Auschwitz: How death camp became centre of Nazi Holocaust

Auschwitz: How death camp became centre of Nazi Holocaust

Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz in January 1945 On 27 January 1945, Soviet troops cautiously entered Auschwitz.

Primo Levi – one of the most famous survivors – was lying in a camp hospital with scarlet fever when the liberators arrived.

The men cast "strangely embarrassed glances at the sprawling bodies, at the battered huts and at us few still alive", he would later write.

"They did not greet us, nor did they smile; they seemed oppressed not only by compassion but by… the feeling of guilt that such a crime should exist."

"We saw emaciated, tortured, impoverished people," soldier Ivan Martynushkin said of liberating the death camp . "We could tell from their eyes that they were happy to be saved from this hell." ‘I survived two concentration camps’

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In less than four years, Nazi Germany systematically murdered at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz. Almost one million were Jews.

Those deported to the camp complex were gassed, starved, worked to death and even killed in medical experiments. The vast majority died in Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

Six million Jewish people died in the Holocaust – the Nazi campaign to eradicate Europe’s Jewish population. Auschwitz was at the centre of that genocide. What was the Holocaust?

When the Nazis came to power in 1933 they began to strip Jewish people of all property, freedoms and rights under the law. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Nazis started deporting Jewish people from Germany and Austria to Poland, where they created ghettos to separate them from the rest of the population.

In 1941, during the German invasion of the USSR, the Nazis began their campaign of extermination in earnest. Nazis spoke about their invasion as a race war between Germany and Jewish people, as well as the Slavic population and the Roma. Explaining the Holocaust to young people Groups of German soldiers called Einsatzgruppen set out across newly conquered lands in Eastern Europe to massacre civilians. By the end of 1941, they had killed 500,000 people, and by 1945 they had murdered about two million – 1.3 million of whom were Jewish.

Behind the lines, Nazi commanders were experimenting with ways to kill en masse. They feared that shooting people was too stressful for their soldiers, and so came up with more efficient means of murder.

Experimental gas vans had been used to kill mentally disabled people in Poland as early as 1939. Poisonous fumes were pumped into a sealed compartment to suffocate those inside. By the winter of 1941, the Nazis had constructed gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Nazi leaders met in January 1942 to coordinate the industrial slaughter. At the Wansee Conference, as it became known, they agreed to what they called a "final solution to the Jewish question" – killing the entire European Jewish population, 11 million people, by extermination and forced labour. What was Auschwitz?

Auschwitz was originally a Polish army barracks in southern Poland. Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939, and by May 1940 turned the site into a jail for political prisoners.

This area – with the infamous lie Arbeit Macht Frei written above the entrance in German – meaning work sets you free – became known as Auschwitz I. Auschwitz: Drone footage from Nazi concentration camp But as the war and the Holocaust progressed, the Nazi regime greatly developed the site.

The first prisoners to be gassed were a group of Polish and Soviet prisoners in August 1941. Work began on a new camp, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the following month. This became the site of the huge gas chambers where hundreds of thousands were murdered until November 1944, and the crematoria was where their bodies were burned.

German chemicals company IG Farben built and operated a synthetic rubber factory at Auschwitz III-Monowitz. Other private companies like Krupp and Siemens-Schuckert also ran factories nearby, to use the prisoners as slave labour. Both Primo Levi and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel survived Monowitz concentration camp.

When Auschwitz was eventually liberated, it had more than 40 camps and subcamps. How did Auschwitz work?

People from all over Europe were crammed into trains without windows, toilets, seats or food, and transported to Auschwitz.

There they were sorted into those who could work and those who were to be immediately killed.

The latter group were ordered to strip naked and sent to the showers for "delousing" – a euphemism used for the gas chambers. Guards used Zyklon B pellets to murder people in the gas chambers Nazis cremated victims in ovens Guards from the so-called "Hygienic Institute" would then drop powerful Zyklon-B gas pellets into the sealed chambers, and wait for people to die. It took about 20 minutes. The thick walls could not hide the screams of those suffocating inside.

Then Sonderkommandos – other prisoners, usually Jews forced to work for the guards or be killed – would remove artificial limbs, glasses, hair and teeth before dragging the corpses to the incinerators. Ashes of the bodies were buried or used as fertiliser.

Belongings of those gassed and those sent to work were taken for sorting in a part of the camp known as "Canada" – so named because the country was seen as a land of plenty. Who were the victims?

SS guards sought to hide their crimes as Soviet troops closed in, and tried to destroy their extensive prisoner records – making it hard to fully quantify the number of victims.

