ISIS Claims Responsibility For Manchester Concert Blast Killing 22

Manchester Arena Blast: 22 people, including children, died at the blast carried out by ISIS.

Cairo:  Terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at UK’s Manchester Arena on Monday night. The terror group said that the blast was carried out with an explosive device planted at American pop singer Ariana Grande’s concert, according to a statement posted by the group posted on Telegram. 

“One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester,” the statement said.

At least 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 were severely injured when a suicide bomber struck as thousands of fans streamed out of the concert around 10.30 pm local time on Monday. A total of 60 ambulances and over 400 police officers were deployed after the incident. 

The police said that the suicide bomber died in the incident. 

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena,” said Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins. 

Pop singer Ariana Grande later tweeted, 

Her sentiments were echoed by many personalities including David Beckham, Priyanka Chopra, Liam Gallagher as well as political leaders US President Donald Trump and British PM Theresa May.

British Queen Elizabeth II expressed her deepest sympathy on Tuesday to all those affected by the suicide bomb attack. 

“The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had just been enjoying a concert,” she said, in a statement. 

“I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured,” she added.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Google's AI takes on champion in fresh Go challenge

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The game is being analysed and live-streamed on YouTube

Google DeepMind’s AI system, AlphaGo, has won the first of three matches it is playing against the world’s number one Go player, Ke Jie.

It follows its historic win against Lee Se-dol last year, described by experts as a breakthrough moment for AI.

The AI won by just half a point in its latest match.

Ke Jie described the AI as “like a god of Go players”, while DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis thanked him for a hard-fought match.

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Ke Jie and Demis Hassabis shook hands before the match

“It was a such close game, an exciting game and showed how much work Ke Jie put into preparing for the match,” said Mr Hassabis in a post-match press conference.

“It was interesting for us to see him using moves from AlphaGo’s previous games, and we were intrigued to see how AlphaGo deals with its own strategies used – huge respect to Ke Jie for pushing AlphaGo to its limits.”

He added that the ultimate plan for AlphaGo was a wider deployment “in areas of medicine and science”.

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Media captionA brief guide to Go

Of the match, Ke Jie said: “There were some unexpected moves and I was deeply impressed.

“I was quite shocked as there was a move that would never happen in a human-to-human Go match.”

He added that AlphaGo was a “wonderful player” and “completely different” from last year.

AlphaGo now has huge influence on the Go circuit, and was star turn at the Future of Go Summit, organised by Google, in China this week.

The second game will be take place on Thursday, with the final match on Saturday.

In Go, players take turns placing stones on a 19-by-19 grid, competing to take control of the most territory.

It is considered to be one of the world’s most complex games, and is much more challenging for computers than chess.

AlphaGo has built up its expertise by studying older matches and playing thousands of games against itself.

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Beckham In 'Heartbreak' As Manchester Clubs Pay Tribute To Attack Victims

David Beckham started his football career at Manchester United and spent 12 years there (File Photo)

Manchester:  Football star David Beckham spoke of his “heartbreak” as former club Manchester United and local rivals Manchester City came together Tuesday to pay tribute after 22 people including children were killed in a suspected suicide bombing in the northern English city.

Britain’s deadliest terror attack in 12 years took place when a bomb went off shortly after the end of a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena on Monday.

Former England captain Beckham, who made his name as a global superstar at United after coming through the club’s youth system, expressed his condolences via an Instagram message, saying: “Heartbreaking news from Manchester. As a father & a human what has happened truly saddens me. My thoughts are with all of those that have been affected by this tragedy.”

Gary Lineker, another former England international and now a television presenter, summed up a mood of widespread revulsion when he tweeted: “To target children at a concert is beyond comprehension. Beyond lunacy. Beyond evil. Heart goes out to all those who’ve lost loved ones.”

A help centre was opened at City’s Etihad Stadium for those affected by the blast, while the United club flag at their Old Trafford ground was flown at half mast.


Both Premier League clubs posted short statements Tuesday on their Twitter accounts, with United saying: “We are deeply shocked by last night’s terrible events at the Manchester Arena. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.”

Meanwhile, City said: “It’s with great sadness we hear of the terrible events at the Arena. Our hearts go out to all affected and to our city’s emergency services.”

Current players from both clubs also sent Twitter messages of support, with City captain Vincent Kompany saying: “I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. It’s a sad day for the great city of Manchester. #Unity’.”

United’s Jesse Lindgard wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by last nights attack on this beautiful city. We will stand together in this dark hour.”

‘No specific Europa League final threat’

United were due to train Tuesday at their Carrington practice ground ahead of travelling to Stockholm, where they will play Dutch side Ajax in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, said “tight security arrangements” had already been put in place for the final but added they had no knowledge of any direct threat to the match.

“There is currently no specific intelligence which might suggest that any of the UEFA Europa League final activities in Stockholm may be the target of attacks,” said a UEFA statement.

“UEFA has been closely working with local authorities and the Swedish FA (Football Association) for many months and the terrorist risk had been taken into account since the very beginning of the project.

“Furthermore, a number of additional security measures were implemented following the attacks in Stockholm last April (when a hijacked truck was deliberately driven on to a city street killing five people).”

The statement urged fans to get to the stadium as early to allow time for “detailed checks”.

Amsterdam club Ajax sent their own message of support, saying: “From Amsterdam with love to Manchester. Our thoughts are with the victims and the loved ones of those affected.”

United were due to have a routine pre-match meeting with UEFA on Tuesday at which it is understood they will now ask if their players can wear black armbands in the final as a mark of respect in response to an attack that also left 59 people injured.

The England Under-20s side, one of the first football teams from the country in action after the attack, confirmed they would wear black armbands in their junior World Cup clash with Guinea in Joenju, South Korea on Tuesday.

“Our #YoungLions will remember the victims of the attack in Manchester when we take on Guinea at the #U20WC this morning,” said a message on the official England Twitter account.

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UK Police Say 23-Year-Old Man Arrested Over Manchester Arena Attack

A 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the Manchester Arena terror attack (File Photo)

Manchester:  British police said on Tuesday they had arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with a terror attack at a pop concert in Manchester which killed 22 people and injured dozens more.

“With regards to the ongoing investigation into last night’s horrific attack at the Manchester Arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester,” police said in a statement.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Firms pledge to recruit more over-50s

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Aviva, Barclays, Atos and five other firms have agreed to promote over-50s employment by publishing data about the age of their workforce.

They are responding to a call from the government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs.

In February, he asked firms to increase older worker numbers by 12% by 2022.

Mr Briggs warned that by then, there will be 14.5 million more jobs, but only seven million younger workers entering the workplace.

He said older workers were vital in filling the UK’s “colossal skills gap”.

Diverse team

Mr Briggs, who is also chief executive of Aviva UK Life, wants more companies to commit to his pledge and publish data about the age of their workforce to help ensure his target of one million more older workers by 2022.

“Businesses can show leadership here, through committing to real change and actively seeking to recruit more over-50s into their organisations,” he said.

“By being open about the progress they are making, they can also lead the way in demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse team of employees that represents all sections of society.”

The eight companies that have signed up are: Aviva, Atos, Barclays, the Co-operative Group, Home Instead Senior Care, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Mercer and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

In the newly published data, the figures for Atos show 33% of its workforce are between 50 and 64. Aviva employ 18.3% in this age group, Barclays 17% and the Co-op Group 26%.

Ageing population

While it is still uncertain what sort of agreement the next government will strike with the EU over freedom of movement, many employers are concerned about filling skilled and non-skilled jobs after Brexit.

Mr Briggs said the average age in the UK is now 40, 10 years older than it was in 1974.

By 2030, it is estimated half of all adults in the UK will be over 50.

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Please Retweet: Parents Go Online To Find Their Children After UK Attack

Parents and friends posted messages and pictures on social media in search for their loved ones(Reuters)

Manchester:  Desperate parents and friends posted heart-wrenching messages and pictures on social media in the search for their loved ones on Tuesday after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at a British concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.

“STILL MISSING: Saffie Rose Roussos, 8yrs old. Missing from Manchester attack,” Adam J. Brown posted on Facebook, next to a picture of her smiling face.

“White Ariana tshirt-denim skirt-black leggings-black boots.”

“Please…please retweet. Looking for my daughter and her friend,” Michael MacIntyre wrote on Tweeter, alongside an image of his daughter Laura and friend Eilidh.

Many parents were waiting for their children in and around the Manchester Arena when the blast rocked the foyer of the venue as thousands of young fans and parents streamed out following the gig on Monday evening.

While many teenagers eventually found their friends and relatives in the chaos, some were helped to safety by bystanders, others were offered free taxi rides home and dozens were taken to nearby hotels.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was one of many British artists and celebrities to help spread the word by retweeting messages and posting offers of help.

Grande, whose fan base is made up largely of teenagers and young girls, said on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”

Paula Robinson, 48, was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the blast and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from the arena.

“We ran out,” she told Reuters. “It was literally seconds after the explosion. I got the teens to run with me.”

Robinson said she took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents telling them to meet her there. She said her phone had not stopped ringing since her tweet.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children. There were lots of children at Holiday Inn.”

In the hours after the blast, picture montages of smiling faces were being circulated of teens still unaccounted for after the concert. They carried the hashtag: “#PrayForManchester.”

‘Manchester’ and #StandTogether were trending on Twitter around the world on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Theresa May said from the steps of her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London that the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack and the public response was showing the best of Britain.

“The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester,” she said.

“The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together.”

On Tuesday morning, upset friends and relatives were arriving at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on the advice of police to those who needed assistance after the attack.

As Britons woke up to the deadliest militant assault in the country since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005, heart-warming stories of reunions began to emerge on Tuesday.

Riley Blackery, who had used Twitter to search for her friend Heather, shared the good news with her followers after a fellow user helped her find her friend:


(Additional reporting and writing by Kate Holton and Costas Pitas in London, Leela de Kretser in New York; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Apple and Nokia to 'co-operate' after settling patent row

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Apple and Nokia have settled a dispute over the use of patented technology in smartphones and agreed to “co-operate”.

In December, Nokia sued Apple claiming the company had breached 32 technology patents covering displays, user interfaces and video encoding.

The two companies have now signed a deal allowing Apple to use the technology, and Nokia will receive an up-front cash payment.

Apple will also stock Nokia’s health products in its retail stores.

The two companies have not revealed specific details of the financial agreement, but one analyst suggested it would be worth millions of dollars to Nokia.

“The agreement is per year, so it’s probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars range,” said Keith Mallinson, an industry analyst as Wiseharbor.

“That’s partly because it covers many patents, and Nokia has some very important ones, they were one of the pioneers of cellular standards.

“But looking at Apple’s business… one industry estimate is that they made $140bn (£107bn) revenue on iPhone sales in 2016.

“Even a small royalty against that – less than 1% – would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Nokia said it was “looking forward to supporting Apple”, while Apple’s Jeff Williams said the company was “pleased with this resolution of our dispute”.

Between 2009 and 2011, the two companies were locked in a series of legal battles over the patents for the technology they used in their mobile phones.

