12.29am BST This blog has ended. Follow our continuing coverage here. 11.19pm BST Summary • Senior US officials said intelligence supports the theory that rebels shot down MH17 “by mistake”, but that there is “no evidence of direct Russian government involvement“. They said Russia maintains a “training facility“ for rebels to learn how to operate heavy weaponry in the country’s south-west. • Eyewitnesses in Torez told the Guardian they saw what appeared to have been a Buk SA-11 missile system near the time and location of the MH17 crash. Separatists deny possession of any such system and blame Ukraine, and Russia denies it provided any system to armed groups. • Victims’ bodies and the flight black boxes arrived by train at Kharkiv, a city controlled by Ukraine. Victims’ remains will be taken to the Netherlands for identification on Wednesday, but Dutch officials fear there are fewer bodies in Kharkiv than … [Read more...] about US intelligence: rebels likely shot down MH17 ‘by mistake’ – as it happened
European customs union
The United Kingdom votes on Thursday on whether to give Prime Minister Boris Johnson a mandate to "get Brexit done" or back his left-wing rival Jeremy Corbyn, who has vowed to renegotiate Britain's EU divorce deal yet again and hold a second referendum. The two leaders have promised an end to a decade of austerity with Corbyn's Labour Party promising a raft of populist measures, including a huge public spending boost worth 55 billion pounds (€65.5 billion $72.3 billion) a year. The currency markets are already cheering a likely win for Johnson's center-right Conservatives; the British pound is up in anticipation, and most polls give the party an 8-10 point lead. A strong win for Johnson would bring an end to three-and-a-half years of Brexit paralysis, allowing for his renegotiated EU divorce deal to be passed by Parliament. Britain's economy should also receive a small boost, most analysts predict. Read more: UK election: What are the big issues? Watch … [Read more...] about As Britain votes, the economy hangs in the balance
On the morning of 28 October last year, the day of Iceland’s parliamentary elections, Heiðdís Lilja Magnúsdóttir, a lawyer living in a small town in the north of the country, opened Facebook on her laptop. At the top of her newsfeed, where friends’ recent posts would usually appear, was a box highlighted in light blue. On the left of the box was a button, similar in style to the familiar thumb of the “like” button, but here it was a hand putting a ballot in a slot. “Today is Election Day!” was the accompanying exclamation, in English. And underneath: “Find out where to vote, and share that you voted.” Under that was smaller print saying that 61 people had already voted. Heiðdís took a screenshot and posted it on her own Facebook profile feed, asking: “I’m a little curious! Did everyone get this message in their newsfeed this morning?” In Reykjavik, 120 miles south, Elfa Ýr … [Read more...] about Facebook says its ‘voter button’ is good for turnout. But should the tech giant be nudging us at all?
Oil prices above $200 a barrel. Energy shortages in western Europe. The return of recession to the still-fragile global economy. A slump in Russia. That's the fear haunting policymakers as they contemplate how to respond to the shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine last week. The meltdown scenario can be easily sketched out. Every global downturn since 1973 has been associated with a sharp rise in the price of energy. Russia is one of the world's biggest energy suppliers and is responsible for about one-third of Europe's gas. America's economic recovery from the deep recession of 2008-09 has been weak by historic standards, while the European Union's has barely got going. From the car plants of Germany to the finance houses of the City of London and French defence firms, there has been pressure on politicians to be wary of provoking Vladimir Putin into retaliation that might rebound on the west. "The possible involvement of Russian-backed separatists in the airliner's destruction … [Read more...] about Economic meltdown scenario piles pressure on Russia and the west
If only for a moment, set aside the comparatively parochial drama of Brexit, think about the giant swath of humanity that now uses the internet, and consider one of the most basic facets of how 4 billion of us live our lives. This is a 21st-century story, but it will ring bells with people old enough to remember the cold war: how people understand their own experience and events in the wider world is increasingly decided by the version of the internet they use. On one side sits the system used in China, which produces vast amounts of personal data and blurs into a huge apparatus of state surveillance and censorship. This model is centred on two online behemoths, whose dominance partly comes down to the fact that Chinese consumerism is all about paying via your smartphone, rather than an old-fashioned plastic card. There’s the e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, and Tencent, which owns WeChat, the platform used by more than 1 billion people every day. It does so many things – … [Read more...] about The global battle for the internet is just starting