Arlene Foster resigns as DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister - Phil Noble/Reuters

Arlene Foster resigns as DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister

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Arlene Foster resigns as DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister – Phil Noble/Reuters

Arlene Foster has quit as leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland in the face of mounting discontent among her party.

She said she will leave her DUP role on May 28 and resign as First Minister at the end of June.

The announcement comes 24 hours after an sizeable internal heave against her by DUP politicians unhappy with her leadership.

The 50-year-old Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative indicated her resignation will mark the end of her political career, as she said she was preparing to “depart the political stage”.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as their First Minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone,” she said.

Mrs Foster had faced a revolt against her leadership over the handling of Brexit and a decision to abstain in a vote on gay conversion therapy.

She will step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on May 28 and as First Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.

In a statement, Mrs Foster said: “It is important to give space over the next few weeks for the party officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader. When elected, I will work with the new leader on transition arrangements.”

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as their First Minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone,” she said.

“I first entered the Assembly in 2003 and undoubtedly the journey of the last eighteen years has been memorable. There are many people who have helped and supported me throughout that period and I will always be grateful for the kindness and support shown to me by them.

“Whilst there have been many difficult and testing times for the executive it remains my firm view that Northern Ireland has been better served having local ministers at this time. It is unthinkable that we could have faced into the coronavirus pandemic without our own devolved ministers in place and no ministerial direction for departments.”

In her resignation speech, Mrs Foster hit out at “misogynistic criticisms” and “online lynch mobs.

She said: “My election as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party broke a glass ceiling and I am glad inspired other women to enter politics and spurred them on to take up elected office.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it’s the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and don’t let the online lynch mobs get you down.”

Mrs Foster said she entered politics to speak up for the voiceless and build a Northern Ireland that could prosper and be at peace within the United Kingdom.

“I am the first to recognise there have been ups and downs over the last five and a half years,” she said.

Mrs Foster added: “To the hundreds of Party supporters who have been in touch over the last few days, I say a sincere thank you for the opportunities to serve you and the support you have given me. For almost five-and-a-half years I have been incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to lead the Democratic Unionist Party.

“I have sought to lead the Party and Northern Ireland away from division and towards a better path.

“There are people in Northern Ireland with a British identity, others are Irish, others are Northern Irish, others are a mixture of all three and some are new and emerging. We must all learn to be generous to each other, live together and share this wonderful country.

“The future of unionism and Northern Ireland will not be found in division, it will only be found in sharing this place we all are privileged to call home.”

Arlene Foster’s statement in full

“A short time ago I called the Party Chairman to inform him that I intend to step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on the twenty-eighth of May and as First Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.

“It is important to give space over the next few weeks for the Party Officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader. When elected I will work with the new leader on transition arrangements.

“As First Minister it is important that I complete work on a number of important issues for Northern Ireland alongside other Executive colleagues. Northern Ireland and its people have been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and there remains more work to be done to steer us thorough the pandemic and to lessen its impact on the lives of everyone.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as their First Minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone. I first entered the Assembly in 2003 and undoubtedly the journey of the last eighteen years has been memorable. There are many people who have helped and supported me throughout that period and I will always been grateful for the kindness and support shown to me by them.

“Whilst there have been many difficult and testing times for the Executive it remains my firm view that Northern Ireland has been better served having local Ministers at this time. It is unthinkable that we could have faced into the Coronavirus pandemic without our own devolved Ministers in place and no Ministerial direction for Departments.

“As I prepare to depart the political stage it is my view that if Northern Ireland is to prosper then it will only do so built on the foundations of successful and durable devolution. That will require continued hard work and real determination and courage on all sides.

“Whilst the focus is on me today I recognise that will pass. For me my decision to enter politics was never about party or person, it was about speaking up for the voiceless and building a Northern Ireland which could prosper and be at peace within the United Kingdom.

“I am the first to recognise there have been ups and downs over the last five and a half years.

“The 2016 Assembly election result and our Party’s best ever Westminster result in 2017 stand out amongst the high points when the electorate sent a clear message that they wanted to keep Northern Ireland moving forward.

“The Confidence and Supply Agreement was able to bring one billion pounds of extra spending for everyone in Northern Ireland. Our priorities were not narrow but based on more investment in mental health and hospitals, bringing broadband to rural communities, improving our roads and ensuring funding to encourage more shared housing and education.

“For our innocent victims, I am proud we battled together and whilst too late for some, we finally secured a truly deserved pension for you.

