Tennis Australia denies they ‘misled’ Novak Djokovic and co about Australian Open exemptions

The back-and-forth denials about who exactly is responsible for the Australian Open Covid-19 exemption debacle that has seen Novak Djokovic end up in a detention facility continues.

Djokovic was denied entry into the country as his visa was cancelled with the Australian Border Force ready to deport him as he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia”.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has decided to challenge the decision in court, but he will remain at an immigration hotel until his case is heard on Monday.

Two more people have been ordered to leave the country after it was found they also entered Australia on a medical exemption that said players who have had Covid-19 up to six months prior will be allowed to enter.

And that is the sticky issue as letters from Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt and the healthy ministry sent to Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley in November made it clear that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) did not see unvaccinated players with prior Covid-19 infections as fully vaccinated.

Letters to Australian Open chief reveal why Novak Djokovic’s visa was cancelled

It has led to suggestions that Djokovic and other players were not given the full picture and was “misled” by authorities.

However, a statement from TA read: “We have always been consistent in our communications to players that vaccination is the best course of action — not just as the right thing to do to protect themselves and others, but also as the best course of action to ensure they could arrive in Australia.

“We reject completely that the playing group was knowingly misled.

“Informing players they could get into the country on a medical exemption was taken from the Smart Traveller website that Greg Hunt directly referred us to.”

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Thousands more flat owners could be spared cost of removing dangerous cladding

Protesters from Leaseholders Together gather at rally in Parliament Square (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Protesters from Leaseholders Together gather at rally in Parliament Square (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands more flat owners could be spared the cost of removing dangerous cladding from their buildings under new government plans to coerce developers into shouldering the expense, according to a report.

Currently only leaseholders in buildings taller than 18 metres – or those with at least six storeys – are able to access grants to replace cladding, introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives in June 201 and exposed a safety crisis in properties across the country.

With people in buildings below that height facing the prospect of taking out long and costly loans to replace the flammable materials, often while struggling to sell properties which have depreciated in value since the Grenfell tragedy amid soaring insurance costs, the cut-off point for this funding has been heavily criticised by campaigners and experts.

In November, just weeks after assuming the role of housing secretary, Michael Gove announced that he was “pausing” plans for a loan scheme proposed under his predecessor Robert Jenrick, questioning why as “innocent parties” leaseholders should be forced to foot the cost of replacing the cladding.

Now, a leaked Treasury letter suggests that Mr Gove will seek to force property developers to pay up to £4bn towards replacing cladding in buildings between 11 and 18 metres tall.

Loans for these buildings will be replaced by a “limited grant scheme”, according to the letter to Mr Gove from chief secretary to the treasury, Simon Clarke, reported by BBC Newsnight on Friday.

“You may use a high-level ‘threat’ of tax or legal solutions in discussions with developers as a means to obtaining voluntary contributions from them,” the letter said.

Stating that “the taxpayer should not be on the hook for further costs of remediation”, Mr Clarke’s letter said that his approval of the new package of measures which Mr Gove will reportedly announce next week was conditional on the fact that no new Treasury funding will be made available for the work.

Instead, if Mr Gove is unsuccessful in persuading developers to pay for the costs, existing housing budgets should be used as a “backstop” for funding the proposals, Mr Clarke reportedly said, warning that, in the event that insufficient funds are raised from developers, “safety should be prioritised over supply”.

A Commons select committee report in 2020 placed the cost of fixing only the tallest buildings at £15bn – triple the amount currently proposed in the government’s Building Safety Fund.

According to the BBC, property developers have previously argued that they are not liable for the cost of removing cladding because they followed building regulations at the time of construction.

A separate report in The Telegraph on Friday night also appeared to corroborate the BBC’s. It quoted a Whitehall source as warning there will be “commercial consequences” for developers that fail to respond to the government’s new campaign – with a new team set to form to publicly name and shame firms.

A spokesman for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign welcomed the reported plans as “a welcome step in the right direction” but warned that “there’s still a long road to travel”.

