Wales lockdown: Supermarkets covering up non-essential items

Supermarkets have been covering up non-essential goods as Wales enters a national lockdown.

From 18:00 BST shops will be forced to close for 17 days, unless they sell essential items such as food.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said supermarkets should also stop selling items such as clothes as a matter of “fairness” until 9 November.

But the Welsh Retail Consortium said it was “deeply disappointed” with the “ill-conceived policy”.

Retailers have said the rules are confusing as they have not been given any definition of what is essential.

By law, clothing and homeware stores, and garden centres, will have to close during the national lockdown, while supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores can remain open.

On Thursday, the Welsh Government said that supermarkets would be told not to sell non-essential goods, like clothes, toys, decorations and electrical items during the 17-day firebreak.

Plastic covering was seen placed over pillows and cat baskets in Asda in Coryton, Cardiff.

The company said it had been given “little time to implement these changes or clarity on what is deemed ‘essential'” and had “expressed our deep concerns about the implications for customers accessing products they genuinely need”.

Tesco said it would work “incredibly hard” to comply with the Welsh Government’s rules, while Sainsbury’s said it was “working around the clock to put changes in place”.

The Welsh Retail Consortium said: “In spite of the dearth of government clarity, our members’ focus now will be on equipping hard-working colleagues with as much information as possible given the undoubted uncertainty and complexity that has been caused by this decision.”

Guidance published for retailers on the Welsh Government’s website says aisles selling homeware and decorations, toys, mobile phones, clothes and games, should be “closed to the public”, and some areas may need to be cordoned off.

Speaking at Friday’s Welsh Government briefing, Mr Drakeford said the decision to stop supermarkets from selling all but essential items was based on a “need for fair play”.

“I’m not prepared to treat small businesses in Wales in one way, requiring them to close – they are not able to earn a living during these two weeks, as part of our national efforts – and then simply because another sector in society are more powerful, are bigger, that they think that they can be treated differently.

“It is a straightforward matter of fairness, we are in this together here in Wales.

“No individual and no organisation is above the effort that we are all required to make.”

Mr Drakeford said “many hundreds” of small businesses would be closed across Wales.

“We cannot do that and then allow supermarkets to sell goods that those people are unable to sell,” he said.

He added: “This is not a period to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods.”

The Welsh Conservatives have said businesses and the economy would be hit “very, very hard” by the rule, and Plaid Cymru said communication about what the rule meant was “lacking”.

Mr Drakeford defended himself from criticism of the plans saying they were making decisions under “huge pressure.”

“We said from the very beginning that non-essential retail would close in Wales,” he said. “All we are doing is clarifying that and remaining consistent with that initial decision.”

If people could not find essential products in supermarkets there were ways around the problem, he said, adding that friends and neighbours were “often very willing to help”.

“There are online ways that people can purchase goods,” Mr Drakeford said. “It is not a problem without a solution.”

Senedd Conservative leader Paul Davies said: “It shouldn’t have come to this in the first place.

“We believe that introducing this temporary national lockdown is disproportionate and will actually hit businesses and hit the economy very, very hard, and therefore in our view obviously independent retailers should be allowed to open as well.”

Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth claimed Welsh Government communication was lacking.

“I think that’s been the story throughout this pandemic,” he said.

“I’ve been arguing on behalf of businesses in my constituency back in May, June, July, give us plans, give us an idea of what is ahead.

“This firebreak needs to be a reset for the way government communicates these messages.”

Adrian Murphy: Couple guilty of dancers Devils breath drug murder

A couple have been found guilty of murdering an Irish dancer after meeting him through a gay dating app and poisoning him with an incapacitating drug nicknamed “Devil’s breath”.

Joel Osei, 25, and his partner, Diana Cristea, 19, used Grindr to befriend men before drugging and robbing them.

They were arrested after the body of Adrian Murphy was found at a 17th-floor flat in Battersea, south-west London, on 4 June.

They will be sentenced in December.

Croydon Crown Court heard paramedics had attended to another man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, several days earlier, who had also been drugged and robbed by Osei.

The pair then used the man’s details in a failed bid to buy $80,000 (£62,000) worth of diamonds from a jeweller in New York.

Both Osei and Cristea were also accused of one count of administering a poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life, two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.

The jury returned a majority guilty verdict on all counts for both defendants.

Osei had admitted manslaughter and an alternative charge of administering poison, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy, as well as seven counts of fraud. He denied two counts of theft.

