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Scottish independence has never been so certain, Sturgeon tells SNP »»

First minister tells conference her main focus is Covid-19 but independence is ‘in clear sight’

Nicola Sturgeon has opened the Scottish National party annual conference by telling members she has “never been so certain” the country will achieve independence.

The first minister said Scotland was “a nation on the cusp of making history” as she insisted the SNP’s goal of independence was “in clear sight”.

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Football was only part of it: Diego Maradona transcended sport | Uki Goñi »»

Proud, defiant, political. To the world’s neglected and marginalised, he was a figure of hope

For a nation prone to frequent lamentation over its missed opportunities, crashing from the world’s 10th wealthiest economy per capita in 1913 to a constant teetering at the edge of economic and social collapse for the better part of the past century, Argentina has produced an astonishing array of instantly recognisable global icons.

Eva Perón, unanointed queen of Argentina’s “shirtless” working class, was transmuted into Santa Evita, whip-master of Argentina’s oligarchy, by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice. There’s Che Guevara, who traded the rugby pitch of Argentinian high society to trudge through revolutionary Cuba alongside Fidel Castro. And Pope Francis, detested by the medieval-minded conservative wing of the Roman Catholic church for his championing of the poor.

And then there is Diego Maradona, arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer, but a man who transcended the sport to become something much more than a soccer star to millions around the world. To the world’s neglected and marginalised, Maradona became a figure of hope, for some almost a god. Such is the power of the Maradona icon that even his death of natural causes on Wednesday, most likely brought on by decades of substance abuse, still feels like a kind of martyrdom.

Here in Argentina, Maradona is everywhere present, in people’s hearts, in people’s minds. Friends have been crying non-stop since his death. Whatever side of the political chasm you are on – and in Argentina that chasm is wide – Maradona is there. “I love him, I love him,” I have heard grown people shouting for over four decades now, continuing years after he retired from the soccer field.

Related: Maradona the footballer had no flaws – Maradona the man was a victim | Jorge Valdano

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US election results 2020: Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump to win presidency »»

GSA recognises Biden’s win, allowing presidential transition to go ahead, as Trump says he will leave White House if electoral college votes for Biden

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Last-ditch Brexit trade talks resume amid growing EU scepticism »»

Michel Barnier has told bloc he is prepared for four more days of make-or-break negotiations

Michel Barnier has told MEPs he is prepared for a further four days of make-or-break Brexit negotiations, with growing scepticism among EU member states about the utility of further talks.

Having spent a week in isolation after a member of the bloc’s team tested positive for coronavirus, Barnier and his staff resumed face-to-face negotiations in London on Saturday morning.

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'I was at war with my body': my year as a day patient on an eating disorders ward »»

At 32, I was given a choice: go to hospital every day – or risk a long wait to become an inpatient. Could I face down the demons that had stalked me since I was a child?

I throw the bread. It misses the nurse and lands in the metal sink with a pathetic thud. I run out of the kitchen, through a door labelled “quiet room” and kick a beanbag. I kick it again and again, until all I can see is the red fabric and white wall blurring into pink. I want to smash something, I want to break things until I collapse with exhaustion and never wake up.

But psychiatric hospitals are built to stop people like me doing that. No door handles or light fittings; no sharp objects or windows that open more than an inch. It is March 2017. I used to have a job, a life. Now, I am a 32-year-old woman who isn’t allowed to be alone with a pair of scissors.

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Iran's supreme leader calls for 'definitive punishment' of scientist's killers »»

Ayatollah threatens retaliation after president blames Israel for assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

Iran’s supreme leader has called for the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of one of the country’s most senior scientists, who was identified by Israel as having headed a secret nuclear weapons programme.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Tehran’s nuclear strategy, was killed on Friday on a highway near the capital in a carefully planned assassination that has led to a serious escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

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Biden campaign boasts its voter outreach beat Obama's 'by a mile' »»

Ashley Allison, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national coalitions director, describes how innovative approach helped reach key groups during pandemic

Although the dust is still settling on the 2020 US presidential election it is clear this cycle was one of significant breakthroughs for Democrats. With historic voter turnout for recent times, Joe Biden’s team secured a Democratic win in Georgia, something that hadn’t happened since 1992, and there was record turnout among young people and Black Americans.

Related: Joe Biden: Black Lives Matter activists helped you win Wisconsin. Don't forget us | Justin Blake

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'Place of love': Gibraltar becomes marriage hotspot in pandemic »»

Couples flock to tiny British territory, which requires minimum bureaucracy to tie knot

Gibraltar was never on Bruno Miani’s list of places to visit. –But that all changed when the pandemic upended his plans to marry his girlfriend in Dublin, where they live.

