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London protests: Santa among 155 arrests as anti-lockdown demonstrators march on capital

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/london-protests-antilockdown-arrests-santa-b93072.html

London protests: Santa among 155 arrests as anti-lockdown demonstrators march on capital
M

ore than 150 people have been arrested after anti-lockdown demonstrators descended on central London.

By 7pm on Saturday, police had detained 155 people for a host of offences including breaching coronavirus restrictions, assaulting a police officer and drug possession.

One man, dressed as Santa, was filmed being escorted through the crowds by a swarm of officers.

Onlooker Samatha Hurst told the Standard: “The mood seemed peaceful for a while then once the police were arresting people it seemed to escalate.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Scotland Yard said police had made a number of “early interventions” to prevent people from gathering and urge them to go home.

As part of this, coaches transporting demonstrators into the capital were intercepted and those who did not turn back and go home were either arrested or issued with fixed penalty notices, the force said.

<p>Police clashed with protestters during the heated action</p>
(

Police clashed with protestters during the heated action

/ REUTERS )

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, overseeing the action, said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day.

“On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London.

“Today’s enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.

“Our policing plan will continue well into the evening and I would urge anyone who hasn’t already dispersed to go home.”

Activists marched from Hyde Park to Oxford Circus and Regent Street, clashing with helmeted police who arrived in several vans and ran to respond to the chaos.

Officers grappled with people on the ground in attempts to detain them at different locations as onlookers jeered and filmed on their phones.

At one point, green smoke was released as protesters were surrounded by police at the top of Carnaby Street.

The main crowd of protesters appeared to disperse near Piccadilly Circus before reforming elsewhere in the shopping district.

Protesters, including some dressed as Christmas elves, brandished signs reading “All I want for Christmas is my freedom back”, “Ditch the face masks” and “Stop controlling us”.

Several people were handcuffed by officers, while police action was met with booing as demonstrators, many not wearing face masks, ignored requests to go home.

Responding to the scenes, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.

“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends.”

She added: “We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”

(

Police lined the streets around Oxford Circus

/ PA )

Protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under current coronavirus regulations in England and those who attend risk enforcement action by officers, the Metropolitan Police had warned ahead of the weekend.

The grassroots group Save Our Rights UK, which says it is working for democracy, appeared to be leading the protest, called Unite For Freedom – Time For Action.

The group used its Twitter account throughout the afternoon to encourage people to head to central London locations.

Rights groups Liberty and Big Brother Watch argued that the right to safely protest should be explicitly outlined as an exemption in regulations covering England’s tiered restrictions, due to come into force next week.

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Storm Christoph: Thousands of homes evacuated amid ‘danger to life’ flood warnings

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-weather-storm-christoph-manchester-evacuated-b900530.html

Storm Christoph: Thousands of homes evacuated amid ‘danger to life’ flood warnings
T

housands of homes were evacuated overnight as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK.

Some 2,000 properties in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester were due to be evacuated on Wednesday night because of rising water levels, the city council said.

People were also asked to leave their homes in parts of Ruthin and Bangor on Dee in North Wales, and Maghull in Merseyside.

It comes as heavy rain and snow continued to fall across England and Wales, with many rivers at “dangerously high levels”, the Environment Agency said.

Four “severe” flood warnings, meaning there is a danger to life, were issued by the agency for the River Mersey at Didsbury and Northenden, and in Maghull.

Amber and yellow weather warnings are in force until Thursday for Storm Christoph, which is also threatening to bring up to 30cm of snow to northern areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so.

Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Nick Bailey said a flood basin in Didsbury, which takes water from the River Mersey, was full and will “over-top in the next few hours”.

“As a result, we will be issuing a flood warning to homes,” he said.

<p>Flooding in Northwich, Cheshire</p>
(

Flooding in Northwich, Cheshire

/ PA )

“This will be through texted flood alerts to some people and police officers, PCSOs, firefighters, and volunteers will be knocking on doors.

“We have identified about 160 people that will be moved. There will be provision at Wythenshawe Forum and hotels are being used.

“Some of those that are being evacuated will also be Covid-positive or isolating at home.”

Mr Bailey said up to 3,000 properties in Greater Manchester could be affected by flooding, with a peak expected at 11pm on Wednesday.

(

Snow falls in East Didsbury, Manchester, where homes are being evacuated due to risk of flooding

/ PA )

Two “severe” flood warnings, meaning there is a danger to life, have been issued by the Environment Agency for the River Mersey at East and West Didsbury, and Northenden.

North Wales Police said its officers were helping the fire service to evacuate homes in Ruthin, and urged people to avoid the area.

The force tweeted: “Officers have been called to assist @DenbighshireCC and @NWFRS in #Ruthin, where some homes are being evacuated.

