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Trump advances at World Championship after first-round scare

Words: - BBC News - 22:52 31-07-2020

Defending world champion Judd Trump survived a first-round scare to edge past Tom Ford on day one of the rearranged 2020 World Championship.

Qualifier Ford raced into a 3-0 lead and was 5-4 ahead going into the evening session at the Crucible.

However, Trump raised his game and claimed six of the next nine frames to seal a 10-8 win in Sheffield.

Trump will now face China's Yan Bingtao or fellow Englishman Elliot Slessor in the second round.

"I always seem to try and find a way to get through and that's the most important thing," Trump said.

"I had to dig deep at times. I didn't want to go out on the first day after winning it last year."

In Friday's other first-round matches, 2015 champion Stuart Bingham edged to a 5-4 lead over Ashley Carty in their best-of-19 encounter.

China's Ding Junhui took a 5-4 lead over England's Mark King, while Scotland's Alan McManus came from behind to lead Welsh three-time champion Mark Williams 5-4 on his first appearance at the Crucible since 2016.

McManus, 49, is also the oldest player to feature in the main draw since Steve Davis reached the quarter-finals on his final appearance at the age of 52 in 2010.

The day had started in celebratory mood as snooker became the first indoor sporting event with a crowd in attendance since the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Crucible was less than a third full for social distancing reasons, the huge roar of approval that greeted the arrival of the players provided an audible reminder of how much live sport has been missed.

Fans smiled as announcer Rob Walker delivered a typically animated and stirring 'we are back' introduction.

And there was a triumphant fist pump from World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn as play began at a tournament that was originally scheduled to take place between 18 April and 4 May.

But that optimism proved short-lived, as changes to UK Government guidelines p before the first session had even concluded.

And there will now be no spectators permitted at the Crucible Theatre from Saturday, although Hearn said "there is a chance" they may be allowed to return for the final on 15-16 August.

"Congratulations to those guys who went today. They will be able talk about it for the rest of their lives - the ultimate golden ticket," Hearn told BBC Sport.

"I am disappointed that the players are not going to get the atmosphere but they are in the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre, so they have to take positives.

"This is not the worst. The worst is the tournament doesn't happen."

Neil Robertson, world champion in 2010, said news that fans would be banned from attending after Friday was "disappointing".

The Australian, who is set to face China's Liang Wenbo in the first round on Sunday, told BBC Sport that he may now have to modify his game as a result.

"The crowd can have such an influence over big turning points in matches," he said.

"You kind of have to readjust the way you play. I like to be very aggressive and put my opponent under pressure and the crowd can get on top of them, so that will be harder to do.

"You feel as though you are practising [playing without fans] so you are not really going to have the same drama as you would [with them]."

Six-time world champion Steve Davis suggested that the change may benefit players outside the top 16.

"The top players would prefer a crowd," Davis said.

"It may help the lower ranked players who have not proved themselves on the massive big stages."

And Trump added: "It felt nice having people in the venue. Everyone was very spaced out and safe in there.

"It's a little bit disappointing to now have that taken away but it was nice to be able to get out there and play with my friends and family in the crowd and enjoy that experience with them."

At times during Trump's opening match it looked as though he might succumb to the so-called 'Crucible curse'.

No first-time snooker world champion has retained the title since the tournament moved to its current venue in 1977.

Ford, 36, started in impressive fashion and was on course for a maximum 147 break in the first frame before missing a black on 97.

The world number 26 raced into a 3-0 lead before Trump got going with a break of 104 in the fourth frame.

While Ford also knocked in a 140 break to go 4-2 up, he struggled to maintain his form as the match progressed.

Trump's break of 131 to move 8-7 ahead saw him become only the second player since Neil Robertson in 2014 to make 100 centuries in a single campaign.

He now needs four more to eclipse Robertson's record of 103 in a season.

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Arsenal want to 'save season' by winning FA Cup - Lacazette

Words: - BBC News - 21:53 31-07-2020

p FA Cup

Arsenal beat Chelsea to win the FA Cup final in 2017, adding to their victory over the Blues in the 2002 showpiece Arsenal are excited about Saturday's Heads Up FA Cup final against Chelsea because the players want to "save our season", says Alexandre Lacazette.

The Gunners, who have won a record 13 FA Cups, finished eighth in the Premier League and will not qualify for the Europa League if they lose at Wembley.

"We missed a few of our targets," said France striker Lacazette, 29.

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta and Chelsea's Frank Lampard are both aiming to win first trophies as managers.

Lacazette added: "It's been a weird year. We had the long stop, we changed manager [Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December], had different players.

"It was a difficult season, maybe the most difficult in my career, but I know I learned a lot. The FA Cup means a lot. I came to Arsenal to win trophies."

Meanwhile, Blues boss Lampard has backed winger Willian to produce another "fantastic" performance in the final game before the Brazilian's deal runs out.

"He's been fantastic for us. He's been fantastic this season - he's shown the right attitude," said Lampard.

"So I would expect nothing less than he's shown already, and that's Willian for you."

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Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Roberto di Matteo - Great Chelsea FA Cup final goals

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin missed the win over Watford as a precaution with a tight calf but has been back in training this week.

Cedric Soares is cup-tied, while Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Martinelli remain out.

Influential Chelsea pair N'Golo Kante and Willian are both in the squad after injuries.

However, Ruben Loftus-Cheek sustained a minor injury in training on Thursday and has been ruled out.

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Cazorla, Parlour & Sanchez - Arsenal's best FA Cup final goals

@Guymowbray: The 139th FA Cup final will be one that makes history, of a kind that nobody wished for.

A crowdless Wembley for the semi-finals was an eerie enough experience, but for nobody to be there for our game's annual showpiece occasion? That's a whole new level.

The FA have done their best to ensure it still stands out as special, from the singing of Abide With Me (pre-recorded by Emeli Sande from the stadium roof) to a modified trophy and medal presentation, but it's inevitable that the day just won't have the same joy and excitement.

At least we can expect some from the game, a relatively evenly matched one between clubs who served up a truly entertaining final just three years ago.

It certainly ought to be closer than last year's season-ending Europa League final for both, with Arsenal undoubtedly improving under Mikel Arteta - bidding to follow George Graham in playing for and managing a Gunners cup-winning side.

Frank Lampard could be the third to do that for Chelsea (after Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Di Matteo), with the chance to put a trophy-winning seal on a first season in charge that has surpassed realistic expectations.

Let's hope the contest does too, to end the longest, strangest domestic season with at least some sort of smile.

To borrow a line from Abide With Me's final verse - "Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies".

Unlike last year's final between Manchester City and Watford, this game is very hard to call.

For starters, it is going to be a very different sort of occasion. We know now that football behind closed doors is strange, but this is going to be the strangest game yet.

It's an FA Cup final, and a derby game too, but it doesn't really feel like that. Fans are an intrinsic part of football regardless, but that is even more the case for the moments when you win things. Without them at Wembley, it just won't be the same.

I am still expecting a good game, though, and it is Arsenal who I think will edge it.

That's not to say Chelsea are not dangerous too. I just feel like Arsenal have got more momentum and confidence at the moment, but otherwise it is difficult to split the two sides.

Lawro's predictions v Josh Franceschi and Willie J Healey

Dave Sexton led them to glory in the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup. The last Englishman to manage Chelsea in a major cup final was Glenn Hoddle in the 1994 FA Cup, which they lost to Manchester United

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FA Cup final: Hector Bellerin has designed Arsenal's cup final suits

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Coronavirus pandemic: Tracking the global outbreak

Words: - BBC News - 11:09 28-07-2020

Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, with more than 16 million confirmed cases in 188 countries. More than 650,000 people have lost their lives.

This series of maps and charts tracks the global spread of the virus.

The virus, which causes the respiratory infection Covid-19, was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

It then spread quickly across the globe in the first months of 2020, reaching more than 15 million confirmed cases by the second half of July.

Europe and North America saw the first major outbreaks in April but as they began to ease, Latin America and Asia started seeing an increase in cases.

North America has seen a resurgence of infections in recent weeks, mostly driven by new outbreaks in the US.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said the coronavirus pandemic is "easily the most severe" global health emergency the organisation has ever declared and that it "continues to accelerate".

However, he has also pointed out that, though the virus has been detected in 188 countries, almost half of all cases reported so far were from just three: the US, Brazil and India.

Latin America is now the epicentre of the pandemic. Brazil is the worst-hit in the region so far, with more than 85,000 deaths.

WHO emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, has said that whilst the number of Covid-19 cases is no longer rising exponentially in Brazil, the country was "still very much in the middle of this fight."

The country saw its worst week of the pandemic last week when a record 319,653 contracted the virus and 7,677 people died.

Cases have also been increasing in Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Argentina.

In Asia, India has seen almost 1.5 million cases and several states re-imposed partial lockdowns just weeks after a two-month nationwide lockdown was ended.

On Monday, the country announced a record number of new cases, with almost 50,000 confirmed cases in 24 hours.

South Africa and Egypt have seen the largest outbreaks so far in Africa. But testing rates are reported to be extremely low in some parts of the continent, which could be distorting official estimates of how far the virus has spread.

A report by the South African Medical Research Council suggests that country's death toll could be much higher than reported.

Previous pandemics have unfolded in "waves" of infections, with fresh outbreaks recurring after the initial peak subsides. Health experts think Covid-19 may follow a similar pattern, but there is no firm agreement on what exactly constitutes a second wave.

Although a number of countries have seen a rise in infections after appearing to have the virus under control, they may still be in the first stages of the outbreak. And rising cases may sometimes be down to increased testing.

