Top story: Fears for the young, disabled and disadvantaged
Hello, Warren Murray rounding out the week with a bumper Friday briefing.
Children with Down syndrome and autism have been among those left for hours in court cells awaiting legal representation or transport, a custody watchdog has revealed. The Lay Observers (LO), who inspect court custody and transport arrangements in England and Wales, said treatment of some young people was unacceptable.
John Thornhill, the national chairman of LO, said: “It is clear some people have to appear in court having travelled hundreds of miles; others are not supported with their medical conditions or disabilities; some are then kept in dirty court cells for hours on end. This is a matter of embarrassment in a modern criminal justice system.” The Ministry of Justice says it is bringing in new contracts to “place greater emphasis on improving decency and welfare for those in custody and minimise time in cells”.
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‘I will hold them accountable’ – President Emmanuel Macron, visiting Beirut, has promised aid for the shattered city from France and the world but demanded a “new political deal” from Lebanon’s leaders and pledged to press them hard for change. “I am going to talk to them … I will hold them accountable,” Macron said. Anger at Lebanon’s leaders has boiled over since the blast, blamed on 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate stored carelessly in a warehouse for years. Lebanese security forces meanwhile clashed with anti-government demonstrators in a ravaged street leading to parliament. Tuesday’s blast killed nearly 150 people, wounded at least 5,000 and destroyed entire districts of the capital. More bodies are expected to be retrieved in ongoing search and rescue operations.
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Saudi murder squad claim – A former senior Saudi intelligence official has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of sending assassins to Canada to kidnap him, just two weeks after the murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A US lawsuit by Saad Aljabri against the crown prince and other Saudi officials claims a so-called “Tiger Squad” of the heir’s personal mercenaries tried to covertly enter Canada on or around 15 October 2018 with the “intent of killing” Aljabri but were stopped by Canadian authorities.
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Coronavirus latest – Doctors’ and surgeons’ leaders have warned that the NHS must not shut off normal care to tens of thousands of patients when a second wave of Covid-19 hits. Dr Chaand Nagpaul from the British Medical Association (BMA) said: “If someone needs care – for example for cancer, heart trouble, a breathing condition or a neurological problem – they must get it when they need it.” In our latest global wrap: the World Health Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism”, cautioning those that keep treatments to themselves they cannot expect to remain safe if poor nations remain exposed. More than 1 million Africans have been infected with the virus as it continues to spread throughout the continent. South Africa has recorded 529,000 of those cases and has the highest number of deaths on the continent (9,604) followed by Egypt (4,951) and Algeria (1,273). For further developments stay tuned to our live blog.
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Tiananmen vigil charges – Twenty-five Hong Kong democracy activists, including well-known figures Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai, have been charged for taking part in the traditional June candlelight vigil marking China’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. City authorities banned the event in June for the first time in 30 years, as the Chinese government moved to impose sweeping “national security” laws on Hong Kong. In the UK a cross-party group of MPs and peers has called for Uighur people fleeing extensively documented abuse and mistreatment in China to automatically receive refugee status from the British government.
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Brothers dominate poll – Sri Lanka’s ruling Rajapaksa clan have secured a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections, bulldozing opposition parties and gaining powers to unravel democratic safeguards. The prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana party (SLPP) won 145 seats and can count on the support of at least five allies in the 225-member legislature. Rajapaksa, 74, and his brother Gotabaya, 71, who was elected president in November, needed to secure a two-thirds majority so they can roll back constitutional measures that are meant to decentralise power and prevent strongman rule.
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Screws tighten on TikTok – The US Senate has unanimously voted for a bill banning federal employees from using TikTok on their government-issued devices. Donald Trump, who would have to sign the bill to make it law, separately issued an executive order banning US companies from transacting with the app’s owner, ByteDance of China, and Tencent, the Chinese owner of WeChat. TikTok faces a deadline of 15 September to sell its US operations into American hands or face an outright ban because of national security concerns about the availability of its users’ data to Chinese spy agencies.