Academic studies since agree that in total close to 1.3 million people arrived at Auschwitz. About 1.1 million of them died there.

Jews from all across Nazi-controlled Europe made up the vast majority of the victims. Almost one million Jewish people were murdered at Auschwitz.

One specific example was Hungary’s Jewish population. In the space of just two months, between May and July 1944, Hungary transported 437,000 Jewish people to Auschwitz. So many Hungarian Jewish people were killed in such a short time that victims’ bodies were dropped in pits near the camp and burned Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz every day. Three quarters of them were killed on arrival.

Some 75,000 Polish civilians, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 25,000 Roma and Sinto as well as homosexuals and political prisoners were also put to death by the German state at the Auschwitz complex. What happened when Auschwitz was liberated?

German authorities ordered a halt to gassing and the destruction of the gas chambers and crematoria in late 1944, as Soviet troops advanced westward. The stockpile of stolen valuables in the Canada sector was shipped to Germany shortly afterwards.

Determined to erase the evidence of their crimes, the Nazis ordered tens of thousands of remaining prisoners to march west to other concentration camps, such as Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and Sachsenhausen. Those too sick to walk were left behind; any who fell behind on the march itself were killed.

Soviet forces found only a few thousand survivors when they entered the camp on 27 January 1945, along with hundreds of thousands of clothes and several tonnes of human hair. Soldiers later recalled having to convince some survivors that the Nazis had truly gone.

Elie Wiesel later said in a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation that the Nazi crimes at Auschwitz "produced a mutation on a cosmic scale, affecting man’s dreams and endeavours".

"After Auschwitz, the human condition is no longer the same. After Auschwitz, nothing will ever be the same."

Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?

Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?

One of the abiding images of any virus outbreak is people in surgical masks.

Using them to prevent infection is popular in many countries around the world, most notably China during the current coronavirus outbreak where they are also worn to protect against high pollution levels.

Virologists are sceptical about their effectiveness against airborne viruses.

But there is some evidence to suggest the masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions.

Surgical masks were first introduced into hospitals in the late 18th Century but they did not make the transition into public use until the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919 that went on to kill over 50 million people. Coronavirus: How worried should we be?

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Dr David Carrington, of St George’s, University of London, told BBC News "routine surgical masks for the public are not an effective protection against viruses or bacteria carried in the air", which was how "most viruses" were transmitted, because they were too loose, had no air filter and left the eyes exposed.

But they could help lower the risk of contracting a virus through the "splash" from a sneeze or a cough and provide some protection against hand-to-mouth transmissions.

A 2016 study from New South Wales suggested people touched their faces about 23 times an hour.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: "In one well controlled study in a hospital setting , the face mask was as good at preventing influenza infection as a purpose-made respirator."

Respirators, which tend to feature a specialised air filter, are specifically designed to protect against potentially hazardous airborne particles.

"However, when you move to studies looking at their effectiveness in the general population, the data is less compelling – it’s quite a challenge to keep a mask on for prolonged periods of time," Prof Ball added.

Dr Connor Bamford, of the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, at Queen’s University Belfast, said "implementing simple hygiene measures" was vastly more effective.

"Covering your mouth while sneezing, washing your hands, and not putting your hands to your mouth before washing them, could help limit the risk of catching any respiratory virus," he said.

The NHS says the best way to avoid catching viruses such as flu is to: regularly wash your hands with warm water and soap

avoid touching your eyes and nose wherever possible

maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle

Dr Jake Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses at Public Health England, said: "Although there is a perception that the wearing of facemasks may be beneficial, there is in fact very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical setting."

He said masks had to be worn correctly, changed frequently and got rid of safely if they were to work properly.

"Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods," he added.

People would be better to focus on good personal and hand hygiene if they are concerned, Dr Dunning said.

Tyson Fury: How Manchester fighter has built his following – and plans to break America

Tyson Fury: How Manchester fighter has built his following - and plans to break America

BBC Sport Insight banner Tyson Fury Under the tree, his best-selling book. On the radio, a festive duet with Robbie Williams. On TV, adverts for his forthcoming reality series.

As jolly, bearded faces of Christmas go, Santa had a rival this year. Tyson Fury was, and is, everywhere.

He may lack the showreel of brutal knockouts boasted by famous namesake Mike. He might not be a clean-cut, on-message corporate dream, like heavyweight rival Anthony Joshua. And he is not a Ricky-Hatton style figurehead who commands a whole city of loyal fans, either.

