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PM 'deeply concerned' at Amazon wildfires and calls for international action

23 August

Boris Johnson has said he is "deeply concerned" by wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and has vowed to push for a renewed focus on tackling climate change at the G7 summit this weekend.

The prime minister called for international action to protect the world's rainforests after the "tragic loss of these precious habitats" in a statement released by Downing Street.
It comes after Brazil's president said other countries' concerns over the widespread blazes revealed a "colonialist mindset".
As the crisis deepened, Ireland threatened to block a free trade deal between the EU and the South American trading bloc Mercosur unless President Jair Bolsonaro took action.
The number of forest fires in Brazil since January - more than 74,000 - has increased by 83% compared with the same period last year, with smoke that is visible from 400 miles up in space.
World leaders are increasingly worried about the situation, as the Amazon - described as the world's lungs - is a vital absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Irish prime minister Leo Vardakar said: "There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments."
French President Emmanuel Macron said the fires are an "international crisis", writing on Twitter: "Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest - the lungs which produce 20% of our planet's oxygen - is on fire."
In a second tweet, he said: "The French president's suggestion that Amazonian matters be discussed at the G7 without the involvement of countries of the region recalls the colonialist mindset that is unacceptable in the 21st century."
But Brazilian President Bolsonaro hit back, saying: "I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem."
Mr Bolsonaro also claimed news organisations had exploited the fires to undermine his government, saying: "Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela."
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Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International's secretary-general, said: "Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the president to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires."
The Bishops Conference for Latin America described the fires as a "tragedy", saying: "We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the world's lungs."
Labour Party shadow ministers have written to Mr Johnson urging him to "immediately tell President Bolsonaro that his reckless destruction of the Amazon has to stop".
They also called on the PM to introduce "tough measures" to prevent UK companies from "aiding and abetting the destruction of the Amazon."
But Filipe Martins, an adviser to Mr Bolsonaro, said the Amazon would be saved by Brazil and not "the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGOs".
Fires in the rainforest at this time of year are not unusual, but environmentalists blame the increase on farmers deliberately setting fires to clear land for agriculture.
On Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro admitted this could be the case - a day after he had blamed environmental groups for setting the fires.
Just eight months into his presidency, the right-wing president has made it clear he wants to open the Amazon up to the demands of mining, agricultural and logging companies.
Federal prosecutors are investigating a Brazilian newspaper advert calling on farmers to be part of Fire Day and burn parts of the forest to show the president "their willingness to work".

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'Our lives are torn apart': Police officers and family fall silent to remember PC Andrew Harper

23 August

A minute's silence has been held to remember PC Andrew Harper eight days after he was killed, as his family say their "lives and hearts have been torn apart".

Against a backdrop of flowers, colleagues joined members of his family for the silence at Thames Valley Police's training centre.
Other officers across the country also joined in the silence at 11am - which started with the blow of a whistle.
Thames Valley's chief constable said PC Harper was a "dearly loved and respected colleague, friend and proud police officer".
"This police family to which he belonged will not forget him," added the force's chaplain.
Members of the 28-year-old's family placed a sunflower and a bouquet among the sea of flowers.
Earlier, the young officer's mother said their "lives and hearts have been torn apart" but that all the support and tributes were helping them "keep faith in the human race".
She said her son had "always lived with dignity, honour and calmness" and "everything he did was with a smile".
"A big part of me has gone with you, I cannot imagine our lives going forward but we will do so with Andrew in our hearts," said his mother, Debbie.
The family also released new tributes and pictures of the newlywed, who died from multiple injuries after being dragged by a car while responding to a reported burglary near Sulhamstead in Berkshire.
His brother, Sean, said the officer "always had my back" and was the "funniest, bravest, most compassionate person" he's ever known.
He wrote: "I'm praying that one day I am going to wake up and see you, that I will hear your voice and you will tell me you are alright.
"I will tell you that you are the best brother and will ask if I ever told you that I love you."
Jed Foster, 20, has been charged with PC Harper's murder and is in custody following a court appearance earlier this week.
His lawyer said he denies "any involvement in the horrific murder".
PC Harper's father and sister are also among those to release new tributes today.
His father Phil called him a "hero, if not a superhero".
"You had time for everyone, time to listen to them, bringing comfort and calmness wherever you went," he wrote.
"You would always put yourself forward to look after the people around you, and would always see the good in others."
His sister Aimee said: "I think we all can't help but wish you were a little less brave so then we could still have you here, but you were a protector at heart.
"You looked out for us all and I took it for granted that I always had you at the end of my phone if I was in trouble."
PC Harper was based at Abingdon in Oxfordshire and had only been married for four weeks.
His wife paid an eloquent and emotional tribute to him in the days after he was killed on 15 August.
"My husband you were perfect," she wrote. "I will never ever stop loving you and I feel so grateful for the happiest thirteen years of my life.
"Our superman, our bodyguard, our light in the dark. My god we will miss you. Forever you will be remembered as the best of us."
A fundraising page set up by the Thames Valley Police Federation has so far raised more than £260,000 for PC Harper's family.

