BBC 2024-07-10 04:06:53


Modi’s balancing act as he meets Putin in Moscow

By Anbarasan EthirajanBBC News, Delhi
India PM Modi meets Russian President Putin

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being keenly watched by his Western allies as he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on his first foreign trip since he returned to office for a third term in June.

Mr Modi landed on Monday, just hours after Russian bombing killed at least 41 people in Ukraine, including at a children’s hospital in Kyiv, sparking a global outcry.

Photos from Moscow showed a beaming Mr Modi hugging the Russian president. A video of a smiling Mr Putin calling Mr Modi “my dearest friend” and telling him that he was “delighted to see him” has gone viral in India.

Mr Modi’s two-day visit – his first to the Kremlin since 2019 – coincides with a Nato summit in Washington, where the 2022 invasion will be a major theme.

India, a key global economy, has close ties with both Russia and the US and its partners and officials in Delhi are playing down questions over the timing of Mr Modi’s trip. They say the annual summit is part of a long-standing strategic partnership and its scheduling has nothing to do with the Nato summit.

But a sour note has been struck with the US expressing concern. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller urged Mr Modi to emphasise Ukraine’s territorial integrity during his talks in Moscow.

Mr Miller also said the US had raised concerns with India regarding its relationship with Russia.

“We would urge India, as we do any country when it engages with Russia, to make clear that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine needs to be one that respects the UN charter, that respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he said at a press briefing on Monday.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky went further – and did not mince his words.

“It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter) late on Monday.

Mr Modi told President Putin that India was ready to offer any assistance in establishing peace in Ukraine. Russian state TV quoted him saying that war was “not a solution”.

He also said the death of children was painful and terrifying, a day after the deadly attack on the Kyiv children’s hospital.

“Whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity, is pained when there is loss of lives,” Mr Modi said.

“But even in that, when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying.”

The Nato summit in Washington, which begins on Tuesday, is being held to mark the 75th anniversary of the Western defence grouping which was mainly formed as a bulwark against the then Soviet Union after World War Two.

Nato countries have been vehemently opposed to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while India and Mr Modi have refrained from any explicit criticism of President Putin except calling for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict.

As Western nations try to isolate Moscow by imposing sanctions, President Putin has been having summit-level meetings with leaders of key nations like China, India, Turkey and others.

Some are now asking whether Mr Modi’s presence in Moscow could be to Mr Putin’s advantage. Is the message India is sending out playing into the hands of Russia?

“The bilateral visit this time is just a scheduling priority that we have undertaken. And that’s what it is,” Vinay Kwatra, permanent secretary to the Indian foreign ministry, told the BBC ahead of Mr Modi’s visit, rejecting any connection between the two events.

India and Russia share close defence and strategic relations from Cold War days and Moscow remains a key supplier of weapons. India, which maintains one of the largest militaries in the world, has long-standing border disputes with its neighbours Pakistan and China.

Experts say Mr Modi giving importance to Moscow is not a surprise and the relationship goes beyond defence procurement.

“If you look at the historical trend, it [Moscow] has been one of the constants in Indian foreign policy,” Pankaj Saran, former Indian ambassador to Moscow, told the BBC.

“The main pillars of the relationship include defence co-operation, energy and science technology.”

Over the years, Russia has provided technical assistance to build several nuclear power plants in India.

Since the Ukraine war began, Delhi has also been buying billions of dollars of discounted oil from Moscow after Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia to limit what it could sell or charge for the product.

Driven by a surge in the purchase of oil, bilateral trade between India and Russia in the last few years has soared to $65bn (£50.76bn). India’s exports to Russia stand at just $4bn.

Indian officials say a key priority for Mr Modi will be to address this trade imbalance and encourage Russian investment in India as well as moving some defence production to India.

For the past 20 years, the West, particularly the US, has cultivated closer ties with India in what many see as a bulwark against the threat posed by an increasingly assertive China.

India also became a member of the Quad – a strategic forum with the US, Australia and Japan – which is seen as a grouping aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Asia Pacific.

But faced with increasing Western hostility, President Putin has developed closer strategic and economic ties with Beijing. The development has not gone unnoticed in India, China’s long-time rival.

A deadly brawl on the disputed border in Ladakh region in June 2020 killed 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers and escalated tensions.

There are apprehensions in India that it may be left out of the Moscow-Beijing equation.

“One option currently being exercised by Delhi is to keep the Russia channel open to maintain the friendship and avoid taking any measures which may further aggravate Russia’s drift into Chinese arms that is being caused by US and Western policies,” says Mr Saran.

Though Delhi has diversified its weapons inventory in recent decades by buying American, French and Israeli arms systems, it still relies heavily on Moscow and there have been concerns the war in Ukraine has had an impact on its defence exports.

“There are reports of delays in the supplies of some spare parts and the delivery of the remaining S-400 anti-missile defence system. So, there will definitely be some discussion on this during the visit,” says Anil Trigunayat, a former ambassador and now a Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation in Delhi.

Delhi and Moscow are not without their own differences. There have been several reported cases of Indian nationals who were lured with false promises of lucrative job offers and ended up fighting for the Russian army in Ukraine. Four Indians have died so far in the fighting.

  • The Indian men traumatised by fighting for Russia

Indian officials insist that during this visit, Mr Modi will press his Russian counterparts for an early discharge of Indians – thought to number in the dozens – still fighting in the war.

India is aware that it needs both the United States and Russia to counter its rival China. Hence, it feels the need to strike a balance not to offend either of the two.

“India follows a policy of strategic autonomy and multi-alignments. We have strategic relationships with both the US and Russia. These are mutually exclusive partnerships,” says Mr Trigunayat.

Chinese man arrested after Japanese shrine vandalised

By Yvette TanBBC News

A Chinese man accused of buying spray paint which was used to write the word “toilet” on a controversial Japanese shrine has been arrested, local media reports.

The incident at the Yasukuni shrine – which honours the country’s war dead, including some convicted of war crimes – sparked outrage in Japan.

One Tokyo businessman even offered a cash reward in order to catch those behind the stunt, which included urinating on a pillar, and was shared on Chinese social media.

Police arrested the first of three suspects on Tuesday, issuing warrants for two more men.

According to Japanese news agency Kyodo, he is accused of buying the paint used in the video.

The other two men are reported to have left the country the day after they allegedly took part in the stunt – causing damage amounting to 4.2 million yen ($26,000; £20,000).

In the video, the alleged perpetrator, who identified himself as Iron Head, says he is fed up with Japan’s decision to release treated waste water, presumably a reference to water released from the earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant – a decision that outraged many in China.

The shrine has over the years been a source of friction between Japan and its neighbours, China and South Korea.

It is common for Japanese officials to visit the Yasukuni shrine during certain festivals and during the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War Two.

In 2014, when then prime minister Shinzo Abe visited the shrine, China said the visit reflected “the erroneous attitude towards history adopted by Japan’s incumbent cabinet”.

South Korea similarly denounced the visit, saying it “romanticised Japanese colonialism and its war of aggression”.

Australia appoints special envoy to tackle antisemitism

By Tiffanie TurnbullBBC News, Sydney

Australia has appointed a special envoy to combat antisemitism and preserve “social cohesion”, amid rising community tension over the Israel-Gaza war.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced lawyer and businesswoman Jillian Segal would consult with community leaders and discrimination experts to advise the government.

It follows in the footsteps of countries like the US, Canada, Greece and the UK, which have all had similar positions for years.

A special envoy for addressing Islamophobia will also be appointed soon, Mr Albanese added.

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has become a volatile political issue in Australia. It has resulted in protests from both Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as a sharp uptick in Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The Israeli military launched a campaign to destroy the Hamas group which runs Gaza in response to an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 251 others were taken hostage.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

“Australians are deeply concerned about this conflict, and many are hurting. In times like this, Australians must come together, not be torn apart,” Mr Albanese said on Tuesday.

The appointment of Ms Segal – who has headed several key bodies representing the Jewish community and served in leadership roles in the education and banking sectors – is a “critical step” in easing friction, he said.

Ms Segal said combatting the “age-old hatred” of antisemitism has never been more important, pointing to a 700% rise in incidences since the war began in October.

“Jewish Australians want to feel free to live their day-to-day lives, and also want to feel safe to practice and express their religion without fear,” she added.

The announcement has been welcomed by the national peak body for the Australian Jewish community – a group Ms Segal led until last year – who say she will “will bring deep knowledge of the issues and immense energy to the role”.

However other groups – including The Jewish Council of Australia, which has been critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, and The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) – say they fear it will worsen division.

“It also risks further entrenching the concerning pattern of antisemitism being conflated with criticism of the state of Israel or with support for Palestine,” APAN said.

The Australian government supports a two-state solution, and in the wake of the 7 October attacks loudly supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

However in recent months it has increasingly voiced concerns about the country’s military campaign in Gaza – including after an Australian aid worker was killed alongside six others in an Israeli air strike.

Australia’s governing Labor party has also experienced growing tensions, with one senator last week quitting its ranks over its stance on the war.

Fatima Payman said she had been “exiled” after breaking party rules to vote against the government in support of a motion calling for the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Israeli strike on Gaza camp kills 29, hospital says

By David GrittenBBC News

At least 29 Palestinians have been killed and dozens wounded in an Israeli air strike on a camp for displaced people outside a school in southern Gaza, hospital officials say.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said the strike hit next to the gate of al-Awda school in the town of Abasan al-Kabira, east of the city of Khan Younis, and put the initial death toll at 25.

One video showed more than a dozen dead and seriously wounded people, including several children, on the floor of a local hospital.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports, which come a week after it ordered civilians to evacuate Abasan al-Kabira and other areas in eastern Khan Younis, prompting tens of thousands to flee.

One source at the Nasser hospital, where the injured were taken, said they expected the number of dead to increase.

Al-Awda school houses displaced people from the eastern villages of Khan Younis.

The attack has led to widespread destruction and the deaths of women and children. Body parts were scattered across the site and many people staying in tents outside the school were also injured.

This is the fourth attack on or near to schools sheltering displaced people in the past four days.

The Israeli military said it carried out the first three strikes because Hamas politicians, police officers and fighters were using them as bases.

On Saturday, 16 people were killed in a strike on a UN-run school in the urban Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza, which was home to about 2,000 displaced people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

A strike on a church-run school in Gaza City the following day killed a senior Hamas government official and three other people, local sources said.

And on Monday night, several people were reportedly wounded in a strike on another UN-run school in Nuseirat.

Hamas critic beaten by masked men in Gaza

By Tom BennettBBC News

A Palestinian activist known for organising anti-Hamas protests in Gaza has been taken to hospital after an attack by a group of masked men.

Amin Abed, 35, was admitted in critical condition after being kidnapped near his home by five assailants on Monday afternoon.

A well-known activist, Mr Abed told the BBC: “I will not stop using my right to express my rejection of the 7 October attack.”

Public dissent against Hamas has grown in recent months as residents of Gaza grow angry at the huge toll inflicted on the enclave since the start of the war.

More than 38,240 people have been killed, including 50 in the past day, in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry, since Israel began its offensive following Hamas’s unprecedented 7 October attack.

‘Armed with machetes’

Mr Abed described being kidnapped near his house by a group of five men who were armed with guns and machetes.

He was taken to a semi-demolished house, beaten, and called “an agent for Israel” and “a traitor”.

The leader of the group told Mr Abed’s assailants to break his fingers so he could not again write criticism of Hamas or “the heroic events of 7 October”.

After a group of passers-by attempted to intervene, the attackers fired shots into the air and told them to stay away, claiming they were from Hamas security forces.

Eventually, the assailants left and bystanders were able to take Mr Abed to a hospital.

Mr Abed is considered a popular figure. Before the war, had been arrested multiple times for speaking out against Hamas rule.

On Monday morning, Mr Abed wrote a long criticism of Hamas on Facebook, accusing the group of “dividing the Palestinian people” and “quashing their dream of a state”.

“We are tired, world,” he wrote, “we are really tired.”

Last week, in an interview with the BBC, he said: “[Hamas] has a lot of support among those outside Gaza’s border, who are sitting under air conditioners in their comfortable homes, who have not lost a child, a home, a future, a leg.”

Days earlier, he criticised Hamas in an interview with Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya. A clip from the interview was picked up on TikTok.

In 2019, Mr Abed helped organise protests over the state of Gaza’s economy.

Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank and political rival of Hamas, released a statement on Monday condemning “the blatant assault on activist Amin Abed in Gaza”.

It did not name Hamas, but said the “de facto authorities in Gaza” had allowed “criminality” to spread in the enclave and held them fully responsible for Abed’s well-being.

Hamas violently ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after winning national elections, reinforcing its power there and deepening a schism between the two dominant Palestinian groups.

Gaza’s Hamas-run police force has largely disappeared from the streets since the start of the war because of being targeted in Israeli air strikes, though the group remains the official authority in the territory.

The BBC has approached Hamas for comment.

The Israeli military launched a campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to its attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 251 others were taken hostage.

The secret hospitals offering criminals new faces

By Kelly NgBBC News

Clandestine hospitals in the Philippines have been offering plastic surgery services to fugitives and scam centre workers to help them evade arrest, authorities say.

Two such illegal hospitals could be shut down “in the coming weeks” after police raided the first one in Manila’s southern suburbs in May, a police spokesman told the BBC.

Hair transplant tools, dental implants and skin whitening IV drips were seized from the hospital in Pasay City two months ago.

“You can create an entirely new person out of those,” said Winston John Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC).

The two illegal hospitals under surveillance are believed to be four times larger than the one in Pasay, authorities said.

Their clients allegedly include those from online casinos, who are working in the Philippines illegally, Mr Casio said.

The online casinos or Pogos (Philippine Online Gaming Operations) cater to players in mainland China, where gambling is illegal.

But police say Pogos have been used as cover for criminal activities such as telephone scams and human trafficking.

Three doctors – two from Vietnam and one from China – a Chinese pharmacist, and a Vietnamese nurse were arrested in the Pasay raid, none of whom were licensed to work in the Philippines.

Authorities also found a hemodialysis machine, suggesting that the facility, which was about 400 sqm, offered various medical treatments in addition to plastic surgery.

“They look like regular clinics on the outside, but once you enter, you’ll be shocked by the type of technology they have,” Mr Casio said.

“These Pogo hospitals don’t ask for the proper identification cards… You could be a fugitive, or you could be an illegal alien in the Philippines,” he said.

Authorities were tipped off on the existence of the illegal hospital in Pasay City.

Pogos flourished under former president Rodrigo Duterte, who sought friendly ties with China during his six-year term that ended in 2022.

However, his successor Ferdinand Marcos Jr has mounted a crackdown on Pogos, citing their criminal links.

“The president does not want the Philippines to be painted as a ‘scam hub’ and has given us a directive to go after scam farms because of how they have been targeting large numbers of people from all over the world,” Mr Casio said.

In December 2022, immigration officials arrested a suspected Chinese mafia member who allegedly underwent plastic surgery to evade detection. Such cases may be linked to the underground hospitals, Mr Casio said.

The mayor of a sleepy town north of the capital, Alice Guo, recently came under fire after a Pogo scam centre was busted near her office.

She has also been accused of being a spy for China after authorities questioned her birth records.

Russian court orders arrest of Yulia Navalnaya

By André Rhoden-PaulBBC News

A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism, according to state media.

The charges brought against Yulia Navalnaya, who lives outside Russia, in absentia are to do with her alleged “participation in an extremist society”, Tass news agency said.

The opposition leader – Russia’s most significant for the past decade – died in an Arctic Circle jail of natural causes, according to Russian authorities. Mr Navalny had been serving 19 years on extremism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated.

But his widow accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing him.

In response to the arrest warrant, she posted on X: “When you write about this, please do not forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal.

“His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cosy cell with a TV, but in Russia – in the same colony and the same two-by-three-metre cell in which he killed Alexei.”

The Moscow court ruled that Ms Navalnaya, who has vowed to continue the work of her husband, should be remanded in custody and she was declared wanted.

The decision means she would face arrest if she set foot in Russia.

The charges may be linked to a Moscow court ruling in June 2021 which outlawed three organisations linked to Mr Navalny, labelling them “extremists”.

Ms Navalnaya was unable to attend his funeral in March.

This month, she was elected to chair the US-based Human Rights Foundation – a non-profit organisation working to promote and protect human rights across the world.

China Tesla rival BYD signs $1bn Turkey plant deal

By Peter HoskinsBusiness reporter

China’s biggest electric-car maker, BYD, has agreed a $1bn (£780m) deal to set up a manufacturing plant in Turkey, as it continues to expand outside its home country.

The new plant will be able to produce up to 150,000 vehicles a year, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

The facility is expected to create around 5,000 jobs and start production by the end of 2026.

The deal was signed at an event in Istanbul attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and BYD’s chief executive Wang Chuanfu.

BYD did not immediately respond to a BBC request for further details on the deal.

The announcement comes as Chinese EV makers face increasing pressure in the European Union and the US.

Last week, the EU took action to protect the bloc’s motor industry by raising tariffs on Chinese EVs.

The decision saw BYD hit with an extra tariff of 17.4% on the vehicles it ships from China to the EU, which was on top of a 10% import duty.

Turkey is part of the EU’s Customs Union, which means vehicles made in the country and exported to the bloc can avoid the additional tariff.