Cristea admitted one count of fraud and two counts of handling stolen goods.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the court the drug scopolamine was known as Devil’s breath in Colombia and is said to be “popular with robbers and rapists” as it allows them to incapacitate their victims.

Following the verdict, Robert Murphy paid tribute to his “inspirational” brother, and said his death had “left a huge void” within the family.

“He made so many loyal friends who are so sad at his untimely passing as he was an inspirational Irishman, who was a gifted dancer and choreographer,” he said.

“Adrian’s legacy is that of a hero and hopefully his tragic death has stopped this happening to any other innocent victim.”

Osei, who was previously living at Kerswell Close in Seven Sisters, north London, and Cristea, of Langley Park, Mill Hill, Barnet, north London, will be sentenced on 14 December.

Essex lorry deaths: Woman in France saw migrants get in lorry

A woman saw nine people get into a lorry in northern France the day before 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead inside it in the UK, a court heard.

The witness, who alerted police, said the group were dropped by taxi near a farm shed before the white lorry stopped and they got in.

A little later on 22 October 2019, a lone man arrived saying he was “looking for his friends”, the Old Bailey heard.

Four men are on trial after the migrants’ bodies were found in Essex.

Jurors have heard the 39 victims, aged between 15 and 44, had suffocated in the sealed trailer – which was found on an industrial estate in Purfleet – as the temperature inside reached 38.5C.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Basildon, Essex, and lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, deny the manslaughters of 39 Vietnamese people, aged between 15 and 44.

Mr Harrison, of Mayobridge, County Down, Christopher Kennedy, 24, of County Armagh, and Valentin Calota, 37, of Birmingham, deny being part of a people-smuggling conspiracy, which Mr Nica has admitted.

A statement from carer Laetitia Mockelyn was read to the trial, in which she said she had heard Estelle Duyke call the Gendarmes on 22 October about migrants being seen close to her elderly mother-in-law’s house, in Bierne.

She said she later saw the lone man being dropped off by a taxi after the lorry had left with the nine people who had arrived earlier.

When he was approached the man said in English he was “looking for his friends”, before walking off in the direction of a factory.

When the Gendarmerie arrived they checked the shed where the nine people had waited but “there was no-one there”, Ms Mockelyn said.

She said the nine all appeared to be aged under 35 and among them was a woman wearing a padded jacket, white woolly hat and small backpack, and a “slightly-built” man in jeans and classic black cap.

The man who arrived after the lorry departed was described as being of small build and wearing blue jeans, a padded jacket and Adidas backpack.

Ms Mockelyn told officers she had never seen anything like it before.

Lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, allegedly picked up the migrants in his trailer before dropping it at the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, on 22 October.

The court heard the temperature inside the trailer had already risen from 11.7C to 15.6C by 10:30 BST.

The next morning the trailer was collected by Maurice Robinson in Purfleet, Essex, and he discovered the bodies of the men, women and children, the jury was told.

Prosecutors said Harrison had two encounters with the police in the days before he allegedly collected the migrants. The first time was due to the fact he was intoxicated and the second because his trailer was parked illegally.

Meanwhile, haulage boss Ronan Hughes, Robinson and alleged key organiser Gheorghe Nica were caught on CCTV at the Ibis Hotel in Thurrock, Essex, on the evening of 18 October.

Hughes, 41, and Robinson, 26, have pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter.

The trial continues.

Timothy Brehmer murder trial: PC planned emotional blackmail

A police officer accused of murdering his lover tried to “emotionally blackmail” her by threatening to kill himself, a court has heard.

Timothy Brehmer, a constable with Dorset Police, killed nurse Claire Parry, 41, in a pub car park on 9 May.

The prosecution told Salisbury Crown Court he attempted to buy a rope so he could tell Mrs Parry he intended to kill himself with it.

Mr Brehmer, 41, of Hordle, Hampshire, admits manslaughter but denies murder.

The defendant, who was married, had been in a relationship with mother-of-one Mrs Parry for more than 10 years, the court previously heard.

He agreed to meet the nurse, who was herself married to another Dorset Police officer, after she “relentlessly” sent him messages for two days, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Richard Smith QC said Mr Brehmer tried to buy a rope but came into difficulty because of click and collect restrictions during lockdown.

Mr Smith said: “It was a tool, a device to emotionally blackmail the woman who was going to reveal this affair.

“This is a man who was hoping to placate, to talk, make things better, even if it involved a bit of emotional blackmail and then be back in time for a neighbourhood barbecue.”

Mr Smith said Mrs Parry was angry because she had found out about a previous lover of his.

