BBC 2024-07-10 08:07:45


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 had 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 had used “precise munition” to target a “terrorist from Hamas’ military wing” who, it said, had taken part in the 7 October attack on Israel.

It said it was “looking into the reports that civilians were harmed” “adjacent” to al-Awda school.

The incident comes a week after the Israeli military ordered civilians to evacuate Abasan al-Kabira and other areas of eastern Khan Younis, prompting tens of thousands to flee.

One source at the Nasser hospital, where the injured from Abasan al-Kabira 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 resulted in 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 had 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
  • On Sunday a strike on a church-run school in Gaza City killed a senior Hamas government official and three other people, local sources said
  • On Monday night, several people were reportedly wounded in a strike on another UN-run school in Nuseirat.

The Israeli military launched a campaign in Gaza to destroy the Hamas group 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 38,240 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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.

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

By Jonathan Amos@BBCAmosScience correspondent

Europe’s big new rocket, Ariane-6, has blasted off 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 – developed at a cost of €4bn (£3.4bn) – soared into the sky.

But after climbing smoothly to the desired altitude, and correctly releasing a number of small satellites, the upper stage of the rocket experienced an anomaly right at the end of the flight.

Computers onboard took the decision to prematurely shut down the auxiliary power unit (APU) that pressurises the propulsion system.

This left Ariane’s upper stage unable to initiate the burn that is supposed to bring it out of orbit and also set up the final task of the mission – to jettison two re-entry capsules.

It was not immediately clear whether controllers would be able to fix the APU problem.

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 where the rocket ascends 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.

South Korea politician blames women for rising male suicides

By Jean MackenzieBBC News, Seoul

A politician in South Korea is being criticised for making dangerous and unsubstantiated comments after linking a rise in male suicides to the increasingly “dominant” role of women in society.

In a report, Seoul City councillor Kim Ki-duck argued women’s increased participation in the workforce over the years had made it harder for men to get jobs and to find women who wanted to marry them.

He said the country had recently “begun to change into a female-dominant society” and that this might “partly be responsible for an increase in male suicide attempts”.

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among the world’s rich countries but also has one of the worst records on gender equality.

Councillor Kim’s comments have been criticised as the latest in a series of out-of-touch remarks made by male politicians.

Councillor Kim, from the Democratic Party, arrived at his assessment when analysing data on the number of suicide attempts made at bridges along Seoul’s Han river.

The report, published on the city council’s official website, showed that the number of suicide attempts along the river had risen from 430 in 2018 to 1,035 in 2023, and of those trying to take their lives the proportion who were men had climbed from 67% to 77%.

Suicide prevention experts have expressed concern over Mr Kim’s report.

“It is dangerous and unwise to make claims like this without sufficient evidence,” Song Han, a mental health professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told the BBC.

He pointed out that globally more men took their lives than women. In many countries, including the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

Even so, Prof Song said the reasons behind the sharp rise in men attempting suicide in Seoul needed to be scientifically studied, adding it was “very regrettable” that the councillor had made it about gender conflict.

In South Korea there is a substantial gulf between the number of men and women in full-time employment, with women disproportionately working temporary or part-time jobs. The gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, but still women are paid on average 29% less than men.

In recent years an anti-feminist movement has surged, led by disillusioned young men, who argue they have been disadvantaged by attempts to improve women’s lives.

Appearing to echo such views, Councillor Kim’s report concluded that the way to overcome “the female-domination phenomenon” was to improve people’s awareness of gender equality so that “men and women can enjoy equal opportunities”.

Koreans took to the social media platform X to denounce the councillor’s remarks as “unsubstantiated” and “misogynistic”, with one user questioning whether they were living in a parallel universe.

The Justice Party accused the councillor of “easily shifting the blame to women in Korean society who are struggling to escape gender discrimination”. It has called on him to retract his remarks and instead “properly analyse” the causes of the problem.

When approached for comment by the BBC, Councillor Kim said he had “not intended to be critical of the female-dominated society”, and was merely giving his personal view about some of its consequences.

However, his comments follow a number of unscientific and sometimes bizarre political proposals aimed at tackling some of South Korea’s most pressing social issues, including mental illness, gender violence and the lowest birth rate in the world.

Last month, another Seoul councillor in his 60s published a series of articles on the authority’s website encouraging young women to take up gymnastics and practise pelvic floor exercises in order to raise the birth rate.

At the same time, a government think tank recommended that girls start school earlier than boys, so that classmates would be more attracted to each other by the time they were ready to marry.

“Such comments encapsulate just how pervasive misogyny is in South Korea,” said Yuri Kim, director of the Korean Women’s Trade Union. She accused politicians and policymakers of not even trying to understand the challenges women faced, preferring to scapegoat them instead.

“Blaming women for entering the workforce will only prolong the imbalances in our society,” she told the BBC.

Currently women account for 20% of South Korea’s members of parliament, and 29% of all local councillors.

