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Woman and young boy drown at pool party at home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford – The Sun


TWO people are believed to have drowned at a pool party at the home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford.

One of the victims is believed to have been a young boy, aged around five years old.

 The incident happened at the Houston home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford

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The incident happened at the Houston home of ex-MLB star Carl CrawfordCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The second victim is thought to be a woman who tried to save the child, TMZ reported.

The incident is believed to have happened at Crawford’s Houston home on Saturday.

Crawford, now a record label chief, is thought to have been hosting a small gathering of six people.

According to TMZ, the little boy wandered off and fell into the swimming pool.

The woman is believed to have gone into the water to try to save the boy but tragically, both drowned.

Both Crawford and paramedics tried in vain to revive the victims at the scene.

KHOU confirmed a drowning happened at a Houston home on Saturday afternoon, but TMZ Sports was the first to identify the house as Crawford’s.

It was reported by KHOU that the woman and boy died at the hospital, but TMZ said they died at the scene.

Footage recorded by the local station appears to show Crawford walking outside his house to speak to cops.

 The MLB star last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016

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The MLB star last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Crawford last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016 before being released by the team, according to Fansided.

After retiring from baseball, he has kept busy as the CEO of music label 1501 Certified Entertainment, which originally signed rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

The “Savage” rapper sued the record label to get out of her contract in March.





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OLAF finds MEPs broke EP rules by financing national party through their salaries



An OLAF investigation published on April 30 revealed that MEPs from two member-states breached the European Parliament’s rules by transferring part of their salaries to their national parties.

The investigation by Europe’s anti-fraud office also found that MEPs from one member state also increased the salaries of their assistants so that the latter could make additional contributions.

The first investigation that was launched in 2017 found that for the period between 2014 and 2019, MEPs and staff members of the parliament’s party delegation paid contributions of over €640,000 to the national headquarters. It was also found that the illegal move was not spontaneous, but part of an already agreed obligation, that was set out in a financial charter that the party had specifically approved for the delegation at the European Parliament. Such an arrangement is contrary to the EP rules.

OLAF concluded that sanctions should be put in place by the European Parliament for the illegal actions and for the recovery of due amounts established by the investigation.

The second investigation that was conducted a year later found that for the particular time period, the financial contributions made by MEPs exceeded €540,000, as each was requested to contribute €3,000-4,000 to the national delegation. OLAF’s investigative team also revealed that their assistants were classified as of higher grade and thus, with a higher salary, so that they are able to transfer part of their salary to the national party.

Although no evidence of MEPs coercing the assistants was found, the EP members knew this was happening and had arranged the assistants’ hierarchy upgrade.

OLAF issued recommendations to the European Parliament proposing disciplinary action to ensure that amounts transferred by the Parliamentary Assistants to the national party are recovered. The anti-fraud office also recommended that the assistants face disciplinary action for following the instructions of their party, even though these instructions put them in conflict with their statutory obligations to the European Parliament.

 

 



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COVID-19: Praise for pandemic health pros prompts patio dance party


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Each night at 7 p.m., Vancouverites collectively stand on their balconies, patios and yards to bang pots, pans and other cookware, as a way of applauding essential workers across the city who continue to step up in the face of COVID-19.

A few minutes after that is when the party gets started – that is, the Mount Pleasant patio dance party.

Harry Curtin, 28, is a teacher and has been working remotely from his condo near Main and 7th since health officials ordered schools and workplaces closed to curb the spread of the virus.

He and two roommates had been regularly participating in the nightly 7 p.m. cheer when, on a sunny Tuesday in early April, the trio decided to play some music over a speaker when the clanging and banging subsided.

“It just seemed like – we could all clearly see each other but we just kind of walked back into our apartment,” Curtin said of his neighbourhood, which consists of condominiums clustered around a Main Street intersection.



