1bn at the global box office. He topped that record twice, with Avatar in 2009 and the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, in 2022.

Landau began his career in the 1980s as a production manager, gradually rising through the ranks and eventually becoming producer for Cameron on his expensive, epic film about the infamous disaster that was the Titanic. Landau’s partnership with Cameron on that film led to 14 Oscar nominations and 11 wins, including for best picture.

“I can’t act and I can’t compose and I can’t do visual effects. I guess that’s why I’m producing,” Landau said while accepting the award with Cameron.

Their partnership continued, with Landau becoming a top executive at Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment. In 2009, the pair watched as Avatar, a sci-fi epic filmed and shown in theaters with groundbreaking 3D technology, surpassed the box-office success of Titanic. It remains the top-grossing film of all time.

Its sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, is third on the list.

Landau was a key player in the Avatar franchise, which saw frequent delays of the release of The Way of Water. Landau defended the sequel’s progress and Cameron’s ambitious plans to film multiple sequels at once to keep the franchise going.

“A lot has changed but a lot hasn’t,” Landau told the Associated Press in 2022, a few months before the sequel’s release. “One of the things that has not changed is: why do people turn to entertainment today? Just like they did when the first Avatar was released, they do it to escape, to escape the world in which we live.”

Landau was named an executive vice-president of feature movies at 20th Century Fox when he was 29, which led him to oversee major hits including Home Alone and its sequel, as well as Mrs Doubtfire and True Lies, on which he first started working closely with Cameron.

Born in New York on 23 July 1960, Landau was the son of the film producers Ely and Edie Landau.

Ely Landau died in 1993. Edie Landau, the Oscar-nominated producer of films such as Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Hopscotch and The Deadly Game, died in 2022.

Jon Landau is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie Landau, and their two sons, Jamie and Jodie Landau.

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Jon Landau, Oscar-winning Titanic and Avatar producer, dies aged 63

Titanic became first film to gross $1bn globally, and Landau topped that with Avatar, and Avatar: The Way of Water

Jon Landau, the Oscar-winning Titanic and Avatar producer who helped bring director James Cameron’s visions to life, has died at 63.

Alan Bergman, co-chair of Disney Entertainment, announced Landau’s death in a statement on Saturday. No cause of death was given.

“Jon was a visionary whose extraordinary talent and passion brought some of the most unforgettable stories to life on the big screen. His remarkable contributions to the film industry have left an indelible mark, and he will be profoundly missed. He was an iconic and successful producer yet an even better person and a true force of nature who inspired all around him,” Bergman said.

Jon Landau helped make history in 1997 with Titanic, which became the first film to gross $1bn at the global box office. He topped that record twice, with Avatar in 2009 and the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, in 2022.

Landau began his career in the 1980s as a production manager, gradually rising through the ranks and eventually becoming producer for Cameron on his expensive, epic film about the infamous disaster that was the Titanic. Landau’s partnership with Cameron on that film led to 14 Oscar nominations and 11 wins, including for best picture.

“I can’t act and I can’t compose and I can’t do visual effects. I guess that’s why I’m producing,” Landau said while accepting the award with Cameron.

Their partnership continued, with Landau becoming a top executive at Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment. In 2009, the pair watched as Avatar, a sci-fi epic filmed and shown in theaters with groundbreaking 3D technology, surpassed the box-office success of Titanic. It remains the top-grossing film of all time.

Its sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, is third on the list.

Landau was a key player in the Avatar franchise, which saw frequent delays of the release of The Way of Water. Landau defended the sequel’s progress and Cameron’s ambitious plans to film multiple sequels at once to keep the franchise going.

“A lot has changed but a lot hasn’t,” Landau told the Associated Press in 2022, a few months before the sequel’s release. “One of the things that has not changed is: why do people turn to entertainment today? Just like they did when the first Avatar was released, they do it to escape, to escape the world in which we live.”

Landau was named an executive vice-president of feature movies at 20th Century Fox when he was 29, which led him to oversee major hits including Home Alone and its sequel, as well as Mrs Doubtfire and True Lies, on which he first started working closely with Cameron.

