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'My life savings have been wiped out'

"Basically it will mean that my son will not have money for his future".

The depressing reality for Amanda Cunningham, and thousands of others, is that a lifetime of savings have been mostly wiped out, almost overnight.

She is one of 11,605 people who invested a total of £236m with London Capital and Finance PLC (LCF).

It collapsed into administration in January following an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into misleading advertising.

"He [her son] suffers with autism, I don't even know if he'll be able to hold down a job. That money was there to give him the life he should have," Amanda says.

"I can't afford to keep him forever and if anything happens to me that money was there for his future".

She had spent decades saving up thousands of pounds.

"That money to me is lost, I can never see me being able to save that amount of money in my lifetime again.

"I won't be able to afford the extra help for my son.

"If anything happens to me and he has to go into assisted living then there's no money for that now."

The FCA, the UK's financial regulator, first raised questions about LCF's advertising, much of it done online and via social media, in December 2018.

LCF was offering rates of around 8% on three year mini-bonds, which are high-risk investments.

But investors say they believed they were putting their money into safe, secure fixed-rate ISAs, so the FCA ordered LCF to withdraw its marketing.

Following further investigation the FCA then froze LCF's assets later that month, then in late January the company collapsed into administration.

Many people who put money in to LCF were first-time investors - inheritance recipients, small business owners or newly retired.

The company's administrators, Smith and Williamson, has now published its proposals about what it thinks is the best way for investors to get as much of their money back as possible.

Finbarr O'Connell, one of the administrators, told BBC Radio 4's Money Box that he hopes to recover about 20% of the £236m that people had invested with the firm. However, he added that it would probably take at least two years before people saw any of that money.

"They [investors] thought this was a safe option, they were comfortable their capital was safe and they thought they would get a good rate of interest so they're completely devastated," he says.

"We have some real, but complex assets, to realise. They could take up to two years to turn into cash.

"The plan is that we continue in hot pursuit of the money and of the assets."

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is also investigating LCF, says it has arrested four people, who have all been released pending further investigation.

The names of the people arrested have not been confirmed yet, which is standard practice for the SFO.

Questions are being asked in Parliament too about what the FCA knew - and when - about possible misleading marketing.

Nicky Morgan MP, chair of Parliament's Treasury Committee, has written to the FCA's chief executive asking what it knew about possible concerns over LCF's advertising and, crucially, when.

Several independent financial advisers have said they warned the FCA, some as far back as 2015, about what they felt were "misleading, inaccurate and not clear" adverts, often promoted on social media.

For its part the FCA has released a statement saying its immediate priority is to "investigate and assist in the recovery of any assets. We will then be looking into this matter carefully and will consider what lessons can be learned".

Andy Thomson, the chief executive of LCF, has not responded to requests for comment.

ruby Posted on March 26, 2019 16:09

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US-Mexico border wall: Pentagon authorises $1bn transfer

The Pentagon has authorised the transfer of $1bn (£758m) to army engineers for new wall construction along the US-Mexico border.

The funds are the first under the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump to bypass Congress and build the barrier he pledged during his election campaign.

Democrats have protested against the move.

The funds will be used to build about 57 miles (91km) of fencing.

President Trump has called the situation at the southern border a "crisis" and insists a physical barrier is needed to stop criminals crossing into the US. His critics say he has manufactured the border emergency.

A Pentagon statement said acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan had "authorised the commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1bn in support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol".

The statement cited a federal law that "gives the Department of Defence the authority to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies".

As well the 18ft-high (5m) "pedestrian fencing", the funds will cover road improvements and new lights.

Democratic senators complained that the Pentagon had not sought permission from the appropriate committees before notifying Congress of the funds transfer.

ruby Posted on March 26, 2019 08:57

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Thailand election: Rival camps woo allies amid confusion over results

Two rival camps contesting Thailand's first election since the military coup in 2014 have both said they are trying to form a coalition government.

Early results give the pro-military Palang Pracha Rath Party (PPRP) a larger share of the popular vote.

At the same time, the main opposition Pheu Thai party currently has the biggest number of seats in parliament.

But there are growing complaints about irregularities during Sunday's poll and a vote count marred by confusion.

The Electoral Commission (EC) is also facing strong criticism for its decision to delay publishing the full results without providing any explanation.

Thailand's complicated electoral system allocates some parliamentary seats according to the number of votes received.

Critics say electoral law changes introduced by the military in 2017 are primarily designed to keep pro-military forces in power.

On Monday, the EC announced that Pheu Thai party, which is linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had won 138 seats in the 500-strong lower chamber of parliament.

The PPRP, which supports Thailand's current leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha, was in the second place with 96 seats.

Several other parties were getting between 30 and 39 seats each.

But the winners of 150 seats were still unclear, the EC said.

