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Nasa Osiris-Rex spacecraft lands on asteroid Bennu in mission to collect dust - The Guardian
Spacecraft ‘kissed the surface’ in brief landing on asteroid 200m miles away from Earth in US-first mission
A Nasa spacecraft has successfully landed on an asteroid, dodging boulders the size of buildings, in order to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for analysis back on Earth. The space agency team behind the Osiris-Rex project said preliminary data showed the sample collection went as planned and that the spacecraft had lifted off the surface of asteroid Bennu. I cant believe we actually pulled this off, said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do. Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine offered his congratulations, saying: We are on the way to returning the largest sample brought home from space since Apollo. If all goes well, this sample will be studied by scientists for generations to come. The Osiris-Rex spacecraft sent back confirmation of its brief contact with asteroid Bennu more than 200m miles (322m km) away, drawing cheers from the mission team. But it could be a week before scientists know how much, if anything, was grabbed and whether another try will be needed. If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023. The US mission follows one run by Japan called Hayabusa2, which is due to return to Earth in December bearing samples collected from the 4.5bn-year-old asteroid Ryugu. When it lands in the Australian desert, it will be the first ever sub-surface asteroid sample to return to Earth. On Bennu, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft took four-and-a-half hours to make its way down from its tight orbit to the surface, following commands sent well in advance by ground controllers near Denver. As the asteroid is just 1,670 feet (510 meters) across, Bennus gravity was too low for Osiris-Rex to land. As a result, the spacecraft had to reach out with its 11-foot (3.4-meter) robot arm and attempt to grab at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of Bennu. The University of Arizonas Heather Enos, deputy scientist for the mission, described it as kissing the surface with a short touch-and-go measured in just seconds. The coronavirus pandemic had resulted in a two-month delay. Tuesdays operation was considered the most harrowing part of the mission, which began with a launch from Cape Canaveral back in 2016. Osiris-Rex, a van-size spacecraft, aimed for a spot equivalent to a few parking spaces on Earth in the middle of the asteroids Nightingale Crater. After nearly two years orbiting Bennu, the spacecraft found this location to have the biggest patch of particles small enough to be swallowed up. After determining that the coast was clear, Osiris-Rex closed in the final few yards for the sampling. The spacecraft was programmed to shoot out pressurized nitrogen gas to stir up the surface, then suck up any loose pebbles or dust. Scientists want between 2 ounces (60g) and 4 pounds (2kg) of Bennus black, crumbly, carbon-rich material thought to contain the building blocks of our solar system. Nasas science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, likened Bennu to the Rosetta Stone, something thats out there and tells the history of our entire Earth, of the solar system, during the last billions of years. Another benefit: Bennu has a slight chance of smacking Earth late in the next century, although not as a show-stopping life-ender. The more scientists know about the paths and properties of potentially hazardous space rocks like this one, the better. Osiris-Rex can make up to three touch-and-go maneuvers in case it comes up short. Regardless of how many tries it takes, the samples wont return to Earth until 2023 to close out the $800m-plus quest. The sample capsule will parachute into the Utah desert. That will be another big day for us. But this is absolutely the major event of the mission right now, Nasa scientist Lucy Lim said. Nasa, meanwhile, plans to launch three more asteroid missions in the next two years, all one-way trips. With Associated Press
Arctic review – stark eco warnings from the ice-braving hunters who battled whales - The Guardian
From sleds made of bones to supernatural sealskin hunting suits, this stirring show celebrates the heroism and ingenuity of humans who survive in balance with nature