“For our armed forces, the Veterans’ Commissioner is in place. You have an advocate to stand up for you and ensure your voice is heard at the heart of government.

“Of course as with highs there were lows along the way.

“The three years without devolution caused untold harm to our public services and the RHI Inquiry was a difficult period. The Protocol being foisted upon Northern Ireland against the will of unionists has served to destabilise Northern Ireland in more recent times.

“Whilst there is still a job of work to do, I am proud that there is a young generation of Democratic Unionists getting involved in politics and trying to shape Northern Ireland for the better.

“Over the last twelve months, I have been holding online meetings every week with young people mainly from working class communities and encouraging them especially the young women to get involved.

“I echo that encouragement today. Politics and debate is the only path to effect change in society. You will and can be the MPs, MLAs and Councillors of tomorrow.

“My election as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party broke a glass ceiling and I am glad inspired other women to enter politics and spurred them on to take up elected office.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it’s the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and don’t let the online lynch mobs get you down.

“To the hundreds of Party supporters who have been in touch over the last few days, I say a sincere thank you for the opportunities to serve you and the support you have given me. For almost five and a half years I have been incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to lead the Democratic Unionist Party.

“I have sought to lead the Party and Northern Ireland away from division and towards a better path.

“There are people in Northern Ireland with a British identity, others are Irish, others are Northern Irish, others are a mixture of all three and some are new and emerging. We must all learn to be generous to each other, live together and share this wonderful country.

“The future of unionism and Northern Ireland will not be found in division, it will only be found in sharing this place we all are privileged to call home.”

Reaction to Foster quitting as leader

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis led the tributes to Arlene Foster on Wednesday afternoon.

He said: “Arlene is a truly dedicated public servant, devoting her political career to her constituents for over 18 years and the people of Northern Ireland as First Minister for several years.

“There are many young people, particularly young women, who will be inspired by her example to follow a path into politics.

“I wish her all the best and look forward to continuing to work with her in the days and weeks ahead, delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland.”

DUP MP Gavin Robinson tweeted: “There will be more to say about what lies ahead in the days to come, but for now, I want to thank Arlene personally for her dedicated service to Northern Ireland.

“She has been a constant source of encouragement to me and my colleagues throughout the province. Facing difficulties with courage and determination; and sacrificing so much over all of us over her 18 years in elected politics, I pay tribute to her, her leadership and her commitment to our Country.”

DUP MP Nigel Dodds tweeted: “Arlene has dedicated her life to defending the Union and moving Northern Ireland forward. She has demonstrated great courage and is an example for women in public life.

“Thank you Arlene. It’s been a privilege to work alongside you.”

A vaccine centre worker tends to a patient at the Arena Berlin mass vaccination centre in the German capital

Europe pins hopes on vaccine campaigns as Covid curbs relaxed | Coronavirus

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European leaders are lifting restrictions across a lockdown-weary bloc as they take what Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, has admitted is a “calculated risk” that accelerating vaccination campaigns will keep stubbornly high infection rates in check.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, will present details of a progressive relaxation of Covid measures on Friday, the prime minister, Jean Castex, said on Wednesday, conceding that virus circulation “remains high … but is on a real downward trend”.

France’s rolling seven-day average of new infections has dipped below 28,000 for the first time in more than a month, but hospitals this week exceeded 6,000 Covid-19 intensive care patents for the first time since during the first wave in April 2020.

The French health minister, Olivier Véran, said the South African variant of the virus had risen from 6% to 10% of new cases detected in the greater Paris region, although no infections had been confirmed in mainland France with the Indian variant.

“We have to continue our efforts, particularly against the new variants,” Véran said after millions of primary pupils returned to school this week following a three-week “lockdown lite”. Secondary schools are due to reopen next Monday.

A ban on people travelling beyond a 10km radius of their homes is also set to be lifted on 3 May, with non-essential shops and bar and restaurant terraces expected to open later in the month, along with the country’s nationwide 7pm curfew.

Like other EU member states, France is counting on its vaccination campaign, which is gathering pace rapidly after a slow start, to keep case and hospitalisation numbers down. More than 27% of French adults have received a first dose.

A vaccine centre worker tends to a patient at the Arena Berlin mass vaccination centre in the German capital earlier this month. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany on Wednesday raised its economic growth forecast for 2021, also citing the gathering pace of vaccinations as light at the end of the tunnel after struggling for months to put in place concerted action to halt a virulent second wave.

A amended law in force from Saturday gives Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government greater powers to impose restrictions, including night curfews and school closures, following a lengthy tug of war with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states.

