BBC 2024-07-08 04:06:32


Democrats weigh risks and rewards of losing Biden

By Holly HonderichBBC News, Washington

President Joe Biden sought to revive his beleaguered re-election effort on Sunday, with two campaign events in Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state.

But the efforts so far have done little to quell the swirling panic as Democrats weigh the risks and rewards of keeping Mr Biden at the top of the ticket.

Calls for Mr Biden, 81, to exit the race have only grown after a halting debate performance last week raised questions about his physical and mental capacity to run. A prime time interview with ABC on Friday fuelled further speculation about his campaign’s future.

A number of top Democratic figures voiced their stances over the weekend, aiming to address the question: is it riskier to stick with Biden or to leave him behind?

The party may be headed to defeat against Donald Trump in November if Mr Biden stays on, but replacing him comes with many unknowns.

Some see potential in a fresh start

Amid the fallout of Mr Biden’s disastrous debate performance, asking the president to step aside could bring some immediate relief.

Some Democrats, including avowed supporters of the president, have said as much, suggesting that concerns about his age and mental acuity had grown difficult to overcome.

The debate “rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigour to defeat Donald Trump”, said California Representative Adam Schiff on Sunday.

Mr Schiff stopped short of saying Biden should drop out in his interview with NBC News. He urged him to seek advice from people with “distance and objectivity” and make a decision about whether he believes he is the best candidate to run.

“Given Joe Biden’s incredible record, given Donald Trump’s terrible record, he [Biden] should be mopping the floor with Donald Trump,” Mr Schiff said. “It should not be even close and there’s only one reason it is close, and that’s the president’s age.”

Mr Biden is 81, while Trump has just turned 78. The ages of both candidates have become an increasingly contentious point among voters.

On the left, polls suggest some voters are losing faith in Mr Biden. In a Wall Street Journal poll released on Friday, 86% of Democrats said they would support Mr Biden, down from 93% in February.

A different candidate may also offer a clean slate in other areas, too. Before this wave of Democratic panic, Mr Biden drew criticism from voters on several policy fronts, including his handling of the US economy and the migrant crisis at the country’s southern border.

Clip of Biden in an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos

The president faced a threat of defection from progressive voters who oppose his response to Israel’s war in Gaza. Their resistance cost him more than 100,000 votes in Michigan – a crucial swing state – during its primary in February.

A Biden ticket “is going to drag everybody else down”, said former Ohio Representative Tim Ryan on Sunday in an interview with Fox News. “I think you’re going to see a significant amount of pressure whether it’s today or tomorrow, sometime this week, as members come back that this may be untenable for them.”

Others say the unknown is too big a risk

Any benefit to losing Mr Biden may be muted by the looming risks, according to some Democratic leaders.

If the president stood aside, most of what comes after remains unclear: who would replace Mr Biden, and how? And how would that candidate fare against Trump?

And in recent days, several Biden allies have stressed the pitfalls of charting a new course, arguing that Mr Biden has been a proven success.

“Biden is old,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 82, on CBS News on Sunday. “He is not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One. He can’t. What we have got to focus on is policy – whose policies have and will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who spent the weekend stumping for the president, said the same at a rally in Doylestown, Pennsylvania on Saturday.

“It’s the hypothetical that gets in the way of progress in terms of promoting this candidacy,” Mr Newsom said. “It’s exactly where the other party wants us to be, is having this internal fight, and I think it’s extraordinarily unhelpful.”

Mr Biden’s public supporters say replacing him may become a direct benefit to Trump’s Republicans, who can argue their opponents are engulfed in party chaos.

“We’ve got to stop talking about this,” Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan said on CNN on Sunday. “We’ve spent a whole week. Republicans are having a great time. I mean, we need to get back to talking about Donald Trump and his peformance.”

New foreign secretary wants to reset UK-EU ties

By Paul AdamsBBC News

David Lammy’s whirlwind first trip as foreign secretary, organised at very short notice, is not about instant results or even brave new horizons.

It is all about perception – the appearance of a new, vigorous administration, determined to hit the ground running, brimming with goodwill towards some of the UK’s most important partners.

After an evening spent with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock – the two found time to watch a few minutes of England’s European Championship quarter-final – Mr Lammy’s tour moved to the bucolic surroundings of the country estate of Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky.

After a couple of hours of talks, it was back on the plane for a short flight north to one of Nato’s newest members, Sweden.

Why Germany, Poland and Sweden?

Partly because of Ukraine. Along with Britain, all three countries play important roles in sustaining Kyiv’s war effort. With the new Defence Secretary John Healey on the ground in Odesa, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer’s government is keen to stress that the UK’s commitment to Ukraine will remain rock solid.

Following a meeting with President Zelensky and his counterpart Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, Mr Healey said the UK would provide more artillery guns, a quarter-of-a-million ammunition rounds and nearly 100 precision Brimstone missiles.

“There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” he said, promising to “reinvigorate” support via increased military aid.

He also pledged to fast-track the reinforcements to ensure they arrive with the next 100 days.

“We want to double down on our commitment to Ukraine,” Mr Lammy said, as dragonflies swooped over a tranquil lake and a pair of majestic eagles circled overhead.

France, in the midst of its own election – one which seems destined to have far-reaching consequences – was not on the itinerary. Not this weekend.

No stop in Brussels, either. Sir Keir has said the UK will not return to the EU “in my lifetime”.

But Poland and Sweden are both key European partners and fellow Nato members – good places for the foreign secretary to start exploring the outlines of closer future relations.

“I want to reset both our bilateral relationship and our relationship with the European Union,” Mr Lammy said, adding a reference to Labour’s still rather nebulous pledge to strike a new EU-UK security pact.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Edinburgh on Sunday, the prime minister said work was already under way to improve the UK’s relationship with the EU.

He said his government “can get a much better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson saddled the UK with”.

Mr Lammy said that when European leaders gather at Blenheim Palace on 18 July for the next meeting of the European Political Community (established by Emmanuel Macron in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), “the new spirit of co-operation will be on show”.

Lammy’s concerns: Russia, China, Gaza

The trip comes just days before Sir Keir takes his own first steps on the international stage as prime minister, at the Nato summit in Washington DC.

These are tricky times to be shoring up relationships, with France taking a lurch to the right and the US possibly on the verge of returning the unpredictable Donald Trump to office.

Mr Lammy agreed this was a “tough geopolitical moment”, but said it was important not to confuse disagreements between mature democracies with the threats posed by authoritarian regimes.

“I am concerned when I see Iranian drones turning up in Ukraine,” he said.

“I am concerned when I see shells from North Korea being used here on European soil.

“And of course I’m concerned with the partnership that I see Russia brokering across those authoritarian states.”

Other issues hang heavy over the new foreign secretary’s first trip, in particular the war in Gaza.

In Germany on Saturday, Mr Lammy spoke to the need to strike a “more balanced approach to Israel-Gaza”.

It is not clear exactly what he meant, but with ceasefire talks apparently poised to resume, finding a way to end the Gaza war and revive the Arab-Israeli peace process seems destined to consume a large amount of diplomatic time in the coming months.

For his part, Mr Lammy’s famously anglophile host said the relatively new Polish government shared something in common with the incoming Starmer administration.

Both, Mr Sikorski said, were “the product of the public being tired with enthusiasts on the nationalist side of politics” – a remark which perhaps only partially reflected the true nature of last week’s general election.

Mr Sikorski said he looked forward to “a more pragmatic approach” from Britain to its relationship with Europe and said the two ministers had discussed “some creative ideas of how to further that”.

Senior Hamas official killed as Israel orders fresh evacuation

By Sebastian Usher and Rushdi AbualoufBBC News

A senior Hamas administration official was among four people killed in an Israeli air strike at a school in Gaza City, Palestinian sources say.

A local official told the BBC that Ehab Al-Ghussein was appointed to manage the affairs of the Hamas government in Gaza City and northern Gaza three months ago.

The Israeli army says that it carried out a strike on the area of a school building in Gaza City from which it says “terrorists were operating and hiding”.

It says that it took steps to minimise the risk of civilians being harmed.

Eyewitnesses say the attack targeted the Holy Family School next to the Holy Family Church to the west of Gaza city. A large number of people were sheltering in the building, the BBC understands.

The air strike targeted two classrooms on the ground floor, they said.

Separately the Israeli military issued another evacuation order for a central part of Gaza City.

Residents told the BBC that dozens of families are leaving, and he saw women and children carrying bags and walking to the west.

Ibrahim Al-Barbari, 47, lives with his wife, five children, mother and sister in the Bani Amer neighbourhood, which is part of the area the army has ordered residents to leave.

“We heard from the neighbours that we had to leave the house. We haven’t received any calls or texts from the army, but we have already started gathering our belongings in preparation for moving again.

“We have been living in a state of near famine for months.”

Ehab Al-Ghussein was formerly deputy labour minister in the Hamas administration and before that an interior ministry spokesman. His death is not considered to be a blow to Hamas militarily, but he was considered a significant figure in the leadership of the Hamas administration.

Many others in the Hamas administration have been killed in the past nine months.

In one Israeli airstrike last November, the deputy culture minister and the deputy speaker of the legislative council were killed, along with other government employees and officials, as well as senior police officers.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear many times that the goal of Israel’s war against Hamas is to destroy it politically as well as militarily.

Israel’s war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October in which Hamas-led gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

At least 38,098 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Are deep shifts in Muslim and Jewish voting here to stay?

By Aleem MaqboolReligion editor

However big the headline change in the vote between the past two elections, drill down into two demographic pockets of Britain and you find staggering shifts.

It all centres around the relationships between the Labour Party and not just Muslim voters, but Jewish voters too.

It leaves a party in government that has made progress in winning back trust among people from one faith group while suddenly finding itself with a lot of work to do to win back many members of the other.

The drop in the Labour vote share among British Muslims between 2019 and 2024 very obviously played out in several constituencies. This happened most dramatically in Leicester South, with a Muslim population close to 30%, where Shadow Paymaster General Jon Ashworth lost his seat to independent Shockat Adam.

In the seat of Dewsbury and Batley, in Birmingham Perry Barr and in Blackburn, there were wins for independents in what had been safe Labour seats with large numbers of Muslim voters.

In places like Bradford West and the seat of Bethnal Green and Stepney in east London, sitting Labour MPs clung on with startling reductions in their majorities.

Mish Rahman, from Walsall, is not just any Muslim voter. He currently sits on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party, a body of fewer than 40 members.

He is furious with the party’s response to the killing of tens of thousands of people in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there.

“In my community it has got to the point where I am now embarrassed about my affiliation with Labour,” he says.

“It was hard even to tell members of my own extended family to go and knock on doors to tell people to vote for a party that originally gave Israel carte blanche in its response to the horrific 7 October attacks,” says Mr Rahman.

He lays the blame for the decline in Muslim voting for Labour squarely at the door of the Labour leader.

Sir Keir Starmer was criticised by many in his party, including councillors, for an interview with LBC in October in which he suggested that Israel “had the right” to withhold power and water in Gaza. His spokesman subsequently suggested the Labour leader had only meant to say Israel had a general right to self-defence.

Then when Labour MPs were told by the party leadership in November to abstain from voting on an SNP-led motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, some Labour councillors resigned and, for many Muslims, trust in their Labour MP was lost.

Faith communities are far from homogenous, of course. There are myriad factors that govern how a person will cast their vote, but faith does throw up a unique set of considerations that plays out in broad voting patterns.

Muslims are estimated to form around 6.5% of the population of England and Wales, with around 2% in Scotland and 1% in Northern Ireland.

Well over 80% of Muslims are believed to have voted for Labour in 2019. Research just ahead of the 2024 election suggested that had dropped nationally by up to 20 percentage points, and in some constituencies the Muslim vote for Labour clearly fell further.

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The contrast with Jewish voting data could not be more stark. In 2019, the proportion of British Jews (about 0.5% of the population) who voted for a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn is thought to have collapsed to just single figures. Research suggests that figure could have climbed back to above 40%.

“What we have seen is a huge bounce-back for Labour among Jewish voters,” says Adam Langleben, who was until recently the national secretary of the Jewish Labour Movement.

Mr Langleben, a former Labour councillor and now director of Progressive Britain (formerly Progress), points to Labour wins in London in the Finchley and Golders Green seat and also Hendon as well as Bury South in Greater Manchester, all constituencies with large Jewish populations.

“Jewish voters returning to the party has undoubtedly delivered seats to the Labour Party,” says Mr Langleben.

“You don’t need a majority of Jewish voters to win in these constituencies, but you also can’t only have 7% of them voting for you and expect to win,” he says.

Mr Langleben had been a senior member of the Jewish Labour Movement but was one of many Jewish members of the party to give up their membership during the Corbyn era. When he left in 2019, he said it was on account of the party being “led by antisemites”, an accusation always strongly denied by those leading the party at the time.

“It was a situation that was all-consuming. I would be canvassing for the Labour Party in a Jewish area and had people in tears on the doorstep saying there was no way they could vote for Jeremy Corbyn, and I was trying to juggle this huge personal tension,” he says.

Mr Langleben puts Mr Corbyn’s problems down to both a lack of personal reflection about who he was associating with, and what he says was the party’s inability to deal with extreme elements in its base and tolerance of the use of antisemitic tropes.

“From day one, Keir Starmer pledged to work with the Jewish community to try to deal with the issues inside the Labour Party. For him, fixing what went wrong was a personal mission,” he says.

But given that Keir Starmer supported Jeremy Corbyn throughout his leadership, Jewish voters at hustings in synagogues and community centres around the country had been grilling Labour candidates as to why they should trust the current leader now.

“The Jewish vote is now split and that’s how it should be. The results show there wasn’t a dominant party of choice, and that’s healthy, and still represents a huge transformation for Labour,” says Mr Langleben.

So while mistrust clearly still remains, what is responsible for the transformation in the perception of the Labour Party among some British Jews?

The fact that the current leadership’s criticism of Israel’s response to the 7 October attacks has been more tempered than it may have been under the previous leadership may have contributed.

But long before that, Mr Langleben cites a change in the way complaints around “protected characteristics” like faith are dealt with by the party, but also refers to one thing that convinced him he was right to re-join the party.

