Man City v Tottenham: How does Pep Guardiola pick players up? Alan Shearer analysis

Manchester City’s quadruple hopes are over – the danger now is that their season could fall apart.

This is a defining week for them. Tottenham are back at Etihad Stadium on Saturday (12:30 BST kick-off), before Pep Guardiola’s side go to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on Wednesday (20:00).

The Champions League is gone but the Premier League title is on the line now, and nothing less than two wins will do. City cannot rely on Liverpool dropping points in their remaining matches.

Guardiola’s problem is that he has to find a way of picking his players up off the floor after the incredible drama of their European exit to Spurs.

He looked shattered and devastated himself at the final whistle, and understandably so. Right from the start, the action was absolutely relentless – and that continued for the entire 96 minutes.

Race for the Premier League title
DateLiverpool fixturesDateMan City fixtures
21 AprilCardiff (A)20 AprilTottenham (H)
24 AprilManchester United (A)
26 AprilHuddersfield (H)28 AprilBurnley (A)
5 MayNewcastle (A)4 MayLeicester (H)
12 MayWolves (H)12 MayBrighton (A)

I was there for BBC Radio 5 Live and it was that good to watch that there was no time to breathe. It is difficult to think of a better game I have seen, and as a spectacle it was just staggering.

City put so much energy into trying to get through – and to lose when you think you have won, in the way they did when their injury-time goal was wiped out by VAR, is especially cruel. It will be hard for everyone at the club to come to terms with.Manchester City have to accept ‘cruel’ Tottenham defeat – Guardiola

They gave everything, but they have no time to feel sorry for themselves because there is still so much to play for.

City have still got six games left this season, and if they win them all, finishing against Watford at Wembley, they will win the Premier League and FA Cup and complete a domestic treble.

That would be an unbelievable achievement and I am sure Guardiola’s message to his players will be along those lines. One trophy has gone but there are still two more to go – let’s go for the hat-trick.

Spurs will be running on pure adrenaline

Tottenham players are ‘heroes’ – Pochettino

I have a gut feeling City will beat Spurs on Saturday, but everything about the game is going to feel very different.

There was a sensational atmosphere at the Etihad on Wednesday night. Guardiola asked for the fans to show him they cared about the Champions League, and they certainly did that.

It will just not be possible for their supporters to create the same sort of intensity inside the stadium on a Saturday lunchtime, but the City fans still have a big part to play.

They did their bit to help City go after Spurs in midweek, and they can lift the players again. They have to try because, if things feel flat at all, that will only help the visitors.

The Manchester City fans created a magnificent atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium for Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Tottenham – can they lift their team again on Saturday?

The Tottenham team will also have some tired bodies in it, but the difference is they are returning to the scene of a famous victory.

They lost on the night but still got the result they wanted and put in a brilliant performance to get it. As a player you just don’t feel tired after results like that, and they will be full of confidence and running on pure adrenaline.

Of course Spurs had a little bit of luck along the way, but they withstood all the City pressure on Wednesday and thoroughly deserved their victory. Over the two legs, they were the better side.

City will have regrets from first leg too

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola pleased with City performance

City can take some positives from the way they played on Wednesday into the weekend, but they cannot afford any more stupid mistakes or missed opportunities if they are going to get the result they want this time.

When City look back on how the Champions League tie was lost, then defensively they clearly could have done a lot better at the Etihad.

Aymeric Laporte has hardly put a foot wrong all season but his mistakes cost City two goals, and Ederson should have done better with the first of them too.

When you have conceded three goals at home you probably don’t deserve to go through – but they will have regrets from the first leg too.

I was surprised Pep did not pick a more attack-minded side but really the reason that night went wrong for them boils down to Sergio Aguero’s missed penalty after 11 minutes.

Things would have been very different if he had put that away. City would have been ahead in the tie, and had an away goal too.

Instead they had to wait until Aguero scored in the 59th minute of the second leg to lead on aggregate, and there were more twists and turns to come.

Spurs must cope without Son and Kane

The Squad: Is Son Heung-min Tottenham’s player of the season?

Guardiola’s Champions League hopes are over for another year and it is Tottenham who are through, with Ajax standing between them and a place in the final against either Barcelona or Liverpool in Madrid on 1 June.

Spurs will see their semi-final as winnable – but so will Ajax’s exciting young team, who have already beaten Real Madrid and Juventus and are building a big reputation. I don’t think anyone sees Ajax as an easy option any more.

It is a big blow to Spurs that they will be without the suspended Son Heung-min for the first leg at home, although their new stadium will again give them a huge boost.

Son was absolutely magnificent against City, and he always seems to step up when Harry Kane is absent. Spurs must find a way of coping without both of them next time, but they have already beaten the odds to get this far.’Difficult’ for Harry Kane to play again this season – Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino’s side came so close to going out in the group stage. They were hanging on for dear life in their last game against Barcelona – now they could end up facing a rematch in the final.

There is no point thinking about that just yet, though. Barca are still my favourites to go all the way and win it, but Liverpool’s attack will cause them problems and that tie is also very difficult to call.

The papers: ‘T2 star’s execution ordered by Glasgow hoods’


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The Scottish Sun
Edinburgh Evening News
The Scotsman
The Times Scotland
The Herald
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Scottish Daily Mail
Scottish Daily Express
The Daily Telegraph
The Courier
P&J
Daily Star of Scotland
The Elizabeth Line had been due to open in December 2018

Santorini deaths: London teachers killed in buggy crash

Crossrail could be delayed until 2021, according to a senior source associated with the project to build a new railway underneath central London.

The east-west route, officially called the Elizabeth Line, will run between Reading and Shenfield in Essex and had been due to open in December 2018.

Crossrail said testing of the trains and signalling was “progressing well”.

But sources told the BBC this phase – known as dynamic testing – was “proving more difficult than was first thought”.

The source said: “It all depends on how dynamic testing goes between now and the end of this year.”

“The last quarter of this year will be a critical period for the testing.”

Signalling software

Once dynamic testing is complete then trial runs will commence. This will effectively be a simulation of the timetable in real time.

The source said, with the current state of the project in mind, a “best case scenario” would be the new Elizabeth Line opening in spring 2020.

