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07 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Former PM is defiant in half-hour BBC interview after critical Chilcot report

Appearing on BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Thursday, a day after the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, former prime minister Tony Blair defends his decisions. He tells presenter John Humphrys that in hindsight it would have been better to challenge the intelligence on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein

Tony Blair has insisted that a secret 2002 pledge, revealed in the Chilcot report, to stand by George Bush “whatever” over Iraq was not an irrevocable commitment to war.

Sir John Chilcot’s critical report on Iraq revealed that Blair wrote to George W Bush eight months before the invasion to offer his apparently unqualified backing for war well before UN weapons inspectors had completed their work, saying: “I will be with you, whatever.”

In a 33-minute interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Blair remained as defiant about his decision to back the US invasion of Iraq as he had been in a two-hour press conference on Wednesday.

“I don’t think this struggle was in vain,” he said, but claimed some critics would not accept his regret about mistakes over Iraq until he said the decision itself was wrong.

He said that in the “whatever” memo he was trying to signal to Bush the UK would be his “partner of choice” but it also went on to warn against a hasty decision to invade.

Blair pointed out that the next word in the memo after “whatever” was “but”, and that it argued for going back to the UN for approval for military action. He said: “What I meant was: ‘I’m right alongside you in dealing with this, but let’s do it the right way, and it has to be done through the United Nations.’”

Blair added: “I wanted to make sure that America did not feel alone, that it did not feel compelled to go it alone. I wanted to build as big a coalition as possible. And frankly I did want the UK to be their partner of choice, to be the first telephone call they made on these issues.

“It is true that I took a decision, and I stand by that decision, that we should be right alongside America in dealing with these decisions post-9/11 and that included the issue of Iraq. But it isn’t correct to say we had made some irrevocable commitment to war……………….

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Protesters gather in Baton Rouge parking lot where 37-year-old Sterling was shot by police as witnesses describe incident

Protesters gather at the site of the shooting.

Protesters gather at the site of the shooting. Photograph: Matthew Teague for the Guardian

A day after police fatally shot Alton Sterling in the parking lot of a convenience store, concentric rings of protesters surrounded the site. In the outermost ring, young men drove cars around the block with speakers blaring: “Fuck the police.”

In the next ring in, the mood was almost celebratory. Neighbours waved signs and told stories about 37-year-old Sterling, and even laughed. They handed out snacks and drinks.

Further in, banks of television cameras ringed local community leaders, who pleaded with the crowds to remain peaceful.

And at the centre, near the door to the Triple S Food Mart, a trio of devastated people stood and stared.

The last person to speak to Sterling was Tawandra Carr, who lives near the store. She had a playful relationship with Sterling, who sold CDs and DVDs on a fold-out table in the parking lot…………..

Cellphone footage circulated online shows a white Louisiana police officer shoot dead a black man following a confrontation outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge early Tuesday morning. Police said they were called to the store after an anonymous caller indicated there was a man, identified as Alton Sterling, 37, selling music CDs who had threatened him with a gun. Sterling was later shot by police

Warning: This video contains graphic images and strong language

Aftermath of black man’s shooting by Minnesota police caught on video

Video posted on Facebook Live circulates on social media as family of Philando Castile, 32, says he died after telling officer he had a licensed firearm and was reaching for wallet

This footage posted to Facebook Live on Wednesday night appears to show the moments after police shot a man dead during a traffic stop in Minnesota. A woman sits in a car with a man whose shirt is soaked in blood. She says the police officer in the footage has shot her boyfriend. Local reports have named the man as 32-year-old Philando Castile

A video apparently showing the aftermath of a fatal police shooting during a traffic stop in Minnesota has sparked outrage after being circulated online.

Police have confirmed a man was shot by an officer while inside a car with a woman and a child, with local reports saying Philando Castile, 32, died from his wounds.

Family told local news outlets in St Paul, the state capital, that Castile was in a car stopped by police and had told an officer he was carrying a licensed firearm, then tried to get his wallet out.

The video, posted on Facebook Live on Wednesday night, appeared to show an incident like the one police described. The video showed a woman sitting in a car with a man whose shirt appeared to be soaked in blood, saying an officer shot her boyfriend…………..

Demolition of 216-unit complex is the latest example of rising income inequality in a region home to some many of the world’s wealthiest technology companies

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Gabriella Sandoval, a 27-year-old resident of the Reserve Apartments. Photograph: Sam Levin for the Guardian

Iris Milano could hardly sleep after she got the news that her family would be kicked out of their two-bedroom apartment in San Jose.

“You’re always thinking and worrying. It’s something that is always with me,” said Milano, 47, a skin-care technician who lives with her husband and 14-year-old son in an apartment protected by rent control in the northern California city. “We are being forced to move. This is our home.”

Milano, who is originally from Venezuela and has lived in the area for 13 years, is one of roughly 670 tenants who are being displaced from their homes in what local housing advocates believe to be Silicon Valley’s largest-ever mass eviction of rent-controlled tenants.

The 216-unit complex called the Reserve Apartments that is being demolished to make way for a development of market-rate housing – located five miles away from Apple’s headquarters, 14 miles away from Google and 20 miles away from Facebook – is the latest example of rising income inequality in a region home to many of the world’s wealthiest technology companies………….

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Former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson claims she was removed from Bill O’Reilly’s show and got a pay cut because she would not sleep with Roger Ailes

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Gretchen Carlson interviews Barack Obama for Fox & Friends in 2006. Photograph: Michael Simon / Rex Features

A former Fox News anchor has accused network boss Roger Ailes of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, claiming the cable channel chairman fired her after she refused his advances.

The suit, which former Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson filed in New Jersey court, claims Ailes “sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and [she] complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment”.

As part of Ailes’ retaliation, her lawsuit claims, Carlson received diminishing assignments to high-profile interview subjects, and was cut from her regular segment on Bill O’Reilly’s weeknight show. Carlson’s complaints included being passed over multiple times for advancement within the network, and seeing a drop in her pay when she began hosting The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson.

The lawsuit accuses Ailes of “ostracizing, marginalizing and shunning” Carlson before ultimately firing her from the network on 23 June, the day her contract ended. Ailes made clear to Carlson that her “problems”, meaning his treatment of her, would improve “if she had a sexual relationship with him”, her lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit adds that Carlson confronted Ailes over “discriminatory treatment” nine months before her termination. Ailes used the meeting, the suit claims, to make a direct sexual advance toward Carlson.

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Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

“I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Ailes said, according to the lawsuit, which says he added: “sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way………….

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