Seoul City Council told the BBC there was no process in place to vet what politicians published on its official website unless the content was illegal. It said individuals were solely responsible for their content and would face any consequences at the next election.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by issues in this article, the following resources may help:

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Shackleton’s Endurance ship gets extra protection

By Jonathan Amos@BBCAmosScience correspondent

A protection perimeter drawn around Endurance, one of the world’s greatest shipwrecks, is being widened from a radius of 500m to 1,500m.

The extended zone will further limit activities close to the vessel, which sank in 1915 during an ill-fated Antarctic expedition led by celebrated polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The measure is part of a newly published conservation management plan (CMP).

Already, no-one should retrieve or even touch objects in the protected zone.

Everything must be left in situ.

The perimeter update is a recognition that debris from Endurance – including crew belongings – may be strewn across a larger area of ocean floor than previously thought. The ship lies 3,000m down in the Weddell Sea.

“Endurance is very well protected where it is now, given its remoteness, depth and a near-permanent cover of sea-ice,” explained Camilla Nichol, the chief executive of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, which drew up the CMP in partnership with Historic England.

“There are however considerable potential risks and it requires an international effort to make sure this wreck is not interfered with so that it can be sustained long into the future,” she told BBC News.

Endurance is one of the standout symbols of the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.

Its story has captivated the world for decades.

The ship was lost to the deep when it became trapped and holed by thick Antarctic sea-ice. How Shackleton then managed to get all his men to safety is the stuff of legend.

The discovery of Endurance on the ocean bottom in March 2022 was nothing short of a sensation.

It had been regarded as perhaps the single most difficult wreck to find anywhere on the globe.

Very few people have the expertise to visit Endurance today, but this is unlikely always to be the case.

And as the world warms and the frozen floes in the polar south continue to retreat, opportunities to access the wreck will increase.

Deep-diving technologies are certain to become more capable, which raises the worrying prospect of looting, or of crash-damage resulting from careless submersible operations. Fishing is sure to become more commonplace in the Weddell Sea and the risk of trawlers’ discarded gear getting tangled in the wreck is an additional concern.

  • December 1914: Endurance departs South Georgia
  • February 1915: Ship is thoroughly ice-locked
  • October 1915: Vessel’s timbers start breaking
  • November 1915: Endurance disappears under the ice
  • April 1916: Escaping crew reaches Elephant Island
  • May 1916: Shackleton goes to South Georgia for help
  • August 1916: A relief ship arrives at Elephant Island

The CMP, which was unanimously approved at a recent meeting of nations that are party to the Antarctic Treaty System, looks forward to how these threats can be mitigated.

An initial step is the agreement from cruise ship owners not to go anywhere near the Endurance zone.

A further step would be to boost the wreck’s protection rating.

It’s currently designated a Historic Site and Monument (HSM). This gives it “do not touch” status, but doesn’t of itself stop anyone from approaching the vessel.

If Endurance could become an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA), plans for any visit would then be subject to a rigorous review by heritage and technical experts, and require a specific permit.

Antarctic Treaty nations discussed ASPA designation at their recent meeting and a formal application will be pursued in 2025.

“It would be unique. There’s never been an ASPA of this sort before,” said Camilla Nichol.

“And, of course, there are many other wrecks in the Antarctic which are far more accessible than Endurance, so it could become a precedent.”

When Shackleton’s ship was finally located on the seafloor, it was seen to be in astonishingly good condition. Its timbers were pristine and its basic structure was intact.

The wreck was covered in a fascinating array of filter-feeding animals – sponges, sea anemones, sea lilies and starfish.

Marine biologists will demand to study this ecosystem further. It is, in effect, an artificial reef.

The CMP sets out guidance for future research, with the insistence that all data be made public.

The management plan identifies the huge potential to maintain and broaden interest in the Endurance story through digital technologies.

A film about the wreck’s discovery is due to be released by National Geographic later this year. It should be accompanied by a 3D scan of the vessel.

“There’s enormous interest in Endurance and our management plan seeks to make sure that any activity at the wreck site is in the best interests of the ship,” said Hefin Meara, a marine archaeologist with Historic England.

“By putting this plan together and presenting it to the treaty parties, what we get is a way for everybody to work to a common framework with a common understanding. What we can’t have at this stage is people having different views and doing completely different things.”

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.

Navalny was Russia’s most significant opposition leader of the past decade. He died in February in an Arctic Circle jail. Russian authorities said he died of natural causes – but his widow said Navalny had been “tortured, starved, cut off and killed” by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Navalny had been serving 19 years on extremism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated.

Responding to the arrest warrant against her, Yulia Navalnaya 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 Navalny, labelling them “extremists”.

Ms Navalnaya was unable to attend his funeral in March.

She has since met a number of Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

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.

She said she would use her role to step up the struggle her husband fought against Mr Putin.

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.