At the same time, the commission earlier said that with more than 90% of ballots counted, the PPRP had gained 7.6m of the popular vote. That is half a million more than Pheu Thai.

Amid confusion over a vote count, the EC was expected to clarify the preliminary results at a news conference on Monday.

But the EC instead again delayed announcing the preliminary figures. It also said there would be no official results until 9 May.

ruby Posted on March 25, 2019 15:35

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British no more: Why some UK citizens face Brexit dilemma

The number of UK citizens acquiring the nationality of another EU country has shot up since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

For many Britons living in Germany, France or Italy, dual nationality solves questions about freedom of movement to work in the EU, pensions and healthcare.

But a handful of EU countries, including Austria, do not generally allow dual citizenship.

That makes things complicated for people like British opera singer Stephen Chaundy, who has lived in Vienna with his family for many years, but often works in theatres and opera houses in Germany.

"Freedom of movement matters to me," he says.

"I know from colleagues and friends how difficult third-country [non-EU] nationals can have it, in terms of complications of sorting out visas and work permits... and I have already had the situation where a theatre in one European country has said they're unwilling to hear me," he adds.

Because of this, Stephen may not be British much longer.

"Depending on what happens, I am seriously considering having to give up being British and asking to become Austrian," he says.

Britons who live and work in Austria will be able to continue to do so after Brexit. But there are no guarantees for people like Stephen who rely on freedom of movement.

Jan Hillerman, the secretary of support group UK Citizens in Austria, says feelings about giving up British nationality in order to obtain an Austrian passport are very mixed.

"Some people have done that. Other people are very hesitant," she says.

"Some people think that this might be an easy way out of the whole Brexit dilemma – but in fact it isn't: it'll be costly and take a lot of time."

Jan says there have been attempts to lobby the Austrian government on the issue of dual nationality for British people after Brexit.

"But I gather that that came to naught and the Austrians have made pretty clear that that's not on the table," she says.

Austria does allow dual citizenship in a few exceptional cases, such as those who survived the Holocaust.

In the event of a disorderly Brexit, the Austrian government has said it will allow dual citizenship for around 25,000 Austrians living in Britain – but not for the 11,000 Britons living in Austria.

In general, the idea of dual nationality is frowned upon here - not least because of tensions with the Turkish minority in Austria.

The far-right Freedom Party - now the junior partner in Austria's coalition government - has been behind an investigation into whether some Turks in Austria have illegally maintained both Turkish and Austrian nationalities.

Political analyst Thomas Hofer says this colours the whole issue of dual nationality.

"There was a heated debate... saying that there are a lot of Turkish people (who are) Austrian citizens living here and voting in Turkey, especially for President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," he says.

Since then, dual citizenship has become "a touchy issue".

"The government in the last couple of weeks and months did everything to be very harsh and very strict... the government said that it wanted to avoid this kind of double citizenship."

A spokesman for the Austrian government, Peter Launsky, acknowledged that Austria had "a more restrictive approach to dual citizenship".

But he said British citizens were welcome in Austria.

"It is very important to keep stressing that Austria does and will continue to receive British citizens with open arms, irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit process," he said.

"Any of the British citizens in Austria are extremely well qualified and make a very active and positive contribution to the Austrian labour market.

"And we are very appreciative of that fact... everything will be done to ensure as much continuity as possible, irrespective of the question of citizenship."

On stage Stephen Chaundy moves smoothly back and forth between the Viennese and English-speaking repertoire.

His latest role was as a Habsburg aristocrat, Count Tassilo - the lead in the classic Viennese operetta Graefin Mariza, at the Theatre Magdeburg in Germany. He is about to go to the Cologne Opera to play Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

But in life it is not so simple.

"Although I've spent over a third of my life in Austria, I am a Londoner, an Englishman, a Brit – but I'm also European and a big, big part of me is, of course, deeply attached to Austria," he said.

"If Austria would permit dual nationality I would have taken it in a heartbeat. They are both parts of who I am. They're both parts of my adult life.

"They're both parts of my identity and it feels terribly unjust and unfair to have to be asked to choose."

ruby Posted on March 25, 2019 11:38

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'Muslims don't date, we marry'

The BBC's weekly The Boss series profiles different business leaders from around the world. This week we speak to Shahzad Younas, founder and chief executive of Muslim dating website and app Muzmatch.

When Shahzad Younas took to the stage he was very nervous.

It was two years ago, and the then 32-year-old British entrepreneur was in San Francisco pitching London-based Muzmatch to a group of high profile potential investors.

He opened his address to the room by saying: "Muslims don't date, we marry."

ruby Posted on March 25, 2019 09:35

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Fake pathologist for Germanwings air crash victims on trial

A man faces four years in a Dutch jail after admitting forging qualifications that allowed him to build a career as a forensic pathologist for years.

Peter B, as he has been identified, examined victims of major disasters like the 2015 Germanwings air crash, which killed all 150 people on board.

