Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has brushed aside concerns for her health after she started to tremble convulsively during a welcoming ceremony for the Ukrainian president in Berlin on Tuesday.
‘Come the October European Council, there will be voices arguing that any concession to Johnson is a concession to “populism”, and should be avoided.’ Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty ImagesViewed from Europe, the race for the Tory leadership has taken on a surreal quality as Boris Johnson takes an apparently unassailable lead in the multi-round contest. As a plethora of hostile editorials and articles in the European press attest, the sight of a politician widely derided as a “mini Trump” becoming the new British prime minister has only confirmed the impression that the UK has been consumed by a populist revolution symbolised by the vote for Brexit.At one level this “noise” is more than superficial, since it points to a fundamental problem with the Johnson candidacy for Europe, which is the baggage he brings as a high-profile character who made a career out of lampooning the ideals, initiatives and institutions of the European Union. There is no doubt that Johnson’s record as both newspaper columnist and foreign minister will make it harder for Europe to justify making concessions to him that leaders were not prepared to make for Theresa May. Come the October European Council, there will be voices arguing that any concession to Johnson is a concession to “populism”, and should be avoided. The question in European minds is whether Johnson can inject enough realism into his fellow Brexiteers to clinch a dealAt the same time, Johnson’s early lead has so far avoided the worst fears in EU capitals that the leadership race would create a rhetorical “race to the bottom” in which candidates out-bid each other to win over the hard Brexit caucus. With Esther McVey out, Michael Gove weakened by the drug-taking scandal and Dominic Raab isolated as too extreme among his fellow candidates over his willingness to shut down parliament, Johnson has only had to remain silent to gain ground.This has had the effect of reducing the temperature of the contest which looked to be off to a very heated start when Johnson announced his campaign by promising to withhold the Brexit bill if Europe would not give him “clarity” on the future relationship. This would be both illegal and politically counterproductive as the strong pushback from Europe has made clear.All that said, the European Union and EU capitals also know that Prime Minister Johnson – for all his baggage – has the potential to deliver a Brexit deal where May has repeatedly failed. After three lost meaningful votes, Europe knows that a remainer of May’s ilk is very unlikely to be able to deliver the Brexit deal in parliament, even after the political declaration on the future relationship has been tweaked in a more Brexiteer direction. For that reason, Brussels and the EU capitals are clear that Johnson will be given a hearing, if and when he enters No 10.The question in European minds is whether Johnson – or any Brexiteer prime minister – can inject enough realism into their fellow Brexiteers to clinch such a deal. The Tory party conference at the end of September will be a key moment for assessing whether that prime minister can walk the line between promising the “liberation” of Brexit while sticking to what is deliverable in Brussels. May failed that test. The fear is that Johnson will do so again.Europe will do what it can to try to refresh the deal – focusing heavily on amending the political declaration and the hunt for “alternative arrangements” on the Irish border, which May promised but Brexiteers never trusted her to deliver. Talk of a “time limit” to the Irish backstop is probably a step too far. Could Europe really give Johnson what they denied May?But if Johnson rewrote the declaration to commit the UK to a free trade agreement rather than a customs union and won additional promises that the backstop would not be needed, there is a glimmer of hope in Europe that, with the threat of a disastrous general election looming, the rebellious Tory back benches who defied May might yet fall into line for Johnson.All concerned know that this is still a long shot, but at the very least they are determined to try, since if the fleeting chance at renegotiation goes wrong, Europe will still not want to be blamed for triggering a no deal. And yet, if it comes to it, the willingness of the EU27 to accept a no deal has risen appreciably since their last gathering in April.Within very strict limits, the EU will try to help Johnson get a repackaged deal over the line. And while there’s some optimism he will be able to do what May could not, two long years of failed Brexit negotiations mean they know better than to get their hopes up.• Mujtaba Rahman is the managing director of Europe at Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm
A woman in her 80s is in a serious condition in hospital after an accident involving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's convoy.William and Kate were on their way to a ceremony in Windsor on Monday when a marked police motorbike in their convoy was involved in a collision with the woman on Upper Richmond Road, Richmond, south-west London.The woman was taken to hospital in a critical condition, Scotland Yard said.The duke and duchess are “deeply concerned and saddened” by what happened and have been in touch with the woman who they say is called Irene, Kensington Palace said.The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the circumstances of the collision which involved a motorcycle attached to the Royalty and Specialist Protection Command. An IOPC spokesman said: “The woman, in her 80s, suffered serious injuries and was taken to a London hospital where she remains in a serious but stable condition.“In line with procedure, the Metropolitan Police Service referred the collision to the IOPC.“Our staff attended the scene of the incident and after careful consideration, we have launched an independent investigation.“The investigation is in its very early stages and the officer involved is assisting our enquiries as a witness.“Our immediate thoughts are with the injured woman and her family and those affected by the incident.”Kensington Palace said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were deeply concerned and saddened to hear about the accident on Monday afternoon.“Their Royal Highnesses have sent their very best wishes to Irene and her family and will stay in touch throughout every stage of her recovery.”It is understood that the couple have sent flowers.The accident took place at around 12.50pm on Monday when the royal couple were on their way to Windsor for the St George’s Chapel service commemorating the Order of the Garter.Earlier this year, the Duke of Edinburgh, 98, surrendered his driving licence after a crash at Sandringham.Philip flipped his Land Rover Freelander on January 17 after colliding with a Kia as he pulled out onto the A149 in Norfolk.Press Association
Stephen Barclay said joint efforts should remain focused on ensuring an agreement is reached to allow the UK to leave with a deal.