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Labour leadership: Clive Lewis warns party only has ‘very slim’ chance of winning next general election without alliances



Labour leadership hopeful Clive Lewis has warned his party only has a “very slim” chance of winning the next general election unless it embraces alliances with other parties at Westminster.

As he battles to secure the required number of nominations from colleagues in the parliamentary party to remain in the contest, the left-wing candidate will today also launch his “transform to win” manifesto. 

The document focuses on radical democratic reform, including proposals for abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected chamber, introducing proportional representation at national elections, and a vow not to block a second Scottish independence referendum. 


It includes a number of measures aimed at tackling the climate crisis, with a net-zero emissions by 2030 target, the opposition of any future airport expansions, and introducing duties for individuals taking multiple flights per year.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Lewis warned, however, that Labour must put aside tribal differences and be open to forming pacts with progressive parties, or risk a fifth defeat in a row at the ballot box. 

Asked about the probability of Labour securing victory at the next general election, he replied: “On the current trajectory that we’re on with the current policies, the current strategy we’re using of not collaborating with other political parties – not embracing progressive alliance, not embracing working with others, I think it is very slim.

“And I don’t think it’s necessarily that just my opinion – I think the historical context shows that for Labour in the post-1945 period. The only time that Labour has convincingly come from opposition to win has been in 1997 in the post-war period. And to do that we had to tack quite substantially to the right.” 

Mr Lewis’s manifesto – to be released on Sunday – states that Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) should be given the option to decide if “they will stand down in favour of a better-placed candidates with the same values”. 

It adds: “We must be open to creating alliances of progressive and socialist organisations on a local level, particularly given the undemocratic electoral system face”. 

It is a significant break with Jeremy Corbyn, who repeatedly dismissed attempts throughout his leadership to form so-called “progressive alliances” with Liberal Democrat and Green candidates in order to thwart Conservative candidates’ chances of success at the ballot box. 

Pressed on what his leadership manifesto would concentrate on, Mr Lewis added: “Democracy. Democracy within the party, democracy in the country. The fact that we have a crisis of democracy, a crisis of social democracy that unless we accept this a longer term malaise, unless we understand that people need to have a sense of power, and agency in their lives.

“That this is in part what has seen the collapse… or a big part of the problem for Labour Party over the last century and in particular the last 40 years, then that is going to have be at the heart of what we do.” 

“From that you begin to see the possibilities – the whole thing about the climate crisis or about any policy we implement is making sure it’s not from the top down, what I’m saying is the reason that democracy runs through everything I’m doing is because I actually want to give people a say to feel empowered and I actually think we’ll get better policies coming from that.” ​

The left-winger urged the party to put aside ‘tribal differences’

As it stands, however, Mr Lewis, a former BBC journalist and army reservist, is struggling to convince his colleagues he has what it takes to be Labour’s next leader, with nominations so far from just three MPs. In order to reach the second stage of the contest, leadership hopefuls must secure the backing of at least 22 MPs or MEPs. 

Asked who he would back if didn’t make the second round of the contest to succeed Mr Corbyn, he said:  “What I would do is I will have to look and see who says what. I have heard so little from the other candidates. 

“I haven’t heard anything of significance yet. From my mind I want to hear who is going to have a radical programme of democratising not just our party – so we can transform to win – but also who is going to deal with the climate issue, who is going to deal with democracy crisis.” 

But while he said he would want to “hear what Jess Phillips is saying” in the contest, he added it was “highly unlikely” he would back her leadership “and the wing of the party that she comes from”.

For the deputy leadership position, Mr Lewis said he would nominate Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities minister, if she has not managed to secure sufficient support before the first round of the contest ends on Monday. “I want to see,” he added. “If she gets over the line then I can look around because there are other Bame candidates. There’s Rosena Allin-Khan.” 



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Scheer facing an internal audit over use of Conservative Party funds


OTTAWA–Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is facing an internal audit over the use of party funds to cover his children’s private school tuition.