The prosecutor said: “She had her eyes opened about this man, the womaniser, the tale-teller.”

He said the “catalyst” for the attack was when Mrs Parry texted his wife Martha revealing the affair.

Mr Smith said Mr Brehmer had “showered misery over all manner of people”, and that the jury should not to be “fooled” by his version of events.

Mr Brehmer has claimed he strangled her by accident during a “kerfuffle” in his car while pushing her.

Mrs Parry, from Bournemouth, died in hospital the following day from a brain injury caused by compression of the neck.

The trial continues.

Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube found recently hosting racist music

An excerpt of a Hitler speech, calls for “Aryans” to make a brand new start and references to white power have all been found in songs on major music streaming services.

Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Deezer have now removed racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic content from their services, following a BBC investigation.

Many of the examples we found on the platforms were linked to white supremacy.

It comes three years after Spotify tried to crackdown on a similar issue and updated its hate content policy.

Spotify said the content flagged by the BBC clearly violated that policy. YouTube said there was no place for hate on its platform while Apple Music has now hidden the majority of the tracks.

It’s difficult to quantify the scale of the problem. However, the BBC investigation easily found at least 20 songs with disturbing content:

Searching out the music required no specialist skills or effort.

In some cases, racist titles of albums and songs had been changed to remove words such as ‘Aryan’ and ‘white’ but the lyrics remained the same.

Most examples were found on Spotify and in one case, a song on its platform contained these lyrics:

So wake from your bed, and raise your head

Aryan child, listen to what is said

So rise your hand and learn to love your land

For the white revolution needs your uncorrupted hand.

The BBC has decided not to name the bands or the songs in an effort not to assist people searching for hateful content.

Eric Ward, a civil rights strategist at the Western States Center, said people “trust streaming services” and didn’t use them “to be presented with hate music and hate lyrics”.

“The onus is on streaming platforms to do a better job at monitoring and searching for this music. They simply need to invest more.

“This is about the credibility of a company and a brand. Brands are important and white power music will damage your streaming brand.”

Eric Ward says streaming has made hate music “more accessible” with “algorithms suggesting this music to those who may not actually be searching for it”.

On Spotify, public playlists and “suggested artists” did make it easier for the BBC to find extreme content.

In some cases, users created playlists that collated songs and bands associated with the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) movement.

The metal sub-genre largely comes from Eastern Europe and Russia. Anti-Semitism and glorification of the Holocaust is common in its lyrics, according to Nick Spooner, from anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate.

He said the metal community has been waking up to the presence of the NSBM and how the scene “has been allowed to fester within the wider metal scene”.

“The growth of the white power music scene in the 70s and 80s ran in parallel with a growth of fascist parties in the UK so there’s a big worry that could happen again.”

‘We understand that things will inevitably slip through the cracks.

But with great power comes great responsibility.

And streaming services have set themselves up to be the primary source of music.’

– Eric K Ward, civil rights strategist.

Music has been an integral part of neo-Nazi and white power movements since the 1980s.

The British-based Blood and Honour movement was spearheaded by a neo-nazi called Ian Stuart Donaldson, the lead singer of a band called Skrewdriver. He died in 1993.

The group didn’t start out with a racist agenda but Donaldson took them in that direction.

Many of the groups we found on streaming services idolise Skrewdriver and Donaldson in their songs.

Some of the bands – from the UK, US and Europe – have long been on the radar of civil rights and anti-hate campaign groups, and venues have been criticised in the past for allowing such groups to play gigs.

The streaming platforms can use a combination of technology and people to actively search for content – but also rely on customers reporting offensive material.

There are currently more than 65 million songs and over 1.5 million podcasts on Spotify.

In a statement, Spotify said it “prohibits content which expressly and principally advocates or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics (race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability).”

It said it was “continuously developing, improving, and implementing monitoring technology that identifies content in our service that violates our policy, including but not limited to, content flagged as hate content.”

Apple Music said the company had hidden the majority of the tracks highlighted by the BBC, while the rest are still under investigation.

It also highlighted that it has “strong editorial guidelines that prohibit distributors and rights owners submitting content like this”.

In a statement, YouTube Music said: “We’ve worked hard to develop responsible guidelines to define and make clear what content is unacceptable or when artistic expression crosses the lines of safety.

“When content is flagged to us, we work quickly to remove videos that violate our policies.

“We’re committed to continuing our work on this issue to ensure YouTube is not a place for those who seek to do harm.”

Deezer said it doesn’t condone hate or discrimination and has a process in place to deal with these issues.

