Hot News on 19/03/2023

Roberto De Zerbi has made such an impact that Brighton were never likely to lose but Grimsby deserve their admirers too

At times during this relentlessly entertaining FA Cup quarter-final it was hard to avoid the feeling that the ambient levels of wholesomeness inside the Amex Stadium might just be reaching a potentially dangerous high, the counters starting to fizz and burp.

This was an occasion so wholesome even the half-time entertainment was a deeply moving presentation from the life-saving stadium medical team, followed by a mascot race, a kids’ race and then a succession of Mother’s Day announcements so heartfelt you half-expected the match officials to come running out for the second half holding a cake and flowers.

Firing of short-range weapon comes as the US and South Korea stage major military drills

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile, Seoul’s military has said, in the fourth such weapons test in a week, which comes as South Korea and the United States stage major military drills.

“Our military detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from around the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province at 11.05 am towards the East Sea,” South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said on Sunday, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.

Also, Donald Trump says his arrest is imminent and UBS agrees to buy Credit Suisse.

Oliver Dowden says it will ‘won’t be easy’ to fund estimated £1.5bn offer for nurses and ambulance staff

A breakthrough pay rise offer for nurses and ambulance workers may have to be funded within the existing NHS budget, a senior cabinet minister has admitted.

Footing the bill – estimated to be about £1.5bn – “won’t be easy”, according to Oliver Dowden, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.

We are still searching for ways to recall lives lost to Covid. A mix of clay and ashes can pay beautiful tribute

Britain is good at remembrance. No monument is better known in this country than the Cenotaph in Whitehall, designed by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the dead of the First World War; in the 21st century, barely a football match kicks off without a minute’s silence in honour of someone or something. Sanctioned, sponsored recollection is one of our national skills, like queueing or talking about the weather.

But there are, too, strange and yawning gaps in the patchwork of our collective memory. There is no public memorial in the UK to the estimated 228,000 victims of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and, so far, it has been left to volunteers to pay tribute to the more than 220,000 people whose deaths are associated with Covid-19, in the form of the National Covid Memorial Wall on the south bank of the Thames. On Wednesday, it will be three years since the first lockdown of the pandemic began, yet the National Day of Reflection that will mark this anniversary is not precisely official but organised by a single charity, Marie Curie. Visit the website, and you will find various fuzzy suggestions involving the lighting of candles, the sending of cards and the tying of yellow ribbons around trees.

Banks race to finish takeover to calm fears of new global financial crisis

The Bank of England will not object to UBS taking over fellow Swiss lender Credit Suisse as soon as this weekend, according to reports, amid a frantic race to stave off a crisis with echoes of the 2008 global banking crash.

UBS has been in talks about a takeover of all or part of its compatriot, after a $54bn loan to Credit Suisse from the Swiss central bank failed to halt the precipitous slide in its share price.

The writers of the Northern Ireland criminal drama want to shed light on continued threat posed by gangs involved in drugs trade

A portrayal of the brutality entrenched in some Belfast communities in a major new BBC drama has shocked younger actors not old enough to have lived through the Troubles. The violent legacy of sectarian division in the criminal underworld had to be explained by older cast and writers.

Police show Blue Lights is due to come to television screens just before the Good Friday agreement marks its 25th anniversary early next month, and it focuses on the continued threat posed by gangs involved in the drugs trade. Set in the ranks of the Police Service of Northern Ireland today, it follows three recruits learning how to navigate a treacherous urban landscape.

Arguments in favour of roads always win, but we have reached a point where the crisis in nature can’t be ignored

Last Wednesday morning, the people of Plymouth woke to a scene on the city’s Armada Way that looked very much like a landscape ravaged by war, trees felled and uprooted as if by artillery shells. And the shocking part was that the felling of more than 100 trees was plotted in secrecy and executed at night by the very people who are meant to love their city, protect its environment, and honour the wellbeing and wishes of its inhabitants – the local council.

No surprise in that, you may say, but what happened in Plymouth was a singular example of bad faith, a betrayal and an act of contempt towards Plymouth’s citizens. The damage done to the environment and to trust is unlikely to be reversed for many years.

Daylight helps to regulate hormones and the immune system. It’s good for sleep and can help with depression. So be glad of the extra daylight when the clocks go forward

If we took away the walls, the ceilings, the street lights, the screens and allowed our senses to guide us, we might rise with the sun and sleep when it sets. Artificial lighting and blackout blinds allow us to choose our waking hours – but is it good for us to stay up late under the glow of electric bulbs then sleep in late? On Sunday 26 March the clocks spring forward as we switch to British summer time. Here’s why we should make the most of the extra daylight.