“Regrettably, people who do not live locally are driving to the area to ‘see the floods’. Please do not stretch our resources by adding to the problem.”

Downing Street has said Covid-secure facilities will be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather.

Mr Johnson said steps were being taken to ensure the transport and energy networks were prepared so that electricity outages would not be “severe” and that there were sufficient supplies of sandbags.

He told reporters: “There are some times where I have been to scenes where, alas, people have decided not to obey the advice and not evacuated.

“It is their right not to do so if they choose – it’s always people’s right to stay wherever they are.

“But it really is advisable – follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so.”

(

Vehicles navigate the flooded Mountsorrel Lane in Leicestershire

/ PA )

Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge described Storm Christoph as “quite a slow-moving system” which is bringing “a variety of weather” to the UK.

The meteorologist said: “While rain remains the main hazard in the south, further north we’ve got snow and ice remaining a risk.

“The system will work its way through, we are expecting significant totals of rainfall and when you combine that with snowmelt it can lead to localised flooding across the affected regions.”

There is a risk of further snow later in the week as Storm Christoph makes its way east, with accumulations expected in Scotland, northern England and parts of Northern Ireland, Mr Madge added.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the North East, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber from 9am on Thursday to January 25.

Dr Owen Landeg, principal environmental public health scientist at PHE, urged people to “keep looking out” for frail or older neighbours and relatives, particularly those living alone or with a serious illness.

People were preparing for rising floodwaters in West Yorkshire on Wednesday morning, with towns in the Calder Valley laying out sandbags and flood wardens monitoring water levels.

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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UK weather: Homes evacuated as river bursts banks and Storm Christoph wreaks havoc

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-weather-storm-christoph-manchester-evacuated-b900530.html

UK weather: Homes evacuated as river bursts banks and Storm Christoph wreaks havoc
P

eople have been told to leave their homes as Storm Christoph is set to bring “significant” rainfall across the UK.

The Environment Agency warned many rivers are at “dangerously high levels” as heavy rain continues to fall across England.

Greater Manchester Police said about 160 people will be advised to leave their homes in Didsbury and move into temporary accommodation on Wednesday evening.

Sefton Council is advising residents to leave their homes in Maghull, Merseyside after a severe flood warning was issued.

Meanwhile homes in Ruthin, Denbighshire, have also been evacuated due to flooding, North Wales Police tweeted.

Amber and yellow weather warnings are in force until Thursday for Storm Christoph, which is also threatening to bring up to 30cm of snow to northern areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so.

Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Nick Bailey said a flood basin in Didsbury, which takes water from the River Mersey, was full and will “over-top in the next few hours”.

“As a result, we will be issuing a flood warning to homes,” he said.

<p>Flooding in Northwich, Cheshire</p>
(

Flooding in Northwich, Cheshire

/ PA )

“This will be through texted flood alerts to some people and police officers, PCSOs, firefighters, and volunteers will be knocking on doors.

“We have identified about 160 people that will be moved. There will be provision at Wythenshawe Forum and hotels are being used.

“Some of those that are being evacuated will also be Covid-positive or isolating at home.”

Mr Bailey said up to 3,000 properties in Greater Manchester could be affected by flooding, with a peak expected at 11pm on Wednesday.

(

Snow falls in East Didsbury, Manchester, where homes are being evacuated due to risk of flooding

/ PA )

Two “severe” flood warnings, meaning there is a danger to life, have been issued by the Environment Agency for the River Mersey at East and West Didsbury, and Northenden.

North Wales Police said its officers were helping the fire service to evacuate homes in Ruthin, and urged people to avoid the area.

The force tweeted: “Officers have been called to assist @DenbighshireCC and @NWFRS in #Ruthin, where some homes are being evacuated.

“Regrettably, people who do not live locally are driving to the area to ‘see the floods’. Please do not stretch our resources by adding to the problem.”

Downing Street has said Covid-secure facilities will be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather.

Mr Johnson said steps were being taken to ensure the transport and energy networks were prepared so that electricity outages would not be “severe” and that there were sufficient supplies of sandbags.

He told reporters: “There are some times where I have been to scenes where, alas, people have decided not to obey the advice and not evacuated.

“It is their right not to do so if they choose – it’s always people’s right to stay wherever they are.

“But it really is advisable – follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so.”

(

Vehicles navigate the flooded Mountsorrel Lane in Leicestershire

/ PA )

Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge described Storm Christoph as “quite a slow-moving system” which is bringing “a variety of weather” to the UK.

The meteorologist said: “While rain remains the main hazard in the south, further north we’ve got snow and ice remaining a risk.