Taoiseach to help woman facing charges in Dubai

By Matt FoxBBC News NI

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Simon Harris has said he is ready to “intervene” in the case of an Irish woman who is facing criminal charges in the United Arab Emirates in what he called “the most appalling circumstances”.

Mr Harris was responding to a question from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil (Irish lower house of parliament) on Tuesday, according to Irish broadcaster RTÉ.

Ms McDonald told TDs (Irish MPs) Tori Towey from County Roscommon was facing charges “of attempted suicide and the abuse of alcohol”.

The BBC has approached the UAE government for comment on the case.

Mr Harris said that he was not aware of the 28-year-old’s case, but noted that it had been raised with Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin by Sinn Féin.

“Thank you, Deputy McDonald, for bringing the case of Tori to my attention,” the taoiseach said.

“I’m not directly appraised of the situation, but I’m very happy to be directly appraised of it now.”

Mr Harris pledged to work with Ms McDonald “to intervene and see how we can support an Irish citizen in what sounds to be, based on what you tell me, the most appalling circumstances”.

‘Most gross domestic violence’

It is understood that Ms Towey has been working as an air hostess and is based in Dubai.

Addressing the Dáil, Ms McDonald said she had spoken with Ms Towey on Tuesday.

She said Ms Towey’s mother has travelled to Dubai to be with her and that she “wants to come home”.

“She has been the victim of the most gross domestic violence,” Ms McDonald said.

“Her passport has been destroyed. There was a travel ban imposed on her.”

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The Irish government should make it “absolutely plain to the authorities of Dubai that no woman should be treated in this way”, Ms McDonald told the Dáil, and that “an Irish citizen, an Irish woman, will not be treated in this way”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

‘Government is rightly behind us’

Ms Towey is receiving assistance from human rights advocate and lawyer Radha Stirling, who runs the Detained in Dubai group.

“Tori is facing court next week. She has been charged with consumption of alcohol and also attempting suicide, both of which have been historically illegal in the country,” Ms Stirling told BBC News NI.

She explained that Ms Towey is currently on a travel ban and cannot leave the United Arab Emirates.

“The Irish government is rightly behind us in having the UAE police drop the case against her.”

Ms Stirling said Ms Towey was unable to afford a lawyer, “so it’s even more difficult and confusing for her”.

Even if found innocent, the legal process could take “months and months”, she explained, but the family are feeling optimistic that international pressure will benefit their case.

“If the Irish government backs her case and does everything that they can diplomatically… it’s highly likely that she will be home in Ireland next week,” she added.

“With all of the support [Tori and her mother] are just over the moon and very, very positive that things will go well next week.”

US officials uncover alleged Russian ‘bot farm’

By Mike WendlingBBC News

US officials say they have taken action against an AI-powered information operation run from Russia, including nearly 1,000 accounts pretending to be Americans.

The accounts on X were designed to spread pro-Russia stories but were automated “bots” – not real people.

In court documents made public Tuesday the US justice department said the operation was devised by a deputy editor at Kremlin-owned RT, formerly Russia Today.

RT runs TV channels in English and several other languages, but appears much more popular on social media than on conventional airwaves.

The justice department seized two websites that were used to issue emails associated with the bot accounts, and ordered X to turn over information relating to 968 accounts that investigators say were bots.

According to the court documents, artificial intelligence was used to create the accounts, which then spread pro-Russian story lines, particularly about the war in Ukraine.

“Today’s actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government,” Mr Wray said in a statement.

The accounts now appear to have been deleted by X, and screenshots shared by FBI investigators indicated that they had very few followers.

The court documents detailed how the so-called “bot farm” was the brainchild of an RT deputy editor-in-chief who was looking for new ways to distribute stories. RT America was shut down when several major US cable TV providers dropped it shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Another RT employee developed the network, the court documents said, and later a Russian intelligence officer joined the effort, which the justice department described as an attempt “to sow discord in the United States by spreading misinformation”.

No criminal charges have been made public in the case, but the justice department noted that its investigation is ongoing.

Nina Jankowicz, head of the American Sunlight Project, a non-profit organisation attempting to combat the spread of disinformation, said it was not surprising that a Russia-linked operation was relying on AI to create fake accounts.

“This used to be one of the more time consuming parts of their work; now it has been made much smoother by the technologies that abetted this operation,” she said, noting that the operation appears to have been thwarted before it gained traction.

“Artificial intelligence is now clearly part of the disinformation arsenal,” Ms Jankowicz said.

The BBC contacted X, RT and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

A recent BBC investigation uncovered details of a separate attempt to bolster a Russia-based disinformation network, through the use of fake news sites populated by stories rewritten by AI.

Weinstein faces new sex assault inquiry 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.

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.

‘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

A jury has been picked to hear the trial of Alec Baldwin for a fatal shooting on a film set in New Mexico.

Mr Baldwin, 66, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge, which he denies, 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 for the movie Rust went off. A bullet from the gun fatally struck the cinematographer and wounded director Joel Souza.

