28th September 2020

Technology China takes aim at US ‘bullying’ of its tech firms

Technology China takes aim at US ‘bullying’ of its tech firms


Technology China has launched a new set of global rules for tech companies to follow.Image copyright
Getty Images

China has taken aim at the US saying its tech firms are victims of “naked bullying”.

The accusations come as the Chinese government launches a new set of global guidelines for technology companies.

Its new initiative outlaws illegally obtaining people’s data and large-scale surveillance.

Last month a similar data privacy effort was announced by the US called The Clean Network.

It is the latest clash between Washington and Beijing over data security issues which has already embroiled TikTok, Huawei and WeChat.

In recent months, the Trump administration has taken steps to block Chinese tech firms like Huawei and Chinese apps including TikTok and WeChat saying they pose threats to national security.

“Some individual countries are aggressively pursuing unilateralism, throwing dirty water on other countries under the pretext of ‘cleanliness’, and conducting global hunts on leading companies of other countries under the pretext of security,” China’s State Councillor Wang Yi said.

“This is naked bullying and should be opposed and rejected.”

On Tuesday, Mr Wang said the new initiative also calls for tech firms to not create backdoors – secret access to a company’s data and network – into their services.

The US has frequently accused Chinese telecoms provider Huawei of having backdoors in its equipment.

“Global data security rules that reflect the wishes of all countries and respect the interests of all parties should be reached on the basis of universal participation by all parties,” Mr Wang added.

Technology Cleaning up

China’s global data security plan states that tech firms should not engage in large-scale surveillance of other countries or illegally acquire information of foreign citizens by using technology.

In August US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Clean Network, a global blueprint to exclude Chinese telecoms firms, apps, cloud providers from internet infrastructure used by the US and other countries.

“We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join the Clean Network,” Mr Pompeo said. More than 30 countries and territories have signed up according to the State Department.

China’s new initiative to set global standards on data security will be welcomed by tech companies, according to one legal expert.

“China has a robust national data privacy framework to protect personal data, whereas the US does not have a national level privacy law. In the context of developments that may restrict international data flows, this announcement looks like a pragmatic approach for international business,” Carolyn Bigg, a technology and communications lawyer at law firm DLA Piper told the BBC.

Technology Growing tension

This week, China’s largest chip manufacturer’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) was targeted for a US government blacklist.

This would restrict suppliers from providing it with American-based tech without special permission.

On Tuesday, US president Donald Trump stressed his desire to “decouple” from China.

“Whether it’s decoupling, or putting in massive tariffs like I’ve been doing already, we will end our reliance on China, because we can’t rely on China,” Mr Trump said.

India’s government has also banned TikTok and dozens more Chinese-made apps it says are a danger to the country.

28th September 2020

Environment Diss Mere catfish: Anger as huge ‘fish of a lifetime’ removed

Environment Diss Mere catfish: Anger as huge ‘fish of a lifetime’ removed



image copyrightChris Ansell

image captionThe Diss and District Angling Club congratulated angler Phil Spinks for catching a “fish of a lifetime”

A row has erupted over the removal of a “fish of a lifetime” after being caught by an angler at a Norfolk mere.

The non-native 122lb (55kg) catfish was “dropped in illegally” at Diss Mere about 10 years ago and was caught on Tuesday.


news of the catch was posted on Facebook, some social media users criticised the decision to remove it.

But the Environment Agency said the fish did not belong in the mere and has been taken to an undisclosed site.

Ben Wilby, from Diss and District Angling Club, said angler Phil Spinks “unintentionally” caught it while carp fishing, five years after the last known catch.

“The Environment Agency made it clear that if it was caught again we had to let them know and they would remove it so that’s what we’ve done,” said Mr Wilby.

image copyrightChris Ansell

image captionThe Environment Agency took the fish from Diss Mere to a “permitted site”

A post on the club’s Facebook page congratulating Mr Spinks on the catch, which was estimated to be more than 6ft (1.8m) in length, said it was “unfortunately, not one which should be in the mere”.

The post has been viewed 120,000 times and attracted hundreds of comments on both sides of the argument, forcing the club to defend its action.

One said it was “absolutely ridiculous to move it”, while another said it should have been left in the mere, “where it’s been living and doing well for years”.

Those in support said it was right to remove it, with one saying “at that size it will eat pretty much anything that ventures into the mere”.

Mr Wilby said: “People have said it should be left in there and it’s not doing any harm, but we’ve done what we needed to do.