With the Treasury’s letter saying the measures do not “extend to non-cladding” costs, he said the “devil is in the detail”, adding: “It’s not definite still if we are getting to the destination we want to get to but we are cautiously optimistic.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson told The Independent the department was not commenting at this stage.

Additional reporting by PA

Ashes: Usman Khawaja’s second century leaves England in battle for survival

Ashes: Usman Khawaja’s second century leaves England in battle for survival

Will MacphersonSat, 8 January 2022, 8:21 am

At the end of a fourth day on which the rain refused to fall on twin centurion Usman Khawaja’s parade, England have 98 overs to bat to save the Sydney Test, which would save them from their third whitewash in Australia in 15 years.

The forecast had been dismal, but a full day’s play – spanning three innings – was possible, with the rain arriving five minutes after the close.

England started the day by batting 9.1 overs, losing their final three first innings wickets, and ended batting 11 overs, with their callow openers standing firm for their highest stand of the series, an unbeaten 30.

In testing conditions, Zak Crawley – the more confident of the two – and Haseeb Hameed batted well to see off Australia’s excellent attack. They are in the foothills in their attempt to save the game; or, if you are of a more optimistic bent, chasing 388. Both men were probably grateful that Pat Cummins delayed his declaration beyond even further than Khawaja’s second century of the match.

The lower order had been less diligent earlier on, as Australia wrapped up England’s innings pretty promptly. They made 294, by some distance their highest first innings score of the series, but could still not breach 300 for the first time. They had given up a deficit of 122, which was pretty tidy from 36 for four, but still left them deep in the mire.

They could have been a little more diligent, to be honest. Jack Leach, overconfident after a couple of nice strokes, looked to hook Nathan Lyon, and was caught at midwicket.

That left Bairstow exposed with Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and struggling with the thumb injury he suffered on Friday, could only add 10 to his overnight 103 before Scott Boland drew his edge.

Broad had his fun, and Anderson showed off his reverse sweep (successful on the first attempt, unsuccessful on the second). Boland picked up a slogging Broad to continue the remarkable opening to his Test career.

Boland has 11 wickets at an eye-watering average of 8.27, the lowest of any bowler to strike more than 10 times. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that another of the top five on that list, Axar Patel (36 at 11.86), also made his debut against England in the last year.

Everything seemed set up for a brutal David Warner hundred against an attack missing Ben Stokes. He at least was able to take the field, unlike Bairstow and Jos Buttler, laid low with hand injuries that could end their tour. That the available bowlers were James Anderson (35), Stuart Broad (35), Mark Wood (31, but knackered from hours spent above 90mph), and Jack Leach, who has been clouted all over Australia, made runs like ripe for the taking.

To make matters worse, the absence of Bairstow and Buttler has meant England have drafted Sam Billings in for the Fifth Test at Hobart, and Ollie Pope – a keeper in six first-class games, including the Hamilton Test of 2019 – was forced on as a sub.

Pope was a revelation, taking four catches, equalling their Test record for a sub fielder. The first was Warner, cheaply off Wood, charging in indefatigably, and the second the world’s No1 Test batter, Marnus Labuschagne. Wood was the bowler again; this was the third time he had dismissed Labuschagne since he went top of the charts just before Christmas. It has taken just 24 balls. Wood may only have nine wickets in four innings, but three are Labuschagne, one is Steve Smith, and another is Warner. He is the only England bowler to consistently trouble Australia’s best batters.

The early wickets and slow scoring rate allowed Leach, for just about the first time in the series, to work his way into a spell without a field either too attacking or defensive. And he picked up two wickets, Marcus Harris very well caught by Pope, then the prized scalp of Smith, bowled playing with impudence.

That wicket brought Khawaja and Cameron Green together, and their partnership of 179 took Australia to the brink of the declaration. Green made 74, his first score of note this series, but struggled to get going, especially against Leach, who tied him down. Once he settled, though, he flayed the seamers, especially off the back foot.

