BBC 2024-07-09 00:07:18


India event organiser arrested after fatal crush

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

The chief organiser of a religious gathering in northern India where 121 people were killed in a crush has surrendered to police, his lawyer says.

The incident in Uttar Pradesh state last week is one of the deadliest such disasters in the country in more than a decade.

Nearly all those killed were women and children who were attending the satsang – a Hindu religious gathering.

Chaos broke out at the end of the event as many in the crowd rushed towards the preacher leading the overcrowded congregation as he was about to leave in his car.

The tragedy has sparked outrage in India, leading to questions about lapses in safety measures and crowd management.

On Thursday, police said they had arrested six people who were part of a group that organised the event in Hathras district.

On Friday night, police said they had arrested Devprakash Madhukar, the main organiser of the event, in the Najafgarh area of the capital, Delhi, and handed him over to police in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state.

However, AP Singh, a lawyer for the preacher Bhole Baba who led the congregation, later said Mr Madhukar had surrendered to the police.

“We told you that we would surrender Devprakash Madhukar, take him in front of the police, interrogate him, participate in the investigation, and take part in the inquiry,” he told ANI news agency.

“We have handed him over to the special investigation team and the Uttar Pradesh police. Now a thorough investigation can be done.”

Mr Madhukar was produced before a local court and sent to 14 days in judicial custody.

He is a key suspect in the police complaint and is facing charges of attempted culpable homicide.

The complaint said officials had given permission for 80,000 people to gather, but some 250,000 people turned up to the event.

  • What we know about the India crush that killed 121
  • India preacher denies blame for crush deaths

The police report says thousands of devotees ran towards the preacher’s vehicle as he was leaving and began collecting dust from the path in an act of devotion.

Mr Singh, however, denied blame and told the BBC the crush occurred “due to some anti-social elements”. He blamed a “criminal conspiracy hatched against” his client.

He also denied reports that security guards at the festival had triggered panic by pushing away people who tried to get Bhole Baba’s blessing.

A three-member judicial inquiry commission has been established to investigate the incident.

‘You’re not welcome here’: Australia’s treatment of disabled migrants

By Katy WatsonAustralia correspondent

When Luca was born in a Perth hospital two years ago, it flipped his parents’ world in ways they never expected.

With the joy came a shocking diagnosis: Luca had cystic fibrosis. Then Australia – Laura Currie and her husband Dante’s home for eight years – said they couldn’t stay permanently. Luca, his parents were told, could be a financial burden on the country.

“I think I cried for like a week – I just feel really, really sorry for Luca,” Ms Currie says. “He’s just a defenceless two-and-a-half-year-old and doesn’t deserve to be discriminated against in that way.”

With a third of its population born abroad, Australia has long seen itself as a “migration nation” – a multicultural home for immigrants that promises them a fair go and a fresh start. The idea is baked into its identity. But the reality is often different, especially for those who have a disability or a serious medical condition.

It is one of few countries that routinely rejects immigrants’ visas on the basis of their medical needs – specifically if the cost of care exceeds A$86,000 ($57,000; £45,000) over a maximum of 10 years. New Zealand has a similar policy but Australia’s is much stricter.

The government defends the law as necessary to curb government spending and protect citizens’ access to healthcare. It says these visas aren’t technically rejected. But neither are they granted. Some can apply for a waiver, although not all visas allow it. They could also appeal the decision but the process is lengthy and expensive.

Campaigners see this as discriminatory and out of step with modern attitudes towards disability. And after years of fighting for it, they are hoping for change in the coming weeks, with an official review of the health requirements under way.

Laura Currie and Dante Vendittelli had moved from Scotland for jobs that Australia desperately needs. She is a nursery teacher and he is a painter-decorator. They had started their application for permanent residency before Luca was born. But now they feel like the life they built here and the taxes they paid meant little.

“It’s like, we’re here for you [Australia] when you need us, but when the roles are reversed and we need you, it’s like, nope, sorry, you cost too much money, you go back to your own country.”

BBC
We still treat people with disability in the same way as we did in 1901.”

Australia has form when it comes to its strict immigration policies. It had its own version of “stop the boats”, which sent people arriving by boat to offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island of Nauru and made controversial headlines in recent years. It was only in the 1970s that it entirely rid itself of the “White Australia” policy that started in 1901 with the Immigration Restriction Act, which limited the number of non-white immigrants.

The disability and health discriminations, which also date back to 1901, are still in place, says Jan Gothard, an immigration lawyer: “We still treat people with disability in the same way as we did in 1901 and we think they’re not people who are welcome in Australia.”

She is part of Welcoming Disability, an umbrella group that’s been pressuring the government to overhaul the law. Surprisingly, Australia’s Migration Act is exempt from its own Disability Discrimination Act.

Put simply, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in Australia, if you were born in Australia, if you have private health insurance or even if you can pay for the support yourself – if you are deemed too much of a financial burden, you will fail the health requirement.

The government says that 99% of visa applicants meet the health requirement – 1,779 of them did not meet the bar between 2021 and 2022, according to official figures.

Immigration minister Andrew Giles, who declined to be interviewed, recently said that “any child born in Australia and adversely affected by the migration health rules can apply for ministerial intervention”, and that he himself had “positively intervened” in cases.

But families say that the process is gruelling at an already difficult time.

The price to stay

“There’s so much in your life going on when a child is sick, so much struggle and you’re struggling and begging and asking for petitions, asking people to help you,” says Mehwish Butt, who knows the challenge first-hand. She and her husband Qasim fought to stay in Australia in a case that drew global attention.

Their son Shaffan was born in 2014 with a rare genetic condition and a damaged spinal cord. He needs around-the-clock care. The Butts, originally from Pakistan, intended to return eventually, but Shaffan’s birth changed everything. Now, getting on a plane would risk his life.

Finally, in 2022 they were told they could stay. For those eight years, Qasim, a trained accountant, was unable to work in his chosen profession. Instead, he found jobs in cafes, in supermarkets and taxi apps to make ends meet.

“They should realise that’s a very difficult situation – you shouldn’t put people in the limelight,” Ms Butt says.

Ms Currie and her husband aren’t giving up either – Australia is home now for Luca and they are filling jobs that the country needs. They’re hoping that is enough to win them their appeal. If they lose, they will have 28 days to leave the country.

For Luca, the sticking point is a pricey drug, Trikafta. He is not on it and may not even be compatible with it. But it’s the basis of Australian estimates of his treatment – around A$1.8m That puts his medical costs over the permissible limit – A$86,000 over 10 years, also known as the Significant Cost Threshold.

While campaigners have welcomed the recent rise of the threshold – from A$51,000 to A$86,000 – they still don’t think it reflects average costs.

The government’s own data shows that Australia spent $9,365 per head on health goods and services in 2021-2022 and a further A$8,245 per person on welfare costs. Over a 10-year period – the maximum period assessed for a visa – that would amount to more than A$170,000. So campaigners have questioned how the government comes up with the threshold, which is half of that amount.

They also want the cost of educational support to be removed from the calculations. This impacts families whose children have been diagnosed with conditions such as Down Syndrome, ADHD and autism.

It’s a snag that has hit Claire Day’s plans for her and her family to follow her brother, who moved to Australia a few years ago.

Her younger daughter Darcy, who is nearly 10, has Down Syndrome. She’s been told by migration experts that because of that, she has little chance of being granted a visa.

On an overcast afternoon in Kent, she talks wistfully of the life she is looking forward to Down Under. Sunshine is no small attraction, but also “the lifestyle – [I want] a better environment for the children to grow up in,” she says.

An officer with London’s Metropolitan Police force for 21 years, she wants to take advantage of a major recruitment drive by Australian police forces. Their social media feeds are full of promotional videos fronted by former British police officers, showing them living the Australian dream, patrolling the beach in sand buggies and relaxing in the surf. They make up just some of the 30,000 British people who moved to Australia last year, according to government statistics.

Ms Day has not one, but two job offers – from Queensland’s police force and from South Australia. As part of the job, she’s also entitled to a permanent visa. Now, she is not so sure.

“I had hoped that it wouldn’t be an issue because Darcy doesn’t have any medical problems. She’s fit and she’s healthy, she goes to school and she participates in clubs and all of that sort of stuff.”

Stories like this have convinced campaigners that, at its heart, the policy is ableist.

“If we say to people with disability, ‘you’re not welcome here, we’re saying directly to people living with disability in this country, ‘you’re not welcome here either,” Dr Gothard says.

“[We’re saying] you know, given the opportunity, we would rather not have you.”

Social worker Shizleen Aishath says she was “gobsmacked” to find out about the health requirement – and she discovered it the hard way.

A former UN employee, she came to Australia for a further degree with every intention of returning to the Maldives. But she had an emergency C-section when her son Kayban was born in 2016. Forceps were used during the delivery. Kayban had undiagnosed haemophilia and suffered a serious brain bleed. He now needs round-the-clock care and the family chose to stay in Australia.

But Kayban was refused a temporary visa because he was deemed too much of a burden – although the family have private health insurance and don’t use state resources. The rest of the family were granted their visas.

“Disability is the only thing that stops you from migrating, there is nothing else,” Ms Aishath says.

After a lengthy appeal, Kayban was allowed to remain. His family is now preparing for their next fight – to stay in Australia indefinitely.

Payout for widow of Pakistani journalist killed by Kenyan police

By Natasha Booty and Ruth NesobaBBC News, London & Nairobi

A court in Kenya has awarded 10m shillings ($78,000; £61,000) in compensation to the widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police at a roadblock nearly two years ago.

Arshad Sharif was a TV anchor known for his robust criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military leaders and corruption in politics.

The father-of-five received death threats that he flagged to Pakistan’s top judge, before fleeing his home country to seek safety abroad.

Sharif’s killing two months later at the hands of police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado caused outrage, and the slow response by officials prompted UN experts to criticise both Kenya and Pakistan.

Kenya’s police had argued it was a case of mistaken identity but Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, said it was a contract killing carried out on behalf of an unnamed individual in Pakistan.

‘A relief to me and my family’

On Monday, the Kajiado High Court rejected ruled that the Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif’s right to life. It duly awarded Ms Siddique compensation plus interest until payment in full.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in monetary terms nor is the pain and suffering the family must have gone through. But there’s consensus that compensation is appropriate remedy for redress in violation of fundamental rights,” said Justice Stella Mutuku as she delivered the verdict.

The judge also ruled that Kenya’s director of public prosecutions and the independent policing oversight authority had violated Sharif’s rights by failing to prosecute the two police officers involved. The court has ordered both bodies to conclude investigations and charge the officers.

Reacting to the ruling, the lawyer representing Sharif’s widow, Ochiel Dudley, said “this is a win for the family and a win for Kenyans in their quest for police accountability”.

Sharif’s widow, Ms Siddique, expressed her gratitude to the Kenyan judiciary but added that her work was far from done.

“This ruling has come as a relief to me and my family, but I will not relent in getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

The BBC has asked the Kenyan authorities for their response to the ruling.

The police had given conflicting police accounts of Sharif’s death.

One account claimed the 49-year-old was travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser which officers mistook for a similar vehicle that had been reported stolen.

In another version of events, police claimed that one of the car passengers had opened fire and then officers responded by shooting back.

Like her late husband, Ms Siddique is a journalist, and filed the lawsuit alongside the Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association last October.

She and her co-petitioners were seeking transparency, an apology, and accountability from the Kenyan authorities for what they called Sharif’s “targeted assassination”.

She told the BBC she was still unable to get justice for her husband in Pakistan, but would continue to campaign for the protection of journalists and would seek the help of the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

You may also be interested in:

  • Why two Indians disappeared on a July night in Kenya
  • Inside the world of Kenya’s ‘killer cop’
  • ‘I was shot by rebels’ – the dangers of reporting

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Floods kill six rhinos in India national park

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

More than 130 wild animals, including at least six rare rhinos, have died in flooding at a national park in north-eastern India, officials say.

The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is experiencing its worst deluge in recent years.

The dead animals – many of whom died by drowning – include 117 hog deer, two sambar deer, a rhesus macaque and an otter.

In 2017, more than 350 animals died due to floods in the park and vehicle collisions during migration through animal corridors to the highlands.

Officials say they have rescued 97 animals from flood waters – 25 of them are receiving medical care while 52 others have been released after treatment.

Kaziranga is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinos, which were nearly extinct at the turn of the century. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site, with over 2,400 one-horned rhinos.

The park is also a tiger reserve and home to elephants, wild water buffalo and numerous bird species. The endangered South Asian dolphins are also found in the rivers that criss-cross the park.

Last week, an 18-month-old rhino calf took shelter at a house in a village near the park and was rescued by the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, the Press Trust of India reported.

Assam has been devastated by floods due to torrential rains, with major rivers in the state flowing above the danger level.

This year’s rains have inundated large parts of the park and submerged thousands of villages. More than 60 people have been killed and over two million people displaced in the deluge.

There has been extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure, as well as loss of crops and livestock.

Officials have warned of even more rain with water levels in the Brahmaputra river, which runs through the state, expected to increase in the coming days.

Across Assam, hundreds of relief camps have been set up to shelter the displaced.

Flooding and landslides are a common occurrence during the monsoon in north-eastern India and neighbouring countries.

Macron asks French PM to stay on as political deadlock continues

By Paul KirbyBBC News in Paris

Jubilation and stunned silence: France reacts to exit polls

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, to remain in post “for the time being to ensure the country’s stability”, after election results left no party with an outright majority.

Mr Attal, who led the president’s Ensemble alliance’s election campaign, handed his resignation to Mr Macron on Monday, only for the president to refuse.

Although Ensemble lost many of its seats in Sunday’s parliament election, it came second, behind a left-wing alliance but ahead of the far right which had been expected to win.

The unexpected result leaves French politics in deadlock, with no party able to form a government by itself.

The New Popular Front, a left-wing alliance cobbled together after Mr Macron called the elections, argues that as the leading group in the next National Assembly it has earned the right to choose a prime minister.

They were due to meet on Monday to consider who to propose for the job, but there is no obvious candidate who would satisfy the radical France Unbowed (LFI) party as well as the more moderate Socialists, Greens and Communists.

Mr Attal had announced he would resign on Sunday night, but left open the possibility of remaining in the job as long as duty required him to do so.

It had been widely expected that his resignation would be rejected when he visited the Élysée Palace on Monday morning.

President Macron is due to fly to the US on Tuesday for a Nato summit and Paris is hosting the Olympic Games from 26 July.

While it is not yet clear how long he needs Mr Attal to stay in office, the president made it clear that France now needed a period of calm.

Outgoing Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned on Monday that the country was facing an immediate risk of financial crisis an economic decline.

Since the results came out, Mr Macron has sought to steer clear of the political fray. A statement on Sunday night said that while he would respect the “choice of the French people”, he was waiting for the full picture to emerge in parliament before taking the next, necessary decisions.

The National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella had been widely expected to win the election, after taking a strong lead in Sunday’s first round.

But even though their vote held up, with more than 10 million people backing RN and a group of conservative allies, they failed to come anywhere near the number of seats suggested by opinion polls,

They ended up with 143 seats, when they had set themselves the ambition of reaching an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

The party’s two leaders had bitterly accused the left and centrist blocs of stitching up the vote, with more than 200 candidates dropping out to give a rival candidate a chance of defeating RN.

But by Monday, Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella were trying to look ahead.

“In just two years, progress has been incredible and makes victory for us inevitable in the short term,” said Ms Le Pen, thanking the 10 million voters who backed RN and its allies. “The number one party for numbers of votes and MPs.”

Mr Bardella was determined to focus on his future role in the European Parliament.

He is now going to lead a new grouping the European Parliament called Patriots for Europe, formed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Hungary has taken over the presidency of the EU this month, and already Mr Orban has angered several of his European counterparts by becoming the first EU leader to visit Russia’s Vladimir Putin in more than two years.

President Macron had called France’s snap parliamentary vote in response to RN’s victory in EU elections only a month ago.

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

By Toby LuckhurstBBC News, London

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has won a third consecutive term in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, securing her position for the next four years.

Ms Koike received more than 2.9 million votes – or 42.8% of the votes – in Sunday’s election, beating her opponents by a wide margin.

Her victory will be a relief for struggling Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who backed the 71-year-old in her contest as an independent candidate.

Ms Koike became Tokyo’s first female governor in 2016, and won her second term in 2020.

The conservative governor successfully guided Japan’s most populus city through the Covid-19 pandemic and its delayed summer Olympics in 2021, but also weathered controversies regarding her university credentials and infrastructure projects under her governorship.

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.”

Ms Koike’s appointment makes her one of the most powerful women in Japan’s male-dominated politics. She told the BBC that she won her first term “because I [am] a woman”.

“People prefer to have something new, or somebody new, in order to change society,” she said then.

With Tokyo accounting for about 11% of the country’s population and contributing to nearly 20% of its 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.

She will now also have to work hard to improve Tokyo’s shockingly low birth rate, which came up as a major issue during this campaign. At 0.99 – less than one child per woman aged between 15 and 49 – it is the lowest of any region nationwide.

