• Brexit news latest: Boris Johnson urged by more than 100 cross-party MPs to recall parliament over no-deal threat
    News
    Evening Standard

    Brexit news latest: Boris Johnson urged by more than 100 cross-party MPs to recall parliament over no-deal threat

    Boris Johnson has been urged by more than 100 MPs from across the Commons to immediately recall parliament from the summer recess, amid claims of a "national crisis". The letter, signed by MPs representing every political party in Westminster apart from the DUP, claims that the country is on "the brink of an economic crisis" and that it is "unacceptable" for parliament to wait until next month to sit again amid the threat of a no-deal Brexit. The Commons is due to return from summer recess on September 3. The Speaker can only recall parliament at the behest of the government.Tory former ministers Dominic Grieve and Guto Bebb are among the signatories of the letter. The Westminster leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Change UK, and the Green Party's Caroline Lucas also backed the call, along with several Labour MPs.The letter says: "Since the Second World War, Parliament has been recalled multiple times in every decade for a wide range of political, security and economic reasons... This is a national emergency. There is no mandate for an undemocratic no deal Brexit. Reckless Johnson + unelected Cummings want to gag our democracy. We have written to the PM to demand he recalls Parliament. RT if you believe @BorisJohnson should RecallNow pic.twitter.com/VSiLl6sOTw — Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) August 17, 2019"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit which will have an immediate effect on food and medical supplies, damage our economy, jobs, the public finances, public services, universities and long-term economic security."A no-deal Brexit also threatens our crucial security co-operation to keep our country safe from criminals and terrorists." Pleased to join MPs from across the House in signing this letter to demand PM recalls Parliament This a national emergency. There is no mandate for a reckless No Deal Brexit. Johnson & Cummings want to gag our democracy RT if you believe @BorisJohnson should RecallNow pic.twitter.com/XIvjghuWg1 — Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) August 17, 2019They added: "We face a national emergency, and Parliament must be recalled now in August and sit permanently until 31 October, so that the voices of the people can be heard, and that there can be proper scrutiny of your government."A true democrat should not fear such scrutiny. The question is whether you are one."The letter also criticises Mr Johnson's approach to the Brexit negotiation and claims a "creeping and disturbing populism" is taking over Mr Johnson's discourse with the EU. Pleased to have signed this letter to @BorisJohnson \- there is no political mandate for a reckless no deal Brexit. It would cause huge economic damage to our country- please RT if you believe he should RecallNow https://t.co/xIdjFR1pJt — David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 18, 2019It adds: "As prime minister you have made policy announcements to the media rather than at the dispatch box. Your plans involve the spending of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash to back up your reckless no-deal plans."You have failed to conduct any substantive negotiations with EU partners. And you have shown utter disregard for the crucial relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. These are grounds in themselves for a recall of parliament."After the letter was published, recallnow was trending on Twitter, as MPs shared the letter and made further pleas.

  • Katya and Neil Jones announce split months after Seann Walsh Strictly kissing scandal
    News
    Evening Standard

    Katya and Neil Jones announce split months after Seann Walsh Strictly kissing scandal