The 58-year-old, nicknamed Dr Bones, worked for a specialist firm, the Dutch police and public health bodies.

He was caught after he was unable to take someone's blood pressure in 2016.

Prosecutors described him as a fantasist and are seeking a four-year jail term, with six months suspended.

The man's lawyer said such a sentence was too high, as nobody was hurt by his fraudulent actions.

Dutch media have compared him to Frank Abagnale, a former conman whose story was fictionalised in the film Catch Me If You Can.

The man told the court in Utrecht he had forged his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam and other diplomas and did not know what had compelled him to commit fraud.

A man faces four years in a Dutch jail after admitting forging qualifications that allowed him to build a career as a forensic pathologist for years.

Peter B, as he has been identified, examined victims of major disasters like the 2015 Germanwings air crash, which killed all 150 people on board.

The 58-year-old, nicknamed Dr Bones, worked for a specialist firm, the Dutch police and public health bodies.

He was caught after he was unable to take someone's blood pressure in 2016.

Prosecutors described him as a fantasist and are seeking a four-year jail term, with six months suspended.

The man's lawyer said such a sentence was too high, as nobody was hurt by his fraudulent actions.

Dutch media have compared him to Frank Abagnale, a former conman whose story was fictionalised in the film Catch Me If You Can.

The man told the court in Utrecht he had forged his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam and other diplomas and did not know what had compelled him to commit fraud.

Media captionThe BBC reported on the 2015 Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps

He was hired as a forensic pathologist for Kenyon International Emergency Services, a firm specialising in the repatriation and identification of victims in major disasters, and worked as a guest lecturer for a police academy.

A Dutch woman told the court Peter B had given her a lock of hair from her daughter, who died in the 2015 Germanwings crash in the French Alps.

She cried as she said she now doubted anything she had been told about her 20-year-old daughter's death.

Kenyon International, which worked on that accident, said the fake pathologist had not been to the crash site or directly involved in identifying bodies, the Guardian reported.

The Dutch National Professional Association of Autopsy Assistants, where Peter B became the chair, admitted naivety in hindsight.

"The point is that he really had knowledge of medical matters, he could talk to us about complex illnesses without any problems," a spokesman told the Guardian. "But to be honest, we should have been sharper."

The 58-year-old was trained as an autopsy assistant, someone who assists a pathologist in determining the cause of death.

BBC reported on the 2015 Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps

He was hired as a forensic pathologist for Kenyon International Emergency Services, a firm specialising in the repatriation and identification of victims in major disasters, and worked as a guest lecturer for a police academy.

A Dutch woman told the court Peter B had given her a lock of hair from her daughter, who died in the 2015 Germanwings crash in the French Alps.

She cried as she said she now doubted anything she had been told about her 20-year-old daughter's death.

Kenyon International, which worked on that accident, said the fake pathologist had not been to the crash site or directly involved in identifying bodies, the Guardian reported.

The Dutch National Professional Association of Autopsy Assistants, where Peter B became the chair, admitted naivety in hindsight.

"The point is that he really had knowledge of medical matters, he could talk to us about complex illnesses without any problems," a spokesman told the Guardian. "But to be honest, we should have been sharper."

The 58-year-old was trained as an autopsy assistant, someone who assists a pathologist in determining the cause of death.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 15:44

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Dutch populist vote surge costs PM Rutte senate majority

The governing centre-right coalition in the Netherlands has lost its senate majority after a populist party surged in provincial elections.

The anti-immigration Forum for Democracy is set to win most votes and have as many seats in the upper house as Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party.

The election came two days after a suspected terror attack in Utrecht.

Addressing supporters, party leader Thierry Baudet bitterly criticised Mr Rutte's immigration policies.

"Successive Rutte governments have left our borders wide open, letting in hundreds of thousands of people with cultures completely different to ours," he told the cheering crowd.

Mr Baudet, who was criticised for continuing to campaign after Monday's shooting on a tram, said Dutch people were being "destroyed by the people who are supposed to be protecting us".

Analysts say he may team up with the anti-Islam Freedom Party, led by far-right politician Geert Wilders. Mr Wilders has seen his party's seats decline from nine to five.

With about 94% of the vote counted, Forum for Democracy is believed to have won the most votes. Forum for Democracy had no seats in the current 75-seat upper house. It is now set to have 12.

Mr Rutte will now need the support of other parties beyond his own coalition to pass legislation. The 38 seats previously held by his coalition will now fall to 31.

When I first met Thierry Baudet in 2014 he leapt into the passenger seat of my car and pontificated on the state of Dutch politics and why the Netherlands would be better off outside the EU.

Five years on, this self-proclaimed intellectual is considered one of the most influential politicians in the country.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 15:40

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Christchurch shootings: Why Turkey's Erdogan uses attack video


Then stills of the manifesto posted by the gunman in New Zealand before his terror attack, highlighting and translating the sections targeting Turkey.

