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Liverpool has been placed under local lockdown measures (Credit: PA)

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Liverpool has become the latest city to be placed under local lockdown measures amid a major spike in coronavirus cases.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that measures imposed in the north east of England several days ago will be extended to cover Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesborough.

People are advised against mixing with anyone outside their own household except in public outdoor spaces, from visiting care homes unless in exceptional circumstances, attending sporting events as a spectator and all but essential travel. Schools will remain open.

No changes have been made to any of the other areas under local lockdown, except in Bolton, where more stringent rules have been brought into line with the rest of Greater Manchester.

The nationwide 10pm curfew on the hospitality industry will remain in place, despite calls for it to be reviewed.

“We want rules like this to stay in place for as short a time as possible,” Mr Hancock told MPs.

“Together we can crack this. The more people follow the rules, the quicker we can get Liverpool and the north east back on their feet.” 

The health secretary said the number of cases in Liverpool had hit 268 per 100,000, prompting ministers to take action.

He added: “It is critical that the whole country acts together now to control the spread of this virus.

“So please, for your loved ones, your communities and your country…do your bit to keep this virus under control.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth called for more targeted financial support to be offered to places hit hard financially by lockdown measures, including Liverpool. 

“This is a region which is hugely reliant on hospitality and leisure, and we know that these restrictions extract heavy social and economic tolls,” he said.

“Existing inequalities, which themselves have a health impact and allow the virus to thrive, will be exacerbated.”

Mr Ashworth also asked whether backward contract tracing in local lockdown areas was being carried out and for data to be published.

In his response, Mr Hancock said further information would be published on Thursday by Public Health England “to better understand how this virus spreads”.

He added: “Absolutely we have backward contact tracing in these areas.  One of the reasons that we know, sadly, that the highest area of likelihood of picking up a case of coronavirus outside your own household is in social settings is because of backward contact tracing.”

For live updates on local lockdown restrictions across the country, check PoliticsHome’s interactive map.

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Jeremy Corbyn Has Been Suspended By Labour In Wake Of An Anti-Semitism Investigation


Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended by the Labour Party in the wake of the inquiry by EHRC into anti-Semitism (PA)

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Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended by Labour for his response to a bombshell report into anti-semitism within the party when he was leader.

The long-awaited inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded with Labour being served with an “unlawful act notice” after the party was found responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

The equalities watchdog accused it of three breaches of the Equality Act 2010, relating to political interference in anti-semitism complaints, a failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-semitism complaints, and harassment.

But in response, Mr Corbyn said he did not accept all of the EHRC’s findings, and claimed the scale of the anti-semitism problem in Labour was “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.

That placed his position in the party under threat after his successor Sir Keir Starmer insisted he would adopt a “zero-tolerance” approach to anti-semitism, saying those who claimed the issue had been “exaggerated” or was a “factional attack” should be “nowhere near” the party.

Mr Starmer was repeatedly asked if that meant Mr Corbyn would now face action, but told a press conference he would “look closely” at his predecessor’s remarks and declined to make an immediate judgement.

However his hand appears to have been forced after Mr Corbyn then gave a broadcast interview less than an hour later, where he said: “The numbers of cases in the public perception had become overstated.

“The existence of the problem, I fully acknowledge, which is why I took action to end the problem in the party by introducing a process to get anti-semites out of the party.”

And in direct response to Sir Keir’s comments about those who deny the seriousness of anti-semitism being part of the problem, Mr Corbyn said: “No, I’m not part of the problem.”

Minutes later a Labour party spokesman said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.

“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

Mr Corbyn said in response that he will “strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me”.

He said on Twitter: “I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an anti-semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”

The former party leader, who has represented Islington North in the House of Commons since 1983, will now sit as an independent MP while the internal inquiry takes place.

Under Labour Party rules, a suspended member cannot be put forward to represent the party in any position at any level, meaning in the event of an administrative suspension, the whip is suspended too.