In all, 56 contenders were vying to lead the sprawling capital and a number of other cities in the prefecture. Voter turnout on Sunday was more than 60%, up from 55% in the 2020 race.

Observers had initially expected the election to be a neck-to-neck race between Ms Koike and prominent opposition politician Renho Saito.

Unexpectedly, Shinji Ishimaru, 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 Ms Renho.

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

Mr Ishimaru, 41, was relatively unknown in Tokyo before the official campaign began.

His success is thought to be down to his appeal among young voters. During the election campaign, he focused on boosting his profile by reaching out to his large social media following.

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 her 55 rival candidates, it had been expected Ms Renho 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.

Israeli forces bombard Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas

By Sebastian UsherBBC News

Palestinians in Gaza City say they have experienced one of the most intense Israeli bombardments since Israel launched its war on Hamas after the group’s unprecedented 7 October attack.

Columns of Israeli tanks are reported to be closing in on the centre of the city from several different directions.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Service says it believes a number of people have been killed but has so far been unable to reach them because of fighting in several districts in the east and west of Gaza City.

The Al-Ahli Baptist hospital is reported to have been evacuated, with its patients being taken to one of the only medical facilities still functioning in the area – the already overcrowded Indonesian hospital.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire and hostage release deal are expected to resume in Qatar within 48 hours.

A preliminary meeting would take place in Egypt on Monday between US, Israeli and Egyptian intelligence chiefs, the official said.

Ahead of the assault in Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued evacuation orders for several neighbourhoods in the centre, including Tuffah, Daraj and the Old City.

But one of the areas that has come under the most intense assault, Tel al-Hawa, was not included in the evacuation order that was posted online with a map by the IDF Arabic spokesperson on Sunday.

On Monday afternoon, the IDF issued a new order that covered Tel al-Hawa as well as the Sabra and al-Rimal areas, to the north and west.

One resident of Gaza City, Abdel Ghani asked: “The enemy is behind us and the sea is in front of us, where shall we go?”

Others have also told the BBC that they do not know where to go. They say that only one route remains – to go north towards the port area of Gaza City.

Some fled districts after receiving an evacuation order, only to find that the area they moved to was coming under Israeli bombardment.

In al-Rimal, a freelance cameraman working for the BBC says that he did not receive any evacuation orders, but later learnt that his neighbour did.

He left the area with his family and headed north. They are now in the port area but lack basic necessities. He says he is struggling to find water for his children.

In a statement, the IDF confirmed that it launched what it called a new operation in Tel al-Halwa overnight, following what it said was intelligence of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad infrastructure and fighters in the area.

The military also said that it was operating at the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, in the area.

The IDF said that at the start of the operation, it gave warnings to civilians – and it said that it would open up a humanitarian corridor for people to leave the area.

The latest Israeli offensive in Gaza comes as hopes have been rising that a ceasefire deal might finally be agreed.

A senior Palestinian official familiar with the talks has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between the Hamas and Israeli negotiating teams, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, will start in Doha within the next 48 hours.

The official also said a preparatory meeting was due to take place in Cairo on Monday between CIA director William Burns, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, and the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Abbas Kamel.

The three intelligence chiefs are then all due to travel to Doha on Tuesday.

The official outlined to the BBC several key sticking points from the Hamas perspective:

  • Hamas wants Israeli forces to withdraw from both the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Philadelphi corridor, a strip of land running along the Egyptian border
  • Israel has vetoed Hamas’s demand for release from Israeli prisons of 100 senior figures from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah political factions

Hamas’s negotiating team has already dropped its requirement for Israel to accept a permanent ceasefire as a precondition for any potential deal.

The official said the negotiating process would be very long and complex, but that there was some degree of hope that it might work this time.

On Sunday, a statement by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have somewhat dampened expectations by insisting that any deal must not stop Israel from resuming fighting in Gaza until its war objectives are met.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly defined those aims as being the eradication of Hamas, both militarily and politically.

Storm surge warning as Hurricane Beryl hits Texas

By Kathryn ArmstrongBBC News
Coastal surge and flooding rains expected from Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl has made landfall in Texas with wind gusts of up to 87mph (140 km/h) as authorities warn of “life-threatening” storm surges.

The category one storm is expected to bring destructive winds and up to 15in (38cm) of rain. In one heavily drenched Houston-area suburb, police officers began conducting water rescues on Monday morning.

The state governor’s office has repeatedly urged residents not to underestimate the storm while oil ports have closed and flight schedules face disruption.

Beryl caused at least 10 deaths in the Caribbean before being downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

It was later upgraded again, and more than a million Texans were placed under a hurricane warning as it approached.

The city of Galveston, south-east of Houston, has issued a voluntary evacuation order for some areas.

More than 150,000 customers in the Lone Star State were without power just after 07:00 CST (13:00 BST), according to tracking site poweroutage.us. However, over one million customers have been affected by outages, according to CenterPoint, a local energy provider.

At the Bush Intercontinental Airport, the largest in Houston, 973 flights have been cancelled, according to flightaware.com.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported maximum sustained wind speeds in the early hours of Monday morning of 80mph (130 km/h).

“Life-threatening storm surge and strong winds are occurring with considerable flash and urban flooding expected,” it warned.

Authorities say that even though the hurricane may not be as strong as it was in the Caribbean, it could still cause widespread power outages and disruption in Texas, as far inland as the city of Houston.

The director of the US National Hurricane Center, Michael Brennan, has warned those living in Beryl’s path to find a safe place to be through Monday “as hazardous conditions will persist even after the centre of Beryl moves through”.

“There’s a very considerable risk of flash flooding across the Texas Gulf Coast, eastern Texas, ArkaTex [Arkansas-Texas] region.

“Do not ignore this very serious storm,” urged Acting Governor Dan Patrick.

The ports of Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City have all closed, meaning there could be a temporary halt to exports.

All vessel movement and cargo operations have been restricted.

Refugio County, north of Galveston, on Saturday issued a mandatory evacuation – stating the limited capacity of emergency services staff, 4 July holiday traffic and the area’s weakened infrastructure from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 as reasons.

Nueces County, meanwhile, ordered the mandatory evacuation of visitors and strongly encouraged locals to leave as well.

More than 2,000 emergency responders have been made ready to deal with Beryl’s aftermath, Mr Patrick announced, including members of the Texas National Guard.

According to US forecaster AccuWeather, landfalling hurricanes of this kind are somewhat rare for Texas in July.

Beryl is expected to move east across America’s central states, including Mississippi, later in the week.

In the process, it will likely skip over central and west Texas, areas that are currently experiencing moderate to severe levels of drought.

Hurricane Beryl has been an unprecedented storm. At one stage, it became the earliest Category Five hurricane ever recorded.

It has already left a trail of devastation across the Caribbean – hitting islands including St Vincent and the Grenadines, Mayreau and Union, and Grenada especially hard.

The storm was also one of the most powerful to ever hit Jamaica and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

Beryl brought heavy rain to the tourist hotspots of Cancún and Tulum in southern Mexico. No major damage was reported but the high winds felled trees and caused power outages.

While it is difficult to attribute specific storms to climate change as the causes are complex, exceptionally high sea surface temperatures are seen as a key reason why Hurricane Beryl has been so powerful.

It is the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic season but the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the North Atlantic could get as many as seven major hurricanes this year – up from an average of three in a season.

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Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge

By Natalie ShermanBBC News, New York

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge after the US found the company violated a deal meant to reform it after two fatal crashes by its 737 Max planes that killed 346 passengers and crew.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said the plane-maker had also agreed to pay a criminal fine of $243.6m (£190m).

However, the families of the people who died on the flights five years ago have criticised it as a “sweetheart deal” that would allow Boeing to avoid full responsibility for the deaths. One called it an “atrocious abomination”.

The settlement must now be approved by a US judge.

By pleading guilty, Boeing will avoid the spectacle of a criminal trial – something that victims’ families have been pressing for.

The company has been in crisis over its safety record since two near-identical crashes involving 737 Max aircraft in 2018 and 2019. It led to the global grounding of the plane for more than a year.

In 2021, prosecutors charged Boeing with one count of conspiracy to defraud regulators, alleging it had deceived the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about its MCAS flight control system, which was implicated in both crashes.

It agreed not to prosecute Boeing if the company paid a penalty and successfully completed a three-year period of increased monitoring and reporting.

But in January, shortly before that period was due to end, a door panel in a Boeing plane operated by Alaska Airlines blew out soon after take-off and forced the jet to land.

No-one was injured during the incident but it intensified scrutiny over how much progress Boeing had made on improving its safety and quality record.

In May, the DoJ said it had found Boeing had violated the terms of the agreement, opening up the possibility of prosecution.

Boeing’s decision to plead guilty is still a significant black mark for the firm because it means that the company – which is a prominent military contractor for the US government – now has a criminal record. It is also one of the world’s two biggest manufacturers of commercial jets.

It is not immediately clear how the criminal record will affect the firm’s contracting business. The government typically bars or suspends firms with records from participating in bids, but can grant waivers.

Paul Cassell, a lawyer representing some families of people killed on the 2018 and 2019 flights, said: “This sweetheart deal fails to recognise that because of Boeing’s conspiracy, 346 people died.

“Through crafty lawyering between Boeing and DoJ, the deadly consequences of Boeing’s crime are being hidden.”

He called on the judge assessing the deal to “reject this inappropriate plea and simply set the matter for a public trial, so that all the facts surrounding the case will be aired in a fair and open forum before a jury”.

In a letter to the government in June, Mr Cassell had urged the DoJ to fine Boeing more than $24bn.

Zipporah Kuria who lost her father Joseph in one of the fatal crashes, said the plea was an “atrocious abomination”.

“Miscarriage of justice is a gross understatement in describing this,” she said. “I hope that, God forbid, if this happens again the DoJ is reminded that it had the opportunity to do something meaningful and instead chose not to.”

Ed Pierson, executive director of Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former senior manager at Boeing, said the plea was “seriously disappointing” and “a terrible deal for justice”.

“Instead of holding individuals accountable, they’re just basically giving them another get out of jail free card,” he said.

A Boeing 737 Max plane operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in late October 2018 shortly after take-off, killing all 189 people on board. Just months later, an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew.

In the 2021 deal, Boeing also agreed to pay $2.5bn to resolve the matter, including a $243m criminal penalty and $500m to a victims’ fund.

The deal outraged family members, who were not consulted on the terms and have called for the company to stand trial.

Senior staff at the DoJ recommended in favour of prosecution, CBS News, the BBC’s US news partner reported in late June.

At a hearing in June, Senator Richard Blumenthal said he believed there was “near overwhelming evidence” that prosecution should be pursued.

Lawyers for family members said the DoJ was worried it did not have a strong case against the firm.

Mark Forkner, a former Boeing technical pilot who was the only person to face criminal charges arising from the incident, was acquitted by a jury in 2022. His lawyers had argued he was being used as a scapegoat.

Mark Cohen, a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University, who has studied corporate punishments, said prosecutors often prefer plea deals or deferred prosecution agreements, which allow them to avoid the risk of a trial and can give the government greater power over a company than a typical sentence.

“Because it’s easier to get than going to trial, it may ease the burden on the prosecutor but the prosecutor also may believe it’s a better sanction [because] they may be able to impose requirements that aren’t normally in sentencing guidelines,” he said.

He said there was little doubt that Boeing’s status as a key government contractor played a role in determining how to proceed.

“They’ve got to think about the collateral consequences,” he said. “You don’t take these kinds of cases lightly.”

The issues with MCAS were not Boeing’s first brush with the law.

It has also paid millions in penalties to the Federal Aviation Administration since 2015 to resolve a series of claims of improper manufacturing and other issues.

The company also continues to face investigations and lawsuits sparked by the incident on the January Alaska Airlines flight.

French far right voters say ‘dirty tricks’ won election

By Ido VockBBC News

“Victory was stolen from them using dirty tricks,” Corrine said as her children played in a playground in Eysines, a suburb of Bordeaux in France.

She couldn’t hide her disappointment that the party she backs, the far right Rassemblement National, came just third in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

“We were hoping for change and an RN government,” her friend Sylvie added. “Now we will have to put up with whatever comes next.”

Until Sunday, this constituency was held by the RN’s Grégoire de Fournas. He became one of the previous parliament’s most infamous members after shouting “they should go back to Africa” as a black colleague talked about a migrant rescue boat in 2022.

But Mr de Fournas was narrowly defeated by Pascale Got, a candidate of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP), as part of a shock wave of successes for the alliance.

An emotional Mrs Got responded to the results by saying that the new parliament needed to “listen to what the French people want” and offer “progress and social justice”.

Though the RN made gains nationally, it came in third behind the NFP and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance, largely because of tactical withdrawals to concentrate the anti-far right vote.

RN president Jordan Bardella, who had hoped to be prime minister if his party won the election, claimed that the far right only lost because almost every other party in French politics, ranging from Marxists to right-wing economic liberals, united against it.

Shortly after polls closed, he condemned what he called an “alliance of dishonour” between the NFP and Ensemble, which both withdrew candidates in some contests to defeat the far right.

“An unnatural alliance prevented the French people from freely choosing a different type of politics,” he added.

Luna Aimé, an RN activist, said: “Nine parties had to join together to beat one, which still increased its number of MPs.”

The sense that the RN was prevented from winning by trickery resonated among its voters.

“I had a feeling that the RN would be blocked from winning. But I didn’t expect this many losses,” Sylvie, a friend of Corinne’s, said.

Corrine said the party had suffered a “huge defeat,” even though it increased its number of MPs from 89 to 143, its best result in history. It is now only slightly smaller than the other two blocs.

Her statement reflected the high expectations – played up by the RN before the vote – that it would be in a position to appoint a prime minister and govern France for the first time in the party’s history.

With the results nonetheless showing a big advance for the RN across France, party leader Marine Le Pen said victory for her party had been “merely deferred”.

Mr de Fournas thanked the 49% of voters in his constituency who had backed him and said: “Fixing the country will take a little longer than expected but it is certain that we will come to power one day.”

But many in the constituency were relieved that Mr de Fournas and the RN more broadly had been held off, at least for the time being.

Outside a cafe, Soufiane said France had always been and should remain a country where cultures mixed together.

He said: “De Fournas is a racist. When you tell a person of colour to go back to Africa, that says everything.

“I’m very happy that he lost.”

Who is the left-wing alliance that won France’s election

By Laura GozziBBC News

A left-wing coalition that was formed less than a month ago has won a shock victory at the second round of France’s snap parliamentary election.

The New Popular Front (NPF) is a broad church of centre-left and left-wing parties ranging from the Socialists to the Greens, the Communists and the radical left France Unbowed (LFI).

Although these parties have criticised one another in the past and have some key differences in their ideology and approach, they decided to form a bloc to keep the far right out of government when President Emmanuel Macron called an election on 9 June.

The tactic worked. Against every expectation, on Sunday the New Popular Front (NFP) won a total of 182 seats, ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance.

The far right National Rally, which had come out top in round one a week ago, fell to third place.

The NFP managed such a remarkable comeback thanks to a concerted effort by left wing and centrist parties, which saw candidates withdraw from three-way races in order to concentrate the anti-RN vote. This occurred in around 200 constituencies and changed the outcome of the election.

What happens to the NFP now?

The NFP only arose out of genuine fear by leftist parties that the RN was about to seize power.

Now that scenario has been avoided, the members of the NFP need to find ways to work together in the National Assembly – and rallying together to stop the far right from winning a majority may turn out to have been the easy part.

Cracks began to show shortly after the exit polls were published on Sunday night.

Although NFP party leaders acknowledged the outcome was the result of a joint effort, they each celebrated the result on their own, and some crucial differences in how to approach the post-election phase are already starting to emerge.

Because the NFP did not win an outright majority, some on the left are saying their bloc will have to find support from other parties, like President Macron’s Ensemble alliance.

Raphaël Glucksmann, a centre-left politician who is a rising star within the Socialist Party, has already said opponents will have to come together and make deals, as they do elsewhere in Europe.

Francois Hollande, the former Socialist president of France who has now been elected as an MP, has said the NFP would have to “try, if possible” to form alliances with other groups – although he acknowledged this would be very difficult.

But Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the radical left firebrand leader of France Unbowed (LFI), has ruled out working with President Macron’s camp and has instead called for the NFP to be given the chance to name its own prime minister and to govern on its own.

What does the NFP want?

Shortly after they formed a coalition, the NFP put out a programme that included a promise to scrap the pension and immigration reforms passed by the current government, to set up a rescue agency for undocumented migrants and to facilitate visa applications.

The NFP also promised caps on basic goods to combat the cost of living crisis, boost housing subsidies and raise the monthly minimum wage to €1,600 (£1,350).

The alliance said it would finance its increase in social spending through a reform of the tax system, the restoration of the wealth tax and a windfall tax on corporations.

The total cost of the NFP’s economic programme has been estimated at €150bn (£126bn) a year.