Khawaja, though, looked utterly at ease throughout. He pulled the quicks and reverse-swept the spinners, pacing his innings perfectly. This was the first time he had scored twin tons in first-class cricket, and he is just the third man to doing it in a Test at the SCG, his home ground, whose patrons were as appreciative as they were two days ago.

With Khawaja passing his hundred, and Australia forging on towards 400 – or perhaps even Green’s hundred? – the young all-rounder holed out to Leach. Next ball, Alex Carey became Pope’s fourth – and finest – catch of the innings, leading to Cummins’ declaration. Leach was denied a hat-trick ball, and set England on a very difficult journey.

Russia cutting underwater cables could be an act of war, says UK defence chief

Meg Hill, PASat, 8 January 2022, 7:47 am

The head of the UK’s armed forces has warned that Russian submarine activity is threatening underwater cables that are crucial to communication systems around the world.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said undersea cables that transmit internet data are “the world’s real information system”, and added that any attempt to damage them could be considered an “act of war”.

Speaking to The Times in his first interview since assuming the role, Sir Tony – a former head of the Royal Navy – said there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity” over the past 20 years.

He said that meant Moscow could “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”.

“That is where predominantly all the world’s information and traffic travels. Russia has grown the capability to put at threat those undersea cables and potentially exploit those undersea cables.”

The Navy has been tracking Russian submarine activity, with a collision between the HMS Northumberland and a Russian sub sparking speculation about cable-mapping activity.

The collision in December 2020 was filmed by a documentary crew from Channel 5 who were working on a television series called Warship: Life At Sea.To view this content, you’ll need to update your privacy settings.Please click here to do so.

In his interview, Sir Tony also said the UK needed to develop hypersonic missiles to keep up with the military competition.

He highlighted Russia’s hypersonic and long-range missile capability as a threat and Britain’s comparative capabilities as a weakness. “We haven’t (got them) and we must have,” he said.

Sir Tony also said he had briefed ministers on Britain’s “military choices” if Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, but did not reveal any further information.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has previously said it would be “highly unlikely” the UK would send troops if an invasion occurred, while The Times reports cyber attacks “could be an option”.

Talks between Moscow, the US and Nato are scheduled for next week amid tensions sparked by a Russian military build-up on the Ukraine border, but Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance needs to prepare “for the possibility that diplomacy will fail”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Friday called for Russia to end its “malign activity” towards Ukraine.

Tony Blair and his wife Cherie claim almost £80,000 from the furlough scheme

Former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie (PA)
Former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie (PA)

Sir Tony Blair and Cherie have claimed nearly £80,000 from the furlough scheme.

Already the former Prime Minister has become embroiled in controversy as more than one million people signed a petition to strip him of his newly appointed knighthood.

In the latest reveal, a spokesman for the Blairs said they had used £76,000 to payout for furloughed staff at Lady Blair’s law firm.

Any business or individual were perfectly allowed to claim money to cover the costs of wages for their furloughed staff.

Mr Blair and his wife’s names appeared on an updated list of the programme which was set up in March 2020 to protect jobs in the pandemic before it was scrapped in September.

The former politician is thought to have an estimated wealth of around £60million including 10 homes in 2015, according to The Daily Telegraph.

A spokesperson for the Blairs said in a statement: “In relation to the December to September months it was just over £35,000, an average of around £3,500 a month, in respect of three members of staff, based in the Harcourt Street office, who were unable to fulfil their usual duties because of Covid restrictions.

“The previous year’s figure was approximately £41,000 for five members of staff.

“They have all received their full pay and continue do so, regardless of the scheme ending.”

It comes after Victoria Beckham sparked outrage for using the furlough scheme and reportedly did a U-turn on her decision to furlough 30 staff members at her fashion label.

It comes as more than one million signed a petition to remove Mr Blair’s knighthood.

He was bestowed with the honour of a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system.

