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Adele sings and jokes about weight loss as she hosts Saturday Night Live - BBC News
The star also tells the audience "my album's not finished" as she presents the US sketch show.
By Mark SavageBBC music reporter image captionThe show was Adele's first US TV appearance since the 2017 Grammy Awards Adele joked about her recent weight loss and told fans "my album's not finished" as she hosted the US comedy show Saturday Night Live. "I know I look really, really different since you last saw me," said the 32-year-old, as she took to the stage. "But actually, because of all the Covid restrictions...I had to travel light and I could only bring half of me," she joked. "And this is the half I chose." The star added she was "too scared" to sing and host SNL at the same time. "I'd rather just put on some wigs, have a glass of wine or six and see what happens." However, the star did break into song during one of the night's sketches. A spoof of the reality show The Bachelor, it saw Adele enter the competition as a female contestant looking for a date. "I'm here because I've had a lot of heartbreak in my life - first at 19 and then, sort of famously, at 21 and then, even more famously, at 25," she said, referencing the titles of her first three albums. The sketch saw her endure endless rejections in The Bachelor's dating scenarios. On every occasion, she interrupted the filming with one of her songs - including Rolling In The Deep, Hello and Set Fire To The Rain - to the increasing annoyance of her castmates. At the end, she walked off the set singing Someone Like You, shouting: "Catch me next week on Love Island!" It has been five years since Adele last released an album, and three since she last appeared on US TV - at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Her booking on SNL prompted speculation that she was ready to release her fourth album, but the star wrote on Instagram last week that she wanted the appearance to be a "stand alone moment". In her opening monologue, Adele said she was "absolutely thrilled" to be part of the show that "broke my career in America, 12 long years ago". "You see I was the musical guest back in 2008 when Sarah Palin came on with Tina Fey," she explained, "so obviously a few million people tuned in to watch it. And well, the rest is now history." That episode was the highest-rated edition of SNL in 14 years, and Adele's performance of Chasing Pavements and Cold Shoulder made her an overnight star. The day after Adele's performance, her debut album 19 took the top spot on the iTunes chart for the first time, while Chasing Pavements climbed the Billboard chart from 46 to 11, giving the star her first US hit. image captionComedian Keenan Thompson made fun of Adele's tendency to swear on live TV As with her first appearance, Saturday night's show came just weeks before a presidential election. Adele said she didn't "know anything about American politics... but I'll just say this: 'Sarah Palin, babes, thanks for everything.'" She continued: "I always get very nervous on live TV, but tonight especially so, because I swear a lot. And because I'm British I tend to skip all those medium ones and go straight to the worst ones. "Last time I was told not to swear specifically during a live broadcast, I was playing Glastonbury and well, this is what happened..." she said, cueing up a compilation of her expletive-ridden performance in 2016. image captionThe star played Annie, a woman obsessed with colouring books, in a sketch with comedian Kate McKinnon Other sketches during the 90-minute show saw the star playing a ghost haunting a mansion, and an English woman who is secretly obsessed with colouring books, having her fortune told. "I wonder if you see anything work-related in the next year," she asked Madame Vivelda, played by comedian Kate McKinnon. "I see no concerts in 2020," she was told. "Only colouring." A third scene saw her playing a middle-aged divorcee who clumsily stumbles into racist stereotypes while extolling the virtues of escaping to Africa. As she and McKinnon repeatedly emphasized the wonder of "the bamboo" and dreamily referenced "the tribesmen", Adele kept breaking character and stifling giggles. The star dedicated Saturday's show to front-line workers in the Covid-19 pandemic, some of whom had been invited to the socially-distanced audience in New York. The programme, which is not broadcast live in the UK, will be repeated on Sky Comedy and Now TV on Sunday night. Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email [email protected]
US election 2020: How Trump has changed the world - BBC News
From fake news to how other countries see the US - here's a look at the president's global impact.
