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Latest World news news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
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    At least 10 people have died in Greece after the worst flash flooding in years forced a torrent of red mud to sweep through towns west of Athens. The industrial towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara were the worst-affected. Many of the dead were elderly people whose bodies were found inside their homes, reports say.

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    At a news conference on Wednesday, Tehama County assistant sheriff Phil Johnston identified the northern California gunman suspect as Kevin Janson Neal and said his wife’s dead body was found under the floorboards in their home

    Wife of northern California gunman found dead inside their home

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    Many blame him for the economic chaos and political repression, but the truth of his descent from freedom fighter to dictator is not quite so black and white

    Mugabe in detention after military takes control of Zimbabwe

    Robert Mugabe, who first came to power in Zimbabwe in 1980, is a man of many faces: idealistic young Marxist-Leninist, political prisoner, freedom fighter, lauded icon of pan-African nationalism, would-be reformer, and ruthless, ageing dictator steeped in corruption and sleaze.

    However, for his many critics in Zimbabwe and in the west, who blame him for the economic chaos and political repression of recent years, Mugabe is a one-dimensional study. His is the face of failure, and for them he is the lord of misrule.

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    Estimated number of Russian state-sponsored accounts on Twitter and Facebook vary wildly between 50 and 150,000

    It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of Russian state-sponsored accounts operating on Twitter and Facebook. Researchers come up with a wide range of possibilities, suggesting that Russian interference in British political and cultural life could come from anywhere between 50 and 150,000 accounts.

    The explanation for this is not because the Russians are particularly secretive or expert at covering their tracks, but the attitude of Twitter and Facebook who fight attempts by independent researchers to come up with an answer. As a result, academics and analysts attempting to come up with a definitive answer often produce wildly divergent estimates.

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    Inequality and vulnerability of technology-based voting systems to corruption also identified by researchers as factors in slowing spread of democracy

    The spread of democracy around the world has slowed over the past decade, according to a report warning that governments are at a “critical juncture”.

    Since 1975, the number of countries with fair democratic systems has more than doubled, from 46 (30% of countries) to 132 (68% of counties). More nations now hold elections than ever before.

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    Opposition leader, Imran Kahn, says discovery can help promote religious tourism in the country

    Pakistan has unveiled the remains of a 1,700-year-old sleeping Buddha as part of an initiative to encourage tourism and project religious harmony in a region roiled by Islamist militancy.

    A reflection of the diverse history and culture of the south Asian country, the ancient Buddhist site in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was first discovered in 1929. Eighty-eight years on, excavations resumed and the 14-metre-high (48-ft-high) Kanjur stone Buddha image was unearthed. The country’s opposition leader, Imran Khan, presided over Wednesday’s presentation.

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    The inventor of the world wide web remains an optimist but sees a ‘nasty wind’ blowing amid concerns over advertising, net neutrality and fake news

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s optimism about the future of the web is starting to wane in the face of a “nasty storm” of issues including the rollback of net neutrality protections, the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and the web’s increasing polarisation.

    The inventor of the world wide web always maintained his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. But Berners-Lee’s vision for an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged by increasingly powerful digital gatekeepers whose algorithms can be weaponised by master manipulators.

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    • President delivers lengthy speech and claims success in North Korea dispute
    • Trump ignores questions about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore

    Donald Trump has declared his 12-day Asia tour as a “tremendous success”, claiming that “America is back” as a global leader.

    Related: Seoul warns Trump: US must not strike North Korea without our consent

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    Roads are turned into torrents of mud and debris, homes and businesses are deluged and bad weather is forecast to continue

    Flash floods on the outskirts of Athens have killed at least 14 people, injured dozens more and caused “biblical damage” as roads were turned into torrents of mud and debris.

    “Cars are stuck in mud in hills where it is raining hard, homes have been flooded and people are missing,” said Nikos Toskas, the minister for public order and citizen protection. “The death toll may rise. The bad weather is forecast to continue until the weekend.”

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    The respected ex-MI6 officer told Guardian journalist and author Luke Harding that his FBI contacts greeted his intelligence report with ‘shock and horror’

    Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled an explosive dossier of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, believes it to be 70% to 90% accurate, according to a new book on the covert Russian intervention in the 2016 US election.

    The book, Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding, quotes Steele as telling friends that he believes his reports – based on sources cultivated over three decades of intelligence work – will be vindicated as the US special counsel investigation digs deeper into contacts between Trump, his associates and Moscow.