    Neil and Katya Jones have announced their separation after 11 years together. The Strictly pair, who celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary earlier this month, said the decision to split was mutual. The couple were thrown into the spotlight ht last year when Katya was pictured sharing a kiss with her then Strictly dance partner Seann Walsh on a night out. The incident led to the pair performing a "dance of shame" on the following episode, as the media scrutinised another instance of the so-called Strictly curse.Neil and Katya, who stayed together after the scandal, have insisted the kiss was not the reason for their split. In an official statement released today, the couple said their relationship had mellowed into a friendship.In a joint statement they said: "As our fans and loyal supporters you are really important to us and so we wanted to let you know some news."After 11 years, we have made the mutual decision to separate."We will always love each other, just in a different way as friends. This will never change what a great team we make and we are really proud of everything we have achieved together."Our shared love of dance means we will keep working and dancing together as well as exploring individual projects. No matter what we do we will always support and respect each other."We wish one another every happiness and we will remain the best of friends. We are really looking forward to getting back to the ballroom and can't wait to keep on dancing."Lots of love from us both." View this post on Instagram ♥️ A post shared by Katya Jones (@mrs_katjones) on Aug 18, 2019 at 7:15am PDTA spokeswoman for the pair clarified that their decision to part was not influenced by the controversy surrounding Walsh. Stating that the decision was made recently, a spokeswoman said: "It would be incorrect and unfair to attribute their separation to one isolated incident."Many people make such a decision to separate when they realise that their relationship has become more of a friendship."They remain the very best of friends and will continue to dance together."The dancers added that their professional lives and their careers on Strictly would not be affected by the split.She said: "They're incredible close, they are still dance partners, will be dancing together and will work on joint projects together as well as being part of the Strictly team and will continue to give each other advice and support in any individual projects."Speaking in March 2019, the couple told Lorraine Kelly that they had moved on from the incident.Neil said regarding the public and media attention surrounding the kiss: "For me, I felt they overreacted."Katya said: "We're over it, I think everyone else is over it, let's just move on."In August 2019, the pair posted on their social media accounts celebrating six years of marriage.Neil said he was still "jumping with joy".But Seann's relationship with actress Rebecca Humphries broke down in the wake of the infamous kiss.Rebecca, who had been dating Seann for five years announced the split in an emotional Twitter statement.Revealing the incident had taken place on the night of her birthday, which she spent "alone at home", she insisted she was "not a victim".She said wanted to use her voice to appeal to any other woman who has felt “worthless and trapped with a man they love”.

  • Harry and Meghan ‘take second private jet flight in a week’ amid carbon emissions criticism
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Harry and Meghan ‘take second private jet flight in a week’ amid carbon emissions criticism

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been criticised for their carbon emissions during recent private jet trips.

  • Christine Lampard has admitted she is 'nervous' about husband Frank’s new job as Chelsea manager
    News
    Yahoo Celebrity UK

    Christine Lampard has admitted she is 'nervous' about husband Frank’s new job as Chelsea manager

    Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was drafted in as manager after Maurizio Sarri left to manage Juventus

  • George RR Martin says HBO's Game of Thrones series was 'not good' for him
    News
    The Independent

    George RR Martin says HBO's Game of Thrones series was 'not good' for him

    Novelist George RR Martin has said he is happy Game of Thrones, the TV series based on his fantasy books, has come to an end.The author admitted the HBO programme had slowed down his progress writing the final two volumes of his A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which provided the source material for the show.In a rare interview with The Observer, he said: “I don’t think [the TV series] was very good for me.“The very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day … I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.’”The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones aired in May.The last few episodes attracted a large amount of criticism, with many fans and some of the programme's actors feeling showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss rushed the conclusion. Martin, however, said he paid little attention the controversy and preferred to "let fans have their theories".“I took myself out of all that,” he said. “Some of [fans' theories] are right and some of [the theories] are wrong. They’ll find out when I finish.”The most recent book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons, came out in 2011. He is yet to complete work on the sixth and seventh novels, titled The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.The author has also helped to develop a prequel TV series, starring Naomi Watts, which recently completed filming.Read more about the prequel project here.

