Charlie Gard parents given more time to say goodbye to terminally ill son

Charlie Gard

Charlie Gard’s parents have been told they will be able to spend more time with their terminally ill baby.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates had been expecting their 10-month-old’s life support to be turned off on Friday.

Great Ormond Street Hospital has since disclosed it is putting plans in place for Charlie’s care to allow his family to spend more time with him.

On Tuesday, to take him to the US for experimental treatment.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights concluded that further treatment would “continue to cause Charlie significant harm”, in line with advice from specialists at Great Ormond Street.

He has a rare genetic disease as well as brain damage and is believed to be one of 16 children in the world to have the condition; mitochondrial depletion syndrome.

Doctors have said he cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow.

Charlie has been receiving specialist treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital since October 2016.

His parents said they had been denied their final wish to be able to take their son home to die and felt “let down” following the lengthy legal battle.

Alongside a video posted on YouTube on Thursday, Charlie’s parents wrote: “We are utterly heartbroken spending our last precious hours with our baby boy.

“We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives and we’re not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies.

“We, and most importantly Charlie, have been massively let down throughout this whole process.”

  • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London
  • 11 April: He says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment
  • 3 May: Charlie’s parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case
  • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case
  • 25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal
  • 8 June: Charlie’s parents lose fight in the Supreme Court
  • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions
  • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene

A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital said earlier: “As with all of our patients we are not able to, and nor will we, discuss these specific details of care.

“This is a very distressing situation for Charlie’s parents and all the staff involved and our focus remains with them.”

Charlie’s parents raised £1.3m on a crowdfunding site to pay for the experimental treatment in the US.

Ms Yates previously indicated the if Charlie did “not get his chance”.

Jean-Claude Juncker: I don’t own a smartphone

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has admitted that he does not own a smartphone.

“I shouldn’t say, but I have to say it – I still don’t have a smartphone,” the 62-year-old told a news conference.

The light-hearted confession came as he helped launch the EU presidency of digital-savvy Estonia.

Mr Juncker joked that the country’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas had “sent me, like in the 19th Century, a postcard inviting me to Tallinn”.

According to EU sources, Mr Juncker’s telephone of choice is an old Nokia mobile.

The EU chief is a former prime minister of Luxembourg, but said that with such technophobic tendencies, he “couldn’t become prime minister of Estonia; this would be totally impossible”.

Estonia is one of the world’s most digitally-connected countries, and was the first to introduce online voting.

It hopes to push digital issues as part of its six-month stint as president of the EU, which begins on Saturday.

Tech matters will have to share space with the pressing issues of Brexit and migration, however.

Mr Juncker’s admission comes 10 years after Apple introduced the iPhone, setting a global revolution in motion.

And yet, he is not the only political heavyweight resisting the march of technology.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, still does not have a Twitter account.

Property website Zillow backs down in row with McMansion Hell blog

annotated property image

A dispute between a blogger and a property website over photo copyright has been settled after the website backed down.

Kate Wagner runs McMansion Hell, a satirical blog in which she critiques modern architecture and interior decor by annotating images taken from US property websites.

Property platform Zillow claimed that she was infringing copyright, although it does not own the images it posts.

Ms Wagner initially shut down her blog.

Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took on her cause after she shared , which instructed her to remove all the photos she had ever used from its site.

Zillow said Ms Wagner was violating its terms which included reproducing or modifying the images it shared in its listings.

It also suggested McMansion Hell was in breach of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a criminal offence.

In the EFF said the agreements Zillow had made with its partners did not apply to her and that her inclusion of the photos was “fair use”.

Zillow has now agreed not to take further action and Ms Wagner says she will no longer use it as an image source.

In the firm said it was “never its intention” to shut down the blog, which receives some funding via crowdfunding website Patreon.

“We acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our partners – the agents and brokers who entrust us to display photos of their clients’ homes,” said a spokeswoman.

Facebook drone in successful test flight

Aquila drone

Facebook has completed a second test of a solar-powered drone designed to bring internet access to remote parts of the world.