By Rebecca SealesBBC News The president of the United States is not just the leader of his country, he is probably the most powerful person on Earth. What he does changes life for all of us. Donald Trump is no exception. So how exactly has Mr Trump changed the world? President Trump has repeatedly declared the US "the greatest country in the world". But according to a recent 13-nation poll by the Pew Research Center, he hasn't done much for its image overseas. In many European countries, the percentage of the public with a positive view of America is at its lowest for almost 20 years. In the UK, 41% had a favourable opinion, while in France it was 31%, the lowest since 2003, and in Germany just 26%. America's response to the coronavirus pandemic was a major factor - only 15% of respondents felt the US had handled the virus well, according to figures from July and August. It's hard to pin down what President Trump believes about climate change, as he's called it everything from "an expensive hoax", to a "serious subject" that is "very important to me". What is clear is that six months into the job, he dismayed scientists by announcing America's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, which committed nearly 200 countries to keeping global temperature rises well under 2C. The US is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, and researchers have warned that if Mr Trump is re-elected, it may become impossible to keep global warming in check. Rejecting the Paris agreement, the president claimed it "would have been shutting down American producers with excessive regulatory restrictions". This has been a theme for Mr Trump, who has removed a raft of pollution regulations to cut the cost of producing coal, oil and gas. Several US coal mines have still closed, however, driven by competition from cheaper natural gas and state efforts to support renewable energy. Government figures show renewable sources generated more energy than coal in the US in 2019, for the first time in more than 130 years. America's exit from the Paris climate deal formally takes effect on 4 November, the day after the presidential election. Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the pact if he wins. Fears that the US pull-out would prompt a domino effect have not been realised, although some observers believe it smoothed the path for Brazil and Saudi Arabia to block progress on cutting carbon emissions. President Trump set out his stall on immigration just a week after his inauguration, closing US borders to travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Currently 13 nations are subject to tight travel restrictions. The number of foreign-born people living in the US was about 3% higher in 2019 than in 2016, President Obama's last year in office. But who those immigrants are has changed. The percentage of US residents born in Mexico has fallen steadily during Mr Trump's term, while the number who moved from elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean has increased. There has also been a general tightening of the number of visas enabling people to settle permanently in the US - particularly for relatives of those already living there. If there's an emblem of President Trump's immigration policy, it's surely the "big, beautiful wall" he swore to build on the border with Mexico. As of 19 October, US Customs and Border Protection says 371 miles of wall have been constructed - almost all of it replacement fencing where barriers already existed. The work did not deter those desperate to reach America. The number of migrants detained at the US-Mexico border hit its highest level for 12 years in 2019, spurred by a peak in arrivals during the spring. More than half were families, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, where violence and poverty are driving people to seek asylum and a new life elsewhere. Turning to refugees, Donald Trump has made swingeing cuts to the number who can resettle in America. The US took in almost 85,000 refugees in the fiscal year 2016, which fell to under 54,000 people the following year. In 2021, the maximum will be 15,000 people - the fewest since the refugee programme launched in 1980. "I think one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with is 'fake'," Donald Trump said in an October 2017 interview. Although the president definitely didn't invent the term "fake news", it's fair to say he popularised it. According to social media posts and audio transcripts monitored by Factba.se, he has used the phrase about 2,000 times since first tweeting it in December 2016. Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016 Search Google for "fake news" today and you'll get more than 1.1 billion results from all over the world. Charted over time, you can see how US interest rose in the winter of 2016-17, and spiked the week the president unveiled what he called the "Fake News Awards", a list of news stories he viewed as false. During the 2016 White House race, "fake news" meant untrue reports like one about Pope Francis endorsing Mr Trump for the presidency. But as it seeped into popular usage, that meaning shifted away from being just about misinformation. The president has frequently used "fake news" to attack news stories he disagrees with. In February 2017, he took it further, branding several news outlets "the enemy of the American people". It's a term that's been picked up by leaders in Thailand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, among others, and some have used allegations of spreading "fake news" to justify repression and prosecutions against opposition activists and journalists. Civil society groups say that by using the term against credible reporting, politicians fundamentally undermine democracy, which relies on people agreeing what the basic facts are. In his February 