With government offices closed due to coronavirus restrictions, the 40-year-old photographer and his partner, Natalia Senna Alves de Lima, struggled to get the documents they needed for a wedding licence and faced a long wait for an available time slot for the ceremony.

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'It stretches the limits of performance': the race to make the world's fastest running shoe »»

With its supercharged sole, the Nike Vaporfly bounced on to the winner’s platform at nearly every major marathon last year, smashing world records. Can its rivals keep up?

Natasha Cockram never really cared about shoes. When the Welsh runner entered her first marathon in 2017, she wore a pair of two-year-old Nike racing flats that cost her £15 at an outlet store. And she was a talented athlete: a former junior cross country and middle distance champion, she had won an athletics scholarship to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. She studied psychology and raced hard.

“What I’ve always loved about running is that it was so accessible,” Cockram, who is 27, says when we first speak in early September. “All you needed was a pair of trainers. It didn’t matter what they were – anyone could just do it.”

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Best books of 2020 »»

A teenager’s nature diary, the race for a vaccine and the return of Lyra ... books have been vital in getting us through the year. Guardian critics pick 2020’s best fiction, poetry, politics, science and more


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The US is on ‘inequality autopilot’ – how can Biden's treasury pick help change course? »»

Janet Yellen will likely be the US’s first female treasury secretary – but as Covid shutdowns loom, she will have to win Republican votes for any major initiatives

Teresa Marez has never heard of Janet Yellen, likely to be the next treasury secretary of the United States. But she and millions of other Americans have a lot riding on the decisions Yellen will make if and when she is confirmed next year.

The coronavirus has upended Marez’s life. Her savings are almost exhausted and she is worried about her unemployment benefits, which run out next week. “It’s so hard. It’s just such a mess,” said the mother of two in San Antonio, Texas. “We just need Congress to make a decision,” Marez said. “As long as they are in limbo, we are in limbo.”

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Can dozens of new Republican congresswomen change the face of the GOP? »»

Moving away from a white- and male-dominated party is the only way for it to survive, pollster says

Kat Cammack was raised on a cattle ranch by a working class single mother. She was the third generation of her family to go into business as a sand blaster. And at 32, she is about to become the youngest Republican woman in the US Congress.

“I think a lifetime of experiences has shaped me to be a Republican and a conservative,” said Cammack, elected to an open seat in Florida. “There has been a stereotype about the Republican party, that it was the Grand Old Party, that it was your grandfather’s political party of choice. The election in 2020 has definitely helped push back on that narrative.”

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Most expensive family feud in history to take the stage at London court »»

Acrimonious fight between Tatiana Akhmedova and her ex-husband and son centres on a £453m fortune

The most expensive – and acrimonious – family breakdown in history will be laid bare in a London court next week in a divorce battle over a £453m fortune that includes several luxury mansions, a superyacht called Luna, a helicopter, a private jet and an art collection including pieces by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.

Tatiana Akhmedova will accuse her ex-husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, an oligarch and ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and their son Temur Akhmedov of hiding hundreds of millions in assets in order to avoid paying the blockbuster settlement awarded to her by the high court in 2016.

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'Grain to glass' distiller hopes to put Wales on world's whisky map »»

In The Welsh Wind distillery already taking orders for 30-litre casks of ultra-local spirit

The barley has been grown in fields with spectacular views over Cardigan Bay and malted on a local farm. The all-important water comes from springs deep beneath the Welsh countryside.

A small distillery in west Wales is at the centre of what it hopes may turn out to be a quiet whisky revolution.

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Dozens feared dead in Zimbabwe mine collapse as rescue efforts continue »»

Latest tragedy follows string of disasters as Covid worsens poverty and sparks rush to work abandoned shafts in gold-rich country

Dozens are feared dead and others still trapped underground after an abandoned goldmine collapsed in Zimbabwe.

Six men have so far emerged alive from the mine at Bindura, about 70km north of the capital Harare after the disaster on Wednesday. According to officials, nearly 30 miners remain unaccounted for.

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Why stifado is ‘the best food in Greece’ – plus the recipe »»

This rabbit stew is a big fat Greek classic with many variations, none more memorable than on a summer evening on an Ionian island

The best meal I ever had in Greece wasn’t mine. It was my friend Nic’s; I tried a mouthful and abandoned my plate for his kouneli stifado – rabbit stew, an unfussy Greek classic that was probably a gift from the Venetians. We tend to think of dill, oregano and thyme as Greek flavours, but this dish, and others, use exotic spices – cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves.