The video streamed live by the attacker comes next, shooting his way into a Christchurch mosque, before blurred images with the sound of automatic gunfire.

And then a cut to Turkey's opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, talking of "terrorism rooted in the Islamic world".

The crowd boos wildly, galvanised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has now shown the footage during at least eight election rallies.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 15:10

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US mum 'abused kids who performed on family YouTube channel'

A US mother whose seven adopted children regularly performed as superheroes on her family's YouTube channel has been charged with child abuse.

Machelle Hackney, from Arizona, and her two adult sons were arrested on Friday by local police.

Ms Hackney has denied abusing her children.

The adoptees regularly appeared on the popular Fantastic Adventures channel, dressed up as superheroes.

The channel has more than 700,000 subscribers and, in total, a quarter of a billion views.

With new videos uploaded about once a week, the Fantastic Adventures featured the children in fantastical situations, with animated effects representing their various superpowers.

The children, aged about six to 15 according to The Washington Post, have now been removed from Ms Hackney's care.

Police accuse Ms Hackney of starving, pepper-spraying, beating and isolating the children.

Authorities also allege that they were forced to take ice baths and at least one of the boys experienced physical abuse to his genitals.

One child was allegedly found in a cupboard when police arrived.

"Officers came in contact with the six other children, who appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale complexion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were thirsty and hungry," police documents said.

Ms Hackney has been charged with seven counts of child abuse, five of unlawful imprisonment and two of child molestation, which she denies.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 12:24

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Patrick Shanahan: Pentagon chief's ties to Boeing investigated

The Pentagon has launched an inquiry into acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan for alleged favouritism to his ex-employer, Boeing.

The Defence Department's inspector general will look into the matter following a complaint from a watchdog group.

Mr Shanahan is accused of frequently praising Boeing in meetings about government contracts and acquisitions.

Mr Shanahan, who denies any wrongdoing, spent 30 years at Boeing.

He rose through the ranks to become a senior executive at the world's biggest planemaker.

Last week Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Pentagon inspector general about Mr Shanahan.

The complaint said he had appeared to violate ethical rules by "promoting Boeing in the scope of his official duties... and disparaging the company's competitors to his subordinates".

Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, said in a statement on Wednesday: "The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has decided to investigate complaints we recently received that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors."

Mr Shanahan said last week during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that he would support an investigation by the inspector general.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the panel, said she had led calls for the inquiry.

She tweeted on Wednesday: "Government officials should work for the people - not big defence contractors."

The inquiry casts a shadow over Mr Shanahan as the White House considers whether to formally nominate him to fill the defence secretary post left vacant by Jim Mattis, who stepped down in December.

Boeing is already under pressure after the deadly crash of one of its 737 Max 8 passenger jets in Ethiopia last week.

The FBI is reported to be assisting the investigation into safety issues surrounding the Boeing airliner.

Another of the passenger planes crashed in Indonesia last October, also killing everyone on board.

According to the Seattle Times, the FBI is investigating the process that led to the aircraft getting its safety certification.

The US Department of Justice has refused to comment on claims that it has been looking at the Federal Aviation Administration's oversight of Boeing.


ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 12:02

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Trump: I didn't get a thank you for McCain funeral

US President Donald Trump has attacked the late Senator John McCain, complaining that he "didn't get a thank you" for his state funeral.

"We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain," the president said during a visit to an Ohio tank factory.

Mr Trump has repeatedly assailed the late Arizona senator in recent days, reigniting a feud that dates back to before his presidency.

The Vietnam War veteran died of brain cancer last August at the age of 81.

During his visit on Wednesday to the tank factory in Lima, Ohio, the president renewed his assault on McCain.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 11:59

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Slower US growth means no rate rise for 2019, says Fed

The US Federal Reserve does not expect to raise interest rates for the rest of 2019 amid slower economic growth.

After a two-day meeting, monetary policymakers voted unanimously to keep the US interest rate range between 2.25%-2.5%.

Fed members changed their outlook for 2019 from the two increases predicted in December to no movement.

The central bank warned that "growth of economic activity has slowed from its solid rate in the fourth quarter".

It said: "Recent indicators point to slower growth of household spending and business fixed investment in the first quarter."

Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions, said: "The Fed did a big about-face on policy.

"The fact that the Fed threw in the towel on a 2019 rate hike was particularly dovish."

Fed chairman Jerome Powell maintained his stance that the central bank would continue to be "patient", telling a press conference: "It may be some time before the outlook for jobs and inflation calls clearly for a change in policy."

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 10:28

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Giant sunfish washes up on beach in South Australia

Pictures of a giant, odd-looking fish have gone viral after it washed up on a beach in South Australia.