The Turkish government has also taken action to support the country’s car makers by putting an extra 40% tariff on imports of Chinese vehicles.

In May, US President Joe Biden ramped up tariffs on Chinese-made electric cars, solar panels, steel and other goods.

The White House said the measures, which include a 100% border tax on electric cars from China, were a response to unfair policies and intended to protect US jobs.

BYD, which is backed by veteran US investor Warren Buffett, is the world’s second-largest EV company after Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The company has been rapidly expanding its production facilities outside China.

At the end of last year, BYD announced that it would build a manufacturing plant in EU member state Hungary.

It will be the firm’s first passenger car factory in Europe and is expected to create thousands of jobs.

On Thursday, BYD opened an EV plant in Thailand – its first factory in South East Asia.

BYD said the plant will have an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles and is projected to generate 10,000 jobs.

The company has also said it is planning to build a manufacturing plant in Mexico.

Five Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir ambush

By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

Five soldiers have been killed in an ambush by suspected militants in the Kathua district of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, officials say.

The soldiers in military vehicles came under fire from militants hiding in a nearby hill, according to initial reports.

Reinforcements arrived quickly and a search operation was launched to track down the attackers, officials said.

Kashmir has seen an armed insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, but violence has waned in recent years.

Monday afternoon’s attack in Jammu marks a month of increasing violence in the region.

Last month, nine people died and 33 were injured after suspected militants fired on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in the area.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply anguished” at the lives lost in the latest attack.

“My deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the nation stands firm with them in this difficult time,” Mr Singh wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“The counter-terrorist operations are underway, and our soldiers are determined to usher in peace and order in the region,” he said.

Reports say the militants – their exact number unknown – launched an attack in an area flanked by a hill on one side and a steep slope on the other. They descended from the hillside, targeting primarily one truck.

Five soldiers were also injured in the attack, officials said.

  • India’s crackdown on Kashmir press
  • Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters

Since June, there have been seven attacks reported in the relatively peaceful Jammu region.

The latest attack marks the second major incident in Kathua district in a month and the second assault on the army in Jammu within two days.

On 11 June, a soldier and two suspected militants died in a shootout in Kathua. On Sunday, another soldier was injured in an attack on an army camp in Rajouri district in Jammu.

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

Since 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part.

Since 1989, an armed insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir against Delhi’s rule has claimed thousands of lives.

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

Gladiator II: Paul Mescal battles a rhino in upcoming film

By Helen BushbyCulture reporter

The trailer for Ridley Scott’s sequel to Gladiator has dropped, showcasing several epic scenes, including a water battle in Rome’s Colosseum and Paul Mescal being rammed by a rhino.

All Of Us Strangers star Mescal plays Lucius, fighting for his life as a gladiator, despite his high status as nephew of corrupt former Emperor Commodus.

Sir Ridley’s first film in 2000, which starred Russell Crowe as soldier-turned-gladiator Maximus, won five Oscars including best actor.

The trailer opens as Lucius recalls his childhood memory, when ex-Roman commander Maximus battled his uncle in the arena.

“I remember that day. I never forgot it, that a slave could take revenge against an emperor,” Lucius says, before we see him in a flashback from the first film, being dragged to safety by his mother.

Here’s a quick recap of the first Gladiator film: the plot revolves around upstanding Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who was asked to inherit the role of emperor from ailing Marcus Aurelius.

But Commodus murdered the emperor and took the title, before killing Maximus’ family and leaving him a slave. Maximus rose up to become a gladiator, returning to Rome in order to exact his revenge.

World History Encyclopedia describes gladiatorial contests as “bloody entertainment… an opportunity for emperors to display their wealth”, where up to 50,000 spectators enjoyed “contests which were literally a matter of life and death”.

Some battles included wild animals – Gladiator featured tigers in the arena, while an angry-looking rhino with a bloodied horn charges at Mescal in the sequel.

It’s fair to say the first film caused a flurry of excitement among admirers of Crowe’s powerful portrayal of Maximus.

Given Mescal enjoyed a huge surge in his fanbase after he starred in BBC drama Normal People, it’s possible his role in Gladiator II may have a similar impact.

Lucius is undoubtedly reminiscent of the honourable Maximus, battling from below while having a much higher purpose.

In the sequel, Lucius has been captured from his home far from Rome, and brought there as a prisoner.

He becomes a gladiator, working for Macrinus, played by Denzel Washington, who sponsors fighters much like Oliver Reed’s Proximo did in the first film.

Lucius protects his birthright, saying he doesn’t know where he was born, adding: “I never knew a mother and or father.”

“You will be my instrument,” Macrinus responds.

It appears that the twin emperors now in place – played by Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger – are also corrupt. We see them laugh demonically while gladiators die in their mock water battle (which did happen in real life).

Lucius’s mother, Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen in the original film as well, watches with horror while her son fights beneath her, although we don’t know if she recognises him.

However we see her take him full circle, back to Maximus, by giving him a ring which belonged to the Roman general before he died.

Like the original, the film appears to be about the corruption of power, with worthy, embattled individuals taking on the might of Rome’s rulers.

Lucius favours “strength and honour”, while another Roman general, Marcus Acacius, played by The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal, says: “I will not waste another generation of young men for their vanity,” alongside footage of the emperors.

We don’t yet know enough about Pascal’s character to know where his morals fully lie.

The trailer ends with Mescal and Pascal battling in the arena, with the gladiator looking like he has the advantage, as he holds two swords crossed over the army general’s neck.

Initial responses on X were a mixture of both positive and negative, with some people excited for the sequel, while others said it wouldn’t be as good as the original.

Some fans spotted what looked like sharks in the water battle, with filmmaker Kyle Prohaska saying: “I’m all in on Gladiator II. I’ll go just for some of those insane sequences. Sharks in the arena? A rhino? Denzel? Come on. This is definitely one of those sequels nobody asked for, but this one looks better than most.”

Another post, from a user called @FilmmakerJeff, called the trailer “underwhelming”.

“I hate to report that I’m not a fan of the Gladiator II trailer,” he said.

“Terrible music choice, nothing from it gave me reassurance that it could be even close to as good as the original, and honestly, it looks like it could be pretty good at best. My hype meter dropped a notch.”

There was also disagreement on social media over the soundtrack, which was No Church in the Wild, by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

One user wrote: “In what world does the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator need Jay-Z and Kanye West? Stop shoehorning songs into trailers.”

Another in favour though, wrote: “That pounding hip-hop really works on the Gladiator 2 trailer. Fits so well to the era.”

Sir Ridley, who made 2023’s epic Oscar and Bafta-nominated film Napoleon, told Deadline last year that he made Gladiator II because “economically, it makes sense…

“I thought the [first] film was, as it were, completely satisfactory, creatively complete, so why muck with it, right?

“But these cycles keep going on and on and on, they repeat globally for the last 20 years. It started to spell itself out as an obvious thing to do, and that’s how it evolved.”

Gladiator II is released in UK cinemas in November.

US blocks British court from British territory

By Alice CuddyBBC News

The US government has blocked a British court hearing from taking place on a British territory, citing security concerns, according to official documents.

The supreme court of British Indian Ocean Territory (Biot) was due to hold a hearing this week, attended by the BBC, on whether a group of migrants was being unlawfully detained on the island of Diego Garcia.

The island hosts a secretive UK-US military base and access is heavily restricted.

The US last week said it was “withdrawing its consent” for lawyers representing the migrants and “members of the press” – the BBC – to access the island, according to official communications we have seen.

It said it would not allow participants of the hearing to board US military flights to Diego Garcia and would not provide “housing, transportation, and food for the visit”.

The US said it would be “willing to reconsider” if the visit was “conducted in a manner” that addressed its “security and operational concerns”.

Dozens of migrants arrived on the island in October 2021, saying they had been fleeing persecution and trying to sail to Canada to claim asylum when their boat ran into trouble near Diego Garcia.

Late last Thursday night – hours before the judge, UK government lawyers and those representing the migrants, and the BBC were due to board flights for the first leg of the journey – the court shared an order cancelling the hearing.

The US security concerns relate to a site visit that had been scheduled to take place on the island as part of the hearing, which was to include the migrant camp and several other areas of Diego Garcia.

In a communication on 3 July, entitled “United States Notification to the United Kingdom of denial of the 6-12 July 2024 visit by of the Biot Supreme Court to Diego Garcia”, US authorities said the site visit presented “risks to the security and effective operation” of the base.

It had previously said it was willing to allow access to areas including the migrant camp, beaches around it and a chapel where children receive schooling.

But it had said it would not provide access to areas “open to civilian contractors and other non-military personnel”, such as a movie theatre, a barber and a bowling centre, the airport terminal and “all US-controlled areas occupied by the Biot administration, the Royal Overseas Police, and the Royal Navy”.

Court documents filed on behalf of Biot’s commissioner state that the reasons for the island’s US military commander’s decision were “confidential and based on the US’s assessment of its own national security needs”.

Tom Short, a lawyer from the UK firm Leigh Day which is representing some of the migrants, said the cancellation of this week’s hearing had been “a devastating blow to our vulnerable clients”, and called for it to be rearranged as soon as possible.

“Our clients have ceded to US demands that the site visit exclude certain US-controlled buildings (such as the gym and swimming pool where US cheerleaders and celebrity chefs visited earlier this year) as well as facilities such as the Turner Club and Golf Club (which Biot and FCDO civil servants frequent).

“It is of paramount importance to our clients that the Judge see the detention camp and that they attend a hearing in person,” he added.

A virtual court hearing on Tuesday, attended by lawyers in London and the migrants in Diego Garcia, sought to determine the next steps in the case as discussions between the UK and US governments continue.

Speaking after the hearing, migrants told the BBC of their disappointment at this week’s hearing being cancelled.

“It has taken away all our hope,” one woman said. “We have been stuck in this place for almost three years. We were hoping that this hearing would provide us some relief.”

The UK took control of the Chagos Islands, of which Diego Garcia is part, from its then colony, Mauritius, in 1965. It went on to evict its population of more than 1,000 people to make way for the military base.

Agreements signed in 1966 allowed for an initial 50-year period of US use of the territory, plus a further 20 years. The agreement was then “rolled over” in 2016, and is now set to expire in 2036, according to the Biot website.

Biot is administered from London but is described as being “constitutionally distinct” from the UK.

Mauritius, which won independence from the UK in 1968, maintains that the islands are its own and the United Nations’ highest court has ruled that the UK’s administration of the territory is “unlawful” and must end.

Most personnel and resources on Diego Garcia are under the control of the US, including the majority of the accommodation and transport on the island as well as restaurants and shops.

The US military commander can refuse access to areas operated or controlled by the US military for security reasons.

In a witness statement, Biot’s deputy commissioner, Nishi Dholakia, said it was not possible to “make alternative arrangements to replace the logistical support which the US was due to provide” in time for the scheduled court hearing this week.

The room where the hearing had been scheduled to take place was only usable with US co-operation, he said.

Biot’s official website states access to the island is only permitted to “those with connections either to the military facility or to the Territory’s Administration”.

Diego Garcia has been described as an important strategic base for the US. Earlier this year, two B-52 bombers were sent there for training exercises.

In recent decades, US planes have been sent from the base to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UK government has confirmed that rendition flights landed on the territory in 2002 to refuel there, though former CIA director Michael Hayden has denied reports that it has ever been used to house and interrogate terror suspects.

The dozens of Sri Lankan Tamils who landed on the island in October 2021 are the first people to file asylum claims on Biot. About 60 people, including at least 16 children, remain there – guarded by private security company G4S – as complex legal battles are fought over their fate.

This week’s hearing was due to be the first time that they would meet their lawyers in person. There have been multiple suicide attempts on the island, and reports of sexual harassment and assaults allegedly committed by migrants within the camp.

Some migrants have been flown to Rwanda for medical treatment following self-harm and suicide attempts, and those with successful claims are waiting for a “safe third country” to be identified to resettle them in.

United Nations representatives visited the camp late last year and reported that conditions there amounted to arbitrary detention.

During Tuesday’s virtual hearing, one of the migrants on the island collapsed multiple times.

The Foreign Office has previously told the BBC that the island is not suitable for migrants to live on and that it is “working tirelessly to process the migrants’ claims for protection and to find a suitable third country for those whose claims are upheld”.

“At all times, the welfare and safety of migrants on Biot has been our top priority,” it said earlier this year.

Weinstein facing new sex assault probe in New York

By Graeme BakerBBC News, Washington

Harvey Weinstein is being investigated for “additional violent sexual assaults” months after a previous conviction in New York was overturned, a court in Manhattan has heard.

Nicole Blumberg, an assistant district attorney, told Tuesday’s hearing that the alleged assaults fell within the statute of limitations, but did not say when prosecutors would be ready to press any fresh charges.

The disgraced film mogul, 72, is already facing a retrial after his 2020 conviction for sexual assault and rape was overturned in April on the basis that it was unfair.

“As we said in 2020, there were women who were not ready to proceed with the legal process. Some of those women are now ready to proceed,” Ms Blumberg told Tuesday’s hearing.

Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala told the hearing that the new investigations were a delay tactic, adding: “Once again we have a hotline: 1-800 Get Harvey.”

Mr Aidala added that his client was suffering from a host of medical problems while being held in solitary confinement at New York’s Rikers Island jail.

Weinstein was brought into court on Tuesday with his left hand cuffed to his wheelchair.

Weinstein’s 2020 conviction was crucial for the #MeToo movement, in which women accused hundreds of men in the media of sexual misconduct.

The Miramax film studio founder was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting production assistant Miriam Haley and raping actress Jessica Mann.

However, the New York Court of Appeals in April found evidence presented about Weinstein’s “prior bad acts” from three witnesses unconnected to the charges against him violated the right to a fair trial.

Members of the #MeToo movement described the decision as “profoundly unjust”, while lawyers for his victims said the decision to retry was a “leap backwards” and “tragic”.

A retrial has been scheduled to begin after the Labour Day holiday on 2 September, although no specific date has been set. Ms Blumberg said on Tuesday that prosecutors could realistically go to trial in November.

Weinstein was also convicted to 16 years following a separate rape trial in California. That conviction was not affected by the New York appeal court’s decision, and he has not begun serving the California sentence.

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He denies all charges against him.

‘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 Qasim, 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 couple, 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 Qasim 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 it spends at least $17,610 per year on the average citizen – the most recent figures from 2021-2022 showing $9,365 per head on health goods and services 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.

Democrats look to Kamala Harris – but could she beat Trump?

By Courtney SubramanianReporting from New Orleans and Washington DC

On Saturday afternoon, US Vice-President Kamala Harris sat on stage at a black cultural festival in New Orleans, talking about her life story and what she felt she had achieved in the White House.

It was the kind of event that the first female, black and South Asian American vice-president has regularly attended throughout her three-and-a-half years as Joe Biden’s deputy, usually trailed by a small press pack dwarfed by that which follows the president himself.

But as panicked Democrats a thousand miles away in Washington weighed replacing 81-year-old Joe Biden as the party’s candidate for November’s election following his woeful and sometimes incomprehensible debate performance against Donald Trump, the number of reporters trailing Ms Harris had swelled to dozens.

On stage and through her travels this weekend, the vice-president did not address swirling questions about Mr Biden’s fitness for office and whether he should withdraw and hand the baton to her.

But in discussing ambition and how to forge your own path with her audience in New Orleans, she encouraged the crowd not to listen to naysayers.

“People in your life will tell you, though, it’s not your time. It’s not your turn. Nobody like you has done it before,” she said. “Don’t you ever listen to that.”

Since the disastrous CNN debate on 27 June, she has repeatedly defended her boss, arguing that his record as president shouldn’t be outweighed by 90 minutes on a debate stage. Mr Biden himself has struck a defiant tone and fiercely insisted that he will remain the nominee.

Yet as calls grow louder for the president to step aside, some high-profile Democrats are unifying behind 59-year-old Ms Harris as the natural candidate to replace him.

On Sunday, congressman Adam Schiff of California told NBC’s Meet The Press that either Mr Biden had to be able to “win overwhelmingly or he has to pass the torch to someone who can”. Kamala Harris, he added, could “very well win overwhelmingly” against Trump.

That’s a proposition that has raised eyebrows among some Democrats, including Biden allies, who see in Ms Harris a vice-president who failed in her bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination before the first ballot was even cast and who has struggled with an uneven record and low approval ratings throughout her time in the White House.

Against that, senior Democratic lawmakers like Mr Schiff and South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn have been floating Ms Harris as the obvious successor should Mr Biden ultimately bow to party pressure.

Supporters point to a handful of polls that suggest she would perform better than the president in a hypothetical match-up against Donald Trump, and they argue she has the national profile, campaign infrastructure and appeal to younger voters that could make the transition seamless four months before election day.

An elevation to the top of the ticket would be a remarkable turnaround for a woman not long ago seen as a political weakness by senior figures in the Biden White House. Even Mr Biden himself reportedly described her as a “work in progress” during their first months in office.

But Jamal Simmons, a longtime Democratic strategist and Harris’s former communications director, said she had long been underestimated.

“Whether she’s a partner to the president or she has to lead the ticket, she is somebody who Republicans and the Trump campaign need to take seriously,” Mr Simmons told the BBC.

Since the debate and its fall-out, Ms Harris has altered her schedule to stick close to the president. She appeared at a heavily-scrutinised meeting last Wednesday where Mr Biden sought to reassure powerful Democratic governors about his fitness for office.

