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Pope Francis’s screen debut in a narrative feature film gets its first official showing on Wednesday night at the Vatican, before the film’s Christmas release.
Starring as himself, the head of the Catholic church has a cameo role in Beyond the Sun, an evangelical story about children searching for God. He is expected to attend the screening. A copy of the film has already been sent to him.
All the film’s proceeds will go to charities for disadvantaged children in Argentina, the country of the 80-year-old pontiff’s birth.
The film’s producers include Andrea Iervolino, an Italian-born Hollywood film-maker. He told the Guardian that, for devout Catholics like himself, the pope is “God on Earth” and filming him was an overwhelming experience.
He said: “We make eight to 10 movies every year with big movie stars … This is not just a movie. This is something special.”
Iervolino made his first film aged 15 with the help of his local church, which lent him costumes, a horse and a filming location. “Now I have the opportunity to do a movie with a special appearance of the pope for charity. For me, this is the most important thing that I can do with my life,” he said.
The pope is on screen, in the middle of the film and again at the end, for about six minutes.
The film shows him as a “man of the people”, Iervolino said. He appears in a scene with the children, urging them to talk to Jesus and to read the gospels.
He tells them: “Don’t think of [the gospels] as a huge book … The gospels are small. But you have to read them slowly, bit by bit. And you should be with someone who can explain whatever you don’t understand.
“I recommend people who are adults to always carry a small gospel with them in their pockets, in the woman’s purse, because – on the subway or on the bus, or waiting at the doctor’s, who knows – you can read a little. Or you keep it at home.”
He continues: “Speak to Jesus … Tell him what’s happening to you. What happened today. Tell him the things you saw and you disliked, or in the school or out in the streets, or in your family … Jesus is waiting for you, and he is looking for you, and you don’t realise … Look for him, and that’s how you will find each other. Dare to do it.”
The footage was shot in a single take, and the pope’s part was unscripted. “He did his own speech,” Iervolino said. “We only explained to him the story and the compass. He’s not an actor. He’s himself. So he’s real, which is important.”
Setting up the shoot, including arranging the cameras within the Vatican amid extensive security, took about a day. But filming the footage of the pope was done quickly.
Afterwards, the pope’s parting words to Iervolino and the crew were: “Please pray for me.”
Iervolino said: “We’re doing this for charity. He’s doing this to help. This is very special thing. He’s an amazing man. This is another way to help the world.”
Iervolino has produced, funded and distributed more than 60 feature films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino. In partnership with Monika Bacardi, he founded AMBI Group, which develops, produces and distributes films worldwide, from comedies to thrillers. Forthcoming productions include an animated family epic, Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, with John Cleese and Alec Baldwin.
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Theresa May has asked EU countries to agree to a two-year Brexit transition during which the UK would continue to enjoy unfettered access to the single market.
The prime minister said her government would accept EU rules during that period including allowing EU citizens to live and work in Britain, accepting European laws and meeting financial obligations.
However, she insisted that such an agreement would be “strictly time-limited”, as she repeated her call at Lancaster House for European partners to offer Britain a bespoke Brexit deal that would amount to a trading relationship closer than any that currently exists with other non-EU countries.
“One way of approaching this question is to put forward a stark and unimaginative choice between two models: either something based on European Economic Area membership, or a traditional free trade agreement, such as that the EU has recently negotiated with Canada,” she said.
“I don’t believe either of these options would be best for the UK or best for the European Union.”
Downing Street made clear that any payments would stop after the transition period. May attempted to break the deadlock in negotiations by calling for a treaty to oversee a future security relationship, saying the UK was “unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security”.
And she improved the offer governing European citizens living in the UK.
May argued that EEA membership would mean accepting rules without influence or votes, which would inflict a “loss of democratic control” that she said British voters would not accept.
She added that the Canada-EU deal was the most advanced that had been carried out, but added: “Compared with what exists between Britain and the EU today, it would nevertheless represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit neither of our economies.”
The question of an EEA-style model versus that held by Canada has become a key debate between Brexiters on May’s backbenches and those fighting for a softer exit.
Some suggested that May’s speech, which comes after a week of infighting triggered by Boris Johnson’s decision to publish his own 4,200-word vision of Brexit, leant towards a closer relationship, as favoured by the Treasury and the chancellor, Philip Hammond.
However, the foreign secretary was quick to respond by telling journalists he was “very happy” with the speech, and tweeting:
May said she recognised that Brexit was a “distraction” from the work that European countries wanted to focus on, but added: “We have to get this right.”
She said that the UK would “cease to be a member of the European Union on 29 March 2019”, losing its place at the European Council table, and in the Council of Ministers, and no longer having MEPs.
“But the fact is that, at that point, neither the UK – nor the EU and its member states – will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek,” she said, claiming the EU could not legally conclude an agreement with the UK until it becomes an external partner.
She said that EU citizens arriving during the transition period would benefit from free movement, although they would be asked to register in preparation for a future immigration system. Sources pointed out that registration already exists in EU countries such as Belgium.
Jeremy Corbyn said it sounded as if the prime minister had listened to the Labour party, which has a policy of remaining within the single market and in a customs union for a limited period.
But he added: “Fifteen months after the EU referendum the government is still no clearer about what our long-term relationship with the EU will look like.”
He said Theresa May and her cabinet were “spending more time negotiating with each other rather than with the EU”, and repeated his claim that the Tories were trying to use Brexit to deregulate and cut taxes.
Charlie Elphicke – the pro-Brexit Dover MP – called it a “hugely optimistic and forward-looking speech” that set out a “powerful vision” of an outward-looking Britain.
“The prime minister’s positive tone was exactly right to set out the case for a deal where both the UK and Europe win. However it takes two sides to strike a deal. The behaviour of Brussels remains a serious concern – which is why we must be prepared for every eventuality. That means the UK must be ready on day one – deal or no deal.”
But Neil Carmichael, a fiercely pro-EU Tory who lost his seat in the 2017 general election, argued that much more work needed to be done if Britain was to enter into transition and suggested that a two-year period might not be enough.
“The business community is getting worried now. I think it needs a longer period. This is a postponement – and the continued lack of clarity on the final deal is still a big problem,” he said.
At least 21 children and four adults have died at the Enrique Rebsámen elementary school, the public education undersecretary has confirmed.
Elevent children have been rescued, but Animal Politico said at least 28 were still missing.
Part of the school – which reports have said was four storeys high – collapsed during the earthquake, trapping students and employees inside.
A short time ago the Mexican president visited the Enrique Rebsámen school, where a building collapsed.
Enrique Peña Nieto met with parents who told him their children are still missing.
Also in Mexico City, the Technologico de Monterrey, one of the country’s most prominent private universities, has reported the death of one student and injuries to 40 others at its city campus.
The death toll has been revised again, with 149 people confirmed to have been killed in the earthquake.
Head of the Mexican civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente, gave the update a short time ago.
Puente said 55 people had been killed in Morelos, 49 in Mexico City, 32 in Puebla state, 10 in the state of Mexico and three in the coastal state of Guerrero.
President Enrique Pena Nieto had ordered hospitals to treat all injured regardless of health coverage.
AT&T has freed up its phone and data services to allow people to contact each other at no cost.
The seismological agency also said there had been 11 aftershocks following the quake, with the largest at a magnitude of 4.
The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has expressed his sympathy for Mexico.
Former US president Barack Obama also offered his condolences.
Earlier, US president Donald Trump, and a number of Latin American leaders offered their support to the country now facing a long recovery from two fatal earthquakes.
There are varying reports that children have been killed after part of an elementary school in Mexico City collapsed.
Rescue efforts are underway to free children trapped in the rubble at the Enrique Rebsamen school. According to reports some have already been rescued but others are still missing. I’ll bring you more details when I can confirm it.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, says he is saddened by the loss of life and damage resulting from the earthquake in Mexico.
In a statement Guterres extended his condolences to the government and people of Mexico and wishes those injured a speedy recovery.
The earthquake appears to have triggered an eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano.
In Atzitzihuacan on the slopes of the volcano, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla Governor Jose Antonio Gali said.
Popocatépetl is an active volcano in the states of Puebla, Mexico, and Morelos. It is Mexico’s most active volcano, previously erupting as recently as July this year.
The USGS has given an “orange alert”, warning of “significant” shaking-related fatalities of up to about 1,000 people are likely.
It has issued a “red alert” for the earthquake’s likely economic impact.
“Extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Mexico. Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response.”
At least one man has been rescued from a collapsed seven-story factory. He told rescuers there were still people trapped inside.
As night falls in Mexico and rescuers continue to look for survivors, the civil defence agency has raised the confirmed number of earthquake fatalities to 139.
Luis Felipe Puente, the head of the agency, said the highest death toll was in the state of Morelas, where at least 64 people have died.
Another 36 deaths have been reported in Mexico City, at least nine in neighbouring Mexico state, and 29 in the state of Puebla to the south.
Reuters reported one death was also reported in the state of Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico, which Puente did not include in his count.
David Agren reports from Mexico City:
Mexicans in the Condesa neighbourhood brought buckets and formed lines to carry away rubble from a badly damaged building. Many arrived in work clothes, anxious to pitch in. Others arrived with bottles of water and pop to refresh the volunteers. Still more made sandwiches to feed them, while others donated masks to prevent dust inhalation.
The outpouring of solidarity was reminiscent of how many ordinary Mexicans heroically helped out after the 1985 quake – although back then the government’s response was lacking and people were forced to fend for themselves.
Volunteers were working as dusk fell on an eerily calm Mexico City, and they put out calls for portable lighting.
There are reports of about 100 people trapped in a collapsed textile factory. I’ll bring more details as I get them.
Associated Press has filed this report on people still trapped in rubble.
The federal interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said authorities had reports of people possibly still being trapped in collapsed buildings. He said search efforts were slow because of the fragility of rubble.
“It has to be done very carefully,” he said. And “time is against us.”
At one site, reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble. Rescuers immediately called for silence so they could listen for others who might be trapped.
Mariana Morales, a 26-year-old nutritionist, was one of many who spontaneously participated in rescue efforts.
She wore a paper face mask and her hands were still dusty from having joined a rescue brigade to clear rubble from a building that fell in a cloud of dust before her eyes, about 15 minutes after the quake.
Morales said she was in a taxi when the quake struck, and she got out and sat on a sidewalk to try to recover from the scare. Then, just a few yards away, the three-story building fell.
A dust-covered Carlos Mendoza, 30, said that he and other volunteers had been able to pull two people alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building after three hours of effort.