“The fundamental moment was Jeremy Corbyn being suspended from the Labour Party and then subsequently having the whip removed, because it showed Keir Starmer’s determination and his willingness to take on parts of the party that previously he had not been willing to take on,” he says.

Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension is precisely identified by Mr Rahman too as the first major showdown between different wings of the party under Keir Starmer.

Except, as someone who had been inspired by Mr Corbyn from the days of Stop the War protests in the lead-up to the UK-backed invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mr Rahman was on the other side, saying that was the moment when the alarm bells started ringing for him that the party leaders were not safeguarding the values he believed in.

Mr Rahman does not see the party’s anti-Muslim slant as being limited to its response to events in Gaza. He does not question there have been serious cases of antisemitism but does not believe all accusations of racism are treated equally.

“There is a clear hierarchy of racism in the Labour Party. Some instances of racism, including Islamophobia, aren’t taken as seriously as they should,” he says.

Mr Rahman cites the case of Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the EHRC, who was suspended for alleged Islamophobia.

Mr Phillips had said British Muslims were “a nation within a nation” and previously that their opinion was “some distance away from the centre of gravity of everybody else’s”, though later he suggested this had not necessarily been meant as a criticism.

Mr Phillips was readmitted to the party in 2021 without it going to a panel inquiry.

Mr Rahman, like many other Muslims, also points to Keir Starmer’s own comments, like those made in a Sun livestream during the election campaign, when he talked of migrants being sent back to the countries they came from.

“At the moment, people coming from countries like Bangladesh are not being removed because they’re not being processed,” the Labour leader said.

“Can you imagine the Labour Party saying that about people of any other ethnicity? Saying they’re going to deport people to Israel or Ukraine or Hong Kong? It wouldn’t happen and neither should it,” says Mr Rahman.

Such is his disenchantment with Labour’s response that, coupled with wider concerns regarding the treatment of Muslims, he lays a serious charge against the party.

“I don’t doubt for a minute that Labour is currently institutionally Islamophobic,” says Mr Rahman.

Mr Rahman wants to use his voice to call out hypocrisy in the party while in government, in the hope that it will learn what he says is a lesson of this election – that no voter can be taken for granted.

Mr Rahman did give up his membership of the Labour Party once before, in protest at Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq War.

More from InDepth

He, and other Muslims, felt persuaded to come back to the party in 2014 when the then-leader Ed Miliband condemned the scale of an Israeli operation in Gaza and the hundreds of civilian deaths.

Once again, at the same moment, Mr Langleben was seeing things very differently on the doorsteps of Jewish voters.

Even though Mr Miliband was himself Jewish, it was a time when polls were showing a rapid decline in Jewish support for Labour, particularly when the party’s 2015 manifesto talked about a parliamentary vote to recognise a Palestinian state.

“There were sometimes quite horrible conversations with Jewish voters who really cared about the issue of Israel,” says Mr Langleben.

“People in 2015 were accusing the Labour Party of antisemitism, but I think it fundamentally misread what antisemitism is. Then, it was a primarily about a foreign policy issue, Israel. That changed by 2019 when conversations were around a particular strain of far-left anti-Jewish racism,” says Mr Langleben.

For some of those supportive of the Corbyn-era leadership, that sense that criticism of Israel was being conflated with antisemitism was also something they felt occurred while he was leader.

The Hamas attacks of the 7 October 2023 happened during the week of the Labour Party conference and Mr Langleben says it was strange to see normal political business go on while he and other Jewish delegates were going through a difficult and upsetting period.

Ultimately, Mr Langleben says he has been pleased with the way Keir Starmer has handled the crisis, seeing it as Labour realigning itself with UK and US government policy on Israel.

This is precisely why during this election campaign, Mr Rahman had the hardest conversations on the doorsteps of Muslim voters he had ever had, with anger and frustration boiling over about Israel’s actions in Gaza.

“If you look back at the history of the relationship between our communities and the Labour Party, it’s always been a one-sided affair of loyalty from our communities,” Mr Rahman says. The Labour Party’s roots in his own family go back to his grandfather, who was a factory worker in the 1950s and 60s. Mr Rahman talks of feeling “betrayed”.

Gaza of course is not just a Muslim issue, and not all Muslims ranked it is one of the key considerations on which they voted, but it had an impact.

Similarly, Israel policy is not necessarily a major consideration for all Jewish voters, and even for those for whom it is, there are those who are highly critical of the Israeli government and are at odds with the response of Labour under Starmer.

But while over the decades the Jewish vote has swung between the two main parties broadly in line with the general population, it would appear that if one puts to one side all of the rows over antisemitism, the party’s outlook on Israel does impact voting intention.

Separately, both Mish Rahman and Adam Langleben are very clear that their accusations of discrimination levelled at the party in different eras do not just relate to party policy on the Middle East.

Even if everyone can be satisfied that accusations of discrimination are dealt with equally, such are the modern tensions around Middle East policy that political parties may struggle to find a position that does not alienate some members of one of these faith communities.

Labour has achieved much in winning back the levels of Jewish voters it has, but it has also left huge swathes of loyal Muslim voters in Britain feeling politically adrift, and large swings in culture and policy over recent years leave many in each community needing convincing of the true nature of the party.

After Covid and Olympics, Tokyo’s first female governor set for third term

By Toby LuckhurstBBC News, London

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is certain to win a third consecutive term in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, according to exit polls.

The 71-year-old first female governor of Japan’s most populous city, will secure her position for another four years.

Her victory will be a relief for struggling Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who backed the 71-year-old to win a third term.

She was elected in 2016, and won her second term in 2020. The conservative governor successfully guided the city through the coronavirus pandemic and its delayed summer Olympics in 2021.

Japan’s tumbling fertility became a major issue during this campaign, and the victorious candidate will now have to work hard to improve Tokyo’s shockingly low birth rate. At 0.99 – less than one child per woman aged between 15 and 49 – it is the lowest of any region nationwide.

Her appointment makes her one of the most powerful women in Japan’s male dominated politics – with Tokyo accounting for about 11% of the population and contributing to nearly 20% of the country’s total GDP.

It also puts her in charge of the city’s budget – which climbed to a staggering 16.55 trillion yen ($100bn; £80bn) this fiscal year.

Ms Koike, 71, got more than 40% of the vote according to Reuters.

Declaring victory, Ms Koike said her main challenge was “how to proceed with digital transformation as industries have changed significantly.”

She said she would consolidate efforts to keep improving Tokyo, including “the environment for women’s empowerment”, which she said was “insufficient [in Japan] compared to other parts of the world.”

Unexpectedly, Shinji Ishimaru, 41, an independent candidate and the former mayor of Akitakata, a town in Hiroshima prefecture, placed second, a position that was long thought to be guaranteed for Renho Saito.

Ms Renho, 56, supported by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), came in third.

Mr Ishimaru, was relatively unknown in Tokyo before the official campaign began.

During the election campaign, he focused on boosting his profile by reaching out to his large social media following.

Mr Ishimaru’s success is thought to be down to his appeal among young voters. As a former banker, he also focused on advancing the economy and industry of Tokyo.

After the polls closed, he told his supporters, “I did all I could”, alluding to the fact that he had no particular party affiliation, unlike the two main contenders.

Who is Yuriko Koike?

Yuriko Koike started her career as a journalist, working as a television news anchor before moving into politics in the early 1990s.

But it was not until 2016 that she came to true national prominence after winning the governorship of Tokyo for the first time. She was not the official candidate of LDP, but still managed to win comfortably, taking more than 2.9 million votes to become the first woman in the role.

“I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen,” Ms Koike promised supporters on election night.

She officially left the LDP in 2017 to set up her own political party, though she retains the support of many in the party – who gave her their backing in the 2024 race.

Ms Koike vowed to focus on local issues during her term, including tackling overcrowding on public transport, as well as the culture of overworking in the city. But it was global issues that came to dominate her time in office.

The emergence of Covid-19 forced Tokyo to delay its summer Olympics, planned for 2020. Ms Koike won a second term that year after her successful handling of the pandemic, and garnered further praise for managing the delayed Olympics, held in the city in 2021 in the shadow of the coronavirus.

Ms Koike, however has not escaped scandal. An allegation that she never graduated from Cairo University – first reported during her first term – has never quite died away. Despite repeated denials from her and a statement confirming her graduation from the university itself, reports that she falsified her graduation documents still persisted during her try at a third gubernatorial term.

Opponents also criticised her for failing to follow through on her pledges in Tokyo. The trains remain overcrowded and overwork culture remains a problem, they say.

Of the 56 candidates the voters had to choose from, it had been expected Renho Saito would be Ms Koike’s main opponent.

The former upper house member was backed by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, as well as the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Ms Renho left the CDP before official campaigning started on June 20. She lost her Upper House seat when she filed her candidacy.

She rose to lead the centre-left group in 2016 as its first ever female head, but resigned a year later over poor results in Tokyo’s prefectural election.

Japanese media projected the race as a proxy war between national parties, as the conservative incumbent was challenged by the left-leaning opposition politician.

The gubernatorial election also took place amid a climate of general mistrust towards politics. Critics say this is linked in part to the economic difficulties of the Japanese followed by an end of the long historical period of deflation, and the weakening of the yen.

PNG minister charged with assault in Australia

By Kathryn ArmstrongBBC News

Papua New Guinea’s influential Petroleum Minister Jimmy Maladina has been charged with assault following an alleged “domestic dispute” in Australia, according to court documents.

Police said a 31-year-old woman was allegedly attacked in Sydney by a 58-year-old man who was known to her on Saturday morning local time.

Mr Maladina was granted conditional bail ahead of a court appearance on 11 July.

In a statement, he said he was “aware of the recent media reports” and was “cooperating with the authorities to address this matter”.

“I understand the gravity of this situation and the concerns it raises,” said Mr Maladina.

“As a public servant, I hold myself to high standards of conduct, both personally and professionally.

“I want to make it clear that violence in any form is unacceptable, and I am committed to handling this situation with integrity and transparency.”

Police said the woman who was allegedly attacked had suffered facial injuries.

Mr Maladina became Papua New Guinea’s petroleum minister earlier this year and is a key adviser to President James Marape.

He is heavily involved in the country’s lucrative project to commercialise its natural gas resources.

Scammed by the fake Chinese police

By Elaine Chong and Ed MainBBC Trending

Chinese people around the world are being targeted by an elaborate scam in which criminals pretend to be Chinese police. A British-Chinese woman has told the BBC that she handed over her life savings to con men who wore uniforms in video calls and gave her a virtual tour of what appeared to be a police station.

Helen Young still has nightmares about the fortnight that she was made to believe she was on China’s most wanted list.

Scammers posing as Chinese police manipulated the London-based accountant into believing she was under investigation for a massive fraud back in her homeland.

Helen was presented with a mountain of fabricated evidence which appeared to implicate her in a crime she knew nothing about.

When the fake police then threatened her with extradition to a jail cell in China, Helen sent them her £29,000 life savings as “bail money”, in a desperate attempt to stay in Britain.

“I feel a bit stupid right now,” she says. “But there’s no chance I can know that’s not real. It’s so convincing”.

Helen’s story may sound extraordinary but there have been numerous similar cases in the Chinese diaspora.

China’s embassies around the world have issued public warnings about police impersonation scams, as has the FBI after a number of cases in the US. One elderly woman in Los Angeles reportedly handed over $3m, believing it would stop her extradition.

Typically these scams begin with the target receiving a relatively innocuous phone call. In Helen’s case it was somebody claiming to be a Chinese customs officer who told her they had stopped an illegal parcel sent in her name.

Helen hadn’t sent anything, and she was told she must file a police report if she believed someone had stolen her identity. Although she was sceptical, Helen didn’t hang up.

“Chinese people like myself because we were born and bred in China, we were taught obedience,” she says. “So when the party asked me to do something or my parents asked me it’s very rare that I will say no.”

Helen was transferred to a man who said he was a policeman in Shenzhen called “Officer Fang”. Helen asked for proof and he suggested they went on a video call. When they connected, Helen saw a uniformed man whose face matched the police ID he flashed.

Officer Fang then used his phone to give her a tour of what looked like a fully functioning police station with several uniformed officers and a desk with a large police logo.

“That moment all my suspicions are gone. So I say: ‘I’m sorry, I just have to be careful nowadays, there are a lot of criminals out there’,” Helen says.

While they were talking, Helen heard a message on the tannoy in the background, telling Officer Fang to take a call about her.

Officer Fang put her on hold and when he returned he was no longer interested in the illegal parcel. He said he had been informed that Helen was suspected of involvement in a large financial fraud.

“I said: ‘That’s nonsense’. He said: ‘Nobody says they’re guilty. So it’s the evidence that counts’.”

Helen was shown what looked like a bank statement for a vast amount of money in her name. Officer Fang told her that if she was innocent she must help them catch the real crooks. He made her sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell anyone about the investigation. Helen was warned that if she did, she would get an extra six months in prison

“He said: ‘If you tell anyone you have been interviewed by the Chinese police, your life will be in danger’.”

The scammers also made Helen download an app so they could listen in to what she was doing day and night.

Over the next few days, Helen tried to act normally at work. She spent her evenings working on a personal statement that she was ordered to write, detailing every aspect of her life.

Then Officer Fang called back with the news that several suspects were now in custody. He showed her written statements in which several people accused her.

Helen was sent a video which appeared to show a male prisoner confessing to police, and naming her as his boss in the fraud.

We have taken a closer look at the video, and because the suspect is wearing a large Covid mask, it’s impossible to tell if what you’re hearing matches his lip movements. It would be easy to add a fake soundtrack that mentions Helen’s name or another victim.

But for Helen – who had been convinced she was dealing with genuine police officers – the effect was devastating: “After I heard my name like that I was vomiting. It convinced me I was in deep, deep trouble.”

Helen believed Officer Fang when he then told her she would be extradited to China – even though she’s a British citizen.

“He told me: ‘So you got 24 hours, you pack your bags. The police are coming to take you to the airport’.”

Helen was told she could halt her extradition if she could raise bail. After sending over her bank statements for inspection, she was told to transfer £29,000.

“I felt terrible, because I promised my daughter to give her money for her first flat,” Helen says.

But a few days later the fake police were back. Helen was ordered to find another £250,000 or be extradited: “I was fighting for my life – if I go back to China, I may never come back.”