A “middle probability case” would be the summer of next year.

“A worst case is the spring of 2021.”

Map showing the Crossrail route

Two other senior rail sources say this assessment is credible. It also tallies with one of the conclusions in a report written by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee which was published earlier this month.

However, there is still uncertainty over when the scheme can be delivered because work to match a new signalling system in the 13-mile stretch of tunnel with software on the new trains is still ongoing.

On top of the trains and signalling, all of the new stations along the route are incomplete.

Paddington and Bond Street are the furthest behind.

A delay to the project only first became public in the summer of last year, just weeks before the railway was supposed to open in December 2018.

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What is Crossrail?

Construction workers work on a section of train track inside a Crossrail tunnel, beneath Stepney in east London in 2016

Crossrail is a new railway that will run beneath London from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Construction began in 2009 and it is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project – it had been due to open in December 2018 although last summer that was pushed back to autumn 2019.

It has been officially named the Elizabeth Line in honour of the Queen and will serve 41 stations.

An estimated 200 million passengers will use the new undergound line annually, increasing central London rail capacity by 10% – the largest increase since World War Two.

Crossrail says the new line will connect Paddington to Canary Wharf in 17 minutes.

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Roger Ford at Modern Railways magazine said he believed the failure to come clean about the delay was symptomatic of how politically sensitive the project was.

Both Transport for London and the Department for Transport are joint sponsors.

“It was probably a situation where people don’t report upwards for fear of getting shot.”

He said he believed “everyone is to blame” and the fact that the new management had taken several months to assess the scale of the delay “shows how bad it was”.Media captionA drone’s-eye view of a flight through Crossrail’s tunnels in 2015

If there is a further significant delay it will almost inevitably cost more money.

In 2010 the budget for Crossrail was scaled back slightly to £14.8bn.

But when the initial delay became public last year that figure rose to £17.6bn.

Much of that additional money has been lent to Transport for London by the government. Whitehall officials insist London will ultimately have to cover the extra cost, not UK taxpayers elsewhere.

In a statement, Crossrail said London needed the line to be “completed as quickly as possible and brought into service for passengers”.

“We are working very hard to finalise our new plan to deliver the opening at the earliest opportunity and we will be providing more details later this month.”

Bombardier which manufactured the trains for Crossrail did not wish to comment on reports that the testing of the trains and signalling was not going to plan.

Siemens Mobility is responsible for the signalling. When contacted by the BBC, it referred inquiries to Crossrail.

Facebook bans UK far right groups and leaders

Facebook has imposed a ban on a dozen far-right individuals and organisations that it says “spread hate”.

The ban includes the British National Party and Nick Griffin, the English Defence League and the National Front.

The list also includes Britain First, which was already banned, but this latest action will prohibit support for it on any of the US firm’s services.

It said it had taken the action because those involved had proclaimed a “violent or hateful mission”.

“Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” the social network added in a statement.

BNP Facebook page
The pages of some organisations named were still present on Facebook before the announcement

The ban includes:

  • The British National Party and its ex-leader Nick Griffin
  • Britain First, its leader Paul Golding and former deputy leader Jayda Fransen
  • English Defence League and its founding member Paul Ray
  • Knights Templar International and its promoter Jim Dowson
  • National Front and its leader Tony Martin
  • Jack Renshaw, a neo-Nazi who plotted to murder a Labour MP

A spokesman for Facebook clarified what would now be done to the pages the groups and individuals had run on its site. All those named would be prevented from having a presence on any Facebook service.

In addition, praise and support for the groups or named individuals would no longer be allowed.

EDL Facebook page

This action, he said, went further than the restrictions placed on Britain First last year when its official pages were removed for breaking the site’s community standards.

The latest move comes soon after Facebook said it would block

 “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on its main app and Instagram.

Some controversial figures, such as Tommy Robinson, are already subject to bans on the social network.

Amazon plans to shut online store in China

Amazon plans to shut its online store in China that allows shoppers to buy from local sellers as it downsizes operations in the country.

The firm said it would no longer run the domestic marketplace from July, but Chinese shoppers will still be able to order goods from Amazon’s global store.

It will also continue to operate its cloud business in China.

The retail retreat comes as Amazon faces tough competition from local rivals Alibaba and JD.com.

Reuters first reported Amazon’s plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July to focus on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services. Amazon’s profitable cloud computing division hosts huge swathes of the corporate world on its data servers.

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement that it was “working closely with our sellers to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to deliver the best customer experience possible”.

Consumers accessing Amazon Chinese web portal, Amazon.cn, after 18 July will see a selection of goods from its global store, Bloomberg reported.

Amazon bought Joyo.com, a Chinese books, music and video retailer, for $75m (£57.4m) in 2004. It rebranded the company as Amazon.cn in 2007.

But it has struggled to compete with dominant players JD.com and Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace in China.

The shift away from the world’s second largest economy comes as the company pours huge investment into India.

Amazon has committed to spending $5.5bn on e-commerce in India, where it competes with local rival Flipkart.

Last year, it launched a Hindi version of its mobile website and smartphone app in an attempt to attract millions of new customers in the country.

Facebook scraped email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook “unintentionally” uploaded the email contacts of more than 1.5 million users without asking permission to do so, the social network has admitted.

The data harvesting happened via a system used to verify the identity of new members,

Facebook asked new users to supply the password for their email account, and took a copy of their contacts.

Facebook said it had now changed the way it handled new users to stop contacts being uploaded.

Data losses

All those users whose contacts were taken would be notified and all the contacts it had grabbed without consent would be deleted, it said.

The information grabbed is believed to have been used by Facebook to help map social and personal connections between users.

Anyone who, like me, joined Facebook a decade or more ago, probably clicked “yes” when invited to upload all of their contacts.

It seemed a good way of making the network more useful and, after all, what could be the harm? But after the various data scandals shattered trust in Facebook, we’ve become far more cautious.

We’ve woken up to the harms that could come from handing over that precious information about our social connections – for journalists it could mean revealing their contacts, for whistleblowers their dealings with regulators, for just about anyone their contacts with people they might not want their partners to know about.

Now we know that Facebook somehow scraped up the email contacts of 1.5 million people over a three year period without their agreement. Now every time the social network suggests “people you may know”, we will wonder “How do you know that I may know them?”