The chief Dutch prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, wrote to relatives last week and invited them to a briefing on Wednesday. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/ReutersDutch prosecutors are set to identify suspects and file the first criminal charges over the 2014 downing over east Ukraine of flight MH17 that left 298 people dead in the worst atrocity in five years of war between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists.The charges are likely to target members of a Russia-backed separatist movement and may include Russian servicemen who commanded or helped transport the anti-aircraft missile system used to bring down the plane.The charges will raise tensions with Russia, which is unlikely to turn over its citizens, especially those in uniform, to stand trial in a foreign country or at the international criminal court. Russia’s constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens.The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is set to present new evidence in the MH17 investigation on Wednesday, and is expected to name its first four suspects in the case.The JIT previously alleged that the surface-to-air missile that brought down the plane belonged to the Russian armed forces and had been supplied by the country’s 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, disregarded those findings, saying the investigation “did not inspire confidence” and that “several versions” of events existed.Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Tuesday also confirmed that criminal charges would be brought against the suspects named in the JIT’s presentation.“The names will be announced. Charges will be brought. After that, the criminal court of Schiphol will start working to consider this case,” Ukraine’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Olena Zerkal, told the news agency Interfax-Ukraine. “They are only the top. Naturally, then the number of people who are involved in this will be much larger than the four people who will be named.”The news agency said that Zerkal believed the charges could target “senior officers” in the Russian army because the transfer of a surface-to-air missile system “is impossible without the top brass’s permission”.The charges are likely to be brought in the Netherlands because the majority of the passengers aboard the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch. According to official information, the Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysian, 38 Australian, 12 Indonesian, and 10 British passengers, as well as one passenger from New Zealand.The investigative collective Bellingcat, which collected and analysed open-source data about the attack on the Malaysia Airlines flight 17, will also make a presentation on Wednesday identifying “separatists involved in the downing of MH17”.Bellingcat has written extensively on the case. Last year it identified one of the Russian military intelligence officers allegedly involved as Oleg Ivannikov, a career GRU officer who operated undercover in rebel-controlled Luhansk in eastern Ukraine under the cover names “Orion” and “Andrey Ivanovich”, the website said.The downing of the jet came in the first months of a bitter war between Ukraine’s army and Russia-backed separatists that has left more than 13,000 people dead. While Ukraine’s army held air superiority in the conflict, separatist forces mysteriously began shooting down Ukrainian jet fighters and troop transports, and Russia was suspected of providing them with anti-aircraft missile systems.Pro-separatist sites initially welcomed the downing of MH17, believing the plane to be an An-26 troop transport, before discovering that a passenger jet had been targeted.A Dutch news programme, Nieuwsuur, has named several MH17 suspects, including Sergei Muchkaev, commander of the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk, a former Ukrainian serviceman accused of collaborating with separatist forces, and several alleged members of Russian military intelligence, commonly referred to as GRU. It is unclear if they will be among the suspects identified on Wednesday.Dutch authorities have revealed few details about the upcoming announcement. The chief Dutch prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, wrote to relatives last week and invited them to a briefing on Wednesday in Nieuwegein, near Utrecht. The Dutch Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said it would inform them about the latest developments in the criminal case into the downing of flight MH17, Westerbeke said.The closed meeting for family members will take place ahead of a press conference scheduled for 1pm local time on Wednesday. The short notice was due to the “importance of secrecy”, Westerbeke told relatives of the victims.
