Keir Starmer braces for challenging weekend as polls close across UK

Labour leader thanks activists for calling 1.7 million voters before UK’s first major election held during pandemic

Keir Starmer thanked Labour activists for calling as many as 1.7 million voters in recent weeks, as his team braced themselves for a challenging weekend after polls closed in the UK’s first major elections to be held during the pandemic.

Party sources were downbeat about their prospects of holding Hartlepool in a crucial byelection, with activists reporting low turnout in Labour-voting areas. “It’s going to be a very, very difficult night,” said one party strategist, adding that Starmer would “take it on the chin” if the seat is lost for the first time in half a century.

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Dalian Atkinson: officer told ex-footballer ‘keep your head down’, murder trial hears

Witness on third day of trial says she had to look away in horror as police officer stamped on his head in 2016 incident

A police officer accused of murdering the former footballer Dalian Atkinson told him to “keep your head down” as he repeatedly stamped on his head while he lay on the ground after being shot with a Taser stun gun, a key witness has told the trial.

Jean Jeffrey-Shaw told the trial at Birmingham crown court, how she had to look away in horror. She said she asked her husband why the officer had been telling Atkinson to keep his head down when he appeared to her to be dead.

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New concerns as Indian Covid variant clusters found across England

Exclusive: Leaked emails show Public Health England assessment of ongoing risk from B16172 variant is ‘high’

Clusters of the Indian variants of Covid-19 have been found across England, including in care homes, the Guardian has learned, amid growing fears about the speed with which they are spreading in communities.

The latest update of case numbers of these variants was due to be published on Thursday. But leaked emails seen by the Guardian show the announcement was delayed until at least Friday because of the local elections.

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‘You are a racist’: Sturgeon clashes with ex-Britain First deputy

Scotland’s first minister in tense confrontation with Jayda Fransen outside Glasgow polling station

Nicola Sturgeon has confronted the former Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen on the streets of her Glasgow Southside constituency, describing her as a “fascist” and “racist”.

The exchange was captured by an observer and posted on Twitter, after Fransen approached the Scottish National party leader outside a polling station on Lorne Street, in Glasgow.

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Boy, 16, charged with murder of man on Essex street

James Gibbons, 34, died soon after he was attacked near his home in Laindon, police say

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of James Gibbons, who was stabbed to death in Laindon, Essex.

Police said that the 34-year-old father of four died soon after he was attacked in the street where he lived, at about 9.30pm on Sunday.

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Judge criticises Priti Patel over policy for asylum seekers in pandemic

Court hears home secretary may have acted unlawfully in changing accommodation policy

A high court judge has criticised the British home secretary in court and said he found it “extremely troubling” after one of her officials admitted the Home Office might have acted unlawfully in changing its asylum accommodation policy during the pandemic.

Mr Justice Garnham raised concerns in court on Thursday that the home secretary, Priti Patel, could have been distributing public funds without legal authority.

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E171: EU watchdog says food colouring widely used in UK is unsafe

European Commission to propose ban after finding that carcinogenic effects cannot be ruled out

A food colouring used in products sold in the UK ranging from chewing gum and white chocolate to toothpaste and sauces for toddlers can no longer be ruled out as a cause of cancer, the European Food Safety Authority has said.

Titanium dioxide, or E171, is often used to whiten food products, but its use has long been a point of concern over fears that it could be carcinogenic. The French government announced a ban in 2019, but it is still used in other EU member states.

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Childish Gambino sued for alleged This Is America copyright infringement

The artist, whose real name is Donald Glover, is being sued by rapper Kidd Wess who claims his song Made in America is ‘glaringly similar’

Childish Gambino is being sued for alleged copyright infringement, with the rapper Kidd Wes saying the Grammy-winning hit This Is America was lifted from him.

According to US federal court documents Emelike Nwosuocha says the 2018 song from Donald Glover, whose alter ego is Childish Gambino, is “glaringly similar” to a song he released two years prior on Soundcloud.