Spain has seen a surge in new cases. Latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show the rate of infection to 27 July was 35.1 cases per 100,000 - compared with 14.7 in the UK.

While the outbreak remains under control in many parts of Spain, the north-east of the country has seen a big spike in cases.

The UK has announced a new ban on all but essential travel to Spain - and visitors returning to the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days.

There has also been a second rise in cases in Israel since restrictions were eased at the end of May.

On Monday, Australia recorded its biggest daily spike, with more than 530 new cases in Victoria state. The surge in cases is mostly centred on the city of Melbourne in Victoria, where people have been told to wear masks when out in public.

On Tuesday, Iran reported 235 deaths, its highest toll for a single day. Cases in the country began rising steeply again in June.

Meanwhile, Japan's capital Tokyo has seen record numbers of cases in recent days, driving a second surge nationwide.

The US has seen record numbers of new cases in recent weeks and the death toll has also started to rise.

The renewed surge is being driven by fresh outbreaks in the south and west of the country, which have seen infection rates go up since states started easing lockdown restrictions at the end of May.

On Thursday, the number of recorded cases in the US reached four million.

Its death toll stands at more than 145,000 - almost a quarter of the reported coronavirus deaths around the world.

President Donald Trump has warned that the US pandemic may "get worse before it gets better".

He has also urged Americans to wear face coverings, saying "they'll have an effect and we need everything we can get".

Previously, the president had said he would not tell people to wear masks.

The majority of state governors have now ordered that the wearing of masks in public be mandatory, rather than a personal choice.

The University of Washington predicts the death toll could hit more than 220,000 by the beginning of November - though it says this could be reduced to about 180,000 if 95% of Americans wear masks in public.

There have been more than 16 million confirmed cases so far and more than 650,000 people have died.

Confirmed cases around the world

Show

16,457,922 cases

654,309 deaths

Group 4

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Figures last updated

28 July 2020, 13:40 BST

Note: The map, table and animated bar chart in this page use a different source for figures for France from that used by Johns Hopkins University, which results in a slightly lower overall total. US figures do not include Puerto Rico, Guam or the US Virgin Islands.

The US accounts for about 25% of the global total of cases and has the world's highest death toll, followed by Brazil and the UK.

In China, the official death toll is some 4,600 from about 85,000 confirmed cases, although critics have questioned whether the country's official numbers can be trusted.

Globally, the true number of cases is thought to be much higher than the reported figures, as many people with milder symptoms have not been tested and counted.

In the table below, countries can be reordered by deaths, death rate and total cases. In the coloured bars on the right-hand side, countries in which cases have risen to more than 5,000 per day are those with black bars on the relevant date.

Scroll table to see more data

Filter:

The world

Africa

North America

Latin America & Caribbean

Asia

Europe

Middle East

Oceania

Deaths

Death rate*

Total Cases

US

147,843

45.2

4,278,626

Brazil

87,618

41.8

2,442,375

UK

45,759

68.2

300,111

Mexico

44,022

34.9

395,489

Italy

35,112

57.9

246,286

India

33,408

2.5

1,480,073

France

30,209

46.5

183,079

Spain

28,432

60.9

272,421

Peru

18,418

57.6

389,717

Iran

15,912

19.5

293,606

Russia

13,483

9.3

822,060

Belgium

9,822

85.5

66,428

Chile

9,187

49.1

347,923

Germany

9,127

11.0

207,382

Canada

8,945

24.1

116,471

Colombia

8,777

17.7

257,101

South Africa

7,067

12.2

452,529

Netherlands

6,141

36.0

53,162

Pakistan

5,865

2.8

275,225

Sweden

5,700

57.2

79,395

Turkey

5,630

6.8

227,019

Ecuador

5,532

32.4

81,161

Indonesia

4,838

1.8

100,303

China

4,656

0.3

86,783

Egypt

4,652

4.7

92,482

Iraq

4,458

11.6

112,585

Argentina

3,059

6.9

167,416

Bangladesh

2,965

1.8

226,225

Saudi Arabia

2,760

8.2

268,934

Bolivia

2,647

23.3

71,181

Romania

2,206

11.3

45,902

Switzerland

1,978

23.2

34,477

Philippines

1,945

1.8

82,040

Ireland

1,764

36.6

25,892

Guatemala

1,761

10.2

45,309

Portugal

1,719

16.8

50,299

Poland

1,676

4.4

43,402

Ukraine

1,650

3.7

68,030

Kyrgyzstan

1,329

21.1

33,718

Panama

1,322

31.7

61,442

Afghanistan

1,270

3.4

36,368

Honduras

1,166

12.2

39,741

Algeria

1,163

2.8

27,973

Dominican Republic

1,083

10.2

64,156

Japan

998

0.8

31,586

Nigeria

860

0.4

41,180

Moldova

748

18.5

23,154

Sudan

720

1.7

11,424

Armenia

719

24.4

37,629

Austria

713

8.0

20,558

Denmark

613

10.7

13,547

Hungary

596

6.1

4,456

Kazakhstan

585

3.2

84,648

Serbia

543

7.8

24,141

Belarus

538

5.7

67,251

Yemen

483

1.7

1,691

Israel

474

5.7

64,458

North Macedonia

466

22.4

10,213

Kuwait

438

10.6

64,379

Azerbaijan

423

4.3

30,446

El Salvador

408

6.4

15,035

Oman

393

8.1

77,058

Cameroon

391

1.6

17,110

Czech Republic

373

3.5

15,516

Bulgaria

347

4.9

10,621

United Arab Emirates

345

3.6

59,177

Finland

329

6.0

7,398

Morocco

316

0.9

20,887

South Korea

300

0.6

14,203

Bosnia and Herzegovina

294

8.8

10,498

Kenya

285

0.6

17,975

Norway

255

4.8

9,132

Ethiopia

228

0.2

14,547

DR Congo

208

0.2

8,844

Greece

202

1.9

4,227

Senegal

194

1.2

9,764

Kosovo

185

10.0

7,413

Ghana

168

0.6

33,624

Australia

167

0.7

15,304

Qatar

165

5.9

109,597

Haiti

158

1.4

7,340

Mauritania

156

3.5

6,208

Venezuela

146

0.5

15,988

Albania

144

5.0

4,880

Bahrain

141

9.0

39,482

Zambia

140

0.8

4,552

Croatia

139

3.3

4,881

Malaysia

124

0.4

8,904

Mali

124

0.6

2,513

Uzbekistan

122

0.4

21,506

Slovenia

116

5.6

2,087

Costa Rica

115

2.3

15,841

Luxembourg

112

18.5

6,321

Nicaragua

108

1.7

3,439

Malawi

103

0.6

3,709

Ivory Coast

96

0.4

15,655

Somalia

93

0.6

3,196

Madagascar

91

0.3

9,690

Cuba

87

0.8

2,532

Lithuania

80

2.9

2,019

Palestinian Territories

78

1.6

10,621

Chad

75

0.5

922

Liberia

72

1.5

1,167

Estonia

69

5.2

2,034

Niger

69

0.3

1,132

Sierra Leone

66

0.9

1,783

Libya

64

1.0

2,827

Tajikistan

60

0.7

7,235

Central African Republic

59

1.3

4,599

Djibouti

58

6.0

5,059

Thailand

58

0.1

3,297

Congo

54

1.0

3,200

Burkina Faso

53

0.3

1,100

Andorra

52

67.5

907

Lebanon

51

0.7

3,882

Equatorial Guinea

51

3.9

3,071

Tunisia

50

0.4

1,455

Gabon

49

2.3

7,189

Nepal

48

0.2

18,752

Channel Islands

47

27.6

584

South Sudan

46

0.4

2,305

Guinea

45

0.4

7,055

Montenegro

45

7.2

2,893

Paraguay

43

0.6

4,548

French Guiana

42

14.8

7,514

San Marino

42

124.3

699

Angola

41

0.1

950

Syria

40

0.2

674

Mayotte

38

14.6

2,900

Zimbabwe

36

0.2

2,704

Benin

35

0.3

1,770

Uruguay

35

1.0

1,202

Eswatini

34

3.0

2,316

Latvia

31

1.6

1,220

Slovakia

28

0.5

2,181

Singapore

27

0.5

50,838

Guinea-Bissau

26

1.4

1,954

Suriname

24

4.2

1,483

Isle of Man

24

28.5

336

Cape Verde

22

4.0

2,328

New Zealand

22

0.5

1,557

Tanzania

21

0.0

509

Guyana

20

2.6

389

Cyprus

19

1.6

1,060

Togo

18

0.2

874

Georgia

16

0.4

1,145

Maldives

15

2.9

3,369

Martinique

15

4.0

269

Saint Martin

15

40.3

114

Sao Tome and Principe

14

6.6

865

Guadeloupe

14

3.5

203

Diamond Princess cruise ship

13

712

Lesotho

12

0.6

505

Sri Lanka

11

0.1

2,805

Mozambique

11

0.0

1,701

Jordan

11

0.1

1,176

Bahamas

11

2.9

382

Iceland

10

3.0

1,854

Jamaica

10

0.3

853

Mauritius

10

0.8

344

Malta

9

2.0

701

Bermuda

9

14.3

154

Namibia

8

0.3

1,843

Gambia

8

0.4

326

Trinidad and Tobago

8

0.6

148

Taiwan

7

0.0

467

Comoros

7

0.8

354

Barbados

7

2.4

110

Myanmar

6

0.0

350

Rwanda

5

0.0

1,879

Réunion

4

0.5

657

Monaco

4

10.3

116

Brunei

3

0.7

141

Aruba

3

2.8

119

Antigua and Barbuda

3

3.1

86

Uganda

2

0.0

1,128

Botswana

2

0.1

739

Turks and Caicos Islands

2

5.3

99

Belize

2

0.5

48

MS Zaandam cruise ship

2

9

Burundi

1

0.0

378

Cayman Islands

1

1.6

203

Liechtenstein

1

2.6

86

Curaçao

1

0.6

29

Montserrat

1

20.0

12

Western Sahara

1

0.2

10

British Virgin Islands

1

3.4

8

Vietnam

0

0.0

431

Mongolia

0

0.0

289

Eritrea

0

0.0

265

Cambodia

0

0.0

226

Faroe Islands

0

0.0

214

Gibraltar

0

0.0

185

Seychelles

0

0.0

114

Bhutan

0

0.0

99

French Polynesia

0

0.0

62

Papua New Guinea

0

0.0

62

St Vincent and the Grenadines

0

0.0

52

Fiji

0

0.0

27

Saint Lucia

0

0.0

24

Timor-Leste

0

0.0

24

Grenada

0

0.0

23

New Caledonia

0

0.0

22

Laos

0

0.0

20

Dominica

0

0.0

18

Saint Kitts and Nevis

0

0.0

17

Greenland

0

0.0

14

Falkland Islands

0

0.0

13

Vatican

0

0.0

12

Saint Barthelemy

0

0.0

7

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

0

0.0

4

Anguilla

0

0.0

3

Please update your browser to see full interactive

This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

** The past data for new cases is a three day rolling average. Due to revisions in the number of cases, an average cannot be calculated for this date.

Figures last updated: 28 July 2020, 13:40 BST

The outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the WHO on 11 March. A pandemic is when an infectious disease is passing easily from person to person in many parts of the world at the same time.

Governments across the world have been forced to limit the movement of the public in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, which has had a devastating impact on the global economy.

The International Monetary Fund has said the world is in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and warned that it could take two years for economic output to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The United Nations has said that up to 265 million people could face starvation by the end of the year because of the impact of Covid-19.

In Europe, the UK, Italy, Germany and France, along with others, appear to have passed the peak of infections, with the number of new deaths falling. However, the recent spike in cases in Spain has sparked fears of a more widespread surge.

Several countries have introduced restrictions on travellers arriving from high-risk destinations and France says people arriving from 16 countries where the virus is widely circulating will be subject to on-the-spot coronavirus tests.

The UK has reported more than 45,700 deaths - the highest number in Europe.

Italy has the second highest death toll in the region with more than 35,000, while France has more than 30,000 and Spain more than 28,000.

However, differences in population size and how countries report their figures, with some including deaths in care homes, or deaths of those suspected but not confirmed of having the virus, means that final international comparisons are complicated.

The data used on this page comes from a variety of sources. It includes figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, national governments and health agencies, as well as UN data on populations.

When comparing figures from different countries it is important to bear in mind that not all governments are recording coronavirus cases and deaths in the same way. This makes like for like comparisons between countries difficult.

Other factors to consider include: different population sizes, the size of a country's elderly population or whether a particular country has a large amount of its people living in densely-populated areas. In addition, countries may be in different stages of the pandemic.

(read more)

Coronavirus: Where can I go on holiday? A guide to destinations

Words: - BBC News - 10:13 27-07-2020

Beaches around Europe are preparing for an influx of holidaymakers

The prospect of a summer holiday abroad is on the cards again, after the UK government eased quarantine rules.

People returning to the UK from certain countries do not need to self-isolate. The full list of the countries that are exempt from the quarantine rule for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is here. For Scotland, the list is here.

For some of Britons' most popular warm weather destinations, we've got details of what to expect when you're there.

Need to quarantine on arrival? No

Need to quarantine when back in UK? Yes

Spain, including the Balearic Islands and the Canaries, is the most popular destination for Britons on their summer holidays, and 400,000 people from the UK own second homes in the country.

It's had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, recording 28,355 coronavirus deaths up to the end of June. But it has now entered the "new normal" phase and its borders have reopened to tourists.

As of 26 July, people returning from Spain to the UK must quarantine for 14 days.

Some beaches - like Cala Aiguablava Beach near Girona - are busier than others

Visitors arriving from the UK will not be required to self-isolate - but you will have to undergo a temperature check.

People must stay 1.5m apart in public. Everyone aged six and over should wear face masks on public transport, in shops and in public spaces where it is not possible to follow the 1.5m distance rule.

However, different provinces in Spain can revert to previous stages of lockdown and introduce different measures - for example masks are compulsory everywhere including on beaches and swimming pools in Andalusia and the Balearic Islands.

Some areas have also reintroduced lockdowns after local outbreaks. Parts of Catalonia - which is the epicentre of most new outbreaks - are facing restrictions, including Barcelona where cinemas, theatres and nightclubs have closed. Restrictions have also been introduced in Galicia.

German tourists are greeted by receptionists at a hotel in Ronda, southern Spain

Hotels and other accommodation such as campsites and hostels are open - but they are required to put in place capacity limits so all guests can stay 1.5m apart.

In most of Spain, bars and restaurants are open but are only running at reduced capacity and must follow strict social distancing rules.

Exhibitions, theatres and cinemas have reopened but also at reduced capacity. Outdoor concerts of up to 400 people are allowed but with social distancing.

Nightclubs can also open although capacity is limited. To give an idea of what a night out is like, people have to provide contact details, wear masks and the dancefloor has become a seating area.

Visitors are able to go to the beaches, while most water parks, zoos, museums and theme parks have reopened or are planning to in July, although with reduced capacity.

Two of Spain's most visited sites, Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral and the Alhambra Palace near Granada, have already welcomed back visitors.

The country is open to tourists entering by car, ferry, train or air. Travellers catching flights in must wear face masks, fill in a health card and undergo temperature checks.

Airlines Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2 say they will continue running UK flights in and out of Spain as normal - despite the quarantine rule.

The UK's biggest tour operator, Tui, cancelled all mainland Spanish holidays until 9 August. But it said all those going to the Balearic and Canary Islands could still travel as planned from Monday.

British Airways is still operating flights, but said the move was "throwing thousands of Britons' travel plans into chaos".

Need to quarantine on arrival? No

Need to quarantine when back in UK? No

France is the second-most popular country for UK visitors, with around 17 million crossing the Channel every year, and 200,000 Britons have chosen it as the place for a second home.

It began to ease its strict lockdown on 11 May. President Emmanuel Macron declared on 14 June that France had won its "first victory" against the virus as he lifted more measures in the country, which had recorded nearly 30,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of June.

However, there are a rising number of cases in the north-west and in eastern regions, in particular in the north-western department of Mayenne.

Tables and deckchairs are set out to respect social distancing on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Travellers from the UK do not have to quarantine when they go to France.

People should remain 1m apart from others, and no more than 10 people may gather in any public space.

You also have to wear a mask in all enclosed public spaces. When travelling by train, you need to make a reservation in advance.

If arriving by Eurotunnel, travellers are being asked to fill out and carry with them a statement certifying that they do not have any coronavirus symptoms.

Hotels, gites, and campsites are now open to the public, as well as private rental accommodation.

Disneyland Paris, one of Europe's top visitor attractions, has reopened

Bars, restaurants and cafes are allowed to open inside and outside areas, but they have to follow strict hygiene rules. Customers are asked to wear a face covering when walking inside, but this can be removed when seated. No service is allowed at the bar and a distance of 1m is kept between tables.

There is a limit of 5,000 people for large venues and strict health rules apply for shows and cinemas. Nightclubs remain closed.

Beaches and parks have reopened, and you can now stay and sunbathe or have a picnic, and play non-contact sports. River cruises have been allowed since 11 July.

Museums, monuments, zoos and theme parks are gradually opening their doors again - but a mask is required to visit.

The Eiffel Tower started allowing visitors on 25 June. Disneyland Paris began a phased reopening on 15 July.

Some water parks have also set dates for when they will accept visitors again, with new rules in place. For example Aqualand, which has eight sites across the country, has advised visitors to arrive in their swimming costumes.

It is once again possible to get to France by air, sea or train.

Eurotunnel has already attracted a record number of bookings over a weekend. Eurostar is operating a reduced service, with only direct trains to Paris. It will resume trains to Disneyland Paris on 2 August.

The major airlines, Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways, all have flights to France this month, although at a lower frequency than normal.

A variety of routes across the Channel are on offer from ferry companies P&O, DFDS and Brittany Ferries.

Need to quarantine on arrival? No

Need to quarantine when back in UK? No

The first European country to be hit hard by the virus, it is the third-most visited destination for UK travellers every year. Italy, which surpassed 34,000 virus-related deaths in June, imposed one of the strictest and earliest lockdowns on 7 March.

It reopened its borders on 3 June to travellers from other European countries, although the mayor of the island of Capri has complained that visitors haven't been obeying the rules at its hotels and beaches.

Attractions like the Colosseum in Rome are open for business again

The country's tourist board has released an extensive list of guidelines for visitors this summer.

In four regions - Sardinia, Sicily, Puglia and Calabria - tourists are required to register in advance.

People must stay 1m apart in public areas, including hotels and other communal spaces. Holidaymakers over the age of six will need to wear a mask at all times in public spaces indoors, and outdoors where social distancing isn't possible (except in Lombardy where a mask outdoors is mandatory).

On public transport travellers will be required to wear masks, while temperature scanners may be in operation at train stations and airports.

Hotels, campsites, mountain huts and beach resorts have made arrangements to safely welcome visitors. However, an Italian hotel industry trade report said 60% had remained closed in June, while more than 20% are expected to still be shut in August.