To many, the idea that they should trust Facebook with their data seems more old-fashioned by the day.

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Contacts started being taken without consent in May 2016, the company told Business Insider, which broke the story.

Before this date, new users were asked if they wanted to verify their identity via their email account. They were also asked if they wanted to upload their address book voluntarily.

This option and the text specifying that contacts were being grabbed was changed in May 2016 but the underlying code that actually scraped contacts was left intact, said Facebook.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, which oversees Facebook in Europe, is engaged with the firm to understand what happened and its consequences.

Rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Rep Ocasio Cortez said social media was a ‘health risk’

The email contacts case is the latest in a long series in which Facebook has mishandled the data of some of its billions of users.

In late March, Facebook found that the passwords of about 600 million users were stored internally  in plain text for months.

The ongoing breaches and other criticisms of Facebook are also prompting some high-profile users to bow out. The latest is Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said she had “quit” the social network.

In an interview with a Yahoo News podcast she said: “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook.”

She added that social media posed a “public health risk”.

JP Morgan: Is Wall Street’s first female boss a step closer?

Wall Street could soon welcome its first-ever female chief executive after JP Morgan announced that finance boss Marianne Lake will take over running its consumer lending business.

The promotion means that Ms Lake could be a potential successor to chief executive Jamie Dimon.

At the same time, she will be replaced as finance chief by Jennifer Piepszak.

Ms Lake has been seen as a contender to lead Wells Fargo, the scandal-hit bank that is searching for a new boss.

JP Morgan is the largest US bank measured by total assets.

The changes emerged days after Mr Dimon and a number of other Wall Street bank chief executives failed to answer a congressional question on whether their “likely successor will be a woman or a person of colour”.

The bank bosses were appearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee, but Mr Dimon later told investors during a conference call with analysts about JP Morgan’s first quarter results that he didn’t understand the question.

He said: “We don’t comment on succession plans. That’s a board-level issue. But also I was confused by the question ‘likely’ without a timetable.

“We have exceptional women. And my successor may very well be a woman and it may not. And it really depends on the circumstance. And it might be different if it’s one year from now versus five years from now.”

Ms Lake, who was born in the US but moved to the UK when she was an infant, began working at JP Morgan in 1999. In her new role, she will oversee its credit card, mortgage lending and car finance business.

UK to introduce porn age-checks in July

An age-check scheme designed to stop under-18s viewing pornographic websites will come into force on 15 July.

From that date, affected sites will have to verify the age of UK visitors.

If they fail to comply they will face being blocked by internet service providers.

But critics say teens may find it relatively easy to bypass the restriction or could simply turn to porn-hosting platforms not covered by the law.

Twitter, Reddit and image-sharing community Imgur, for example, will not be required to administer the scheme because they fall under an exception where more than a third of a site or app’s content must be pornographic to qualify.

Likewise, any platform that hosts pornography but does not do so on a commercial basis – meaning it does not charge a fee or make money from adverts or other activity – will not be affected.

Furthermore, it will remain legal to use virtual private networks (VPNs), which can make it seem like a UK-based computer is located elsewhere, to evade the age checks.

The authorities have, however, acknowledged that age-verification is “not a silver bullet” solution, but rather a means to make it less likely that children stumble across unsuitable material online.

“The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content,” said the Minister for Digital Margot James.

“We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

Past moves to police porn in the UK

Call to action

It had originally been proposed that pornographic services that refused to carry out age checks could be fined up to £250,000. However, this power will not be enforced because ministers believe the threat to block defiant sites will be sufficient and that trying to chase overseas-based entities for payment would have been difficult.

However, the government has said that other measures could follow.

“We know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children,” a spokesman for the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the BBC.

“If we do not see action then we do not rule out legislating in the future to force companies to take responsibility for protecting vulnerable users from the potentially harmful content that they host.”

The age checks were originally proposed by the now defunct regulator Atvod in 2014and were enacted into law as part of the the Digital Economy Act 2017. But their rollout had been repeatedly delayed.

UK-hosted pornographic video services already have to verify visitors’ ages, as do online gambling platforms.

‘Porn passes’

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) – which gives movies their UK age certificates – will be responsible for regulating the effort. It will instruct internet providers which sites and apps to block for non-compliance. In addition, it can call on payment service providers to pull support, and ask search engines and advertisers to shun an offending business.

The pornographic platforms themselves will have freedom to choose how to verify UK visitors’ ages.

But the BBFC has said that it will award solutions that adopt “robust” data-protection standards with a certificate, allowing them to display a green AV (age verification) symbol on their marketing materials to help consumers make an informed choice.

One digital rights campaign group questioned the sense of this scheme being voluntary.

“Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer’s paradise – of the government’s own making,” said Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group.

“Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government’s own fault.”

Mindgeek, one of the adult industry’s biggest players, has developed an online system of its own called AgeID, which it hopes will be widely adopted. It involves adults having to upload scans of their passports or driving licences, which are then verified by a third-party.

It has said that all the information will be encrypted and that the AgeID system will not keep track of how each users’ accounts are used.

AgeID
Mindgeek intends to launch its AgeID system soon in the UK

High street stores and newsagents will also sell separate age-verification cards to adults after carrying out face-to-face checks, according to the government.

Dubbed “porn passes” by the media, the idea is that users would type in a code imprinted on the cards into pornographic websites to gain access to their content.

The BBFC has said it will also create an online form for members of the public to flag non-compliant sites once the new regulations come into effect.

“We want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible,” commented the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

“To accomplish this, it is crucial the rules keep pace with the different ways that children are exposed to porn online.”

The age checks form part of a wider effort by the UK’s authorities to make the internet safer to use for young people.

Most recently, DCMS proposed the creation of a new regulator to tackle apps that contain content promoting self-harm and suicide, among other problems.

In addition, the Information Commissioner’s Office has proposed services stop using tools that encourage under-18s to share more personal data about themselves than they would do otherwise.

XXX

The idea of the government keeping a database of verified porn viewers had sounded like a privacy and ethical nightmare.

Luckily it has dodged that bullet. While ministers have ordered porn sites to age-verify users, they have not told them how they must do so.