At the time, Nokia was still the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturer, but was being rapidly undermined by the rise of Apple’s iPhone.

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Manchester Shopping Centre Evacuated, Witnesses Heard 'Big Bang'

People being evacuated from Arndale shopping centre, Manchester (Reuters)

Manchester:   A shopping centre in Manchester, England, was evacuated and witnesses said they heard a “big bang” on Tuesday, just hours after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 59 in the same area of the city.

Scores of people ran away from the centre, a Reuters witness said.

“There are people coming out holding hands,” a Reuters photographer said.

Great Manchester Police would not comment when contacted for Reuters.

(Reporting by Lucy Fielder; Editing by Louise Ireland)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Fossils From Europe Cast Doubt On Human Lineage Originating In Africa

An artist’s depiction of the species Graecopithecus freybergi, which lived 7.2 million years ago.

Washington:  Fossils from Greece and Bulgaria of an ape-like creature that lived 7.2 million years ago may fundamentally alter the understanding of human origins, casting doubt on the view that the evolutionary lineage that led to people arose in Africa.

Scientists said on Monday the creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi and known only from a lower jawbone and an isolated tooth, may be the oldest-known member of the human lineage that began after an evolutionary split from the line that led to chimpanzees, our closest cousins.

The jawbone, which included teeth, was unearthed in 1944 in Athens. The premolar was found in south-central Bulgaria in 2009. The researchers examined them using sophisticated new techniques including CT scans and established their age by dating the sedimentary rock in which they were found.

They found dental root development that possessed telltale human characteristics not seen in chimps and their ancestors, placing Graecopithecus within the human lineage, known as hominins. Until now, the oldest-known hominin was Sahelanthropus, which lived 6-7 million years ago in Chad.


An artist’s depiction of a species which lived 7.2 million years ago.

The scientific consensus long has been that hominins originated in Africa. Considering the Graecopithecus fossils hail from the Balkans, the eastern Mediterranean may have given rise to the human lineage, the researchers said.

The findings in no way call into question that our species, Homo sapiens, first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago and later migrated to other parts of the world, the researchers said.

“Our species evolved in Africa. Our lineage may not have,” said paleoanthropologist Madelaine Bohme of Germany’s University of Tubingen, adding that the findings “may change radically our understanding of early human/hominin origin.”

Homo sapiens is only the latest in a long evolutionary hominin line that began with overwhelmingly ape-like species, followed by a succession of species acquiring more and more human traits over time.

University of Toronto paleoanthropologist David Begun said the possibility that the evolutionary split occurred outside Africa is not incongruent with later hominin species arising there.

“We know that many of the mammals of Africa did in fact originate in Eurasia and dispersed into Africa at around the time Graecopithecus lived,” Begun said. “So why not Graecopithecus as well?”

Graecopithecus is a mysterious species because its fossils are so sparse. It was roughly the size of a female chimp and dwelled in a relatively dry mixed woodland-grassland environment, similar to today’s African savanna, alongside antelopes, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, hyenas and warthogs.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Further signs of UK property slowdown in April

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There were further signs of a slowdown in the property market in April, as the number of sales fell significantly, while fewer people took out mortgages.

The number of residential property transactions in the UK dropped by 22.5% between March and April, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Analysis by the data firm Equifax also suggests that mortgage sales declined by 16% over the same period.

But the figures are skewed by a series of tax changes this year and last.

In April 2016, landlords became liable for a higher rate of stamp duty. And since last month, they have been able to claim less in tax relief on mortgage interest payments.

The effect of the changes was to boost sales in March 2016 and March 2017.

As a result, the number of sales fell from 107,090 in March to 83,010 in April on a non-adjusted basis, HMRC said.

Once seasonal factors are taken into consideration, the number of transactions fell by 3.2%.

Both the Halifax and Nationwide have reported that prices fell in April.


Some commentators said the figures showed that the market was holding up relatively well.

“At first glance, one might think these figures are hugely disappointing, but when you consider what was happening this time last year and what has happened to property transactions in the past few months, they represent steady progress for the housing market,” said Jeremy Leaf, a London estate agent.

The number of landlords taking out mortgages last month saw a particular drop, with sales falling by 20.4% to £2.15bn, according to Equifax.

But ordinary buyers also shied away from the market, with mortgage sales dropping by 15.1%.

“Mortgage figures have nosedived following a strong first quarter, with every single region experiencing a notable slump in sales,” said John Driscoll, director at Equifax Touchstone.

“Government measures to cool buy-to-let property sales, including the phased cuts to mortgage interest tax relief which started on 1 April, have no doubt played a role in diminishing sales figures last month.”

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Awkward. Pushy Israeli MP Steals Selfie With Trump, Netanyahu Annoyed

Israeli MP Oren Hazan stole a selfie with US President Donald Trump on his arrival on Monday.

Jerusalem:  Warm words were spoken in public by Israeli officials upon President Donald Trump’s arrival Monday. Then things got a little off-script at the airport near Tel Aviv.

A pushy Israeli parliament member named Oren Hazan pulled Trump aside and started taking a selfie in the receiving line.

Trump kept a stone face. He might have looked even more dour if he knew the full extent of Hazan’s infamous reputation.

Israeli Channel 2 had aired an investigative report alleging that Hazan managed a casino in Bulgaria, where he sampled drugs with guests and procured prostitutes for them. Hazan denied the accusations and sued for libel. He’s a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayu’s Likud party, but has been shunned.

“It may be worth noting,” the Times of Israeli said in its report, “that Hazan was not even supposed to be in the front row of dignitaries.”

As Hazan whipped out his phone, Netanyahu stepped into the situation and tried to pull Hazan’s arm down.

But Hazan managed to get his money shot anyway – and crop out the prime minister’s arm.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, also had an unscripted moment, captured by journalists and the official Government Press Office.

The Netanyahus were shown speaking with Trump and first lady Melania Trump. The couples exchanged praise and mutual fandom, then …

Sara Netanyahu points at Melania Trump: “I talk every place about how great she is, how great you are.”

The prime minister inserts: “I can testify to that.”

Sara Netanyahu continues: “Because the majority of the people in Israel, unlike the media, they love us.”

Her husband is actually not super popular, and she more so, in public opinion polls. Also Israel runs on a parliamentary system, and Netanyahu’s Likud party won the last election in 2015 but needed other political factions to form a government.

Sara Netanyahu continued: “So we tell them how you are great and so they love you.”

The president interjects: “So we have something very much in common.”

The prime minister: “Sounds familiar.”

Then Sara Netanyahu closes with: “Very much in common, we will talk about it at dinner. A lot in common, the same media. Anyhow, we’ll talk about it.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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WannaCry attack 'linked' to North Korea hacking group

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Sony was attacked for releasing The Interview, which involves a plot to kill the North Korean leader

A hacking group closely tied to North Korea was behind the massive WannaCry attack earlier this month, security company Symantec says.

The way the attack was set up made it “highly likely” that the Lazarus group was responsible, it said.

Lazarus has been blamed for a 2014 attack on Sony and the theft of $81m (£62m) from Bangladesh’s central bank.

In those attacks, the group is believed to have worked on behalf of North Korea’s government.

In a blog, Symantec said “substantial commonalities in the tools, techniques, and infrastructure used by the attackers” led it to conclude that the Lazarus group had instigated the WannaCry attack.

However, Symantec added that the character of the attack suggested it had not been carried out on behalf of North Korea.

Rather than being a nation-state campaign, it said, it looked more like a “typical” cyber-crime campaign that sought to enrich its operators.

North Korea has denied any involvement with WannaCry, branding any claims it was behind it “ridiculous”.

‘Error prone’

The virulent WannaCry worm is believed to have infected computers at more than 200,000 companies.

Victims included more than 60 NHS trusts in the UK as well as Fedex, Renault and Telefonica.

On compromised computers, the worm encrypted files and demanded a ransom of $300 (£231) in bitcoins to unlock them.

Symantec pointed to small-scale attacks carried out prior to the massive May event that used the same basic malware but also employed other technical tricks Lazarus is known to use.

The earlier attacks did not exploit the vulnerability that helped WannaCry spread so far, so fast but instead used six other malicious programs favoured by Lazarus.

Two of these are known to have been used in the Sony attack.

In addition, Symantec said, code inside WannaCry was shared with a separate program also linked to Lazarus.

Symantec’s analysis builds on work by other researchers who have studied WannaCry and found evidence that some of its core code is shared with other malicious programs Lazarus is believed to have used.

Despite Symantec’s lengthy analysis, some experts remained cautious about blaming Lazarus.

“Attributing hacking operations and malware to specific groups is an imprecise undertaking that’s frequently fraught with errors,” wrote Dan Goodin, security editor at Ars Technica.

So far, 300 victims are believed to have paid to have their files unlocked, generating a total ransom payment of $109,245.

The money is being paid into three separate bitcoin wallets that are being closely scrutinised for activity to see if they can help identify the criminals.

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French PM Calls For Vigilance In France After Manchester Attack

Edouard Philippe described the Manchester Arena attack as an abominable crime (Reuters)

Paris:  French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday called on French citizens to be vigilant following the suicide attack at a concert in Manchester, which Philippe described as an “abominable crime.”

“The most cowardly form of terrorism has struck once again, targeting – as in Paris more than a year ago – a concert venue,” Philippe said in a statement in a reference to a similar attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015.

“I call on my fellow citizens to observe the utmost vigilance, confronted as we are with a threat which is more present than ever before,” Philippe said.

(Reporting by Sophie Louet and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Donald Trump Arrives For Talks With Palestinian Leader In Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories:  Donald Trump made the short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem Tuesday to meet Mahmud Abbas, who was hoping to convince the unpredictable US president to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state.

His talks in Bethlehem with the Palestinian president came after Trump on Monday made a heavily symbolic visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later Tuesday, Trump will return to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and give a speech at the Israel Museum before wrapping up his two-day stop.

He was expected to comment on the bomb blast at a concert in the British city of Manchester on Monday night that killed 22 people.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that Trump’s national security team was “providing updates” to the president on the situation.

Trump’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories is part of his first trip abroad as president, and follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.

He arrived in Bethlehem by motorcade, crossing a checkpoint at Israel’s controversial separation wall, and was greeted by Abbas and other dignitaries outside the city’s presidential palace.

Trump has spoken of reviving long-stalled peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians, but few specifics have emerged of how he intends to do so.

Before dinner at Netanyahu’s residence on Monday, Trump avoided delving into details.

“I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope,” he said.

Earlier Monday, Trump also lashed out at Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, saying it should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons and criticising Tehran for supporting “terrorists” — a reference to militant groups it backs in the region.

In Tehran on Monday, Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed US strategy in the Middle East, dismissing Trump’s summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as “just a show”.

Separation wall

Security was tight for Trump’s journey to Bethlehem, a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem but located across Israel’s separation wall.

The wall is part of a project begun in 2002 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that is to extend some 700 kilometres (450 miles) once completed.

