Johnson trying to set up charity that could fund No 11 flat revamp

No 10 does not deny reports that scheme could cover costs of works by PM’s fiancee, Carrie SymondsDowning Street is trying to set up a charity that could cover the costs of the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s flat, which he shares with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.A No 10 spokesman would not deny reports in the Daily Mail that the prime minister is attempting to set up a charity where benefactors can contribute to the upkeep of Downing Street.Symonds is understood to have undertaken a substantial redecoration of the flat above No 11 that she shares with Johnson and their baby son, Wilfred. Johnson is known to have joked with Conservative MPs about the cost of the refurbishment.According the Mail, the purpose of the charitable fund would be to maintain not just the No 11 flat, but also other parts of Downing Street, including the state rooms, and could therefore be presented as having a wider heritage purpose. Continue reading… …

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Neanderthals Listened to the World Much Like Us

A reconstructed Neanderthal ear adds a new piece to the puzzle of whether the early humans could speak. …

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Syria war: ‘This is the price we had to pay for freedom’

Syrian civilians describe the devastating impact 10 years of war has had on them. …

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Palestinian ‘Techno Queen’ Sama’ Abdulhadi faces court over shrine event

DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi is facing a court hearing following a music event near a West Bank holy site. …

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City firms made plans in Brexit run-up to move assets worth £100bn to EU – survey

Data from EY highlights last-minute transfers in order to hold on to European business City firms revealed in the final months of 2020 that they planned to shift nearly £100bn in assets to the EU, taking the total value of assets lost to the bloc since the Brexit vote to £1.3 trillion, according to a new survey.The data from consulting group EY pointed to a last-minute push by firms before 31 December after the UK-EU trade deal did not offer concessions for the UK’s dominant financial services sector. It forced companies to move staff and assets to the continent in order to continue serving EU customers. Continue reading… …

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Where Biden’s Foreign Policy Is Taking the U.S.

The president diverges from both Donald Trump and Barack Obama with a complex vision of coalition-building. …

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After El Salvador Election, Bukele Is on Verge of Near-Total Control

The party of President Nayib Bukele is set to take a sweeping majority in El Salvador’s Congress, giving the populist leader broad new powers. …

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Taylor Swift criticises Netflix show for ‘deeply sexist joke’

The pop star accuses the Ginny and Georgia series of “degrading” women in an angry tweet. …

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Israeli Court Says Converts to Non-Orthodox Judaism Can Claim Citizenship

People who convert in Israel to Reform or Conservative Judaism have a right to citizenship, the Supreme Court ruled, chipping at the power of Orthodox authorities that see them as non-Jewish. …

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Here is What We Know About the Rollout of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine.

Much is still to be determined about how this new tool will be used, but some things are already clear. …

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Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: BBC reporter Girmay Gebru detained by military

Girmay Gebru and four others were taken from a café in the regional capital Mekelle, witnesses say. …

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American Accused of Killing Italian Officer Says He Acted in Self-Defense

Finnegan Elder, of San Francisco, told a Rome court that the officer did not identify himself and that he “panicked” and believed the officer would kill him. …

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Myanmar’s Military Deploys Digital Arsenal of Repression in Crackdown

The generals who staged a coup last month use surveillance drones, iPhone cracking devices and hacking software, some of it from Western countries that bar sales of such technology to Myanmar. …

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‘A very close call’: Lady Gaga’s dog-walker tells of ordeal

Ryan Fischer is expected to make a full recovery after a dognapper shot him in the chest. …

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Cameron criticises Johnson and May over aid cuts and security oversight

Former PM predicts ‘big inquiry’ into Covid response and defends EU referendum decisionDavid Cameron has criticised Boris Johnson’s aid cuts and abolition of the Department for International Development, and accused Theresa May of making a “very bad mistake” in merging key cabinet and security roles.The former prime minister’s criticism of his successors came as he made a rare (virtual) return to parliament, where he told the joint committee on national security strategy (JCNSS) on Monday that he was “sure there will be a big inquiry” into the handling of the Covid pandemic. Continue reading… …

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Nigeria’s Boarding Schools Have Become a Hunting Ground for Kidnappers

Northern Nigeria’s kidnap-for-ransom industry is growing, and it’s not just the well-off who are at risk. The new targets are poor villagers and ordinary schoolchildren. …

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UK’s largest care homes provider to sell off 52 facilities

Move by HC-One comes amid warnings Covid crisis threatens viability of private operatorsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe UK’s largest care homes company is to sell dozens of its homes and focus on more specialised care, amid warnings that some operators are being pushed to the brink of closure.HC-One will sell 52 homes – almost one in six in its portfolio – as it moves away from providing residential care, where people might live for years, towards more high-dependency care for people with complex dementia and other needs. It will also close four homes, it announced on Monday. Continue reading… …

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His Books Inspired Lovestruck Teens to Put Locks on Bridges

Federico Moccia, the Italian writer likened to Nicholas Sparks and John Green, is releasing his Rome Novels in English for the first time. …

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One Pfizer or Oxford Covid jab ‘significantly’ prevents hospitalisation in older people

Either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospital admission three to four weeks after first dose, PHE findsA single shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers dramatic protection against hospital admission and severe disease in older people, according to a new study from Public Health England (PHE).Matt Hancock hailed the real-world data, which found either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospital admission around three to four weeks after the first dose. Continue reading… …

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Steakhouse chain asks staff to ‘lend 10% of wages’ amid Covid crisis

Tomahawk has had ‘100% take-up on the offer’ to try to help it through England’s lockdownCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageRestaurant staff at the Tomahawk Steakhouse chain have been asked to lend the business a tenth of their wages in order to help it through the latest lockdown.The chain, which operates 12 venues in Yorkshire, the north-east of England and London, wants furloughed staff to pay for their own monthly national insurance and pension payments by way of a “voluntary loan” to the company to help it plug a cashflow crunch. Continue reading… …

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Syria war: Tens of thousands of detainees still missing, UN says

UN investigators say many of those arbitrarily detained during the civil war are presumed dead. …

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Labour indicates it would back gradual rise in corporation tax

Shadow chancellor says party would not back immediate hike in taxes on company profits, but does not rule out future increasesRishi Sunak’s budget will do nothing to address a decade of economic negligenceLabour would back a gradual increase in corporation tax across this parliament, the shadow chancellor has indicated after a week of criticism over the party’s assertion that tax rises should be off the table.Writing for the Guardian, Anneliese Dodds says Labour would not back an immediate hike in taxes on company profits in Wednesday’s budget but was open-minded about future increases. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is believed to be preparing to increase corporation tax from 19% to up to 25% by the end of the parliament in 2024. Continue reading… …

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Much of the world is seeing coronavirus cases fall. But Brazil’s outbreak is worse than ever.

Hospitals are at capacity, a virus variant is rampaging and vaccines are slow to come….

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Covid: Japan asks China to stop anal tests on its citizens

Some Japanese citizens have said the tests for Covid-19 caused them “psychological distress”. …

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Biden urged to back AI weapons to counter China and Russia threats

A long-awaited report says the US president should ignore calls for a ban on autonomous weapons. …

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