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The Guardian

Latest news, sport, business, comment, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Coronavirus live news: 60m Indians may have contracted Covid; Disney announces mass layoffs

India’s pandemic agency says cases may be ten times official figure; New York introduces face mask fines as positivity rates climb; Boris Johnson apologises for getting north-east England lockdown rules wrong. Follow the latest updates

I’m now heading over to the US Politics Live blog. My colleague Ben Doherty will be bringing you the latest coronavirus news.

More from the debate:

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

'He came out of the womb dancing!' Stars relive their wild times with Michael Clark

Baryshnikov couldn’t keep up, Sam Taylor-Wood had a panic attack and Sarah Lucas built him the rudest stage set ever … as a new show celebrates the dance legend, stars pin down his punk genius

Les Child, dancer with Michael Clark Company, 1982-89
Before I’d even met Michael I saw him on a poster and was in awe – just because of his amazing proportions. The first time I really saw him dance, he did a solo in a tutu and I was gobsmacked. I started to throw things at him: “You bitch! I didn’t think that was possible!”

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Hospital and circus theatre among 'most at-risk' listed buildings

Charity calls for Victorian and Edwardian ‘survivors of history’ in England and Wales to be saved

A long-forgotten London hospital, an imposing former brewery and a circus theatre, described as “fascinating survivors of history”, are among the top 10 most at-risk Victorian and Edwardian listed buildings, according to a charity.

The purpose-built hospital opened in 1889 was once one of the country’s most important gynaecological hospitals. It became the Samaritan Free Hospital for Women in 1904, joined the NHS in 1948 and closed in 1997.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Johnson's pledges on the environment are worthless. Worse is how cynical they are | George Monbiot

Pledges are made to distract and placate us - but at this years UN biodiversity summit public anger cannot be extinguished

It’s the hope I can’t stand. Every few years, governments gather to make solemn promises about the action they will take to defend the living world, then break them before the ink is dry. Today, at the virtual UN summit on biodiversity, they will move themselves to tears with the thought of the grand things they will do, then turn off their computers and sign another mining lease.

Ten years ago, at the last summit, world leaders made a similar set of “inspirational” promises. Analysis published a fortnight ago showed that, of the 20 pledges agreed at Nagoya in Japan in 2010, not one has been met. The collapse of wildlife populations and our life-support systems has continued unabated: the world has now lost 68% of its wild vertebrates since 1970. It sounds brutal to say that these meetings are a total waste of time. But this is a generous assessment. By creating a false impression of progress, by assuaging fear and fobbing us off, these summits are a means not of accelerating action but thwarting it.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Visually impaired Scots get sonic help with Covid graphs

New website uses musical notes to create an audio map of infection rates or fatalities

Blind and visually impaired people in Scotland can now learn about the latest data on Covid outbreaks near their home thanks to a website with a special sonic interface developed by volunteers.

The site plays musical notes to create sonic graphs of Covid-19 cases that allow the visually impaired to keep track of infection rates and fatalities, using the latest official data for health boards and local councils.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Social mobility in Chiltern towns among worst in England

Less well off people in Amersham and Chesham are locked into a cycle of disadvantage despite the affluence around them

It is an unwanted and for some, an unexpected official accolade: the affluent towns of Amersham and Chesham in the Chilterns are among England’s very worst places for social mobility. Grow up poor here, the statistics suggest, and you have a high chance of being locked into generations of poverty and disadvantage.

Poor life chances are normally associated with deprived urban areas. But Chiltern, a desirable home counties commuter refuge, is England’s third least deprived district. It is home to wealthy entrepreneurs, city financiers and pop stars, and known for its picturesque villages and opulent mansions.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Care home coronavirus outbreaks cast doubt on official PHE data

Exclusive: Largest provider says 70 of its homes have had outbreaks, with 20 in the last fortnight

The UK’s largest care home provider has had Covid outbreaks in 70 of its facilities, prompting questions about whether official figures on the virus’s return to social care may be too low.

As care leaders issued fresh warnings about testing delays, HC-One said it had closed one in five of its 329 homes because of outbreaks and that 20 homes had seen new outbreaks in the last fortnight.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Many GCSE pupils never study a book by a BAME author

Exam board AQA features no black writers on GCSE English literature syllabus

Pupils could complete their GCSEs and leave secondary school in England without studying a single work of literature by a non-white author, research has found.

The largest exam board in the country, AQA, does not feature a single book by a black author among set texts for its GCSE English literature syllabus, according to a report by the education charity Teach First.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Michael Rosen on his Covid-19 coma: ‘It felt like a pre-death, a nothingness’

Earlier this year, the beloved children’s writer spent six weeks on a ventilator with coronavirus. He talks about the magic of the NHS, the mismanagement of the crisis and how his near-death experience has changed him

“I’m drinking lemon tea,” Michael Rosen says. “Would you like some? It’s what my mother used to call Russian tea, by the way.” And before I am through the kitchen door of his north London home, he has given me a potted history of Russian tea. It is classic Rosen. Rarely does a sentence pass without the much-loved children’s poet and author teaching you something. There are anecdotes within anecdotes, tangents galore and an astonishing frame of reference – from the Palestinian professor Edward Said on “othering” to the former footballer Gordon Strachan on resilience, the poet Benjamin Zephaniah on us all being migrants and the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, on memory banks – and back again. “Sorry to inflict the Arsenal mug on a Man City fan,” he says with a wicked smile. Rosen, it seems, knows everything about everybody.

Earlier this year, the 74-year-old contracted Covid-19. He spent seven weeks in intensive care, six of them on a ventilator. His hair is white and thinner (although still pretty lush), he wears a hearing aid because his left ear is buggered, the bags under his eyes are more scrotal than ever, his left eye is fogged over, his voice is underpowered and he struggles with his breathing. Then there is the dizziness, numb toes, increased arthritis and blood clots on his lungs. Having said that, he is doing amazingly well. He is not hobbling around his kitchen, but cantering. He is writing books and newspaper columns, performing on his YouTube channel (run by his son Joe; 86m views), tweeting like billy-o. And yet there is something different about him.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Trump heckled, bullied and lied through the debate. It won't help him beat Biden | Richard Wolffe

The president is behind in key states. Fighting on TV won’t turn things around or win over the sliver of undecided voters left

In a bar-room brawl, who wins the fight? The guy swinging his fists or the guy clutching his drink?

From the very first minute of the first presidential debate, the 45th president behaved as he has for the last four years: as unpresidential as possible.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 4:53 am

How HSBC got caught in a geopolitical storm over Hong Kong security law

Bank’s future remains uncertain as it finds itself under pressure from Beijing and Washington

HSBC has been a fixture of the Hong Kong economy for more than a century. However, its origins as a financial bridge between Asia and the west have placed it in the centre of a modern day geopolitical storm. Facing pressure to choose sides as Hong Kong is convulsed by the new security law imposed by Beijing and Donald Trump pursues a trade war with China, HSBC is in danger of finding itself without friends in either direction.

Headquartered in London, but dependent on Hong Kong and China for profits, HSBC has been affected by tensions between Washington and Beijing – and shareholder concern over its controversial acceptance of an authoritarian crackdown in its key market.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 4:00 am

New Zealand firms switch to using nation's Māori name, Aotearoa

Vodafone and communications agency DDB respond after calls on companies to use the reo term

One of New Zealand’s biggest telecommunications companies has heeded an exhortation to use the country’s original, Indigenous name of Aotearoa, joining others that have pledged to use more reo, the Māori language, or tikanga – protocols – in their daily business operations.