That means different sites will have different systems

Those “porn passes” that your friendly local newsagent may soon dish out are a theoretical solution, but there is no obligation for any porn site to accept them.

So, you may potentially have to verify yourself several times for several porn sites.

Despite the introduction of a new kitemark-like badge to identify cyber-security conscious systems, there’s still a concern that some will suffer data breaches causing people’s adult interests to be exposed.

Pig brains partially revived four hours after death

US scientists have partially revived pig brains four hours after the animals were slaughtered

The findings could fuel debate about the barrier between life and death, and provide a new way of researching diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The study showed the death of brain cells could be halted and that some connections in the brain were restored.

However, there were no signals from the brain that would indicate awareness or consciousness.

The surprise findings challenge the idea that the brain goes into irreversible decline within minutes of the blood supply being cut off.

How was it done?

Thirty-two pig brains were collected from an abattoir.

Four hours later the organs were connected to a system made by the team at Yale University.

It rhythmically pumped (to mimic the pulse) a specially designed liquid round the brain, which contained a synthetic blood to carry oxygen and drugs to slow or reverse the death of brain cells.

The pig brains were given the restorative cocktail for six hours.

What did the study show?

Synapse
The researchers found synapses – the connections between brains – were working

The study, published in the journal Nature, showed a reduction in brain cell death, the restoration of blood vessels and some brain activity.

The researchers found working synapses – the connections between brain cells that allow them to communicate.

The brains also showed a normal response to medication and used up the same amount of oxygen as a normal brain.

This was all 10 hours after the pigs were decapitated.

Crucially there was no sign of the brain-wide electrical activity in an electroencephalogram (EEG brain scan) that would signal awareness or perception.

Fundamentally they were still dead brains.

What have we learned?

The research transforms ideas about how the brain dies, which many thought happened quickly and irreversibly without a supply of oxygen.

Prof Nenad Sestan, a professor of neuroscience at Yale University, said: “Cell death in the brain occurs across a longer time window that we previously thought.

“What we are showing is the process of cell death is a gradual, stepwise process.

“And that some of those processes can be either postponed, preserved or even reversed.”

Are these experiments ethical?

The pig brains came from the pork industry; the animals were not raised in a lab for this experiment.

But the Yale scientists were so concerned the pigs might become conscious that they gave drugs to the disembodied brains to reduce any brain activity.

And the team were constantly monitoring the brains to see if there was any sign of higher brain functions.

In that case they would have used anaesthetic and ended the experiment.

Ethicists, writing in Nature, say new guidelines are needed for this field because animals used for research could end up in a “grey area – not alive, but not completely dead”.

What is the point?

A brain

The immediate benefit of this work will be for scientists studying the brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The organ is the most complex structure in the known universe, but techniques such as freezing slices of the brain or growing colonies of brain cells in a dish do not let researchers explore the full 3D wiring of the brain.

In the long term, scientists hope to find better ways of protecting the brain after traumas such as a stroke or being starved of oxygen at birth.

Dr Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, from the Brain Initiative at the US National Institute of Mental Health, said: “This line of research could lead to a whole new way of studying the post-mortem brain.

“It also could stimulate research to develop interventions that promote brain recovery after loss of brain blood flow.”

However, the researchers say it is still far too early for the field to make a difference to patients after injury.

Prof Sestan said: “We don’t yet have knowledge whether we would be able to restore normal brain function.”

Does this change the meaning of death?

At the moment no, but some ethicists say we should have the debate now as people who are “brain dead” are a major source of organs for transplant.

Prof Dominic Wilkinson, a professor of medical ethics and a consultant neonatologist in Oxford, said: “Once someone has been diagnosed as ‘brain dead’ there is currently no way for that person to ever recover.

“The human person that they were has gone forever.

“If, in the future, it were possible to restore the function of the brain after death, to bring back someone’s mind and personality, that would, of course, have important implications for our definitions of death.”

But that is not currently the case.

Prof Tara Spires-Jones, deputy director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This study is a long way from preserving human brain function after death as portrayed in the cartoon Futurama where heads were kept alive in a jar.

“It is instead a temporary preservation of some of the more basic cell functions in the pig brain, not the preservation of thought and personality.”

Could the pigs’ brains be aware?

In this experiment the answer is a clear no. The brains were effectively silent.

But the research does ask as many questions as it answers:

  • How long can the researchers keep brains going?
  • Would the results be even better if the researchers did not wait four hours before starting?
  • Also, the team used drugs to suppress brain activity – would the decapitated brains have been aware if they hadn’t?

UK’s biggest money manager warns on climate catastrophe

The world is facing a climate catastrophe and businesses around the world must address it urgently or face the ultimate sanction for a public company, shareholders who refuse to back them any more.

That is not a message from an environmental action group but from the largest money manager in the UK, Legal & General Investment Management, which manages £1 trillion worth of UK pension fund investments.

Its climate warning was the top of a list of concerns about the way companies are run.

Other red lights included the level of executive pay, lack of diversity in senior corporate roles, the role (and cost) of political lobbying and the poor quality of the financial information provided by auditors.

Legal & General insist that it is not just virtue signalling.

The company voted against the re-election of nearly 4,000 directors in 2018 – an increase of 37%. That included votes against over 100 board chairs on the basis of gender diversity alone.

Legal & General’s director of corporate governance, Sacha Sadan, said it was getting tougher with company boards and managements.

“2018 was a record year for us as we continued to engage with companies on a broad range of issues, using our voting power to influence change on behalf of our clients. The increased figures reflect the higher standards we expect companies to adhere to”

A Carillion sign at a building site in the West Midlands
Carillion collapsed last year

The collapse last year of construction and services company Carillion, which continued to pay out high salaries, shareholder dividends and get a clean bill of health from its auditors until just months before its sudden liquidation caused widespread outrage and shone a light on the standard of company stewardship in the UK.

A recent report from a committee of MPs was sceptical about asset managers’ appetite and ability to raise the quality of company management.

The business select committee chair said last month: “We do not have confidence in institutional investors in exercising their stewardship functions. We cannot rely on shareholders to exert pressure.”

Legal & General admit they too have made mistakes.

