Turnbull assures 18C critics parliament a ‘house of freedom’ and debate welcome

PM says Australia should never be afraid ‘of looking at the balance between protecting people from race hate speech and freedom of speech’

Malcolm Turnbull has given comfort to rightwing supporters of overhauling 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, saying the government should not be afraid of debate, because the parliament is a “house of freedom”.

Turnbull told the ABC on Thursday the government’s response to a new report from parliament’s human rights committee was a matter for cabinet and the Coalition party room, but he said free speech was a principle that should not be taken for granted.

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NHS finances facing ‘nasty hangover’ after bid to avert winter crisis

Outsourcing work to private sector has dealt big blow to NHS trusts’ efforts to balance books, King’s Fund says

The NHS’s already precarious finances are facing a “nasty hangover” after hospitals cancelled tens of thousands of operations recently in a bid to avert a full-blown winter crisis, experts have said.

Handing large numbers of operations over to private providers and hiring extra staff to cope with extra demand during December and January has also dealt a big blow to NHS trusts’ efforts to balance their books, the King’s Fund said.

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UK must stand up to Trump over sanctions on Russia, say MPs

Any moves by the US to ease pressure on Putin over Ukraine should be challenged, says foreign affairs committee

The UK must brace itself to stage “uncomfortable conversations” with its closest ally, the United States, to ensure the west maintains a principled stance on sanctions against Russia, the all-party foreign affairs select committee has found in a new report on Anglo-Russian relations.

Donald Trump hinted in January that he would be willing to lift sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its intervention in Ukraine, in exchange for agreement on nuclear arms reduction. But the committee said that any reduction in pressure on Russia would “constitute an abrogation of the international community’s responsibility toward Ukraine and would embolden Russia in its efforts to dictate the terms on which it engages with the west”.

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Watchdog says police cuts have left force in ‘perilous state’

Government austerity blamed in report, which shows stretched forces downgrading calls and leaving suspects at large

Policing in England and Wales is in a “potentially perilous state” as government cuts lead to investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects remaining at large, a watchdog has warned.

In a report on effectiveness in policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices that have arisen out of police forces’ approach to dealing with budget cuts in excess of 20%.

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NHS finances facing ‘nasty hangover’ after bid to avert winter crisis

Outsourcing work to private sector has dealt big blow to NHS trusts’ efforts to balance books, King’s Fund says

The NHS’s already precarious finances are facing a “nasty hangover” after hospitals cancelled tens of thousands of operations recently in a bid to avert a full-blown winter crisis, experts have said.

Handing large numbers of operations over to private providers and hiring extra staff to cope with extra demand during December and January has also dealt a big blow to NHS trusts’ efforts to balance their books, the King’s Fund said.

Related: NHS intensive care 'at its limits' because of staff shortages

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Only $20m in existing funds found to pay for Mexico wall, document says

Construction for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall hit a financial roadblock over low ‘existing funds and resources’ in the homeland security department

Donald Trump’s promise to use existing funds to begin immediate construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border has hit a financial roadblock, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Related: Trump signs order to begin Mexico border wall in immigration crackdown

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Major effort needed to make cannabis use less harmful, say scientists

As more countries relax their laws and with drug potency rising, it is crucial to take steps to reduce harm from cannabis use, researchers say

Scientists are calling for a major effort to make cannabis use less harmful as a rising number of countries look to replace long-standing and outright bans on the drug with more relaxed legislation.

A number of countries and US states have softened laws around cannabis use against a backdrop of rising drug potency and an apparent increase in the number of people in treatment for cannabis-related problems.

Related: What are the true risks of taking cannabis?

Related: Say Why To Drugs – the highs and lows of cannabis

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Dreamer detained by Ice agents while in process of Daca status renewal

Immigration officials arrested Daniela Vargas, whose father and brother are also in custody, after she delivered a speech for undocumented migrants’ rights

A young woman applying for the renewal of her Daca status was arrested and detained by immigration agents in Jackson, Mississippi on Wednesday, shortly after she addressed a press conference in support of undocumented migrants’ rights.

Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old who came to the US as a seven-year-old child from Cordoba, Argentina, had told the rally how she dreamed of returning to college and becoming a math teacher, according to her attorneys.

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