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Thursday briefing: Extinction Rebellion’s last London hurrah | World news

Top story: ‘We only do this because this is an emergency’ Hello, I am Warren Murray and there are things afoot. Climate change activists will aim to disrupt London’s financial district today before wrapping up their “Extinction Rebellion” (XR) demonstrations, which have occupied sites across London for more than a week. The group – whose

Top story: ‘We only do this because this is an emergency’

Hello, I am Warren Murray and there are things afoot.

Climate change activists will aim to disrupt London’s financial district today before wrapping up their “Extinction Rebellion” (XR) demonstrations, which have occupied sites across London for more than a week. The group – whose actions have been backed by senior academics, politicians and scientists – said it wanted to “thank Londoners for opening their hearts … We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”

It has emerged that the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has agreed to meet representatives of the group. A spokesperson for XR said: “It may or may not go ahead, depending on the details of how public it is and who will be attending.” Senior Labour politicians have lent their support to the group.

More than 1,000 XR activists have been arrested in the past nine days. Protesters occupied four sites across London and staged acts of civil disobedience including blocking roads, disrupting a railway line and demonstrating at Heathrow airport. Since the protests began, 30,000 new backers or volunteers have offered support and XR has raised almost £200,000 – mostly in small donations of between £10 and £50.

Playing catch-up again – The Briefing usually only does this on Wednesdays but there’s a fair bit around today too.

> Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have met for the first time, holding talks in Vladivostok. Russia’s leader offered his help to break the deadlock over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

> Climate change and sexual harassment have been flagged as their biggest concerns by 76,000 girls and young women in a survey by Girlguiding, as well as bullying, gender stereotypes and pressure about their looks. The findings have been used to put together a manifesto called Future Girl.

> Peers have warned the social compact between young and old to support each other through life is being endangered by tenuous gig-economy jobs, unaffordable housing, spiralling student loans and benefits favouring older people like bus passes and free TV licences.

> Two sisters who fled Saudi Arabia have called for Apple and Google to delete an app that lets men monitor and control women by restricting their passports. Meanwhile the UK has condemned Saudi Arabia’s “repulsive” executions of 37 people in a single day.

> Iran’s foreign minister says he is willing to hand over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in a prisoner exchange. The jailed British-Iranian could be swapped for an Iranian women held in Australia on US sanction-busting charges, said Mohammad Javad Zarif.

> A Mae West lips sofa by Salvador Dalí and a bust of Queen Victoria were saved for the nation in 2018 but art and photographs worth £58.5m were let go, according to experts who keep watch on treasures at risk of going overseas.

> And finally … this man wants you to love ping pong.

Food banks swamped – A record 1.6m emergency food parcels were given out by the Trussell Trust food bank network last year – more than 500,000 of them to children. Its figures show that a fifth of all referrals to food banks last year were linked to delays in receiving benefits, and almost half of these were related to universal credit. Livia, 44, visiting a food bank for the first time in Shepherd’s Bush, London, said universal credit had been an “absolute nightmare” that pushed her into rent arrears. “I put on a brave face but I’m at rock bottom.” The Trussell Trust has called for the five-week wait for a first payment to be scrapped, and for benefits to be brought in line with the cost of living.

Trump thinks UK bugged him – A days after being afforded a state visit to Britain, the US president has reignited a wild conspiracy theory that GCHQ wiretapped him during the 2016 US election campaign. It prompted the intelligence agency to issue a rare public statement: “The allegations that GCHQ was asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” Trump has been on the offensive after Robert Mueller’s report found there was no evidence that he had conspired with Russia but left open whether he had illegally obstructed justice.

‘No place in the home’ – More than 4,000 exotic animals were rescued by the RSPCA in 2018. The creatures included 500 snakes, 300 turtles, five raccoon dogs and a wallaby. It sounds jolly until you hear a three-metre long boa constrictor had to be put down after it was found abandoned in a car in Bristol, while it was already too late for a dead marmoset discovered in a London street.