Some economists have warned the programme is much too expensive given the current state of France’s finances. It could also set it on a collision course with Brussels. Only last month, the European Commission opened an excessive deficit procedure against France.

What just happened in France’s shock election?

By Paul KirbyBBC News in Paris
Jubilation and stunned silence: France reacts to exit polls

Nobody expected this. High drama, for sure, but this was a shock.

When the graphics flashed up on all the big French channels, it was not the far right of Marine Le Pen and her young prime minister-in-waiting Jordan Bardella who were on course for victory.

It was the left who had clinched it, and Emmanuel Macron’s centrists – the Ensemble alliance – had staged an unexpected comeback, pushing the far-right National Rally (RN) into third.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the veteran left-wing firebrand seen by his critics as an extremist, wasted no time in proclaiming victory.

“The president must call on the New Popular Front to govern,” he told supporters in Stalingrad square, insisting Mr Macron had to recognise that he and his coalition had lost.

His alliance, drawn up in a hurry for President Macron’s surprise election, includes his own radical France Unbowed, along with Greens, Socialists and Communists and even Trotskyists. But their victory is nowhere big enough to govern.

France is going to have a hung parliament. None of the three blocs can form an outright majority by themselves of 289 seats in the 577-seat parliament.

  • Live: France faces hung parliament deadlock after left alliance wins most seats

As soon as he had spoken, Mr Mélenchon went off to a much bigger square, Place de la République, to celebrate his success with a crowd of 8,000 people, according to police numbers.

For National Rally’s supporters the champagne was fast turning flat at their celebration-gone-wrong in the Bois de Vincennes forest to the south-east of Paris.

Only a week ago all the talk had been of a possible absolute majority, and Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella were still talking up their chances a couple of days before the vote.

Marine Le Pen put a brave face on it. “Two years ago we had just seven MPs. Tonight RN is the first party in France in terms of MP numbers.”

In the last parliament they had 88 MPs and now more than 140, so she was right. And no other party has more than 100 MPs, because the Macronists and the Popular Front are both coalitions.

Jordan Bardella complained that his party had been foiled by unnatural “alliances of dishonour”, forged by a “single party” made up of the Macron camp and the left. He wasn’t wrong about the unnatural alliance, but it is only a temporary one of convenience.

More than 200 candidates who saw themselves as part of a “republican front”, pulled out of the second round so that a better-placed rival could stop RN winning.

Not even Marine Le Pen’s younger sister, Marie-Caroline, was able to offer a glimmer of good news from her own election battle around Le Mans.

Her bid to get into parliament failed by just 225 votes, defeated by Mr Mélenchon’s candidate, Elise Leboucher, after the Macron candidate dropped out.

Turnout, at 66.63%, was the highest in a parliamentary second round since 1997. Even if RN’s vote held up, this time it was having to contend with non-RN votes often being used tactically to create a “barrage” or block against them.

All over France, RN was losing run-offs it needed to win.

Some of their candidates were less than appealing.

There was the woman who promised to stop making racist jokes if she was elected in Puy-de-Dôme; and then there was the ill-equipped young man in Haute-Savoie in the south-east who took part in a TV debate with his centrist rival and made barely any sense on anything.

They both lost, but they reflected RN’s big advance in rural areas.

RN scored 32% of the vote – 37% with their right-wing allies – and for more than 10 million voters a taboo has been broken.

In Meaux, east of Paris, RN won but not by much.

After casting her vote, Claudine said people she knew tended not to admit to voting RN, unless they were with close friends.

Before the projected result at 8pm, there was fevered speculation about whether President Macron would come out and speak. Word spread that he had gone into a meeting 90 minutes earlier.

Gabriel Attal, his beleaguered prime minister, eventually appeared to give the government’s response.

Four weeks ago, he had sat stony-faced and arms folded opposite the president as Mr Macron revealed his election plan.

Now he announced he would be handing his boss his resignation in the morning, but he would stay on as long as duty called.

Mr Attal is supposed to fly off on Tuesday evening to a Nato meeting in Washington. It’s hard to imagine him being replaced just yet.

France has entered a period of political instability with no obvious way out. There had been talk of unrest on the streets, but only a handful of incidents were reported in Paris and cities including Nantes and Lyon,

All eyes are now on the president, who will have to navigate a way out of this deadlock.

The new National Assembly is due to convene in 10 days’ time, but the Paris Olympics starts on 26 July and France could do with a period of calm.

Left-leaning newspaper Libération summed up the whole night with the headline .

A relief for them that voters brought RN’s bid for power to a halt. But it also means in colloquial French: “It’s crazy.”

French people reject the far right – again

By Hugh SchofieldBBC News

The French have said it again: they do not want the far right in power.

They gave them a big win in the European elections; they gave them a big win in the first round of this parliamentary election.

But when it came to a vote that really counted, just as in the presidentials, they drew back from the brink.

This surprise upset which has reduced the National Rally (RN) to third place – with perhaps 150 seats compared with predictions a week ago of nearly 300 – is due entirely to voters turning out in large numbers to stop them.

Bardella: ‘Dishonourable alliance deprived’ France of RN victory

The RN will argue – with some justice – that this was only possible because the other parties came together to play the system.

They note that the disparate parties of the left all suddenly forgot their differences to form a new anti-RN coalition; and then that the Macronites and the left forgot their differences too.

They note that nothing unites these politicians (from Edouard Philippe on the centre right to Philippe Poutou of the Trotskyist left) except their opposition to the RN. And that this lack of agreement bodes ill for the future.

Nonetheless, the fact remains. Most people do not want the far right – either because they oppose its ideas, or because they fear the unrest that would inevitably attend its coming to power.

So if Jordan Bardella will not be the country’s next prime minister, who will be?

That is the great unknown. And contrary to convention following previous French parliamentary elections, it may be weeks before we have an answer.

Because something has happened these past tense weeks to change the very nature of the French political system.

  • Live: France faces hung parliament deadlock after left alliance wins most seats
Left alliance supporters burst into cheers in Paris’s Stalingrad Square

As Alain Duhamel — veteran of every election since Charles de Gaulle – put it: “Today there is no longer any dominant party. Since Macron came to power seven years ago, we have been in a period of deconstruction of our political forces.

“Perhaps now we are beginning a period of reconstruction.”

What he means is that there is now a multitude of political forces: three major blocs (left, far-right and centre); plus the centre-right. And within these there are competing tendencies and parties.

With no party able to call the shots in the Assembly, a long period of haggling is now inevitable aimed at forming a new coalition from the centre-right through to the left.

It is far from obvious how it will be formed – given the mutual loathing that the different potential components have expressed till now.

But we can bet that President Macron will now call for a period of apaisement – conciliation – after the tensions of the last weeks.

Conveniently this period will last through the Olympics and the summer holidays, allowing the French to recover their spirits.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal says he will hand in his resignation

In the meantime, he will designate somebody to lead the talks and reach out to the different parties. Will it be someone from the left? Will it be someone from the centre? Will it be a political outsider? We do not know.

What seems certain though is that France is about to enter a more parliamentary system.

Power will drain from President Macron, and towards whoever heads the new government.

Even if he manages to place a centrist in the prime ministership (far from easy, given the strength of the left) that person will exercise power in his or her own right, and on the basis of parliamentary support.

Macron – with no prospect of running again in 2027 – will be a diminished figure.

So has the president lost his bet? Is he regretting his haste in calling the elections? Is he ready to take a backward step?

We can be sure that is not the way Macron sees it. He will be saying that he called the vote because the situation was untenable; that he has clarified politics, offered the RN a fairer share of Assembly seats, given their widespread support; and that his gamble that the French would never put the far-right in power was correct.

And in the meantime, he has not exactly gone away. Macron’s power may be on the wane. But he is still there at the Elysée, consulting with his team, prodding politicians, still master of the political clock.

What’s the right punishment for ‘too big to fail’ Boeing?

By Natalie Sherman and Theo LeggettBBC News

Boeing is one of the largest and most important companies in the United States. Arguably, it is too big to fail. But is it also too big to be held to account?

The company is one of the world’s two main manufacturers of large commercial jets. It ranks among the top five US defence contractors.

It employs more than 170,000 people globally, including 150,000 in the US, and generated revenues of nearly $78bn (£60bn) last year. It makes a vital contribution to the US economy.

But its commitment to safety has repeatedly been called into question, most recently following an incident earlier this year in which a disused door fell off a Boeing 737 Max minutes after takeoff.

Whistleblowers have since made a series of claims about alleged unsafe practices in Boeing’s factories, as well as in those of its main supplier, Spirit Aerosystems.

Government prosecutors have now given their response. Boeing has agreed a deal under which it will plead guilty to an existing criminal charge, pay $243.6m and submit to independent monitoring for three years.

With critics calling for a fundamental change in Boeing’s corporate culture, the deal is likely to be highly controversial.

That is largely because safety failings at the company are far from new – while attempts to address them appear to have been unsuccessful.

Five years ago, Boeing was under siege: 346 people had been killed in two near-identical accidents involving its brand new 737 Max, just months apart.

It emerged that corners had been cut during the aircraft’s design, and regulators had been deceived. After the first crash, the aircraft had been allowed to keep flying despite a known problem.

Boeing was accused of putting profits ahead of passenger safety. In 2021, it agreed to pay a $2.5bn settlement, but avoided prosecution on a criminal fraud conspiracy charge.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has now concluded that Boeing broke the terms of that settlement – by not implementing and enforcing a suitable compliance and ethics programme – allowing the company to be prosecuted now under the original criminal charge.

But family members of many of those killed think the new deal is far too lenient. They had been calling for a much steeper penalty.

In a letter sent to prosecutors last month, their lawyer Paul Cassell called for a fine of more than $24bn in recognition of what he described as “the deadliest corporate crime in US history”.

He also called for individuals to face prosecution, including the former chief executive, Dennis Muilenberg.

Lawmakers in Washington have also expressed concerns that Boeing is too important to be held fully accountable.

At a hearing in April, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said he feared regulators were concerned about hurting a company so critical to the US economy.

“I’ll go back to the reality of the fact that we all want Boeing to succeed,” he said.

“We don’t want to think that there are conditions in these planes that should really force regulators to ground these planes – what that would do to our economy, what that would do to people’s lives.

“I think that’s what’s driving the lack of accountability,” he added.

Analysts said there was little doubt Boeing’s status as a major contractor to the US military would have been a key factor in deciding what action to take against the company.

In 2022 alone, it racked up more than $14bn worth of contracts with the Department of Defense.

“That may matter the most regarding not the direct terms of the plea, but rather the negotiations over possible debarment or suspension from contracting,” said Prof Brandon Garrett of Duke University School of Law, who tracks corporate prosecutions.

There is also Boeing’s position in the commercial aviation market to consider. The aerospace giant currently has orders for more than 6,000 jets, representing years of production. Its great rival Airbus has an even larger backlog, and has been struggling to produce enough planes to meet demand.

Put simply, the market currently needs Boeing if airlines are to obtain the planes they need. But in the future the company will also have to be in good shape if it is to see off the threat from an emerging rival.

Chinese state-backed manufacturer Comac is now producing the C919 passenger jet, a potential rival to the 737 Max and Airbus A320 neo. It began commercial flights in May.

Although its order book is tiny compared to those of the two established giants, in the longer term it could profit from any weakness at the American giant.

There is also potential for Brazil’s Embraer, a successful manufacturer for smaller regional airlines, to move into the space occupied by Boeing and Airbus.

“Boeing’s too big to fail, but it’s not too big to be mediocre,” says Ronald Epstein, managing director at Bank of America, who follows the firm.

“We all want a healthy Boeing,” he adds. “Having a Boeing that’s on the wrong track is bad for everybody.”

The crises have already taken a heavy toll on the company, which has lost money every year since 2019, a sum totalling more than $30bn.

All of this may explain why the DoJ has not imposed steeper penalties on Boeing. Nevertheless, the company has admitted to a serious crime.

That in itself is a major development. The question now is whether the DoJ has done enough to deter future wrongdoing.

How fetching water is holding back India’s women

By Anagha PathakBBC Marathi

Fetching drinking water is a gruelling daily routine for millions of women in India.

Even without enduring the scorching summer months or the freezing winters, they walk for miles every day, balancing plastic or earthen pots on their heads and carrying buckets in their hands to manage the household water stock.

“It’s a daily struggle. I get so tired that I collapse when I’m done,” says Sunita Bhurbade from Tringalwadi, a tribal village 180km (112 miles) from India’s financial hub, Mumbai.

Ms Bhurbade spends four-to-five hours every day travelling back and forth from her nearest reliable water source – a dry lake – to fill her pots. The water is dirty and she has to dig holes on the side for the water to filter through naturally and seep in.

“For four-to-five months every year, women have no option but to fetch water from long distances because nearby wells and water sources dry up,” she says. Ironically, her village receives one of the heaviest rainfalls in the region.

Because of this daily grind, she constantly complains of back and neck pain, fatigue and weakness.

The daily rigour also bars her and other women from her village from pursing a paid job.

“No-one will hire me even as a farm labourer because they won’t allow me to show up at work in the afternoon,” she says.

“If I go after water, I have to sacrifice my livelihood. If I try to earn a wage, my family stays thirsty.”

According to a 2023 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef, 1.8 billion people worldwide collect drinking water from supplies located off premises, and in seven out of 10 households, women and girls are primarily responsible for water collection.

This is particularly true in India where, experts say, the need to secure drinking water is holding women back and hindering economic growth.

“First, women can’t take up paid work because they have to do all the household chores and secondly, even if they wish to find some work after doing their daily chores, there are not enough paid jobs for women in rural India,” says Prof Ashwini Deshpande, who heads the economics department in Delhi’s Ashoka University.

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The value of women’s unpaid labour in Indian economy is huge. India’s largest commercial bank State Bank of India (SBI)’s Ecowrap report indicates that the total contribution of unpaid women’s work to the economy is around 22.7bn rupees ($276.8m; £216.7m), almost 7.5% of India’s total GDP.

The NGO International Development Organisation estimates that Indian women spend 150 million work days every year fetching water.

Experts say that if women can spend this time in paid activities, they can be financially independent and it can also boost the economy.

The Indian government says it is constantly working to improve water infrastructure countrywide. By January 2024, it said it had provided piped water to almost 74% of rural households.

For those who had to earlier fetch water from outside but are now getting piped water in their homes, the experience has been life-changing.

“I open the tap, water comes rushing… it’s like a dream. I had been fetching water since I was five,” says Mangal Khadke, who’s married and in her 30s and lives about 30km from Ms Bhurbade.

But there are still millions who lack access to tap water.

Around 700km away from Tringalwadi, in the Aaki village of central India’s Amaravati district, village head Indrayani Javarkar spends most of her day finding and collecting water.

“It’s so dry here in the summer that every day I wake up with one thought in my mind: where can I find water today?” she says.

Indrayani has two jobs: first, find and collect water for her family, and second, to organise water tankers for her village.

“Both the tasks are getting harder every day,” she says.

Ms Bhurbade says getting tap water for her is still a distant dream.

“[Women] start when they are children themselves. Someone hands them a small bucket and says, fetch what you can carry. And then, it’s a lifetime’s obligation – until she dies, she is fetching water,” she says.

Ms Bhurbade doesn’t remember a single year where she didn’t have to walk miles with a pot on her head.

We asked what she would do if she didn’t have to fetch water and had spare time.

She thinks hard and says she likes to sing. But her songs are also about water.

“Radu nako bala mi panyala jate,” she sings for us.

It means: “Don’t cry my child, I am going to fetch water.”

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.

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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.

Who could replace Rishi Sunak as party leader?

By Andre Rhoden-PaulBBC News

Rishi Sunak has pledged to remain Conservative Party leader until arrangements are in place for selecting his successor, following the party’s worst election defeat in its parliamentary history.

So far none of the party’s 121 surviving MPs have confirmed whether they plan to run in the eventual contest to replace the former PM.

Two-time former leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has reportedly ruled himself out of a run for the job, telling GB News “the time has passed”.

Here we look at some of those who might decide to throw their hat into the ring when the party’s leadership election gets going.

Kemi Badenoch

The ex-business secretary is seen as a frontrunner among the right of her party and has consistently attracted high approval ratings among party members in surveys conducted by Conservative Home, a popular website among activists.

Speaking at her count on election night, the North West Essex MP said the Conservatives had lost the public’s trust and the party had to ask “some uncomfortable questions” to address.

The 44-year-old Brexiteer previously ran for Conservative leader following the resignation of Boris Johnson and came fourth despite starting the race with a relatively low-profile.

It is arguably through her other former role – as minister for women and equalities – that she has emerged as a darling of the modern Conservative right for her stance on trans rights.

Suella Braverman

The 44-year-old MP has not ruled out a leadership run, but told GB News reflecting on what caused the Tory election defeat was a more urgent task than electing a new leader.

Ms Braverman had a spectacular exit from government in late 2023, when she was sacked as home secretary after accusing the police of political bias over pro-Palestinian marches.

She continued to hit the headlines over the demonstrations, describing them as “hate marches” and claiming that Islamists and extremists were “in charge now”.