And a day later, on the Fourth of July – America’s Independence Day – she abandoned her usual tradition of grilling hotdogs for firefighters and Secret Service agents at her Los Angeles home to be by Mr Biden’s side at the White House celebrations.

The former top prosecutor has focused on criticising Trump in public appearances since the debate, pressing the case as to why voters should believe he is a threat to democracy and women’s rights. At the same time, she has offered nothing but steadfast support for Mr Biden.

Vice-presidents always need to strike a delicate balancing act between ambition and loyalty, but Ms Harris knows that this is not a moment where she can show any daylight between her and the president.

Kamala Harris is, however, far from the only alternative to Mr Biden being discussed. The list of potential Biden replacements ranges from a cadre of popular governors – Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro and Illinois’ JB Pritzker – to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California congressman Ro Khanna.

Ms Harris and her staff have refused to engage in public speculation. But her team is keenly aware of the behind-the-scenes conversations taking place as some party members coalesce behind her.

A memo circulated online, purportedly written by Democratic operatives, laid out a detailed argument to promote Ms Harris despite her “real political weaknesses”.

Trying to choose anyone other than her would throw the campaign into disarray and keep “Democratic bickering” in the media spotlight for months, it argues.

If Mr Biden were to give up the nomination, the idea of the Democrats passing over Ms Harris in favour of another candidate appalls many on the left of the party and in its powerful black caucus.

In that situation, “this party should not in any way do anything to work around Ms Harris”, Mr Clyburn, one of the most prominent black lawmakers in Congress, told MSNBC last week.

Republicans, too, have acknowledged Ms Harris would be the frontrunner to replace Mr Biden.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned on Sunday that Republicans must be ready for a “dramatically different race” should Ms Harris – whom he described as a “vigorous” candidate – become the nominee.

Mr Graham emphasised her progressive California brand, suggesting she was closer in policy terms to left-wing firebrand Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden, in what appeared to be a glimpse of a Republican attack line should she become the candidate.

For his part, Donald Trump has called her “pathetic” in the days since the debate.

But ultimately the only question that matters for many Democrats – including deep-pocketed donors – is if she has a better chance of beating Trump than Joe Biden does. And that is deeply uncertain.

Harris backers point to a recent CNN poll suggesting she would fare better than the president against Trump in November. In a head-to-head contest, Ms Harris trailed the Republican by only two points, while Mr Biden lagged six points behind him. The poll also suggested Ms Harris performed better than Mr Biden with independent voters and women.

But many polling experts dismiss such hypothetical surveys, noting voter sentiment would change if Mr Biden actually decided to step aside and the Democrats entertained other potential candidates.

One Democratic pollster close to the Biden campaign acknowledged that Ms Harris may have more potential to expand the party’s voter base than the president, but was sceptical about how much of a difference she would make. Surveys pitting her against Trump at this stage “don’t mean anything”, said the person, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Ms Harris, the child of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, performs better in surveys than Mr Biden with black, Latino and young voters – critical constituencies that allies say she could energise as the nominee.

But whether she would actually boost turnout among younger voters of colour is another uncertain question. “This is just a wait and see moment,” the pollster said.

Some in the party are also asking whether Ms Harris’ progressive reputation risks losing the union and blue-collar voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Mr Biden narrowly won in 2020 and which both parties need to secure a win in November.

Should she take over the ticket, some Democrats have suggested that Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania or Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina could be picked as running mate to capture centrist voters in Midwestern states.

Given the ages of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, voters are paying far more attention to the VP candidate of both parties in this election cycle, said Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for the 2020 Biden campaign.

On the Republican side, Trump has yet to announce his running mate, although many speculate he’ll pick North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum or Ohio Senator JD Vance.

Deep concerns among some Democrats about Harris’s strength as a presidential candidate date back to her unsuccesful 2020 bid for the party’s nomination, in which she landed blows on Mr Biden in an early debate but then crashed out before the first caucuses in Iowa.

Critics said she struggled to define herself as a candidate, a sentiment that has lingered throughout her tenure as vice-president. She had a shaky start in the White House, marked by high-profile interview slip-ups, low approval ratings and staff turnover.

She was also tasked with overseeing the administration’s strategy to reduce migration over the US southern border, which increased to record levels over the last three years and remains a major vulnerability for the campaign.

Those early stumbles led Ms Harris to be more cautious about her public appearances but many voters perceive her as ineffective and absent. “People need to know more about her, what economic issues she is strong on and they need to be reminded of the role she’s played,” Ms Lake said.

Over the last year, Ms Harris has found stable footing as the administration’s leading voice on abortion rights, an issue that proved successful for Democrats during the 2022 midterm elections and one the party hopes will win back more voters in November.

As a former prosecutor who handled sexual violence cases, she has invoked personal stories of working with women who miscarried in the bathroom or were turned away at hospitals as she’s tried to mobilise voters around the issue.

On the campaign trail, she has also sought to capitalise on other issues that resonate with young voters, including student debt forgiveness, climate change and gun violence. The White House, too, has made a concerted effort to promote her more forcefully.

Still, she faces an uphill battle to change longstanding voter scepticism – her approval ratings hover around 37% in polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight – a level similar to both Mr Biden and Trump.

And unless Mr Biden himself caves to the mounting party pressure to step down, grassroots Democratic supporters themselves seem resigned to supporting the current ticket.

At the Essence festival in New Orleans, Iam Christian Tucker, a 41-year-old small business owner from New Orleans, said she didn’t care, ultimately, who the nominee was.

She said she liked Kamala Harris, but she wasn’t sure if a black female president could win election.

“I’m voting against Donald Trump more than anything,” she told the BBC.

Greg Hovel, 67, who attended a rally for President Biden in Madison, Wisconsin, last week, said he supported Ms Harris in the 2020 primary and “has always been a fan,” though he cautioned there is “a lot of anti-woman sentiment in this country.”

“I think she would make an excellent president,” Mr Hovel said. “But I still think Biden can win.”

What to know as Alec Baldwin’s Rust shooting trial begins

By Emma Vardy, Samantha Granville and Christal HayesBBC News
Rust: Alec Baldwin arrives in court ahead of trial

Actor Alec Baldwin arrived at a New Mexico courthouse Tuesday for the start of his trial in a fatal shooting on the set of the Western film Rust.

Mr Baldwin, 66, faces involuntary manslaughter charges, which he denies. The trial will determine whether he should be held criminally liable in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The 42-year-old was killed after a gun Mr Baldwin was using in a scene rehearsal went off. A bullet from the gun fatally struck the cinematographer and wounded director Joel Souza.

Jury selection began Tuesday morning and opening statements are expected to begin on Wednesday.

Mr Baldwin – best known for playing Jack Donaghy on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock and for portraying Donald Trump on sketch show Saturday Night Live – was joined in court by family including his wife, Hilaria. He has pleaded not guilty to the felony charge.

He maintains that he did not pull the trigger, and says the gun went off when he cocked the revolver’s hammer. His defence team argues that it was the responsibility of other crew members to ensure the gun was safe.

But prosecutors have called this claim “absurd”, alleging that the actor did not share this information when first interviewed after the shooting and arguing he had a responsibility to follow basic gun safety.

What happened on the Rust set?

A video released in 2022 shows Alec Baldwin practising with a gun while filming

In October 2021, Mr Baldwin, was rehearsing on the Rust set near Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was practising a cross-body draw of the gun, as the director called for him to point it at the camera in an upcoming scene.

Mr Baldwin – who boasts a 40-year acting career – had a starring role in the film, which he was also co-producing. He was portraying an outlaw whose 13-year-old grandson is convicted of manslaughter.

As he pointed the revolver during the rehearsal, it went off. A bullet from the weapon hit Ms Hutchins in the chest, also striking director Joel Souza in the shoulder.

Ms Hutchins was flown to hospital by helicopter but died of her injuries. Mr Souza was taken by ambulance from the scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch.

Court documents show that Mr Baldwin and others on set did not know the gun was loaded or that it contained live ammunition.

It was discovered later that the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, brought a box of live bullets to the film set from her California home. Prosecutors said those live rounds slowly spread through the set over the course of 12 days.

Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the gun for Mr Baldwin before the shooting, was charged and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Ms Hutchins’ death. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison – the maximum sentence.

Judge Mary Sommers, who oversaw the case, said Gutierrez-Reed’s mistake had cost Ms Hutchins her life by turning “a safe weapon into a lethal weapon”.

David Halls, an assistant director and safety coordinator, has also pleaded guilty to unsafe handling of a firearm.

  • How events unfolded after the fatal shooting
  • What are the rules for guns on film sets?
  • What are prop guns and why are they dangerous?

What are the claims in the case?

One of the key questions in the case is this: did Mr Baldwin pull the trigger or did the gun malfunction?

Several weeks after the fatal shooting, Mr Baldwin told ABC News in a high-profile interview that he did not pull the trigger.

Legal experts say this has forced the actor into a much narrower defence, as he cannot allege that he did not remember what occurred or that it happened by accident.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have painted Mr Baldwin as an unsafe firearm handler, showing footage of him waving around weapons on set and saying in filings that he was unable to control his emotions.

They also cited an FBI report that tested Mr Baldwin’s claim. It found that the gun’s “trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer”.

During the analysis of the weapon in 2022, an FBI examiner took a mallet to the weapon and broke its internal components.

Mr Baldwin’s lawyers have called this “outrageous” and argued the destroyed weapon deprived the defence of a full opportunity to examine the gun in its original condition.

But a judge denied a last-ditch effort to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge.

What to expect during the trial

Tre Lovell, a trial lawyer in California, says prosecutors will argue that even though Mr Baldwin was on a film set, it does not alleviate him from basic gun-handling skills and safety duties.

They will argue that anybody who holds a gun, whether on a film set or in real life, has an obligation to never point it at someone and to ensure it is not loaded with live rounds.

Prosecutors attempted to argue during a pre-trial hearing that Mr Baldwin had greater safety responsibilities on set as a producer, but Judge Sommer sided with the defence and said this was irrelevant to the case.

That means Mr Baldwin’s role as producer – a credit given for raising money, creative input, or physical production work – will not be included in the trial.

But his defence team still has much work ahead to win its case, Mr Lovell says, as it will need to help the jury understand a film set – a space in which people have designated roles and obligations.

“They need to show the jury that once you start imposing a duty on an actor to ensure that a prop is safe, set will go into chaos,” he said.

“There’s no evidence that he [Baldwin] would have even known the difference between the dummy bullet and a real bullet.”

Mr Baldwin’s legal team will also likely argue that the actor should have been able to rely on the film’s armourer and safety coordinator – Gutierrez-Reed and Halls, respectively – to ensure he could perform his job without worry.

Will Baldwin testify?

Mr Baldwin is not currently scheduled to testify at the trial, but that does not mean it will not happen.

Most legal experts agree there are very few reasons to have a defendant testify at any trial because it allows prosecutors the chance to cross-examine them.

Mr Baldwin’s defence team can wait until toward the end of the trial to make a decision based on how the proceedings have gone.

The trial is scheduled to last 10 days.

Gutierrez-Reed did not testify during her own trial.

Could Baldwin see prison time?

Mr Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison due to the charges related to Ms Hutchins’ death.

Gutierrez-Reed, who faced the same charge in the fatal shooting, received the maximum sentence.

But even if the jury finds Mr Baldwin not guilty, his legal troubles will not be over.

He faces several civil lawsuits, including one brought by Ms Hutchins’s family.

In a negligence legal action, they claim the cinematographer’s death and other injuries and fatalities were “a likely result” on a movie set that contained guns, live ammunition and the actor “inexplicably” pointing and firing a gun at Ms Hutchins.

Mr Baldwin has said in recent court filings that he has struggled to find acting work since the incident.

In May, the actor and his wife Hilaria announced that they and their seven children would star in a reality show next year.

Modi’s balancing act as he meets Putin in Moscow

By Anbarasan EthirajanBBC News, Delhi
India PM Modi meets Russian President Putin

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being keenly watched by his Western allies as he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on his first foreign trip since he returned to office for a third term in June.

Mr Modi landed on Monday, just hours after Russian bombing killed at least 41 people in Ukraine, including at a children’s hospital in Kyiv, sparking a global outcry.

Photos from Moscow showed a beaming Mr Modi hugging the Russian president. A video of a smiling Mr Putin calling Mr Modi “my dearest friend” and telling him that he was “delighted to see him” has gone viral in India.

Mr Modi’s two-day visit – his first to the Kremlin since 2019 – coincides with a Nato summit in Washington, where the 2022 invasion will be a major theme.

India, a key global economy, has close ties with both Russia and the US and its partners and officials in Delhi are playing down questions over the timing of Mr Modi’s trip. They say the annual summit is part of a long-standing strategic partnership and its scheduling has nothing to do with the Nato summit.

But a sour note has been struck with the US expressing concern. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller urged Mr Modi to emphasise Ukraine’s territorial integrity during his talks in Moscow.

Mr Miller also said the US had raised concerns with India regarding its relationship with Russia.

“We would urge India, as we do any country when it engages with Russia, to make clear that any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine needs to be one that respects the UN charter, that respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he said at a press briefing on Monday.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky went further – and did not mince his words.

“It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter) late on Monday.

Mr Modi told President Putin that India was ready to offer any assistance in establishing peace in Ukraine. Russian state TV quoted him saying that war was “not a solution”.

He also said the death of children was painful and terrifying, a day after the deadly attack on the Kyiv children’s hospital.

“Whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity, is pained when there is loss of lives,” Mr Modi said.

“But even in that, when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying.”

The Nato summit in Washington, which begins on Tuesday, is being held to mark the 75th anniversary of the Western defence grouping which was mainly formed as a bulwark against the then Soviet Union after World War Two.

Nato countries have been vehemently opposed to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while India and Mr Modi have refrained from any explicit criticism of President Putin except calling for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict.

As Western nations try to isolate Moscow by imposing sanctions, President Putin has been having summit-level meetings with leaders of key nations like China, India, Turkey and others.

Some are now asking whether Mr Modi’s presence in Moscow could be to Mr Putin’s advantage. Is the message India is sending out playing into the hands of Russia?

“The bilateral visit this time is just a scheduling priority that we have undertaken. And that’s what it is,” Vinay Kwatra, permanent secretary to the Indian foreign ministry, told the BBC ahead of Mr Modi’s visit, rejecting any connection between the two events.

India and Russia share close defence and strategic relations from Cold War days and Moscow remains a key supplier of weapons. India, which maintains one of the largest militaries in the world, has long-standing border disputes with its neighbours Pakistan and China.

Experts say Mr Modi giving importance to Moscow is not a surprise and the relationship goes beyond defence procurement.

“If you look at the historical trend, it [Moscow] has been one of the constants in Indian foreign policy,” Pankaj Saran, former Indian ambassador to Moscow, told the BBC.

“The main pillars of the relationship include defence co-operation, energy and science technology.”

Over the years, Russia has provided technical assistance to build several nuclear power plants in India.

Since the Ukraine war began, Delhi has also been buying billions of dollars of discounted oil from Moscow after Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia to limit what it could sell or charge for the product.

Driven by a surge in the purchase of oil, bilateral trade between India and Russia in the last few years has soared to $65bn (£50.76bn). India’s exports to Russia stand at just $4bn.

Indian officials say a key priority for Mr Modi will be to address this trade imbalance and encourage Russian investment in India as well as moving some defence production to India.

For the past 20 years, the West, particularly the US, has cultivated closer ties with India in what many see as a bulwark against the threat posed by an increasingly assertive China.

India also became a member of the Quad – a strategic forum with the US, Australia and Japan – which is seen as a grouping aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Asia Pacific.

But faced with increasing Western hostility, President Putin has developed closer strategic and economic ties with Beijing. The development has not gone unnoticed in India, China’s long-time rival.

A deadly brawl on the disputed border in Ladakh region in June 2020 killed 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers and escalated tensions.

There are apprehensions in India that it may be left out of the Moscow-Beijing equation.

“One option currently being exercised by Delhi is to keep the Russia channel open to maintain the friendship and avoid taking any measures which may further aggravate Russia’s drift into Chinese arms that is being caused by US and Western policies,” says Mr Saran.

Though Delhi has diversified its weapons inventory in recent decades by buying American, French and Israeli arms systems, it still relies heavily on Moscow and there have been concerns the war in Ukraine has had an impact on its defence exports.

“There are reports of delays in the supplies of some spare parts and the delivery of the remaining S-400 anti-missile defence system. So, there will definitely be some discussion on this during the visit,” says Anil Trigunayat, a former ambassador and now a Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation in Delhi.

Delhi and Moscow are not without their own differences. There have been several reported cases of Indian nationals who were lured with false promises of lucrative job offers and ended up fighting for the Russian army in Ukraine. Four Indians have died so far in the fighting.

  • The Indian men traumatised by fighting for Russia

Indian officials insist that during this visit, Mr Modi will press his Russian counterparts for an early discharge of Indians – thought to number in the dozens – still fighting in the war.

India is aware that it needs both the United States and Russia to counter its rival China. Hence, it feels the need to strike a balance not to offend either of the two.

“India follows a policy of strategic autonomy and multi-alignments. We have strategic relationships with both the US and Russia. These are mutually exclusive partnerships,” says Mr Trigunayat.