Tourists at the leaning Tower of Pisa have to wear face masks and an electronic device which sends out signals and sounds if anyone gets within 1m

Bars, cafes, restaurants and gelaterias reopened on 18 May, but they are hosting reduced numbers of diners, with tables further apart and plastic shields to separate customers.

Masks must be worn when you go inside and anytime you get up from your table. Many venues are asking customers to provide their name and contact details before using their services.

Parks and beaches have reopened, along with swimming pools, although the tourist board says you need to wear a swim cap in a pool.

Most museums, galleries and archaeological sites are open, but entry must be pre-booked online.

Capacity has been vastly reduced at some major tourist sites, like the Colosseum in Rome and the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

Other attractions are opening later this summer, such as Verona's Roman amphitheatre which will hold its first event on 25 July.

Amusement parks, zoos, fun fairs and water parks are also open but entrance numbers may be limited.

Airlines running flights include Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways, although the number of destinations and flights is markedly reduced.

Ryanair and British Airways were operating flights to Rome in June, while EasyJet resumed flights there in July.

Need to quarantine on arrival? No

Need to quarantine when back in UK? No

Greece acted swiftly to impose lockdown in late February, and it was first eased in late April. At the end of June, it had a total of 3,409 confirmed cases and a death toll of 192, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Its tourism season officially began on 15 June and it has already opened its borders to some countries. But British travellers had to wait after a ban on flights from the UK was extended.

Since 15 July, British holidaymakers can now fly there, but may be asked to take a test and practice social distancing and self-monitor for coronavirus symptoms until they get a negative result (usually within 24 hours). If the test result is positive Greek authorities are likely to ask you to self-isolate for 14 days.

Greek islands like Santorini are a big draw for tourists

People should aim to stay 1.5m apart and face masks must be worn on public transport - including flights and ferries - at airports, in lifts and in taxis. Masks are also strongly advised in other closed spaces.

Travelling in a car or taxi is limited to a maximum of two adult passengers as well as the driver, although children do not count towards the limit.

Restaurants and cafes have been open for a while in Greece

All hotels, campsites and Airbnb accommodation are allowed to reopen.

Hotels can run at capacity but they have specific rules, including having a doctor on standby. Reception desks must also be moved outdoors where possible, and food served in buffets must be placed under protective acrylic screens known as sneeze guards. Read more on what Greek hotels might be like here.

Shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs are now able to reopen but with limits on capacity. No more than six adults can sit at a table together, although children are exempt.

Beaches and parks have also opened. Swimming pools can open but the number allowed in will depend on the size of the pool, while water slides may be shut.

Most tourist attractions, including museums, zoos, gardens and theme parks are up and running again, while archaeological sites such as the country's world-renowned Acropolis in Athens have also reopened.

The Acropolis Museum in Athens reopened last month

The major airlines are gradually reinstating flights to Greece this month, although they had to cancel some flights in the first half of July when the Greek government extended its travel ban for UK citizens.

For those nationalities allowed to enter, travel to the Greek islands is also possible, although passengers will need to complete a health questionnaire before boarding or take temperature checks.

Travel by yachts and private sailboats is now allowed. But cruise ships and ferries coming from other countries are banned from landing in Greek ports.

Need to quarantine on arrival? No, but travellers to Madeira and the Azores will be tested on entry

Need to quarantine when back in UK? Yes

Like Greece, Portugal has had fewer coronavirus cases and deaths than some other European nations.

After initially lifting restrictions, it later reintroduced some of the rules following local outbreaks in Lisbon. By the end of June, Portugal had recorded 1,576 deaths.

Travellers will face health screening when they arrive. Anyone going to Madeira or the Azores will need to take a test on arrival.

However, although Portugal's border is open to British citizens, the UK government advises only going to Portugal if it's essential - although trips to Madeira and the Azores can be non-essential.

British tourists usually flock to beaches like this one in the Algarve

People must keep 2m away from others and there are capacity rules in shops and on public transport. Face masks are compulsory in enclosed spaces such as shops and outdoor gatherings.

Drinking alcohol in public places, except for pavement cafes and restaurants, is banned. Gatherings are limited to 20 people, except for religious ceremonies and family events, such as weddings and christenings.

In parts of Lisbon, a local lockdown has been extended until the end of July. In 19 areas, people must stay at home, while in Greater Lisbon gatherings are limited to 10 people and shops have to close at 8pm.

Tourism accommodation that meets the so-called "Clean and Safe" hygiene standard are allowed to open.

Portugal has recently seen a rise in new cases around Lisbon

Restaurants, cafes and bars are allowed to open with capacity rules and 1.5m distancing in place. Last orders are at 11pm. It is up to the local area whether markets will open.

Beaches are open but with measures in place to limit capacity and people must stay 1.5m apart. There is a mobile app to assess how full beaches are.

Water sports have also been given the green light.

Museums, art galleries, monuments, palaces and historic buildings have all reopened, as well as zoos.

Many flight routes between the UK and Portugal have already resumed. Flights vary vastly in price, with a single Ryanair ticket from Manchester to Faro costing between £30 and £386 in July, although prices drop heading into August.

Need to quarantine on arrival? Yes, but British nationals are not allowed in anyway

Need to quarantine when back in UK? Yes

Holidays to the US are still not a likely prospect. British nationals are not allowed to enter the USA if they have been in the UK (or a number of other countries) within the past two weeks.

Those who are eligible to enter the US - such as US citizens flying in from the UK - must be prepared to quarantine for 14 days. Even US travellers arriving from some US states must quarantine.

And, since the US is not exempt from the UK's quarantine, anyone returning to the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days. What's more, the Foreign Office still advises against non-essential travel to the US.

The US has reported more than 3.4 million cases of coronavirus, and more than 136,000 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Disney has shut its resort in Hong Kong, but its Florida one is open

Well, it varies state by state. You can check individual states' rules here. A number of US states have now made face masks compulsory while in public.

Social distancing of 2m is recommended by the USA's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hotels are reopening across the country, the Foreign Office says, - but there will be local rules on capacity.

Again, it depends on the state. Shops, restaurants, bars, beaches and other leisure activities are likely to be following local regulations.

California - a popular holiday destination for Britons - reintroduced sweeping restrictions on 13 July following a surge in cases. It ordered all indoor restaurants, bars, shopping malls and cinemas to close again.

Churches, gyms, shopping malls, zoos, museums, hair salons and non-essential offices must shut indoor operations in some of the state's worst-affected counties, including Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Florida - another popular destination - is fast becoming America's latest Covid-19 epicentre. However, its Disney World resort reopened with limited capacity on 11 July.

Supermarket chain Walmart announced it would make all customers wear masks

Some flights are running between the UK and US, but on a reduced schedule and at higher than usual prices.

You can also return to the UK from these destinations without needing to isolate, as well as many others listed here.

Turkey: It reopened its borders to UK visitors on 12 June, and passengers are required to complete a form before arriving. Face masks are compulsory in crowded places and on public transport. In certain provinces, face masks are compulsory at all times outside the home. There remains an ongoing curfew for those aged over 65 (although this doesn't apply to those visiting for tourism) and those who have a chronic medical condition.

Croatia: Visitors from the UK must complete a form in advance and have proof of accommodation. Restaurants, accommodation and beaches are open, along with pools and aquaparks, although social distancing rules apply. Large public gatherings are allowed and nightclubs can also open. Passengers on public transport and in taxis must wear face coverings, and they are also compulsory in shops and other commercial premises.

strong The country is open to travellers from the UK, but people must keep a distance of 1.5m. Face masks are required in some public spaces but it varies by state. All shops, tourist accommodation and restaurants are open - but bars and cafes in some states are shut. One area was briefly put back into a local lockdown, but it has since been lifted.

Netherlands: UK visitors from Leicester are currently "strongly advised" to go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Tourists must reserve accommodation in advance. There is no maximum limit on the number of people allowed inside places including shops, museums and at outside venues like zoos and theme parks - provided people stick to 1.5m social distancing. Face masks are mandatory on public transport for anyone aged 13 and over. Nightclubs will not reopen before 1 September.

Belgium: Its borders are open to Britons. Everyone should keep 1.5m apart from others and people aged 12 and over should wear a face mask on public transport and in indoor public spaces. Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are open but with strict rules, and tourist accommodation and activities can resume. Swimming pools are still closed.

Switzerland: No travel restrictions for UK travellers. Social distancing here is 1.5m. Most places are back open including shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. Masks are compulsory when travelling on public transport, except for children under 12. In the Alps, mountain railways and cable cars are running.

Australia: Its borders are closed to foreign nationals, and all travellers entering must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Travellers entering the UK from Australia do not have to self-isolate.

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Twitter hack: Bognor Regis man one of three charged

Words: - BBC News - 21:14 31-07-2020

Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama are among victims of the hack

A man living in Bognor Regis - on the UK south coast - is one of three individuals charged over a major Twitter hack, according to the US Department of Justice.

Californian authorities filed felony charges against Mason Sheppard, 19.

The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed it had searched a property in Bognor Regis with police on Friday.

A teenager in Tampa and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, were also charged in Florida.

US Attorney David L Anderson said the arrests proved "nefarious hacking... for fun or profit" did not pay off.

Twitter accounts of multiple high-profile US figures were hijacked in an apparent Bitcoin scam on 15 July.

They included former President Barack Obama, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, entrepreneur Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and reality star Kim Kardashian West, who all falsely tweeted out requests for Bitcoin donations.

In his statement, US Attorney Anderson said: "There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence."

He added: "Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you."

In Florida, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren filed 30 felony charges against the teenager, 17, who cannot be named, for "scamming people across America".

The charges include organised fraud and fraudulent use of personal information.