The 12 jurors and four alternates who will decide the case were selected on Tuesday after prosecutors and Mr Baldwin’s attorneys questioned them about everything from their political affiliation to their knowledge of the case.

Opening statements are set to begin in the Santa Fe, New Mexico, court on Wednesday morning.

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 argued 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 set of the Western 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 co-ordinator, 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 towards 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 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

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.

How car thieves in Canada targeted the same owner twice

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.

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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 about what he would say to Djokovic, the 65-year-old American said it would be: “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 wore a mask of the Darth Vader character, a villain from the Star Wars sci-fi films, for his walk-on to a match in 2012, recalling in 2022 how “that was myself in the crazy, young days”.

‘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.

Kyiv hospital boss describes ‘real hell’ of missile attack

By Jaroslav LukivBBC News

The director of Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, hit on Monday by a deadly missile strike blamed on Russia, has said the attack was “real hell”.

“Children and adults screamed in fear, wounded from pain” in Kyiv’s Ohmadyt hospital, Volodymyr Zhovnir told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

He said more than 1,200 patients and personnel were in the hospital at the time and three heart surgeries were being carried out. Two adults were killed and more than 300 people injured, including children, he added.

On Tuesday, Ukraine published photos of what it said were recovered fragments of a Russian cruise missile that hit the hospital in the capital.

Russia claimed the blast was caused by a misfiring Ukrainian air defence missile, but the UN said it was highly likely Moscow was behind the attack – a conclusion shared by analysts who spoke to BBC Verify.

The attack was globally condemned, with US President Joe Biden saying it was a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality”.

Mr Biden, who is hosting a Nato summit in Washington on Tuesday, also vowed to strengthen Kyiv’s air defences.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is attending the summit, said: “We are fighting for more air defence systems for Ukraine… We are fighting for more planes.”

At least 46 people – including 33 in Kyiv – were killed across Ukraine in a wave of Russian missile and drone strikes on Monday, local officials said.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko declared 9 July as a day of mourning in the city.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukraine children’s hospital: BBC Verify looks at evidence linking Russia to strike

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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$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.

Mummified body of missing US climber found after 22 years

By Sam CabralBBC News, Washington

The mummified remains of an American man have been found 22 years after he went missing while climbing a mountain in Peru.

William Stampfl, 59, was reported missing in June 2002 after an avalanche buried his climbing party while scaling Mount Huascarán, Peru’s highest peak.

Peruvian police said ice melt had exposed Stampfl’s mummified and clothed body.

He was identified by the passport found among his belongings.

Police said Stampfl’s body was well-preserved by the Peruvian ice, with his clothes in good condition, the AFP reported. He was still wearing his boots and harness.

Mount Huascarán, which is situated about 270 miles (435km) north of the capital Lima, stands at more than 22,000ft (6,706m).

With its snowy peaks and stunning climbs, the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in north-eastern Peru is a magnet for mountaineers worldwide.

Stampfl embarked with two others – Steve Erskine and Matthew Richardson – on a 19-day round trip from California to Peru’s tallest summit.

But an avalanche upended their climb on 24 June 2002. Only Erskine’s body had previously been found.

Stampfl is at least the third person this year found dead in the region.

The body of an Italian climber who fell while scaling another peak was recovered last month, while an Israeli man was found dead in May nearly a month after his disappearance.

Last month, five bodies were found frozen in ice on the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest.

Glaciers are melting and receding around the world, which most scientists attribute to accelerating climate change.

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.

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.

Navalny was Russia’s most significant opposition leader of the past decade. He died in February in an Arctic Circle jail. Russian authorities said he died of natural causes – but his widow said Navalny had been “tortured, starved, cut off and killed” by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Navalny had been serving 19 years on extremism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated.

Responding to the arrest warrant against her, Yulia Navalnaya 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 Navalny, labelling them “extremists”.

Ms Navalnaya was unable to attend his funeral in March.

She has since met a number of Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

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.

She said she would use her role to step up the struggle her husband fought against Mr Putin.

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 [sic] 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.

South Korea politician blames women for rising male suicides

By Jean MackenzieBBC News, Seoul

A politician in South Korea is being criticised for making dangerous and unsubstantiated comments after linking a rise in male suicides to the increasingly “dominant” role of women in society.

In a report, Seoul City councillor Kim Ki-duck argued women’s increased participation in the workforce over the years had made it harder for men to get jobs and to find women who wanted to marry them.

He said the country had recently “begun to change into a female-dominant society” and that this might “partly be responsible for an increase in male suicide attempts”.

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among the world’s rich countries but also has one of the worst records on gender equality.

Councillor Kim’s comments have been criticised as the latest in a series of out-of-touch remarks made by male politicians.

Councillor Kim, from the Democratic Party, arrived at his assessment when analysing data on the number of suicide attempts made at bridges along Seoul’s Han river.