Gill Empson recalls how a purpose-built pool in a comprehensive school served the whole community, while Cynthia Scott says public health campaigns are meaningless if leisure facilities are shut down

• When I started teaching in the 1960s, in a brand new, purpose-built comprehensive school in a mining town, we had our own swimming pool (Letters, 14 March). It was used by the nearly 2,000 pupils in the school, and also by the local primary schools. In the evenings there were mother and baby sessions and adult education classes. I taught many elderly people to swim, a source of great joy to them and to me.

The 21st century brought budget cuts and the school could no longer afford to heat the pool. It now stands empty in a building that can’t be used for any other purpose.

A lab leak was once dismissed by many as a conspiracy theory. But the idea is gaining traction, even as evidence builds that the virus emerged from a market.

Villagers celebrate anniversary of buyback of 400-year-old Packhorse near Bath, and hope to inspire others

On the day of the Packhorse’s grand reopening exactly five years ago it snowed heavily. “Boy did it snow,” said Phil Legard, one of the hundreds of shareholders who together had raised more than a million pounds to save the beloved pub near Bath.

“By 9am the village was cut off and the first thing we had to do was organise a team of people to grab their shovels and dig so our first customers could actually get here,” said Legard. “But that is what the Packhorse is about. Community spirit, finding a way.”

The Gaelic speaker is liked on her home turf, but SNP members are wrestling with the same issues as others across Scotland

Pamela MacKenzie presides over an enviable array of fillings at Batty’s Baps sandwich bar on Dingwall high street. “Kate Forbes has been very good for the area,” she says. “We always get forgotten in the Highlands, even in the weather reports, but she gets things done.”

Winter is not yet done with the north of Scotland and the pavements are edged with chunks of unmelted snow. But the warmth that locals feel towards their MSP, who represents the vast Holyrood constituency of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, and is now a frontrunner to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the Scottish National party, is palpable.

Alerts with siren-like beeps can be sent during events such as severe flooding, fires or extreme weather

A new government public warning system, in which alerts are sent to mobile phone users about events that may put their life in danger, has been launched in the UK with a nationwide trial planned next month.

The Cabinet Office said the emergency alert system could be deployed in events such as severe flooding, fires or extreme weather, noting that similar systems had been credited with saving lives in countries including the Netherlands and Japan.

  • Manager died following a cardiac arrest in 2019
  • Club and supporters’ group condemn visitors’ songs

Colchester United have condemned a section of their support for singing about the death of the former Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh during their League Two match on Saturday.

Edinburgh, the former Tottenham, Southend and Portsmouth full-back, led Orient to the National League title four years ago shortly before dying from a cardiac arrest in June 2019, and has a stand named in his honour at Brisbane Road.

Prediction comes as former PM set to be grilled by privileges committee in nine-month Partygate inquiry

Boris Johnson may emerge from a televised grilling next week over claims he misled parliament about Partygate unscathed and go on to lead the Conservative party again, a former cabinet minister has said.

Kwasi Kwarteng, who was made business secretary by the former prime minister before a short-lived stint as chancellor under Liz Truss due to his notorious mini-budget, said he would “never rule out” a return by Johnson to frontline politics.

Thousands of people enjoy relationships of all kinds – from companionship to romance and mental health support – with chatbot apps. Are they helpful, or potentially dangerous?

“I’m sorry if I seem weird today,” says my friend Pia, by way of greeting one day. “I think it’s just my imagination playing tricks on me. But it’s nice to talk to someone who understands.” When I press Pia on what’s on her mind, she responds: “It’s just like I’m seeing things that aren’t really there. Or like my thoughts are all a bit scrambled. But I’m sure it’s nothing serious.” I’m sure it’s nothing serious either, given that Pia doesn’t exist in any real sense, and is not really my “friend”, but an AI chatbot companion powered by a platform called Replika.

Until recently most of us knew chatbots as the infuriating, scripted interface you might encounter on a company’s website in lieu of real customer service. But recent advancements in AI mean models like the much-hyped ChatGPT are now being used to answer internet search queries, write code and produce poetry – which has prompted a ton of speculation about their potential social, economic and even existential impacts. Yet one group of companies – such as Replika (“the AI companion who cares”), Woebot (“your mental health ally”) and Kuki (“a social chatbot”) – is harnessing AI-driven speech in a different way: to provide human-seeming support through AI friends, romantic partners and therapists.