"As a crypto-currency, Bitcoin is difficult to track and recover if stolen in a scam," Mr Warren said.

"These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they're not the primary victims here. This 'Bit-Con' was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida.

"This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that."

Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Barack Obama were all 'hacked'

The charges against the teenager include 17 counts of communication fraud, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $100,000 (£76,340) or 30 or more victims, one count of organised fraud and one count of access to computers or electronic devices without authority.

"He's a 17 year-old kid who apparently just graduated high school," said State Attorney Warren. "But no make no mistake, this was not an ordinary 17-year-old. This was a highly sophisticated attack on a magnitude not seen before."

He added that the investigation to "discover the perpetrator" was a collaboration between the Florida Department of Law enforcement, the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, the FBI, the IRS, and the Secret Service.

The teenager lives in Tampa, Florida and so will be prosecuted by Hillsborough State authorities.

Twitter said in a statement: "We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses.

"For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly."

After the hack, Twitter said the hackers had targeted its employees "with access to internal systems and tools".

It added that "significant steps" had been taken to limit access to such internal systems and tools while the company's investigation continued.

According to BBC cyber-security reporter Joe Tidy, the consensus in the information security community is that Twitter's employees were likely duped by a spear-phishing attack via a phone call.

This involves using friendly persuasion and trickery to get victims to hand over crucial information that enables hackers to infiltrate a company's systems.

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Coronavirus: What are the UK travel quarantine rules?

Words: - BBC News - 03:20 28-07-2020

Travellers returning to the UK from Spain now have to quarantine for 14 days.

Spain's removal from the list of exempt countries follows "a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace" of coronavirus cases, the government said.

People already in Spain can stay for the remainder of their holiday, the government says.

However, those coming back after 26 July will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return.

The rules apply to travellers arriving from anywhere in Spain - including the Canary and Balearic Islands.

And the government is now advising "against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain".

Travellers arriving into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all affected by the new guidelines.

Travellers from affected countries - including UK nationals - are asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.

One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules.

People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

Passengers should drive in their own car to their destination, where possible. If they don't provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller's expense.

Once at their destination, they must not use public transport or taxis during the quarantine period. They must also not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors except for essential support.

Not are they allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, if they can rely on others.

People returning from overseas will not be automatically eligible for statutory sick pay during this period, unless they meet the required conditions - for example displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) - the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man - does not have to enter quarantine, as long as they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.

Since 10 July, travellers from than than 50 countries deemed ''low risk'' do not have to go in to quarantine when they enter England.

A further five countries - Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadine - will be added to the list on 28 July.

Health measures including quarantine rules are set by each UK nation separately - although Wales has adopted the same exemptions as England.

Since 10 July, Scotland's quarantine measures have also been eased, as have Northern Ireland's.

The government has also lifted its travel advice banning all but essential international travel for selected countries. It hasn't given a date for when the quarantine policy will end.

There are a number of people who are exempt, regardless of their country of origin, including:

Seasonal agricultural workers are exempt if they self-isolate where they are working

Travellers could find they also have to enter quarantine when they arrive in another country, even if they do not have to quarantine in the UK on their return. Some countries have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions. For example:

Many airports have taken measures to help enforce social distancing rules.

The introduction of quarantine was not welcomed by the UK's travel industry when it was first announced.

Airlines UK, which represents various airlines, said quarantine would have a ''devastating impact'' on business, but noted there had been a huge increase in bookings in the days before the announcement.

British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have dropped the legal challenge they launched against the policy now that there is an extensive list of exemptions.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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Antibodies test

A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

Asymptomatic

Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don't show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

Containment phase

The first part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

Coronavirus

One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

Covid-19

The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

Delay phase

The second part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

Fixed penalty notice

A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

Flatten the curve

Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the "curve" is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

Flu

Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

Furlough

Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren't working.

Herd immunity

How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

Immune

A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

Incubation period

The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

Intensive care

Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

Lockdown

Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Mitigation phase

The third part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

NHS 111

The NHS's 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

Outbreak

Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

Pandemic

An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

Phase 2

This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

PPE

PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

Quarantine

The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

R0

R0, pronounced "R-naught", is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

Recession

This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

Sars

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

Self-isolation

Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

Social distancing

Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

State of emergency

Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

Statutory instrument

These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

Symptoms

Any sign of disease, triggered by the body's immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

Vaccine

A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

Ventilator

A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

Virus

A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body's normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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Hong Kong 'seeking arrest' of fleeing activists

Words: - BBC News - 20:48 31-07-2020

Simon Cheng and Nathan Law are among those reportedly wanted under a new security law

Police in Hong Kong are seeking the arrest of six pro-democracy activists living in exile in Western countries, including the UK, media reports say.

The group reportedly includes former UK consulate worker Simon Cheng, well-known activist Nathan Law and US citizen Samuel Chu.

They are wanted on suspicion of violating a new security law imposed in Hong Kong by Beijing, Chinese state TV reported, calling them "troublemakers".

Hong Kong police declined to comment.

The development comes after legislative elections scheduled for September were delayed for a year by Hong Kong's government on Friday.

It said the move was necessary because of a spike in Covid-19 infections, but the opposition accused it of using the pandemic as a pretext. The White House said the move undermined democracy.

Pro-democracy politicians had hoped to capitalise on anger in the Chinese territory about the new security law to win a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo).

Many in Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to China in 1997, fear that unique freedoms meant to be guaranteed until 2047 are under serious threat.

The UK and Australia are among countries that have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong in recent weeks. Germany did so on Friday - one of those reported to be on the new "wanted list" has received asylum there.

Chinese state TV network CCTV said six people were wanted on suspicion of inciting secession or colluding with foreign forces - both crimes can be punished with up to life in prison under the new security law.

The six, according to CCTV and Hong Kong media, are:

Simon Cheng, a former employee of the UK's Hong Kong consulate who was recently granted political asylum in Britain. He was detained last August while on a business trip to mainland China and accused of inciting political unrest in Hong Kong.

He denies that and says he was beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in Chinese custody.

Responding to news of the arrest warrant, Mr Cheng told the BBC that he would not stop speaking out about issues in Hong Kong. "The totalitarian regime now criminalises me, and I would take that not as a shame but an honour," he said.

Nathan Law, 27, a high-profile activist who has fled to the UK. "I have no idea what is my 'crime' and I don't think that's important. Perhaps I love Hong Kong too much," he said on Twitter.

Mr Law first came to prominence as a student protest leader in 2014. He said he was disappointed and frightened to have to live in exile, and that he was going to have to "sever" his relationship with his family in Hong Kong.

Samuel Chu, a US citizen. He is the son of Reverend Chu Yiu Ming, a Baptist minister who was one of the founders of the 2014 "Umbrella Movement".

Mr Chu runs the Washington DC-based Hong Kong Democracy Council and said he last visited Hong Kong in November 2019.

"I might be the first non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American and any citizen of any nation who speaks out for Hong Kong can, and will be, too," he said.

The national security law carries extraterritorial provisions that say anyone, including non-Hong Kong residents, can be charged under it.

China says the law is necessary to restore stability and order in the global financial hub.

Ray Wong, a pro-independence activist who fled to Germany in 2017 and is now in Britain, told the BBC that the list of "wanted" exiles had been drawn up to "intimidate" pro-democracy activists who are trying to drum up international support for their cause.

Lau Hong (also known as Honcques Lau), an 18-year-old now in the UK, first came to prominence in November 2017 when he brandished a pro-independence banner next to Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam.

"Come arrest me in the UK," he was quoted as telling a journalist on Friday.

Skip Twitter post by @krislc

Pro-independence Lau Hong, who went to the UK to seem asylum, gave me a simple answer: “Come arrest me in the UK”

“I am not worried. The British gov and MPs have been supporting pro-democracy protests. If the HK gov breaks the law in the UK, it would be sanctioned quickly.” pic.twitter.com/s22hLf7OJz

— Kris Cheng (@krislc) July 31, 2020

Report

Wayne Chan, another pro-independence activist, is in an undisclosed country.

"For me, the situation faced by Hong Kongers is even more dangerous than what I face. I can't think too much about my personal safety," he told Reuters news agency.

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Aboriginal Australians 'still suffering effects of colonial past'

Words: - BBC News - 21:26 16-07-2020

The death of George Floyd in the US has also hit home in Australia.

It has brought anger about mass incarceration and police brutality back to the fore in this country.

In the past three decades, more than 400 Aboriginal people have died in custody, either being held in prisons or under the arrest of the police - despite findings and recommendations from a national inquiry in 1991. Many have died under suspicious circumstances, some due to negligence or lack of medical assistance. No-one was convicted for any of those deaths.

And like in the US, there have been calls to shift resources away from policing and prisons and towards empowering indigenous people to make the decisions that affect their community.

Some projects are getting government funding. Keenan Mundine's small charity, Deadly Connections, relies mainly on donations.

Keenan, a 33-year-old Aboriginal Australian, tries to keep young people away from prison and help them navigate the often-tense relationship with the police.

"The only time the blue uniform comes into our community is to take away a loved one," he says.

I asked him how he feels when he sees a policeman.

"Fear!", he answers almost immediately.

Keenan Mundine

We are spending the afternoon in the neighbourhood where he grew up in Redfern in inner-city Sydney.

He points to different tower blocks, each with a different encounter with the authorities. One where his best friend was chased by the police and fell to his death from a balcony.

"I was actually arrested once in that very place we are right now," he says, as we stand by the pavement facing the towers and a basketball court.

"I used to play on those streets and dream of better days, of not being broken. Not being chased by the police. Some kids that I played with lost their lives because of the police," he says.

