Celebrating Purim in Manchester – in pictures

Orthodox Jewish children in fancy dress and adults take to the streets of Broughton in Greater Manchester to celebrate the annual feast of Purim, celebrated by Jewish communities around the world with parades and costume parties. Purim commemorates the defeat of Haman, the adviser to the Persian king, and his plot to massacre the Jewish people, 2,500 years ago, as recorded in the biblical book of Esther.

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Kent pupils could be left stranded by no-deal Brexit gridlock, warns council

Teachers told they may have to ‘adopt carer role’ if traffic stops parents picking children up

Teachers in primary schools in Kent have been told they may have to suspend classes and “adopt a carer role” in the event of disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.

They have also been advised by local authorities to check on food supplies and warned that public transport and school coaches could be affected if there is “panic buying” of fuel, according to a document seen by the Guardian.

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Labour’s been mocked for calling for an election. Now it’s the only way out | Owen Jones

The Tories’ partisan games have killed so many potential solutions that an election is the best option left

We are being trolled by a prime minister who is prepared to drive a nation into the abyss to preserve the cohesion of the Conservative party. Like a partner who perennially hints at a romantic three-course meal and a possible popping of the question, only to serve up beans on toast, Theresa May’s latest national address was a huge anticlimax. She provided no exit routes out of a building she has set alight, merely attacking a parliament she forced the electorate to vote for less than two years previously.

It is the most basic statement of political reality to say that Britain’s national crisis has been manufactured by the Conservatives, but it’s one that needs repeating in a media environment rigged in favour of the right. A generation-long Tory power struggle and the disastrous attempts to navigate it by David Cameron and his successor have brought Britain to its knees. The narrative over the coming days will be that the onus is on Labour to accept May’s deal – a deal both remainers and leavers are united in judging to be terrible – or condemn Britain to no deal.

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Labor pledges $60m to divert vulnerable borrowers from payday lenders

Plan would enable 76,800 low-cost loans each year to those in financial hardship

Labor has pledged $60m for financial services that divert vulnerable borrowers from high-interest payday lenders.

The policy picks up on the recommendation of a Senate inquiry to expand no interest loans schemes to prevent low-income Australians being plunged into a cycle of debt due to unexpected expenses such as medical procedures and broken household appliances.

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Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords unprotected

Company admits to mistake and says it has no evidence of abuse – but the risk was huge

Facebook mistakenly stored “hundreds of millions” of passwords in plaintext, unprotected by any encryption, the company has admitted.

The mistake, which led to user passwords being kept in Facebook’s internal servers in an insecure way, affects “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users”, according to the social networking site. Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook created for use in nations where mobile data is unaffordable or unavailable.

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Home smear tests to be rolled out in England to combat low turnout

Charities say move could reverse decline of cervical cancer screenings

Women will be able to conduct tests for the HPV virus at home as part of a pilot scheme to combat the low up-take of cervical cancer screenings in England.

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said self-testing could help reverse the decline by allowing women to use the kits in the comfort of their own home. “We know from our research that there is a huge appetite for self-testing and want to see it introduced to the NHS screening programme as soon as possible,” he said. “Countries such as Australia and Denmark, which are already offering self-testing, are seeing fantastic results in terms of more women being screened and more cancers being prevented or diagnosed at an early stage.
“For those who find screening difficult for a wide range of psychological and physical reasons, it could be a game-changer.”

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Iraq ferry sinking: more than 70 people drown in Mosul

Victims were mostly women and children celebrating Kurdish new year, say officials

At least 71 people have drowned after a ferry sank in the Tigris River near Mosul, Iraq.

Col Hussam Khalil, the head of the Civil Defense Corps in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, said the incident occurred on Thursday while scores of people – mostly women and children – were celebrating Nowruz, which marks the Kurdish new year and the arrival of spring.

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Canada: ‘Much more to be told’ on Trudeau scandal, says minister who quit

Jane Philpott, who resigned in protest earlier this month, hints at more pain for embattled PM and says Canadians deserve the truth

A Canadian cabinet minister who had quit in protest over the government’s handling of a corruption scandal said she and others had more to say about the matter, indicating more pain to come for the embattled prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau has been on the defensive since February over allegations top officials working for him leaned on the former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to ensure the construction firm SNC-Lavalin avoided a corruption trial.

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Number of parents fined for term-time holidays at record level

DfE figures show 260,000 penalty notices for children missing school were issued in 2017-18

The number of parents issued with penalties because of their children missing school has soared to record levels in England, after councils were emboldened by a supreme court ruling in their favour.

Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) for 2017-18 show that local authorities issued 260,000 penalty notices to parents for unauthorised absences during the state school year, an increase of 110,000 compared with the previous year.

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Philosopher Mary Warnock dies aged 94

Lady Warnock laid foundations for special needs teaching and fertility treatment regulations

The philosopher Mary Warnock, whose work laid the foundations for special needs education and for the regulation of fertility treatments, has died aged 94.

After an early career researching ethics and philosophy and then as a headteacher, Lady Warnock was appointed in 1974 to chair a UK inquiry on special education. Her subsequent report brought about radical change by placing priority on teaching children with special educational needs within mainstream schools, and introduced the system of “statementing” children, which provides additional support.

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Scammers stole £1.2bn from British bank customers in 2018

Year on year figure up by 25%, and firms must reimburse victims, says UK Finance

Scammers stole £1.2bn from UK bank customers in 2018, according to official data, with a near-500% leap in counterfeit cheque fraud, indicating some criminals are resorting to old-school techniques.

The headline fraud figure is up almost a quarter on 2017, when the total was £968m. There was a 50% leap, to £354m, in the amount lost to scams in which people are duped into authorising a payment to an account.

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Councils’ powers to remove Grenfell-style cladding ‘useless’

Exclusive: councils complain government’s backing amounts to ‘completely hollow words’

New powers for councils to step in and fix privately-owned towers covered in dangerous Grenfell-style cladding are proving largely useless, leaving tens of thousands of leaseholders living in fear and facing mounting multimillion-pound bills, the Guardian has learned.

As few as one in 10 of the affected private tower blocks clad in similar ACM panels to those which spread the fire at Grenfell Tower can actually be tackled by councils, according to Manchester city council, which has been struggling to persuade the owners of 15 apartment blocks to take urgent safety action.

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