Despite the controversy, there are people who have leapt to the former Prime Minister’s defence.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I don’t think it’s a thorny issue for me at all. Tony Blair deserves the honour, he won three elections, he was a very successful Prime Minister.

“I haven’t got time this morning to list all of his many achievements which I think vastly improved our country.

“The one I would pick out in particular would be the work he did in Northern Ireland and the peace process and the huge change that has made.”

Novak Djokovic granted exemption after getting Covid last month, lawyers say

Novak Djokovic vaccine exemption Covid last month Australia - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic vaccine exemption Covid last month Australia – REUTERS

Novak Djokovic was originally granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month, his lawyers have claimed.

In court documents published on Saturday, his legal team stated that the Serbian recorded a positive test on December 16, and has “not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours”.

Djokovic has been held at an immigration facility in Melbourne since Thursday morning after his visa was cancelled following examination of the medical exemption he had secured to travel to the first tennis major of the year.

But according to his legal team, Djokovic was provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed that the exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia”, and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government”.

Djokovic’s lawyers added that he was granted an “Australian Travel Declaration” because he was told by the authorities that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia”.

Djokovic, an outspoken critic of mandatory vaccination, has never disclosed his own vaccination status. He is challenging his visa cancellation in Australia’s federal court in the hope of winning his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, which starts on Jan 17.

The nine-time Australian Open winner will have to wait for a hearing on Monday to discover whether he will be allowed into the country to compete.

His lawyers said he had been held mostly ‘incommunicado’ for eight hours when he first arrived in Australia, his lawyers said.

“This occurred after he was in immigration clearance – for the most part incommunicado – for about eight hours, until just before 8.00am on 06 January 2022,” court documents submitted by his legal team stated.

It emerged on Friday that two other people connected to the tournament have also been instructed to leave the country by the Australian Border Force.

One is Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova, who played in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne this week but has now opted to leave Australia.

Djokovic, 34, has been instructed to stay at Melbourne’s, which is used to house asylum seekers and refugees, before Monday’s hearing – though Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said on Friday he is free to leave the country “at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that”.

The Park Hotel where tennis player Novak Djokovic remains
The Park Hotel where tennis player Novak Djokovic remains

The player broke his silence on Instagram, saying: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”

His wife Jelena also took to social media to express her gratitude to the player’s fans for their backing.

In Instagram and Twitter posts, Jelena Djokovic wrote: “Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.

“I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.

“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force. Wishing you all well!”

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who has previously clashed with Djokovic on a number of issues, called for his country to “do better” in its treatment of the 20-time major champion.

The world number 93 wrote on Twitter: “Look I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum’s health, but how we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.

“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”

Djokovic’s father claimed the world number one has been made a scapegoat and “crucified” in the row.

The Australian newspaper reported that Djokovic had requested access to his chef and a tennis court while in detention, but that his request was denied.

Groups of anti-vaccine protesters, Djokovic supporters and refugee campaigners have gathered outside the hotel, which is under police guard, to voice their respective agendas.

Tennis Australia said it never knowingly misled players and had always urged players to be vaccinated, after a document from the organising body was leaked, apparently advising players on ways to enter the country with a medical exemption from vaccination.

“We have always been consistent in our communications to players that vaccination is the best course of action – not just as the right thing to do to protect themselves and others, but also as the best course of action to ensure they could arrive in Australia,” Tennis Australia said in a statement. “We reject completely that the playing group was knowingly misled.”

Inmates going weeks without time outdoors in overcrowded and rodent-infested prison, report finds

General view of HMP Wandsworth, London. (PA)
General view of HMP Wandsworth, London. (PA)

Inmates in a “crumbling, overcrowded, vermin-infested prison” in south London have told inspectors they have been forced to go for days – and sometimes weeks – without time in the open air.

One group of prisoners at HMP Wandsworth were described as walking “blinking into the sunlight” after spending more than a week indoors, officials found during an unannounced inspection in September.