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Knock me down with a huruhuru – A Canadian brewery and a leather store in New Zealand have found themselves in a hairy situation after unwittingly using a Māori language word for pubic hair, huruhuru, to name their brands. They had intended an alternative meaning: it can also be used for feather, wool or fur. “If you are selling leather, call it leather, don’t call it pubic hair unless you are selling pubic hair and don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair,” said Te Hamua Nikora, a Māori language exponent.
Today in Focus podcast: Future of the royals
Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman discusses the fallout for the monarchy from the publication of Finding Freedom, a biography of Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the latest allegations surrounding Prince Andrew.
Lunchtime read: The NRA outguns itself
The National Rifle Association has been the most powerful firearms lobby in the world since its former president Charlton Heston taunted gun control advocates that they would only prise his weapons “from my cold, dead hands”. It has fought to suppress research on the danger of guns in society, keep open loopholes for background checks on gun sales and even for firearms to be present in schools. It has been an electoral ally of Donald Trump, spending $30m to help him beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
But now the New York attorney general, Letitia James, is suing to put the NRA out of business – alleging that senior leaders used charitable donations for family trips to the Bahamas, private jets and lavish meals that shaved $64m off the organisation’s balance sheet in three years, turning a surplus into a financial crisis. David Smith unravels how the NRA shot itself in the foot.
England face an uphill struggle to escape from the first Test against Pakistan with anything but a defeat following a stirring new-ball display from the tourists on day two of play at Old Trafford. Tiger Woods started the US PGA Championship with a 68, his lowest first round in a major since 2012, as Jason Day led the field after shooting a five-under 65 at Harding Park. Wolves’ Europa League odyssey will continue into next week’s quarter-finals thanks to a gruelling victory over the champions of Greece, Olympiakos, but Rangers’ campaign came to an end with defeat at Bayer Leverkusen. This year’s London Marathon, which had been pushed back from April to October, will no longer be a mass-participation event. John Higgins made only the 11th maximum break in World Championship history but saw his hopes of a fifth title shattered by a shock 13-11 second round defeat to Kurt Maflin. And BT’s head of sport, Simon Green, believes one impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be to dampen the inflationary value of television sports rights, which in the past 30 years have surged each time a new deal is negotiated.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has posted a US$1.5bn loss, with its Australian and United Kingdom newspaper businesses suffering sharp declines in revenue and its Foxtel pay-TV business in Australia bleeding subscribers, new financial results for 2019-20 show. News Corp Australia and News UK revenue declined 16% and 13% respectively across the year. The results come in a tumultuous week for News Corp after James Murdoch resigned from the board citing “disagreements” over editorial content. Asian shares have mostly been lower. Investors are awaiting a US report on jobs later Friday for another gauge of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The pound is worth $1.311 and €1.108 while the FTSE is trending around 20 points down at time of writing.
Our Guardian print edition leads today with “Doctors warn: do not halt normal NHS care again to tackle Covid-19”. The Express has “Boris: economy showing signs of strength” with a pic of the PM lifting a dumbbell appropriately bearing the number 10. He hefts two of them on the front page of the Telegraph which leads with: “Exam U-turn as pupils win reprieve over appeals” – catch up on that story here.
The Times has “Britons on their way to France risk quarantine” while the FT has its eye on TikTok, saying Microsoft wants to buy not just its US arm but the “entire global operation”. The Metro splashes with “Flack mum’s fury at cop” over the assault investigation during which the presenter killed herself.
The Mirror has “Watchdog is called on to probe Cummings’ ‘2nd lockdown trip’” – the Guardian’s Matt Weaver covers it here. The Mail’s splash is “Priti: send in navy to tackle migrant crisis” – the Guardian today has coverage of increasingly brutal tactics used by people-smugglers transporting thousands across the Channel in small boats.
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