Born in New York on 23 July 1960, Landau was the son of the film producers Ely and Edie Landau.

Ely Landau died in 1993. Edie Landau, the Oscar-nominated producer of films such as Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Hopscotch and The Deadly Game, died in 2022.

Jon Landau is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie Landau, and their two sons, Jamie and Jodie Landau.

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Israeli strike on Gaza school kills 16, say Palestinian officials

Another 50 injured taken to hospital from the Unrwa-run Al-Jawni school in Nuseirat, central Gaza

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said an Israeli strike on Saturday on a school where displaced people were sheltering killed 16 people.

The ministry, which condemned the strike as an “odious massacre”, said another 50 injured were taken to hospital from Al-Jawni school at Nuseirat in central Gaza.

The Israeli military made no immediate comment when approached by AFP.

The Hamas-run government’s press office said there were 7,000 people sheltering at the school.

Earlier, paramedics said 10 people, including three journalists, died in a strike on a house in Nuseirat.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said two of its workers were killed in a strike at Al-Bureij in central Gaza. The agency has a large food warehouse in the district.

“Absolutely no place in the Gaza Strip is safe,” said civil defence spokesperson Mahmud Bassal.

The war began with Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants also seized hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza including 42 the military says are dead.

In response, Israel has carried out a military offensive that has killed at least 38,098 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the Gaza health ministry.

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‘Potentially historic’ heatwave threatens more than 130 million people across US

Temperatures could crest 100F (38C) in many regions after breaking records and sparking dozens of wildfires

A long-running heatwave that has already broken records, sparked dozens of wildfires and left about 130 million people under a high-temperature threat is about to intensify enough that the National Weather Service has deemed it “potentially historic”.

The NWS on Saturday reported some type of extreme heat or advisory for nearly 133 million people across the nation – mostly in western states where the triple-digit heat, with temperatures 15F to 30F higher than average, is expected to last into next week.

Oppressive heat and humidity could team up to spike temperatures above 100F (about 38C) in parts of the Pacific north-west, the mid-Atlantic and the north-east, said Jacob Asherman, a meteorologist with the NWS.

Records were broken in at least four Oregon cities on Friday, the NWS reported. Medford, which had a high temperature of 102F set in 1926, saw temperatures soar to 109F. The biggest leap, however, was in North Bend, whose record of 74F set in 1913 was busted by a spike of 11 degrees when it hit 85F on Friday.

“Certainly a pretty anomalous event that we’re expecting here, which looks like it will continue through at least midweek,” Asherman said.

At the Waterfront blues festival in Portland, Oregon, music fans dealt with heat on Friday by drinking cold water, seeking refuge in the shade or freshening up under water misters.

Angela Quiroz, 31, kept her scarf and hat wet and applied sunscreen to protect herself from the heat at the music festival.

“Definitely a difference between the shade and the sun,” Quiroz said. “But when you’re in the sun, it feels like you’re cooking.”

In sweltering Las Vegas, where the temperature had hit 100F (37.7C) by 10.30am, Marko Boscovich said the best way to beat the heat was in a seat at a slot machine with a cold beer inside an air-conditioned casino.

“But you know, after it hits triple digits, it’s about all the same to me,” said Boscovich, who was visiting from Sparks, Nevada, to see a Dead & Company concert later Saturday night at the Sphere. “Maybe they’ll play one of my favorites: Cold Rain and Snow.”

By midday Saturday, Las Vegas ended up tying its daily heat record of 115F, the NWS said, as it pleaded with people to be mindful of leaving children or pets inside vehicles in the extreme heat.

On Friday, a new heat record for the day was set in California’s Death Valley, one of the hottest places on Earth. The previous high was shattered by 5F, with the mercury climbing to 127F (53C). The old mark of 122F was last tied in 2013.

More extreme highs are in the near forecast, including 129F for Sunday at Furnace Creek in Death Valley national park, and then around 130F through Wednesday. The hottest temperature ever officially recorded on Earth was 134F (57C) in Death Valley in July 1913, though some experts dispute that measurement and say the real record was 130F recorded there in July 2021.