Two sources told the Star Friday night that the Conservative Fund board, which manages the party’s finances and counts former prime minister Stephen Harper as a member, has ordered a forensic audit into the party’s expenditures.

The decision comes after revelations that Conservative Party Executive Director Dustin van Vugt approved using party funds to partly cover tuition for Scheer’s five children at Ottawa private schools.

Harper is said to be furious over the expenses, according to one source with direct knowledge of the former prime minister’s thinking. Members of the Conservative Fund, who hold tremendous sway on the party’s operations, feel that the tuition expenses were deliberately withheld from the board.

Another Conservative source disputes that characterization, and suggested the tuition expenses were included in financial materials sent to the board for approval.

Whichever side is right, the issue has reignited public infighting within the conservative movement just a day after Scheer announced he would step aside as leader.

Van Vugt may be a casualty of that infighting. One report Friday evening suggested he had been fired, while another news outlet suggested that was false. As of deadline, it was not clear what van Vugt’s employment status was.

What was clear is that the Conservative “civil war” did not end with Scheer’s decision to step down after his successor was chosen.

“Why are we exercising this as a public exchange of insults and firings and unfirings and so on, instead of people sitting down, going through a due process, and announcing to the world what the results are?” said one longtime Conservative hand.

Van Vugt, who was appointed on the recommendation of Harper himself, was responsible for quarterbacking the Conservatives’ last leadership race in 2017. With the party now facing a surprise leadership race, his departure would mean a considerable loss of institutional memory at a crucial juncture.

The Canadian Press reported Friday evening that the Conservative Fund directors held a conference call Friday, and circulated an email saying van Vugt was no longer employed with the party. But the Conservative Fund does not have the power to fire the party’s employees, and it’s not clear who has the authority to fire him. One Conservative source suggested the Fund was trying to find a scapegoat.

But the issue has members of the Conservative Fund’s board looking at “new safeguards” to protect the party’s coffers, a source with knowledge of the board’s discussion said Friday.

After the Conservatives’ disappointing election loss and months of open criticism and infighting, Scheer told Conservative MPs Thursday that he would step aside after his successor was chosen. At the conclusion of two emergency caucus meetings Thursday, Conservative MPs voted unanimously to allow Scheer to hang on to the top job until a new leader is chosen.

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While Scheer was informing Conservative MPs of his decision, Global News first reported that the Conservative Party was partly covering private school tuition costs for Scheer’s five children. The revelations rankled some within the Conservative family, suggesting that donors’ money should not be spent on private school tuition.

Van Vugt released a statement shortly afterwards confirming that the party paid the “differential” cost between private school tuition in Regina, where Scheer represents, and Ottawa, where he has lived for most of his life. Van Vugt said that the funds were properly approved.

With files from Canadian Press





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UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party appear to be campaigning for Labour candidate – Channel 4 News


Should a British parliamentary candidate receive campaign support from an organisation linked to an oppressive foreign government?

Questions are being asked about an operation to support  Labour’s candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn in north London. Tulip Siddiq is the niece of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, whose government is accused of serious human rights violations.

Channel 4 News has seen evidence that the UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party has been running a campaign to support Tulip Siddiq’s re-election.

Ms Siddiq claims this is “categorically untrue”. Fatima Manji reports



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The Conservative Party Leadership Race


The 2018 dystopian videogame We Happy Few takes place in an alternate version of Britain in 1964. A sparsely-detailed plot suggests that twenty years after the Nazi conquest of Britain, the Soviet counter-conquest of Europe, and the collapse of the Empire, 1960s Britain has become a desolate, hopeless land. Consequently the game’s setting, the fictional island town of Wellington Wells, has completely isolated itself not only from the wider world but even the remains of the United Kingdom. To cope with dark memories and the bleak desolation of their collapsing dystopia, the citizens of Wellington Wells have psychologically retreated into a land of make-believe. In a collapsing realm with no agriculture, no industry, a media which broadcasts recycled lies and fanciful nostalgia, Wellington Wells’ complete isolation from reality is maintained through constant xenophobia towards every nation (including all other Britons not of wealthy, Southern, English descent); and heavily redacted, over-the-top patriotic versions of history in which Britain is not the destitute and forgotten land it has become but that England always was, England still is, and England always will be, the supreme nation on Earth. This delusion, though, is not found only in the fictional Britain of We Happy Few.