“The system will work its way through, we are expecting significant totals of rainfall and when you combine that with snowmelt it can lead to localised flooding across the affected regions.”

There is a risk of further snow later in the week as Storm Christoph makes its way east, with accumulations expected in Scotland, northern England and parts of Northern Ireland, Mr Madge added.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the North East, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber from 9am on Thursday to January 25.

Dr Owen Landeg, principal environmental public health scientist at PHE, urged people to “keep looking out” for frail or older neighbours and relatives, particularly those living alone or with a serious illness.

People were preparing for rising floodwaters in West Yorkshire on Wednesday morning, with towns in the Calder Valley laying out sandbags and flood wardens monitoring water levels.

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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Who is Kamala Harris? The first female, Black and South Asian vice president

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/kamala-harris-vice-president-joe-biden-a4522356.html

Who is Kamala Harris? The first female, Black and South Asian vice president
K

amala Harris has made history as the US’s first female vice president — and the first black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold that office.

The former California Senator, 55, is a battle-tested former presidential candidate who will now work closely with President Joe Biden

Ms Harris endorsed Mr Biden in March as the Democrats’ challenger to Republican President Donald Trump for the White House after dropping out of the race herself.

With the confluence of crises confronting Mr Biden’s administration, and an evenly divided Senate in which she would deliver the tie-breaking vote, Ms Harris is shaping up to be a central player in addressing everything from the coronavirus pandemic to criminal justice reform.

Here’s what you need to know about her:

Who is Kamala Harris?

The daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents, Ms Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California.

She went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Howard University and a law degree from the University of California and embark on a career in the law which would see her serve as a San Francisco district attorney and attorney general of California – the first African-American and first woman to do so – prior to transitioning into politics.

Ms Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, becoming the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history, according to her website.

Ms Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016
( Ms Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016 / AFP via Getty Images )

She has since served on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Budget.

How did she do in the presidential race?

During her bid for the Democratic nomination, Ms Harris pitched herself as a history-making candidate who could appeal to both progressives and moderates.

But she dropped out of the race in December 2019 after suffering a decline in the polls, saying dwindling donations had made it “harder and harder” to compete.

Her wavering views on how to solve the nation’s healthcare problems and whether to embrace her past as a prosecutor were among the missteps that dragged down the campaign after its glitzy launch at the beginning of that year.

When did her and Joe Biden start working together?

Ms Harris and Mr Biden clashed during a Democratic primary debate in June last year about the latter’s past work with senators who favoured racial segregation and his previous opposition to a policy combating segregation in schools.

Mr Biden, who served two terms as vice-president to Barack Obama, America’s first black president, later said he “detested” the segregationists’ views amid a backlash over his work with with two southern Democratic senators, Mississippi’s James Eastland and Georgia’s Herman Talmadge, after joining the Senate himself in the 1970s.

Then, after dropping out, Ms Harris endorsed Mr Biden. She went on to win praise from a wide range of Democrats for being an outspoken advocate for police reform during mass anti-racism demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

In August, Mr Biden chose Mr Harris as his running mate for the election. 

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris – a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants – as my running mate,” Mr Biden wrote on Twitter.

In a tweet, Ms Harris said she was “honored” to join Biden on the Democratic ticket and pledged to “do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief”.

Mr Biden and Ms Harris knew each other prior to the 2020 presidential campaign, in part through Ms Harris’ friendship with Mr Biden’s deceased son, Beau.

But they never worked closely together.

After joining the ticket, Ms Harris made efforts to deepen their relationship and is in frequent contact with the president-elect, people close to Ms Harris say.

She has been closely involved with all of Mr Biden’s biggest decisions since winning the election in November, joining him for every one of his key meetings focused on Cabinet picks, the Covid-19 relief bill, security issues and more.

The two talk over the phone nearly every day, and she travels to Delaware sometimes multiple times a week for transition events and meetings.

Symone Sanders, Ms Harris’ chief spokeswoman, said that while the vice president’s portfolio has not been fully defined yet, she has a hand in all aspects of Mr Biden’s agenda.

“There are pieces that Biden may specifically ask her to champion, but outside of that she is at the table for everything, involved in everything, and giving input and feedback and being a supportive partner to him on all pieces,” she said.

Those involved in the transition say both have taken seriously Mr Biden’s insistence that he wants Ms Harris to be the “last voice in the room” on key decisions.

Mr Biden is known to turn to Ms Harris first during meetings to ask for her opinion or perspective on the matter at hand.

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Who is Amanda Gorman? The 22-year-old poet laureate who took the inauguration by storm

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/us-politics/amanda-gorman-inauguration-american-poet-laureate-b900525.html

Who is Amanda Gorman? The 22-year-old poet laureate who took the inauguration by storm
A

manda Gorman stunned audiences with her powerful inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb”.