A whaling suit towers up, as if some muscular occupant is still inside, looming over you. The suit, one of the highlights of this mind-expanding dive into Arctic cultures, is the Moby-Dick of clothes. Created by the Kalaallit people of south-west Greenland some time before 1834, it is like a modern survival suit: it could even be inflated by blowing into a tube. Except its made of sealskin. Wearing this watertight armour, a hunter would leap from a small boat on to a whales back and spear it with a harpoon. But its not just a buoyancy aid. It is also a magical garment, thought to give its occupant the power of a seal, allowing them to stay afloat and endure the iciest water. The artefacts in Arctic: Climate and Culture have a presence that goes way beyond their ingenious practicality. You feel and picture the lives of the peoples who have chosen, for millennia, to inhabit one of the harshest regions on the planet, using tools crafted from the flora and mostly fauna around them. Theres a bag made from salmon skin in the 19th century, and a whalebone breastplate worn by an Arctic warrior in the 3rd century BC, showing that the peoples of the Arctic had organised conflicts with each other. Meanwhile, a pair of walrus ivory snow-goggles from between 200 and 400AD look like props for a prehistoric sci-fi film Arctic Punk, say. Many of these objects defy time. A drawing by the English traveller John White, from the reign of Elizabeth I, portrays an Inuit woman with her infant son peeping out from her huge hood. Nearby on video, 21st-century Arctic women explain how they make and use a very similar enlarged parka hood to carry their children today. It looks like fun to grow up among the Inuit or the Sámi, judging by the lovingly made fur-lined romper suits and sleds even if they were made to address urgent adult concerns. In the Arctic Circle, it seems, every day is Christmas. This is an uplifting show, which is a surprise given the current condition of the Arctic, something the British Museum does not hold back on. A powerful graphic at the start reveals how much of the Arctic has already melted. But it gives that reality a new and complex twist. We see documentaries about polar bears starving. The fact that we know about their plight doesnt make the stories any less harrowing. What we dont know so much about, though, is the human story revealed here, nor its implications for how we understand our species. Once we all lived like the peoples revealed here: 30,000 years ago, ice covered Europe. As it retreated, agriculture and towns developed. But the people captured in this show chose to carry on living in the ice age. A shamans drum covered with mysterious marks, seized from a Sámi man who was prosecuted as a witch in 17th-century Norway, attests to similar beliefs to those that some archaeologists identify in cave art. Why carry on living in the ice? Because stone-age economics can provide plenty and make for meaning and contentment. The world detailed here looks happy. So, despite the foreboding we feel when we think about the Arctic, here is a heartening encounter with a radical alternative to modern living. Art in this world is not a commodified luxury confined to its own specialist art world. Everybody makes stuff. Everyday objects are turned into things of beauty and magic, including a 1960s snowmobile customised with a fur seat, gut windshield and arrowholders. Animals are everywhere here, as images and subjects of myth, but also as a resource ivory, skins, scales and guts But thats the other thought provoker. Animals are everywhere here, as images and the subjects of myth, but also as a resource. Ivory, skins, scales and guts the uses Arctic peoples find for the creatures they catch are dazzling. There is clearly a vast difference between the blend of respect and needful violence that the whaling suit shows and the industrial slaughter of the modern economy. It wasnt traditional Arctic culture that drove whales close to extinction or melted the Arctic. These peoples live inside nature, and in balance with it. This show is in the end a rebuke to the fashionable view that Homo sapiens is a monster who began by wiping out mammoths and Neanderthals and has gone on from there. It reveals a more human view of humanity. Were not the devil. People have lived alongside and, yes, killed the animals of the Arctic, but without destroying their world. Its a rare exhibition these days that makes us see the heroism of being human. But that sealskin suit is an astounding monument to the crazy, clever species who would jump on a whales back in one of the coldest places on Earth.