“We saw this and came to help,” he said. “It’s ugly, very ugly.”
Mexican-American film director, Guillermo del Toro has called for internet and phone companies to make their services free for people.
Mexico-based journalist, Andrea Noel, reports hundreds of people have already opened their wifi for others.
Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, who said he was flying to Oaxaca when the earthquake hit but immediately returned to Mexico City, has declared Mexican emergency services are available to the whole affected population. He has ordered the evacuation of damaged hospitals, transferring patients to others nearby.
Miguel Ángel Mancera, the governor of Mexico City, has declared an emergency to release support services.
The public works government department said there had been no damage to public works and freeways were open – a claim quickly questioned by incredulous residents.
Mexico City MetroBus said many services have resumed but people have been asked to keep lanes clear for emergency services.
US President Donald Trump has offered his support to Mexico following the earthquake.
The US and Mexico – as well as their neighbours in the Caribbean – have suffered a string of natural disasters in recent weeks and despite diplomatic hostilities between Trump and Mexican leaders, there have been offers of assistance.
Mexico had offered aid to the US in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but last week said it had to withdraw its offer because it needed to focus its resources on the Mexican recovery from its deadly earthquake a week prior.
The president of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, said his country stands ready to provide whatever assistance is required.
A Mexican news agency is among the many posting shocking footage of the earthquake’s aftermath, including collapsed buildings and destroyed roads.
The hospitals have begun receiving the injured, and people have been urged to keep the streets clear for emergency services.
There are many reports of people coming to the aid of their neighbours, searching for survivors in the rubble before emergency services have reached sites.
The death toll is sadly rising swiftly.
Authorities are now reporting at least 119 dead, including 30 in Mexico City, 54 in Morelas, and 11 in Puebla state.
Bordering the capital, in the state of Mexico, governor Alfredo del Mazo said at least nine people had lost their lives there.
It is the deadliest earthquake since the one which hit Mexico City in 1985 which killed thousands, exactly 32 years ago today.
Just two weeks ago 90 people died in an earthquake in the south of the country.
“The building swayed like a hammock,” said Guillermo Salazar, a construction foreman, whose crew was working on a half-finished apartment block.
Everyone escaped the structure unscathed. Salazar credited the earthquake drill two hours earlier with preventing a chaotic situation.
“It was helpful. Everyone knew what to do,” he said.
In the years since the 1985 earthquake, a culture of prevention has been promoted by the local government. Building codes were also tightened.
Salazar expressed mixed opinions on the city’s efforts.
“The building regulations are good. The problem is the inspectors,” he said. “They still come around asking for (bribe) money.”
The death toll has risen to 94, with at least 30 dead in Mexico City alone.
Between 50 and 60 people have been pulled alive from rubble, according to Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, who said at least 44 buildings collapsed.
Reporter Nina Lakhani has described “total chaos” where she is in Mexico City.
Lakhani said huge buildings had collapsed in La Condesa, and the army had arrived.
“This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. “[It’s] total chaos.”
Lakhani said the building pictured below was seven floors high.
“No one has been rescued yet. Authorities took so long to arrive so hundreds of people were trying to get the rubble out with spades and hands and shopping trollies.”
Videos are emerging of the earthquake and its aftermath, with buildings collapsing across the region and rescuers rushing to free people form the rubble.
At least 79 people have been killed in a powerful earthquake in Mexico, with the death toll expected to rise.
The Mexican government did not break down the locations of the deaths, but said they included Mexico City and the states of Morelos, Puebla and Mexico.
The 7.1 magnitude quake hit southern Mexico on Tuesday, 8km southeast of Atencingo in the state of Puebla at a depth of 51km, according to the US Geological Survey.
Buildings collapsed, trapping people, and work remains underway across the region to free them.
“Mexico City marked the anniversary of the 1985 disaster with an earthquake drill – just 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to a real quake striking,” Guardian journalist, David Agren, reported.
“Cars were crushed, sirens wailed and plumes of dust rose high into the air. Swathes of the city were left without electricity.”
“There was no alarm. The building just shook,” said David Carbajal, who works from his apartment. “The building usually shakes when trucks pass by. But this was much more violent.”
Stay with us for updates as the situation develops.
This image from the GOES16 weather satellite shows Maria bearing down on St Croix, in the US Virgin Islands.
The island of Vieques is then next in its path, before the hurricane is forecast to smack into Puerto Rico, seen here in the green outer band to the north-west of the eye.
Ross University school of medicine, which is in Dominica, says it is is still working to account for its students – more than 80% of whom are US citizens, with close to 10% from Canada – after Maria swept the island.
But many relatives and friends outside Dominica say the hotline number provided is unavailable and they have been unable to make contact with the school or students.
The university building itself is reportedly built to withstand category 5 hurricanes, but most students live off-campus.
Maria is intensifying. With wind speeds now up to 175mph (280km/h) and barometric pressure down to 909hPa, it is now one of the most intense hurricanes in Atlantic history:
It is currently almost 9pm in the US Virgin Islands, where Hurricane Maria is expected to hit around midnight.
The hurricane was expected to pass near St Croix, the part of the US Virgin Islands that escaped the brunt of Irma. St Croix is home to about 55,000 year-round residents, roughly half of the entire territory’s population.
US Virgin Islands governor Kenneth Mapp warned residents of St Croix that they would feel the brunt of the hurricane’s winds around midnight. St Thomas and St John, to the north of St Croix, were not likely to suffer a direct hit, he said.
Mapp warned that police and military troops would be pulled off the streets well before the storm’s arrival, meaning that rescue would be unavailable to anyone out in the winds. He told residents in an afternoon broadcast:
If you’ve identified a spot, a closet, a corner on the inside of your home and you have some breach in your roof, one of the things you can do is take a mattress or something and have it as a barrier to make sure that you’re safe.”
Many USVI residents fled to shelters around midday on Tuesday. Mapp urged islanders to focus on saving themselves:
You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart. The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.”
US airlines said on Tuesday they would cap one-way fares at $99 to $384 to aid evacuations. Maria was predicted to be the worst storm to hit St Croix since Hugo, a category 4 storm, in 1989.
Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, which is expected to be struck by Hurricane Maria within the next 24 hours, says more than 4,000 people – and 100 pets – have already sought refuge in official emergency shelters:
‘Significant damage’ seen in Dominica
The first reconnaissance flights over Dominica reveal “significant damage”, according to Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency.
Rogelio Sierra Díaz, Cuba’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, has also offered support for Dominica as the island begins to assess the damage wrought by Maria:
At least six dead in Dominica – reports
News from Dominica – which took the full brunt of Maria’s category five winds and rain on Monday night – has been very slow to arrive.
So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.
Antigua’s Daily Observer says there are unconfirmed reports from Dominica of at least six deaths. The Guardian has not been able to verify these reports, and it could be some time before the true picture emerges.
Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his country was ready to help Dominica. Barbuda was obliterated by Hurricane Irma barely two weeks ago, with most of its residents now evacuated to Antigua.
The government and people of Antigua and Barbuda stands in solidarity with the government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica during this time of need.
We express our deep sorrow at the loss of life and property resulting from the passage of Hurricane Maria over the island. We stand ready to lend support to our brothers and sisters in Dominica.
Current hurricane warnings
A hurricane warning means residents should expect hurricane conditions and make immediate preparations to protect life.
Warnings are currently in place for the following islands:
US Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques
Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
This is Claire Phipps picking up our live coverage as Hurricane Maria continues to barrel its way across the Caribbean.
The latest advisory from the US National Hurricane Center, at 8pm local time, warns that the category 5 hurricane is moving closer to St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Maria is currently about 60 miles (100km) south-east of the island, with winds of 175mph (280km/h).
The NHC urges:
Preparations against life-threatening storm surge and rainfall flooding and destructive winds should be rushed to completion.
Journalist Norbert Figueroa, reporting on the ground in San Juan, has an update on the potentially devastating impacts to Puerto Rico’s infrastructure:
Puerto Rico’s struggling and decaying power and telecommunications infrastructures are expected to be some of the most affected by this hurricane. It’s possible all communications and power networks could collapse at some point on Wednesday.
The island has about 1,600 telecommunication towers, but most of them are located inland and at high altitudes in the mountains – where the hurricane eye is expected to have a direct impact. There is concern that most of these towers were built over 20 years ago and were designed to withstand up to 130 mph winds, short of the expected wind speed across the island.
Telecommunication towers erected in the past five years were designed to sustain 165 mph winds, but as of 7pm, Maria had increased its sustained winds to 175 mph, which presents an imminent threat to the entire communications system in the island.
Over 1m residents lost power as Hurricane Irma battered the island earlier this month, even though the hurricane didn’t hit the island directly. As of Monday, 46,401 still had no power and 9,756 had no potable water. Due to the severity and direct impact of Maria, the government is advising locals to prepare for the possibility of being without power for months and without water for several days.
Puerto Rico will need billions in federal aid after Hurricane Maria, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
Existing fiscal challenges combined with the devastation of both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria means Puerto Rico will be in a very difficult position financially, the paper reports:
The island’s utility provider filed for a form of bankruptcy in July, and two months later Hurricane Irma passed just north of San Juan, knocking out power to nearly 1 million people and causing an estimated $1 billion in damage. With thousands still without power, Hurricane Maria is approaching…
The Puerto Rican government, which sought bankruptcy relief in exchange for supervised fiscal belt-tightening in May, will need federal assistance to recover from Maria and Irma. Repairing and replacing power lines and stations throughout the territory after Maria will likely cost billions, though the island doesn’t have any voting power in Congress.”
NHC: Maria ‘still strengthening’
The National Hurricane Center’s latest update says that as of 7pm local time, Maria remains a category 5 hurricane that is “extremely dangerous” and “still strengthening”.
Officials report that the maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph (280 km/h).
In the eastern portion of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, a wind gust of 63 mph was recently reported, according to the NHC.
Hundreds evacuate in Puerto Rico
Reporter Norbert Figueroa has an update from the ground in Puerto Rico, where evacuations and hurricane preparation continue:
In San Juan, the wind is slowly incrementing, but it’s still not sustained. Rain is also intermittent but becoming more recurrent as time passes.
Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, has repeatedly insisted that people take shelter and prioritize life over property:
We are going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico and we’ll have to rebuild. But that’s secondary to life.”
“We are very worried because it is the first time we’re experiencing such a strong hurricane,” said Consuelo Quezada, a resident of Carolina, which is expected to be hit by the eyewall around Wednesday at noon. “I’m anxious, but I hope to God that it’ll all be alright in the end.”