After Helen tried to borrow the money from a friend, he alerted her daughter. Helen broke down and revealed everything. But not before she had put her phone in a kitchen drawer and taken her daughter into a bedroom, and put a duvet over their heads so the scammers couldn’t listen in.

Her daughter listened patiently and explained it was a scam. Helen’s bank eventually refunded her money, but her ordeal could easily have had a bleaker ending: “For two weeks I hardly slept. How can you sleep when somebody is monitoring your phone?”

In her sleep-deprived state, she crashed her car twice. On the second occasion, she wrecked it entirely: “I didn’t kill anyone, but I could have. These types of criminal scam could kill people.”

Other victims of police impersonation scams have been pushed to even greater extremes.

In some extraordinary cases, some Chinese foreign students who can’t meet the financial demands of the fake police have been persuaded to fake their own kidnappings in order to seek a ransom from their families.

Detective Superintendent Joe Doueihi of New South Wales Police fronted a publicity campaign to warn about so-called virtual or cyber-kidnappings, after a series of cases in Australia.

“Victims are coerced into making their own video of them being in a vulnerable position, to appear as if they’ve been kidnapped – tied up with tomato sauce on their body to make it look like they’ve been bleeding, and calling for help from their loved ones,” he says.

The students are then ordered to isolate themselves while the scammers send these images to families back in China, with a ransom demand.

The scam victims may also find themselves being manipulated into helping to scam others.

“Scammers will trick a victim into believing that they are working for the Chinese government. They will send them documentation and swear them in as a Chinese police officer,” Det Supt Doueihi says.

He says the victim – who may have already handed over money to the criminals – is sent to monitor or intimidate other Chinese students in Australia.

Many of these frauds are thought by experts to be run by Chinese organised crime groups operating from compounds in countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Chinese state media has reported that tens of thousands of suspects have been returned to China over the last year.

Awareness of these types of scams is growing. We spoke to a student in Japan who realised he was being targeted by criminals, and recorded their conversation.

He asked not to be named, but shared the recording with the BBC. In it, the scammers tell him that if he revealed anything about the call to anyone, then he would be jeopardising the “investigation”. He refused to hand over any money and they stopped pursuing him.

He’s aware that he had a lucky escape: “I never thought it would happen to me. Just be really careful when you get a call from a number that you don’t recognise.”

For more on this story:

Watch BBC Trending: Scammed by the fake Chinese Police – now on YouTube

BBC World Service tells the story of scammers posing as Chinese police.

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Lewis Hamilton won a race-long fight with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris at a gripping, wet-dry British Grand Prix to take his first victory since December 2021.

Hamilton had just enough to hold off a late charge from Verstappen’s Red Bull to take his 104th career win, and his ninth at home to become the record-holder for victories at a single circuit.

Verstappen, who had struggled for pace through much of a race that was hit by two separate periods of rain, came alive in the closing laps to take second place from Norris, who grabbed the final position on the podium.

Hamilton, who was driving in his last British GP for Mercedes before his move to Ferrari next year, appeared to be in tears in the car as he told his team: “This means so much to me,” as they congratulated him over the radio.

“This one means a lot to us all,” his engineer Peter Bonnington said. “I love you, Bono,” Hamilton replied.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described the win as “a fairytale” for them and Hamilton.

Norris’ team-mate Oscar Piastri, who was also in the lead fight for the first half of the race, took fourth place ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Classic race for Hamilton’s comeback win

In front of a crowd of 164,000 people cheering the British drivers – and especially Hamilton – to the rafters despite the inclement weather, the top drivers and three leading teams put on a superb show throughout.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton led the early laps after locking out the front row of the grid for the team, while Verstappen passed Norris around the outside of Turn Four on the opening lap to run third.

But the Red Bull did not initially show its usually formidable race pace and Norris was able to reclaim third place on lap 15 with a pass into Stowe corner.

Piastri followed the Briton through two laps later just as the first shower of rain started, bringing the McLarens, who had chosen a higher-downforce set-up than Mercedes and Red Bull, into their own.

Hamilton made the first move, though, passing Russell into Stowe on lap 18.

A few corners later, both Mercedes drivers slid off the track at Turn Two at the start of lap 19 as they wrestled for grip on the slippery track and Norris pounced, passing Russell at Turn Four before closing on Hamilton and passing him at Turn One on lap 20.

Piastri moved up into second behind him and the McLarens ran one-two for five laps as the track began to dry.

Decisive pit stop tyres choices

The lead cars all stayed out on slick tyres through the first period of rain, but the teams knew more rain was coming and as it came down more heavily Verstappen benefited from an early stop for intermediates on lap 26.

Norris, Hamilton and Russell followed him in a lap later, Piastri suffering badly for staying out a further lap on the slicks and losing 10 seconds to the lead pack.

The stop timing vaulted Verstappen up to third behind Norris and Hamilton, with Russell fourth.

But four laps later Russell was out of the running when he was told to retire his Mercedes because of a water system problem.

By lap 38, with 14 to go, the track was almost dry, and Verstappen again jumped early for a tyre change.

He and Hamilton stopped together, Mercedes choosing soft tyres and Verstappen hard, while Norris stayed out a lap later before taking softs.

The earlier stop vaulted Hamilton ahead of Norris into the lead,.

It set up a grandstand finish, with the three cars in a single camera shot on the Hangar Straight for the entire climactic period of the race.

Hamilton always looked to have Norris under control, but the it was soon clear that Verstappen was now the major threat, the Red Bull transformed by the decision to switch to hard tyres.

Verstappen swept by Norris on lap 48 down the Hangar Straight, and went into the final four laps 3.2 seconds behind Hamilton and closing in.

But Hamilton had enough to hold him off, crossing the line 1.4secs adrift, before Hamilton fought back tears after climbing out of the car.

Meanwhile, Norris and Piastri were left to rue some dubious McLaren pit calls – both Norris’ stops were a lap too late, while Piastri was undone by the decision not to double-stack him behind Norris when they changed to inters.

And Piastri’s pace on the medium tyres at the end of the race – he was the fastest car on the track by a quite some margin – suggested that Norris, too, should have gone on to them when he made his final stop.

Behind Sainz, Hulkenberg impressed in a Haas heavily upgraded for this race in sixth place, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso took seventh and eighth as Williams’ Alex Albon and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda completed the points positions in the top 10.

Rob Delaney says he wants to die in same room as his son

By Charlotte GallagherCulture correspondent

The US actor and comedian Rob Delaney has said he wants to buy the home his son died in so he can also experience his last moments there.

Delaney’s two-year-old child Henry died in 2018 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Delaney told Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs he asked the landlord when he moved out: “Listen, if you ever go to sell this place, let me know first because I would like to buy it.

“So when I’m 81 I can crawl in here and die. In the same room that my son died in, that my other son was born in.”

Before Henry died, his parents told him they were expecting another child.

The Catastrophe and Deadpool 2 star said: “He had to know that this family that loved him was alive and was growing and that there was somebody that we were going to tell about him.

“We knew that they would not overlap corporally on this Earth, even though Henry’s younger brother was born in the same room that Henry died in, our living room.”

Delaney, 47, told the programme that he and his wife, Leah, had considered leaving London but had continued to live in the city because of memories of Henry.

“For so many reasons, we’ve stayed, one of which is I like to go put my hands on slides at the playground that Henry slid down.”

He added that he sometimes bumps into the nurses that looked after his son and said London and the NHS had taken very good care of his child.

Delaney has previously described the NHS as “the pinnacle of human achievement” and that his family received “truly unbelievable” care while Henry was sick.

Heart was ‘torn into pieces and dissolved in salt’

Delaney thought he would struggle with the birth of his new son, saying his heart had “been torn into pieces and dissolved in salt” and was just “garbage”.

But he told host Lauren Laverne that the “nanosecond he exited my wife’s body, I looked at him and just you know, started weeping and was so in love with him and just wanted to sniff them and eat them and put them into my shirt and squeeze them and I love him desperately.

“And then you have to feel and honour your pain. You have to let it hurt and you can’t run away from it. When the feelings come it’s best to let them.”

Delaney also spoke about his recovery from alcoholism, saying he has been sober for more than two decades after a car crash prompted him to stop drinking.

He added: “It’s nothing more interesting than garden variety alcoholism, you know, I found that drinking just made me just feel better, complete, happier, relaxed.

“You know, anytime I took a drink, it was just like, ‘this is it’. I first got drunk at 12 and then began to drink with more regularity at 14.

“I had alcoholism on both sides of my family. And so then I got it too and… it doesn’t really care where you come from.”

Air strike leaves 100,000 without power in Ukraine

By Vitaly Shevchenko and Tom McArthurBBC Monitoring and BBC News

A Russian attack on a power facility in Ukraine has left 100,000 people without power in the north-eastern region of Sumy.

Work is under way to restore power, National grid operator Ukrenergo said, following the strikes, which caused emergency shut-offs for consumers in the city and region of Sumy, which borders Russia.

There were no reports of casualties or damage apart from the energy facility, Reuters reports.

Russia continues to pummel energy facilities across Ukraine, often plunging the country into extended blackouts with people enduring sweltering summer conditions without running water, air conditioning, or life-saving medical equipment.

Over the past three months alone, Ukraine has lost nine gigawatts of generating capacity, the national energy company Ukrenergo says, losing all of its thermal power plants to enemy action and seeing all hydroelectric sites damaged by drones or missile strikes.

This is enough to power the whole of the Netherlands during peak hours of consumption, and more than a third of the capacity Ukraine had before Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, according to the national grid operator.

Poland has been diverting surplus electricity to Ukraine to help it cope with the Russian strikes, but Ukrenego has scheduled cut-offs of electricity throughout the day across the country as domestic generation and electricity imports could not cover the deficit.

Maria Tsaturian from Ukrenergo told the BBC she is aware that a lot of anger is directed at her company for cutting electricity so often, for so long and for so many customers. But, she says, there’s no other option.

“We are at war. The energy sector is one of the goals for the Russian terrorists. And it is obvious why: all our life, all our civilisation, is built on electricity,” she says.

“This is the price we pay for freedom.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian air defences shot down 24 out of 27 Shahed kamikaze drones Russia launched on the night of 5-6 July, the Air Force Command has reported on Telegram.

The drones were intercepted over areas including the Sumy region, using electronic jamming and anti-air defences, it said.

Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau dies aged 63

By Kathryn ArmstrongBBC News

Jon Landau – the Oscar-winning producer of some of the world’s highest-grossing movies of all time, including Titanic and Avatar – has died aged 63.

Landau, who was the long-time producing partner of filmmaker James Cameron, reportedly died on Friday after living with cancer for more than a year.

His sister Tina confirmed his death on social media, calling him “the best brother a girl could ever dream of”.

“My heart is broken but also bursting with pride & gratitude for his most extraordinary life, and the love and gifts he gave me – and all who knew him or his films,” she wrote.

Landau was the son of Hollywood producers Ely and Edie Landau and for a time was an executive at the film production company 20th Century Fox, overseeing films including The Last Of The Mohicans and Die Hard 2.

Alongside Cameron, he helped to create the 1997 hit Titanic, which was the first film to make it past the $1bn mark at the global box office.

Later films Avatar and its sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, which were released in 2009 and 2022 respectively, went on to break Titanic’s record.

Landau also co-produced other hit films including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Dick Tracy, and held a management position in Cameron’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment.

Following news of Landau’s death, Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter that “a great producer and a great human being has left us”.

“Jon Landau believed in the dream of cinema. He believed that film is the ultimate human art form, and to make films you have to first be human yourself,” he said.

“He will be remembered as much for his vast generosity of spirit as for the movies themselves.”

Director Sir Peter Jackson and his screenwriter wife Fran Walsh, whose visual effects company was used for the Avatar films, said in a statement that they were “devastated by the loss of Jon Landau”.

“Jon brought unparalleled passion to the projects he worked on and his influence will continue to inspire for years to come.”

The actor Zoe Saldaña, who starred in the Avatar films, wrote a message to Landau on Instagram, saying that his death was “hitting really hard”.

“Your wisdom and support shaped so many of us in ways we will always be grateful for.”

The far right is close to power in France. Will the rest of Europe follow?

By Katya AdlerEurope editor

How likely is France to wake up on Monday morning to a new far-right dawn?

That was the garishly painted, hotly debated scenario in media headlines, the EU in Brussels and seats of government across Europe following the first round of France’s parliamentary vote last week.

But despite the spectacular showing by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party, the short answer is: an RN majority is possible. Not probable.

French centrist and leftist parties have strategically withdrawn candidates to bolster each other’s contenders ahead of Sunday’s decisive second round.

But the impact of this election will be seismic, whether or not the RN wins an outright majority – or whether Jordan Bardella, its social media-savvy young president, becomes France’s new prime minister.

Polls predict RN is all but guaranteed to win more seats than any other political grouping.

That means a decades-old taboo will have been shattered in France, a core EU nation.

The EU was born out of the ashes of World War Two. It was originally designed as a peace project, with wartime enemies, France and Germany, at its core.

Far-right parties were banished to the outer fringes of European politics.

Last month, world leaders gathered in northern France to mark 80 years since D-Day, the allied amphibious assault in Normandy that helped secure the defeat of Nazi Germany.

But now, “far-right” or “hard-right” or “populist nationalist” parties are part of coalition governments in a number of EU countries, including the Netherlands, Italy and Finland.

There are challenges in labelling these parties. Their policies frequently change. They also vary from country to country.

And their normalisation is not an entirely new phenomenon. Former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, a centre-right politician, was the first EU leader to take the plunge. He formed a government with the post-fascist political group, Movimento Sociale Italiano, back in 1994.

Six years later, Austria’s conservatives went into coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. At the time, the EU was so outraged that it blocked official bilateral contacts with Austria for several months.

Post-war political etiquette dictated the political mainstream must form a , a “health barrier”, at election time to keep the extreme right out of European governments.

The universally recognised term for that practice is French, which gives you a sense how passionately many in France felt about it.

In the 2002 Presidential election, some French voters clipped a clothes peg to their noses on their way to polling stations – a way of showing they’d vote for a candidate they didn’t really like, just to keep out the far right.

This was a far right that for years was led by Marine Le Pen’s father, with French former members of a Nazi-led Waffen SS unit in his party ranks.

