London violence: Two dead and 14 injured in spate of weekend stabbings

Two people have been killed and at least 14 others injured in an “abhorrent” spate of separate stabbings across London this weekend.

Since Friday night police have dealt with stabbings in Coulsdon, Streatham, Chislehurst, Pimlico and Harrow.

Separate murder investigations were launched in Croydon and Kilburn after two 22-year-olds were stabbed to death just 24 hours apart.

Extra police officers have been deployed across capital, the Met said.

London’s weekend of violence began on Friday night in Croydon when one 22-year-old man was stabbed to death inside a block of flats on Wisbeach Road, Thornton Heath.

The victim has not yet been named by police who said another male was taken to hospital after being injured in the same attack.

Det Supt Nicky Arrowsmith described the latest surge in knife crime as “needless and completely abhorrent.”

On Saturday night Sven Badzak, also 22, was fatally injured after he and a friend fled a group of males in Kilburn.

Mr Badzak was taken to hospital where he later died, Det Ch Insp Darren Jones said.

He added: “At this early stage we believe Sven and his friend became involved in an altercation with a group of males.

“As this group chased the pair, Sven and his friend became separated. Sven fell to the ground and was attacked by a number of the group.

“His friend was also attacked but managed to seek sanctuary in a shop. However, he remains critically ill in hospital.”

There have been no arrests in either murder investigation.

Elsewhere in London, police dealt with stabbings in other parts of Croydon as well as Streatham, Chislehurst, Coulsdon and Pimlico.

All attacks are unconnected and there have been arrests in only two of the Croydon stabbings.

A 20-year-old man who was stabbed in Hindes Road, Harrow, on Sunday afternoon remains in a life-threatening condition, the Met Police said.

All the other victims did not have serious injuries, detectives have said.

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Amazon criticised in paying lower rates than shops

Amazon has been criticised for paying less in business rates than British bricks and mortar retailers.

The online retail giant’s financial results revealed that UK sales for 2020 totalled $26.5bn (£19.3bn) – a 51% jump from $17.5bn in 2019.

Amazon’s overall business rates bill for 2020-2021 is estimated by researchers to be £71.5m – just 0.37% of its retail sales.

They say this is far lower than what the retail sector typically pays.

Amazon insists that it pays its tax and has created thousands of jobs in the UK.

Business rates are calculated by looking at a property’s rateable value and multiplying it by a tax rate set by the government. A new tax rate comes into effect at the start of each financial year on 1 April.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), full-year retail sales at physical shops for the 12 months ending 31 December 2020 fell 10.3% from £318.5bn in 2019 to £285.8bn.

Retail advisor Altus Group says that bricks and mortar retailers would have paid £8.25bn in business rates in 2020, had they not been given a tax holiday due to the pandemic.

It says the figure was calculated using rateable values, multiplied by the 2020 tax rate. The £8.25bn figure amounts to 2.9% of total retail sales, which is much higher than what Amazon pays.

For instance, Arcadia – which owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – would have had to pay £91m in business rates on its 444 stores in 2020, had there not been a tax holiday, Altus Group says.

A Treasury spokesman said: “We want to see thriving high streets, which is why we’ve spent tens of billions of pounds supporting shops throughout the pandemic and are supporting town centres through the changes online shopping brings.

“Our business rates review call for evidence included questions on whether we should shift the balance between online and physical shops by introducing an online sales tax. We’re considering responses now.”

Separately, the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) calculated the business rates paid by physical shops in 2019 and found that they paid £7.17bn in business rates, or 2.3% of their total retail sales in 2019.

The two organisations said that Amazon, which has close to 100 sites in the UK, including distribution warehouses and lockers on High Streets, is not paying enough tax.

However, their calculations do not include corporation tax, which is currently at 19% of profits.

Amazon would not comment on the calculations made by Altus Group and CRR.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “We’ve invested more than £23bn in jobs and infrastructure in the UK since 2010.

“Last year we created 10,000 new jobs and last week we announced 1,000 new apprenticeships. This continued investment helped contribute to a total tax contribution of £1.1bn during 2019 – £293m in direct taxes and £854m in indirect taxes.”