Earlier this week Vodafone – which has about 2,000 New Zealand employees – confirmed it had changed its banner at the top of users’ phones from “Vodafone NZ” to “VF Aotearoa”. The company gave short shrift to those on social media who complained about the change. Rival companies backed the move.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 3:50 am

Helen Reddy, Australian singer of feminist anthem I Am Woman, dies aged 78

The singer, whose career was celebrated in the 2019 biopic of the same name, had been diagnosed with dementia several years ago

Helen Reddy, the Australian singer best known for her anthemic 1972 hit I Am Woman, has died at 78.

Reddy had been diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and had been living in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional entertainers.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 2:48 am

Trump plunges debate into chaos as he repeatedly talks over Biden

Trump refuses to denounce white supremacist violence as candidates throw insults and tempers flare

Donald Trump and Joe Biden sparred bitterly during the first presidential debate of the general election on Tuesday night, hurling personal insults as they clashed over the coronavirus pandemic, race, the economy and the supreme court.

Over the course of an extraordinarily combative and chaotic 90-minute performance, a fitting coda to what has been one of the nastiest presidential campaigns in recent memory, Trump interjected so frequently that the Democratic challenger at one point lost his patience and snapped: “Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 2:26 am

Protests and Covid leave Hong Kong stuck in recession

Political unrest hit tourism and retail, and coronavirus response has delayed recovery

Hong Kong’s economy was already in recession when the pandemic hit in January. Six months of running battles between pro-democracy campaigners and local government had deterred many of the visitors who fuel the lucrative tourism industry, while the threat of violence on the streets and closures of shops had sent retail sales down nearly a quarter on the previous year.

With much of Asia shut down by coronavirus restrictions during the winter months, there was little expectation of a recovery until the spring, when the level of infections fell to almost zero across mainland China and most of the rest of the region, and the measures could be eased.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 2:00 am

An inevitable crisis: how Covid-19 hit universities - podcast

The academic year has started at universities across the UK but far from the promised freshers’ experience, new students are finding themselves forced to isolate and attend classes online

When the coronavirus outbreak first struck Britain in March, universities scrambled to respond. They moved lectures online, sent students home and cancelled exams. But now at the start of a new academic year and despite a summer to plan, there are chaotic scenes springing up on campuses around the country.

The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent Libby Brooks tells Anushka Asthana that Scottish universities were first to return and have already seen multiple clusters of cases with thousands of students, many away from home for the first time, now forced to isolate. Jordan Hunter is in his 3rd year at the University of Glasgow and editor of its student paper. He tells Anushka that anger levels are rising at both university administrators and the government.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 2:00 am

Big tech firms may be handing Hong Kong user data to China

Allegation follows new law that lets Hong Kong ask for sensitive data if deemed to threaten national security

Big technology companies may already be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong and ought to “come clean” about the vulnerability of the data they hold there, a senior US state department official has said.

The allegation of possible secret cooperation between major companies and Hong Kong authorities follows the implementation of a sweeping and controversial new national security law that allows Hong Kong authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed to threaten national security.

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Posted on 30 September 2020 | 12:00 am

Priti Patel looked at idea of sending asylum seekers to South Atlantic

Home secretary asked officials to see if applicants could be processed on isolated St Helena

A Whitehall brainstorming session prompted by Priti Patel led to the idea being floated of sending asylum seekers to a volcanic island in the South Atlantic, the Guardian understands.

The Financial Times reported that the home secretary had asked officials to look into the idea of processing asylum seekers on Ascension Island, an isolated volcanic British territory, and on St Helena, which is part of the same island group but 800 miles away.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:15 pm

Near-blind Ansell's mole-rats detect magnetic cues with eyes, study shows

Research shows Zambian species with surgically removed eyes change nest-building habits but other behaviours remain intact

Near-blind, underground-burrowing, African Ansell’s mole-rats can sense magnetic fields with their eyes, a study has found.

Native to Zambia, the animals have eyes that span just 1.5mm in diameter, live in elaborate underground tunnel systems of up to 1.7 miles (2.8km) long and feed on plant tubers and roots.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

Deaths from natural causes in English and Welsh prisons 'unacceptably high'

Panel calls for improved access to healthcare for inmates to avoid preventable deaths

The number of deaths from natural causes on the prison estate is “unacceptably high”, a watchdog has warned, urging ministers to do more to allow inmates to be allowed out to die.

The average age of an inmate dying a “natural death” is 56, compared with 81 in the general population, the Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody said.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

40% of world’s plant species at risk of extinction

Race against time to save plants and fungi that underpin life on Earth, global data shows

Two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction as a result of the destruction of the natural world, according to an international report.

Plants and fungi underpin life on Earth, but the scientists said they were now in a race against time to find and identify species before they were lost.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

Arthritis drug to be trialled as Covid treatment in UK care homes

Adalimumab could counter hyper-inflammation seen in severe coronavirus cases

A commonly used arthritis drug is to be trialled with care home residents who have Covid, after it was observed that those taking it for their joint pains were less likely to end up in hospital with the virus.

Older people in care homes, who often have some degree of dementia, tend not to do well in hospital, where they become more confused and may pick up infections. The trial will break new ground by giving the drug to people at care homes, where they can be supervised and monitored afterwards by doctors and nurses.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

Cut to £20-a-week Covid boost will lead to big rise in poverty, UK charities warn

Benefit given to 16 million people not mentioned in chancellor’s new support package announcement

Around 700,000 people, including 300,000 children, will be “cut adrift” into poverty at a time of surging unemployment and plummeting living standards if the government cuts the £20-a-week pandemic uplift to key social security benefits, charities have warned.

The letter reflects growing pressure on the chancellor Rishi Sunak, who failed to say whether he would protect the £20 increase, which benefits around 16 million people, when he outlined his latest Covid-19 support package last week, despite warning that the UK faced a winter of business failures and rising unemployment.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

UK spent £569m on 20,900 ventilators for Covid care but most remain unused

Government was right to prioritise speed over cost, says National Audit Office

The government spent £569m buying 20,900 ventilators to keep people alive during the Covid-19 pandemic but lack of demand means NHS hospitals have used just a few of them.

All but 2,150 of the machines it bought are still being held in a Ministry of Defence warehouse in case they are needed in the coming second wave of the disease.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:01 pm

How Trump's Apprentice earnings helped rescue his failing empire

Documents show president earned $427m from NBC reality show – which he used to cover vast real estate and casino losses

When Donald Trump signed a deal to star in The Apprentice in 2004, the New York Times’ latest bombshell report on his tax returns shows, he was among the worst businessmen in the United States.

Related: Debate offers Trump chance to yank stubbornly stable 2020 race his way

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 10:24 pm

Walt Disney sheds 28,000 jobs at theme parks as pandemic bites

Walt Disney announced it was laying off 28,000 employees from its theme park business on Tuesday, the latest company to announce huge jobs cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The entertainment company blamed limited attendance at the theme parks it has reopened and the continuing closure of others for the “difficult decision”.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 10:06 pm

Essex captain Tom Westley apologises for team's Lord's celebrations

The Essex captain, Tom Westley, has apologised on behalf of his team following the celebrations at Lord’s during which alcohol was poured over a young Muslim player.

Westley’s side won the Bob Willis Trophy after a draw with Somerset on Sunday but amid jubilant post-match scenes on the pavilion balcony, the 12th man, Feroze Khushi, was pictured recoiling as his teammate Will Buttleman doused him with beer.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:20 pm

Swearing parrots separated after telling folk where to go

Five African grey parrots at a Lincolnshire zoo believed to be a bad influence on each other

Five foul-mouthed parrots have been separated after learning to swear at a Lincolnshire zoo.