Under the regulation, all regions with incidence rates of more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days must apply shutdowns and curfews, while schools must go online if the incidence rate exceeds 165.

Hopes are growing, however, that curbs can be eased in coming weeks as the proportion of Germans with at least one injection nears 25%. Merkel underlined this week that Europe’s biggest economy is aiming to offer every adult a jab from June.

Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Wednesday announced an easing of restrictions from next week, saying that in terms of new infections the worst of the pandemic “is probably behind us” and pointing to grounds for “cautious optimism”.

Shopping malls and museums should reopen from 4 May, when the first three school years will also return to class, with other pupils due to resume in-person classes on 29 May. Hotels will reopen on 8 May and cafe and restaurant terraces on 15 May.

Indoor service will resume from 29 May, when theatres and cinemas will also be able to reopen, Morawiecki said. About 11 million people in Poland, which has a population of 38 million, have received at least one Covid vaccine dose.

The Netherlands on Wednesday lifted a night-time curfew that has been in place for the past three months, and allowed bars and restaurants to serve on outdoor terraces – with no more than two customers per table – between noon and 6pm.

Despite infections running at their highest level since January and Dutch hospitals operating near capacity, shops can also admit more clients and people may now welcome two guests rather than one into their homes in any 24-hour period.

In Italy, bars, restaurants, cinemas and concert halls will partially reopen on Monday after months of stop-start restrictions, with three-quarters of the country’s regions dropping into the low-risk “yellow” categories.

The decision means bars and restaurants can serve customers outside – including, for the first time in six months, in the evening – although a 10pm curfew remains in place. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls will also be able to open at 50% capacity.

Swimming pools, gyms, sporting events and theme parks are expected to follow suit by 1 July in a progressive relaxation that Draghi has admitted is a gamble, with case numbers and intensive care admissions falling slowly but deaths still mounting.

Although there are major disparities between its different regions, Italy’s vaccination programme is gathering pace, with more than 17.5m jabs administered so far in a population of about 60 million.

The head of the German pharmaceuticals company BioNTech, meanwhile, said on Wednesday Europe could achieve herd immunity – estimated by experts at about 70% of the population – against Covid-19 within the next four months.

“Europe will reach herd immunity in July, latest by August,” Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive, said. The EU is expected this week to announce a deal to buy a further 1.8bn BioNTech shots in anticipation of a possible need for booster shots.

BioNTech co-founder 'confident' vaccine works against Indian variant

BioNTech co-founder ‘confident’ vaccine works against Indian variant

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BERLIN: BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin on Wednesday voiced confidence that the vaccine that his company jointly developed with Pfizer works against the Indian variant of the coronavirus.
“We are still testing the Indian variant, but the Indian variant has mutations that we have already tested for and which our vaccine works against, so I am confident,” said Sahin.
“The vaccine is cleverly built and I’m convinced the bulwark will hold. And if we have to strengthen the bulwark again, then we will do it, that I’m not worried about,” he added.
India is facing surging new cases and deaths in the pandemic, and fears are rising that the variant could be contributing to the unfolding catastrophe.
The World Health Organization has said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 first found in India had as of Tuesday been detected in “at least 17 countries”.
The health agency recently listed B.1.617 — which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics — as a “variant of interest”.
But so far it has stopped short of declaring it a “variant of concern”, which would have indicated that it is more dangerous than the original version of the virus by, for instance, being more transmissible, deadly or able to dodge vaccine protections.
The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine was the first to win authorisation in the West, and has since been deployed in dozens of countries worldwide.
Giving an update of the authorisation process in China, Sahin said approval was “very possible in July”.
“We are almost through with all questions,” he said.

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<span>Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images</span>

Guardian readers on Joe Biden’s first 100 days

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Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

‘It’s a blessing not to cringe every morning when I look at the news’

Related: Biden’s 100 days: bold action and broad vision amid grief and turmoil

He’s far better than I expected on his domestic policies. If he can get the Senate to get rid of the filibuster, he’ll probably do a lot more. His foreign policy team is hawkish, dragging their feet in regards to Iran and truly reactionary regarding Latin America. But compared to Trump even that looks good. It is truly a blessing not to cringe every morning when I look at the news and don’t see 45 [Donald Trump who was the 45th president of the US] is still in charge of the US. Chip Hollister, 73, retired psychologist, Pennsylvania, Green party

‘I’m dumbfounded (in a good way) by how much this president has taken on in such a short time’