Identified as an ocean sunfish by experts, the 1.8m (6ft)-long specimen was first spotted by a group of fishermen driving along the sand.

At first, they mistook it for a large piece of driftwood, said Linette Grzelak who posted pictures of her partner's find on Facebook.

"I didn't think it was real until I Googled sunfish," she told the BBC.

Her partner, Steven Jones has worked as a fisherman for years so "he knew what it was but had never seen one in real life", she said.

"Hence why they took the photos. He said it was extremely heavy and the skin was rough and leathery like a rhinoceros."

The fish was found at Coorong National Park, 80km (50 miles) south of the city of Adelaide. It's believed to have later washed back into the ocean, Ms Grzelak said.

Ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, are the world's heaviest bony fish species and can be found in temperate marine waters globally, according to the Fishes of Australia database.

Their features include a large, blunt head, a disproportionately small mouth, and long dorsal and anal fins.

One expert said the found fish appeared to be a smaller example of its species, which can grow over 4m (13ft) tall and weigh more than 2.5 tonnes (2,500kg).

"It's probably an average-sized one, they can get nearly twice as big as that," Ralph Foster from the South Australian Museum told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The species are harmless to people, but are sometimes mistaken for sharks when they swim inshore, says the Australian Museum.

In Australia, they have been known to cause damage to boats due to their size.

Last year, a vessel in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race had to retire from the race after hitting a sunfish and breaking its rudder.

Earlier this month, a rare hoodwinker sunfish washed up on a beach in California. It baffled scientists who questioned how the southern hemisphere species had travelled so far from its home waters.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 10:02

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David Malpass: Who is Trump's pick for World Bank president?

US President Donald Trump has nominated David Malpass as his pick for the next World Bank president.

So who is David Malpass, and what opinions does he hold?

Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.

The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank in the past, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".

After senior roles in the US Treasury during the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations, Mr Malpass became chief economist at Bear Stearns bank. He was there for 15 years before the bank's near collapse in the 2008 banking crisis.

Bear Stearns narrowly avoided insolvency in March of that year after hedge funds got spooked by the investment bank's exposure to subprime mortgages. It was bought by rival JP Morgan for a fraction of its former value, with the backing of the US Federal Reserve.

ruby Posted on March 21, 2019 09:10

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Mike Thalassitis death: Love Island stars to be offered therapy

Love Island stars will in future be offered therapy, social media training and financial advice, ITV has said after the death of an ex-contestant.

Mike Thalassitis, who was on the show in 2017, was found dead in a north London park on Saturday. Police are not treating the incident as suspicious.

His death sparked calls for better aftercare for people on reality shows.

In a letter to The Sun, ITV Studios said the show's medical support is being independently reviewed.

And rather than waiting for contestants to ask for help, Love Island will "proactively" check up on them after they have left the show.

Last year, another former contestant of Love Island, Sophie Gradon, died aged 32. An inquest into her death was recently postponed.

Meanwhile, a government minister has told the BBC that the public has "started to enjoy reality TV a bit too much" and needs to take a "step back".

The ITV letter - published in full in The Sun - was written by Richard Cowles, the creative director of ITV Studios, which makes Love Island.

He said: "When something so awful happens we naturally enter a period of soul-searching and ask whether anything could have been done to help avoid something so terrible happening."

Mr Cowles outlined the support currently on offer, which includes every contestant debriefing with a medical team - including a psychological consultant - after they leave the show.

He said that six months ago, the programme asked Dr Paul Litchfield - a wellbeing expert and former adviser to the government - to carry out a review into Love Island's medical processes.

"This review has led us to extend our support processes to offer therapy to all Islanders and not only those that reach out to us," said Mr Cowles.

"And we will be delivering bespoke training to all future Islanders to include social media and financial management.

"The key focus will be for us to no longer be reliant on the Islanders asking us for support but for us to proactively check in with them on a regular basis."

ruby Posted on March 20, 2019 09:39

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Brexit deadlock shows 'democracy all but dead' - Donald Trump Jr

The current deadlock over Brexit and possible delay to the UK's planned leaving date of 29 March suggests democracy in the UK is "all but dead", Donald Trump Jr has claimed.

Mr Trump Jr, who is the US president's son but holds no political position, wrote a column in the Daily Telegraph.

In it, he criticises PM Theresa May for having "ignored advice from my father".

Mr Trump Jr added that "the will of the people is likely to be ignored" because of "elite" politicians in Brussels.

The US businessman's intervention in UK politics comes with nine days to go until the UK's scheduled departure from the EU.

In an interview with Sky News, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said US President Donald Trump wanted a resolution that allowed the US and Britain "to come to trade deals again".

He added: "He sees huge opportunity if Britain's status can be resolved."

Ms May is writing to the EU to formally ask for Brexit to be postponed, and Downing Street has confirmed the prime minister will not be asking for a long delay.