The parrots – named Billy, Elsie, Eric, Jade and Tyson – joined Lincolnshire Wildlife Park’s colony of 200 grey parrots in August. But soon after, they started encouraging each other to swear.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:19 pm

St Helens crush Wigan after Adrian Lam fields youngsters to keep cup side sharp

Wigan’s youngsters were no match for St Helens, who leapfrogged their great rivals at the top of the table after taking full advantage of a much-changed Warriors side with one eye on Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds.

Adrian Lam left out almost all of his frontline players, instead fielding one of the youngest lineups in Wigan’s history. It included six debutants from the academy with Umyla Hanley – the son of Ellery Hanley – among them.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:16 pm

Tottenham beat Chelsea on penalties to reach Carabao Cup last eight

It was no more than Erik Lamela and Tottenham deserved. Given next to no chance by their manager, José Mourinho – at least in public – they had started slowly, seemingly consumed by caution, and fallen behind to Timo Werner’s first goal in Chelsea colours.

Mourinho had said he would “like to fight for the Carabao Cup but I don’t think I can.” It was Spurs’s fifth game in 12 days and the sixth will come on Thursday – the Europa League play-off against Maccabi Haifa; a game of huge significance to the club’s finances. Mourinho made nine changes to the team that drew 1-1 at home to Newcastle on Sunday and, the way he had framed it, this tie was the one that had to give.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:03 pm

Life review – hopes and heartaches behind closed doors

Mike Bartlett’s latest drama, set in the same world as his smash-hit Doctor Foster, is a smart exploration of the human condition – with just the right amount of sentimentality

Life is the title – inspired by David Attenborough – of this BBC One drama series by Mike Bartlett, the award-winning playwright turned award-winning TV writer. He has used epic single-world titles before – Trauma, Press – but it is still a bold declaration. Does this six-part series truly contain all the vicissitudes and diversity of human existence? After watching three episodes, that question is still unanswered, but what is clear is that this is an entertaining week-night drama that does not revolve around a spate of brutal killings. That should be enough for most of us.

Life’s claim to all-encompassing representation is partly justified by its setting: a big Victorian house in Manchester that has been divided into four flats. This is not a drama about twentysomethings in a house-share, as in the seminal 90s show This Life. Nor is it a sprawling, single-family dwelling, as in the more recent Years and Years (although, judging by the aerial and exterior shots that open each episode, it could easily have been filmed in the same area of Stockport). Rather, the ways in which the four main residents are isolated, despite their proximity, and eventually find ways to connect across dividing walls are what provide the story’s foundations.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:00 pm

Sale march on but Tuilagi and Lawes give England injury headache

Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes are major injury concerns for England’s autumn campaign after both limped off in the early stages of Sale’s emphatic win at Northampton, potentially handing Eddie Jones a significant blow.

Tuilagi went down with an injury to his left achilles soon after Lawes had hobbled off with an ankle problem and – with Jones naming a provisional England squad, without Premiership semi-finalists, at the start of next week – the timing is terrible.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:25 pm

Rúben Dias completes £62m move from Benfica to Manchester City

Rúben Dias has said the opportunity to join Manchester City is one he “couldn’t turn down” after completing his move to the club from Benfica for a fee in the region of £62m.

The 23-year-old centre-back has signed a six-year deal with City as part of a transfer that has seen Nicolás Otamendi move to Benfica for £13.6m and which takes Pep Guardiola’s spending on defenders since he took charge of City to over £400m. It is a huge sum and the manager will be praying his latest acquisition proves a bigger success than most of those who have come before given his side’s problems at the back.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:22 pm

Internal market bill passed by Commons despite Tory concerns

Fears of a backbench rebellion prove short-lived as bill goes through to House of Lords

A controversial government Brexit bill that breaches international law has safely passed its final House of Commons hurdle, despite continued serious doubts among a number of Conservative MPs about the plan.

The internal market bill, which primarily sets out technical post-Brexit details involving the devolved nations, also gives ministers the power to unilaterally rewrite elements of the withdrawal agreement with the EU. It passed its third reading on Tuesday night by 340 votes to 256 and will now go to the House of Lords.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:03 pm

More than 50 women in DRC allege abuse by WHO Ebola aid workers

Women say they were exploited by international workers in Democratic Republic of Congo

More than 50 women have accused aid workers from the World Health Organization and leading NGOs of sexual exploitation and abuse during efforts to fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In interviews, 51 women – many of whose accounts were backed up by aid agency drivers and local NGO workers – recounted multiple incidents of abuse, mainly by men who said they were international workers, during the 2018 to 2020 Ebola crisis.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:02 pm

World Bank announces $12bn plan for poor countries to buy Covid vaccines

Initiative aims to ensure low-income countries are not frozen out by rich nations

The World Bank has announced plans for a $12bn (£9.3bn) initiative that will allow poor countries to purchase Covid-19 vaccines to treat up to 2 billion people as soon as effective drugs become available.

In an attempt to ensure that low-income countries are not frozen out by wealthy nations, the organisation is asking its key rich-nation shareholders to back a scheme that will disburse cash over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:00 pm

Russian court jails gulag historian Yury Dmitriev for 13 years

Court overturns earlier sentence on charges that his supporters say were fabricated to punish him for his work

A Russian court has abruptly handed Yury Dmitriev, a historian of Stalin-era crimes, a 13-year jail term after overturning an earlier sentence on charges that his supporters say were fabricated to punish him for his work.

Dmitriev, 64, was found guilty in July of sexually abusing his adopted daughter and sentenced to three and a half years in prison by the Petrozavodsk city court in Russia’s north-western Karelia region.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 7:57 pm

Mueller rejects prosecutor's criticism of Trump-Russia investigation

Special counsel says ‘it is disappointing to hear criticism … based on incomplete information’ after Andrew Weissmann remarks

In a rare public statement on Tuesday, Robert Mueller pushed back on criticism from a prosecutor who worked on his Russia investigation, who said the special counsel “could have done more” to hold Donald Trump to account.

Related: Trump memo on Comey firing was 'tinfoil helmet material', Mueller prosecutor says

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 7:41 pm

Alarm for British tennis as Watson completes set of French Open failures

There can be no disguising the scale of British failure at this bizarre French Open. When Heather Watson joined her five compatriots as Parisian tourists before the start of the second round, her mood matched the grimness of the weeping skies and the wreckage of history that has gone before. The forecast is not great.

Watson, who battled ongoing dizzy spells earlier in the year to move from outside the top 100 to 56 in the world, had beaten Fiona Ferro twice without dropping a set before they met again on Court No 14 on Tuesday but the experienced clay-courter, ranked third among the 11 French players at Roland Garros, rose to the moment and tamed Watson to win 7-6 (4), 6-4.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 7:18 pm

Michelle Buteau review – winning hour of camp theatrics and Jersey sass

Netflix
Joyous reflections on new motherhood, Amsterdam’s museums and working with J-Lo see the charismatic standup cresting a career-high wave

Welcome to Buteaupia, Michelle Buteau’s Netflix special is called – and Buteaupia is where we find the 43-year-old, two decades into her standup career, cresting a career-high wave. She’s the host of reality show The Circle, has a string of recent scene-stealing comedy cameos, and – in the opening words of her show – “I just wrapped a movie with J-Lo. Whaaaaat?” Truly, here is a set, replete with joyous reflections on new motherhood, to test the theory that only in adversity can comedy truly put down roots.