The government is currently reviewing the way in which the business rates system works, and is also separately considering a 2% tax on online sales and services.

But business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that any tax rises would place additional pressure on businesses that are already struggling due to the pandemic.

Amazon: The unstoppable rise of the internet giant

Earlier this week we learned that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive of the e-commerce giant that he started in his garage nearly 30 years ago.

He will make way for Andy Jassy, currently head of Amazon’s cloud computing business, to take day-to-day control.

Billionaire Mr Bezos won’t entirely give up the reins, however, instead assuming the role of executive chairman.

Today, Amazon is one of the most valuable public companies on the planet, with Mr Bezos vying with Tesla’s Elon Musk for the title as world’s richest man.

What started as a small online book retailer has become a global phenomenon, spanning home delivery, cloud computing, advances in artificial intelligence, and the streaming of movies and sports.

And that has brought Amazon much criticism, ranging from accusations it has contributed to the decline of the High Street to complaints about working conditions in its vast warehouses.

So how has the Amazon empire been built?

Amazon’s innovation can be clearly seen in its financial results.

In 2018, it became the world’s second-ever public company to be valued at $1 trillion, after Apple, and today it has the third-highest market valuation in US, after Apple and Microsoft.

The huge success of the online giant is also evident in its revenue.

Sales for 2020 reached $386bn, up from $280bn a year earlier. Net profit almost doubled to $21bn.

Mr Bezos’s success has been driven by the firm’s global expansion, but mainly by expanding into a wide variety of other sectors.

Video streaming services and devices, cloud services and most recently groceries (with the acquisition of Whole Foods Market) have allowed the company to compete directly with technology giants such as Facebook, Apple, Google and Netflix.

And it all began with selling books.

“When we first started selling books four years ago, everybody said, ‘Look, you’re just computer guys and you don’t know anything about selling books.’ And that was true,” said a young Jeff Bezos in 1999.

However, the huge stockpiling space that the company had at the time in the US helped Amazon become a leader in the sector and enabled it to offer a wider selection of books than its bricks-and-mortar rivals.

Then ebooks arrived and Amazon was smart enough to become a key player in that market too.

In the late 1990s, Amazon decided to start selling other goods, starting with music and DVDs.

Soon, Mr Bezos’s empire grew to include electronics, toys and kitchen utensils.

The growing network of US warehouses helped extend what the company could offer, dramatically increasing its popularity with customers.

Ten years later, Amazon had become the biggest online seller in the US and around the world.

Following the creation of Amazon Marketplace in 2000 – which opened the platform up to thousands of small businesses – Amazon felt the need to boost its delivery service for loyal customers.

Amazon Prime was launched in 2005, offering quicker shipping for selected items. This boosted sales of all sorts of goods.

More than 100 million paying customers are now members of subscription service Amazon Prime, which also offers video and music streaming.

It is the second-largest paid membership programme in the world.

Amazon never forgot its bookselling origins. When ebooks started to become popular, Mr Bezos launched the Kindle in 2007, eventually becoming the global leader in the sector.

The Amazon smart devices department grew exponentially, facing fierce competition from Apple and Google in the early 2010s.

Amazon, however, was the first company to launch a smart device: the Echo speaker, equipped with the firm’s own artificial intelligence system, Alexa.

It is now the third-largest seller of smart devices in the US.

Today, the future of Amazon looks a bit more complicated than just selling products on the internet.

Having successfully dominated online retail, the firm has now set its sights on expanding its services – and perhaps surprisingly, into physical stores – to create a new way of shopping.

Kilburn stabbing: Police name victim of barbaric attack as Sven Badzak

A 22-year-old man killed in a double stabbing outside a Tesco store in Kilburn, north-west London, has been named by police as Sven Badzak.

Detectives said Mr Badzak was chased by a group of males and was attacked after falling on Willesden Lane.

Mr Badzak’s 16-year-old friend was also stabbed in the attack and remains critically ill in hospital, the Met Police said.

Ch Insp Guy Ellwood described the attack as “barbaric”.