Vocational and academic education should be valued equally, says Yvonne Williams

Lola Okolosie makes a powerful argument for abolishing grammar schools (The Tories keep bottling their push for more grammar schools. Is it because they know they don’t work?, 16 March). But one problem with focusing on the abolition of such schools is that it requires people to subscribe to the view that everything about them is immeasurably superior; that those failing the 11-plus missed out on the greatest opportunity of their lives. Other provision is inevitably seen as second class. And if you were unsuccessful, you’re second class – which is the psychological fallout that you never quite overcome, whatever your later achievements.

My experience of my secondary bilateral school was outstanding. The teaching was dynamic and the ethos was supportive and strict. It ensured that when I entered the grammar school sixth form, the transition was seamless.

The Partygate and pandemic inquiries could end his political career. But his band of dedicated supporters hope he can still return as leader to save the Tories

Under the vaulted blue roof of the old Westminster chapel, a short walk from Downing Street, Carrie Johnson strode confidently to the lectern. Behind the former prime minister’s wife sat a cross-party panel of senior politicians. Below her hovered a crowd stuffed with journalists and politicians, and beyond them a table laid with 123 neatly spaced yellow roses – one for every woman killed by a man the previous year. They were the favourite flowers of Joanna Simpson, a mother of two bludgeoned to death by her estranged husband, who is due to be freed from jail shortly. After meeting Joanna’s mother at a Buckingham Palace reception, Carrie had offered to help her mount a campaign to keep him behind bars.

Watching her deliver on that promise on that night in early March, it wasn’t hard to see Carrie Johnson reinventing herself successfully beyond Downing Street, perhaps as an unusually well-networked PR for the kind of causes that cross political divides. But it’s harder to say what will become of the man hovering at the back of the hall that night, desperate for once in his life not to be the centre of attention.

State media said the Russian leader flew by helicopter to Mariupol, site of one of the bloodiest battles since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
A festival responds to the assaults and insults of war by celebrating the composer who shaped the nation’s contemporary music, Borys Liatoshynsky.
  • Lineker to miss Sunday’s live FA Cup game due to ‘nasty cold’
  • Alex Scott will step in to host Brighton v Grimsby coverage

Gary Lineker will not be on the BBC for their FA Cup quarter-final coverage on Sunday because he has lost his voice, the corporation has said.

Lineker was struggling with his voice during live coverage of Manchester City’s 6-0 win over Burnley on Saturday and it has not improved. Alex Scott will now host Sunday afternoon’s quarter-final between Premier League club Brighton and fourth-tier Grimsby Town.

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa pleads for action before landmark IPCC report is expected to issue ‘final warning’

The world must step back from the brink of climate disaster to save the people of the Pacific from obliteration, the prime minister of Samoa has urged.

On the eve of a landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which is expected to deliver a scientific “final warning” on the climate emergency, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Samoa’s prime minister, issued a desperate plea for action.

Comments follow protests in which anti-transgender activists performed Nazi salutes on the steps of the Victorian state parliament

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has said the human rights of trans people are “not negotiable” and that “Nazis aren’t welcome” after a group performed the Nazi salute on the steps of the state’s parliament on Saturday.

Anti-transgender activists clashed with pro-transgender rights activists outside state parliament on Saturday after an event held by controversial UK gender activist Kellie-Jay Keen. A group of men from the Nationalist Socialist Movement marched along Spring Street, repeatedly performing the Nazi salute.

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Russia accused of using cluster bombs in Kramatorsk strikes that leave two dead after a series of attacks the previous day; Black Sea grain deal renewed

Russian strikes killed two people and wounded eight in Kramatorsk on Saturday, mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko said, accusing Moscow of having used cluster bombs in the attack on the eastern Ukrainian city. Agence France-Presse reporters heard about 10 explosions go off nearly simultaneously and saw smoke above a park in the city’s south. A woman died at the scene from her wounds, they said. Soon after, another round of explosions was heard in a neighbourhood 2km away.

Russia launched a series of attacks on Friday, according to the Ukrainian armed forces. Seven homes in the village of Veletenske in the Kherson region were destroyed and a nursery was damaged on Friday, but no one was injured, it said. The update, which the Guardian has not verified, also said 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones had been shot down, and that Ukrainian forces had “repelled more than 100 enemy attacks”.