Rare heat advisories were extended even in upper elevations, including around Lake Tahoe, with the National Weather Service in Reno warning of “major heat risk impacts, even in the mountains”.

“How hot are we talking? Well, high temperatures across [western Nevada and north-eastern California] won’t get below 100 degrees [37.8C] until next weekend,” the service posted online. “And unfortunately, there won’t be much relief overnight either.”

There was also a record high for the date of 118F in Phoenix, where highs of 115F or hotter were forecast through Wednesday. In Needles, California, where the NWS has records dating to 1888, the high of 122F edged the old mark of 121F set in 2007. It was 124F in Palm Springs, California.

The intense heat – combined with winds and low humidity – means the potential for wildfires to spread is high.

Red-flag warnings are in effect across much of California until Saturday evening, said the California department of forestry and fire protection, or Cal Fire. Officials urged people to stay vigilant and take extra precautions such as avoiding activities that can spark fires and following evacuation orders.

California has more than two dozen wildfires burning across the state, with the two largest, in the central part of the state, burning more than 24,000 acres combined. The Thompson fire, in northern California’s Butte county, has devoured at least 3,700 acres since it was reported on 2 July.

By Saturday, the blaze had forced thousands to evacuate and injured two firefighters. It was 71% contained. Cal Fire reported that 26 structures had been destroyed by the blaze.

The French fire, which erupted on 4 July near Yosemite national park and quickly grew to more than 900 acres (364 hectares), has held steady after more than 1,000 personnel worked overnight to get it to 25% containment, according to Cal Fire.

The eastern US also was bracing for more hot temperatures. Baltimore and other parts of Maryland were under an excessive heat warning, as heat index values could climb to 110F, forecasters said.

“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors,” said a National Weather Service advisory for the Baltimore area. “Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.”

In Arizona’s Maricopa county, which encompasses Phoenix, there have been at least 13 confirmed heat-related deaths this year, along with more than 160 suspected heat deaths still under investigation, according to the county’s most recent report.

That does not include the death of a 10-year-old boy earlier this week in Phoenix who suffered a “heat-related medical event” while hiking with family at South Mountain park and preserve, according to police.

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Tropical Storm Beryl smashes through Caribbean and heads for Texas coast

Earliest category 5 hurricane on record is 495 miles south-east of Corpus Christi, with winds near 60mph

Tropical Storm Beryl, which has already smashed its way across the Caribbean as a hurricane before slamming into the Yucatán peninsula, is intensifying once again and expected to make landfall as a hurricane for the third time along the Texas coast.

The powerful hurricane – Beryl is the earliest category 5 hurricane on record – was by early Saturday approximately 495 miles (797km) south-east of Corpus Christi, Texas. The storm is forecast to turn toward the north-west later Saturday and then north/north-westward by Sunday night.

Beryl currently contains maximum sustained winds near 60mph with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 105 miles from the center.

By the time it reaches Texas early Monday, it is anticipated to have re-intensified to a category 1 hurricane, though the National Weather Service has advised residents to prepare for the stronger category 2.

“Still some uncertainty with the exact strength and track Beryl will take, but an eastward trend in the guidance continues,” the advisory states, warning of “an increasing risk of damaging hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge”.

Beryl made landfall in Grenada’s Carriacou island as a category 4 hurricane on Monday, before hitting St Vincent and the Grenadines, flattening buildings and killing at least six people.

Managers on the private island of Mustique, also in Beryl’s path, said: “The Grenadines have been badly hit. Union Island has been rendered completely uninhabitable and thousands of men, woman and children are currently being relocated in order to give them access to shelter, food and water.”

The statement said there had been “significant superficial damage” to Mustique bit that “the island’s core infrastructure is intact” and its planes were being used to ferry supplies to worse-hit islands and assist with the evacuation of people from Union.

The Associated Press reported that on the tiny island of Mayreau, home to 360 people and one of the smallest inhabited islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Beryl had ripped roofs off schools, crumbled homes and stripped trees of almost every leaf on the 0.46 sq miles (1.2 sq km).

“Everything was flying all over the place,” Mayreau resident James Alexander said in recalling the storm. “I saw a tank full of water lifted up and swirl in the air.”