Fast-forward to 2024, and Marine Le Pen’s ambition, 10 years in the making, to detoxify her father’s party – changing its name and trying hard to clean up its image – appears to have been a roaring success.

The now has a searing gash in it, after the leader of France’s centre-right Les Républicains struck a deal with the RN not to compete against each other this Sunday in specific constituencies. This was an earthquake in French politics.

Crucially for Marine Le Pen, those who support her aren’t embarrassed to admit it any more. The RN is no longer viewed as an extremist protest movement. For many, it offers a credible political programme, whatever its detractors claim.

French voters trust the RN more than any other party to manage their economy and (currently poor) public finances, according to an Ipsos poll for the Financial Times newspaper. This is despite the party’s lack of government experience and its largely unfunded tax-cutting and spending plans.

  • Ugly campaign ends and France draws breath before election
  • In Marseille, pétanque masks political divides
  • Analysis: Le Pen’s party now dominant force in France

Which begs the question, when you observe the angst-ridden despair in liberal circles in Europe at the growing success of the so-called “New Right”: if traditional lawmakers had served their electorates better, perhaps there’d be less of an opening for European populists to walk into?

By populists, I mean politicians like Ms Le Pen who claim to listen to and speak on behalf of “ordinary people”, defending them against “the establishment”.

This “them and us” argument is extremely effective when voters feel anxious and ignored by governing powers. Just look at Donald Trump in the US, the sudden unexpected breakthrough of Reform UK in Thursday’s UK election and the huge success of Germany’s controversial anti-migration AfD party.

In France, many perceive President Macron – a former merchant banker – as arrogant, privileged and remote from the everyday cares of ordinary people outside the Paris bubble. A man who made difficult lives even tougher, they say, by raising the national pension age and trying to put up fuel prices, citing environmental concerns.

It must be a source of frustration for France’s president that his success at lowering unemployment rates and the billions of euros he spent trying to soften the economic effects of the Covid and energy crises seem largely forgotten.

Meanwhile, the RN concentrated much of its campaign on the cost-of-living crisis.

The party has pledged to cut taxes on gas and electricity and to raise the minimum wage for low earners.

Priorities like these mean the RN should no longer be labelled a far-right movement, its supporters insist. They point to a widening support base and say the party shouldn’t be forever tarnished by its racist roots under Le Pen senior.

A similar argument echoes out of Rome. Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, once used to praise fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Her Brothers of Italy party has post-fascist roots but she now heads one of the EU’s most stable governments.

She recently censured a meeting of her party’s youth wing. Members had been filmed giving fascist salutes. There was no room in her party for nostalgia for the totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century, she said.

While critics at home warn of attempts to influence Italy’s media landscape and Ms Meloni’s attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, her concrete proposals to tackle irregular migration have won plaudits from the European mainstream, including the EU Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK’s recently ousted prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Frankly, on hot-button issues like migration, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the political rhetoric of the far right in Europe and traditional mainstream politicians intentionally sharpening their speeches to try to hold on to voters.

Former Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was a prime example of this, and Emmanuel Macron too, the more he’s felt the heat of Marine Le Pen’s popularity.

More from InDepth

One of the inadvertent effects of mainstream politicians aping parties further to their right on migration is that it makes the original anti-immigration parties seem more respectable, acceptable and electable.

Witness the recent stellar performance in the Netherlands’ general election of anti-migration politician Geert Wilders, who has been regularly accused of hate speech.

The label “far right” is one that needs to be debated. Much depends on the make-up of each party.

But the kind of acceptance now enjoyed by Ms Meloni in wider international circles is still a remote dream for Ms Le Pen.

The RN insists a parliamentary majority is still within reach this Sunday. More likely, polls suggest, is a paralysed hung parliament or an unruly coalition government of non-Le Pen parties.

Any and all of these scenarios reduce Emmanuel Macron to a pretty lame-duck president.

Political instability at home means big EU powers, France and also Germany, are turning inwards at a time of great global uncertainty.

Wars rage in Gaza and Ukraine. EU and Nato-sceptic Donald Trump is poised to possibly return to the White House.

It’s a precarious moment for Europe to be without leadership. Voters feel exposed.

Even if not this Sunday, Marine Le Pen’s followers firmly believe their time is coming. Soon.

She accused Assange of sexual assault, but is glad he’s now free

By Phelan ChatterjeeBBC News

Swedish human rights activist Anna Ardin is glad Julian Assange is free.

But the claims she has made about him suggest she would have every reason not to wish him well.

She is one of two women who accused the WikiLeaks founder of sexual assault 14 years ago.

The allegations – which Assange has always denied – were explosive, and made headlines across the world. They set off a chain of events which saw him trying to avoid extradition to Sweden by seeking asylum in a London embassy for seven years.

In 2019 the Swedish authorities ended their investigation. However, he spent the next five years in a British prison fighting extradition to the US, where he faced prosecution over massive leaks of confidential information.

These include US army footage showing Iraqi civilians being killed, and documents suggesting the US military killed hundreds of Afghan civilians in unreported incidents.

Assange was eventually freed last month, after a plea deal with the US.

Ardin is fiercely proud of Assange’s work for WikiLeaks, and insists that it should never have landed him behind bars.

“We have the right to know about the wars that are fought in our name,” she says.

“I’m sincerely happy for him and his family, that they can be together. The punishment he’s got has been very unproportionate.”

Speaking to Ardin over Zoom in Stockholm, it quickly becomes clear that she has no problem keeping what she sees as the two Assanges apart in her head – the visionary activist and the man who she says does not treat women well.

She is at pains to describe him neither as a hero nor a monster, but a complicated man.

The 45-year-old activist is also a Christian deacon, with a belief in forgiveness, and she uses the words “truth” and “transparency” again and again throughout the interview. It might explain why she is in awe of what WikiLeaks accomplished but, at the same time, bitterly disappointed that the assault allegations she made against Assange were never formally tested.

Ardin describes her encounter with Assange in her book, No Heroes, No Monsters: What I Learned Being The Most Hated Woman On The Internet.

In 2010, just three weeks after WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan war logs, she invited him to Stockholm to take part in a seminar organised by the religious wing of Sweden’s Social Democrats.

Assange did not want to stay at a hotel for security reasons and Ardin was due to be away, so she offered him her flat. But she returned early.

After an evening of discussing politics and human rights, they ended up having what she describes as uncomfortable sex during which she says he humiliated her.

Ardin says she agreed to have sex with Assange as long as he used a condom, but the condom broke and he continued.

Ardin suspects he broke it deliberately. If this was the case, he probably would have committed an offence under Swedish law.

Later, Ardin writes that she heard from another woman – named in legal papers as SW – who had attended the seminar. SW apparently said that Assange had penetrated her without her consent when she was asleep.

In a 2016 statement to Swedish prosecutors, Assange maintained that his sexual relationship with SW was entirely consensual, and that in texts seen by his lawyers, she told a friend that she had been “half asleep”.

Both women filed police reports – Ardin’s case was categorised as alleged sexual misconduct, and SW’s as alleged rape.

The press got hold of the reports, setting off an extraordinary series of events.

Assange denied the allegations, and suggested that they were a US set-up. WikiLeaks had just leaked 76,000 US military documents – sparking massive global attention and scrutiny of US foreign policy.

On 21 August, 2010, WikiLeaks tweeted: “We were warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’. Now we have the first one.”

Another post followed the next day: “Reminder: US intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks as far back as 2008.”

Assange’s UK lawyer Mark Stephens claimed that a “honeytrap” had been sprung and that “dark forces” were at work.

A social media furore erupted which Ardin describes as “hell” – she tells me the amount of harassment and death threats forced her to leave Sweden at one point.

“I couldn’t work. My life passed me by for two years.”

To this day, many believe Ardin is part of a US conspiracy, and that her allegations are false. Greece’s former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, a long-time supporter of Assange, last week described her claims as “mud” and “innuendo”.

No evidence has ever been found to link Ardin with US intelligence. She concedes that the narratives spread by Assange had an air of plausibility, because he had been “messing with the Pentagon”, but says the claims were nothing but “lies” and a “smear campaign”.

Months after the incidents, an international arrest warrant was issued for Assange, who was in London at that point.

In December 2010, he admitted to the BBC that it was “not probable” he was part of a classic honey-trap operation – but he still denied any wrongdoing.

Assange was convinced that if he went to Sweden he would then be extradited to the US – where he feared the death penalty awaited. In 2012, he took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Sweden refused to guarantee he would not be extradited to the US, but said any move to do so would need to be approved by the UK too. Both countries also said they would not extradite him if they thought he might face the death penalty.

In 2015, Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation into Ardin’s allegations as time had run out.

In 2019, prosecutors abandoned their investigation into SW’s claims, saying the evidence had “weakened considerably due to the long period of time since the events in question”.

By this time, Assange was being held in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, facing extradition to the US on espionage charges. If convicted there, he could have faced 170 years behind bars.

Assange finally won his freedom in 2024, after agreeing to plead guilty to a single charge under the US Espionage Act.

Ardin still wishes he had faced trial for the alleged assault against her. “But he won’t. So I have to let it go.”

She says some of her doubters don’t take her seriously because they don’t think the details of her experience, or reaction, were dramatic enough.

She suggests there’s an expectation of sexual assault to always be brutal, involve a lot of violence, and leave the victim heavily traumatised – and if that doesn’t happen you can’t be a real victim, or a real offender.

But that doesn’t align with what Ardin describes as the reality of her experience. She stresses that doesn’t make it any less serious or unacceptable.

She slams many of Assange’s supporters – and journalists – for seeking a “one-sided narrative” which turns him into a hero, and her into an evil CIA agent.

“I think that we have a problem that we have to have these heroes that are flawless… I don’t think heroes exist outside fairytales.”

Ardin says her intention was never to write off Assange as a one-dimensional villain, to be “kicked out of society”.

Offenders are seen as “monsters, completely different from all other men”, she says. And this means the “system goes on”, she argues, as “normal” men don’t realise that they, too, can be prone to violence – so they don’t interrogate themselves.

“I want him to be seen as a normal guy. That’s what normal guys do sometimes. They cross other people’s boundaries.”

She thinks that progressive movements often have problems calling out leaders, fearing any criticism delegitimises the entire cause. “You can’t be a leader and abuse the people who are active in your movement, because the movement will not survive.”

People should not be able to get away with sexual crimes, or any crimes just because they’re influential, she adds.

The BBC contacted Assange’s lawyers for comment on the claims repeated by Ardin in our interview with her, but they said he was “not in a position to respond”.

I ask what justice would have looked like for her at the end of this saga.

Ardin tells me she is only interested in getting to what she describes as the truth. She is less interested in punishment.

“Justice for me would have been to have transparency. I was not happy that he was locked up because he was [locked up] for the wrong reason.”

Ardin is a left-wing Christian who attaches great importance to reconciliation and transformation.

But for that to be possible, she says that perpetrators need to own up and genuinely commit to change.

After all this contemplation, I wonder what she would say to Assange, if face to face with him now.

Ardin tells me she would urge him to work on himself.

She would ask him to admit that he “did not have the right to do what he did to me, and he doesn’t have that right towards other women either”.

“He has to admit that for himself… He has to reflect on what he did.”

BBC Action Line

Forget Ethiopia’s Spice Girls – this singer salutes the true queens

By Penny DaleJournalist

Gabriella Ghermandi recalls with laughter the annoyance she felt about the so-called Ethiopian Spice Girls – charity-backed pop group Yegna that hoped to change narratives and empower girls and women through music.

The all-female group sparked controversy in the UK because it was partly funded by British aid and some say it was a waste of taxpayers’ money. But for Ghermandi, assumptions that Ethiopian women had to be taught by outsiders was the issue.

“I was like, what?” Ghermandi tells the BBC. “They want to teach us how to empower women? Ethiopia? With all its epics of women?”

So, Ghermandi – an Ethiopian-Italian author, singer, producer and ethno-musicologist – also turned to music as a way of “saying to the world that we have a huge history about brave women who had as much power as men”.

The result is a nine-track album called Maqeda – the Amharic name for the Queen of Sheba, a hugely important figure in Ethiopian history.

Every song is an homage to female figures, communities, rituals and musical styles.

Many would label this album Ethio-jazz but it encompasses so much more, says Ghermandi.

“It’s a very rooted Ethiopian music, but at the same time, there are very prog sounds, very rocky and punk sounds. You can find everything”.

Maqeda was lovingly developed over four years, bringing together the Ethiopian and Italian musicians she has worked with since 2010 as the Atse Tewodros Project – plus Senegalese guest musicians, as well as a beat-boxer and a body music performer.

“We wanted to digest the music,” says Ghermandi of the collaboration, adding that every musician had a role in the arrangements “because I really wanted my two countries to be one”.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1965, to a father from Italy and an Ethiopian-Italian mother, Ghermandi recalls the international feel of the capital city where she spent her early years.

“Every place, every corner was [filled] with music and dance. And I think I learned the rhythm that has stayed in my blood,” she says.

On the same street as her mother’s clothes shop was a record store run by a Greek woman which blasted out an array of sound from Congolese music to the Beatles.

Fela Kuti and other African greats played at the nightclubs where Ghermandi would tag along with her older brothers, while on Sundays there were tea-dancing parties at an Italian expat club.

Although Ghermandi had no formal music training, a thorough immersion in Ethiopian musical styles came from the many wedding and church ceremonies that were part of family life.

Travel was another constant in Ghermandi’s childhood – thanks to her father.

In 1935 he left Italy to work in Eritrea, then an Italian colony. In 1955 he moved to Ethiopia and met her mother, who was 17 years younger.

His jobs in construction took him to remote areas, and Ghermandi would often visit.

She was only three months old when she was taken to the Rift Valley of southern Ethiopia. Her father wanted her to be given a moytse – or “sound name” – by the local Oyda people.

For girls, a cow horn is blown – and whatever sound is heard by a very old and very young woman waiting together underneath a tree in the forest becomes the sound name. Ghermandi’s moytse is tumlele, tumlele, tumlelela.

Her father died in 1978. By then, the military dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled Ethiopia and so, in the early 1980s, by then a teenager, she moved to Italy. Ghermandi now lives between Italy and Ethiopia.

