The Crossing review – Bai Xue’s slowburn gem delivers the goods

This feature debut about a schoolgirl coerced into small-time smuggling is all the more powerful for shunning high drama

With this elegantly elliptical arthouse movie, Bai Xue announces herself as a cool, confident observer of a new generation of Chinese youth. There are echoes of Sofia Coppola in Bai’s directing debut, a coming-of-age story inspired by real-life criminal gangs in Hong Kong who recruit schoolkids to smuggle mobile phones into mainland China. It’s a wisp of film that never quite gathers speed or force but it gets under your skin, capturing the impulsiveness and impatience of teenagers. Others may find it a little flat or frustrating.

Huang Yao is shy 16-year-old Peipei, who’s frantically saving up for a holiday in Japan with her rich best friend Jo (Carmen Soup). Peipei commutes daily between her home in the Chinese city Shenzhen and school in Hong Kong. To make a little extra money she smuggles for a gang. It begins harmlessly enough, slipping a couple of iPhones wrapped in cling film into her school bag. If stopped by officials at the airport-style security on the metro, she can reasonably claim the phones are for personal use. As Peipei slips between worlds, Bai changes up the camera style, from handheld in busy Hong Kong to still compositions in Shenzhen.

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Brazil’s former president Michel Temer arrested in corruption investigation

Temer arrested as part of Operation Car Wash, which led to the convictions of numerous members of Brazil’s political elite

Brazil’s former president Michel Temer – who played a key role in the 2016 impeachment of his rival Dilma Rousseff – has been arrested by federal police, according to local media.

The G1 news portal reported that Temer was arrested in São Paulo on Thursday morning as part of Operation Car Wash, the country’s largest ever corruption investigation, which led to the convictions of numerous members of Brazil’s political elite.

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Kachin women from Myanmar ‘raped until they get pregnant’ in China

Women from Kachin minority are allowed to go home only if they leave baby behind, says HRW report

Burmese and Chinese authorities are turning a blind eye to a growing trade in women from Myanmar’s Kachin minority, who are taken across the border, sold as wives to Chinese men and raped until they become pregnant, a report claims.

Some of the women are allowed to return home after they have given birth, but are forced to leave their children, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, titled Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go.

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Cyclone Idai witness describes seeing hundreds of bodies by roadside

Stranded motorist tells of encountering scenes of ‘total devastation and death’

A man who walked through an area of Mozambique’s flood-hit countryside in the wake of Cyclone Idai has said he saw hundreds of bodies by the side of the road, describing scenes of “devastation and destruction”.

Graham Taylor was trying to drive home from the ravaged port city of Beira eastward to Chimoio on Saturday, two days after the cyclone made landfall. Stranded in the floods, he abandoned his car and walked more than 15 miles (25km) from the village of Lamego to Nhamatanda early on Monday morning.

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UN to explore wave of deaths linked to food aid porridge in Uganda

World Food Programme halts distribution of fortified cereal as four people die and hundreds suffer suspected food poisoning

The World Food Programme and Ugandan government have launched an investigation into deaths linked with the distribution of fortified porridge to refugees and people suffering from malnourishment.

The health ministry was alerted to reports of possible food poisoning among people who had consumed Super Cereal, a blended food designed to prevent malnutrition, in the north-east region of Karamoja on 12 March.

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500 years in 59 seconds: the race to be the world’s largest city

Fascinating interactive graphic shows changes in the globe’s 10 most populous cities from 1500 to 2018

This compelling interactive “bar chart race” shows the top 10 most populous cities in the world from 1500 to 2018.

“In the early 1500s most people lived in the east, either the east of Europe and north Africa or the east of the world itself in India and China,” says John Burn-Murdoch, who created the interactive for the Financial Times.

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Trump to sign order to protect free speech on college campuses – live news

Advisers to Joe Biden are reportedly debating tapping Stacey Abrams as a vice presidential pick when Biden announces his 2020 campaign

A number of prominent conservative writers have issued a statement arguing that Republicans cannot return to traditional American conservativism after Trump.

The statement published in First Things, a Christian conservative publication, argues that conservative consensus did too much promote “individual autonomy” at the expense of traditional values.

There is no returning to the pre-Trump conservative consensus that collapsed in 2016. Any attempt to revive the failed conservative consensus that preceded Trump would be misguided and harmful to the right.