After three years of Brexhaustion, the political deadlock is about to be broken. At least in name, if not practice. Following Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament and her subsequent resignation, the future of Brexit now rests with approximately 160,000 fee-paying members of the Conservative Party who are offered a choice of Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt. Barring the most unlikely of circumstances, Boris Johnson is all but guaranteed to become the next Prime Minister, a position he has been waiting for for at least two years. His victory is assured because, in spite of his unpopularity among Conservative MPs and the widespread contempt in which he is held by swathes of the British population, Boris Johnson is the natural choice of Conservative Party members. Because of their demographics, Conservative Party members are not only highly Eurosceptic but, like the citizens of Wellington Wells, entertain questionable versions of history and exhibit an isolation from the rest of the country.

Brexit was not the result of a single factor. But as many commentators and analysts have indicated, nationalist sentiments and imperial nostalgia, particularly among older sections of an English population who believes that Britain alone won the Second World War (despite there being very few people left alive who were combat-active in a war that ended 74 years ago), were significant motivations. Now that the choice of the Prime Minister who will be in Downing Street when October 31st comes, is the choice of 160,000 party members, the demographics of the Conservative Party demonstrate not only why Boris will win, but what awaits Britain after Hard Brexit.

Recent research reveals two significant datasets. First is the demographic composition of the Conservative and Unionist Party. 97% of Conservative members are white. 70% are male. The average age is 57, while 44% of members are over the age of 65. Economically, the vast majority of members are very wealthy homeowners; and geographically, the majority of members are concentrated in rural areas and small towns in the southern shires.

Second is party members’ political preferences surrounding Brexit. The party is conservative not only on economic and constitutional matters but on social issues, as evidenced by the party losing 35-40% of its membership over same-sex marriage in 2013. Research from Queen Mary University shows that half of Conservative members support bringing back the death penalty, and 84% believe that schools should teach obedience to state authority. The remnants of that shrinkage demonstrate stark preferences on Brexit, as revealed by a recent YouGov poll of party members. The June 18th poll revealed that Brexit is so important to party members, they are prepared to initiate the destruction of the party and the fragmentation of the United Kingdom itself, to achieve Brexit. To achieve Brexit, 63% would accept Scotland declaring independence, 61% would accept significant damage to the British economy, 59% would accept Northern Ireland declaring independence or joining the Republic of Ireland, and 54% would accept the destruction of the Conservative Party itself. The only scenario that would cause a razor-thin majority of party members (51%) to abandon Brexit is the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

The party membership, significantly, is much wealthier than the average Briton. Hence Boris Johnson’s promise to give the super-rich a major tax cut, paid for by raising everyone else’s taxes. Economically, Jeremy Hunt’s plan to slash corporation tax from 19% to 12.5% would be less undesirable, partly because it would likely attract money into the country as opposed to Boris Johnson’s pledge to simply shuffle existing money upwards. In a general election, the Conservatives might have chosen Hunt as party leader over Johnson. But with the future of Britain in the hands of 160,000 party members rather than 45,000,000 eligible voters, Hunt’s policies are irrelevant. And policies of economic loyalties are not the only trump cards which Boris holds. For better or for worse, Boris Johnson is a far more charismatic politician and performs well as a quintessentially English character, combining a Churchillian bulldog pantomime act with just the right level of fake bumbling and self-deprecating modesty. To an ageing, wealthy, shrinking party membership who are already prepared to break up the UK and destroy the party in order to deliver what Fintan O’Toole termed “the paranoid fantasy of Brexit”, the delusional imagination that England single-handedly defeated Nazism and that the EU represents a new continental evil, Johnson is all but guaranteed to win. The implications for this are significant.