But those cherished early experiences have stayed with her, and this latest album draws on childhood visits to Ethiopia’s remote communities as well as meticulous research as adult.

Ghermandi says she started with the community she grew up with – the Dorze people originally from the southern highlands of Ethiopia, whose women head villages and sing in powerful polyphonic choirs.

You can hear that way of singing – with up to six voices or parts, each with an independent but harmonising melody – in the song Boncho, which means “respect” in the Gamo language.

Ghermandi worked with an Ethiopian female poet to create Set Nat (She is a Female), to counter a common saying in Ethiopia that when a woman achieves something it is because she is as brave as a man.

“I hate this saying, because it used to tell me that it’s not enough to be a woman,” Ghermandi says with passion in her voice. “And I want to say to the world that being a woman is more than enough!”

The song is led by a choir whose call-and-response has a distinct, rhythmic feel in a 7/4 time signature. “This is very typical of a part of Ethiopia – and it is a memory of my childhood,” she explains.

Another track, Kotilidda, honours the matrilineal society of the Kunama people who live close to the borders with Eritrea and Sudan. It showcases the avangala, a two-stringed instrument which sounds like a bass guitar – played only by the Kunama people.

“I really wanted to mix the Ethiopian traditional instruments with modern instruments because Ethiopia does not promote enough its traditional instruments outside the country,” says Ghermandi.

“I also want to show to Ethiopian artists that these instruments can have a dialogue with modern instruments – and be very modern at the same time, even if they are traditional.”

Saba, meanwhile, sings of the legendary Queen of Sheba’s camel journey to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon.

The masinqo – a one-stringed fiddle – plays an ancient Hebrew melody at the end, in recognition of the belief that Ethiopia’s Jewish community is descended from those who followed the son of Sheba when she returned home from what is now Israel.

Ghermandi points out the parallels between that ancient, likely mythical, journey and the very real journeys taken today by many thousands of Ethiopians who have fled conflict, oppression, drought and poverty for a new life elsewhere.

“In the song there’s the idea of walking – and the idea of facing all the things that you find during your journey.”

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‘I’m worried’ – Democrats at Biden rally open to change

By Mike WendlingBBC News, Madison, Wisconsin
Democratic voters chime in on Biden’s ability to run for office

The hundreds of die-hard Democrats who turned out to see Joe Biden in Wisconsin on Friday didn’t need much convincing.

The US president received an enthusiastic response to his loudly delivered remarks at the rally in Madison, especially when he attacked his Republican rival Donald Trump.

But as some major Democratic donors and lawmakers call on Mr Biden to exit the presidential race, even some of his most ardent supporters here in Madison are keeping an open mind about whether he might be replaced – and what might come next.

“It’s OK to change our minds,” said Catherine Emmanuelle, 44, who paused and considered her thoughts carefully before outlining her opinion.

She stressed that she was impressed with Mr Biden’s 17-minute speech, which she called a “presidential litmus test”.

“But if something happens in three days or a week or three weeks, we shouldn’t be afraid of having a conversation about change,” she told BBC News.

Mr Biden is under tremendous scrutiny after a disastrous debate performance last week, marked by a hoarse voice and several instances where he lost his train of thought.

The president, 81, is facing a tide of doubts about his mental acuity and ability to beat Trump, 78, in November’s election.

  • Listen: Americast – I’m still standing: Biden strikes back

Friday’s rally, held in this reliably Democratic town in a critical swing state, was an indication of the support Mr Biden still has in many parts of the country.

But the raucous crowd, which waited through several opening speakers and a hour-long delay from the planned start time, was also shot through with low-grade anxiety.

“I’m worried about his capacity to beat Trump,” said Thomas Leffler, a 33-year-old health researcher.

“As he gets older, I think it’s going to increasingly be an issue. But I’ll vote blue no matter what,” he said – a reference to the Democratic Party’s signature colour.

Mr Leffler suggested that picking a new candidate might have unexpected benefits.

“If you go through some sort of open process, you can re-energise people, and show that there’s a process better than what Republicans have, which is basically just to bow down to Donald Trump,” he said.

Earlier this year, both the president and Trump secured the delegates needed to be their party’s respective presumptive candidates.

The Democrats’ nominee will officially be chosen at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago from 19-22 August.

On Friday, Mr Biden was defiant about staying in the race, telling the crowd: “I am running and going to win again.”

Some of the biggest cheers on Friday came when the president directly went after his predecessor.

“Trump is not just a convicted criminal,” he said. “He’s a one man crime wave.”

The prospect of a second Trump administration was an animating factor for many who came to the rally.

“During the debate, he told a bunch of lies,” said Greg Hovel, 67. “How is that any worse than what Biden did?”

Mr Hovel said he believed the country was in a “great place” and that Mr Biden didn’t get enough credit for his economic and pandemic recovery policies.

“At this point, in the next six weeks, the Democratic Party is going to have to make up its mind” whether to retain Mr Biden as their candidate or pick someone new, he said.

But the president’s performance on Friday further bolstered something he strongly believed, even before the speech.

“I think Biden can win,” he said.

More on the election

  • Where Biden and Trump stand on key issues
  • What’s in Trump’s second term wish list, Project 2025
  • What Moscow, Delhi and Beijing make of rematch
  • Who will be Trump’s vice-president?

Scammed by the fake Chinese police

By Elaine Chong and Ed MainBBC Trending

Chinese people around the world are being targeted by an elaborate scam in which criminals pretend to be Chinese police. A British-Chinese woman has told the BBC that she handed over her life savings to con men who wore uniforms in video calls and gave her a virtual tour of what appeared to be a police station.

Helen Young still has nightmares about the fortnight that she was made to believe she was on China’s most wanted list.

Scammers posing as Chinese police manipulated the London-based accountant into believing she was under investigation for a massive fraud back in her homeland.

Helen was presented with a mountain of fabricated evidence which appeared to implicate her in a crime she knew nothing about.

When the fake police then threatened her with extradition to a jail cell in China, Helen sent them her £29,000 life savings as “bail money”, in a desperate attempt to stay in Britain.

“I feel a bit stupid right now,” she says. “But there’s no chance I can know that’s not real. It’s so convincing”.

Helen’s story may sound extraordinary but there have been numerous similar cases in the Chinese diaspora.

China’s embassies around the world have issued public warnings about police impersonation scams, as has the FBI after a number of cases in the US. One elderly woman in Los Angeles reportedly handed over $3m, believing it would stop her extradition.

Typically these scams begin with the target receiving a relatively innocuous phone call. In Helen’s case it was somebody claiming to be a Chinese customs officer who told her they had stopped an illegal parcel sent in her name.

Helen hadn’t sent anything, and she was told she must file a police report if she believed someone had stolen her identity. Although she was sceptical, Helen didn’t hang up.

“Chinese people like myself because we were born and bred in China, we were taught obedience,” she says. “So when the party asked me to do something or my parents asked me it’s very rare that I will say no.”

Helen was transferred to a man who said he was a policeman in Shenzhen called “Officer Fang”. Helen asked for proof and he suggested they went on a video call. When they connected, Helen saw a uniformed man whose face matched the police ID he flashed.

Officer Fang then used his phone to give her a tour of what looked like a fully functioning police station with several uniformed officers and a desk with a large police logo.

“That moment all my suspicions are gone. So I say: ‘I’m sorry, I just have to be careful nowadays, there are a lot of criminals out there’,” Helen says.

While they were talking, Helen heard a message on the tannoy in the background, telling Officer Fang to take a call about her.

Officer Fang put her on hold and when he returned he was no longer interested in the illegal parcel. He said he had been informed that Helen was suspected of involvement in a large financial fraud.

“I said: ‘That’s nonsense’. He said: ‘Nobody says they’re guilty. So it’s the evidence that counts’.”

Helen was shown what looked like a bank statement for a vast amount of money in her name. Officer Fang told her that if she was innocent she must help them catch the real crooks. He made her sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell anyone about the investigation. Helen was warned that if she did, she would get an extra six months in prison

“He said: ‘If you tell anyone you have been interviewed by the Chinese police, your life will be in danger’.”

The scammers also made Helen download an app so they could listen in to what she was doing day and night.

Over the next few days, Helen tried to act normally at work. She spent her evenings working on a personal statement that she was ordered to write, detailing every aspect of her life.

Then Officer Fang called back with the news that several suspects were now in custody. He showed her written statements in which several people accused her.

Helen was sent a video which appeared to show a male prisoner confessing to police, and naming her as his boss in the fraud.

We have taken a closer look at the video, and because the suspect is wearing a large Covid mask, it’s impossible to tell if what you’re hearing matches his lip movements. It would be easy to add a fake soundtrack that mentions Helen’s name or another victim.

But for Helen – who had been convinced she was dealing with genuine police officers – the effect was devastating: “After I heard my name like that I was vomiting. It convinced me I was in deep, deep trouble.”

Helen believed Officer Fang when he then told her she would be extradited to China – even though she’s a British citizen.

“He told me: ‘So you got 24 hours, you pack your bags. The police are coming to take you to the airport’.”

Helen was told she could halt her extradition if she could raise bail. After sending over her bank statements for inspection, she was told to transfer £29,000.

“I felt terrible, because I promised my daughter to give her money for her first flat,” Helen says.

But a few days later the fake police were back. Helen was ordered to find another £250,000 or be extradited: “I was fighting for my life – if I go back to China, I may never come back.”

After Helen tried to borrow the money from a friend, he alerted her daughter. Helen broke down and revealed everything. But not before she had put her phone in a kitchen drawer and taken her daughter into a bedroom, and put a duvet over their heads so the scammers couldn’t listen in.

Her daughter listened patiently and explained it was a scam. Helen’s bank eventually refunded her money, but her ordeal could easily have had a bleaker ending: “For two weeks I hardly slept. How can you sleep when somebody is monitoring your phone?”

In her sleep-deprived state, she crashed her car twice. On the second occasion, she wrecked it entirely: “I didn’t kill anyone, but I could have. These types of criminal scam could kill people.”

Other victims of police impersonation scams have been pushed to even greater extremes.

In some extraordinary cases, some Chinese foreign students who can’t meet the financial demands of the fake police have been persuaded to fake their own kidnappings in order to seek a ransom from their families.

Detective Superintendent Joe Doueihi of New South Wales Police fronted a publicity campaign to warn about so-called virtual or cyber-kidnappings, after a series of cases in Australia.

“Victims are coerced into making their own video of them being in a vulnerable position, to appear as if they’ve been kidnapped – tied up with tomato sauce on their body to make it look like they’ve been bleeding, and calling for help from their loved ones,” he says.

The students are then ordered to isolate themselves while the scammers send these images to families back in China, with a ransom demand.

The scam victims may also find themselves being manipulated into helping to scam others.

“Scammers will trick a victim into believing that they are working for the Chinese government. They will send them documentation and swear them in as a Chinese police officer,” Det Supt Doueihi says.

He says the victim – who may have already handed over money to the criminals – is sent to monitor or intimidate other Chinese students in Australia.

Many of these frauds are thought by experts to be run by Chinese organised crime groups operating from compounds in countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Chinese state media has reported that tens of thousands of suspects have been returned to China over the last year.

Awareness of these types of scams is growing. We spoke to a student in Japan who realised he was being targeted by criminals, and recorded their conversation.

He asked not to be named, but shared the recording with the BBC. In it, the scammers tell him that if he revealed anything about the call to anyone, then he would be jeopardising the “investigation”. He refused to hand over any money and they stopped pursuing him.

He’s aware that he had a lucky escape: “I never thought it would happen to me. Just be really careful when you get a call from a number that you don’t recognise.”

For more on this story:

Watch BBC Trending: Scammed by the fake Chinese Police – now on YouTube

BBC World Service tells the story of scammers posing as Chinese police.

Holly Jackson: ‘Obviously, I love murder – fictional murder’

By Shola LeeBBC News

Bestselling author Holly Jackson shares her secrets for plotting a modern murder mystery – and explains how true crime has influenced her.

For the author of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, the process of writing a whodunnit is as meticulous as investigating a crime.

“I am obsessive about it,” she says. “I don’t quite have a ‘murder board’ because it’s not on the wall, but it is on the floor.”

Each scene in one of Holly’s books corresponds to an index card, which is then carefully placed into columns for each act in the story. The author admits this “does rather take over the room”.

While this is great for planning a storyline, Holly says opening her office door a “bit too ferociously” can literally blow her plot out of place.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows plucky heroine Pip Fitz-Amobi as she investigates a closed murder case. Pip soon finds a co-detective in Ravi Singh, whose brother was implicated in the crime.

Each clue, twist and turn in the story has been thoroughly discussed by Holly’s fans on TikTok; the hashtag for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – #agggtm – has more than 58,000 posts.

And the story has now been turned into a BBC drama by lead writer Poppy Cogan, with Holly serving as executive producer.

The Guardian called the series a “very modern Nancy Drew,” with fans on TikTok praising the show, stitching their reactions with clips from the new series.

The BBC spoke to Holly about the process of writing her hit novel. “Obviously, I love murder,” she says, “fictional murder.”

‘I need true crime in my ears’

Holly, 31, from Buckinghamshire, published her debut in 2019. She won a British Book Award the following year and has sold millions of copies around the world.

While her fiction fits into the young adult category, Holly does not shy away from heavier topics, like crime. Her first novel, for example, follows the disappearance and apparent murder of a school girl.

And Holly says true crime content – like the podcast Serial – became a “very useful” tool when writing A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. The structure of the book feels like a podcast, Holly says, adding: “We have transcripts of dialogue the whole time.”

In the sequel to Holly’s first book – called Good Girl, Bad Blood – Pip even creates a true crime podcast herself.

And Holly says this research tool soon seeped into her real-life. “I can’t really do anything without a true crime podcast,” she says. “If I’m walking the dog or washing the dishes, I need true crime in my ears.”

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In the last ten years, true crime series have won international acclaim: Serial won a Peabody Award in 2015 and In The Dark– a long-form investigative journalism series – became the first podcast to win a George Polk Award in 2019. And, according to The New York Times, Serial has had more 705m downloads.

Even Holly is curious why crime is such a popular source of entertainment.

“Especially with young women,” she wonders, “is that like, an instinct in us that’s trying to protect ourselves?”