I’m dumbfounded (in a good way) by how much this president has taken on in such a short time. Managing the pandemic and vaccine rollout, historic fiscal stimulus intended to lift people out of poverty, urgent initiatives to address climate change, sweeping infrastructure investment, dismantling systemic racism … Any one of these might absorb the attention and energy of an entire four-year term. That this president is tackling and prioritizing all of these issues at once, and within mere months of taking office, is astounding. I’m exhausted for President Biden and his team. And worried. But also hopeful. His unflagging optimism, perseverance and spirit, even after decades in politics and enduring partisan divisions, render him the rarest sort of civil servant: an inspiring one. Tara Chhabra, 47, HR manager, New York, Democrat

‘The major flaws thus far have been refusing to cut our “defense” establishment and failure to mitigate inhumane treatment of refugees’

He’s doing so much better than I expected on domestic matters. I’m impressed by the Covid, infrastructure and poverty relief initiatives. He’s even dared to mention the unmentionable – we need to reform our tax structure above all else. Biden speaks firmly, though with a moderate tone and presence. On the national front, this is the best news our country has had for 40+ years. I think whatever happened between him and Bernie Sanders has had some effect on current policies. Leaving Afghanistan (or mostly leaving it) is great. However, the major flaws thus far have been in refusing to cut our bloated and far too powerful ‘defense’ (aggressive) establishment, and the failure to mitigate the inhumane treatment of refugees. My own view is that the US can work toward helping social democratic/populist governments to survive in Central America, so that those seeking refuge will be able to remain at home. Florence S Boos, 77, university professor, Iowa, Green/Democrat/Bernie wing

‘Biden has done nothing to support Americans who have lost their jobs, homes and cars’

He’s just a puppet – he’s not running the country, he’s just being told what to do and what to say. I’m a third-generation immigrant from Italy and right now the borders are ridiculous – putting immigrants in hotels while we have so many Americans living on the street. I’m sorry their countries are so unlivable, but their governments allowed it to happen. The teachers union is preventing our children from returning to the classroom, when unions are an item of the past. Then there’s electric cars which the average person cannot afford because of their price. Gas prices are out of line too because he has canceled new production of fuel. So many Americans are without great-paying jobs now, losing their homes, and cars and Biden has done nothing to support them. Anonymous, 68, retired, Indiana, Republican

‘As a reluctant voter I have been pleasantly surprised’

As a reluctant voter for Biden as president, I have wondered why, yet again, I can only vote against the worst of two bad choices, rather than for a candidate that represents my values. Viewing Biden as a dinosaur who was overdue for retirement, I have been pleasantly surprised on a daily basis by his hard work, his evident commitment to listen to others and to act on what he hears from them, and by his willingness to challenge some of the many US shibboleths that have remained untouchable for far too long. My main concern is whether he may take Obama’s path of seeking bipartisan support when there is none to be had, and my main hope is that he will pursue his publicly stated agenda and eliminate the Senate filibuster in order to succeed. Dr Philip V Hull, 58, psychologist, California

‘He is often stuck on needless compromise’

Biden has led as well as a president can during this crisis, and his administration seems mostly capable of helping our nation find its way back to 2016. It seems evident, however, that Biden does not know how capable he is of doing this, and too often is stuck on needless compromise with the very conservatives the people resoundingly voted out last year. Charlie, 17, student, Virginia, Democrat

‘We have a deeply unequal and broken society – Biden is not capable of fixing that’

It’s fair to say that he has exceeded expectations. I thought I would get the vaccine in the summer but I got my first dose on 12 April. The American Rescue Plan was also a huge help for the economic crisis brought by the pandemic, and it is the first time since the Great Society that the federal government has substantively combatted poverty and inequality. I was feeling much worse before he was elected, but this is still a nation with very little hope, especially for the young. Inflated tuition and a difficult job market mean that the way forward is not clear at all.

We all still struggle under a deeply unequal and broken society. Biden is not capable of fixing that. Even if he finds success against the immediate crises we face, there is still a much deeper malaise infecting the nation. One that has destroyed the American dream for everyone but the rich. I’m glad he’s president, but America needs someone with a vision for the nation on par with Franklin D Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson. Still, Biden’s success in his first 100 days may pave the road for someone transformative. We all wait for that day. Paul Arango, 21, unemployed, New York, Democrat

‘His immigration policy is too Trump-like’