The experience appears widespread in the Victorian-era prison – with nearly three quarters of inmates surveyed during the inspection saying they had been locked in their cells for more than 22 hours on weekdays in the run-up to the inspectors’ visit, rising to 91 per cent during weekends.

With some prisoners complaining of spending as little as 45 minutes out of their cell on some days, HM Inspectorate of Prisons warned “there were not enough staff to make sure prisoners received even the most basic regime”.

According to inspectors, this left inmates forced to choose between exercising, having a shower and using the electronic kiosks through which they are able to access vital services and information, including ordering food, requesting health appointments, and joining rehabilitation programmes.

Despite the 170-year-old facility’s inmate population reducing by 300 in recent years, Wandsworth remains one of the most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales, inspectors said – with nearly three-quarters of the 1,364 prisoners in September doubling up in cells designed for one.

Only this reduction in the prison’s population, and steps taken by its “dynamic and experienced” governor, had prevented the jail from being overwhelmed by its many challenges, according to the inspectors’ report published on Thursday.

But HM chief inspector of prisons, Charlie Taylor, warned that a planned increase in prisoners, scheduled for April, threatens the “limited progress” made since the last inspection in 2018.

During this period, the prison has seen nine inmates take their own lives, and the rate of self-harm had doubled in the 12 months prior to the visit, although was among the lowest for the type of prison.

“The inpatient mental health unit, due to be refurbished, was not a fit place to care for seriously unwell patients,” Mr Taylor said, adding: “The infrastructure of the jail needed a lot of work: cells and landings were often tatty, some of the showers were awful and outside areas were strewn with rubbish.

And despite efforts to control vermin, there was still a major problem with rats, mice and pigeons, Mr Taylor warned.

But, according to the report, the problem in living conditions that prisoners felt most acutely was the lack of clean clothing and sheets, with only 45 per cent of inmates surveyed reporting normally having enough clean and suitable clothes for the week.

Violence at Wandsworth prison had been on an upward trend in the 12 months before the inspection, with assaults on staff much higher than in similar prisons.

And Mr Taylor warned “the prison, education staff and, in particular, Home Office staff, were not doing enough to support” foreign inmates, who comprised around 45 per cent of the prison’s population.

With the prison serving Westminster Magistrate’s Court – where all European arrest warrant extradition hearings in England and Wales are heard – some 37 inmates were being held under immigration powers beyond the end of their sentence.

Noting that these prisoners should have been held instead in immigration removal centres or in the community, the report warned of a “growing backlog” of prisoners seeking asylum who were still waiting for their cases to be assessed, adding: “Detainees spent far too long in the prison with their cases unresolved.”

While local charity, BEST, had remained on-site during the coronavirus pandemic, doing “invaluable work in supporting foreign national prisoners” Home Office staff had “inexplicably” absented themselves from the prison for more than a year, the report said.

It added: “In the meantime, prison officers and other staff had to deal with the consequences of their inaction. Even since Home Office staff had returned, working what appeared to be limited hours, they were not running surgeries on the wing and prisoners were lucky if they got a phone call.”

Inspectors said essential resettlement and sentence progression work was unable to take place because prison offender managers were deployed on the wings to backfill staff absences.

The prison’s education block had sat unused since March 2020, inspectors found, adding that “most of the very limited” education provision for the “desperately bored” population at Wandsworth came in the form of work packs.

But Mr Taylor suggested that, as some of the concerns about the pandemic begin to reduce, prison leaders will have the opportunity to focus on developing longer-term plans for the jail, meaning some of inspectors’ more complex concerns could be addressed – including the disruption to prisoners’ daily regimes and their access to work and education, and the alleged failures in support for foreign inmates.

He concluded: “Leaders in this crumbling, overcrowded, vermin-infested prison will need considerable ongoing support from the prison service, notably with the recruitment and retention of staff, improving the infrastructure of the jail and making sure that external agencies such as the Home Office and the education provider pull their weight.

“It is hard to see how HMP Wandsworth’s limited progress can be sustained if prisoner numbers in this jail are allowed to increase as they are scheduled to do next April.”