The report, published on the city council’s official website, showed that the number of suicide attempts along the river had risen from 430 in 2018 to 1,035 in 2023, and of those trying to take their lives the proportion who were men had climbed from 67% to 77%.

Suicide prevention experts have expressed concern over Mr Kim’s report.

“It is dangerous and unwise to make claims like this without sufficient evidence,” Song Han, a mental health professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told the BBC.

He pointed out that globally more men took their lives than women. In many countries, including the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

Even so, Prof Song said the reasons behind the sharp rise in men attempting suicide in Seoul needed to be scientifically studied, adding it was “very regrettable” that the councillor had made it about gender conflict.

In South Korea there is a substantial gulf between the number of men and women in full-time employment, with women disproportionately working temporary or part-time jobs. The gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, but still women are paid on average 29% less than men.

In recent years an anti-feminist movement has surged, led by disillusioned young men, who argue they have been disadvantaged by attempts to improve women’s lives.

Appearing to echo such views, Councillor Kim’s report concluded that the way to overcome “the female-domination phenomenon” was to improve people’s awareness of gender equality so that “men and women can enjoy equal opportunities”.

Koreans took to the social media platform X to denounce the councillor’s remarks as “unsubstantiated” and “misogynistic”, with one user questioning whether they were living in a parallel universe.

The Justice Party accused the councillor of “easily shifting the blame to women in Korean society who are struggling to escape gender discrimination”. It has called on him to retract his remarks and instead “properly analyse” the causes of the problem.

When approached for comment by the BBC, Councillor Kim said he had “not intended to be critical of the female-dominated society”, and was merely giving his personal view about some of its consequences.

However, his comments follow a number of unscientific and sometimes bizarre political proposals aimed at tackling some of South Korea’s most pressing social issues, including mental illness, gender violence and the lowest birth rate in the world.

Last month, another Seoul councillor in his 60s published a series of articles on the authority’s website encouraging young women to take up gymnastics and practise pelvic floor exercises in order to raise the birth rate.

At the same time, a government think tank recommended that girls start school earlier than boys, so that classmates would be more attracted to each other by the time they were ready to marry.

“Such comments encapsulate just how pervasive misogyny is in South Korea,” said Yuri Kim, director of the Korean Women’s Trade Union. She accused politicians and policymakers of not even trying to understand the challenges women faced, preferring to scapegoat them instead.

“Blaming women for entering the workforce will only prolong the imbalances in our society,” she told the BBC.

Currently women account for 20% of South Korea’s members of parliament, and 29% of all local councillors.

Seoul City Council told the BBC there was no process in place to vet what politicians published on its official website unless the content was illegal. It said individuals were solely responsible for their content and would face any consequences at the next election.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by issues in this article, the following resources may help:

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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.

How Canada became a car theft capital of the world

By Nadine YousifBBC News, Toronto

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.

How car thieves in Canada targeted the same owner twice

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”.

US officials uncover alleged Russian ‘bot farm’

By Mike WendlingBBC News

US officials say they have taken action against an AI-powered information operation run from Russia, including nearly 1,000 accounts pretending to be Americans.

The accounts on X were designed to spread pro-Russia stories but were automated “bots” – not real people.

In court documents made public Tuesday the US justice department said the operation was devised by a deputy editor at Kremlin-owned RT, formerly Russia Today.

RT runs TV channels in English and several other languages, but appears much more popular on social media than on conventional airwaves.

The justice department seized two websites that were used to issue emails associated with the bot accounts, and ordered X to turn over information relating to 968 accounts that investigators say were bots.

According to the court documents, artificial intelligence was used to create the accounts, which then spread pro-Russian story lines, particularly about the war in Ukraine.

“Today’s actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government,” Mr Wray said in a statement.

The accounts now appear to have been deleted by X, and screenshots shared by FBI investigators indicated that they had very few followers.

The court documents detailed how the so-called “bot farm” was the brainchild of an RT deputy editor-in-chief who was looking for new ways to distribute stories. RT America was shut down when several major US cable TV providers dropped it shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Another RT employee developed the network, the court documents said, and later a Russian intelligence officer joined the effort, which the justice department described as an attempt “to sow discord in the United States by spreading misinformation”.

No criminal charges have been made public in the case, but the justice department noted that its investigation is ongoing.

Nina Jankowicz, head of the American Sunlight Project, a non-profit organisation attempting to combat the spread of disinformation, said it was not surprising that a Russia-linked operation was relying on AI to create fake accounts.

“This used to be one of the more time consuming parts of their work; now it has been made much smoother by the technologies that abetted this operation,” she said, noting that the operation appears to have been thwarted before it gained traction.

“Artificial intelligence is now clearly part of the disinformation arsenal,” Ms Jankowicz said.

The BBC contacted X, RT and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

A recent BBC investigation uncovered details of a separate attempt to bolster a Russia-based disinformation network, through the use of fake news sites populated by stories rewritten by AI.