Indian wrestlers eye Olympics after sex harassment scandal

By Divya AryaBBC Hindi

Over a year after protests against sexual harassment allegations shook Indian wrestling, female athletes are gearing up for major events, including the 2024 Paris Olympics. The BBC spoke to young wrestlers about their journey.

Reetika Hooda almost didn’t make it.

The 23-year-old is among the five Indian women wrestlers to qualify for the Olympics this year.

It’s a hard-won opportunity, following a year of setbacks that shook her confidence. She knew she needed more training and competitions to improve her game.

A year ago, all wrestling came to a halt in India after its federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh was accused of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations.

India’s sports ministry did not sack Singh but it disbanded the federation after finding several lapses, including the non-compliance of sexual harassment laws, and set up a temporary team to run things.

It was an unprecedented time. Hooda remembers watching the country’s most accomplished wrestlers, including her inspiration Sakshi Malik – the only Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling – camp on the roads of Delhi, demanding Singh’s resignation.

The protest made headlines globally, especially after the police detained the wrestlers when they tried to march to India’s new parliament building. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned the way the wrestlers were treated and called for an impartial inquiry into their complaints.

“It was sad – not only because of what was happening but also what wasn’t,” Hooda told me.

Each year, the International Olympic Committee designates certain tournaments as qualification events for the games. To compete, wrestlers must earn ranking points in trials, win national competitions, and secure the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) approval.

But instead of competing, Hooda stared at an empty sporting calendar for weeks.

“We trained but there were no trials, which meant we could not compete and know our shortcomings. There was a constant fear that we won’t be prepared [for the Olympics],” she said.

For a country that’s won only 24 medals at individual events in Olympics, with over a quarter in wrestling, this was worrying.

Fresh elections to the WFI were finally held in December 2023, nearly a year after the protests began.

The wrestlers had asked India’s sports minister to prevent people associated with Singh from participating in the election.

Singh did not contest as he had already served the maximum of three terms. But his close aide Sanjay Singh was elected the chief after a landslide victory.

This sparked outrage among women wrestlers. On the same day, Olympic medallist Malik quit the sport in protest.

“Even now I get emotional when I think of that moment,” Malik said. “Wrestling took me to such heights, got me love and respect, and I had to give it up.”

Young wrestlers were stunned by Malik’s decision – but soon, they were back on the mat.

“Sakshi Malik was the reason I took up wrestling,” said Tanu Malik, a 20-year-old wrestler in Haryana state.

“So when I saw her crying, I thought to myself, she fought for us, we can’t give up now.”

From that day, Tanu Malik decided to work harder.

Her training at the state’s all-women Yudhvir Wrestling Academy starts at 04:30.

The day starts with a rigorous five-hour fitness session, lifting large truck tyres and practicing wrestling techniques. After a break for food and rest, the women resume training for another five hours in the afternoon.

Girls as young as 12 years sweat it out on the mat. In their free time, they talk about diets and share recipes that would help them stay fit.

None of them want to talk about the alleged sexual harassment at academies or the accusations against the former wrestling chief. However, they are determined not to give up.

Seema Kharab, a coach, says that contrary to expectations, the number of girls at the academy has not dropped since the protests.

“The protests have assured young wrestlers that it is possible to raise their voice, that positive action may be taken and they can get support within the system,” she says.

In June, the police charged Brij Bhushan Singh with stalking, harassment, intimidation, and making “sexually coloured remarks”, but a court granted him bail

Meanwhile, the new federation chief, Sanjay Singh, has taken on the mantle.

He acknowledged his 30-year relationship with the former chief but dismissed allegations of Brij Bhushan Singh’s interference, claiming wrestlers had accepted him as the new head.

He said this was evident from the “massive turnout” at national wrestling competitions this year.

“No-one will be favoured or discriminated against and each wrestler is dear to me. I am also the father of two daughters and I understand what daughters need,” he added.

However, for young women like Tanu Malik, fear has become an inescapable part of being in the profession.

“It’s not easy – my parents are constantly worried about sending me to training alone,” she says. “But they have to trust us, otherwise how would things work? It’s like accepting defeat without even fighting.”

Others feel deflated and say the protests have come at a huge personal cost for them.

Shiksha Kharab, a gold medallist at the Asian Championship, says it caused disruptions in training because of which young wrestlers have lost a crucial year.

But Sakshi Malik has no regrets.

“The most important thing is to fight,” she said. “I don’t think anybody in any sporting federation would dare to do anything, they now know that harassment can have repercussions.”

Hooda says she’s nervous about competing with some of the world’s biggest wrestling giants at the Games, but also looking forward to it.

“Sakshi Malik used to say victory and loss are not important – just trust your hard work. That’s what I will do,” she adds.

As she gets ready for training, a picture of Sakshi posing with her Olympic medal, beams down at her.

“My only focus now is to win a medal” she says. “Who knows, maybe one day I will have my picture next to hers.”

Read more on this story

How Canada became a car theft capital of the world

By Nadine YousifBBC News, Toronto
How car thieves in Canada targeted the same owner twice

Logan LaFreniere woke up one October morning in 2022 to an empty driveway.

His brand new Ram Rebel truck was missing.

His security camera captured two hooded men breaking into the pickup in the dead of night outside of his Milton, Ontario home, and driving it away with ease.

A few months later, that very same truck appeared on a website of vehicles for sale in Ghana, an ocean and some 8,500km away.

“The dead giveaway was the laptop holder that we had installed in the back of the driver’s seat for my son, and in it was garbage that he had put in there,” Mr LaFreniere told the BBC.

That same clutter was visible in photos of the car listing, he said.

“There was no doubt in my mind that it was my vehicle.”

Mr LaFreniere’s story is hardly unique. In 2022, more than 105,000 cars were stolen in Canada – about one car every five minutes. Among the victims was Canada’s very own federal justice minister, whose government-issued Toyota Highlander XLE was taken twice by thieves.

Early this summer, Interpol listed Canada among the top 10 worst countries for car thefts out of 137 in its database – a “remarkable” feat, said a spokesperson, considering the country only began integrating their data with the international police organisation in February.

Authorities say once these cars are stolen, they are either used to carry out other violent crimes, sold domestically to other unsuspecting Canadians, or shipped overseas to be resold.

Interpol says it has detected more than 1,500 cars around the world that have been stolen from Canada since February, and around 200 more continue to be identified each week, usually at ports in other countries.

Car theft is such an epidemic that it was declared a “national crisis” by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which says insurers have had to pay out more than C$1.5bn ($1bn; £860m) in vehicle theft claims last year.

The problem has forced police jurisdictions across the country to issue public bulletins on how to protect vehicles from theft.

Meanwhile, some Canadians have taken matters into their own hands, doing everything from installing trackers on their cars to hiring private neighbourhood security.

Some who can afford it have even installed retractable bollards in their driveways – similar to those seen at banks and embassies – to try and deter thieves.

Nauman Khan, who lives in Mississauga, a city just outside Toronto, started a bollard-installation business after he and his brother were both victims of car thefts.

In one attempt, Mr Khan said the thieves broke into his home while his wife and young children were sleeping. They were looking for the keys to his Mercedes GLE parked out front, he said, but ran after he confronted them.

After that “traumatic” experience, they sold their cars except for two “humble” family vehicles.

Through his business, Mr Khan said he now hears similar stories from people throughout the region of Toronto.

“It’s been very busy,” he said. “We had one client whose street had so many home invasions that he’d hired a security guard every night outside his house because he just didn’t feel safe.”

The pervasiveness of car thefts in Canada is surprising given how small the country’s population is compared to the US and the UK – other countries with high rates of such crime, says Alexis Piquero, Director of the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“[Canada] also doesn’t have as many port cities as the US does,” said Mr Piquero.

While the US, Canada and the UK have all experienced a spike in car thefts since the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada’s rate of thefts (262.5 per 100,000 people) is higher than that of England and Wales (220 per 100,000 people), according to the latest available data from each country.

It is also fairly close to that of the US, which sits at around 300 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people, based on 2022 data.

The rise in recent years is partly due to a pandemic-driven global car shortage that has increased demand for both used and new vehicles.

There is also a growing market for certain car models internationally, making auto theft a top revenue generator for organised crime groups, said Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations at the Canadian Automobile Association.

But Mr Silverstein said the way that Canada’s ports operate make them more vulnerable to this type of theft than other countries.

“In the port system, there’s a greater focus on what is coming into the country than what is exiting the country,” he said, adding that once the vehicles are packed up in shipping containers at a port it becomes harder to get to them.

Police have managed to recover some stolen cars.

In October, the Toronto Police Service announced an 11-month investigation that recovered 1,080 vehicles worth around C$60m. More than 550 charges were laid as a result.

And between mid-December and the end of March, border and police officers found nearly 600 stolen vehicles at the Port of Montreal after inspecting 400 shipping containers.

These types of operations, however, can be difficult to carry out given the volume of merchandise that moves through that port, experts have said. Around 1.7 million containers moved through the Port of Montreal in 2023 alone.

Port staff also do not have the authority to inspect containers in most cases, and in customs-controlled areas only border officers can open a container without a warrant.

At the same time, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been grappling with chronic understaffing, according to a report submitted by its union to the government in April.

Outdated technology is also an issue.

Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton – another Ontario city hard-hit by car thefts – recently paid a visit to the Port Newark Container Terminal in New Jersey to compare inspection tactics between the US and Canada.

He told the National Post newspaper that US authorities have “got scanners. They measure density. They work closely with local law enforcement”.

“These are things that we don’t do in Canada,” he said.

In May, the Canadian government said it would invest millions to bolster the CBSA’s ability to search shipping containers. Police will also get additional money to combat auto theft in their communities.

But Mr Silverstein said he believes a missing puzzle piece is auto manufacturers themselves.

“Everyone is talking about trying to recover vehicles, and a lot of my focus has been on why we are not making the vehicles tougher to steal in the first place,” he said.

In the meantime, car owners like Mr LaFreniere are still grappling with what to do to keep their vehicles safe.

After his Ram Rebel truck was stolen, he replaced it with a Toyota Tundra – a vehicle that Mr LaFreniere described as his “dream truck”.

This time, he installed an engine immobiliser on it to prevent thieves from being able to easily start the car. He also equipped it with a tag tracker in case it did get stolen, and added a club on the steering wheel for good measure.

Thieves were undeterred. A pair came to Mr LaFreniere’s driveway, this time to steal the Tundra. They had a harder time, however, and resorted to shattering the back window to get inside.

The commotion woke Mr LaFreniere and he called 911. But the thieves managed to run away in the four minutes it took for police to arrive.

He paid to repair his brand new truck and then sold it.

The whole ordeal, he said, was nothing short of “disheartening”.

Justin Bieber performs at India’s mega wedding

By Flora DruryBBC News

Justin Bieber has become the latest in a string of international stars to perform for the son of India’s richest man and his wife-to-be as they celebrate their upcoming wedding.

The Canadian singer flew in to perform for Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant – along with their guests – in Mumbai at the weekend.

He had a lot to live up to. The couple’s first pre-wedding party featured Rihanna, while the second – a cruise around the Mediterranean – had performances from 90s teen heartthrobs The Backstreet Boys, singer Katy Perry and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

So it is with bated breath that Ambani wedding-watchers – of whom there are now legions around the globe – await news of who will perform at the actual wedding itself this weekend.

Rumours swirling on the internet suggest it could be Adele, but the family are remaining tight-lipped.

No expense is being spared on the wedding of Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son, putting it in a different league from even the most extravagant of Indian weddings. It outshines even his daughter’s nuptials, which featured a headline-grabbing performance by Beyoncé.

Last weekend Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant celebrated their sangeet ceremony – a night of music and dance ahead of the wedding ceremony. In typical style, the Ambanis went above and beyond what would usually be expected by guests.

It saw Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, with an estimated net worth of $115bn, according to Forbes, and the rest of the family take to the stage in their own choreographed dance to Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s hit song, Deewangi Deewangi.

It was also another chance for wedding-watchers to pore over the outfits worn by the guests – which included some of India’s most glamorous stars wearing dresses by the country’s top fashion designers.

It seems as much as the pre-wedding events have been concerts, they have also become catwalks, with stars sharing professional shots on their social media accounts ahead of the parties.

The cost of the three parties to date is not known. It was rumoured Rihanna had been paid $7m (£5.5m) for her performance, while the figure suggested for Justin Bieber is said to be $10m.

Exactly what the weekend’s three-day event holds remains to be seen. For some in India, it will come as a relief that the wedding and its extravagance is over, while those in Mumbai will be hoping it does not make the city’s famously bad traffic any worse.

Radhika was keeping her cards close to her chest when she told Vogue US last month that planning was “going great”, adding: “I’m very excited to be married.”

This Nato summit could save or sink Biden’s candidacy

By Anthony ZurcherNorth America correspondent
Biden still the answer for many Democratic lawmakers

It is a week of reckoning for Joe Biden.

Twelve days after a halting debate performance that may go down as one of the most damaging in modern American history, the president is fighting for his political survival under intense domestic and global scrutiny.

This week’s Nato summit in Washington DC may be his path to at least a temporary reprieve – or this president’s last stand.

In the past few days, Mr Biden has railed against his critics, claimed the mandate of Democratic primary voters and challenged opponents to step forward and try to unseat him.

He has promised repeatedly that he is moving ahead with his campaign and that the time for second-guessing and hand-wringing is over. That pressing ahead will start at the Nato summit.

Mr Biden will host alliance leaders for three days of meetings and public events culminating in a solo press conference on Thursday afternoon.

  • What is Nato and when might Ukraine join?

It is a stage on which Mr Biden, a man well versed in foreign relations, should be comfortable. But it also raises the already high stakes for his presidency, given that a poor showing will have international as well as domestic ramifications.

A mistake could start a political stampede among Democrats that extinguishes his hopes of even making it to the November general election, let alone winning it.

It could also sharpen concerns from European allies who are concerned about the increasing likelihood of a Donald Trump presidency and the dramatic foreign policy shifts that would come with it.

  • Project 2025 – a wishlist for a Trump presidency
  • Who will Trump pick as vice-president?

“Biden is entering this week diminished,” said Kristine Berzina, managing director of the German Marshall Fund Geostrategy North.

“We don’t know how he’s going to exit it.”

Foreign leaders concerned

It is understood that many European leaders are anxious about Trump and his foreign policy strategy. The former president has disparaged multilateral international alliances.

Ms Berzina said that in the past two weeks, however, these leaders have been experiencing something new – Biden anxiety.

After his halting debate performance, she says, American allies have begun doubting whether the president is up to the task.

Heading into the Nato summit, they are hoping to see some evidence that his performance that night was an aberration and not reflective of a new normal.

“It is worrisome to have a close ally, your most meaningful ally, falter,” said Ms Berzina.

“So I think there is tremendous hope that Biden passes the test. But if he isn’t able to deliver, it creates more questions about the US’s reliability.”

  • ‘A reality show’ – how world saw Biden debate

Eyes will be on the US president as he attends summit sessions, hosts foreign leaders at the White House and engages in bilateral meetings with key leaders, including newly elected British Prime Minister Keir Starmer.

Even behind closed doors of the Nato meetings, word of Mr Biden’s performance – good or bad – is sure to leak out.

The military alliance meets in Washington with Ukraine high on the agenda.

A Democratic Party panic attack

Mr Biden faces an even taller task this week domestically.

The president has pointed to buttressing and expanding Nato in the face of Russian aggression as one of his key accomplishments.

This is something that differentiates his leadership from Trump’s – as well as any Democrats who could potentially replace him on the ballot – and the summit will be his chance to put that on display for the American public.

“Who’s going to be able to keep Nato together like me?” the president said in his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday. He added that the Nato summit would be a good way to judge his abilities.

“Come listen,” he said. “See what they say.”

But simply clearing low expectations at the Nato summit and the Thursday press conference may not be enough for many of the politicians, pundits and party activists who are already calling for him to step aside.

“Just having some good appearances is not going to stop the questions,” said Bill Scher, a liberal pundit and editor of Washington Monthly who recently penned a column calling for Mr Biden to step aside for Vice-President Kamala Harris.

“Time was really of the essence to nip all the speculation in the bud, and they wasted a week. There is no clear path out of this situation.”

  • Could Biden be replaced as nominee?
  • The Democratic names being talked about

Mr Scher – a longtime supporter of Mr Biden – says the president’s attempts to push back now with media interviews, letters and calls to Democratic politicians come after public sentiment has solidified against him.

And once that sentiment is fully cemented in the polls – which could take several weeks – it will probably be too late to cleanly replace him.

“I understand how difficult it has to be when you’re nearing the end of your life and you’re not performing as well as you used to,” Mr Scher said. “Having to come to terms with that in public has to be excruciating.”

But the data that shows Mr Biden losing support and facing defeat in November is becoming increasingly clear.

Polls indicate nearly three-quarters of Americans – and even a majority of Democrats – think the president should stand down. A half-dozen Democratic members of Congress have called for him to abandon his bid, and many others have offered only equivocal support.

Democratic voters chime in on Biden’s ability to run for office

The president continues to say he will press ahead with his campaign, however, and he has the national convention delegates to ensure that he is the Democratic nominee. The decision lies firmly in his hands, and if he can make it through the week without a major misstep, he may, in fact, survive the immediate storm.