One major concern is that there are fallen trees and a lot of debris still laying around from Hurricane Irma, which battered Puerto Rico just over a week ago. Those are potential projectiles that could cause injuries or damage property.
In Piñones, just 15 miles east of San Juan, it’s been reported that the sea has already receded some 65 feet from the shore.
Most businesses ceased their operations as of 5pm, just hours from the expected sustained tropical storm winds. But even at that hour, people were still filling up their gas tanks and buying whatever necessities they could get before everything shut down.
As of 6pm, only 373 evacuees had registered in the over 500 shelters across the island – a small fraction of the people living in flood-prone areas expected to take shelter during the storm. The shelters have a combined capacity of over 66,000 people and up to 133,000 in cases of urgency.
Puerto Rico warns of ‘total collapse of energy system’
The Puerto Rico governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is now warning of a “total collapse of the energy system in Puerto Rico”. He told National Public Radio that Maria will cause significantly more damage than Hurricane Irma:
Here is recent footage of the San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, giving an emotional interview from a shelter:
I’m scared for the people I’m responsible for. And I’m scared that when we come out of here, the devastation and the loss of lives would be great. So I’m just scared for my people.”
She added: “The electrical infrastructure in Puerto Rico was very weakened before Hurricane Irma came. We’re looking at about four months of no electricity.”
Asked about federal support, the mayor said: “At least the communication channel has been opened, and we have felt like at least somebody is listening on the other side of the ocean.”
Hurricane center forecasters have said it “now appears likely” that Maria will still be at category 5 intensity when it moves over the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the AP.
The center of the storm was forecast to move over or near the US Virgin Island of St Croix and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday, leading to “life-threatening” floods.
Maria is expected to produce rain accumulations through Thursday of 10 to 15 inches in the US and British Virgin Islands; 12 to 18 inches in Puerto Rico; 10 to 15 inches in central and southern Leeward Islands; 2 to 4 inches in the Windward Islands and Barbados; and 4 to 8 inches in eastern Dominican Republic.
San Juan braces for the storm
Reporter Daniel Cassady provided this update from San Juan earlier this afternoon as Maria continued to edge closer:
The capital city of Puerto Rico seemed calm this afternoon. In the morning, there was a sense of urgency on the road, and the few people who were out on the street were securing their windows with plywood or corrugated steel. From Guaynabo to Old San Juan, most businesses, with the exception of grocery stores and gas stations, were closed.
There were small lines outside ATM machines, and most gas stations had a few customers filling up portable tanks and topping off their cars and trucks. Grocery stores had few gallons of water left, if any at all.
Officials have asked residents near the coast to evacuate, including in La Perla, a small neighborhood in Old San Juan that sits directly on the waterfront. Those closest to the water have mostly left, but some have decided to stay in their homes, board up the windows and sit out the impending storm.
The temperature dropped and thick grey clouds started gathering later in the afternoon.
Damage in French Caribbean islands
France’s interior minister has reported that at least 150,000 homes have lost electricity after Maria passed over two French Caribbean islands. In Guadeloupe, 80,000 households were without power and in Martinique, 70,000 were affected, according to the Associated Press report on Gerard Collomb’s remarks in Paris late Tuesday.
Here is earlier footage from Guadeloupe:
The full extent of the damage is still to be determined. In Martinique, three were injured, including one seriously, according to Collomb. He warned that Maria was still passing through St Martin and St Barts islands, French territories still recovering from the extreme damage of Hurricane Irma.
Amazon has unveiled a new, improved and cheaper large-screen Fire HD 10 Android tablet, now featuring hands-free Alexa integration, a much better screen and longer battery life.
The 2017 Fire HD 10 continues Amazon’s recent moves in tablets, cutting prices, adding features and increasing the durability of its line that is aimed squarely at media consumption rather than content creation or work. The company’s £50 Fire 7 and £80 Fire HD 8 have both become popular thanks to being low cost but feature rich.
Eric Saarnio, head of Amazon devices in the EU, said: “We’ve really worked hard to deliver a tablet from the ground up that’s perfect for entertainment.
“We’re growing year-on-year in tablet sales because we think we’ve landed on a winning formula, which is a combination of premium tablets at non-premium prices, focusing on entertainment and delivering tablets that the whole family can enjoy. The Fire HD 10 is our latest addition to the family.”
The new Fire 10 HD has a much improved new 10.1in full HD screen, as well as Dolby Atmos stereo speakers and a greater amount of storage by default, despite costing £20 less than its predecessor at £150. It also has twice the amount of memory and a 30% faster processor, which Amazon says should provide improved performance over 2015 Fire HD 10, which was found to be lacklustre in certain respects.
The 2017 Fire HD 10 will also last longer between charges, with an additional two hours battery life over the previous generation bringing the total to 10 hours of “mixed use” according to Amazon, and still has a microSD card slot for adding more storage if 32 or 64GB is not enough.
The tablet also comes with a new and improved version of Amazon’s Fire OS, which includes deeper integration with the company’s popular Alexa virtual assistant and smarter content suggestion based on watching habits.
Users can now activate on an always-listening mode for Alexa, instead of having to press and hold a button to talk to the virtual assistant, which can search for content on the device or through connected services, control playback and volume of media as well as answer questions and display results on the screen.
The Fire 10 HD stands in stark contrast to rival Apple’s iPads, which recently saw a price increase. Amazon hopes to undercut Apple and other tablet manufacturers, in some cases by as much as half the cost, for a tablet that offers a lot for the money, a formula that means the company is one of very few to increase tablet sales.
Whether an extra two inches of diagonal screen size is worth an extra £70 over Amazon’s 8in tablet remains to be seen, but the Amazon Fire HD 10 is one of very few 10in Android tablets and has few mainstream rivals costing under £150.
Half a mile from the White House, where Hillary Clinton expected to return in January, she slouched into an olive green arm chair for another round of what she has likened to “therapy”.
Had it not been for her stunning loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 election, she would be taking her place this week with world leaders at the United Nations general assembly. Instead, Clinton was speaking at the Warner Theatre at the start of a 15-city book tour to promote What Happened, a 469-page memoir that dissects her doomed presidential campaign.
As Trump, the first president with no previous political or military experience, sat around a table with US allies in Manhattan, the former secretary of state pointedly refused to say if she preferred her former opponent to Vladimir Putin.
“I have to take that under advisement,” she said when asked to choose between Trump and the Russian president, before stating matter-of-factly: “I ran against both of them.”
The crowd erupted into supportive applause, as it did several times when Clinton skewered Russian interference in the election – a cloud that has loomed over Washington amid investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
While discussing the hacking of emails of both the Democratic National Committee and her former campaign chairman, John Podesta, Clinton declared: “I hate the word ‘hacked’. They were stolen – they were stolen by the Russians.”
Tickets for Clinton’s event sold out within a matter of minutes, bringing the theater to its full capacity of 1,847 seats amid chandeliers, ornate gold panels and velvet curtains.
Loyal supporters were in a jubilant mood as they lined up more than an hour before the event’s start time. Many were the young women who had pinned their hopes on Clinton at long last breaking what she referred to, in her 2008 concession speech, as “that highest, hardest glass ceiling”.
One young woman at the lobby bar, who donned a Clinton campaign shirt that read “A woman’s place is in the White House”, said: “I think I’ll order a prosecco. This is a celebration.”
Clinton entered the room to a standing ovation from the audience, which included some of her campaign staff. She smiled broadly and waved. The event was the biggest ever sponsored by the local Politics and Prose bookstore, whose co-owner Lissa Muscatine served as Clinton’s chief speechwriter at the state department and the White House.
Friendly in its overall tone, the discussion centered on many of the thematic elements of Clinton’s book, from the proliferation of fake news and Russia to sexism and the media’s focus on style over substance.
“I ended up not censoring my thoughts,” Clinton said. “I will admit I censored some of my original language.”
As with Clinton’s book, the mood wavered from light-hearted to serious, blending candid confessions from the campaign trail with lessons learned “to make sure that ‘what happened’ doesn’t happen again”.
“If we don’t get people to vote … we’re not going to turn this around,” Clinton said, while advising the Democratic party to embrace a platform of “both economic justice and social justice”.
“I don’t buy this false dichotomy: you can only be for the economy [or] you can only be for civil rights.”
Clinton has previously criticized her top rival in the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders, for making unrealistic economic promises. She made no reference to Sanders on Monday night, but when Muscatine mentioned his name, some members of the audience booed and hissed.
Clinton also reflected on the extent to which misogyny swayed the election, a topic she largely avoided as a candidate but has been far more vocal about since her defeat in November.
Republicans “just have a hard time thinking about a woman in the White House”, she said, while noting success made men more likable but by contrast made women more unlikable.
“When a woman runs, she has to work extra hard to convince other women she can do the job she is running for,” Clinton said.
Expressing concern that Trump’s victory had given rise to bigotry and prejudice, Clinton urged the audience to “be the kind of rebuke to those that want to divide us and undermine us”.
“I view this book as much about resilience as running for president,” she said. “It’s critical that people have a sustained commitment to taking our country back.”
The US capital, where Clinton won more than 90% of the vote, was always guaranteed to offer a warm welcome. Danielle Guessford, 28, a government contractor, said afterwards: “She’s awesome, still trying to fight and stand up for what’s right.”
Asked if Clinton should run again in 2020, Guessford replied: “Of course. But I’d like Barack Obama even better.”
Forecasts expect Hurricane Maria to hit Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
On Monday, Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s public safety commissioner, told residents in homes not built to withstand such intense winds to move to shelters:
You have to evacuate. Otherwise you’re going to die. I don’t know how to make this any clearer.
Rationing has been introduced in the US territory – still recovering from Hurricane Irma – with water, milk, formula milk, canned food, batteries and flashlights all in short supply.
Radio station Wice QFM, based in Domica’s capital, Roseau, still appears to be broadcasting. There is a live link here.
One caller to the station has been describing “killer winds”.
The host says there has been “constant, constant … pounding rain”.
Dominica’s DBS radio station had been broadcasting news as the hurricane swirled across the island, reporting damage to the roof of the Princess Margaret hospital in the capital, Roseau.
Shortly after reporting that something had crashed into the station building, DBS has now gone quiet.
The eye of the hurricane crosses the centre of Dominica – with more strong winds and rainfall to come as the eastern eyewall makes its way across the island:
Guadeloupe residents ordered to take shelter
While Dominica takes the full force of Hurricane Maria, other islands have already been raked by its outer winds and rains, with yet others still preparing for its arrival, Agence France-Presse reports:
Guadeloupe – the bridgehead for aid for Irma-hit French territories – ordered all residents to take shelter in a maximum-level “violet alert” effective from 8pm local time as powerful rains drenched the French Caribbean island.