It was the second time she had left that role, following her resignation in October 2022 after sending an official document from her personal email.

After leaving office she fired semi-regular broadsides at Mr Sunak’s record on migration, and rebelled over his blueprint to implement the now-failed Rwanda deportation scheme, a programme she once described as her “dream” to deliver.

She stood in the 2022 leadership contest to replace Mr Johnson, but was eliminated in the second round of voting among Tory MPs.

At her count on election night, she said “sorry” on behalf of her party for “not listening” to the public, saying the Tories “did not keep our promises”.

James Cleverly

The MP for Braintree has yet to declare his intentions. “What might happen in the future I’ll leave that for the near future,” he told Sky News.

James Cleverly has been an MP since 2015 and served in the cabinets of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Sunak, becoming the first black foreign secretary.

The 54-year-old succeeded Suella Braverman as home secretary during Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle in November 2023.

He has attracted criticism for some gaffes, including telling LGBT footballs fans to be respectful at the Qatar World Cup, denied making derogatory comments about Stockton-on-Tees in the Commons and apologised for joking about spiking his wife’s drink at a Downing Street reception.

Priti Patel

Former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel, 52, has said the Tories need to take a “pause and stocktake” following their election loss.

She became MP in 2010 and served as international development secretary under Theresa May, but quit amid controversy over unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials.

As home secretary under Boris Johnson, she launched the points-based immigration system, sealed a returns deal with Albania and Serbia and signed the controversial deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the country.

Her time in office was also met with criticism, including getting involved in a row with England footballers over taking the knee, and an inquiry finding her to have broken rules on minsters’ behaviour – she strongly denied bullying allegations.

She resigned as as home secretary after Liz Truss became Tory leader.

Tom Tugendhat

The outgoing security minister Tom Tugendhat has repeatedly refused to rule himself out of bidding to become party leader during the election campaign.

The Tonbridge MP, 51, previously lost the leadership race against Liz Truss, during which he pitched himself as offering a “fresh start” and “bridge the Brexit divide”.

The former Army officer is seen as being on the centrist wing of the party, which could prove a problem with more right-leaning party members.

Mr Tugendhat voted remain during the Brexit referendum. He was highly critical of the Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Victoria Atkins

Victoria Atkins has not ruled out standing in the leadership race but said it was not yet time for contenders to launch their campaigns.

She told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “This weekend is not about leadership.”

Having spent little more than six months in cabinet as health secretary, she is being discussed as a potential contender from the moderate wing of the party.

The 48-year-old became MP for Louth and Horncastle in Lincolnshire in 2015 and retained her seat in the general election, despite her majority significantly dropping.

Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick, 42, has said the Tories suffered a “devastating” general election defeat because the party failed to deliver on its promises to the public.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, he refused to talk about his leadership ambitions. “The first step for the party is to have a proper honest diagnosis about what’s gone wrong,” he said.

Last year he resigned his role as immigration minister, saying the government’s emergency Rwanda legislation did not go far enough.

He claimed “stronger protections” were needed to stop legal challenges that were “paralysing” the scheme.

That year he also made headlines for instructing painting over murals of cartoon characters at a reception centre to welcome child asylum seekers in Dover.

He became an MP in 2014 and also served as housing minister under Boris Johnson.

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‘I had to downgrade my life’ – US workers in debt to buy groceries

By Natalie Sherman and Nathalie JimenezBBC News, New York

Stacey Ellis, a lifelong Democrat from Pennsylvania, should be the kind of voter that US President Joe Biden can count on.

But after four years of rising prices, her support has worn thin – and every time she shops at the supermarket, she is reminded how things have changed for the worse.

Ms Ellis works full-time as a nurse’s assistant and has a second part-time job.

But she needs to economise. She has switched stores, cut out brand-name items like Dove soap and Stroehmann bread, and all but said goodbye to her favourite Chick-fil-A sandwich.

Still, Ms Ellis has sometimes turned to risky payday loans (short-term borrowing with high interest rates) as she grapples with grocery prices that have surged 25% since Mr Biden entered office in January 2021.

“Prior to inflation,” she says, “I didn’t have any debt, I didn’t have any credit cards, never applied for like a payday loan or any of those things. But since inflation, I needed to do all those things….I’ve had to downgrade my life completely.”

The leap in grocery prices has outpaced the historic 20% rise in living costs that followed the pandemic, squeezing households around the country and fuelling widespread economic and political discontent.

“I’m a Democrat,” says Ms Ellis, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. “I love voting for them. But Republicans are speaking volumes right now and Democrats are whispering.”

“I want somebody to help me, help the American people,” she adds. “Joe Biden, where are you?”

For the president, already contending with serious doubts about his age and fitness for another term, the cost-of-living issue presents a major challenge, threatening to dampen turnout among supporters in an election that could be decided, like the last two, by several tens of thousands of votes in a handful key states.

Across the country, Americans on average spent more than 11% of their incomes on food, including restaurant meals last year – a higher proportion than any time since 1991.

The jump in food prices has hit younger, lower-income and minority households – key parts of the coalition that helped Mr Biden win the White House in 2020 – especially hard.

But worries about the issue are widespread: a Pew survey earlier this year found that 94% of Americans were at least somewhat concerned about rising food and consumer goods prices.

That was nearly identical to two years earlier, even though the staggering jumps in food prices that hit the US and other countries after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine have subsided.

Dylan Garcia, a 26-year-old security guard from Brooklyn, says he’s never struggled to buy groceries as much as he has now.

Instead of the fresh food and brand-name items he used to enjoy, he now stocks up on ramen noodles and frozen vegetables – and only eats twice a day because he can’t afford more.

At checkout, he routinely uses “buy now, pay later” schemes, which allow him to pay the bill in installments, but have led to mounting debt.

“I’m stuck in a loop,” he says. “It’s become an insecurity to pull up my phone at the register and have to use these programmes. When they see me, it’s embarrassing.”

Mr Garcia, who has long voted for Democrats, says his precarious financial situation has made him lose hope in politics and he does not plan to vote in November’s election.

“I don’t think the government has our best interest and I don’t think they care,” he says.

The White House maintains Mr Biden has been engaged on issues of food affordability, fighting to increase food stamp benefits and other government aid, initiatives opposed by Republicans.

At last month’s presidential debate, the first question was on inflation, and Mr Biden sought to shift blame to big companies, accusing them of price gouging – a claim that is hotly disputed among economists.

But despite strong job creation and low unemployment, opinion polls show voters continue to trust Mr Biden’s opponent, former President Donald Trump, more on economic issues.

On the CNN debate stage, the Republican White House candidate blamed Mr Biden for stoking inflation, which the White House denies, and said: “It’s killing people. They can’t buy groceries anymore. They can’t.”

The Trump campaign in turn denies that policies he proposes – including a 10% tariff on all goods coming into the US – would worsen price rises, as many analysts predict.

“We believe that a second Trump term would have a negative impact on the US’s economic standing in the world, and a destabilizing effect on the US’s domestic economy,” wrote 16 Nobel prize-winning economists in an open letter last month.

Republicans have accused Mr Biden of trying to mislead the public about the extent of the inflation problem, noting that Mr Biden has claimed, incorrectly, that inflation was already at 9% when he entered office. It was 1.4%.

Katie Walsh, a makeup artist in Pennsylvania, voted for Trump in 2020 and says she plans to do so again, based on his economic record.

The 39-year-old says her family has struggled to keep up with inflation, especially since her business has slowed, as people squeezed by higher prices cut back.

“I know he’s a big fat mouth,” she says of Mr Trump. “But he at least knows how to run the economy.”

Analysts say it is clear that the economy is important to voters, but less clear it will prove decisive in the November election.

In 2022, when inflation was at its worst, Democrats did better than expected in mid-term elections, as concerns about abortion access drove supporters to the polls.

This time around, issues such as immigration and fitness for office are also top of many voters’ minds, while economic trends appear to be moving in the right direction.

Grocery prices were up just 1% over the past 12 months, well within historic norms; and the cost of a few items, including rice, fish, apples, potatoes, and milk, has even come down a bit.

As major chains such as Target, Amazon and Walmart announce price cuts in recent weeks, there are signs the situation could continue to improve.

Some analysts also expect wages, which have increased but trailed the leap in overall prices, to finally catch up this year, providing further relief.

“We’re on the right track,” says Sarah Foster, who follows the economy for Bankrate.com. “Wage growth has slowed, price growth has slowed but, you know, prices are slowing at a much faster rate than wages.”

Stephen Lemelin, a 49-year-old father of two from Michigan, another electoral battleground, says he was pleasantly surprised by lower prices on a recent supermarket trip.

Whatever his concerns about the economy, the military veteran says his support for Mr Biden, who got his vote in 2020, has never been in doubt, given that he sees Trump as a threat to democracy.

“Nobody likes high interest rates or high inflation but that’s not under presidential control,” he says. “If you know politics, there’s really only one choice.”

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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 was pressured into having sex with Assange and stressed he must use a condom, but the condom broke and he continued.

She says he deliberately broke the condom. 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

‘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.

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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?

WTO chief warns against global trade breakdown

By Jonathan JosephsBusiness reporter, BBC News

Global trade “is not having the best of times at the moment”.

That is the admission of the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “We are seeing increasing protectionism, some undermining of the WTO rules, and some of this is leading to fragmentation,” she tells the BBC.

“Global trade is really part of the lifeblood for making countries resilient – and also for underpinning growth, so we are concerned about that.”

In recent weeks and months these fragmentations have come to the fore with the EU imposing provisional tariffs of up to 37.4% on imports of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs). It followed after the US in May introduced 100% tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Both Brussels and Washington accuse the Chinese government of unfairly subsidising its EV sector, allowing producers to export cars at unfairly low prices, and threatening jobs in the West.

President Biden has also increased import taxes on a range of other Chinese products that he said formed “the industries of the future”. These include EV batteries and the minerals they contain, the cells needed to make solar panels, and computer chips.

Meanwhile, the US has been pouring billions of dollars of government money into green technology, through its Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to reduce a reliance on Chinese imports.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tells the BBC that Europe does not want to close the market for EVs. “We welcome imports, we welcome competition, but this competition must be fair,” he says.

Last year, the volume of global trade fell for just the third time in 30 years, according to the WTO. It says the 1.2% decline was linked to higher inflation and interest rates, and is forecasting a recovery this year.

However those factors have their roots in events that are continuing to fundamentally reshape the global economy, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) first deputy managing director Gita Gopinath explained in a recent speech.

“What we’ve seen in the last few years, I would say, especially when it comes to global trade relations, is nothing like we’ve seen since the end of the Cold War.”

“The last few years, you’ve had numerous shocks, including the pandemic. We had Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and following these events, increasingly, countries around the world are guided by economic security, and national security concerns, in determining who they trade with and who they invest in,” she said.

That’s affecting countries as far apart as Peru, Ghana and Vietnam as they increasingly find themselves having to choose between strengthening economic ties with the western powers, or a China-Russia axis.

“We’re also concerned about the emerging fragmentation that we see in the trade data,” says the WTO’s Dr Okonjo-Iweala. “We’re seeing that trade between like-minded blocks is growing faster than trade across such blocks.”

She warns that “it will be costly for the world” to continue down this path. WTO research has estimated that price at 5% of the global economy, whilst the IMF has suggested it could be nearer to 7% or $7.4tn (£5.8tn) of lost output in the long run.

The EU’s introduction of tariffs on Chinese-made EVs follows a surge in their exports to Europe over the last few years. Exports jumped from $1.6bn in value in 2020 to $11.5bn last year, according to one study, which said they now made up 37% of all EV imports into the EU.

BYD, Geely and SAIC are some of the Chinese EV makers said to have benefitted from billions of dollars worth of government help.

After many years of support Chinese EV companies no longer need that help, says Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “They are today simply very competitive on their own terms. I think the introduction of tariffs is a symptom that something is out of balance.”

When it comes to broader relationship, Mr Eskelund says it’s “mind boggling” that since 2017 the volume of goods that the EU has sold to China has fallen about a third, even though China’s economy has been growing steadily.

Citing Chinese restrictions around market access for overseas firms, and tough security regulations, he adds: “I think it’s fair to say that that Europe still remains a significantly more open market to Chinese companies, then the other way around. And that is obviously something that needs to change.”

The chamber’s recent survey showed that members have the lowest confidence on record for investing in China.

It comes as the EU is trying to lower its economic dependence on China. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last year described the need to “de-risk not de-couple” its relations with China.

Brussels’ concerns include Beijing using sensitive technology for military purposes, and its support for Russia as it continues its offensive in Ukraine.

Companies including Ikea, Nike and Apple are also trying to become less reliant on China.

Whilst the EU and China are set to hold talks about the potential EV tariffs, Chinese state media has reported that retaliatory measures are being considered on EU goods including pork, cognac and luxury cars.

However, there are other barriers for global trade to overcome, including in two of the most important arteries for moving goods around the world.

This year Panama Canal officials had to reduce the number of ships allowed to traverse the waterway. This is due to a lack of rainfall to fill the lake that feeds the canal.

Meanwhile, the Suez Canal is effectively cut off because of ongoing attacks on commercial ships by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. Traffic through the canal is down 90%, according to logistics firm Kuehne+Nagel.

Rolf Habben Jansen, chief executive of the German shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd, says this disruption means that the rates his firm charges are up between 30% and 40%.

Whilst shipping costs are a small part of retail prices, Mr Habben Jansen says “these extra costs in the end get passed on” to consumers. That could end up pushing inflation up just as central banks are showing signs of getting it under control.

That would be “detrimental to consumers,” says the WTO’s Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

Despite all the tensions, she says trade has shown signs of resilience, and she adds that her organization can help countries solve their differences.

Meanwhile, Dr Okonjo-Iweala admits that some WTO rules will need to change to help meet the challenge of climate change. “I strongly believe that some of our [global trade] rules, we do need to look at them,” she says.

“When they were put in place, decades ago, we were not confronting the kind of climate change threats we confront today.”

Regarding the increased use of tariffs, she adds: “We hope we don’t have a repeat of what we saw in the 1930s. We had retaliatory tariffs, and it was downhill from there and everyone lost.

“So I do hope we will not enter into that kind of era again”.

More on global business

Payout for widow of Pakistani journalist killed by Kenyan police

By Natasha Booty and Ruth NesobaBBC News, London & Nairobi

A court in Kenya has awarded 10m shillings ($78,000; £61,000) in compensation to the widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police at a roadblock nearly two years ago.

Arshad Sharif was a TV anchor known for his robust criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military leaders and corruption in politics.

The father-of-five received death threats that he flagged to Pakistan’s top judge, before fleeing his home country to seek safety abroad.

Sharif’s killing two months later at the hands of police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado caused outrage, and the slow response by officials prompted UN experts to criticise both Kenya and Pakistan.

Kenya’s police had argued it was a case of mistaken identity but Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, said it was a contract killing carried out on behalf of an unnamed individual in Pakistan.

‘A relief to me and my family’

On Monday, the Kajiado High Court rejected ruled that the Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif’s right to life. It duly awarded Ms Siddique compensation plus interest until payment in full.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in monetary terms nor is the pain and suffering the family must have gone through. But there’s consensus that compensation is appropriate remedy for redress in violation of fundamental rights,” said Justice Stella Mutuku as she delivered the verdict.

The judge also ruled that Kenya’s director of public prosecutions and the independent policing oversight authority had violated Sharif’s rights by failing to prosecute the two police officers involved. The court has ordered both bodies to conclude investigations and charge the officers.

Reacting to the ruling, the lawyer representing Sharif’s widow, Ochiel Dudley, said “this is a win for the family and a win for Kenyans in their quest for police accountability”.

Sharif’s widow, Ms Siddique, expressed her gratitude to the Kenyan judiciary but added that her work was far from done.

“This ruling has come as a relief to me and my family, but I will not relent in getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

The BBC has asked the Kenyan authorities for their response to the ruling.

The police had given conflicting police accounts of Sharif’s death.

One account claimed the 49-year-old was travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser which officers mistook for a similar vehicle that had been reported stolen.

In another version of events, police claimed that one of the car passengers had opened fire and then officers responded by shooting back.

Like her late husband, Ms Siddique is a journalist, and filed the lawsuit alongside the Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association last October.

She and her co-petitioners were seeking transparency, an apology, and accountability from the Kenyan authorities for what they called Sharif’s “targeted assassination”.

She told the BBC she was still unable to get justice for her husband in Pakistan, but would continue to campaign for the protection of journalists and would seek the help of the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

You may also be interested in:

  • Why two Indians disappeared on a July night in Kenya
  • Inside the world of Kenya’s ‘killer cop’
  • ‘I was shot by rebels’ – the dangers of reporting

BBC Africa podcasts

John Cena announces retirement from wrestling

By André Rhoden-PaulBBC News

US actor and wrestler John Cena has announced he is retiring from competing in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) events.

Cena made the surprise announcement to fans during an appearance at the WWE Money in the Bank event in Canada.