I am disappointed that Biden has not reversed more of Trump’s policies, like increased sanctions on Iran, and the cutoff of Obama relations with Cuba. His immigration policy is also too Trump-like; parents and relatives should be reunited with children, then monitored. Instead of restoring the corporate tax rate to 35%, he wants only to raise it to 28%. Biden’s economic policies are good, but temporary, when many need to be made permanent while we still have a majority in Congress. Biden has condemned Medicare for All, which is absolutely necessary. I support most of the policies advocated by Bernie Sanders, and wish he were president, but he is playing a very important role as head of the budget committee. Dr Kegel, 73, retired clinical psychologist, Illinois, usually votes Democrat, but not a supporter of the mainstream party

‘Refreshing and hopeful’

I am happy to be able to breathe again. I no longer wake up afraid of what has been inferred, threatened or stated on Twitter. I find his encouragement of responsibility, sympathy for those impacted by disaster and solemn commitment to climate change refreshing and hopeful. These were things generally expected from a sitting president in the past. They have now become precious pearls of unexpected maturity. The bar had been set so low, that anything above it would seem like a cause for celebration. I think President Biden has much to correct and a big job ahead of him but I am encouraged that we will regain the trust of our world partners and address global problems with respect and maturity.

For me personally, my healthcare coverage feels stabilized and the cover offered is better as a result of Biden’s commitment to improving the existing program. Stock markets are stable and the housing market is booming. If nothing else, the last four years have taught me to pay attention. Voting is crucial and holding elected officials to task is important. I will never be that lazy again. Sara Sally L, 63, artist, educator and writer, Kansas, former Republican, newly a Democrat

John Boyega as Leroy Logan in Red, White and Blue, the third of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films

‘Beyond Fleabag’: fresh female genius lights up this year’s Bafta TV nominations | Baftas

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The good news is that the 2021 British Academy television awards recognise – as these trophies have not always done – glittering fresh genius where it appears.

Two daringly written and visualised dramas with first-person titles that include an aggressive verb – the BBC’s I May Destroy You and Sky Atlantic’s I Hate Suzie – receive eight and five nominations respectively. Each is driven by an exceptional creative talent in, respectively, Michaela Coel and Billie Piper. Both series explore the psychology and experience of younger women in a graphic and tragi-comic detail going beyond even Fleabag, a pioneer in that direction.

Coel achieves the rare Bafta triple crown of nods in acting, writing and (with Sam Miller) direction. Only the oddly indifferent reception of her series in the US (where it was ignored, crazily, by the Emmys and Golden Globes) can prevent Coel being lost, as Phoebe Waller-Bridge was, to Hollywood.

The drama writer category symbolises the general sense of a refreshing of the medium. Coel competes against two younger writers who emerged through theatre: Lucy Prebble for I Hate Suzie and Lucy Kirkwood, whose tremendous Adult Material for Channel 4 was, as a dark comedy about the pornography industry’s treatment of women, another stretching of television’s conventions of content and tone.

Steve McQueen is also up (with his co-writer, Alastair Siddons) for that screenwriting prize, among the 15 nominations for his TV debut, Small Axe. It is possible (and reasonable) that voters’ enthusiasm for this examination of black British history was stoked by the huge and overdue examination of racial structures that followed the Windrush deportation scandal and the murder of George Floyd. However, it is greatly to the credit of McQueen and the BBC that Small Axe had been in development since 2014. A measure of great talent is to identify the big subject before everyone notices it and, in 2020, Small Axe was in the right place at socially wrong times.

John Boyega as Leroy Logan in Red, White and Blue, the third of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films. Photograph: Will Robson-Scott/BBC/McQueen Limited

McQueen – having won the Turner prize for art, an Oscar and a film Bafta – will now surely add TV Baftas, completing a unique awards quartet, cementing him as one of the biggest figures of 21st-century British culture.

There is also, poignantly, a posthumous nomination for Paul Ritter, a terrific actor who died at 54 this month, for his turn in Friday Night Dinner. The complete disregarding of David Hare’s Westminster thriller Roadkill prevents any equivalent recognition for Helen McCrory, the best thing about it, who was this month’s other devastating acting loss, at 52. McCrory will be one of the most heartbreaking faces in the montage of the year’s departed that is a feature of Bafta ceremonies.

Less commendably, in a period dominated by debates over “fake news” and lying politicians, it feels queasy to me that The Crown has made 10 shortlists. The spectacular historical inaccuracy of Peter Morgan’s scripts (events invented, dates shifted around to create fake ironies) risks viewers taking away “their truth” about what happened rather than the truth, especially in concert with the show’s otherwise precise recreation of the past.