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Deaths from alcohol misuse in England and Wales hit 20-year high in 2020

ONS figures show death rate starting to rise at beginning of first lockdown and increasing sharply each quarter

Deaths directly attributable to alcohol misuse rose dramatically to reach a 20-year high in England and Wales as coronavirus took hold last year, possibly driven by increased consumption by higher-risk drinkers, official data shows.

There were 7,423 alcohol-specific deaths in 2020, up 20% on the previous year and the highest annual death toll since records began in 2001, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. In population terms the rate rose year-on-year from 11 to 13 per 100,000.

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EU accuses UK as France seeks to ‘rapidly defuse’ Jersey fishing row

France moves to calm diplomatic waters but Brussels says Britain has breached terms of Brexit trade deal

The European Union accused the UK of breaching the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday as tensions over fishing rights in the Channel Islands were de-escalated after a dramatic 24 hours, with Royal Navy boats ordered to retreat from Jersey shores.

Brussels’ claim that London had flouted the rules came on a day in which 60 vessels blockaded Jersey’s harbour, a French boat rammed a British fishing vessel and Boris Johnson declared his unequivocal support for the Channel island in the battle with its nearest neighbours.

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‘Dark forces’ preventing Newcastle from being ‘powerhouse’, says Mike Ashley

  • HMRC ends long-running investigation into club’s affairs
  • Ashley files claim against Premier League after failed takeover

Newcastle United’s owner, Mike Ashley, has claimed “dark forces” are preventing the struggling Premier League club from emerging as a football superpower after HMRC quietly discontinued a long-running investigation into its tax affairs.

Related: Newcastle’s harmony restored as mood music changes appreciably

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US-Germany rift as Berlin opposes plan to ditch Covid vaccine patents

  • Germany says waiver would inhibit private sector research
  • Opposition to Biden plan threatens to deadlock WTO talks

The US and Germany are at odds on the issue of waivers for patents on Covid-19 vaccines, as Berlin argued that a waiver would not increase production and would inhibit future private sector research.

The disagreement is the first major rift between the two economic powers since Joe Biden took office, and threatens to deadlock discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and sour relations within the G7 group of major industrialised democracies.

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Coronavirus live: Covid-19 unlikely to be ever eradicated, warns Prof Chris Whitty

England’s chief medical officer says outlook remains ‘pretty bleak’ globally but hopes disease will become ‘much milder’ in long term

10.33pm BST

The United States has administered 251,973,752 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country and distributed 324,610,185 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

9.59pm BST

More than a thousand migrants who hope to reach the United States were vaccinated against COVID-19 through a first-time effort made possible by a private donation of shots from a U.S. company, a shelter director said.

Around 1,200 migrants, mainly from Central America, received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the border city of Tijuana, said Gustavo Banda, director of the Ambassadors of Jesus shelter.

Reuters consulted several migrant shelters and did not find any other cases of migrants receiving vaccines.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is dealing with a growing humanitarian crisis as more people reach the U.S. border. Authorities in Mexico, the United States and Central America have tightened border restrictions in recent months.

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NHS Covid jab booking site leaks people’s vaccine status

Exclusive: Health service revising its process in England as ‘shocking failure’ allows access to medical data

NHS Digital is revising its process for booking Covid vaccinations in England after the discovery of a “seriously shocking failure” that leaked medical data from the site.

The website lets users make appointments using their NHS number or, if they do not have it to hand, some basic identity information. But in the process, users’ vaccination status is disclosed, allowing anyone who possesses basic personal details of a friend, colleague or stranger to find out what should be confidential medical information.

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EU wants to mass produce three ‘course-changing’ Covid drugs from October

Health commissioner says plan is to reduce hospitalisation and tackle long-term impact of Covid

Three Covid medicines with the potential to “change the course” of the pandemic will be authorised for mass production and use in the EU by October under a European Commission plan.

Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health, said such a move would reduce hospitalisation and tackle the long-term impact of Covid, with one in 10 people reporting symptoms 12 weeks after infection.

