Parts of Britain were covered in a beautiful blanket of snow today as voters were warned surfaces and roads could be slippery while heading to the polls to cast their ballot in the General Election. The Met Office advised people to take care when walking or driving today, with ice and wintry showers expected in parts of Scotland after temperatures fell to as low as -5C (23F) overnight. Two weather warnings were implemented this morning - one which stretches from Perth, north through central Scotland, to Wick, and the other, further south, covering an area between Thornhill and Lanark. The first snow of the English winter lies on the ground near Carrshield, south west of Hexham, in Northumberland, today A woman clears snow and ice from the paths at the entrance to the polling station at Tomatin village hall near Inverness today Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said: 'We have showers passing through many parts of the UK today, and there's a risk of that turning to ice and … [Read more...] about The Brrrexmas election! Snow blankets parts of Britain as voters brave the cold to cast their ballots on most crucial polling day in a generation
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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?
During a break in a working day recently, Rainer Maring decided on impulse to take his apprentice for a mini history lesson. The pair of German painters and decorators got in the company van at lunchtime and took their ham sandwiches across the river Mosel from Germany to Luxembourg, into the vine-clad village of Schengen. You cross the bridge from Germany into Luxembourg, turn left, and 300 metres on you’re in France – three countries in about three minutes, and not a police officer in sight. In 1985, ministers from five governments met here to launch a bold experiment in border-free travel. Cars and lorries with green dot stickers on their windshields could roam the five countries – the same three plus Belgium and the Netherlands – without passports. The ID-free travel zone became fully fledged in 1995 and kept growing. And the village acquired unexpected pride and renown as the birthplace of a free travel regime that now embraces 26 countries from Iceland to … [Read more...] about Is the Schengen dream of Europe without borders becoming a thing of the past?
Fifteen minutes west of the cobbled streets and chic boutiques of Aarhus old town in Denmark, on a bleak road of prefabricated warehouses and low-rise industrial units, is a former ice-cream factory that now houses the Grimhojvej mosque. In this squat, drab building, at prayers or in its Muslim youth group, 22 young men – regular high school and university students and first-jobbers – heard something last year that persuaded them to abandon their families, studies and careers to make jihad in Syria. Now, many are coming back, and Denmark’s second city is giving them an unconventional welcome. Most western countries, fearful of the threat they could pose, are cracking down on returning fighters. In France, tough new anti-terror legislation allows authorities to seize passports and ID cards from would-be jihadists “likely to jeopardise public security on their return”. Britain has arrested at least 60 returnees; … [Read more...] about How do you deradicalise returning Isis fighters?
A frail pensioner in a wheelchair casting a vote was billed as a triumph for Algeria today. Those of us who watched Abdelaziz Bouteflika being pushed towards a temporary polling station at a school in the El Biar district of Algiers certainly felt a sense of occasion. The 77-year-old president is part and parcel of his country's history and – with the sun shining and the views stretching out towards the white-washed kasbah and the Mediterranean beyond – he was cheered by enthusiastic well-wishers. The problem as far as democracy is concerned is that the smiling statesman in his leather-bound executive invalid chair is set to remain president for another five years. This will bring his term to two decades, which sits uncomfortably with Algeria's claim to be an exception to the unjust rule that sparked Arab spring revolutions in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt three years ago. Bouteflika is by no means a Gaddafi, Ben Ali or Mubarak, but his decision to stand in what were … [Read more...] about A frail and silent president embodies all that is wrong with Algeria