The story of this week, however, has been set. It isn’t one of Nato celebrating its 75th year of existence and focusing on the challenges to come.

Instead, it is a narrative that could decide whether Mr Biden can politically live to fight another day.

More on the US election

  • POLICIES: Where Biden and Trump stand
  • GLOBAL: What Moscow and Beijing think of rematch
  • ANALYSIS: Could US economy be doing too well?
  • EXPLAINER: RFK Jr and others running for president
  • VOTERS: US workers in debt to buy groceries

The secret hospitals offering criminals new faces

By Kelly NgBBC News

Clandestine hospitals in the Philippines have been offering plastic surgery services to fugitives and scam centre workers to help them evade arrest, authorities say.

Two such illegal hospitals could be shut down “in the coming weeks” after police raided the first one in Manila’s southern suburbs in May, a police spokesman told the BBC.

Hair transplant tools, dental implants and skin whitening IV drips were seized from the hospital in Pasay City two months ago.

“You can create an entirely new person out of those,” said Winston John Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC).

The two illegal hospitals under surveillance are believed to be four times larger than the one in Pasay, authorities said.

Their clients allegedly include those from online casinos, who are working in the Philippines illegally, Mr Casio said.

The online casinos or Pogos (Philippine Online Gaming Operations) cater to players in mainland China, where gambling is illegal.

But police say Pogos have been used as cover for criminal activities such as telephone scams and human trafficking.

Three doctors – two from Vietnam and one from China – a Chinese pharmacist, and a Vietnamese nurse were arrested in the Pasay raid, none of whom were licensed to work in the Philippines.

Authorities also found a hemodialysis machine, suggesting that the facility, which was about 400 sqm, offered various medical treatments in addition to plastic surgery.

“They look like regular clinics on the outside, but once you enter, you’ll be shocked by the type of technology they have,” Mr Casio said.

“These Pogo hospitals don’t ask for the proper identification cards… You could be a fugitive, or you could be an illegal alien in the Philippines,” he said.

Authorities were tipped off on the existence of the illegal hospital in Pasay City.

Pogos flourished under former president Rodrigo Duterte, who sought friendly ties with China during his six-year term that ended in 2022.

However, his successor Ferdinand Marcos Jr has mounted a crackdown on Pogos, citing their criminal links.

“The president does not want the Philippines to be painted as a ‘scam hub’ and has given us a directive to go after scam farms because of how they have been targeting large numbers of people from all over the world,” Mr Casio said.

In December 2022, immigration officials arrested a suspected Chinese mafia member who allegedly underwent plastic surgery to evade detection. Such cases may be linked to the underground hospitals, Mr Casio said.

The mayor of a sleepy town north of the capital, Alice Guo, recently came under fire after a Pogo scam centre was busted near her office.

She has also been accused of being a spy for China after authorities questioned her birth records.

$1bn gift pays tuition for most at Johns Hopkins med school

By Brandon DrenonBBC News, Washington

Many current and future medical students at Johns Hopkins University found out on Monday that their tuition will soon be free.

Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and business leader, has given $1bn (£780m) to cover tuition for students whose parents earn less than $300,000 a year.

Those whose parents bring in less than $175,000 will also have their living expenses paid.

The move affects around two-thirds of current and prospective medical students at Johns Hopkins, which is based in Maryland.

“As the US struggles to recover from a disturbing decline in life expectancy, our country faces a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, and public health professionals,” Mr Bloomberg, said.

“And yet, the high cost of medical, nursing, and graduate school too often bars students from enrolling.”

The latest medical school graduates from Johns Hopkins had an average student loan debt exceeding $100,000, the school said.

Mr Bloomberg’s gift, made through his philanthropic organisation, will also increase financial aid available for students in other programmes, including graduate students in public health and nursing, education, engineering and others.

The university’s president, Ron Daniels, said that “removing financial barriers to individual opportunity fuels excellence, innovation and discoveries that redound to the benefit of society”.

This is not Mr Bloomberg’s first large contribution to the university, which is also his alma mater.

In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies made a $1.8bn donation to remove financial barriers for undergraduate students.

His latest donation follows Kenneth Langone and his wife, Elaine’s $200m donation to the NYU Long Island School of Medicine in 2023, which made tuition free for all medical students.

Europe’s Ariane-6 rocket blasts off in maiden flight

By Jonathan Amos@BBCAmosScience correspondent

Europe’s big new rocket, Ariane-6, has blasted off successfully on its maiden flight.

The vehicle set off from a launchpad in French Guiana about 16:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on a demonstration mission to put a clutch of satellites in orbit.

Crews on the ground in Kourou applauded as the rocket soared into the sky.

Developed at a cost of €4bn (£3.4bn), Ariane-6 is intended to be a workhorse rocket that gives European governments and companies access to space independently from the rest of the world.

It already has a backlog of launch contracts, but there are worries its design could limit future prospects.

Like its predecessor, Ariane-5, the new model is expendable – a new rocket is needed for every mission, whereas the latest American vehicles are being built to be wholly or partially reusable.

Nonetheless, European space officials believe Ariane-6 can carve out a niche for itself.

“This is a big moment,” said European Space Agency (Esa) director-general Josef Aschbacher.

“Daily life today really depends on information from satellites, from telecommunications and Earth observation to weather forecasting and disaster management. It is unimaginable for Europe not to have guaranteed, independent access to space,” he told BBC News.

On the surface, the 6 looks very similar to the old 5, but under the skin it harnesses state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques (3D printing, friction stir welding, augmented reality design, etc) that should result in faster and cheaper production.

Ariane-6 will operate in two configurations:

  • The “62” will incorporate two solid-fuel side boosters for lifting medium-sized payloads
  • The “64” will have four strap-on boosters to lift the heaviest satellites on the market

The core stage is supplemented with a second, or upper, stage that will place the payloads in their precise orbits high above the Earth.

This stage can be stopped and restarted multiple times, which is useful when launching large batches of satellites into a constellation, or network. The reignition capability also enables the stage to pull itself back down to Earth, so it won’t become a piece of lingering space junk.

Tuesday’s mission used the Ariane-62 variant. The rocket will ascend to an altitude of 580km before starting to offload free-flying payloads.

These are a mix of university and commercial spacecraft. They include two capsules that will endeavour to survive a fiery fall through the atmosphere to splash down in the Pacific.

One of the capsules, which goes by the name of Nyx Bikini, is a small-scale demonstrator from a Franco-German company which aims eventually to develop spacecraft that can transport supplies and people to and from space stations in Earth orbit.

Ariane 6 vs Falcon 9

Inaugural flights are always occasions of high jeopardy. It’s not uncommon for a new rocket design to have a failure.

Ariane-5 famously blew itself apart 37 seconds after leaving the ground on its debut in 1996. The loss was put down to an error in control software.

But a revised rocket then came back to dominate the commercial launch market for the world’s biggest satellites. That dominance was only broken in the 2010s by US entrepreneur Elon Musk and his reusable Falcon-9 rockets.

Falcon flight rates and prices undercut the competitiveness of Ariane-5.

Europe is moving towards reusability, but the necessary technologies will not be in service until the 2030s. And in the meantime, Mr Musk is introducing even bigger rockets that promise to reduce launch costs still further.

Ariane-6 enters a very challenging environment, therefore.

“We can all have our own opinions. What I can just reaffirm is that we have an order book that is full,” said Lucia Linares, who heads space transportation strategy at Esa.

“I guess the word goes here to the customers: they have said Ariane-6 is an answer to their needs.”

There are launch contracts to take the rocket through its first three years of operations. These include 18 launches for another US billionaire, Jeff Bezos, who wants to establish a constellation of internet satellites he calls Kuiper.

European officials aim to have Ariane-6 flying roughly once a month.

If this flight rate can be achieved, then the rocket should be able to establish itself, commented Pierre Lionnet from space consultancy ASD Eurospace.

“First, we need to ensure that there is sufficient demand from European customers – the European institutional ones. Then Ariane needs to win just a few commercial customers beyond Kuiper. This would give it a market,” he told BBC News.

“But it’s a matter of pricing. If Falcon-9 is systematically undercutting the price offer of Ariane-6, there will be an issue.”

Ariane-6 is a project of 13 member states of Esa, led by France (56%) and Germany (21%). The 13 partners have promised subsidy payments of up to €340m (£295m) a year to support the early phase of Ariane-6 exploitation.

The UK was a leading player right at the beginning of Europe’s launcher programme and remains an Esa member state, but its direct involvement in Ariane ended when the Ariane-4 model was retired, in 2003.

A few UK companies continue to supply components on a commercial basis, and some spacecraft built in Britain will undoubtedly continue to fly on Ariane.

Australia appoints special envoy to tackle antisemitism

By Tiffanie TurnbullBBC News, Sydney

Australia has appointed a special envoy to combat antisemitism and preserve “social cohesion”, amid rising community tension over the Israel-Gaza war.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced lawyer and businesswoman Jillian Segal would consult with community leaders and discrimination experts to advise the government.

It follows in the footsteps of countries like the US, Canada, Greece and the UK, which have all had similar positions for years.

A special envoy for addressing Islamophobia will also be appointed soon, Mr Albanese added.

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has become a volatile political issue in Australia. It has resulted in protests from both Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as a sharp uptick in Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The Israeli military launched a campaign to destroy the Hamas group which runs Gaza in response to an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 251 others were taken hostage.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

“Australians are deeply concerned about this conflict, and many are hurting. In times like this, Australians must come together, not be torn apart,” Mr Albanese said on Tuesday.

The appointment of Ms Segal – who has headed several key bodies representing the Jewish community and served in leadership roles in the education and banking sectors – is a “critical step” in easing friction, he said.

Ms Segal said combatting the “age-old hatred” of antisemitism has never been more important, pointing to a 700% rise in incidences since the war began in October.

“Jewish Australians want to feel free to live their day-to-day lives, and also want to feel safe to practice and express their religion without fear,” she added.

The announcement has been welcomed by the national peak body for the Australian Jewish community – a group Ms Segal led until last year – who say she will “will bring deep knowledge of the issues and immense energy to the role”.

However other groups – including The Jewish Council of Australia, which has been critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, and The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) – say they fear it will worsen division.

“It also risks further entrenching the concerning pattern of antisemitism being conflated with criticism of the state of Israel or with support for Palestine,” APAN said.

The Australian government supports a two-state solution, and in the wake of the 7 October attacks loudly supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

However in recent months it has increasingly voiced concerns about the country’s military campaign in Gaza – including after an Australian aid worker was killed alongside six others in an Israeli air strike.

Australia’s governing Labor party has also experienced growing tensions, with one senator last week quitting its ranks over its stance on the war.

Fatima Payman said she had been “exiled” after breaking party rules to vote against the government in support of a motion calling for the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Rewards for tourists who litter pick in Copenhagen

By Anna LamcheBBC News

Tourists will be rewarded with free food and activities if they participate in environmentally friendly tasks while visiting Copenhagen, the city’s tourist board has announced.

The trial scheme, which begins on 15 July, will see tourist attractions in the Danish capital offer rewards for activities such as litter-picking, travelling by public transport or biking around the city.

Under the initiative, visitors can claim free lunches, coffees, glasses of wine and kayak rental in return for their work.

The “CopenPay” scheme is designed to offset the “environmental burden” of tourism, according to the Copenhagen tourist board.

“When you travel abroad – if you fly to other places or you travel by car – you pollute,” says the tourist board’s communications chief Rikke Holm Petersen.

“One of the things we can change is getting people to act more sustainably at the destination.”

The plan is only a “little step towards the green transition”, Ms Petersen admits.

The project is “trust-based”, meaning attractions are unlikely to ask for proof that the green activity has been completed. “In some attractions you might have to show a picture of you riding a bike, or of your public transportation ticket,” she says.

The government is not reimbursing the companies behind the attractions – including museums, rooftop bars and kayaking charities – for participating in the scheme. So far 24 organisations have signed up to the pilot.

Last year, Copenhagen recorded over 12 million overnight stays, according to government statistics.

Ms Petersen anticipates a “small percentage” of visitors to the city will participate in the trial, which runs until 11 August.

Othy Jasper, a 25-year-old Londoner who will be travelling to Copenhagen for work in August, said he is “conscious” of his air miles when he travels. “It can really rack up – you have to think is it essential, is it worthwhile? Of everything one can do, catching flights is possibly the worst for pollution.”

Speaking on the scheme, he says “it’s cool they’re doing something for the climate” but it would be unlikely he would spend time collecting litter in return for a reward.

“In terms of an incentive, it feels like a bit of an effort to do.”

If the scheme is judged to be a success it will be rolled out across the rest of the year.

“Imagine if we could have people taking a greener mindset back with them – if that was the souvenir they got – that would be amazing,” Ms Petersen says.

Prosecutors probe Marine Le Pen campaign funding

By Laura GozziBBC News

An investigation has been opened into the financing of French far right National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen’s 2022 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors in Paris said they will look into allegations of embezzlement, forgery and fraud, and that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan.

The investigation was opened a week ago following a 2023 report by the National Commission on Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP).

The commission’s role is to scrutinise candidates’ election expenses and funding and to flag any issues that arise.

No more details have been given on the reasons for the inquiry, nor has Ms Le Pen’s camp commented.

The RN has previously received loans from Russian and Hungarian banks. The Russian loan worth €9.4m (£7.9m), however, was all paid back last year.

In 2017, the RN was charged with giving party members suspected fake jobs as assistants at the European Parliament.

About €5m (£4m) allegedly went to RN assistants who were not working for MEPs, but doing party work in France.

The RN denied the charges and said it would prove it did not embezzle cash.

A court will judge Ms Le Pen and 24 other members of her party over the alleged misuse of EU funds in September.

A veteran of French politics, Ms Le Pen ran for president in 2012, 2017 and 2022.

She was re-elected to parliament during the first round of France’s snap parliamentary election last month.

Her party unexpectedly came third, despite having achieved a decisive victory in the European Parliament elections just weeks before.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro may be charged over jewel sale

By George WrightBBC News

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro benefited from an illegal scheme to sell $1.2m (£937,000) in jewellery and other luxury gifts given to his government, police investigators say.

It comes after Brazil’s Federal Police last week recommended charging him with crimes including money-laundering over undeclared jewellery gifted between 2019 and 2022.

The latest police report states that officials had “acted to divert” expensive gifts to Mr Bolsonaro from foreign governments. The officials then sought to sell the items for “the illicit enrichment of the then president”.

The far-right politician has claimed that cases against him are politically motivated.

The report submitted to the Supreme Federal Court on Monday says that cash raised from such sales was paid to the former president “without using the formal banking system”.

Prosecutors have been given 15 days to decide whether to formally charge Mr Bolsonaro.

The case centres on allegations that he tried to illegally import and keep millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery given to him and his wife by Saudi Arabia in 2019.

The jewels were impounded by Brazilian customs officials when a member of Mr Bolsonaro’s entourage tried to bring them into the country in 2021.

The police report says the jewellery included Rolex watches and Patek Phillipe watches, as well as diamond pieces from luxury brand Chopard.

Mr Bolsonaro’s team later returned some of the jewellery once news of the case was reported, it added.

The former president’s lawyer, Paulo Cunha, posted on social media that heads of state “have no direct or indirect influence” on what happens to official gifts.

Mr Bolsonaro is also facing other legal challenges, including an investigation into whether he incited rioters who stormed key government buildings after he narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election to his left-wing rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

This led to unsubstantiated claims by his supporters of voting fraud – eventually escalating into the violent scenes in the capital.

He has voiced “regret” for the unrest, but denies he caused it.

However, Brazil’s Supreme Court has agreed to include him in its investigation into the storming of government buildings on 8 January 2023.

Camila Cabello: I need to treat myself with kindness

By Pete AllisonManish PandeyBBC Newsbeat

“I have a very naïve attitude before I put music out,” says Camila Cabello.

“I think because I love it so much and I think it’s good, everybody’s going to love it.”

Camila’s just released her fourth studio album C,XOXO.

As someone who’s been in the public eye since she was 15, it’s not exactly a first for her.

But she tells BBC Newsbeat that the more experimental sound of her latest meant she felt “a little bit more nervous” than usual.

Camila started out as a member of girl group Fifth Harmony before going solo and finding success with a Latin-influenced pop sound.

Her best-known tracks, Havana and Señorita, have had billions of plays on Spotify.

So C,XOXO was a potentially risky departure for the 27-year-old, but it’s one that’s led to collabs with rappers Drake, Lil Nas X and Playboi Carti.

“It’s a testament to ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’,” says Camila. “And I had that energy throughout this album.”

‘The immigrant hustle’

Camila’s also been braver recently when it comes to speaking about her mental health and living with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

She says it’s a “complicated” subject she can be “hesitant to talk about”, especially around taking medication and the stigma that can come with it.

Camila says she feels privileged to have had access to “things that have made my life a lot easier”, such as tools, therapy, and medication.

But at times, particularly in her early 20s, Camila says she’s felt guilty for not feeling great despite being a globally famous pop singer.

“One of my favourite things about getting older and experiencing life is this persistent sense of irony,” she says.

“Where what you see a lot of time is not the reality.”

“I think it just goes to show you how complex we are and how complicated we are as humans that it’s not really black and white.”

Camila says she still has bad days but practising “self-compassion” has helped her.

“I think it’s really treating yourself with kindness and love,” she says.