I sailed to Greece; I’m still here as autumn turns to winter, when an aromatic stifado takes centre stage. Its gently warming spices and balance of sweet and sour make it a favourite Sunday family meal, a comfort food to beat all others. These flavours will forever evoke Greece for me – particularly Greece in winter.

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Joe Biden gains votes in Wisconsin county after Trump-ordered recount »»

Milwaukee recount, which cost Trump campaign $3m, boosts Democratic president-elect days before state must certify result

A recount in Wisconsin’s largest county demanded by President Donald Trump’s election campaign ended on Friday with the president-elect, Joe Biden, gaining votes.

After the recount in Milwaukee county, Biden made a net gain of 132 votes, out of nearly 460,000 cast. Overall, the Democrat gained 257 votes to Trump’s 125.

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Is it worth carrying on as a guinea pig, if a vaccine has already been found? Francis Beckett »»

I am 75 and taking part in the Novavax trial but the success of the Oxford jab has given me a dilemma

My third appointment with researchers this week, as a participant in Covid-19 vaccine trials, was overshadowed by the news that the Oxford vaccine will probably be available to older folk like me in the early part of next year – maybe as early as January or February.

The vaccine I am trialling – the Novavax one – will have test results in January, and probably be available in the summer. So what happens to us guinea pigs when the Oxford vaccine is available, I wanted to know. As a reasonably healthy 75-year-old, I’m likely to be – in the doctor’s words – “at the back of the front of the queue” for it. I have signed up to be in the Novavax study for a year. But if I have the Oxford vaccine, do I cease to be any use?

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South Australia and NSW record new Covid-19 cases as Victoria passes elimination benchmark »»

Two new South Australian coronavirus cases, both in quarantine, bring Parafield cluster to 33 people

A casual contact of a Covid-19 case is among two people newly diagnosed with coronavirus in South Australia, while New South Wales has announced eight new cases, all in hotel quarantine.

Meanwhile, the ACT has recorded one new case in a returned traveller and Victoria has surpassed the benchmark for eliminating coronavirus, recording a 29th straight day without a single new infection.

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Blind date: ‘I thought she looked like Emma Watson’ »»

Kate, 25, whisky marketing associate, meets Maz, 24, charity worker

What were you hoping for?
A lovely evening, or a funny anecdote.

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‘Piles of cash at home’: Hong Kong leader says US sanctions mean she has no bank account »»

Carrie Lam says she is paid in cash and calls US sanctions imposed over security crackdown ‘unjustifiable’

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she keeps “piles of cash” at home because she has no bank account after the United States imposed sanctions on her in response to the crackdown on free speech and political freedoms in the city.

Lam was targeted, along with 14 other senior city officials, in the toughest US action on Hong Kong yet since Beijing imposed the new law on the territory in late June.

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Thai protesters flood street with rubber ducks in 'coup prevention' drill »»

Thousands block major Bangkok junction in continuing protests against government and monarchy

Thousands of democracy activists blocked a major junction in Bangkok for several hours on Friday to rehearse “coup prevention” strategies in the latest round of Thailand’s anti-government protests.

The country has for months been rocked by youth-led protests demanding a new constitution, reform of the untouchable monarchy and for the prime minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, to resign.

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Extremely vulnerable in UK given high priority for coronavirus vaccine »»

Those with conditions such as blood, bone or lung cancer put in same category on interim guidance list as over-70s

People at very high risk of contracting coronavirus due to health problems, who were made to shield during the pandemic, have been given the same priority as the over-70s to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

People aged 18 or older deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable” are in the same priority group as those aged 70 and over, according to the provisional vaccine priority list published by Public Health England.

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US surpasses 13m Covid cases as experts urge caution over Thanksgiving weekend »»
  • 110,000 new coronavirus cases and 90,000 people hospitalized Thursday
  • CDC predicts deaths could rise by 300,000 in next month

America’s coronavirus surge showed no sign of abating over the Thanksgiving holiday, as cases in the country surpassed 13 million on Friday.

Related: How Trump is destroying the presidential transition process

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One-year-old boy killed after police open fire on alleged kidnapper »»

Officers in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario had been alerted to domestic dispute and suspected abduction

A one-year-old infant in Canada has been fatally shot in an incident involving police officers who opened fire on a pickup truck while responding to an alleged kidnapping.

Investigators have not yet confirmed if police gunfire killed the boy.

