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Mass strikes hit Belarus in sixth day of protests against ‘rigged’ election

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mass strikes hit belarus in sixth day of protests against rigged election

Mass strikes have hit Belarus on the sixth day of protests against the ‘rigged’ re-election of dictator Alexander Lukashenko as hundreds of ‘tortured’ protesters are released from prison. 

Belarusian authorities released hundreds of people who were detained amid demonstrations contesting the results of the presidential election, in an attempt to assuage public anger over a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests.

Scores of detainees were seen walking out of a jail in the capital, Minsk, at around midnight on Thursday.

Early on Friday morning, volunteers also saw at least 119 detainees being released in the nearby city of Zhodino. 

Workers including employees of the Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) today took part in a mass strike in Minsk protest against presidential election results and demand re-election. 

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a gathering to protest against presidential election results and to demand re-election in Minsk on Friday

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a gathering to protest against presidential election results and to demand re-election in Minsk on Friday

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a gathering to protest against presidential election results and to demand re-election in Minsk on Friday 

Belarusians leave a detention center in Minsk on Friday, where protesters were kept following recent protests against the presidential election results

Belarusians leave a detention center in Minsk on Friday, where protesters were kept following recent protests against the presidential election results

Belarusians leave a detention center in Minsk on Friday, where protesters were kept following recent protests against the presidential election results

Ambulances arrived to carry those who were apparently unable to walk on their own.

Video footage taken on Friday morning shows workers from all over the country striking in protest of the presidential election result. 

The releases came hours after Belarus’s top law enforcement official apologised on state television for the indiscriminate use of force by police.

‘I take responsibility for what they say was violence against those people, who happened to be nearby and failed to back off quickly enough,’ Interior Minister Yuri Karayev said late on Thursday.

The apologies and the release of detainees followed five days of massive protests, in which crowds of demonstrators swarmed the streets to contest the poll results and demand an end to the 26-year rule of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Thursday, thousands of workers rallied outside industrial plants to denounce the police actions and push for a recount of Sunday’s vote.

Nearly 7,000 people have been detained and hundreds injured in the crackdown on demonstrators protesting over official results which said Mr Lukashenko won 80% of the vote and his top opposition challenger only 10%.

Employees of Minsk automobile plant take pictures as they attend a rally to express their solidarity with recent rallies of opposition supporters, who accuse strongman Alexander Lukashenko of falsifying the polls in the presidential election in Minsk, on August 1

Employees of Minsk automobile plant take pictures as they attend a rally to express their solidarity with recent rallies of opposition supporters, who accuse strongman Alexander Lukashenko of falsifying the polls in the presidential election in Minsk, on August 1

Employees of Minsk automobile plant take pictures as they attend a rally to express their solidarity with recent rallies of opposition supporters, who accuse strongman Alexander Lukashenko of falsifying the polls in the presidential election in Minsk, on August 1

Police have broken up protests with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and severe beatings.

On Thursday, hundreds of women formed long ‘lines of solidarity’ in several areas of Minsk. Many were dressed in white and carried flowers and portraits of detained loved ones.

The human chains grew throughout the day, filling the capital’s main central squares and avenues and spreading to numerous other cities as motorists honked in support.

In Minsk and several other cities, thousands of factory workers also rallied against the police violence, raising the prospect of strikes in a new challenge to the government.

Protesters shouted ‘Go away!’ to demand Mr Lukashenko’s resignation.

People wait for relatives and friends to be released from a detention centre, following recent protests against the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on August 14

People wait for relatives and friends to be released from a detention centre, following recent protests against the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on August 14

People wait for relatives and friends to be released from a detention centre, following recent protests against the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on August 14

Amid growing public dismay, dozens of military and police veterans posted videos in which they threw away their uniforms and insignia. Several popular anchors at Belarus’s state TV stations have quit.

The demonstrations have spread even though the protest lacks leaders.

The top opposition challenger in the vote, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, suddenly emerged in neighbouring Lithuania on Tuesday and called on her supporters to stop protests in a video that her associates said was recorded under pressure from law enforcement officials before she left.

The 37-year-old former teacher had joined the race to replace her husband, an opposition blogger, who has been in prison since May.

The massive protests against the election results and police brutality have been an unprecedented challenge to Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and earned the nickname of ‘Europe’s last dictator’ for his relentless crackdown on dissent.

The scope and ferocity of the police actions were remarkable even for Mr Lukashenko’s iron-fisted rule, triggering widespread anger.