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Weather forecast: Parts of UK warned to stay out of sun during bank holiday heatwave

23 August

Parts of the UK have been warned to stay out of the sun this bank holiday weekend as Britain braces itself for a heatwave.

The Met Office has issued a level three alert - the second highest level - for the east of England, where temperatures are forecast to reach high levels between 9am on Saturday and 9am on Monday.
Much of the rest of England has a level two "be alert" warning, with it set to hit 33C (91.4F) in places over course of the three days.
Public Heath England advice, based on Met Office data, for a level three heatwave includes:

  • Stay out of the sun
  • Keep your home as cool as possible - shading and shutting windows during the day
  • Only open windows when it is cooler at night
  • Keep drinking fluids
  • Make sure older friends and family members, and those who might be at risk, know what to do
The warning comes as an estimated five million drivers hit the roads today for holidays and day trips, with traffic expected to be busiest after 11am.
Earlier, the Met Office had advised that widespread fog could cause problems during the Friday morning rush hour, with dense patches in southern England - including Plymouth and Oxfordshire.
London could see 26C (78.8F) today and Cardiff will be only a few degrees behind as the day develops - with the rest of the country also largely dry and sunny.
But Scotland will see some showers, particularly in northwestern parts.
Plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-to-high 20s are expected on Saturday and Sunday, with southeastern parts of the UK potentially reaching 31C (87.8F).
By Monday, the country could be on track for record-breaking temperatures, with 33C (91.4F) possible in the South East of England.
The previous record for the UK's hottest August bank holiday weekend was set in 2001, when temperatures hit 31.5C (88.7F) at Heathrow airport.
More than two million Britons will be heading overseas during the long weekend.
Travel trade organisation ABTA said the most popular destinations include the Balearic islands, mainland Spain, Greece and Italy.
For those willing to go further afield on long-haul flights, New York, Toronto and Dubai are top of the list.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "The Mediterranean is currently experiencing some pleasant temperatures for people wishing to travel overseas, while those staying in the UK will be able to enjoy more settled conditions, with trips to the coast and countryside a popular choice.
"As with all bank holiday weekends, the roads and rail networks are likely to be particularly busy so if you are planning to travel, make sure you leave extra time to get to your place of departure and check your route in advance for engineering works if using public transport.
"If you are still looking to book a last-minute break or are planning a trip further ahead, there are good value holidays out there, particularly during the October half-term."
A total of 9.4 million trips are expected on UK roads on Friday and Saturday - and bank holiday Monday is expected to bring a further 3.7 million journeys.
Transportation analytics firm INRIX says some of the worst major roads for delays will include:

  • M25 anti-clockwise (between J1 and J4)
  • M6 north (between J18 and J24) on Friday
  • M6 south (between J27 and J13) on Monday

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Paris to investigate rape charges linked to Jeffrey Epstein case

23 August

The chief prosecutor in Paris is opening an investigation into the rape of minors and other charges linked to the Jeffrey Epstein case.

More follows...

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England collapse to 67 all-out in disastrous Ashes innings

23 August

England have collapsed to 67 all out after a calamitous Ashes innings against Australia at Headingley.

The top scorer was Joe Denly who made 12 - the only player to make it to double figures - as the Aussies ripped through England in just 27.5 overs.
It's the team's lowest Ashes score since 1948, and marks a huge missed opportunity to capitalise after the Aussies were dismissed for 179 in the first innings.
England desperately need to win the Test after losing the first game and drawing the second. If they lose, Australia retain the Ashes.
Even Ben Stokes, who hit an unbeaten century in the last Test, could only manage eight as an England horror show played out at the Leeds ground.
Seam bowler Josh Hazelwood inflicted most damage, taking five wickets for just 30 runs.
It is more than 70 years since England made a worse Test score against Australia and today's 67 is not far off their worst ever - 45 back in 1887 in Sydney.
Against all opponents, it is England's fourth lowest home Test innings of all time.
Australia are now back at the crease and began their second innings with a lead of 112 - scarcely credible at the start of the day.
The collapse comes a day after star bowler Jofra Archer put England in a seemingly commanding position after taking 6-45.
With the bat however, Archer couldn't muster any more than his teammates, adding only seven to the scorecard.
Captain Joe Root continued his run of low scores, falling to his second successive duck as his side fell apart in the Yorkshire sunshine.

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