Monday, September 14, 2020

Teenagers Convicted of Murder Could Face Whole-Life Terms



Teenagers convicted of murder in England and Wales could receive whole-life terms under sentencing reforms described by the government as the most radical in almost 20 years.

Currently, a whole-life tariff can only be given to someone aged over 21 but ministers plan to reduce this to 18 for exceptional cases, such as terrorism.

A White Paper outlining further details will be published this week.

But Labour said the Tories had pushed the justice system "to the brink".

The proposals will also include whole-life sentences for those who kill children.

And there would be new powers to prevent the automatic release of offenders who have become radicalised behind bars while serving non-terror related sentences.

A whole-life - or so-called "life means life" - order means the criminal is in prison for the rest of their life without ever becoming eligible for parole. It differs from a life sentence, under which the prisoner is given a number of years they must spend in jail after which they will be eligible to apply for parole.

Whole-life tariffs are reserved for offenders judged to be the most dangerous to society.

The planned reforms come after Hashem Abedi, who helped his brother Salman plan the Manchester Arena bombing, was jailed in August for life and ordered to serve at least 55 years in prison.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Coronavirus: Shopper Who Refused to Wear Mask Fined Twice in One Day



A woman has been fined twice in one day for failing to wear a face mask during a trip to the supermarket.

Police officers said they handed her a free mask as she entered the shop in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday.

But she refused it and, because she did not have a valid exemption, was issued with a £100 penalty.

When she was again spotted without a mask a short time later she was given the second fine.

The government has ordered that face coverings must be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres in England.

Rochdale has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection in England, with figures up to 6 September showing cases have risen to 63 per 100,000 people.

Greater Manchester Police said officers on daily patrols had been handing out masks in supermarkets as part of a council scheme.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lily Allen Confirms Marriage to ‘Stranger Things’ Star David Harbour



Lily Allen and Stranger Things star David Harbour have tied the knot in Las Vegas.

The singer and the US actor have been dating since last summer, and Allen has been pictured wearing a diamond engagement ring on several occasions this year.

The Sun claimed earlier today (September 9) that the pair were now husband and wife after marrying in an intimate ceremony presided over by an Elvis Presley impersonator.

Allen has since confirmed the reports by sharing a series of snaps from the special day on her Instagram page – check them out below.

The singer reportedly used her previous married name – Lily Cooper – for the registration. She separated from husband Sam Cooper in 2015 after four years of marriage, before they eventually divorced in 2018.

The pair have largely kept their relationship under wraps, only sharing a selection of photos on social media and appearing in public together on several occasions.

When Allen was quizzed about the large ring on her finger in a photo earlier this year, she replied: “First rule of engagement club…”

Meanwhile, it is expected that Harbour will return as police chief Hopper in the fourth season of Stranger Things, despite facing an uncertain fate at the end of the last season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Coronavirus: Bolton Restrictions Tightened Amid Rise in Cases



Tighter coronavirus restrictions have been introduced in Bolton, including only allowing takeaways and curtailing nightlife, after a rise in cases.

All hospitality venues will be limited to takeaway and must be closed to customers between 22:00 BST and 05:00 each day.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the town in Greater Manchester had "the highest case rate in the country."

A further 2,460 new coronavirus cases were reported across the UK on Tuesday.

Overall, there have been 8,396 new cases reported since Sunday.

A further 32 deaths within 28 days of a positive test across all settings were recorded on Tuesday - with the average number of daily deaths over the past week now around 11.

Ministers and government advisers expressed concern over a "sharp rise" in cases and a "heartfelt" apology was issued following shortages in England's testing system.

Mr Hancock told the House of Commons on Tuesday: "Unfortunately, after improving for several weeks, we've seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.

"The rise in cases in Bolton is partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s. We know this from contact tracing.

"And through our contact tracing system we've identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly."

He said there were 120 cases per 100,000 in Bolton, which had already been under stricter lockdown measures.