St Kitts and Nevis, the British island of Montserrat, and the islands of Culebra and Vieques were also on alert.
On Martinique, which is also part of France, energy supplier EDF said power had been cut off from 16,000 homes, although a hurricane warning on that island was later downgraded to a tropical storm.
In rain-lashed St Lucia, which also faced a tropical storm warning, flooding, mudslides and power outages were reported in parts of the island.
Two years ago, in August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika hit Dominica, killing 31 people and destroying more than 370 homes. Many towns were cut off as roads were blocked and power was lost in what was at that point the most devastating storm to lash Dominica since Hurricane David in 1979.
Erika had wind speeds of a maximum 50mph (85kmh) – much less than Maria’s 160mph (260kmh).
In 2015, prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said damage from Erika could set the island’s development back two decades.
Jackson says disaster plans are also being put into place for St Kitts and Nevis “as a precaution”.
Ronald Jackson, director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency, says:
CARICOM [Caribbean Community] Disaster Relief United being readied for deployment to Dominica at earliest opportunity.
Rapid needs and damage assessment teams [are] being readied for deployment to Dominica
I fear this is going to be a long September. One to be remembered.
In Guadeloupe – which could be the next island to feel Maria’s full force – winds have already picked up speed and the rains are intensifying:
As Maria approached, Agence France-Presse reported on the islanders making preparations for the catastrophic storm:
Residents flocked to supermarkets to stock up on essentials as island officials warned people living in low-lying areas or along rivers to move to high ground.
“Just ready to ride out storm at best. With a little prayer on the side,” said school teacher Leandra Lander.
Lander collected water, charged her electronic devices and ensured her important documents were safe. “My work place is secured and so is my home,” she said.
The island’s airport and ports have been closed, and the local water company shut down its systems to protect its intake valves from debris churned up by the storm.
The government opened all the island’s shelters.
Dominican prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit warned residents to be especially cautious.
“Let us take it seriously and use the time that we have to prepare ourselves adequately,” he told a news conference.
Many islanders still remember the massive destruction and death caused by David, another category five hurricane that struck in 1979.
Business owners could be seen boarding up their properties earlier in the day, as they prepared to ride out this storm.
The Trinidad and Tobago weather centre, citing local radio, says the roofs of many buildings “have already been torn off and severe damage has occurred” across Dominica.
The tiny outline overlapped by the eye of Hurricane Maria is Dominica – it has now been swallowed up by the storm’s eyewall, with winds of 160mph (260kph) as it lashes the island.
Dominica’s prime minister now says he has been rescued – from his roofless home:
Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, has posted on his official Facebook page that his “roof is gone” and he is “at the complete mercy of the hurricane”:
Around 70,000 people live in Dominica, the first island struck by Hurricane Maria.
Chamberlain Emanuel, head of the environment commission at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, warned before landfall:
It’s really a desperate situation.
We’re trying to be resilient but the vulnerability is just too high.
The US National Hurricane Center forecast predicts that Maria will head west-north-west from Dominica, with islands in its path – Guadeloupe, Montserrat and St Kitts & Nevis most immediately – bracing for winds of up to 160mph (260kph):
On the forecast track, the core of Maria will move near Dominica and the adjacent Leeward Islands during the next few hours [Tuesday evening], over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea the remainder of tonight and Tuesday, and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Even before Hurricane Maria arrived in full force on Dominica – at around 9pm Monday local time (01.00 Tuesday GMT) – tropical storm-force winds were felling trees and damaging buildings across the island:
The following islands – some of them still in the early stages of recovery from Hurricane Irma – are currently on hurricane warnings:
St Kitts and Nevis
US Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques
The latest update from the US National Hurricane Center warned that Maria has become a “potentially catastrophic category five hurricane … The eye and intense inner core is nearing Dominica”.
The eyewall has now barrelled into Dominica’s eastern coast, crossing towards the island’s capital, Roseau, on the south-west side.
Hurricane Maria makes landfall
Hurricane Maria – which over the course of barely 50 hours has intensified from a tropical storm to a category five hurricane – has hit Dominica, in the eastern Caribbean.
The island was spared the wrath of Hurricane Irma, but now faces devastation as it is raked by winds of 160mph (260kph).
Maria is expected to cross Dominica and adjacent islands over the next few hours, before heading towards Puerto Rico and the British and US Virgin Islands.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, MLA and Media Incharge, All India Congress Committee charged that a “sense of betrayal and treachery has marked the three years of BJP rule for India’s and Haryana’s youth, yearning for a job and place in the society to contribute.”
Interacting with the media here, he further asserted that the BJP Governments at Centre and in Haryana “usurped power by misleading the youth with false promises of a bright future.”
“Modi ji promised two crore new jobs every year. And the Khattar Government in Haryana promised employment to every youth of Haryana and a monthly unemployment allowance of Rs.6,000/Rs.9,000 to those who would not get a job.”
Mr.Surjewala pointed out that after three years, Haryana’s youth find themselves at a crossroad with no hope of livelihood or employment and with the future looking bleak in Khattar regime’s rule. “Malfeasance, fraud, and corruption in jobs have reached a nadir. In this entire web of deception and treachery, the Khattar Government projects itself to be sometimes helpless (when it is incapable and incompetent) and at other times, there appears to be a complicity of the ruling dispensation.”
Mere 7,886 recruitments made by Khattar Government in three years as 20,000 terminated
In three years, the Haryana Government could recruit a pittance of 7,886 jobs through Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) and Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) (1,160 jobs through HPSC and 6,726 jobs through HSSC), which is a glaring example of grave injustice done to Haryana’s youth.
As against this, nearly 20,000 youth have either been sacked or given a notice of termination of services, he added. Services of 3,581 Guest TGT teachers were terminated, but Supreme Court granted stay to them. 3,500 Guest JBT teachers have been put on notice to be sacked, out of which 100 teachers from Panipat and Yamuna Nagar Districts have already been terminated. 2,300 Computer Teachers and 2,622 Computer Lab Assistants, whose services were terminated twice, have been taken back in July, 2017 after a prolonged agitation. Services of about 1,500 employees working in NHM and NRHM were also terminated. In addition, 5,000 daily wage/temporary employees working in PWD, Public Health Engineering, Irrigation, Forests and Food & Supplies departments have also been terminated.
“Truth is that Khattar Government is attacking the livelihood and employment of the youth,” he alleged.
Khattar Sarkar has become “Paper Leak Sarkar”
Corruption and scams, both in education and employment, is an everyday affair. Future of youth has been put under a dark cloud of uncertainty on account of the multiple Paper Leak Scams committed in HPSC, HSSC, Police Recruitments, HBSE, HTET, AIPMT, NEET and so on.
Mr.Surjewala claimed that as many as 13 paper leak scams have been exposed. These include – (1) All India PMT Paper Leak Scam (May 2015) involving an embezzlement of Rs.100 crore; (2) HBSE Plus 2 English Paper Leak Scam (March 2015); (3) HTET Paper Leak Scam (November 2015); (4) Kendriya Vidyalaya Primary Teacher Paper Leak Scam (October, 2015 – Rewari); (5) Clerk Recruitment Paper Leak Scam (December 2016) in which name of a Panipat-based School belonging to a BJP leader has been found to be involved; (6) Excise Inspector Recruitment Scam (December 2016); (7) HBSE 9th Class Hindi Paper Leak Scam (March 2017); (8) NEET Paper Leak Scam (May 2017); (9) B. Pharmacy Paper Leak Scam (July 2017); (10) HCS (Judicial) Paper Leak Scam (July 2017); (11) Agriculture Inspector Recruitment Scam (July 2017); (12) Conductor Recruitments Paper Leak Scam (September 2017) and (13) Assistant Professor, College Cadre Paper Leak Scam (February 2017).
“Thus, the credibility of the entire Khattar Government is under a cloud. Malfeasance, frauds, and corruption reached the highest level of administration with the kingpins of paper leak scams roaming scot-free. The BJP regime, which came to power with the promise of transparency, has betrayed Haryana’s youth.”
Not a surprise but a deserved win for the unusual starry series that rewarded a set of female actors with some fantastic roles. Witherspoon and Kidman are sharing the mic. “It’s been an incredible year for women, bring women to the front of stories,” Witherspoon says.
“More great roles for women, please,” Kidman implores and the success of the show indicates that many more will surely be on the way.
WINNER: Black Mirror: San Junipero – television movie
Two nominations and two wins for the 80s-set episode of Black Mirror that saw two women fall in love in a specially created universe. Charlie Brooker talks about 2017 being referred to as a Black Mirror episode but says that “love will defeat hate” which was a key message of this particular episode.
WINNER: Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) – lead actress in a limited series or movie
This was quite the star-stuffed category and Kidman beat out Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. It’s the first Emmy for the Oscar winner and edges her closer to an EGOT. She talks about the issue of domestic violence and defines it as “insidious” and mentions the importance of shining a light on victims.
It’s been a big night for the show and will likely push HBO to seek out more starry limited series (as mentioned, the Amy Adams-starring Sharp Objects is coming next).
WINNER: Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) – lead actor in a limited series or movie
A much deserved win here for the British star of the HBO adaptation of the BBC crime drama. He beat out Robert De Niro and Ewan McGregor for the award. He calls the production a “crazy long ride” before thanking a long list of those involved with the show, including James Gandolfini, who was originally set to star before his death.
He’s taking time to talk about the importance of recognizing injustice in the justice system and he also managed to give a shout-out to Oprah.
This is a bit true:
WINNER: Veep – comedy series
So the signs were leading up to a win for Atlanta but HBO’s much-awarded comedy has picked up one of the big awards of the night. It’s always deserved, given its consistently high hit-rate for jokes, and it makes for a nice lead-in for the show’s final season.
The entire cast is up on stage and there’s a shout out for the show’s creator Armando Iannucci, who has now left the team. There’s also a joke about the Trump White House being one of the year’s best comedies.
WINNER: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) – lead actress in a comedy series
Okay now for some predictability, not that it’s undeserved but it’s become a long-running joke that the star of HBO’s political satire will win this award. She now holds the record for the actor who has won the most awards playing the same character.
She joked that they abandoned a storyline about impeachment as they worried that someone else would get to it first. With only one season left, there’s chance for Ellie Kemper yet!