Officers were called to Willesden Lane at 17:40 GMT on Saturday where they found Mr Badzak injured.

Mr Badzak was taken to a hospital in central London where he later died, Det Ch Insp Darren Jones said.

He added: “At this early stage we believe Sven and his friend became involved in an altercation with a group of males.

“As this group chased the pair, Sven and his friend became separated. Sven fell to the ground and was attacked by a number of the group.

“His friend was also attacked but managed to seek sanctuary in a shop. However, he remains critically ill in hospital.”

Det Ch Insp Jones appealed for any witnesses who were in the Willesden Lane and Kilburn High Road areas at the time of the attack.

The murder investigation comes after another 13 people were injured in an “abhorrent” wave of knife crime across parts of the capital.

Throughout Friday night the Met was called to separate stabbings in other parts of Croydon, Chislehurst and Streatham.

One of the victims, a 22-year-old man, died after being attacked in the Wisbeach area of Croydon.

On Saturday afternoon another man, aged 24, was stabbed on Oakfield Road near West Croydon station.

Hours later, a 15-year-old boy was attacked on the Churchill Gardens Estate in Westminster, police said.

None of those victims suffered life-threatening injuries, the Met added.

Man, 70, dedicates solo Atlantic row to brother-in-law

A 70-year-old man has raised more than £700,000 for dementia research after rowing 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic.

Frank Rothwell, from Oldham, set off from the Canary Islands on 12 December in a boat nicknamed Never Too Old and reached Antigua on Saturday.

He said crossing the finish line was a “completely euphoric moment”.

He also paid tribute to his brother-in-law, who died aged 62 with Alzheimer’s disease during the journey.

“While rowing, I received heart-breaking messages from people who have had similar experiences to my own, with my brother-in-law, Roger, so I hope I’ve helped other families in some way too,” he said.

In April, Guinness World Records and the Ocean Rowing Society confirmed 72-year-old Graham Walters, from Leicestershire, as the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic, despite being towed the final few miles to shore.

At 70, Mr Rothwell is the oldest person to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Mr Rothwell has previously spent five weeks on a deserted island for a Bear Grylls TV programme.

Speaking after his journey, he said: “I felt quite emotional approaching the finish.

“It took six long weeks to row the Atlantic, but the challenge itself has taken over 18 months of training and preparation, so I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and the unbelievable journey I’ve been on.”

Mr Rothwell reached Antigua before his Valentine’s Day target and was reunited with Judith, his wife of 50 years.

Source: NHS

The charitable foundation of the supermarket firm Iceland Foods has pledged to double the first £500,000 of donations.

The company’s founder Sir Malcolm Walker said he had known Mr Rothwell for many years and “knew his determination”.

“But seeing the heart-warming and generous support he’s receiving from the public is astounding,” he added.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, added that Mr Rothwell’s attempt to raise £1m was a “crucial lifeline” for research efforts.

“By taking on such a monumental challenge at 70 years old, he has helped to spread awareness and inspired people of all ages to take on their own challenges,” she said.

Londonderry: Man critically ill after double shooting

A man is in a critical condition in hospital after he and another man were shot in the legs in the Creggan area of Londonderry on Saturday.

The pair were attacked in an alleyway in Rinmore Drive shortly after 18:35 GMT and both were taken to hospital.

One of the injured men has since been discharged, but the other man was transferred to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital where he is in intensive care.

Police said they believe dissident republicans carried out the shootings.

They said a 48-year-old man was shot in his thigh and shin and a 31-year-old was shot in his thigh.

Det Insp Michelle Boyd described the attack as savage and repugnant.

“The fact the victims were shot in a residential area at a time when people would have been out and about shows just how reckless those responsible are, and how they have no regard whatsoever for life,” she said.

Four people have now been shot in Derry since the start of the year.

Patterdale mountain rescuer seriously injured in 150m fall

A mountain rescue volunteer has suffered “significant injuries” after falling 150m (500ft) during a mission.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue team was responding to reports of a camper suffering chest pains in the early hours of Saturday when one of its volunteers fell down steep ground.