Beryl later intensified to a category 5 storm, its rapid strengthening astonishing experts. The storm passed south of Jamaica before travelling, as a category 5 storm, to hit Tulum on the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico on Friday as a category 2 hurricane.

The storm toppled trees but caused no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the peninsula. “It is recommendable that people get to higher ground, shelters or the homes of friends or family elsewhere,” Mexico president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said before Beryl hit.

“Don’t hesitate, material possessions can be replaced,” he added.

With Beryl again re-intensifying, the former hurricane is expected to conclude its 3,000-mile journey somewhere along the lower or middle Texas coast, where it will drop 5–10ins of rain and could produce a few tropical tornadoes around Houston.

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Tropical Storm Beryl smashes through Caribbean and heads for Texas coast

Earliest category 5 hurricane on record is 495 miles south-east of Corpus Christi, with winds near 60mph

Tropical Storm Beryl, which has already smashed its way across the Caribbean as a hurricane before slamming into the Yucatán peninsula, is intensifying once again and expected to make landfall as a hurricane for the third time along the Texas coast.

The powerful hurricane – Beryl is the earliest category 5 hurricane on record – was by early Saturday approximately 495 miles (797km) south-east of Corpus Christi, Texas. The storm is forecast to turn toward the north-west later Saturday and then north/north-westward by Sunday night.

Beryl currently contains maximum sustained winds near 60mph with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 105 miles from the center.

By the time it reaches Texas early Monday, it is anticipated to have re-intensified to a category 1 hurricane, though the National Weather Service has advised residents to prepare for the stronger category 2.

“Still some uncertainty with the exact strength and track Beryl will take, but an eastward trend in the guidance continues,” the advisory states, warning of “an increasing risk of damaging hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge”.

Beryl made landfall in Grenada’s Carriacou island as a category 4 hurricane on Monday, before hitting St Vincent and the Grenadines, flattening buildings and killing at least six people.

Managers on the private island of Mustique, also in Beryl’s path, said: “The Grenadines have been badly hit. Union Island has been rendered completely uninhabitable and thousands of men, woman and children are currently being relocated in order to give them access to shelter, food and water.”

The statement said there had been “significant superficial damage” to Mustique bit that “the island’s core infrastructure is intact” and its planes were being used to ferry supplies to worse-hit islands and assist with the evacuation of people from Union.

The Associated Press reported that on the tiny island of Mayreau, home to 360 people and one of the smallest inhabited islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Beryl had ripped roofs off schools, crumbled homes and stripped trees of almost every leaf on the 0.46 sq miles (1.2 sq km).

“Everything was flying all over the place,” Mayreau resident James Alexander said in recalling the storm. “I saw a tank full of water lifted up and swirl in the air.”

Beryl later intensified to a category 5 storm, its rapid strengthening astonishing experts. The storm passed south of Jamaica before travelling, as a category 5 storm, to hit Tulum on the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico on Friday as a category 2 hurricane.

The storm toppled trees but caused no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the peninsula. “It is recommendable that people get to higher ground, shelters or the homes of friends or family elsewhere,” Mexico president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said before Beryl hit.

“Don’t hesitate, material possessions can be replaced,” he added.

With Beryl again re-intensifying, the former hurricane is expected to conclude its 3,000-mile journey somewhere along the lower or middle Texas coast, where it will drop 5–10ins of rain and could produce a few tropical tornadoes around Houston.

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Three children dead, four in hospital after house fire in Sydney’s west

Emergency services were called to a home in Lalor Park at 1am on Sunday

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Three children are dead and a man is in custody after a house fire in Sydney’s west.

Emergency services were called to the home in Lalor Park at 1am on Sunday.

Two boys, aged two and four, were taken to Westmead hospital in a critical condition but died a short time later.

The body of the third child, believed to be a 10-month-old girl, was found after Fire and Rescue NSW extinguished the fire.

Four other children were treated at the scene by paramedics.

NSW Fire Rescue superintendent Adam Dewberry said it was a confronting scene.