The Independent has approached the Home Office for comment.

‘Inconsistent and unclear’ UK Covid alert system ‘costing lives’, report says

A shopper passes a coronavirus advice sign at Borough Market, London, which has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)
A shopper passes a coronavirus advice sign at Borough Market, London, which has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

The current UK Covid alert system is ‘inconsistent, unclear, and costing lives’, according to a new report.

The National Preparedness Commission (NPC) said the five-tier system in place was “close to meaningless” because tiers were not linked to specific actions, such as the rule of six or wearing a mask in shops.

Under the current system, each level is associated with an increased number of coronavirus cases and related stress on the healthcare system – but does not prescribe corresponding restrictions or advice for the public based on those levels.

The organisation, comprised of more than 40 experts with backgrounds in policing, defence, science and industry, said Covid advice seemed politically driven and lacking a scientific basis – leading to a lack of compliance among the public.

Social distancing advice on the pavement in Leicester (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)
Social distancing advice on the pavement in Leicester (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

The report states that in the UK the triggers for raising or lowering the Covid-19 alert level are regularly redefined, adding to a lack of trust.

Its authors are now calling for more transparent decision-making, enforcement of rules, clearer expectations of the public, and standardisation at a national level.

Co-author of the report Dr Carina Fearnley, of the University College London (UCL) Warning Research Centre, said: “Successful alert level systems provide a framework to help people understand what is happening in a crisis and how they should respond as its severity ramps up or down.

“They save lives by supporting people to prepare for, and navigate through, a crisis and fostering a collective sense of responsibility. Without a robust alert level system at the heart of our country’s pandemic response, people are being bombarded with a stream of ever-changing advice that is reactive, inconsistent and unclear. There is no doubt this is costing lives.

“In the UK, Government advice on Covid-19 is increasingly seen as politically driven, rather than representing the best available information from trusted, expert sources, supported by decisive leadership from politicians. Conflicting messages have led to confusion and an increasing sense of ‘them and us’, which we know reduces compliance.”

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the NPC said the UK was at a “critical point” in the pandemic where non-compliance with rules was a “serious problem”.

He said: “A strong alert level system should provide a road map for a country dealing with a crisis, maintaining independence from the ebb and flow of politics and personalities.

“The National Preparedness Commission brings together some of the UK’s best experts in handling emergencies. It is clear the country could do better. There is still time to make a difference and to save countless lives and we stand ready to support the Government in this effort.”

Threats against US lawmakers rose ahead of 6 January anniversary, agency says

Sam Levin in Los AngelesFri, 7 January 2022, 2:08 am

<img src="–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQyMw–/–~B/aD02MDA7dz05OTk7YXBwaWQ9eXRhY2h5b24-/; alt="<span>Photograph: John Minchillo/AP
Photograph: John Minchillo/AP

FBI and DHS flagged content that could ‘inspire violence by lone offenders against government officials’

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned of an increase in extremist content and threats against US lawmakers in the days leading up to the anniversary of the 6 January insurrection, according to a memo obtained by the Guardian.

The memo, sent on Thursday to state and local law enforcement, said that DHS had no indication of a specific and credible plot, but that the agency and the FBI had “identified new content online that could inspire violence, particularly by lone offenders, and could be directed against political and other government officials, including members of Congress, state and local officials, and high-profile members of political parties, including in locations outside of [Washington DC]”.

John Cohen, the head of DHS’s office of intelligence and analysis, outlined a range of content on “extremist related platforms” that was concerning.

In one instance, an “unknown individual” posted a video online listing 95 members of Congress who, the video claimed, were involved in voting to certify the “fraudulent” presidential election, echoing far-right misinformation that has spread since last year. The video called for the Congress members to be hanged in front of the White House and was posted on a forum that hosts QAnon conspiracy theories and was reposted by Telegram users and on blogs.