“A lot of the negativity is probably driven by people who don’t know the full story.”

The Environment Agency said it removed the catfish with specialist equipment and took it to an undisclosed location.

“Catfish are a non-native species that can harm delicate river eco-systems. They can only be used for angling purposes when in a fully enclosed still water where the owner has a permit granted by the Environment Agency,” a spokesman said.

According to the British Record Fish Committee, the largest recorded capture of the species was set in May when a 147lb (66.6kg) wels catfish was caught at the Oak Lakes Fishery in Essex.

28th September 2020

Environment Winchester High Street left underwater after heavy rain

Environment Winchester High Street left underwater after heavy rain



image copyrightGrant Mintram

image captionWinchester High Street was “like a river”, a witness said

Flooding has caused damage to shops and pavements as a city was deluged by heavy rain.

Winchester High Street was “like a river” on Thursday evening, leaving mud and debris on the road and in business premises, witnesses said.

The Environment Agency said more than half of the Hampshire city’s average August rainfall fell in 15 minutes.

Trains between Winchester and Micheldever have been diverted after a landslip blocked all rail lines.

image copyrightGrant Mintram

image captionThe Environment Agency recorded 35mm (1.4 inches) of rain in 15 minutes

image copyrightNetwork Rail

image captionA landslip blocked the rail line between Winchester and Micheldever

Andy Roberts from the Environment Agency said the rain caused 15 minutes of “complete havoc”.

He said: “People were stopping in the road. They could only see two metres in front of the car. It was absolute carnage.”

Mr Roberts said 35mm (1.4 inches) of rain fell in 15 minutes, representing “over half a month’s worth”.

image captionThe high street was strewn with piles of carpets and soggy rubbish on Friday morning
image captionMuddy water entered some shops

Debenhams worker Jimmy Milner said: “It was beyond a mess. It was like a river from 17:15. I was clearing my shop until about 20:00 last night. It’s not been like that for a long, long time.”

BBC reporter Dominic Blake said the street was strewn with piles of carpets and soggy rubbish on Friday morning, while many shops had mud inside them.

Hampshire County Council tweeted that highway teams were out overnight checking manhole and drain covers were secure, with more heavy rain forecast.

A landslip blocked all rail lines between Winchester and Micheldever on Thursday evening.

South Western Railway said cancellations and delays were expected until the end of Friday.

28th September 2020

Environment Newcastle transfers: Steve Bruce glad to see Mike Ashley ‘flex muscles’

Environment Newcastle transfers: Steve Bruce glad to see Mike Ashley ‘flex muscles’


environment Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce comfortably kept Newcastle in the Premier League in his first season in charge

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce is pleased to see owner Mike Ashley “flex his muscles” in the transfer market.

Newcastle have spent £35m on Callum Wilson,Jamal Lewis and free agent Ryan Fraser – all of whom met the club’s owner at a team dinner on Wednesday.

“With the signings we’ve brought in, we are better equipped than this time last year,” said the St James’ Park boss.

Bruce also says the club’s collapsed takeover by a Saudi Arabian-based group “looked dead in the water”.

Newcastle issued a statement on Wednesday saying it believed the Premier League had rejected the £300m takeover by the consortium.

But on Thursday, the Premier League said that interpretation was “incorrect”, saying they had asked for more information about who would hold control at the club.

“My job is to get on with it,” Bruce added.

“One thing the takeover does for everybody whether it’s the head coach or manager to the tea lady, there is an uncertainty and that is never healthy in any environment.”

Bruce said the signings of former Bournemouth forward Wilson for £20m, ex-Norwich full-back Lewis for £15m and Scotland winger Fraser had “lifted the mood” at the club and praised owner Ashley, who has been criticised by supporters for a lack of ambition.

Newcastle also announced on Friday that midfielder Isaac Hayden and goalkeeper Karl Darlow had signed new long-term contracts.

However defender Florian Lejeune, who joined from Eibar in 2017 for a reported £8.7m, has joined La Liga side Alaves on a season-long loan after a spell hampered by injury.

“The owner wanted to come and meet his new players,” Bruce said of the team dinner.

“Sometimes the manager needs a bit of help, certainly over the last week in particular, and then with certain transfers he’s had to flex his muscles which was good to see. I’m grateful for that support.

“Newcastle always seen to be in a storm, and there is nothing like a few signings to lift the mood amongst everybody and not just among the supporters, but the players, manager and staff.