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.

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.”

Dyson to cut nearly one third of UK workforce

By Emma Elgee & Michael RaceReporter & business reporter, BBC News

Consumer goods giant Dyson plans to cut up to a third of its UK workforce as part of a global shake-up.

The company, best known for the invention of the bag-less vacuum cleaner, said the proposals would ensure it was “prepared for the future” amid what it called “increasingly fierce and competitive global markets”.

But the move comes after staunch, long-running criticism from its founder Sir James Dyson of the UK economy policies, and the business moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2019.

Dyson currently has 3,500 UK employees, with offices in Wilshire, Bristol and London.

CEO Hanno Kirner said the company needed to be “entrepreneurial and agile”.

“Decisions which impact close and talented colleagues are always incredibly painful,” he said.

“Those whose roles are at risk of redundancy as a result of the proposals will be supported through the process.”

Dyson moved its head office to Singapore in 2019 to be closer to its manufacturing sites and supply chains. Asian markets account for more than half of its sales and Singapore also has a free trade agreement with the EU.

The company, which also makes air purifiers and hair dryers among other appliances, is still highly profitable. It increased its research and development spending by 40% last year.

Dyson has stated the announcement is a business decision, not a political one, and a result of its global review.

But Sir James has been highly critical of the UK’s economic policies.

Last year he said the UK had “woeful policies” such as high corporation tax, and said he would invest more in “modern, forward-looking economies elsewhere” that encourage growth and innovation.

Business of all sizes, much like households, have been hit by rising costs and bills in recent times. Corporation tax, which is paid on the profits of UK companies to the government, increased in April 2023 to 25% from 19%.

Dyson said the UK would “remain a vital centre” for the companies research and development (R&D), as well as the home of the Dyson Institute, which has 160 undergraduate engineers.

But one Dyson employee who received notice today told the BBC though the physical R&D building remained, “everyone involved in R&D have now exited all Dyson buildings”.

“All in stark contrast to James’ promise that R&D would remain in the UK after the Singapore headquarter move. We believe this is obviously to cut costs by using our South East Asian counterparts who are cheaper to employ,” they claimed.

“Whether this capability will return over the next few weeks remains to be seen.”

In response to the BBC, Dyson said the claim was “categorically not correct”.

‘A significant blow’

Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at investment firm AJ Bell, said while the company had made it clear its plans were a long time in the making, there “have been questions about the future of the business in the UK since 2019”, when it moved its headquarters overseas.

“News that British appliance manufacturer Dyson is to pare back its UK workforce by a quarter is a significant blow not just to those losing their jobs but also Labour’s push to get the economy growing.

“The decision is an uncomfortable one and begs the question whether Sir James Dyson and his company believe the future must be found elsewhere.”

MP ‘very concerned’

Roz Savage, the new Liberal Democrat MP for the South Cotswolds, said she was worried by the announcement.

She said: “It’s huge. Malmesbury is a close-knit community and I’m sure if people are in danger of losing their jobs then their pain is going to be felt by the whole community, by the local businesses and the local economy is going to be affected.

“This is potentially very big news and I’m very concerned.”

Wiltshire Council leader Richard Clewer said the council would do all it could to support those impacted during “an uncertain time”.

Mr Clewer, who is also the councillor responsible for economic development, said he was “extremely sorry to hear” of the announcement, adding that many Dyson workers were based in Wiltshire.

‘Huge amount of cost-cutting’

Prof Andrew Graves, a mechanical engineer and political scientist from the University of Bath, said those inside the industry were not surprised by the announcement and “had been warning about this for a long time”.

“Right across the world there is huge competition with the Dyson products and a lot of Dyson products really haven’t been successful of late,” he said.

“They put aside two billion to build an electric car in Hullavington and that was withdrawn fairly quickly when they realised it was too difficult.

“And also some of their latest products haven’t been too great in the market place, they are really fighting on all fronts at the moment.

“This is a huge amount of cost-cutting,” he added.

Prof Graves added if there were large scale redundancies it would be “devastating” for the town of Malmesbury.

Sir James Dyson fifth on rich list

During the coronavirus pandemic, the firm cut 600 jobs in the UK and a further 300 worldwide, saying people were changing how they bought products.

Dyson was founded by inventor Sir James Dyson who is fifth on the Sunday Times Rich list with a personal wealth of £20.8bn.

It is understood the decision to restructure was made before the general election was called.

Sir James was a firm supporter of Brexit saying it had given the UK its “freedom of spirit” back.

In January he donated £6m to fund a Malmesbury Primary School and had announced plans to invest £100m in a new research and development hub in central Bristol.

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

By Jonathan Amos@BBCAmosScience correspondent

Europe’s big new rocket, Ariane-6, has blasted off 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 – developed at a cost of €4bn (£3.4bn) – soared into the sky.

But after climbing smoothly to the desired altitude, and correctly releasing a number of small satellites, the upper stage of the rocket experienced an anomaly right at the end of the flight.