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in The Crown
Give the man a medal … Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in The Crown. Photograph: Des Willie/AP

To be fair, though, Bafta hasn’t ticked Morgan’s scripts, instead acknowledging the uncanny wigs, frocks and makeup, and the remarkable eyes and ears of the actors for the tics of their real-life models. Tobias Menzies, in particular, merits recognition for his astonishing near-hologram of the Duke of Edinburgh. It is a huge surprise, though, that Emma Corrin is left empty-handed, having won a Golden Globe for a young Princess Diana; like Menzies, she went beyond portrayal to inhabitation.

The absence of The Queen’s Gambit – a major pleasure of 2020 for those who saw it – is due to Bafta’s “nationality” rules. As a US show, with a predominantly non-British cast and crew, it was eligible only in the international section, which omitted it. (Another Netflix series, Unorthodox, looks the rightful winner there.) However, as Netflix has so internationalised UK viewing, Bafta might usefully look at the rules, perhaps adding some international acting or craft trophies.

The network with most cause to be aggrieved is ITV, which had an exceptional 2020 in its 9pm drama slots with mini-series including Quiz, Des, White House Farm and Honour. Yet the highest recognition for any of these series is a best supporting actor nod for Michael Sheen as the broadcaster Chris Tarrant in Quiz, James Graham’s three-parter about the “coughing major” plot to steal the title prize of ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

There is sadly no recognition, though, for Matthew Macfadyen as the allegedly bronchially assisted contestant, Charles Ingram – a performance of great subtlety, as the script required the actor to leave viewers in doubt about the character’s guilt. Two other extraordinary overlooked leads are David Tennant, as the chillingly courteous serial killer Denis Nilsen in Des, and Freddie Fox, for his portrayal of Jeremy Bamber, jailed for killing five family members, in White House Farm.

It is possible that the Bafta membership is collectively revolting against the genre of true crime, in which case ITV is going to have to rethink its drama slate or accept an empty trophy cabinet. I worry, though, that there may be a developing tendency to reward broader social virtues. No right-thinking person would deny that Bafta needed to spread its honours more diversely. However, I have a worry that other, less justifiable, external considerations may also be entering jury deliberations, such as conscious or unconscious bias towards “role model” performances.

David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen in ITV’s drama Des
Pure evil … David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen in ITV’s drama Des. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Younger Bafta voters (full disclosure: I am an older one) have in the past told me in private conversations that they felt unable to endorse certain performances due to the character being “disgusting” or “evil”. Voters also told me of their objections that, in two separate recent cases, a gay actor was playing a straight man and vice versa. Those portrayals challenge the doctrine of “authentic casting” – character and actor must share the same identity or experience – that has taken root in drama schools and is spreading through the industry.

But the art of acting is based in pretence. If Anthony Hopkins truly had Alzheimer’s, he wouldn’t have been able to play (authentically, in dramatic terms) the character with dementia who has just won him a second Oscar for The Father.

And, if ITV had cast authentic serial killers in Des and White House Farm, the Home Office, crew, critics and audiences might reasonably have raised objections. It concerns me that, if, as seems possible, Tennant and Fox lost points for not playing “positive” characters, then they have suffered from two modern judgments of culture: not being nice and not being real. I hope Corrin didn’t lose out from voters’ views of Diana, or the depiction of her bulimia.

Great acting often requires being brilliantly unsympathetic. As has been widely publicised, Kenneth Branagh is now filming – with, from stills, startling visual verisimilitude – a Sky drama in which he plays Boris Johnson. If the Bafta awards are to maintain meaning, then, when that series comes before Academy voters, it must be judged, as objectively as possible, on what voters think about the production and performance values, rather than our views on Johnson, Brexit or Covid.

Mohammed Bin Salman: Saudi prince strikes conciliatory tone with rival Iran | World News

Mohammed Bin Salman: Saudi prince strikes conciliatory tone with rival Iran | World News

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Tuesday struck a conciliatory tone towards the kingdom’s arch-nemesis Iran, saying he sought “good” relations, after sources said the rivals held secret talks in Baghdad.
The two countries, locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance, cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom’s execution of a revered Shia cleric.
“Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview broadcast late Tuesday.
“We do not want Iran’s situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow… and to push the region and the world towards prosperity.”
He added that Riyadh was working with regional and global partners to find solutions to Tehran’s “negative behaviour”.
That marks a change in tone compared to Prince Mohammed’s previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fuelling regional insecurity.
The prince did not mention any negotiations with Tehran.
The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting had been held on April 9.
An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to AFP, while a Western diplomat said he had been “briefed in advance” about the effort to “broker a better relationship and decrease tensions”.
Riyadh has officially denied the talks in its state-backed media while Tehran has stayed mum, asserting only that it has “always welcomed” dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
The initiative comes at a time of shifting power dynamics, as US President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear deal that was abandoned by Donald Trump.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Huthi rebels.
Iran supports the Huthi rebels, who are battling the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015.
The rebels have also stepped up drone and missile strikes on Saudi targets, including its oil facilities.
In his interview, Prince Mohammed renewed calls for a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels.