There’s adversity here, too, of course, but it’s of the mild variety, as Buteau addresses her tendency to take tumbles and her difficulties with Dutch, her husband’s native language. On being told, in an Amsterdam museum, the correct pronunciation of Van Gogh: “No wonder this motherfucker cut his ears off!” Cue another of Buteau’s blank stares, those frozen features a screen on which we can project her disapproval or dismay.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 7:00 pm

Water watchdog's defeat turns on cash taps for (some) shareholders

Four of the 17 firms in England and Wales appealed in vain to the competition regulator over bills

It’s not (yet) a crisis in the world of water regulation, but a heavy defeat for Ofwat, trying to land its “toughest ever” price settlement, is a big moment. Four companies rebelled over proposed steep cuts to bills and, to varying degrees, all got something from the video assistant referee (VAR), meaning the Competition and Markets Authority.

Appeals haven’t succeeded often. In the 30 years since water privatisation in England and Wales, few companies have challenged their so-called price determinations, which set bills for five-year periods. Even when they have, the regulator has normally won on the main points.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:58 pm

Whitehall 'infantilised' by reliance on consultants, minister claims

Exclusive: leaked letter from Lord Agnew to senior civil servants demands they rein in spending

Whitehall has been “infantilised” by an “unacceptable” reliance on expensive management consultants, a government minister has claimed in a leaked letter.

Lord Agnew, the Cabinet Office and Treasury minister, wrote to senior civil servants two weeks ago demanding they rein in spiralling costs paid to private firms and stop “depriving our brightest [public servants] of opportunities to work on some of the most challenging, fulfilling and crunchy issues”.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:57 pm

More than 80 Tory MPs prepared to rebel over Coronavirus Act renewal

Scores of Conservatives are calling for right to vote on Covid laws as talks to thrash out deal reach deadlock

More than 80 Conservative MPs are prepared to rebel against the government on Wednesday over powers to scrutinise sweeping coronavirus laws, after 11th-hour talks to thrash out a deal reached deadlock.

The House of Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, was due to hold talks on Tuesday evening with Sir Graham Brady, who is spearheading the rebellion, on how to allow more scrutiny of the rules.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:52 pm

Deadly fires rage through northern California forcing tens of thousands to evacuate

Glass fire tripled in size Monday in Napa and Sonoma counties, while the Zogg fire burning farther north has killed three

California firefighters on Tuesday battled a wind-fueled wildfire that had exploded in the northern California wine country, prompting tens of thousands of evacuations. A second blaze killed at least three people.

Related: California fires: three killed as new blazes force widespread evacuation orders

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:51 pm

Google to lease extra 70,000 sq ft in UK offices despite remote working

New offices will reportedly be near to the under-construction ‘landscraper’ HQ in London’s King’s Cross

Google is to lease an additional 70,000 sq ft in office buildings close to its £1bn new UK headquarters in London, despite telling all of its 4,500 UK staff that they will be working from home until at least July 2021.

The US tech giant, which is in the process of building a 330 metre-long office building nicknamed the “landscraper” next to King’s Cross railway station, is reportedly in advanced talks to lease more space in nearby offices.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:48 pm

Dortmund tell Manchester United €90m is nowhere near enough for Jadon Sancho

Borussia Dortmund have told Manchester United there is no point in bidding less than €120m (£109.6m) for Jadon Sancho after discussions between the clubs on Tuesday. United were preparing a €90m offer for the England international but were told that would not be sufficient and that Dortmund do not want to sell.

United are desperate to strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s squad before Monday’s transfer deadline and Sancho has been the No 1 target throughout the summer. There were hopes that Dortmund’s stance would soften closer to the end of the window but that has not proved the case.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:45 pm

JP Morgan Chase admits to US market manipulation and agrees to pay $920m

JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay more than $920m and admitted to wrongdoing to settle federal US market manipulation investigations into its trading of metals futures and Treasury securities, the US authorities said on Tuesday.

Related: JP Morgan sets aside $8.3bn to cover Covid-19 losses

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:43 pm

The Guardian view on pandemic populism: leads to sloppy lawmaking | Editorial

Boris Johnson regards the lack of parliamentary oversight as a virtue. But without Commons scrutiny of fast-changing Covid rules, we have been left with error and confusion

Boris Johnson is in No 10 with a majority of 80 in the Commons. This has meant he has run his government during the pandemic in a presidential style, bundling parliament to the sidelines in March. The emergency law which enabled his power grab has to be renewed after six months. Scores of Conservative MPs appeared not to be in the mood to give Mr Johnson such leeway again. They have been rightly infuriated by the lack of parliamentary oversight of fast-changing Covid rules which ultimately govern the way people live. By one count these have been changed 200 times since March. Even Mr Johnson appears confused about what people are allowed to do.

There is a respectable argument that the government needed to be able to move quickly when dealing with an unknown and deadly viral pathogen. With no vaccine, restrictions on freedom were inevitable. We now have a much clearer idea of what tackling Covid means. Yet the government is exercising vast powers, without parliamentary scrutiny in advance, and undermining the law by having a shifting set of rules that few can keep up with. Commons debates have been permitted – absurdly – after the restrictions were announced or came into force.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:37 pm

New York City to fine people who refuse to wear masks as Covid rates rise

New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to wear a face covering in public, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday, as he announced that the rate of positive tests for the coronavirus had climbed above 3% in the city for the first time in months.

Related: Coronavirus live news: one million deaths worldwide; Netherlands reports record daily rise in cases

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:36 pm

Ocado overtakes Tesco as UK's most valuable retailer

Delivery-based supermarket’s value rises to £21bn despite selling 1.7% of UK’s groceries

Ocado has overtaken Tesco to become the UK’s most valuable retailer after its stock market value soared to £21.66bn.

Tesco is worth £21.06bn despite controlling nearly 27% of the UK grocery market. By comparison Ocado, which is already worth more than double the combined value of Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, sells just 1.7% of the UK’s groceries.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:36 pm

Dior opens Paris fashion week with a cathedral-inspired catwalk

Despite Covid-19 restrictions the label showed the runway is still sacred to the city

The audience may have been slashed to one-fifth of the size of last season, but Christian Dior built a cathedral for their fashion show, nonetheless. 18 light-box installations, each seven metres tall, brought the intense kaleidoscopic glory of Gothic stained-glass windows flooding into the vast blacked-out tent in the Tuileries garden erected for the event.

This was a show of grandeur in an industry embattled by seismic economic and social forces. Quarantine rules have pegged Paris fashion week back from being a global event to a domestic one, with few non-French attendees.

Only 350 were present at the Christian Dior show, instead of the usual 1750. Comme des Garçons and other high-profile Japanese brands who have long been based in Paris have left the city in favour of shows in Tokyo next month. Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen are sitting out the season.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:19 pm

Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara tests positive for Covid-19

The Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcântara has tested positive for Covid-19. The 29-year-old, who missed Monday’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal, has exhibited minor symptoms of the virus but is in good health and is getting better, the club said.

Related: How pass master Thiago Alcântara can help sustain Liverpool's highs | Jonathan Wilson

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:46 pm

Bloody Sunday families reject decision to charge only one soldier

Relatives of some of the 14 people killed to challenge ruling by Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service

The families of those who died in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Derry are to challenge a legal decision not to prosecute any more former soldiers in connection with the shootings.

Relatives expressed dismay after a review by the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPS), published on Tuesday, confirmed that only one former member of the Parachute Regiment, known as Soldier F, should face charges.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:29 pm

Boris's speech was designed as a quick win. Then he opened his mouth | John Crace

A look of panic crossed the PM’s face. Just who was this Gillian Keegan and what on earth had she said?

It’s been a tricky few months for Boris Johnson.