Content on YouTube is less regulated than music platforms. But for videos to have adverts, it has to comply with terms and conditions.

Despite this, many of the bands and songs found on the music platforms are preceded by adverts for household brands including Cadbury’s and Uber.

Users must apply to be able to ‘monetise’ their videos, which allows them to earn money from advertisers – the more views, the more income.

According to YouTube’s rules, users can only earn money from adverts if they follow guidelines, including a ban on “hateful content”.

This is defined as anything that “incites hatred against, promotes discrimination, disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people” based on a list of characteristics that includes race, ethnicity and religion.

YouTube reviewers “regularly check to see if monetising channels follow these policies”.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Passers-by steal belongings of dying woman in Brierfield, police say

Two passers-by offered to help a dying woman in Lancashire before stealing her phone and purse, police have said.

The man and woman were walking along Walter Street, Brierfield, when the woman’s husband ran into the street to get help at 03:00 BST on 16 October.

They offered to phone for an ambulance while the husband went upstairs to sit with his wife, who died later that day.

A purse and a mobile phone, belonging to the deceased woman, were later found to be missing, police said.

“To commit a crime like this on an elderly and vulnerable man in his hour of need is shameful and appalling and we are committed to finding those responsible,” said PC Rob Bayley.

Detectives have released CCTV of a man and a woman, who they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.

China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents

China has told Britain to “immediately correct its mistakes” after the UK reaffirmed its plan to offer a route to British citizenship to almost three million people living there.

The offer was made in July when Beijing imposed a strict national security law on the former British colony.

Critics say it undermines the civil freedoms that China agreed to uphold when Hong Kong was handed back in 1997.

Beijing has previously warned the UK not to meddle in “domestic issues”.

Friday’s warning came from the Hong Kong arm of China’s Foreign Ministry.

The British offer is not for all residents of Hong Kong, but only those holding a British National Overseas (BNO) passport. Only those born before the 1997 handover of the territory to China have the right to hold one.

Around 300,000 people currently hold a BNO passport, while an estimated 2.9 million people are eligible for it, according to the British Consulate General in Hong Kong.

UK government analysts estimate that up to one million people could take up the offer to live in the UK when the new visa becomes available in January.

However, critics say the new visa law won’t protect young pro-democracy protesters who were born after 1997 and are primarily targeted by the security law.

The law which targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison, was introduced in July, in response to repeated protests in Hong Kong demanding more democracy and less Chinese influence.

That same month, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said Hong Kong’s British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders and their immediate dependants would have the right to apply for a special UK visa from January.

BNO holders already have the right to visit the UK visa-free for six months.

The new offer however will allow them to remain in the UK for a longer period, and then eventually become full British citizens.

Kristen Welker: Presidential debate moderator was clear winner on social media

If social media is to be believed, there was only one winner of the final presidential debate – the person in charge.

Kristen Welker has been lauded online for her performance as moderator, in particular being praised for keeping candidates to time and not allowing them to talk over her.

The 44-year-old grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Harvard in 1998.

She became NBC’s White House Correspondent in 2011, and has since become co-anchor of NBC show Weekend Today.

There have been more than 125,000 tweets about the NBC journalist, who became only the second black woman to moderate a presidential debate alone, 28 years after ABC News journalist Carole Simpson became the first in 1992.

Welker would have still been at school when Simpson moderated that debate between Bill Clinton and George HW Bush.

Fox News journalist Chris Wallace faced criticism for his moderation of the last debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, while Susan Page was similarly criticised for how she handled the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.

But clearly Welker was taking notes from those debates, as she was praised specifically for managing to keep the candidates in line, and controlling the conversation – though she did have the advantage of the candidates being muted during each others’ allotted two minutes.

Fellow journalists have been vocal in their praise for Welker’s performance. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson called it “a career-defining moment”, while news anchor Harris Faulkner said she “gave the American people a real debate”.

And PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said she was “beaming” watching Welker.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow labelled Welker the “clear winner” of the debate, while previous moderator Chris Wallace told Fox News that he was “jealous” of her – wishing that he had been able to take charge of the debate instead.

It was not just Welker’s colleagues who were positive about her performance. American author Brigitte Gabriel said she did a better job than Wallace, and one person went so far as to suggest she deserved a medal for her performance.

And despite calling Welker “terrible and unfair” ahead of time, Trump took time during the debate to praise the moderator’s performance.

“By the way, so far I respect very much the way you’re handling this,” he said.