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump pledged to withdraw US troops from Syria, declaring: "Great nations do not fight endless wars." The numbers paint a more nuanced story. Not least because months down the line, Mr Trump decided to keep about 500 troops in Syria after all to protect oil wells. The president has scaled back the presence he inherited in Afghanistan, and to an extent in Iraq and Syria. But American forces are still everywhere they were the day he took office. There are ways to impact on the Middle East without troops, of course. President Trump overturned the objections of previous presidents by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, and recognising the city, including its occupied East, as Israel's capital. Last month he hailed the "dawn of a new Middle East" when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements normalising relations with Israel - a move the US helped broker. Rhetoric aside, this was perhaps the most significant diplomatic achievement of the Trump administration. The two Gulf states are just the third and fourth Arab nations in the Middle East to recognise Israel since it declared independence in 1948. President Trump seems to scorn deals he didn't broker. On his first day in office, he dumped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal approved by President Obama, after branding it "horrible". The withdrawal mostly benefited China, which viewed the deal as an attempt to curb its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. But in the US, critics who felt the agreement would compromise American jobs cheered its demise. Mr Trump also renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which he called "perhaps the worst trade deal ever made". Its replacement left much unchanged, but toughened up labour provisions and rules on the sourcing of car parts. The president's real fixation has been how America benefits from trade with the world. The outcome was a bitter trade war with China, in which the world's two largest economies imposed hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes on each other's goods. It's been a headache for US soybean farmers and the tech and auto industries. China was affected too, as businesses moved their manufacturing to countries like Vietnam and Cambodia to lower their costs. For 2019, the US trade deficit in goods with China was slightly under its 2016 level. American companies imported less as they sought to avoid Mr Trump's tariffs. However, despite the coronavirus pandemic heavily influencing trends for 2020. America still imports more goods than it exports. This Trump tweet refers to a policy rollback so stunning that the phone call in question has its own Wikipedia page. The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016 On 2 December 2016, Mr Trump (then president-elect) took the highly unusual step of speaking directly to the president of Taiwan - breaking with a precedent set in 1979, when formal relations were cut. Carrie Gracie, then the BBC's China editor, predicted the move would prompt "alarm and anger" in Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a province of China not an independent state. The bold opener from Mr Trump was the first in a multi-pronged poking contest between the great geopolitical rivals, which has sunk relations to their lowest point in years. The US has irked China by declaring its territorial claims in the South China Sea illegal, heaping tariffs on its goods, banning downloads of the popular apps TikTok and WeChat, and blacklisting Chinese telecoms giant Huawei - which it claims is a threat to national security. But the tensions did not begin under Mr Trump, and are driven in part by China's own actions. President Xi Jinping, in power since 2013, has presided over a highly controversial national security law in Hong Kong, and the mass imprisonment of China's Muslim minority Uighurs. President Trump has renamed Covid-19 "the China virus", and while he may be keen to deflect scrutiny from his own handling of the pandemic, a change of US leadership wouldn't necessarily mean a more conciliatory tone. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has called President Xi a thug, and claimed the Chinese leader "doesn't have a [democratic] bone in his body". "Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat," Mr Trump tweeted on New Year's Eve, 2019. "Happy New Year!" Days later, to global shock, the US assassinated Qasem Suleimani, Iran's most powerful general, and the man who spearheaded its military operations in the Middle East. Iran retaliated, firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two American bases in Iraq. More than 100 US troops were injured, and analysts deemed the nations on the brink of war. There was no war, but innocent civilians still died: just hours after Iran's missile strikes, its military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board. How did it come to this? A series of mutual miscalculations made against a backdrop of mistrust. The US and Iran have been at loggerheads since 1979, when Iran's US-backed shah (its monarch) was overthrown, and 52 Americans were taken hostage inside the US embassy. In May 2018, Mr Trump ratcheted up tensions by abandoning a 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. He then put in place what the White House called "the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed" - designed to compel Iran's leaders into a deal more to his liking. Tehran refused to bend. The sanctions drove Iran's economy into severe recession, and by October 2019 the cost of food was up by 61% year-on-year and the price of tobacco by 80%. Suffering Iranians held widespread protests a month later. While the coronavirus crisis has absorbed political attention in both hard-hit countries, their diplomatic channels remain few and their flashpoints numerous.