The 47-year-old, who made his move into acting 18 years ago, said his final in-ring competition will be in 2025 as part of a farewell tour.

Cena is often regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and achieved world champion status 16 times since joining WWE in 2001.

“Tonight I officially announce my retirement from the WWE,” he told fans in Toronto who reacted with surprise and later chanted “thank you Cena”.

“What an incredible gesture of kindness,” he replied.

Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “The Last Time is Now” and his trade mark “jorts” [denim shorts], he thanked WWE fans for “letting me play in the house that you built for so many years”.

In a press conference later, he said he intended to remain part of the WWE family in some capacity despite feeling “at my end” physically.

Cena made his acting debut in 2006 when he starred in The Marine, going on to land roles in a number of big budget films including The Suicide Squad, Fast & Furious 9 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The star has performed in WWE part-time since 2018 when his acting career took off.

He made headlines this year after appearing naked, save for a strategically placed envelope, during an Academy Awards skit.

The American is also the all-time most requested celebrity by kids with charity Make-A-Wish.

He holds a Guinness World Record for the number of wishes granted to Make-A-Wish children who have critical illnesses.

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 Prime Minister James Marape.

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

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.”

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.

Kimchi blamed for mass sickness in South Korea

By Aleks PhillipsBBC News

About 1,000 people in South Korea are suffering from food poisoning linked to kimchi contaminated with norovirus.

Officials in Namwon City, in the south-west of the country, announced on Friday morning that there had been 996 confirmed cases – although local media reports say that number had climbed to 1,024 by early Saturday afternoon.

Authorities said the popular fermented cabbage dish had been distributed to those now sick through school meals in the city.

They added that students and staff from 24 schools were among the patients with vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains.

Norovirus is very contagious and can be caught through touching contaminated surfaces – such as toilet flush handles – and from people who are already infected.

Most people recover in a few days without needing hospital treatment, but some become very ill.

  • What gives kimchi its unusual flavour?

Namwon City officials said it began an epidemiological investigation to uncover the source of the illness on Wednesday, after the first case was reported the previous day.

Since then, the number of cases grew rapidly – rising from 153 on Wednesday to 745 on Thursday.

In a social media post on Thursday, the city’s Mayor, Choi Kyung-sik, said that health officials had adopted a “pre-emptive and excessive response” in an attempt to prevent further spread of the illness.

“We will ensure the safety of our citizens,” he added.

City officials said norovirus had been detected among patients, through environmental samples and in some of the kimchi regularly delivered to schools.

As a result, its disaster and safety department had temporarily suspended the production and sale of any products from the company that made the kimchi – which is also in the process of voluntarily recalling products that have already been distributed.

The firm that produced the kimchi has not yet been officially named.

What just happened in France’s shock election?

By Paul KirbyBBC News in Paris
Jubilation and stunned silence: France reacts to exit polls

Nobody expected this. High drama, for sure, but this was a shock.

When the graphics flashed up on all the big French channels, it was not the far right of Marine Le Pen and her young prime minister-in-waiting Jordan Bardella who were on course for victory.

It was the left who had clinched it, and Emmanuel Macron’s centrists – the Ensemble alliance – had staged an unexpected comeback, pushing the far-right National Rally (RN) into third.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the veteran left-wing firebrand seen by his critics as an extremist, wasted no time in proclaiming victory.

“The president must call on the New Popular Front to govern,” he told supporters in Stalingrad square, insisting Mr Macron had to recognise that he and his coalition had lost.

His alliance, drawn up in a hurry for President Macron’s surprise election, includes his own radical France Unbowed, along with Greens, Socialists and Communists and even Trotskyists. But their victory is nowhere big enough to govern.

France is going to have a hung parliament. None of the three blocs can form an outright majority by themselves of 289 seats in the 577-seat parliament.

  • Live: France faces hung parliament deadlock after left alliance wins most seats

As soon as he had spoken, Mr Mélenchon went off to a much bigger square, Place de la République, to celebrate his success with a crowd of 8,000 people, according to police numbers.

For National Rally’s supporters the champagne was fast turning flat at their celebration-gone-wrong in the Bois de Vincennes forest to the south-east of Paris.

Only a week ago all the talk had been of a possible absolute majority, and Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella were still talking up their chances a couple of days before the vote.

Marine Le Pen put a brave face on it. “Two years ago we had just seven MPs. Tonight RN is the first party in France in terms of MP numbers.”

In the last parliament they had 88 MPs and now more than 140, so she was right. And no other party has more than 100 MPs, because the Macronists and the Popular Front are both coalitions.

Jordan Bardella complained that his party had been foiled by unnatural “alliances of dishonour”, forged by a “single party” made up of the Macron camp and the left. He wasn’t wrong about the unnatural alliance, but it is only a temporary one of convenience.

More than 200 candidates who saw themselves as part of a “republican front”, pulled out of the second round so that a better-placed rival could stop RN winning.

Not even Marine Le Pen’s younger sister, Marie-Caroline, was able to offer a glimmer of good news from her own election battle around Le Mans.

Her bid to get into parliament failed by just 225 votes, defeated by Mr Mélenchon’s candidate, Elise Leboucher, after the Macron candidate dropped out.

Turnout, at 66.63%, was the highest in a parliamentary second round since 1997. Even if RN’s vote held up, this time it was having to contend with non-RN votes often being used tactically to create a “barrage” or block against them.

All over France, RN was losing run-offs it needed to win.

Some of their candidates were less than appealing.

There was the woman who promised to stop making racist jokes if she was elected in Puy-de-Dôme; and then there was the ill-equipped young man in Haute-Savoie in the south-east who took part in a TV debate with his centrist rival and made barely any sense on anything.

They both lost, but they reflected RN’s big advance in rural areas.

RN scored 32% of the vote – 37% with their right-wing allies – and for more than 10 million voters a taboo has been broken.

In Meaux, east of Paris, RN won but not by much.

After casting her vote, Claudine said people she knew tended not to admit to voting RN, unless they were with close friends.

Before the projected result at 8pm, there was fevered speculation about whether President Macron would come out and speak. Word spread that he had gone into a meeting 90 minutes earlier.

Gabriel Attal, his beleaguered prime minister, eventually appeared to give the government’s response.

Four weeks ago, he had sat stony-faced and arms folded opposite the president as Mr Macron revealed his election plan.

Now he announced he would be handing his boss his resignation in the morning, but he would stay on as long as duty called.

Mr Attal is supposed to fly off on Tuesday evening to a Nato meeting in Washington. It’s hard to imagine him being replaced just yet.

France has entered a period of political instability with no obvious way out. There had been talk of unrest on the streets, but only a handful of incidents were reported in Paris and cities including Nantes and Lyon,

All eyes are now on the president, who will have to navigate a way out of this deadlock.

The new National Assembly is due to convene in 10 days’ time, but the Paris Olympics starts on 26 July and France could do with a period of calm.

Left-leaning newspaper Libération summed up the whole night with the headline .

A relief for them that voters brought RN’s bid for power to a halt. But it also means in colloquial French: “It’s crazy.”

‘You’re not welcome here’: Australia’s treatment of disabled migrants

By Katy WatsonAustralia correspondent

When Luca was born in a Perth hospital two years ago, it flipped his parents’ world in ways they never expected.

With the joy came a shocking diagnosis: Luca had cystic fibrosis. Then Australia – Laura Currie and her husband Dante’s home for eight years – said they couldn’t stay permanently. Luca, his parents were told, could be a financial burden on the country.

“I think I cried for like a week – I just feel really, really sorry for Luca,” Ms Currie says. “He’s just a defenceless two-and-a-half-year-old and doesn’t deserve to be discriminated against in that way.”

With a third of its population born abroad, Australia has long seen itself as a “migration nation” – a multicultural home for immigrants that promises them a fair go and a fresh start. The idea is baked into its identity. But the reality is often different, especially for those who have a disability or a serious medical condition.

It is one of few countries that routinely rejects immigrants’ visas on the basis of their medical needs – specifically if the cost of care exceeds A$86,000 ($57,000; £45,000) over a maximum of 10 years. New Zealand has a similar policy but Australia’s is much stricter.

The government defends the law as necessary to curb government spending and protect citizens’ access to healthcare. It says these visas aren’t technically rejected. But neither are they granted. Some can apply for a waiver, although not all visas allow it. They could also appeal the decision but the process is lengthy and expensive.

Campaigners see this as discriminatory and out of step with modern attitudes towards disability. And after years of fighting for it, they are hoping for change in the coming weeks, with an official review of the health requirements under way.

Laura Currie and Dante Vendittelli had moved from Scotland for jobs that Australia desperately needs. She is a nursery teacher and he is a painter-decorator. They had started their application for permanent residency before Luca was born. But now they feel like the life they built here and the taxes they paid meant little.

“It’s like, we’re here for you [Australia] when you need us, but when the roles are reversed and we need you, it’s like, nope, sorry, you cost too much money, you go back to your own country.”

BBC
We still treat people with disability in the same way as we did in 1901.”

Australia has form when it comes to its strict immigration policies. It had its own version of “stop the boats”, which sent people arriving by boat to offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island of Nauru and made controversial headlines in recent years. It was only in the 1970s that it entirely rid itself of the “White Australia” policy that started in 1901 with the Immigration Restriction Act, which limited the number of non-white immigrants.

The disability and health discriminations, which also date back to 1901, are still in place, says Jan Gothard, an immigration lawyer: “We still treat people with disability in the same way as we did in 1901 and we think they’re not people who are welcome in Australia.”

She is part of Welcoming Disability, an umbrella group that’s been pressuring the government to overhaul the law. Surprisingly, Australia’s Migration Act is exempt from its own Disability Discrimination Act.

Put simply, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in Australia, if you were born in Australia, if you have private health insurance or even if you can pay for the support yourself – if you are deemed too much of a financial burden, you will fail the health requirement.

The government says that 99% of visa applicants meet the health requirement – 1,779 of them did not meet the bar between 2021 and 2022, according to official figures.

Immigration minister Andrew Giles, who declined to be interviewed, recently said that “any child born in Australia and adversely affected by the migration health rules can apply for ministerial intervention”, and that he himself had “positively intervened” in cases.

But families say that the process is gruelling at an already difficult time.

The price to stay

“There’s so much in your life going on when a child is sick, so much struggle and you’re struggling and begging and asking for petitions, asking people to help you,” says Mehwish Butt, who knows the challenge first-hand. She and her husband Qasim fought to stay in Australia in a case that drew global attention.

Their son Shaffan was born in 2014 with a rare genetic condition and a damaged spinal cord. He needs around-the-clock care. The Butts, originally from Pakistan, intended to return eventually, but Shaffan’s birth changed everything. Now, getting on a plane would risk his life.

Finally, in 2022 they were told they could stay. For those eight years, Qasim, a trained accountant, was unable to work in his chosen profession. Instead, he found jobs in cafes, in supermarkets and taxi apps to make ends meet.

“They should realise that’s a very difficult situation – you shouldn’t put people in the limelight,” Ms Butt says.

Ms Currie and her husband aren’t giving up either – Australia is home now for Luca and they are filling jobs that the country needs. They’re hoping that is enough to win them their appeal. If they lose, they will have 28 days to leave the country.

For Luca, the sticking point is a pricey drug, Trikafta. He is not on it and may not even be compatible with it. But it’s the basis of Australian estimates of his treatment – around A$1.8m That puts his medical costs over the permissible limit – A$86,000 over 10 years, also known as the Significant Cost Threshold.

While campaigners have welcomed the recent rise of the threshold – from A$51,000 to A$86,000 – they still don’t think it reflects average costs.

The government’s own data shows that Australia spent $9,365 per head on health goods and services in 2021-2022 and a further A$8,245 per person on welfare costs. Over a 10-year period – the maximum period assessed for a visa – that would amount to more than A$170,000. So campaigners have questioned how the government comes up with the threshold, which is half of that amount.

They also want the cost of educational support to be removed from the calculations. This impacts families whose children have been diagnosed with conditions such as Down Syndrome, ADHD and autism.

It’s a snag that has hit Claire Day’s plans for her and her family to follow her brother, who moved to Australia a few years ago.

Her younger daughter Darcy, who is nearly 10, has Down Syndrome. She’s been told by migration experts that because of that, she has little chance of being granted a visa.

On an overcast afternoon in Kent, she talks wistfully of the life she is looking forward to Down Under. Sunshine is no small attraction, but also “the lifestyle – [I want] a better environment for the children to grow up in,” she says.

An officer with London’s Metropolitan Police force for 21 years, she wants to take advantage of a major recruitment drive by Australian police forces. Their social media feeds are full of promotional videos fronted by former British police officers, showing them living the Australian dream, patrolling the beach in sand buggies and relaxing in the surf. They make up just some of the 30,000 British people who moved to Australia last year, according to government statistics.

Ms Day has not one, but two job offers – from Queensland’s police force and from South Australia. As part of the job, she’s also entitled to a permanent visa. Now, she is not so sure.

“I had hoped that it wouldn’t be an issue because Darcy doesn’t have any medical problems. She’s fit and she’s healthy, she goes to school and she participates in clubs and all of that sort of stuff.”

Stories like this have convinced campaigners that, at its heart, the policy is ableist.

“If we say to people with disability, ‘you’re not welcome here, we’re saying directly to people living with disability in this country, ‘you’re not welcome here either,” Dr Gothard says.

“[We’re saying] you know, given the opportunity, we would rather not have you.”

Social worker Shizleen Aishath says she was “gobsmacked” to find out about the health requirement – and she discovered it the hard way.

A former UN employee, she came to Australia for a further degree with every intention of returning to the Maldives. But she had an emergency C-section when her son Kayban was born in 2016. Forceps were used during the delivery. Kayban had undiagnosed haemophilia and suffered a serious brain bleed. He now needs round-the-clock care and the family chose to stay in Australia.

But Kayban was refused a temporary visa because he was deemed too much of a burden – although the family have private health insurance and don’t use state resources. The rest of the family were granted their visas.

“Disability is the only thing that stops you from migrating, there is nothing else,” Ms Aishath says.

After a lengthy appeal, Kayban was allowed to remain. His family is now preparing for their next fight – to stay in Australia indefinitely.

Payout for widow of Pakistani journalist killed by Kenyan police

By Natasha Booty and Ruth NesobaBBC News, London & Nairobi

A court in Kenya has awarded 10m shillings ($78,000; £61,000) in compensation to the widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police at a roadblock nearly two years ago.

Arshad Sharif was a TV anchor known for his robust criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military leaders and corruption in politics.

The father-of-five received death threats that he flagged to Pakistan’s top judge, before fleeing his home country to seek safety abroad.

Sharif’s killing two months later at the hands of police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado caused outrage, and the slow response by officials prompted UN experts to criticise both Kenya and Pakistan.

Kenya’s police had argued it was a case of mistaken identity but Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, said it was a contract killing carried out on behalf of an unnamed individual in Pakistan.

‘A relief to me and my family’

On Monday, the Kajiado High Court rejected ruled that the Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif’s right to life. It duly awarded Ms Siddique compensation plus interest until payment in full.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in monetary terms nor is the pain and suffering the family must have gone through. But there’s consensus that compensation is appropriate remedy for redress in violation of fundamental rights,” said Justice Stella Mutuku as she delivered the verdict.

The judge also ruled that Kenya’s director of public prosecutions and the independent policing oversight authority had violated Sharif’s rights by failing to prosecute the two police officers involved. The court has ordered both bodies to conclude investigations and charge the officers.

Reacting to the ruling, the lawyer representing Sharif’s widow, Ochiel Dudley, said “this is a win for the family and a win for Kenyans in their quest for police accountability”.

Sharif’s widow, Ms Siddique, expressed her gratitude to the Kenyan judiciary but added that her work was far from done.

“This ruling has come as a relief to me and my family, but I will not relent in getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

The BBC has asked the Kenyan authorities for their response to the ruling.

The police had given conflicting police accounts of Sharif’s death.

One account claimed the 49-year-old was travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser which officers mistook for a similar vehicle that had been reported stolen.

In another version of events, police claimed that one of the car passengers had opened fire and then officers responded by shooting back.

Like her late husband, Ms Siddique is a journalist, and filed the lawsuit alongside the Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association last October.

She and her co-petitioners were seeking transparency, an apology, and accountability from the Kenyan authorities for what they called Sharif’s “targeted assassination”.

She told the BBC she was still unable to get justice for her husband in Pakistan, but would continue to campaign for the protection of journalists and would seek the help of the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

You may also be interested in:

  • Why two Indians disappeared on a July night in Kenya
  • Inside the world of Kenya’s ‘killer cop’
  • ‘I was shot by rebels’ – the dangers of reporting

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‘I had to downgrade my life’ – US workers in debt to buy groceries

By Natalie Sherman and Nathalie JimenezBBC News, New York

Stacey Ellis, a lifelong Democrat from Pennsylvania, should be the kind of voter that US President Joe Biden can count on.

But after four years of rising prices, her support has worn thin – and every time she shops at the supermarket, she is reminded how things have changed for the worse.