Responding to the news of Mr Corbyn’s suspension, veteran Labour MP and former deputy leader Harriet Harman said: “This is the right thing to do.

“If you say that anti-semitism [is] exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it and are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem.”

And Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said: “This is the right decision following Corbyn’s shameful reaction to the EHRC report.

“Labour is finally saying enough is enough, anti-semitism can never be tolerated in our party. Now we can finally move on.”

But John McDonnell, one of his closest political allies and who served as shadow Chancellor throughout his tenure as leader, said: “On the day we should all be moving forward and taking all steps to fight anti-semitism, the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is profoundly wrong.

“In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing and resolving this.

“I urge all party members to stay calm as that is the best way to support Jeremy and each other. Let’s all call upon the leadership to lift this suspension.”

The news was welcomed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl, who said: “Having presided over the descent of a proudly anti-racist party into a party that broke equalities law in its treatment of Jews, his shameless comments today showed that he remains part of the problem and is an obstruction to the resolution of the issue.”

The Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling tweeted: “Many will be asking themselves why it took this long to act.

“This morning (Sir Keir Starmer) failed to say seven times that he would take action against Corbyn and now he has been pushed to do so. Hardly leadership.”

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‘We asked Trump to stop playing YMCA’ – Village People singer Victor Willis


The Village People classic, YMCA, is regularly played at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies – with the US president often seen dancing to it.

But the disco group’s lead singer, Victor Willis, told BBC World News America that he does not endorse Mr Trump – and has even asked him to stop playing their music.

Read more:

How Trump and Biden’s playlists pump up the fans

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Operation Fox Hunt: China sent fugitive’s elderly father to America to coerce him into going home, US claims

170831150553 justice department seal super tease
The case is believed to be part of the ruling Communist Party’s Operation Fox Hunt, an international anti-corruption campaign targeting Chinese fugitives — often former officials or rich individuals suspected of economic crimes.

The US Department of Justice said Wednesday the charges included “conspiring to act in the US as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China.” Five people have been arrested, while three are believed to be at large in China.

In 2016, the group — which includes an American-licensed private investigator — is alleged to have embarked on an illegal campaign targeting a former Chinese government official, who has lived in the US since 2010. They are accused of recording and harassing his daughter, taping a threatening note to his front door and flying his elderly father from China — allegedly against his will — in 2017 to pressure his son to return to China.

The note on the target’s New Jersey home said in Chinese: “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right. That’s the end of this matter!”

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, US Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said the arrests sent a message that the US “will not tolerate this type of flagrant conduct on our shores.”

“Without coordination with our government, China’s repatriation squads enter the United States, surveil and locate the alleged fugitives, and deploy intimidation and other tactics to force them back into China where they would face certain imprisonment or worse following illegitimate trials,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Chinese law enforcement agencies “conduct foreign cooperation in strict accordance with international law, fully respect foreign laws and judicial sovereignty.”

“The United States ignores the basic facts and uses ulterior motives to smear China’s work in pursuit of escaped and stolen goods. China firmly opposes this. We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes,” he said.

Operation Fox Hunt

The Chinese government launched Operation Fox Hunt in 2014 to target wealthy citizens who were accused of corruption and had fled the country with large amounts of money.

Beijing authorities said at least 150 corrupt officials had fled to the US, and provided American counterparts with a list of “priority cases.”

Demers said such operations — regardless of whether the targets were guilty or not — were “a clear violation of the rule of law and international norms.”

“Rather than work with US authorities for assistance with recognized criminal cases as responsible nations do, China resorts to extralegal means and unauthorized, often covert, law enforcement activity,” he said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a news conference Wednesday that in a different Operation Fox Hunt case, the Chinese government had sent an “emissary” to the target’s US-based family warning that the person should “return to China promptly or commit suicide.”

Wray said that when Operation Fox Hunt targets refuse to return to China, family members in their home country “have even been arrested for leverage.”

“These are not the actions we would expect from a responsible nation state. Instead they’re more like something we would expect from an organized criminal syndicate,” Wray said.

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