Prince Andrew’s private secretary steps down after Newsnight interview

Amanda Thirsk, who orchestrated disastrous BBC interview, will run prince’s mentoring initiative

The aide who orchestrated Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview about his links to the convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is no longer his private secretary, it has emerged as organisations continue to sever ties with the beleaguered royal.

Amanda Thirsk, who was said to have played a key role in persuading him to agree to the BBC interview, has reportedly moved on to run his business mentoring initiative.

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Malta’s PM urged to step back from case of murdered journalist

Two members of government linked to man arrested over Daphne Caruana Galizia killing

A senior European monitor is calling for Malta’s prime minister to distance himself from the investigation into the killing of the prominent investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia due to a potential conflict of interest.

Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, has the power to grant immunity from prosecution to a key witness who may have vital evidence about those who commissioned Caruana Galizia’s assassination two years ago.

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Understanding Englishness and the national identity crisis | Letters

Prof John Denham argues that to be English is, for many, not wanting to be ignored, Jim Grozier thinks it is time for someone to come up with new, ‘neutral’ names for the various parts of England, while Rev Ray Skinner debates devolution

Alex Niven (‘Englishness’ was never enough to build a nation on, Journal, 20 November) makes the reasonable point that English identity as it now exists is unlikely to become the single unifying national identity of England. Britishness faces the same problem. But like too many on the left, his desire to dismiss the English prevents him from asking who they are and what they want.

While there is not a single monolithic Englishness, those who emphasise their English identity, and who were more likely to vote leave, do not, by and large, share Boris Johnson’s Anglocentric British nationalism. They are, very largely, not the people in power in England, whether in corporate business, the media, politics or academia. They are more likely to live in places that have been on the losing side of social, economic and political change for 30 years, outside the liberal cultures of the metropolitan city centres. To be English is, for many at least, not wanting to be ignored any longer, to want to be heard or – to coin a phrase – to “take back control”. There is no successful future for England, or the union, that does not involve bringing the English back into the national conversation. Denying they exist or slamming the door in their face is not a good way to start.
Prof John Denham
Centre for English Identity and Politics, University of Southampton

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Reality of life in the Kafr Aqab district | Letter

To understand what’s happening in Kafr Aqab, you need to understand what’s happening to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem under Israeli military law, says Waed M Abbas

Not all of us are in Kafr Aqab because we are star-crossed lovers, but it is true that we live here because we are forced to (Love island: The walled enclave where residents of West Bank and Jerusalem can live together, 11 November). To understand what’s happening in Kafr Aqab, you need to understand what’s happening to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem under Israeli military law.

In a nutshell, it’s not easy. According to B’tselem, “Immediately after occupying the area in 1967, Israel unlawfully annexed thousands of hectares in and around Jerusalem. Ever since, it has instituted policies designed to drive Palestinians out of the city and to create a demographic and geographic reality that would frustrate any challenge to Israeli sovereignty there. The policies, which disrupt every aspect of life, include isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and deliberate underdevelopment and underservicing that result in overcrowding, poverty and substandard infrastructure.”

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Hong Kong is a de facto police state | Letter

Karen Yuen responds to letters about the Hong Kong government and allegations of police brutality

I am writing in response to the letter from Winky So, director general of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London (22 November). Her claim that Hong Kong police have “carried out enforcement actions in strict accordance with the law” is simply ludicrous.

International and local media have documented numerous cases of police brutality that are in violation of Police General Orders – citizens being pepper-sprayed in the face because they did not move fast enough; protesters being beaten ferociously on the head with batons when they were already immobilised; officers verbally abusing protesters. The list goes on.

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Scale of hidden jobless now visible | Letter

Anyone who has seen the workings of universal credit close at hand, along with the scant support given to jobseekers, will not be surprised by the OECD’s recent findings, says Gillian Dalley

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Centre for Cities on the scale of hidden unemployment in the UK raises an important issue (The ‘hidden jobless’: Liverpool’s centre may look different but the lack of work still feels like the 80s, 21 November). Anyone who has seen the workings of universal credit close at hand, along with the scant support given to jobseekers by the Department for Work and Pensions, will not be surprised to hear that hundreds of thousands of people, many of them seeking jobs for the first time, have abandoned hope of obtaining employment in the traditional and “official” way. They simply don’t figure in the statistics. It brings suffering to jobseekers but lets the government bask in the false glory of supposed full employment.
Gillian Dalley

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Wormwood Scrubs blues: inside the gig mixing prisoners with the free

As part of London jazz festival, Rhiannon Giddens performed in the chapel at Wormwood Scrubs prison – supported by a choir of inmates

Fifty years after Johnny Cash gave the most famous prison concerts of all time at Folsom and San Quentin, the British penal system finally has an equivalent.

On Thursday night, the Grammy-winning African American folk singer Rhiannon Giddens delivered an intense and emotionally charged concert at HMP Wormwood Scrubs before an audience of both inmates and members of the general public who had bought tickets as part of the London jazz festival.

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‘Love Grace’: handbags collected in memory of Grace Millane

Project set up in memory of woman murdered in New Zealand gives support to victims of domestic abuse

Grace Millane loved handbags. She had a large collection, her family said, “each one to compliment another outfit she’d be able to just throw on”.

And so earlier this year, while her devastated parents, two older brothers and wider family struggled to come to terms with the appalling tragedy that had befallen her, they decided to channel their grief into a project of which she would certainly have approved: filling handbags with essential toiletries and little luxuries, and donating them to their local domestic abuse charity in Essex.