Lesson learnt

In 2012, the company voted in favour of a pay formula for the chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon that saw Jeff Fairburn awarded a pay packet of £100m Mr Sadan told the BBC it had learnt its lesson. “Since then we insist that maximum pay outs are capped.”

The VERY best way for investors to exert pressure is to sell their shares – or not become shareholders of misbehaving companies in the first place.

Plenty of fund managers argue they are trying to “reform from within” while happily accepting bumper dividend pay outs from companies in some of the most controversial sectors – such as oil and tobacco.

Legal & General insist they are prepared to do that and last year issued a list of companies whose shares they decided to dump. The list of eight included Russian oil company Rosneft, the China Construction Bank and Subaru.

Legal & General say that all eight of those on the “black list” have been in touch to try and get themselves off it. Proof positive, say L&G, that their brand of shareholder engagement – or disengagement – really works.

Many in the UK might find that argument more convincing if the list of no-go investments included companies closer to home that would REALLY feel the cold shoulder of the UK’s biggest money manager.

Mr van Beurden
Shell boss Ben van Beurden’s pay more than doubled last year

For example, Royal Dutch Shell is the UK’s biggest dividend payer by miles – offering investors a tempting 5.8% return on their money. Legal & General say they were successful in moving the chief executive’s performance targets to be based on safety and environmental improvements rather than raw profit. They were less successful in tackling the sheer amount he pocketed last year – a colossal £17m.

Asset managers are effectively the “masters of the universe” when it comes to telling companies how to behave as they have to vote on their investors behalf. But they have powerful customers of their own to answer to.

Increasing numbers of pension fund trustees are seeking assurances that their employees’ retirement contributions are not finding their way into embarrassing or inappropriate investments. The Church of England was not thrilled to find out its pension scheme was invested in the now defunct high cost credit company Wonga.

More recently – and more importantly – was the decision by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund to divest itself of some of its fossil fuel investments (paradoxically perhaps – the source of all the money in the first place).

But what these examples show is that the savers and citizens, on whose behalf this money is managed, are becoming more aware – and more willing to object – about how that is done.

Debbie Headspeath bought codeine from online pharmacies

Clampdown planned for British online pharmacies

New rules to keep people safe when buying medications from online pharmacies have been described as a “big step forward” by Britain’s pharmacy regulator.

It comes after patients and relatives raised concerns, as well as an investigation by BBC Panorama.

The General Pharmaceutical Council has issued guidance for providers.

It will help regulate access to addictive medication, such as strong painkillers.

Duncan Rudkin, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s chief executive, told the BBC that he hoped the new rules would “make an important difference to improving standards of safety and care for patients”.

The way some online pharmacy websites operate will change, and more checks will be done on medications.

Extra safety measures include:

  • Sites cannot be set up in a way that allows patients to choose a prescription-only medication before an online consultation with a healthcare professional
  • More safeguards will be introduced for certain medications, including antibiotics and medicines that need ongoing monitoring or management
  • For medications that are liable to abuse, overuse or misuse, or when there is a risk of addiction, the prescriber needs to contact the GP in advance of issuing the prescription (and they have confirmed it is appropriate for the patient and the appropriate monitoring is in place)
  • Online pharmacy websites should be clear about the identity and/or location of the pharmacies issuing prescriptions

Mr Rudkin said the Panorama programme “was really helpful in shining a light on a really important area of public safety”.

It revealed how easy it was for patients to buy drugs online that their own GPs would be highly unlikely to prescribe.

Patients contacted Panorama after the programme.

Kevin Duggan
Kevin Duggan said his sister had been exploited

Debbie Headspeath, 41, died in 2017 in Ipswich. Her brother, Kevin Duggan told the BBC that after her death, they found on bank statements that she had bought codeine from 18 online UK pharmacies.

Debbie had started a new job with war veterans and, despite waking up with stomach pains, she did not want to miss work.

“She put her jacket and bag on and then collapsed by the front door. She wasn’t found until several hours later when her partner came home from work and it was too late and she had gone. She died.”

Debbie had been prescribed the opiate-based painkiller dihydrocodeine by her family doctor in 2008 after developing back pain.

After several years, it was recognised she was addicted. The family doctor tried to wean her off, but she was able to secretly buy medication, prescribed by doctors and dispensed by UK pharmacies, without her GP being informed by the companies.

Kevin said: “There’s no justification for what they do, which is exploiting people with an addiction. I would like to invite the companies to try and justify their actions to my mum.

“To look my mum in the eyes and explain why they allowed this to happen.”

The inquest, which will decide the cause of death, is next month, but her brother told the BBC he felt the codeine had contributed to her death.

Son born addicted

Another relative of a patient contacted the BBC. His wife had developed back pain after the birth of their first child in 2014.

In 2016, he realised she was addicted to dihydrocodeine – the same drug prescribed to Debbie – and asked her GP to help her get off them.

In 2017, she found out she was pregnant again.

“I think when she fell pregnant she was taking 20 pills a day secretly.

“Then I think she realised, and then the midwife weaned her down to eight to 10 pills a day. And as a consequence of that, you know, my son was born addicted to opiates.

“To see your child in such distress, to see jerky movements; the shaking. It’s something that I wouldn’t want anybody to ever go through.”

His wife managed to come off the codeine, but she has recently relapsed. He says that, so far, the medications have cost them nearly £25,000.

Mr Rudkin told the BBC: “I really want to acknowledge the pain that some families have experienced that’s been associated in some cases with online pharmacies.

“It’s really important that the stories help to change regulations. We’ve taken steps to address the risk.”

Sleep myths ‘damaging your health’

Widely held myths about sleep are damaging our health and our mood, as well as shortening our lives, say researchers.

A team at New York University trawled the internet to find the most common claims about a good night’s kip.

Then, in a study published in the journal Sleep Health, they matched the claims to the best scientific evidence.

They hope that dispelling sleep myths will improve people’s physical and mental health and well-being.

So, how many are you guilty of?

Myth 1 – You can cope on less than five hours sleep

This is the myth that just won’t go away.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had a brief four hours a night. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made similar claims and swapping hours in bed for extra time in the office is not uncommon in tales of business or entrepreneurial success.

Yet the researchers said the belief that less than five hours shut-eye was healthy, was one of the most damaging myths to health.

