Month: April 2019

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi: Video emerges of 'Islamic State leader alive' | World News | Sky News

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi: Video emerges of ‘Islamic State leader alive’ | World News | Sky News

Footage has emerged appearing to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi alive and talking about this month’s Sri Lanka bombings.
The leader, whose death or serious injury has been reported repeatedly in the past, appears well despite recent claims about his health.
A bearded man who resembles Baghdadi sits cross-legged on the floor next to a machine gun and gives an 18-minute speech in the footage, which is in the process of being verified by Sky News.
If the man is Baghdadi, this is his first appearance in a IS video in five years. He appears older and heavier than in previous images.
5) There is serious danger not only to the fact that Baghdadi, #ISIS ’ so-called Caliph, is still alive–but also that he is able to reemerge to his supporters and reaffirm the group’s us-vs-the-world message after all the progress made against the group. pic.twitter.com/BbqFGM78O8
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) 29 April 2019 His importance in IS today is unclear, with intelligence suggesting he had become a figurehead rather than a strongman in the terror group.
Advertisement Despite this, he is the world’s most wanted man, with a ransom of $25m (£19m) on offer.
The man speaks slowly and unsteadily. He says he will seek revenge for those who had been killed or imprisoned in the fight against his group.
More from World Venezuela: Military vehicles drive into protesters amid ‘attempted coup’ Cyclone Kenneth: Thousands stranded in Mozambique with more rain expected NASA: Threat of Earth-destroying asteroid must be taken seriously Thailand cave rescue to be turned into Netflix series Jeff Goldblum: Jurassic Park star’s belongings stolen while taking holiday swim Japan’s emperor Akihito thanks his people for their support in abdication ceremony He acknowledges that IS lost the battle in Baghouz, the last geographical stronghold of the terror group which fell in March.
The footage, which was dated April this year, was posted online by Islamic State’s Al Furqan media network.
In the clip, he praises the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka attackers, who claimed to be acting as part of IS.
Image: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi pictured in 2014 The bearded man is accompanied by at least three other men, two with their faces covered and another wearing a keffiyeh (a type of headscarf).
Baghdadi, who has led the group in its form as IS since 2013, made his first video appearance in Mosul in 2014 where he declared the caliphate at Iraq’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri.

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Venezuela opposition leader claims coup is under way – live news | World news | The Guardian

Live updates as Juan Guaidó posts a video of himself flanked by armed forces claiming he is ‘starting the final phase of ‘Operation Liberty’

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RSS Web Feeds – Sky News

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Mozambique situation ‘worse than thought’: UN agency – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Cyclone Kenneth left roads looking like waterfalls The situation in northern Mozambique is worse than thought, a UN spokesman says, days after Cyclone Kenneth ravaged the country.
The system struck the Africa nation on Thursday with winds of 220km/h (140mph) which flattened whole villages.
Around 700,000 people are now thought to be at risk in the area as torrential rains continue.
Pemba, regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding.
Africa Live: Update on the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth, and other stories Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) spokesman Saviano Abreu said the situation in the towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, adding that there were also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo.
Waves up to 4m high are expected, and aid agencies fear rains will worsen.
Skip Twitter post by @deboreve Heavy rains in #Mozambique northern province of #CaboDelgado are raising floodwater levels and rendering communities affected by #CycloneKenneth harder to reach.
👇🏽 @WFP drone footage show flooding in Pemba pic.twitter.com/d5obU8slnx
— Déborah Nguyen (WFP) (@deboreve) April 28, 2019 Report End of Twitter post by @deboreve
“We are very worried because, according to the forecasts, heavy rain is expected for the next four days,” Deborah Nguyen, UN World Food Programme spokeswoman, told AFP news agency.
“We expect the rainfall to be twice as much as that which accompanied Cyclone Idai,” she added.
Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people across three countries in March this year.
What’s the latest? Pemba is thought to be home to about 400,000 people, and the heavy rains have placed many in danger.
Landslides are a growing worry in the city’s Mahate neighbourhood, regional Ocha authorities said, while in the Natite neighbourhood houses have started to collapse.
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Sarah Keith-Lucas presents an update on the impact from Cyclone Kenneth The World Food Programme has reportedly begun giving out rations to stranded people, but destroyed roads have forced operations to end in the most isolated areas.
At least five people have died as a result of the cyclone, and nearly 35,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed, national authorities say.
Brazilian rescue teams rescued about 350 people from flooded parts of the city on Sunday.
This satellite image shows the cyclone over northern Mozambique and Tanzania on Friday night.
Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Heavy flooding has destroyed infrastructure and made aid efforts more complicated Image copyright Reuters Image caption About 700,000 people are thought to be at risk On Sunday a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” by the impact of Cyclone Kenneth .
UN agencies are aiding local authorities, and Mr Guterres appealed for “additional resources” from the international community “to fund the response in the immediate, medium and longer term”.
What is the affected area like? Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.
That, in addition to warnings by authorities ahead of the storm, could significantly stem losses compared with Cyclone Idai.
But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by militant Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.
Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people.

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Devon tops quality of life survey | UK news | The Guardian

Clean air and low inequality highighted by Thriving Places Index

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Venezuela: National Guard armored vehicles drive into protestors

Live footage on Venezuela’s T13 television station shows hundreds of demonstrators in Caracas in confrontation with military vehicles on a large roadway outside the La Carolta air base. One of the vehicles is firing a water cannon at protestors, who crowded around the vehicle. At one point the vehicle accelerated, then shuddered to a quick stop, appearing to hit protestors.
Venezuela opposition leader claims coup is under way – live news
Venezuela: Guaidó supporters flock to military base in new bid to oust Maduro
US declares support for Venezuela coup attempt

How to Tell if a News Site Is Reliable

How to Tell if a News Site Is Reliable

It’s happened before, and with another presidential election looming next year, it’s going to happen again and again. The spread of “fake news,” the incorrect labeling of real news as “fake,” and overall confusion as to how to tell the difference. Read more…

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Trump’s Twitter Meeting, an Ethereum Thief, and More News

Catch up on the most important news today in 2 minutes or less.

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Don’t Forget to Cancel Apple News+

Apple News+ launched on March 25, which means that people who immediately signed up for a free trial are about to get their first monthly bill for $10. Are you one of these people? Did you forget that you even signed up for Apple News+ because you never use i…

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How to Deal With the Stress of Waiting for Important News

What makes waiting for a job interview follow-up, text after a first date, or news that might possibly incriminate your president once and for all so very painful? Read more…

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Hate Huge iPhones? Here’s Some Good News.

Read more… More about Iphone, Mashable Reels, Tech, Consumer Tech, and Iphone

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ABP News is LIVE: Top headlines 24*7

The fourth phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will take place today on as many as 72 parliamentary constituencies spread across 9 states. People of the country would exercise their franchise in some seats of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Voting on all 72 constituencies will begin at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm at all polling booths. A total of 943 candidates are in fray for the fourth phase of General Elections.

The Election Commission has set up 1.40 lakh polling booths/stations and has made elaborate security arrangements. In the first three phases, voting has been held in 302 Lok Sabha constituencies, and 168 more seats will go to polls in the last three phases.

Key Candidates

The fate of these candidates, including Union ministers Giriraj Singh, Babul Supriyo, Subhash Bhamre, SS Ahluwalia of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Union ministers Salman Khurshid and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress party, will be decided by around 12.79 core eligible voters in the fourth phase.

Among other key contestants in the fray are Kanhaiya Kumar (CPI), Dimple Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Priya Dutt (Congress), Urmila Matondkar (Congress), Baijayant Panda (BJP), Satabdi Roy (TMC), Milind Deora (Congress) and Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP).

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son, a member of erstwhile Jaipur royal family and two Union ministers are among 115 candidates whose fate will be decided on Monday. Jodhpur became one of the most talked about seats in the Congress-ruled state where Gehlot did massive campaigning for his son Vaibhav, pitted against sitting MP and Union minister of state Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Key Parties

The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 56 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) bagging six seats each.

