Top story: Police ‘struggling’ with wave of stabbings
Hello, it’s Warren Murray getting you over the first hurdles today.
The prime minister has been rebuked after insisting there is “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers” amid evidence of a significant rise in teens using knives. There was a 53% increase in the number of teens using knives for robberies, murders and rapes or sexual assaults between 2016 and 2018, according to figures released to Channel 4 under freedom of information. The number of children under 16 treated for blade wounds has almost doubled in the last five years, NHS data shows.
The spate of killings so far in 2019 has fuelled concern that the use of knives is becoming normalised, partly through social media, while stretched police and youth forces are struggling to reverse the trend. Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, told the Guardian that cuts to police numbers nationwide and cuts to youth services had created “a toxic mix … I wouldn’t put it all down to police numbers, but police forces across the country are struggling to meet the demands of this kind of violent crime.”
Court win for ‘Le Cost Killer’ – Carlos Ghosn has been granted bail more than three months after the former Nissan chairman was arrested in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct. But at time of writing he remains in custody with prosecutors expected to appeal against his release. Ghosn is accused of underreporting his income by tens of millions of dollars and transferring personal investment losses to Nissan – allegations he has repeatedly denied. The case against the 64-year-old, who was hailed Nissan’s saviour two decades ago, rocked Japan’s car industry and cast doubt over the future of its alliance with Renault.
‘Death of a teenage fantasy’ – The actor Luke Perry, best known for the TV shows Beverly Hills, 90210 and more recently Riverdale, has died at the age of 52. Perry had been taken to a hospital in Burbank, California last week after having a stroke at his outer Los Angeles home. Among those paying tribute was Perry’s 90210 co-star Ian Ziering, who tweeted about the “loving memories we’ve shared over the last thirty years”.
Hadley Freeman writes that Perry’s “brooding scowl” helped make Dylan McKay “the stand-out male character” of 90210. “He was the manly one, the slightly scary one, the one to fancy as a transition to teenagehood and beyond … We mourn the death of Perry because 52 is far too young to die. We 90210 fans mourn the death of Dylan because it is the death of our teenage fantasy.” Perry is set to appear posthumously in the forthcoming Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Troika Laundromat – A charity run by Prince Charles received donations to rescue a stately home via an offshore company that was used to funnel vast amounts of cash from Russia. It is estimated $4.6bn (£3.5bn) was sent to Europe and the US from a Russian-operated network of 70 offshore companies with accounts in Lithuania. The details have emerged from 1.3m banking transactions obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Lithuanian website 15min.lt and shared with media partners including the Guardian. What we are calling the “Troika Laundromat” leak focuses on Troika Dialog, a leading Russian investment bank, now merged with the country’s biggest high street bank. “This is the pipe through which the proceeds of kleptocracy flow from Russia to the west,” said the anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder. There is no suggestion that end recipients of funds were aware of the original source.
No MMR link to autism – The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not cause autism, the latest major study on the subject has concluded. Despite the late-1990s theory of a link being long since discredited, there has been an upsurge in doubt about the safety of vaccines, spread on social media and in some countries also linked to anti-establishment populism. The World Health Organization says vaccine hesitancy is one of the 10 biggest global threats to health. Danish researchers examined 6,517 cases of autism, the biggest number to date, among 650,000 children on the country’s population registry who were followed over 10 years. They found “no support for the hypothesis of increased risk for autism after MMR vaccination”, as well as “no support for the hypothesis of MMR vaccination triggering autism in susceptible subgroups” and “no support for a clustering of autism cases in specific time periods after MMR vaccination”.
Cleared of HIV/Aids – A man referred to as “the London patient” has become only the second HIV-positive person in the world to be provisionally cured. He was given a transplant of bone marrow cells from a donor whose genes carry a rare HIV resistance mutation known as CCR5 delta 32. After more than 18 months without HIV-suppressing drugs, there is no sign of the virus in his body. One other person has been similarly cleared – “the Berlin patient”, American Timothy Brown – who was treated in 2007 and remains HIV-free. Experts say it is unlikely the treatment can help all patients, because it depends on finding an exact-match bone marrow donor who has the rare gene. But Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who led the London patient’s treatment, said understanding the mechanism may pave the way for gene therapy in others.