Any delay will then have to be agreed by all 27 EU member states and Mrs May is heading to Brussels on Thursday to discuss the matter with fellow leaders.

However, 29 March remains the date the UK leaves the EU unless an extension is agreed before then.

In his editorial piece, Mr Trump Jr - who played a prominent role in his father's election campaign, said: "Mrs May ignored advice from my father, and ultimately, a process that should have taken only a few short months has become a years-long stalemate, leaving the British people in limbo."

In an interview in July last year, President Trump claimed that Mrs May had ignored his advice by opting for a softer Brexit strategy.

And again last week, President Trump - who is a supporter of Brexit - told reporters that he gave Mrs May "my ideas on how to negotiate it... and I think [it] would have been successful".

He added: "She didn't listen to that, and that's fine. I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly."

Trump: "I'm surprised at how badly Brexit negotiations have all gone"

Mr Trump Jr, who is executive vice-president of the Trump Organisation, added: "Now, the clock has virtually run out and almost all is lost - exactly as the European elites were hoping.

"Some pro-Brexit politicians even suggest that Mrs May is trying to sabotage Brexit, by insisting that Parliament agree to a deal that essentially keeps Britain bound to the EU indefinitely.

"With the deadline fast approaching, it appears that democracy in the UK is all but dead."

ruby Posted on March 20, 2019 09:35

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How prevalent is far-right extremism?

The shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, which left 50 people dead and dozens wounded, have led to renewed questions about the extent of far-right extremism.

The British security minister has said it is "perfectly possible" a far-right attack could happen in the UK and has raised concerns about the radicalisation of individuals online.

So, how widespread is this form of violent extremism?

Before the latest attack, both New Zealand and Australia said their main security risk was from Islamist terrorism.

And New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service's most recent annual report makes no reference to far-right extremism.

A report in 2017 by Australia's Security Intelligence Organisation says that although the country "experiences low levels of communal violence", one person was charged with far-right terrorism in 2016.

The report did not dismiss the possibility of attacks but stated that any attacks by far-right extremists would "probably target the Muslim or left-wing community, be low-capability, and be more likely to be perpetrated by a lone actor or small group on the periphery of organised groups".

Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency, recorded five right-wing terror plots in 2017, all of which were in the UK.

This was out of a total of 205 potential or successful attacks recorded by European intelligence agencies, with 137 "separatist", 24 "left-wing" and 33 "jihadist" plots among them.

In 2017, a total of 1,219 terror suspects were arrested. Of these, 20 were classified as far-right extremists (705 were "jihadists").

The Global Terrorism Index, an annual report compiled from an open-source database at the University of Maryland, also monitors incidents relating to the far-right in Western Europe.

Its number of right-wing terror "incidents" is higher than the official figures from intelligence agencies, which it says is down to differing interpretations between countries as to what constitutes a terror incident.

Across Western Europe, the database shows 28 right-wing terror incidents in 2017 compared with just one in 2007.

Sara Khan, the UK's anti-terror commissioner, told the Observer that UK-based far-right activists were "organised, professional and actively attempting to recruit", although the numbers being monitored were not released.

The intelligence agencies have revealed, however, that of the 18 attacks foiled in the UK since March 2017, four came from the extreme right wing.

And referrals to the government's anti-extremism programme, Prevent, from this group have increased in recent years.

In 2017-18, there were 7,318 referrals across the country, 1,312 of which related to the extreme right.

The number actually going on to receive so-called "Channel" support has increased as well.

Since 2012-13, the number of extreme right wing individuals receiving support has almost tripled, while the number of Islamist extremists has increased by 80%.

In Germany, "politically motivated" crimes are recorded by the government

In 2017, 39,505 such offences were recorded, of which half were attributed to people with right-wing ideologies, including 1,130 acts of violence (although more acts of violence were attributed to the far left).

Right-wing individuals also committed 300 attacks on asylum centres in 2017, although this was a two-thirds decrease from the previous year.

In the Netherlands, the Ministry of the Interior

ruby Posted on March 20, 2019 08:58

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Boeing: US orders review of 737 Max licence to fly

The US government has ordered a review of the way Boeing's 737 Max aircraft got its licence to fly.

It comes after two crashes in five months, amid suggestions from experts that there were "clear similarities" between the disasters.

Transport secretary Elaine Chao has asked the US inspector general to audit the aircraft's certification process.

One focus of crash investigators has been the Max's anti-stall system, which Boeing says needs a software update.

In a memo to inspector general Calvin Scovel, Ms Chao said she wanted the review in order to "assist the Federal Aviation Administration [the regulator] in ensuring that its safety procedures are implemented effectively".

After the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft last week - which followed a Lion Air disaster in October - there were questions about why the FAA took so long to ground the 737 Max.

Reuters has reported that the US Justice Department has also begun preliminary inquiries into the FAA's oversight of the Boeing aircraft.