The new measures, which came into force as Mr Hancock addressed the Commons, include:

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

TikTok Suicide Video: it’s Time Platforms Collaborated to Limit Disturbing Content



A disturbing video purporting to show a suicide is reportedly doing the rounds on the popular short video app TikTok, reigniting debate about what social media platforms are doing to limit circulation of troubling material.

According to media reports, the video first showed up on Facebook in late August but has been re-uploaded and shared across Instagram and TikTok — reportedly sometimes cut with seemingly harmless content such as cat videos.

TikTok users have warned others to swipe away quickly if they see a video pop up showing a man with long hair and a beard.

A statement by TikTok quoted by said:

Schools and child safety advocates have warned parents to be alert for the possibility their child may see — or may have already seen — the video if they are a TikTok or Instagram user.

The sad reality is users will continue to post disturbing content and it is impossible for platforms to moderate before posting. And once a video is live, it doesn’t take long for the content to migrate across to other platforms.

Pointing the finger at individual platforms such as TikTok won’t solve the problem. What’s needed is a coordinated approach where the big social media giants work together.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Birmingham Stabbings: 'Strong Response' to Manhunt CCTV



Police hunting a man suspected of killing one person and injuring seven others in stabbings across Birmingham city centre say they have had a "strong response" after releasing CCTV footage.

The attacks in the early hours of Sunday sparked a massive manhunt.

Images of the man officers want to find were published on Sunday evening.

Detectives have been working through the night following leads from the public to identify and find the suspect, West Midlands Police tweeted.

The attacks happened at four different locations across the city centre during a 90-minute spell.

A 23-year-old man was killed in Irving Street at 01:50 BST on Sunday, while a man and a woman, aged 19 and 32, suffered critical stabbing injuries.

Five other people, aged between 23 and 33, were injured and taken to hospital. Two have since been discharged.

CCTV footage released on Sunday evening shows a man wearing a baseball cap, a dark hoodie with white drawstrings, dark-coloured trousers and shoes.

He is seen standing and walking on a street corner.

Three hours after the images were published, West Midlands Police tweeted: "We've had a strong response following our appeal to trace the #BirminghamStabbings suspect.

"Our detectives are following up several new lines of enquiry. This man is wanted on suspicion of murder.

"We've got a team of detectives working through the night to identify and trace the suspect."

It added that a special hotline has been set up for members of the public to pass on information.

Earlier in the day, Ch Supt Steve Graham told reporters: "At this stage we believe that the attacks were random and we have no indication of a motive."

He urged the public to remain vigilant, and call 999 if they spotted anything suspicious.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Jessica Krug: George Washington University Professor Says She Lied About Being Black



A US academic whose work focuses on Africa and the African diaspora has said she lied about being black.

Jessica Krug, an associate professor at George Washington University, admitted that she was in fact a white Jewish woman from Kansas City.

"I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken," she wrote.

Her case bears strong parallels to Rachel Dolezal, a white race activist who claimed to be black.

Ms Dolezal first made headlines in 2015 when her parents outed her as white.

The former civil rights activist and African studies instructor had kept up the pretence of being African American for years, but said she "identified as black".

Writing in a Medium post published on Thursday, Jessica Krug said she had falsely assumed identities "that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness".

She described this behaviour as "the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures", adding that she had continued the pretence even in her personal relationships.

She blamed her lies on mental health issues and trauma experienced in her early years, although she said this was not an excuse for her actions.

Ms Krug's post did not give a reason for her decision to admit her deception, nor its timing. However, screenwriter Hari Ziyad said her admission came "because she had been found out".

"Jess Krug... is someone I called a friend up until this morning when she gave me a call admitting to everything written here. She didn't do it out of benevolence," he wrote on Twitter.

According to media reports, Ms Krug also used the name Jessica La Bombalera as an activist.

In one video posted earlier this year, she berated white New Yorkers for failing to "yield their time for Black and Brown indigenous New Yorkers".

George Washington University, where Ms Krug teaches courses in African, Caribbean and diaspora history, has said it is "aware" of Ms Krug's Medium post but could not comment further on the case.