“So very quietly in amongst the storm, we have been trying to work our way through it and when they get over the line and come thick and fast like they did, everybody is delighted.”

28th September 2020

Environment Neco Williams: Ryan Giggs did not worry about England switch

Environment Neco Williams: Ryan Giggs did not worry about England switch


environment Neco Williams Wales
Neco Williams, seen here on Wales Under-19 duty, signed a new five year contract with Liverpool earlier this month

Wales manager Ryan Giggs “never saw any problems” with Liverpool defender Neco Williams to suggest he might switch allegiances to England.

The Premier League winner is eligible for Wales and England and recent reports suggested England have been scouting the 19-year-old.

Giggs has selected Williams in his squad for Nations League games against Finland and Bulgaria next month.

“Every time I communicated with him he is keen to play for Wales,” Giggs said.

Wrexham-born Williams qualifies for England through his grandparents, but Giggs says there has never been an issue despite England scouts looking at him.

“From speaking to Neco, I think he’s the most-capped Under-19s player for Wales,” Giggs said.

“He’s come through the system – I never saw any problems.

“I did see the speculation that he could play for England but it’s never cropped up in our conversations. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Wales travel to Finland on Thursday, 3 September for a match at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, before hosting Bulgaria at Cardiff City Stadium the following Sunday.

Bale situation ‘no issue’ for Wales boss Giggs

Williams and another young defender, Swansea’s Ben Cabango, 20, are selected in the senior squad for the first time and Giggs believes both players have a bright future as they prepare for potential debuts.

“I’ve been hugely impressed with both of them,” said Giggs.

“Obviously Neco is at a huge club in Liverpool and is getting plenty of game time, especially towards the end of last season.

“He’s been really impressive in taking his chance. He’s an exciting prospect. Ben also, I’ve known a lot about him with Robert Page coming onto the staff, he’s worked with him in the Under-21s.

“I followed him last year when he played for the Under-21s, but he had a fantastic season, especially towards the end of the season with Swansea, and I’m excited to work with them because I think they’re two talents who will be playing many games for Wales for years to come.”

Giggs says the emergence of Williams, who can battle with Swansea’s Conor Roberts over the Wales right-back berth, offers him the kind of competition for places he needs in his squad.

“Myself and my staff, we want to win games and we want to have a competitive environment,” Giggs added.

“You look at, for example, Neco Williams and Connor Roberts. Wow.

“Looking at those two, potentially, they could be fighting it out for that right-back position. That is what I want in every position.”

28th September 2020

Environment Sir David Attenborough: Naturalist gives Prince George a fossil at royal screening

Environment Sir David Attenborough: Naturalist gives Prince George a fossil at royal screening


environment Sir David Attenborough meets the Royal FamilyImage copyright
Kensington Palace

Sir David Attenborough has attended a private viewing of his new documentary at Kensington Palace, hosted by the Duke of Cambridge.

During his visit, the naturalist gave Prince George a fossilised giant tooth from an extinct shark.

The young prince looked captivated as he handled the tooth of a carcharocles megalodon, a shark that was once a sea predator.

Sir David and Prince William both campaign on environmental issues.

The event was held in the palace grounds to allow for social distancing.

William and the veteran broadcaster watched A Life On Our Planet, in which Sir David reflects on the defining moments of his life’s work and the devastating changes he has witnessed.

Image copyright
Kensington Palace

Image caption

The young prince was fascinated by the tooth, found by Sir David in the 1960s

Sir David, 94, chatted to the Duke and Duchess and their three children, Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte, after the screening.

He was interviewed by Prince William at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2019, where he warned humanity needed to act fast to prevent parts of the natural world being annihilated.

The couple and Sir David have worked together on the environment – including on the Earthshot Prize, a cash reward for solutions to environmental problems.

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Media captionJanuary 2019: Prince William and Sir David discuss he environment in Davos

The giant shark tooth given to Prince George was found by Sir David during a family holiday to Malta in the late 1960s.

It was embedded in the island nation’s soft yellow limestone, and is about 23 million years old.

Carcharocles megalodon is believed to have grown up to 15 metres in length, twice the length of the great white shark.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet is released in cinemas on Monday and on Netflix on October 4.

