US commander in Afghanistan requests several thousand new troops

Gen John Nicholson says he’s facing a shortfall of troops necessary for training Afghan forces and warns about increasing support from Russia for Taliban

The commander of the US war in Afghanistan has requested several thousand new troops for America’s longest-ever conflict to break what he described as a stalemate.

In the first indication of the future course of the 15-year-old war under Donald Trump, army Gen John Nicholson told a Senate panel that he was facing a shortfall of troops necessary for training Afghan forces to ultimately replace their US and Nato counterparts.

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Soldier jailed for attempted murder of estranged wife’s lover

John Watson sentenced to 16 years for forcing former friend into car and trying to wrap clingfilm around his face

A soldier has been jailed for 16 years for kidnapping and attempting to murder a friend and fellow member of the armed services who had begun seeing his estranged wife.

John Watson, 35, ambushed James Dicks, a member of the Household Cavalry, as he left the woman’s home in Windsor in May last year. He secured Dicks’ hands with cable ties, forced him into his car, tried to wrap clingfilm around his face and attacked him with a knife.

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G4S to take over welfare support for families facing deportation

Home Office expected to announce controversial contractor will provide services rather than Barnardo’s charity

The private security company G4S is to take over from a children’s charity the contract to provide welfare support to detained families facing deportation, the Home Office is expected to announce on Friday.

The Home Office has privately insisted that the much-criticised private security company can provide the “same key aspects of welfare support to families” as have been delivered by the current providers, Barnardo’s.

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Romanian justice minister resigns after major anti-corruption protests

Plan to decriminalise offences and issue jail pardons prompted hundreds of thousands of Romanians to take to the streets


Romania’s justice minister has resigned following the largest street protests in the country since the fall of communism in 1989.

Florin Iordache was one of the architects of an emergency ordinance passed by the government on 31 January that would have decriminalised some official misconduct offences.

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Arriva Rail North staff to consider strike action over role of train guards

RMT to ballot members over issue which has already caused long-running dispute with Southern Railway

Disputes over the role of train guards are set to spread to another rail company after a new strike ballot was announced.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said it was in dispute with Arriva Rail North, which runs the Northern franchise, and its members will vote on whether to take action.

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Saddleworth Moor mystery man changed name after family feud

David Lytton was formerly called David Lautenberg and he is survived by his mother and younger brother

The original identity of the man who was found dead on Saddleworth Moor, sparking a 13-month police investigation, can now be revealed.

The Guardian has learned that David Lytton, who flew back to England from Pakistan and lay down on the ground to die at a remote beauty spot, was formerly called David Lautenberg. It is understood he changed his name due to a family feud.

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Cancer drug prices must come down, say leading research institutes

Top UK and US scientists say high cost for medicines is indefensible as they propose cheaper way to develop them

The high price of new cancer drugs is indefensible and unsustainable, say two of the world’s leading cancer research institutions, who propose a different way to develop them that could sideline big pharma.

“There is a clear and urgent necessity to lower cancer drug prices to keep lifesaving drugs available and affordable to patients,” say leading scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where many important new cancer drugs have been invented, in a paper in the journal Cell.

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Cancer drug prices must come down, say leading research institutes

Top UK and US scientists say high cost for medicines is indefensible as they propose cheaper way to develop them

The high price of new cancer drugs is indefensible and unsustainable, say two of the world’s leading cancer research institutions, who propose a different way to develop them that could sideline big pharma.

“There is a clear and urgent necessity to lower cancer drug prices to keep lifesaving drugs available and affordable to patients,” say leading scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where many important new cancer drugs have been invented, in a paper in the journal Cell.

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London garden bridge case weaker now than in 2014 – Treasury official

Letter to public accounts committee chair appears to signal ebbing of government support for controversial Thames project

The economic case for London’s proposed garden bridge is weaker than it was in 2014 when £60m of public money was committed to it, the Treasury has said.

Signalling that government support for the controversial project may be in decline, a letter from the Treasury’s top civil servant said the overall case for supporting it even then was “finely balanced and subject to an unusually high level of uncertainty”.