The video was viewed more than 60,000 times across platforms, the memo said. Cohen also warned of a separate posting that referenced 6 January “as an appropriate day to conduct assassinations against named Democratic political figures, including [the president], because of the perceived fraudulent election”.

The US Secret Service, the Capitol Police and the DC Metropolitan Police agencies were aware of the online activity and have initiated investigations “as appropriate”, Cohen wrote in the memo, adding that the Federal Protective Service had also expanded patrols in and around federal facilities across the US. The memo comes amid reports of a sharp rise in threats against lawmakers over the last year.

DHS had recently warned that the US was facing a heightened threat environment across the country, as threat actors “continue to exploit online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity”. The agency said it would continue to monitor the uptick in threats in the coming days.

After federal authorities were criticized last year for failing to act on warning signs on social media before the 6 January attack, DHS established a new domestic terrorism branch in its intelligence office, which has been focused on expanded tracking of online threats.

Earlier on Thursday, Joe Biden denounced Donald Trump for spreading a “web of lies” about the 2020 election and accused Trump and his allies of holding a “dagger at the throat of American democracy”.

Map shows the richest area of Great Britain – and how much wealth people there have

Emily ClearyFri, 7 January 2022, 3:09 pm

Street of modern single family detached homes overlooking Eastbourne resort in Sussex
Sussex and Surrey have been revealed as the areas with the most wealth in the UK (Getty Creative)

Surrey and Sussex have been revealed to be the wealthiest areas of Great Britain, with residents owning assets worth an average £263,200 each.

The region of Inner London East is the least wealthy, with median wealth of £26,400 per person.

The data, compiled by the Office for National Statistics and covering the period from April 2018 to March 2020, reveals huge disparities between wealth across the country.

The report found that median individual wealth was £157,000 higher in the South East than the North East of England, and that this regional disparity has increased over time. 

It also found that the wealthiest 10% of the population are estimated to hold around half of all wealth, primarily in the form of private pensions and property.

The map shows the distribution of wealth across Great Britain (ONS)
The map shows the distribution of wealth across Great Britain (ONS)

The ONS used data from the Wealth and Assets Survey, a two-yearly project measures households’ and individuals’ assets, debts and plans for retirement.

The overall median total wealth for individuals in Britain was estimated to be £125,000 between April 2018 and March 2020.

London was revealed to be the region with the most pronounced wealth inequality.

Median wealth in South Outer London was £255,900, compared to £26,400 in Inner London East.

People living in outer south London are on average ten times wealthier than those in inner east (ONS)
This map shows the huge disparities between wealth of people living in different areas of London (ONS)

Krishan Shah of the Resolution Foundation think tank warned that wealth disparity is getting worse.

He said: “Wealth increased by £500 billion in the two years prior to the pandemic to reach a record £15.2 trillion – and is likely to have defied the crisis and continued growing since.

“With wealth inequality remaining high and unchanged, this means that Britain’s huge and absolute gaps in wealth have continued to grow.

“With limited financial resources to protect them from economic shocks, the poorest households were undoubtedly in the worst position heading into the pandemic. Policymakers need to help those worst-affected build financial resilience ahead of future shocks.”

The richest areas in Great Britain are clustered in the South East of England (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/ONS)
Inner London East is the least welath area, followed by Merseyside (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/ONS)

The research showed that average individual wealth increases with age, peaking in the 60-to-64 age group at a level nine times as high as the 30-to-34 age group, before falling in older age groups as people use their wealth to support life in retirement.

Shoppers, some wearing a facemask to combat the spread of Covid-19, walk along Regent Street in London on December 28, 2021. (Photo by Hollie Adams / AFP) (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
People in outer south London are on average ten times wealthier than those living in the inner east area of the capital (Hollie Adams / AFP)

Average wealth was estimated to be £101,000 lower for women than men overall.

Average wealth was estimated to be £65,000 lower for people with a longstanding illness or disability than those without, and also £65,000 lower for those identifying as bisexual compared with those identifying as heterosexual.

People from ethnic backgrounds also had less wealth overall than those identifying as white British.