“We have extensive evidence to show sleeping five hours or less consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences,” said researcher Dr Rebecca Robbins.

These included cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, and shorter life expectancy.

Instead, she recommends everyone should aim for a consistent seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Myth 2 – Alcohol before bed boosts your sleep
The relaxing nightcap is a myth, says the team, whether it’s a glass of wine, a dram of whisky or a bottle of beer.

“It may help you fall asleep, but it dramatically reduces the quality of your rest that night,” said Dr Robbins.

It particularly disrupts your REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which is important for memory and learning.

So yes, you will have slept and may have nodded off more easily, but some of the benefits of sleep are lost.

Alcohol is also a diuretic, so you may find yourself having to deal with a full bladder in the middle of the night too.

Myth 3 – Watching TV in bed helps you relax
Have you ever thought “I need to wind down before bed, I’m going to watch some TV”?

Well, the latest Brexit twists and turns on the BBC News at Ten might be bad for sleep.

Dr Robbins argues: “Often if we’re watching the television it’s the nightly news… it’s something that’s going to cause you insomnia or stress right before bed when we’re trying to power down and relax.”

And as for Game of Thrones, it’s hard to argue the Red Wedding was relaxing.

The other issue with TV – along with smartphones and tablets – is they produce blue light, which can delay the body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Myth 4 – If you’re struggling to sleep, stay in bed

You’ve spent so long trying to nod off you’ve managed to count all the sheep in New Zealand (that’s about 28 million).

So what should you do next? The answer is not to keep trying.

“We start to associate our bed with insomnia,” said Dr Robbins.

“It does take the healthy sleeper about 15 minutes to fall asleep, but much longer than that… make sure to get out of bed, change the environment and do something that’s mindless.”

Her tip – go fold some socks.

Myth 5 – Hitting the snooze button

Who isn’t guilty of reaching for the snooze button on their phone, thinking that extra six minutes in bed is going to make all the difference?

But the research team says that when the alarm goes off, we should just get up.

woman asleep holding mobile phone

Dr Robbins said: “Realise you will be a bit groggy – all of us are – but resist the temptation to snooze.

“Your body will go back to sleep, but it will be very light, low-quality sleep.”

Instead the advice is to throw open the curtains and expose yourself to as much bright light as possible.

Myth 6 – Snoring is always harmless

Snoring can be harmless, but it can also be a sign of the disorder sleep apnoea.

This causes the walls of the throat to relax and narrow during sleep, and can briefly stop people breathing.

People with the condition are more likely to develop high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and have a heart attack or a stroke.

One of the warning signs is loud snoring.

NHS: Obstructive sleep apnoea

Dr Robbins concludes: “Sleep is one of the most important things we can all do tonight to improve our health, our mood, our wellbeing and our longevity.”

Construction on Stonehenge probably began about 3,000BC

Stonehenge: DNA reveals origin of builders

The ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge travelled west across the Mediterranean before reaching Britain, a study has shown.

Researchers in London compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found in Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic inhabitants appear to have travelled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia before winding their way north.

They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Details have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The migration to Britain was just one part of a general, massive expansion of people out of Anatolia in 6,000BC that introduced farming to Europe.

Before that, Europe was populated by small, travelling groups which hunted animals and gathered wild plants and shellfish.

One group of early farmers followed the river Danube up into Central Europe, but another group travelled west across the Mediterranean.

DNA reveals that Neolithic Britons were largely descended from groups who took the Mediterranean route, either hugging the coast or hopping from island-to-island on boats.

Whitehawk Woman
A facial reconstruction of Whitehawk Woman, a 5,600-year-old Neolithic woman from Sussex. The reconstruction is on show at the Royal Pavilion & Museum in Brighton

When the researchers analysed the DNA of early British farmers, they found they most closely resembled Neolithic people from Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal). These Iberian farmers were descended from people who had journeyed across the Mediterranean.

From Iberia, or somewhere close, the Mediterranean farmers travelled north through France. They might have entered Britain from the west, through Wales or south-west England. Indeed, radiocarbon dates suggest that Neolithic people arrived marginally earlier in the west, but this remains a topic for future work.

In addition to farming, the Neolithic migrants to Britain appear to have introduced the tradition of building monuments using large stones known as megaliths. Stonehenge in Wiltshire was part of this tradition.

Although Britain was inhabited by groups of “western hunter-gatherers” when the farmers arrived in about 4,000BC, DNA shows that the two groups did not mix very much at all.

The British hunter-gatherers were almost completely replaced by the Neolithic farmers, apart from one group in western Scotland, where the Neolithic inhabitants had elevated local ancestry. This could have come down to the farmer groups simply having greater numbers.

“We don’t find any detectable evidence at all for the local British western hunter-gatherer ancestry in the Neolithic farmers after they arrive,” said co-author Dr Tom Booth, a specialist in ancient DNA from the Natural History Museum in London.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t mix at all, it just means that maybe their population sizes were too small to have left any kind of genetic legacy.”

Co-author Professor Mark Thomas, from UCL, said he also favoured “a numbers game explanation”.

Cheddar Man reconstruction
A reconstruction of Cheddar Man. As with other Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, DNA results suggest he had dark skin and blue or green eyes

Professor Thomas said the Neolithic farmers had probably had to adapt their practices to different climatic conditions as they moved across Europe. But by the time they reached Britain they were already “tooled up” and well-prepared for growing crops in a north-west European climate.

The study also analysed DNA from these British hunter-gatherers. One of the skeletons analysed was that of Cheddar Man, whose skeletal remains have been dated to 7,100BC.

He was the subject of a reconstruction unveiled at the Natural History Museum last year. DNA suggests that, like most other European hunter-gatherers of the time, he had dark skin combined with blue eyes.

Genetic analysis shows that the Neolithic farmers, by contrast, were paler-skinned with brown eyes and black or dark-brown hair.

Towards the end of the Neolithic, in about 2,450BC, the descendents of the first farmers were themselves almost entirely replaced when a new population – called the Bell Beaker people – migrated from mainland Europe. So Britain saw two extreme genetic shifts in the space of a few thousand years.

