Science

The police poo drone cleaning up India’s river banks

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Police in Karimnagar, southern Indian, began using drone cameras in  to stop people from openly defecating at the banks of a local drinking water reservoir.

The police had been using the drone to monitor for people jumping into the lake to kill themselves and for drunk people gathering in the area.

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Vicar stalked by ‘infatuated’ widow he rebuffed saw his congregation halve after she spread rumours about him

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A vicar stalked by widow for 13 months says his congregation halved after she spread rumours about him when he rebuffed her “infatuation”. 

The Rev Graham Sawyer, 56, has now criticised the police for taking more than a year to intervene, despite his repeated pleas, saying that their actions failed both of them. 

He was bombarded with hundreds of emails, gifts and unwanted attention from the woman after her husband committed suicide. But when he contacted the police he was passed from one officer to another and at one point it was suggested that they could prosecute him for wasting their time.

It was only a year later when the woman was finally issued with a harassment notice that she stopped.

The vicar at St James Church in Briercliffe, Lancs, has now received an apology from Lancashire Police but has said he will never turn to them again.

He said: “I would never go to Lancashire Police again for help after this.

“The police failed me, my church and my stalker. This was a terrible situation I have had and things need changing so others don’t face the same issues.”

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Boris Johnson accused of ‘fanning flames’ of Kenya crisis with offer of congratulations

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Mr Johnson may have been inveigled into offering Britain’s endorsement. Under standard diplomatic protocol, presidential election winners normally await messages of congratulation from abroad.

But in a sign of the Kenyan government’s desperation for international legitimacy, the country’s foreign ministry, in an unusual move, actively solicited congratulations.

Johnson Weru, Kenya’s ambassador to Brussels, emailed Western officials asking them to prepare and dispatch “a suitable congratulations message,” the Financial Times reported, citing two sources.

The Foreign Office did not say who initiated the telephone call, but said that Mr Johnson had made the comments during a discussion about the situation in Zimbabwe.

“During the conversation, she update him that supreme court proceedings had now concluded and the Foreign Secretary rightly congratulated her,” a second spokeswoman said.

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‘Gender-neutral’ French banned from government papers

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The debate, which comes as a flurry of revelations about sexual harassment and assault continue to make headlines across the world, is however likely to rumble on.

It began when it emerged that a French publishing house had produced a primary school textbook using “écriture inclusive.”

Previously some government ministries and universities had been using the gender neutral forms but that had largely escaped public attention.

It was the school textbook that infuriated the “immortels,” as the Académie Française’s 40 members – who include only a handful of women – are known.

They said that the move “leads to a fragmented language, disparate in its expression, creating confusion that borders on being unreadable.

“Faced with this ‘inclusive’ aberration, the French language is in mortal danger, for which our nation is accountable to future generations,” wrote the academy’s members, who would become “immortel·le·s” if described by users of “écriture inclusive.” 

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Kezia Dugdale avoids suspension from Scottish Labour over I’m A Celebrity appearance

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Viewers vote for which celebrity they want to see have to complete the stomach-churning Bushtucker Trials, many of which involve cockroaches, spiders and snakes, in return for the group’s meals.

Neil Findlay, a fellow Labour MSP, said at the weekend that he thought Ms Dugdale’s participation “demeans politics” and argued that she should be fighting on behalf of her constituents.

It is understood that some of the Holyrood group thought her decision was so misjudged she should be suspended and forced to become an independent MSP.

But, speaking following the meeting, James Kelly, the party’s business manager, said: “The group concluded that Kezia Dugdale would not face suspension. 

“In accordance with standard procedure, Kezia Dugdale will be interviewed on her return to Parliament and have the opportunity to present her account of events.”

A spokesman for Ms Dugdale said: “Kezia will fully comply with the interview process on her return, and will get straight back to work as a Labour MSP, holding regular surgeries as she always has done and assisting Lothian constituents.”

Mr Leonard, whose election as leader on Saturday was overshadowed by the furore, has previously said that she sought permission from the leadership before heading to Australia but his understanding was that this was denied.

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Drug-driving cases dropped over forensics

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Lab scientistImage copyrightGetty Creative
Image caption Most of the 10,000 cases that could be affected involved traffic offences

Around 50 drug-driving prosecutions have been dropped because original test results may have been “manipulated”.

More than 10,000 cases, including violent crime, may have been affected, police chiefs said.

They probed Randox Testing Services in Manchester after two men were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in February.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was “the biggest forensic science scandal in the UK for decades”.

Lawyers for two people convicted over road deaths are now seeking to take their cases to the Court of Appeal.

Concerns have also been raised about thousands of drug test results relied on by the civil courts to determine child custody issues and employment cases.

More retests to go

Whilst 1,500 retests will be carried out by the end of the year, thousands more will have to take place in 2018 to check the results.

However, not all samples will be able to be re-tested as some are no longer viable because of their quality or quantity.

James Vaughan, from the NPCC, said this was the situation for many of the 50 cases dropped that were due to go to trial.

Not every court was sympathetic to requests for proceedings to be adjourned, which in turn led to more cases being dropped, he added.

Analysis

By BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw

Image copyrightThinkstock
Image caption Most of the 10,000 cases that could be affected involved traffic offences

The scale of the re-testing that will now have to take place, together with a dearth of suitably-qualified experts, is such that police reckon it will be three years before all the re-testing is completed.

I think that’s a conservative estimate – it does not include the re-testing that may have to be done in non-criminal cases.