Key States

Voting will take place in 17 seats in Maharashtra, 13 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, eight in West Bengal, six each in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, five in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and a part of the Anantnag constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.

Venezuela opposition leader claims coup is under way – live news | World news | The Guardian

Venezuela opposition leader claims coup is under way – live news | World news | The Guardian

Live updates as Juan Guaidó posts a video of himself flanked by armed forces claiming he is ‘starting the final phase of ‘Operation Liberty’

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5 people trapped in cave in Virginia; rescue underway News

“With cave rescue incidents, this has the chance to extend to eight to 12 hours,” Virginia Department Search and Rescue Coordinator Billy Grimes told WJHL. The trapped men, ranging in age from 35 to 59, are believed to be uninjured inside Cyclops Cave, according to Russell County Emergency Management.
Although the cave in southwestern Virginia has more than seven miles of passages in it, some of which are quite narrow, authorities believe the men are not in the cave's farthest reaches.
Emergency personnel are on standby as rescue crews rappel down into the cave.
“It will take some time to get good information back,” Grimes said at an afternoon press briefing.
Five men are trapped inside Cyclops Cave in Russell County, Virginia. (Via WJHL)
The man had been planning to spend Saturday night inside the cave until it started to rain at 11 p.m., which made the rock walls slippery and therefore difficult to climb.
Russell County Emergency Management said the trapped men are tired, hypothermic and unable to climb out of the cave.
A sixth man, 22, was able to escape and call 911.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Trending in US

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Opioid painkillers ‘must carry prominent warnings’ – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Warnings are “tip of the iceberg”, says addiction counsellor Nicki Hari All opioid medicines in the UK will carry prominent warnings on their labels saying they can cause addiction, the health secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock acted after figures in England and Wales revealed a-more-than 60% increase in prescriptions for opioid painkillers in the last decade.
People needed protection “from the darker side to painkillers,” he said.
Health experts welcomed the move, saying opioids can cause “life-altering and sometimes fatal addictions”.
NHS accused of fuelling rise in opioid addiction What are opioids and what are the risks? Illicit and prescription drugs ‘played role in 10 deaths’ in NI Opioids, such as morphine or fentanyl, are derived from opium and can be highly effective for managing severe pain but they can also be highly addictive, the Department of Health (DoH) said.
It warned the number of prescriptions in England and Wales issued for these sorts of medicines had risen dramatically from more than 14 million in 2008 to 23 million last year.
The DoH added there are also some opioids available over the counter, such as codeine-based painkillers, which are weaker in strength but can also cause addiction.
From 2008 to 2018, the number of codeine-related deaths in England and Wales has more than doubled to more than 150, it said.
In Scotland, codeine-related deaths spiked at 43 in 2016, dropping to 27 in 2017, National Records of Scotland said.
In Northern Ireland, there were 16 codeine-related deaths in 2017 .
What are opioids? A large group of drugs used mainly to treat pain Includes naturally occurring chemicals like morphine and codeine, as well as synthetic drugs Codeine, morphine and methadone are among opioids judged by the World Health Organization as essential for treatment of pain and end-of-life care Some opioid medications – methadone and buprenorphine – are used to help people break their addictions to stronger opioids like heroin What are they used for? Moderate and severe pain relief Limited time treatment of pain that does not respond to standard painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol Usually used for acute pain – such as after surgery or terminally-ill cancer patients Why are they dangerous? They can be highly addictive Pleasurable feeling that results from taking opioids can contribute to psychological dependence on the drugs Higher doses can slow breathing and heart rate, which can lead to death Mixing with alcohol or other sedatives such as benzodiazepines can also have serious consequences Mr Hancock said: “I have been incredibly concerned by the recent increase in people addicted to opioid drugs.
“Painkillers were a major breakthrough in modern medicine and are hugely important to help people manage pain alongside their busy lives but they must be treated with caution.
“We know that too much of any painkiller can damage your health, and some opioids are highly addictive and can ruin lives like an illegal drug.
” Things are not as bad here as in America , but we must act now to protect people from the darker side to painkillers.”
‘Like thousands of insects inside your skin’ Image copyright Lisa Peake Lisa Peake, from London
I was prescribed painkillers for chronic neck pain after an accident in February 2014 but the pain didn’t go away.
I was taking codeine four to five times a day, tramadol as a top-up once a day, as well as naproxen and co-dydramol four or five times a day.
Opioids affect your mental capacity, you feel dizzy, you can’t concentrate and it’s hard for you to do your job.
Within two years the medication caused a gastric tear and my haemoglobin levels dropped from a healthy 12 to a dangerous 5.6.
I went on a three-week hospital pain management programme in October 2016 and they helped wean me off the meds and rely on other methods of pain control.
I had all the symptoms, albeit to a lesser extent, of a drug addict doing the same.
It feels like you’ve got thousands of insects inside your skin. You can’t find any comfort, you can’t sleep and your bowel movements are shot to pieces.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, has welcomed the government action.
She said: “We know that long-term use of painkillers can lead to life-altering and sometimes fatal addictions, so I am delighted to see measures put in place to raise awareness of the risks of codeine and prescribed drugs.
“It is vital that anyone who is prescribed strong painkillers takes them only as long as they are suffering from serious pain.
“As soon as the pain starts to alleviate, the drugs have done their job, and it is important to switch to over-the-counter medication like paracetamol which do not carry the same risk of addiction that comes with long term use.”
Analysis by Fergus Walsh, BBC medical correspondent Until the late 90s in the UK, opioids were usually restricted to cancer patients and for those in acute pain following surgery, but then they began being increasingly prescribed for chronic pain.
As our population ages, the number of people living with low back or nerve pain is soaring. Opioids can be effective in the short term, but don’t work for pain that lasts for months or years.
The medicine packets already contain leaflets warning about potentially dangerous side-effects and the risks of addiction. Making these more prominent may encourage patients and their doctors to discuss alternatives such as physical and talking therapies.
The variation in prescribing rates between NHS regions shows that it is possible to limit their use.
Things have been getting worse here, but are nowhere near as bad as the US which has four times the rate of opioid prescriptions as the UK.
Public Health England is already undertaking a review into prescription medication addiction and is due to report its findings this year.
Under Mr Hancock’s plan, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will have the power to enforce warnings on opioids packaging, following recommendations from the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) Opioid expert working group.
Dr June Raine, director of the MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said: “This is an important first step to help minimise the risks of addiction associated with opioid medicines, while supporting patients to get the right information at the right time to support their care.”

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BBC World News: Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter – in pictures

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Orthodox Christians are gathering around the world to celebrate Easter.
Followers mark their faith’s most important festival day on 28 April, one week after fellow Christians.
The different dates arise from use of the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar. Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Believers marked the occasion in the same way they have for centuries in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption The ceremony involves “sacred fire” appearing from two cavities on either side of the Holy Sepulchre Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Some pilgrims wore a “crown of thorns” in Jerusalem’s Old City Image copyright EPA Image caption In Greece on Friday, Orthodox Christians performed a procession in the sea Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption People throughout Greece celebrated Good Friday with religious icons and services Image copyright Reuters Image caption A member of the Greek Orthodox clergy at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City Image copyright EPA Image caption The head of the Bosnian Serb Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts an Easter service Image copyright EPA Image caption A priest blesses Orthodox believers during an Easter ceremony at St George Church in Istanbul Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Christians attend an Orthodox Easter service in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli in north-eastern Syria Image copyright AFP Image caption A North Macedonian Orthodox priest leads a midnight Easter service in the village of Kalishta Image copyright EPA Image caption Ukrainians light candles with the Holy Fire during an Orthodox Easter Mass at St Volodymir Cathedral in Kiev Image copyright EPA Image caption A Ukrainian priest (R) blesses believers waiting for the start of an Orthodox Easter Mass with baskets of painted eggs and kulichi, a traditional Easter cake, in Kiev Image copyright AFP Image caption Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the Easter Sunday traditional procession toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City Image copyright AFP Image caption A young girl closes her eyes as she and other Serbian Orthodox Christians hold candles during a midnight Easter service at a monastery in the village of Sukovo All pictures subject to copyright. Related Topics