After dismissing protesters as mostly ex-convicts and unemployed, the authoritarian leader kept silent on Thursday as the demonstrations spread quickly. Some reports said he was preparing an address to the nation.

Belarusian upper house speaker Natalya Kochanova said late on Thursday that more than 1,000 detainees had been released earlier in the day following Mr Lukashenko’s order to law enforcement agencies to look more closely into the detentions.

A protester died in Minsk on Monday when, according to the Interior Ministry, an explosive device he tried to throw at police blew up in his hand.

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a strike on Friday

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a strike on Friday

Employees of Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) are seen through an entrance checkpoint during a strike on Friday 

Media reports challenged the ministry’s claim, alleging that he was killed by police.

The place where he died quickly turned into a pilgrimage site, with hundreds of people, including European ambassadors, laying flowers there.

The authorities said a detainee died in the south-eastern city of Gomel, but the circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.

The brutal suppression of protests drew harsh criticism in the West.

European Union foreign ministers were set to meet on Friday to discuss a response, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the 27-nation bloc would ‘increase the pressure’ on Belarus.

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Police find stash of EIGHT guns at home of jealous husband, 53, who shot his wife’s secret lover

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police find stash of eight guns at home of jealous husband 53 who shot his wifes secret lover

 A jealous husband was found with a stash of eight guns after shooting his wife’s secret lover, a court heard.

Andrew Jones, 53, is accused of murdering Michael O’Leary, 55, after luring him into a trap over his affair with wife.

Businessman Jones told police he became ‘upset’ after finding his wife’s secret phone that she used to send intimate messages to Mr O’Leary.

 According to claims made in Swansea Crown Court, Jones’ wife Rhianon, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him.

Rhianon’s husband later shot Mr O’Leary by accident in a bitter confrontation over the affair, the court was told.

 A court heard police found bullet casings at the farm where Jones allegedly used a forklift truck to move Mr O’Leary’s body.

The jealous husband is accused of murdering  Michael O'Leary (pictured with wife Sian)

The jealous husband is accused of murdering  Michael O'Leary (pictured with wife Sian)

The jealous husband is accused of murdering  Michael O’Leary (pictured with wife Sian)

Andrew Jones (left), is alleged to have murdered Mr O'Leary over his affair with his wife Rhianon (right), 51

Andrew Jones (left), is alleged to have murdered Mr O'Leary over his affair with his wife Rhianon (right), 51

Andrew Jones (left), is alleged to have murdered Mr O’Leary over his affair with his wife Rhianon (right), 51

According to claims made in court,  Rhianon, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him

According to claims made in court,  Rhianon, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him

According to claims made in court,  Rhianon, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him

The court was told that Jones shot Mr O'Leary, 55 (pictured) by accident in a bitter confrontation over the affair

The court was told that Jones shot Mr O'Leary, 55 (pictured) by accident in a bitter confrontation over the affair

 The court was told that Jones shot Mr O’Leary, 55 (pictured) by accident in a bitter confrontation over the affair

The bullets were believed to be from a Colt.22 rifle found at the home address of Jones.

A locked gun cabinet in the home also contained a 303 Lee-Enfield rifle, a 22 Luger rifle with suppressor, a.308 Armalite rifle with suppressor and a.233 Southern Gun rifle.

Jones also owned three shotguns – a 12-bore Mossberg shotgun, a 12-bore Mossberg pump-action shotgun and a 12-bore Beretta over and under shotgun.

The court heard all of the weapons had firearms certificates.

Prosecutor William Hughes QC said: ‘Mike O’Leary was lured to this location expecting a private meeting with Rhianon Jones. Instead he was met by this defendant who was armed with a powerful rifle which he used to deliberately shoot him dead.

‘Steps were subsequently taken to hide and cover up his crimes – not in panic but a clear and calculated approach.’

He added: ‘This was a carefully planned and well thought-out murder far from an accident.’

Members of the jury were taken to Cyncoed Farm in Cwmfrwdd, and the home address in nearby Carmarthen.

The jury heard Mr O’Leary’s DNA was found on pieces of bloodstained clothing at the address.

Jones allegedly found a second hidden phone belonging to wife Rhianon, 51, under a pile of clothes.

Mr O’Leary’s number had been listed under a nickname in the address book.  