Prof Thomas said that this later event happened after the Neolithic population had been in decline for some time, both in Britain and across Europe. He cautioned against simplistic explanations invoking conflict, and said the shifts ultimately came down to “economic” factors, about which lifestyles were best suited to exploit the landscape.

Dr Booth explained: “It’s difficult to see whether the two [genetic shifts] could have anything in common – they’re two very different kinds of change. There’s speculation that they’re to some extent population collapses. But the reasons suggested for those two collapses are different, so it could just be coincidence.”

Newspaper headlines: ‘World weeps for Notre Dame’

Nine centuries of history have been lost in an “unholy inferno” at Notre Dame, according to the front page of the Daily Mail, which shows orange flames at the top of one of the building’s spires.

Metro front page on 16 April 2019
An image of the medieval cathedral burning also fills the front page of the Metro, which says the “world weeps for Notre Dame”. A huge smoke cloud rose from the gothic building and the blaze sent the tip of one of its spires “tumbling dramatically to earth”, according to the tabloid.
Daily Telegraph front page on 16 April
“The heart of Paris was torn asunder” by the fire at Notre Dame, according to the Daily Telegraph, which reports that crowds of stunned Parisians gathered along the banks of the Seine, where they prayed and sang Je vous salue Marie – the French equivalent of Hail Mary.
Guardian front page 16 April 2019
The Guardian features a close-up of one of the burning spires on its front and quotes a spokeman for the cathedral, who says: “Nothing will remain from the [roof] frame.”
The Sun front page on 16 April 2019
Alongside an image of one of Notre Dame’s collapsing towers on the front of the Sun is the headline: “Notre Doom.”
FT front page on 16 April 2019
The FT features the fire at Notre Dame on its front and quotes French President Emmanuel Macron, who said it prompted the “emotion of an entire nation”. “I am saddened to see this part of us burning this evening,” he added.
The i front page on 16 April 2019
Mr Macron also features on the front of the i, which reads “Part of all of us burns.”
The Times front page 16 April 2019
The Times leads with the devastation caused by the fire, but quotes a junior minister who says: “The structure seems to be safe. We are much more optimistic than we were earlier.”
Daily Mirror front page on 16 April 2019
The Daily Mirror’s front features a “damning” report that suggests one in four hospital wards has unsafe staffing levels. It also promotes a story that says former Strictly Come Dancing star Stacey Dooley has begun a relationship with her ex-dance partner, Kevin Clifton.
The Star front page on 16 April 2019
The Daily Star features a denial by I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! star Anne Hegerty that she she went topless at a Newcastle United football match. The paper reports that some of her fans believed the naked woman at the event was her – but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Daily Express front page on 16 April 2019
Millions of patients face heart attack or stroke because they are taking the wrong dose of statins, according to a report that features on the front page of the Daily Express.
The World Health Organization says the latest figures paint "an alarming picture"

Measles cases triple globally in 2019, says UN

The number of measles cases reported worldwide in the first three months of 2019 has tripled compared with the same time last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN body said provisional data indicated a “a clear trend”, with all regions of the world seeing outbreaks.

Africa had witnessed the most dramatic rise – up 700%.

The agency said actual numbers may be far greater, since only one in 10 cases globally are reported.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.

Ukraine, Madagascar and India have been worst affected by the disease, with tens of thousands of reported cases per million people.

Since September, at least 800 people have died from measles in Madagascar alone.

Outbreaks have also hit Brazil, Pakistan and Yemen, “causing many deaths – mostly among young children”.

A spike in case numbers was, in addition, reported for countries including the US and Thailand with high levels of vaccination coverage.

The UN says the disease is “entirely preventable” with the right vaccines, but global coverage of the first immunisation stage has “stalled” at 85%, “still short of the 95% needed to prevent outbreaks”.

In an opinion piece for CNN, WHO heads Henrietta Fore and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was “in the middle of a measles crisis” and that “the proliferation of confusing and contradictory information” about vaccines was partly to blame.

Presentational grey line

Why the sudden ‘global measles crisis’?

It is one of the most contagious viruses around, however, nothing about measles has changed. It has not mutated to become more infectious or more dangerous, instead the answers are entirely human.

There are two stories here – one of poverty and one of misinformation. In poorer countries fewer people are vaccinated and a larger portion of the population is left vulnerable to the virus.

This creates the environment for a large outbreak to occur – such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kyrgyzstan and Madagascar.

But rich countries with seemingly high vaccination rates are seeing cases spike too. This is because clusters of people are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to the spread of untrue anti-vax messages on social media.

It is worth noting these figures are provisional, the WHO says the true figures will be much higher. And that measles is far from harmless. It kills around 100,000 people, mostly children, every year.

Presentational grey line

The pair wrote that it was “understandable, in such a climate, how loving parents can feel lost” but that “ultimately, there is no ‘debate’ to be had about the profound benefits of vaccines”.

They added: “More than 20 million lives have been saved through measles vaccination since the year 2000 alone.”

In response to recent measles outbreaks, calls have mounted in several countries to make immunisation mandatory.

Last month, Italy banned children under six from attending schools unless they had received vaccines for chickenpox, measles and other illnesses.

A public health emergency has also been declared in areas of New York ordering all residents to be vaccinated or face a fine.

Article 13: UK helps push through new EU copyright rules

A revamp of the EU’s copyright rules has passed its final hurdle and will now come into law.

The rules include a section known as Article 13.

It says that if users upload infringing content to a service, the tech firm involved must either make a “best effort” to get permission from the rights holders or quickly remove it.

The UK was among 19 nations that supported the law in its European Council vote.

But Poland was one of those that objected on the grounds that it could pave the way to internet censorship.

EU sources say that five other countries also opposed the rules – Italy, Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – while Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained.

Google had led lobbying efforts against the law’s introduction.

At one point it had featured pop-up notices on its YouTube video-streaming service warning that the effort could have “unintended consequences”, including the blocking of some of its clips to EU-based members.

In particular, there was concern that memes featuring clips from TV shows and films could no longer be shared. However, tweaks to the law subsequently made an exception for content used for the “purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”.

Even so, there is still a concern that smaller sites will struggle to track down and pay copyright holders or to develop content filters that automatically block suspect material.