“The more empathy, less judgement and the more compassion you have for yourself, and for your own difficult emotions, the more that you’ll have that empathy and space for other people.”

Camila was born in Havana to a Cuban mum and Mexican dad, and moved between both countries until she was six, when the family settled in Miami, Florida.

She says talking openly about how she was feeling didn’t always come naturally.

“Latin families – or immigrant families – don’t a lot of the time have the bandwidth for realising what their mental health is,” she says.

“They’re so focused on survival and it’s just not on their radar.

“That was a big part, probably in the beginning for me, the confusion of my own guilt and shame of ‘I should be great’.”

Family is an important pillar in Camila’s life.

Her previous album, Familia, written during the Covid pandemic, explored her Latin roots and how her family inspired her work ethic.

She says that’s filtered into making C,XOXO.

“My mum is the definition of so hard-working,” says Camila.

“If I’m working, she’s like she says.

She says her mum, like lots of “immigrant parents”, is constantly “trying to improve and create”.

“They just have that kind of hustle mentality. And I really had to have that for this album.”

Camila says she and her team spent 10 days in the Bahamas recording the album, and “barely saw the sunlight because we were in the studio the whole time”.

“Anytime you are trying to make something great, it’s insanely hard,” she says.

“I remember just being so frustrated and was exhausted.”

But some things came a bit easier.

Getting Drake involved simply “started with a DM”, and wasn’t actually a request to “do a song” at first.

“At that time, I really genuinely was looking for friendship and connections with other artists in the music industry, because I had been such a hermit for so long,” Camila says.

“I just felt like kind of antisocial.

“This album, I kind of spread my wings a little bit more.”

When Camila speaks to Newsbeat it’s just after her Glastonbury appearance, and she’s just woken up from a nap with her mum.

She says she’s “still recovering” from her Other Stage set “and pretty sure I’m getting sick”.

But once she’s feeling better, Camila says she wants to spread those wings even further, and “just wants to have shows in the UK”.

“They were so loud and everyone was so kind. I felt welcomed,” she says.

“I love the Brits and the Brits love me.”

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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US blocks British court from British territory

By Alice CuddyBBC News

The US government has blocked a British court hearing from taking place on a British territory, citing security concerns, according to official documents.

The supreme court of British Indian Ocean Territory (Biot) was due to hold a hearing this week, attended by the BBC, on whether a group of migrants was being unlawfully detained on the island of Diego Garcia.

The island hosts a secretive UK-US military base and access is heavily restricted.

The US last week said it was “withdrawing its consent” for lawyers representing the migrants and “members of the press” – the BBC – to access the island, according to official communications we have seen.

It said it would not allow participants of the hearing to board US military flights to Diego Garcia and would not provide “housing, transportation, and food for the visit”.

The US said it would be “willing to reconsider” if the visit was “conducted in a manner” that addressed its “security and operational concerns”.

Dozens of migrants arrived on the island in October 2021, saying they had been fleeing persecution and trying to sail to Canada to claim asylum when their boat ran into trouble near Diego Garcia.

Late last Thursday night – hours before the judge, UK government lawyers and those representing the migrants, and the BBC were due to board flights for the first leg of the journey – the court shared an order cancelling the hearing.

The US security concerns relate to a site visit that had been scheduled to take place on the island as part of the hearing, which was to include the migrant camp and several other areas of Diego Garcia.

In a communication on 3 July, entitled “United States Notification to the United Kingdom of denial of the 6-12 July 2024 visit by of the Biot Supreme Court to Diego Garcia”, US authorities said the site visit presented “risks to the security and effective operation” of the base.

It had previously said it was willing to allow access to areas including the migrant camp, beaches around it and a chapel where children receive schooling.

But it had said it would not provide access to areas “open to civilian contractors and other non-military personnel”, such as a movie theatre, a barber and a bowling centre, the airport terminal and “all US-controlled areas occupied by the Biot administration, the Royal Overseas Police, and the Royal Navy”.

Court documents filed on behalf of Biot’s commissioner state that the reasons for the island’s US military commander’s decision were “confidential and based on the US’s assessment of its own national security needs”.

Tom Short, a lawyer from the UK firm Leigh Day which is representing some of the migrants, said the cancellation of this week’s hearing had been “a devastating blow to our vulnerable clients”, and called for it to be rearranged as soon as possible.

“Our clients have ceded to US demands that the site visit exclude certain US-controlled buildings (such as the gym and swimming pool where US cheerleaders and celebrity chefs visited earlier this year) as well as facilities such as the Turner Club and Golf Club (which Biot and FCDO civil servants frequent).

“It is of paramount importance to our clients that the Judge see the detention camp and that they attend a hearing in person,” he added.

A virtual court hearing on Tuesday, attended by lawyers in London and the migrants in Diego Garcia, sought to determine the next steps in the case as discussions between the UK and US governments continue.

Speaking after the hearing, migrants told the BBC of their disappointment at this week’s hearing being cancelled.

“It has taken away all our hope,” one woman said. “We have been stuck in this place for almost three years. We were hoping that this hearing would provide us some relief.”

The UK took control of the Chagos Islands, of which Diego Garcia is part, from its then colony, Mauritius, in 1965. It went on to evict its population of more than 1,000 people to make way for the military base.

Agreements signed in 1966 allowed for an initial 50-year period of US use of the territory, plus a further 20 years. The agreement was then “rolled over” in 2016, and is now set to expire in 2036, according to the Biot website.

Biot is administered from London but is described as being “constitutionally distinct” from the UK.

Mauritius, which won independence from the UK in 1968, maintains that the islands are its own and the United Nations’ highest court has ruled that the UK’s administration of the territory is “unlawful” and must end.

Most personnel and resources on Diego Garcia are under the control of the US, including the majority of the accommodation and transport on the island as well as restaurants and shops.

The US military commander can refuse access to areas operated or controlled by the US military for security reasons.

In a witness statement, Biot’s deputy commissioner, Nishi Dholakia, said it was not possible to “make alternative arrangements to replace the logistical support which the US was due to provide” in time for the scheduled court hearing this week.

The room where the hearing had been scheduled to take place was only usable with US co-operation, he said.

Biot’s official website states access to the island is only permitted to “those with connections either to the military facility or to the Territory’s Administration”.

Diego Garcia has been described as an important strategic base for the US. Earlier this year, two B-52 bombers were sent there for training exercises.

In recent decades, US planes have been sent from the base to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UK government has confirmed that rendition flights landed on the territory in 2002 to refuel there, though former CIA director Michael Hayden has denied reports that it has ever been used to house and interrogate terror suspects.

The dozens of Sri Lankan Tamils who landed on the island in October 2021 are the first people to file asylum claims on Biot. About 60 people, including at least 16 children, remain there – guarded by private security company G4S – as complex legal battles are fought over their fate.

This week’s hearing was due to be the first time that they would meet their lawyers in person. There have been multiple suicide attempts on the island, and reports of sexual harassment and assaults allegedly committed by migrants within the camp.

Some migrants have been flown to Rwanda for medical treatment following self-harm and suicide attempts, and those with successful claims are waiting for a “safe third country” to be identified to resettle them in.

United Nations representatives visited the camp late last year and reported that conditions there amounted to arbitrary detention.

During Tuesday’s virtual hearing, one of the migrants on the island collapsed multiple times.

The Foreign Office has previously told the BBC that the island is not suitable for migrants to live on and that it is “working tirelessly to process the migrants’ claims for protection and to find a suitable third country for those whose claims are upheld”.

“At all times, the welfare and safety of migrants on Biot has been our top priority,” it said earlier this year.

Russian court orders arrest of Yulia Navalnaya

By André Rhoden-PaulBBC News

A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism, according to state media.

The charges brought against Yulia Navalnaya, who lives outside Russia, in absentia are to do with her alleged “participation in an extremist society”, Tass news agency said.

The opposition leader – Russia’s most significant for the past decade – died in an Arctic Circle jail of natural causes, according to Russian authorities. Mr Navalny had been serving 19 years on extremism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated.

But his widow accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing him.

In response to the arrest warrant, she posted on X: “When you write about this, please do not forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal.

“His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cosy cell with a TV, but in Russia – in the same colony and the same two-by-three-metre cell in which he killed Alexei.”

The Moscow court ruled that Ms Navalnaya, who has vowed to continue the work of her husband, should be remanded in custody and she was declared wanted.

The decision means she would face arrest if she set foot in Russia.

The charges may be linked to a Moscow court ruling in June 2021 which outlawed three organisations linked to Mr Navalny, labelling them “extremists”.

Ms Navalnaya was unable to attend his funeral in March.

This month, she was elected to chair the US-based Human Rights Foundation – a non-profit organisation working to promote and protect human rights across the world.

How Canada became a car theft capital of the world

By Nadine YousifBBC News, Toronto
How car thieves in Canada targeted the same owner twice

Logan LaFreniere woke up one October morning in 2022 to an empty driveway.

His brand new Ram Rebel truck was missing.

His security camera captured two hooded men breaking into the pickup in the dead of night outside of his Milton, Ontario home, and driving it away with ease.

A few months later, that very same truck appeared on a website of vehicles for sale in Ghana, an ocean and some 8,500km away.

“The dead giveaway was the laptop holder that we had installed in the back of the driver’s seat for my son, and in it was garbage that he had put in there,” Mr LaFreniere told the BBC.

That same clutter was visible in photos of the car listing, he said.

“There was no doubt in my mind that it was my vehicle.”

Mr LaFreniere’s story is hardly unique. In 2022, more than 105,000 cars were stolen in Canada – about one car every five minutes. Among the victims was Canada’s very own federal justice minister, whose government-issued Toyota Highlander XLE was taken twice by thieves.

Early this summer, Interpol listed Canada among the top 10 worst countries for car thefts out of 137 in its database – a “remarkable” feat, said a spokesperson, considering the country only began integrating their data with the international police organisation in February.

Authorities say once these cars are stolen, they are either used to carry out other violent crimes, sold domestically to other unsuspecting Canadians, or shipped overseas to be resold.

Interpol says it has detected more than 1,500 cars around the world that have been stolen from Canada since February, and around 200 more continue to be identified each week, usually at ports in other countries.

Car theft is such an epidemic that it was declared a “national crisis” by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which says insurers have had to pay out more than C$1.5bn ($1bn; £860m) in vehicle theft claims last year.

The problem has forced police jurisdictions across the country to issue public bulletins on how to protect vehicles from theft.

Meanwhile, some Canadians have taken matters into their own hands, doing everything from installing trackers on their cars to hiring private neighbourhood security.

Some who can afford it have even installed retractable bollards in their driveways – similar to those seen at banks and embassies – to try and deter thieves.

Nauman Khan, who lives in Mississauga, a city just outside Toronto, started a bollard-installation business after he and his brother were both victims of car thefts.

In one attempt, Mr Khan said the thieves broke into his home while his wife and young children were sleeping. They were looking for the keys to his Mercedes GLE parked out front, he said, but ran after he confronted them.

After that “traumatic” experience, they sold their cars except for two “humble” family vehicles.

Through his business, Mr Khan said he now hears similar stories from people throughout the region of Toronto.

“It’s been very busy,” he said. “We had one client whose street had so many home invasions that he’d hired a security guard every night outside his house because he just didn’t feel safe.”

The pervasiveness of car thefts in Canada is surprising given how small the country’s population is compared to the US and the UK – other countries with high rates of such crime, says Alexis Piquero, Director of the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“[Canada] also doesn’t have as many port cities as the US does,” said Mr Piquero.

While the US, Canada and the UK have all experienced a spike in car thefts since the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada’s rate of thefts (262.5 per 100,000 people) is higher than that of England and Wales (220 per 100,000 people), according to the latest available data from each country.

It is also fairly close to that of the US, which sits at around 300 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people, based on 2022 data.

The rise in recent years is partly due to a pandemic-driven global car shortage that has increased demand for both used and new vehicles.

There is also a growing market for certain car models internationally, making auto theft a top revenue generator for organised crime groups, said Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations at the Canadian Automobile Association.

But Mr Silverstein said the way that Canada’s ports operate make them more vulnerable to this type of theft than other countries.

“In the port system, there’s a greater focus on what is coming into the country than what is exiting the country,” he said, adding that once the vehicles are packed up in shipping containers at a port it becomes harder to get to them.

Police have managed to recover some stolen cars.

In October, the Toronto Police Service announced an 11-month investigation that recovered 1,080 vehicles worth around C$60m. More than 550 charges were laid as a result.

And between mid-December and the end of March, border and police officers found nearly 600 stolen vehicles at the Port of Montreal after inspecting 400 shipping containers.

These types of operations, however, can be difficult to carry out given the volume of merchandise that moves through that port, experts have said. Around 1.7 million containers moved through the Port of Montreal in 2023 alone.

Port staff also do not have the authority to inspect containers in most cases, and in customs-controlled areas only border officers can open a container without a warrant.

At the same time, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been grappling with chronic understaffing, according to a report submitted by its union to the government in April.

Outdated technology is also an issue.

Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton – another Ontario city hard-hit by car thefts – recently paid a visit to the Port Newark Container Terminal in New Jersey to compare inspection tactics between the US and Canada.

He told the National Post newspaper that US authorities have “got scanners. They measure density. They work closely with local law enforcement”.

“These are things that we don’t do in Canada,” he said.

In May, the Canadian government said it would invest millions to bolster the CBSA’s ability to search shipping containers. Police will also get additional money to combat auto theft in their communities.

But Mr Silverstein said he believes a missing puzzle piece is auto manufacturers themselves.

“Everyone is talking about trying to recover vehicles, and a lot of my focus has been on why we are not making the vehicles tougher to steal in the first place,” he said.

In the meantime, car owners like Mr LaFreniere are still grappling with what to do to keep their vehicles safe.

After his Ram Rebel truck was stolen, he replaced it with a Toyota Tundra – a vehicle that Mr LaFreniere described as his “dream truck”.

This time, he installed an engine immobiliser on it to prevent thieves from being able to easily start the car. He also equipped it with a tag tracker in case it did get stolen, and added a club on the steering wheel for good measure.

Thieves were undeterred. A pair came to Mr LaFreniere’s driveway, this time to steal the Tundra. They had a harder time, however, and resorted to shattering the back window to get inside.

The commotion woke Mr LaFreniere and he called 911. But the thieves managed to run away in the four minutes it took for police to arrive.

He paid to repair his brand new truck and then sold it.

The whole ordeal, he said, was nothing short of “disheartening”.

Gladiator II: Paul Mescal battles a rhino in upcoming film

By Helen BushbyCulture reporter

The trailer for Ridley Scott’s sequel to Gladiator has dropped, showcasing several epic scenes, including a water battle in Rome’s Colosseum and Paul Mescal being rammed by a rhino.

All Of Us Strangers star Mescal plays Lucius, fighting for his life as a gladiator, despite his high status as nephew of corrupt former Emperor Commodus.

Sir Ridley’s first film in 2000, which starred Russell Crowe as soldier-turned-gladiator Maximus, won five Oscars including best actor.

The trailer opens as Lucius recalls his childhood memory, when ex-Roman commander Maximus battled his uncle in the arena.

“I remember that day. I never forgot it, that a slave could take revenge against an emperor,” Lucius says, before we see him in a flashback from the first film, being dragged to safety by his mother.

Here’s a quick recap of the first Gladiator film: the plot revolves around upstanding Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who was asked to inherit the role of emperor from ailing Marcus Aurelius.

But Commodus murdered the emperor and took the title, before killing Maximus’ family and leaving him a slave. Maximus rose up to become a gladiator, returning to Rome in order to exact his revenge.

World History Encyclopedia describes gladiatorial contests as “bloody entertainment… an opportunity for emperors to display their wealth”, where up to 50,000 spectators enjoyed “contests which were literally a matter of life and death”.

Some battles included wild animals – Gladiator featured tigers in the arena, while an angry-looking rhino with a bloodied horn charges at Mescal in the sequel.

It’s fair to say the first film caused a flurry of excitement among admirers of Crowe’s powerful portrayal of Maximus.

Given Mescal enjoyed a huge surge in his fanbase after he starred in BBC drama Normal People, it’s possible his role in Gladiator II may have a similar impact.

Lucius is undoubtedly reminiscent of the honourable Maximus, battling from below while having a much higher purpose.

In the sequel, Lucius has been captured from his home far from Rome, and brought there as a prisoner.

He becomes a gladiator, working for Macrinus, played by Denzel Washington, who sponsors fighters much like Oliver Reed’s Proximo did in the first film.

Lucius protects his birthright, saying he doesn’t know where he was born, adding: “I never knew a mother and or father.”

“You will be my instrument,” Macrinus responds.

It appears that the twin emperors now in place – played by Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger – are also corrupt. We see them laugh demonically while gladiators die in their mock water battle (which did happen in real life).

Lucius’s mother, Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen in the original film as well, watches with horror while her son fights beneath her, although we don’t know if she recognises him.

However we see her take him full circle, back to Maximus, by giving him a ring which belonged to the Roman general before he died.

Like the original, the film appears to be about the corruption of power, with worthy, embattled individuals taking on the might of Rome’s rulers.

Lucius favours “strength and honour”, while another Roman general, Marcus Acacius, played by The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal, says: “I will not waste another generation of young men for their vanity,” alongside footage of the emperors.

We don’t yet know enough about Pascal’s character to know where his morals fully lie.