The Bow Group’s own research indicates that the Conservative Party is in terminal decline, attracting next to no new members while losing existing members to resignations, lapsed memberships, and death. Significantly, new research on changing political preferences shows that in the age of austerity, Britons are not turning to conservatism in middle age as they used to Research in 2013, which predicted the Conservatives slipping to third or fourth place in the UK by 2023 due to membership attrition alone, has been proven to be right for the wrong reason. The Conservative Party’s disastrous performance in the May 2019 European Parliament elections, and the June 2019 Peterborough by-election, revealed a party that has already slipped into somewhere between third and fifth place; a defeat rendered worse by the six-week-old Brexit party mauling the UK’s oldest party. This leaves Parliament in checkmate, incapable of moving in any direction. The Conservatives are still fighting their civil war, but so are Labour. With Labour still licking its wounds from a decisive defeat in the European elections and a Pyrrhic victory in Peterborough, with Jeremy Corbyn still incapable of formulating anything that vaguely resembles a policy on Brexit, and with Labour likely to spend yet another summer dealing with anti-Semitism accusations (this time, in the form of a government enquiry) there is very little chance that support for a second referendum will receive a Parliamentary majority. Neither will support for a No-Deal Brexit. Neither will support for a revived version of Theresa May’s thrice-defeated Withdrawal Agreement. This leaves the possibility of Boris Johnson calling a general election, but with the Conservatives fighting a war on four fronts against Labour, the Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats, and each other, this would be a suicidal option. Meanwhile a stronger EU is in no mood to extend the Brexit negotiations any further. The net result of this is that unless something unforeseen and highly unlikely happens, October 31st will quickly arrive with a No-Deal Brexit as the default option, no matter what Parliament wants.

There are other possibilities, as unlikely as they are. Boris Johnson could promise No Deal just long enough to win the support of 160,000 Conservative leavers, then betray them as soon as he gets the keys to Downing Street (unlikely). Boris could end up relying heavily on Conservative ministers who might try to steer him away from Hard Brexit (quite unlikely). Jeremy Corbyn could resign his leadership and make way for a Remainer to lead Labour (very unlikely). Or perhaps a general election could actually produce a majority for a party – any party – which has a clear Leave or Remain stance, and at least break the deadlock in Parliament (most unlikely). Or, something unexpected and unpredictable could happen, such as Boris Johnson becoming the third Conservative Prime Minister to be toppled by Brexit, triggering yet another leadership race or an election in the last days before Brexit. Yet even if a general election in the autumn returns some sort of majority, either for the Tories or Labour (or even the Liberal Democrats, however unlikely that may be), the new Prime Minister will still be faced with a polarised country whose faith in politicians, and in British politics itself, has never been lower. With the October 31st deadline looming, no Prime Minister will be able to satisfactorily navigate an angry Parliament and a furious electorate. Hard Brexit is the likeliest outcome not only because of a lack of time and appetite for a second referendum, and not only because Parliament is too deadlocked and the EU too fed up with the British to offer another extension, but because it is the desire of the Conservative Party’s membership. Even if it means the destruction of their party and the breakup of their country, splendid isolation at any price is the final act of Brexit.

The videogame We Happy Few paints a bleak picture of Britain after disaster. In the crumbling wasteland of Wellington Wells the government’s and population’s desperation to quarantine their town from the outside world, and from their own despair at losing the Empire and losing a war, has resulted in a starving, economically devastated realm teetering on the brink of complete societal collapse. In this defeated dystopia, the grim realities of past, present, and future are glossed over by a shrinking group of citizens who shun reality in favour of manufactured memories, delusions of grandeur, and empty affirmations of quintessentially English (but not British) exceptionalism. With Britain’s actual future in the hands of a similarly shrinking group, life will soon imitate this art.





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