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Greta Thunberg, time traveller? Girl in photo from 1898 resembles activist

Girl in viral image looks similar to activist in both the intensity of her stare and braided hair, prompting Twitter jokes

Could Greta Thunberg be a time traveller sent from the future to save humanity from the unfolding climate crisis? A cadre of Twitter users seem to think so, after the photograph of a young Klondike goldminer bearing a striking resemblance to the Swedish activist was discovered this week.

The now viral 1898 image of three children operating a goldmine in Canada’s Yukon territory is part of a sprawling collection by the documentary photographer Eric Hegg. Near the end of the 19th century, the Swedish American captured some of the most iconic images of people hoping to make their fortunes in the rugged north.

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NHS England pledges pensions top-up in bid to tackle staffing crisis

Senior doctors and nurses are refusing to work extra hours because of financial penalties

NHS England has promised to top up the pensions of senior doctors and nurses in an effort to end the alarming staffing crisis caused by their refusal to work extra hours because of the financial penalties they would incur as a result.

Accident and emergency, intensive care and surgery are among the departments that have been struggling to maintain enough staff to keep patients safe and give them the treatment they need. A letter from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges earlier this month spelled out to the government the crisis that the NHS was facing, which will only grow as the winter pressures begin, with more people falling sick.

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Children bear the brunt as the world’s biggest measles epidemic sweeps Congo

Children under the age of five account for 90% of deaths as disease claims 5,000 lives in less than a year

More than 5,000 people, mostly children, have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in what is currently the world’s biggest measles epidemic.

Measles, which is preventable through vaccination, has spread to all 26 provinces of the country, which is also battling a 15-month-long Ebola epidemic.

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Court fines Weetabix £140,000 for polluting river near factory

Cereal maker prosecuted after diesel escaped from tanks into River Ise and put wildlife at risk

Weetabix has been fined £140,000 for polluting a river with thousands of litres of diesel fuel and putting at risk fish and plant life.

The Environment Agency brought a prosecution against the cereal maker for polluting the River Ise, which is close to the company’s plant in the town of Burton Latimer, near Kettering, Northamptonshire. The clean-up operation cost Weetabix £500,000.

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Merkel successor challenges party to back her or sack her

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gets ovation after ultimatum at party conference

The embattled leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats has challenged delegates at the party’s conference to back her vision or else “end it here and now”, amid deep divisions over the future direction of the party.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the CDU’s annual conference in Leipzig she was putting her future on the line in response to stinging criticism over her leadership style.

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Scottish Labour is free to campaign against Brexit, says Corbyn

Richard Leonard says his party is now committed to backing remain in its manifesto

Jeremy Corbyn has agreed Scottish Labour can campaign against Brexit even if a future Labour government brokers a fresh deal with the EU, Labour’s Scottish leader has said.

Richard Leonard said the Scottish party was now committed in its general election manifesto to campaigning for remain even if Corbyn won a better Brexit deal next year and put it to a referendum.

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UK knew in 2016 of Trump’s ‘suspicious links’ to Russia, book claims

No 10 did not ‘push matter’ to avoid offending US president, say commissioners of Steele dossier

The UK’s intelligence agencies were aware that Donald Trump may have been compromised by the Kremlin but Theresa May’s government – including then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson – chose not to pursue the matter for fear of offending the US president, a new book claims.

According to Crime in Progress, to be published next week in the US and UK, MI6 was “already aware” in 2016 of “suspicious links” between Russia and the Trump campaign. The book is written by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, who co-founded the Washington research firm Fusion GPS.

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George Eliot translation of Spinoza sheds new light on her fiction

Novelist’s work on the philosopher’s landmark Ethics helped develop her astute grasp of human emotion

Having languished in obscurity for more than a century, a new edition of George Eliot’s translation of Spinoza’s Ethics will be published next year, shedding new light on the creator of Middlemarch.

The author, born Mary Ann Evans, completed her translation of this central text of western philosophy in 1856, before she had taken on her pen name and while she was living in Berlin with George Lewes. If a publisher had taken it up, it would have been the first translation of the Ethics into English. But Lewes fell out with publisher Henry Bohn over £25, and the work fell by the wayside while Evans moved on to fiction and her nom de plume with the publication of Scenes from Clerical Life in 1857 and Adam Bede in 1859.

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Prince Andrew’s fall from grace brings uncertain times for the monarchy

After a difficult year, the last thing Britain’s royal family needed was the Duke of York’s self-inflicted crisis

The unprecedented banishment of Prince Andrew to the outer reaches of the royal firm, without a useful future role or official engagements, free – presumably – to spend more time with his golf clubs, comes at a critical time for the family.

After the calamities of the 1990s and the patient rebuilding of reputation that followed, all seemed set fair only 18 months ago. The Queen was still soldiering stoically on into her 90s, working on her red boxes of official papers every day as she had done for the previous seven decades and attending 293 engagements during the year. Prince Harry had just married Meghan Markle to popular acclaim, seemingly inaugurating a new era for the royal family. And the succession was secure to three generations, if they played their cards right.

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Sacha Baron Cohen: Facebook would have let Hitler buy ads for ‘final solution’

In wide-ranging speech, actor accuses tech giants of running the ‘greatest propaganda machine in history’

Sacha Baron Cohen has denounced tech giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google as “the greatest propaganda machine in history” and culpable for a surge in “murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities”.

Baron Cohen was speaking on Thursday at Never Is Now, the Anti-Defamation League’s summit on antisemitism and hate in New York, where he was presented with the organisation’s international leadership award. He said that “hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities” and that “all this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history”.

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