Liverpool launch attack on ‘completely stupid’ Jordan Pickford - The Guardian
Liverpool’s fury at losing Virgil van Dijk was laid bare when Georginio Wijnaldum accused Everton’s Jordan Pickford of being ‘completely stupid’
Liverpools fury at losing Virgil van Dijk was laid bare on Tuesday when Georginio Wijnaldum accused the goalkeeper Jordan Pickford of being completely stupid and Everton of a completely unacceptable approach to Merseyside derbies. A clearly seething Jürgen Klopp said he shared his players opinion. The Liverpool manager and midfielder are in Amsterdam for the Champions League opener against Ajax on Wednesday but it was their Merseyside rivals who were the main focus and target of a combative press conference. Wijnaldum said Liverpool players endured a sleepless night on Saturday after Van Dijk damaged an anterior cruciate ligament and remain devastated four days on. The Netherlands international, a close friend of his compatriot, did not try to disguise the impact of the defenders absence on Liverpool nor the feelings within the squad over what happened during Saturdays 2-2 draw at Goodison Park. Wijnaldum said: We are still devastated and I think this was different from normal. The way it happened was really hard for us. Everyone still has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday none of the players had slept because of what happened with Virgil and, as I said, the way it happened. It is a really hard one to take and a hard one for the team. We are upset. The way Pickford went in on the challenge was completely stupid in my opinion. I believe he didnt want to injury Virgil the way he injured him but the way he took the tackle basically he didnt care about what happened after the tackle. We had a lot of games against Everton and in my opinion they take it way too far in the games we play against them. We know it is a derby and everyone wants to win a derby so sometimes you go a little bit over the top but it was too much. It was not only his tackle, we can talk about the tackle from Richarlison on Thiago which was also a nasty one. That is what bothered me the most and I think most of the other players as well. Accidents can always happen in football, you can be unlucky with a tackle and injure someone, but the way they were doing it is completely unacceptable. It makes it harder that they dont get punished. In this case Pickford doesnt get punished after seeing the videos. Van Dijk will miss the majority of the season as a consequence of the right knee injury, which requires surgery, while Thiago has been left on Merseyside as a precaution after sustaining a slight knee problem in the foul that led to Richarlison being dismissed. Merseyside police are investigating threats made to both Everton players on social media. Liverpool are also furious over the conflicting explanations that the authorities have given for how VAR was used at Goodison and have asked the Premier League for a review, although Everton came in for the fiercest criticism from Klopp too. The Liverpool manager, who is also without Joël Matip against Ajax, said: A couple of days ago something happened which should not have happened in a football game. It was not the first time and it probably wont be the last time. I see it similar to my players. Both challenges were difficult to accept, let me say it like this. What we can all do is try to change these kind of things. Its really hard for us because Virgil is our boy and it has nothing to do with the quality of Virgil. Yes, he is a world-class player and well miss him but we also miss Oxlade and injuries happen in football, very often in challenges when both players are just trying to play the ball. That was not the case in these two challenges and it makes it so different and difficult to take. In this game there were a few things that came together. Firstly, the ref doesnt see it. Michael Oliver is an excellent referee usually but why he didnt see it I dont know because he had the best view. Then VAR forgets the rules. It is not that I want every player punished but it is something we all agree on if you do something wrong, you have to deal with the consequences. At this moment there are only two people dealing with the consequences: Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcântara. Liverpools visit to Amsterdam is the first competitive meeting between the clubs since Ajaxs famous 7-3 aggregate win in the 1966-67 European Cup, when the Total Football vision of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff stunned the English champions. Bill Shankly was so impressed afterwards that he visited the Ajax dressing room to shake hands with all of their players. Erik ten Hags side who officially remain Dutch champions after the 2019-20 season was abandoned sit second in the Eredivisie, and the head coach believes Liverpools approach will not change as a result of Van Dijks absence. Its not going to be a different Liverpool, Ten Hag said. Liverpool always play the same. Their principles are hammered in and they can easily switch with the quality they have. The quality of Man A can switch to Man B. The whole team wont change because Virgil van Dijk isnt present. The teams could have met in the 2019 final, of course, had Ajax not succumbed to Lucas Mouras 96thminute winner for Tottenham in the semi-final second leg in Amsterdam. It would have been nice to play against them in the final, their captain, the former Southampton forward Dusan Tadic, reflected. We would have had a larger chance than Tottenham thats for sure.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro review roundup: fresh design and future-proofing - The Guardian
Early reviews of new Apple phones suggest lots of little upgrades but 5G not yet a killer feature