Jones allegedly found a second hidden phone belonging to wife Rhianon, 51, under a pile of clothes

Jones allegedly found a second hidden phone belonging to wife Rhianon, 51, under a pile of clothes

Jones allegedly found a second hidden phone belonging to wife Rhianon, 51, under a pile of clothes

According to claims made in Swansea Crown Court, Jones’ wife Rhianon, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him.

Rhianon’s husband later shot Mr O’Leary by accident in a bitter confrontation over the affair, the court was told.

 Jones told police: ‘I was upset about the sex stuff.

‘He had done stuff with her that we had done and she enjoyed it more with him.’

Jones, of Bronwydd, Carmarthen denies murder.

The trial at Swansea Crown Court continues. 

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Coronavirus cases in people in their 20s have DROPPED for first time in 10 weeks

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coronavirus cases in people in their 20s have dropped for first time in 10 weeks

Covid-19 cases among people in their 20s have started to fall for the first time in 10 weeks, Public Health England data shows.

Those in the 20-29 age group still have the highest infection rate of anyone in the country but the number of cases per 100,000 people dropped in the second week of September.

It fell from 55.9 per 100,000 to 51.8 between September 6 and September 13, according to PHE’s most recent surveillance report.

The only other age group that saw a drop in its case rate was the over-80s, among whom it dropped from 20.6 to 19.8. In all other age groups infections kept rising.

Government officials have pointed the finger at young people in recent weeks for driving infections back up by spreading coronavirus at social events, gathering in larger-than-allowed groups and hosting parties in ignorance of social distancing.

PHE’s report also showed that outbreaks of coughs and chest infections – some of which will be Covid-19 – are skyrocketing in schools, offices and care homes.

‘Acute respiratory infections’ rose five-fold in care homes in the week to September 13 and increase more than eight times in schools after term resumed in England. 

Data shows that coronavirus infections in people in their 20s fell for the first time in 10 weeks recently (Pictured: Young people out in Birmingham yesterday, Thursday September 17)

Data shows that coronavirus infections in people in their 20s fell for the first time in 10 weeks recently (Pictured: Young people out in Birmingham yesterday, Thursday September 17)

Data shows that coronavirus infections in people in their 20s fell for the first time in 10 weeks recently (Pictured: Young people out in Birmingham yesterday, Thursday September 17)

Coronavirus infections among young people are not a huge cause for concern themselves, scientists say, because they are not likely to lead to serious illness.

The disease is generally worst for people over the age of 50, and those with serious health problems such as diabetes, while most of the deaths have been in the elderly.

But the biggest worry about young people catching the virus and spreading it is that they keep it circulating and inevitably pass it on to their parents and grandparents.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson even held the first Downing Street conference in weeks to tell under-30s to consider their behaviour ‘for the sake of your parents’ and your grandparents’ health’. 

Data tentatively suggests the message may have got through, although it was only a small fall and does not yet represent a downward trend. 

Cases are still rising in teenagers and younger children, which is likely accelerated by the fact that they have returned to school.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said at a Downing Street briefing this month that while cases among older people and children remained ‘flat’, in other age groups there were ‘rapid upticks’.

He said among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up ‘really quite steeply’ since mid August.

PHE data shows that the infection rate is at 10.2 per 100,000 for under-fives; 16 for five to nine-year-olds; and 29.8 for 10 to 19-year-olds.

In adults, in the week up to September 13, it was 37.5 for people aged 30 to 39; 30.7 for people in their 40s; 26.6 for those in their 50s; 16.7 for 60 to 69-year-olds; 11.1 for 70 to 79-year-olds and 19.8 for the over-80s.

Public Health England also records outbreaks of ‘acute respiratory infections’ in its coronavirus report.

These are a measure of how often different settings are recording outbreaks of more than two people coming down with a cough or chest infection. 

They are not all explicitly caused by coronavirus but judged by similar symptoms and included in the Covid-19 report. 

The number of these outbreaks has skyrocketed in recent weeks, with a total of 729 across all settings in the week ending September 13, up from just 246 the week before.

In schools – which have resumed classes after a lengthy lockdown and summer – the number of coughing outbreaks shot up from 23 to 193 in a week.

In workplaces it rose from 65 to 110, and in care homes it spiked from 69 to 313 in the same time period.

The increase in outbreaks come as statistics across the board show that Covid-19 infections are rebounding.

Another 4,322 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 today in the highest one-day rise since May 8, as a raft of worrying statistics revealed the Covid-19 crisis appears to be rebounding. 