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Stopping the Dubs scheme for child refugees is cruel and heartless | Stella Creasy

If the government doesn’t rethink this decision some of the most helpless, vulnerable children in the world will pay a heavy price for indifference

Less than a year ago, parliament passed the Dubs amendment with support across all political parties. Proudly we agreed that Britain should take its fair share of unaccompanied child refugees. Throughout the debates the number repeatedly mentioned was 3,000 – a fraction of the estimated 95,000 unaccompanied children in Europe seeking asylum. Now the government has announced they will cap this at 350 – shamefully claiming this is in the spirit of the amendment. Little wonder that Lord Dubs – himself a beneficiary of the Kindertransport programme in the 1930s to help children fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany – is rightly furious at such a betrayal.

Little wonder that on Wednesday the government attempted to hide the closure of this scheme by slipping out the details on the day of the Brexit vote in a written statement. Forced to come to parliament to explain herself by Yvette Cooper’s urgent question today, the home secretary angrily stated that the French government had asked for this scheme to end because it created a “pull” factor.

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Paolo Gentiloni: Rome and London must reassure citizens living abroad – video

The Italian Prime Minister says on Thursday that Rome and London must reassure Italian citizens living in the UK as well as British citizens living in Italy that their acquired rights will be respected. Paolo Gentiloni was talking to reporters in London, after talks with his counterpart, Theresa May. Gentiloni also reiterated Italy’s commitment to a multi-speed future for the European Union, in which there will be different levels of integration

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Two men in Scarlett Keeling murder case in India face court again

Men acquitted of murder of British teenager in 2008 will go back to court after India’s CBI announced an appeal

The two men acquitted of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling in 2008 are set to return to the courts after India’s Central Bureau of Investigation made a surprise announcement that it is appealing the judgment.

Samson d’Souza and Placido Carvalho were alleged to have plied Scarlett with drugs, raped her and left her unconscious on a beach in Goa, where she subsequently drowned. They were acquitted of charges of rape and culpable homicide at Goa children’s court in September last year.

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Labour has to listen to the nation – that’s why I voted for article 50 | Diane Abbott

My constituency is passionately pro-remain, but the Labour party could not ignore the referendum result. We will continue to fight for a good deal

In the decades that I have been an MP, it has often felt that importance and relevance have ebbed away from the chamber of the House of Commons. But the atmosphere last night, when we voted to trigger article 50 and begin the process of Britain leaving the EU, was electric. It genuinely felt like a momentous occasion.

The amazing Gina Miller fought hard, endured terrible abuse in order to assert the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. And some people will believe that parliament not only failed Miller but failed in its duty by not voting down Brexit. Many of those people are in my own constituency of Hackney North. Hackney is one of the most passionately pro-remain areas in London, itself a city that voted in favour of remaining in the EU. I received more than 1,500 letters arguing the pro-remain case, the most that I can remember on any subject.

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More than 100 reported killed in Brazil as police strike continues for sixth day

Police union reports 101 homicides, more than six times state’s average daily rate last year, despite army and federal police deployment in Espirito Santo

More than 100 people have been reported killed, with schools and businesses closed and public transportation at a standstill, as a six-day strike by police in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo showed no signs of abating on Thursday.

Chaos and anarchy spurred by the strike continued in the coastal state to the north of Rio de Janeiro, despite the deployment of 1,200 army soldiers and federal police and the promise that more help was on its way.

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The church’s strategy on protecting the child is designed to protect itself | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

The bishops are in denial that there is a connection between the caning of young men and a theology of the atonement

It was towards the end of the bishop of Guildford’s statement that the main purpose of his press conference appeared to become clear. Rt Rev Andrew Watson said he had been “drawn into the Smyth circle” on elite Christian holiday camps, and beaten by him once. It was “violent, excruciating and shocking”. But – and here comes the key bit – “absolutely nothing that happened in the Smyth shed was the natural fruit of any Christian theology that I have come across”. That, of course, is what the evangelicals are most afraid of: people making a connection between their theology and John Smyth’s beating of the children in his care. Yet the connection is obvious – and at the very core of the evangelical story: that God the father violently punishes his son for the salvation of the human race. To reference Isaiah: “He was whipped so we could be healed.”

Related: C of E bishop: I was given 'excruciating' beating by John Smyth

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Man claiming damages from Candy brothers accused of ‘serial dishonesty’

High court told that Mark Holyoake gave misleading account of how much he was worth in order to borrow £12m to develop luxury flats

Mark Holyoake, the businessman claiming £132m in damages from property tycoons Christian and Nicholas Candy, has been accused of dishonesty and fraud at London’s high court.

The legal battle began in earnest this week after a year of pre-trial clashes. Lawyers hired by Holyoake have delved into the Candys’ financial affairs, leading to accusations of tax evasion.

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