The drone – dubbed Aquila – flew for one hour and 46 minutes in Arizona.

On Aquila’s maiden voyage last summer, the autopilot system was confused by heavy wind and crash-landed.

This time, the drone flew at an altitude of 3,000ft, a long way from Facebook’s intended 60,000ft goal.

The social network has ambitious plans for its drone fleet and eventually wants to have them communicating with each other via lasers and staying in the air for months at a time.

The test – which took place in May but is only now being made public – went “perfectly”, according to a detailing the flight.

Facebook had initially heralded its June 2016 test a success but later admitted the drone had crashed on landing.

The crash was only revealed when it emerged that it had been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

This time, the engineering team added “spoilers” to the wings to increase drag and reduce lift during landing. They also modified the autopilot software and applied a smoother finish to the craft.

The team filmed the landing and included the video in the blog post.

Director of aeronautical platforms Martin Luis Gomez said the drone had suffered “a few minor, easily repairable dings”.

Aquila – which has a wingspan of a Boeing 737 – is part of Facebook’s ambitious plans to connect the world to the internet.

This week, it announced that it has, more than a quarter of the world’s population.

Caversham florists besieged with calls in phone scam

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Shop manager Denika Potter said some of those ringing her business had been abusive

A family-run florist says it is being besieged with up to 120 calls a day in a phone cloning scam.

Fraudsters posing as TalkTalk workers have switched their caller ID – the incoming number which appears on mobile phone screens – to that of The Flower Shop in Caversham, Reading.

The shop said “confused” callers asking for the telecoms firm had started contacting them on Friday.

The case is being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

A TalkTalk spokesman said: “We can confirm that this incident is not related to TalkTalk.”

Shop manager Denika Potter said some of those ringing the business had been abusive after the fraudsters had tried to dupe them into providing their bank details.

She said many people recognised they were being targeted by scammers, but mistakenly thought the call had originated from the florist.

“Most customers are nice, accept it and apologise,” said Ms Potter.

“Some are very annoyed, which you obviously may be if you are getting lots of missed calls from a number.”

She said the calls were “disturbing” her staff’s daily work and added: “We are a small business and we’re having to stop to answer the phone all the time.”

An Action Fraud spokesman said it could take up to 28 days to determine whether there were “sufficient lines of enquiry for an investigation based in the UK”.

Germany votes for 50m euro social media fines

Facebook logo

Social media companies in Germany face fines of up to 50m euros ($57.1; £43.9m) if they fail to remove “obviously illegal” content in time.

From October, Facebook, YouTube, and other sites with more than two million users in Germany must take down posts containing hate speech or other criminal material within 24 hours.

Content that is not obviously unlawful must be assessed within seven days.

The new law is one of the toughest of its kind in the world.

Failure to comply will result in a 5m euro penalty, which could rise to 50m euros depending on the severity of the offence.

In a statement, Facebook said it shared the goal of the German government to fight hate speech.

It added: “We believe the best solutions will be found when government, civil society and industry work together and that this law as it stands now will not improve efforts to tackle this important societal problem.”

German MPs voted in favour of the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law after months of deliberation, on the last legislative day before the Bundestag’s summer break.

But it has already been condemned by human rights groups and industry representatives.

They claim the tight time limits are unrealistic, and will lead to accidental censorship as technology companies err on the side of caution and delete ambiguous posts to avoid paying penalties.

The law will not come into force until after the German federal elections, which will be held in September.

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Human rights groups are concerned by Germany’s plan to fine social media companies

Justice Minister Heiko Maas singled out Facebook, which has some 30 million users in Germany, saying experience had shown that without political pressure, “the large platform operators would not fulfil their obligations” to take down illegal content.

He added that while the law “does not solve all problems”, it tackles the issue of hate crimes on social media, which are “increasingly a problem in many countries”.

Mr Maas, who oversaw the legislation, told the German parliament that online hate crimes had increased by almost 300% in the past few years, adding that “no one should be above the law”.

