Sri Lanka attacks: president says civil war inquiries left country vulnerable

Maithripala Sirisena says investigations into alleged abuses weakened armed forces

Sri Lanka’s president has said investigations into civil war-era human rights abuses weakened the country’s security apparatus and left it vulnerable to last Sunday’s suicide bomb attacks, as members of the government continued to try to diffuse blame for the attacks.

Maithripala Sirisena told Sri Lankan media outlets on Friday morning that there were up to 140 supporters of Islamic State in the country and that about 70 had been arrested.

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Beyond the River review – canoeists fight South Africa’s undercurrents

In this beautifully shot but underwhelming story, a black-white duo enter the gruelling Dusi canoe marathon hoping to heal their nation’s wounds

‘Two people combine to make the power,” growls seasoned Afrikaner canoeist Steve (Grant Swanby) to his Soweto protege Duma (Lemogang Tsipa), as they struggle to get their paddles in sync and the future of South African race relations hangs by a thread. Inspired by a true story of an unfancied black-white duo who managed to win the gruelling 120km Dusi canoe marathon in 2014, Beyond the River sadly can’t muster more than bland motivational soundbites about how sport can heal the nation’s wounds. Resplendently photographed by Trevor Calverley, it feels as if there’s no racial divide that can’t be conquered by a soaring drone shot of glorious veldt.

Duma is drifting into a life of crime, illegally stripping cables for the metal, when he’s forced into returning to the canoe training he ditched following his mother’s death. After providing logistical support for Steve at the Dusi, he proposes teaming up with him for the following year’s race. Steve isn’t threatened by the idea, unlike racist colleagues in the boathouse who make jokes about “African time”. But, set in his ways and nursing a private trauma, Steve is not ready to accept that their partnership might work better with the man once nicknamed “Helicopter”, for his flailing arms, at the front of the boat.

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Anti-bullfighting party set for Spanish election breakthrough

As the right enlists bullfighters as candidates, animal welfare champions are polling well

If the polls and pundits are correct, Spain’s Vox party will achieve its much-prophesied breakthrough in Sunday’s general election, becoming the first far-right grouping to win more than a single seat in parliament since the country embarked on its post-Franco return to democracy.

Although Vox’s chances of attracting around 11% of the vote have hogged the headlines, another small party – and one with a markedly different worldview – is also gearing up for a historic day at the ballot box.

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Donald Trump to address NRA with gun lobby in disarray

Bastion of president’s base riven by financial woes and rows over its political campaigning

When Donald Trump addresses cheering throngs at the National Rifle Association annual meetings on Friday, he will again be throwing red meat to his base before an election. This time, however, it could be argued that the NRA needs Trump more than Trump needs the NRA.

The world’s most powerful gun lobby is in disarray. The organisation is still reeling from disclosures that Russian operatives tried to use contacts in the NRA to influence US elections. Its leaders have been accused of straying from the association’s original mission of gun safety and shooting sports by wading into politics and “culture wars”. And, plagued by financial troubles, the NRA is suing its longtime public relations firm over its refusal to hand over financial records to account for bills worth millions of dollars.

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Yemen proves it: in western eyes, not all ‘Notre Dames’ are created equal | Lamya Khalidi

As an archaeologist, I’ve seen Yemen’s rich heritage. But for too many world leaders, only arms sales really matter

Like everyone else the world over, I watched in horror last week as Notre Dame burned and its spire fell. I saw the stunned reactions of onlookers on the news, on social media and in front of television sets and phone screens on the streets of Nice, where I live. A part of France’s national identity and an international symbol of Paris was collapsing before our eyes.

This accidental burning of one of the most important French cultural and religious monuments struck a painful chord in just about everyone I know: I was getting messages of grief from friends in Sudan, Yemen, the US and South America. The unthinkable sight of Notre Dame burning evoked photographs of burning buildings during wartime, and nostalgia for all the valuable historical objects within them that had been turned to ash. One could not look at this sight without feeling grief.

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Hungary denying food to asylum seekers, say human rights groups

Some adults whose claims were rejected went without food for up to five days, claim activists

Hungarian authorities are systematically denying food to failed asylum seekers detained in the country’s border transit zones, say rights activists.