Georgia Hardstark is the co-host of My Favorite Murder, a US podcast that looks into historic and modern cases, with one episode covering the Dancing Plague of 1518 and the Paper Bag Killer.

For Georgia, part of the reason she is so interested in true crime is that it helps her feel less “paranoid” and validates her anxieties about life, she explains.

“That is at the forefront of my mind, constantly, you know, ‘What’s around the next corner? Are my doors locked?'”

‘I know who the murderer is’

For Holly, the line between fact and fiction is clearly drawn: unlike true crime cases, she always knows “the ending before I even write the first sentence”.

“I knew from the get-go who the murderer was going to be, this whole setup,” she says. “The slightly more complicated thing is not working out the mystery – it’s working out how Pip is going to solve the mystery.”

In A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, for example, Pip uses her Extended Project Qualification – an accreditation where a student independently researches a given topic – to interview suspects and keep track of clues for the case.

While Holly uses true crime as a “jumping off” point for research, she notes the content, often used as a source of entertainment, is “obviously, about real life people’s trauma”.

Jessica Jarlvi – a “Scandi-noir” writer and lecturer on the University of Cambridge’s Crime and Thriller Writing course – says things like true crime podcasts risk sensationalising these events.

“It just puts me off,” she says, “whereas in fiction, you don’t have to worry about that.”

In Georgia’s view, however, ignoring real-life crime – often with women victims – “is to sweep it under the rug”.

‘I don’t have passive readers’

Modern crime readers are “becoming more and more demanding”, Jessica adds.

Holly agrees: “I don’t have those passive readers, I have the really active ones who are looking to solve the mystery.”

On TikTok, fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder share videos with their predictions and suspect lists as they read along with the book.

In one video, a reader guides people on how to annotate the book to keep track, colour co-ordinating sections into “clues” and “conflicts”.

“It makes me have to up my game a bit more,” Holly says.

Wondering how to watch A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder? You can stream the series on BBC iPlayer.

More on this story

Western US bakes in heatwave

By Aleks PhillipsBBC News

A record-breaking heatwave that has already caused large wildfires in western US states is set to continue next week.

Around 130m people were under some form of heat warning or advisory on Saturday. Nearly 57m people remain under heat alerts, as at least one child has already died in heat-related circumstances in Arizona.

Meteorologists are warning that warm nights will lead to people suffering heat stress. Temperatures could reach 128F (53C) in Death Valley on Monday.

While it is hard to link individual heatwaves to climate change, scientists say they are becoming more common and intense because of it.

Israeli air strike on Gaza school kills at least 16

By Rushdi Aboualouf and Tom McArthurBBC News
Shock and horror at scene of Gaza blast

At least 16 people have been killed in an Israeli air strike on a UN-run school in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials have said. Dozens more have been injured.

The building was sheltering thousands of displaced people at Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel said it had struck several Hamas “terrorists operating in structures located in the area of Al-Jaouni School”.

A local source said the target was a room allegedly used by Hamas police. A spokeswoman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) said the claims were “very, very serious” and should be investigated.

The attack comes as hopes rise that a deal between Israel and Hamas is on the horizon, following months of false starts.

Israel has announced it will send a team of negotiators next week to discuss a hostage release deal with Hamas.

It comes after a senior US administration official said Hamas had agreed to “pretty significant adjustments” to its position regarding a potential ceasefire.

A senior Hamas source told the Reuters news agency on Saturday that the group had agreed to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages 16 days after the proposed first phase of an agreement aimed at ending the Gaza war.

Video from the scene of the Nuseirat school strike shows adults and children screaming in a smoke-filled street covered in dust and rubble, as they run to help the wounded.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that the attack targeted the upper floors of the school, which is located near a busy market.

The BBC understands that up to 7,000 people were using the building as shelter.

One woman told the AFP news agency how some children were killed as they were reading the Koran when the building was hit.

“This is the fourth time they have targeted the school without warning,” she said.

Hamas said five local journalists were among those killed in Israeli attacks on Saturday. Members of their family were also reportedly targeted.

More than 100 journalists have lost their lives in Gaza since the 7 October attacks, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Hamas said the five latest fatalities brings the number to 158.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed it had hit the school buildings, saying it had taken “numerous steps” to “mitigate the risk of harming civilians, including the use of precise aerial surveillance and additional intelligence”.

Hamas militants were using the location as a “hideout” to carry out attacks against IDF troops, it said.

“Hamas continues to systematically violate international law by exploiting civilian structures and the civilian population as human shields for its terrorist attacks against the State of Israel,” it added.

Hamas called the attack a “massacre” on “defenceless displaced civilians”.

Many of the dead and wounded were women, children and the elderly, the group claimed via its English language Telegram channel.

Many schools and other UN facilities have been used as shelters by the 1.7 million people who have fled their homes during the war, which has lasted almost eight months.

“We don’t have all the information yet. Since the war began, we have had more than half of our facilities hit,” Juliette Touma, Unrwa’s communications director, told the BBC regarding the latest attack.

“Many of them were shelters, and as a result at least 500 people sheltering in those facilities have been killed. Many were women and children.”

She added it was not the first time Israel had made such claims, and that they should be investigated.

A previous attack in June on another packed UN-run school in Nuseirat killed at least 35 people.

Local journalists told the BBC at the time that a warplane fired two missiles at classrooms on the top floor of the school.

After that attack, Israel’s military said it had “conducted a precise strike on a Hamas compound” in the school and killed many of the 20 to 30 fighters it believed were inside.

The head of the Unrwa described the June incident as “horrific” and said the claim that armed groups might have been inside a shelter was “shocking” but could not be confirmed.

Israel’s war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October in which Hamas-led gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

At least 38,098 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel has regularly accused Unrwa of supporting Hamas, which is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the UK, US and other countries.

The organisation has rejected this.

In April, a UN investigation found Israel had failed to back up a claim that many of the agency’s staff belonged militant groups, but also said it could improve its neutrality, staff vetting and transparency.

Flames, chains and grains: Africa’s top shots

A selection of the week’s best photos from across the African continent:

On the eve of Mauritania’s presidential election, a man arrives at the Grand Mosque in Nouakchott for Friday prayers…

Days later supporters of the incumbent president celebrate his re-election. The runner-up, an anti-slavery campaigner, alleges that the vote was stolen.

On Saturday, Ayra Starr becomes the first Afrobeats artist to perform on the Pyramid stage at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival…

Followed the next day by fellow Nigerian star Burna Boy.

Also on Sunday, South African singer Tyla appears at the BET awards in the US and takes home two trophies – for best Best New Artist and Best International Act.

Angola’s Silvio de Sousa and Spain’s Willy Hernangomez vie for the ball during an Olympic basketball qualifier on Wednesday.

Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay takes in the moment after winning the third stage of the Tour de France on Monday. He becomes the first black African competitor to win one of the 21 stages in this yearly feat of endurance.

Fishermen bring their catch to shore in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Saturday.

The next day, Nigerian golfer Georgia Oboh lines up her putt at the Dow Championship in the US.

Protests continue in Kenya on Tuesday even though an unpopular draft law to raise tax is dropped…

Young people have been at the forefront of these demonstrations in cities and towns across the country.

And on Friday in the Tunisian town of Nabeul, a woman spreads couscous out to dry in the sun.

BBC Africa podcasts

Cyclist fined for kissing wife during Tour de France

By Michael Sheils McNameeBBC News

French cyclist Julien Bernard has given a light-hearted apology after being fined for kissing his wife during a Tour de France time trial.

The Lidl-Trek rider was made to pay 200 Swiss francs ($223; £174) by the International Cycling Union (UCI) for stopping briefly during stage seven of the race.

The governing body said the fine was for “unseemly or inappropriate behaviour during the race and damage to the image of the sport”.

Writing on social media, Bernard apologised to the UCI for “having damaged the image of sport” but said he was willing to pay the fine “every day and relive this moment”.

Stage seven of the Tour de France is a short course of 23.3km (14.5 miles) and is one of two time trials in the race – where cyclists race against the clock for the best time.

The climb takes place in the famous wine region of Burgundy. According to Cycling News, Bernard was just 30 minutes from where he lives when he was met by his supporters.

As he reached the top of a climb, friends ran towards him holding signs and his wife stepped forward – at which point she gave him a quick kiss, holding their son who was dressed in a replica cycling kit.

A fine for the same amount and for breaking the same rule was given earlier in the race to Italian cyclist Davide Ballerini, after he stopped to watch Britain’s Mark Cavendish sprint to a record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage victory.

In a television interview following the stage, Bernard said the encounter with his loved ones had been a unique moment in his career and he had pushed hard earlier in the stage so he would have enough time to do so.

“It was really incredible. My wife has been organising this with some friends for a few weeks now and she did a really, really good job,” he said.

“On a time trial, you have time to enjoy yourself. It’s these moments that keep me going and cycling.”

Slovak PM in first public appearance since shooting

By Aleks PhillipsBBC News

The Slovakian prime minister has made his first public appearance since being wounded in an assassination attempt.

Robert Fico was shot several times on 15 May while greeting people outside a cultural centre in Handlova, about 180km (112 miles) from the capital Bratislava, after holding a meeting there.

He was rushed to hospital to undergo emergency surgery, before later being discharged to receive care at home.

On Friday, Mr Fico spoke during a ceremony at Devin Castle in Bratislava to mark Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, a public holiday in Slovakia.

Cyril and Methodius were brothers credited with converting Slavic people in the region to Christianity in the 9th Century and creating an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Mr Fico, 59, used a speech at the commemoration to criticise the supposed expansion of progressive ideologies and the West’s stance towards Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Moment leading up to shooting of Slovak PM

He said “meaningless” liberal ideas were “spreading like cancer”, and that there were “not enough peace talks” with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the Russian invasion, according to local and international media reports.

Mr Fico, a populist who returned to office last October, is a divisive figure both domestically and within the wider EU, with calls to end military aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia. He has also proposed abolishing Slovakia’s public broadcaster.

His attacker, previously named as 71-year-old Jurac C, has been described as a writer and political activist.

Footage of the incident shows a gun being pulled in the crowd and five shots ringing out. The Slovakian PM was then bundled into a car by his bodyguards while the suspected shooter was detained at the scene.

In a video address posted on social media on 5 June, Mr Fico said he forgave his assailant and felt no hatred towards him, while blaming the attack on his parliamentary opposition.

  • Published

One of the bosses of the Aston Martin Formula One team said he was in his “dream job” as he prepares for his team’s home Grand Prix on Sunday.

Andy Stephenson has spent more than 30 years in the sport, starting with the Jordan motor racing team in the late 80s.

He is now the sporting director of Silverstone-based Aston Martin, which returned to Formula One in 2021.

The 56-year-old said: “When I was at school, I went to the careers office [and] said ‘I want to work with fast cars and travel the world’.” He said he was told he “won’t find a job like that, but fortunately I did”.

After returning to the sport, Aston Martin leapt from the midfield to be regular podium contenders at the start of 2023.

In 2024, the team have had several top-six qualifying positions for lead driver Fernando Alonso and sit fifth in the constructors’ championship after 11 of 24 races.

Stephenson said that although there have been significant changes in technology since he started in Formula One, “the aim is still exactly the same”.

“We want to go racing; we want to win races; we want to be competitive; and we eventually want to win World Championships,” he said.

‘Silverstone is special’

He said once the Silverstone site in Northamptonshire is fully open the team will have “close to 1,000 staff”.

“It’s certainly changed from the day I first walked into the factory owned by Eddie Jordan, where there were eight of us,” he said.

Stephenson, who is from Northampton, began as an engineer and now represents the team in discussions with the sports governing body, the FIA.

He said: “It is a lot of fun and has a lot of challenges; it’s not all champagne and trophies, but something that’s really, really enjoyable and a job that I love.”

The sporting director said Silverstone was a circuit “that’s very special to my heart”.

He said: “My mum used to work here as a young girl at the weekend selling burgers and hot dogs and I have been working here ever since, so it is really special.

“When you see a Formula One car at full pace around Silverstone, it still sends shivers down my spine.”

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Democrats weigh risks and rewards of losing Biden

By Holly HonderichBBC News, Washington

President Joe Biden sought to revive his beleaguered re-election effort on Sunday, with two campaign events in Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state.

But the efforts so far have done little to quell the swirling panic as Democrats weigh the risks and rewards of keeping Mr Biden at the top of the ticket.

Calls for Mr Biden, 81, to exit the race have only grown after a halting debate performance last week raised questions about his physical and mental capacity to run. A prime time interview with ABC on Friday fuelled further speculation about his campaign’s future.

A number of top Democratic figures voiced their stances over the weekend, aiming to address the question: is it riskier to stick with Biden or to leave him behind?

The party may be headed to defeat against Donald Trump in November if Mr Biden stays on, but replacing him comes with many unknowns.

Some see potential in a fresh start

Amid the fallout of Mr Biden’s disastrous debate performance, asking the president to step aside could bring some immediate relief.

Some Democrats, including avowed supporters of the president, have said as much, suggesting that concerns about his age and mental acuity had grown difficult to overcome.

The debate “rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigour to defeat Donald Trump”, said California Representative Adam Schiff on Sunday.

Mr Schiff stopped short of saying Biden should drop out in his interview with NBC News. He urged him to seek advice from people with “distance and objectivity” and make a decision about whether he believes he is the best candidate to run.

“Given Joe Biden’s incredible record, given Donald Trump’s terrible record, he [Biden] should be mopping the floor with Donald Trump,” Mr Schiff said. “It should not be even close and there’s only one reason it is close, and that’s the president’s age.”

Mr Biden is 81, while Trump has just turned 78. The ages of both candidates have become an increasingly contentious point among voters.

On the left, polls suggest some voters are losing faith in Mr Biden. In a Wall Street Journal poll released on Friday, 86% of Democrats said they would support Mr Biden, down from 93% in February.

A different candidate may also offer a clean slate in other areas, too. Before this wave of Democratic panic, Mr Biden drew criticism from voters on several policy fronts, including his handling of the US economy and the migrant crisis at the country’s southern border.

Clip of Biden in an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos

The president faced a threat of defection from progressive voters who oppose his response to Israel’s war in Gaza. Their resistance cost him more than 100,000 votes in Michigan – a crucial swing state – during its primary in February.