28th September 2020

Environment Climate change and Covid economy ‘must be tackled together’

Environment Climate change and Covid economy ‘must be tackled together’


environment Two people planning trees on a hillsideImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

A taskforce is looking at whether projects such as tree planting could offer work and training opportunities

Offering young people work on nature projects and converting empty offices into eco-homes are among the ideas being considered by a “green recovery” Welsh Government taskforce.

Its boss Sir David Henshaw said it was “absolutely critical” climate change was tackled alongside coronavirus.

This also means investing “heavily” to enable long-term homeworking, he said.

His team has received more than 180 ideas for policies and projects and are deciding which to take forward.

“Some of the ideas are challenging but I think we’re going to have to be quite brave,” he said.

“The danger is that we reach back and use the old levers, if you like, as we try to restart [after Covid-19] and miss what’s actually facing us in terms of the [climate] crisis.

“It’s an existential threat and we can’t just leave it, put it to one side of the desk and wait to catch up with it. We have to take the two together.”

Image caption

Sir David Henshaw is leading the “green recovery” taskforce for the Welsh Government

Sir David – chairman of environment watchdog Natural Resources Wales and formerly chief executive of Liverpool City Council – was asked by the Welsh Government to lead its green recovery taskforce.

As well as working out how to help cash-strapped environmental charities and voluntary groups continue their work, they were told to come up with ideas to fight climate change and nature loss while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

They are set to report to Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths later this autumn.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Boosting local food production is another idea for a “green recovery”

Ideas being considered range from “small local projects to very big ones across the whole of Wales,” Sir David said.

They include measures to boost horticulture farming so fruit and vegetables can be sourced more locally.

They are also looking at volunteering, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities, for example in nature conservation, energy efficiency, woodland planting, or peatland restoration.

Sir David said improving infrastructure that allows people to work from home – which he described as “not good enough” – was a key priority.

Environment ‘A very different future’

Image copyright
Black Mountains College

Image caption

Learning about ecology will be a core part of Black Mountains College’s planned degree course

The hope for a greener future is driving the team behind a new college in Talgarth, Powys.

“Black Mountains College came about as an idea specifically in response to the climate and nature emergencies in order to produce new kinds of graduates,” said director Ben Rawlence.

With a focus on teaching sustainability, ecology, heritage skills and implementing Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, they hope the courses will prepare students for “a very different net zero future”.

Image caption

The economy needs to work within the boundaries of strong environmental protections, says Ben Rawlence from Black Mountains College

While vocational courses on topics such as regenerative horticulture – which helps keep soil healthy – will start next year, the college hopes to offer a programme for undergraduate students from 2022, working towards taking on 600 students a year.

“We hope we can be a catalyst for regeneration for mid Wales as a whole – helping stem the brain drain of young people over the border to England to study further and higher education,” Mr Rawlence added.

He said society needed to think differently about how the economy works.

“The economy is about the relationship between people and the environment, and if there’s no environment there’s no relationship.”

Environment ‘Young people want change’

Ffion Storer Jones, of the Rural Youth Project, echoed this sentiment and said the last few months had highlighted how quickly changes can be achieved.

“Young people have been on the streets for years now asking for change and the pandemic has shown us that a different way of life is possible – where we work within the boundaries of the planet to create a world that’s better both for the environment and people.”

28th September 2020

Environment Meet the judges on the top US court

Environment Meet the judges on the top US court


environment Supreme Court class photo 2018 including new justice Brett KavanaughImage copyright
Getty Images

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of cancer at the age of 87, the court has said.

Her death has already prompted a contentious political battle over whether the US Senate should consider a replacement before the presidential election in November.

President Trump has already nominated two justices during his first term – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – and another pick could cement the conservative majority on America’s top court.

Here is a look at the nine justices who have had a big influence on American life. Meet the Supremes.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On the court since: 10 August 1993

How she got to the court: Another New Yorker, Ginsburg stayed in the state to attend Cornell and eventually transferred to Columbia Law School after first enrolling at Harvard. She was rejected from a Supreme Court clerkship after graduating because of her gender, according to the New York Times. As she moved into a teaching and litigating career, Ginsburg focused on women’s rights – starting the first law journal focused on the topic and arguing six cases before the Supreme Court. She was confirmed to the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia in 1980 and 13 years later, was nominated by President Bill Clinton for a seat at the top court.