The rescuer was airlifted to hospital where they are in a “serious condition”, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association said.

People are being urged to stay at home.

The association, which previously thanked people for following the lockdown rules, said a person was camping on Red Screes above Kirkstone Pass when they fell ill.

The camper was carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital by road ambulance.

The association said its thoughts were with the camper as “no-one sets out on the fells with the intention of having an accident”, but the “simple truth” is the more people who go out in the fells, the higher the number of rescues the teams will have to carry out.

Mike Blakey from the association said: “This rescue and the subsequent life-changing injuries incurred by our team member were avoidable.”

Pontypool man, 70, arrested on suspicion of murder after woman dies

A 70-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a woman aged 74.

Police are investigating after the woman was found dead at a property in Sebastopol, Pontypool, at approximately 09:20 GMT on Saturday.

Officers said the arrested man, from Pontypool, is currently in police custody.

Gwent Police said officers were in the area “to reassure the community and carry out investigations”.

UK weather: Snow and ice warnings issued for England, Scotland and NI

Heavy snow could bring significant disruption to the east and south-east of England in the coming hours.

An amber warning – meaning travel disruption, stranded vehicles and power cuts are likely – is in force until Monday morning.

Snow has fallen already and yellow warnings have been issued for much of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The cold snap is not expected to be as widespread as 2018’s Beast from the East, forecasters say.

But the cold weather will last until at least the middle of the week, said BBC Weather forecaster Billy Payne.

“Temperatures will be remaining below freezing by day for some with snow showers, most frequent in the east where significant accumulations are likely, and a risk of ice,” he said. “A severe wind chill too.”

“It qualifies as a Beast from the East in my view – although it’s not ‘Beast from the East Two’ since we’ve had a number of cold easterly spells over the years.”

Forecasters have warned that Storm Darcy will bring heavy snowfall, particularly to parts of East Anglia and Kent where there could be up to 30cm of snow and gale-force winds.

Snow showers are also expected along the eastern side of England and Scotland in the coming days, with a few moving into central areas including northern England.

The amber warning – which also means disruption to gas, telephone or mobile phone coverage is likely – covers parts of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Medway and lasts until 12:00 on Monday.

Yellow warnings – meaning there could be travel disruption and a slight chance of power cuts or communities being cut off – include:

Parts of Scotland have already been hit by heavy snow, while there has been heavy rain in other areas.

In Cupar, Fife, homes have been inundated and a park flooded after the nearby River Eden burst its banks.

Glasgow City Council said it had sent out gritters on Saturday night to outlying priority routes and areas around vaccine centres.

There were 38 flood warnings across England, as of Sunday lunchtime.

Amid the warnings of travel disruption, rail operator Southeastern strongly advised passengers not to travel on its network on Sunday or Monday, while Southern cancelled trains on two of its routes.

Meanwhile, Public Health England has issued a cold weather alert for the whole nation from Saturday through to Wednesday.

Dr Owen Landeg said it was “crucial” people looked out for those who may be vulnerable during the current cold snap, calling on the public to make sure those at-risk have enough food and drink to stay warm and well.

Richard Gerard Boyle: Second arrest after Belfast hit-and-run

Police investigating the death of a man in a hit-and-run in west Belfast on Friday have made a second arrest.

Richard Gerard Boyle, 42, was a pedestrian on the Stewartstown Road when he was hit just before 22:20 GMT on Friday.

Mr Boyle, who was from Dunmurry, was taken to hospital where he later died.

A 22-year-old man was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of a number of related offences. He remains in custody.

A 23-year-old man arrested on Saturday in connection with the incident has been released on bail.

Police are investigating whether the car that hit and killed Mr Boyle was the same vehicle found on fire in nearby Turf Lodge.

PSNI Insp Phillip McCullough appealed to anyone who was on the Stewartstown Road between 21:30 and 22:20 GMT, or who might have dashcam footage, to contact police.

He said the vehicle failed to stop at the scene and have appealed for information about a dark coloured Volkswagen Golf, which they believe may have been involved in the collision.