Data from the Office for National Statistics estimates 6,000 people are catching the life-threatening illness every day in England while hospital admissions have doubled in a week and government scientists warn the R rate could now be as high as 1.4.

Professor Kevin McConway, a statistician at The Open University, said: ‘This is undoubtedly concerning, and particularly so when we take into account that the data behind these estimates come from several sources, many of which – such as hospital admissions, admissions to intensive care, and deaths – lag behind the growth in new infections, because it takes time for people to become ill enough to require hospital treatment or, sadly, to die. 

‘So the estimates cannot take into account very recent changes in the patterns of new infections.’   

COUGHS AND CHEST INFECTIONS ALWAYS SPIKE IN SEPTEMBER, DOCTOR SAYS 

September’s normal increase in coughs and colds caused by schools going back is causing ‘utter chaos’ in the UK because people are terrified of Covid-19, according to a top scientist.

Professor Carl Heneghan, an evidence-based medicine expert at the University of Oxford, today vented his frustration about the ‘panic’ being stirred up over the coronavirus crisis. 

Meeting with MPs on Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, he insisted coughs and colds spike every September when children head back to class, and become even more common during the winter.

But Government messaging about the deadly consequences of Covid-19 and forcing entire towns and regions into lockdown – rules that now cover 9.2million people – have left members of the public ‘fearful’ and ‘terrorised’.

He said there has been a 50 per cent increase in reports from family doctors seeing patients with chest infections that have the same symptoms as the coronavirus.

Professor Carl Heneghan today appeared in front of MPs on the Science and Technology Committee and said the Government's approach to tackling coronavirus and its messaging about the virus has left people 'terrified'

Professor Carl Heneghan today appeared in front of MPs on the Science and Technology Committee and said the Government's approach to tackling coronavirus and its messaging about the virus has left people 'terrified'

Professor Carl Heneghan today appeared in front of MPs on the Science and Technology Committee and said the Government’s approach to tackling coronavirus and its messaging about the virus has left people ‘terrified’

The numbers of people going to doctors with chest infections can be seen starting to rise sharply in September, and the annual average (dotted line) shows that it spikes every year, even before coronavirus

The numbers of people going to doctors with chest infections can be seen starting to rise sharply in September, and the annual average (dotted line) shows that it spikes every year, even before coronavirus

The numbers of people going to doctors with chest infections can be seen starting to rise sharply in September, and the annual average (dotted line) shows that it spikes every year, even before coronavirus

The same is true of lower respiratory infections, which also cause coughs and breathing difficulties

The same is true of lower respiratory infections, which also cause coughs and breathing difficulties

The same is true of lower respiratory infections, which also cause coughs and breathing difficulties

‘Keeping our children in school is important but at the moment it is utter chaos because of the 50 per cent increase in other respiratory pathogens that mimic Covid in children,’ Professor Heneghan said.

He refers to illnesses that produce similar symptoms to Covid-19, which are usually viral infections referred to as respiratory tract infections, or chest infections.

Cases of these spike every winter because people spend more time indoors close together, and coughs and sneezes spread them easily. 

And they are rising now, Professor Heneghan pointed out, because children are returning to school and mixing more with others every day. This would happen regardless of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

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Coldstream Guard is found guilty of racially abusing colleague after calling him a ‘Muslim b*****d’

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coldstream guard is found guilty of racially abusing colleague after calling him a muslim bd

A British Army soldier in the Coldstream Guards has been found guilty of racially abusing a colleague after he expressed his happiness that Muslims had been ‘butchered’ just 10 days after the New Zealand mosque attack.

Lance Sergeant Derek McHugh was working in the guard room at a barracks in Windsor when he pretended to shoot a rifle while saying he ‘loved’ what the far-right gunman had done.

The 37-year-old called Corporal Momodou Sonko a ‘Muslim bastard’ before voicing his admiration for the white supremacist who claimed the lives of 51 people in the shootings in Christchurch.

Lance Sergeant Derek McHugh, 37, has been found guilty of racially abusing a colleague who he called a 'Muslim b*****d'. Pictured: McHugh leaving Bulford Military Court

Lance Sergeant Derek McHugh, 37, has been found guilty of racially abusing a colleague who he called a 'Muslim b*****d'. Pictured: McHugh leaving Bulford Military Court

Lance Sergeant Derek McHugh, 37, has been found guilty of racially abusing a colleague who he called a ‘Muslim b*****d’. Pictured: McHugh leaving Bulford Military Court

When confronted, Lance Sergeant McHugh admitted he didn’t like Islamic culture and told Royal Military Police officers that he ‘didn’t see what was wrong with that’?