Just about every time he has been allowed out in public – be it for prime minister’s questions, his appearance before the liaison committee or his TV address to the nation – he has somehow managed to come off looking out of touch or second best.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:18 pm

Assange case: former security firm staff allowed to give anonymous evidence

Witnesses who worked for company accused of spying on WikiLeaks founder claimed they were at risk

Former employees of a security firm accused of spying on Julian Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in the UK will be allowed to give evidence to his extradition case anonymously after claiming they would be at risk of kidnapping or poisoning.

Anonymity was granted to two former employees of UC Global after a hearing at the Old Bailey in London was told they feared that its director and owner, David Morales, or others connected to him in the US, could seek to harm them.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:17 pm

A £56m bill and rising: the cost of Covid consultancy contracts

Some of the most lucrative contracts received by firms such as PwC and Deloitte since the pandemic began

Since the onset of the pandemic, the government has spent tens of millions of pounds on management consultants to help it manage elements of the Covid-19 response, from the much-criticised NHS test-and-trace programme to buying PPE.

Earlier this year, the Guardian revealed that at least £56m of taxpayers’ money had gone to companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and McKinsey for their help with initiatives that often have not run smoothly.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:01 pm

The Lion King 2 to be directed by Moonlight's Barry Jenkins

The Oscar-winner will take on a follow-up to the 2019 hit Disney remake which will delve into the mythology of the characters

Moonlight Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins is set to direct a follow-up to 2019’s hit remake The Lion King.

The writer-director, who won the best adapted screenplay Oscar for the acclaimed gay drama with Tarell Alvin McCraney, confirmed the news on Twitter after Deadline initially reported.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 4:57 pm

Meghan and Harry book can be used in newspaper privacy case, court rules

Mail on Sunday wins permission to argue Duke and Duchess of Sussex collaborated with authors

The Mail on Sunday has been given permission to rely on a biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in its legal defence of the duchess’s privacy claim against it, after the newspaper argued the couple had collaborated with the book’s authors.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), the publishers of the newspaper and the website MailOnline, for alleged misuse of private information, breaching the Data Protection Act and infringement of copyright over publication of parts of a letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 4:19 pm

Marine Serre: could Beyoncé's favourite designer save fashion?

As well as designing for Queen Bey, Adele and the Kardashians, the French designer is showing the world how to make edgy clothes and be sustainable at the same time

The fashion designer Marine Serre says the word “relevant” a lot during our 45-minute Zoom call – 11 times in fact. Which is totally fair. Because from Beyoncé’s Black Is King (which she helped costume) to face masks (which have been a key feature of her collections since 2016) to her commitment to addressing fashion’s environmental footprint, it’s pretty hard to think of another fashion designer who has captured our strange zeitgeist better than Serre.

Her sleek clothes – with their nods to military, utilitarian silhouettes and sci-fi, hi-vis anxiety – speak to many horrors of the modern age: the climate crisis, privacy and lack of connection, wrapped up in an athleisure-meets-couture bow. Into this she weaves in witchy truths about the “divine feminine” – the sacred realm beyond the known represented by the moon crescent logo, a print which has been worn by so many celebrities, making it one of the most distinctive looks of the year.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 4:11 pm

Number of young adult writers of colour doubles to almost 20%

Research shows improvement in diversity of YA writers but comes with warning about domination by US authors

The proportion of authors of colour writing for young adults in the UK has more than doubled in the last two years.

Research from University College London associate professor Melanie Ramdarshan Bold has found that 19.6% of YA authors published in the UK in 2019 were people of colour, compared with 7.1% in 2017 and 13.25% in 2018.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 3:48 pm

UK imposes sanctions on Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko

Asset freeze and travel ban come with censure of regime’s ‘thuggery’ against its people

The UK has imposed sanctions on the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials judged to be responsible for rigging the August presidential poll and suppressing subsequent street protests.

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, announced the sanctions on Tuesday in coordination with a similar move from Canada. “We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights,” he said.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 3:34 pm

What is QAnon and why is it so dangerous? – video explainer

Donald Trump has referred to QAnon followers as 'people who love our country' - while to the FBI considers them a potential domestic terror threat. The Guardian US technology reporter Julia Carrie Wong explains the roots - and rise - of QAnon, the unfounded conspiracy theory that emerged in the US in 2017, and is now spreading across the world

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 3:31 pm

English hospitals 'have not learned lessons' of past maternity scandals

Chief inspector of hospitals says too many staff are still frightened to raise concerns

Too many English hospitals risk repeating maternity scandals involving avoidable baby deaths and brain injury because staff are too frightened to raise concerns, the chief inspector of hospitals has warned.

Speaking at the opening session of an inquiry into the safety of maternity units by the health select committee, Prof Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals for the Care Quality Commission, said: “There are too many cases when tragedy strikes because services are not not doing their job well enough.”

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 3:30 pm

Pantone launches new shade of red to end menstruation stigma

Campaign by colour matching company aims to ‘emboldens people who menstruate to feel proud of who they are’

Pantone has unveiled a new shade of red inspired by the colour of women’s periods, as part of a new campaign to end the stigma associated with menstruation.

The company, which has the biggest colour matching system in the world, relied on by the global design industry, from graphic design to fashion, product design to printing, said the new shade was “an active and adventurous red hue” that it hoped would “embolden people who menstruate to feel proud of who they are”.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:59 pm

Chadwick Boseman gave part of his 21 Bridges salary to Sienna Miller

Miller praises late actor for making up ‘disparity’ after studio refused to meet pay request

Sienna Miller has revealed that the late actor Chadwick Boseman gave part of his own salary to boost hers when a film studio refused to meet her pay request.

In an interview with Empire magazine, Miller praised Boseman’s act as “about the most astounding thing that I’ve experienced”.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:58 pm

A Jack the Ripper mural – are you serious? How the Eastenders hit back

They have a Jack the Clipper barber and a Jack the Chipper fish shop. But a mural of the murderer leering proved too much for some horrified residents of London’s East End – so they took action

A demented face leers through a hole in the wall, his blood-spattered fingers gripping the shattered brickwork as he stares at passersby on the pavement below. This enormous, utterly grim trompe-l’œil image appeared in London’s East End in March – just before lockdown – unsettling many Spitalfields locals. But when people realised that the mural, by street artist Zabou, was supposed to be a modern representation of Jack the Ripper, they were horrified.

I, too, had seen the bowler-hatted man – face covered in blood – on the side of the Duke of Wellington pub, just a few streets away from my flat near Brick Lane. But I failed to put two and two together. Yes, I lived in an area where people mercilessly exploit the “myth” of a brutal serial killer who eviscerated five women on the streets here and in Whitechapel in 1888. But surely, I thought, no one would seek to glorify him in the name of street art? I was wrong.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:50 pm

Williamson sets out plan to allow students in England home for Christmas

As university Covid outbreaks continue, education secretary says some students may have to isolate before travelling

Some students in England would need to self-isolate and their classes be shifted online in order to return home for Christmas, the education secretary has announced.

In a statement to the Commons on students’ return to universities, which has so far resulted in Covid-19 outbreaks at more than 50 UK campuses, Gavin Williamson said his department would be issuing guidance on allowing students to return home over the Christmas break.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:40 pm

Jet suit paramedic takes Lake District test flight

Inventor Richard Browning puts potentially life-saving suit through its paces in ‘groundbreaking exercise’

Defying gravity as they hover over water before zipping across mountainous landscapes and landing with pinpoint accuracy, the jet suit paramedic could soon form part of what could become an extraordinary new service being trialled in the Lake District.