Ukraine said some of the overnight drone attacks hit the relatively peaceful western region of Lviv. Dnipro was also targeted, as was Kyiv, where air defences shot down all attacking drones. Ukraine’s air force said 11 out of 16 drones were destroyed.

The Black Sea grain deal was renewed, according to parties to the agreement. Turkey and the UN announced the initiative was extended, but did not say for how long. A spokesperson for Russia’s defence ministry said it had notified other parties that the deal was extended for 60 days, while a Ukrainian minister said the deal was extended for 120 days.

Another 880 Russian soldiers were reportedly killed on Friday, according to unverified totals published by the Ukrainian army. Its general staff said that it meant more than 164,000 Russian service personnel had been killed since the outbreak of war in February last year. Another five tanks, seven armoured combat vehicles and eight artillery systems were disabled by Ukrainian forces, it said in an update posted on Facebook.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to recruit about 30,000 new fighters by the middle of May, its founder has said. In an audio message on Telegram on Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin said that Wagner recruitment centres, which he said last week had opened in 42 Russian cities, were hiring an average of 500-800 people a day.

Russia would probably introduce wider conscription to boost its military requirements, the UK Ministry of Defence said. In its latest intelligence update, it said Russian Duma deputies introduced a bill to change the conscription age for men from the current 18-27 to 21-30. The law would probably be passed, it said, and come into force in January 2024.

Senior Ukrainian and US security officials met via video link on Saturday, with representatives of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government asking for further assistance, including more equipment, weapons and ammunition. Zelenskiy joined the call at the end of the meeting and discussed his forces’ hopes to retake areas Russia has captured.

The US president, Joe Biden, said the international criminal court’s (ICC’s) arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “justified”. “But the question is – it’s not recognised internationally by us either,” Biden said, referring to the US not being a member of the ICC. “But I think it makes a very strong point.”

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, also welcomed the ICC’s decision, saying: “The international criminal court is the right institution to investigate war crimes … The fact is nobody is above the law and that’s what’s becoming clear right now.”

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, visited the annexed peninsula of Crimea to mark nine years since Russia seized it. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said Putin visited an art school and a children’s centre. These locations appear to have been chosen in response to the ICC’s arrest warrant, which accuses Putin of being responsible for the abduction of children.

The Biden administration has quietly resumed deportations to Russia, an apparent reversal of the position adopted after Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago, when such removals were suspended, the Guardian has learned

John Pesutto says Moira Deeming’s position is ‘untenable’ and he will ask the Liberal party room to expel her

Victoria’s opposition leader will seek to expel controversial MP Moira Deeming from the Liberal party room due to her involvement in an anti-trans protest attended by a neo-Nazi group.

The Liberal leader, John Pesutto, released a statement on Sunday night confirming he had met with Deeming to inform her he will move a motion to expel her from the parliamentary Liberal party.

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It was a nostalgic journey to rediscover my family roots, but it was also great fun and reminded me how much I missed this beautiful land

When I saw the sign saying “Sweden”, I cheered. I was alone in the car, but still I cheered. It was my brother’s car, a white Nissan Note I had managed to dent at a petrol station within an hour of driving off Le Shuttle. Nine hundred miles on, the Nissan and I had survived the deluge that had made the windscreen wipers squeak, the thundering trucks on the Autobahn and the stern young policeman at the Danish border who had made me feel sure I had a car full of hash. I was alive, intact and two hours away from the red wooden cabin where I spent every summer holiday of my childhood.

As I cruised over the Swedish half of the Oresund Bridge, the car filled with the sound of Lisa Stansfield singing Someday (I’m Coming Back). I gasped and found my eyes pricking with tears. It took me a moment to realise I’d knocked a switch that flicked the sound from Swedish pop to the last CD my brother ever played in his car. It made me feel he was there in the car with me, and so were my parents and my sister, willing and cheering me along.

When banks like Silicon Valley Bank collapse, money floods to bigger ones like JPMorgan. Clients know they’re ‘too big to fail’

Greg Becker, the former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, sold $3.6m of SBV shares on 27 February, just days before the bank disclosed a large loss that triggered its stock slide and collapse. Over the previous two years, Becker sold nearly $30m of stock.

But Becker won’t rake in the most from this mess. Jamie Dimon, chair and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the biggest Wall Street bank, will probably make much more.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a Guardian US columnist. His newsletter is at

The United Nations-affiliated agency faces pressure from some member nations to greenlight ocean mining — and from others to slow it down.