WINNER: Donald Glover (Atlanta) – lead actor in a comedy series
And this is another big win for the surrealist comedy that deserves some love. Glover, who has already won tonight for directing, is a charming, awkward speech-giver and he has said that Trump is the reason he’s up there for making black people “number one on the most oppressed list”.
It’s a surprise not to see Jeffrey Tambor winning this award for once and nice to see an actual comedy win in this category. Can Atlanta win best comedy series as well?
Some of us aren’t quite ready to welcome back Sean Spicer – the guy who lied and shilled for president Trump for five months – but according to these backstage photos, a few Hollywood celebrities certainly are! Ergh, do it for the Instagram?
There’s a lot of love on Twitter for Lena Waithe, who has become the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series, including from Ava DuVernay and Roxane Gay:
WINNER: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – variety talk series
Another deserved win for Oliver in a fiercely competitive category. “They got so wasted after last year’s awards ceremony,” he jokes about his team.
It’s the second award of the night for Oliver and it’s another one for HBO who have been winning a fair few for Big Little Lies.
WINNER: Don Roy King (Saturday Night Live)- directing for a variety series
Another win for SNL, one of the true success stories of the night. The stakes are super high for the return of the series next week and King gave a short, sweet and witty speech.
Alas, Stephen Colbert’s full opening monologue, with biting references to Trump, the usual awards show host drollery and a great dig at fellow late-nighter Bill Maher.
Viola Davis has arrived to introduce the sad part of the night, remembering those we have lost in the past year. Names include Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bill Paxton, Roger Moore, Powers Boothe, Adam West, John Heard and Roger Ailes.
WINNER: Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror) – writing for a limited series or movie
A fan favorite here – the glorious San Junipero episode – has been rewarded. Brooker’s fantastic script deserves the kudos and he’s rather surprised and awed to be up there.
It’s also a reminder that the next season of Black Mirror is almost upon us.
WINNER: Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale) – directing for a drama series
Another well-deserved win here for The Handmaid’s Tale and if anything deserves an Emmy, it’s the stark, cinematic direction from Morano who is also the youngest member of the American Cinematographer’s Association.
It’s a cracking night for diversity behind the scenes and The Handmaid’s Tale is currently looking like the one to beat.
Our profile of Ann Dowd, an extremely well-deserved winner this evening for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale as a horrifying theocrat with a cattle prod! She also seemed shocked to win the award, which was a welcome moment of genuine surprise in an otherwise unsurprising show so far.
Note to the Emmy voters: Dowd also starred as cult leader Patti Levin in The Leftovers, but we’ll take what we can get.
WINNER: The Voice – reality competition program
While all other singing shows have crumbled, The Voice remains a big ratings winner here in the US so it makes sense for this one to win out here. It’s an earnest speech about what a family everyone working on the show is part of or something. With American Idol coming back, maybe its time on the top is coming to an end?
WINNER: Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe (Master of None) – writing for a comedy series
Huzzah. This is a well-deserved win for the greatest episode of the most recent season, the Thanksgiving one that is. Waithe is also the first black woman to ever win in this category and received a small standing ovation.
She’s given special thanks to the LGBTQIA community for wearing invisible capes every day and going to work, despite the difficulties often faced. Anna Chlumsky was very teary. Maybe because Veep didn’t win though.
There’s a montage of diversity on TV, both in front of and behind the camera. It’s a bit back-slapping but it’s still rare to see an awards show that takes time away from the endless stream of announcements to celebrate inclusion.
This new Emmys-premiering Netflix ad, teasing some of their big new comedian specials, is a bit good.
WINNER: Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) – supporting actress in a drama series
This is a shock! But a good one! Damn they played You Don’t Own Me again though.
She is really surprised to be here after seven nominations and no win. Dowd is in tears and incredibly moved to be winning at this stage of her career. It’s an earnest speech and the way she says Hulu is spellbinding (HOOLOO).
It’s a good night for new shows with The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies both cleaning up so far.
Alexander Skarsgård, a winner for best supporting actor in a limited series, plants one on his Big Little Lies co-star Nicole Kidman on his way to the stage.
WINNER: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – outstanding variety for a writing series
This is much-deserved, given the show’s ability to inform as well as amuse over the last year. Oliver is up on stage saying that it’s been a hard year, not an easy one as many seem to think it is, for comedy writers.
He’s thanked Oprah because she’s sitting there and it would be rude not to.
Another skit! RuPaul has showed up to play Emmy, the actual Emmy holding up the award, and is gossiping about other awards. Emmy and Oscar used to date or something. Tony is gay.
“If you win, own it, share it, love it. When you get up on stage don’t say how heavy I am because that is just plain rude.”
As mentioned …
WINNER: Alexander Skarsgård – supporting actor in a movie or limited series
Right, well quite a set of hosts for this award. It’s a reunion for the cast of Nine to Five which has allowed for one hell of a Trump joke and some smutty jokes from Dolly Parton. Which is always fun.
It’s a big night for Big Little Lies! That’s the third win now for the show and a deserved one for an actor who transformed into a vile abusive husband for the mystery drama.
WINNER: Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) – best directing in a movie or limited series
“I thank you girls for making me look good like this,” the director of the HBO hit says to the big stars that have propelled the show to great heights. The director, who was also behind Wild and Dallas Buyers Club, is also returning to the network with an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects set to star Amy Adams.
More on Spicer’s surprising and, per the Twitterati, not terribly well-received appearance…
Bloom’s number is actually just an intro for the accountants from Ernst & Young which is actually a rather funny touch for what can often be an incredibly dull part of the show. It’s over already and I wanted more. I hate TV.
Colbert’s musical number might not have been a complete win BUT Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom has just teased a number that’s to come which is genuinely exciting news. She is funny and can actually sing properly too.
Also, that Gucci news from earlier has now had a slight clarification from Bloom:
Anna Chlumsky, mouth agape, channeling our collective shock at Sean Spicer’s surprise Emmy appearance with one expression:
WINNER: Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live) – supporting actor in a comedy series
Ahhh yeah well this is no surprise and mostly deserved if a bit, ahem, one-note. “I suppose I should say at long last, Mr. President, this is your Emmy” Baldwin quips as he accepts the award.
Its the third Emmy for Baldwin. It’s quite a nice speech about the importance of arts at the moment which is easy to ridicule but given the current climate, also worth adding.
WINNER: Bruce Miller (The Handmaid’s Tale) – writer for a drama series
This is a nice surprise although “You Don’t Own Me” is a strangely fun choice of song to introduce him. Those feisty handmaids huh!
It’s interesting to see an adaptation win and Miller had taken time to thank Margaret Atwood as well as star Elisabeth Moss who leaves him “speechless”. It’s quite a telling early victory for the freshman show and might suggest more to come.
There’s a Westworld skit now which has Jeffrey Wright programming Colbert. “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” Wright asks. “Every day since November 8th,” Colbert replies.
Worth noting that Donald Glover is the first black person to ever win an Emmy for outstanding directing in comedy.
Here’s why you should be watching Atlanta:
WINNER: Saturday Night Live – variety sketch series
Well in its most successful year ever, this was always going to happen. The show itself has been nominated for more Emmys than any other show in history.
Lorne Michaels is up there bigging up what an insane year it’s been. It’s a short speech but a welcome reward for a comedy series that has a lot to live up to when it returns next week.
WINNER: Donald Glover (Atlanta) – directing in a comedy series
Ah this is a nice victory for a show that deserves all the awards it can get. The brains behind the surrealist FX comedy is looking dapper in a plum suit and his speech is short but sweet, full of thanks for everyone around.
Hopefully that show will have the power to unseat some of the more established comedies later on…
Colbert’s song-and-dance intro featured cameos from a bunch of television heavyweights – The Americans’ Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, in Russian spy-guise – but also Chance the Rapper:
WINNER: Laura Dern (Big Little Lies) – supporting actress in a limited series or movie
Well this might be the first of many awards for Big Little Lies and Laura Dern was arguably the finest performer in the HBO breakout hit so it’s well-deserved. She joked that she has been acting since she was 12 but has only worked with about 12 women.
She thanked the mothers of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon for raising them well and forcing them to read well. It’s quite the year for Dern with a role in Twin Peaks and a forthcoming appearance in the new Star Wars movie. More Big Little Lies awards to come I think…
WINNER: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) – supporting actress in a comedy series
It’s the second year in a row that McKinnon has won this award and playing Hillary Clinton for the past year has surely helped her get the top again. She’s emotional and genuinely surprised, saying this season was the most meaningful thing she has ever done so might just stop now.
She thanked Clinton for her elegance and grace just as the music cut her off. Nice!
WINNER: John Lithgow (The Crown) – outstanding supporting actor in a drama series
Not a great surprise here but given that he lost out on a Golden Globe, this is a nice victory nonetheless. “So many of you are my friends and former cast mates,” he says to the other nominees, that include Jeffrey Wright and David Harbour.
He’s mainly thanking Winston Churchill for showing us what courage and leadership in government really looks like. Lithgow might be the second actor in a year to win for playing Churchill as Gary Oldman is an early favourite for the Oscar for playing him in Darkest Hour.
SEAN SPICER HAS ARRIVED. “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys ever,” he jokes. Melissa McCarthy is embarrassed and so are we. Bad and weird choice of cameo.
His opening monologue has begun, something he knows how to do rather well. He’s started by thanking first responders and anyone who has helped with rebuilding and helping anyone affected by the hurricane.
Aaaaand here come the Trump jokes. He said that given how much TV the president watches, he’s probably tuning in right now and he is looking forward to the tweets. He swiftly moved onto a jab about Ted Cruz’s porn tweet, which is fair.
There’s a lot of back-slapping for Netflix and some rather tired jokes about how many streaming networks are out there at the moment. “Remember broadcast, the TV OG?” he joked.
He’s now chatting about diversity and claims that for the third year in a row, it’s the most diverse set of nominees in Emmys history, which is worth some applause. Oof, he’s now gone for Bill Maher and claiming he must be black because he’s so comfortable using the N-word.
Trump is the biggest star of the past year, Colbert said. Oh and Alec Baldwin. Colbert is ribbing Trump for never winning an Emmy, saying that if he had won an Emmy, he would have never run for president. “Unlike the presidency, the Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote,” he joked.
It’s started. Colbert is skitting it up with Anthony Anderson, ridiculing that he’s yet another white man to present the Emmys. Allison Janney is also here joking that HBO is “bringing back the confederacy”.
Oh and HERE’S A SONG. The three are now doing a bit about how awful the world is but there’s a fun message about how TV is an escape from the depression of reality. Colbert is selling it like a pro.