It is a stark symbol for Palestinians of Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank, and in Bethlehem the wall has been covered with graffiti and street art.

Bethlehem also holds deep significance as the site where Christians believe Jesus was born and welcomes thousands of pilgrims each year for Christmas.

A banner hung in the city said “the city of peace welcomes the man of peace” along with photos of Abbas and Trump.

Hossam Zomlot, an aide to Abbas, said that “if President Trump wants to mediate and leads us to a historic agreement, a major agreement, we are ready to be his partners”.

Their talks come with hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17, and activists were hoping to display banners in Bethlehem to drawn Trump’s attention to it.

On Monday, Palestinians also held a general strike in support of the prisoners.

Clashes broke out near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah involving several hundred stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving at least one wounded.

On Monday night in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Abbas’s rivals Hamas, the Islamist movement organised a demonstration to denounce its labelling as a “terrorist” group by many Western governments, including the United States.

Trump and Abbas met earlier this month at the White House.

Trump initially sparked deep concern among Palestinians when he backed away from the long US commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.

Meeting Netanyahu in Washington in February, he said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see most of the West Bank annexed.

Disputed Jerusalem

During his election campaign, Trump also advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, alarming Palestinians.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

The most high-profile moment of Trump’s stay in Jerusalem was his visit to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.

He became the first sitting US president to visit the site in the Israeli-annexed east of the city.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel’s unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of US and international precedent.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stalled since April 2014.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community and claims the entire city as its capital.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump will head to the Vatican, and to Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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More Police On London's Streets After Manchester Attack: Mayor Sadiq Khan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said security is being reviewed after the Manchester blast. (Reuters)

London:  London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there will be more police on the streets of the British capital after a suicide bomber killed at least 22 people and wounded 59 at a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester.

“I am in constant contact with the Metropolitan Police, who are reviewing security arrangements in London,” Khan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Londoners will see more police on our streets today.”

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Government borrowing at three-year April high

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Government borrowing was at its highest April level for three years, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Public sector net borrowing, excluding public sector banks, was £10.4bn last month, up by £1.2bn from April 2016.

The ONS also adjusted the shortfall total from the last financial year from £52bn to £48.7bn.

Public sector net debt was £1.72 trillion, equivalent to 86% of GDP.

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'Their Dream Was My Nightmare': Monica Lewinsky On Ex Fox Icon

Fox News plays such an influential role in the contemporary media it’s easy to forget that there was a time when the network was still a fledgling news outlet in search of momentum and identity.

In an op-ed published Monday by the New York Times, Monica Lewinsky argues that Fox found its footing when Roger Ailes took over the network and decided to focus his anchors’ attention on Lewinsky’s relationship with Bill Clinton “ceaselessly, 24 hours a day.”

Ailes – who was forced to step down last year following a sexual harassment scandal – died last week after falling in his Palm Beach home, according to news reports.

There was a cultural change, Lewinsky wrote, one that came at her expense and affected her “profoundly and personally.”

“It worked like magic: The story hooked viewers and made them Fox loyalists,” Lewinsky wrote. “For the past 15 years, Fox News has been the No. 1 news station; last year the network made $2.3 billion.”

Lewinsky added that John Moody, a Fox executive editor, has been quoted as saying that “Monica was a news channel’s dream come true.”

“Their dream was my nightmare,” Lewinsky continued. “My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail – I was the original target of Ken Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit, obstructing justice, suborning perjury and other crimes – or worse, me taking my own life.”

“Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy,” she added.

Unable to go outside without being hounded by paparazzi at the height of a scandal that consumed Clinton’s final years in office, Lewinsky notes that she stayed in her home and watched Fox News around the clock. Lewinsky wrote that other news networks piled on, but it was Fox that lowered the journalistic bar, turning reports about innuendo and accusation into the norm.

The debauched nature of the reporting was picked up by newly formed internet news sites like the Drudge Report, Lewinsky wrote. Whether on television or online media, she noted, she stopped being presented as a “dimensional person.”

“Instead I became a whore, a bimbo, a slut and worse,” Lewinsky wrote. “Just days after the story broke, Fox asked its viewers to vote on this pressing question: Is Monica Lewinsky an ‘average girl’ or a ‘young tramp looking for thrills?’ “

It was the first draft of a new information culture, Lewinsky argued, a culture that would eventually give birth to cyberbullying and trolls, where ratings and clicks arrive at the expense of the vulnerable and weak.

In Lewinsky’s mind, that culture was spawned by Ailes before taking root at Fox and spreading across the media landscape as Fox grew to become a media juggernaut. Ailes developed Fox into a lean, scrappy fighting machine, one designed to turn out massive profits despite a bare-bones news-gathering operation, according to a Rolling Stone article detailing Ailes’ cultural contribution to Fox News.

Despite having 30 fewer bureaus than CNN, the article noted, Fox’s profit margins topped 50 percent and the channel managed to reach 100 million households and attract more viewers “than all other cable-news outlets combined.”

In the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s departure, as some fretted about declines in profit, Bloomberg News reported that Fox News alone brings in an estimated $200 million annually, making it 21st Century Fox’s most profitable channel.

At the heart of the Ailes-era Fox News was a culture of extreme internal loyalty and fear-mongering that appeals to white paranoia and fragility, Rolling Stone reported.

“One man has established a culture for 1,700 people who believe in it, who follow it, who execute it,” Rush Limbaugh told an audience at a Boy Scouts Awards dinner in 2009. “Roger Ailes is not on the air. Roger Ailes does not ever show up on camera. And yet everybody who does is a reflection of him.”

Nearly two decades after her life unraveled, Lewinsky wrote that she sees signs of positive change.

“Although I imagine the desire to present a clean record to the European Commission reviewing the Sky News deal played a role in their thinking, the brothers Murdoch deserve praise for their part in the decision to fire Bill O’Reilly, whose show brought in $100 million a year in ad revenue but who systemically harassed and bullied the women he worked with,” she wrote. “I hope the Murdochs understand that Americans will no longer tolerate a corporate culture that views hate and harassment as part of running a successful news business.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Manchester Blast: Indian High Commission In UK Sets Up Response Unit

The Indian Mission will open helplines for its nationals caught in the Manchester Arena blast.

London:  The Indian High Commission in London today set up a response unit and will activate more helplines to assist any Indian national caught in the Manchester Arena terror attack that killed 22 people.

“We will activate more helplines to be of further assistance to families and friends of those affected by attack,” the Indian High Commission said on Twitter.

“Any Indians injured in Manchester attack today may reach off-office hours of Public Response Unit of HCI (High Commission of India) ASAP at 0207632 3035,” it tweeted.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded venue in Manchester where US singer Ariana Grande was performing. At least 22 people were killed and 59 were injured. The attacker, carrying an improvised explosive device or IED, was also killed at the scene the pop concert at Manchester Arena.

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police said.

The Indian High Commission in London had yesterday organised a community event to mark the Anti-Terrorism Day, coinciding with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary on May 21.

“The scourge of terrorism affects innocent lives not just in one country but across the globe. No country and no people should shelter terrorists, promote terrorists or appease terrorists,” Indian High Commissioner to the UK Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha said at the event, during which he led an anti-terrorism pledge.

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FTSE 100 bolstered by Severn Trent

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London’s stock market edged higher, with shares in Severn Trent rising after the water company reported an increase in full-year profits.

Severn Trent shares rose 1.7% after it said underlying pre-tax profits rose 4.3% to £525m, helped by fewer leaks following an investment programme.

Severn was one of the biggest risers on the FTSE 100, with the index up 4.36 points at 7,500.70 in early trade.

EasyJet was the biggest riser in the FTSE 100 following a broker upgrade.

Shares in the airline climbed 1.9% after RBC Capital Markets raised its rating on the company to “sector perform”, arguing it was “increasingly probable EasyJet has reached its profit nadir”.

After a strong performance on Monday, Marks and Spencer fell back, dropping 1.7%. The High Street retail giant is due to report its full-year results on Wednesday.

On the currency markets, the pound slipped 0.1% against the dollar to $1.2987, and was down 0.2% against the euro to 1.1540 euros.

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Cybersleuths Unearth More Clues Linking Wannacry To North Korea

WannaCry global ransomware attacks infected an estimated 200,000 computers worldwide.

Cybersecurity researchers at Symantec Corp. and FireEye Inc. have uncovered more evidence tying this month’s WannaCry global ransomware attacks to North Korea.

The cyberattack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide was “highly likely” to have originated with Lazarus, a hacking group linked to the reclusive state, Symantec said. The software used was virtually identical to versions employed in attacks earlier this year attributed to the same agency, the company said in a report late Monday.

FireEye on Tuesday agreed WannaCry shared unique code with malware previously linked to North Korea. “The shared code likely means that, at a minimum, WannaCry operators share software development resources with North Korean espionage operators,” Ben Read, a FireEye analyst, said in an emailed statement.

North Korean diplomats and official media have denied in recent days that the country played any role in the attacks.

WannaCry, the malware behind a global cyberattack dubbed “unprecedented” by Europol, infected an estimated 200,000 computers worldwide, infiltrating global institutions from the the U.K.’s National Health Service to FedEx Corp. and PetroChina Co. It gave its victims 72 hours to pay typically $300 in bitcoin or risk permanent loss of data. As of last Friday however, the estimated total amount of ransom paid failed to hit six figures.

The initial attack was stifled when a security researcher disabled a key mechanism used by the worm to spread, but experts said the hackers were likely to mount a second attack because so many users of personal computers with Microsoft operating systems couldn’t or didn’t download a security patch released in March labeled “critical.”

Last week, a Google researcher posted on Twitter that an early version of WannaCry shared some of the same programming code as malicious software used by Lazarus, the alleged North Korean government hackers behind an attack on Sony Corp. in 2014 and the theft of $81 million from a Bangladeshi central bank account at the New York Fed last year.

Other researchers have speculated that if the perpetrators were indeed North Korean, their intent may have been to cause a widespread internet outage to coincide with a scheduled missile test.

“Despite the links to Lazarus, the WannaCry attacks do not bear the hallmarks of a nation-state campaign but are more typical of a cybercrime campaign,” Symantec wrote in its report.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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New York Steps Up Security After Manchester Concert Blast

Additional patrols at high-profile locations in New York after the Manchester Arena blast.

New york, United States:  New York authorities Monday stepped up security at sensitive sites after a deadly blast at a concert in Britain, although officials said there was no indication of a threat to US targets.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was ordering additional patrols at “high-profile locations” including airports and the subway “out of an abundance of caution” after the assault at the show by US pop star Ariana Grande.

“This apparent act of terrorism, targeting a concert attended by thousands of teenagers and young people, is an inexplicable and abhorrent assault on our universal values as human beings,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“An attack on one is an attack on all, and New York stands in solidarity with the British people and our friends around the world against the forces of hate and terror,” he said.

The US Department of Homeland Security said it was working to find information and stood ready to assist counterparts in Britain.

“At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States,” the department said in a statement.

“However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions,” it said.

Police said at least 19 people were killed and around 50 were wounded in the attack just as Grande left the stage.