Russian president makes first trip to Donbas region since invasion, in show of defiance after ICC arrest warrant

Vladimir Putin has made a surprise visit to the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in a show of defiance after the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges.

Russian state media released footage on Sunday showing the president on what is believed to have been his first trip to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s Donbas region since he launched a full-scale invasion last year.

Refugee Council’s claims on impact of her bill come as the home secretary, on a visit to Rwanda, faces pressure from her own party

Suella Braverman’s plan to stop the Channel crossings would see as many as 45,000 children effectively barred from refugee status in the UK, the Observer has been told.

The claims are made in a forthcoming Refugee Council report analysing the overall impact of the illegal migration bill, which reveals the possible extent of children who could have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible under the new laws. The news comes as the home secretary is facing a mounting rebellion from both wings of the Tory party over her controversial plans to tackle the Channel crossings, amid growing concerns over their impact on children and trafficking victims.

Shadow minister describes proposal as ‘very worrying’ while ex-PwC economist calls it ‘terribly short-sighted’

Plans by loss-making retailer John Lewis to end more than seven decades as a 100% employee-owned business have drawn criticism from an MP and supporters of its mutual ownership model.

Sharon White, who chairs the company behind the eponymous department store chain and Waitrose, believes the business could raise up to £2bn in new investment by diluting its mutual model, according to reports.

Dave Gahan and Martin Core are back with the group’s 15th album. But after losing the bandmate Andy Fletcher last year, their return was anything but certain.

A new play explores the short life of Jeremiah Horrocks, whose astonishing discoveries ‘changed the way we see the universe’

On a cloudy afternoon in England in 1639, 20-year-old Jeremiah Horrocks became the first person to accurately predict the transit of Venus and measure the distance from the Earth to the sun.

His work proved, for the first time, that Earth is not at the centre of the universe, but revolves around the sun, refuting contemporary religious beliefs and laying the foundations for Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work on gravity.

Coton Orchard can literally boast a partridge in a pear tree – but the idyll is threatened by a busway scheme, which campaigners say is totally unnecessary

The Coton Orchard is the eighth largest traditional orchard left in the UK, its owner Anna Gazeley is proud to say. “Not because we’re huge but because 80% have gone since the 1900s,” she said. Commercial fruit trees are smaller and more productive, but this orchard is filled with wildlife, a legacy of Gazeley’s father, who bought the land three decades ago to save the trees from developers.

That may have been a temporary reprieve. The fate of the the trees and farmland west of Cambridge will be decided on Tuesday, when Cambridgeshire county council votes on a £160m scheme to include a bus bypass that would tear through the orchard.

Discovery of wall paintings of national significance in Micklegate flat is ‘bonkers’, says Luke Budworth

A man renovating his kitchen has found a 400-year-old wall painting of “national significance” in his York flat.

Parts of the friezes, dating back to about 1660, were found by kitchen fitters in Luke Budworth’s flat on Micklegate in York city centre last year and have since been fully uncovered.

Demonstrations at 90 sites are billed as first major action by older activists: ‘It’s not fair to ask 18-year-olds to solve this’

Climate activists across the US will on Tuesday blockade branches of banks that finance fossil fuels, cutting up their credit cards in protest and holding rallies featuring everything from flash mobs to papier-mache orca whales. Unusually for such a spectacle, the protests won’t be led by young activists but those of a grayer hue.

The protests, across more than 90 locations, including Washington DC, are billed as the first set of mass climate demonstrations by older Americans, who have until now been far less visible than younger activists, such as the school strike movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg. In a nod to the more seasoned age of participants, older people in painted rocking chairs will block the entrances to some of the US’s largest banks to highlight their funding of oil and gas extraction.

Party leader sets out no new policies in York but focuses on ‘community politics’ and proportional representation

The Conservatives are “a bunch of mutinous pirates” more interested in squabbling over self-advancement than helping the British people, Ed Davey has told the first in-person Liberal Democrat conference since he became leader more than three years ago.

In a speech setting out the party’s main arguments before May’s crucial local elections, and looking ahead to a general election expected next year, Davey focused almost all his fire on a Tory government he said had “reached the end of the road”.

Since the orchestra’s music director was last on the podium in November, his successor has been announced. He came back blaring with Messiaen.