The first reviews of Apples new 5G-enabled smartphones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, are in from publications with early access to two of the four new models. The £999 iPhone 12 Pro has an extra telephoto camera and Lidar-based depth sensor not present on the cheaper £799 iPhone 12, which just has a regular and an ultrawide camera on the back. Neither the smaller and cheaper iPhone 12 Mini nor the largest and most expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max are yet available. While the redesign with flatter sides and smaller bodies around the same or larger screens has proven popular, some of the improvements to the hardware, including 5G, have not yet paid off. The differences between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models are also smaller than ever, while those keen on photography might be advised to wait to see what the iPhone 12 Pro Max with its improved camera system will deliver in November. The Guardian will have its own reviews of the new iPhones in the next week or so, but in the meantime heres what those given early access by Apple had to say. iPhone 12 Costing from £799, the iPhone 12 has a 6.1in OLED screen, two cameras on the back, 64GB of storage and the same A14 Bionic processor as the rest of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro line. Dieter Bohnfrom the Verge notes that the iPhone 12 is noticeably smaller than its predecessor despite having the same size screen: Overall, though, this design just feels more elegant and confident than the past few years of iPhones, including even the big iPhone X redesign. And the smaller size is the best part; the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 always felt just a little too big. If this is the design well be living with for the next six years, I wont complain. The faster processor and smaller design havent dented battery life, as Rhiannon Williamsfrom the i notes: New year, new iPhone, new processor (essentially the brains of the device), and this years four new phones all contain the A14 Bionic chip Apples fastest to date, and, it claims, the fastest ever in a smartphone full stop the same assertion it made about last years A13 Bionic processor. The speed bump is at its most obvious when playing energy-intensive games and processing videos. Its an incredibly fast chip designed to reduce strain on the battery. In terms of battery life, I found it to be largely in line with the iPhone 11 ending a 16-hour day with 25-30% charge after sending and receiving WhatsApps and texts, streaming a radio app and running a 40-minute workout app onscreen. Stuart Milesfrom Pocket Lint found the night mode and HDR capabilities of the camera to be much improved: Night Mode, added to Apples arsenal in 2019, is like night and day when it comes to low-light photography, and were equally impressed with the iPhone 12s HDR photography capabilities, all the while not really bothering you with dozens of settings to master. Point, shoot, snap, and enjoy seems to be Apples mantra here and it works. TechRadars Gareth Beavis concludes that the iPhone 12 is more future-proofed with lots of potential but doesnt yet feel like a massive change over the iPhone 11 and is more expensive: The iPhone 12 feels like its packed with potential but Apple is relying on others to make it a success to a large extent. We need to see wider deployment of 5G, and others need to get on board with MagSafe accessories quickly, to really make the new phone an appealing buy. Those things aside, and while the upgrades to the display and design are nifty, the iPhone 12 doesnt feel massively different to the iPhone 11 and doesnt feel like it outperforms its higher price tag in the same way that phone did. Lauren Goodefor Wired found many of the iPhone 12s features similar to the iPhone 11, including the camera and battery, and, with 5G not a widely developed system yet, she warns: Get the iPhone 12 if youre long overdue for a fast phone with a great camera and you prefer iOS and living in Apples ecosystem. But dont get the iPhone 12 solely for 5G. A smartphone, more than ever, should be something that fits into your life and delivers the experiences and connections you need it to. It shouldnt be an overpriced vehicle for technology you cant fully take advantage of yet. And it shouldnt be the cause of more stress. Theres enough of that already. EngadgetsChris Velazco was impressed by both the new iPhones but noted that the delta between them has shrunk: Heres what I find really interesting about these phones: theyre even more similar than I expected before I started testing them. The gap between the regular iPhone and the Pro iPhone has shrunk, and thats great news for anyone who doesnt want to spend more for a smartphone than they have to. But it also means deciding between the two is no easy feat. iPhone 12 Pro Costing from £999, the iPhone 12 Pro has a 6.1in OLED screen, three cameras on the back plus a Lidar sensor, 128GB of storage (double the iPhone 12) and has the same A14 Bionic processor as the cheaper iPhone 12. Patrick Holland, writing for Cnet, preferred the iPhone 12 Pro because of its feel: During my time with both phones, I found myself picking the 12 Pro more. Not because it had a telephoto camera or Lidar, which the 12 lacks: I preferred the matte textured back, the shiny stainless steel band around the sides and the fact that the 12 Pro, despite weighing nearly an ounce (25 grams) more, felt solid and premium in my hand. Meanwhile, Joanna Sternwriting for the Wall Street Journal found the inverse, and that the MagSafe accessory attachment system is good in theory but you need to be a bit careful in practice: I