A Biden ticket “is going to drag everybody else down”, said former Ohio Representative Tim Ryan on Sunday in an interview with Fox News. “I think you’re going to see a significant amount of pressure whether it’s today or tomorrow, sometime this week, as members come back that this may be untenable for them.”

Others say the unknown is too big a risk

Any benefit to losing Mr Biden may be muted by the looming risks, according to some Democratic leaders.

If the president stood aside, most of what comes after remains unclear: who would replace Mr Biden, and how? And how would that candidate fare against Trump?

And in recent days, several Biden allies have stressed the pitfalls of charting a new course, arguing that Mr Biden has been a proven success.

“Biden is old,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 82, on CBS News on Sunday. “He is not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One. He can’t. What we have got to focus on is policy – whose policies have and will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who spent the weekend stumping for the president, said the same at a rally in Doylestown, Pennsylvania on Saturday.

“It’s the hypothetical that gets in the way of progress in terms of promoting this candidacy,” Mr Newsom said. “It’s exactly where the other party wants us to be, is having this internal fight, and I think it’s extraordinarily unhelpful.”

Mr Biden’s public supporters say replacing him may become a direct benefit to Trump’s Republicans, who can argue their opponents are engulfed in party chaos.

“We’ve got to stop talking about this,” Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan said on CNN on Sunday. “We’ve spent a whole week. Republicans are having a great time. I mean, we need to get back to talking about Donald Trump and his peformance.”

New foreign secretary wants to reset UK-EU ties

By Paul AdamsBBC News

David Lammy’s whirlwind first trip as foreign secretary, organised at very short notice, is not about instant results or even brave new horizons.

It is all about perception – the appearance of a new, vigorous administration, determined to hit the ground running, brimming with goodwill towards some of the UK’s most important partners.

After an evening spent with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock – the two found time to watch a few minutes of England’s European Championship quarter-final – Mr Lammy’s tour moved to the bucolic surroundings of the country estate of Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky.

After a couple of hours of talks, it was back on the plane for a short flight north to one of Nato’s newest members, Sweden.

Why Germany, Poland and Sweden?

Partly because of Ukraine. Along with Britain, all three countries play important roles in sustaining Kyiv’s war effort. With the new Defence Secretary John Healey on the ground in Odesa, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer’s government is keen to stress that the UK’s commitment to Ukraine will remain rock solid.

Following a meeting with President Zelensky and his counterpart Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, Mr Healey said the UK would provide more artillery guns, a quarter-of-a-million ammunition rounds and nearly 100 precision Brimstone missiles.

“There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” he said, promising to “reinvigorate” support via increased military aid.

He also pledged to fast-track the reinforcements to ensure they arrive with the next 100 days.

“We want to double down on our commitment to Ukraine,” Mr Lammy said, as dragonflies swooped over a tranquil lake and a pair of majestic eagles circled overhead.

France, in the midst of its own election – one which seems destined to have far-reaching consequences – was not on the itinerary. Not this weekend.

No stop in Brussels, either. Sir Keir has said the UK will not return to the EU “in my lifetime”.

But Poland and Sweden are both key European partners and fellow Nato members – good places for the foreign secretary to start exploring the outlines of closer future relations.

“I want to reset both our bilateral relationship and our relationship with the European Union,” Mr Lammy said, adding a reference to Labour’s still rather nebulous pledge to strike a new EU-UK security pact.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Edinburgh on Sunday, the prime minister said work was already under way to improve the UK’s relationship with the EU.

He said his government “can get a much better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson saddled the UK with”.

Mr Lammy said that when European leaders gather at Blenheim Palace on 18 July for the next meeting of the European Political Community (established by Emmanuel Macron in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), “the new spirit of co-operation will be on show”.

Lammy’s concerns: Russia, China, Gaza

The trip comes just days before Sir Keir takes his own first steps on the international stage as prime minister, at the Nato summit in Washington DC.

These are tricky times to be shoring up relationships, with France taking a lurch to the right and the US possibly on the verge of returning the unpredictable Donald Trump to office.

Mr Lammy agreed this was a “tough geopolitical moment”, but said it was important not to confuse disagreements between mature democracies with the threats posed by authoritarian regimes.

“I am concerned when I see Iranian drones turning up in Ukraine,” he said.

“I am concerned when I see shells from North Korea being used here on European soil.

“And of course I’m concerned with the partnership that I see Russia brokering across those authoritarian states.”

Other issues hang heavy over the new foreign secretary’s first trip, in particular the war in Gaza.

In Germany on Saturday, Mr Lammy spoke to the need to strike a “more balanced approach to Israel-Gaza”.

It is not clear exactly what he meant, but with ceasefire talks apparently poised to resume, finding a way to end the Gaza war and revive the Arab-Israeli peace process seems destined to consume a large amount of diplomatic time in the coming months.

For his part, Mr Lammy’s famously anglophile host said the relatively new Polish government shared something in common with the incoming Starmer administration.

Both, Mr Sikorski said, were “the product of the public being tired with enthusiasts on the nationalist side of politics” – a remark which perhaps only partially reflected the true nature of last week’s general election.

Mr Sikorski said he looked forward to “a more pragmatic approach” from Britain to its relationship with Europe and said the two ministers had discussed “some creative ideas of how to further that”.

Rob Delaney says he wants to die in same room as his son

By Charlotte GallagherCulture correspondent

The US actor and comedian Rob Delaney has said he wants to buy the home his son died in so he can also experience his last moments there.

Delaney’s two-year-old child Henry died in 2018 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Delaney told Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs he asked the landlord when he moved out: “Listen, if you ever go to sell this place, let me know first because I would like to buy it.

“So when I’m 81 I can crawl in here and die. In the same room that my son died in, that my other son was born in.”

Before Henry died, his parents told him they were expecting another child.

The Catastrophe and Deadpool 2 star said: “He had to know that this family that loved him was alive and was growing and that there was somebody that we were going to tell about him.

“We knew that they would not overlap corporally on this Earth, even though Henry’s younger brother was born in the same room that Henry died in, our living room.”

Delaney, 47, told the programme that he and his wife, Leah, had considered leaving London but had continued to live in the city because of memories of Henry.

“For so many reasons, we’ve stayed, one of which is I like to go put my hands on slides at the playground that Henry slid down.”

He added that he sometimes bumps into the nurses that looked after his son and said London and the NHS had taken very good care of his child.

Delaney has previously described the NHS as “the pinnacle of human achievement” and that his family received “truly unbelievable” care while Henry was sick.

Heart was ‘torn into pieces and dissolved in salt’

Delaney thought he would struggle with the birth of his new son, saying his heart had “been torn into pieces and dissolved in salt” and was just “garbage”.

But he told host Lauren Laverne that the “nanosecond he exited my wife’s body, I looked at him and just you know, started weeping and was so in love with him and just wanted to sniff them and eat them and put them into my shirt and squeeze them and I love him desperately.

“And then you have to feel and honour your pain. You have to let it hurt and you can’t run away from it. When the feelings come it’s best to let them.”

Delaney also spoke about his recovery from alcoholism, saying he has been sober for more than two decades after a car crash prompted him to stop drinking.

He added: “It’s nothing more interesting than garden variety alcoholism, you know, I found that drinking just made me just feel better, complete, happier, relaxed.

“You know, anytime I took a drink, it was just like, ‘this is it’. I first got drunk at 12 and then began to drink with more regularity at 14.

“I had alcoholism on both sides of my family. And so then I got it too and… it doesn’t really care where you come from.”

Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau dies aged 63

By Kathryn ArmstrongBBC News

Jon Landau – the Oscar-winning producer of some of the world’s highest-grossing movies of all time, including Titanic and Avatar – has died aged 63.

Landau, who was the long-time producing partner of filmmaker James Cameron, reportedly died on Friday after living with cancer for more than a year.

His sister Tina confirmed his death on social media, calling him “the best brother a girl could ever dream of”.

“My heart is broken but also bursting with pride & gratitude for his most extraordinary life, and the love and gifts he gave me – and all who knew him or his films,” she wrote.

Landau was the son of Hollywood producers Ely and Edie Landau and for a time was an executive at the film production company 20th Century Fox, overseeing films including The Last Of The Mohicans and Die Hard 2.

Alongside Cameron, he helped to create the 1997 hit Titanic, which was the first film to make it past the $1bn mark at the global box office.

Later films Avatar and its sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, which were released in 2009 and 2022 respectively, went on to break Titanic’s record.

Landau also co-produced other hit films including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Dick Tracy, and held a management position in Cameron’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment.

Following news of Landau’s death, Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter that “a great producer and a great human being has left us”.

“Jon Landau believed in the dream of cinema. He believed that film is the ultimate human art form, and to make films you have to first be human yourself,” he said.

“He will be remembered as much for his vast generosity of spirit as for the movies themselves.”

Director Sir Peter Jackson and his screenwriter wife Fran Walsh, whose visual effects company was used for the Avatar films, said in a statement that they were “devastated by the loss of Jon Landau”.

“Jon brought unparalleled passion to the projects he worked on and his influence will continue to inspire for years to come.”

The actor Zoe Saldaña, who starred in the Avatar films, wrote a message to Landau on Instagram, saying that his death was “hitting really hard”.

“Your wisdom and support shaped so many of us in ways we will always be grateful for.”

Senior Hamas official killed as Israel orders fresh evacuation

By Sebastian Usher and Rushdi AbualoufBBC News

A senior Hamas administration official was among four people killed in an Israeli air strike at a school in Gaza City, Palestinian sources say.

A local official told the BBC that Ehab Al-Ghussein was appointed to manage the affairs of the Hamas government in Gaza City and northern Gaza three months ago.

The Israeli army says that it carried out a strike on the area of a school building in Gaza City from which it says “terrorists were operating and hiding”.

It says that it took steps to minimise the risk of civilians being harmed.

Eyewitnesses say the attack targeted the Holy Family School next to the Holy Family Church to the west of Gaza city. A large number of people were sheltering in the building, the BBC understands.

The air strike targeted two classrooms on the ground floor, they said.

Separately the Israeli military issued another evacuation order for a central part of Gaza City.

Residents told the BBC that dozens of families are leaving, and he saw women and children carrying bags and walking to the west.

Ibrahim Al-Barbari, 47, lives with his wife, five children, mother and sister in the Bani Amer neighbourhood, which is part of the area the army has ordered residents to leave.

“We heard from the neighbours that we had to leave the house. We haven’t received any calls or texts from the army, but we have already started gathering our belongings in preparation for moving again.

“We have been living in a state of near famine for months.”

Ehab Al-Ghussein was formerly deputy labour minister in the Hamas administration and before that an interior ministry spokesman. His death is not considered to be a blow to Hamas militarily, but he was considered a significant figure in the leadership of the Hamas administration.

Many others in the Hamas administration have been killed in the past nine months.

In one Israeli airstrike last November, the deputy culture minister and the deputy speaker of the legislative council were killed, along with other government employees and officials, as well as senior police officers.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear many times that the goal of Israel’s war against Hamas is to destroy it politically as well as militarily.

Israel’s war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October in which Hamas-led gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

At least 38,098 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Western US bakes in heatwave

By Aleks PhillipsBBC News

A record-breaking heatwave that has already caused large wildfires in western US states is set to continue next week.

Around 130m people were under some form of heat warning or advisory on Saturday. Nearly 57m people remain under heat alerts, as at least one child has already died in heat-related circumstances in Arizona.

Meteorologists are warning that warm nights will lead to people suffering heat stress. Temperatures could reach 128F (53C) in Death Valley on Monday.

While it is hard to link individual heatwaves to climate change, scientists say they are becoming more common and intense because of it.

Why a Shaun of the Dead reboot would ‘incense’ Simon Pegg

By Charlotte GallagherCulture reporter

Before Simon Pegg was Tom Cruise’s right hand man in Mission Impossible he was known for his British comedy hits.

Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End are called The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy due to their repeated references about the ice cream.

And like with any cult classic there are calls for sequels and reboots, especially with Shaun of the Dead marking its twentieth birthday this year.

But Pegg, who wrote the film with director Edgar Wright, said the pair would be “incensed”.

The actor told The Hollywood Reporter that the zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, is “an incredibly personal” movie.

“There is so much of us in that film,” he added.

“The whole thing with Shaun’s mum, the stepdad, I had a problematic relationship with my stepfather. It was Edgar’s idea to kill the mum. I couldn’t believe it when he said that, but it was the best decision. There’s so much of our own heart and soul in that film.

“If someone was to reboot it, it would be a cynical and exploitative exercise. I would hope that people are in love with our Shaun enough to resist a reboot.”

Pegg said he was annoyed by Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake even though it was a “great movie”.

“I hated the fact they called it Dawn of the Dead, because that was George Romero’s film. They could have called it Deadish, which was a great line in the film that one of the actors used, and it still would have been a great film, but when you just take a title because people recognize it, it’s so disrespectful to the original,” he added.

The actor also appeared to rule out a Shaun of the Dead sequel, saying there just “wasn’t a story to tell” and “some stories end”.

“If you were to see Shaun again, if the zombies came back, there’s just not a story to tell it.”

But the creative partnership between Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright continues, with Pegg saying there is “something always in the works”.

Though Pegg admits it is unlikely they will be working together anytime soon: “We’re both busy into the distant future. The biggest challenge that we have right now is finding a moment to get together and spend six, seven weeks, to get our first draft out and come up with the idea.

“But we’re constantly looking for that. Edgar came over to my house last year and stayed for the week, and we just sort of talked about films and what we want to do next.

“We just need the time to do it. So it really is a question of when, not if.”

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Emma Raducanu is out of Wimbledon after being hampered by injury in the deciding set of her fourth-round match against New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun.

The British wildcard, 21, lost 6-2 5-7 6-2 in a dramatic contest on Centre Court.

Raducanu had levelled the match and regained some confidence after a stunning performance from an inspired Sun.

Then Raducanu slipped on the baseline in the first game of the third set.

The 2021 US Open champion stayed down on the grass and shook her head before getting back to her feet.

The game was stopped at 15-30 on Raducanu’s serve and she received treatment – on her leg and back – while laid out on the court.

A roar of encouragement greeted Raducanu when it became clear she would carry on.

However, she gingerly lost serve immediately and could not recover the break.