It is the deadliest attack in Britain since 2005.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Donald Trump Seeks To Convert US Military Grant To Pakistan Into Loan

The US has been supplying advanced weapons to Pakistan for decades. (File photo)

Washington:  US President Donald Trump wants to convert American grant to Pakistan for purchase of military hardware into a loan, the White House has said. Mr Trump in his annual budget to the Congress proposed the grant conversion, it said.

The Trump administration, however, has left it for the State Department to take a final call.

Unlike parliamentary democracies like India and the UK, where the finance minister delivers the budget speech on the floor of the parliament, in the US the White House sends copies of the president’s budget proposals.

The maiden annual budget of the Trump administration will be submitted to the US Congress later today.

The Trump administration has proposed to convert its Foreign Military Funding or FMF programme to many countries, including Pakistan, from aid to financial loan, said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House. “The Foreign Military Funding for Pakistan may be provided in the form of a loan,” Mr Mulvaney said.

“This is one of the options that the administration had explored in its internal deliberations, but the request itself does not make that determination,” the White House later clarified, indicating that it might revert to the original financial grant to Pakistan to sell military hardware.

Whether the funding is through grants, or as a subsidy for a guaranteed loan, the State Department can choose any option to ensure American foreign assistance best supports its national interests, the White House said.

The Trump administration is said to be cutting foreign aid budgets to help pay for increased US military spending. However, for Israel and Egypt, American military aid would continue to be in the form of grant, Mr Mulvaney said.

The details of the Foreign Military Funding programme to Pakistan and other countries are expected to be released by the State Department later.

“We do maintain aid to Pakistan in the budget. I don’t believe it’s at the same levels as previous,” Mr Mulvaney said. “We do change a couple of foreign military programmes from direct grants to loans. Our argument was instead of giving somebody $100 million, we can give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they can actually buy more stuff. We did not change it for Israel. We did not change it for Egypt,” Mr Mulvaney said.

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Indonesian Men Caned For Gay Sex Before Jeering Crowd

One of the two Indonesian men being publicly caned for indulging in homosexual activities (AFP Photo)

Banda Aceh, Indonesia:  Two Indonesian men were caned Tuesday in front of a jeering crowd as a punishment for gay sex, in a first for the Muslim-majority country where there is mounting hostility towards the small LGBT community.

The pair, aged 20 and 23, received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking sharia rules in conservative Aceh province, the only part of Indonesia that implements Islamic law.

They were led onto a stage set up outside a mosque in front of a crowd of thousands, who jeered and booed loudly.

The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, bowed their heads as they were whipped by officials who wore dark robes and masks with eye slits, and used thin rattan canes.

One of the men grimaced occasionally and the other showed little emotion.

Before the caning, Abdul Gani Isa, a member of the Acehnese clerics’ council, told the crowd the caning was “a lesson for the public”.

“Lessons carried out with our sharia law are conducted in a very thoughtful way, are educational and do not violate human rights,” he said.

Their sentences, which were carried out in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, were reduced by two strokes of the cane due to time already served in detention.

The gay men were caught together in March by vigilantes who burst into the house where they were staying.

Shaky phone footage of the raid that circulated online showed the vigilantes kicking, slapping and insulting the men, with one of them slumped naked on the ground during the attack.

Anti-gay backlash

Public caning has long been common for offences such as gambling and drinking in Aceh, which was given the right to implement sharia law in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government aimed at ending an insurgency.

But Tuesday’s caning was the first time such a punishment has been meted out for gay sex since a sharia regulation came into force two years ago banning the practice.

Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population.

While rights groups have repeatedly expressed alarm over the strengthening of sharia law in Aceh, many of those living in the staunchly Islamic province support the rules.


indonesia homosexual canning afp

One of the Indonesian men being canned publicly for having gay sex which against the Sharia laws.

Zubaidah, a 20-year-old female college student who watched the couple being punished, told AFP it was the first time she had witnessed a caning.

“I wanted to watch it so it could serve as a lesson for me not to commit any act that violates Islamic teaching,” said the student, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“Homosexuality is a curable disease, it is very forbidden in Islam.”

Amnesty International was among groups that had urged authorities not to flog the men, decrying the use of caning as a “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and may amount to torture”.

There has been a growing backlash against Indonesia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over the past year, with ministers, hardliners and influential Islamic groups lining up to publicly denounce homosexuality.

The caning comes just two days after police in Jakarta detained 141 men including several foreigners for allegedly taking part in a gay sex party at a sauna promoted as “The Wild One”.

Although homosexuality is not illegal outside Aceh, police said 10 of those arrested at the party could be charged under the country’s tough anti-pornography laws.

The backlash against the homosexual community began in early 2016, and activists believe it was triggered by widespread media coverage of a decision in the United States to legalise same-sex marriage.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Nationwide profits hit by low interest rates

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Profits have fallen at Nationwide after the building society sought to protect savers from the impact of last year’s interest rate cut.

Statutory pre-tax profits for the year to March to £1.054bn, down 17% from last year’s figure of £1.279bn.

However, Nationwide said 795,000 new current accounts had been opened in the six months to March.

That was a record for the society, it said, and more than any other provider in the UK.

The rise of 35% represented one in seven of all new accounts opened. It added that nearly one in five people switching their accounts became customers of the building society.

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Attacker Died In Manchester Concert Blast, Children Among 22 Killed

After the Manchester Arena concert attack, a fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue. (Reuters)

The man behind a terror attack at a pop concert in Manchester late Monday died when he detonated his device, killing 22 others, including children and injuring 59 people, police said on Tuesday.

Greater Manchester Police chief Ian Hopkins said the man had set off an “improvised explosive device” as the audience was leaving the concert by US pop star Ariana Grande. He said local police in the city were working with national counter-terrorism and intelligence officials on the investigation.

Police said they are treating it as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn suspended the election campaign after the blast. Ms May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack”.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she said in a statement.

There were scenes of panic as Ms Grande’s audience of youthful fans fled the 21,000-capacity venue after what eyewitnesses described as a “huge bomb-like bang” in the foyer area at the end of the concert.

A fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue and bomb disposal teams were dispatched soon after, as city residents opened up their doors to stranded concert-goers after train services were shut down.

The incident in Manchester is the second terror attack to hit England in less than two months.

On March 22, five people were killed and more than 50 injured when a man drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London, before crashing into the fence surrounding parliament.

The attacker, 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood, was then shot dead by police at the scene after knifing a police officer to death.

Investigators described the lone-wolf attack as “Islamist related terrorism” but have not charged anyone in connection with the incident.

The deadliest bomb attack on British soil took place on July 7, 2005 when four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attack London’s transport system, killing 52 and wounding 700.

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Britain Suspends Election Campaign After Suspected Terror Attack

Britain’s election campaigning has been postponed until further notice after the concert explosion.

London:  Britain’s political parties have agreed to suspend election campaigning until further notice following an explosion in Manchester that killed 19 people at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said in a statement that he had spoken to Prime Minister Theresa May and had agreed that all national campaigning for the June 8 election would be suspended.

May said earlier that the incident in the northern English city was being treated as a terrorist attack.

“I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night,” Corbyn said. “My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Ariana Grande, An Anodyne Teen Favorite, Hit By Tragedy

Pop star Ariana Grande, is a favorite of pre-teens rarely known for causing a stir.

New york, United States:  Pop star Ariana Grande, whose concert was struck by one of Britain’s deadliest attacks in years, is a favorite of pre-teens rarely known for causing a stir.

The 23-year-old former child star called her last album “Dangerous Woman” but her controversies have been markedly low-key, with the “danger” in her lyrics more about love than anything more sinister.

Grande wrote on Twitter that she felt “broken” after the attack Monday evening at the Manchester Arena, which killed at least 19 people and injured 50 others moments after she left stage.

“From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words,” she wrote.

Who is she?

Born in Florida, Grande showed promise from an early age in theater and by her teenage years had joined a Broadway musical, moving to New York where she sang on the side.

Grande entered the public eye when she was cast on the Nickelodeon sitcom “Victorious,” playing the talented but at times aloof high school student Cat Valentine.

Grande kept the feline imagery as she branched out into pop music, frequently sporting a cat-ear headband or tying her brunette hair up in pigtails.

Pre-teen audience

Over the course of her three studio albums, her look has gradually turned more sensual as she sports slinky black skirts and sings of her power over men.

But unlike Miley Cyrus, a fellow onetime child star to whom she is sometimes compared, Grande never broke completely with the teenybopper image. Her “Arianator” fan base is full of young girls experiencing their first concerts.

In perhaps her biggest brush with controversy, Grande in 2015 released a feminist manifesto that attacked the focus on her, and other women’s, personal lives.

“The double standard and misogyny are still ever present,” Grande, who has more than 45 million followers on Twitter, said in the statement disseminated on social media.

“I can’t wait to live in a world where people are not valued by who they’re dating /married to / attached to, having sex with (or not) / seen with … but by their value as an individual,” she said.

In an interview last month with Cosmopolitan, Grande revealed that she has started running her show “from top to bottom” as she no longer felt comfortable putting her business in others’ hands.

“Now I’m very much in charge, and it feels amazing,” she said.

As a celebrity, she has occasionally found herself in tabloid press. In 2015 she was caught on camera with one of her back-up dancers licking the frosting off a doughnut and mumbling, “I hate America.”

She later clarified that she was proud to be American and was only critiquing her country’s penchant of overeating.

Grande has generally stayed away from activism, other than speaking out about her vegan diet as a way to reduce suffering for animals.

Raised Roman Catholic, she has said she left the church due to its position on gay rights and instead dabbles in the Kabbalah, a mystical branch of Judaism that has also drawn Madonna.

An Italian American, Grande in 2015 brought along her grandmother, whom she affectionately called “my nonna,” when she won a top honor at 2015’s American Music Awards.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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US Issues Second Travel Advisory For Pakistan In Less Than 45 Days

The US government has asked its citizens to exercise caution while in Pakistan.

Washington:  The US government has asked its citizens to postpone non-essential travel to Pakistan due to increased terror threat in the country. In a travel advisory, the second in less than 45 days, the US State Department referred to a recent note of the Federal Aviation Administration which asked commercial airline pilots to exercise caution while flying in Pakistan.

The Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns over flying in low altitude during landing and take-off, and while the aircraft are parked, due to terrorist activity.

“The Department of State warns US citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan,” the travel advisory, issued yesterday, said. Consular services provided by the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Consulate General in Karachi, and the Consulate General in Lahore have been curtailed. The Consulate General in Peshawar is not providing consular services, the note said.

“Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks,” the US State Department said, adding that targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organisation or NGO employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel are common.

“Throughout Pakistan, foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to US citizens. Evidence suggests that some victims of terrorist activity have been targeted because they are US citizens. Terrorists and criminal groups have resorted to kidnapping for ransom,” the travel advisory said.

If any American citizen chooses to live or travel in Pakistan despite the warning, the person should vary travel routes and timing, especially for routine trips, and minimise duration of trips to markets, restaurants, government and military institutions, the advisory said.

Americans travelling to Pakistan should also minimise the number of US or western nationals congregating in any one location at any time, and avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures.

“Take a photo of your passport, entry stamp and Pakistani visa, and keep it with you at all times. Keep digital copies of these documents in a secure, electronically accessible place,” the advisory said.

According to the State Department, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA in an “Advisory Notice to Airmen” issued on December 30, 2016 said that there is a risk to civil aviation operating in Pakistan. The advisory, however, does not prohibit US operators or airmen from operating in the specified area, as it is strictly an advisory notice.

“While there have been no reports of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) being used against civil aviation in the territory and airspace of Pakistan, some extremist/militant groups are suspected of having access to MANPADS,” the FAA said.

“As a result, there is a potential risk for terrorists to target civil aviation with MANPADS at low altitudes. Some MANPADS may be able to reach a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet,” it said.

FAA said that additionally, cross-border tensions in the Kashmir region rose from August to September 2016 due to extremist and terrorist activity, and operators should be alert to the possibility of temporary airspace restrictions issued by the air navigation service providers responsible for managing that airspace.

In June 2014, terrorists attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, killing 30 people and damaging he building. “During several separate incidents in 2014, aircraft on approach into Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport were fired on by small arms, which resulted in one fatality,” the FAA said.

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19 Dead In Blast At Ariana Grande Concert In Manchester: 10 Facts

19 dead in explosion at Arianda Grande concert in Manchester city

London:  Nineteen people were killed on Monday night in an explosion after an Ariana Grande concert at the UK’s Manchester Arena, which police are treating as a possible terror attack. Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said around 50 people were taken to six hospitals after the blast, which took place in the foyer area. Mr Hopkins said the incident took place around 10:33 pm at the end of the concert. British Prime Minister Theresa May called it an “appalling terrorist attack”.

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Manchester Concert Blast: What We Know Far

The Manchester Arena blast was reported to be the deadliest in Britain since 2005.

Manchester,United Kingdom:  Nineteen people died in a suspected terror attack at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester late Monday.

Here is what we know so far about the attack, which was the deadliest in Britain since 2005.

What happened?

Police said they were called at 2133 GMT to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena at a concert by pop star Ariana Grande, who is popular with teenagers.

British Transport Police said the blast occurred at “within the foyer area of the stadium” and the venue said it was “outside the venue in a public space”.

The arena foyer connects the 21,000-capacity auditorium with Victoria train and tram station, a major hub on the northern edge of the city centre.

Eyewitnesses described a “huge bomb-like bang” and scenes of panic as young fans rushed out and parents waiting outside looked for their children.

Who is behind it?

Police said the incident was “currently being treated as a terrorist incident,” but no one has so far claimed the attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned it as “an appalling terrorist attack”.

Greater Manchester Police’s chief constable Ian Hopkins said local police in the city were working with national counter-terrorism and intelligence officials on the investigation.

Who are the victims?

Police said 19 people were killed and around 50 injured, who are being treated in six hospitals.

The local ambulance service said on Twitter it had taken 59 casualties from the incident and treated “a number of walking wounded on scene”.

Elena Semino from Lancaster told the Guardian she was with her husband waiting for her daughter by the arena’s ticket office when the explosion went off.

“There was this heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies everywhere,” she said.

Gary Walker from Leeds told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters to come out of the concert.

“We heard the last song go and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke,” he said.

Other attacks in the UK

The incident in Manchester is the second terror attack to hit England in less than two months.

On March 22, five people were killed and more than 50 injured when a man drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London, before crashing into the fence surrounding parliament.

The attacker, 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood, was then shot dead by police at the scene after knifing a police officer to death.

Investigators described the lone-wolf attack as “Islamist related terrorism” but have not charged anyone in connection with the incident.

The deadliest bomb attack on British soil took place on July 7, 2005 when four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attack London’s transport system, killing 52 and wounding 700.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Condemns Manchester Arena Blast

PM Narendra Modi condemned the Manchester Arena concert blast in the UK.

New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condemned the blast in Manchester in the UK which killed at least 19 people and injured around 50.

PM Modi tweeted:

An explosion occurred at a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in the Manchester city which is being treated as a terrorist incident.

The pop star is safe after the incident. Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud “bang” from inside the venue, which was playing host to a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande. Video footage from the scene showed bloodied victims being helped by emergency services. The blasts reportedly went off at the end of the concert near the box office area of the venue.

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Twisted ISIS Supporters Tweet On Manchester Attack, No Official Claim

British police are treating the blast at Manchester Arena as a “terrorist incident”.

Cairo:  British police have said they are treating the blast at the arena in Manchester at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande as a “terrorist incident”. More than 50 people were wounded.

Twitter accounts affiliated to Islamic State have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages though there has been no official claim.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the incident. “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” she said in a statement.

Greater Manchester police said in a statement, “This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise.” 

The blast took place at the venue of pop singer Ariana  Grande’s concert at Manchester Venue just as the concert was ending.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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'Broken, I Am So So Sorry,' Tweets Ariana Grande After Concert Blast

The Manchester explosion happened at the venue of pop singer Ariana Grande’s concert. (Reuters)

New Delhi:  Singer Ariana Grande tweeted this morning that she was ‘broken, from the bottom of my heart’ after an explosion at her concert in Manchester killed 19 and left over 50 injured. The UK police are treating the blast as a possible terror attack. The blast took place just as the concert ended at the Manchester Arena, when the largely teen audience was leaving around 10.30 pm on Monday night.

The blast rocked the foyer of the Manchester Arena as thousands of young fans and parents streamed out of the 21,000-capacity venue after the show by the US singer, whose fan base is made up largely of teenagers and pre-teens. Grande, a 23-year-old former child star, is not known for her political views.This was part of her The Dangerous Woman Tour.

This is the deadliest attack in Britain since 2005.

Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said around 50 people were taken to six hospitals.

Dozens of teenage girls were taken by a parent to a nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel. Paula Robinson, 48, then tweeted out her phone number to worried parents telling them to meet her there.

Many celebrities tweeted expressing grief and condolences.



The Manchester Arena regularly hosts concerts by major stars.

Grande, currently on a European tour, has already played in Birmingham and Dublin and is due to be at the O2 Arena in London tomorrow and Thursday.

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Parents Look For Missing Children After Ariana Grande Concert Blast

Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had been performing. (Reuters)

Manchester:  Desperate parents and friends used social media to search for loved ones on Tuesday after a blast killed at least 19 people at a British concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande, with images of happy-looking teenagers posted next to pleas for help.

“Everyone pls share this, my little sister Emma was at the Ari concert tonight in #Manchester and she isn’t answering her phone, pls help me,” said one message posted alongside a picture of a blonde-haired girl with flowers in her hair.

Another Twitter user called Erin:P urged people to help him find his sister: “She’s wearing a pink sweatshirt and blue jeans. Her name is Whitney.”

The blast rocked the foyer of the Manchester Arena as thousands of young fans and parents streamed out of the venue after the show by the U.S. singer, whose fan base is made up largely of teenagers and pre-teens.

A third Twitter account, Deplorable MrsK, posted a picture of a young man smiling and wearing a suit, saying: “My son was in the Manchester Arena today. He’s not picking up my call! Please….”

Montages of smiling faces were being circulated of teens still unaccounted for after the concert.

Paula Robinson, 48, was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from the arena.

“We ran out,” she told Reuters. “It was literally seconds after the explosion. I got the teens to run with me.”

Robinson took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents telling them to meet her there. She said her phone had not stopped ringing since her tweet.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she said. “There were lots of children at Holiday Inn.”

Social media posts said the Premier Inn and other Manchester hotels had also thrown their doors open as shelters, with reports of up to 60 children at the Holiday Inn.

In other messages, taxi drivers offered to ferry those who needed to leave the city for free, while the hashtag #RoomForManchester was being used to offer free bedrooms and sofas for anyone stuck in the city.

“I’m 10 mins from Manchester city centre and can give lifts to or from anywhere. Anyone needs help, just let me know. #roomformanchester,” wrote a Twitter user called Danny Hutch.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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19 Dead After 'Terrorist Incident' At Ariana Grande Concert In Manchester

LONDON:  An explosion at a pop concert in the northern English city of Manchester late Monday left at least 19 people dead and about 50 others injured, according to police.

“This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

Witnesses interviewed by the BBC reported hearing a loud blast following a performance by American pop singer Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena. Police said the blast occurred around 10:30 p.m.

Initial evidence at the scene suggested the attack may have been a suicide bombing, according to two U.S. security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. British authorities, who were meeting in emergency sessions across Manchester and London, did not immediately confirm those reports.

If confirmed as a terrorist attack, it would be the worst strike on British soil since 2005, when bombers killed 54 people on London trains and buses.

Cellphone video showed chaotic scenes of people screaming and running in the aftermath of the blast. The arena was packed with attendees and pink balloons that had fallen from the ceiling during the concert’s final song. Initially, concertgoers said they thought popping balloons had set off a panic.

But witnesses later reported seeing the prone bodies of those who had been wounded and killed, as well as others who were streaked with blood and were staggering away from the scene. Some were injured in the rush to get out.

The hospital, Wythenshawe, said it was dealing with “mass casualties.”

Heavily armed police and emergency services swarmed the arena, with ambulances – their blue lights flashing – rushing to the scene.

The local emergency-response service advised the public to call only “for life-threatening emergencies.”

Many of those attending the concert were teenagers. Witnesses reported that outside the arena, parents were frantically attempting to locate their children.

A father told the BBC that he was leaving the arena with his wife and daughter when the blast blew him through a set of doors. Afterward, the man, identified as Andy, said he saw about 30 people “scattered everywhere. Some of them looked dead.”

Separated from his wife and daughter, he said, he “looked at some of the bodies trying to find my family.”

He later found them, uninjured.

“It was really scary,” Michelle Sullivan, who was attending the concert with her 12- and 15-year-old daughters, told the BBC. “Just as the lights have gone down, we heard a really loud explosion. … Everybody screamed.”

“When we got out, they just said, ‘Keep on running, keep on running.’ “

Karen Ford, a witness, told the BBC that “there were kids outside, crying on the phone, trying to find their parents.”

Concertgoers said that they saw nuts and bolts littering the ground near the blast scene and that the smell of explosives hung heavily in the air.

The singer was “OK,” a spokesman for Grande’s record label told the Reuters news agency.

Around 1:30 a.m., police announced that there would be a controlled explosion after a suspicious device was found. A loud bang was heard minutes later.

The arena has a capacity of 21,000. Manchester transport police said the explosion occurred in the arena’s foyer, where people were congregating to buy concert merchandise. Manchester Arena said the attack took place just outside the facility, in a public space.

Though nobody immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s violence, scenes of bloodied, panicked concert-goers streaking for safety brought to mind similar images at the Bataclan theater in Paris in November 2015. The concert hall became the scene of extreme carnage after multiple gunmen burst in during a show by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal and began shooting. The attack – for which Islamic State later claimed responsibility – killed 89 people and injured hundreds more, becoming the deadliest event on French soil since World War II.

Britain has had fewer terrorist attacks in recent years than many of its European neighbors. Monday night’s blast came two months after a careening driver left four people dead on London’s Westminster Bridge, then stabbed to death a police officer at the gates of Parliament.

Grande is a 23-year-old pop singer and actress who has been in the public spotlight since 2010, when she began appearing on the Nickelodeon television show Victorious. More recently, the former teen idol has been touring to promote her third studio album, “Dangerous Woman.” She has sold more than 1.7 million albums in recent years.

The singer has more than 45 million followers on Twitter. Grande is also one of the most popular people on Instagram, with 105 million followers – more than even Beyonce, Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian. She was scheduled to play two shows in London later this week before traveling to Belgium, according to her tour dates.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Theresa May Condemns 'Appalling Terrorist Attack' In Manchester

British Prime Minister Theresa May today condemned the Manchester Arena explosion.

London:  British Prime Minister Theresa May today condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” at a pop concert in Manchester that killed 19 people and injured more than 50.”We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” Ms May said in a statement.

At least 19 people died in an explosion at pop singer Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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19 Dead In Suspected Terror Attack At Ariana Grande Concert In Manchester

Manchester:  Nineteen people have been killed in a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in the northwest English city of Manchester, police said Tuesday.

There were scenes of panic as Grande’s audience of youthful fans fled the 21,000-capacity venue after what eyewitnesses described as a “huge bomb-like bang” in the foyer area at the end of the concert.

A fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue and bomb disposal teams were dispatched soon after, as city residents opened up their doors to stranded concert-goers after train services were shut down.

“So far 19 people have been confirmed dead, with around 50 others injured. This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” police said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack”.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she said in a statement.

Manchester Arena said the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space”.

The first unconfirmed reports of an explosion emerged shortly after 2145 GMT on Monday.

Gary Walker from Leeds told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters to come out of the concert.

“We heard the last song go and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke,” he said.

Manchester Arena said the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space”.

Isabel Hodgins, an actress who had been attending the concert, told Sky News: “Everybody was panicking, there was pushing up the stairs.

“The corridor was full, it smelled of burning, there was quite a lot of smoke as we were leaving.

“It’s just shocking and we just feel very shaken up. We’re just lucky to have gotten away safely,” she said.

Majid Khan, 22, who was attending the concert with his sister, said: “A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena”.

Calvin Welsford, 18, from Bristol told the BBC: “It almost sounded like a gunshot”.

“I looked around and people were just spilling down, heading out of the building”.

“I was actually having an asthma attack. It was sheer panic,” he said.

Police carried out a controlled explosion in a small park near the venue a few hours after the blast but said the item turned out to be only abandoned clothes.

Manchester residents opened up their homes to people who could not get home after the incident, sending messages with the hashtag #RoomforManchester.

‘Lucky to have gotten away’

Robert Tempkin, 22, from Middlesbrough, told the BBC: “Everyone was screaming and running, there were coats and people’s phones on the floor. People just dropped everything.

“Some people were screaming they’d seen blood but other people were saying it was balloons busting or a speaker had been popped.

“There were lots of ambulances. I saw somebody being treated. I couldn’t tell what had happened to him.”

The Manchester ambulance service warned people only to call “for life threatening emergencies” as it had “a large number of resources at the incident”.

Suzy Mitchell, whose flat is opposite the venue said she heard “a huge bang” and came out of her flat to see “everyone was running away in big crowds”.

Train services to and from Manchester Victoria Station — located under the Arena — had been cancelled.

“Disruption is expected to continue until the end of the day,” National Rail said in a statement.

British Transport Police said in a statement: “Officers are at Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion within the foyer area of the stadium at 10.30pm this evening.

The incident caused transport chaos, with traffic jams outside the venue.

“Emergency services are dealing with an incident near Manchester Victoria, resulting in all lines being closed,” operator Northern Railway wrote on its website.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Debt fears remain despite manifesto 'breathing space' plans

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Media captionHow much household debt do we owe?

People in serious debt can expect more legal protection from bailiffs, charges and interest after pledges in the major parties’ manifestos.

The Conservatives and Labour have vowed to extend a “breathing space” scheme used in Scotland to allow people time to organise repayments.

Others, including the Lib Dems, want more regulation in the debt sector.

There is widespread concern over the levels of personal debt among working households.


The City regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – has warned of an acceleration in consumer borrowing, such as loans, overdrafts, credit card debt and car finance. This echoes concerns raised by the Bank of England.

The total amount of consumer debt tops £1.5 trillion. Although this is dominated by mortgage borrowing, there is a vast array of debt products creating concern.

A Lords committee also recently called for stronger controls such as a cap on “rent to own” products.

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Car sales have boomed in recent years

The FCA is already conducting is own inquiry into overdrafts, door-to-door lending and other forms of loans. Consumer groups have consistently argued there should be an overdraft cap in place.

The regulator estimates that 3.3 million people are in persistent credit card debt.

The biggest focus in recent times has been on car finance deals. The value of finance deals used to buy new cars has soared to a new monthly record, according to latest figures, with motorists having spent £3.6bn on deals in March.


The fear is that households, with a regular but stagnant salary, are using their income to fund an increasing amount of debt, leaving them at risk if interest rates were to rise from historic lows.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of debt charity StepChange, said: “In addition to better protections for people in debt, the next government should commit to action to prevent the 8.8 million people currently showing signs of financial difficulty from falling into serious hardship.

“It should work to ensure better alternatives to dangerous forms of high-cost credit, and it should act to help families build up savings to insulate them from problem debt.”

More than 16 million people in the UK have savings of less than £100, according to the Money Advice Service, leaving them further exposed to a financial shock.

In five areas – Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, North East England and Wales – more than half the adult population has savings below £100.

There is a risk to UK economic stability too, with lenders standing to lose much more on their consumer credit loans than they would on mortgage lending if there is an economic downturn and their borrowers default on their credit card and other personal loans.

Proposed action includes:

  • A commitment from Labour and the Conservatives for a legal right to “breathing space”, echoing the Scottish system in which borrowers can apply to have six weeks free from further interest, charges or debt collection to get debt advice and set up a repayment plan
  • Widespread pledges across political parties to tackle financial exclusion
  • FCA proposals that could mean credit card companies cancelling any interest or charges in extreme cases
  • An investigation by the regulator into car finance deals, over worries about a “lack of transparency, potential conflicts of interest and irresponsible lending in the motor finance industry”

StepChange welcomed the breathing space scheme for those in serious debt – but said this should be extended to a year.

It said this would allow those in debt owing to issues such as family breakdown or a reduction in working hours to be allowed time to rebuild their income to prepare to repay what they borrowed.

Campaigners have also called for greater protection for those facing mental health difficulties, particularly regarding store cards and “impulse” borrowing.

Polly Mackenzie, director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “Customers are encouraged to take out complex new credit deals on the spur of the moment, at the front of a queue in a shop or in a few clicks at an online checkout.

“For people with mental health problems in particular this is leading to real financial difficulty, encouraging impulsive spending that can be a symptom of a number of mental health problems, and setting people up in credit arrangements that they often don’t fully understand.”

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Reality Check: What do manifestos say about productivity?

Productivity is a measure of how much stuff is getting produced for each hour that people work and it’s enormously important.

Improvements in living standards and average earnings tend to come from increased productivity.

In the UK, productivity has only just returned to its pre-crisis level. But it is still almost a fifth lower than in the rest of the G7 advanced economies and almost a third lower than in France the US and Germany.

So what are some of the parties planning to do about it?

Conservative Manifesto – seven mentions of productivity

The Conservative plan for productivity is mainly the introduction of a National Productivity Investment Fund.

Solving the productivity puzzle is tricky – there’s no definite way of doing it, but the Tories plan to spend money on housing, research and development, economic infrastructure and skills.

The specifics are £740m on digital infrastructure (that’s things like broadband), £1.1bn to improve local transport, £250m on skills training by the end of 2020 and more investment in railways.

The spending is all meant to add up to £23bn by the end of the parliament, but there are no other details of what it will be spent on.

Labour Manifesto – two mentions of productivity

Labour’s solution to the productivity problem is via its industrial strategy.

It has undertaken by 2030 to:

  • Get 60% of energy from zero carbon or renewable sources
  • Develop the highest proportion of high-skilled jobs among OECD countries
  • Spend 3% of GDP on research and development

It plans to promote skills through its National Education Service and improve infrastructure by investing £250bn in it over the next decade.

Liberal Democrats – no mentions of productivity

The LibDem manifesto does not specifically mention productivity, but it’s promising investment in many of the same areas as the Conservatives and Labour.

It’s planning to:

  • Help build 300,000 homes a year by 2022
  • Have a major programme of capital investment aimed at stimulating growth across all areas of the UK
  • Install hyperfast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK
  • Investment in road and rail infrastructure
  • Bring more private investment into renewable energy
  • Put £5bn of initial capital into a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank.

Green Party – no mentions of productivity

There’s nothing about productivity in the Green manifesto, but the big idea is the introduction of a four-day working week up to a maximum of 35 hours.

Caroline Lucas told the Andrew Marr Show last month: “I think there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down.”

Everyone would be assured a living wage and the Greens would also take steps towards the introduction of a universal basic income.

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Election 2017: What jobs do UK workers actually do?

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Politicians of all parties spend election campaigns fighting for the votes of what they call “ordinary” or “hard-working” people.

There are record numbers of people in work in the UK, but what exactly do they do and what might be on their minds when they head out to vote?

A nation of service industry workers

When politicians want to appeal to working people they tend to don hard hats and head to factories or construction sites.

These workplaces may look good in pictures, but they do not chime with most people’s experience of work.

Fewer than one in 10 people work in manufacturing and even fewer in construction.

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The vast majority of the UK’s workers are employed in service jobs

In contrast, four out of five people work in service industries.

This covers everything from bank workers to plumbers and restaurant staff – the businesses that provide work for customers, but which don’t manufacture things.

These service sector jobs have grown over time: 20 years ago they made up less than three-quarters of employment.

The biggest growth since then has been in public administration, education and health.

Over the same period, the biggest fall has been in manufacturing, where the share of jobs has halved since the 1990s. The sector now provides employment for just under three million workers.

Workers are older and more likely to be female

The world of work may once have been a man’s world, but that is no longer the case.

At the start of the 1970s, a little over one third of workers were women.

But rapid growth in female employment during the 1970s and 1980s means that women now make up almost half of the workforce.

However, there are still big challenges in terms of how men and women experience work, like the enduring gender pay gap – which is 18% for all workers and 9% among full-time staff.

Nonetheless, rising female employment has been one of the key drivers of improvements in living standards over the past 50 years.

More recently, the workforce has also grown older.

Nearly one in three people in work is now aged 50 and over, compared to just over one in five back in 1992.

This trend is being driven by rising life expectancy, the progress of the large baby boomer generation through their careers and policy changes like the increasing state pension age.

A work life less ordinary

The changing nature of work and the jobs people do to make ends meet has become an increasingly important issue.

At present, there is a particular focus on the emerging gig economy.

The term is often used to describe short-term casual work, although there is some disagreement about exactly what it means and the number of jobs it includes.

However, what is clear is that ways of working that might be thought of as atypical have increased.

In the UK there are nearly five million self-employed people, from highly-paid management consultants to delivery drivers – an increase of 50% since the turn of the millennium.

In addition, there are 900,000 workers on zero hours contracts and 800,000 agency workers. Both groups have grown markedly in recent years.

Less clear is what is driving this and whether these jobs provide an acceptable balance between flexibility and security for workers.

As a result, the government has commissioned a high-profile review of employment practices in the modern economy which will report later this year.

But a traditional full-time job is still the norm

Although the world of work is changing, it is still the case that most people have what might be called traditional jobs.

Nearly two-thirds of people in work have full-time roles for an employer – a proportion that has fallen only slightly since the early 1990s.

The average working week is 32 hours long, only an hour shorter than it was a quarter of a century ago.

Even if we only focus on workers aged under 30, it remains the case that two-thirds – more than five million of them – have full-time employee jobs. However, this proportion has fallen a bit faster since the early 1990s.

But with 32 million people in work overall and the employment rate at a record high, job numbers have never been stronger going into an election.

The minimum wage has helped low earners

For most people, living standards are determined by whether they have a job – and how much they get paid.

For the lowest-paid workers, the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 set a minimum hourly rate for the first time.

It has since risen faster than both inflation and average earnings.

The bar was raised further with the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016, bringing a 70p hourly pay rise to millions of minimum wage workers aged 25 and over.

This meant that the earnings of the lowest-paid are growing faster than average earnings – a trend which is forecast to continue.

But pay rises haven’t been worse since the Napoleonic wars

The wider picture for earnings is not so positive.

The UK experienced a pay squeeze following the financial crisis of 2008, with wages growing more slowly than prices for five years.

Helped by low inflation, a couple of recovery years followed, but real wages are once again falling as pay fails to keep up with inflation.

Combined with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s gloomy economic forecasts for the coming years, it looks likely that average real pay will be lower in the years 2011 to 2020 than it was between 2001 and 2010.

That would make this the worst decade for earnings in over 200 years.

Average earnings are £480 per week, but they would be closer to £600 per week if these two periods of pay squeeze had been avoided.

Improving productivity is going to be key for any government if it wants to deliver for the hard-working people it champions.

Achieving that, however, will not be straightforward.

About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Laura Gardiner is a senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, specialising in the labour market.

The Resolution Foundation describes itself as a think tank that works to improve the living standards of those on low to middle incomes.

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Live: Explosion At Ariana Grande's Concert In Manchester, UK

Manchester:  British police said there were “a number of confirmed fatalities” and injuries after an explosion at a pop concert by Ariana Grande in the northwest city of Manchester. Ambulances were rushed at the scene after which bomb disposal teams followed. The statement issued by Greater Manchester Police that confirmed unidentified number of deaths at the venue, did not suggest possible cause for the explosion.


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Business is blooming for women start-ups

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Media captionThe mum whose home-based business is blooming

More and more women in the UK are setting up their own businesses as a way of reconciling the demands of work and family.

How to balance those differing pressures? Dani Bolser thought she’d finally cracked it when she started her new job as a receptionist for an events company.

“It started off quite well, but suddenly my bosses were asking me to come in a little bit earlier or can you work a little bit later,” she says. “It just turned into something very high-pressured.”

It wasn’t her first attempt to get back into work.

“After the birth of my first child, I’ve tried part-time, full-time and working weekends. And no matter what I tried, it either broke into precious family time or it just wasn’t financially viable for our family.”

So at the age of 28, Dani started her own business, DeluxeBlooms, last year. She now designs and sells luxury faux flowers from her kitchen table in Ilkley, west Yorkshire.

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Dani Bolsover is working to establish her business

“My husband encouraged me,” she says. “I’ve always been creative. It kind of fits with my love of flowers. Now I can choose how much work I do.

“It’s basically about that flexibility, to say, for instance, you know what, the kids are sick, work just gets put on hold and allows you to be a mum first and for me that’s just priceless.”

Work transformed

It turns out there are thousands of women just like Dani, who are shunning the traditional nine-to-five job in search of flexibility and more control over their working lives.

New research from Oxford Economics shows that one in 170 people in the UK now works for a small creative business, making and selling unique products or gifts.

  • 134,000 such businesses in the UK

  • 1 in 40 of all businesses are in this sector

  • 192,000 people employed

Deluxe Blooms

The report was commissioned by, the online marketplace. Since it was founded 10 years ago, it’s seen a huge growth in partners, or creative entrepreneurs, using its services to sell their products, up from 287 in 2006 to more than 5,700 today.

“In the last 10 years, thousands of creative small businesses have emerged all over the UK, creating jobs, driving wealth creation and contributing significantly to the economy,” says’s chief executive Simon Belsham.

“Perhaps most importantly, however, these businesses are highlighting the huge change under way in the UK workforce – a transformation that is seeing more women in work and more people turning to self-employment and flexible working.”

Going digital

Some 89% of partners are owned by women like Dani Bolser.

But can they make a living out of it? “Absolutely,” says Simon Belsham.

“Last year, we had more than 20 businesses which made more than £1m in sales. It’s a genuine way to make a living. It doesn’t matter with age or gender.

“We’ve seen opportunities for recent graduates to people who have retired – ‘second-halfers’ as we like to call them – who are starting a business once they’ve retired from their first career.”

Technology is driving these new ways of working.

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Laura Hutton realised she needed to keep up with the digital world

For 53-year-old Laura Hutton, going digital was her route back into work.

She took a career break from publishing once she became a mum. Laura then dabbled in estate agency work, as well as writing a host of cookbooks.

But last year, she decided to gain some new skills through Digital Mums, a company which trains mums to be “job-ready”, to kick-start their careers in digital and social media, and crucially to keep a healthy work-life balance.

“I realised that the world was moving, that the kind of jobs I wanted to get, I wasn’t going to get unless I kept up with the digital world,” says Laura.

She now manages social media for Wyevale Garden Centres and says she can work from anywhere.

Who’s the boss?

Digital Mums has so far helped nearly 1,000 mums and businesses.

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Work on the go: Laura loves the flexibility her job offers

“I’m not chained to a desk,” says Laura. “I do work at home, but being freelance and mobile means I can go to a cafe if I have to meet someone.

“I can work as I go. Having that flexibility is important. It means I am there when my family is there. It’s important to be around, especially as children grow up.”

And she’s not concerned about working remotely. “I’ve never actually met my boss,” she says.

“I work within marketing and for the head of marketing, who I’ve never met. So I miss out on the office banter.

“It doesn’t bother me because I feel I’ve done that bit, the office job. I’m not interested any more. I like the fact that it doesn’t really matter what I wear or whether I’ve brushed my hair in the morning.

“I’m lucky because I have a nice working relationship with my company.”

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Laura definitely isn’t chained to a desk

Laura and Dani are thriving on their newfound paths as they set their own work-life agenda.

“It’s pushed me into assessing my life a bit more, what do I really want to do? I think the minute you strip that back and look at what makes you happy, you can achieve great things,” says Dani.

She admits her turnover is tiny so far, but she hopes perhaps one day to have her own shop and employ a mum like her who has struggled to get back into work.

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Greece fails to secure fresh bailout funds

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Greece is due to make its debt repayments in July.

Greece has failed to secure a deal to unlock the next instalment of its multi-billion-dollar bailout after talks with eurozone finance ministers broke down.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there was still a gap “between what could be done and what some of us had expected should be done”.

Nonetheless, he said they were “very close” to an agreement.

Informal talks are expected to continue ahead of the group’s 15 June meeting.

The Brussels-based meeting was aimed at deciding whether Greece had done enough to receive a €7.5bn (£6.4bn; $8.3bn) loan plus debt relief.

The cash is vital for Greece to avoid defaulting on a debt repayment due in July.

To secure the funds, the country has had to enact a series of economic reforms.

The International Monetary Fund and Germany are reported to have disagreed over how to help ease the country’s debts once its rescue programme ends next year.

The IMF’s participation in Greece’s latest bailout hinges on resolving this issue.

“The feeling was…. more work was needed to be able to have that kind of clarity that the financial markets understood and the Greek people understood (of) what to expect at the end of the programme period in terms of debt relief,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said.

However, he also said he was optimistic that a definitive deal could be brokered by the time of the next formal meeting in June.

Figures released earlier this month showed that Greece had fallen back into recession for the first time since 2012.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1% in the first three months of the year after shrinking by 1.2% in the final quarter of 2016, the Eurostat figures showed.

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Amazon adds live TV channels to Prime Video

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Amazon is adding live TV to Prime Video

Amazon has announced it will offer live television channels via its Prime Video service, for an extra fee.

People will be able to subscribe to popular channels such as Discovery and Eurosport individually, without paying for a bundle of channels.

Until now, Prime Video has offered only on-demand films and TV shows in the UK.

But one analyst said the launch line-up of channels was “not immediately desirable” and would struggle to attract satellite TV customers.

“Amazon launched a similar thing in the US, and the big selling point was that you could get HBO and Showtime programmes, all under one umbrella,” said Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders.

“That’s not going to happen here. Sky have HBO and Showtime locked down, at least for now, and will hold on to them aggressively.

“When you look at what’s available in the UK, it does lack the wow factor.”

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Viewers will be able to stream ITV’s free-to-air channels for £3.99 a month

Discovery Communications is providing the best-known pay-TV channels to the service, offering Eurosport for £6.99 a month and Discovery Channel for £4.99 a month.

Viewers must also pay for an Amazon Prime membership at £79 a year.

ITV will offer an ad-free version of its streaming service and access to its free channels – such ITV 2 and ITV Be – for a monthly fee of £3.99.

“This is a starting point,” said Alex Green, managing director of Amazon Video.

“We’re offering linear TV channels where it makes sense. We have a good spread of big partners and I’m sure that will only grow.”

As well as the traditional television channels, viewers will be able to pay for curated “channels” of programmes to stream on-demand, such as the Yoga Anytime Channel, and Horse & Country Play, which is billed as the “home of equestrianism”.

“The core of the experience on Prime Video is on-demand streaming, and that will still be the core of the experience,” said Mr Green.

Difficult market

Mr Harrington said it would be difficult for streaming services to offer traditional television services at a competitive price.

“In the US, YouTube, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have been vocal about getting TV bundles together, but YouTube is the only one to have done it so far,” he told the BBC.

“It’s very hard to build from all these different suppliers and put these channels together at a price that is compatible to a cable offering.”

Mr Green said Amazon wanted to offer customers more flexibility, by letting them subscribe to individual channels.

“Often people say they are subscribed to a big TV package but don’t watch a lot of the channels,” he told the BBC.

“Now people can try it out, pick and choose, and cancel at any time.”

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Cuban revolution

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Noam Galai/Getty

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Cubazon’s Bernardo Romero Gonzalez is counting on the Cuban diaspora to help grow his business

As the internet becomes more widespread in Cuba, online start-ups are emerging. But the problems many of the companies hope to address are also a reminder of how far the island has to go.

Bernardo Romero Gonzalez, a 33-year-old software engineer from Cuba, launched his new business this month: a website where people can order island-made products such as soap, bouquets of flowers and cakes for home delivery.

“It’s like Amazon for Cuba, but with a difference,” he told an audience of New York techies at a conference this month.

The summary was a classic start-up pitch, but it also underscored the obstacles when it comes to starting an online business in the Caribbean country.

Mr Gonzalez is counting on buyers from the Cuban diaspora, which already plays a role in the economy, sending money and other products to the island.

But the infrastructure doesn’t exist for domestic buyers to sustain the market.

Growing internet

Internet access among Cuba’s 11.2 million people is growing.

Between 2013 and 2015, the share of the Cuban population using the internet jumped from about a quarter to more than 35%, according to estimates from the International Telecommunications Union.

The growing market has helped draw the attention of internet giants, such as Airbnb, Netflix and Google, which installed servers on the island and started hosting data there last month.

The rise is also fuelling activity among local entrepreneurs, who are launching domestic versions of sites such as the crowd-review business directory Yelp.

But there’s a long way to go.

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Public wi-fi hotspots remain the primary way for Cubans to access the internet

‘Third world conditions’

Less than 6% of Cuban households had internet access at home in 2015, one of the lowest rates in the western hemisphere, according to the ITU. (In the UK, that figure tops 91%.)

Wi-fi hotspots in parks and other public places operated by the state-run telecom company remain the primary way to log on.

Service at the hotspots is often slow, expensive and selective, with the government restricting access to the full range of internet sites.

The constraints are shaping the emerging Cuban start-ups.

At this month’s TechCrunch conference in New York, Mr Gonzalez shared a stage with Kewelta, a firm focusing on advertising within decentralised online and offline networks, and Knales, which provides updates on weather, news and other events via text messages and phone calls.

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Noam Galai/Getty

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Knales co-founder Diana Elianne Benitez Perera called Cubans ‘disrupters by definition’

Knales co-founder Diana Elianne Benitez Perera told the audience that “Cubans are disrupters by definition. We always find the way to have first world conditions with third world conditions.”

‘Change in the air’

The government in recent years has taken some steps to boost internet access, increasing wi-fi hotspots in parks and other places, lowering prices and experimenting with home installations.

The measures come amid broader economic changes in Cuba, after the Castro regime loosened rules for private enterprise and the Obama administration eased the US embargo, unleashing large numbers of US travellers.

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US travel to Cuba has increased since the Obama administration eased the US embargo

The Cuba Emprende Foundation started working with the Catholic Church in Cuba about five years ago as the reforms started, funding four-week courses in entrepreneurship from which more than 3,000 people have graduated.

The Foundation helped organise the 10x10KCuba start-up competition in which both Diana and Bernardo participated last year, that led to the invitation to the Tech Crunch conference in New York in May.

“There’s change in the air,” says Anna Maria Alejo, one of the people who helped organise the TechCrunch panel and helped raise about $10,000 (£7,700) to pay for eight entrepreneurs to attend the conference.

“We’re not exactly sure where things will go, but there’s a lot of optimism among these young people,” she says.

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Noam Galai/Getty

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Three start-ups participated in a panel at the TechCrunch conference in New York in May


Cuba has a relatively high number of well-trained software engineers, especially for a country with its size and degree of internet access, said Kirk Laughlin, managing director of NearShore Americas.

The media advisory company published a report in 2015 that highlighted the island’s potential as a hub for cheap IT labour.

But Mr Laughlin says he’s been disappointed by how slowly the Cuban government has moved to improve the broadband network, especially given interest from international companies and numbers of educated Cubans opting to leave and take their chances elsewhere.

“There is such an opportunity to leapfrog ahead and really light up the island with really robust broadband. That is just not happening,” he says.

“When it comes to online start-ups, there’s a lot of workarounds”.

“That’s great that people have the ingenuity and creativity and in some ways we should applaud that,” he says.

“But it’s still a long way to go to get into the league that Cuba has great qualifications to participate in.”

‘The companies are waiting’

Some say the changes could accelerate after Raul Castro retires next year.

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Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez is expected to succeed Raul Castro in Cuba

In speeches, Mr Castro’s presumed successor, vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, has indicated a more open attitude, said Larry Press, a professor emeritus at California State University Dominguez Hills, who has researched the internet in the developing world and writes a blog on Cuba.

Mr Press said media recently praised Revolico, a Craigslist-like site that was blocked by the government after its launch in 2007. More recently, it has been celebrated and has inspired competitors.

But those steps aside, a lot of work remains, he says.

“Those indicate a change of attitude, not a giant change of reality.”

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Less than 6% of Cuban households are estimated to have internet access at home

Mr Gonzalez, who has also started computer repair and web development businesses, said he thinks the moment for Cubazon is now, while shipping to Cuba from the US remains limited.

He and the staff from his current business are working to sign up more businesses to sell their wares on Cubazon.

Many of the people he’s talking to don’t have an online presence, he says, but can see the possibility: “The companies are waiting for us.”

Still, he adds, his primary focus for the moment is a basic one: “My goal currently is working.”

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'Serious Incident' At Venue Where Ariana Grande Performed:British Police

“Emergency services responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena,” Manchester Police. (File)

British police said on Monday they had responded to a serious incident at a venue in the northern English city of Manchester where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing.

“Emergency services responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena,” Greater Manchester Police said. “Avoid the area.”

Witnesses reported hearing a huge bang at the venue, Sky News said on Monday.

A video posted on Twitter showed fans screaming and running inside the venue.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the reports on social media.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.


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Emmanuel Macron To Host Vladimir Putin At Versailles Palace On May 29

Emmanuel Macron had previously criticised Russia’s bombing of Syria as ‘possible war crime’ (File Photo)

Paris:  French President Emmanuel Macron will host Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for talks at the Versailles palace on May 29, the French presidency said on Monday, as the countries look to reset strained relations.

The meeting, confirmed by the Kremlin, will coincide with an exhibition celebrating 300 years of Franco-Russian ties since the visit of Russian tsar Peter the Great to France in 1717.

The visit comes three weeks after Macron’s election and seven months after Putin, 64, cancelled a trip to Paris for the opening of a Russian cathedral complex near the Eiffel Tower in a spat with then president Francois Hollande.

The Socialist leader had said Russia’s bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo could amount to war crimes.

Speaking last Friday, Russia’s ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, said Moscow had a “positive perception” of Macron, 39, describing him as “very intelligent, realistic and pragmatic”.

“I think he’s not very ideological compared with his predecessors,” Orlov told a meeting of business leaders. “With him we have more chances of moving forward than before.”

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two men would discuss combatting terrorism and settling the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

Orlov, in an interview with the French business magazine Challenges, said Syria was “the most burning” issue.

Macron “seems more determined than Francois Hollande,” he said, adding: “We now must go forward in (peace talks in) Geneva where France can play a greater role.”

He added of the new French president that “with him we’re dealing with a real head of state — brilliant, competent, intelligent.”

Macron’s election campaign was subject to repeated cyberattacks and his aides accused the Kremlin of mounting a “smear campaign” against him.

Thousands of emails and documents were dumped online by hackers shortly before midnight on the last day of campaigning and were then relayed by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Paris prosecutors have opened a probe into the attack.

The Putin-Macron meeting will follow Donald Trump’s first trip abroad as US president, with stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel as well as the NATO headquarters in Brussels and a G7 summit in Italy.

Orlov told the business leaders that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was convinced after meeting with Trump earlier this month that the US leader wants to normalise relations with Russia.

“But the American establishment and media have conducted a hysterical campaign against Trump to prevent him from making steps towards Russia,” Orlov said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Indo-Pak Tensions Surface In UK Election Campaign

London:  Indo-Pak tensions over the issue of cross-border terrorism have made their way into the UK general election campaign that has been hotting up.

One of Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin MPs, Virendra Sharma, was caught on camera at a multi-faith meeting in London saying that “Pakistan is not harbouring terrorist groups or sponsoring terrorism”.

The Labour MP for Ealing Southall, a heavily Indian- origin constituency, and chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) instantly faced questions around this statement during the weekend.

“Given your seniority as a long-standing British Indian- origin member of Parliament and that you hold various posts ostensibly promoting UK-India relations, your comments are totally at odds with everything we have tirelessly worked on over many years. Why,” questioned Manoj Ladwa, a senior Labour party member and political communications strategist, in a letter to the MP.

“I would strongly urge you to make an urgent public and written statement clarifying your position and that of the Labour party before this issue spirals any further,” said Mr Ladwa, CEO of the UK-based media house India Inc.

Mr Sharma attempted to explain the heated argument that was caught on a smartphone camera and found its way on to social media.

“During elections strong feelings are common, but this is no time for people to raise issues for their own selfish reasons,” he said in a statement today.

“It is important that we consider our community and put its needs above our own. I am proud to represent a diverse community made up of all religions and nationalities and I think it is important that politicians represent everyone, not just a narrow section,” he said.

Mr Sharma, who won by a big margin over his Conservative party rival in the 2015 general election, is seeking his fourth re-election in the June 8 snap poll.

“I am proud to represent the area I have lived in for the last 49 years and my campaign will focus on our community and how much we can achieve. This election must be about bringing people together, improving people’s lives and turning our backs on the politics of division,” said the 69-year-old Punjab-born MP.

The campaign for next month’s election is heating up on all sides, with the ruling Conservative party losing some of its massive lead in opinion polls.

The Tory lead in terms of vote share has halved compared to a week ago, according to a latest Survation poll, with British Prime Minister Theresa May’s party on 43 per cent compared to Labour’s 34 per cent.

A YouGov poll over the weekend also appeared to show Labour narrowing the gap at 35 per cent compared with the Tories on 44 per cent.

The manifesto launches by the two main parties last week are believed to be behind the swing, with Conservative party plans on social care for the elderly coming under scrutiny.

“My manifesto is honest and upfront about our challenges.

It includes plans to strengthen the social care system with more and sustainable funding to cope with the long-term pressures caused by the fact that we are an ageing society,” said May in a speech in Wales today.

The Labour party, on the other hand, made a direct play for the youth vote, with an announcement to bring forward its pledge to scrap tuition fees to include students starting university this year if it wins the election.

The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat party focused on the ruling party’s plans to double the migrant surcharge on companies employing migrants from outside the European Union (EU), including India.

The party’s shadow chancellor, Vince Cable, said, “The Brexiteers, many members of whom are now in the Cabinet, told us that leaving the EU would mean we could be more generous to our Commonwealth partners, it is now clear that this was another leave lie.

“The consequences of this policy to businesses, including the multi-billion-pound restaurant industry, who were already struggling to make ends meet due to strict regulation and charges is another example of why the Conservatives have buried any claim to be the party of business.”

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