Who was she as a justice? As the most senior justice on the court’s left wing, Ginsburg was often in charge of assigning dissents in highly controversial cases. She used this power to write a “a string of barnstormers”, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate’s legal correspondent, says, including a case which expanded the religious exemptions to birth control insurance coverage, and another which made major changes to a law prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The dissents, combined with her refusal to heed calls to step down during the first Obama term, has earned her a fan base and her own internet meme – Notorious RBG. “She’s the last vestige of an old guard of liberalism” on the court, Lithwick says, and was the last civil rights lawyer on the bench.

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Media captionListen to Ruth Bader Ginsburg at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: In a dissent in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg wrote the court’s decision to expand religious exemptions to “closely held” corporations was in error.

“Indeed, until today, religious exemptions had never been extended to any entity operating in ‘the commercial, profit-making world’. The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organisations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations.”

Elena Kagan

On the court since: 7 August 2010

How she got to the court: Kagan grew up in New York City. At the age of 12, she convinced her rabbi to hold the synagogue’s first formal bat mitzvah, the rite of passage for young women. After law school at Harvard, she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall. After a successful stint as the first female dean of Harvard Law School, she was briefly US solicitor general – the federal government’s top representative at the US Supreme Court, before being nominated by President Barack Obama for the high court.

Who is she as a justice? Kagan is the first justice in decades not to previously serve as a judge. She is part of the court’s left-leaning wing, but has been the author of many of recent unanimous or near unanimous decisions. Her writing is often easy for a layperson to understand without sacrificing legal analysis, and she is an aggressive questioner during oral arguments. Kagan first took her seat at the bench at the age of 50 and could potentially be a force on the court for decades.

Lithwick says Kagan is “much more inscrutable” on issues than other recent additions to the court. “She’s very close to the vest,” she says.

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Media captionListen to Elena Kagan at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: Kagan wrote an impassioned dissent in the Town of Greece v Galloway, in which the court heard a challenge to Greece’s practice of opening town meetings with a Christian prayer.

“When a person goes to court, a polling place, or an immigration proceeding, I could go on: to a zoning agency, a parole board hearing, or the DMV – government officials do not engage in sectarian worship, nor do they ask her to do likewise. They all participate in the business of government not as Christians, Jews, Muslims (and more), but only as Americans – none of them different from any other for that civic purpose. Why not, then, at a town meeting?”

Sonia Sotomayor

On the court since: 8 August 2009

How she got to the court: Sotomayor was born to Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx. As a student at Princeton University, she fought for hiring more Latino professors and admitting more Latino students. After Yale Law school, she became a prosecutor in New York and was later named to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal appeals courts are often the final step before the Supreme Court for cases. In the second circuit, Sotomayor authored more than 150 majority opinions – including a few that were ultimately overruled by the higher court.

Who is she as a justice? Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice. She’s also been one of the most public facing – her memoir appeared on the New York Times’ best-selling list, she appeared twice on Sesame Street, once to adjudicate a dispute between Goldilocks and Baby Bear, and she helped drop the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 2013. “She’s trying really hard to demystify the court, showing ‘You can be a justice too’,” Lithwick says.

Her former experience as a prosecutor and trial judge often leads her to challenge lawyers on the facts of a case, says Marcia Coyle, the chief Washington correspondent for the National Law Journal. “She knows how criminal trials operate,” Coyle says.

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Media captionListen to Sonia Sotomayor at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: In a dissent to the court’s 5-3 ruling in Schuette v. BAMN, a case involving a ban on affirmative action policies, Sotomayor argued directly against the conservative justices in how the court should treat challenges to race-based laws.

“Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process… And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighbourhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, ‘No, where are you really from?’, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country…. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.'”

Samuel Alito

On the court since: 31 January 2006

How he got to the court: Alito grew up in New Jersey in an Italian immigrant family. While at Princeton University, he was involved in conservative and libertarian groups, as well as the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. After Yale law school, he was a prosecutor in New Jersey and served in the Reagan administration in the justice department, including as assistant to the solicitor general, where he argued before the Supreme Court. President George HW Bush named him to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990, where he stayed until his nomination to The Supreme Court.

Who is he as a justice? Alito is a conservative justice, but one who does not hew as often to originalism as fellow conservatives Scalia and Thomas. He is not always talkative in oral arguments but his questions are sharp, aiming to pick apart an argument’s logic. Alito has a low public profile despite being a large part of the court’s rightward shift on business, campaign finance and racial issues over the past decade.

The former prosecutor has been “very pro-government” in criminal cases, Coyle says, and has shown less willingness than his conservative colleagues to protect free speech in cases where it is harmful or hateful.