Keenan was taken into care at the age of six when he lost both his parents - his father to suicide, his mother to a drug overdose.

By 14 he was in juvenile detention for theft. He was also involved in drugs and spent much of the next 15 years behind bars.

His memories of this time are blurred, but he does remember the birthdays.

Keenan was taken into care at a young age

"I turned 18 in juvenile custody," Keenan says in tears.

"When those days come around, you just want to be around your family, you just want to be loved. You want to feel normal. You don't want presents, you don't want anything else but to be at the table with your loved ones," he adds.

Keenan has turned a corner in his life. He's been clean and out of jail for a few years now. He's married and has two little boys Khaius and Khyreese.

He's a devoted father and keeps a close eye on them while we talk. Then takes them to the swings. He worries for their future.

He says the justice system has unfairly targeted young Aboriginal people like him for years and that this hasn't changed

"I live in constant fear of my children being put in the same position that I was and having things happen to them that were out of their control and traumatising them for the rest of their life.

"I worry about them growing older and being arrested by the police and being taken to prison," Keenan says.

His fear is echoed among thousands of other first nations families.

While indigenous Australians make up less than 3% of the population, they represent more than a quarter of adult prisoners.

More than half the children sentenced to juvenile detention in Australia are Aboriginal.

And an indigenous teenage boy is more likely to go to jail than to university.

"The over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today is a direct legacy of colonisation in Australia," says Roxanne Moore, executive officer for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

Massacres and the jailing of indigenous Australians enabled British settlement here from the late 18th Century.

Police played a big part in forcing people off their land.

And right up to the 1970s, police took part in the removal of huge numbers of indigenous children from their homes, to be adopted by white families or put in institutions.

The forcible removal of indigenous children from their families was a result of various government policies of assimilation which assumed black inferiority and white superiority.

The objective of these policies was for indigenous people to be allowed to "die out" through a process of natural elimination, or where possible, be assimilated into the white community.

The generations of children removed from their homes and families became known as the Stolen Generations and the legacy of trauma and loss continues to haunt many Aboriginal families until today.

"This is not in the past for us, we feel the impact and the legacy of colonisation every single day... particularly in the justice system," says Ms Moore.

"We still see the repercussions of that in the over-policing of our people, in the systemic discrimination that still exists."

She added that one of the reasons it becomes very hard to leave the justice system once a young person is in it, is because it is stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at every level.

"From police interactions, to the courts, through to the sentences in prison, being denied bail, through to black deaths in custody. That's why we need structural change in order to get true justice for our people," she says.

Statues of Captain James Cook mark the British explorer's arrival here in 1770.

But he is a controversial figure with a questionable legacy.

Many see him as a hero. Others see him as the man who opened the door for the displacement and dispossession of Australia's first nations people.

There were attempts by some leaders to acknowledge Australia's difficult past. But it never went far enough for indigenous Australians, who are still not mentioned in the constitution, for example.

In February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised to Australia's indigenous people for the policies that have caused centuries of continued suffering and in which the police played a big part.

It was a key moment. But for many, the moment passed with no real change.

Despite a number of government initiatives, indigenous Australians continue to be disadvantaged on every level, from health and education to life expectancy.

Keenan takes me to see a couple of the teenagers he works with, Chaise Patten and Malakai Marr.

They meet not far from Keenan's old neighbourhood and chat over some food and a game of basketball.

Fifteen-year-old Chaise said the biggest challenge facing him as a young Aboriginal person is the colour of his skin and where he lives.

"There are a lot of people on drugs. A lot of crime," he says, adding that many of his family members have gone down that path.

"We don't want to follow that. We want to work. Get our own jobs."

Malakai said another challenge is that there's always doubt over their ability to succeed.

"I just want to be a good kid. But the police think because I'm black, I'm just going to end up in jail - selling drugs. I'm not like that, I want to own my own business and go to university."

These young people are hoping to change the narrative and for their future to be different from their ancestors' past.

Keenan said that is why he goes back to his old neighbourhood and the areas around it.

"When I go back, I see my story happening all over again. I see a lot of struggling still," he says.

"I was traumatised by this community. But I want to come back and be able to show that there's hope. That your circumstance will not define who you can be."

Read more stories about the legacies of British colonial rule and how it is still affecting people today:

(read more)

Croke Park: Muslims celebrate Eid in the home of Irish sport

Words: - BBC News - 19:54 31-07-2020

Socially-distanced worshippers celebrated Eid in Dublin's Croke Park stadium

The holding of a major Muslim prayer service at an "iconic" Irish sporting venue has sent a message "to the whole world" that Ireland is a welcoming country, an Islamic leader has said.

About 200 Muslims gathered at Dublin's Croke Park stadium on Friday to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid.

Croke Park is the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

It was made available so Eid could be marked in a safe and socially-distanced way during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was addressed by Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri, the chair of Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council.

Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri said the event showed Ireland was "proud of its diversity"

He thanked the GAA, Croke Park's management and the whole country for the use of the "historic" venue for the prayer service and he spoke a few words in the Irish language.

"Thank you to Ireland because today this Eid prayer is sending a very strong message out to the whole world that Ireland is indeed a country of céad míle fáilte [Irish phrase for a hundred thousand welcomes]," Dr Al-Qadri said.

"No matter your diversity, no matter how different you are, once you come and you live here and you become part of the society, this island of Ireland has this great, unique ability to adopt you," the Islamic theologian added.

Dr Al-Qadri, who submitted the request to the GAA to use the stadium for the Eid event, described the stadium as the "most iconic and symbolic" place in Ireland.

"This is a country that is proud of its diversity and embraces those who become part of the society," he said.

A six-year-old boy holds an Irish flag during the Eid celebration in Croke Park

Croke Park was built to showcase the traditional Irish sports of Gaelic football; hurling and camogie but it has also been used to host rock and pop concerts as well as conferences and corporate events.

It is the biggest sporting arena in Ireland, with the capacity to hold more than 82,000 spectators.

The size of the venue allowed Friday's worshippers to sit on prayer mats, spaced apart on the pitch.

The service was also attended by Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders from Dublin, as well as a representative from the Irish government.

Irish President Michael D Higgins sent a message of goodwill to mark the occasion, in which he hailed the symbolism of the Croke Park event.

"The celebration, in such an iconic Irish venue, of this significant holiday in the Islamic calendar is an important moment in Ireland's narrative," the president wrote.

"It reminds of the richly diverse community we have become and the enormous contribution that you, our new communities, have made and continue to make to Ireland."

Muslim men perform Eid al-Adha prayers on Dublin's Croke Park pitch

Dr Umar Al-Qadri used his speech to acknowledge the work of healthcare staff who have put their lives at risk to treat patients during the coronavirus outbreak.

He paid tribute to the late Dublin doctor Syed Waqqar Ali, who this month was the eighth healthcare worker to die in the Republic of Ireland after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

However, Dr Al-Qadri added that the pandemic had also "brought with it some blessings".

"If not for this pandemic we probably would not have been here," he told the Croke Park gathering.

"If it was not for this pandemic our communities would not have been united.

"We understand as humans we are in this together and we are having the same challenges."

(read more)

The personal experiences that Lev and Yara’s actors brought to The Last of Us Part 2

Words: George Yang - Polygon - 20:03 31-07-2020

Both Ian Alexander and Victoria Grace had never worked on a video game before, and neither had any prior experience with performance capture. However, in a recent interview with Polygon, both agreed that playing the Seraphite siblings in The Last of Us Part II was one of the most transformative experiences they ever had.

Alexander plays Lev, a former member of the in-game extremist religious sect called the Seraphites; he accompanies Abby throughout much of her journey. Alexander previously had live-action acting roles in Netflix’s original series The OA as Buck Vu and Vic in the 2018 film, Every Day.

Naughty Dog actually reached out to him directly — well, almost directly. At the time, Alexander didn’t have any representation, so Naughty Dog contacted The OA’s director, Zal Batmanlij, in order to ask him to pass on information about the role of Lev to Alexander and his mother. While he didn’t live in Los Angeles at the time, Alexander submitted a few self-taped auditions, and then he booked the role.

Alexander told Polygon that he spent the next three years working on The Last of Us Part II, during which time he felt incredibly supported and appreciated by the Naughty Dog team. “I remember feeling so special to have been selected for the role of Lev and having the opportunity to bring my own lived experience as a trans person to the table,” he said.

Grace, on the other hand, said that she was already familiar with The Last of Us and was well aware of the first game’s achievements and accolades within the video game industry. She played the role of Yara, the older sister of Lev. Her mother had actually found the opportunity through a job listing that contained a breakdown of Yara’s character.

At that time, The Last of Us Part II was described under a code name and the project was highly confidential. After sending an audition tape, Grace got invited to the motion capture stage for her callback. She met with Neil Druckmann and acted in a few scenes with Laura Bailey and Halley Gross.

Eventually Grace found out she had landed the role. She was especially happy, she said, because Yara’s description in the initial job posting had resonated so much with her: “I was immediately attached to Yara because of her strength, bravery, and selflessness.” Grace continued, “Her character breakdown described how she was willing to sacrifice everything she’s ever known for her younger brother. After reading it, I admired her and everything she stood for.”

Grace is the youngest of her five siblings. She noted that her views about family unconsciously carried over to her portrayal of Yara. Of course, Grace can’t relate to being an older sibling, much less living in a zombie apocalypse. However, she described how her close bonds with her own family allowed her to better understand the motivations behind Yara’s actions to protect Lev in The Last of Us Part II’s brutal world. “I would take a hammer to the arm for any of my siblings, and I know they’d do the same for me,” she says, referring to the graphic violence Yara endures during the scene in which the two siblings get introduced.