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    Christie’s sells long-lost Salvator Mundi, artwork billed as ‘biggest discovery of the 21st century’, for $400m plus auction house premium

    Salvator Mundi, the long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ commissioned by King Louis XII of France more than 500 years ago, has sold at Christie’s in New York for $450.3m, including auction house premium, shattering the world record for any work of art sold at auction.

    The sale generated a sustained 20 minutes of tense telephone bidding as the auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen juggled rival suitors before a packed crowd of excited onlookers in the salesroom. At one point, Pylkkanen remarked: “Historic moment, we’ll wait” as the the bidding went back and forth, pausing at just over $200m as it rose to break the auction record.

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    On the 2016 presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump often made fun of Senator Marco Rubio's water breaks. But on Wednesday the president had an awkward water bottle moment of his own while talking about his recent trip to Asia  

    *Senator Marco Rubio's in-speech water break - video


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    The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, Morgan Tsvangirai, has called on Robert Mugabe to step down as president of Zimbabwe. Speaking on Thursday from Harare, Tsvangirai said Mugabe should resign in the interests of the country after the military seized power 

    • Zimbabwe: Mugabe and military talks continue amid political limbo


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    The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, is under house arrest in Harare following a military takeover. The 93-year-old has led Zimbabwe's since independence from Britain. In recent years disastrous policies have led to hyperinflation, international sanctions and economic ruin

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    Under house arrest, the longtime leader could resist, negotiate, or follow the instructions of Zimbabwe’s new masters

    The final unravelling of the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe began with an uncharacteristic tactical error. To clear the way to power for his wife, Grace, and her increasingly influential faction, the 93-year-old autocrat sought a decisive confrontation with the only man in the former British colony who had the power to mount a successful challenge to his authority – and he lost.

    Emerson Mnangagwa, the former vice-president whose cunning, longevity and toughness earned him the nickname “the Crocodile”, was unceremoniously stripped of his office by Mugabe nine days ago.

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    Legislation adds accountability measures for entering proper records into the background-check system – which was already a requirement passed in 2008

    Ten years ago, after a mass shooting that could have been prevented, Congress passed a bipartisan law to fix America’s gun background check system. A decade later, a bipartisan group of senators is introducing new legislation to try to fix it again.

    The gun legislation the senators announced on Thursday morning would not require a background check on every single gun sale, despite new polling data showing that 95% of Americans – a record high – support these universal background checks.

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    Rigid gender norms in Nigeria’s religiously conservative society are being challenged by a website dedicated to documenting unconventional lives

    Richard Akuson, a lawyer whose online magazine is questioning rigid gender norms in Nigeria’s religiously conservative society, understands the nature of the challenge all too well. He has lived it.

    “In Nigeria, as in many other places, people treat a very narrow version of masculinity as if it is sacred, as if to challenge it is immoral,” says the 23-year-old.

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    UN warns that conflict, cholera and internal tumult have forced 4 million people and counting from their homes, with aid increasingly hard to deliver

    Violence and ethnic and political unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have propelled the country to the same level of crisis as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

    Cholera is raging at a rate never before seen in DRC and nearly 4 million people have been displaced from their homes by fighting, a quarter of them from the conflict-hit Kasai region alone. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, which revealed last month that the situation had been declared a “level-three emergency”, the highest grade of crisis, has warned that those numbers are likely to rise in the coming weeks.

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    Government failure to address low pay and lack of medical supplies drives staff to walk out, as patients’ groups warn that lives of most vulnerable are at risk

    Public health services across Uganda have been brought to a standstill as doctors strike over pay and poor working conditions.

    Members of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) began nationwide action on 6 November over the government’s failure to meet their demands for salary and allowance increases, as well as for a review of the supply of medicines and other equipment in health centres.

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    Aid experts speak out after official statistics reveal that about a quarter of UK aid budget was spent outside Department for International Development in 2016

    The proportion of Britain’s £13.4bn aid budget spent by government ministries other than the Department for International Development rose by almost 50% last year, sparking concerns about transparency and poverty reduction.

    Roughly a quarter of the aid budget, which met the 0.7% target set by the government, was spent by non-DfID departments, official figures show.

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  • 11/16/17--10:12: Jeanne Brousse obituary
  • Member of the French resistance who risked her life to save Jewish families

    As a young woman in occupied France during the second world war, Jeanne Brousse, who has died aged 96, risked her own life to save many Jewish people from deportation. Working as a clerk at the prefecture in Annecy, she took advantage of her privileged access to identity cards to create new papers for Jewish families so that they could avoid detection or leave the country.