The impact on an overstretched criminal justice system, where there are already delays in examining forensic evidence, can’t be under-estimated; neither can the effect this will all have on public confidence.

It will also doubtless raise questions about the decision to close down the government-owned Forensic Science Service in 2012, though private companies already played a big part in scientific testing before then.

A total of 42 police forces across the country sent data to the laboratory for testing.

Of the 10,000 cases that could have been affected, 75% were traffic offences, such as drug driving, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said.

Other cases included violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths.

So far, re-tests on samples involved in sexual offence cases, violence or homicide have showed no change.

‘Poor record keeping’

Potential data manipulation at a different facility, Trimega Laboratories, is also being investigated by Greater Manchester Police, said the NPCC.

In these incidents, child protection and family court cases could be affected.

Nick Hurd, the minister for policing, fire and criminal justice, said all tests carried out by Trimega between 2010 and 2014 were currently being treated as “potentially unreliable”.

He also said due to “poor record-keeping practices”, it may not be possible to identify all the customers affected.

The Forensic Services Regulator said it had asked all major centres to carry out an audit of their cases to look at whether the issue was more widespread, but no evidence was uncovered.

Gillian Tully, from the regulator, said: “If there was large-scale manipulation going on across the board, I do expect it would have been found during that audit.”

‘Lives destroyed’

Nick Freeman, a solicitor who has defended clients who were inaccurately tested for drugs by Randox, said: “It’s absolutely imperative that the public have total confidence in a thoroughly reliable forensic science service, because we need to be sure that the results that are produced are 100% accurate.

“If they’re not, innocent people are going to lose their children, be incarcerated, have their lives destroyed, on the basis of an entirely false premise.”

Mr Hurd added: “The government recognises the seriousness of this issue and the potential impact on public confidence in the use of forensic science within the justice system.

“The senior judiciary are aware and government officials are working with the police to monitor the scale of the issue, as information emerges.”

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Power struggle shakes breakaway republic in eastern Ukraine as armed men seize Luhansk

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Armed men seized the capital of a Russia-backed separatist republic in eastern Ukraine amid a power struggle between two top officials. 

The takeover of Luhansk on Tuesday followed a decision by Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic, to fire interior minister Igor Kornet the night before.

Luhansk state television showed masked men with assault rifles and heavy machine guns blocking the entrances of administrative buildings and streets in the centre of Luhansk on Tuesday, reportedly on the orders of the interior ministry. One of them wore the blue uniform the interior ministry’s Berkut unit, a police force specialising in putting down riots.

The armed men had ignored Plotnitsky’s command to leave, Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.

A video on Tuesday evening showed what appeared to be dozens of military vehicles entering Luhansk from the direction of the neighbouring Donetsk separatist republic, although a Donetsk official denied it was intervening.

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Cameraman waits 40 minutes for historic demolition – only for bus to ruin his shot with impeccable timing

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It seemed like the ideal spot to capture the moment 25 years of sporting history come to a dramatic end.

James Crugnale‏ had set up his camera with a perfect line of sight for the imminent demolition of the Georgia Dome stadium, in Atlanta, yesterday.

The charges had been set and the countdown had begun for the former home of the American football side, the Atlanta Falcons, which had hosted two Super Bowls since 1992.

One of the few domed stadia in America, it was making way for the new £1.2 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next door.

Sports fans and the media had assembled to watch the structure be flattened in under 15 seconds, including Mr Crugnale‏ , an editor with the Weather Channel.

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Poster boy leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement bows out of next election

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He was a confidante and right-hand man to Luigi Di Maio, the party’s 31-year-old candidate for prime minister.

Last year Mr Di Battista embarked on an extensive tour of Italy by moped, addressing crowds of Five Star voters and denouncing the then prime minister, Matteo Renzi, as a buffoon.

Five Star is now in a three-way battle for power with a centre-Right bloc led by former premier Silvio Berlusconi and the centre-Left, led by Mr Renzi, who resigned after losing a referendum on constitutional reform a year ago. 

In regional elections in Sicily earlier this month, an alliance of centre-Right parties trounced Five Star, in a vote which was seen as a barometer of public opinion ahead of the general election in the Spring.

The movement fared better last weekend, however, when it beat a centre-Right coalition in a run-off vote in Ostia, a seaside resort near Rome that has been plagued by corruption, crime and the creeping influence of a neo-fascist party called Casa Pound. 

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Eurostar texts passengers warning them not to bring bombs on board 

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Eurostarhas warned passengers not to bring “bombs, shells or weapons” back from French battlefields after seeing a rise in World War One tourists. 

The cross-Channel rail company has seen a increase in the number of travelers making trips to France to remember those who lost their lives since the Centenary commemorations began in 2014. 

But the historical interest has also seen people trying to bring memorabilia home with them, leading to warnings that even items purchased in gift shops can lead to delays.  

In a message, sent to passengers travelling this weekend, Eurostar said: “Please remember that you can’t bring any real or replica bombs, shells (complete or partial) or weapons on board, even if you bought them from a gift shop. 

“If you bring them with you, they’ll be confiscated at security and may result in the need to evacuate the station.”

It comes after  the Gare Du Nord,  Europe’s busiest train station, was a evacuated in August as a Eurostar passenger had a “military relic” in their luggage which had to be disposed of with a controlled explosion.

It followed a 2016 incident in Paris when a replica bomb was found and incidents on the same day in 2015 in the French capital and Lille when artillery shells were discovered. 

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