That very first scene introducing Lev and Yara was especially memorable for Grace; it’s quite the explosive entrance for both characters. Being thrown into an action sequence immediately was exhilarating, Grace recalled: “I got knocked down onto mats, I got to kill people with styrofoam hammers, and I got to scream my heart out! It was a blast!” When Grace wasn’t filming, she said that it was fascinating to watch behind-the-scenes as everyone else performed their parts. She would sometimes arrive early just to sit back and watch the other actors.

A big turning point in both Grace and Alexander’s journeys was the PlayStation Experience 2017 event, or PSX. This was when both Yara and Lev were publicly introduced for the first time to fans. For Alexander in particular, he felt empowered by all the support that the community showed him during the event. A fan actually came out to Alexander as trans during a signing portion at the event, and told Alexander that they were so happy to see a character like Lev included in their favorite game franchise of all time.

“I remember seeing how their face lit up the moment that they saw the transgender symbol necklace I was wearing,” Alexander explained. “It makes me smile to be able to provide authentic transmasculine representation for other people like me.”

Alexander told me that his prior acting experiences playing trans characters prepared him to handle critique, as well as to be his own authentic self during his performances. His parents struggled to accept his gender identity, even as he took on roles in The OA and Every Day that put a spotlight on the trans experience. Alexander described how he was able to draw from his personal experiences when portraying Buck Vu and Vic, respectively. Portraying Lev was a much more rigorous adventure than his previous ones, he said: “Each role I’ve played has felt like an extension of myself, and so I definitely felt like Lev was the braver, post-apocalyptic version of myself.“

Lev’s storyline and portrayal as a trans character in The Last of Us Part II has inspired a lot of deep analysis, particularly around the way that Lev’s status as a trans person is revealed (the other Seraphites call Lev by his birth name). Waverly at Paste Magazine described Lev’s storyline as a trans narrative as told through a “cisgender voyeur” lens. Other critics, like frequent Polygon contributor Carolyn Petit, praised the game for portraying Lev as someone who “doesn’t hate himself” and who believes he deserves better.

Alexander told me that he completely understands where people are coming from in their criticism. Trans representation is still a new concept to a large number of executives in the entertainment industry. Alexander said that he feels providing full agency for trans characters to disclose their gender identities can make for powerful storylines, when told through a trans person’s perspective.

Alexander also explained that he felt like The Last of Us Part II accurately portrays his own personal experience dealing with transphobia in real life, as well as his own personal turmoil over the religion he grew up with, Mormonism, and his acceptance of his own gender identity.

“From my perspective as a transmasculine person who has faced transphobic discrimination as a result of religion and overall ignorance, it’s not uncommon for me to be misgendered by a stranger or by someone from my past,” he explained. He said that he personally did not feel triggered or retraumatized by the use of Lev’s birth name during the game. However, he also clarified that his experience is solely his own and that he cannot speak on behalf of every trans person.

There are some similarities, and also some differences, between Alexander’s and Lev’s life stories. Rather than abandoning what he was taught as a Seraphite, Lev decided to use his faith to comfort him through hardship. In the game, he tells Abby that the Seraphites have misinterpreted the words of the prophet that were supposed to be about peace and unity, and they have instead chosen violence and hatred.

Grid View

Alexander told me he did the complete opposite of what Lev did. In order to cope and heal from the discrimination he faced from his own family, he chose to disconnect from his own faith. Even so, he elaborated that he believes that Lev’s own principles are what actually drives his actions, with his religion being the motivation for his empathy.

Although they took different paths, this is where Alexander said he could really see himself in Lev. “Even when his faith is used against him by other Seraphites or Abby, he still holds onto his moral compass to guide him … We both just want to be true to ourselves, do the morally right thing, and to protect the ones we love.“

He also told me that the racial diversity represented in The Last of Us Part II meant a lot to him. Lev and Yara are Asian American, but their racial identities don’t really have anything to do with their own character arcs. For Alexander, he said that it’s refreshing to see Asian, Latinx, and Black characters just simply exist in the game’s world and not have to be defined by their own racial identities.

Grace agreed, noting that when it comes to characters of color, it is common for the story to place an emphasis on their backgrounds. She said that she felt like The Last of Us Part II provided a truer picture of representation, one that reflects the real world.

“If someone asked me which characteristics I would use to describe Yara and Lev, ‘being Asian’ wouldn’t be my first thought, because Neil and Halley are so great at developing three-dimensional characters,” Grace said.

Both actors believe that being involved in this game will open the door for more opportunities for themselves in other realms of the entertainment industry. Alexander acknowledged that he has absolutely seen a difference in the industry in the last few years, especially now that trans people are more visible than ever.

Alexander also emphasized the importance of trans people being involved in every step of the production process, both in front of the camera and behind it. “I’m also really eager to see how the industry will uplift Black and Indigenous trans voices, who have been ignored and silenced for far too long.”

Grace is grateful that Druckmann took a chance on her to be a part of Naughty Dog’s latest story. “As far as representation goes, I’m hoping that Part II will inspire other creators and writers to push for more inclusive stories. Not only in video games, but in the media as a whole.”

Hopefully, having played such important characters in Part II will lead to more roles in future video games for Alexander and Grace, too. Since Grace had such a fun time on set, one of her new goals is to participate in more performance motion capture roles.

At Grace’s call back, Druckmann asked her if she played video games. Although she was familiar with The Last of Us, she replied honestly by saying “No, I’m not really allowed … ” and he laughed, nodding his head in understanding. “That wasn’t a very smart thing to say, from a business perspective, but what was done was done,” she recalled with a smile.

As a result of working with Naughty Dog, she has started playing more video games and absolutely loves them. “I would now call myself a gamer, albeit not a very good one, but I’m getting there. It’s thanks to Naughty Dog and Part II.”

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Albon crashes heavily as Stroll goes fastest in British Grand Prix practice

Words: - BBC News - 15:46 31-07-2020

Alexander Albon suffered a heavy crash in his Red Bull as Lance Stroll's Racing Point set the pace in second practice at the British Grand Prix.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were only third and fifth, struggling with the windy conditions and balance on the 'soft' tyres.

Albon was second fastest, 0.090 seconds behind Stroll, but crashed at Stowe.

Albon has a new race engineer as Red Bull try to help the inexperienced driver cope with a difficult car.

The Anglo-Thai's crash was the umpteenth time either he or team-mate Max Verstappen have lost the rear of their car mid-corner this season as the team battle with an aerodynamic instability problem with their new design.

Red Bull brought Daniel Ricciardo's former engineer Simon Rennie back to the race team to try to help Albon out and the 24-year-old had looked like he was in decent shape before the crash.

"The rear went quite quickly and I struggled to correct it," said Albon. "I thought I had it but then you get the tank-slapper as well. We'll have a look at the data and see.

"We've definitely made a step as a team. The car feels good and we expected worse to be honest. The car was hooked up straight away. I'm sure the Merc are hiding quite a lot but as a car it feels well balanced.

"But the weather is different to what we expect tomorrow so it will be a reset."

Team-mate Max Verstappen was only 14th, after getting blocked by Haas driver Romain Grosjean on his sole flying lap on the soft tyre, but appeared to have similar pace to Bottas on the medium tyre on a long run.

Hamilton, split from his team-mate by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in fourth, looked very fast on the race-simulation runs later in the session, but the teams ran different programmes at different times so it was difficult to compare them as accurately as normal.

"Quite a difficult day, to be honest," said Hamilton. "It's always windy here, which is a good thing about this track but it has made it really tricky today with the car and the balance is not as good as I would like so we are just going to work on it tonight.

"It is not a disaster but it has been a hard day of driving."

Leclerc's team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a difficult day, missing nearly all the first session with an intercooler problem and then being delayed in the second session by a need to change his pedals after he complained of something loose in the cockpit. He ended up 18th.

Temperatures were extremely high at Silverstone on Friday, hitting 35C during the course of the afternoon.

But conditions are expected to be significantly cooler over the weekend, which means the times from Friday are especially unrepresentative.

But Stroll's time underlines Racing Point's emergence as a contender close to the front this year, in a car that has been dubbed the 'pink Mercedes' as the team admit to copying last year's world title-winning car.

Behind the top five, McLaren's Carlos Sainz was sixth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who is subbing for Sergio Perez at Racing Point after the Mexican contracted coronavirus.

Perez says he is asymptomatic but is forced to self-isolate and may miss next weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, again back at Silverstone.

Hulkenberg flew to Silverstone on Thursday night after Perez's test result and spent the evening learning about the car and having a seat fit.

He then was confirmed only minutes before the first session in the morning when his coronavirus test came back negative.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly was eighth, ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, both running new parts on their cars.

Sainz's team-mate Lando Norris was 11th quickest, just over 0.3secs behind the Spaniard, while George Russell put the Williams 17th fastest.

(read more)

Secret documents from US antitrust probe reveal big tech’s plot to control or crush the competition

Words: Taylor Hatmaker - TechCrunch - 18:07 31-07-2020

Nearly 500 pages of evidence were made public during the House Judiciary’s marathon hearing this week on potential anti-competitive actions by Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple . We’ve collected them here with added context and an omnibus, searchable version for anyone who’d rather not juggle four dozen documents.

The emails, chat logs and other communications listed here trickled out online as the hearings went on. Many are internal documents that were never meant to be exposed publicly — for instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling a colleague that “we can likely always just buy any competitive startups” shortly before acquiring Instagram in 2012.