China-Taiwan tensions erupt over diplomats' fight in Fiji - BBC News
Both sides say their officials were injured at an event organised to mark Taiwan's national day.
image copyrightTaipei Trade Office image captionAround 100 delegates had been invited to the event at one of Fiji's most luxurious hotels Longstanding tensions between China and Taiwan have erupted over a physical fight between their diplomats in Fiji. Taiwan alleges two Chinese embassy officials gate-crashed an event to celebrate their national day earlier this month - claims Beijing disputes. Both sides say their officials were injured in the fight, and have asked Fiji police to investigate. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province but Taiwan's leaders argue it is a sovereign state. Relations between the two are frayed and there is the constant threat of a violent flare up that could drag in the US, an ally of Taiwan. The latest incident is said to have occurred on 8 October as Taiwan's trade office in Fiji - its de facto embassy - held a reception for some 100 distinguished guests in the luxurious Grand Pacific Hotel in the Fijian capital Suva. Taiwan's foreign ministry claimed two Chinese officials began taking pictures and trying to collect information about the guests. The Taiwanese diplomat who asked them to leave was assaulted and needed hospital treatment for a head injury, the ministry said. "We strongly condemn the actions by the Chinese embassy in Fiji staff for seriously violating the rule of law and civilised code of conduct," Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said. China gave a different account of events. Its embassy in Fiji said its staff had been in a "public area outside the function venue" carrying out unspecified "official duties" and accused Taiwanese officials of acted "provocatively" and causing "injuries and damage to one Chinese diplomat". China's foreign ministry, in a briefing on Monday, revealed its officials were aware of what was happening inside the venue, including the fact there was a cake featuring the Taiwanese flag, which Beijing describes as false because it does not recognise Taiwan as a country. "A false national flag was openly displayed at the scene, the cake was also marked with a false national flag," spokesman Zhao Lijian was quoted by AFP news agency as saying. Fijian police have made no comment on the investigation. Beijing has long tried to limit Taiwan's international activities and both have vied for influence in the Pacific region. Although Taiwan is officially recognised by only a handful of nations, its democratically-elected government has strong commercial and informal links with many countries.
Pieces of orbiting space junk set for very close pass - BBC News
Two bits of discarded Russian and Chinese space hardware may pass within less than 25m of each other.
image copyrightGetty Images image captionThere is growing concern about the potential for more collisions in space (Artwork image) Two pieces of old space junk may come within 25m of each other, according to a Silicon Valley start-up which uses radars to track objects in orbit. LeoLabs has been monitoring the paths of a defunct Russian satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket segment. It sees them converging over Antarctica at 00:56 GMT (01:56 BST) on Thursday. Other experts who've looked at the available data think Kosmos-2004 and the ChangZheng rocket stage will pass with a far greater separation. With a combined mass at over 2.5 tonnes and relative velocity of 14.66km/s (32,800mph), any collision would be catastrophic and produce a shower of debris. And given the altitude of almost 1,000km, the resulting fragments would stay around for an extremely long time, posing a threat to operational satellites. Neither Kosmos-2004, which was launched in 1989, nor the ChangZheng rocket stage, launched in 2009, can be moved. So, there is no possibility to influence the event. LeoLabs offers orbital mapping services using its own radar network. Data from the most recent event updates show miss distance of 25 meters (+/- 18 meters at 1-sigma uncertainty). We will gather observation data tonight from the first radar pass after TCA to hopefully confirm no new debris is detected. — LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) October 15, 2020 Dr Moriba Jah, an astrodynamicist at the University of Texas at Austin, has worked out the miss distance to be about 70m. And the Aerospace Corporation, a highly respected consultancy, comes to a similar conclusion. With more and more satellites being launched, there's certainly growing concern about the potential for collisions. The big worry is the burgeoning population of redundant hardware in orbit - some 900,000 objects larger than 1cm by some counts - and all of it capable of doing immense damage to, or even destroying, an operational spacecraft in a high-velocity encounter. This week, the European Space Agency released its annual State of the Space Environment report. It highlighted the ongoing problem of fragmentation events. These include explosions in orbit caused by left-over energy - in fuel and batteries - aboard old spacecraft and rockets. On average over the last two decades, 12 accidental fragmentations have occurred in space every year - "and this trend is unfortunately increasing", the agency said. Also this week, at the online International Astronautical Congress, a group of experts listed what they regarded as the 50 most concerning derelict objects in orbit. A large proportion of them were old Russian, or Soviet-era, Zenit rocket stages.