Keith Flint’s wild spark – After the Prodigy frontman was found dead at the age of 49 at his home in Essex, Alexis Petridis explains how Keith Flint “fitted the moment perfectly” when he burst on to the stage in the 1990s. “Thanks to the Criminal Justice Act and a spate of high-profile ecstasy-related deaths, the British dance scene was enduring a folk-devil moment in the media. Here was a performer who seemed happy to own the moral panic, to look and behave – on camera at least – like middle England’s nightmares come true.”
Stars including Azealia Banks and Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno have paid tribute to the punk-haired, tongue-pierced, hyperactive stage presence who was vocalist on the Prodigy’s best known singles, Firestarter and Breathe, which both went to No 1 in 1996. Having grown up with dyslexia, Flint worked as a roofer before joining the group as a dancer. He parlayed his success with the band into founding the successful motorcycle racing outfit Team Traction Control. Police said after his death that there were no suspicious circumstances. Glastonbury festival organiser Emily Eavis has been among those paying tribute: “He’s played here so many times with the Prodigy and was booked for 2019. What an incredible frontman.”
Today in Focus podcast: Talking to the Taliban
Donald Trump is becoming increasingly impatient about removing all US troops from Afghanistan, 18 years after the invasion that followed 9/11. As peace talks continue, Fawzia Koofi, a female Afghan MP, describes being in the room with the Taliban, while the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison examines the slow progress for women’s rights that could be at risk when international forces leave. Plus: Gary Younge on knife crime.
Lunchtime read: Macron’s new Europe
France’s president has set out a manifesto for overhauling the EU in response to Britain’s vote to leave. “Never, since the second world war, has Europe been so essential,” Emmanuel Macron writes today in the Guardian and 27 other newspapers. “Yet never has Europe been in so much danger.”
The intervention comes weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, and a few months before European parliament elections. Macron cites the Brexit referendum result as an example of how people could turn away from the EU if it is just seen as a “soulless market” rather than “a historic success, the reconciliation of a devastated continent in an unprecedented project of peace, prosperity and freedom.” As part of a “roadmap to European renewal”, he proposes tougher action on internet hate speech and the supervision of large internet companies, new competition rules, a minimum European wage, a new defence treaty and consulting panels of European citizens on EU reforms.
Mauricio Pochettino has complained bitterly about Tottenham’s lack of preparation time for their Champions League second leg at Borussia Dortmund tonight. Chris Robshaw and Jonathan Joseph may not feature in the Six Nations against Italy on Saturday, but their presence in a 31-man training squad is a sign they remain very much in Eddie Jones’s plans. Ospreys and Scarlets, two of the most successful Welsh sides since regional rugby’s inception in 2003, are poised to merge as part of a radical overhaul of the professional game.
For Dawid Malan the three T20 internationals that conclude England’s tour of the Caribbean are anything but an afterthought given they offer him a chance to prove a point following a difficult year. Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight starred with the bat as England’s women secured a comprehensive 41-run win in the first of their three T20 internationals against India. Sebastian Coe believes there is “absolutely no question” Laura Muir can win Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 after her “double-double” at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow. And Tiger Woods has pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida due to a neck strain.
China has set its growth target at 6.0 to 6.5%, the lowest in nearly three decades, as Premier Li Keqiang warned of “tough” challenges facing the world’s second-largest economy. Li says “we will face a graver and more complicated environment as well as risks and challenges” in a report to be given today to the opening of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body. Li blames internal and external risks including “mounting protectionism and unilateralism” – a nod to US sanctions – and slowing domestic demand.
Shares have declined in most Asian markets, tracking an overnight sell-off on Wall Street. The FTSE is predicted to open higher by a whisker, while sterling has been trading around $1.316 and €1.161 overnight.
Coverage of knife crime attacks continues today. The Mail features photographs of young people killed in stabbings and asks: “How many more?”, as does the Mirror: “How many more Mrs May?” The Express says: “War zones on our streets”.
Some solutions are proffered. The i has: “Javid calls emergency knife crime summit” and the Telegraph has: “‘Bring back stop-and-search to beat knife crime crisis”. The Guardian’s lead is “Outrage at May’s denial of austerity link to stabbings”. The Times has “Schools ask parents to pay for staff and books”, while the Sun’s lead story is about the death of Keith Flint: “Prodigy Keith’s secret agony”. The FT’s splash is: “May moves to shield crown dependencies over registers”.
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