  • Operation Yellowhammer: Government hits back over leaked dossier on no-deal Brexit as minister blasts it as 'scaremongering'
    News
    Evening Standard

    Operation Yellowhammer: Government hits back over leaked dossier on no-deal Brexit as minister blasts it as 'scaremongering'

    The Government is seeking to downplay a secret Whitehall dossier on the impact of a no-deal Brexit, with one minister dismissing it as "scaremongering" and Number 10 insisting it was leaked to influence discussions with the EU. The leaked documents suggest the UK will be hit with a three-month "meltdown" at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine as part of a series of "aftershocks" when it crashes out of the EU.According to the documents, published in the Sunday Times, petrol import tariffs would "inadvertently" lead to the closure of two oil refineries, while protests across the UK could "require significant amounts of police resources" in a no-deal scenario.A senior Whitehall source told paper: "This is not Project Fear - this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios - not the worst case."But when asked about the dossier, Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think there is a lot of scaremongering around and a lot of people are playing into Project Fear and all the rest of it."We've got to prepare for no-deal. In fact the previous prime minister created DExEU and she said that the mandate of DExEU last year, last summer, was to prepare for no-deal..."Now we've got a new Prime Minister who is very much focused on that and the scale and intensity of those preparations are increasing and we will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on October 31."A No 10 source also claimed a former minister leaked the dossier to try to influence discussions with EU leaders.Boris Johnson is heading to Berlin on Wednesday and Paris on Thursday in his first trip abroad as Prime Minister, when he will tell Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron that there must be a new Brexit deal. "The document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available," they said. "It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with the EU.“Those obstructing preparation are no longer in Government, £2 billion of extra funding has already been made available and Whitehall has been stood up to actually do the work through the daily ministerial meetings."The entire posture of the Government has changed.”Meanwhile, Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister responsible for no-deal planning, insisted Yellowhammer represented a "worst-case scenario".He tweeted: "We don't normally comment on leaks - but a few facts - Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario - v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning - and Black Swan is not an HMG doc but a film about a ballet dancer..."It came as Tory former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson claimed the leak was an example of the "establishment" plot to "sow fear in people's minds".In a joint statement, they said: "This Operation Yellowhammer leak is the version of what the contingency executive put together. We remember attending a briefing on privy council terms which they said was not worst case but reasonable worst case. Theresa May had asked for this to be done. It was obviously Project Fear dressed up."For example, on the delays at the port we asked if they had discussed their expectation with the port authorities of Calais/Pas du Nord who had already said that there would be no extra delays at Calais and they said, (after a great deal of shuffling of feet) 'no'."We asked why not and they said they had not been asked to do so. There were other areas where it was clear they had not been asked to get balance but instead dress up previous versions of other worst-case scenarios."The whole thing was an attempt to frighten us and didn't stand up to scrutiny. We have never seen officials look so uneasy under questioning."The fact that this document was 'found' in a Westminster pub tells you all you need to know about this continuing establishment plot to sow fear in people's minds. This is an abuse of the proper use of the Civil Service and must be stopped."

  • British Isis fighter 'Jihadi Jack' who fled to Syria is 'stripped of UK citizenship'
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    British Isis fighter 'Jihadi Jack' who fled to Syria is 'stripped of UK citizenship'

    Jack Letts, 24, from Oxfordshire, fled to Syria to join Isis when he was a teenager.

  • BBC using strong-arm tactics over iPlayer, say independent producers
    News
    The Guardian