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Ursula von der Leyen speaking in the European Parliament before the vote. She welcomed the result but warned faithful implementation was essential. - EPA

European Parliament ratifies Brexit trade deal by huge majority

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Ursula von der Leyen speaking in the European Parliament before the vote. She welcomed the result but warned faithful implementation was essential. – EPA

The European Parliament has ratified the Brexit trade deal by a large majority in what Boris Johnson called the “final step” of years of negotiations over the UK leaving the EU.

“Now is the time to look forward to the future and to building a more Global Britain,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Johnson said, “This week is the final step in a long journey, providing stability to our new relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals.”

About four months after the deal was struck on Christmas Eve, 660 MEPs backed the zero tariff, zero quota deal on goods. Just five MEPs voted against the historic agreement, while 32 abstained, four years after the Article 50 Brexit process was triggered in March 2017.

MPs in the House of Commons ratified the trade agreement on December 30 by 521 votes to 73.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister and former UK negotiator, said he “hugely” welcomed the “overwhelming vote” and thanked his counterpart Michel Barnier for “helping get us here”.

“Hope we can now begin a new chapter together as Europeans, characterised by friendly cooperation between sovereign equals,” he tweeted.

Mr Barnier said MEPs had given the deal a “big green light”. “It is the EU and UK’s joint responsibility now to ensure that their respective commitments are respected,” he added.

The UK-EU agreement was provisionally applied before the end of 2020 no deal deadline to allow the parliament time to scrutinise it before giving it their approval. It will now formally enter into force on April 30.

The agreement replaces the closer trading relationship the UK had with the EU as a member state. Had MEPs rejected it in, the UK and EU could have been forced to trade on far less lucrative no deal WTO terms.

MEPs voted on the trade deal and a resolution on it on Tuesday but the results were only announced on Wednesday.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told MEPs on Tuesday that the deal had “real teeth” and she would not hesitate to use its enforcement mechanisms to ensure the UK implemented the trade and withdrawal agreements.

Britain angered Brussels by unilaterally extending grace periods in the Protocol and the European Commission has begun legal action against the UK.

She promised MEPs they would be involved in the monitoring of the implementation of the trade deal and that level playing field guarantees, agreed after torturous negotiations with London, would be respected.

After the result was announced, she said the deal “marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK. Faithful implementation is essential.”

Christophe Hansen, a senior MEP on the parliament’s trade committee, said, “Ratification of the agreement is not a vote of blind confidence in the UK Government’s intention to implement our agreements in good faith. Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against further unilateral deviations from what was jointly agreed.”

MEPs also passed on a non-binding resolution on the trade agreement by 578 votes to 51 against and 68 abstentions. It branded Brexit a “historic mistake”.

“It is a logical consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and in particular the ending of freedom of movement, that the opportunities for the UK’s largely service-based economy are vastly reduced,” the resolution said.

The resolution urged the commission to pursue legal action against the UK over alleged branches of the Northern Ireland Protocol “with vigour”.

It also accused Britain of “depriving young people of such a unique opportunity” by refusing to continue participating in the Erasmus student exchange programme.

Pierre Gattaz, president of the BusinessEurope trade association said, “The UK is the third biggest trading partner of the EU, which makes this deal one of the most important trade agreements the EU has ever finalised.

“The positive vote of the European Parliament removes a major element of uncertainty, while companies on both sides are still adjusting to the new reality of trading while struggling with the COVID-19 challenges.”