The bill was drafted after several high-profile incidents of fake news and criminal hate speech being spread on social media sites in Germany.

One case involved the targeting of prominent Green MP Renate Kunast, with a post that falsely suggested she was sympathetic to a refugee who had murdered a German student in the southern city of Freiburg.

For its part, Facebook said it had already made “substantial progress” in removing illegal content, and called into question the efficacy of the law.

The company recently announced it had hired an extra 3,000 staff (on top of the 4,500 it already has) to help monitor “the millions of reports” that come through every week.

Social media companies also point to a recent report by the European Commission, which showed that some 80% of all reported illegal content is already removed in Germany.

In addition to social media sites themselves, three voluntary, independent bodies currently monitor the German internet.

The BBC was given access to one of them, run by Eco, the German Association of the Internet Industry, in Cologne.

In a small, heavily secured office, three legal experts sifted through thousands of complaints from members of the public.

One example shown to the BBC was of a YouTube video titled “Sieg Heil”, a phrase that can be illegal in Germany.

The video was reported to the local police in North-Rhine Westphalia, and followed up with the social network itself after a few days.

But the organisers of the facility, which has been in existence for 15 years, are also concerned about NetzDG, which they say has been “rushed through” for political expediency.

“It takes time to define if a complaint’s content is really illegal or not,” said Alexander Rabe, a member of the Eco board, which was consulted by the government on the draft law.

Mr Rabe also pointed out that much of what many might deem to be “fake news” or hate speech on their social media feeds was not in fact illegal content under current German law.

The bill has also faced criticism from human right’s campaigners.

“Many of the violations covered by the bill are highly dependent on context, context which platforms are in no position to assess,” wrote the UN Special Rapporteur to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, David Kaye.

He added that “the obligations placed upon private companies to regulate and take down content raises concern with respect to freedom of expression”.

The law could still be stopped in Brussels, where campaigners have claimed it breaches EU laws.

Charlie Gard: Life support to be turned off, parents say

Charlie Gard

The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard have said his life support machine will be turned off later.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates have criticised doctors after their request to bring their son home to die was denied.

Great Ormond Street Hospital believe Charlie has no chance of survival and said it was a “distressing situation”.

On Tuesday, Charlie’s parents lost their to take him to the US for treatment.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights concluded that further treatment would “continue to cause Charlie significant harm”, in line with advice from specialists at Great Ormond Street.

Ten-month-old Charlie is thought to be one of 16 children in the world to have mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a condition which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

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Charlie Gard’s parents say their wish to take their son home to die has been denied
  • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London
  • 11 April: He says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment
  • 3 May: Charlie’s parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case
  • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case
  • 25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal
  • 8 June: Charlie’s parents lose fight in the Supreme Court
  • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions
  • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene

Doctors have said he cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow.

He has been receiving specialist treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital since October last year.

In a video statement Ms Yates, from Bedfont, west London, said: “We’ve promised our little boy every single day that we would take him home, because that is a promise we thought we could keep.

“We were told he has to die in that hospital.”

Charlie’s parents say they have “begged” administrators to “give us this weekend” to allow his family to say goodbye.

“Some of our family can’t come until tomorrow so the last time they saw Charlie is the last time they will ever see him”, Mr Gard said.

A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “As with all of our patients, we are not able to and nor will we discuss these specific details of care.

“This is a very distressing situation for Charlie’s parents and all the staff involved and our focus remains with them.”

Charlie’s parents raised £1.3m on a crowdfunding site to pay for the experimental treatment in the US.

Ms Yates had already indicated the money would go towards a charity for mitochondrial depletion syndromes if Charlie did “not get his chance”.

Limiting time online ‘won’t protect children’

Teenager on an i-Pad

Limiting children’s use of the internet will not protect them against the ills of social media, researchers say.

UK teenagers have some of the highest rates of internet use in the developed world – something that has a strong link to lower levels of well-being.

The Education Policy Institute study said restricting usage can prevent children gaining the digital skills and emotional resilience to keep them safe.