If given the green light by ambulance service chiefs, the paramedic powered by lightweight jet-packs would flit across treacherous terrain within minutes to reach stranded casualties.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:23 pm

A new test from the WHO could be a game changer in the fight against Covid | Charlotte Summers

Many nations lack access to affordable testing. Now 120m antigen tests will help tackle this dangerous inequality

The principles of managing infectious disease outbreaks, whether of measles, tuberculosis or Covid-19, are similar. You identify who has been infected by testing for the disease, discover where they acquired the infection and who may have also been infected through contact tracing, and stop the spread by asking those affected to isolate. People who become infected are treated with therapies that modify the course of the disease.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Now think how you might implement this strategy on a global scale, for a disease no one knew existed 12 months ago. This is where organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which provides leadership, expertise and coordination, come in. Since early 2020, the WHO has been working with different groups to support the development of testing, tracing and isolation programmes for coronavirus. Rightly, it has advocated that everyone should have access to these things, no matter where in the world they live.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:10 pm

Planetary ‘safety net’ could halt wildlife loss and slow climate breakdown

Researchers have drawn up a blueprint of areas that need additional conservation to stem biodiversity and climate crises

World leaders are preparing to join a key summit on biodiversity being hosted in New York amid mounting evidence that governments are failing to halt the unprecedented loss of species around the world.

Earlier this month, a UN report revealed that the international community had failed to fully achieve any of the 20 biodiversity targets agreed in 2010.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:00 pm

Amnesty to halt work in India due to government 'witch-hunt'

Authorities froze bank accounts after criticism of government’s human rights record

Amnesty International has been forced to shut down operations in India and lay off all staff after the Indian government froze its bank accounts.

The Indian enforcement directorate, an agency that investigates economic crimes, froze the accounts of Amnesty’s Indian arm this month after the group published two reports highly critical of the government’s human rights record.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 1:41 pm

Many fossil fuel workers like me want to transition to renewables – but we need support | Matt Craigan

Covid has hit the industry hard, but the shift to renewables is inevitable. We need government-funded retraining

Oil and gas is one of the main industries in Aberdeen where I grew up, and it was inevitable that I would follow in my father’s footsteps to work on the rigs out in the North Sea. Three weeks straight in the middle of the sea is tough, so much so that for many people their first stint is often their last. But the stability of the job when I started in the industry 13 years ago, as well as the decent pay and conditions, made up for the long periods away from family and friends.

This stability was to be short-lived. By 2016, a sustained period of oil price drops had hit the industry hard, and my employer of seven years took swift action, slashing jobs across the sector. That year there were 120,000 fewer jobs than at the peak in 2014. The wages and bonuses that had enticed us on to the rigs as direct employees were made less and less appealing. Like many of my colleagues I became self-employed, as the new working conditions pushed us to leave what we thought would be jobs for life. It’s no wonder that a majority of workers in my industry rated their job security as being so low.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 1:10 pm

What's in the essential kitchen toolkit? | Kitchen aide

What constitutes ‘essential’ kitchen equipment varies according to what you like to cook, but there are a few items you just can’t leave out

• Do you have a culinary dilemma? Email feast@theguardian.com

Sending my daughter off to university got me thinking about essential kitchen kit. What is it?
Emma, London N4

The short answer, says perfectionist Felicity Cloake, is not very much: “Start with the basics, see what you actually cook and equip accordingly.”

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 1:00 pm

Boris Johnson apologises for getting north-east England lockdown rules wrong

Prime minister says he ‘misspoke’ when he wrongly suggested ‘rule of six’ does not apply outdoors

Boris Johnson has apologised and said he “misspoke” after wrongly suggesting the “rule of six” limiting public gatherings does not apply outdoors in north-east England, adding to confusion about the latest lockdown rules.

Answering media questions after a speech in Exeter, the prime minister had said: “Outside the areas such as the north-east where extra measures have been brought in, it’s six inside, six outside.”

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 12:28 pm

A jet suit flight and abortion rights protests: Tuesday’s best photos

The Guardian’s picture editors select highlights from around the world

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 12:24 pm

'A blood-spattered thrill ride into vengeance' – Artemisia review

National Gallery, London
Artemisia Gentileschi took revenge on her rapist – and the chaotic battlefield of her life – through shockingly violent works. This magnificent show finally secures her reputation as one of the greats

This revolutionary exhibition of the work of a forgotten genius is like being on a film set, with the actors right in your face, and the lights revealing who they really are deep down inside. Bodies rush towards you out of the canvas, anguished faces, huge hands, explosions of blood. It’s a thrill ride from beginning to end, a Scorsese film shot in 17th-century Italy’s meanest streets, and it starts with a blow right to the heart.

In 1610, the year she turned 17, Artemisia, daughter of the moderately successful artist Orazio Gentileschi, painted a blinding masterpiece in her bedroom. Susanna and the Elders lights a fire in your soul. Susanna sits naked on a grey stone seat, her left foot dipping into the clear waters of a pool she’s just bathed in. But as she rests there, two looming male figures force themselves into the confined space of the canvas. These creeps don’t just spy on Susanna, they push right up close to her.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:29 am

North-east England residents: how are you affected by the local lockdown?

We want to hear from people living and working in the north-east about how coronavirus restrictions will impact them

From Wednesday, people in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland, face fines up to £6,400 for breaking lockdown restrictions.

The new government lockdown powers mean that people can be fined if found to be mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:09 am

Nigel Slater’s recipe for spinach, fennel and parmesan

A warm, substantial salad for the early days of autumn

Wash 150g of fresh, vibrant spinach leaves. While they are still wet, put them in a deep saucepan with a lid. Place them over a moderate heat and let them cook in their own steam for 2 minutes. Have a large bowl of iced water ready. Remove the lid, turn the spinach leaves over with kitchen tongs, then let them wilt for a further minute. When they are bright green and soft, drain in a colander and immediately lower into the bowl of iced water. This will arrest their cooking and brighten their colour.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 11:00 am

All eyes on China: what to look out for at the UN biodiversity summit

Everything you need to know about who will be there, who’s staying away and what the hot topics will be at Wednesday’s virtual event in New York

The year 2020 was meant to be a super year for nature and biodiversity, according to the UN. But with swathes of the planet in lockdown, Covid-19 has highlighted the risk of humanity’s unstable relationship with nature, with repeated warnings linking the pandemic with the destruction of ecosystems and species.

On Wednesday, the world will gather to discuss the biodiversity crisis at a virtual summit in New York. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, Prince Charles and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, will open proceedings. Here is what to look out for.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 10:30 am

Eddie Redmayne condemns ‘vitriol’ aimed at JK Rowling after her trans rights comments

Fantastic Beasts star also defends trans friends who face discrimination ‘on a daily basis’

Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne has said he is alarmed by the “vitriol” aimed at Harry Potter author JK Rowling after her comments on trans rights, adding the reaction on social media was “absolutely disgusting”.

Redmayne was speaking to the Daily Mail during the shoot of the third Fantastic Beasts film, which is produced and co-written by Rowling. He said he had sent her a private note.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:52 am

How Diane Abbott fought racism – and her own party – to become Britain’s first black female MP

She was called an ‘extremist’ by opponents and treated as a liability by Labour. This exclusive extract from a biography explains how she defied them all to make history in 1987

The 1987 election campaign was the first time the Labour party had fielded so many black and Asian candidates. Yet Diane Abbott got the impression that “the national party thought we were an embarrassment”. Certainly, “they offered no support of any kind” and Labour’s party political broadcasts featured practically no black people.