Another controversial rule – which says that search engines and social media providers will have to pay news publishers to feature snippets of their content – also remains.

Wikipedia blacked out four of its European sites in protest last month. It said the rules would make information harder to find online and thus make it harder for its volunteers to source information.

But European media industry leaders have welcomed the effort.

“Publishers of all sizes, and other creators, will now have the right to set terms and conditions for others to reuse their content commercially, as is only fair and appropriate,” commented Xavier Bouckaert, president of the European Magazine Media Association.

Helen Smith, executive chair of the Independent Music Companies Association, added: “It was a long road and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion. As a result, we now have a balanced text that sets a precedent for the rest of the world to follow, by putting citizens and creators at the heart of the reform and introducing clear rules for online platforms.”

The EU’s member states now have two years to adopt the rules into their national laws.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp suffer outages

Social networks Facebook and Instagram, as well as messaging service WhatsApp, were unavailable on Sunday for more than three hours, users said.

The website Down Detector reported that thousands of people globally had complained about the Facebook-owned trio being down from 11.30 BST onwards.

Facebook users were presented with the message: “Something went wrong.”

At 14:50, the site said it had resolved the issue after some users “experienced trouble connecting” to the apps.

A spokesman for the company added: “We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

Facebook did not comment on the cause of the problem, or say how many users had been affected.

In March, Facebook experienced one of its longest ever outages, with some users around the globe unable to access its site, as well as Instagram and WhatsApp, for more than 24 hours.

Newspaper headlines: Jeremy Corbyn’s prospects on front pages

Observer front page, 14/4/19
The Observer, however, leads on a warning from Labour’s leader in the European Parliament that the party will be “deserted by millions of anti-Brexit voters” if it fails to give clear backing to a further EU referendum.
Sunday Times front page, 14/4/19
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports what it says is a private admission from Mr Corbyn that evidence of anti-Semitism within the Labour party had been “mislaid, ignored or not used”. Labour has previously said it has strengthened disciplinary procedures and made the complaints procedure more robust.
Sunday Express front page, 14/4/19
Talks between Mr Corbyn’s senior colleagues and Conservative ministers continue in a bid to find agreement over a Brexit deal that can secure the backing of a majority of MPs. But the Sunday Express says some senior government figures believe there is “zero chance” of them succeeding and that “Brexit is dead”.
Mail on Sunday front page, 14/4/19
The Mail on Sunday reports that intelligence chiefs have briefed Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Sajid Javid about the “Jihadi bride” Shemima Begum. The teenager, who ran off to join the Islamic State group in 2015, is said to have sewed bombers into suicide vests.
Sunday People front page, 14/4/19
The Sunday People trumpets an exclusive interview with Laleh Shahravesh, who has returned to the UK after being jailed in Dubai for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse”.
Sunday Mirror front page, 14/4/19
Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror says police are investigating the alleged racist abuse of the children of former Liverpool footballer Djibril Cisse.
Daily Star Sunday
Image caption
Finally, the Daily Star Sunday suggests the Duchess of Sussex is planning a water birth. Meghan is planning a “relaxed” delivery of Prince Harry’s baby, the paper quotes a “pal” saying.
Police are treating the death as unexplained

Boy found dead in Ystrad Mynach named as Carson Price

A 13-year-old boy has died after being found unconscious in a south Wales park.

Police were called to Ystrad Mynach Park, Caerphilly, at about 19:20 BST on Friday 12 April.

The teen was taken to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff where he was pronounced dead.

Gwent Police are treating the boy’s death as unexplained and specialists are working to determine the exact cause of death.

His family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.

Det Chief Insp Sam Payne said: “At this time enquiries are ongoing and the investigation into this young boy’s death are still in the early stages.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

“I’d like to appeal to anyone who can assist with our investigation.”

Ystrad Mynach Park
The park is poplar with local families

The boy was found close to trees beside the rugby pitch.

Gwent Police are treating the boy’s death as unexplained and specialists are working to determine the exact cause of death.

Det Ch Insp Sam Payne said: “At this time enquiries are ongoing and the investigation into this young boy’s death are still in the early stages.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

“I’d like to appeal to anyone who can assist with our investigation.”

The site takes snapshots of sites to log how the web changes

Internet Archive denies hosting ‘terrorist’ content

The Internet Archive has been hit with 550 “false” demands to remove “terrorist propaganda” from its servers in less than a week.

The demands came via the Europol net monitoring unit and gave the site only one hour to comply.

The Internet Archive said the demands wrongly accused it of hosting terror-related material.

The website said the requests set a poor precedent ahead of new European rules governing removal of content.

If the Archive does not comply with the notices, it risks its site getting added to lists which ISPs are required to block.

Automatic removal

The Internet Archive, which uses the archive.org web address, is a non-profit organisation that lets people save and visit pages that might otherwise have been lost from the net.

In a blog, the website’s Chris Butler said that it had received notices identifying hundreds of web addresses stored on archive.org as leading people to banned material.

However, Mr Butler said, the reports were wrong about the content they pointed to, or were too broad for the organisation to comply with.

Some of the requests referred to material that had “high scholarly and research value” and were not produced by terror groups, he said.

Others called for the delisting of massively popular links that led people to “millions” of items.

Article 13

As well as listing vast amounts of non-contentious data, Mr Butler said, the demands to remove material were issued during the night when the Archive was unstaffed. This made it impossible to react within the one-hour window demanded by the notices, he said.

“It is not possible for us to process these reports using human review within a very limited timeframe like one hour,” he said.

He asked: “Are we to simply take what’s reported as ‘terrorism’ at face value and risk the automatic removal of things like the primary collection page for all books on archive.org?”

Initially the website believed that the notices came from a unit within the Europol European policing group, known as the Internet Referral Unit (IRU). It is tasked with seeking out terror-related materials and making net firms remove them.

However, Europol said the requests actually came from the French IRU which routed its requests through Europol.

The French IRU has not yet responded to a BBC request for comment on why it issued so many reports to the site.

Mr Butler said the Archive had not complied with the requests and was still receiving lots of takedown notices from the French IRU.

He said the Archive’s experience did not bode well for impending European rules governing the use of copyrighted material.

The Article 13 provision of European laws asks sites to get content checked before it is uploaded.