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Visitors track down mystery desert monolith in Utah »»

Two days after a helicopter pilot revealed its existence, people began sharing their own shots of the unexplained piece

Some intrepid visitors have been flocking to a remote part of southern Utah in a bid to be among the first to see the mystery metal monolith.

The structure in the Red Rock desert was first discovered last week from the air by a helicopter pilot and wildlife officers who were carrying out an annual count of bighorn sheep.

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Iran scientist's assassination appears intended to undermine nuclear deal »»

Analysis: shooting of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will do more harm to diplomacy than it does to Iran’s nuclear programme

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh may not much have impact on the Iranian nuclear programme he helped build, but it will certainly make it harder to salvage the deal intended to restrict that programme, and that is – so far - the most plausible motive.

Israel is widely agreed to be the most likely perpetrator. Mossad is reported to have been behind a string of assassinations of other Iranian nuclear scientists – reports Israeli officials have occasionally hinted were true.

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New Zealand once led the world on social housing – it should again | Bryce Edwards »»

A return to a programme of mass state house building could fix the significant problem for those at the bottom of the market

Billions of dollars are currently being transferred to wealthy New Zealanders in the government’s attempts to stimulate the economy. The Reserve Bank has essentially committed to printing up to $128bn (US$90bn) of new money, lending much of it as cheap credit to banks, who then lend it to those who can afford to buy more and more houses, and thereby grabbing the capital gains.

The result is rocketing house prices, making accommodation unaffordable, especially for those seeking to buy a first home or rent accommodation. In fact, this week New Zealand was named as the seventh most expensive place in the world to buy a house.

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Trump's baseless claims of Georgia voter fraud spark fears among Republicans »»

As Trump suffers another post-election court defeat, some Republicans worry he could depress turnout in crucial Georgia runoffs

Despite giving his strongest hints yet that he is coming to accept his loss of the White House to challenger Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s continuing reluctance to leave office and baseless claims about electoral fraud are increasingly worrying his own party.

In particular, Republicans are concerned that the chaos caused by Trump’s stance and his false comments on the conduct of the election in the key swing state of Georgia, which Biden won for the Democrats, could hinder his party’s efforts to retain control of the Senate.

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Iranian scientist's death only the latest in long line of attacks blamed on Israel »»

The Middle East is on edge as the Trump administration enters its final weeks

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh may be the most senior Iranian nuclear scientist to have been assassinated but he is certainly not the first, joining at least four others during the past decade.

In killings Iran said were aimed at sabotaging its nuclear energy ambitions – it does not acknowledge using the technology for weapons – the country has consistently pointed the finger at Israel, its regional arch-foe.

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Hospitals in England told to prepare for Covid vaccine rollout in 10 days' time »»

Exclusive: NHS could receive first deliveries of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as 7 December

Hospitals have been told to prepare for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in as little as 10 days’ time, with NHS workers expected to be at the front of the queue, the Guardian has learned.

NHS bosses said hospitals in England could expect to receive their first deliveries of a vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech as soon as Monday 7 December, with regulatory approval anticipated within days.

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Slashing overseas aid reflects badly on Britain | Letters »»

Readers respond after the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, cut international aid by a third in his spending review

Rishi Sunak has said he could not tell the country he was giving 0.7% of gross national income to foreign aid (Foreign Office minister resigns as Sunak cuts aid budget, 25 November). What kind of country does he think he lives in? Can he and the rest of the government not see that so many of the problems in the world come from the gross divide between countries like ours and ones where so many face starvation?

Has he not noticed that during the first lockdown, 10 million people volunteered to help people in their community? Did he not notice the thousands who volunteered to trial the vaccine? These are not people who would wish to ignore the rest of the world.

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French police caught on CCTV beating black music producer in his Paris studio – video »»

France's police watchdog, IGPN, said on Thursday it was investigating allegations a black music producer was physically attacked and racially abused during a police check. The incident was captured on CCTV, which was obtained by the Loopsider news organisation. 

The alleged victim, identified only as Michel, told reporters he was jumped on by police at his music studio on the 17th arrondissement of Paris on 21 November. He said he had been walking around nearby without a mask, against French Covid health protocols, and upon seeing a police car, went into his music studio to avoid a fine. 

However, the officers followed him inside the studio and started to physically attack and racially abuse him, he alleged. The Paris police force previously faced criticism this week after clashes erupted when officers cleared a migrant rights protest in Place de la République  

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Fists and pig guts fly in Taiwan's parliament debate on US pork imports – video »»

Legislators from Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party threw pig guts and exchanged punches with other lawmakers in parliament on Friday as they tried to stop the premier, Su Tseng-chang, from taking questions, in a bitter dispute over easing US pork imports. 