Ms Ellis works full-time as a nurse’s assistant and has a second part-time job.

But she needs to economise. She has switched stores, cut out brand-name items like Dove soap and Stroehmann bread, and all but said goodbye to her favourite Chick-fil-A sandwich.

Still, Ms Ellis has sometimes turned to risky payday loans (short-term borrowing with high interest rates) as she grapples with grocery prices that have surged 25% since Mr Biden entered office in January 2021.

“Prior to inflation,” she says, “I didn’t have any debt, I didn’t have any credit cards, never applied for like a payday loan or any of those things. But since inflation, I needed to do all those things….I’ve had to downgrade my life completely.”

The leap in grocery prices has outpaced the historic 20% rise in living costs that followed the pandemic, squeezing households around the country and fuelling widespread economic and political discontent.

“I’m a Democrat,” says Ms Ellis, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. “I love voting for them. But Republicans are speaking volumes right now and Democrats are whispering.”

“I want somebody to help me, help the American people,” she adds. “Joe Biden, where are you?”

For the president, already contending with serious doubts about his age and fitness for another term, the cost-of-living issue presents a major challenge, threatening to dampen turnout among supporters in an election that could be decided, like the last two, by several tens of thousands of votes in a handful key states.

Across the country, Americans on average spent more than 11% of their incomes on food, including restaurant meals last year – a higher proportion than any time since 1991.

The jump in food prices has hit younger, lower-income and minority households – key parts of the coalition that helped Mr Biden win the White House in 2020 – especially hard.

But worries about the issue are widespread: a Pew survey earlier this year found that 94% of Americans were at least somewhat concerned about rising food and consumer goods prices.

That was nearly identical to two years earlier, even though the staggering jumps in food prices that hit the US and other countries after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine have subsided.

Dylan Garcia, a 26-year-old security guard from Brooklyn, says he’s never struggled to buy groceries as much as he has now.

Instead of the fresh food and brand-name items he used to enjoy, he now stocks up on ramen noodles and frozen vegetables – and only eats twice a day because he can’t afford more.

At checkout, he routinely uses “buy now, pay later” schemes, which allow him to pay the bill in installments, but have led to mounting debt.

“I’m stuck in a loop,” he says. “It’s become an insecurity to pull up my phone at the register and have to use these programmes. When they see me, it’s embarrassing.”

Mr Garcia, who has long voted for Democrats, says his precarious financial situation has made him lose hope in politics and he does not plan to vote in November’s election.

“I don’t think the government has our best interest and I don’t think they care,” he says.

The White House maintains Mr Biden has been engaged on issues of food affordability, fighting to increase food stamp benefits and other government aid, initiatives opposed by Republicans.

At last month’s presidential debate, the first question was on inflation, and Mr Biden sought to shift blame to big companies, accusing them of price gouging – a claim that is hotly disputed among economists.

But despite strong job creation and low unemployment, opinion polls show voters continue to trust Mr Biden’s opponent, former President Donald Trump, more on economic issues.

On the CNN debate stage, the Republican White House candidate blamed Mr Biden for stoking inflation, which the White House denies, and said: “It’s killing people. They can’t buy groceries anymore. They can’t.”

The Trump campaign in turn denies that policies he proposes – including a 10% tariff on all goods coming into the US – would worsen price rises, as many analysts predict.

“We believe that a second Trump term would have a negative impact on the US’s economic standing in the world, and a destabilizing effect on the US’s domestic economy,” wrote 16 Nobel prize-winning economists in an open letter last month.

Republicans have accused Mr Biden of trying to mislead the public about the extent of the inflation problem, noting that Mr Biden has claimed, incorrectly, that inflation was already at 9% when he entered office. It was 1.4%.

Katie Walsh, a makeup artist in Pennsylvania, voted for Trump in 2020 and says she plans to do so again, based on his economic record.

The 39-year-old says her family has struggled to keep up with inflation, especially since her business has slowed, as people squeezed by higher prices cut back.

“I know he’s a big fat mouth,” she says of Mr Trump. “But he at least knows how to run the economy.”

Analysts say it is clear that the economy is important to voters, but less clear it will prove decisive in the November election.

In 2022, when inflation was at its worst, Democrats did better than expected in mid-term elections, as concerns about abortion access drove supporters to the polls.

This time around, issues such as immigration and fitness for office are also top of many voters’ minds, while economic trends appear to be moving in the right direction.

Grocery prices were up just 1% over the past 12 months, well within historic norms; and the cost of a few items, including rice, fish, apples, potatoes, and milk, has even come down a bit.

As major chains such as Target, Amazon and Walmart announce price cuts in recent weeks, there are signs the situation could continue to improve.

Some analysts also expect wages, which have increased but trailed the leap in overall prices, to finally catch up this year, providing further relief.

“We’re on the right track,” says Sarah Foster, who follows the economy for Bankrate.com. “Wage growth has slowed, price growth has slowed but, you know, prices are slowing at a much faster rate than wages.”

Stephen Lemelin, a 49-year-old father of two from Michigan, another electoral battleground, says he was pleasantly surprised by lower prices on a recent supermarket trip.

Whatever his concerns about the economy, the military veteran says his support for Mr Biden, who got his vote in 2020, has never been in doubt, given that he sees Trump as a threat to democracy.

“Nobody likes high interest rates or high inflation but that’s not under presidential control,” he says. “If you know politics, there’s really only one choice.”

More on the election

Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge

By Natalie ShermanBBC News, New York

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge after the US found the company violated a deal meant to reform it after two fatal crashes by its 737 Max planes that killed 346 passengers and crew.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said the plane-maker had also agreed to pay a criminal fine of $243.6m (£190m).

However, the families of the people who died on the flights five years ago have criticised it as a “sweetheart deal” that would allow Boeing to avoid full responsibility for the deaths. One called it an “atrocious abomination”.

The settlement must now be approved by a US judge.

By pleading guilty, Boeing will avoid the spectacle of a criminal trial – something that victims’ families have been pressing for.

The company has been in crisis over its safety record since two near-identical crashes involving 737 Max aircraft in 2018 and 2019. It led to the global grounding of the plane for more than a year.

In 2021, prosecutors charged Boeing with one count of conspiracy to defraud regulators, alleging it had deceived the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about its MCAS flight control system, which was implicated in both crashes.

It agreed not to prosecute Boeing if the company paid a penalty and successfully completed a three-year period of increased monitoring and reporting.

But in January, shortly before that period was due to end, a door panel in a Boeing plane operated by Alaska Airlines blew out soon after take-off and forced the jet to land.

No-one was injured during the incident but it intensified scrutiny over how much progress Boeing had made on improving its safety and quality record.

In May, the DoJ said it had found Boeing had violated the terms of the agreement, opening up the possibility of prosecution.

Boeing’s decision to plead guilty is still a significant black mark for the firm because it means that the company – which is a prominent military contractor for the US government – now has a criminal record. It is also one of the world’s two biggest manufacturers of commercial jets.

It is not immediately clear how the criminal record will affect the firm’s contracting business. The government typically bars or suspends firms with records from participating in bids, but can grant waivers.

Paul Cassell, a lawyer representing some families of people killed on the 2018 and 2019 flights, said: “This sweetheart deal fails to recognise that because of Boeing’s conspiracy, 346 people died.

“Through crafty lawyering between Boeing and DoJ, the deadly consequences of Boeing’s crime are being hidden.”

He called on the judge assessing the deal to “reject this inappropriate plea and simply set the matter for a public trial, so that all the facts surrounding the case will be aired in a fair and open forum before a jury”.

In a letter to the government in June, Mr Cassell had urged the DoJ to fine Boeing more than $24bn.

Zipporah Kuria who lost her father Joseph in one of the fatal crashes, said the plea was an “atrocious abomination”.

“Miscarriage of justice is a gross understatement in describing this,” she said. “I hope that, God forbid, if this happens again the DoJ is reminded that it had the opportunity to do something meaningful and instead chose not to.”

Ed Pierson, executive director of Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former senior manager at Boeing, said the plea was “seriously disappointing” and “a terrible deal for justice”.

“Instead of holding individuals accountable, they’re just basically giving them another get out of jail free card,” he said.

A Boeing 737 Max plane operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in late October 2018 shortly after take-off, killing all 189 people on board. Just months later, an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew.

In the 2021 deal, Boeing also agreed to pay $2.5bn to resolve the matter, including a $243m criminal penalty and $500m to a victims’ fund.

The deal outraged family members, who were not consulted on the terms and have called for the company to stand trial.

Senior staff at the DoJ recommended in favour of prosecution, CBS News, the BBC’s US news partner reported in late June.

At a hearing in June, Senator Richard Blumenthal said he believed there was “near overwhelming evidence” that prosecution should be pursued.

Lawyers for family members said the DoJ was worried it did not have a strong case against the firm.

Mark Forkner, a former Boeing technical pilot who was the only person to face criminal charges arising from the incident, was acquitted by a jury in 2022. His lawyers had argued he was being used as a scapegoat.

Mark Cohen, a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University, who has studied corporate punishments, said prosecutors often prefer plea deals or deferred prosecution agreements, which allow them to avoid the risk of a trial and can give the government greater power over a company than a typical sentence.

“Because it’s easier to get than going to trial, it may ease the burden on the prosecutor but the prosecutor also may believe it’s a better sanction [because] they may be able to impose requirements that aren’t normally in sentencing guidelines,” he said.

He said there was little doubt that Boeing’s status as a key government contractor played a role in determining how to proceed.

“They’ve got to think about the collateral consequences,” he said. “You don’t take these kinds of cases lightly.”

The issues with MCAS were not Boeing’s first brush with the law.

It has also paid millions in penalties to the Federal Aviation Administration since 2015 to resolve a series of claims of improper manufacturing and other issues.

The company also continues to face investigations and lawsuits sparked by the incident on the January Alaska Airlines flight.

Sacred buffalo calf offers hope amid efforts to revive species

By Max MatzaBBC News, Seattle
Indigenous people celebrate birth of rare white buffalo

With cream-coloured fur and jet-black eyes, one of the smallest specimens of America’s largest native animal stumbled into the spotlight on shaky legs.

Advocates hope the June birth of a white buffalo calf – an exceedingly rare event – will translate into new momentum for a decades-long push to revive the species in America’s Great Plains.

Many tribes consider a white bison birth to be a sacred omen that signifies change. The herd this calf was born into has also become an important cultural symbol – it’s the last wild buffalo herd in North America.

The herd is entering a new chapter of its life as stewardship of the species is increasingly being overseen by indigenous communities again and advocates push to grow bison populations.

The American buffalo, also known as bison, once numbered in the tens of millions before being brought to the brink of extinction in the 1800s. Now, the only wild herd in the US is limited to just 5,000 animals.

But tribes and bison advocates see opportunity as Yellowstone, America’s first national park and the home of the white calf, considers a proposal to expand the wild herd’s size for the first time in decades.

The white calf has added spiritual significance to buffalo advocates’ efforts as they test a long-standing status quo where government policies prioritise beef ranching over the beliefs of native tribes.

A prophecy revealed

Just after noon on 4 June, Yellowstone photography guide Jordan Creech was sightseeing with clients when he spotted the freshly-born white buffalo calf, taking its first steps in the park’s Lamar Valley.

Bison calves can walk within two minutes of being born, and run alongside their herd within the first seven minutes of life.

“It’s the most unique experience I’ve ever had,” Creech says.

Erin Braaten, a photographer of Native American descent from Kalispell, Montana, also witnessed the calf’s first moments of life before it disappeared into the herd.

“I thought I’d have a better chance of capturing Bigfoot than a white bison calf,” she tells BBC News.

For the last 2,000 years the people of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakoda tribes have told the story of a woman who arrived during a time of need.

A version speaks of two scouts searching for food and buffalo in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The mysterious woman appeared and offered their tribe a bundle of sacred gifts, including a pipe carved from red rock, and instructed the people on how to live and pray.

She transformed several times before taking the form a white buffalo calf with a black nose, black eyes and black hooves. As she departed, a great number of buffalo returned to feed the people.

Dozens of other tribes have white buffalo stories, interpreting its arrival as both a blessing and a warning.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a spiritual leader of the Lakota Tribe, is known as the Keeper of the Sacred Bundle — the bundle and pipe left by the spirit. He likens the white calf’s return to the second coming of Christ.

Looking Horse, 70, said that before she departed, the woman told the people that she would return as a white buffalo calf “when everything is sickly and not good, and when people are with a not good mind”.

“This is spirit. It means spirit is happening,” he added.

On 26 June, more than 500 supporters formally celebrated the white calf at an event in West Yellowstone, just outside the park. Nearly a dozen tribes were represented.

Together, they heard the name bestowed upon the calf – Wakan Gli, meaning Sacred Returns or Comes Holy in the Lakota language. An altar of three buffalo skulls and three buffalo robes marked the occasion.

Waemaetekosew Waupekenay, 38, who travelled from Wisconsin to attend on behalf of the Menominee Tribe, said the birth of the sacred calf has been a spiritual awakening.

Its arrival, he says with amazement, shows that “there’s a lot of healing, a lot of love going around. People are being united.”

National Park rangers at Yellowstone have confirmed the white bison’s birth, but rangers have not reported any sightings themselves.

“The birth of a white bison calf in the wild is a landmark event in the ecocultural recovery of bison by the National Park Service,” the park said in a statement on 28 June confirming it as the first white bison ever seen inside Yellowstone.

They added that it “may reflect the presence of a natural genetic legacy that was preserved in Yellowstone’s bison, which has revealed itself because of the successful recovery of a wild bison population”.

“The National Park Services acknowledges the significance of a white bison calf for American Indians,” it added.

A species reborn

The Yellowstone bison make up the only wild herd in the US and are among the last genetically pure bison in existence.

But Yellowstone National Park regularly reaches the legally-permitted capacity of 5,000.

Tribes who support the species’ growth have stepped in, believing the species’ health is tied to their own history. Since 2019, the US National Park Service has transferred 414 healthy bison from Yellowstone to 26 tribes in 12 states through the Bison Conservation Transfer Program.

Native people also have their own distribution system to share buffalo independent of the park’s efforts. Since 1992, the Intertribal Buffalo Council – a collective of 83 tribes working to “restore the cultural, spiritual and historic relationships” with the animals – has sent 25,000 bison to 65 herds on tribal lands in 22 states.

“People don’t understand or realise that what happened to the buffalo similarly happened to native people, and that history is intertwined,” says Jason Baldes, who serves as vice-president of the council and is a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

The returning of buffalo to tribal people marks a major change in federal policy for a country whose soldiers had once been ordered to kill them all to deprive tribes of food and supplies.

And officials are not only returning animals, they’re considering taking on more themselves: the National Park Service has just completed an environmental impact study at Yellowstone, and determined that the size of the herd should increase from 5,000 to 6,000 – but could accommodate as many as 10,000. It’s the first time the park has proposed an increase in 24 years.

The herd’s growth is made more striking by the fact that up to 60 million American buffalo were killed in the rush to claim ownership of the American frontier.

Unlike the native people – who are known to use nearly every part of the animal for food, shelter and more – the settlers killed them with reckless abandon, taking furs and leaving carcasses to rot.

By the 20th Century, no more than 1,000 bison remained in the wild.

Large-scale cattle operations took over the empty land and commercial interests continue to be a source of conflict between those who wish to see the wild buffalo roam as they once did, and the livestock industry.

Ranchers and the state’s Republican governor oppose the park service’s proposal to expand the herd, fearing a disease called brucellosis – which is carried by about 60% of Yellowstone bison – could infect beef herds and undercut profit margins.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, which opposes the plan, has warned that the new policy could lead “to an exponential growth in bison numbers”.

Elk are also known to transfer brucellosis to domestic livestock, but do not face the same restrictions as bison.

Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign, a Montana-based non-profit which works to increase wild bison numbers, says the debate “is part of the old range wars of the West, competition for grass and which animals get to eat it”.

Yellowstone officials previously conceded that the controversy over bison management is a complex challenge with several opposing interest groups.

“It’s probably the single-most challenging wildlife issue in Yellowstone,” Cam Sholly, the park superintendent, told the New York Times last year. “The bison is the only species we constrain to a boundary.”

But for tribes, the birth of the white calf is proof that more needs to done to support bison. The fact that the calf comes from Yellowstone has imparted it with extra spiritual significance.

“The Yellowstone [herd] are the most purest, wildest buffalo – the only left in the country,” Chief Looking Horse says.

“This is a message that Mother Earth is speaking through the animal nation.”

India event organiser arrested after fatal crush

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

The chief organiser of a religious gathering in northern India where 121 people were killed in a crush has surrendered to police, his lawyer says.

The incident in Uttar Pradesh state last week is one of the deadliest such disasters in the country in more than a decade.

Nearly all those killed were women and children who were attending the satsang – a Hindu religious gathering.

Chaos broke out at the end of the event as many in the crowd rushed towards the preacher leading the overcrowded congregation as he was about to leave in his car.

The tragedy has sparked outrage in India, leading to questions about lapses in safety measures and crowd management.