Trump taxes: A 'fundamentally unfair' system? - BBC News
What do Donald Trump's tiny tax bills say about the taxes of the wealthy?
By Natalie ShermanBusiness reporter, New York image copyrightGetty Images For years, US President Donald Trump has shrugged off criticism of his low tax bills, famously boasting that not paying taxes made him "smart". "Like every other private person, unless they're stupid, they go through the laws, and that's what it is," he said during last month's presidential debate, when confronted over the New York Times report that he had paid just $750 in income taxes to the federal government in 2016 and 2017, and for 10 years, paid nothing at all. So how unusual is his tale? In the US, Mr Trump's route to such low sums, using business losses and expenses such as haircuts to offset other gains, has raised legal questions, triggering investigations by tax officials and authorities in New York. And in other countries, Mr Trump might find it harder to deploy such strategies so freely, says Andy Summers, professor of law at the London School of Economics. The UK, for example, has rules that limit how much losses in one business can be used to offset gains elsewhere. All that suggests Mr Trump is a special case, not withstanding research finding higher rates of tax evasion among the super-rich. But in other ways, tax experts say, Mr Trump has a point. Many of the world's wealthy pay less than what official tax rates might imply - with no need to resort to tricky tactics at all. image captionDonald Trump's refusal to release his taxes has been a source of political controversy "It's not, 'Oh there's one person who's doing it,'" says Arun Advani, a professor of economics at Warwick University, who has examined taxes in the UK. "It's actually a relatively common experience." In the UK, a quarter of those earning between £5m and £10m in income and capital gains paid an effective average tax rate of just 11%, Prof Advani and Prof Summer found looking at recent tax data. That was not just lower than the official top income tax rate of 47%, but lower than the rate charged on someone earning just £15,000. In the US, the 400 richest American billionaires paid an average overall tax rate of 23% in 2018 - lower than the 24% rate paid by the bottom half of households, economists at the University of California - Berkeley estimated in a 2019 paper. The difference between the headline rates and what governments actually collected was driven by laws that hit wages and salaries with higher tax rates than other types of income, such as property and stock market investments, which belong disproportionately to the rich. image copyrightMorris Pearl image captionMorris Pearl says how much tax he pays has nothing to do with his real gains Former New York banker Morris Pearl, 60, who has described his fortune as in the "tens of millions", says his federal income tax rate is in the high teens - far lower than America's official rate on top earners of 37%. That's despite strong gains in recent years in his stock market investments, which he has relied on for income since retiring from his job at investment giant Blackrock in 2013. "The whole system is so fundamentally unfair," says Mr Pearl, now chairman of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy Americans that backs higher taxes on the rich. "How much tax I pay has absolutely nothing to do with how much money any normal person would say I made." Since the 1980s, official tax rates on top earners have generally fallen in developed countries, never recovering from the cuts ushered in during the rightward political turn that swept global policy circles during the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher era. While some countries have shifted the income level at which the top rate kicks in, or raised rates following the global financial crisis, the overall downward trend remains. And most countries - even famously high-tax Denmark - have opted to reward investments and property with lower tax rates. Advocates of the policies say they encourage investment, helping to spur growth and job creation. And they note that the rich still account for a disproportionate share of income collected by the government. But it's a set-up that is increasingly being blamed for fuelling inequality and political instability. image copyrightDjaffar Shalchi image captionDanish millionaire Djaffar Shalchi has founded Human Act, which campaigns for raising taxes on the wealthy among other things Last summer, Mr Pearl helped to organise a letter from some of the world's richest, urging governments to raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for the coronavirus pandemic. Their cry has helped to drive political debates in the US, UK and elsewhere. Another organiser of the letter, Djaffar Shalchi, a property and construction magnate in Denmark, says even his famously progressive country has seen its tax code become less so over time. He wants to see it reinstate a wealth tax to address the disparities. "If we are not going to address this problem, then we will have