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Cyclone Kenneth ‘wipes out’ Mozambique villages – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device Video Cyclone Kenneth ‘wipes out’ Mozambique villages
Cyclone Kenneth has ‘entirely wiped out’ some villages in Mozambique, after making landfall on Thursday, according to a UN official.
One aid worker said it looked like areas had been ‘run over by a bulldozer’.
It comes just a month after Cyclone Idai killed 900 people across three countries, including Mozambique. 27 Apr 2019

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Opioid painkillers 'must carry prominent warnings' – BBC News

Opioid painkillers ‘must carry prominent warnings’ – BBC News

Opioid painkillers ‘must carry prominent warnings’ 28 April 2019 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Warnings are “tip of the iceberg”, says addiction counsellor Nicki Hari All opioid medicines in the UK will carry prominent warnings on their labels saying they can cause addiction, the health secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock acted after figures in England and Wales revealed a-more-than 60% increase in prescriptions for opioid painkillers in the last decade.
People needed protection “from the darker side to painkillers,” he said.
Health experts welcomed the move, saying opioids can cause “life-altering and sometimes fatal addictions”. Illicit and prescription drugs ‘played role in 10 deaths’ in NI
Opioids, such as morphine or fentanyl, can be highly effective for managing severe pain but they can also be highly addictive, the Department of Health (DoH) said.
It warned the number of prescriptions in England and Wales issued for these sorts of medicines had risen dramatically from more than 14 million in 2008 to 23 million last year.
The DoH added there are also some opioids available over the counter, such as codeine-based painkillers, which are weaker in strength but can also cause addiction.
From 2008 to 2018, the number of codeine-related deaths in England and Wales has more than doubled to more than 150, it said.
In Scotland, codeine-related deaths spiked at 43 in 2016, dropping to 27 in 2017, National Records of Scotland said.
In Northern Ireland, there were 16 codeine-related deaths in 2017 . What are opioids? A large group of drugs used mainly to treat pain Includes naturally occurring chemicals like morphine and codeine, as well as synthetic drugs Codeine, morphine and methadone are among opioids judged by the World Health Organization as essential for treatment of pain and end-of-life care Some opioid medications – methadone and buprenorphine – are used to help people break their addictions to stronger opioids like heroin What are they used for? Moderate and severe pain relief Limited time treatment of pain that does not respond to standard painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol Usually used for acute pain – such as after surgery or terminally-ill cancer patients Why are they dangerous? They can be highly addictive Pleasurable feeling that results from taking opioids can contribute to psychological dependence on the drugs Higher doses can slow breathing and heart rate, which can lead to death Mixing with alcohol or other sedatives such as benzodiazepines can also have serious consequences
Mr Hancock said: “I have been incredibly concerned by the recent increase in people addicted to opioid drugs.
“Painkillers were a major breakthrough in modern medicine and are hugely important to help people manage pain alongside their busy lives but they must be treated with caution.
“We know that too much of any painkiller can damage your health, and some opioids are highly addictive and can ruin lives like an illegal drug.
” Things are not as bad here as in America , but we must act now to protect people from the darker side to painkillers.” ‘Like thousands of insects inside your skin’ Image copyright Lisa Peake
Lisa Peake, from London
I was prescribed painkillers for chronic neck pain after an accident in February 2014 but the pain didn’t go away.
I was taking codeine four to five times a day, tramadol as a top-up once a day, as well as naproxen and co-dydramol four or five times a day.
Opioids affect your mental capacity, you feel dizzy, you can’t concentrate and it’s hard for you to do your job.
I went on a three-week hospital pain management programme in October 2016 and they helped wean me off the meds and rely on other methods of pain control.
I had all the symptoms, albeit to a lesser extent, of a drug addict doing the same.
It feels like you’ve got thousands of insects inside your skin. You can’t find any comfort, you can’t sleep and your bowel movements are shot to pieces.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, has welcomed the government action.
She said: “We know that long-term use of painkillers can lead to life-altering and sometimes fatal addictions, so I am delighted to see measures put in place to raise awareness of the risks of codeine and prescribed drugs.
“It is vital that anyone who is prescribed strong painkillers takes them only as long as they are suffering from serious pain.
“As soon as the pain starts to alleviate, the drugs have done their job, and it is important to switch to over-the-counter medication like paracetamol which do not carry the same risk of addiction that comes with long term use.” Analysis by Fergus Walsh, BBC medical correspondent
Until the late 90s in the UK, opioids were usually restricted to cancer patients and for those in acute pain following surgery, but then they began being increasingly prescribed for chronic pain.
As our population ages, the number of people living with low back or nerve pain is soaring. Opioids can be effective in the short term, but don’t work for pain that lasts for months or years.
The medicine packets already contain leaflets warning about potentially dangerous side-effects and the risks of addiction. Making these more prominent may encourage patients and their doctors to discuss alternatives such as physical and talking therapies.
The variation in prescribing rates between NHS regions shows that it is possible to limit their use.
Things have been getting worse here, but are nowhere near as bad as the US which has four times the rate of opioid prescriptions as the UK.
Public Health England is already undertaking a review into prescription medication addiction and is due to report its findings this year.
Under Mr Hancock’s plan, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will have the power to enforce warnings on opioids packaging, following recommendations from the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) Opioid expert working group.
Dr June Raine, director of the MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said: “This is an important first step to help minimise the risks of addiction associated with opioid medicines, while supporting patients to get the right information at the right time to support their care.” Related Topics

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The disabled Christians reinterpreting the Bible – BBC News