On Thursday, police said they had arrested six people who were part of a group that organised the event in Hathras district.

On Friday night, police said they had arrested Devprakash Madhukar, the main organiser of the event, in the Najafgarh area of the capital, Delhi, and handed him over to police in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state.

However, AP Singh, a lawyer for the preacher Bhole Baba who led the congregation, later said Mr Madhukar had surrendered to the police.

“We told you that we would surrender Devprakash Madhukar, take him in front of the police, interrogate him, participate in the investigation, and take part in the inquiry,” he told ANI news agency.

“We have handed him over to the special investigation team and the Uttar Pradesh police. Now a thorough investigation can be done.”

Mr Madhukar was produced before a local court and sent to 14 days in judicial custody.

He is a key suspect in the police complaint and is facing charges of attempted culpable homicide.

The complaint said officials had given permission for 80,000 people to gather, but some 250,000 people turned up to the event.

  • What we know about the India crush that killed 121
  • India preacher denies blame for crush deaths

The police report says thousands of devotees ran towards the preacher’s vehicle as he was leaving and began collecting dust from the path in an act of devotion.

Mr Singh, however, denied blame and told the BBC the crush occurred “due to some anti-social elements”. He blamed a “criminal conspiracy hatched against” his client.

He also denied reports that security guards at the festival had triggered panic by pushing away people who tried to get Bhole Baba’s blessing.

A three-member judicial inquiry commission has been established to investigate the incident.

Israeli forces bombard Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas

By Sebastian UsherBBC News

Palestinians in Gaza City say they have experienced one of the most intense Israeli bombardments since Israel launched its war on Hamas after the group’s unprecedented 7 October attack.

Columns of Israeli tanks are reported to be closing in on the centre of the city from several different directions.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Service says it believes a number of people have been killed but has so far been unable to reach them because of fighting in several districts in the east and west of Gaza City.

The Al-Ahli Baptist hospital is reported to have been evacuated, with its patients being taken to one of the only medical facilities still functioning in the area – the already overcrowded Indonesian hospital.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire and hostage release deal are expected to resume in Qatar within 48 hours.

A preliminary meeting would take place in Egypt on Monday between US, Israeli and Egyptian intelligence chiefs, the official said.

Ahead of the assault in Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued evacuation orders for several neighbourhoods in the centre, including Tuffah, Daraj and the Old City.

But one of the areas that has come under the most intense assault, Tel al-Hawa, was not included in the evacuation order that was posted online with a map by the IDF Arabic spokesperson on Sunday.

On Monday afternoon, the IDF issued a new order that covered Tel al-Hawa as well as the Sabra and al-Rimal areas, to the north and west.

One resident of Gaza City, Abdel Ghani asked: “The enemy is behind us and the sea is in front of us, where shall we go?”

Others have also told the BBC that they do not know where to go. They say that only one route remains – to go north towards the port area of Gaza City.

Some fled districts after receiving an evacuation order, only to find that the area they moved to was coming under Israeli bombardment.

In al-Rimal, a freelance cameraman working for the BBC says that he did not receive any evacuation orders, but later learnt that his neighbour did.

He left the area with his family and headed north. They are now in the port area but lack basic necessities. He says he is struggling to find water for his children.

In a statement, the IDF confirmed that it launched what it called a new operation in Tel al-Halwa overnight, following what it said was intelligence of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad infrastructure and fighters in the area.

The military also said that it was operating at the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, in the area.

The IDF said that at the start of the operation, it gave warnings to civilians – and it said that it would open up a humanitarian corridor for people to leave the area.

The latest Israeli offensive in Gaza comes as hopes have been rising that a ceasefire deal might finally be agreed.

A senior Palestinian official familiar with the talks has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between the Hamas and Israeli negotiating teams, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, will start in Doha within the next 48 hours.

The official also said a preparatory meeting was due to take place in Cairo on Monday between CIA director William Burns, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, and the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Abbas Kamel.

The three intelligence chiefs are then all due to travel to Doha on Tuesday.

The official outlined to the BBC several key sticking points from the Hamas perspective:

  • Hamas wants Israeli forces to withdraw from both the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Philadelphi corridor, a strip of land running along the Egyptian border
  • Israel has vetoed Hamas’s demand for release from Israeli prisons of 100 senior figures from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah political factions

Hamas’s negotiating team has already dropped its requirement for Israel to accept a permanent ceasefire as a precondition for any potential deal.

The official said the negotiating process would be very long and complex, but that there was some degree of hope that it might work this time.

On Sunday, a statement by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have somewhat dampened expectations by insisting that any deal must not stop Israel from resuming fighting in Gaza until its war objectives are met.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly defined those aims as being the eradication of Hamas, both militarily and politically.

The Liz Truss moment: What it was like to be in the room

By Ros AtkinsBBC News Analysis Editor
Slow hand claps for Liz Truss as former PM loses seat

All election nights have their defining moments.

Some, such as the shock of then Defence Secretary Michael Portillo losing his seat in 1997, lodge in our minds and are referenced for many elections to come.

As the dust settles on election night 2024, the “Portillo moment” may have been eclipsed.

At 06:48 BST on Friday 5 July, former Prime Minister Liz Truss lost her South West Norfolk seat by just 630 votes, overturning her majority of more than 26,000.

She had arrived at the count just seconds before the result was declared – to the sound of a slow handclap – and was quick to leave, departing with only a few words.

You’d have to go back to 1935 and Ramsay MacDonald to find a former PM losing their seat in Parliament. This isn’t normal in UK politics.

Inside a leisure centre in King’s Lynn, I witnessed Liz Truss’ defeat and spoke to her directly afterwards – her only comments since that moment.

Here’s how a night of extraordinary tension unfolded.

‘The story of the night is about to happen’

At the 2019 general election there had only been a handful of journalists at this count. This time round, tables for the media stretched along one side of the hall.

None of us knew if Ms Truss would lose her seat but we knew her 49 days in office in 2022, and the turmoil in the financial markets that came with it, were one of the reasons the Tories were under severe pressure.

At these counts, representatives of the parties – known as counting agents – can stand by the tables as the votes are sorted and tallied.

Journalists aren’t allowed too close but, from a couple of metres back, can watch the votes and talk to counting agents or even candidates.

By 3am we were getting a consistent message.

The Lib Dems, Greens, and Labour were all saying Reform were exceeding expectations and that it was tight – between Ms Truss, Labour and Reform.

News of high profile Conservative scalps came in: Penny Mordaunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Grant Shapps and others. In all, 12 cabinet ministers would lose their seats.

However, Ms Truss was in a particularly comfortable position.

South West Norfolk has elected a Tory MP for decades and was one of the safest Tory seats in the country.

First light was now coming through the double doors where earlier the ballot boxes had been carried.

At the front of the leisure centre, a small group of journalists waited for Ms Truss’ arrival. “I’ve never had a welcome like this before,” quipped one man in shorts as he arrived to use the leisure centre.

Outside, Earl Elvis of East Anglia, the Monster Raving Looney Party’s candidate, stood alone, smoking a cigarette. A few metres away, the Labour candidate Terry Jermy was looking intently at a piece of paper. He appeared to be practising a speech.

Liz Truss, though, still hadn’t arrived.

My colleague Chris Gibson was soon told by an election official that she had definitely lost.

He showed Chris a message he’d sent his wife: “Turn on the TV. The story of the night is about to happen.”

Some in the hall knew the result; most, I think, did not.

I repeated back to Chris exactly what I planned to say on air, not wanting to get a word wrong.

Suddenly, as I started talking to the camera, everyone was listening.

“We have received a strong indication that Liz Truss has lost,” I told BBC viewers. Some people near me gasped, others cheered.

With all the other candidates present and the result now widely known, Ms Truss’ absence was causing frustration. The slow handclap began.

Minutes later, two cars swept into the car park and she emerged from one of them.

The other candidates were already on the stage. Ms Truss took her place by Toby McKenzie of Reform, who only got into politics in the last few months. He and the former PM would end up fewer than 1,500 votes apart.

I was standing five metres from Ms Truss as Labour’s narrow victory was declared.

Throughout, Ms Truss stared ahead impassively, arms straight at her sides.

Cheers broke out as Terry Jermy stepped forward as winner. He shook Ms Truss’ hand, shook the hands of three other candidates and made the speech he’d rehearsed in the car park.

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After the speech, the returning officer shook Ms Truss’ hand. We wondered if there would be a concession speech. We immediately got an answer.

Liz Truss turned away from the lectern and stepped off the stage.

“Give me a few seconds to say hello to people,” she told me. A brief conversation with her husband followed, and, good to her word, she came back.

And so – with a sign that read “goals should be hung up when not in use” behind us – we began.

‘I’ve got a lot to think about’

Did Ms Truss take responsibility for what was happening to the Conservatives because of events during her time as prime minister?

“I think the issues we’ve faced as Conservatives is that we haven’t delivered sufficiently on the policies people want.

“And that means keeping taxes low but also particularly on reducing immigration.”

I noticed that she spoke of the Conservatives’ actions but not of her own.

Wasn’t Ms Truss in the cabinet and, for a time, prime minister while the Conservatives failed to deliver on key policies?

For a beat, she looked at me, then replied: “I agree I was part of that, that’s absolutely true.”

Then there was a look back to Labour’s last time in power.

“But during our 14 years in power, unfortunately we did not do enough to take on the legacy that we’d been left.”

BBC questions Liz Truss following her defeat

I wanted to know if Ms Truss planned to stay involved in Conservative politics.

“I’ve got a lot to think about,” she replied and with a hint of smile added, “I haven’t slept last night so give me a bit of time, but I will definitely talk to you again when I’ve got the opportunity.”

But there was, though, one more question it felt important to ask there and then.

Did Ms Truss want to say sorry to the people of Norfolk?

Ms Truss didn’t answer.

I asked once more. Did she have a message for supporters of the Conservatives? Or to the country?

“I’ve answered your questions. Thank you,” Ms Truss replied.

In the tiny entrance way of the leisure centre, her staff had gathered, most wearing a blue rosette with Liz Truss’ name in the middle. She stopped to hug each of them. Some looked devastated, all looked shocked.

Then, with a turn, ahead of everyone else, Ms Truss stepped out into the morning. Away from the count, away from her colleagues and, for now, away from her political career.

I made one last effort to ask if she had anything to say to voters. There was no reply.

Ms Truss climbed into the car. A security officer just beside me shut the door firmly behind her, and a small group of us looked on as the two vehicles drove out of sight.

Historic moments come in many forms. This one played out on the badminton courts of King’s Lynn, as a former prime minister lost her seat – and had little to say to voters or the country she’d once led.

Floods kill six rhinos in India national park

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

More than 130 wild animals, including at least six rare rhinos, have died in flooding at a national park in north-eastern India, officials say.

The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is experiencing its worst deluge in recent years.

The dead animals – many of whom died by drowning – include 117 hog deer, two sambar deer, a rhesus macaque and an otter.

In 2017, more than 350 animals died due to floods in the park and vehicle collisions during migration through animal corridors to the highlands.

Officials say they have rescued 97 animals from flood waters – 25 of them are receiving medical care while 52 others have been released after treatment.

Kaziranga is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinos, which were nearly extinct at the turn of the century. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site, with over 2,400 one-horned rhinos.

The park is also a tiger reserve and home to elephants, wild water buffalo and numerous bird species. The endangered South Asian dolphins are also found in the rivers that criss-cross the park.

Last week, an 18-month-old rhino calf took shelter at a house in a village near the park and was rescued by the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, the Press Trust of India reported.

Assam has been devastated by floods due to torrential rains, with major rivers in the state flowing above the danger level.

This year’s rains have inundated large parts of the park and submerged thousands of villages. More than 60 people have been killed and over two million people displaced in the deluge.

There has been extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure, as well as loss of crops and livestock.

Officials have warned of even more rain with water levels in the Brahmaputra river, which runs through the state, expected to increase in the coming days.

Across Assam, hundreds of relief camps have been set up to shelter the displaced.

Flooding and landslides are a common occurrence during the monsoon in north-eastern India and neighbouring countries.

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England defender Luke Shaw says he is fit and ready to play 90 minutes at Euro 2024.

Shaw, the only specialist left-back in Gareth Southgate’s squad, did not play in England’s first four matches of the Euros because of a hamstring injury.

But the Manchester United defender came on as a second-half substitute during the quarter-final victory over Switzerland and says he is now ready to play a bigger part in England’s campaign.

“Of course, I think I am [fit and ready to play 90 minutes],” Shaw said. “That is down to Gareth’s decision. I feel fit and ready to go.”

Shaw’s appearance from the bench after 78 minutes against Switzerland marked his first competitive football since suffering his injury in February.

Southgate had hoped to have Shaw back during the group stage in Germany, but his recovery took longer than expected and has meant Kieran Trippier deputising on the left side of defence.

“The last four months have been really tough,” Shaw said of his injury problems. “At the start I was expected to come back a lot sooner, but I went through a lot of setbacks.

“It was really nice to get on the other night and get some minutes – I’ve been itching.

“I think before the squad got announced, we had a plan to come back around the second or third game but, unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned and I was pushed back a game or so.

“Of course, it’s tough. They were really there for me, not just Gareth and Steve [Holland, England assistant manager] but the medical staff as well. I have a lot to thank them for.”

Shaw has had ‘strange’ Euros

Shaw has had to sit and watch from the sidelines as England reached the semi-finals of a second successive European Championship.

The 28-year-old has been focusing on his recovery, to the extent that he pulled out of a scheduled media conference before the Switzerland game as he did not want to speak to the press before he had got back on the field of play.

“It’s been strange,” he said of his Euro 2024 experience. “It’s also been difficult as well, going to games, feeling the atmosphere. Not putting the shirt on or being involved in games was hard, but that motivated me more to work back.

“The atmosphere in those games spurred me on.

“I was of course excited to come back, but the priority was to help us get back into the game and get us through.”

Without Shaw, England have not always impressed at Euro 2024 – drawing their final two group matches before going behind in both knockout games so far.

But brilliant equalisers by Jude Bellingham against Slovakia and Bukayo Saka versus Switzerland have helped them through.

‘I don’t understand the criticism of Southgate’

Shaw knows what it is like to score a big goal in a European Championship – he opened the scoring for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy inside three minutes with a powerful volley.

But watching from the bench, he says he has been put through the wringer just as much as the England fans.

“I felt more nervous watching than playing – it is quite tough,” he said.

“I never once thought that we were going to go out. We have to believe right to the end.

“Good moments like Jude’s [equaliser] can happen, but it’s down to us to deliver that on the pitch.

“Game by game we are getting better – there’s things we can still improve on but we’re looking good.”

Shaw has become a key player under Southgate, starting every match at the 2022 World Cup, and defended his manager over the criticism he has received for his selections and style of play.

“I don’t understand the criticism,” Shaw said of Southgate, who has become the first man to lead England to three major tournament semi-finals.

“What he’s done for the country and us players, he’s taken us to the next level. No manager has been as successful as he has recently.

“Us players love him – he’s exactly what we need. He allows us to go out on the pitch and be our best. He’s shown a lot of faith and trust in picking me.”

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Wales are narrowing their options in the hunt for a new manager – with Craig Bellamy still a contender to replace Rob Page.

Bellamy is currently part of the coaching set-up at Burnley, with new Clarets boss Scott Parker keen to work with the 44-year-old former Wales captain.

But Bellamy is thought to be still among the names being seriously considered by Welsh football’s governing body for a shortlist of possible managers.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has met with several potential candidates during the two weeks since Page’s departure.

Bellamy, capped 78 times, is believed to have spoken with officials while Thierry Henry and Georgia boss Willy Sagnol are also being considered, but ex-Wales boss Ryan Giggs is not.

Oxford United manager Des Buckingham has also emerged as a surprise contender.

The 39-year-old recently led Oxford to the Championship having had international experience during an impressive stint with New Zealand’s age-grade sides, overseeing qualification for the Under-20 World Cup and Olympics.

A former Oxford youth-team player who got his coaching break during Chris Wilder’s time at the club, Buckingham also served as assistant manager at A-League side Melbourne City.

He was appointed manager at fellow City Football Group side Mumbai City, winning the Indian Super League, before joining Oxford as manager in November 2023.

The FAW is determined to examine all options as they seek the right candidate to lead Wales’ bid to reach the 2026 World Cup.

That has meant looking around the globe for potential managers, with Sagnol also having been on the radar of senior figures after leading Georgia – who were in their first major tournament – to the knockout stages of Euro 2024.

Sagnol is out of contract at the end of this year, although the Georgian Football Federation is expected to offer the ex-France and Bayern Munich defender a significant pay rise in an attempt to keep him.

Sagnol’s former international team-mate Thierry Henry has also been under consideration, but the Arsenal legend is another who is under contract elsewhere as he prepares to manage France’s Olympic team at this month’s Games in Paris.

FAW chief football officer Dave Adams is leading the search, with chief executive Noel Mooney also involved, as they cast an eye over other managers working with national sides.