actually prefer the 12s lower-end aluminum for its lighter weight. Plus, the Pros flashy stainless-steel frame is a fingerprint magnet. Speaking of magnets, Apple put some in the backside of these phones so you can snap on its new MagSafe accessories. Its a neat trick at least in theory. The $59 leather wallet attachment is great for storing credit cards. Except a few times, when I slid it into my jeans, the magnet detached and the wallet flew off. The VergesNilay Patel found the camera system is only slightly better than its predecessor for still photography: Compared to the Google Pixel 5 and the Samsung Note 20 Ultra, the iPhone 12 Pro delivers exactly what weve come to expect from Apple: great photos in almost every case, with balanced colours and great details. I still prefer the Pixel look ever so slightly, and I am reliably informed that there are people who prefer Samsungs hyperrealistic colours, but the iPhone 11 Pro was the phone to beat. The iPhone 12 Pro slightly improves on the 11 Pro in most situations and adds the ability to get usable shots in even harder-edge cases. All in all, the iPhone 12 Pro camera remains one of the most powerful, capable smartphone cameras on the market right now. The problem is that the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is coming out in less than a month. If you are the sort of person who buys a new phone for the camera, I would definitely wait. Apples focus on video appears to be paying off, however, as Rhiannon Williams from the i found the both the quality and stabilisation to be top-notch: I filmed 4K videos in broad daylight and at night walking around London and indoors, and was blown away by how smooth and natural-looking the resulting footage was. Shooting a squirrel eating nuts on a fence perfectly captured the colour gradients of its fur and the way the tail blew in the breeze, zooming and panning in a clean and natural manner. It also refocuses automatically and copes well in artificial light and in the dark. Im no videographer, but the iPhone Pro 12s camera set up is so impressive I found myself trying to track down interesting stuff specifically to film. Shooting a bike ride around a park (holding the bike in my hand) in 4K 30fps (frames per second) demonstrated how smooth the handling is, even when rolling over bumpy ground, handling shifts in light quality and auto-focuses as it shoots. Colours are vivid and sharp, textures are clear. Recording a swan stretching its wing highlighted the subtle light reflected off the water and on to the outstretched feathers without oversaturation. The clarity of the Pro camera while recording video is breathtaking.
Car crash survivor pays tribute to wife and three children who died - The Guardian
Josh Powell’s family car was in a collision with an HGV on the A40 near Oxford on 12 October
A man who survived a car crash in which his wife and three of his children died has paid tribute to a wonderful family with a hunger for adventure. Josh Powells 29-year-old wife, Zoe, their daughters Phoebe, eight, and Amelia, four, and six-year-old son Simeon all died in a collision between their people carrier and a lorry. Powell, 30, and their 18-month-year-old daughter, Penny, survived the crash on the A40 near Oxford and continue to recover. In a statement issued through Thames Valley police, Powell said the future was uncertain and there were many battles to come. But he said he had wonderful memories of his wife and three children. Before the adventure of starting a family nobody truly knows what to expect, he said. All of lifes preconceptions and what we see in the world around us meant that life as a family man was so much better than I expected it to be. I had been blessed with four wonderful children, whose thirst for life and hunger of adventure kept me busy but in the best possible way. As I look to an uncertain future, I reflect on the fun that we had as a family, with feelings of sadness that it was cut so short. Phoebe was my first daughter, and was the model of her mother but with a thirst to always know more. Regularly we would adventure and explore the world together. She was clever and able to make great jumps of imagination her great creations in Lego are testament to this. Simeon was just like his father, with a mischievous sense of humour and desire to know more of the world. A keen sportsman, he had been due to play in first football match this week. He shared the kind heart of his sisters and wouldnt be happier than when he knew that everyone was OK. Amelia was kind and spirited. Her tenderness and thoughtfulness much more advanced than her years. Her ability to dance and express herself was a true blessing, with an abundance of self-confidence. Tied down by no element of practicality she had the most vivid dreams and imagination. Ms Powell ran two companies and blogged about motherhood while Mr Powell is a railway contractor. He continued: Myself and Zoe were as different as we were alike. Despite the frequent tensions this would bring, it was of immense benefit having such differing worldviews. Our children benefited from this in having adventures but also the quiet to talk. Zoe was a dreamer. More than anything, we made a great partnership to raise a family. I want to thank everyone who has rushed to put their arms around to us to support me and Penny. There are many battles to come, and I thank everyone who has stood by me and Penny thus far. Police said they received multiple calls from members of the public at 9.50pm on Monday 12 October after the crash involving the familys Subaru people carrier. The HGV driver, a 56-year-old man, suffered minor injuries and has cooperated fully with their investigation, Thames Valley police have said.