The trailer ends with Mescal and Pascal battling in the arena, with the gladiator looking like he has the advantage, as he holds two swords crossed over the army general’s neck.

Initial responses on X were a mixture of both positive and negative, with some people excited for the sequel, while others said it wouldn’t be as good as the original.

Some fans spotted what looked like sharks in the water battle, with filmmaker Kyle Prohaska saying: “I’m all in on Gladiator II. I’ll go just for some of those insane sequences. Sharks in the arena? A rhino? Denzel? Come on. This is definitely one of those sequels nobody asked for, but this one looks better than most.”

Another post, from a user called @FilmmakerJeff, called the trailer “underwhelming”.

“I hate to report that I’m not a fan of the Gladiator II trailer,” he said.

“Terrible music choice, nothing from it gave me reassurance that it could be even close to as good as the original, and honestly, it looks like it could be pretty good at best. My hype meter dropped a notch.”

There was also disagreement on social media over the soundtrack, which was No Church in the Wild, by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

One user wrote: “In what world does the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator need Jay-Z and Kanye West? Stop shoehorning songs into trailers.”

Another in favour though, wrote: “That pounding hip-hop really works on the Gladiator 2 trailer. Fits so well to the era.”

Sir Ridley, who made 2023’s epic Oscar and Bafta-nominated film Napoleon, told Deadline last year that he made Gladiator II because “economically, it makes sense…

“I thought the [first] film was, as it were, completely satisfactory, creatively complete, so why muck with it, right?

“But these cycles keep going on and on and on, they repeat globally for the last 20 years. It started to spell itself out as an obvious thing to do, and that’s how it evolved.”

Gladiator II is released in UK cinemas in November.

The secret hospitals offering criminals new faces

By Kelly NgBBC News

Clandestine hospitals in the Philippines have been offering plastic surgery services to fugitives and scam centre workers to help them evade arrest, authorities say.

Two such illegal hospitals could be shut down “in the coming weeks” after police raided the first one in Manila’s southern suburbs in May, a police spokesman told the BBC.

Hair transplant tools, dental implants and skin whitening IV drips were seized from the hospital in Pasay City two months ago.

“You can create an entirely new person out of those,” said Winston John Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC).

The two illegal hospitals under surveillance are believed to be four times larger than the one in Pasay, authorities said.

Their clients allegedly include those from online casinos, who are working in the Philippines illegally, Mr Casio said.

The online casinos or Pogos (Philippine Online Gaming Operations) cater to players in mainland China, where gambling is illegal.

But police say Pogos have been used as cover for criminal activities such as telephone scams and human trafficking.

Three doctors – two from Vietnam and one from China – a Chinese pharmacist, and a Vietnamese nurse were arrested in the Pasay raid, none of whom were licensed to work in the Philippines.

Authorities also found a hemodialysis machine, suggesting that the facility, which was about 400 sqm, offered various medical treatments in addition to plastic surgery.

“They look like regular clinics on the outside, but once you enter, you’ll be shocked by the type of technology they have,” Mr Casio said.

“These Pogo hospitals don’t ask for the proper identification cards… You could be a fugitive, or you could be an illegal alien in the Philippines,” he said.

Authorities were tipped off on the existence of the illegal hospital in Pasay City.

Pogos flourished under former president Rodrigo Duterte, who sought friendly ties with China during his six-year term that ended in 2022.

However, his successor Ferdinand Marcos Jr has mounted a crackdown on Pogos, citing their criminal links.

“The president does not want the Philippines to be painted as a ‘scam hub’ and has given us a directive to go after scam farms because of how they have been targeting large numbers of people from all over the world,” Mr Casio said.

In December 2022, immigration officials arrested a suspected Chinese mafia member who allegedly underwent plastic surgery to evade detection. Such cases may be linked to the underground hospitals, Mr Casio said.

The mayor of a sleepy town north of the capital, Alice Guo, recently came under fire after a Pogo scam centre was busted near her office.

She has also been accused of being a spy for China after authorities questioned her birth records.

Indian wrestlers eye Olympics after sex harassment scandal

By Divya AryaBBC Hindi

Over a year after protests against sexual harassment allegations shook Indian wrestling, female athletes are gearing up for major events, including the 2024 Paris Olympics. The BBC spoke to young wrestlers about their journey.

Reetika Hooda almost didn’t make it.

The 23-year-old is among the five Indian women wrestlers to qualify for the Olympics this year.

It’s a hard-won opportunity, following a year of setbacks that shook her confidence. She knew she needed more training and competitions to improve her game.

A year ago, all wrestling came to a halt in India after its federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh was accused of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations.

India’s sports ministry did not sack Singh but it disbanded the federation after finding several lapses, including the non-compliance of sexual harassment laws, and set up a temporary team to run things.

It was an unprecedented time. Hooda remembers watching the country’s most accomplished wrestlers, including her inspiration Sakshi Malik – the only Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling – camp on the roads of Delhi, demanding Singh’s resignation.

The protest made headlines globally, especially after the police detained the wrestlers when they tried to march to India’s new parliament building. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned the way the wrestlers were treated and called for an impartial inquiry into their complaints.

“It was sad – not only because of what was happening but also what wasn’t,” Hooda told me.

Each year, the International Olympic Committee designates certain tournaments as qualification events for the games. To compete, wrestlers must earn ranking points in trials, win national competitions, and secure the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) approval.

But instead of competing, Hooda stared at an empty sporting calendar for weeks.

“We trained but there were no trials, which meant we could not compete and know our shortcomings. There was a constant fear that we won’t be prepared [for the Olympics],” she said.

For a country that’s won only 24 medals at individual events in Olympics, with over a quarter in wrestling, this was worrying.

Fresh elections to the WFI were finally held in December 2023, nearly a year after the protests began.

The wrestlers had asked India’s sports minister to prevent people associated with Singh from participating in the election.

Singh did not contest as he had already served the maximum of three terms. But his close aide Sanjay Singh was elected the chief after a landslide victory.

This sparked outrage among women wrestlers. On the same day, Olympic medallist Malik quit the sport in protest.

“Even now I get emotional when I think of that moment,” Malik said. “Wrestling took me to such heights, got me love and respect, and I had to give it up.”

Young wrestlers were stunned by Malik’s decision – but soon, they were back on the mat.

“Sakshi Malik was the reason I took up wrestling,” said Tanu Malik, a 20-year-old wrestler in Haryana state.

“So when I saw her crying, I thought to myself, she fought for us, we can’t give up now.”

From that day, Tanu Malik decided to work harder.

Her training at the state’s all-women Yudhvir Wrestling Academy starts at 04:30.

The day starts with a rigorous five-hour fitness session, lifting large truck tyres and practicing wrestling techniques. After a break for food and rest, the women resume training for another five hours in the afternoon.

Girls as young as 12 years sweat it out on the mat. In their free time, they talk about diets and share recipes that would help them stay fit.

None of them want to talk about the alleged sexual harassment at academies or the accusations against the former wrestling chief. However, they are determined not to give up.

Seema Kharab, a coach, says that contrary to expectations, the number of girls at the academy has not dropped since the protests.

“The protests have assured young wrestlers that it is possible to raise their voice, that positive action may be taken and they can get support within the system,” she says.

In June, the police charged Brij Bhushan Singh with stalking, harassment, intimidation, and making “sexually coloured remarks”, but a court granted him bail

Meanwhile, the new federation chief, Sanjay Singh, has taken on the mantle.

He acknowledged his 30-year relationship with the former chief but dismissed allegations of Brij Bhushan Singh’s interference, claiming wrestlers had accepted him as the new head.

He said this was evident from the “massive turnout” at national wrestling competitions this year.

“No-one will be favoured or discriminated against and each wrestler is dear to me. I am also the father of two daughters and I understand what daughters need,” he added.

However, for young women like Tanu Malik, fear has become an inescapable part of being in the profession.

“It’s not easy – my parents are constantly worried about sending me to training alone,” she says. “But they have to trust us, otherwise how would things work? It’s like accepting defeat without even fighting.”

Others feel deflated and say the protests have come at a huge personal cost for them.

Shiksha Kharab, a gold medallist at the Asian Championship, says it caused disruptions in training because of which young wrestlers have lost a crucial year.

But Sakshi Malik has no regrets.

“The most important thing is to fight,” she said. “I don’t think anybody in any sporting federation would dare to do anything, they now know that harassment can have repercussions.”

Hooda says she’s nervous about competing with some of the world’s biggest wrestling giants at the Games, but also looking forward to it.

“Sakshi Malik used to say victory and loss are not important – just trust your hard work. That’s what I will do,” she adds.

As she gets ready for training, a picture of Sakshi posing with her Olympic medal, beams down at her.

“My only focus now is to win a medal” she says. “Who knows, maybe one day I will have my picture next to hers.”

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Democrats look to Kamala Harris – but could she beat Trump?

By Courtney SubramanianReporting from New Orleans and Washington DC

On Saturday afternoon, US Vice-President Kamala Harris sat on stage at a black cultural festival in New Orleans, talking about her life story and what she felt she had achieved in the White House.

It was the kind of event that the first female, black and South Asian American vice-president has regularly attended throughout her three-and-a-half years as Joe Biden’s deputy, usually trailed by a small press pack dwarfed by that which follows the president himself.

But as panicked Democrats a thousand miles away in Washington weighed replacing 81-year-old Joe Biden as the party’s candidate for November’s election following his woeful and sometimes incomprehensible debate performance against Donald Trump, the number of reporters trailing Ms Harris had swelled to dozens.

On stage and through her travels this weekend, the vice-president did not address swirling questions about Mr Biden’s fitness for office and whether he should withdraw and hand the baton to her.

But in discussing ambition and how to forge your own path with her audience in New Orleans, she encouraged the crowd not to listen to naysayers.

“People in your life will tell you, though, it’s not your time. It’s not your turn. Nobody like you has done it before,” she said. “Don’t you ever listen to that.”

Since the disastrous CNN debate on 27 June, she has repeatedly defended her boss, arguing that his record as president shouldn’t be outweighed by 90 minutes on a debate stage. Mr Biden himself has struck a defiant tone and fiercely insisted that he will remain the nominee.

Yet as calls grow louder for the president to step aside, some high-profile Democrats are unifying behind 59-year-old Ms Harris as the natural candidate to replace him.

On Sunday, congressman Adam Schiff of California told NBC’s Meet The Press that either Mr Biden had to be able to “win overwhelmingly or he has to pass the torch to someone who can”. Kamala Harris, he added, could “very well win overwhelmingly” against Trump.

That’s a proposition that has raised eyebrows among some Democrats, including Biden allies, who see in Ms Harris a vice-president who failed in her bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination before the first ballot was even cast and who has struggled with an uneven record and low approval ratings throughout her time in the White House.

Against that, senior Democratic lawmakers like Mr Schiff and South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn have been floating Ms Harris as the obvious successor should Mr Biden ultimately bow to party pressure.

Supporters point to a handful of polls that suggest she would perform better than the president in a hypothetical match-up against Donald Trump, and they argue she has the national profile, campaign infrastructure and appeal to younger voters that could make the transition seamless four months before election day.

An elevation to the top of the ticket would be a remarkable turnaround for a woman not long ago seen as a political weakness by senior figures in the Biden White House. Even Mr Biden himself reportedly described her as a “work in progress” during their first months in office.

But Jamal Simmons, a longtime Democratic strategist and Harris’s former communications director, said she had long been underestimated.

“Whether she’s a partner to the president or she has to lead the ticket, she is somebody who Republicans and the Trump campaign need to take seriously,” Mr Simmons told the BBC.

Since the debate and its fall-out, Ms Harris has altered her schedule to stick close to the president. She appeared at a heavily-scrutinised meeting last Wednesday where Mr Biden sought to reassure powerful Democratic governors about his fitness for office.

And a day later, on the Fourth of July – America’s Independence Day – she abandoned her usual tradition of grilling hotdogs for firefighters and Secret Service agents at her Los Angeles home to be by Mr Biden’s side at the White House celebrations.

The former top prosecutor has focused on criticising Trump in public appearances since the debate, pressing the case as to why voters should believe he is a threat to democracy and women’s rights. At the same time, she has offered nothing but steadfast support for Mr Biden.

Vice-presidents always need to strike a delicate balancing act between ambition and loyalty, but Ms Harris knows that this is not a moment where she can show any daylight between her and the president.

Kamala Harris is, however, far from the only alternative to Mr Biden being discussed. The list of potential Biden replacements ranges from a cadre of popular governors – Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro and Illinois’ JB Pritzker – to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California congressman Ro Khanna.

Ms Harris and her staff have refused to engage in public speculation. But her team is keenly aware of the behind-the-scenes conversations taking place as some party members coalesce behind her.

A memo circulated online, purportedly written by Democratic operatives, laid out a detailed argument to promote Ms Harris despite her “real political weaknesses”.

Trying to choose anyone other than her would throw the campaign into disarray and keep “Democratic bickering” in the media spotlight for months, it argues.

If Mr Biden were to give up the nomination, the idea of the Democrats passing over Ms Harris in favour of another candidate appalls many on the left of the party and in its powerful black caucus.

In that situation, “this party should not in any way do anything to work around Ms Harris”, Mr Clyburn, one of the most prominent black lawmakers in Congress, told MSNBC last week.

Republicans, too, have acknowledged Ms Harris would be the frontrunner to replace Mr Biden.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned on Sunday that Republicans must be ready for a “dramatically different race” should Ms Harris – whom he described as a “vigorous” candidate – become the nominee.

Mr Graham emphasised her progressive California brand, suggesting she was closer in policy terms to left-wing firebrand Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden, in what appeared to be a glimpse of a Republican attack line should she become the candidate.

For his part, Donald Trump has called her “pathetic” in the days since the debate.

But ultimately the only question that matters for many Democrats – including deep-pocketed donors – is if she has a better chance of beating Trump than Joe Biden does. And that is deeply uncertain.

Harris backers point to a recent CNN poll suggesting she would fare better than the president against Trump in November. In a head-to-head contest, Ms Harris trailed the Republican by only two points, while Mr Biden lagged six points behind him. The poll also suggested Ms Harris performed better than Mr Biden with independent voters and women.

But many polling experts dismiss such hypothetical surveys, noting voter sentiment would change if Mr Biden actually decided to step aside and the Democrats entertained other potential candidates.

One Democratic pollster close to the Biden campaign acknowledged that Ms Harris may have more potential to expand the party’s voter base than the president, but was sceptical about how much of a difference she would make. Surveys pitting her against Trump at this stage “don’t mean anything”, said the person, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Ms Harris, the child of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, performs better in surveys than Mr Biden with black, Latino and young voters – critical constituencies that allies say she could energise as the nominee.

But whether she would actually boost turnout among younger voters of colour is another uncertain question. “This is just a wait and see moment,” the pollster said.

Some in the party are also asking whether Ms Harris’ progressive reputation risks losing the union and blue-collar voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Mr Biden narrowly won in 2020 and which both parties need to secure a win in November.

Should she take over the ticket, some Democrats have suggested that Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania or Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina could be picked as running mate to capture centrist voters in Midwestern states.

Given the ages of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, voters are paying far more attention to the VP candidate of both parties in this election cycle, said Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for the 2020 Biden campaign.

On the Republican side, Trump has yet to announce his running mate, although many speculate he’ll pick North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum or Ohio Senator JD Vance.

Deep concerns among some Democrats about Harris’s strength as a presidential candidate date back to her unsuccesful 2020 bid for the party’s nomination, in which she landed blows on Mr Biden in an early debate but then crashed out before the first caucuses in Iowa.

Critics said she struggled to define herself as a candidate, a sentiment that has lingered throughout her tenure as vice-president. She had a shaky start in the White House, marked by high-profile interview slip-ups, low approval ratings and staff turnover.

She was also tasked with overseeing the administration’s strategy to reduce migration over the US southern border, which increased to record levels over the last three years and remains a major vulnerability for the campaign.

Those early stumbles led Ms Harris to be more cautious about her public appearances but many voters perceive her as ineffective and absent. “People need to know more about her, what economic issues she is strong on and they need to be reminded of the role she’s played,” Ms Lake said.

Over the last year, Ms Harris has found stable footing as the administration’s leading voice on abortion rights, an issue that proved successful for Democrats during the 2022 midterm elections and one the party hopes will win back more voters in November.

As a former prosecutor who handled sexual violence cases, she has invoked personal stories of working with women who miscarried in the bathroom or were turned away at hospitals as she’s tried to mobilise voters around the issue.

On the campaign trail, she has also sought to capitalise on other issues that resonate with young voters, including student debt forgiveness, climate change and gun violence. The White House, too, has made a concerted effort to promote her more forcefully.

Still, she faces an uphill battle to change longstanding voter scepticism – her approval ratings hover around 37% in polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight – a level similar to both Mr Biden and Trump.

And unless Mr Biden himself caves to the mounting party pressure to step down, grassroots Democratic supporters themselves seem resigned to supporting the current ticket.

At the Essence festival in New Orleans, Iam Christian Tucker, a 41-year-old small business owner from New Orleans, said she didn’t care, ultimately, who the nominee was.

She said she liked Kamala Harris, but she wasn’t sure if a black female president could win election.

“I’m voting against Donald Trump more than anything,” she told the BBC.