“Going to a house fire you are always expecting the worst and hoping it won’t be – but this was pretty confronting, absolute chaos,” he told Nine’s Weekend Today.

A girl, nine, and three boys aged six, seven and 11 were taken to Westmead hospital in stable condition.

A 29-year-old woman was also taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

NSW police arrested a 28-year-old man at the scene.

He was treated for smoke inhalation and taken to hospital under police guard.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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Hundreds in Canary Islands protest against influx of migrants

The Spanish archipelago has welcomed more than 19,000 migrants since the start of 2024

Hundreds protested on Saturday in the Canary Islands against an influx of migrants to the Spanish archipelago, which has welcomed more than 19,000 migrants since the beginning of 2024.

Located off the coast of north-west Africa, the Canary Islands have become an increasingly popular destination for people braving the perilous Atlantic crossing in the hope of finding a better life in Europe.

Carrying “Defend our neighbourhoods” and “Stop illegal immigration” placards, the demonstrators took to the streets of towns including Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with local media putting their numbers at several hundreds.

“This situation in the Canaries is unbearable,” Juan Manuel Garcia, who took part in the demonstration in Tenerife, told AFPTV. “The Canaries don’t have the means to support those who arrive,” the 70-year-old added.

Rudy Ruyman, who helped organise the demonstration, said the situation had become “a traffic in human lives”, warning that “the mafia is profiting from all the deaths at sea”.

Several lawyers had asked the public prosecutor’s office to ban the demonstrations on the grounds they could constitute a hate crime. But the authorities did not act on that request, according to local media.

Spain is one of the three main entry points for migrants coming to Europe, along with Italy and Greece.

Until 30 June, 19,257 migrants arrived by sea in the Canary Islands aboard 297 boats, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior – up from 7,213 aboard 150 boats in the same period last year.

In 2023, nearly 40,000 migrants arrived in the archipelago, compared with 15,600 in 2022, surpassing the record set in 2006.

Although the Atlantic route is especially dangerous, it is becoming increasingly popular because it is less closely monitored than the Mediterranean.

On Saturday, a new vessel with 56 people on board arrived on the small island of El Hierro, in the south-west of the Canaries. One of the 56 was found dead, the emergency services said.

More than 5,000 people died trying to reach Spain by sea in the first five months of the year, equivalent to 33 deaths a day, Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras reported in June. The vast majority of those deaths happened en route to the Canary Islands.

Also on Saturday, thousands of protesters marched in Barcelona to denounce mass tourism and its effect on Spain’s most visited city, the latest in a series of similar marches in the country.

Under the slogan “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism”, 2,800 people, according to police, marched along a waterfront district in Barcelona to demand a new economic model that would reduce the millions of tourists that visit every year.

“I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona we are suffering from an excess of tourism that has made our city unliveable,” said Jordi Guiu, a 70-year-old sociologist.

With banners saying “Reduce tourism now!”, the protesters chanted slogans such as “Tourists out of our neighbourhood”, stopping in front of hotels to the surprise of visitors.

Barcelona’s rising cost of housing, up 68% in the past decade according to local authorities, is one of the main issues for the movement, along with the effects of tourism on local commerce and working conditions in the city of 1.6 million inhabitants.

“Local shops are closing to make way for stores that do not serve the needs of neighbourhoods. People cannot afford their rents,” said Isa Miralles, a 35-year-old musician who lives in the Barceloneta district.

The north-eastern coastal city, with internationally famous sites such as La Sagrada Familia, received more than 12 million tourists last year, according to local authorities.

To combat the “negative effects of mass tourism”, the city council run by the socialist Jaume Collboni announced 10 days ago that it was banning tourist apartment rentals – there are now more than 10,000 – by 2028 so that they can be put back on the local housing market.

The announcement could lead to a legal battle and is opposed by an association of tourist apartments who say it will just feed the hidden market.

The Barcelona protests come after similar demonstrations in tourist hotspots such as Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands.

The second most visited country after France, Spain received 85 million foreign visitors in 2023, an increase of 18.7% from the previous year, according to the National Statistics Institute.

The most visited region was Catalonia, including its capital Barcelona, with 18 million, followed by the Balearic Islands (14.4 million) and the Canary Islands (13.9 million).