    BBC using strong-arm tactics over iPlayer, say independent producers

    BBC iPlayer app on a laptop Photograph: Carl Court/GettyThe BBC has been accused of trying to strong-arm independent TV producers into extending the availability of their shows on the iPlayer from 30 days to one year without paying millions in additional licensing fees.Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, this month gave the green light for the biggest expansion of the BBC iPlayer since its launch in 2007, to enable the corporation to fight back in the streaming war against Netflix and Amazon.Independent TV producers argue that keeping their shows exclusively on iPlayer longer means that they are less valuable when they are eventually allowed to be sold on to other services, such as Netflix or other buyers, which they are currently allowed to do 18 months after they have aired on the BBC.Recognising this financial issue, Ofcom has said the BBC needs to “adequately compensate” producers and that it may have to look to pay a higher price for programming.However, Pact, the body representing the multi-billion-pound UK independent TV production industry, says it has been repeatedly contacted by members reporting that the BBC is trying to get them to sign off on using their shows for longer on the iPlayer without paying more.Pact says the tactics started in April, when the BBC’s proposal to extend iPlayer viewing rights to a year were first made public, and has prompted it to take the step of warning its entire member base about the issue.July 2007 The iPlayer launches as a basic downloading serviceChristmas Day 2007 First major relaunch as iPlayer debuts its catch-up streaming serviceJuly 2008 Second major relaunch, dubbed iPlayer 2.0, with integrated radio and TV player and features including simulcasting and an electronic programme guideSeptember 2010 iPlayer 3.0 unveiled, including integration with social media sites such as Facebook and TwitterJune 2017 BBC introduces a registration system forcing people to sign in to use the iPlayer to personalise it and help make sure only licence fee payers are using the serviceOctober 2018 BBC relaunches iPlayer Radio platform as BBC SoundsAugust 2019 Ofcom provisionally approves BBC iPlayer keeping shows exclusively on the service for a year after they are first broadcast, rather than the current 30 days“The BBC has consistently sought to strong-arm suppliers into giving the BBC these rights for no compensation and without a proper agreement,” said John McVay, Pact’s chief executive. “Pact has warned its members three times since April that the BBC has not yet reached an agreement with Pact for its ambitious plans.”In addition, the BBC is also planning a huge expansion of the iPlayer to make programmes available on the service for up to five years in total.Proposals to do this were not part of Ofcom’s assessment, which has agreed to allow only children’s content to be made available on the iPlayer exclusively for five years, as the corporation wants to keep shows for a further four years on a non-exclusive basis.According to production company executives, the BBC is offering a pittance for deals offering a further two packages of streaming rights to programmes lasting two years each – after they have been exclusively on the iPlayer for a year – to keep shows on the service.“The proposed payment structure for these periods is risible,” said one senior production industry executive. “Having shows effectively permanently available on the iPlayer will depress the price that anyone else will want to pay for it.”The BBC has also been accused of trying to give BritBox, its joint venture subscription streaming service with ITV due to launch this year, an advantage by being first in line to pick up shows after they leave the iPlayer, instead of services such as Netflix.Following the end of the one-year exclusivity window on iPlayer, the BBC is proposing that shows then only be allowed to be sold to a platform or broadcaster that “invests in and supports the UK creative industries” that also agrees to carry “prominent and approved” BBC branding and provide audience performance data. If producers want to wait to sell to anyone they like, they can do so only after 18 months, under the BBC plan.This has been viewed by the production industry as attempting to eliminate Netflix as a bidder for shows once they are first allowed to be sold beyond the iPlayer.Netflix prefers to brand shows it buys the rights to as its own in international markets – the BBC’s Bodyguard was known as a Netflix Original outside the UK – and is famously secretive about sharing any data on the popularity of shows on its platform.One production industry source said: “You could have a situation where a programme is being broadcast on TV by the BBC for free, is on the iPlayer for free but also on BritBox where you would have to pay for it.”Ofcom has said the extension of iPlayer rights to a year will have an “adverse impact” on the launch of BritBox, but ITV has dismissed those concerns and did not object to the BBC’s plans.However, Ofcom has estimated that the increase in viewing of BBC iPlayer content will mean an audience reduction at Channel 4’s All4, ITV’s ITV Hub and Channel 5’s My5 and other online platforms. The loss of advertising revenue as a result is estimated at almost £15m next year, although Channel 4 says it will be higher, with Ofcom estimating that losses will grow in subsequent years.“Both viewers and production companies win by making programmes available for longer on BBC iPlayer,” said a BBC spokesman. “This is about keeping up with viewer expectations and is long overdue. Audiences are choosing to consume content on demand and the value they receive from their licence fee should reflect that shift.“We continue to have conversations with Pact and production companies to make this happen. Longer BBC iPlayer availability does not reduce the opportunities for them commercially, rather, success on the BBC leads to commercial success for independently produced programmes.”• Sign up to the daily Business Today email here or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk.