The policy, whereby adults whose asylum claims have been rejected are denied food, was described as “an unprecedented human rights violation in 21st-century Europe” by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights organisation working to offer legal support to those in the transit zones.

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Recently freed Honduran transgender woman detained again by Ice

Nicole Garcia Aguilar fled Honduras after being subjected to sexual assault and attempted murder linked to her gender identity

A Honduran transgender asylum seeker who was released last week after a year incarcerated in immigration centres has been re-detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice).

The move was condemned by her legal team as punitive and damaging to the young woman’s physical and mental health.

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Styx review – refugee dilemma tests moral compass

Should a lone yachtswoman act when authorities tell her to sail away? Wolfgang Fischer’s drama steers into Europe’s migrant crisis with conviction

Our creatives continue to form more imaginative and compassionate responses to the issue of mass migration than our politicians. Like recent TV conscience-prickers Home and Don’t Forget the Driver, Austrian director Wolfgang Fischer’s quietly gripping second feature immerses us in the debate around freedom of movement.

Cinematically, it’s not unlike a clever rethink of JC Chandor’s All Is Lost; that terrific survival drama exerted a form of white privilege by having Robert Redford wrestle tempestuous seas on his lonesome, with no one else around to steal his thunder or closeups. Fischer and co-writer Ika Künzel float the notion there might be something more compelling and provocative in the sight of a struggling sailor encountering others in far worse conditions. For the earlier film’s collision of hulls, substitute a seismic and troubling collision of worlds.

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Armenian MPs call for trans activist to be burned alive after historic speech

Landmark parliamentary address on LGBTI discrimination challenges reformist agenda of post-revolution government

Armenia’s first registered transgender woman has received death threats after making a historic speech in her country’s national assembly.

Lilit Martirosyan became the first member of her country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to take to the parliamentary podium, speaking out against discrimination at a session of its committee on human rights. A video of the speech has been shared around the world.

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More than 1,000 migrants break out of southern Mexico detention centre

Mass escape from overcrowded Siglo XXI facility sign of how surge in arrivals has stretched resources

More than a thousand migrants broke out of a detention centre in southern Mexico on Thursday evening, authorities said, in a fresh sign of how a surge in arrivals has stretched the country’s resources to the limit.

More than half of the roughly 1,300 migrants later returned to the Siglo XXI facility in the border city of Tapachula in Chiapas state, but about 600 are still unaccounted for, the National Migration Institute said in a statement.

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Shorten angrily rejects PM’s accusation Labor ‘dragged feet’ on national security bills

Labor leader accuses Morrison of “playing political games … in the shadow of the shocking Sri Lankan murders”

Labor has angrily rejected suggestions it dragged its feet on national security after Scott Morrison used the example of just one unlegislated bill to criticise the opposition in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka attacks.

Bill Shorten and Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, said Morrison should be “ashamed of himself”, with Shorten accusing the prime minister of “playing political games … in the shadow of the shocking Sri Lankan murders”.

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The joys of springs: how Kenya could steam beyond fossil fuel

Engineers are tapping the Rift Valley’s subterranean energy to power an expanding economy

A faint smell of sulphur, a shrill hiss of gas and a Rift Valley panorama punctuated by 30 pillars of steam mark the frontline of renewable energy growth in Kenya.

This is the boundary between Hell’s Gate national park and the geothermal plants that are increasingly powering one of east Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

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Peter Doherty: ‘If I was drug free, I’d be a force to be reckoned with’

The Libertines co-frontman is 40 – an age few expected him to reach. Yet he’s back with a new band, a seaside hotel and an unorthodox approach to dog-handling

Peter Doherty arrives with a black case containing a mysterious creature called Gladys in one hand and an odd-eyed husky called Zeus in the other, a huge sore on his chin and a pork pie hat. Pork pie hat aside, you never quite know what to expect from Doherty. Last time I interviewed him, it was in a hotel room with blood on the walls , a crack pipe on his bedside table and a motorbike in the corner that he kept revving until he fell asleep on it. That was in 2005, when Doherty was 25 years old and living the rock’n’roll dream – or nightmare.