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Four killed and three wounded in shooting at Kentucky party

Police say people had gathered at home in Florence for birthday party of 21-year-old son of homeowner

Four people were killed and three others were wounded in an early Saturday shooting at a home in northern Kentucky, police said.

The shooting suspect later died after fleeing the home and leading police on a vehicle pursuit that ended with the suspect’s car falling into a ditch, police said.

Police heard shots being fired when they arrived at a home in Florence at about 2.50am, said Jeff Mallery, the city’s police chief. Police found seven shooting victims at the home, Mallery told media during a news conference.

Four people were found dead, police said. Three people were taken to a hospital in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio, in critical condition. They were expected to recover, Mallery said.

Police said the suspect had acted alone, and there was no ongoing threat to the public.

People had gathered at the home for a birthday party for the 21-year-old son of the homeowner, Mallery said. The homeowner died in the shooting, the police chief said.

It appeared that the 20-year-old suspect knew people at the party but had not been invited, Mallery said.

A motive was under investigation.

“I know what’s going on throughout the nation, but this is the first time that we’ve had a mass shooting in Florence,” Mallery said. “Yeah, it is very emotional. My emotions are for the victims, their families, the officers that responded, everybody that was touched by this situation.”

Florence is located about 12 miles (19km) south of Cincinnati.

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King Charles ruffles feathers as he drops royal patronage for pigeon racing

Monarch’s decision follows opposition from animal rights activists, leading to fears the sport’s days are numbered

The king has upset the pigeon racing community after dropping the monarchy’s official support amid opposition from animal rights activists.

King Charles has ended royal patronage for pigeon racing, a sport his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, grandfather George VI, great-grandfather George V, and great-great-grandfather Edward VII all took part in enthusiastically.

The monarch has declined to take on two patronages held by the late queen: the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, the sport’s governing body in the UK, and the country’s premier club, the National Flying Club.

Some in the sport now fear there is worse to come, and that King Charles may ultimately end his family’s participation in the sport entirely and shut the royal pigeon loft at his Sandringham estate.

The royal family have taken part in the sport since Belgium’s King Leopold II gave Queen Victoria racing pigeons in 1886.

Since then, there has been a royal loft at Sandringham from which birds wearing the monarch’s cypher on their legs and travelling in boxes bearing the royal crest have been taken to compete in races. The royal loft got a £40,000 renovation in 2015 when Queen Elizabeth won planning permission to build a new residence, complete with top-of-the range nesting boxes for her 200 pigeons.

But some leading figures in the sport now fear its days are numbered. “I should think in about 18 months or two years they will probably dismantle it,” said Paul Naum, treasurer of the National Flying Club. Naum was critical of the king’s decision to decline the patronage. “We are so disappointed,” he said. “We’ve always had a member of the royal family as our patron and we’ve always been proud of it. It’s a working man’s sport, and it’s taken that privilege away.”

Naum blamed the monarch’s apparent loss of enthusiasm for the sport on protests from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), which has lobbied the king to end his support for pigeon racing, arguing that it is cruel and results in thousands of exhausted or disoriented birds dying in races each year, especially when flying home across the Channel.

“I think it’s PETA that’s done it,” Naum said. “No matter what we seem to do, we always get back to a complaint about something. We know who’s behind it most of the time.”

In February, the Royal Pigeon Racing Association rejected the idea that the sport is cruel. Richard Chambers, the Association’s head of national development, said: “A pigeon will only do what it wants to do.”

Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of Peta, said: “Peta applauded King Charles for sparing birds when he banned foie gras from all royal events and residences, and we now thank him for ending his patronage of pigeon racing clubs that send birds to their death, facing storms and sea crossings in their loyal quest to return to their life partner and young … we hope that next the king will disband the royal loft and use it as a sanctuary for lost, injured, or unwanted birds.”

The Royal Household said the king had been forced to give up some of his late mother’s patronages because of the pressure of work. They are among 200 of Queen Elizabeth’s patronages that the king dropped after a review in May of about 1,000 organisations.

A palace spokesperson declined to comment.

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