    “I felt horrified by the atrocious fate likely to befall all those innocent victims whose only ‘mistake’ was to have been born Jewish,” Brousse is quoted as saying in Martin Gilbert’s 1978 book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust.

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    John Green thinks we need a clear alternative to bankrupt neoliberal economic policies. Martin London notes the similarities between 1926 and 2017

    In his assessment of rightwing extremism in Europe, Paul Mason misses the central issue (Europe’s right is on the march – and it won’t go away without a fight, G2, 14 November). He states that Poland’s unemployment rate is 5.3%, but this low figure completely masks the fact that enormous numbers of young people have been forced to leave the country to find work in western Europe because of lack of employment in their home country. The same is true of all the eastern European nations, as well as in the territory of the former German Democratic Republic, Spain and, to a lesser extent, Italy and Portugal. This lack of perspective for a younger generation, an apparent abandonment of the aged population, coupled with alienation from the conservative political elites, has helped to produce the widespread disaffection that is fuelling rightwing extremism. In many ways a not dissimilar situation to that pertaining in pre-Hitler Germany.

    Mason is also wrong to suggest that it is the headscarf and the Qur’an the fascists care about, not the economy. These are merely the scapegoat symbols on which anger can be focused, but the deeper underlying reasons are certainly economic. The only effective challenge to rightwing extremism is to offer a clear alternative to the bankrupt neoliberal economic policies still being pursued by most governments, including our own.
    John Green
    London

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    Fionna Smyth says the government needs to change tack or risk being on the wrong side of a historic human catastrophe, while Rae Street juxtaposes Theresa May’s appearance at the Cenotaph with the sale of fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia

    Iona Craig’s powerful report on the suffering of Yemen’s people (Children starve as aid is held at border, 13 November) pulls no punches at the depth the country’s humanitarian crisis has reached.

    This is no natural disaster but the result of a callous, calculated and cynical regional power play over the fate of the poorest country in the Middle East. Sadly our own government is an active party in this tragedy. Despite growing evidence of the human consequences, the UK government has allowed the export of a staggering £4.3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia to carry out its bombing campaign.

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    Drone footage shows the aftermath of flash floods that killed at least 15 people on Wednesday in two coastal towns west of Athens after a night of heavy rain. In the industrial towns of Nea Peramos and Mandra, west of Athens, crumpled cars and mangled furniture are strewn across roads coated in the thick mud left behind by a raging torrent that washed through homes on Wednesday morning

    Deadly flash floods cause ‘biblical damage’ in Athens

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    The Minnesota senator has apologised following allegations of sexual misconduct, and it is not the first example of his attitudes about women and sex

    Senator Al Franken of Minnesota apologised on Thursday after being accused of sexually harassing the journalist Leeann Tweeden in 2006, highlighting the comedian-turned-politician’s past history of crass jokes towards women.

    Related: Al Franken apologizes after accusation he kissed and groped TV news anchor

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    National Union of Students to do first survey of staff sexual misconduct and universities’ responses to complaints

    Sexual harassment in universities is to be investigated by the National Union of Students, which is conducting the UK’s first survey of staff sexual misconduct in higher education.

    Related: Sexual harassment 'at epidemic levels' in UK universities

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    New Zealand prime minister describes lighthearted retort to US president after he ribbed her for ‘causing a lot of upset in her country’

    New Zealand’s new prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described how she joked with Donald Trump when they first met, telling the US president “no one marched when I was elected”.

    Revealing details about her first meeting with Trump at the east Asia summit in Vietnam last week, Ardern said the exchange was low-key and relaxed.

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    This week we examine one of the most divisive issues in Australia: immigration and asylum policy. Is there a more nuanced way to look at the issue or do economic and security issues overwhelm the debate?

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    Jacinda Ardern seeks cooperation with Australian government after Peter Dutton warns of diplomatic consequences of striking unilateral deal with PNG

    New Zealand says it will only take refugees from the offshore detention centre on Manus Island with the cooperation of the Australian government.

    A statement from the office of the prime minister Jacinda Ardern, indicating a shift in her position, was issued on Friday after the Australian immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said a move to resettle the refugees could hurt the countries’ diplomatic relations.

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    A Head Full of Dreams show in Buenos Aires completes 114-concert series that is the third highest-grossing in history

    Coldplay generated more than $500m on their just completed global tour, the band’s promoters have said, making it the third highest-grossing in history.