Like many disabled people, I am often approached by Christians who want to pray for me to be healed. While they may be well-intentioned, these encounters often leave me feeling judged as faulty and in need of repair. So I set out to discover what Christianity has to offer disabled people beyond promises of miracle cures.
Image copyright SARAH DOUSSE From time to time, without warning or encouragement, I get approached in the street by Christians who tell me they want to pray for me to get my sight back. Since I became blind as a teenager this has been a regular yet annoying by-product of being an independent disabled person who can walk about on the street.
The last time this happened was on the London underground. The train was packed full of people all studiously ignoring each other when a man put his hand on my shoulder and asked if he could pray for my sight to be restored. But more about that later.
I had always assumed that everyone knew these encounters are a fact of life for people who are visibly disabled. But when one day I told some colleagues about my latest brush with a would-be healer, they were variously fascinated or outraged that anyone would have the cheek to impose their beliefs on me about something so personal.
At this point I should perhaps confess that I am not religious. The message I’ve taken from the Christians who’ve offered me healing is that I need to be “fixed” – just as Jesus “fixed” disabled people in the Gospels. Far from converting me, this has put me off Christianity. So I was interested to learn that it also annoys some disabled Christians.
Reverend Zoe Hemming, vicar of St Andrews Church in the village of Aston in Shropshire, is a part-time wheelchair user who lives with chronic pain. She’s had her own encounters with strangers offering healing prayer and says she finds this approach can be “spiritually abusive”.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been talking to another wheelchair user in church and somebody was so determined to pray for us and we just kept ignoring them because we were in the middle of a conversation. In the end he just put his arms on both our shoulders and just prayed. It was really annoying and very disempowering. I was furious.”
Healing hands Of course, Christians who offer healing do so because, in the Gospels, Jesus healed the sick and commanded his disciples to do the same.
At my school, we learned all about the healing miracles Jesus performed. He told a “cripple” that he was healed and should pick up his stretcher and walk. He cured a blind man or two, healed a woman with a haemorrhage and another who was bent double. He even brought his friend Lazarus back from the dead.
Find out more Catch up with Damon Rose and Helen Grady’s documentary: Heart and Soul: Pick up your stretcher and walk!
Damon Rose is one of the producers behind the BBC Ouch disability talk podcast
For Candida Moss, the Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, these stories can be alienating for readers who, like her, are disabled.
“I think the main problem for disabled people reading the Bible is that while Jesus does spend a lot of time with people with disabilities, every time he meets them, if they encounter him with faith, he heals them and so he’s sort of like this cathartic scourge that wanders around eradicating disability from the world.”
Another difficulty, says Prof Moss, is that disabled people are often used by the Gospel authors to beef up Jesus’ credentials, showcasing his divine powers.
“When Jesus meets people with disabilities, he fixes them and that’s a sign that he is powerful,” she says. “That relegates people with disabilities to just being there to show the power of God. They’re not really real characters or real people who have feelings and needs and personalities. That pushes them to the margins of the story.”
But Lyndall Bywater, a Christian who writes and teaches about prayer and is herself blind, says it’s important to understand the historical context of Jesus’ healing miracles. While disabled people today might bristle at descriptions of the “pity” Jesus feels for the people he heals, Ms Bywater says Jesus was operating at a time when being disabled meant being poor, unemployed and excluded from mainstream society.
“There was obviously no welfare state, so you’d have been begging on the side of the road. Your life condition would have been pretty terrible and I think pity from Jesus in that context is probably a lot about that sense of exclusion, that sense of destitution that he saw.”
Another motive, she says, was the fact that many disabled people were banned from worshipping at the temple as, under religious law at the time, they were deemed “unclean”.
“Jesus did heal physical illness a lot and I think some of that was because it did restore people to social dignity at the time.”
So if Jesus met me today, empowered as I am with my job and my guide dog, would he still think I need healing?
Lyndall Bywater is sceptical: “If Jesus was walking the streets now,” she says, “I don’t know if he would be healing in the same way. I don’t think Jesus would look at you and think ‘there is someone who needs pity’.”
God has a wheelchair Some Christians are going even further in rethinking what the Bible has to say about disability. Among them is 16-year-old Becky Tyler, who in 2017 preached to 6,000 people at the Christian festival Greenbelt. Tyler has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and communicates using eye-gaze technology and a speech synthesizer. She tells me she talks to God every day inside her head.
“God says to me that He loves me a lot. He says that I am made in His image and that my disability doesn’t make me any less than an able-bodied person. He loves us all the same.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone born with a severe disability, Becky hasn’t always believed this.
“When I was about 12 years old, I felt God didn’t love me as much as other people because I am in a wheelchair and because I can’t do lots of the things that other people can do. I felt this way because I did not see anyone with a wheelchair in the Bible, and nearly all the disabled people in the Bible get healed by Jesus – so they are not like me.”
She felt alienated by much of what she read in the Bible – until she was given new food for thought.
“My mum showed me a verse from the Book of Daniel (Chapter 7, Verse 9), which basically says God’s throne has wheels, so God has a wheelchair.
“In fact it’s not just any old chair, it’s the best chair in the Bible. It’s God’s throne, and it’s a wheelchair. This made me feel like God understands what it’s like to have a wheelchair and that having a wheelchair is actually very cool, because God has one.”
If you think this is a random moment of silliness from a teenager, Prof Candida Moss says Becky has chanced upon a fresh but perfectly legitimate reading of the Old Testament.
“We don’t get many descriptions of what God is actually like but we get one of them at the beginning of Ezekiel,” she says. “The Prophet has this vision of the Heavenly throne room, where God resides and God is sat on this throne that is pretty much on fire.
“But it’s also described as having wheels within wheels attached to it. And following this scene, if you think of all the scenes of the Bible laid out chronologically, God is always sat in this wheeled throne and in fact moves – leaves the city of Jerusalem – on the wheeled throne and returns to it later on the wheeled throne.”
Image copyright Getty Images Although God is depicted walking in the Bible, Prof Moss says this happens earlier – in the Garden of Eden.
“It seems like God is a wheelchair user maybe a thousand years before human beings themselves have thought about wheelchairs.”
So is God disabled? “That is certainly a way to read it” says Prof Moss, admitting that for many, this is a jaw-dropping and theologically challenging idea: “Yes, it’s very counter-intuitive to the image of divine power that we grow up with in Sunday school or Church, but that’s precisely why we should look at these passages – because they challenge us to reconsider what we think is important and what we value highly.”
Prof Moss is part of a group of academics who are carving out a new “theology of disability”. It’s a relatively new academic field, which has only really taken off in the past 10 to 15 years, inspired by pioneering texts like The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability (1994) by Nancy L Eiesland.
The body of Jesus For the Reverand Zoe Hemming, these contemporary readings of Christian scripture have provided new ways of seeing – and coming to terms with – her own disability.
“I can’t believe it took me this long to realise it,” she says, “but when Jesus rose from the dead, his risen body still had scars,” explaining that crucifixion left holes in his hands and feet as well as his side.
“It was profound for me to realise that the most powerful symbol of the disabled body in the Christian story is His.”
She says she is glad that Jesus didn’t come back from the dead as physically whole and perfect. “He came back better than perfect,” she says. “He wore his scars because they told his story.
“That’s the Jesus that I find in Christianity, not the one that wants to normalise everybody.”
Prof Moss says the fact that Jesus retains his scars after the Resurrection suggests that disabled people might also retain their disabilities in the afterlife – something she hopes for herself.
“I think that if I’m not disabled in heaven, I’m not myself so I certainly hope I’ll still be disabled in heaven. I certainly hope that I don’t feel pain in heaven – that seems antithetical to what heaven is. But I still want to be me. And I don’t think that I would be me without the conditions that I have. It’s shaped who I am, how I think, what I do. Everything about my life involves this part of myself, which is integral to who I am.”
I understand this. My visual impairment, along with the things I’ve come to love and cherish as a result of having it, is so bound up with my identity, I would feel a bit weird if I were to suddenly not be blind. That said, I think on balance it would be quite handy being able to see.
I asked Lyndall Bywater, who is also blind, if she would like to be disabled in heaven. “Oh no I hope not,” she replies. “That isn’t because I think that there’s anything wrong with being blind and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it thus far. I just want to be able to get in a sports car and drive a sports car. That’s really what I want to do. So I’m desperately hoping.”
Image copyright SARAH DOUSSE But despite her personal hopes, she believes some people will retain their disabilities in the afterlife.
“The Christian message does have in it this sense of restoration,” she says. “Now what restoration looks like for each of us may well be different. I suspect there might be some surprises in heaven as to people that are like: ‘Do you know what, I have still got this disability because restoration for me was never about that.'”
Prof Candida Moss thinks disability may not have the same meaning in heaven as it does in this life: “I don’t know if you would need to see in heaven. Saint Augustine has a whole conversation about how he’s not sure it’s necessary to be able to see in heaven to love God. That might be because, when you look at descriptions of heaven, people just kind of stand around singing to God, so it might not be as necessary to be able to see because I don’t really know what it’s like. None of us do.”
Next time a Christian approaches me and offers healing, I might try to challenge their theology with some of the new interpretations of scripture I’ve learned from disabled Christians.
The notion that God and Jesus could be interpreted as being disabled may not be mainstream, but it’s a message that is more empowering for disabled people than the idea that we are all faulty and in need of repair. And who knows, maybe if we were approached with the message that God loves us as we are, more disabled people might welcome that conversation.
I was really taken by something Lyndall Bywater said to me. She said the “sighted world” might find it difficult to believe, but she thinks that being alive and at peace with yourself while being blind is a bigger miracle than having your sight restored.
And it’s true. I like me and I like the “blind person” things I do – for want of a better way of putting it.
At the start of this article, I told you about a man who spoke to me on a packed London underground train. Normally when people offer to pray for me to be healed, I say ‘No’. But this man told me that he was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who had himself been healed by prayer. I got the sense that he really needed me to let him pray over me, so I said ‘Yes’ and let him lay his hands upon me.
I can’t claim to be cured of blindness as a result of his prayer, but I’ll never forget how happy and grateful he appeared to be.
To me it felt very much like the roles had unintentionally been reversed, and that it was the disabled man during the encounter who had given out a dose of healing. The man left the train after giving me a very big manly hug. I felt quite good too, and smiled wondering what the other people in the carriage had made of it, as I plugged my headphones back in.
Additional reporting by Helen Grady