President Tsai Ing-wen announced in August that the government would, from 1 January, allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine, an additive that enhances leanness but is banned in the EU and China, as well as US beef more than 30 months old

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Yemen: in a country stalked by disease, Covid barely registers »»

War, hunger and devastating aid cuts have made the plight of Yemenis almost unbearable

On a ward in Ataq general hospital, in the dusty central province of Shabwa in Yemen, six-month-old Muna Bassam is lying on her back, eyes closed, her distended belly moving up and down with the labour of breathing.

In the corridor outside her room, a poster shows before-and-after photos of several children admitted to the ward who have managed to recover from acute malnutrition – still painfully thin, but smiling and alert.

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Sudan says it will stamp out child marriage and enforce ban on FGM »»

Police told to enforce law against cutting girls passed in July as country says it will adhere to African charter on child rights

Sudanese authorities have announced they will end child marriage and enforce the country’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM), in a major step forward for the rights of women and girls.

Police officers were told on Wednesday they must inform local communities that FGM is illegal following new laws passed in July that make it punishable by up to three years in jail.

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Overseas aid budget for education cut by a quarter this year, data shows »»

Reduction came before this week’s move to slash UK spending on poorer nations to 0.5% of national income, with girls worst affected

The overseas aid budget for education was slashed by more than a quarter by the government this year, even before this week’s further axing of a third of aid spending, according to analysis seen by the Guardian.

As anger met the government’s announcement this week, it was revealed that it has already reneged on the Tory manifesto pledge by cutting primary and secondary education funding as part of £2.9bn of cuts made by Dominic Raab in July. On Wednesday in parliament, while announcing he would seek to legally cut the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income, Raab reiterated a promise to prioritise girls’ education, which was immediately dismissed as “empty rhetoric” by the shadow international secretary.

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Senior UN official loses his appeal against sexual misconduct sacking »»

Tribunal rules that Ravi Karkara, an adviser to UN Women, was rightfully dismissed for harassing younger men

A former senior UN adviser who contested his sacking over sexual misconduct has lost his appeal at a tribunal.

Ravi Karkara, who was tasked with promoting gender equality and youth partnerships at UN Women, was dismissed in 2018 following allegations of harassment against younger men, including an intern.

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Boris Johnson: 'If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus' – video »»

Boris Johnson said he was sorry that most of England would exit lockdown into tiers 2 or 3 with the toughest restrictions. Johnson said the measures 'strike a balance' between limiting the spread of the virus and protecting freedoms. 'If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus,' Johnson added.

Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, urged people to 'have sense' over the festive period, and bluntly warned against hugging and kissing elderly relatives at Christmas

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Ibrahim Omer, New Zealand's first African MP, delivers moving maiden speech – video »»

Ibrahim Omer, New Zealand's first African MP, has recounted in his maiden speech his journey as a refugee out of Eritrea via Syria to New Zealand, sparking emotional scenes in the chamber. The Labour MP described how he worked hard as a cleaner by night, and a politics student by day, before being elected. Omer delivered parts of his speech in his native tongue, Saho, as well as te reo Maori.

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Obama: Republican portrayal of white men as 'victims' helped Trump win votes – video »»

Barack Obama has said part of the reason more than 73 million Americans voted to re-elect Donald Trump in the election was because of messaging from Republicans that the country was under attack – particularly white men.

In an interview with the radio show the Breakfast Club on Wednesday to promote his new memoir, A Promised Land, Obama said Trump’s administration, which he did not name directly, 'objectively has failed, miserably, in handling just basic looking after the American people and keeping them safe', and yet he still secured millions of votes

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'Our democracy was tested this year': Joe Biden's Thanksgiving address – video »»

Joe Biden urged Americans to put aside their political differences as he called for unity in his Thanksgiving address to the nation.

'We need to remember, we are at war with the virus, not one another,' said the president-elect. 'Our democracy was tested this year, and what we learned was this: the people of this nation were up to the task.'

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‘This will not break us’: Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh after six-week war - video »»

In surrendered areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian villagers like Martinios have five days to pack and leave before Azeri forces arrive. The district where he lives, Kalbajar, was given up by Armenia as part of a ceasefire deal, which brought a brutal six-week war with Azerbaijan to an end. War here has been generational, and in the 1990s it was the Azeris who fled these villages in a ceasefire handover. Martinios himself moved here soon after to escape the persecution against Armenians in Azerbaijan. Now that peace has been brokered, and after decades of bitterness and mutual distrust, can he bear to leave behind the home he built?

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