Actor Jeff Bridges being treated for lymphoma - The Guardian
Famous for his role of The Dude in The Big Lebowski, Bridges says the disease is serious but his prognosis is good
Actor Jeff Bridges has said he is being treated for lymphoma and his prognosis is good. The 70-year-old channeled his The Dude character from The Big Lebowski in a statement on social media about the diagnosis on Monday evening, tweeting New S**T has come to light. As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light. I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good. Im starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery. — Jeff Bridges (@TheJeffBridges) October 20, 2020 He said he understands the disease is serious. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, the bodys disease-fighting network that includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. The main types of lymphoma are Hodgkins lymphoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Bridges expressed gratitude to his family, friends and medical team and promised to keep fans posted on his recovery. In a second tweet he reminded Americans to go vote. Bridges is a seven-time Oscar nominee known for his roles in Starman, True Grit, The Last Picture Show and many other films. He won an Academy Award in 2010 for Crazy Heart and was most recently nominated for playing a grizzled lawman in Hell or High Water. Bridges is son of actors Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges, who both died in 1998. The news of his illness was greeted with dismay by his fans. Hey 2020, leave Jeff Bridges out of this! — Travon Free (@Travon) October 20, 2020
Talking on the moon: Nasa and Nokia to install 4G on lunar surface - The Guardian
Move is part of US space agency’s plan to establish a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030
With competition among Earths telecoms providers as fierce as ever, equipment maker Nokia has announced its expansion into a new market, winning a deal to install the first cellular network on the moon. The Finnish equipment manufacturer said it was selected by Nasa to deploy an ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened wireless 4G network on the lunar surface, as part of the US space agencys plan to establish a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030. The $14.1m contract, awarded to Nokias US subsidiary, is part of Nasas Artemis programme which aims to send the first woman, and next man, to the moon by 2024. The astronauts will begin carrying out detailed experiments and explorations which the agency hopes will help it develop its first human mission to Mars. Nokias network equipment will be installed remotely on the moons surface using a lunar hopper built by Intuitive Machines in late 2022, Nokia said. The network will self-configure upon deployment, the firm said in a statement, adding that the wireless technology will allow for vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video. The 4G equipment can be updated to a super-fast 5G network in the future, Nokia said. In all, Nasa announced last week it would distribute $370m to 14 companies to supply Tipping Point technologies for its mission, which include robotics and new methods of harvesting the resources required for living on the moon, such as oxygen and energy sources. The bulk of the funding went to companies researching cryogenic propellants, freezing liquids used to fuel spacecraft. Among them, Elon Musks SpaceX received $53.2m for a demonstration of the transferring of ten metric tons of liquid oxygen between tanks on a starship vehicle, Nasa said.
Van Damme saves life of chihuahua after row over fake passport - The Guardian
Actor known for his martial arts action films intervenes in Norway-Belgium tussle
Action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme has come to the rescue of a three-month-old chihuahua, saving her from euthanasia after a legal tussle between Norway and Bulgaria. The dog named Raya was sold to new owners in Norway in September but officials there would not register her because she had travelled on a fake Bulgarian passport. Norway tried to repatriate the animal but Bulgaria refused to take her back because of European Union rules on the transport of live animals, leaving the dog facing euthanasia until the Belgian film legend got involved. Van Damme, best known for his martial arts action films, launched an emotive campaign on social media, posting selfies of him hugging his chihuahua, which eventually persuaded Bulgarias food safety authority to accept the dog back. I beg, please, for my birthday, the food safety authority, change your decision, Van Damme wrote over the weekend, launching a petition to save the dog. They made a mistake, the people who didnt do the paper correctly ... But they cannot kill that little chihuahua. The food safety authority says Raya will have medical checks when she gets back to Bulgaria and will be put up for adoption. Yavor Gechev from the Four Paws animal rights organisation told AFP on Monday that Bulgaria should be congratulated for showing flexibility but called for stricter control on illegal breeders and animal traffickers. The export of pets from eastern to western and northern Europe is a lucrative business, he said. The dogs fake passport meant she would have been put down on 20 October under Norways legislation, said Gechev. The misadventures of Raya resemble the story of Penka the cow, who also faced a death sentence after wandering over Bulgarias border with Serbia in May 2018. Penka was saved thanks to an international campaign in her defence joined by former Beatle Paul McCartney.