The boa constrictor found in a car in Bristol

The boa constrictor found in a car in Bristol. Photograph: RSPCA

“It is heartbreaking to see animals like this found injured or suffering as they are stray or abandoned outside in inappropriate temperatures,” said Stephanie Jayson, the RSPCA’s exotic species expert. “Some of the animals we see, like monkeys and raccoon dogs, have no place in the home and we would urge people not to take them on as pets.”

Today in Focus podcast: A week with Extinction Rebellion

They brought central London to a standstill, assembling in their thousands to block well-known landmarks including Waterloo Bridge in a “climate rebellion”. Guardian reporter Damien Gayle has been with the protesters from the start while Matt Taylor, the Guardian’s environment reporter, assesses their demands.

Lunchtime read: No deal or another vote

As the Brexit negotiations between the government and Labour go round in circles, Martin Kettle writes: “It is now increasingly obvious that the two parties are going through the motions, and that the talks are doomed. Neither side is strong or determined enough to suggest the kind of grand bargain – parliamentary support for soft Brexit in return for a confirmatory referendum, for instance – for which the circumstances cry out.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, and shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, headed for joint Brexit talks at the Cabinet Office.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, and shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, headed for joint Brexit talks at the Cabinet Office. Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock

“The effective Brexit choice will lie between no deal, promoted by May’s successor and much of the Tory party, and a second vote, hopefully but by no means certainly promoted by Corbyn, and by other parties too. The choice for pro-Europeans has now been clarified, and no pro-European can doubt where they must stand.”


Manchester City have recorded their 11th league win in a row, sweeping aside rivals United 2-0 at Old Trafford in a result that puts them in the box seat in the title race. But Pep Guardiola is refusing to buy into the hype, instructing his players “don’t watch the television, just rest, sleep a lot and go in there against Burnley”.

Two of athletics’ biggest stars have become embroiled in a nasty war-of-words, with Haile Gebrselassie accusing Mo Farah of “disgraceful conduct” at a hotel in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, British Paralympic team officials have been left reeling by “a total lack of interest” from hotels in Yokohama in addressing accessibility issues ahead of the 2020 Games. And, Exeter’s director of rugby has reminded players of their responsibilities on social media, following controversies surrounding Israel Folau and Billy Vunipola.


Tesla has posted larger-than-expected losses in its first-quarter earnings report as it struggles with production rates and having to raise prices on a number of its cars. The company closed the first quarter with $2.2bn in cash – a decrease from $3.7bn in the previous quarter – and $11.5bn in long-term debt and capital leases. Its filing showed a loss of $2.90 a share, worse than the $1.30 experts predicted.

Asian shares have been mixed after Wall Street closed lower with energy stocks leading the modest slide as crude oil prices fell. The Nikkei 225 and the Shanghai Composite edged up slightly, while the Kospi and the Hang Seng slipped. The pound has been trading around $1.290 and €1.156 overnight while the FTSE is forecast to open higher.

The papers

Several front pages carry news of the new Lords committee report calling for an end to winter fuel payments, free TV licences and bus passes for pensioners. The i reports: “Benefits for older people under attack” and the Express says “Pensioner perks facing the axe”.

Guardian morning briefing, Thursday 25 April 2019

Guardian morning briefing, Thursday 25 April 2019.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Mail says: “Ban your toddler from TV and iPads” and the Guardian reports: “Half a million UK children at risk of measles after missing vaccinations”. The Telegraph carries the NSA’s warnings that “Huawei deal like giving Beijing a “loaded gun’”, whereas the Times says: “Spy chiefs in uproar over leak from secret talks” about Huawei.

The Mirror runs an interview as its splash: “I found Jill Dando’s body … it will haunt me for life”. The FT says: “Wirecard relied on three opaque partners for almost all its profit” and the Sun puns about a G4S guard who vanished with 40 cash boxes: “£1m flight van man”.

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Susan E. Lopez

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