Meanwhile, Europe and Canada said they would seek their own assurances over the safety of the aircraft, a move likely to complicate plans to get the aircraft flying again across the world.

European and Canadian regulators have typically tended to follow the FAA's lead.

The European Union's aviation safety agency EASA promised its own deep look at any design improvements.

"We will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions," EASA executive Patrick Ky told an EU parliament committee hearing.

ruby Posted on March 20, 2019 08:32

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Kazakh leader Nazarbayev resigns after three decades

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has led the country since independence from the Soviet Union, has announced his resignation.

In a pre-recorded television address, he said the decision had "not been simple".

Mr Nazarbayev, 78, has been largely unchallenged since he became president of the oil-rich nation in 1990.

He has focused on economic reform while resisting moves to democratise the political system.

"I have decided to give up my powers as president," he said during a surprise television address.

Mr Nazarbayev said the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, would take over as acting president for the remainder of his term.

The announcement comes just weeks after the leader sacked the country's government, citing failures to improve the economy.

"In many areas of the economy, despite the adoption of many laws and government decisions, positive changes have not been achieved," he said in a statement at the time.

In the past few months and even years, there has been speculation about Mr Nazarbayev's imminent resignation.

These rumours reached a new level recently when he formally requested the Constitutional Court to clarify the process of a presidential resignation. The court confirmed that the president had a right to resign.

For many, it was clear that he would leave soon. However, his announcement today still caught many by surprise.

Mr Nazarbayev is the only president independent Kazakhstan has known. Many regarded him as a president for life, a common practice for authoritarian states in Central Asia.

He enjoyed great popularity, although it was never possible to independently measure it due to the lack of free and fair elections. Yet, because of the economic crisis, he has faced growing discontent from some of the population.

Born in 1940, Mr Nazarbayev came to power as first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan when it was a Soviet republic.

After independence, he was re-elected against largely token opponents in 1999, 2005, 2011 and - most recently - in 2015.

But the conduct of every election was criticised by foreign observers.

A huge country the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan has vast mineral resources and enormous economic potential.

Since independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, major investment in the oil sector has brought rapid economic growth, and eased some of the stark disparities in wealth of the 1990s.


ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 14:31

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Christchurch shootings: The rising new threat of alt-right violence

The man accused of the Christchurch shootings left a trail of references to online culture and extremist alt-right ideology.

When he first appeared in court, Brenton Tarrant flashed an "OK" hand sign.

The gesture was described in some accounts as a white nationalist symbol, but perhaps more accurately could be called a trollish gesture. It is used by extremists, but also by a range of conservatives, far-right figures and the alt-right - a disparate group of activists who congregate on extreme message boards.

A document posted shortly before the shooting and widely credited to the suspect, indicates the author is steeped in the alt-right's toxic culture.

Online, white nationalist ideology hides under layers of irony, often allowing its proponents to duck accusations of extremism while actively spreading hateful language and memes.

Potential clues to the suspect's ideology and inspiration also appear in a live-streamed video which social networks have struggled to completely take down.

The written document was posted on the extreme message board 8chan shortly before the attack began on Friday. It has been called it a "manifesto" but that term rather grandly overstates a confused jumble of thoughts and misinformation which rambles on for 74 poorly-written pages.

In it, the author describes the conservative activist Candace Owens as a key influence. While Owens has repeated claims about declining birth rates and dubious statistics about population growth in European countries, her influence over the suspect is doubtful considering his committed opposition to minorities in Western countries and the fact that Owens is an African-American.

The document also includes an internet-famous joke - a piece of "copypasta", or a block of text that has been copied and pasted from elsewhere. The joke involves a US "Navy Seal" who claims to be posting on 4chan's extreme /pol/ (short for "politically incorrect") message board.

Elsewhere in the document, the writer says that popular video games taught him about ethno-nationalism and violence, before immediately dismissing that idea.

All of these appear to be sick "jokes" - not the laugh-out-loud funny kind but rather the internet meme kind, designed to make it difficult for people to glean his true meaning.

Difficult - but not impossible.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 13:47

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India 'asks banks to rescue Jet Airways'

The Indian government has asked state-run banks to step in and save struggling carrier Jet Airlines, according to Reuters.

India has urged the banks to swap debt for equity, and take stakes in Jet, the news agency said.

With more than $1bn (£750m) in debt, the air has had to delay payments to banks, employees, suppliers and even aircraft lessors.

India wants to avoid job losses ahead of a general election, Reuters added.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 13:42

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Boeing expects 737 Max software fix by end of March

Boeing has told airlines it expects to have new software for its 737 Max plane ready by the end of the month.

The plane has been grounded following the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crash earlier this month.

Documents seen by the BBC confirm that the software update will limit the operation of the controversial MCAS system.