  • High-end rebrand revives Japan's 'ice farmers'
    AFP UK

    High-end rebrand revives Japan's 'ice farmers'

    Japan has few remaining "ice farmers", who eschew the ease of refrigeration for open-air pools to create a product that is sold to high-end shaved ice shops in trendy Tokyo districts.

  • Thousands of flights ‘for sale on Boeing 737 Max passenger planes’ despite two fatal crashes
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Thousands of flights ‘for sale on Boeing 737 Max passenger planes’ despite two fatal crashes

    Two crashes in the past year involving Boeing 737 Max planes led to the deaths of 346 people.

  • U.S. and UK presence in Gulf brings insecurity - Iran Revolutionary Guards navy chief
    News
    Reuters

    U.S. and UK presence in Gulf brings insecurity - Iran Revolutionary Guards navy chief

    The presence of America and Britain in the Gulf region brings insecurity, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards navy, Alireza Tangsiri, was reported as saying by the ILNA news agency. Tensions have spiked between Iran and the U.S. and Britain in the Gulf after the Islamic Republic shot down an American drone in June and seized a British tanker last month for violating maritime regulations.

  • BMW 330e Saloon full specs and new photos/videos released
    News
    motor1

    BMW 330e Saloon full specs and new photos/videos released

    The latest generation of the sporty premium saloon from BMW gets more range of 32-37 miles under WLTP test cycle.

  • Woman dies after car crashes during police chase in Birmingham
    News
    The Independent

    Woman dies after car crashes during police chase in Birmingham

    A woman has died during a police chase after the car she was in crashed.The 28-year-old suffered fatal injuries when the blue Ford Fiesta she was travelling in struck another car in Crocketts Road, Birmingham, on Saturday night.She was taken to hospital where she later died, West Midlands Police said.The Fiesta had failed to stop for police a short time before it was found at 9.42pm, the force added.A 34-year-old man is assisting officers with their enquiries.Three people who were travelling in a Volkswagen Golf suffered minor injuries in the crash.The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been informed and has sent investigators to the scene.An IOPC spokesman said: "We are independently investigating the circumstances of a police pursuit prior to a collision in Crocketts Road, Birmingham, on Saturday night (17 August) in which a woman died."Our investigation follows a mandatory referral from West Midlands Police."We sent investigators to the scene and to the post incident procedure to begin gathering information."Press Association

  • Detectives given extra 36 hours to quiz suspects in death of Pc Andrew Harper
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    Detectives given extra 36 hours to quiz suspects in death of Pc Andrew Harper

    The newlywed officer, 28, died of multiple injuries while investigating a burglary in Berkshire on Thursday night.

  • Ariana Grande review – crowd-pleasing anthems of female resilience
    News
    The Guardian