The government said it was vital to help children deal with online risks.

The report, written by the EPI’s Director of Mental Health, Emily Frith, said restricting a child’s use of the internet reduces the chances of children meeting difficulties online, but does not give them the skills to deal with problems they may run into at a later date.

“Restriction was also linked to the young person having a lower level of digital skills,” it said.

“The research highlighted in this report indicates that restricting a young person’s access to the internet could inhibit the development of the skills needed to handle online risk.”

However, according to EPI’s round-up of research, more than one-third of the UK’s 15-year-olds are classed as “extreme internet users”.

This is defined, by a study from the international think tank OECD, as someone who uses the internet for the equivalent of their whole evening online – more than six hours outside school on a typical weekend day.

This would include time spent on homework, watching television online as well as time spent on social networks and playing online games. It is higher than the EU average.

An Office of National Statistics study quoted in the research suggests that more than half of 10 to 15-year-olds (56%) spend three hours or more on social media on a normal school day.

However, a third of UK children of the same age spent no time on social media during a school day, according to the study from 2013-14.

The report said concerns were frequently raised about the potential effect on young people spending a great deal of time online.

And according to research from Ofcom in 2016, quoted in the study, it led to nearly eight in 10 (78%) young people (aged 16 to 24) being told off for doing this.

Seven out of 10 said they had missed out on sleep because of their online habits and 60% said they had neglected school work as a result.

And 59% of those questioned by Ofcom said they felt they spent too much time on the internet, with a quarter saying they felt nervous or anxious when offline.

The EPI research highlighted that those spending large amounts of time on social networking sites were more likely to have symptoms of mental ill health, and that excessive internet use has been linked with depression.

However, it stresses, it is not clear whether these symptoms are caused by the high internet/social media use or the other way round.

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Child Sexual Exploitation lead explains why parents need to be more intrusive online.

Ms Frith said: “We are not saying there shouldn’t be any restrictions, that’s up to the individual parents.

“What we do need to do is ensure young people build up their digital skills, such as blocking someone who may be causing you distress or looking after your privacy settings.

“And then there’s the whole emotional side,” she added.

A government spokesperson said the internet had given young people wider opportunities to increase their knowledge, but helping them to deal with the risks they face online is vital.

“That’s why we are increasing the focus on helping children to become resilient, confident adults who can go as far as their talents will take them.

“Cyber bullying and staying safe online are key parts of Relationships and Sex Education, which we are making mandatory. We are also helping schools to spot mental health problems and respond in the right way by offering mental health first aid training for a member of staff in every secondary school.”

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said said industry, schools and families must all rise to the challenge of social media.

“What will jump out to parents is the link between excessive social media use and a greater chance of mental health issues,” he said.

“Looking at ways to make children resilient, we need industry to behave responsibly, but we also must empower parents about the best ways to safeguard and support their children online.”

No-show women at cervical screening ‘unaware of test’

Patient preparing for cervical screening

Nearly a quarter of women who don’t make cervical screening appointments are unaware that the process even exists, according to a UK survey.

University College London researchers said more creative ways of reaching them were needed, like using social media instead of sending letters.

Women who miss out tend to be younger from poorer families or non-native English speakers, the research found.

Cervical cancer screening has been falling in the UK since 2011.

The death of reality TV star Jade Goody from in 2009 is widely accepted to have contributed to a rise in women being screened – but this effect no longer appears to be working.

The percentage of eligible women screened has dropped from 75.7% to 72.7% from 2011 to 2016 in the UK.

suggests that many young women don’t get round to cervical screening, even when they intend to go.

Some 4% of women surveyed, particularly older ones, had decided not to go for a smear test at all and around 6% of women said they were completely unaware of the test.

Lack of awareness was higher in women from lower income families and ethnic minority groups.

Women are also known to find the test embarrassing and often difficult to organise.

The findings are based on a survey of 3,100 women aged 24 to 64, published in the European Journal of Cancer, in which 800 said they were not up-to-date with cervical screening.