    The English band played the 114th and final show of their A Head Full of Dreams tour on Wednesday night in Buenos Aires, completing a haul of $523m in ticket sales, Live Nation announced.

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    The detention of Robert Mugabe was not a story of blood, guts and glory. Instead, the people of Harare responded with jokes and social media memes

    • Blessing Musariri is a poet and children’s author who lives in Zimbabwe

    It was a regular day for me: the gym in the morning and a bout of afternoon procrastination, until a WhatsApp message from my sister in America about the tanks. She’d heard on the BBC that military tanks had started to appear on the streets of Harare.

    Related: Even if Mugabe has gone, Zimbabweans won’t be dancing in the streets | Wilf Mbanga

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    Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah were charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq

    The Serious Fraud Office has charged two businessmen with corruption following a criminal investigation into alleged bribery in the energy industry.

    Ziad Akle, who lives in London, and Basil Al Jarah from Hull were charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq.

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    • President’s son-in-law forwarded emails to Trump campaign officials
    • Kushner failed to turn over documents to investigators, senators say

    Jared Kushner shared emails within Donald Trump’s team about WikiLeaks and a “backdoor overture” from Russia during the 2016 election campaign and failed to turn them over to investigators, it emerged on Thursday.

    Senators said that a disclosure of files to their committee by Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, “appears to have been incomplete” and was missing “documents that are known to exist but were not included”.

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    National infrastructure commission calls for the rate of housebuilding to be doubled across a swath of central England

    Philip Hammond is being urged to earmark £7bn for new transport links in the “brain belt” spanning Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes in next week’s budget, and persuade local authorities to build the first new towns in half a century.

    The national infrastructure commission, backed by the government and chaired by Labour peer Andrew Adonis, is calling for the rate of housebuilding to be doubled across a swath of central England, to deliver a million new homes.

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    At Prospect Hill in Mississippi, people came from as far as Liberia for an unlikely gathering that led to a scene of visible emotion – with ‘a lot to talk about’

    The gathering at Prospect Hill plantation that day could have been a casting call for a period drama set before the American civil war.

    The location was remote, along a one-lane gravel road in sparsely populated Jefferson County, Mississippi. A group of about 50 people, black and white, stood in front of an archetypal southern Gothic home, chatting amiably about slave owners and slaves.

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    Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

    In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last.

    Daiwa House, one of the biggest prefabricated housing manufacturers in Japan, built this town in the 60s during a postwar housing boom. It’s not unlike the suburban subdivisions of the western world, with porches, balconies and rooflines that shift and repeat up and down blocks of gently curving roads. Most of those houses built in the 60s are no longer standing, having long since been replaced by newer models, finished with fake brick ceramic siding in beiges, pinks and browns. In the end, most of these prefabricated houses – and indeed most houses in Japan – have a lifespan of only about 30 years.

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    Operator ‘deeply’ sorry for inconvenience to passengers after the 9.44.40am Tsukuba Express pulled away at 9.44.20am

    It was an admission that would no doubt raise a sardonic smile among many commuters, and perhaps have them dreaming of relocating to Japan.

    The operator of a private railway firm that serves the Tokyo suburbs has issued an apology after one of its trains departed 20 seconds ahead of schedule.

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    President criticises Democratic senator’s actions but remains silent on Roy Moore, prompting fresh scrutiny of his own behaviour towards women

    Donald Trump attacked Al Franken for sexual misconduct on Thursday night on Twitter, reigniting the controversy around allegations made against the president himself by numerous women.

    Related: A timeline of Donald Trump's alleged sexual misconduct: who, when and what

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    Capital on near lockdown after rally in support of cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi in row over electoral oath wording

    Pakistani police have clashed with protesters and arrested dozens in an attempt to disperse an anti-blasphemy sit-in staged by a hardline cleric, which has blocked a main entrance to Islamabad for a week, choking traffic and putting the capital on near lockdown.

    Thousands of supporters of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan party, are demanding that the law and justice minister, who they accuse of undercutting blasphemy laws, resign.

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    Prime minister Hun Sen, who has already cracked down on free press, will now run virtually uncontested in 2018 election

    Cambodia’s top court has ruled to dissolve the country’s main opposition party, ensuring that the prime minister, Hun Sen, runs effectively uncontested in the 2018 election.