    Ariana Grande review – crowd-pleasing anthems of female resilience

    Nerve-jangling falsetto ... Ariana Grande. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AGAriana Grande first appears at the centre of a tableau of dancers based on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper – albeit a last supper at which the diners suddenly start climbing on the table, waving their thong-clad bums in the air and pretending to cop off with each other. It’s both a striking opening and an anomaly, a rare moment of visual spectacle in a show that feels remarkably understated and restrained. Of course, such things are relative: it’s as subtle as any gig that involves a neon-pink limousine rising up through the stage while fake bank notes rain down on fans who’ve shelled out real cash – the best part of £250 – to stand in the front rows can be. But, by arena-sized pop standards, the Sweetener tour is pretty much the last word in discretion. No relentless son-et-lumière bombardment, no eye-popping special effects, just a couple of giant globes on to which tasteful footage of the sun and night sky is projected. Even the stage-side screens are of a reasonable size.Attention is focused on Grande herself, which is quite a gamble. As pop stars go, she’s not a particularly charismatic figure. It’s something she’s been smart enough to paper over with a series of easily identifiable and copyable looks, an old trick that has been largely forgotten in pop’s latterday stampede towards girl/boy-next-door “relatability”. Tonight, though the rabbit ears that were once her trademark are long gone, the high ponytail is more immense than ever and her fans scream every time she flicks it with her fingers. Anyone not fully obsessed with Grande’s tonsorial arrangements might find that there are moments where the show lags, at least at first: the vast majority of her party anthem hits are shunted towards the end of the set, while the opening concentrates on tracks from 2018’s Sweetener and this year’s Thank U, Next. There’s nothing wrong with this material, but the soupy acoustics of a venue this size don’t do a great deal for the subtleties of REM or Needy. Nevertheless, Grande can really sing. The show opens with her performing The Four Seasons’ doo-woop-y 1961 hit An Angel Cried a capella. She posseses a falsetto that she can turn up to full Minnie-Ripperton-doing-Lovin’-You levels, a sound that’s simultaneously hugely impressive and nerve-jangling enough to make you grateful she deploys it quite sparingly. It says something about arena-sized pop shows that the sound of someone singing live feels striking.Meanwhile, anyone hoping to hear her open her heart up goes home unhappy. Stage chat is at a minimum and fixed firmly to the standard inquiries about whether everyone is having a good time. The only thing you could take as a reference to events of the last two years, the terrorist attack on her Manchester Arena show and the death of former boyfriend Mac Miller among them, is the unexplained appearance of a clip from the 1996 film The First Wives Club: a movie that, beneath the gags, is ultimately about female resilience.If that’s the show’s message, then fans seem to have got it. For all the high-pitched hysteria afforded the hits – Thank U, Next; Dangerous Woman; Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored – the most vociferous response is generated by Breathin’, a song about overcoming panic attacks and anxiety. It’s proof that in a world of pop songs filled with self-help mantras, Grande’s have clearly hit home. That’s what people are here for. * At the O2 Arena, London, 17-20 August and 15-16 October.

  • Oti Mabuse welcomes ‘beautiful soul’ Todrick Hall to Greatest Dancer
    News
    PA Media: Entertainment

    Oti Mabuse welcomes ‘beautiful soul’ Todrick Hall to Greatest Dancer

    He will join the current panel of Mabuse, Cheryl and Matthew Morrison.

  • BP Chargemaster launches its first 150 kW chargers in UK
    News
    motor1

    BP Chargemaster launches its first 150 kW chargers in UK

    BP installs 150 kW DC fast chargers at its retail sites and is "determined to be the fuel provider of choice whether drivers need electric charging or liquid fuels."

  • Mayor of Paris candidate vows to make French fluent in English
    News
    The Telegraph

    Mayor of Paris candidate vows to make French fluent in English

    The Academie Francaise has long fought to stop English words creeping into common French parlance, but an ally of President Emmanuel Macron is vowing to make Parisians fluent in English.

  • 10,000 left homeless after fire tears through Bangladesh slum
    News
    The Telegraph

    10,000 left homeless after fire tears through Bangladesh slum

    An Indian minister has claimed that Indian scholars discovered gravity centuries before Issac Newton’s famous encounter with an apple, and called on the county’s scientists to promote more homegrown theories.

  • Italian search effort for missing French hiker hinges on new data
    News
    RFI