Greg Hovel, 67, who attended a rally for President Biden in Madison, Wisconsin, last week, said he supported Ms Harris in the 2020 primary and “has always been a fan,” though he cautioned there is “a lot of anti-woman sentiment in this country.”

“I think she would make an excellent president,” Mr Hovel said. “But I still think Biden can win.”

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Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen powered to victory in a sprint finish on stage 10 of the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar retained the leader’s yellow jersey.

Philipsen, who was led out superbly by his Alpecin-Deceuninck team-mate, world champion Mathieu van der Poel, comfortably held off Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay and Germany’s Pascal Ackermann, who finished second and third.

Slovenia’s Pogacar finished safely in the main bunch, as the threat of crosswinds and echelons failed to materialise on an uneventful 187.3km run from Orleans to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

The UAE-Team Emirates rider leads Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-Quick Step by 33 seconds, with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard of Visma-Lease a Bike in third, one minute 15 seconds further back in the general classification.

Philipsen was the dominant sprinter 12 months ago, claiming victories in four of the first 11 stages at La Grande Boucle.

But until now it had been a largely frustrating Tour for the 26-year-old this year.

A crash on stage three left many riders – including Philipsen – out of position and he was pipped to the line as Mark Cavendish claimed his record 35th stage win two days later in Saint-Vulbas.

A demotion from second to 107th came on stage six after he deviated from his sprinting line – almost colliding with Wout van Aert – and he was unable to match Girmay on stage eight in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

However, with Van der Poel expertly providing assistance, Philipsen finally secured a stage win as he narrowed the gap to Girmay from 96 points to 74 in the race for the green jersey.

“We had some bad luck. I am really happy – it is a big relief. We can finally show our strength, with our lead-out train and did finally what we came for,” he said.

“Mathieu is a really strong guy. When he can show his power and play his part, there aren’t many riders who can emulate him. Having the world champion as your lead-out guy is fantastic.”

On Wednesday, the race crosses the rolling terrain of the Massif Central as it travels 211km from Evaux-les-Bains to Le Lioran.

Stage 10 results

1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 4hrs 20mins 06secs

2. Biniam Girmay (Eri/Intermarche-Wanty) Same time

3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger/Israel-Premier Tech) “

4. Wout van Aert (Bel/Visma-Lease a Bike) “

5. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Movistar) “

6. Sam Bennett (Ire/Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) “

7. John Degenkolb (Ger/DSM-firmenich PostNL) “

8.Phil Bauhaus (Ger/Bahrain Victorious) “

9. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/Team Jayco-AlUla) “

10. Axel Zingle (Fra/Cofidis) “

General classification after stage 10

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 40hrs 02mins 48secs

2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel/Soudal-Quick Step) +33secs

3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Visma-Lease a Bike) +1min 15secs

4. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe) +1mins 36secs

5. Juan Ayuso (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 16secs

6. Joao Almeida (Por/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 17secs

7. Carlos Rodriguez (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +2mins 31secs

8. Mikel Landa (Spa/Soudal-Quick Step) +3mins 35secs

9. Derek Gee (Can/Israel-Premier Tech) +4mins 02secs

10. Matteo Jorgenson (US/Visma-Lease a Bike) 4mins 03secs

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Defending Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz recovered from a slow start to beat Tommy Paul and set up another semi-final against Daniil Medvedev – a repeat of their meeting from last year.

Medvedev, who defeated world number one Jannik Sinner, will be looking to avenge his defeat in the 2023 last-four match that Alcaraz won in straight sets on his way to taking the title.

Alcaraz was a set and a break of serve down on Court One on Tuesday against American Paul, the 12th seed, but recovered to win 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-2 in a match that lasted three hours 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, Medvedev had to fight every bit as hard as he defeated Sinner 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-3 win in four hours on Centre Court.

Alcaraz has already won three Grand Slam titles at the age of 21, while Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, will be aiming to reach the Wimbledon final for the first time.

“Daniil’s a really great player. It’s the same semi-final as last year so hopefully I’m going to get the same result,” said Alcaraz.

“He just won against Sinner, the best player right now, so he’s in really good shape and I have to play my best.

“I have to believe in myself and try to keep going. It’s going to be difficult but I’m going to enjoy it.”

‘I believe in myself the whole time’

Spaniard Alcaraz is a keen football fan and had spoken of his desire to be able to watch Spain in their Euro 2024 semi-final against France later on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old looked like he was in a rush to finish his match as he instantly piled on the pressure and took his sixth break-point opportunity to move 2-1 ahead.

However, Paul, the champion at Queen’s Club last month, instantly got back on serve as a pulsating encounter full of breathtaking shots, power and commitment played out in front of an enthralled Court One crowd.

The sixth game lasted more than 15 minutes, with Paul, in his first Wimbledon quarter-final, missing three chances of a break.

But that did not prove costly.

He was two points from the opening set in the 10th game, but got over the line two games later, finishing off a delightful passing shot which Alcaraz at full stretch could not reach.

Paul took a 2-0 lead in the second set, but from then on Alcaraz recovered and stamped his authority thanks to his court coverage, ability to find spectacular winners and his impressive first serves.

The opening three games of the third set saw neither player able to hold serve, but with Paul tiring and starting to produce unforced errors, Alcaraz pulled clear and sealed a superb victory.

“When I lost the first set it was difficult,” said Alcaraz. “But I knew it’s a really long journey so I had to stay there.

“If I’m struggling and the opponent is playing great tennis, I believe I’ll be able to come back and find solutions – I believe in myself the whole time.”

‘Really happy with my game’

Medvedev ended his losing streak against Sinner in a captivating contest.

Italian top seed Sinner, who was hampered by illness, had won his most recent five encounters against Medvedev – including January’s Australian Open final.

But Russian fifth seed Medvedev avenged that Melbourne result.

“I knew if I wanted to beat Jannik it needs to be a tough match,” said Medvedev.

“I’m really happy to win, really happy with my game and looking forward.”

In their Australian Open title match, Sinner made an incredible comeback from two sets down to claim his maiden Grand Slam trophy.

On Tuesday, the 22-year-old took an early lead when Medvedev cracked first in a tie-break – double-faulting on Sinner’s second set point.

However, Sinner started to appear unwell and struggled to maintain his intensity levels as Medvedev patiently rode out the second set after breaking early.

Still out of sorts and after dropping serve early once again, Sinner called for a medical timeout in the third set, receiving attention before going off the court for almost 10 minutes.

He returned with renewed energy and the support of the crowd, slowly working his way back. Sinner could not capitalise on two set points, though, as Medvedev held firm and came out on top in a tie-break to nudge ahead in the match.

Former teenage prodigy Sinner raced through the fourth set to take the match into a decider – to the delight of the Centre Court crowd.

But it was Medvedev who finished the stronger, breaking for a 3-1 lead before sealing victory with a backhand winner on his first match point.

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England boss Gareth Southgate admits “the noise had never been louder” at the start of Euro 2024 but says his side are now ready to make “history” as they prepare for a semi-final against the Netherlands.

Southgate said his team – who won one and drew two of their group stage games before narrowly beating Slovakia and then edging past Switzerland on penalties in the knock-outs – “couldn’t quite get ourselves in the right place”.

“One of our strengths over the years has been having less fear, showing less inhibition,” he said.

“But at the beginning of the tournament the expectation weighed heavily and the noise from outside had never been louder.”

Captain Harry Kane said the team “use past experiences to help” when they approach “tough” games like Wednesday’s semi-final (20:00 BST).

“I just think during the game you lean on experience, the leaders who have been there and done that,” Kane said. “Ultimately it’s about going out there and taking the opportunity with both hands.

“Reaching back-to-back European Championship finals would be an amazing achievement and we have the opportunity to go and do that.”

England were beaten by Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final, reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and were knocked out by France in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup.

While Kane conceded that “as we’ve been getting better the expectation gets higher”, he said the added pressure can sometimes give players a boost.

He added: “Some will use it in different ways, some will use it as motivation, some will just block it out and focus on what they need to do. Everyone’s different.

“From a team point of view we know what we need to achieve. We have a really important game, a really tough game we need to be ready for. We’ve prepared for that.”

The Netherlands’ arrival to Dortmund was “significantly delayed” after their train was cancelled and they had to fly from Wolfsburg, with their pre-match news conference being cancelled.

‘The game will decide the substitutions we make’

Southgate has often left it until late into games to make substitutions – apart from some made at half-time – but he said changes are “not pre-conditioned” and depend on the game.

“You are always looking at the freshness of the team and the balance of the team and whether changes are going to make an improvement to the team or not,” he said.

“The game will take us in a certain direction that will make that decision for us.”

Defender Luke Shaw made his first appearance from the bench in the win against Switzerland after returning from injury, but Southgate did not shed any more light on whether he will start Wednesday’s game.

The manager said they “have to decide” if Shaw, who had been injured for four months, is “ready to start”.

Southgate also dismissed concerns over a German referee once criticised over his match-fixing past by Jude Bellingham officiating the game.

Bellingham, then playing for Borussia Dortmund, was fined 40,000 euros (£34,000) in 2021 for referencing Felix Zwayer’s previous six-month ban for match fixing.

Southgate added: “I have no concerns about who the referee is, he will be at a very high standard because that is how Uefa make those decisions. It’s not even a consideration.”

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John McEnroe praised Novak Djokovic for criticising the Wimbledon crowd, saying the Serb had been disrespected in his career at least 100 times.

The tennis legend said Djokovic’s ability to deal with the “worst heat” is why he has become the greatest player of all time.

Djokovic spoke out against fans after his Wimbledon fourth-round win, claiming they used the bellowing of his opponent Holger Rune’s surname as “an excuse to boo”.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion insisted the noise – fans elongating the first vowel in Rune’s surname – was designed to wind him up.

McEnroe, who won seven singles majors, agreed with the 37-year-old Serb.

Asked by presenter Clare Balding on BBC TV, what he would say to Djokovic, the 65-year-old American said: “Well done.”

McEnroe added: “Don’t you think there’s been at least 100 matches over the course of the last 10-15 years that Djokovic has been disrespected because of how good he is?

“What has he done that’s so bad? Name something. What is it, he wants it? He competes as hard as anyone who’s ever competed? Is it the look, where he’s from?

“He’s like the Darth Vader compared to two of the classiest acts we’ve seen play tennis – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“Who can compare to them in terms of what they brought to the table? Nobody – and then this guy Djokovic spoils the party.

“So then how about respecting him after all this?

“He’s by far the guy who’s taken the worst heat and that’s why I would say he’s the greatest that’s ever played.”

‘Djokovic thrives off the energy of confrontation’

For anyone intending to make Djokovic angry, there can be consequences. In fact, he might very well want you to do that.

Winding up the seven-time Wimbledon champion, as some Centre Court fans did by accident or design on Monday, seems to further fuel his insatiable desire for success.

“If there were people in the crowd trying to antagonise him and wanted Rune to win – that’s the worst thing you can do,” former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman told BBC Sport.

“He loves the confrontation. He thrives off that energy. And he plays better.

“He destroyed Rune.

“If you want to try and upset Djokovic’s performance you should just sit quietly.”

On Wednesday, Djokovic returns to the same evening slot on Centre Court for his quarter-final against Australia’s Alex de Minaur.

Henman thinks the crowd’s reaction towards Djokovic will be “great” and believes Monday night’s drama will not have any bearing on the atmosphere.

“At 37 years of age, and with what Djokovic has achieved, I love that passion and hunger and desire to win. It’s brilliant,” said the former British number one.

Over the years, we have often seen Djokovic feeding off negative energy to produce some of his finest tennis.

Being a rebel with a cause is how many believe he likes it.

“I think he wants to hear the boos – that makes him play better,” said former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis.

“If I were to play him I would just give him compliments at the change of ends. I wouldn’t want to annoy that guy, that’s for sure.”

Nenad Zimonjic, who has been described by Djokovic as an “older brother”, presented a slightly different view.

Former Wimbledon doubles champion Zimonjic spent time as a Davis Cup team-mate of Djokovic and was also part of his coaching team earlier this year.

“I think he prefers when the crowd is for him,” the 48-year-old Serb told BBC Sport.

“But he finds a way to use it the other way round as well.”

Why doesn’t Djokovic always feel the love?

Despite being the second most successful man in the Open era at the All England Club, Djokovic’s relationship with the British crowd has blown hot and cold.

That is largely because of the popularity of the player he is trying to match on eight titles: Federer.

In the epic 2019 final when Djokovic beat Federer, the Serb had the majority of the crowd against him in an atmosphere which felt almost tribal.

Afterwards, Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker said there should have been more respect shown by the partisan crowd.

Two years ago, Djokovic was booed on Centre Court after he blew a kiss to fans following his semi-final win over Briton Cameron Norrie.

“The reality is, in Djokovic’s world, the comparison is Federer,” added Henman.

“Federer is one of the most popular athletes in the whole of sport and I think Djokovic has always craved that same level of attention.

“You can debate whether that will ever happen – it probably won’t.”

Djokovic has often tried going on the charm offensive.

The gesture of triumphantly throwing his heart to all corners of the court was designed to help Djokovic draw out the crowd’s love.

Post-match interviews featuring witty, charismatic and respectful answers demonstrate the engaging side of his personality.

Occasionally, as we saw on Monday, he is still tipped over the edge by what he says is disrespect.

“I think for somebody who has been as successful as he is, he’s still very confused as to why he doesn’t get the love of the people the way that Federer and Nadal did,” added former British number one Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 Live.

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Imagine playing for your country in a major tournament aged 16. Lamine Yamal has done that – and more.

The Barcelona star, who is already the youngest man to play at the European Championship, is now the youngest to score after curling in a sublime equaliser against France in Tuesday’s semi-final.

The tricky winger – full name Lamine Yamal Nasraoui Ebana – has already played 51 times for Barcelona, scoring seven goals, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see Yamal mixing it with the very best.

Those who know him best certainly aren’t.

‘He will do things we cannot yet imagine’

An outrageously precocious talent, Yamal will turn 17 on 13 July, the day before the final.

The previous youngest player at the Euros was Poland’s Kacper Kozlowski – 17 years and 246 days – in a 1-1 group-stage draw against Spain in Seville in June 2021, but you get the feeling Yamal could break a few more records in the coming days.

“He will do things we cannot yet imagine,” says Ivan Carrasco, who trained him at junior level.

“I remember him as a boy who was very aware of his talent. In sport, talented people tend to be very selfish, but not Yamal.

“I saw a generous child who did not seek recognition. As a coach you sometimes thought, ‘what can I teach him if he does things that I can’t even imagine from the bench?’

“The closer you are to Lamine, the more you realise that the label of ‘decisive’ falls short. He is a very, very special footballer.”

Former Barcelona reporter and current Sport TV journalist Jaume Marcet remembers the day he knew he was watching a prodigy.

Marcet, who is an expert of Barcelona grassroots football, said: “The most brutal display I have seen in grassroots football was from Lamine in the final of the Catalunya cadet tournament.

“I had seen Messi perform brutally, but never something like what Lamine did that match, with kids older than him. That day he did everything.”

‘A beacon of hope’

Yamal’s trademark 304 celebration is formed by angling three fingers on his right hand, forming a ‘0’ with his thumb and forefinger, and angling four fingers on his left hand.

It is a homage to the neighbourhood where he was raised, Rocafonda 304, an area of Barcelona rarely seen by the millions of tourists who flock to Catalonia’s capital and one of the most deprived zones, not just in Catalonia but in the whole of the Spain.

The son of a mother from Equatorial Guinea and a father from Morocco, after being spotted by Barcelona as a seven-year-old playing in the concrete parks in Rocafonda, his father took him by the hand into Barcelona, where he asked: “Do you want my son to play for Barcelona?”

When they said “yes”, he replied: “Well, educate him first.”

Yamal moved into Barcelona’s La Masia academy, despite the close proximity of where he lived.

In an interview with Sport, Xavi Martin, former director of La Masia, remembers the meeting with the player, his parents and the agent at the time, Ivan de la Pena, so that the boy could live in La Masia.

“We met on a Tuesday and on Saturday he was already packing his bags,” he said.

Yamal’s success is not just his, but that of an entire area until now ignored, decried, demeaned.

He is a beacon of hope for people who see in his success that dreams can come true, that anything is possible.

Yamal fell in love with football watching his father and older cousin play in the park opposite where he lived and where he would be spotted.

“I spent more time at the park than at home. Every time I set foot in the street it was to play football. These experiences stay with you,” he said.

The records just keep tumbling. He is the youngest to have played for Barcelona – at 15 years and 290 days – since 15-year-old Armando Sagi in 1922.

At the age of 16 years and 57 days, he became the youngest player and goalscorer for Spain.

A future Ballon d’Or winner?

Yamal’s talent has also not gone unnoticed by the very person whom many people are daring to compare him too – Lionel Messi.

In a WhatsApp message to one of his entourage, the Argentine maestro commented: “How easy does Lamine make it look?”

Messi has already mentioned Yamal when he was asked about the players who will fight for the Ballon d’Or in the coming years.

The player himself is realistic. “There will never be another like Messi,” Yamal has replied to the countless comparisons between him and the Barcelona legend.

He may be right, but these days there is a huge banner that can be seen at Barcelona home games with a picture of Yamal doing the 304 sign and a logo that states “El futuro no espera” (The future won’t wait).

The rest of this summer will dictate if the future has already arrived.

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