the US system, maybe in 20 years," he says. "We are going in that direction." Buckinghamshire tech entrepreneur Gemma McGough, who describes her fortune as "less than £20m", was one of the letter's UK millionaire signatories. image copyrightGemma McGough image captionBuckinghamshire millionaire Gemma McGough estimates her family paid a roughly 40% tax rate Ms McGough says she paid a roughly 40% rate last year, on income made primarily from savings and investments. But when she and her husband sold their first business, Product Compliance Specialists, in 2014, they benefited from UK tax relief for entrepreneurs, which until recently shielded them from some taxes up to £10m in gains from certain business sales. "I feel quite guilty about having become so wealthy," Ms McGough says. "I didn't feel that way during any of the time that I was running the business... because I felt like it was really hard work. "It was only later, after we sold that it was like, 'No, there's a lot of people working really long hours,' and most people are not millionaires at the end of it." Ms McGough, Mr Pearl and Mr Shalchi remain a minority among their class - fighting against the tide of recent policy changes. The UK cut the top rate on earners in 2013, reversing a rise from just a few years earlier, while the US cut tax rates on the top as recently as 2017. But since Patriotic Millionaires was founded in 2010, its general aims have won some high-profile endorsements, including from investor Warren Buffett, who called for raising taxes on the rich in 2016, famously noting that his 16% federal income tax rate was lower than his secretary's. Mr Pearl, whose recent tax payments of nearly $100,000 were still far higher than Mr Trump's, says he's hopeful that outrage over stories like Mr Trump's will force the pendulum of tax policy to start swinging in the other direction. "It was kind of very abstract before but I think... people are realising that most people are paying a much higher share than some of our wealthiest citizens," he says. "A lot of people have decided that's not fair."
Philippines: Anger over death of baby separated from jailed mother - BBC News
A Filipina newborn died two months after she was separated from her mother, a political detainee.
Image copyrightKapatidImage caption Baby River with her mother Reina Mae Nasino at hospital on the day of her birth The death of a three-month-old baby separated from her jailed mother despite pleas to keep the pair together has shocked the Philippines, reports the BBC's Preeti Jha. Reina Mae Nasino, a human rights worker, didn't know she was pregnant when she was arrested last year in Manila. She put her missed period down to the stress of a night-time police raid in which she was arrested, alongside two fellow activists. It was only during a medical examination in prison that the 23-year-old found out she was in her first trimester. The death of Ms Nasino's newborn last week - less than two months after the baby was removed from her care - has raised questions about the treatment of Philippine mothers in custody as many voiced their anger at the justice system for failing the child. A challenging birth Ms Nasino, who worked for the urban poverty group Kadamay, was arrested in November 2019 with two fellow activists after police raided an office where they lived at the time. They were charged with the illegal possession of firearms and explosives - charges all three have denied. They say the ammunition was planted by authorities amid a widening crackdown against left-leaning activists. Despite the circumstances, Ms Nasino "was quite excited to be a mother", her lawyer Josalee Deinla said. She was prepared for the challenge of giving birth in custody and aware the legal proceedings were likely to be lengthy. But as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines, her concerns grew rapidly. The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, a legal aid group representing Ms Nasino, filed a series of motions calling for her release. The first one in April urged the temporary release of 22 political prisoners most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus, including Ms Nasino. Later motions asked the court to allow the activist and her baby to remain together in hospital or at the Manila City Jail where she was detained. "We were shocked that the court would deny such a plea. The judge only needed to consider the motions from her own perspective as a human. But unfortunately compassion and mercy were not extended to mother and child," said Ms Deinla. Mounting pleas River Masino was born on 1 July. Her birth weight was low but after a few days she and Ms Nasino returned to Manila City Jail where they stayed in a makeshift room reserved for them. Under Philippine law a child born in custody can remain with the mother for only the first month of their life, though exceptions can be made. By comparison, children born to mothers detained in Malaysia are permitted to remain with them until the age of three or four. In the UK, mother and baby units enable women to stay