Former First Lady Hilary Clinton said Ms Gorman’s poet was “stunning” and that she could not wait for the 22-year-old to run for president in 2036.

Here we take a closer look at the talented poet.

Who is Amanda Gorman?

At the young age of 22, Ms Gorman is the youngest person to recite a poem during a president’s inauguration.

Ms Gorman, a native and resident of Los Angeles and the country’s first national youth poet laureate, told the Associated Press last week that she planned to combine a message of hope for Mr Biden’s inaugural without ignoring “the evidence of discord and division”.

She had completed a little more than half of The Hill We Climb before the events of January 6 – the siege of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump – gave her a “second wave of energy” to finish the poem.

Ms Gorman has written two books which were published in the September – the picture story Change Things and a bound edition of her inaugural poem, along with other works.

Ceremonial odes are often quickly forgotten, but Angelou’s On The Pulse Of The Morning, which she read at the 1993 inaugural of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than one million copies as a book.

Invited to the inaugural late last month by first lady Jill Biden, Gorman has read at official occasions before, including a July 4 celebration when she was backed by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

What did she say in her poem?

The 22-year-old summoned images dire and triumphant, and at times echoed the oratory of John F Kennedy and the Rev Martin Luther King Jr, as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew”.

With urgency and assertion, she began by asking “Where can we find light/In this never-ending shade?” and used her own poetry and life story as an answer.

The poem’s very title, The Hill We Climb, suggested both labour and transcendence.

“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

“Of such a terrifying hour.

“But within it we’ve found the power

“To author a new chapter,

“To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.”

Mindful of the past, she wore earrings and a caged bird ring – a tribute to Angelou’s classic memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – given to her by Orpah Winfrey, a close friend of the late writer.

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I,” Winfrey tweeted.

Gorman was also praised by Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted: “YES @TheAmandaGorman!!!”

Gorman soon responded: “Thx @Lin_Manuel! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn’t help myself!”

Among the Hamilton inspirations in her poem were: “History has its eyes on us,” a variation of the Hamilton song History Has Its Eyes On You.

She had said that she would not mention January 6 specifically, but her reference was unmistakable:

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

“Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

“And this effort very nearly succeeded.

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

“It can never be permanently defeated.”

Ms Gorman has also made clear her desire to appear at a future inaugural, in a much greater capacity, an ambition she stated firmly in her poem.

“We, the successors of a country and a time,

“Where a skinny black girl,

“Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,

“Can dream of becoming president,

“Only to find herself reciting for one.”

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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Kamala Harris hailed for making ‘HERstory’ as first female, black and Asian-American Vice President

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/us-politics/kamala-harris-vice-president-black-female-asian-american-b900522.html

Kamala Harris hailed for making ‘HERstory’ as first female, black and Asian-American Vice President

Ms Harris was sworn in as the first female vice president – and the first black woman and person of South Asian descent to hold the position – in front of the US Capitol by Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Mr Biden said in his inauguration address: “Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, vice president Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”

She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Donald Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection that sought to overturn the election results.

Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, paid tribute to Ms Harris’ achievement posting an image of her captioned simply “HERstory”.

Hilary Clinton wrote on Twitter: “It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today—a woman sworn in to the vice presidency—will seem normal, obvious, “of course” to Kamala’s grand-nieces as they grow up. And they will be right.”

The bells at Howard University, Kamala Harris’ alma mater, tolled 49 times to honor the historic moment as she becomes the 49th vice president of the United States.

Residents of a tiny Indian village flocked to a Hindu temple, setting off firecrackers and praying as they watched Kamala Harris, who has strong roots to the village, take her oath of office and become the US vice president.

Groups of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti trousers watched the inauguration live as reporters broadcast the villager’s celebrations to millions of Indians.

The villagers chanted “Long live Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath.

Ms Harris was wearing clothes from two young, emerging black designers – a deep purple dress and coat. After taking the oath of office, a beaming Ms Harris hugged her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and gave President Joe Biden a fist bump.

Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary falls away, expanding the idea of what is possible in American politics.

But it is particularly meaningful because Ms Harris is taking office at a moment of deep consequence, with Americans grappling over the role of institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated black and brown communities.

Those close to Ms Harris say she will bring an important – and often missing – perspective in the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the new administration.

Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and long-time friend and mentee of Ms Harris, said: “In many folks’ lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States.

“You will now have a black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world.”

(

Vice President Harris with her mother, Shyamala

/ The White House )

Vice President Harris was born in Oakland, California to parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica. She graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she had served as attorney general and as San Francisco’s district attorney.

She said previously: “My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’”

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