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Devon tops quality of life survey | UK news | The Guardian

Clean air and low inequality highighted by Thriving Places Index. To those who live amid its rolling hills, fishing ports and wild moorland, it will come as little surprise: Devon has the best quality of life of anywhere in England and Wales, according to a major new study.
The largely rural county, which includes the university city of Exeter and the eco-hub of Totnes, provides more of the conditions necessary for wellbeing than any other authority in the country, the research finds.
Wellbeing charity Happy City says its analysis of offical data has produced the most comprehensive assessment ever made of more than 60 indicators covering equality, local conditions and sustainability.
Devon outperformed 149 other local authorities on three broad measures: high levels of physical activity, volunteering and good air quality, but researchers also pointed out that the council had lower levels of inequality than comparable authorities.
“It appears it is better to be poor in Devon than in other relatively wealthy areas. Less-well-off residents have better access to the things that help them to live happy, fulfilling lives than their peers elsewhere,” said Liz Zeidler, chief executive of Happy City.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said Devon was blessed with fantastic countryside coupled with a successful economy. “If you live here you can be on a beautiful beach in 20 minutes and you can be hiking on Dartmoor in 20 minutes,” he said.
Using GDP as a proxy for progress is bonkers – it is entirely uninterested in human happiness
Liz Zeidler, Happy City He added that the area’s ranking showed there was more to life than high salaries in the south-east. “Exeter and Devon don’t have the average levels of income that London and the stockbroker belt around London has but in the round a lot of people would rather live here on slightly less money where they can get this amazing quality of life,” he said.
Four other councils also performed well in all three categories, Bath and North East Somerset and Dorset in the West Country, alongside Kingston upon Thames and Bexley in London.
Zeidler said wellbeing should be a priority for decision-makers, not ever-increasing consumption and economic growth. “Using GDP as a proxy for progress is bonkers. It just measures how much stuff we produce and use – it is entirely uninterested in human happiness. It goes up when we have an oil spill because vast amounts go into cleaning it up,” she said.
The charity’s Thriving Places Index, which will be released in full this week, shows Derby comes bottom overall, with the deprived Midlands city performing worse on a bundle of indicators measuring inequalities in health, income and employment than all other councils in England and Wales. Hull also did badly, having particularly poor teenage health rates and fewer local businesses than other councils.
The report, which is in its third year , found that Sheffield fared better than any other major city outside London. More than 60% of the borough is covered in green spaces and it has relatively low pollution levels. The Yorkshirecity, which extends into the Peak District national park, also has lower levels of gender and income inequalities.
Sheffield’s first Green mayor, Magid Magid , said the city had a great community spirit: “Not only have we got lots of amazing open spaces but there is a real culture of people supporting each other. It’s the people that make Sheffield. We are rich in amazing volunteers – people give their time for others. There is something magical about Sheffield.”
Derby council said: “We acknowledge that there are areas of difficulty and … we’re working hard to combat these.”
Topics Devon The Observer Health & wellbeing Local government Air pollution news

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Mozambique situation ‘worse than thought’: UN agency – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Cyclone Kenneth left roads looking like waterfalls The situation in northern Mozambique is worse than thought, a UN spokesman says, days after Cyclone Kenneth ravaged the country.
The system struck the Africa nation on Thursday with winds of 220km/h (140mph) which flattened whole villages.
Around 700,000 people are now thought to be at risk in the area as torrential rains continue.
Pemba, regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding.
Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) spokesman Saviano Abreu said the situation in the towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, adding that there were also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo.
Waves up to 4m high are expected, and aid agencies fear rains will worsen. Heavy rains in #Mozambique northern province of #CaboDelgado are raising floodwater levels and rendering communities affected by #CycloneKenneth harder to reach. 👇🏽 @WFP drone footage show flooding in Pemba pic.twitter.com/d5obU8slnx Report End of Twitter post by @deboreve
“We are very worried because, according to the forecasts, heavy rain is expected for the next four days,” Deborah Nguyen, UN World Food Programme spokeswoman, told AFP news agency.
“We expect the rainfall to be twice as much as that which accompanied Cyclone Idai,” she added.
Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people across three countries in March this year. What’s the latest?
Pemba is thought to be home to about 400,000 people, and the heavy rains have placed many in danger.
Landslides are a growing worry in the city’s Mahate neighbourhood, regional Ocha authorities said, while in the Natite neighbourhood houses have started to collapse. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Sarah Keith-Lucas presents an update on the impact from Cyclone Kenneth
The World Food Programme has reportedly begun giving out rations to stranded people, but destroyed roads have forced operations to end in the most isolated areas.
At least five people have died as a result of the cyclone, and nearly 35,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed, national authorities say.
This satellite image shows the cyclone over northern Mozambique and Tanzania on Friday night. Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Heavy flooding has destroyed infrastructure and made aid efforts more complicated Image copyright Reuters Image caption About 700,000 people are thought to be at risk
UN agencies are aiding local authorities, and Mr Guterres appealed for “additional resources” from the international community “to fund the response in the immediate, medium and longer term”. What is the affected area like?
Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.
That, in addition to warnings by authorities ahead of the storm, could significantly stem losses compared with Cyclone Idai.
But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by militant Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.
Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people. Related Topics

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The disabled Christians reinterpreting the Bible – BBC News