He had been kicked out of the Libertines, a band hailed as the great literary punk rockers of their day, and was surrounded by creepy acolytes, hard men and beautiful young things (he was going out with Kate Moss). His very public addiction had attracted the attention of Newsnight, and attempted interventions from June Brown (who played EastEnders’ Dot Cotton). With his new band Babyshambles, he wrote a song that summed up everything he did and didn’t believe in: Fuck Forever was perfectly ambiguous, celebrating his obsessions with sex and the transient.

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Into the pharaoh’s chamber: how I fell in love with ancient Egypt

Amid the convulsions in the years following the Arab Spring, Peter Hessler went to the ancient city of Amarna, site of another short-lived attempt to remake a nation

They say there is something special about buying your first brand-new car, and this is particularly true if it happens in Egypt during a revolution. By the spring of 2014, my wife, Leslie, and I had lived in Cairo for more than two years, as American foreign correspondents, and we had reached a point of decision. The previous summer, Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, had been removed in a military coup, and the security forces massacred more than 1,000 Morsi supporters in the capital, according to estimates by Human Rights Watch. At the time, our twin daughters, Ariel and Natasha, were three years old, and Leslie and I had the inevitable conversation: do we stay or do we go?

We had always intended to spend at least five years in Egypt. It seemed the minimum, given the richness of the country’s history and culture, and in the end we decided to stick to the plan. Purchasing the first new car that either of us had ever owned was part of that commitment – an act of determination, or maybe desperation.

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Home Office faces legal action over English test cheating claims

Hundreds of students say they were wrongly accused of cheating in Toeic test in 2014

The Home Office is facing over 300 court of appeal legal challenges from foreign students who believe they were wrongly accused of cheating in English tests, and dozens more cases are pending in immigration tribunals.

The Guardian has learned that a special team overseen by the Home Office was established in January 2017 to deal with the growing backlog of legal actions related to a Home Office decision in 2014 to revoke or curtail the visas of around 34,000 students whom they accused of cheating in a government-approved English language test.

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Harvey Weinstein trial should be public, news organizations argue

  • Defense and prosecution seek to hearing behind closed doors
  • Media to tell judge ‘there is no rational basis’ for secrecy

News organizations are fighting to open Harvey Weinstein’s next court appearance to the public, after both prosecutors and defense attorneys asked for it to be held behind closed doors.

At a hearing set for Friday, ahead of the disgraced movie mogul’s trial in New York on rape and sexual assault charges, the sides will argue over whether some of the many women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault – besides the ones involved in the criminal charges – will be allowed to testify at his June trial.

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Bernie Sanders booed as Democratic hopefuls try to woo women of color

Seven leading Democratic 2020 contenders spoke at the inaugural She the People event focusing on female voters of color

White House candidate Bernie Sanders got a rocky reception when he gave a halting performance at an event this week focusing on female voters of color, while Kamala Harris was given a standing ovation – but was vigorously challenged in the popularity stakes by rivals Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke.

Women from 28 states descended on Houston, Texas, on Wednesday to hear from the seven leading Democratic 2020 contenders at an inaugural event called She the People presidential forum – a day before Joe Biden jumped into the race.

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Belt and Road forum: Xi Jinping promises transparency to ease concerns

President promises ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ and says global transport plan should bring prosperity to all

President Xi Jinping has sought to allay concerns about China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying: “Everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.”

He promised high standards in a bid to dispel complaints the projects costing many billions of dollars leave developing countries with too much debt.

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King Constantine of Greece faces his Colonels – archive, 26 April 1967

26 April 1967: After seizing power on 21 April, the Greek military continue negotiations with the King

Athens, April 25
King Constantine and the military members of the Government are still negotiating the terms on which the King will declare his acceptance of the new regime.

There seems little doubt that Constantine will eventually have to commit himself by telling the people to support the Government, but he still plays for time, hoping that the longer he delays the more anxious the Colonels will become to gain his support and, through it, some measure of acceptance in the country and the world.

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