    Italian search effort for missing French hiker hinges on new data

    Rescue teams in southern Italy are hoping that reinforcements and new geographical data will help them locate Simon Gautier, a young French hiker who has been missing since 9 August after he seriously injured himself while hiking alone in a rocky area south of Naples.   "New rescue teams are due to arrive and we are waiting for new data to help us tighten up the search area, which is very large," a police official told AFP. Gautier was hiking near Policastro, some 200 kilometres south of Naples. He was last heard from on 9 August around 9:00 am, when he called emergency services on his mobile phone to say that he had fallen off a cliff and broken both his legs. He was unable to give a precise location and lack of reliable data from his phone call meant that the search area extended over some 140 square-kilometres, including across into Calabria."There are very few antennas in this uninhabited region that can allow a precise location of the past call," said the official.There have been no signs of connection from his mobile phone since. Social media has seen a flood of appeals for news of Gautier. A friend told investigators that he had left with reserves of food and water that could allow him to survive "more than 15 days ".The 27-year-old student has been living in Rome for two years, writing a thesis in art history. Read more: * Missing Franco-Irish teenager died from starvation: Malaysian police

  • US commemorates 400 years since the birth of slavery in August 1619
    News
    France 24

    US commemorates 400 years since the birth of slavery in August 1619

    In August 1619, a British ship landed on the shores of Virginia with some 20 African captives aboard. Four hundred years later, the date is being commemorated as the beginning of the age of slavery in North America. Just along the boardwalk in Virginia's seaside town of Hampton – once known as Point Comfort – stands a stark plaque. It reads: “The first documented Africans in Virginia arrived here in Aug. 1619 on the White Lion, an English privateer based in the Netherlands.” Four hundred years ago, the ship dropped anchor in what was then a British colony. John Rolfe, the plantation owner and official overseeing the colony (who is perhaps best remembered for marrying Pocahontas), noted that it “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes”. Captives from AngolaAs the Hampton History Museum recounts, the captives came from the kingdom of Ndongo, in present-day Angola. They were reportedly captured there by Portuguese colonists then driven to the port of Luanda, where they were brought on board the slave ship São João Baptista. Altogether, the boat carried some 350 enslaved people. As it sailed toward Veracruz, in present-day Mexico, the ship was intercepted by the White Lion. The British crew robbed part of the Portuguese cargo, including a few dozen African captives – among those who had survived the brutal journey thus far. A few days later, it was at Point Comfort that the British vessel finally landed, in the hopes of trading the enslaved Africans for food and supplies. The exact date of the ship’s landing is not known, but historians have fixed August 1619 as the moment that slavery began in what would become the United States. In the rest of the Americas, however, a forced labour regime was already well under way. “Prior to the slave trade, indigenous people were enslaved in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies,” says Michael Thomas, assistant professor of philosophy at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. “Enslaved people from Africa were brought over to reinforce their numbers.”Spanish conquistadors had already brought African slaves to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (today shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) as early as 1502. In 1526, a Spanish expedition also brought African captives to present-day South Carolina, almost a century before the date of the Virginia landing now considered the birth of slavery on the continent. However, the settlement there was abandoned the following year after the Africans rebelled. Changing perceptions of slaveryFor Thomas, whether 1619 marked the precise beginning of North American slavery is beside the point. What matters is that the date “helps us mark how the history of slavery in the US is recognised”, he says. It offers a starting point for reckoning with this history and the many misconceptions that come with it. “When it comes to the history of slavery, we have the image of poor people broken in boats who were dehumanised and without culture,” Thomas says. “However, the people shipped over in boats from African nations and the Caribbean had lives before working as slaves on plantations … they brought skills and knowledge that made them valuable labourers.”“It’s not only important that we remember these dates,” he continues. “It’s essential that we pay attention to how we remember these dates, because they tell us valuable things about the nation and the people in it that we often obscure.”As an African American himself, Thomas says he doesn’t remember hearing much about 1619 when he was growing up, whether at home or at school. “We did commemorate Juneteenth, which commemorated the abolition of slavery on June 19th 1865,” he recalls. ‘Drawing energy from the past’Throughout the month of August a series of events has been scheduled to mark the anniversary, among them ceremonies, conferences, concerts, the release of butterflies and a ringing of bells. On July 30, President Donald Trump also alluded to the anniversary in a visit to Jamestown, about 50 kilometres from the site of the 1619 landing. Trump, who was in Jamestown to mark a separate 400th anniversary – that of the future United States’ first legislative assembly – made a reference to “the beginning of a barbaric trade in human lives”. The US president has not announced plans to return to the area for further commemorations in the coming days – and some of those behind the events would prefer he keep his distance. As Gaylene Kanoyton, the president of the Hampton branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told the Guardian: “He’s not welcome because of everything that we’re commemorating, the arrival of slavery. He’s for white supremacy, he’s for nationalism, he’s for everything that we are against.” Two years ago, it was in the same state of Virginia that the United States witnessed one of the most significant acts of white supremacist violence under Trump’s presidency. On August 12, 2017, during a far-right rally in the city of Charlottesville, an avowed neo-Nazi intentionally rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Trump later sparked widespread outrage when he stated that there was “blame on both sides” for the day’s violence. Thomas says the return of such open racist violence in the United States is one of the reasons that it’s so important to understand how the history of slavery shaped the country’s history. “I do know of many African Americans who are returning this year to Africa to commemorate the date and cultivate their sense of connection with Africa,” he says. “I can’t say whether or not it is increasing now, but my guess is yes given the state of things in the US. When visual signs of racism and racial violence increase, people draw energy from the past to lift themselves up and fight back.”This article has been adapted from the original in French.