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Media captionListen to Samuel Alito at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: Alito wrote for the majority in a labour case, Harris v Quinn, in which the court ruled labour groups could not collect fees from Illinois home health care workers who did not want to join the union despite being covered by collective bargaining.

“If we accepted Illinois’ argument, we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidise speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.”

John Roberts

On the court since: 29 September 2005

How he got to the court: Born in New York and raised in Indiana, Roberts attended a boarding school as a teenager but also spent summers working in a steel mill. After considering becoming a historian at Harvard, he went to law school there instead, eventually clerking for then-Associate Justice Rehnquist. He spent many years as a lawyer in the Reagan administration then entered private practice, arguing before the high court and serving as one of several legal advisers to George W Bush in the Florida presidential recount case. Originally nominated to fill the spot left by retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Roberts was re-nominated for the chief justice position after Chief Justice Rehnquist died between terms, and his nomination was fast-tracked.

Who is he as a justice: A conservative justice, Roberts is the third-youngest Chief Justice in the court’s history, confirmed at 50 years old. Last year’s term saw more than half its cases decided unanimously, something many court watchers cite as the outcome of Roberts’ desire to foster agreement through narrower rulings. He also notably wrote the 5-4 opinion that shot down a major challenge to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

“I think he cares deeply about how the ‘Roberts court’ looks,” Lithwick says, and knows he can move the court slowly over decades.

“He doesn’t want huge swings, except in areas he feels very strongly about,” Coyle says, like government’s role in racial issues, campaign finance’s relation to free speech and the structure of constitution. Roberts also looks to keep decorum on the bench during oral arguments.

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Media captionListen to John Roberts at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: Roberts, writing for the majority in Shelby County v Holder, effectively knocked out a part of the Voting Rights Act which requires certain states to gain permission of the justice department before changing their voting laws.

“At the same time, voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that. The question is whether the Act’s extraordinary measures, including its disparate treatment of the States, continue to satisfy constitutional requirements. As we put it a short time ago, “the Act imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs”.

Stephen Breyer

On the court since: 3 August 1994

How he got to the court: Breyer grew up in San Francisco with a lawyer father and a politically-active mother, attending Stanford, then Harvard Law. After clerking for Justice Arthur Goldberg, he moved into government, working as counsel in various positions in Congress, including as an assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation. He spent a lengthy period of time on the First Circuit Court of Appeals and was considered for a Supreme Court nomination in 1991. It went to Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead. President Clinton went back to Breyer when Justice Blackmun retired from the court in 1994.

Who is he as a justice? Breyer believes the court needs to consider the history of laws, the intent of Congress and the consequences of its decisions. “He believes deeply in government and government processes,” Lithwick says.

Breyer, the king of the complicated hypothetical, has sought to “bridge gaps” in differences between the justices, Coyle says, by listening closely to find give-and-take between justices on an issue.

“Those hypothetical questions are really designed for his colleagues,” Coyle says. He did this last year while writing a 9-0 opinion in a politically charged case over the president’s power to appoint judges and other officials during Senate recesses. The ruling was narrowly decided against the president, and both the conservative and liberal wings were in agreement on the final judgement – but not all the details.

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Media captionListen to Stephen Breyer at arguments

Justice’s Opinion: From the aforementioned 9-0 ruling, National Labor Relations Board v Noel Canning.

“There is a great deal of history to consider here. Presidents have made recess appointments since the beginning of the Republic. Their frequency suggests that the Senate and President have recognised that recess appointments can be both necessary and appropriate in certain circumstances. We have not previously interpreted the Clause, and, when doing so for the first time in more than 200 years, we must hesitate to upset the compromises and working arrangements that the elected branches of Government themselves have reached.”

Clarence Thomas

On the court since: 23 October 1991

How he got to the court: Thomas was born in a small town in Georgia, and was one of the few African-Americans in attendance during a short stint in seminary and then at Holy Cross College. But unlike Justice Sotomayor, those experiences made him distrustful of affirmative action policies. After finishing Yale Law, he worked in Missouri government and in Washington DC before being named chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency that responds to discrimination claims in the workplace. After a bruising confirmation hearing – in which a former employee accused him of sexual harassment – Thomas was narrowly confirmed to Supreme Court, at the relatively young age of 43.