It’s cameos aplenty with the This is Us and Stranger Things casts cropping up. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the cast of The Americans have all appeared to make some jabs at Trump.
Chance the Rapper is also here which doesn’t make a lot of sense but he’s very welcome. This is probably the first rapping CBS viewers have heard since Will Smith was a thing.
Not too sure about the decision to get sexy Handmaid’s Tale dancers on stage, given that the show is about women being oppressed and raped. But hey, other than that, not too bad as an opener.
Is Nicole Kidman, heavily favored to put the “E” in EGOT for her role in Big Little Lies, wearing mismatched shoes this evening? Inquiring minds want to know.
If you really want to compete with your friends at home, if you even have friends, then here’s your ful list of nominees. The words “this” and “is” and “us” crop up a lot.
Security is being beefed up this year, as is often the case with most awards ceremonies at the moment, and in a piece on Variety the firm behind keeping it all safe has spoken about the importance of making things secure but also inviting.
Another report on Deadline quotes a police insider who claims that their presence will be “severely enhanced” after the terror attack in London earlier this week.
As Issa Rae – criminally deprived of a nomination for her work on Insecure – arrives on the red carpet, we’re re-upping this piece from July, when the Emmy nominations were first announced. Among the most egregiously snubbed this year: Insecure, Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, The Leftovers and its stars Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon and Girls, whose final season was one of its best.
So this is awkward but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom wanted Gucci to dress her but, well, they said no so she bought her own Gucci dress instead.
She claims they don’t make dresses her size and will likely be selling it online tomorrow…
Since there are so many damn Emmys to be given out, last weekend saw the Creative Arts Emmy awards. They were held over two nights and here were some of the notable winners:
Outstanding guest actor in a comedy series – Dave Chappelle on Saturday Night Live
Oustanding guest actress on a comedy series – Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live
Outstanding guest actor on a drama series – Gerald McRaney on This is Us
Outstanding guest actress on a drama series – Alexis Biedel on The Handmaid’s Tale
Outstanding narrator – Meryl Streep on Five Came Back
Outstanding casting for a comedy series – Veep
Outstanding casting for a drama series – Stranger Things
A big heap of stars have already arrived and if you enjoy gawping at what they are wearing then that is something you can do here!
Host Stephen Colbert has teased some singing and dancing in the opener and has promised a FREE BAR for the losers. Not that they can’t afford a beer or two anyway.
Given his daily evisceration of Trump on The Late Show, it’ll be interesting to see just how far he pushes it tonight. Here’s a totally not pushing anything at all promo:
Since it’ll be just after 8pm in Los Angeles when the Emmys finally end, the night’s honorees will have a bunch of afterparties to choose from once the awards broadcast is finished.
One is the AMC, BBC America, IFC afterparty, where stars from each of those networks will commiserate.
At the HBO reception, to be held at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center, cast members from Westworld, Veep, The Wizard of Lies, The Night Of and Big Little Lies will celebrate what could be a massive night for the network, which brought in 111 nominations in total.
The Governor’s Ball, a who’s who of Hollywood elite, will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center and begin at 8pm PST. It’s also the longest running Emmy’s afterparty of the bunch.
And finally, the Fox, FX, 20th Century Fox TV, Nat Geo afterparty will take place at Historic Core in downtown Los Angeles; that is, if there’s space for everyone, since the guests will be comprised of actors from This is Us, Atlanta, Feud: Bette and Joan, Fargo and The Americans – all shows that could be awarded mightily at tonight’s ceremony.
The gift bags for this years Emmys are also nothing to scoff at; according to Forbes, they include an all-inclusive three-night stay at the Canyon Ranch, a bottle of Ferrari-branded Trento wine, a gratis five-day stay with the Exclusive Traveler’s Club, a gift certificate to Benjamin Steakhouse Prime, a silk robe by Xiu Niang Silk, a limited edition Rick and Morty sweater and a slew of beauty products. Add to that the gilded Emmy statue and the rich keep getting richer.
Welcome welcome to the 69th primetime Emmys, the small screen Oscars if you will. It’s going to be a long night filled with fawning speeches, Trump jokes and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and you can keep up with all of the action right here.
Stephen Colbert is presenting, which should bring some sharpness to the event, while this year’s nominees are stacked with Emmy royalty as well as some young upstarts. Last year saw Game of Thrones sweep the board while the smart money this year is on Stranger Things, Westworld, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown.
It’s also set to be the starriest Emmys to date with Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Viola Davis, Kevin Spacey, Reese Witherspoon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert De Niro and Ewan McGregor all up for big prizes. In case you haven’t read a thinkpiece in the last year, TV is kind of a big deal right now yeah…
The red carpet is currently underway and the awards will kick off in about 45 minutes so stick with us
It sometimes seems that every car park, roundabout, back garden or park is smattered with Verbena bonariensis. It is not a “designer” plant any more – that ship sailed long ago – but it fits in effortlessly wherever it is added. So I guess I am advocating even more to please the butterflies.
V. bonariensis has captured our garden hearts because it can also thread together a scheme, add height without too much distraction, please pollinators and flower well into autumn. It will self-seed, particularly if you give it a free-draining substrate; it loves cracks in paving and gravel gardens. Although it’s a short-lived perennial, if the conditions are right, it will seed itself just as the parent plant is giving up the ghost.
However, if the winter is mild, the plants often go from sturdy lofty things to rather haphazard and shrubby as they resprout in spring. In a wilder space this might not be much of an issue, but in smaller spaces it needs to stand strong, otherwise it looks a mess.
The simplest way round this is to take cuttings. With the average container growing plant being about £4, it saves money, too. Cuttings taken now will require somewhere frost-free over winter, but it’s easy enough to house a dozen or so if the winter is brutal. My cuttings will spend their winter by my back door, the lee of the house being protection enough. If frost threatens, I’ll put a propagator lid and fleece over them.
Taking cuttings is simple. Choose a non-flowering shoot; often the best are side shoots that are 5-10cm long. Snip them off with secateurs or sharp scissors just below a set of leaves. Remove this lower set of leaves and insert the cutting into gritty compost around the edge of a pot. If you can offer bottom heat from an electric propagator, this will guarantee quick rooting, but it’s not necessary at this time of year; in a month, though, it’ll be more so.
When you see roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, it’s time to pot them individually. Keep them somewhere bright and protected, until you can plant them out next spring.
You can take cuttings of any verbena right now and there’s more on offer than just V. bonariensis. If all that height is not what you are looking for, try V. rigida, which reaches 30cm tall and looks similar to V. bonariensis but with more vibrant flowers. It works well on rooftops, in containers and on balconies, because it’s a tough little plant and often keeps flowering into November. If you are looking for something a little more restrained, ‘Polaris’ is a very pale purple-grey.
Finally, V. hastata is still underused. It grows to 20-30cm tall and has a more tapered, stiffly erect habit with pale pink flowers. V. hastata ‘Alba’ has white flowers and a lovely autumn colour. Like the other verbenas, by late winter the seed heads turn jet black and look most arresting.
The overland journey from Tibet to Nepal, on winding roads and amid towering Himalayan peaks, must be one of the world’s most breathtaking.
Now, two years after the April 2015 earthquake that devastated Nepal, killing close to 9,000 people and leaving countless homeless, foreign visitors will once again be able to cross the border by land, as road repairs continue.
In August, Chinese authorities announced that the border at Kerung-Rasuwa had opened for international visitors, meaning the classic route from Lhasa, Tibet, to Kathmandu, Nepal, is possible once again. The border had been open as a trade route for Chinese and Nepalis but not to tourists; the crossing previously used by visitors, at Kodari, on the route of the Friendship Highway, remains too badly damaged to use.
With the land border closed, travellers hoping to move between Lhasa and Kathmandu had no choice but to fly on one of the Chinese airlines operating the roughly 90-minute route. Round trips could cost anywhere between £300 and £700.
For those running tours in the region, the opening of the border crossing is a “huge step” for tourism.
“Nepal has always been a gateway to Tibet for travellers,” says Shiva Dhakal, managing director of Kathmandu-based tour operator Royal Mountain Travel. “Most travellers dream of going to Tibet overland but, with no border open, the adventure was missing while travelling there.”
Dhakal says the infrastructure on the Nepal side remains poor and Royal Mountain’s upcoming trips are still fly in/fly out, but he hopes to relaunch overland trips from April 2018.
“The road is there but it’s one-lane only,” he says. “So if there’s a truck on it there’s no way to get round it. There’s a lot of construction, which is difficult to pass on the Nepal side, and it is still the monsoon season. In November, we will go to Kerung and make our own assessment on whether it’s OK for tourists.”
For climbing and outdoors writer Ed Douglas, who has travelled extensively in the Himalayas, poorly built roads and the risk of landslides mean the border between Tibet and Nepal will always remain fragile. In the past it has also often closed to foreigners at short notice. “The Chinese want to be able to say Tibet is open while maintaining strict control over it,” he says, adding that the priority is the millions of Chinese tourists in the region, rather than the small number of westerners. “If you keep the border open to tourists you can say it’s open and if you keep the numbers down, you avoid problems,” he says.
However, the draw of the journey remains unchanged. “In the space of a few miles, you’re going from around 1,000 metres up to the Tibetan Plateau, which averages around 4,200 metres, crossing one pass at 5,000 metres,” says Douglas. “It’s an astonishing journey, going from a lush green landscape to an arid plateau. It is one hell of an experience.”
The Democratic minority leader, talking with glee to his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell, was caught by a live microphone on the Senate floor. Schumer continued: “Here’s what I told him: I said, ‘Mr President, you’re much better off if you can sometimes step right and sometimes step left. If you have to step just in one direction, you’re boxed.’ He gets that.”
The snatch of conversation came after a White House dinner of honey sesame crispy beef and chocolate cream pie to which McConnell was pointedly not invited. Instead Schumer, along with House counterpart Nancy Pelosi, enjoyed red and white wine, while the teetotal president sipped Coke. They emerged claiming to have struck a deal to protect young undocumented migrants brought to the US as children.
As Trump turned to Democrats for a second time in two weeks, Republicans on Capitol Hill were left wondering whether they had lost sway with the president despite having control of both chambers and a mounting legislative agenda. There was also a furious backlash from some in the Trump base, including a photo of a “Make America great again” hat going up in flames on the rightwing website Breitbart. But the unorthodox manoeuvre also raised questions over how far Democrats should go to court him without alienating their own grassroots. What remained unclear was Trump’s strategy – if he has one.