Dr Jo Waller, who led the study at UCL, said it was “worrying that so many women don’t know about cervical screening”.

In the UK, women aged 24-49 are invited for a smear every three years, while women 50-64 are invited every five years.

Dr Waller said it was time to find better ways of communicating with women about screening.

“The results around lack of awareness suggest that campaigns using TV, radio, social media or face-to-face visits may be better… than relying on letters in the post, which is the current method.”

She said extra reminders and specific appointment slots for first time screenings could make a difference and “potentially save lives”.

Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the UK and 900 women die from it.

Cervical screening is thought to prevent about 2,000 deaths each year.

Sarah Williams, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “We may need to be more creative in our efforts to help specific groups of women, rather than resorting to conventional ‘one-size-fits-all’ awareness campaigns.”

Jo’s Trust – a cervical cancer charity – launched earlier this year which was shared at least 14,000 times on social media.

  • It is a way of examining cells from the cervix
  • Screening can detect pre-cancerous and abnormal cells so they can be treated to prevent cancer
  • The appointment takes place at a GP surgery and lasts around 20 minutes – it shouldn’t be painful
  • During the procedure, a nurse or GP inserts a speculum into the vagina to collect a sample of cells

  • lower back pain
  • pain during sex
  • bleeding between periods or after sex
  • post-menopausal bleeding
  • unusual vaginal discharge

‘Ban parents from leaving engines on’, says guidance

Waiting in the car

Parents should be banned from leaving the car running while waiting outside school gates, to cut air pollution, according to official health guidance.

The guidance also calls for councils to set up clean-air zones that could ban the most polluting vehicles or introduce charges.

The authors have called for “clean air” to be given the same importance as “clean water”.

Air pollution contributes to 29,000 deaths each year in the UK.

The report is by two government bodies – Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Prof Paul Cosford, from PHE, said the report was the “distillation of best evidence” on tackling air pollution that local councils could implement.

He said cars going nowhere with the engine on “annoy me – I just think why are you sitting there with your car idling?”

“No-idling zones raise awareness in all our minds that ‘Come on, we don’t need to be polluting,’ he said. “It’s totemic.”

The report says the zones should be introduced outside schools, hospitals and care homes – to protect those most vulnerable from the fumes.

London’s Westminster Council already has marshals handing out £80 fines .

Other recommendations include:

  • clean air zones with charges for polluting cars
  • congestion charges
  • promoting smooth driving by removing speed bumps and setting more 20mph (32km/h) speed limits
  • promoting electric cars, with more charging points in public places
  • training bus drivers in fuel-efficient driving
  • making it easy for people to walk and cycle
  • changing town planning to prevent homes and schools being in areas of high pollution

The UK has struggled to keep within EU limits on pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – with 37 of the 43 regions of the UK in breach of NO2 limits.

But the report says policies should be aiming to go much further than meeting legal limits.

Prof Cosford told BBC News: “The best estimate is 29,000 deaths in the UK [from air pollution], then why would we only want to reduce that to the legal amount?

“We want to reduce that to as close to zero as we can.

“We have developed clean water, and clean air is a basic issue of human health.”

The report from health officials comes as the UK government is about to be taken to court again over its plans for tackling air pollution.

has been dismissed as “toothless” and “weak” by critics.

James Thornton, the chief executive of ClientEarth, said: “It’s hugely significant that public health experts are raising the prospect of clean air zones, which could charge the dirtiest vehicles to enter the most polluted areas of our towns and cities.

“The government’s own evidence shows this is the most effective way to bring down illegal and harmful levels of air pollution as soon as possible, which ministers are legally bound to do.

“So it’s astounding that the government did not make this clear to people when it consulted on its air quality plans for the UK, forcing us to go back to the High Court next Wednesday to try to get them to do this.

“If this is going to happen, then people need to have their say on it.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution is poisonous.

“We welcome the recommendations to introduce no-vehicle- idling areas, [and] clean air zones in the most polluted towns and cities will be vital in reducing toxic emissions and protecting us all.”