We give credit where it is due: Consensus conservatism played a heroic role in defeating Communism in the last century, by promoting prosperity at home and the expansion of a rules-based international order. At its best, the old consensus defended the natural rights of Americans and the “transcendent dignity of the human person, as the visible image of the invisible God” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus) against the depredations of totalitarian regimes.

In a statement, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced that his presidential campaign will offset all carbon emissions it produces. The effort comes as Democratic presidential candidates increasingly try to sell themselves as environmentally friendly.

In an effort to balance out the carbon emissions produced by travel activities associated with both himself and his staff, Sanders is partnering with NativeEnergy, a Vermont-based leader in emissions reduction project investments, to support renewable energy projects and invest in carbon reduction projects. Bernie 2020 will also offset event venue and attendee-related emissions.

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Climate change could make insurance too expensive for most people – report

Munich Re, world’s largest reinsurance firm, warns premium rises could become social issue

Insurers have warned that climate change could make cover for ordinary people unaffordable after the world’s largest reinsurance firm blamed global warming for $24bn (£18bn) of losses in the Californian wildfires.

Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s chief climatologist, told the Guardian that the costs could soon be widely felt, with premium rises already under discussion with clients holding asset concentrations in vulnerable parts of the state.

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The Journey review – supreme acting elevates a humane hostage drama

Zahraa Ghandour is mesmerising as a would-be suicide bomber in Mohamed Al-Daradji’s smart, sympathetic ensemble piece

It’s the first night of Eid, in 2006, and a young woman named Sara (Zahraa Ghandour) steps into the newly reopened Baghdad Central Station, with explosives strapped to her body and an detonator switch in her shaking hand. Time seems to stand still, fade to white, loop backwards and start over.

Sara enters the station again, and perhaps what we’re seeing now is her in a part of the multiverse where a moment’s hesitation affords her a chance to understand exactly who would be hurt if she pressed the button, what’s at stake and what her own motives are. A chance encounter with low-level grifter Salam (Ameer Ali Jabarah) forces Sara to take him hostage. Salam tries to persuade Sara not to trigger the bomb, appealing to a deadened sense of humanity that is slowly reawakened as she gets to know the other characters teeming around the station forecourt. These include a homeless brother and sister selling flowers and trying to stay clear of the tougher, meaner street kids; a desperate woman with a baby; a musician and his estranged wife; and a grieving father.

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Anti-immigration populists surge in fragmented Dutch elections

FvD party on course to win 12 seats in provincial elections for upper house of parliament

An anti-immigration populist party has won the most votes in elections for the upper house of parliament in the Netherlands, days after a shooting in Utrecht, robbing the governing coalition of its majority and forcing it to seek new alliances on the left.

In a further fragmentation of Dutch politics, the Forum for Democracy (FvD) party of Thierry Baudet, a flamboyant former academic and columnist, is on course to win 12 seats in an upper house containing a record 12 parties, none with more than 12 seats.

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Thousands attend vigil in Dunedin for victims of Christchurch attack

Mixed emotions in city where gunman who killed 50 lived for two years

More than 18,000 people have attended a candlelit vigil for victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack in the New Zealand city of Dunedin, where the gunman lived for two years.

Many of those in attendance at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, which is usually used for games of rugby and rock concerts, were students, who have been a constant presence outside the city’s sole mosque since last Friday, laying flowers and leaving notes of condolence.

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Juan Guaidó claims Venezuelan agents arrested his chief of staff

Venezuelan opposition leader said in a tweet Roberto Marrero was ‘kidnapped’ before dawn

The Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, has said intelligence agents arrested his chief of staff after a pre-dawn raid, signalling that President Nicolás Maduro may be cracking down on the opposition’s challenge to his rule.

Guaidó invoked the constitution in January to assume the interim presidency after declaring Maduro’s 2018 re-election a fraud, and he has been recognised by dozens of western nations as the country’s legitimate leader.

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Aaron Campbell jailed for life for murder of Alesha MacPhail

Campbell’s lawyer tells court he has admitted responsibility for killing six-year-old for first time

Aaron Campbell, the 16-year-old who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 27 years.

Before the sentencing at the high court in Glasgow on Thursday morning – which was being livestreamed for what was believed to be the first time in the UK – Aaron Campbell’s lawyer told the court he had admitted responsibility for the abduction, rape and murder of the schoolgirl during interviews for reports by a criminal justice social worker and a clinical psychologist.

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