BJP landslide in Uttar Pradesh a boost for India prime minister Narendra Modi

Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party’s emphatic victory in the country’s most populous state is being seen as a broad endorsement of Modi’s policies

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) has won control of the country’s most populous and influential state by an unexpectedly large margin, cementing Narendra Modi’s dominance of Indian politics and putting the prime minister on track for re-election in 2019.

Final results released by the Indian election commission on Saturday showed the BJP had won 311 of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, enough to form a rare majority government in the north Indian state of 220 million people.

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Netherlands bars Turkish ministers as ‘Nazi remnant’ dispute escalates

Riot police clash with Turkish ex-pats after members of the Erdoğan government are prevented from campaigning among supporters

The Netherlands has barred Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam in a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among emigres, leading President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to brand its fellow Nato member a “Nazi remnant”.

The dispute escalated into a major diplomatic incident on Saturday night when Turkey’s family minister was prevented by police from entering her country’s consulate in Rotterdam. Hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside, demanding to see the minister.

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Pope may be backsliding on paedophile crackdown, Catholic official says

Australia’s Truth Justice and Healing Council head says Vatican establishment determined to maintain status quo

The Pope may be retreating from his crackdown on paedophile priests as Vatican bureaucrats do all they can to undermine reform efforts, a senior Australian Catholic official has warned.

The Catholic Church in Australia could end up as a “marginalised rump” unless there is real change to an institutional culture hell-bent on self-protection and self-preservation, the chief executive of the church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, has said.

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Speaking for the trees: hope, despair, and regrowth in Tasmania’s charred wilderness |

Large parts of the the Tarkine wilderness – the biggest tract of temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere – burned in the fires of 2016. Author Ben Walter visited the region and found devastation, and hope

We’re driving up from the Rapid river, a beer-coloured tumult capped with froth and busy with rain; huge myrtles the size of eucalypts were camped on one bank and the blackwood was just coming into yellow wattle-flower, an unexpected sunshine in the dim wet green; on the ground we had spaced our steps around conical mounds rising up like wide muddy candles, the fragile homes of burrowing crayfish.

“After the fires were going, there was a group of us that were watching closely where they were going and where they might go, and we were pretty nervous about what might be taken out … will it get down to the Rapid river?’

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Alone in the outback: attacks on backpackers play on deep-seated fears

While millions of tourists make their way safely across Australia, some shocking exceptions highlight the need for caution in the wilderness

Recent cases of abduction, murder and rapes in outback Australia have once again turned the spotlight on the potential for a dream trip to turn into a nightmare for vulnerable young tourists in isolated surroundings.

Among the millions of backpackers and tourists who have safely made their way across Australia, there are horror stories.

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Moomba festival: police arrest 53 and use pepper spray to control brawls

Victoria police search more than 800 for weapons after riots at last year’s festival blamed on Apex gang

Victoria police made more than 50 arrests at Melbourne’s Moomba festival and used pepper spray to suppress violence after the event was disrupted for a second consecutive year.

Police had a huge presence at the festival in Federation Square on Saturday night after riots, blamed on gangs, marred last year’s event. Up to 200 people wielded chairs as weapons and brawled in the street.

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This election was meant to be close, but Western Australia had no doubts | Ben Raue

An analysis of Saturday’s results shows voters were overwhelmingly fed up with the Liberals, and not sold on One Nation

The state election in Western Australia was predicted to be close: Labor needed a large swing to tip out the Liberal-National Coalition government, which has led the state since 2008. It was anything but close. Labor easily gained the 10 seats it needed to form government, and looks likely to gain 10 more. The swing was massive in all parts of the state, with the Liberal vote dropping dramatically.

The election was also disappointing for One Nation, whose polling a month ago suggested it was on track to easily win a swathe of upper house seats without the need for preferences, and possibly challenge for some rural lower house seats. The party polled 7% in the upper house – higher than any other minor party other than the Greens – but that will likely translate into only one or two seats on a large crossbench.

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Liberal party defends preference deal with One Nation after WA election loss

Mathias Cormann refuses to rule out deal at federal level as Barnaby Joyce says agreement ‘a mistake’

One of the architects of the Liberal party’s preference deal with One Nation in Western Australia, the federal finance minister, Mathias Cormann, has defended the controversial arrangement, and he has refused to rule out a future preference deal at the federal level.

Cormann told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday the preference deal, which put One Nation ahead of the National party in some areas, was negotiated in an attempt to put a floor under the Liberal party’s declining primary vote, which he said was as low as 29% in internal party polling.

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The Observer view on sending US troops to Syria | Observer editorial

Donald Trump’s intervention is high-risk foolhardiness

Donald Trump’s decision to deploy hundreds of US marines in northern Syria last week has received surprisingly little attention. The deployment pitches relatively inexperienced American soldiers into the middle of a highly toxic, multi-fronted battlefield that includes combat-tested Kurdish militias, Syrian army troops, anti-regime fighters and Russian, Iranian and Turkish forces.

The Trump administration says the aim is to defeat Islamic State (Isis) by assisting in the capture of the terrorists’ HQ in Raqqa. This forthcoming campaign is seen as complementary to the ongoing siege of Isis-held Mosul, in northern Iraq.