China moves amid Corona tragedy! First offer of help from India and now stopped medical supplies

China’s state-owned Sichuan Airlines has postponed all its cargo (cargo) flights to India for the next 15 days, causing a major impediment for private traders to obtain essential oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from Beijing. Has occurred. The company took this step in view of the increasing cases of Kovid-19 by the Chinese government. & Lsquo; Support & Support to India & rsquo; Is raised despite being offered.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a press conference on Monday in response to questions by Sichuan Airlines about postponement of cargo flights to India, & lsquo; & lsquo; China is closely monitoring the epidemic situation in India. Our sympathies are with India for the worsening situation. & Rsquo; & rsquo;

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He said, & lsquo; & lsquo; We have said that we are ready to help India in the first available opportunity in the fight against the virus. Both sides are discussing this. & Rsquo; & rsquo; He, however, did not confirm the tweet of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka stating that China had started supplying oxygen concentrators to India. The Chinese Embassy in Colombo said in a tweet, & lsquo; & lsquo; Today 800 oxygen concentrators have been picked up from Hong Kong to Delhi, a thousand concentrators will be sent in a week. China is in touch with India in view of urgency. & Rsquo; & rsquo;

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Asked for feedback about this tweet, Wang said, & lsquo; & lsquo; China wants to provide the necessary support and help India in the fight against the virus. If India makes a specific demand, we will provide help to the best of our ability. & Rsquo; & rsquo; On the question of increasing the price of medical supplies sent by Chinese manufacturers to India, Wang said, “lsquo; & lsquo; India is ready to buy medical supplies from China, I understand it is a commercial activity. & Rsquo; & rsquo;

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Asked if the Quad Group countries are not helping India, Wang said, & lsquo; & lsquo; countries should work together on this issue. & Rsquo; & rsquo; Wang declined to comment on the Sichuan Airlines’ decision to postpone the cargo flight to India. The letter issued by the marketing agent of Sichuan Chuanhang Logistics Corporation Limited, part of Sichuan Airlines, states that the airline is postponing its cargo service on six routes, including Xi’an-Delhi.

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News agency & lsquo; PTI & rsquo; Has seen the letter issued by the company in this regard. Accordingly, the company said, “lsquo; & lsquo; this decision has been taken in view of the sudden change in the state of the epidemic (India) and to reduce the cases of infections coming from outside.” So it has been decided to postpone flights for the next 15 days. & Rsquo; & rsquo;

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The letter states, the & lsquo; & lsquo; Indian route has always been the main strategic route of Sichuan Airlines. This postponement will cause heavy losses to our company. We apologize for this unchanged situation. & Rsquo; & rsquo; According to the letter, the company will review the decision in the next 15 days. The postponement of cargo flights is a surprise to agents and consignees who are trying to buy oxygen concentrators from China.

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There are also complaints that sugar producers have increased the price of oxygen related equipment by 35 to 40 percent. Freight charges have also been increased by about 20 percent. Siddharth Sinha of Sino Global Logistics, a consignment company in Shanghai, called the news agency & lsquo; & lsquo; PTI & rsquo; Told that the Sichuan Airlines decision would impede businessmen from both countries to rapidly purchase oxygen concentrators and ship them to India.

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He said that now it will be more challenging to send these devices and they will have to be sent by various airlines through Singapore and other countries which will delay the supply of these much-needed equipment. Sinha said that the postponement of flights citing the status of Kovid-19 in India is surprising as no crew members going to India are diverted and only members of the same crew bring the aircraft back.

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China’s ambassador to India Sun Weidong said in a tweet that his country supports India in tackling the Kovid-19 epidemic. He said in the tweet, & lsquo; & lsquo; We will inspire Chinese companies to cooperate in the supply of medical goods to India. & Rsquo; & rsquo;

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India has assisted in our crisis, now our turn: US President

India in our crisis ...- India TV Hindi
Image Source: FILE PHOTO India has helped in our crisis, now our turn: US President

Washington: India is currently facing the second wave of Kovid-19, in such a situation, the US President Joe Biden India suffered a major setback after it banned the export of raw materials required to make India’s vaccine. Biden’s decision has been widely criticized in other places, including India, but after talks between Indian NSA Doval and US NSA Jake Sullivan, the US has withdrawn from its ban and is talking of all kinds of support. Now a big statement has come from the US President in which he has reiterated his commitment to help India.

US President Do Biden has tweeted, “In the beginning of the pandemic when our hospitals were under tremendous pressure, we were committed to help India in times of need in the same way that India had helped America.” Biden has made this statement on a tweet by US security adviser Jake Sullivan, in which he has committed to stand by the people of India in times of trouble.

Jake Sullivan has said that America stands to provide all possible assistance to India. He tweeted that the US will supply all the raw materials needed to make a vaccine to India, which will be needed. Sullivan has also said that the US will immediately provide rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and PPE kits to protect front line works. ”

At the same time, the statement of US Vice President Kamala Harris has also come on this issue. He tweeted and said, “The US government is working closely to provide additional support and supplies to India at the time of the Kovid-19 outbreak.” We pray for the people of India, especially for its brave healthcare workers. ”

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