The disabled Christians reinterpreting the Bible By Damon Rose BBC News 28 April 2019 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel
Like many disabled people, I am often approached by Christians who want to pray for me to be healed. While they may be well-intentioned, these encounters often leave me feeling judged as faulty and in need of repair. So I set out to discover what Christianity has to offer disabled people beyond promises of miracle cures. Image copyright SARAH DOUSSE
From time to time, without warning or encouragement, I get approached in the street by Christians who tell me they want to pray for me to get my sight back. Since I became blind as a teenager this has been a regular yet annoying by-product of being an independent disabled person who can walk about on the street.
The last time this happened was on the London underground. The train was packed full of people all studiously ignoring each other when a man put his hand on my shoulder and asked if he could pray for my sight to be restored. But more about that later.
I had always assumed that everyone knew these encounters are a fact of life for people who are visibly disabled. But when one day I told some colleagues about my latest brush with a would-be healer, they were variously fascinated or outraged that anyone would have the cheek to impose their beliefs on me about something so personal.
At this point I should perhaps confess that I am not religious. The message I’ve taken from the Christians who’ve offered me healing is that I need to be “fixed” – just as Jesus “fixed” disabled people in the Gospels. Far from converting me, this has put me off Christianity. So I was interested to learn that it also annoys some disabled Christians.
Reverend Zoe Hemming, vicar of St Andrews Church in the village of Aston in Shropshire, is a part-time wheelchair user who lives with chronic pain. She’s had her own encounters with strangers offering healing prayer and says she finds this approach can be “spiritually abusive”.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been talking to another wheelchair user in church and somebody was so determined to pray for us and we just kept ignoring them because we were in the middle of a conversation. In the end he just put his arms on both our shoulders and just prayed. It was really annoying and very disempowering. I was furious.” Healing hands
Of course, Christians who offer healing do so because, in the Gospels, Jesus healed the sick and commanded his disciples to do the same.
At my school, we learned all about the healing miracles Jesus performed. He told a “cripple” that he was healed and should pick up his stretcher and walk. He cured a blind man or two, healed a woman with a haemorrhage and another who was bent double. He even brought his friend Lazarus back from the dead. Find out more
Damon Rose is one of the producers behind the BBC Ouch disability talk podcast
For Candida Moss, the Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, these stories can be alienating for readers who, like her, are disabled.
“I think the main problem for disabled people reading the Bible is that while Jesus does spend a lot of time with people with disabilities, every time he meets them, if they encounter him with faith, he heals them and so he’s sort of like this cathartic scourge that wanders around eradicating disability from the world.”
Another difficulty, says Prof Moss, is that disabled people are often used by the Gospel authors to beef up Jesus’ credentials, showcasing his divine powers.
“When Jesus meets people with disabilities, he fixes them and that’s a sign that he is powerful,” she says. “That relegates people with disabilities to just being there to show the power of God. They’re not really real characters or real people who have feelings and needs and personalities. That pushes them to the margins of the story.”
But Lyndall Bywater, a Christian who writes and teaches about prayer and is herself blind, says it’s important to understand the historical context of Jesus’ healing miracles. While disabled people today might bristle at descriptions of the “pity” Jesus feels for the people he heals, Ms Bywater says Jesus was operating at a time when being disabled meant being poor, unemployed and excluded from mainstream society.
“There was obviously no welfare state, so you’d have been begging on the side of the road. Your life condition would have been pretty terrible and I think pity from Jesus in that context is probably a lot about that sense of exclusion, that sense of destitution that he saw.”
Another motive, she says, was the fact that many disabled people were banned from worshipping at the temple as, under religious law at the time, they were deemed “unclean”.
“Jesus did heal physical illness a lot and I think some of that was because it did restore people to social dignity at the time.”
So if Jesus met me today, empowered as I am with my job and my guide dog, would he still think I need healing?
Lyndall Bywater is sceptical: “If Jesus was walking the streets now,” she says, “I don’t know if he would be healing in the same way. I don’t think Jesus would look at you and think ‘there is someone who needs pity’.” God has a wheelchair
Some Christians are going even further in rethinking what the Bible has to say about disability. Among them is 16-year-old Becky Tyler, who in 2017 preached to 6,000 people at the Christian festival Greenbelt. Tyler has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and communicates using eye-gaze technology and a speech synthesizer. She tells me she talks to God every day inside her head.
“God says to me that He loves me a lot. He says that I am made in His image and that my disability doesn’t make me any less than an able-bodied person. He loves us all the same.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone born with a severe disability, Becky hasn’t always believed this.
“When I was about 12 years old, I felt God didn’t love me as much as other people because I am in a wheelchair and because I can’t do lots of the things that other people can do. I felt this way because I did not see anyone with a wheelchair in the Bible, and nearly all the disabled people in the Bible get healed by Jesus – so they are not like me.”
She felt alienated by much of what she read in the Bible – until she was given new food for thought.
“My mum showed me a verse from the Book of Daniel (Chapter 7, Verse 9), which basically says God’s throne has wheels, so God has a wheelchair.
“In fact it’s not just any old chair, it’s the best chair in the Bible. It’s God’s throne, and it’s a wheelchair. This made me feel like God understands what it’s like to have a wheelchair and that having a wheelchair is actually very cool, because God has one.”
If you think this is a random moment of silliness from a teenager, Prof Candida Moss says Becky has chanced upon a fresh but perfectly legitimate reading of the Old Testament.
“We don’t get many descriptions of what God is actually like but we get one of them at the beginning of Ezekiel,” she says. “The Prophet has this vision of the Heavenly throne room, where God resides and God is sat on this throne that is pretty much on fire.
“But it’s also described as having wheels within wheels attached to it. And following this scene, if you think of all the scenes of the Bible laid out chronologically, God is always sat in this wheeled throne and in fact moves – leaves the city of Jerusalem – on the wheeled throne and returns to it later on the wheeled throne.” Image copyright Getty Images
Although God is depicted walking in the Bible, Prof Moss says this happens earlier – in the Garden of Eden.
“It seems like God is a wheelchair user maybe a thousand years before human beings themselves have thought about wheelchairs.”
So is God disabled? “That is certainly a way to read it” says Prof Moss, admitting that for many, this is a jaw-dropping and theologically challenging idea: “Yes, it’s very counter-intuitive to the image of divine power that we grow up with in Sunday school or Church, but that’s precisely why we should look at these passages – because they challenge us to reconsider what we think is important and what we value highly.”
Prof Moss is part of a group of academics who are carving out a new “theology of disability”. It’s a relatively new academic field, which has only really taken off in the past 10 to 15 years, inspired by pioneering texts like The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability (1994) by Nancy L Eiesland. The body of Jesus
For the Reverand Zoe Hemming, these contemporary readings of Christian scripture have provided new ways of seeing – and coming to terms with – her own disability.
“I can’t believe it took me this long to realise it,” she says, “but when Jesus rose from the dead, his risen body still had scars,” explaining that crucifixion left holes in his hands and feet as well as his side.
“It was profound for me to realise that the most powerful symbol of the disabled body in the Christian story is His.”
She says she is glad that Jesus didn’t come back from the dead as physically whole and perfect. “He came back better than perfect,” she says. “He wore his scars because they told his story.
“That’s the Jesus that I find in Christianity, not the one that wants to normalise everybody.”
Prof Moss says the fact that Jesus retains his scars after the Resurrection suggests that disabled people might also retain their disabilities in the afterlife – something she hopes for herself.
“I think that if I’m not disabled in heaven, I’m not myself so I certainly hope I’ll still be disabled in heaven. I certainly hope that I don’t feel pain in heaven – that seems antithetical to what heaven is. But I still want to be me. And I don’t think that I would be me without the conditions that I have. It’s shaped who I am, how I think, what I do. Everything about my life involves this part of myself, which is integral to who I am.”
I understand this. My visual impairment, along with the things I’ve come to love and cherish as a result of having it, is so bound up with my identity, I would feel a bit weird if I were to suddenly not be blind. That said, I think on balance it would be quite handy being able to see.
I asked Lyndall Bywater, who is also blind, if she would like to be disabled in heaven. “Oh no I hope not,” she replies. “That isn’t because I think that there’s anything wrong with being blind and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it thus far. I just want to be able to get in a sports car and drive a sports car. That’s really what I want to do. So I’m desperately hoping.” Image copyright SARAH DOUSSE
But despite her personal hopes, she believes some people will retain their disabilities in the afterlife.
“The Christian message does have in it this sense of restoration,” she says. “Now what restoration looks like for each of us may well be different. I suspect there might be some surprises in heaven as to people that are like: ‘Do you know what, I have still got this disability because restoration for me was never about that.'”
Prof Candida Moss thinks disability may not have the same meaning in heaven as it does in this life: “I don’t know if you would need to see in heaven. Saint Augustine has a whole conversation about how he’s not sure it’s necessary to be able to see in heaven to love God. That might be because, when you look at descriptions of heaven, people just kind of stand around singing to God, so it might not be as necessary to be able to see because I don’t really know what it’s like. None of us do.”
Next time a Christian approaches me and offers healing, I might try to challenge their theology with some of the new interpretations of scripture I’ve learned from disabled Christians.
The notion that God and Jesus could be interpreted as being disabled may not be mainstream, but it’s a message that is more empowering for disabled people than the idea that we are all faulty and in need of repair. And who knows, maybe if we were approached with the message that God loves us as we are, more disabled people might welcome that conversation.
I was really taken by something Lyndall Bywater said to me. She said the “sighted world” might find it difficult to believe, but she thinks that being alive and at peace with yourself while being blind is a bigger miracle than having your sight restored.
And it’s true. I like me and I like the “blind person” things I do – for want of a better way of putting it.
At the start of this article, I told you about a man who spoke to me on a packed London underground train. Normally when people offer to pray for me to be healed, I say ‘No’. But this man told me that he was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who had himself been healed by prayer. I got the sense that he really needed me to let him pray over me, so I said ‘Yes’ and let him lay his hands upon me.
I can’t claim to be cured of blindness as a result of his prayer, but I’ll never forget how happy and grateful he appeared to be.
To me it felt very much like the roles had unintentionally been reversed, and that it was the disabled man during the encounter who had given out a dose of healing. The man left the train after giving me a very big manly hug. I felt quite good too, and smiled wondering what the other people in the carriage had made of it, as I plugged my headphones back in.
Additional reporting by Helen Grady Related Topics

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Nikola Jokic drops 37 points | Nuggets vs. Blazers Game 1 | 2019 NBA Playoff Highlights

The Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-113 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Nikola Jokic drops 37 points to lead the Nuggets to a 1-0 series lead as Damian Lillard’s 39 points were not enough. Jamal Murray adds 23 points while Enes Kanter chips in 26 points for Portland.