  • Yemen's war cut a father's route to work, now his toddler starves
    News
    Reuters

    Yemen's war cut a father's route to work, now his toddler starves

    Before Yemen's war broke out four years ago Ali Muhammad used to cross the border into Saudi Arabia to work, joining thousands of other Yemenis from his poor, mountainous region. Yemen's conflict, which the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian disaster, has pushed what was already one of the poorest Arab states to the brink of famine. Informal cross-border routes to work in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, have been cut, and thousands of Yemenis have left the kingdom in recent years as the government seeks to boost citizen employment, the U.N. has said.

  • Britain’s August washout to be replaced by Bank Holiday weekend sun but don’t expect a heatwave
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Britain’s August washout to be replaced by Bank Holiday weekend sun but don’t expect a heatwave

    Temperatures could reach 25C by next weekend after a period of heavy rain across the UK.

  • 7th century Merovingian skeleton unearthed in Cahors
    News
    RFI

    7th century Merovingian skeleton unearthed in Cahors

    A seventh-century sarcophagus containing the well-preserved remains of an elderly woman with arthritis has been found in Cahors, south-western France, while the area was being dug up to be redeveloped.The sarcophagus consisted of "a simple limestone tank covered with a roof with four-sided gable roof" and "sealed by a mortar joint".The skeleton of the woman, reportedly from the Merovingian era, was "an elderly female individual, testifying to osteoarthritis problems…buried without personal effect", according to an official statement from the Lot department.The site was discovered in July near St Bartholomew’s church on the same grounds where historians believe there is a monastery founded by the Merovingian royal official Didier of Cahors in the seventh century."The sarcophagus was located within the confines of this monastery and it seems that it was exposed in a place of passage," according to Lot officials.New excavations since the skeleton find have unearthed a number of Merovingian pottery remains and what is believed to be traces of an old kitchen.The latest finds will be examined by archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventative Archaeological Research (INRAP) at the Henri-Martin museum in Cahors, where they will be housed.

  • Over two dozen rescuers try to save trapped cavers in Poland
    News
    Reuters

    Over two dozen rescuers try to save trapped cavers in Poland

    More than two dozen rescue workers are battling to save two cavers trapped in a cavern in Poland's Tatra mountains, the mountain rescue service said on Sunday, after a narrow tunnel flooded with water, blocking their exit. A representative of the rescue service said it had not yet been possible to establish contact with the two cavers and concern was growing due to their long exposure to extreme conditions. "The only way to get to them is through a series of very complicated pyrotechnic actions," said Jan Krzysztof, head of the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue group, in an impromptu interview broadcast by TVN.