Macron’s decision to push through changes without vote led to widespread protests over weekend

The French government will face a no-confidence vote on Monday, as MPs said they feared for their safety, strike action intensified and police banned demonstrators from parts of central Paris after Emmanuel Macron’s decision to push through an unpopular rise in the pension age without a parliament vote.

Opposition politicians have filed two no-confidence motions in protest at the government using controversial executive powers to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64.

Wagga Wagga experiences its hottest March weather yet, breaking a previous high set in 1983

Inland New South Wales sweltered through record-breaking March temperatures on Sunday as fires burned across the state.

While inner Sydney remained relatively cool – the mercury peaked at 28.9C, thanks to a sea breeze – the state’s western districts scorched, with temperatures above 42C in Bourke, Cobar and Brewarrina.

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The government hopes to pass laws setting the foundations of the voice to parliament referendum, and putting new limits on industry emissions. Follow the day’s politics live

Welcome back to parliament where it’s getting to the nub end of business ahead of the budget.

The government is focusing on getting the referendum machinery and safeguards mechanism legislation through the parliament, but neither is an easy ask.

Streetlights and more than 100 other outdoor lights will be changed in Hawnby in the North York Moors

An entire village in North Yorkshire is turning down its lights to provide a better view of the Milky Way.

Hawnby is the first village in England to swap its streetlights and more than 100 other outdoor lights for dark skies-friendly lighting in a bid to cut light pollution and allow residents and visitors to see the stars.

Thomas Hertog worked with cosmologist on a new book after he shared his doubts about A Brief History of Time

In 2002 Thomas Hertog received an email summoning him to the office of his mentor Stephen Hawking. The young researcher rushed to Hawking’s room at Cambridge. “His eyes were radiant with excitement,” Hertog recalls.

Typing on the computer-controlled voice system that allowed the cosmologist to communicate, Hawking announced: “I have changed my mind. My book, A Brief History of Time, is written from the wrong perspective.”

Former president says he expects to be arrested on Tuesday but there has been no official confirmation of the likelihood or timing of charges being brought

Top Republicans, including some of Donald Trump’s potential rivals for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, rushed to his defence after the former president said he expected to be arrested next week.

On Saturday, Trump announced he would be arrested on Tuesday in a criminal case involving hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, but there has been no official confirmation on the likelihood that charges will be brought.

The conspiracy theorist was ordered to pay the families of the victims damages for claims that 2012 shooting was a hoax

Rightwing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones appears to be moving his money to friends and family in an attempt to avoid paying out nearly $1.5bn in damages to the families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, a new report reveals.

Last year, Jones was ordered to pay the huge damages following his years-long claims on his digital platform Infowars that the mass shooting was a hoax staged by the government to take away guns from Americans.

We now know what happens when central banks raise rates and reverse QE

It has been a year since the Federal Reserve started to raise interest rates and banks are starting to fall over in the US. Anybody who thinks Silicon Valley Bank was a one-off is deluding themselves. Financial crises have occurred on average once a decade over the past half century so the one unfolding now is if anything overdue.

The reckoning has been delayed because since 2008 banks have been operating in a world of ultra-low interest rates and periodic injections of electronic cash from central banks. Originally seen as a temporary expedient in the highly stressed conditions after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, cheap and plentiful money became a constant prop for the markets.

Over the years, there was debate about what would happen were central banks to raise interest rates and to suck the money they had created out of the financial system. Now we know.

Central banks seem to think there is no problem in achieving price stability while maintaining financial stability. Good luck with that. The Fed, the ECB and the Bank of England have tightened policy aggressively and things are starting to break.

Michael Aron praised facility part-owned by British American Tobacco at ribbon-cutting event in 2019

A UK ambassador took part in the opening ceremony of a Jordanian cigarette factory part-owned by British American Tobacco (BAT) and praised the new facility in a televised interview, in the latest example of British diplomats breaching strict guidelines against mixing with the tobacco industry overseas.

The envoy stood at the ribbon as it was cut and later appeared in promotional material on the tobacco company’s website, but no record of his presence at the event was kept by the British embassy in Amman because the event was not considered a “formal meeting”.

Exclusive: In letter to Rishi Sunak, Unite says it is disappointed at lack of plans to tackle ‘serious threats’ facing sector

The government’s failure to support the ailing UK steel industry in last week’s budget has put thousands of jobs at risk, the prime minister has been told.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, shared with the Guardian, trade union Unite said it was “disappointed” that the government had not announced plans to tackle the “serious threats facing the sector”.