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In Australia, Are All Historic Losses Treated Equally?

In Australia, Are All Historic Losses Treated Equally?

The burning of Notre-Dame cathedral has raised a question: Whose losses do we grieve?

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Blockbuster Battle Between Steven Spielberg and Netflix Fizzles

Mr. Spielberg, a Hollywood titan for more than four decades, has been cast as an anti-streaming Luddite. The reality is more complex.

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A 1965 Novel About an Unhinged President Is Being Rereleased

The author, Fletcher Knebel, who died in 1993, would likely be shocked by how prescient his political thriller was.

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Facebook Tackles Rising Threat: Americans Aping Russian Schemes to Deceive

Ahead of the midterm elections, false and divisive messages on social media — once the specialty of Russian-linked operatives — are now increasingly being created and spread by Americans.

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New York’s New Pro Rugby Team Lands a French Star

The fledgling Major League Rugby will soon say bonjour to an international superstar. Mathieu Bastareaud, 30, will join Rugby United New York on a loan from his French club.

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Draymond Green: I’ve been fouled by James Harden on a Harden 3-pointer | 2019 NBA Playoffs

Draymond Green wanted nothing to do with James Harden complaining about the officiating after the Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets in Game 1, saying he’s been fouled by Harden when Harden was shooting a 3-pointer. He also breaks down what they did right and what they can improve on going into Game 2.
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Donald Trump to withdraw US from Arms Trade Treaty – BBC News

Donald Trump to withdraw US from Arms Trade Treaty – BBC News

Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump promised to “never surrender American sovereignty to anyone” US President Donald Trump has said he will withdraw his country from the international Arms Trade Treaty.
The agreement, signed by Barack Obama in 2013, aims to regulate the sale of weapons between countries.
The US National Rifle Association says the treaty amounts to international gun control, and is a threat to America’s second amendment right to bear arms.
Speaking at the lobbying group’s annual meeting, Mr Trump said he would ask the US Senate not to ratify the pact.
The US is the world’s top arms exporter. Its weapons sales are 58% higher than those of Russia, the world’s second largest exporter.
“We’re taking our signature back,” the president said at the meeting in Indianapolis, adding that the UN would soon receive formal notice of the US’s withdrawal from the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Skip Twitter post by @WhiteHouse “Under my Administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone. We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms. And that is why my Administration will never ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty.” pic.twitter.com/j1xnuUdX1x
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 26, 2019 Report End of Twitter post by @WhiteHouse
“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” he said. “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your second amendment freedoms.”
In a statement released after Mr Trump’s speech, the White House said the treaty “fails to truly address the problem of irresponsible arms transfers” because other top arms exporters – including Russia and China – have not signed up to it.
UN officials told Reuters news agency that the organisation was previously unaware that Mr Trump was planning to take the US out of the pact.
What has the reaction been? Mr Trump’s move prompted condemnation from human rights groups.
“The United States will now lock arms with Iran, North Korea and Syria as non-signatories to this historic treaty whose sole purpose is to protect innocent people from deadly weapons,” said Oxfam America President Abby Maxman.
The UK’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, posted a tweet calling Mr Trump “a disgrace to his office”.
Ms Thornberry added: “Donald Trump’s statement on the Arms Trade Treaty is the final confirmation that he is not the Leader of the Free World, he never has been, and he does not deserve the honour of a State Visit to Britain.”
However, Ted Bromund of the conservative US think tank The Heritage Foundation, criticised the treaty, saying it could “only have the perverse effects of driving potential importers to buy from China or Russia” and other nations that are not party to the agreement.
What is the Arms Trade Treaty? The ATT was signed by 130 nations in 2013, and officially came into law the following year.
It requires states to monitor their arms exports, and to ensure their weapons sales do not break existing arms embargoes.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Trump addressed thousands of NRA members at their annual meeting Nations also need to ensure the weapons they export do not end up being used for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorist acts. If they do find out the arms will be used for any of these, they need to stop the transfer.
Which countries dominate the global arms trade? Yemen crisis: Why is there a war? From 2017: UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ruled lawful The pact has been signed and ratified by 101 countries so far – including Germany, France and the UK. The US is among another 29 nations that signed the treaty but have not ratified it to make it law.
The White House claims some groups try to use the treaty to overturn “sovereign national decisions” on arms sales, specifically pointing to attempts to block the UK’s sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by western countries has been highly contentious because of the use of those weapons in air strikes in Yemen, that have killed and injured thousands of civilians.

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Donald Trump to withdraw US from Arms Trade Treaty – BBC News

Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump promised to “never surrender American sovereignty to anyone” US President Donald Trump has said he will withdraw his country from the international Arms Trade Treaty.
The agreement, signed by Barack Obama in 2013, aims to regulate the sale of weapons between countries.
The US National Rifle Association says the treaty amounts to international gun control, and is a threat to America’s second amendment right to bear arms.
Speaking at the lobbying group’s annual meeting, Mr Trump said he would ask the US Senate not to ratify the pact.
The US is the world’s top arms exporter. Its weapons sales are 58% higher than those of Russia, the world’s second largest exporter.
“We’re taking our signature back,” the president said at the meeting in Indianapolis, adding that the UN would soon receive formal notice of the US’s withdrawal from the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Image Copyright @WhiteHouse @WhiteHouse Report Image Copyright @WhiteHouse @WhiteHouse Report “Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” he said. “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your second amendment freedoms.”
In a statement released after Mr Trump’s speech, the White House said the treaty “fails to truly address the problem of irresponsible arms transfers” because other top arms exporters – including Russia and China – have not signed up to it.
UN officials told Reuters news agency that the organisation was previously unaware that Mr Trump was planning to take the US out of the pact.
What has the reaction been? Mr Trump’s move prompted condemnation from human rights groups.
“The United States will now lock arms with Iran, North Korea and Syria as non-signatories to this historic treaty whose sole purpose is to protect innocent people from deadly weapons,” said Oxfam America President Abby Maxman.
The UK’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, posted a tweet calling Mr Trump “a disgrace to his office”.
Ms Thornberry added: “Donald Trump’s statement on the Arms Trade Treaty is the final confirmation that he is not the Leader of the Free World, he never has been, and he does not deserve the honour of a State Visit to Britain.”
However, Ted Bromund of the conservative US think tank The Heritage Foundation, criticised the treaty, saying it could “only have the perverse effects of driving potential importers to buy from China or Russia” and other nations that are not party to the agreement.
What is the Arms Trade Treaty? The ATT was signed by 130 nations in 2013, and officially came into law the following year.
It requires states to monitor their arms exports, and to ensure their weapons sales do not break existing arms embargoes.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Trump addressed thousands of NRA members at their annual meeting Nations also need to ensure the weapons they export do not end up being used for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorist acts. If they do find out the arms will be used for any of these, they need to stop the transfer.
Which countries dominate the global arms trade? Yemen crisis: Why is there a war? From 2017: UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ruled lawful The pact has been signed and ratified by 101 countries so far – including Germany, France and the UK. The US is among another 29 nations that signed the treaty but have not ratified it to make it law.
The White House claims some groups try to use the treaty to overturn “sovereign national decisions” on arms sales, specifically pointing to attempts to block the UK’s sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by western countries has been highly contentious because of the use of those weapons in air strikes in Yemen, that have killed and injured thousands of civilians.