His motives for “step right, step left” appear various. He has fallen out with the leaders of his own party, McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan, especially after their failure to to pass healthcare legislation. He instinctively gravitates towards Schumer, a fellow New Yorker, and towards pragmatic deal-making rather than ideology.
Not least of all, he is basking in positive media coverage after months of being hammered. Last week, after working with Schumer and Pelosi on a three-month extension for the national debt ceiling, he called Schumer, who recounted to the New York Times: “He said, ‘This was so great!’ Here’s what he said: ‘Do you watch Fox News?’ I said, ‘Not really.’ ‘They’re praising you!’ Meaning me. But he said, ‘And your stations’ – I guess meaning MSNBC and CNN – ‘are praising me! This is great!’”
Trump’s addiction to the cable TV news channels seems intact, but he is spending less time in the rightwing fever swamps of the internet, according to the website Axios. John Kelly, the chief of staff, has reportedly restricted the number of articles that staff print out from sites such as Breitbart and bring to his attention.
“The dramatically different information Trump receives daily under chief of staff John Kelly is an under-looked factor in Trump’s decision to double down on his partnership with the Democratic leaders,” Axios said.
This, along with the replacement of press secretary Sean Spicer by the less gaffe-prone Sarah Sanders, and the ousting of bomb-throwers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, have given some hope that the administration is finally professionalising and steering towards a middle course.
But even as political pundits pondered the dawn of a new era and talked of a “pivot” or “bipartisan” president, Trump’s reliably twitchy thumbs signalled there was no meaningful shift in behavior on the horizon.
Trump also seized on the moment to reaffirm the need for his travel ban against certain Muslim-majority countries, arguing it should be “far larger, tougher and more specific”, while adding: “but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”
His tone was equally inconsistent while touring parts of Florida on Thursday left devastated by Hurricane Irma.
In one moment, he was Trump the deal-maker, relishing in several opportunities to speak to reporters about his negations with Democrats. But at another turn, when asked about a meeting he held with Tim Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, Trump once again declared that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While Schumer and Pelosi spent the immediate moments following their dinner with Trump crafting a statement about a potential deal on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), the president was by contrast more preoccupied with tweeting about “Crooked Hillary Clinton”. He also made a series of comments and tweets that sowed confusion over what had been agreed.
The shifting sands leave mainstream Republicans, hardline Trump supporters and Democrats all scrambling to find their footing. McConnell and Ryan have tried to be circumspect despite what might be seen as public humiliation. The House speaker said pointedly: “I think the president understands that he has to work with the congressional majorities to get any kind of legislative solution.”
Congressman Pete Sessions, a Republican from Texas and the chair of the rules committee, told reporters: “Typically a president of our party would work with our party on a proposal that we would be supportive of and so we’re learning now how he wants to operate. As the country adapts itself to Mr Trump’s leadership we’re learning more about what that leadership means.”
Other conservatives were more outspoken. Straight after Wednesday’s dinner, Iowa congressman Steve King tweeted: “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” The conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?” And Breitbart, run by Trump’s former chief strategist Bannon, ran the headline “Amnesty Don”.
But the base is no monolith. Fox News and conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh praised Trump for his negotiating nous. The crowds who pour into his raucous rallies are unlikely to lose faith over horse trading on Capitol Hill, especially with their hostility towards Republican elites.
For Democrats, too, the moment of opportunity is fraught with risks. Trump is seen by many of their supporters as a demagogue, misogynist and white nationalist to be resisted at all costs. He is also notoriously opportunistic, improvisational and mercurial, prone to change like the wind in response to a headline or slight. Some on the left warn that anyone who gets too close to him is likely to be burned.
Norman Solomon, a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to last year’s Democratic national convention, said: “It’s extremely likely that Trump will sucker-punch ‘Chuck and Nancy’ – and it would be surprising if that doesn’t happen fairly soon. Trump is holding on tight to so many odious policies that it’s tempting to rejoice when he decides to loosen his grip on one or another, once in a while. But the problem is not only that Trump is an expert at praising people and then shafting them.”
Solomon, coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org, added: “What’s also a huge danger in the current bipartisan foreplay is what could be called ‘the optics’ of Democratic leadership making nice with a symbolic and actual representative of massive greed and oligarchy. If Democrats want to oppose Trump as the heartless corporate monster that he is, then making nice with him in photo ops and boasting that he likes them is not good groundwork for winning working-class votes in the next few years.”
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are aware of the limitations posed by working hand-in-hand with Trump.
One Senate Democratic aide, who did not wish to be named, said the goal was to address a set of issues requiring immediate attention – namely the fate of Daca recipients and legislation to stabilize the health insurance markets. With a new deadline of mid-December to fund the government and raise the debt limit, the aide said, Democrats have a limited window to use leverage under Republican control.
Trump’s erratic behavior, the aide cautioned, “makes the price of our cooperation very, very very high”, adding: “I think that you have to weigh what you’re able to achieve.
“It’ll be pretty apparent that he’s not a normal president. But if he’s willing to give you 100% of what you’re asking for, you take it, and then you continue to go after him where he’s wrong.”
Trump’s fluid loyalties have provided fresh fodder to comedians. Columnist Andy Borowitz wrote in the New Yorker: “In his most stunning deal yet with Democratic leaders, Donald Trump agreed on Friday to be impeached by the end of 2017… ‘Chuck and Nancy and I got a deal done on impeachment,’ Trump said. ‘It was a good deal and it was a fast deal.’”
The motivation for the attack on morning rush hour commuters on Friday is believed by counter terrorism investigators to be Islamist.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, but they have done so after other attacks which they had nothing to do with.
While Saturday morning’s arrest is significant, investigators are keeping an open mind as to whether anyone else was involved in placing the bomb on the tube train at Parsons Green, or helping to make it.
Investigations will continue and the questions about whether there were other conspirators will be put to the 18-year-old arrested on Saturday. Detectives will also be scouring the reams of CCTV footage they have secured, from before and after the attack to track movements of those they suspect of involvement.
Any computer and phone owned by a suspect will be examined for clues, plus the remnants of the smouldering improvised explosive device left on the tube train will also provide forensic clues.
On the surface, little appeared to have changed in the London neighbourhood of Parsons Green a day after the terror attack that injured commuters on Tube train which rolled into the local underground station.
Save for few dozen camera crews loitering outside the station, and the free artisan coffee being handed out as a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ gesture from District, the cafe next door, the area’s well kept streets were filled with the sight and sound of its significantly cosmopolitan local population embarking on their weekend.
Inside the cafe, which was evacuated yesterday, its Australian-British co-owner Chelsea Finch said that the coffee was a way of saying “thank you” to customers.
All our usual regulars are here today, so it’s business as usual. To be honest I didn’t think that we would be open so soon. With all the police activity and forensics yesterday we were under the impression that it would take longer, but then when the station was re-opened this morning we thought ‘why not?’
Other locals included Richard Bent, who was passing the station with his dachshund Reggie, and insisted that life continued as normal in what he described as the area’s “village community”.
I live on the Fulham Road and was getting ready for work yesterday when I saw four police armed response cars roar past. I also saw the police stop and board the number 14 bus a bit later on. We thought it was something to do with the local school.
[On Monday] I’ll probably leave the earphones off and take a bit more notice of what is around me to be honest.
Investigators believe the suspect may have been in the port area of Dover to try and board a ferry to leave Britain, The Guardian has learned.
Islamic State are believed to have identified security at Dover and on the ferries as weak, and have used the port in Kent to get people in and out of Britain previously.
The improvised explosive device, which partially detonated at around 8:20am on Friday, was believed by police and the security services to have been intended to kill. It was detonated by a timer. The timing device used was not a mobile phone, which has been used in previous terrorist attacks to trigger a bomb. The device at Parsons Green contained fairy lights, which may have been used as an initiator, to set off the main explosive charge.
The UK’s terrorism threat level is being reviewed “hour by hour” as developments in the investigation unfold, sources say. The decision by Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JATC) to raise it to its maximum level of critical on Friday was based on fears that whoever was behind the attack, and the materials used to make the device, were unaccounted for.
Following the arrest of the teenager at Dover, JTAC will be assessing on Saturday whether there can be greater confidence that whoever was behind the attack and whatever was used to make the homemade bomb are now accounted for.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has released a statement via his Facebook page regarding this morning’s arrest. He also expressed his gratitude to police and intelligence services for “doing everything possible to keep Londoners safe”.
This morning police have made a significant arrest as part of the investigation into the terrorist attack at Parsons Green station yesterday morning.
An 18-year-old man was arrested in Dover under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
The police investigation is ongoing and there will still be significant activity today and over the days ahead. I am sure I speak for London when I say we are incredibly grateful to the police and intelligence services for doing everything possible to keep Londoners safe.
I would urge anyone with any information at all relating to the investigation to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321, to help the police with their extremely difficult job. In an emergency, always call 999. If you see anything suspicious, please report it.
It is important we all remain alert and vigilant. There will be an increased police presence across London today and over this weekend, including additional armed officers. They are there to keep us safe.
London will never be intimidated by terrorism. We will always defeat those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.
Armed police are on duty across the country after the Parsons Green bomb attack prompted Britain to be put on the highest terror alert, PA reports.
Military personnel have been deployed to free up officers for patrols over the weekend following the decision to raise the threat level to critical, meaning another attack is expected imminently.
Robin Smith, assistant chief constable for the British Transport Police, urged the public to be “alert but not alarmed” and report any suspicious behaviour.
Code critical is a well-rehearsed plan now, regrettably of course. What the public can expect to see is a lot more officers, a lot more police officers, a lot more armed officers, throughout the stations.
Not only in London – although we are focusing on the London underground – but also across England, Scotland and Wales.
He urged the public to remain vigilant, adding: “I think people know when things are suspicious. They should be alert but not alarmed.”
Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said on Friday that extra officers would be on patrol and security would be reviewed at events across the country over the weekend.
Military personnel have been drafted in to protect national infrastructure sites, allowing additional armed police officers to carry out patrols.
Communities across the UK can expect to see more officers, both armed and unarmed, on patrol by foot and in vehicles over the weekend. In particular, they will be patrolling at crowded places, iconic sites, transport hubs and ports.
Rowley, the UK’s most senior anti-terror police officer, also urged communities around the UK to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.
“Please do not hesitate, no matter how insignificant you may think the information you have is – please let us decide. It could be crucial,” he said.
There has been some speculation as to why Scotland Yard has not yet released any CCTV images of the suspected attacker.
On Radio 4’s today show, Ben Wallace was asked by presenter John Humphrys if this was surprising given how useful footage is to jogging people’s memories. The security minister said he had no doubt that images would be released at some stage, however the police have said they have no plans to hand out any footage of the attacker.
The underground network, including the train in question, and London generally are well covered by CCTV, while buses passing the area will also have video cameras that may provide information.
The security minister said on the radio programme:
I totally agree that CCTV footage is extremely useful and I have no doubt at some stage that will come but the conduct of the investigation I leave to the police and security services, and why and what they do with that information.
I’ve had my briefings today and I had more last night and they are at the moment doing those follow-ups. All the resource of government and their organisations is on tracking these people down.
For those of you who weren’t up early enough this morning to hear Ben Wallace, the security minister, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, we have transcribed some of his comments to the broadcaster.
In this first section, he explains why Theresa May initially said the threat level wouldn’t rise but then it did later on Friday evening:
The threat level in this country is set independently of politicians by the Joint Terrorist Aanalysis Centre and they look at a range of things. They look at the intelligence at their fingertips; they look at changes in perhaps people we are currently watching to see if they are inspired by an attack to maybe copy things; and they look at the pace of the investigation; and if they feel as a result of all those factors an attack is likely to become imminent then that’s why they raise it to critical, as they then did later in the day. I think it’s a perfectly logical way and we do it so politicians can’t interfere with threat levels and manipulate them for any means. It is done entirely at arm’s length of government and that’s why they did it.
In this case imminent means that we know there was an attempted attack on a tube yesterday morning, it used the type of explosive similar to that used in Manchester. It didn’t go off. The sort you can buy with certain ingredients in high street shops although there has been a lot work to now prevent that.
Unlike Manchester, where the bomber obviously killed himself along with all the innocent people he murdered, there was no obvious bomber attached to this so there is effectively a man hunt. We are trying to track down who did it, whether it’s a bomber or bombers, and all those other issues we need to answer and in this case, we think that’s what imminent means, that you know there are potentially very dangerous individual or individuals out there and we need to track them down.
Rudd to chair Cobra meeting at 1pm
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, is due to chair a meeting in the Cabinet Office briefing room A- aka a Cobra meeting – at 1pm about the latest developments in the investigation into the Parsons Green attack.
We have been in touch with the Home Office to find out more details and will share what we are able with you as soon as we can.
Londoners seem to be handling any anxieties over the heightened terror threat level quite well, according to this tweet from Ben Quinn, our colleague on the Observer.
There is speculation that the bomb used in the Parsons Green terror attack was made with a substance called triacetone triperoxide (TATP) that, reports claim, has the dramatic moniker “Mother of Satan”.
The nickname, according to a PA report, comes from the instability of the explosive, which can be ignited by heat, friction, static or even simple movement. The Daily Mirror has highlighted this line on its front page this morning.
TATP was the substance used in the 7 July 2005 series of coordinated suicide attacks that killed that killed 52 people and injured more than 700 when four terrorists detonated three bombs on tube trains and a fourth on a bus.
Former counter-terrorism chief Maj Gen Chip Chapman, speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, said the chemical had more recently been used by the Barcelona terror plotters, when it detonated prematurely.
Failure of the device to realise its explosive potential on Friday morning could be credited to a similar malfunction, he said in comments carried by the Press Association.
It’s quite volatile, it can have a lot of friction and the pre-explosion in Barcelona was caused because of its volatility.
Either the chemical mix from TATP, if it was TATP, was wrong or there wasn’t enough boost from a detonator via the timer to make this function properly.
The shockwave effect from a full explosion could have been deadly, while the subsequent blast effect could have killed more, Chapman told the broadcaster.
“This absolutely didn’t function properly because … one ounce of TATP is enough to blow car doors off.”
Commenting on this morning’s arrest of a suspect in connection with the Parson’s Green attack, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said:
We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.
The public should remain vigilant as our staff, officers and partners continue to work through this complex investigation. We are not, at this time, changing our protective security measures and the steps taken to free up extra armed officers remain in place.
This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers. For strong investigative reasons we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage.
18-year-old arrested in Dover in connection with attack
Detectives investigating the terrorist attack at Parsons Green on Friday have made an arrest in connection with the investigation, police say.
The 18-year-old man was arrested by Kent police in the port area of Dover this morning, Saturday, 16 September, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
The man remains in custody at a local police station. He will be transferred to a south London police station in due course.
Counter-terrorism detectives are appealing for anyone with information about the Parsons Green terrorist attack to contact them. As of 9pm last night they had spoken to 45 witnesses and received 77 images and videos uploaded online.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, head of national counter-terrorism policing, said:
Our investigation is continuing at speed and our priority is to identify, locate and arrest those responsible.
Hundreds of police officers are pursuing numerous lines of enquiry, trawling through hours of CCTV footage and speaking to witnesses.
The device and remnants left at the scene have been taken away and are being examined by forensic experts. While this work is ongoing, there is no doubt in my mind that those responsible intended to cause great harm and injury.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or, in an emergency, always call 999.
Anyone with footage or images from the incident is urged to upload them at www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk where they will be looked at by investigators.
Ben Wallace, the security minister, is doing the rounds of broadcasters today. Most recently he has appeared on Sky News where he recited the now well-known refrain that technology firms “can do more” to tackle online extremism.
Wallace said the government would continue to “put pressure” on companies to invest in technology which could quicken the take down of terrorist material, according to comments reported on PA.
Yesterday’s terror attack has once again raised concerns over the availability of terrorist material, including bomb-making tutorials, on the internet. Wallace told Sky News:
We are constantly trying to build that pressure, explaining to them that we think that they can do more and where we need to, we get tougher on them.
They cannot be removed from some of the responsibility they carry and we think there is technology out there that could make these take downs quicker.
He added: “It is a 21st century phenomena. We have to deal with it. On the internet people can learn how to make bombs, they can learn how to use weapons.”
Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, will hold a meeting at the United Nations next week “to talk about what more we can be doing to ensure that we deal with the terrorist propaganda, with the extremist propaganda, with the hatred that is put out across the internet”.
It follows a visit to San Francisco by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, last month, where she told representatives of Silicon Valley to “unite” and warned that terrorists are using their platforms to “weaponise vulnerable people in their homes”.
Here is the full text of the prime minister’s statement last night announcing the decision to raise the UK’s terror threat to critical.
I have just been updated on the investigation into this morning’s cowardly terrorist attack in London.
A major covert and overt investigation is taking place, involving police and security officials.
I said earlier today that the national threat level was being kept under review.
The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre – that’s the independent organisation which is responsible for setting the threat level on the basis of available intelligence – has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical.
This means that their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.
Following JTAC’s decision, the police have asked for authorisation from the secretary of state for defence to enact part of the first phase of Operation Temperer.
This is a well-established plan to provide military support to the police and for this period military personnel will replace police officers on guard at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public. The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection.
This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.
The public should go about their business in the normal way and as usual be vigilant and co-operate with the police.
I said earlier that terrorism is a great challenge of our times. But by standing together we will defeat it.
A potential network of terror plotters behind the Parsons Green bombing is being hunted by police as the country braced for a further attack, PA reports.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, suggested on Friday night that more than one suspect could have been involved in the attempt to kill commuters in a tube carriage. He said police were “chasing down suspects”.
The improvised device – reportedly containing the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and packed with nails – was dumped on a busy District line train during Friday rush hour.
Parsons Green station re-opened in the early hours of Saturday, shortly after Theresa May announced the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre set the terror threat at its highest level.
It was the second time this year the country was placed at “critical”, meaning an attack “may be imminent”, the prime minister said – the other occasion being the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people in May.
Ben Wallace, the security minister, told the BBC on Saturday: “We haven’t been able at the moment to catch the bomber. The bomber is still out there – or bombers – and we have to get to the bottom of that and follow up the leads.”
Wallace suggested CCTV images of the bomber could be released as part of the hunt for those responsible, but Scotland Yard subsequently denied there were any plans to do so.
S7 trains such as the one involved in Friday’s incident have video cameras installed inside all seven carriages and there are more than 12,000 cameras across London Underground’s stations and trains.
Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme if it was surprising that no CCTV had yet been released, Wallace said: “I totally agree that CCTV footage is useful and no doubt at some stage that will come but the conduct of the investigation I leave to the police and the security services.”
A total of 21 patients remain in hospital following the blast, according to the latest NHS England figures, with another eight discharged. Most had suffered “flash burns”, police said.
The number of those hurt could have been much higher and the severity of their injuries much worse had the bomb fully detonated.
It is not yet known whether the bomb went off at its intended target. The train – bound for Edgware Road – was just pulling into the District line station in south-west London when the device exploded, in the rear carriage, sending rush-hour passengers fleeing to safety.
Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the latest developments in the investigation and response to yesterday’s botched terrorist attack on a tube train in west London.
Twenty-nine people were injured when the a bomb made out of a bucket partially detonated on the westbound District line train at Parsons Green station at 8.20am on Friday morning. It was the UK’s fifth terrorist attack in less than six months.
The UK’s terror threat has been raised to critical and soldiers have once again been deployed to key locations around the country as police continue to hunt the bomber. It is understood that officers have tracked down images of the suspect as he boarded the train carrying the device inside a Lidl supermarket bag.
The Islamic State terror group, which is currently being routed from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency.
LIFE is a drama. Those who overcome life’s many ups and downs to emerge triumphant in the end are genuine victors. I hope you will cheerfully live out your lives of profound mission, devoting yourself to the unsurpassed teachings of the Mystic Law, while transforming sufferings into joy and all adversities into nourishment for further growth.
MEDICALLY speaking, proper diet, sufficient exercise and sleep, and the reduction of stress are regarded as keys to good health. All these factors are incorporated in my four mottos: (1) do an invigorating gongyo; (2) conduct your daily life in a reasonable and productive manner; (3) be of service to others; and (4) maintain sound eating habits.
BEFORE shrinking from what lies before us, we have to set ourselves into action. As long as we take action, we can climb any difficult mountain, no matter how steep. We have to take the first step. We have to press on. We have to climb it, a step at a time, never rushing, but advancing with patient and steady perseverance.
LIFE is long. Both pleasure and pains are inseparable parts of it. You must never relinquish your faith, which is the great Way to the supreme and greatest good of happiness. Right faith is the means to establish truly eternal happiness.
EVEN our internal journey through time is included in this single moment of life. An individual’s daimoku and determination in faith at this moment form causes that will later become manifest, based on the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect. For this reason, your ichinen at this very moment is the most important issue in the Daishonin’s Buddhism.