Congressional investigators wield considerable power in compelling the release of such documents, even against the will of the companies, which would almost certainly never provide such self-incriminating information to journalists. As such, these documents contain all manner of useful information, most of it providing insight into the otherwise opaque thinking of executives as their companies made key decisions about growing their businesses — and hint at strategies traditionally employed by monopolies.

While there isn’t anything that could be called a smoking gun, these are not the only evidence the investigation collected, only those it needed to make public for this hearing. Legislators spoke of other documents and also of interviews and testimony that corroborated their allegations, or contradicted companies’ accounts of events.

While there are too many documents to discuss individually, we’ve noted some interesting exchanges we’ve come across in the files for each company. A combined, searchable mega-file of the internal documents can be found at the bottom of this post. It’s not in any particular order, so it’s best to sift through by looking for key terms, key figures and company names.

The documents contain internal communications about Amazon’s pursuit and eventual purchase of Diapers.com, which also came up in the hearing itself. Aggressive price cutting by the former forced the latter out of business, allowing it to be snapped up and integrated. In one document, we see that Amazon discusses setting up special automatic pricing rules that more aggressively undercut Diapers.com prices compared to other sellers of diapers and toys.

Another document shows that Amazon lost in the neighborhood of $200 million in a single quarter during this period, showing that it was willing to take on losses at a scale that the smaller business couldn’t possibly withstand — a classic monopolistic tactic only possible if you command a giant chunk of a market. Rep. Scanlon (D-PA) pushed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on this at about the 2 hour 15 minute mark.

Jeff Bezos, spurred by a TechCrunch post, asks what the plan is for Diapers.com’s next play, Soap.com, and receives a summary of the existing plan, which “undercuts the core diapers business for diapers.com,” and “will slow the adoption of soap.com.” This email shows how Amazon acknowledged that it has positioned itself as “the place to sell globally,” particularly with manufacturers from China who wanted direct access to American consumers. A deck of Diapers.com metrics mentions “predatory pricing” and Amazon as very specific threats to their short- and long-term plans.

Regarding Amazon’s purchase of Ring, which might have emerged as a smart home competitor, this document shows senior management discussing being “willing to pay for market position as it’s hard to catch the leader.” Another email offers more context on Amazon’s thoughts on the acquisition of Ring (at the time referred to as Project Darwin) before it went through. Bezos himself says in this exchange that “we’re buying market position — not technology. And that market position and momentum is very valuable.”

Bezos ‘can’t guarantee’ no anti-competitive activity as Congress catches him flat-footed

In an email exchange from March 2012, the month before Facebook announced it would buy Instagram, Zuckerberg shares a conversation about China’s “strong culture of cloning things quickly.”

In the original conversation, sent to Facebook Product lead Chris Cox and CTO Mike Schroepfer, a high-level Facebook employee describes how they met with the founders of Chinese company RenRen who described how their own company copied apps like Voxer and Pinterest. The author comments that it’s easier for those companies to get products out quickly “since they’re copying other people” and goes on to suggest how a similar strategy could work for Facebook. Forwarding the email to Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg comments “You’ll probably find this interesting and agree.”

Another set of documents captures Mark Zuckerberg’s private courtship of Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. Tellingly, a side conversation between Systrom and a former Facebook product VP shows that the Instagram creator was concerned about Zuckerberg going into “destroy mode” if Systrom didn’t agree to sell. There’s also more insight about how Facebook saw the Instagram deal and how the company decided to keep it a separate product.

The Facebook documents also include some conversation about the WhatsApp acquisition, which it nicknames “Project Cobalt,” including the minutes from a board meeting four days before Facebook went public with its acquisition plans. “Ms. Sandberg emphasized that the high concentration of the mobile operating system market — with two providers serving the vast majority of smartphone users around the world — poses a significant strategic threat to [Facebook’s] business…” the minutes state.

In antitrust hearing, Zuckerberg admits Facebook has copied its competition

Apple’s isn’t as well-known for crushing competitors as the other three companies, but it certainly likes to wring revenues out of its software partners while maintaining a tight grip on both its hardware and software. Many of the documents focus on Apple’s internal strategies responding to criticism on issues like the right-to-repair controversy and developers unhappy with the obsessive level of control Apple exercises over its products.

The Apple documents also detail how the App Store creator gives preferential treatment to some companies on the commissions it takes. In 2016 emails between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple SVP Eddy Cue, Apple looks to have struck a special deal over the Amazon Prime Video app for iOS and Apple TV.

An email exchange back in 2011 also details how Apple mulled raising commissions to 40% for the first year for subscription apps. “I think we may be leaving money on the table if we just asked for about 30% of the first year of sub,” Cue wrote. This didn’t come to pass, but the correspondence does provide insight into some questions about setting its own rules that the company didn’t really have an answer to in the hearing.

Apple’s App Store commission structure called into question in antitrust hearing

In a confidential internal presentation from 2006, Google raises an alarm about the “orthogonal threat” posed by social networks and other websites with “high entertainment value,” like YouTube.

“… The team developed an opinion that these social networking sites will ultimately represent a threat to our search business as people will spend more time on those sites and ultimately may do most searches from the search boxes available there. They aren’t direct competitors, but they may displace us in end-user time tradeoff.”

The presentation goes on to argue that Google should “own the search box on the entertainment sites” and develop its own social networking solution so those sites don’t win out. That same year, Google announced its landmark acquisition of YouTube.

Other email chains from around the same time capture Google’s internal thinking in the run-up to buying YouTube.

“YouTube’s value to us would be a smart team and a platform we could build from (maybe enough to justify an acquisition on its own), but would we really be able to preserve their community once we start reviewing and pulling copyright or inappropriate content? If anything, that’s likely to cast a poor light on Google,” then-Google Director of Product Hunter Walk wrote, in an interesting moment foreshadowing Google’s current content moderation woes.

After floating a $200 million deal for the company and having YouTube turn up its nose, Google eventually went on to buy the now-ubiquitous video sharing platform for $1.65 billion.

Google’s Sundar Pichai grilled over ‘destroying anonymity on the internet’

You can read and search through the documents here:

House Antitrust Subcommitte… by TechCrunch on Scribd

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The Secret movie, Host, and everything else you can now watch at home

Words: Karen Han - Polygon - 22:30 31-07-2020

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Umbrella Academy season 2 on Netflix is the weekend’s actual blockbuster

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Beyond Good & Evil movie coming to Netflix

Words: Ryan Gilliam - Polygon - 22:02 31-07-2020

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Detective Pikachu director Rob Letterman will helm the project

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Coronavirus lockdown: All you need to know about new measures

Words: - BBC News - 16:28 10-07-2020

Many aspects of the coronavirus lockdown have eased in England.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the five-mile travel limit has now been lifted with more restrictions expected to be reduced later in the month.

Travel restrictions in Wales have now been lifted.

Hotels, pubs and restaurants in England and Northern Ireland that serve food and have table service can now reopen, as can beer gardens and outdoor restaurants in Scotland. In Wales they can open outdoors from 13 July and indoors from 3 August. They must follow safety guidelines.

The rules for England include:

Holiday accommodation - including hotels, B&Bs, cottages, campsites and caravan parks - have now reopened, with households in England allowed to stay away from home overnight. Shared facilities, such as campsite toilets, must be cleaned properly.

Holiday accommodation can reopen in Scotland from 15 July. In Wales, self-contained accommodation can reopen on 11 July, with campsites opening on 25 July.

Travellers from more than 50 countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks when they enter England, Wales or Northern Ireland, although many of those countries have restrictive rules for people arriving from the UK.

People in Scotland can travel to almost all of those countries without having to self-isolate on returning, but not Spain.

Hairdressers are now open again in England and Northern Ireland and will open on 13 July in Wales and 15 July in Scotland. They will also have to take safety precautions.

You will probably have to make an appointment, not turn up early, try to bring nothing with you, and wear a mask and gown while in the chair.

Other places allowed to reopen in England include:

In Northern Ireland, nail salons and tattoo parlours have now reopened. They will reopen on 13 July in England and 27 July in Wales.

The 2m (6ft) social distancing guidance has changed in England to ''one metre plus''.

Where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, people should keep a distance of at least 1m while observing precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.

The change will help offices, and venues like restaurants, hairdressers, pubs and bars to increase capacity. Businesses are being asked to help by introducing measures such as protective screens and face coverings, staggering employees' start and finish times, and seating people further apart.

Northern Ireland will reduce its distancing rule to 1m with restrictions.

The 2m rule has been eased to 1m in Scotland in shops and on transport.

In Wales, the rules will be relaxed to recognise that 2m is not realistic in some businesses such as hairdressers. Other measures, including wearing masks, will be expected to be used instead.

In England, two households are now able to meet indoors or outside, including overnight stays.

The two households have to maintain social distancing throughout, unless they are part of the same support bubble.

Indoor meetings of more than two households are not recommended because of the higher risk of infection.

But households can meet with multiple others as long as each meeting is separate.

Outdoors, people from multiple households can meet in groups of up to six.

When the changes were announced, it was suggested that two households "of any size" could get together. However, when the rules were introduced a limit of 30 people for any gathering was included.

People who are clinically vulnerable and are "shielding" can now gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, including individuals outside of their household, and form a "support bubble" with one other household.

In Scotland, up to eight people from three different households can meet indoors while social distancing. Up to 15 people from five different households can meet outdoors.

The social distancing rules will no longer apply to non-cohabiting couples and they can stay at each other's houses.

In Northern Ireland, groups of up to six people not in the same household can now meet indoors while socially distancing - it's a maximum of 30 outdoors.

In strong any number of people from two different households can now meet outdoors - but meetings indoors are still not allowed.

Content available only in the UK

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