Top story: Barack Obama tears apart successor
Hello, Warren Murray here, let’s quick-march through the news.
On the third night of the Democratic convention, Kamala Harris has formally accepted the vice-presidential nomination, becoming the first black woman and first Asian American to join a presidential ticket for a major party. Speaking on themes ranging from her upbringing and structural racism in America, to the impact of coronavirus and Donald Trump’s “failure of leadership [which] has cost lives and livelihoods”, Harris cast the presidential election as “a chance to change the course of history … Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did.”
Hillary Clinton called on Democratic voters to turn out in “overwhelming” numbers for the November election, to ensure Donald Trump does not “sneak or steal his way to victory”. In a searing critique of his successor Barack Obama told the convention: “This [Trump] administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. So we have to get busy building it up – by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before.”
Here are some key takeaways from night three. Joe Biden is due to give his acceptance speech on Thursday night US time.
Fears Putin opponent poisoned – In breaking news this morning the Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is “unconscious” in hospital after drinking tea suspected of being laced with poison, according to his press secretary. Navalny, 44, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was returning to Moscow by plane from Tomsk in Siberia when he fell ill, said his press secretary, Kira Yarmish. “We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. That was the only thing he drank this morning. The doctors say that the toxin was absorbed more quickly because of the hot liquid. Right now Alexei is unconscious.” Last year Navalny had an acute allergic reaction that one doctor said could have resulted from poisoning.
Cummings link to A-levels contractor – A company run by long–term associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings has been working with Ofqual on its disastrous A-level results strategy, the Guardian can reveal. Public First has been involved since June after being granted a contract that was not put out to competitive tender, and details or costs of which have not been made public. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said Gove had not been involved in making the arrangement. It has emerged that Ofqual was warned at least a month ago of flaws in its exams algorithm, but the Guardian understands it pressed ahead under ministerial pressure to prevent grade inflation. Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland hoping to use the vocational BTec qualification for university face a delay but also a potential lifeline, after the assessor Pearson said it would use internal assessments and marks to regrade final results, meaning many young people could be awarded higher grades.
Trump and QAnon – Facebook/Instagram has taken down or restricted more than 10,000 groups, pages and accounts associated with QAnon, the baseless rightwing conspiracy theory movement. The company also blocked 300 QAnon hashtags and took down 1,500 advertisements. Thousands more pages and groups are being reviewed for restriction or takedown. Facebook will still allow people to post content that supports QAnon but “will restrict their ability to organize” on its services. Overnight, Donald Trump has suggested that because the group “like me very much”, he likes them. When a reporter pointed out that QAnon supporters believe Trump is “secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of paedophiles and cannibals”, the president replied: “I haven’t heard that but is that supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?”
Outcry over death in Channel – A Sudanese teenager who disappeared at sea has been found dead on a beach near Calais after trying to cross the Channel with another boy in an inflatable dinghy using shovels for oars. His body was found on the beach of Sangatte, near to the former site of the notorious “jungle” refugee camp. The other boy was taken to hospital with hypothermia. Tensions are rising over the British government’s insistence that people attempting boat crossings should be making their asylum claims on French soil. Charles Devos, head of a Calais rescue service, said the youths were in “a small boat that you can find in supermarkets and that you inflate by mouth … It would have been impossible to make the crossing in it.”
‘One shot’ radiotherapy for breast cancer – Women who receive a single course of radiotherapy immediately after having a breast cancer removed experience the same benefits as those who have up to 30 doses over three to six weeks, an international medical study has found. The technique, known as targeted intraoperative radiotherapy, is increasingly being used around the world in place of weeks of treatment. Immediately after removal of a breast lump, a ball-shaped device measuring a few centimetres is placed into the area of the breast where the cancer had been and a single dose of radiotherapy is administered. The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. The 80% of patients for whom it works thus avoid going back to hospital between 15 and 30 times over the following weeks to have further sessions of radiotherapy. Findings published in the BMJ are based on results from 32 hospitals in 10 countries including the UK.
Today in Focus podcast: Tracking test-and-trace troubles
Josh Halliday on failures in England’s coronavirus contact-tracing system as the government replaces the main public health body in the middle of the pandemic.
Lunchtime read: Spanish city that lights up Christmas
With sunbathers still flocking to nearby beaches, in Vigo the Christmas lights are going up as the city throws down a challenge to New York over whose display is the “best in the world”.
Serge Gnabry’s double sank Lyon 0-3 and fired Bayern Munich into the final of the Champions League. In the women’s champions league, six-times champions Lyon remain favourites to win despite the absence of the injured Ada Hegerberg. Aaron Ramsdale has returned to Sheffield United, joining from Bournemouth on a four-year deal after the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson confirmed he would not be returning.
The eviction of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas from Sir Dave Brailsford’s Team Ineos Tour de France lineup ensures that, for the first time in several seasons, this year’s race will begin without a past British yellow jersey winner in the peloton. And, writes Ewan Murray at Royal Troon: “If there can be no question that the R&A’s decision to postpone this year’s men’s Open Championship was the correct one, the governing body’s willingness to stage its equivalent for women deserves higher praise. This weekend Royal Troon will host what is arguably Britain’s biggest event both in golf and in women’s sport in general this year. A total of 32 countries are represented in the Women’s Open, which has a $4.5m (£3.4m) prize fund.”
Australia’s flagship carrier, Qantas, has declared its worst financial result for a century – a $2bn loss – amid widespread devastation in the travel and tourism industries. Asian shares have slipped and similarly the FTSE is pitched nose-down in the order of 70-odd points ahead of the open. The pound is worth $1.310 and €1.106 at time of writing.
The Mail asks “Now will we wake up to this tragedy?” after a boy drowned in a desperate attempt to cross the Channel from Calais to the UK. The Metro has “Death in the channel – he didn’t stand a chance”.
The same story is on the Guardian front page – our print edition leads with “Revealed: Ofqual ignored warnings on exams amid ministers’ pressure”. The Telegraph runs it further up the chain: “Williamson was warned about risk of exam fiasco” while the Times gives its interpretation of the U-turn on B-Tec results: “Hundreds of thousands told: you won’t get results today”.
The Mirror covers the first day of sentencing of the surviving Manchester Arena bomber, portraying it as “The coward and the brave” and saying Hashem Abedi stayed in his Old Bailey cell rather than stand before victims’ relatives in court. The Express has “Brexit trade talks hit road block”, saying EU negotiators have “threatened to curb British truckers’ access to European roads”. The FT leads with “Apple passes markets milestone as shares take valuation to $2tn”.
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