Celebrities including Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry and Reese Witherspoon have taken to social media to celebrate ten years of Meat Free Monday.Meat Free Monday is an initiative started by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney to encourage people to go veggie on Mondays to help save animals and the environment.Sir Paul's late wife Linda, who passed away in 1998, was a strong advocate for animal rights and vegetarianism, establishing the Linda McCartney Foods company in 1991. A number of stars have celebrated the anniversary of Meat Free Monday on Instagram, with many posting videos and pictures to social media.Tom Hanks, Ringo Starr, Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Ellie Goulding and more are also reportedly set to support campaign’s tenth anniversary.Sir Paul McCartney himself kicked off the tributes with a spoken word guitar solo video he posted to Instagram, in which he said, “It’s a simple idea that people have caught onto. They love it, we love it, the planet loves it, everybody loves it, the animals love it. It’s Meat Free Monday - happy 10 years!" View this post on Instagram It’s a simple idea that people have caught onto. They love it, we love it, the planet loves it, everybody loves it, the animals love it. It’s MeatFreeMonday! Happy 10 years! 🎉💚 MFMCountMeIn PaulMcCartney A post shared by Paul McCartney (@paulmccartney) on Jun 17, 2019 at 9:48am PDTStars have since joined the conversation with the hashtag MFMCountMeIn to celebrate the brand, discussing the importance of reducing meat consumption in an effort to help the environment. Katy Perry View this post on Instagram This meal is BEEF-free MeatFreeMonday 🍔♥️🍟 YNTCDmusicvideo Link in Stories A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on Jun 17, 2019 at 5:39am PDTPerry and her fiancee Bloom were among stars who celebrated the campaign.While promoting her former nemesis Taylor Swift’s music video You Need To Calm Down, she posted an image of the pair hugging with Perry dressed ironically as a hamburger. She captioned the post “This meal is BEEF-free” and hashtagged it MeatFreeMonday. Orlando BloomOn his Instagram stories Bloom said, “Happy birthday Meat Free Monday! As someone who loves animals - well, all beings really, I think generations to come are going to look at us and go, ‘Can you believe they used to eat meat? That’s crazy.’”He continued, “Happy birthday, you meat free lovers.” Reese WitherspoonReese Witherspoon also joined the party and proved herself Instagram savvy with a rainbow grid filter, posting a video in which said, “You can count me in! It’s a great way to help the planet.” Chris Martin and Coldplay View this post on Instagram Happy 10th birthday to MeatFreeMonday! MFMCountMeIn Love c, w, g, j & p A post shared by Coldplay (@coldplay) on Jun 17, 2019 at 2:38pm PDTColdplay’s Chris Martin also spoke on behalf of the band and said in an Instagram video, “Happy birthday to Meat Free Monday! It’s an amazing idea and uh, the fact that we are encouraged to think about where our meat comes from and how much we consume can only be a good thing for us, for animals and the planet.” Kate Moss and Twiggy Lawson View this post on Instagram Happy Birthday Meat Free Monday from @katemossagency 🖤. … MFMCountMeIn A post shared by Kate Moss Agency (@katemossagency) on Jun 17, 2019 at 1:46am PDTSupermodel Kate Moss lent her support, with Moss posting an understated video from her agency’s account in which she simply said, “Happy birthday, Meat Free Monday!” Twiggy Lawson View this post on Instagram Happy 10th Birthday @meatfreemonday ! Together we can make such a difference 🎁 🥦🥕🥥🥑🥒🌽🍠🥬🍅🥔🥝🎉 • • • MFMCountMeIn meatfreemondays A post shared by Twiggy (@twiggylawson) on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:13am PDTLawson’s on the other hand was longer and full of vegetable emojis, as she said in a video, “Happy tenth birthday meat free monday, keep your mondays full of veggies and help keep our planet safe.”Lawson describes herself as an "animal lover" in her Instagram bio. Alec Baldwin and Kevin Nealon View this post on Instagram Meat free Monday!! A post shared by Alec Baldwin (@alecbaldwininsta) on Jun 17, 2019 at 1:06pm PDTAlec Baldwin also posted a video to Instagram alongside actor Kevin Nealon, in which the pair urged everyone to “participate in meat free Monday”. Isla Fisher and Annabelle Wallis View this post on Instagram Happy Meat Free Monday! Reducing our meat intake will help save our precious planet 🌎 Let’s do this.. MFMCountMeIn @annabellewallis A post shared by Isla Fisher (@islafisher) on Jun 16, 2019 at 9:16pm PDTActors Isla Fisher and Annabelle Wallis posted a joint video to Instagram in which Fisher said, "Reducing our meat intake will help preserve our planet and the animals we share it with.” Nile Rodgers View this post on Instagram Happy Birthday, MeatFreeMonday! MFMCountMeIn A post shared by Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) on Jun 17, 2019 at 7:44am PDTNile Rodgers proved he remains one of the smoothest men alive with a captivating Meat Free Monday video, in which he said, “I just wanna say happy birthday Meat Free Monday. Reducing our meat intake is such a great thing to do to preserve our planet and the animals we share with it.”He signed the message off with a kiss and repeated, “Happy birthday Meat Free Monday.” Gabrielle Aplin View this post on Instagram Happy 10th anniversary @meatfreemonday! 