The Tories, on the other hand, saw Abbott as an electoral asset – but not for Labour. Together with Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn, she featured on their “So this is the new moderate militant-free Labour party” advert. There were two versions: one that featured 24 faces and one that featured six; Abbott was on both. Abbott remembers getting more recognition from the Tory posters than from any Labour material.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 9:00 am

Troubled Florida, divided America: will Donald Trump hold this vital swing state? - video

Donald Trump’s presidency has changed American society. With six weeks until the most important election in a generation, Oliver Laughland and Tom Silverstone are crossing the US to uncover the fault lines that underpin American politics. In the vital swing state of Florida, where disinformation on Covid-19 has spread unchecked, the race for the White House is tightening by the day

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:59 am

I’ve lost weight – and with it any sensation through penetrative sex

I am too embarrassed to talk to my partner, but think we have both noticed that something has changed. What can I do?

I am 38 and in a long-term and happy relationship. While I have never orgasmed through penetration (only through foreplay), I have still enjoyed it. Recently, though, I have barely felt any sensation through penetration, something I believe my partner has felt, too. I say “believe” because I don’t want to ask him directly if I feel too “loose” or if he is not feeling any sensation (it is embarrassing enough just writing it). But I can tell by his reaction that sex is not the same as it was. Is this a common situation as women get older? Is there anything I can do differently? I have lost about 9kg (20lbs) lately, but I thought sex was meant to get better with weight loss. I have tried different positions and have been doing pelvic floor exercises for the past couple of weeks. I would hate to think that is it for me ever enjoying penetrative sex again.

This is something you need to discuss with your partner, so try to recognise that you cannot allow embarrassment to prevent you from seeking answers or finding a solution. Be brave enough to have a talk with him and to frame it as a subject you must both address for the sake of your sex life – and your relationship generally. Ask him to help you understand what changes he may have noticed and how it may have affected his sexual response, his pleasure and even his ability to become aroused and to ejaculate. How does he truly feel about your weight loss? Help him to feel safe enough to tell you. He may need time to get used to it.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 8:57 am

We paid £20,000 for a campervan – and now it's rusting

We bought it two years ago, but now it’s failed its MOT and we’re told it’s not worth repairing

Two years ago, we bought a 13-year-old campervan for £20,000 from a secondhand campervan company.

A year later it passed its MOT but we were told there was some rust underneath. We were not told it needed dealing with. Now it has failed its MOT and we have been told the rust is so bad it is not worth repairing. Repairs would cost about £4,000.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:00 am

Are we nearly there yet? Take a 1980s road trip down the A1 – in pictures

Garages, endless fields, Little Chefs … Paul Graham spent the early 80s going up and down the Great North Road with nothing but his camera and a few fry-ups for company

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 6:00 am

How to go skiing despite a winter of Covid restrictions

Planning a ski holiday may seem daunting but resorts are open – and if the continent seems too far, hit the slopes in Scotland

When Covid-19 closed Europe’s ski season in early March – leaving thousands of skiers stranded when their resorts shut and others having to cancel trips – some assumed they would be able make up for it this winter, when everything would be back to normal. As the 2020-21 season approaches, that clearly isn’t the case and we face another winter of travel restrictions, special measures and possible lockdowns. Where does that leave skiing?

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:30 am

UK's sea view photography competition 2020 — in pictures

National maritime charity Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society have revealed the best pictures from their eighth annual photography competition, showcasing images relating to the UK’s historic relationship with the sea.

This year, the charity has launched a £1m Covid response fund to provide support for working maritime professionals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Joggers and drinkers: what a day in the life of a Leeds park tells us about modern Britain

During lockdown, parks became more important to us than ever – as gyms, pubs and nightclubs. From dawn to dusk at Woodhouse Moor, I found out why they are so essential now

On a crisp, clear morning just before dawn, the sky above Woodhouse Moor in Leeds is shades of ochre, mauve and pigeon-grey. The park is empty, save the joggers making solitary laps, and I circle the perimeter on foot, too, in search of the rising sun.

During lockdown, we used parks as our gyms, social spaces and – as restrictions eased – our nightclubs and pubs, wringing every drop from our hour or so outside each day. To better understand how we are now using these spaces, I have come to this 26-hectare (64-acre) park, 2km from central Leeds, to spend a day from sunrise to sunset. As I stand at the less lovely end – where tarmac has been laid over wild moorland – the sun rises.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 5:00 am

Why has activist Nathan Law been forced to flee Hong Kong? – podcast

Nathan Law is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists, but his years of campaigning have made him a target for the Chinese government. He discusses the toll it has taken and why he has now had to flee to London. Guardian correspondent Emma Graham-Harrison looks at what the future holds for Hong Kong

In July, Nathan Law, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent young democracy activists, announced he had relocated to Britain, five days after confirming he had fled his home because of Beijing’s new security law. Law was a founding member of Demosisto, a pro-democracy party that disbanded the same day Beijing imposed its new security law on the semi-autonomous region. Law and other prominent party members such as former the student leader Joshua Wong were vilified by Beijing, often described as “black hands” and separatists who conspired with foreigners to undermine China.

Nathan talks to Rachel Humphreys about why he decided to dedicate his life to activism and the impact that it has had on him and his family. He talks about his decision to come to Britain and how he will continue to campaign from the UK. Emma Graham-Harrison, senior international affairs correspondent for the Guardian and Observer, discusses how China’s introduction of the national security law effectively ends Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 2:00 am

One million coronavirus deaths: how did we get here?

Milestone is known toll of months of Covid pandemic that has changed everything, from power balances to everyday life

Though an inevitable milestone for months, its arrival is still breathtaking.

Deaths from Covid-19 exceeded 1 million people on Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database, the known toll of nine relentless months of a pandemic that has changed everything, from global balances of power to the mundane aspects of daily life.

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Posted on 29 September 2020 | 12:56 am

UK schools: what are you doing for Black History Month?

We’d like to hear from UK schools about plans for projects and activities during Black History Month that have come about because of the BLM protests this summer

Black History Month in the UK is observed in October and we’d like to find whether the Black Lives Matter protests across Britain, during the summer, have inspired schools and teachers to provide any special projects or initiatives this year.

We’d also like to hear from students who have lobbied their schools for more activities in light of the protests – that were sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the US.

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 3:42 pm

UK university staff: how are online lectures going?

We would like to hear from UK university staff including lecturers and pastoral support workers

We would like to hear from university teaching staff about how they’re managing with online lectures and remote working.

What new measures have your department put in place to support students? How do you feel about pastoral care of students? Do you have any concerns?

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 10:08 am

Food factory workers: tell us about your UK workplace experiences

Many worked from home during the pandemic, but food factory workers often continued to go to workplaces

We would like to hear from food production workers in factories about their experiences in their workplaces during the pandemic.

What are conditions like? What precautions are in place?

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 8:53 am

Drone Awards 2020: the world seen from above

The winners of the international awards dedicated to aerial photography have been announced. Here we showcase a selection of the shots that will be on display in the Siena Photo Awards in Italy from 24 October to 29 November

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 6:00 am

'We swam to Hong Kong for freedom half a century ago. What now?' – video

Hon Man Po is a freedom swimmer who fled China for Hong Kong. He arrived in 1968 after years of trying. 

Two years prior he swam for five hours in the dark from the mainland to Macau, where he made enough money to take an illegal boat journey to Hong Kong. He was one of hundreds of thousands who followed that route between 1950 and 1980. 

More than 50 years ago, Hon risked his life in search of liberty, but now – with the implementation of a new national security law by China – he sees that same fear he was escaping invading his life again

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 2:14 am

Did the NHS 111 Covid helpline fail hundreds of families?

Hundreds of people believe the 111 helpline failed their relatives. Now the Guardian’s David Conn reports that they are demanding a full inquiry into the service

When the coronavirus outbreak hit in March, the NHS feared hospitals could be overwhelmed and so patients with suspected symptoms were directed to call the designated 111 helpline. Call volumes were massive and waiting times were often over an hour.

The Guardian’s David Conn has spent months talking to bereaved relatives about that difficult time and during his conversations he found many were deeply unhappy about the service they felt had been provided by the 111 helpline.

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Posted on 28 September 2020 | 2:00 am

Knock before entering: stars in their dressing rooms – in pictures

Theatre photographer Simon Annand has been snapping actors backstage for almost four decades. His latest book, Time to Act, is a collection of more than 200 portraits of some of the world’s greatest performers. Here are 12 of the best

All photographs: Simon Annand

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Posted on 27 September 2020 | 9:49 am

The big picture: cafe culture on the road

Paul Graham captured early-80s Britain in his colour photographs of people and places along the A1

Paul Graham took this photograph nearly 40 years ago as part of his first serious photographic project, a road trip along the A1, the Great North Road, from its beginning at the Bank of England to its end at the central post office in Edinburgh. Graham was 25. As a child, his family’s annual holidays had begun with an overnight journey up Britain’s ancient spine, with its evocative junctions – Comet Roundabout, Selby Fork and Scotch Corner – and “to an impressionable five-year-old, travelling up the Great North Road seemed a close contender to visiting the moon”.

By 1981, that romance had dimmed. The Romans’ time-honoured route north had long been usurped by the M1 motorway. Graham was, like far too many young men that year, unemployed. He revisited the road in a Morris Mini Traveller, borrowed from his partner’s grandmother. He had two rules: “not to photograph as though this was an American road trip and not to take images from a moving car window”. This picture, one of several taken in cafes and service stations along the route, was characteristic of Graham’s emerging visual language – the blue work-clothes of the men had them vanish quietly into the slabs of colour on the glossed walls. The orange formica of the 1950s shouted something bleaker than retro.

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Posted on 27 September 2020 | 6:00 am

From Mary Whitehouse to the proms: Owen Jones on how ‘woke’ became a dirty word - video

By 2020 everything from the proms to sausage rolls were said to be at risk from 'woke' online warriors. But what does it even mean to be woke? Who were the original anti-woke campaigners? And who benefits and suffers when these manufactured culture wars divide us? Owen Jones – often described as 'too woke' himself – tries to find out

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Posted on 22 September 2020 | 9:29 am

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her own words – video obituary

The supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguably the single most important female lawyer in the history of the American republic, has died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old.

Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was a stalwart of the court’s liberal bloc, which Donald Trump appears now to have the opportunity to confine to a minority for a generation.

Later nicknamed RBG, Ginsburg was an icon, especially for women, and provided an essential vote in watershed rulings that combatted gender discrimination and protected abortion rights, equal pay, civil liberties and privacy rights.

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Posted on 19 September 2020 | 12:05 am

Black voting power: the fight for change in Milwaukee, one of America’s most segregated cities

Guardian US reporter Kenya Evelyn travels home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the most segregated cities in the country to find out what Joe Biden and the Democratic party can do to truly earn the votes of Black Americans.  

Democrats dealt Milwaukee another economic blow by moving their national convention online, crushing Black residents already feeling the brunt of a national crisis. They’re fed up, calling out racial inequality and a party some say ignores their issues until it’s time to vote. From generations of moderate elders leaving their legacy, to their young, progressive peers taking to the streets, Black Milwaukeeans are using the power of their voices and votes to demand change

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Posted on 16 September 2020 | 10:53 am

'The memories never leave me': Uighur teacher describes forced sterilisation – video interview

Qelbinur Sidik, who was coerced to teach Mandarin at two of China's Uighur 're-education' camps, has described what she witnessed there as well as her own forced sterilisation at the age of 50. 

As part of a government campaign to suppress the birth rates of women from Muslim minorities, Sidik says women between the ages of 18 and 59 were told they must have intrauterine devices (IUDs) fitted or undergo sterilisation.

Sidik worked as a teacher in two camps where she says she saw starvation rations and unsanitary and humiliating conditions, including limited access to bathrooms and water. She also heard the screams of tortured prisoners and witnessed at least one inmate being carried out dead.

In the second centre where she worked, which held mostly young women, a trusted colleague told her that rape of inmates by Chinese guards was routine

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Posted on 8 September 2020 | 12:00 pm

‘I felt like nothing bad could ever happen to me’: how we keep cosy memories of childhood alive

Few childhood memories are as warm as feeling safely cocooned. Three people tell Alexi Duggins of their nostalgic remembrances of being protected – and how they keep it alive as adults

David Dunne, Liverpool

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Posted on 4 September 2020 | 11:11 am

'Here we go': inside the transfer window with Fabrizio Romano – video

The transfer window can be a time of huge excitement or heartbreak for football fans across the world. Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano, who prides himself on being the first to break the latest transfer rumours, shares his insight into what it is like to work during the transfer window, his unusual sleeping pattern and the challenges Covid-19 have presented to closing a deal

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Posted on 1 September 2020 | 11:02 am

Could cars with ‘all-seeing eyes’ help put an end to serious road accidents?

As Subaru aims for zero vehicle fatalities by 2030, the company’s pioneering history in passenger protection is shaping its vision for the future

Could serious road accidents become a thing of the past? The concept, dubbed Vision Zero, is based on the notion that any such incidents are ethically unacceptable and that eliminating them requires a coordinated response from governments and vehicle manufacturers. Ever since the formalisation of this idea in the mid-1990s, it has gained traction worldwide. It’s a philosophy shared by the Japanese carmaker Subaru which, with its long-standing history of commitment to advancing the cause of vehicle safety, declared its intention to eliminate all fatalities involving its vehicles by 2030.

Vision Zero was formed against the background of a huge rise in global car ownership – from 50m in 1950 to more than a billion today – and, consequently, steep rises in accidents as more cars were driven farther and at greater speeds. Even by the 1960s, road fatalities had become a major public health issue for governments, prompting regulation, legislation and campaigns to raise public awareness and induce behavioural change among drivers. It has certainly been effective; last year, there were 1,870 road fatalities (including pedestrians and cyclists) in the UK – a far cry from the 1966 peak of 7,985.

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Posted on 26 August 2020 | 11:45 am

An ode to the road trip: ‘Be spontaneous, impulsive. Turn left instead of right'

Looking for a safe way to travel this summer? The freedom and fun of the open road is calling …

“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road,” wrote Jack Kerouac in his 1957 novel On the Road.

I may have missed the Beat Generation, but my 1970s childhood did prepare me for a life of road trips. We used to drive everywhere. Sightseeing in central London, day trips to the countryside, in Britain or abroad – we’d drive it all.

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Posted on 20 July 2020 | 10:30 am

Driven to distraction: how cars that take control are helping drivers

With lack of attention behind the wheel one of the major causes of traffic accidents, advanced driver assistance systems have become the focus of vehicle safety design. And these devices are already proving their worth

Who hasn’t found their attention straying behind the wheel? Modern life is riddled with distractions that fight tooth and nail for our attention – whether it’s noisy children, garish adverts, tiredness, traffic cameras, personal pressures, endless to-do lists or those digital devices and social media notifications that we forgot to switch to silent. We always seem to be spreading our attention too thinly or are exhausted from having to think 10 different thoughts.

Driver distraction is a major cause of road traffic accidents. According to the UK’s Department for Transport, driver or rider error or reaction (failing to look properly, loss of control and poor manoeuvring) was cited as a contributory factor in 63% of fatalities in reported road accidents in 2018.

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Posted on 9 March 2020 | 2:58 pm