UK needs judges to limit government power, says Lord Kerr - The Guardian
Longest-serving supreme court justice says healthy democracy requires checks on ministers
The last thing the country needs is a government in which ministers exercise unbridled power, the UKs longest serving supreme court justice has said. In a forthright defence of the courts system, Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, who stood down at the end of last month, said judicial checks on the government were part of a healthy democracy. Kerr said he understood why governments became irritated by legal challenges but warned that attacking lawyers was not profitable. His comments follow criticism from the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, of activist and lefty human rights lawyers whom they blame for obstructing immigration controls and hamstringing the criminal justice system. The government has also created a panel of experts to examine how judicial review challenges are dealt with by the courts, saying it wants to balance the right of citizens to question government policy in court against the executives ability to govern effectively. Kerr, a former lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, joined the supreme court in 2009, when it was first formed, and served for 11 years. In an interview with the Guardian, he dismissed Patels description of the profession. Lawyers are not activists, he said. They are re-activists. People bring problems to lawyers and lawyers decide whether they can be fitted into some sort of legal framework in which a legitimate challenge can be taken. I can understand the government is less than pleased when challenges are made to decisions they have taken frequently after very considerable deliberations But it doesnt seem to me that attacking lawyers who provide the services that allow those challenges to be made is particularly profitable. Ministers might be irritated by legal challenges which may appear to them to be frivolous or misconceived, Kerr said. But, he added, if we are operating a healthy democracy what the judiciary provides is a vouching or checking mechanism for the validity [of] laws that parliament has enacted or the appropriate international treaties to which we have subscribed The last thing we want is for government to have access to unbridled power. However, for ministers, he acknowledged, on a day-to-day basis thats a difficult message. They want to get on with the business of government and they dont want the interference. Parliament is certainly sovereign When the government acts in excess of the powers [parliament] has decided, its entirely healthy and entirely appropriate that there be some institution to point this out. The Human Rights Act, he explained, was often an example of that process. Its parliament, he said, which has said to the judges, Please look at this legislation and tell us whether its compatible with the European convention [on human rights]. Kerr said he fully agreed with comments made by the former president of the supreme court Lord Neuberger, who last week said that the internal market bill, which enables the government to breach international law and exempts some of its powers from legal challenge, was in danger of driving the UK down a very slippery slope towards dictatorship or tyranny. Q&AWhat is the UK internal market bill? Show The internal market bill aims to enforce compatible rules and regulations regarding trade in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some rules, for example around food safety or air quality, which were formerly set by EU agreements, will now be controlled by the devolved administrations or Westminster. The internal market bill insists that devolved administrations have to accept goods and services from all the nations of the UK even if their standards differ locally. This, says the government, is in part to ensure international traders have access to the UK as a whole, confident that standards and rules are consistent. The Scottish government has criticised it as a Westminster "power grab", and the Welsh government has expressed fears it will lead to a race to the bottom. If one of the countries that makes up the UK lowers their standards, over the importation of chlorinated chicken, for example, the other three nations will have to accept chlorinated chicken too. It has become even more controversial because one of its main aims is to empower ministers to pass regulations even if they are contrary to the withdrawal agreement reached with the EU under the Northern Ireland protocol. The text does not disguise its intention, stating that powers contained in the bill have effect notwithstanding any relevant international or domestic law with which they may be incompatible or inconsistent". The bill passed its first hurdle in parliament by 77 votes, despite a rebellion by some Tory MPs. Martin BelamandOwen Bowcott Thank you for your feedback. The influential Judicial Power project, part of the thinktank Policy Exchange, has recently questioned whether the supreme court should be abolished on the grounds that it indulges in judicial activism intervening in matters that supposedly should be left to politicians. But Kerr, who was