That was the same system used by a Lion Air 737 Max which crashed off the coast of Indonesia last year.

Investigators say there are "clear similarities" between the two.

Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg, who is the chairman, president and chief executive of the company, said in an open letter: "Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident."

He said the company had been working in "full co-operation" with the relevant authorities and regulators.

There will also be changes to the cockpit warning systems, the flight crew operating manual will be updated and there will be computer-based training for pilots.

It is not clear how long the 737 Max will remain grounded.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 13:38

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Cyclone Idai: Huge area of Mozambique submerged

An aerial survey of Mozambique's cyclone-hit province shows that a 50km (30 mile) stretch of land is under water, charity Save The Children says.

The flooding was caused after River Buzi burst its banks, it adds.

President Filipe Nyusi said at least 1,000 people could have been killed by Cyclone Idai which made landfall near the port city of Beira on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).

Neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi have also felt the impact.

Mozambique's government says 600,000 people have been affected and 100,000 need to be urgently rescued near Beira.

Buzi town, which is estimated to be home to more than 2,500 children, could be under water within 24 hours, Save The Children warned.

In Zimbabwe, the government says 98 people have been killed and more than 200 are missing.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the government was conducting rescue missions and delivering food aid.

The UN says the storm is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere, the Reuters news agency reports.

Floods of up to six metres deep had caused "incredible devastation" over a huge area, World Food Programme regional chief Lola Castro said.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 13:33

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Mukesh Ambani: India's richest man helps his brother avoid jail

India's richest man Mukesh Ambani has paid a debt payment owed by his brother, saving him from spending time in prison.

Anil Ambani faced a prison sentence after a deal between his firm Reliance Communications (RCom) and telecoms giant Ericsson collapsed.

That left his firm owing Ericsson 5.5bn rupees ($80m; £60m), which it failed to pay by a court deadline.

The move marks a new twist a long-running feud between the brothers.

RCom failed to comply with an India Supreme Court order to pay Ericsson the money by 15 December last year.

The court found him guilty of contempt, giving him another four weeks to pay or go to prison.

On Monday, RCom said the debt had been paid.

"My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and (his wife) Nita, for standing by me during these trying times, and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support," Anil Ambani said.

The two brothers have long had an acrimonious relationship, fighting over their father's businesses after he died in 2002 without a will.

The Reliance empire was divided between the two brothers in 2005 after a bitter seven-month feud.

The brothers have fought bruising court battles in the past over natural gas interests.

Mukesh Ambani is worth more than $54bn, according to Bloomberg.

His firm Reliance Industries, whose activities span from oil to telecommunications, is among India's most valuable companies.

By contrast, Anil Ambani has an estimated net worth of around $300m, Bloomberg said.

The Ambani family made headlines last year with the lavish wedding of Mukesh Ambani's daughter, Isha Ambani, which featured a performance from US singer Beyoncé.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 10:09

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Italy's La Scala opera house to return Saudi millions

Italy's La Scala opera house is to return more than €3 million (£2.5m; $3.4m) to Saudi Arabia after a funding plan with the kingdom triggered a public backlash.

The deal would have allowed the Saudi culture minister a seat on the board.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record is under close scrutiny after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The partnership plan was criticised by rights groups and politicians.

"We have unanimously decided to return the money," opera house president Giuseppe Sala, who is also the mayor of Milan, told reporters after a board meeting on Monday.

"We'll go back to scratch today. We'll see if there are other opportunities for collaboration."

The €3m already delivered was part of a proposed €15m five-year partnership proposal with the Saudi culture ministry.

But the plan drew widespread criticism, including from members of Italy's governing League party.

League leader and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini urged the opera house to scrap the deal while the governor of the Lombardy region, who is also a League member, demanded the opera's artistic director, Alexander Pereira, be sacked.

Mr Sala said that Mr Pereira, who negotiated the deal, would keep his job.

There has been no comment so far from Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia has blamed the killing of Jamal Khashoggi on rogue agents and denied claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had any knowledge of the operation.

ruby Posted on March 19, 2019 09:02

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Armando, the 'Lewis Hamilton of pigeons' sells for record €1.25m

A champion pigeon has been sold for a record €1.25m ($1.42m; £1.07m).

Auction house Pipa called Armando the "best Belgian long-distance pigeon of all time". He's also been dubbed the "Lewis Hamilton of pigeons".

Before this sale, the record was €376,000 (£321,800). However, Pipa says this was beaten within a day of Armando being put up for bids.

The champ, who turns five this year, is now enjoying his retirement and has already fathered a number of chicks.

"It was unreal, the feeling - it was something out of this world," Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the CEO of Pipa - short for "Pigeon Paradise" - told the BBC of the moment someone put down a bid of more than €1m.

"In our wildest dreams, we had never hoped for a price like that. We hoped for around €400,000 to €500,000, and we only dreamed of €600,000."