Computers onboard took the decision to prematurely shut down the auxiliary power unit (APU) that pressurises the propulsion system.

This left Ariane’s upper stage unable to initiate the burn that is supposed to bring it out of orbit and also set up the final task of the mission – to jettison two re-entry capsules.

It was not immediately clear whether controllers would be able to fix the APU problem.

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 where the rocket ascends 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.

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Every so often, a goal is scored at a European Championship that stands the test of time. It is remembered, replayed, and talked about for decades.

Marco van Basten’s angled volley at Euro 1988 is one. Paul Gascoigne’s individual run and finish at Euro 1996 is another, as is Karel Poborsky’s chip at the same tournament.

Lamine Yamal’s history making goal for Spain against France in the semi-finals of Euro 2024 can be added to the list.

With Spain trailing 1-0, Yamal curled a brilliant strike from outside the box into the top corner to send him into the history books.

At 16 years and 362 days he became the youngest scorer in tournament history – and had those watching left in awe.

“A superstar is born,” former England striker Gary Lineker said on BBC One. “It was the moment of the match, possibly the moment of the tournament.”

“Just incredible,” added ex-England striker Alan Shearer. “We’ve been talking about him all tournament and saying what a ridiculously young age it is.

“To do that, it’s just outrageous.”

‘A touch of genius’

The goal, which had fans inside the Allianz Arena and around the world gasping as it was replayed in slow motion, was all the more impressive because of its timing.

This was at 1-0 down in the semi-final of a major tournament. It was a high-pressure moment, but one he handled effortlessly.

At no stage in the build-up to the heavyweight contest did Yamal show signs of nerves.

He was smiling and joking with his team-mates on the pitch in the hours before kick-off, and carried that confidence into his performance.

“We saw a touch of genius,” Spain boss Luis de la Fuente said of Yamal’s goal.

“We all need to take care of him. I would like him to work with the same humility and keep his feet on the ground, to keep learning.

“He looks like a much more experienced player to be honest. I celebrate that he is in our team, that he is Spanish.

“We count on him and hopefully we can enjoy him for years to come.”

Yamal wants to ‘win, win, win and win’ after ‘dream comes true’

Yamal is now making an impact on the international stage, but he had already rewritten the record books in his breakthrough season at Barcelona.

He became the Spanish side’s youngest starter and goalscorer, as well as the youngest scorer in La Liga.

Yamal turns 17 on 13 July – one day before the final of Euro 2024, in which Spain will face either England or the Netherlands.

Giving an insight into his mentality, the teenager said all he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday was “win, win, win and win”.

Whoever Spain face in the final, they would be advised not to provide the youngster with additional motivation, as France perhaps did.

Prior to the game, midfielder Adrian Rabiot said Yamal would need to “show more than he had so far at the tournament”.

At the end of the game, Yamal celebrated by saying to a TV camera: “Speak now, speak now.”

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand said: “It’s almost like Yamal saw Rabiot and his eyes lit up and he said: ‘I’m going to show you.’

“A wonderful finish from a kid so young.”

Yamal emerged for the post-match news conference at 12:15am, when most other 16-year-olds would be fast asleep, and was asked who his comments were directed to.

“The person I am talking about, this person who will know this person is,” he said.

“It is a dream come true to reach a final with the national team.”

Facing the gathered media, Yamal showed the same level of confidence he had on the pitch.

His focus now switches to Sunday’s final in Berlin.

Asked who he would prefer to face, he replied: “I don’t really mind.

“When you reach the final you have to play the best and they are also very equal games.

“We will wait and play whoever it is.”

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“My ambition was to be champion of Europe – but it was a failure.”

That was the blunt assessment of Kylian Mbappe, the World Cup winner who was expected to guide France all the way in Germany. The £190m man who finally completed his dream move to Real Madrid this summer and captained an expectant nation at Euro 2024.

But Mbappe – who emulated England great Sir Geoff Hurst with a hat-trick in the World Cup final two years ago – struggled to make the impact we all expected as France’s tepid tournament ended in semi-final defeat in Munich against Spain.

After the match the forward called the tournament a “failure”. So what went wrong with Mbappe? And why has he tended to struggle in the Euros?

World Cup wizard, Euros enigma?

Mbappe lit up the World Cup in Russia in 2018 as a teenager, scoring four times as France won the crown for the first time in 20 years.

He then scored an incredible eight goals at the 2022 tournament – including that treble in the final defeat on penalties by Argentina – to draw level with Pele on 12 in World Cup tournaments.

But Mbappe blanked at Euro 2020, and his missed penalty in the shootout proved costly as Switzerland knocked France out in the last 16.

And despite heading to Germany as the man to watch, Mbappe again struggled, scoring a solitary penalty in the 1-1 group-stage draw with Poland. That result meant France missed out on top spot and faced a more difficult draw in the knockouts.