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BBC and Attenborough Accused of Fake News Misinformation on ‘Climate Change: The Facts’

BBC and Attenborough Accused of Fake News Misinformation on ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ 4,704 Frederick M. Brown/Getty JAMES DELINGPOLE 27 Apr 2019 The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has made a formal complaint to the BBC about the series of gross inaccuracies in its recent documentary Climate Change: The Facts. As wags have quipped, the programme presented by Sir David Attenborough was so riddled with errors it really should have been called Climate: Change The Facts.
Now the GWPF has written to the BBC Complaints department listing just a few of them. The letter can be read here.
According to the GPWF, the programme “went far beyond its remit to present the facts about climate change, instead broadcasting a highly politicised manifesto in favour of renewable energy and unjustified alarm.”
The GWPF says:
The programme highlighted suggestions that storms, floods, heatwaves and sea level rise are all rapidly getting worse as a result of climate change.
However, the best available data, published in the last few years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and NASA, contradicts the BBC’s alarmist exaggeration of empirical evidence.
In its 5th Assessment Report (2013), the IPCC concluded:
“Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”
In its more recent Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C , published in 2018, these findings were reconfirmed. It stated that
“Numerous studies towards and beyond AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy… There is consequently low confidence in the larger number of studies reporting increasing trends in the global number of very intense cyclones.”
Regarding floods, the IPCC’s Special Report concluded:
“There is low confidence due to limited evidence, however, that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and the magnitude of floods. “
There is also no observational evidence that the rate of sea level rise is getting worse. NASA satellite data shows that since 1993, there has been an annual mean sea level rise of 3.3mm, with no significant level of acceleration in the last three decades.
Suggestions by David Attenborough and Michael Mann that climate change is causing increases in wildfires in the US and globally are also misleading and not supported by any empirical evidence.
According to a survey published by the Royal Society the global area burned has actually declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence to suggest that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago. These are vitally important facts that should have been mentioned if an accurate description of the impact of climate change on wildfires was to be maintained.
This is the second #fakenews scandal to embroil Sir David Attenborough in the space of a fortnight. Earlier this month, another Attenborough documentary — Our Planet on Netflix — was accused of misrepresenting footage of walruses tumbling to their deaths over a cliff. Attenborough claimed on the voiceover that this had been caused by “climate change” and the melting of the sea ice on which the walruses hunted for food. But evidence has since emerged that it wasn’t climate change which killed the walruses but rather a combination of marauding polar bears and the Netflix film crew whose activities may have scared the tusked, bewhiskered creatures to their doom.
Delingpole: Walrusgate – Attenborough Exposed in #FakeNews Netflix Eco Documentary Scandal https://t.co/oIg5LzHlz5
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 17, 2019
Entertainment Environment London / Europe BBC Climate Change Climate Change: the Facts complaint fake news Global Warming GWPF polar bears Sir David Attenborough walrus

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3 children shot as police open fire on alleged robbery suspect – ABC News

Three children were injured as police in Oklahoma opened fire on a robbery suspect Friday evening. The suspect was also shot in the incident. William Devaughn Smith, 21, was located in Hugo, near the Texas-Oklahoma border, where police attempted to take the man into custody, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Smith is suspected of robbing a Pizza Hut in Hugo on April 11.
While attempting to “make contact” with Smith, police officers opened fire and shot him, as well as three children, the OSBI said in a statement. Smith and four children were in a vehicle when the detectives from the Hugo Police Department opened fire, Brook Arbeitman, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, told The Associated Press.
Hugo Police Department
Police were searching for William Devaughn Smith, 21, of Hugo, Okla., in connection with the alleged robbery of a Pizza Hut when they opened fire on a vehicle he was driving with four kids inside on Friday, April 26, 2019. (MORE: Former police officer sentenced to 25 years in killing of black man) Three of the four children were shot, police said. They were rushed to the hospital, where their injuries were described as non-life threatening.
The injured children are ages 1, 4 and 5.
Smith, who was also struck by gunfire, was taken to the hospital, treated and released into the custody of the Paris, Texas, Police Department. Paris is located just across the border from Hugo.
Hugo Police Department
Police were searching for William Devaughn Smith, 21, of Hugo, Okla., in connection with the alleged robbery of a Pizza Hut when they opened fire on a vehicle he was driving with four kids inside on Friday, April 26, 2019. (MORE: Bodycam footage released from police-involved shooting) At this time, the suspect is being held on charges related to the robbery from earlier this month. It is unclear if additional charges will be filed.
In the robbery, Smith allegedly entered the pizza shop’s back door and pressed an object against an employee’s back before making off with an unknown amount of money, police said.
The suspect’s wife was also in the car, but uninjured, police said. It is unclear if those injured were the suspect’s children.
ABC News’ Matt Foster contributed to this report.
3 children shot as police open fire on alleged robbery suspect Authorities

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Brazil governed by ‘lunatics’ and US ‘lackeys’, says ex-president Lula | World news | The Guardian

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva says his country needs to undergo period of ‘self-reflection’ after what he described as the hate-filled election of far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro.Photograph: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images Brazil governed by ‘lunatics’ and US ‘lackeys’, says ex-president Lula
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003 and 2011, is in jail over corruption charges that he disputes @annajkaiser Sat 27 Apr 2019 01.44 BST
Brazil is being governed by “a bunch of lunatics” and United States “lackeys” who have shattered its international reputation, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has claimed in his first interview since being jailed one year ago.
Lula, Brazil’s president from 2003 and 2011, surrendered himself to police last April after being convicted on corruption charges he disputes.
The 73-year-old leftist had been forbidden from giving face-to-face interviews until Friday, when two Brazilian journalists were allowed to visit him at his prison in southern Brazil following a lengthy legal battle.
Lula told them Brazil needed to undergo period of “self-reflection” after what he described as the “crazy” fake news and hate-filled election of far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro last year. “What we can’t have is this country being run governed by a bunch of lunatics. The country doesn’t deserve this and above all the people do not deserve this.” Brazil must not become a ‘gay tourism paradise’, says Bolsonaro
“Brazil is adrift – so far he doesn’t know what to do,” he added of Bolsonaro, who took office in January and has suffered a turbulent opening act in power .
Lula said he profoundly regretted “the disaster that is taking place in this country” and criticised Brazil’s dramatic tack towards Washington under Bolsonaro.
“I’ve never seen a [Brazilian] president salute the American flag . I’ve never seen a president go around saying, ‘I love the United States, I love it!’” Lula said of Bolsonaro, who paints himself as a “tropical Trump” and last month travelled to the United States to tout his close relations with the US president.
“You should love your mother, you should love your country. What’s all this about loving the United States?
“Does anyone really think the US is going to favour Brazil?” Lula asked. “Americans think of themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth – and if there’s any time left over they think about Americans. And these Brazilian lackeys go around thinking the Americans will do anything for us.”
During the two-hour interview, Lula also lamented Brazil’s fall from its status as an emerging world power when he was president, to one that is increasingly shunned by the international community because of Bolsonaro’s hardline views.
“I was the only president who was invited to all the G8 meetings … Brazil was very important in the G20,” Lula boasted. “All this has fallen apart.
“Now I see news that the mayor of New York doesn’t want to have dinner with the president of Brazil,” he added, in reference to a recent campaign backed by Bill de Blasio to stop Bolsonaro being honoured in New York because of his homophobic views and hostility to the environment.
“What point have we reached?” Lula asked. “What a muck up.” ‘Same rhetoric’: Bolsonaro’s US visit to showcase populist alliance with Trump
Lula also questioned the alleged ties between Bolsonaro and his family and heavily armed paramilitary gangs that dominate large parts of Rio de Janeiro.
“Imagine if Bolsonaro’s paramilitaries were friends of my family,” he said, implying that the press would judge him more harshly.
Lula’s comments came as Bolsonaro faced renewed criticism for a series of incendiary and homophobic comments in which he claimed Brazil could not be allowed to become a “gay tourism paradise” and appeared to promote sexual tourism.
“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro told journalists in the capital, Brasília, on Thursday. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise … We have families.”
Brazil’s best-selling author, Paulo Coelho, was among those to slam Bolsonaro. “Brazilian women ARE NOT a commodity. Sex tourism is NOT a reason to visit Brasil,” he tweeted to his 15 million followers.
Daniela Mercury, an openly gay Brazilian pop star, tweeted : “Should Brazilians have to accept state homophobia and the encouragement of sexual tourism with women? We demand that Brazilian women and our LGBTS families be respected.” Topics

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