🥗🍆🥝🥬🥥🍓🍍 meatfreemonday MFMCountMeIn A post shared by Gabrielle Aplin (@gabrielleaplin) on Jun 17, 2019 at 4:54am PDTVegan singer Gabrielle Aplin posted a longer video to Instagram in which she thanked Meat Free Monday for “inspiring the way I live my life now”. She continued, “Even if you’re not veggie, or vegan, or plant-based, reducing our meat and dairy consumption even for just one day a week has a positive impact on our planet, the animals we share it with and our own personal health.” Stella McCartney View this post on Instagram Join me today in celebrating ten years of MeatFreeMonday! This important awareness campaign brings us all together to refrain from eating meat and dairy for just one day a week. It's easy to do, and together we can make great change, which is so needed xx MFMCountMeIn A post shared by Stella McCartney (@stellamccartney) on Jun 17, 2019 at 6:59am PDTDesigner Stella McCartney, whose brand is famed for its animal-free to fashion, posted a surreal video from inside a tree trunk. The designer declared that “our planet needs us more than ever” and said, “Join me today in celebrating ten years of MeatFreeMonday! This important awareness campaign brings us all together to refrain from eating meat and dairy for just one day a week. It's easy to do, and together we can make great change, which is so needed.”To learn more about the Meat Free Monday initiative, you can head to their website here and make a donation here, which will be used to "fund education resources, marketing, research, cooking workshops and special events".
The number of Italians living in absolute poverty held steady in 2018 after three straight years of growth, though the problem remains at a record high, data showed on Tuesday. About 5 million people or 8.4% of the population live in absolute poverty, defined as those unable to buy goods and services "essential to avoid grave forms of social exclusion", according to data from national statistics bureau ISTAT. In terms of families, the number was 1.8 million, the highest since ISTAT records began in 2005.
More than 300,000 people have fled inter-ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past two weeks, UN aid agencies have said. The exodus has complicated the tracing and treatment of patients at risk of Ebola in an epidemic which spread to Uganda last week. At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of DRC in the past week in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities, according to local officials.Babar Baloch, a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, said: “Violence in northeastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo is reported to have displaced more than 300,000 since early June."The situation in Ituri province has deteriorated since the middle of last week, with multiple attacks involving the Hema and Lendu groups.”The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees fears that the escalation could engulf large parts of the province, amid reports of killings, kidnappings and sexual violence unleashed against civilians, he said. The government is trying to bring the clashes under control, he added.As Congolese flee violence at “this massive scale”, it is feared that more people will try to seek safety in Uganda and cross Lake Albert, Mr Baloch said.The Ebola epidemic in Congo has caused 2,168 infections since August, including 1,449 deaths,World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. Ituri accounts for about 10 per cent of cases and deaths. “We are always saying the mobility of the population in North Kivu and Ituri is a risk factor,” Mr Jasarevic told the briefing.“So every time you have people moving in high numbers, it is more complicated to do the work of follow-up, contact tracing, follow up on the people who are supposed basically to be observed on a daily basis for 21 days,” he said, referring to the disease's incubation period.Reuters
The body of an Indian magician who drowned when his Houdini-like escape stunt went wrong has been recovered from the River Ganges. Chanchal Lahiri, also known as Jadugar Mandrake, was tied up with ropes and steel chains for a magic trick and was lowered into the river on Sunday while his friends and family watched from the river bank. The magician's body was discovered on Monday night, according to Syed Waquar Raza, deputy commissioner of the port division of Kolkata police.
She's been dubbed a "giant-slayer" for slapping multi-billion euro fines on the likes of Google and Apple over competition issues. Now Margrethe Vestager is tipped by Emmanuel Macron among others to become the first ever female president of the European Commission. FRANCE 24's Europe Editor Catherine Nicholson sat down with Vestager in Brussels to get her thoughts on her chances at getting the job, why women should hold more top political posts, and where she thinks Brexit could be headed next.
Downing Street said it had been 'quite hard' keeping up with anonymous quotes from friends of the Chancellor recently.
Facebook already rules daily communication for more than two billion people around the world. Now it wants its own currency, too. The social network unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to create a new digital currency similar to Bitcoin for global use, one that could drive more e-commerce on its services and boost ads on its platforms.But the effort, which Facebook is launching with partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard, could also complicate matters for the beleaguered social network. Facebook is currently under federal investigation over its privacy practices, and along with other technology giants also faces a new antitrust probe in Congress.Creating its own globe-spanning currency – one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users – isn’t likely to dampen regulators’ interest in Facebook.France demands 'guarantees'Indeed, Tuesday’s announcement provoked a stern reaction from French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, whose government has also initiated a new tax on digital giants like Facebook that has angered the United States."If Facebook wants to create an instrument for transactions, why not? But there is no question that this can become a sovereign currency," he told Europe 1 radio, saying a "limit" had to be set."It cannot and must not become a sovereign currency, with all the attributes of a currency," such as the capacity to issue sovereign debt and serve as a reserve currency, said the French finance minister."The aspect of sovereignty must stay in the hands of states and not private companies which respond to private interests," Le Maire added.There need to be "guarantees" so that "this transaction instrument is not misused, for example, for the financing of terrorism or illicit activities," he said.Le Maire, whose country currently holds the G7 presidency, said he had asked the group's central bank governors to prepare a report by mid-July.This would lay out the guarantees required from cryptocurrencies, he added, saying it was necessary to "protect consumers".The first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal?The digital currency, called Libra, is scheduled to launch sometime in the next six to 12 months. Facebook is taking the lead on building Libra and its underlying technology; its more than two dozen partners will help fund, build and govern the system. Facebook hopes to raise as much as $1 billion from existing and future partners to support the effort.Company officials emphasized Libra as a way of sending money across borders without incurring significant fees, such as those charged by Western Union and other international money-transfer services. Libra could also open up online commerce to huge numbers of people around the world who currently don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.“If you fast forward a number of years, consumers all over the world will have the ability to access the world economy,” Facebook executive David Marcus said in an interview with The Associated Press.Facebook also could use its own currency to drive more people to make purchases from ads on its social media sites, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, who based her comments on press reports about Libra that preceded Facebook’s formal announcement. “This is about fostering more sales within an ad to get more business from advertisers to make ads more interesting on Facebook,” she said.Backing by familiar corporations might also make Libra the first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal. Such “cryptocurrencies” have generally failed to catch on despite a devout following among curious investors and innovators. Bitcoin itself remains shrouded in secrecy and fraud concerns, not to mention wild value fluctuations, making it unappealing for the average shopper.Libra will be different, Facebook says, in part because its value will be pegged to a basket of established currencies such as the US dollar, the euro, the yen and others. Each purchase of Libra will be backed by a reserve fund of equal value held in real-world currencies to stabilize Libra’s value.To be sure, recent history reminds us that many big Facebook announcements never really take off. Two years ago, for instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that “augmented reality,” in which phones and other devices project digital images into real-world surroundings, would be a major focus for the company. Such AR applications remain all but invisible today. Same goes for the online shopping chatbots that Zuckerberg unveiled a year earlier, saying they would revolutionize e-commerce in its Messenger app.'A public good'Facebook won’t run Libra directly; instead, the company and its partners are forming a nonprofit called the Libra Association, headquartered in Geneva, that will oversee the new currency and its use. The association will be regulated by Swiss financial authorities, Facebook said.No single company should operate this," Marcus said. "It should be a public good.”The company has also created a new subsidiary, Calibra, that is developing a digital wallet to allow people to buy, send and use Libra. Calibra pledges that it won’t share transaction data from details of Libra user’s financials with Facebook unless compelled to do so in criminal cases. Still, if people are using Facebook products to buy things and send money, it’s possible Facebook will be able to track some data about shopping and money transferring habits.Calibra won’t require users to have a Facebook account to make a free wallet. And it will allow people to send Libra back and forth on two of Facebook’s core messaging apps – WhatsApp and Messenger. Instagram messages won’t be included, at least at first.Libra partners will create incentives to get people and merchants to use the coin. That could range from Uber discounts to a Libra bonus paid when users set up a Calibra wallet, although the companies haven’t laid out specifics.Many privacy questions remain unanswered, though. Cryptocurrencies such as Libra store all transactions on a widely distributed, encrypted "ledger" known as the blockchain. That could make the Libra blockchain a permanent record of all purchases or cash transfers every individual makes, even if they’re stored under pseudonyms rather than real names.Facebook said that if people use Calibra or similar wallets, their individual transactions won’t be visible on the Libra blockchain.Earlier this year, Zuckerberg announced a new privacy-focused vision for the company after months of backlash for its treatment of personal customer information. Zuckerberg’s vision – which has mostly not been detailed publicly - will rely heavily on privacy-shielded messaging apps in an attempt to make the services more about private, one-to-one connections.Many analysts believe Zuckerberg wants to create a US version of the Chinese service WeChat, which combines social networking, messaging and payments in a single app. Libra would take Facebook a step closer to that end.(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)
Charlotte R Walker (It’s too late for Theresa May to solve the mental health crisis among young people – here’s why) is right to highlight the inadequacy of this government’s response to the tragic upsurge in the numbers of children needing treatment for mental health issues. Once again the government, which has cut school funding by 8 per cent per pupil, instructs teachers to solve another of society’s problems. It isn’t going to work.Twenty years ago, I was part of a senior management team that sought to introduce the position of school counsellor to a medium-sized secondary school because the NHS had very little to offer at that time.We were able to appoint a trained professional of high quality who cared passionately about the children. Eventually, the experiment failed. Schools are complex environments where there are countless complex interactions every day.Children face diverse and complex issues at home, at school and on social media and react in unpredictable ways; some are predisposed to develop mental health problems.A sympathetic ear is not enough – a team of multidisciplinary experts is needed to agree the right treatment and the lead counsellor needs supervision in order to maintain their own mental health.Without this, there is a danger of doing more harm than good. Schools are not resourced to manage the many extra meetings with stakeholders (they used to be called parents) which can, themselves, lead to additional patients; neither can they manage the build-up of false hopes and the subsequent despair. Finally, properly trained and experienced personnel are very rarely available in the workforce.A modern, properly funded referral service is the only answer. Until we have that this tragedy of ruined lives and aspirations will just get worse.David Lowndes Soberton Mohamed Morsi’s deathI am astounded and aghast at the sad demise of the first democratically elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. He stood tall and refused to bow to adversity, unimaginable acts of cruelty and wickedness. We are not saints but his cruel and inhumane treatment, solitary confinement and the refusal to grant him access to health care amounted to execution and transgressions of fundamental human rights. Let us hope that his death will inspire Egypt to rise and punch above its weight in the regional and global arena.Munjed Farid al Qutob London NW2 Leave old people aloneVery fine article by Jenny Eclair (Politicians could learn from ‘Years and Years’. At least it’s taking our fears about impending doom seriously). Early on, my eye was drawn to a question that I think many of us have been pondering for a while: “How much more bonkers does this country have to get?”Well, reading a recent posting on social media from Jeremy Hunt, I think we have already passed into crazier territory.I know we do not expect much from the woeful bunch of MPs currently at Westminster, but where on earth were his advisers?Or is it just possible that he is consulting, through a clairvoyant, none other than Harold Shipman?Robert Boston Kingshill Hunt backing TrumpShame on Jeremy Hunt. How low have our politicians sunk to side with a foreign country’s leader in his criticism of a British colleague. Where has solidarity gone?Whatever Trump says or tweets against Sadiq Khan, he should very promptly be told to keep out of our political and domestic affairs. Instead, he should look to sort out the gun massacres in his own country.I find it hard to believe that there was such a furore when Obama said the UK would go to the back of the queue if it went ahead with Brexit.Yet the hounding of Khan, and various comments about who should be and who should not be our prime minister, or who should conduct our Brexit negotiations, does not arouse a murmur. It’s disgusting.Janina Doroszkowska Marlow A third runway at Heathrow would be disastrousIt has just been announced that in order to build a third runway at Heathrow, they would need to divert rivers, re-route the M25 under a new tunnel, and God knows what else, which would inevitably destroy even more of the environment than airports already have.Not to mention the fact that the astronomical cost would certainly double or treble before everything was completed. All this in order to increase, again by ridiculous figures, the number of air travellers per year. To compensate, Heathrow will, they claim, reduce night flights by 30 minutes each day, and not allow polluting vehicles to drive too close to the terminals.We are supposed to bring down carbon emissions to as near zero as possible and as soon as possible. Surely even the most deliberately ignorant could, if unblinkered, realise that these two ambitions are diametrically opposed, and that the former would without any doubt speed us even faster into the inconvenient, uncomfortable and dystopian future envisaged for our grandchildren and theirs.Rosemary Mathew Cambridge
‘In France, unless your croissant is advertised as pur beurre it will probably be made with margarine.’ Photograph: Eurasia Press/Getty Images/Photononstop RM The revelation that struggling bakery chain Patisserie Valerie was so strapped for cash under its previous management that it took the butter out of its puff pastry may have shocked its new owners, but it didn’t come as much surprise to many in the industry. Traditional or not, if something isn’t sold as “all-butter”, it won’t be – in fact, in France, unless your croissant is advertised as pur beurre it will probably be made with margarine, and priced accordingly. They’re usually the crescent-shaped ones, and there’s no deception involved – margarine is just much cheaper. Not all such substitutions are quite so upfront however. One correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous tells me of a cupcake business that has switched to oil with artificial butter flavouring to cope with rising wholesale prices, and another who works for a cafe chain admits that margarine is routinely used instead of butter “inside things that customers can’t see”. Sometimes it goes as far as outright fraud: Grant Harrington of Oxfordshire’s Ampersand Dairy says he discovered that a (now former) customer was blending his butter in a half-and-half ratio with the “cheapest factory-made butter and serving it as cultured butter still”. Of course, one butter looks much like any other, and the same goes for eggs, especially if they’ve had a bit of help – pastry chef Ravneet Gill tells me she once worked with a chef who made custard with packet eggs, correcting the colour with yellow food colouring, while caterer Milli Taylor bears witness to a pistachio cake whose vivid green crumb didn’t have much to do with its nut content. Cheeses are also fair game – a recent investigation by the Channel 4 show Tricks of the Restaurant Trade discovered that of 11 cheese and tomato pizzas purchased in the same district of Liverpool, seven contained something called “analogue cheese” – a cheaper, non-dairy substitute most politely described as “plasticky” by their lucky taste testers. ‘The struggling bakery chain Patisserie Valerie was so strapped for cash under its previous management that it took the butter out of its puff pastry.’ Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images The Food Standards Agency, whose food crime department looks into such fraudulent activity, found that of 91 fish samples submitted to them in 2017, seven were a different species to that claimed, while more than one-fifth of meat samples contained the DNA of animals not on the label. If something’s described on the menu as just “fish and chips”, then it’s probably not cod or haddock, and, as one award-winning national restaurant critic tells me off the record, “of course EVERYONE uses frozen chips”. I hear tales of cheap summer truffles painted with black truffle oil in a Michelin-star kitchen, cucumber cut into the shape of prawns to bulk out a seafood cocktail, and a bottle of rosé made by “shaking a quarter of a bottle of red with three-quarters of a bottle of white” in the kitchen because the restaurant had run out of the real thing and the manager was “too embarrassed” to tell customers. Indeed, both Fay Maschler, long-standing critic at London’s Evening Standard, and Joanna Blythman of Scotland’s the Herald, say darkly that they suspect “a lot” of corners get cut in restaurants – fellow reviewer Max Brearley cites the practice of new openings using produce “from highly reputable sources” for the first couple of weeks, and then swapping to cheaper alternatives without changing the menu: “When questioned, it’s always an ‘honest mistake’.” But such deception might not be simply meanspirited: a tip off about macarons made with wheat flour rather than pricier ground almonds brings back memories of the sad case of Paul Wilson, who suffered from a severe peanut allergy and died in 2014 when the almonds in his chicken tikka masala were replaced with a less expensive, but ultimately fatal alternative. Ingredients are something a restaurant needs to make a decent profit on to operate successfully – the Times’ Giles Coren recalls when Pizza Express took the fourth olive off the La Reine in 1997 “a manager told me … that replicated across the growing empire this alone would save millions a year”. Small changes can make a big difference to the bottom line, especially in a challenging market, but they can also have serious consequences. Sometimes it’s a lot worse than just a bad millefeuille. • Felicity Cloake is a writer specialising in food and drink and the author of six cookbooks
Help to Buy (Scotland) and the Low Cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers have supported a total of 32,572 households since 2007, figures show.
‘A striking object, but it could have been so much better’ … Junya Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion. Photograph: James McCauley/REX/ShutterstockSquatting on the lawn like a moody crow, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion is an enigmatic arrival to Kensington Gardens. Formed from hundreds of pieces of rough Cumbrian slate piled up in a gentle mound, it has the look of a bird hunkered down in a hollow in the landscape, making a protective shelter with its outstretched wings. As you approach, you find the great feathered hill is in fact a thin shell, 62 tonnes of slate effortlessly held up on a forest of slender white columns, creating a cave-like space within.Part bird, part spoil heap, the 19th annual pavilion is the work of Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, 45, who has built an international reputation as an architectural conjuror, concocting daring structures that push the boundaries of what’s technically possible. He made a five-storey metal balloon float in a gallery in Tokyo, and constructed a frame in the Barbican so thin it was practically invisible. He is currently building his most audacious structure yet: a student centre in Japan with a 100-metre-long roof made from a continuous plate of 12mm-thick steel, with not a column in sight. So what drove his slate hillock for the Serpentine?“I wanted to create a pavilion that felt primitive and ancient,” says Ishigami, “something between building and landscape. Slate roofs are found all over the world, so anyone coming here will be able to identify with it as a basic, archetypal form.”‘Doesn’t hide his disappointment’ … Junya Ishigami with his pavilion in front of the Serpentine Gallery. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/ShutterstockHe refers to the Japanese garden idea of “shakkei”, or borrowed scenery, where the background landscape is incorporated into the design of the garden. Just as a distant mountain might provide a backdrop to a garden of carefully raked gravel, so too does the slate roof of the 1930s Serpentine Gallery (originally built as a tea pavilion) poke up behind Ishigami’s swelling sea of slate.It is strangely fitting and of its place. Of all architects to have been selected for the annual commission, Ishigami’s approach is perhaps most aligned with the 18th century landscape architects who first laid out Kensington Gardens in the picturesque tradition, with avenues framing views of water and strategically placed follies. He always talks about his work as “making scenery”, his structures creating artificial landscapes that operate in a world all of their own. Which means they can struggle when they come up against practical realities – particularly in the form of the Serpentine’s fiendishly tight timeframe.“It was really, really difficult this year,” says Tim Leigh, marketing director of Stage One, the York-based fabricators who have built the pavilion every year for the last decade. “Ishigami is the most conceptual architect we have ever worked with. It was a very strained process.”The final result feels rather lost in translation, the compromised product of a sharp clash of cultures. There are more columns than originally envisaged, and a series of clumsy polycarbonate walls have been installed, following wind analysis by engineers Aecom, to prevent the furniture from blowing away. Ishigami doesn’t hide his disappointment with the walls, which effectively destroy the design, turning the free-flowing space beneath the canopy into a more restricted enclosure.‘Clumsy polycarbonate walls destroy the design’ … Serpentine Galleries’s summer Pavilion. Photograph:It was conceived to be accessible from any direction – with children able to scamper beneath the roof where it swoops down at the lower points – but Ishigami says that British health and safety regulations put paid to that idea. The fabricators, on the other hand, pointed to the architect’s focus on aesthetics. More time, both agree, would have helped matters.It is a familiar story from years past, particularly when Japanese architects have been involved. Ishigami’s former employer, Sanaa, struggled to realise their seamless reflective canopy in 2009, being forced to include similar paraphernalia of walls, fatter columns and bulkier fixings, while Sou Fujimoto’s beguiling space-frame in 2013 was hampered by an excess of balustrades and hand rails. In every case, the architects wished they had more time to resolve such details, which makes you wonder why the gallery hasn’t started appointing them earlier, or making the project biennial, following the lead of the new Dulwich pavilion across the river.Ishigami’s structure is a striking object, but it could have been so much better, and it is a frustrating outcome in what has been a troubled year for the Serpentine. The institution was criticised for accepting funding from the Sackler family (in light of their alleged role in America’s opioid crisis), and berated over the fact that Ishigami’s practice employed unpaid interns (he insists they were university students on a placement). This week, on the scheduled morning of the pavilion preview on Tuesday, it was announced that the gallery’s CEO, Yana Peel, has resigned, following the Guardian’s disclosure that she co-owns an Israeli cyberweapons company whose software has allegedly been used by authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents. Peel said she did not want the Serpentine’s work undermined by “misguided and personal attacks on me and my family”.Whoever takes Peel’s place would be wise to slow down and rethink exactly what the pavilion programme is for. After almost 20 years of commissioning novelty structures to host summer parties for sponsors, it feels like the format could do with a rethink and look beyond the bounds of the gallery’s garden, and the collectors’ estates where the structures end up. There are schools in need of classrooms, public spaces in need of shelters, and countless other clients crying out for the energy and ingenuity that goes into this diverting annual folly.
A teenage neo-Nazi who called for Britain's Prince Harry a race traitor months after his marriage to U.S. actress Meghan Markle and suggested he should be shot was jailed for more than four years on Tuesday, the BBC reported. Michal Szewczuk, 19, posted far-right online propaganda which included an image of Harry, the Duke of Sussex, with a gun to his head with the caption "See Ya Later Race Traitor". It was posted months after his wedding to Meghan, whose mother is African American and father is white.
TAIPEI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - For Hong Kong resident Yung Xiu Kwan, 67, a proposed extradition law that would allow people in the former British colony to be sent to mainland China for trial was the final straw. Yung is packing her bags and leaving the Chinese-ruled city to set up a new life in proudly democratic Taiwan, fed up with what she sees as Beijing's ever encroaching grip over the city that has led to an erosion of civil liberties. "Without freedom and democracy, it's like being put in jail, like living in a concentration camp ... without freedom, (I) would rather die," said Yung, as she waved a Taiwan flag at a massive protest in Hong Kong on Sunday.
A call for donations to a personal PayPal account by right wing commentatorKatie Hopkins has drawn widespread criticism - and inspired a counterfundraiser in aid of refugees
If you thought police surveillance was mere CCTV, it's time to catch up on what's happening on the other side of the lens.