with their infants till they reach 18 months. Campaigners persisted in pressing authorities to release Ms Masino and her baby. "We would tie blue ribbons to the the poles of the Supreme Court gates. They stood for River, the essence of life. We placed candles outside. But they didn't listen," said Fides Lim, who heads Kapatid, a support group of families and friends of political prisoners in the Philippines. Image copyrightKapatidImage caption Ms Nasino's mother (in blue) had been fighting for the right of her daughter and granddaughter to remain together Ms Nasino's mother, assisted by Kapatid, also delivered photos and letters to authorities nearly every week, pleading for her daughter's release "We knew how important it was for baby River to be breast fed," said Ms Lim, who has also been campaigning for the urgent release of her husband, a political prisoner aged 70. The hospital where Ms Nasino gave birth recommended the baby be kept with her mother, said Ms Nasino's lawyer, Ms Deinla. "But the prison authorities said they lacked the resources. They came up with a lot of excuses, violating the child's right to her mother's breast milk," she said. Under the "Bangkok Rules" - UN guidelines for the treatment of female prisoners - decisions on when a child is separated from its mother should be based on the best interests of the child. The BBC has approached the Philippine prison authorities for comment but has not yet received a response. The separation On August 13, baby River was separated from her mother. Ms Nasino was "inconsolable", said Ms Deinla. "She didn't want to give up her baby. She was actually pleading that the baby be allowed to stay longer." Because of Covid-19 rules restricting access to prisoners, Ms Deinla and her colleagues have only been able to keep in touch with Ms Nasino by phone. Baby River's health began to deteriorate the following month, according to Ms Lim. The newborn had been passed into the care of her grandmother, Ms Nasino's mother, who told the support group that the family were "very worried because the baby was having diarrhoea", said Ms Lim. Calls to reunite the mother and child grew more urgent as River was hospitalised on 24 September and her condition worsened. But Ms Nasino was still not permitted to see her baby. Last week, River died from pneumonia, just over three months old. Her death has shocked many in the Philippines, where tributes and sympathies have flowed on social media. Many have also expressed their anger at the justice system, with some comparing the recent pardon granted to a US marine convicted of killing a transgender woman in the Philippines with the court's refusal to allow Ms Nasino to see her dying baby. "*Selective* justice is served," wrote a Twitter user. Image copyrightKapatidImage caption Ms Nasino was permitted to briefly attend her daughter's wake on Wednesday Others highlighted the difference in how the young activist was treated compared to higher profile and more wealthy prisoners who have been allowed temporary release to attend events such as their children's weddings or graduations. On Tuesday, a local court granted Ms Nasino a three-day furlough to attend the wake and funeral of her daughter. But after prison officials intervened to reduce the length of her release she was only permitted to leave jail for three hours on Wednesday and Friday - the day of River's burial.
Trial to test if Vitamin D protects against Covid - BBC News
Vitamin pills will be posted to 5,000 UK residents to see if they help boost immunity.
image copyrightGetty Images image captionMany people in the UK have low vitamin D levels Scientists are looking for volunteers to take part in a trial to see if taking vitamin D can give the immune system a boost against Covid. People who join would be sent pills in the post to take daily for six months if a finger-prick test shows they are deficient in the "sunshine vitamin". UK residents are already advised to consider taking supplements over winter when vitamin D levels can dip. That is to improve general health, not specifically to stop infections. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in older people, in people who are overweight, and in black and Asian people - all of the groups who are at increased risk of becoming very ill with Covid. The trial, led by researchers from Queen Mary University of London and funded by Barts Charity, will use higher doses of vitamin D than regular supplements. Principal investigator David Jolliffe said the trial "has the potential to give a definitive answer" to the question of whether vitamin D offers protection against Covid. "Vitamin D supplements are low in cost, low in risk and widely accessible; if proven effective, they could significantly aid in our global fight against the virus," he said. Although vitamin D supplements are very safe, taking more than the recommended amount every day can be dangerous in the long run.
BTS in trouble in China over Korean War comments - BBC News
Chinese social media users vent anger over a speech singer RM made while accepting an award.