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The farming revolution that aims to bring free-range milk to Britain

Smallholders hope to reverse years of dairy industry decline with a return to cows grazing in the great outdoors

This is a story that is almost as rare as a free-range cow: a good news story about the British dairy industry.

This month, Jenni and Jerry Hobbs will swing open the gates to the yard of their modest farmhouse in Gloucestershire, shout a few words of encouragement and watch as their herd of brown Swiss, Friesians, Fleckviehs and the rest, big eyes blinking as they survey the expanse of grass before them, buck and cavort their way out to pasture.

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Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming

Thousands of female Romanian farm workers are suffering horrendous abuse

Every night for almost three years, Nicoleta Bolos lay awake at night on a dirty mattress in an outhouse in Sicily’s Ragusa province, waiting for the sound of footsteps outside the door. As the hours passed, she braced herself for the door to creak open, for the metallic clunk of a gun being placed on the table by her head and the weight of her employer thudding down on the dirty grey mattress beside her.

The only thing that she feared more than the sound of the farmer’s step outside her door was the threat of losing her job. So she endured night after night of rape and beatings while her husband drank himself into a stupor outside.

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Gaza comic is standing up for her dream of making it big in comedy

It means defying convention and crossing closed borders, but YouTube performer Reham al-Kahlout says she won’t give up

Reham al-Kahlout defies neighbourhood gossips, online trolls and the occasional insult from strangers for a handful of laughs and a powerful dream.

The 19-year-old hails from the isolated and increasingly conservative Gaza Strip, and hopes to become the first woman from her hometown to make it big in comedy.

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Geese petition ruffles feathers at King’s College, Cambridge

Student protest against plans to cull resident flock attracts 180 signatures, causing unwelcome publicity

It’s been an exasperating week for Philip Isaac, domus bursar at King’s College, Cambridge. It all started with an impassioned letter from students which, invoking the words of Gandhi, called for the peaceful coexistence of scholars and geese. It was only a matter of time before journalists got wind of the petition, and flocked to cover the story of the Cambridge college that’s murdering its wildlife.

The cause of the dispute? The local gaggle of Canada geese at King’s has grown rapidly over the past three years to become a health and safety hazard, but students say that culling the animals would be inhumane.

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Boycott won’t heal our divide, Israeli star tells fellow artists

Isolating Israel will ‘give prejudice and hatred a louder voice’, says musician and peace activist David Broza

One of Israel’s leading cultural figures, the singer-songwriter David Broza, has spoken out against new calls for an artistic boycott of Israel. Ahead of a rare British concert next month, the Grammy award-winning Broza has reaffirmed his commitment to playing with musicians from a wide range of backgrounds, and argued that it is shared musical experience, not boycotts, that offer the best hope of moving entrenched political views.

“I am an anti-boycott person. If we start avoiding each other, how will these walls ever come down?” Broza said this weekend, at home in Tel Aviv, as he began to prepare for the concert in London on 27 April. “I understand that a boycott is a nonviolent response, and I respect that, but I want to say that there are other ways.”

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Emma Watson: feminist to the core or carefully polished brand? | the Observer profile

Film industry sexism fired a commitment to feminism in the star, next in Beauty and the Beast. But, despite a UN women’s role, some are unconvinced of her dedication to the cause

‘I don’t know what my tits have to do with it,” said the actress Emma Watson last week – the “it” being feminism. She was responding to a mild public furore over a photograph published to accompany an interview in Vanity Fair magazine to support her role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. In the photo, she’s sporting a Burberry cape that exposes most of her breasts.

Related: Emma Watson: the feminist and the fairytale

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House always wins: the dark side of life in Macao’s casino economy

The Chinese city is one of the world’s richest but the lowest-paid 10% struggle

She paid a smuggler and was tucked into the hold of a ship for the overnight boat ride away from extreme poverty and a dead-end life in rural China. But on her way to a brighter future, Auyeung Lai-sung never made it past the kitchen of one of the most profitable casinos in the world.

In Macau, known as the Las Vegas of the East and one of the richest places in the world, Auyeung wakes before dawn each day to make dim sum for a five-star restaurant in the 35-storey casino hotel of MGM Macau, while at home she dines on instant noodles to save money to support her family. “I see the people in the restaurant and wonder how did they make so much money,” Auyeung says. “I do complain, but there’s no use – nothing will change.”

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Geert Wilders out in the cold in Dutch election scrum

As voters turn to the right, the Greens are hoping to profit from the woes of a discredited Labour party

At the “election market” in Gouda, behind the town’s gable-fronted cheese museum, the Netherlands’ kaleidoscope of parties are making a last push to catch floating voters. Passers-by are spoiled for choice: nine groups are represented, all with seats in parliament, from the governing Liberal and Labour parties to the Animal Rights party, complete with panda-print scarves and a man strumming campaign songs on a guitar.