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French fishers’ protest over Jersey rights is over but the dispute will go on

New restrictions and deep cuts to allowances mean both French and Jersey boat owners feel betrayed by Brexit

Dawn was still four hours away and the small Normandy port of Carteret was alive, some boats hurriedly unloading their catch for a rapid turnaround, others turning on their lights and firing up their engines for the first time that night.

Minutes after 3am on Thursday they had left the quayside and, in pitch darkness and a gentle swell, were pushing smartly out to sea to join a growing armada of 60-odd boats from Cherbourg right the way round to St-Malo.

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Ian Wright: Home Truths review – a childhood blighted by fear

The footballer was left ‘helpless’ when his stepfather beat his mother. In this important documentary, he considers the lasting trauma of domestic violence – and confronts his own

Back in the early 1970s, four people shared a single room in a house on Merritt Road, south-east London. They were a family of sorts, made up of two scared brothers, one beaten mother and a terrifying stepdad. “I remember hating him so much,” says Ian Wright of his stepfather. “And being so scared of him. He was so big and his voice was so growly.”

In Ian Wright: Home Truths (BBC One), the 57-year-old former Arsenal striker turned football pundit revisits that room for the first time in 50 years. He remembers things long gone – the orange flowery wallpaper, where the TV stood, the Z-bed he shared with his brother Maurice.

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Judy Collins: ‘When I found folk music, I also found drinking’

The 82-year-old US folk singer talks through her teenage years, from mental health struggles to wondrous romance in the Rocky mountains

I’d been playing the piano since I was five, and by the time I was 15 I was memorising Rachmaninov concertos. But Barbara Allen, recorded by Jo Stafford, turned me towards the music that was becoming the rebirth of folk music in the US. I knew Stafford’s voice very well – her My Funny Valentine was one of our favourites. She was such a magnificent singer, and her version of Barbara Allen was just stunning. That and The Gypsy Rover were songs that plunged me into a new life. I often say, though, that I was born knowing the lyrics to Danny Boy because my father sang all kinds of things – I would have heard that in the womb.

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Van Morrison: Latest Record Project Volume 1 review | Alexis Petridis’s album of the week

(Exile/BMG)
The veteran bluesman loudly wakes up the sheeple with this boring and paranoid double album, reminiscent of a dinner party with a bitter divorcee

Even a man as implacably opposed to lockdown as Van Morrison – who spent 2020 releasing songs rubbishing science as “crooked facts”, mocking people for wearing masks and describing the government as “fascist bullies” while also invoking the Berlin Wall – might be forced to concede it had its advantages. After all, it gave him the time to write the material for Latest Record Project Volume 1, a 28-song, two-hour-plus opus that allows him to set out his latterday worldview more fully than any previous work.

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‘I seek a kind person’: the Guardian ad that saved my Jewish father from the Nazis

In 1938, there was a surge of classified ads in this newspaper as parents – including my grandparents – scrambled to get their children out of the Reich. What became of the families?

On Wednesday 3 August 1938, a short advertisement appeared on the second page of the Manchester Guardian, under the title “Tuition”.

“I seek a kind person who will educate my intelligent Boy, aged 11, Viennese of good family,” the advert said, under the name Borger, giving the address of an apartment on Hintzerstrasse, in Vienna’s third district.

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Portrait of happiness: long lockdown ends for the artist Philip Sutton

A ‘terrible year’ of Covid lockdown that confined him to a care home for 421 days ends in a garden party for celebrated painter

Clutching a quill and pots of ink, Philip Sutton ended his 421-day care home lockdown this week by heading out to do what has been impossible since the Covid pandemic began: observe something new and capture it on paper.

The 92-year-old Royal Academician, who built a reputation as one of Britain’s most celebrated colourist painters, has been confined to Harbour House, a Quaker care home in Dorset, since 9 March 2020 under government guidelines to protect vulnerable people.