Her movement during points improved, despite clasping her back between games, but was broken again for 5-2 and could not take either of two break points before Sun served out on her second match point.

It means the world number 135 missed out on reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time in her career, while there are no British players left in the singles draws at the All England Club.

Raducanu defeat deflates Wimbledon

Optimism had been rapidly building around Raducanu after she confidently breezed through her opening three matches without dropping a set.

But a confident Sun, who had never won a main-draw match at a Grand Slam until this tournament, demonstrated the powerful game which has seen her break new ground.

The quality of her performance disrupted former world number 10 Raducanu and deflated an expectant home crowd.

Raducanu’s defeat came a day after she pulled out of a planned mixed doubles appearance alongside fellow Briton Andy Murray, citing “stiffness” in her right wrist.

Even though it was a sensible precaution having needed surgery on the same wrist last year, the move led to some criticism given it denied Murray the chance to play again in his Wimbledon farewell.

Raducanu looked in good spirits when she practised earlier on Sunday. The smile has returned to her face during the British grass-court swing and a renewed sense of enjoyment has led to some of her best tennis since winning the US Open.

With that came increased expectation which was further fuelled by facing a qualifier for a place in the quarter-finals.

But, as Raducanu herself said before the contest, qualifiers are dangerous. Her prudence proved prophetic.

Sun rises again

Raducanu’s achieved a fairytale when she won as a teenage qualifier in New York almost three years ago.

This time, it is Sun’s dreams which are coming true.

Sun, a left-hander born in New Zealand who represented Switzerland until this year, oozed confidence like a player does when they have already won six matches in a row on the Wimbledon grass.

Flashy winners came behind a superb serve, while the confident bounce in her step allowed her to finish off 23 of 28 points at the net.

The 23-year-old was overcome by emotion after reaching the last eight in only the second Grand Slam main-draw appearance of her career.

She had never won at a major until beating Chinese eighth seed Zheng Qinwen in a first-round shock which kickstarted this stunning run.

“I had to fight tooth and nail because Emma will still run for every ball and fight until the end,” she said.

“I don’t have the words right now.”

Now Sun will face Croatia’s Donna Vekic, ranked 37th in the world, for a place in the semi-finals.

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Italian Jasmine Paolini is into the Wimbledon quarter-finals after a tearful Madison Keys retired with an injury in the deciding set.

The American, 29, was forced to stop with the score locked at 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 5-5 on Court One.

Keys appeared to pick up the injury when she hit a forehand while serving for victory at 5-2 in the final set.

She took a medical timeout at the change of ends when leading 5-4 and was treated before leaving the court.

The 12th seed reappeared with strapping high on her thigh and was clearly hampered by the injury.

Paolini, 28, broke the serve of Keys again to level at 5-5 before Keys decided she could no longer continue.

“Right now I’m so sorry for her,” said Paolini. “To end the match like this is bad. What can I say?

“I think we played a really good match. It was tough. A lot of ups and downs. I’m feeling a bit happy but also sad for her. It’s not easy to win like that.”

French Open finalist Paolini had never won a match in the Wimbledon main draw before this year’s tournament.

After winning the first set, she trailed in the second 5-1 but rallied brilliantly to force a tie-break – which Keys eventually took on her fourth set point.

Keys established a big lead again in the decider before her injury.

Paolini will play the winner of the all-American meeting between Coco Gauff and Emma Navarro in the last eight.

Elsewhere, Croatian Donna Vekic progressed to the last eight by overcoming Spaniard Paula Badosa in three sets.

The world number 37 won 6-2 1-6 6-4 in a rain-interrupted game on court two.

Vekic will play New Zealand’s Lulu Sun in the quarter-finals after her win over Briton Emma Raducanu.

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Britain’s Tom Pidcock was pipped on the line as France’s Anthony Turgis won the ninth stage of the Tour de France.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider was narrowly beaten in the final sprint at the end of a frantic 199km stage in Troyes that included 14 gravel sections.

Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar retained the leader’s yellow jersey and animated the stage with attacks on several occasions on a day that tested the credentials of all the general classification riders.

Pogacar, of UAE-Team Emirates, leads Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-Quick Step by 33 seconds overall, with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard of Visma-Lease a Bike in third, one minute 15 seconds further back.

While Pogacar and Evenepoel sought to get up the road at various times prior to Monday’s rest day, the Dane was less adventurous and content to neutralise their moves having had to swap bikes with Jan Tratnik after an early mechanical issue.

On the one occasion he was caught out, with about 20km remaining, his American team-mate Matteo Jorgenson superbly dragged him back onto the wheel of Pogacar as all the general classification riders came back together at the end.

“I ride with my heart and today was a day to do it,” said Pogacar, who appeared bemused by Visma-Lease a Bike’s strategy.

“They only look at me and they underestimate the others. It could backfire,” added the 25-year-old, who is attempting to complete the first Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double since 1998.

While there was little movement towards the top of the overall standings, Canada’s Derek Gee – who was also in the breakaway with Pidcock and Turgis – was rewarded by moving inside the top 10 by finishing third.

Adam Yates, who is riding in support of Pogacar, is the highest-placed British rider overall, sitting almost five minutes behind his team-mate.

Prior to the start of the stage the Uno-X Mobility team led a moment of applause in memory of Andre Drege, the Norwegian cyclist who died aged 25 in a crash at the Tour of Austria on Saturday.

The race now travels west to Orleans in the heart of France and continues on Tuesday with a 187.3km run into Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Tour de France stage nine results

Anthony Turgis (Fra/Total Energies) 4hrs 19mins 43secs

Tom Pidcock (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) Same time

Derek Gee (Can/Israel-Premier Tech) “

Alex Aranburu (Spa/Movistar) “

Ben Healy (Ire/EF Education-EasyPost) “

Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana Qazaqstan) “

Javier Romo (Spa/Movistar) +12secs

Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Lidl-trek) +18secs

Biniam Girmay (Eri/Intermarche-Wanty) +1min 17secs

Michael Matthews (Aus/Jayco AlUla) Same time

General classification after stage nine

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 35hrs 42mins 42secs

2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel/Soudal-Quick Step) +33secs

3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Visma-Lease a Bike) +1min 15secs

4. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe) +1mins 36secs

5. Juan Ayuso (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 16secs

6. Joao Almeida (Por/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 17secs

7. Carlos Rodriguez (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +2mins 31secs

8. Mikel Landa (Spa/Soudal-Quick Step) +3mins 35secs

9. Derek Gee (Can/Israel-Premier Tech) +4mins 02secs

10. Matteo Jorgenson (US/Visma-Lease a Bike) 4mins 03secs

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Lewis Hamilton won a race-long fight with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris at a gripping, wet-dry British Grand Prix to take his first victory since December 2021.

Hamilton had just enough to hold off a late charge from Verstappen’s Red Bull to take his 104th career win, and his ninth at home to become the record-holder for victories at a single circuit.

Verstappen, who had struggled for pace through much of a race that was hit by two separate periods of rain, came alive in the closing laps to take second place from Norris, who grabbed the final position on the podium.

Hamilton, who was driving in his last British GP for Mercedes before his move to Ferrari next year, appeared to be in tears in the car as he told his team: “This means so much to me,” as they congratulated him over the radio.

“This one means a lot to us all,” his engineer Peter Bonnington said. “I love you, Bono,” Hamilton replied.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described the win as “a fairytale” for them and Hamilton.

Norris’ team-mate Oscar Piastri, who was also in the lead fight for the first half of the race, took fourth place ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Classic race for Hamilton’s comeback win

In front of a crowd of 164,000 people cheering the British drivers – and especially Hamilton – to the rafters despite the inclement weather, the top drivers and three leading teams put on a superb show throughout.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton led the early laps after locking out the front row of the grid for the team, while Verstappen passed Norris around the outside of Turn Four on the opening lap to run third.

But the Red Bull did not initially show its usually formidable race pace and Norris was able to reclaim third place on lap 15 with a pass into Stowe corner.

Piastri followed the Briton through two laps later just as the first shower of rain started, bringing the McLarens, who had chosen a higher-downforce set-up than Mercedes and Red Bull, into their own.

Hamilton made the first move, though, passing Russell into Stowe on lap 18.

A few corners later, both Mercedes drivers slid off the track at Turn Two at the start of lap 19 as they wrestled for grip on the slippery track and Norris pounced, passing Russell at Turn Four before closing on Hamilton and passing him at Turn One on lap 20.

Piastri moved up into second behind him and the McLarens ran one-two for five laps as the track began to dry.

Decisive pit stop tyres choices

The lead cars all stayed out on slick tyres through the first period of rain, but the teams knew more rain was coming and as it came down more heavily Verstappen benefited from an early stop for intermediates on lap 26.

Norris, Hamilton and Russell followed him in a lap later, Piastri suffering badly for staying out a further lap on the slicks and losing 10 seconds to the lead pack.

The stop timing vaulted Verstappen up to third behind Norris and Hamilton, with Russell fourth.

But four laps later Russell was out of the running when he was told to retire his Mercedes because of a water system problem.

By lap 38, with 14 to go, the track was almost dry, and Verstappen again jumped early for a tyre change.

He and Hamilton stopped together, Mercedes choosing soft tyres and Verstappen hard, while Norris stayed out a lap later before taking softs.

The earlier stop vaulted Hamilton ahead of Norris into the lead,.

It set up a grandstand finish, with the three cars in a single camera shot on the Hangar Straight for the entire climactic period of the race.

Hamilton always looked to have Norris under control, but the it was soon clear that Verstappen was now the major threat, the Red Bull transformed by the decision to switch to hard tyres.

Verstappen swept by Norris on lap 48 down the Hangar Straight, and went into the final four laps 3.2 seconds behind Hamilton and closing in.

But Hamilton had enough to hold him off, crossing the line 1.4secs adrift, before Hamilton fought back tears after climbing out of the car.

Meanwhile, Norris and Piastri were left to rue some dubious McLaren pit calls – both Norris’ stops were a lap too late, while Piastri was undone by the decision not to double-stack him behind Norris when they changed to inters.

And Piastri’s pace on the medium tyres at the end of the race – he was the fastest car on the track by a quite some margin – suggested that Norris, too, should have gone on to them when he made his final stop.

Behind Sainz, Hulkenberg impressed in a Haas heavily upgraded for this race in sixth place, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso took seventh and eighth as Williams’ Alex Albon and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda completed the points positions in the top 10.

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Bayern Munich have signed winger Michael Olise from Crystal Palace on a five-year deal after paying a release clause of about £60m.

The 22-year-old English-born France Under-21 forward made 90 appearances in all competitions over three seasons with Palace.

He joined the Eagles from Reading for £8m in July 2021.

Chelsea and Newcastle United registered their interest in Olise earlier this summer but the winger has chosen to move to Germany, where he will work under Bayern’s new manager Vincent Kompany.

“I’m very happy to now be playing for such a big club – it’s a great challenge and that’s exactly what I was looking for,” said Olise.

“I want to prove myself at this level and play my part in ensuring we win as many titles as possible in the coming years.”

Olise scored 10 goals in 19 Premier League appearances as Palace finished 10th in the table last season.

He has been selected in the France squad for the Olympics that start in Paris later this month.

“We are hugely proud of what Michael has achieved at Crystal Palace, a club where he has developed greatly as a player,” said Eagles chairman Steve Parish.

“We respect his desire to further test himself at the highest level of world football.”

Bayern are also set to complete the signing of Fulham’s Joao Palhinha in a deal worth £42m plus £4m in add-ons.

The 28-year-old Portugal midfielder was close to joining Bayern last summer but a deal collapsed on deadline day.

England defender Eric Dier has also joined the Bundesliga club permanently after playing for them on loan from Tottenham Hotspur since January.

Bayern’s 11-year hold on the German title was ended by Bayer Leverkusen last season.

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Carlos Alcaraz inched a step closer to defending his Wimbledon title with a hard-fought victory over Ugo Humbert.

The 21-year-old Spaniard held off a late charge from 16th seed Humbert to win 6-3 6-4 1-6 7-5 and move into the last eight at SW19.

It took Alcaraz’s winning streak at Grand Slams to 11 following his French Open triumph last month.

“I feel great playing today, I think I played a really high level,” he said.

“Playing a leftie, I try not to think about it and play my own game.”

Alcaraz will next face compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut or American 12th seed Tommy Paul, the Queen’s Club champion.

Meanwhile, world number one Jannik Sinner defeated American 14th seed Ben Shelton 6-2 6-4 7-6 (11-9).

Shelton, who won in five sets in his first three rounds, had four set points in the third-set tie-break.

Sinner, 22, will play Daniil Medvedev next after the Russian fifth seed benefitted from Grigor Dimitrov’s early retirement with a leg injury.

The Bulgarian 10th seed took a medical timeout before deciding, at 5-3 down in the first set, not to continue.

It seemed unlikely Sunday’s opening match on Centre Court would live up to the five-set classic Alcaraz played against Frances Tiafoe on Friday.

And it became even more improbable when, with little effort, he found himself two sets up in what appeared a relatively dull encounter.

But the three-time major winner suddenly faltered in the third set and Humbert stepped up to take advantage.

The Frenchman, 26, raised his intensity, hitting the chalk with brilliant winners and breaking serve three times to force a fourth set.

Both players struggled to hold in a tense set, and an increasingly frustrated Alcaraz turned to the crowd and his team for help, waving his arms animatedly to stir up support.

With their backing, the defending champion found another gear, impressively holding his serve under immense pressure and breaking for a 6-5 lead. Alcaraz then served out the match and, relieved, he applauded all four corners of Centre Court in appreciation.

Sinner ‘glad to close it in three’

Under the roof on Court One, Shelton, perhaps feeling the effects of playing on a sixth day out of seven in the tournament so far, fell two sets down in just over an hour.

However, Shelton fought back in the third and used a boisterous Court One crowd to break for a 2-0 lead.

Australian Open champion Sinner pulled level and pulled off a stunning between-the-legs shot from a deep Shelton return that drew gasps from the crowd.

After saving the set points, Sinner’s victory was secured when Shelton double-faulted at 10-9 down.

“It was a tough match, especially the third set. I had to keep saving set point. These matches can go long but I was glad to close it in three,” said Sinner.

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