Former Greece and Sunderland boss Gus Poyet expressed an interest in the role but BBC Sport Wales has learned Poyet is not among the leading candidates.

Giggs, who stepped aside in 2020 before eventually resigning in June 2022, is not thought to be among those being considered.

Bellamy narrowly missed out on the Wales job to Giggs in 2018, with the Cardiff-born striker going on to take his first steps in senior coaching as assistant to Vincent Kompany at both Anderlecht and Burnley.

He was named Burnley’s acting manager when Kompany left Turf Moor for Bayern Munich in May, but is now set to return to coaching duties following the appointment of former Fulham and Bournemouth manager Parker.

Page was sacked last month after failing to lead Wales to Euro 2024.

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Lewis Hamilton has had to wait for it, but he finally had his moment of redemption at the British Grand Prix and returned to the top step of a Formula 1 podium – two years, seven months and two days since he last stood there.

In doing so, he broke the record for wins at a single track, and did it in front of his home crowd and his family.

“I can’t stop crying,” he said straight after climbing out of his car. Later, he said: “That might be the most emotional ending to a race I think I have probably ever had.”

To understand those tears, you have to consider what Hamilton has been through in that period.

His last victory was at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as his fierce title fight with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came to a dramatic climax.

A week later, in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton lost the chance to win a record eighth championship after the then race director, Michael Masi, made up the rules as he went along in a late safety-car period.

Over the winter that followed, Hamilton thought about walking away from the sport. Instead, he came back determined to right what he perceived as a wrong, a title that he felt was robbed from him. Only to find that his Mercedes team – after eight consecutive world constructors’ titles – had lost their way following the introduction of new rules.

In the 945 days between his last win and this one, Hamilton said on Sunday, he had doubted himself; doubted, too, whether another victory would ever come.

“The adversity we have gone through as a team and I have personally experienced,” he said, “the constant challenge, like we all have, to get out of bed every day and give it your best shot.

“So many times when you feel like your best shot is not good enough, and the disappointment sometimes you can feel.

“We live in a time when mental health is such a serious issue and I am not going to lie (and deny) that I have experienced that.

“There have definitely been moments between 2021 and here when I didn’t feel like I was good enough, or I thought it was never going to happen again. I have never cried coming from a win. It just came out of me. It is a really great feeling and I am really grateful for it.”

Over the past two years, with a few exceptions, he has generally avoided talking about Abu Dhabi and its impact on him. But this time he let it out.

“Honestly, when I came back in 2022, I thought that I was over it,” Hamilton said. “And I know I wasn’t, and it’s taken a long time to heal that kind of feeling. That’s only natural for anyone that has that experience. I’ve just been continuing to try and work on myself and find that inner peace day by day.”

The emotions at Silverstone were so intense because so many aspects of his life journey had come together at once. Not just the end of a long, long win drought. But his home grand prix, in front of a crowd that adores him and cheered his every move, even when he was fighting with another Briton, Lando Norris. On a track that he said he considered the “best in the world”.

On top of that, he is in his last season with Mercedes, who have backed him since he was 13, before he moves to Ferrari next season; his desire to end his career with them on a high.

And an appreciation of time passing, and of valuable personal moments spent with the people he loves most in the world – his father, mother, brother, sister and her children were all at Silverstone with him.

“Your parents are getting older, you know. We’re travelling so much,” Hamilton said. “Time with family is a constant challenge. My niece and nephew are growing up and growing out of their cuteness. But I’ve had them here this weekend.

“We all try to be there for each other, even at a distance. I know I’ve always had their support, but to be able to see them there and share this experience, they wanted to be at my last race, the last British Grand Prix with this team that have been so incredible to us.

“Mercedes obviously supported me since I was 13. So it’s definitely meant the most today to have them there and to be able to share it with them.”

‘And then it clicked’ – how Mercedes have bounced back

Hamilton triumphed in a race that ebbed and flowed, from a dry start, through two periods of wet weather into a dry finish, and in which the winner was in doubt until the very end.

Hamilton had qualified second to team-mate George Russell and they ran that way through the early laps.

The McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri came to the fore in the wet middle period, only to fumble their pit strategy, and hand the win to Hamilton at the final pit stops, when Verstappen also came back into the frame after an unusually uncompetitive race for him was turned by Red Bull’s final tyre choice.

Verstappen charged by Norris to take second, and then chased down Hamilton, who held on to win by just over a second.

In the dry early phase, the Mercedes were clearly the fastest cars on track, and Hamilton managed his soft tyres in the closing laps expertly, while Norris’ fell off badly.

It was confirmation that Mercedes really are finally back in the battle at the front after a long, trying period.

It has happened so quickly. As Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff put it: “Five races ago, we weren’t contenders for the podium and it looked like we were in the third year of non-performance, and then it clicked.”

The “click” moment, Wolff said, was largely down to the input of James Allison, who was reinstalled as Mercedes technical director in the spring of last year when Mercedes realised they had messed up their car for the second year in succession.

“There was a moment where, led by James, suddenly the data made sense,” Wolff said. “The way we made it, the way we balanced the car. And how we could bring it in a better sweet spot. That was the main thing. It wasn’t a miracle front wing, it was more the balance we achieved.”

For his part, Allison explains the transition as one of culture inside the team.

He says it took Mercedes too long to realise that the rules introduced in 2022 “require a different set of skills and a different way of interacting with each other”.

The various departments that define the design and performance of the car, Allison says, need to work much more closely together than under the previous set of rules, under which Mercedes were so successful.

“The car,” he says, “is just the outcome of the institutional approach to designing a car. Everything about being competitive is about valuing the right things, putting resource onto the right things and then pursuing those right things with vigour. The car just pops out at the end as a consequence of that.”

Having realised what was important in making the car fast, and made the appropriate organisational changes, Mercedes have made remarkable progress.

“Suddenly,” Wolff said, “everything that didn’t make sense, made sense and the results of the development direction is back in the old days.”

They have been on pole at two of the last four races. Russell, who retired at Silverstone with a water leak, won in Austria a week ago, inheriting the lead when Verstappen and Norris collided and damaged their cars.

At Silverstone, the Mercedes qualified one-two and were the fastest cars in the race, except when the track was wet, and even then the swing in performance was down to McLaren running more downforce.

Hamilton said: “There’s still a long, long way to go, but we are super close, and I think hopefully with the next upgrade perhaps, we will be in an even stronger position to really, really be fighting for the front row more consistently.”

The next upgrade will come at the next race in Hungary, another of Hamilton’s favourite tracks, with another to follow in Belgium a week later.

“We are finding performance and we are putting it on the car,” Wolff said. “And it translates into lap time and that wasn’t the case for the last two years.

“There is more to come in terms of performance. We are bringing updates to Budapest and Spa but on the other side we mustn’t get carried away. We had a win last week benefiting from (Verstappen and Norris) tangling but today we have an honest win.

“We had the real pace. You could see George and Lewis in the lead and almost under all conditions we were there.”

Norris down on himself

Hamilton, Norris and the other leading drivers at Silverstone put on arguably the best race so far of a year that has completely shifted from the Red Bull domination of the first five races. In the end, Verstappen split Hamilton and Norris, but it could easily have been a British one-two, and either way around.

Norris was leading going into the final pit stops, but the decision to stop for the final time a lap later than Hamilton and Verstappen, in addition to a delay caused by having to hold the car for the passing Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, put Hamilton in front. When the McLaren chewed through its soft tyres faster than the Mercedes, Verstappen was able to close in and take second.

For McLaren and Norris, it was another “missed opportunity”, as team principal Andrea Stella put it, to add to others in Canada, Spain and Austria.

Norris was very down on himself afterwards.

“We threw it away at the final stop,” Norris said. “Even if we had boxed on the perfect lap, the decision to go on the softs was the wrong one. Lewis would still have won, so two calls from our side cost us.

Stella said the team took responsibility for the pit calls. But Norris, at least after the race, was looking at himself.

“I didn’t do a good enough job today with the calls,” he said, “So many things are good and in place, just not executing things the way I want and need to.

“When you throw away a win, it is pretty disappointing. I am just not to the level I need to be at, not to the level of the others at the minute. It is something I need to work on.”

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Four teams are preparing for the semi-finals of Euro 2024, with Spain set to face France on Tuesday while England take on the Netherlands the following day.

Spain are seeking to win the tournament for the fourth time, having most recently triumphed in 2012.

France last won it 24 years ago while the Dutch triumphed in 1988 – and England are of course hoping to end their wait for a first men’s European Championship.

So who is looking in the best shape for their semi-final, and who could win it all?

BBC Sport asked experts from each country for their views, and you can vote for who you think will lift the trophy at the end.

‘Spain have shown they have layers’

Spain displayed three different ways against Germany.

We played with wingers, then without wingers and no striker and then finally 4-2-4 in extra time, which means we have layers. The main thing is we adapted to anything Germany threw at us. Yes we could have lost, but we were never far away from winning it either.

While we were superior to the previous four opponents but we were not against Germany. However we did not give up and got the victory, so it was a different test, one of resilience, faith in the idea, collaboration and insistence, and we came out of it well.

It was also a very physical encounter; it was the most amount of fouls in a game in a European Championship since 2016, but we showed we are not now scared of that either.

We showed a conservative streak when, while ahead, Fullkrug appeared on the scene, balls were crossed into the box and we dropped too deep. We had a team designed to keep the score; perhaps we can learn from that because being too intimidated and hiding in your own box is not, for us, a guarantee of success.

Against France we know we will have to take the initiative, like we had to do against Italy, Albania and Georgia. We will have to be careful against counter-attacks, in the same way as we did against all our opponents. We are good at stopping them though, having committed the largest number of tactical faults.

I know for France to win they do not have to play well, so it will important to be focused the whole game as they keep looking for a moment of brilliance from their front men. We will have to be careful against France’s pace, with the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe.

Perhaps we are not as efficient as we should be up front, but because we press so often, and keep shooting and attacking and creating opportunities, eventually we tend to crack the nut and I feel that will happen against France again.

We have suspensions, and Pedri was injured in the last game, but there is not a huge difference between our best player and our ‘worst’. It is a team that behave at all times as that, as a collective, and with great flexibility, reading well what happens on the pitch.

I think we will beat France and will meet England in the final.

WINNER: Spain

‘Despite modest performances England are contenders’

England must harness the resilience they have shown in the face of adversity and the individual brilliance from Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka that has put them in the semi-final into a more cohesive team performance to beat the Netherlands.

Gareth Southgate’s side have struggled in Euro 2024 against sides who have defended deep, so the more attacking approach of the Netherlands might just suit them and give England’s creative players more room for manoeuvre.

England will need to be at their best defensively because the Dutch pose a serious threat in attack, with Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo having a fine tournament and the unpredictable Memphis Depay always dangerous.

If England get it right they can trouble a Netherlands defence that has looked vulnerable under pressure, with the potential battle between the respective captains Harry Kane and Virgil van Dijk a key component.

Kane struggled desperately in England’s quarter-final against Switzerland, looking physically short and off the pace, but you would still not bet against him taking the big chance if one comes along.

England are now, despite indifferent performances so far, in a position where they are serious contenders to win Euro 2024. They have reached the semi-finals almost in spite of themselves, but confidence must surely be growing and teams often get a sense of destiny being with them at this stage of major competitions – think Greece in 2004 and Portugal in 2016.

If England were to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, this would not surprise me – but while a sixth sense says England, the head says Spain.

Spain have looked the best team in what has been a mixed Euro 2024 although they could still come unstuck against a hugely talented but regimented France under Didier Deschamps.

None of France’s players have scored a goal from open play while Spain have been fluent with Lamine Yamal, who is not 17 until the day before the final, a revelation in a side that also boasts world-class talent in the shape of figures such as Manchester City’s Rodri.

Spain have a potent mix of youth and experience, are growing into the competition and have looked the most impressive team from the start – but I believe they will have to get past England to win Euro 2024.

WINNERS: Spain.

‘Mbappe will become Mbappe again’

We have seen the best of France defensively, certainly. This is what they do, it is their style and it is their DNA. It is also how you win tournaments, being solid defensively.

Where they have perhaps not been at their best is with the ball. They do not play sexy football, it is not what they are about – but they have been lacking in terms of creating chances. They are usually more effective in the opposition’s box.

Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe has possibly been the biggest disappointment at this tournament.

There are a few explanations, the first being the mask he has had to wear after breaking his nose against Austria. In that game he had looked quite sharp. He also had a few fitness issues before the Euros, so I do not think he is fully fit – but the mask is also really bothering him.

If there is one team that can frustrate Spain more than any other here, it is France.

For me, with Spain’s problems in midfield as a result of Pedri’s injury it will be a case of who wins the battle in the middle. The physical impact the France midfield has is incredible and that is where the game will be won.

This will be a big game for Antoine Griezmann considering he has spent more of his career in Spain than in France, so we need him and Mbappe to raise their games.

I want a France-England final and I think France, of the four semi-finalists, have the ruthlessness and the experience of this level. I also think at some point Kylian will become Kylian again and will be unbeatable.

WINNERS: France

‘Time running out for England & Netherlands’

The Turkey game I think showed the Netherlands have a good Plan B – using Wout Weghorst as a striker with Memphis Depay just behind.

England played with five defenders against Switzerland, so it made it very compact in that area. I think this is the way we need to play if we are going to do it.

The thing I have noticed with this team is they need a wake-up call to get going. They had that against Austria and then against Romania they were good. Then they had another wake-up call when Turkey took the lead in the quarter-final.

There is more in both these teams but they are not coming out yet – and that is a similarity between the sides.

I think the winner will come from the other side of the draw. England and the Netherlands have not yet been tested really; they have faced some good teams but not played the big countries as they are on the other side of the draw.

I think Spain will win because they are playing good football as a collective. England, France and the Netherlands are still waiting to get everything together, but time is running out.

WINNERS: Spain

What information do we collect from this quiz?

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Pace bowler Gus Atkinson will make his Test debut in England’s series opener against West Indies at Lord’s on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old joins Chris Woakes and the retiring James Anderson as the specialist seamers.

Atkinson’s Surrey team-mate Jamie Smith, 23, will also make his Test bow behind the stumps, a move confirmed when he was named in the squad ahead of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes.

Atkinson, who has played nine one-day internationals and three T20s, was part of the England squad for the Test tour of India earlier this year, but did not feature.

Smith usually plays for Surrey as a specialist batter with Foakes taking the gloves, although he was England’s keeper for the two one-day internationals he played against Ireland last year.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, picked in the England squad ahead of his Somerset team-mate Jack Leach, plays his first home Test after winning three caps on the tour of India.

England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Jamie Smith (wk), Chris Woakes, Gus Atkinson, Shoaib Bashir, James Anderson.

‘Fresh look’

Overall, England have a fresh look for the first Test in the three-match series against the Windies.

There are four changes from the side heavily beaten in the final Test of the 4-1 series defeat in India and four from the last home Test against Australia at The Oval last July.

Leach, Foakes and Bairstow have been left out, while 41-year-old Anderson has been told this will be the last international match of a record-breaking career that has seen him become England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.

Atkinson, capable of bowling at high pace, has taken 59 wickets in 19 first-class matches. He gets the nod ahead of Matthew Potts and the uncapped Dillon Pennington, who are the other seamers in the squad.

Smith has long been touted as a future England prospect. An attractive stroke-maker, he averages more than 40 in first-class cricket and in excess of 56 in the County Championship this season.

Along with the debutants, batter Harry Brook returns at number five after missing the tour of India to be with his ill grandmother, who passed away in March.

Woakes also plays his first Test since last summer after being overlooked for the tour of India despite being named player of the series in the Ashes.

Perhaps most importantly for England, captain Ben Stokes looks set to be able to play a full part as a bowler after being plagued by a long-term left-knee injury.

The all-rounder had surgery in November and tentatively returned to bowling in India before accelerating his rehab in three County Championship matches for Durham.

Stokes bowled a substantial spell in the nets at Lord’s on Monday, with England able to practice outside despite the mixed weather in London.

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Elena Rybakina underlined why she is the new favourite to lift the Wimbledon title with a dominant performance against Anna Kalinskaya under the roof on Centre Court before her opponent retired injured.

With 2022 champion Rybakina leading her fellow 25-year-old 6-3 3-0, Kalinskaya left the last-16 match in tears after she was unable to recover from a wrist injury.

The Russian 17th seed had taken a medical timeout midway through the first set.

Russian-born Kazakh player Rybakina is the highest seed left in the women’s draw and will face either Elina Svitolina or Wang Xinyu in the quarter-finals.

After a flurry of big names were knocked out over the weekend, Rybakina is also the only former Wimbledon champion left in the women’s draw.

The fourth seed was actually broken in the first game of the match and trailed 3-1 in the opener, but won five consecutive games, with two breaks to love, to take the first set.

She then broke at the first opportunity in the second, defended a break-back point, and broke again to set up a commanding lead.

At that point Kalinskaya, who had been visibly struggling since the middle of the first set, decided not to risk further injury and forfeited the match.

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