Corporal Sonko told a court martial he was working as guard commander at Victoria Barracks on March 25 2019, when a letter was delivered that needed to be passed to the medical centre.

Because of where the guardroom was located, only a few hundred metres away from Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s residences, any post was subject to intense scrutiny.

Corporal Sonko began to ask the woman who had delivered the letter a few questions but was interrupted by Lance Sergeant McHugh who told him to ‘just leave it’.

Corporal Momodou Sonko (pictured) told the court that racism was 'like drinking water' to Lance Sergeant McHugh and was only the latest in a long line of racial remarks directed at black and Muslim soldiers

Corporal Momodou Sonko (pictured) told the court that racism was 'like drinking water' to Lance Sergeant McHugh and was only the latest in a long line of racial remarks directed at black and Muslim soldiers

Corporal Momodou Sonko (pictured) told the court that racism was ‘like drinking water’ to Lance Sergeant McHugh and was only the latest in a long line of racial remarks directed at black and Muslim soldiers

Corporal Sonko told the court: ‘I said to him in a joking manner that this could be a security risk. He didn’t respond to that. 

‘I think he thought either that was not a concern or he didn’t care about what I was saying.

‘Immediately after [the woman left] I was sat doing work on my screen and from nowhere, I heard ‘you f***** Muslim b******.’

Corporal Sonko said it was only himself, Lance Sergeant McHugh and another unidentified soldier in the room at the time, and he was the only Muslim.

The Gambian born soldier, who was attached to 1 Rifles said he ignored the comment, as he had heard Lance Sergeant McHugh make similar statements numerous times before.

He told the court that racism was ‘like drinking water’ to the veteran Coldstream Guard and he would regularly use ‘derogatory’ language about minorities.

Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, heard that a few moments later, Lance Sergeant McHugh stood up and pretended to hold a rifle while saying ‘I love the way that man just went into the mosque and…’ before pretending to shoot.

In 2019, 51 people were killed and 40 injured in two shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand during Friday prayer. 

The gunman was 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, from Australia.

The attacker, described as a ‘white supremacist’ and member of the ‘alt right’ live streamed the shooting on Facebook and published an online manifesto.

Prosecuting, Solomon Hartley said: ‘[McHugh] doesn’t accept the exact words but he accepts that he doesn’t like Muslims.

‘He doesn’t like Muslim culture and he says he has a right to feel that way and to express that view.

‘He says his view of the culture was formed during tours overseas and he says his son was almost blown up in the Manchester terrorist attack.’

Lance Sergeant McHugh’s outburst was only the latest in a long line of racial remarks directed at black and Muslim soldiers.

Lance Sergeant McHugh voiced his admiration for the white supremacist who claimed the lives of 51 people in the shootings in Christchurch saying, 'I love the way that man just went into the mosque and...' before pretending to shoot

Lance Sergeant McHugh voiced his admiration for the white supremacist who claimed the lives of 51 people in the shootings in Christchurch saying, 'I love the way that man just went into the mosque and...' before pretending to shoot

Lance Sergeant McHugh voiced his admiration for the white supremacist who claimed the lives of 51 people in the shootings in Christchurch saying, ‘I love the way that man just went into the mosque and…’ before pretending to shoot

Corporal Sonko told the court: ‘[At first] I thought to educate him would be better than reporting the case and it being blown out of proportion.

‘There are people who would call it banter but I viewed it as crossing the line…

‘I told him to stop. I told him that is enough. He didn’t say anything. He was just concentrating on the computer but immediately after he giggled and left the room.

‘He was saying ‘I am happy your fellow Muslims were butchered’. I had to think about reporting the matter.’

Lance Sergeant McHugh, who was representing himself, tried to claim in cross examination that the Corporal had misread his hand gestures and misheard what he had said.

He said: ‘You say that I liked the guy in New Zealand who did the shootings.. Couldn’t you have misheard me and I [in fact] said it didn’t bother me and I don’t condone it?’

Corporal Sonko replied: ‘The words you uttered were linked to the actions you were making’

Lance Sergeant McHugh was found guilty by the court martial panel of two charges of using racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

He will be sentenced at a later date. 

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