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News in brief: Art’s on track to help vulnerable

MESSAGES such as ‘It’s OK not to be OK’ and ‘Don’t suffer in silence’ have appeared at Govia Thameslink Railway stations to support those feeling vulnerable. The Affirmation Art scheme was launched yesterday — World Suicide Prevention Day. PICTURE: REX

Harry Dunn’s ‘killer’ is open to virtual UK trial

THE alleged killer of motorcyclist Harry Dunn has always been interested in a virtual trial in the UK and remains willing to discuss the possibility, it is understood. Sources close to Anne Sacoolas, 43, say she has not yet been approached about the matter and wishes to speak to British authorities to find a way forward. The American diplomat’s wife is charged with causing 19-year-old Harry’s death by dangerous driving outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire last year. But she claimed diplomatic immunity and flew to the US, which refuses to extradite her. Harry’s mum Charlotte Charles said she was glad Mrs Sacoolas was willing to stand trial but it would need to be under UK law.

Ambassador’s Twitter account in porn ‘hack’

THE Chinese embassy in London has demanded that Twitter investigate an alleged hack after its ambassador appeared to ‘like’ a pornographic post. A human rights advocate posted a screenshot on Wednesday of Liu Xiaoming’s official Twitter account showing a heart symbol under the tweet. The embassy said in a statement: ‘Recently, some anti-China elements viciously attacked ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s Twitter account and employed despicable methods to deceive the public. The embassy has reported this to Twitter and urged it to make thorough investigations and handle this matter seriously.’

Fixing rail slopes ‘is too expensive’ after crash

NETWORK Rail cannot afford to strengthen every ‘substandard’ trackside slope after the deadly Stonehaven crash, it admitted. In a report into last month’s derailment, which killed three people following heavy rain in Aberdeenshire, the firm said it was improving its infrastructure and targeting ‘highest-risk’ areas. But it warned it would not be ‘economically viable’ to improve every slope at risk of collapse, adding: ‘We expect there will still be earthwork failures as a result of challenging weather.’ The Department for Transport said Network Rail was investing £1.3billion in improving resilience to extreme conditions.

Writer, 21, comes up trumps with $1m deal

A STUDENT who has signed a $1million US deal for two books hopes her debut, Ace Of Spades, will show black children they deserve a ‘happy ending’. Faridah Abike-Iyimide’s first novel, out in the UK next June through Usborne Publishing, is set at an elite private school where rumours spread about two black students. The 21-year-old, who grew up in south London and has Nigerian heritage, said: ‘With all the protests and black people being institutionally harmed… I want them to see there is light at the end of the tunnel.’

It’s good snooze if you like cheese before bed

HAVING trouble sleeping? Then turn off your phone, exercise early rather than late in the evening — and don’t have a nightcap. Also, make sure your bedroom is not too hot, don’t tuck into a late supper and avoid anything that raises your stress levels, such as an argument. But don’t worry about enjoying a piece of cheese — it won’t give you nightmares — or having a nap earlier in the day, which also has no effect on sleep patterns. That’s the advice of Furniture Village sleep ambassador and TV medic Dr Ranj Singh, following a study of 2,000 adults.

Pupils risk their health just by going to school

YOUNGSTERS at more than a quarter of schools, nurseries and colleges face ‘dangerously high’ pollution, research shows. Some 8,549 institutions in England, Wales and Scotland are in places where the background level of tiny particle pollution, or PM2.5, exceeds World Health Organization guidelines. Safer new limits are needed for PM2.5 — often caused by traffic fumes — said Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, which commissioned the research. The charities said it was ‘alarming’ that thousands of pupils ‘could be putting their health and futures at risk’.

Cambridge and Exeter universities offer tests

CAMBRIDGE and Exeter universities are to offer regular Covid-19 tests after Boris Johnson urged institutions to avoid sending students home. Cambridge will offer all students living in college accommodation a weekly coronavirus test — even if they have no symptoms. Exeter University is teaming up with commercial test provider Halo to give same-day testing at its Exeter and Cornwall campuses. The prime minister said new advice for universities will include a ‘request not to send students home in the event of an outbreak so as to avoid spreading the virus across the country’.

2million face 18-week wait for NHS treatment

A RECORD 2.15million people are having to wait more than 18 weeks to start hospital treatment in England — three times the figure for the same time last year. The total was the largest for any calendar month since records began in August 2007, while the 83,203 waiting longer than a year marked the highest level for more than a decade. Prof Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, called the latest figures ‘disappointing’. He warned hospital reserves need to be built up ‘urgently’ before winter comes to avoid surgery being ‘brought to a standstill’ by flu and local Covid-19 outbreaks.

Abortions rise as home treatment is allowed

MORE abortions have been carried out in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic than during the same period last year. Between January and June there were 109,836 terminations, versus 105,540 over six months in 2019. Before lockdown, women had to attend a clinic for the first phase of a medical abortion, where two oral medications end pregnancy. But from March a temporary law has meant the first medicine can be given at the woman’s home or that of a medic. Dr Jonathan Lord, medical director for Marie Stopes UK, said he hopes ‘this safe, effective and convenient service’ continues.

Rees-Mogg self-isolates as child gets symptoms

COMMONS Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is self-isolating after one of his children was tested for Covid-19. The Conservative MP was absent from the weekly business questions session in the House. Writing on Twitter, the father-of-six said: ‘One of my children was tested for Covid-19 last weekend after displaying symptoms.’ He added that ‘the household has been in self-isolation while we await the test result’.