    The government-filed lawsuit against the Cambodia National Rescue party (CNRP) is seen as a crippling blow for free and fair polls. Having ruled for 32 years, Hun has already shut independent newspapers and radio.

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    Bodies of 26 migrants aged 14-18, which were recovered from Mediterranean this month, showed no signs of abuse

    Autopsies on the bodies of 26 Nigerian teenage girls recovered from the Mediterranean this month have confirmed that they drowned.

    The bodies of the girls, aged between 14 and 18, were brought to the southern Italian port of Salerno by the Spanish ship Cantabria on 5 November.

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    Forensic voice experts tell court they are 99% sure suspect’s voice does not match that of kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered

    Forensic voice experts have presented evidence to a Palermo court showing a man Italian prosecutors have claimed for 18 months to be one of the world’s most wanted people-smugglers is a victim of mistaken identity.

    The voice of the Eritrean people-smuggling kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered, recorded in 2014, does not match that of the suspect arrested in Sudan last year and extradited to Sicily with the aid of Britain’s National Crime Agency, the experts said.

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    Luisa Ortega fled Venezuela after breaking with the president this year, and says her complaint was prompted by thousands of deaths ordered by the government

    Venezuela’s sacked former chief prosecutor has asked the international criminal court to capture and try Nicolás Maduro and other top officials for crimes against humanity over murders by police and military officers.

    Luisa Ortega, who broke with Maduro this year after working closely with the ruling Socialist party for a decade, was fired in August after she opposed Maduro’s plan to create an all-powerful legislature called the constituent assembly. She fled the country and has traveled the world denouncing alleged acts of corruption and violations of human rights.

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    Government demanding up to 70% of rich detainees’ wealth in return for their freedom, newspaper reports

    Authorities in Saudi Arabia are offering businessmen and members of the royal family detained on allegations of corruption an opportunity to pay for their freedom, according to media reports.

    Around 200 princes, ministers, senior military officers and wealthy businessmen have been held in five-star hotels across the country since last week, many of them at the opulent Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.

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    European parliament resolution urges EU authorities to open dialogue with Malta after assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

    The European parliament has raised “serious concerns” about democracy and the rule of law in Malta after the assassination of the high-profile investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

    In a sharply critical resolution backed by two-thirds of MEPs, the European parliament urged EU authorities to open a dialogue with Malta on the rule of law, a formal process the European commission has embarked on with Poland.

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    Energy industry jolted by advice to Norwegian government from its central bank, which runs $1tn fund

    The Norwegian central bank, which runs the country’s sovereign wealth fund – the world’s biggest – has told its government it should dump its shares in oil and gas companies, in a move that could have significant consequences for the sector.

    Norges Bank, which manages Norway’s $1tn fund, said ministers should take the step to avoid the fund’s value being hit by a permanent fall in the oil price.

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    • Obama administration imposed ban because of conservation concerns
    • Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are enthusiastic big game hunters

    The Trump administration’s decision to loosen restrictions around the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia has turned attention back to the president’s family’s own connection to the controversial sport.

    Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are prolific big-game hunters and during the 2016 campaign, images re-emerged of the pair on a 2011 hunting trip posing with animals they had killed on safari, including an elephant, a buffalo and a leopard.

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    Warning that cost of blocking aid is ‘being measured in lives’ follows UK call for access

    Untold thousands of innocent people will die in Yemen unless the Saudi-led military coalition unconditionally lifts it blockade of the country’s ports, the heads of three UN agencies have warned.

    In a powerful joint statement the heads of the World Food Programme, Unicef and the World Health Organisation said the cost of the blockade was “being measured in the number of lives that are lost”.

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    Speaking in UK, secretary general António Guterres said countries that suppress rights and deny opportunities are breeding ground of ‘unprecedented threat’

    The world faces an unprecedented terrorist threat which finds its best breeding ground in countries that suppress human rights, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said in a major speech designed to put countering terrorism at the heart of the UN’s agenda.

    Related: Will António Guterres be the UN's best ever secretary general?

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    Calls also grow for Zimbabwe’s military to lay out its plan two days after it confined 93-year-old president to Harare residence

    Zimbabwe’s state-run media have published photos of Robert Mugabe meeting the general who led an army takeover two days ago, as the veteran autocrat resisted pressure to step down on Thursday and the army faced growing calls to outline its plans for a new government.

    Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, looked confident and healthy in the images, taken during a meeting at the president’s state offices and residence in the capital, Harare, on Thursday afternoon. The defence minister and two South African envoys also appeared in the pictures.

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