Notably, the three leading contenders – prime minister Mark Rutte’s VVD, the Christian Democrats (CDA), and Geert Wilders’s Freedom party (PVV) – are all on the right, suggesting that the Dutch are turning away from their tradition of liberal, progressive politics. The Labour party (PvdA) has paid a heavy price for going into coalition with the right-wing Liberals four years ago and pushing through an austerity programme that hit its traditional voter base.

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WA election: Liberals the biggest losers after Pauline Hanson crumbles under pressure | Katharine Murphy

Colin Barnett’s self-delusion a warning for Malcolm Turnbull as Nationals run their own race

Colin Barnett says he’s no longer the Western Australian premier because of an overwhelming “It’s time” factor.

With due respect to Barnett, this is a story you invent to console yourself when you’ve presided over a top-to-tail disaster.

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Prison study reveals high rate of self-harm among former inmates and mental health failures

Emergency departments are failing to conduct comprehensive mental health assessments, researchers say

One in 15 newly-released prisoners attend hospital for self-harm but emergency departments are failing in their obligations to conduct comprehensive mental health assessments, new research shows.

A groundbreaking study of former inmates, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry this month, has revealed high rates of self-harm following release from prison.

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US accuses Moscow of aiding warlord in battle for Libya oil ports

Pentagon says Russia has intervened to support opponents of the western-backed government

A fierce battle for control of Libya’s oil ports is raging this weekend as worried American officials claim that Russia is trying to “do a Syria” in the country, supporting the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar in an attempt to control its main source of wealth.

The fighting between Haftar’s forces and militias from western Libya is focused on Sidra, Libya’s biggest oil port, and nearby Ras Lanuf, its key refinery. Together they form the gateway to the vast Oil Crescent, a series of oilfields stretching hundreds of miles through the Sahara containing Africa’s largest reserves. Haftar’s forces have launched airstrikes against militias around the oil ports themselves, with social media showing pictures of corpses and burning vehicles. No casualty figures have yet been released.

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Malcolm Turnbull pushes for ban on unvaccinated children at childcare centres

PM to take ‘no jab, no play’ policy that would also ban unvaccinated children from preschools to Coag meeting

Unvaccinated children would be banned from childcare centres and preschools across the country under a push by the federal government.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has written to state and territory leaders in a move towards introducing nationally consistent laws to protect children across Australia. He says he will take the policy to the next Council of Australian Governments (Coag) meeting.

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UK could have taken 100 child refugees a week, says charity

The chief executive of Tact Care, the UK’s largest fostering charity, said the Home Office repeatedly declined his offers to help


The Home Office turned down repeated offers from fostering agencies that would have allowed up to 100 child refugees a week to be given sanctuary in Britain, according to the chief executive of the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity.

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Western Australian election: Mark McGowan declares victory for Labor after record-breaking swings

ALP on track to double its representatives in state parliament as swings of up to 20% recorded in outer-suburban Perth seats

Mark McGowan has declared victory in Western Australia as record-breaking swings put the Labor party on track to double its representatives in state parliament.

Swings of up to 20% were recorded in outer-suburban seats in Perth, while swings of more than 11% were recorded in 14 previously Liberal-held seats – securing a Labor 34 seats in the 59-seat parliament.

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Pauline Hanson likens Colin Barnett to spoiled milk that should have been thrown out

One Nation leader blames former WA premier for result, saying he should have quit or been removed before election

Pauline Hanson has likened Colin Barnett to spoiled milk that should have been thrown out after One Nation fared worse in the Western Australian election than she expected, blaming the result on the party’s preference deal with the Liberals.

Early results indicate the party failed to secure a lower-house seat despite intense campaigning. But it did secure at least one upper house seat, which was the objective of the preference deal, with state leader Colin Tincknell claiming the South West.

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Malala Yousafzai receives offer to study at UK university

The 19-year-old Nobel prize winner did not reveal which institution had offered her a conditional place during a Birmingham talk


Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai has told an education conference that she has received an offer to study at a UK university.

The 19-year-old student, who is currently preparing for her A-Levels, told the auditorium that she had received an offer, conditional of achieving three As, to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE).

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Top New York prosecutor refuses Jeff Sessions’ request to resign – reports

Preet Bharara made announcement after attorney general Jeff Sessions told US attorneys, nearly all appointed by Obama, they should resign from their posts

Preet Bharara, the powerful Manhattan prosecutor who was among 46 US attorneys asked to step down late Friday, has refused to tender his resignation, according to reports citing unnamed associates of the attorney.

On Friday afternoon, attorney general Jeff Sessions told the prosecutors, nearly all appointed by Barack Obama, that they should resign from their posts. The overhaul of US attorneys is standard practice for a new administration, though some presidents do so in phases. Bharara, 48, met with Trump late last year, however, and told reporters afterward that he had “agreed to stay on”.

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Adele fan suffers cardiac arrest during Sydney concert

Fans said the singer ‘seemed really tearful’ after paramedics took the 47-year-old fan to the hospital


Adele was forced to temporarily halt a concert in Sydney after a fan suffered a cardiac arrest.

Footage of Friday night’s concert at the ANZ Stadium filmed by fans attending the Australian leg of her tour shows the singer becoming concerned when medics arrived to attend to a woman in the audience.

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