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‘Melon seedlings make good pets’: how lockdown made us love houseplants

From orchids to apple trees, readers share their stories of the plants that kept them busy, lifted their spirits and distracted them from the endless Zoom meetings

I’ve accidentally fostered pumpkins, which are taking over my flat. This began around Halloween, when I discovered sprouting seeds inside my carving pumpkin. It felt like a tiny gift in a dark season, so I thought I’d try raising them and see what came of it. This was perhaps not the wisest decision in a tiny flat with no outdoor space. Pumpkins love sun, but even in the darkest part of winter, two sprouts survived.

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‘It was exhilarating’: how the Guardian went digital – and global

Former editor Alan Rusbridger looks back on the dawning realisation that news was about to change forever

A crystal ball was – at least at the outset – not required.

A trip to the US in 1993 to “see the internet” left me in no doubt: the days of the daily printed newspaper were numbered. Once people learned about this thing they were calling the “world wide web”, there would be no going back. It might take 10 years, it might take 50, but it was clear that the future was digital.

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The Guardian at 200: Announcing a digital festival from Guardian Live

Join us as we celebrate 200 years of The Guardian, with our very first digital festival.

To mark the 200th anniversary of The Guardian, we are launching our very first digital festival – a mix of conversations about politics, activism, the environment, TV, music and more – brought to you, wherever you are in the world.

On Tuesday 11 May, we will be returning to The Guardian’s Manchester roots, to shine a spotlight on different aspects of the city’s vibrant life: its radical history, its progressive politics and its world-renowned music. In this free event, John Harris will be in conversations with Andy Burnham, Helen Pankhurst, Tim Burgess and Mark Fletcher, CEO of Manchester Pride. Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner will also join our lineup to talk about The Guardian’s roots in Manchester.

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How Jewish parents used Guardian ads to save their children’s lives – podcast

This month is 200 years since the Guardian was first established in Manchester. For the Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, a part of that history is deeply personal. In 1938, there was a surge of classified ads in the Guardian as parents – including his grandparents – scrambled to get their children out of the Reich. What became of the families?

On Wednesday 3 August 1938, a short advertisement appeared on the second page of the Manchester Guardian, under the title “Tuition”.

“I seek a kind person who will educate my intelligent Boy, aged 11, Viennese of good family,” the advert said, under the name Borger, giving the address of an apartment on Hintzerstrasse, in Vienna’s third district.

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India is hiding its Covid crisis – and the whole world will suffer for it | Ankita Rao

Modi’s government had a choice between saving lives and saving face. It has chosen the latter

A few years ago, as Narendra Modi came into power, I worked on an investigative report about India hiding its malaria deaths. In traveling from tribal Odisha to the Indian national health ministry in New Delhi, my colleague and I watched thousands of cases disappear: some malaria deaths, first noted in handwritten local health ledgers, never appeared in central government reports; other malaria deaths were magically transformed into deaths of heart attack or fever. The discrepancy was massive: India reported 561 malaria deaths that year. Experts predicted the actual number was as high as 200,000.

Related: India’s neighbours close borders as Covid wave spreads across region

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Scratch the surface, and the ‘new’ politics looks very much like the old | Gaby Hinsliff

If you blow away the smoke of a culture war, the Tories’ offers on home ownership and jobs are nothing revolutionary

Imagine a family house, with a garden. Nothing fancy, but solid, and cheap enough to feel within reach of an ordinary couple on ordinary wages.

To despairing millennials across much of the south-east, this is the stuff of fairytales, or else ancient history. But there are still corners of Britain where a house like that is yours for less than £130,000 (the price of the average deposit for first-time buyers now in London), where being able to buy your own place, and the security that comes with it, is almost the least of young families’ problems. And herein lies a tale about this week’s elections. Brexit was the tool that ultimately jemmied open doors long closed to the Tories. But the crumbling of the “red wall” may at least in part be the story of Conservatives learning to do well in poorer neighbourhoods with high levels of home ownership; places where wages are low but property still cheap enough that things don’t feel broken, or not as broken as outsiders often think.

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