a law lord before the UKs highest court was transferred to the supreme court, said he wholly rejected the notion that we have become more ready to interfere in the decisions of government than our predecessors in the House of Lords. The estimated £56m cost of creating the supreme court in Parliament Square was worth it, Kerr said. Coming as I do from Northern Ireland, I believe that a spot of symbolism does not go amiss. I think it was very important to make clear in the minds of the public that the court stands fully independent from parliament and government. Kerr sat on both the 2016 article 50 Brexit case and the 2019 prorogation case, in which he was an active and close questioner of the governments submissions. His previous experience as senior crown counsel for the government in Northern Ireland courts, he suggested, may have helped. When I appeared, as I did, before judges in [Belfast] who had occupied my position previously, they were the most testing and quite properly so. The governments position ought to be strongly tested It was an intensely interesting case. I failed to resist the temptation to ask questions. The government lost both cases when the justices upheld parliaments sovereignty and its powers to scrutinise legislation. Both landmark judgments, Kerr emphasised, had nothing to do with the court conducting some sort of political analysis. All of the justices were very conscious that we need to be aware of the perimeter between judicial decisions and avoiding intrusion into political areas.
China becomes first major economy to recover from Covid-19 pandemic - The Guardian
Year-on-year expansion, while slightly lower than analyst expectations, represents a dramatic reversal
The Chinese economy grew 4.9% between July and September, according to government data, as China becomes the first major economy to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The year-on-year expansion, while slightly lower than analyst expectations, represents a dramatic reversal from the first quarter of this year when the economy shrunk by 6.8%, Chinas first contraction since 1992 when officials began keeping quarterly GDP data. Chinas central bank governor Yi Gang said on Sunday that officials predict annual growth of about 2%. The Chinese economy remains resilient with great potential. Continued recovery is anticipated, which will benefit the global recovery, he said. China is expected to be the only G20 economy to grow this year. The global economy is slated to contract by 4.4%, according to the International Monetary Fund, the steepest downturn since the Great Depression. Covid-19 first emerged in central China in Wuhan in December and by early April, lockdowns were lifted as the country gradually re-opened factories and businesses while travel restrictions were loosened. Policymakers released targeted stimulus measures from tax cuts and lower interest rates to credit local governments and cheaper lending for businesses. Most Chinese cities have returned to normal with schools and offices reopened. Before a new outbreak in the eastern province of Shandong this month, the country had gone almost two months without any new locally transmitted cases. China has officially reported 4,634 coronavirus deaths and more than 85,000 confirmed cases. Data on Monday showed industrial production in September rose 6.9% compared to the same period last year. Retail sales were up 3.3%. Auto sales for the month also increased 12.8% while domestic air travel exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Consumer spending has begun to pick up again, illustrated by a resurgence in tourism during a week-long public holiday in October known as Golden Week. Observers say the strength of Chinas economic recovery still remains uncertain in the face of job losses, uneven growth across the country, elevated levels of household and corporate debt, as well as trade frictions as ties with the US and other trading partners continue to deteriorate. Others doubt official economic data, which have in the past been inflated by local governments. The Chinese leadership, anticipating slower growth and a more difficult international environment, are pursuing a new strategy known as a dual circulation economy. The concept, first proposed by Xi Jinping in May is aimed at reducing the countrys reliance on overseas markets and technology and fostering domestic consumption and advances in technology. Globalisation is facing a reversal, with rising protectionism and unilateralism. The world economy is weakening as international trade and investment, science, technology security and politics are all undergoing profound change, Xi said in a speech in Shenzhen last Wednesday. We are forming a new development pattern with the domestic economic cycle playing a leading role. Our economy is at a critical period of transformation, he said. On Weibo, internet users were skeptical of the new data. One commented that they and several of their colleagues had received New Year bonuses, typically given before Chinas spring festival, months early. How could the numbers not look good? the commentator said. The price of everything is higher, another said. As always, I do not believe them, one said.