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New Zealand’s prime minister says 40 people have been killed in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Details of what happened are still emerging, but an emotional Jacinda Ardern said it was clear “this will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Witnesses at the Al Noor mosque told local media they ran for their lives when shooting began during Friday prayers. Unverified footage has emerged online, purportedly taken by one of the gunmen who carried out the attack. Reports suggest one attacker, believed to be Australian, wrote an online manifesto espousing far-right and anti-immigrant ideology.
Police say four people are in custody and a number of explosive devices have also been dealt with.
The BBC’s Phil Mercer said New Zealand prides itself on being a friendly and progressive place, a long way from the world’s trouble spots. Anna Burns-Francis, a reporter with TVNZ, told the BBC nothing like this had ever happened before and there was really no gun culture in the country.
“Children are coming to school hungry, dirty and without the basics to set them up for life.” That’s the view of one of a number of head teachers asked by their union about the impact of poverty. Another said: “When schools have to buy shoes for children to wear to school on a regular basis, we must have a problem.” The Association of School and College Leaders says it’s unsustainable for schools to “pick up the pieces” for struggling families when they’re having to deal with funding cuts of their own.
Head teachers have been campaigning for some time over school budget shortages – with claims of fewer staff, bigger classes and a lack of essentials. Education Secretary Damian Hinds will tell the ASCL’s conference in Birmingham he is setting up an expert advisory group to help teachers with “the pressures of the job”.
Former Liberal Democrat leader David Steel has been suspended by the party following comments he made to a child abuse inquiry about the late MP Cyril Smith. Lord Steel’s testimony caused anger after he revealed he spoke to Smith in 1979 about claims he’d abused young boys in the 1960s and “assumed” they were true, but instead of launching an investigation into him, he allowed Smith to continue in office and later recommended him for a knighthood. A lawyer for seven victims in the abuse inquiry said Lord Steel’s remarks would cause them “great anger”.
Quiz of the Week
Have you been paying attention? Find out.
How I grieved for my online friend
By Michael Baggs, Newsbeat reporter
“It was absolutely devastating when I got the news,” Jasen Kasten says about the day he was told his friend Dave had died. But they’d never met. They’d become friends over three years of playing World of Warcraft together. Jasen says the grieving process was just as difficult as it would have been for a friend in real life. Dave died from complications due to back surgery earlier this year. “A lot of my friends have been cultivated over the internet, so for me it had absolutely no difference whatsoever,” Jasen says.
What the papers say
The papers react to the Commons decision to delay Brexit. The Daily Express says it’s “a damning indictment of our democracy”. The Guardian focuses on the fact that seven cabinet ministers – including the Brexit secretary – opposed Theresa May’s motion to approve the delay. The Daily Telegraph says huge pressure is now being put on the DUP and Tory Brexiteers to fall in behind the PM’s deal at the third time of asking to avoid a long postponement. The i reports that talks between the government and the DUP are said to be promising. According to the Financial Times though, about 20 Brexiteers are so far unwilling to bend. Elsewhere, there’s dismay at figures showing that more than a third of offenders charged with carrying knives for a second time are being spared jail – despite a “two strikes” law being introduced in 2015. The Sun says courts are removing “the most powerful deterrent” to carrying a blade.
Third time lucky? PM will try again to persuade MPs to back her Brexit deal
Zoopla Property website bans ads that refuse to take renters on housing benefits
Interserve Key government contractor faces administration
Historic win Female jockey triumphs
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Today Pupils in more than 60 towns and cities will walk out of school for a second time as part of a global protest against climate change
19:00 This year’s Comic Relief live show kicks off
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1985 The first Internet domain name, symbolics.com, is registered
If you want to get this briefing by email, sign up here Police in New Zealand say there have been “multiple fatalities” in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Details of what happened are still emerging, but an emotional Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was clear “this will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”