Mbappe had nine shots on target during the tournament but created just three chances – including his superb assist for Randal Kolo Muani’s opener against Spain.

“Mbappe delivered a wonderful ball – but that was the only bit of quality in the final third that France showed,” former England defender Rio Ferdinand said on BBC One.

“That is not enough in a game of this magnitude. Mbappe will be disappointed with his tournament. This is not what we have come to expect.”

In 14 appearances at the World Cup Mbappe averages 1.11 goals and assists per 90 minutes – compared to just 0.32 in nine Euros appearances.

His big moment in the semi-final came late on as he cut inside the Spanish defence but leaned back and skied his shot.

“That is a goal he has scored a thousand times in his career,” said French football expert Julien Laurens on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Mbappe didn’t take his chance and, when it mattered the most, France lacked a bit of magic.”

A bad break – ‘it was everything’

Mbappe’s tournament was undoubtedly affected when he broke his nose in the final moments of their opening match against Austria. The injury forced him to miss the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands before he returned – wearing a mask – to score against Poland.

The mask clearly caused Mbappe some issues, and he was seen adjusting it during several games, before jettisoning it altogether for the Spain match.

Asked if the injury had held him back, the 25-year-old simply said: “It was everything.

“You shouldn’t overcomplicate it, it was either good or it was not. Voila, I was not good and we are going home. It’s simple.”

Manager Didier Deschamps had admitted earlier in the tournament that Mbappe’s mask was an issue but said after Tuesday night’s loss it “was more of an inconvenience than anything else”.

“I am not going to give the responsibility to one player more than another,” he added.

“When you get to the semi-finals and play a Spain team of that quality you have to be at your best and we were not.”

So what next for Mbappe?

Well, after winning the league title seven times in France with Monaco and Paris St-Germain, he will be aiming to add the Champions League next season after his move to Madrid, where he will form an eye-catching attacking line-up with Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

“I’ll be going on holiday,” said Mbappe.

“I will rest which will do me good, and then I’ll come back very strong in a new town with a new boss.”

Over to you, Carlo Ancelotti.

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Second women’s T20 international, Hove

England 89-6 (9 overs): Capsey 28 (15), Bouchier 23 (15); Tahuhu 2-20, A Kerr 2-22

New Zealand 42-5 (6.2 overs): Halliday 14 (9); Dean 2-3

Scorecard

England beat New Zealand by 23 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in a rain-curtailed second T20 at Hove to take a 2-0 series lead.

After the game was reduced to nine overs a side because of a two-hour rain delay, Alice Capsey hit 28 from just 15 balls to help England reach 89-6.

New Zealand slumped to 42-5 in reply when a further spell of heavy rain brought an early end to the contest.

Charlie Dean was the pick of the bowlers taking 2-3 from one over, while Lauren Bell, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone all taking a wicket.

The third T20 takes place in Canterbury on Thursday.

England claim soggy victory

For long periods it looked like there would be no game at all after persistent if relatively light rain fell throughout the early evening at Hove.

A break in the weather finally allowed play to begin, albeit in damp and muggy conditions.

Danni Wyatt, who hit a match-winning 76 in the first T20 at Southampton on Saturday, fell for a three-ball duck as New Zealand made a good start after winning the toss.

But England responded aggressively, with fellow opener Maia Bouchier hitting a rapid 23, while Capsey’s spritely innings included two fours and two sixes.

The biggest shot of the day though went to Nat Sciver-Brunt, whose huge booming six off Lea Tahuhu went out of the ground.

New Zealand made a poor start to their reply, losing Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr in the powerplay to slip to 12-2.

They never really recovered, with Dean removing Suzie Bates and Brooke Halliday in the same over to slip to 31-4.

When Jess Kerr edged a Sophie Ecclestone delivery through to Heather Knight the game was all but over as a contest, before more rain swept over the ground to force the players off the field.

‘I’m really enjoying it’ – what they said

Player of the match Charlie Dean: “[The award] is a bit of burglary, but I’ll take it. Capsey and Bouch [Maia Bouchier] set the platform, and Heather at the end.

“It’s really clear I’m trying to take wickets and play with attacking fields. I’m really enjoying it.”

England captain Heather Knight: “It is practice of being under pressure and having a bit of chaos.

“You have to stay calm and make quick decisions and I thought we did that brilliantly today. Those wickets we took really killed the game.”

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine: “We’ve got to keep finding the positives, we’ve got a quick turnaround to Canterbury. I don’t think we have time for training, it’s probably about looking at footage and having some conversations.”

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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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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.”

The winners of Wednesday’s semi-final will play Spain on Sunday after their 2-1 win over France on Tuesday.

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 about what he would say to Djokovic, the 65-year-old American said it would be: “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 wore a mask of the Darth Vader character, a villain from the Star Wars sci-fi films, for his walk-on to a match in 2012, recalling in 2022 how “that was myself in the crazy, young days”.

‘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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