Who is he as a justice? Thomas’ originalism is exacting, including a disregard for stare decisis, respect for prior court rulings and precedence. Thomas has also not asked a question during oral arguments in nine years. He has previously said he doesn’t care for the question-heavy arguments, sometimes already drafting opinions based on written briefs before any lawyer gets up to argue. Thomas often files entirely separate dissents rarely joined by others, but Coyle says he is influential in other ways, including during conferences only justices attend, and in “difficult decisions” in areas that don’t get a lot of press – like intellectual property and tax law. Thomas replaced the first African-American justice on the court – Thurgood Marshall – and remains the only current black justice.

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Media captionListen to Clarence Thomas at arguments (in 2006)

Justice’s Opinion: In a dissent to a 2011 case, Brown v Entertainment Merchants Association, Thomas argues it is a mistake for the court to overturn a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors.

“But I do not think the First Amendment stretches that far. The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that ‘the freedom of speech’, as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.”

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Neil Gorsuch

On the court since: 10 April, 2017

How he got to the court: At 49, Gorsuch was the youngest nominee in a quarter of a century when he was approved in 2017. The Colorado native, whose legal pedigree includes Harvard and Oxford, was first nominated to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals by former President George W Bush in 2006. He began his law career clerking for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, and worked in a private law practice in Washington for a decade and served as the principal deputy assistant associate attorney general at the Justice Department under the Bush administration. Judge Gorsuch graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where former President Barack Obama was a classmate, and earned a doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford University.

Who is he as a justice? Gorsuch succeeded the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and was welcomed by conservatives who consider him to espouse a similarly strict interpretation of law. In his first year on the court he has cemented the 5-4 conservative advantage, and that’s been seen in a series of rulings on contentious issues such as the Trump travel ban, trade union fees and gerrymandering.

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Brett Kavanaugh

On the court since: 6 October, 2018

How he got to the court: Kavanaugh served on the influential Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit and was formerly a White House aide under George W Bush. He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. His confirmation process was one of the most controversial in recent years amid allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, which he denied. After a hearing in which one of his accusers gave a dramatic testimony of the alleged incident and Kavanaugh fiercely defended his record, he was approved by the Senate by 50-48. Born in Washington, DC in 1965, Kavanaugh studied at Georgetown Preparatory School an all-boys school in Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School.

Who is he as a justice? He succeeded Anthony Kennedy, who was the Supreme Court’s swing vote, often casting the deciding opinion in 5-4 cases, consolidating a conservative majority at the top court. Some Democrats fiercely opposed to his name for his views on delicate issues such as abortion. His views on the environment and gun rights have also raised concerns among environmentalists and gun control activists.

28th September 2020

Environment Alex Zanardi shows ‘signs of interaction’ after road accident

Environment Alex Zanardi shows ‘signs of interaction’ after road accident


environment Alex Zanardi
Alex Zanardi won four gold medals at the Paralympics – two in London in 2012 and two at Rio four years later

Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi has shown “signs of interaction” as the Paralympic champion remains in semi-intensive care after a road accident, doctors said on Thursday.

In a statement, the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said he “responds with transient and initial signs of interaction with the environment” to visual and acoustic stimuli.

Despite Zanardi’s significant progress, doctors say it is still too early to make a prognosis because of the “complex overall clinical situation”.

The statement added that the 53-year-old Italian had recently undergone craniofacial reconstruction after suffering serious head injuries when he lost control of his handbike during a road race in Tuscany and crashed into an oncoming truck on 19 June.

“A first intervention has already been successfully performed a few days ago, and a second is already planned for the next few weeks,” it said.

Zanardi had both his legs amputated after a motor racing accident in 2001 at the Lausitzring track in Germany, and has since become one of the best-known figures in Paralympic sports.

He raced for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus in F1 in the early 1990s before switching to the CART championship in the United States where he was series champion in 1997 and 1998.

He returned to F1 with Williams in 1999 before heading back to CART.

Zanardi won two gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games and four years later won two more in Rio de Janeiro.

28th September 2020

Environment Multiple sclerosis patient’s home renovated by friends

Environment Multiple sclerosis patient’s home renovated by friends


A woman has been surprised by her friends and neighbours with a home renovation while she was in Mexico receiving treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Kath Lee, from Fleet in Hampshire, spent a month undergoing stem cell treatment after her friends helped raise money for her medical costs.

They then realised her home also needed a major renovation so she could convalesce in a safe and sterile environment so worked with local businesses, who donated time and materials, to complete the work while she was away.

Video journalist: Nikki Mitchell

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