Image copyrightEPAImage caption RM (2nd from right) is the band's leader South Korean K-pop group BTS are facing a backlash in China over comments a member made about the Korean War. In a speech, the band's leader, known as RM, mentioned South Korea's shared "history of pain" with the US over the 1950-53 conflict, in which the two countries fought together. But his remarks have angered Chinese social media users, as Beijing backed the North in the war. The controversy also appears to have affected commercial deals. Adverts featuring BTS from companies including Samsung, sports brand Fila and car manufacturer Hyundai disappeared from a number of Chinese websites or social media platforms, although it is unclear who removed them. K-pop has a large following in China and BTS - one of the most successful groups - are no different, with at least five million fans on China's popular social media platform Weibo. RM's comments came as BTS received an award celebrating relations between the US and South Korea. "We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women," he said. But his words were met with an angry response in China, with Weibo users noting the losses their country suffered. According to China's state-run Global Times newspaper, "Chinese netizens said the band's totally one-sided attitude to the Korean War hurts their feelings and negates history", adding that the comments were designed to "play up" to US audiences. "They [BTS] should not make any money from China," one angry user commented on Weibo, according to Reuters news agency. However, a number of people on Twitter defended the group, noting that RM's speech did not mention China directly. The seven-member BTS are popular around the world and have broken a number of records. Earlier this year, their single Dynamite became the most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours, with 101.1 million views in a day.
Covid: UK at 'tipping point', top scientist warns - BBC News
England's deputy chief medical officer says the country will see more deaths over the coming weeks.
Planet Mars is at its 'biggest and brightest' - BBC News
The Red Planet is unmissable in the night sky right now as its orbit aligns with Earth's.
By Jonathan AmosBBC Science Correspondent image copyrightdamianpeach.com image captionIn all its glory: Mars pictured by Damian Peach on 30 September Get out there and look up! Mars is at its biggest and brightest right now as the Red Planet lines up with Earth on the same side of the Sun. Every 26 months, the pair take up this arrangement, moving close together, before then diverging again on their separate orbits around our star. Tuesday night sees the actual moment of what astronomers call "opposition". All three bodies will be in a straight line at 23:20 GMT (00:20 BST). "But you don't have to wait until the middle of the night; even now, at nine or 10 o'clock in the evening, you'll easily see it over in the southeast," says astrophotographer, Damian Peach. "You can't miss it, it's the brightest star-like object in that part of the sky," he told BBC News. Even though this coming week witnesses the moment of opposition, it was Tuesday of last week that Mars and Earth actually made their closest approach in this 26-month cycle. A separation of 62,069,570km, or 38,568,243 miles. That's the narrowest gap now until 2035. At the last opposition, in 2018, Earth and Mars were just 58 million km apart, but what makes this occasion a little more special for astrophotographers in the Northern Hemisphere is the Red Planet's elevation in the sky. It's higher, and that means telescopes don't have to look through quite so much of the Earth's turbulent atmosphere, which distorts images. Experienced practitioners like Damian use a technique called "lucky imaging" to get the perfect shot. They take multiple frames and then use software to stitch together the sharpest view. Damian's picture at the top of this page shows up clearly the "Martian dichotomy" - the sharp contrast between the smooth lowland plains of the Northern Hemisphere and the more rugged terrain in the Southern Hemisphere. Evident too is Mars' carbon dioxide ice cap at the southern pole. The image was captured using a 14-inch Celestron telescope. "That's quite a serious bit of equipment; it's not something you get on a whim," says Damian. "But even a telescope half that size will show up all the major features on Mars quite easily. And if you've got a good pair of binoculars, you'll certainly be able to make out that it's actually a planet and not a star." It's around opposition that space probes are launched from Earth to Mars. Obviously - the distance that needs to be travelled is shorter, and the time and energy required to make the journey is less. Three missions are currently in transit, all of which were sent on their way in July: The United Arab Emirates's Hope orbiter; China's Tianwen orbiter and rover; and the Americans' Perseverance rover. Europe and Russia had hoped to despatch their ExoMars "Rosalind Franklin" rover, too, but they missed the launch window and will now have to wait until late 2022. That's the penalty you pay when the planets align only every 26 months. Hope, Tianwen and Perseverance are all on course to arrive at Mars in February. In 2003, Mars made its closest approach to Earth around opposition in nearly 60,000 years - a separation of just 56 million km. The distance between the two at opposition can be over 100 million km, as happened in 2012. The variation is a consequence of the elliptical shape of the orbits of both Mars and Earth. [email protected] and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos