english news

British man placed on worldwide most wanted list


A suspected killer and one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been placed on a worldwide most wanted list after more than two years on the run. Shane O’Brien, 30, is alleged to have killed 21-year-old Josh Hanson in an unprovoked knife attack in a bar in Hillingdon, west London, in 2015.

He has now been placed on Interpol’s worldwide most wanted list and there is a £50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and prosecution. O’Brien left the UK on a privately chartered flight from Biggin Hill airport in the wake of the death of Hanson at the RE bar in Eastcote. Hanson was stabbed in the neck in the early hours of 11 October 2015 and died from his injuries at the scene.

O’Brien, originally from Ladbroke Grove, is described as white, 6ft, with grey eyes, dark brown hair, a full beard and a tattoo on his back of an owl holding a skull, covering up a previous one of “Shannon 15-04-06”. Since fleeing the UK, he is thought to have lived in the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates before returning to Europe.

It emerged that he was arrested in Prague in early 2017 on suspicion of criminal damage and assault before he was released on bail. He had dramatically changed his appearance and gave his name as Enzo Mellonceli, one of the Italian aliases he has been using. Police say he has been travelling “extensively” and there were reported sightings in Gibraltar, Nice in France and Prague following an appeal for information in October last year.(theguardian)…[+]

Facebook and Google targeted as first GDPR complaints filed


Facebook and Google have become the targets of the first official complaints of GDPR noncompliance, filed on the day the privacy law takes effect across the EU. Across four complaints, related to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google’s Android operating system, European consumer rights organisation Noyb argues that the companies have forced users into agreeing to new terms of service, in breach of the requirement in the law that such consent should be freely given.

Max Schrems, the chair of Noyb, said: “Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent. In the end users only had the choice to delete the account or hit the agree button – that’s not a free choice, it more reminds of a North Korean election process.” If upheld, the complaints could result in more than £3bn in fines for each company – the maximum possible under the new law being the higher of €20m (£17.5m) or 4% of an organisation’s annual revenue. The complaints, filed on behalf of unnamed users of the sites, were sent to Facebook’s Irish headquarters and Google’s home in Mountain View, California.(theguardian)…[+]

Harvey Weinstein appears in court charged with rape and other sexual offences


The disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape, a criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for alleged incidents involving two separate women, after he earlier surrendered to authorities in New York.

During a brief court appearance on Friday, Weinstein remained quiet as his lawyers agreed he would post $1m (£750,000) bail and wear an electronic monitoring device. He also surrendered his passport, and agreed not to travel beyond New York and Connecticut. A prosecutor told the judge that the investigation was ongoing, and that authorities have encouraged other survivors to come forward.

“The defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” she said. Speaking outside court, Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said his client intends to plead not guilty. He called the charges “constitutionally flawed” and “not factually supported”.

It is the first criminal case to be brought against Weinstein since the revelations about him erupted last October and sparked the #MeToo movement. Weinstein, 66, was led in handcuffs, with a detective on either side holding his arms, from the police station into a waiting car. A few minutes later he arrived at criminal court in Manhattan, and was marched in by the detectives to be arraigned on the charges. He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.(NU)…[+]

Sites block EU users before GDPR takes effect


With less than a day until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, a growing number of companies are taking the nuclear option to ensure compliance: blocking all European users from their servers.

Instapaper, a read-later service owned by the US firm Pinterest, became the latest to disconnect European customers on Thursday. It said the cutoff was temporary while it made the required changes, and told users: “We apologise for any inconvenience, and we intend to restore access as soon as possible.” Pinterest did not respond to a request for comment. Other companies have taken a more permanent approach. Unroll.me, an inbox management firm, announced it was withdrawing services for EU companies due to an inability to offer its product – which is monetised by selling insights gleaned from reading users’ emails – in a way that was compatible with EU law. “We are truly sorry that we are unable to offer our service to you,” the company told EU users.(theguardian)…[+]

Corbyn rejects claims he would push for unified Ireland as PM


Jeremy Corbyn has rebuffed claims he will seek a united Ireland if he becomes prime minister during his first visit to Belfast since becoming the leader of the opposition.

The Labour leader said he would not seek a border poll unless there was an obvious demand for it during a speech in which he went out of his way to praise senior unionists such as Lord Trimble and the late Rev Ian Paisley.  He spoke out following reports on Thursday that unionists remain suspicious that Corbyn supports the unification of Ireland and retains sympathies for Sinn Féin and other republicans.

The Irish border issue is one of the most problematic aspects of the Brexit negotiations, with ministers trying to find a way of avoiding checks on the UK’s only land border with the EU.

Addressing students and staff at Queen’s University, Corbyn was asked if he would advocate a poll on whether the border should continue to exist between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  He replied: “That would be a decision that could be made within the terms of the Good Friday agreement.

“If that is the wish, then clearly such a poll would happen. I’m not asking for it, I’m not advocating it. What I’m asking for is a return to the fullness of the Good Friday agreement which would open up the opportunities and possibilities for the future of Ireland as a whole. “That is the point of the Good Friday agreement – not direct rule, not imposition of a political view from Westminster – but devolution of powers to Stormont here and of course the relationship with the Republic. “It is quite clear that it’s there for a poll on both sides of the border, should that be something that is demanded,” he said.(theguardian)…[+]

Spanish rapper due to begin jail term vows to ‘disobey fascist state’


A Spanish rapper whose jail sentence of three and a half years for “glorifying terrorism” and insulting the crown caused an outcry has said he will defy authorities, amid reports he may have fled the country. Jose Miguel Arenas Beltrán – better known as Valtònyc– was sentenced last year for lyrics that Spain’s national court ruled warranted a prison sentence. The supreme court upheld the ruling in February.

Valtònyc, 24, had been freed on bail until his prison entry deadline, which came on Thursday. But on Wednesday he wrote in a cryptic tweet: “Tomorrow they will knock down the door of my house to put me in jail. For some songs. Tomorrow Spain is going to make a fool of itself, once more. “I’m not going to make it easy for them, it’s legitimate and an obligation to disobey this fascist state. Here, no one surrenders.”(theguardian)…[+]

Hitting toughest climate target will save world $30tn in damages, analysis shows


Achieving the toughest climate change target set in the global Paris agreement will save the world about $30tn in damages, far more than the costs of cutting carbon emissions, according to a new economic analysis. Most nations, representing 90% of global population, would benefit economically from keeping global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the research indicates. This includes almost all the world’s poorest countries, as well as the three biggest economies – the US, China and Japan – contradicting the claim of US president, Donald Trump, that climate action is too costly.

Australia and South Africa would also benefit, with the biggest winners being Middle East nations, which are threatened with extreme heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival. However, some cold countries – particularly Russia, Canada and Scandinavian nations – are likely to have their growth restricted if the 1.5C target is met, the study suggests. This is because a small amount of additional warming to 2C would be beneficial to their economies. The UK and Ireland could also see some restriction, though the estimates span a wide range of outcomes.(theguardian)…[+]

Yulia Skripal: ‘We are so lucky to have survived assassination attempt’


Yulia Skripal has said she wishes to return to Russia “in the longer term” despite the nerve agent attack against her and her father Sergei Skripal, which she described as life changing.

In her first appearance since being discharged from hospital, Yulia said that she flew to London on 3 March to visit her father, something she had done regularly in the past. The Skripals were found a day later in a comatose condition on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury. “After 20 days in a coma I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned,” she said. “I still find it hard to come to terms that both of us were attacked. We are so lucky to both have survived this attempted assassination. She continued: “Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful. The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking. I don’t want to describe the details but the physical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing.”(theguardian)…[+]

Death toll climbs in Karachi heatwave

death toll

An intense heatwave across south Asia has killed dozens of people with sustained temperatures in excess of 40C (104F) coinciding with power cuts and Ramadan, when many Muslims avoid eating or drinking water. At least 65 people have died in Karachi in recent days according to the charitable organisation that runs the central morgue in the Pakistani port city, as volunteers handed out water to labourers and others working outside in temperatures as high as 44C.

Local media reports claimed the death toll could have exceeded 100 in the sprawling megacity of 15 million, where high temperatures are exacerbated by an absence of green space, estimated to make up just 7% of the urban area. Authorities in Karachi have not confirmed the death toll but urged people to stay indoors and keep drinking water.

Parts of the city have also been suffering from power cuts, particularly early in the morning when more people than usual have been waking to eat before sunrise in line with Ramadan fasting rituals. During the annual month-long rite, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking anything including water between sunrise and sunset, though children, older people, the sick and pregnant women usually do not participate.

The Edhi Foundation, which runs Karachi’s central morgue, said most of the dead in the city were working-class people from poorer neighbourhoods, including children and elderly people.(theguardian)…[+]

‘They deserve no mercy’: Iraq deals briskly with accused ‘women of Isis’


In a small holding room in a Baghdad court, French citizen Djamila Boutoutao cradled her two-year-old daughter and begged for help. Boutoutao, 29, is accused of being a member of Islamic State. Whispering in her native tongue within earshot of other accused Isis members – all foreigners like her – she said life had become unbearable.

“I’m going mad here,” said Boutoutao, a small bespectacled woman with a deadpan stare. “I’m facing a death sentence or life in prison. No one tells me anything, not the ambassador, not people in prison.” Guards moved closer as Boutoutao continued. So did her fellow accused – all from central Asia or Turkey, who had all lost husbands and, in some cases, children as the Islamic State collapsed in Iraq last year.

“Don’t let them take my daughter away,” she pleaded. “I am willing to offer money if you can contact my parents. Please get me out of here.” With that, the short conversation was shut down and Boutoutao returned to a corner, waiting for the judge in the adjoining room to summon her. There were no French officials present, and nothing at all to connect her to her former life in Lille. If convicted of joining the terrorist group, she faces life in a central Baghdad jail, or death by hanging.(theguardian)…[+]