Fury, 31, has made his own success story. The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ from the Traveller community has defied logic, won over the public and come up smiling as boxing’s clown prince, now preparing for another big fight in the US – a rematch with Deontay Wilder on 22 February.

So how has he done it? And what can Las Vegas expect next?

"To be a boxer, just some random boxer who’s talented, ain’t enough," Fury told BBC Radio 5 Live in November.

"It’s enough to win a fight but it’s not enough to sell tickets, it’s not enough to do pay-per-view, it’s not enough to be noticed and for people to talk about you outside of boxing."

Fury’s first piece of crossover content, in March 2009, was entirely accidental.

In his fourth professional fight, he beat 32-year-old journeyman Lee Swaby at the now-defunct Aston Arena.

Backing his opponent against the ropes in the fourth round, Fury threw an uppercut. Swaby, from behind his peek-a-boo guard, ducked in anticipation. The punch glanced off Swaby’s forehead and deflected, at full momentum, into Fury’s face.

Two million plus views on YouTube followed. Long after the headline result was forgotten, a moment of high farce in a low-profile fight lived on.

In the 11 years since, Fury, whose ringcraft, reach and defensive skills now make for bigger victories, has been a relentless and innovative seller of himself.

A stand-up stint for Sport Relief in 2012, taping over his mouth in protest at a British Boxing Board of Control fine in 2014, a news conference dressed as Batman in 2015, another with an entourage of five cheerleaders in 2016, buying 1,000-euro rounds of drinks for fans, ring walks inspired by Apollo Creed and Mexican Independence Day, impromptu karaoke, dressing-room visits from his celebrity mates, UFC, WWE and a home-made social-media output that apparently comes direct from the big man’s fingertips, unfiltered by PR safety nets.

"Boxing is different to many sports," says sports marketing expert Nigel Currie.

"If you are a Premier League footballer, you are on the big stage every Saturday or Sunday to maintain your profile. As a top-level boxer you could go a year, 18 months without a major fight.

"It’s a complicated, calendar-less sport and it’s tricky to maintain a regularly high profile. In the old days you would have to call a press conference to announce your plans and sell yourself to the press. Fury has a pretty modern and pretty intelligent approach – with social media these small details and antics can be picked up and spread far beyond a traditional boxing audience."

Fury always had the imagination to pull a stunt and subvert boxing’s po-faced beef-heavy norms. Where other fighters generate more threats and menace than a mob movie, Fury veers dramatically off-script.

His claim earlier this month to be preparing for the Wilder rematch, by masturbating seven times a day was typically outlandish and entirely in character.

But a man who won the heavyweight title in the ring, lost it in a haze of drink, drugs and wasted days and is part of an intriguing three-way wrestle for control of the division, is now subject to a new focus.

Early in his career he would rant, rave and froth to get his five minutes of fame. Today, the media come to him asking for hour-long sit-down interviews, complete with photoshoot.

Frank Warren, his UK promoter, tells BBC Sport: "I think there was a lot of paranoia in the camp before. It was hammered into Tyson: ‘You are a Traveller, you are an outsider.’

"But this is a guy who can talk as well as fight. And we all see he is engaging, very intelligent and articulate. It was just a case of getting him into platforms to show that."

In the opening five minutes of an hour-long podcast hosted by Mike Tyson in September, he touched on the history of the Gypsy people, their portrayal in the media and the pioneering 1850s heavyweight Jem Mace.

He willingly turns that same gaze inward. He often reflects at length and in depth about the depression, addiction, infidelity and weight gain that kept him out of the ring for two and a half years after his shock triumph over Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in 2015, explaining frailties while rivals bluster and boast.

As he prepares for his Las Vegas rematch with Wilder, that mix of introspection, eloquence and wit is about to be tested stateside.

"I just tell him: ‘Be you.’ They are going to eat it up," says Bob Arum, the legendary American promoter who is overseeing his career in the United States. Fury’s ringwalks have been nods to attracting a new audience "The American public have found him humorous, outrageous – they wrapped themselves in his personality, his dress going into the ring, his singing, he has sold himself to the public in the US.

"Prince Naseem Hamed, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton brought their UK fanbases with them, but they never became great American attractions.

"Tyson – you let him loose and he is attracting a tremendous number of Americans. We are going to have a big push to have him on our late-night shows – Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon. They get a huge audience and helped build Manny Pacquiao’s personality because he did such a good job on late-night television.

"And there is absolutely the appetite to have him on.

"The big danger in television is when you are conducting an interview and the person being interviewed is so boring that people can use their remote and go to another station. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, in black with hat, was part of Manny Pacquiao’s entourage for his fight against Floyd Mayweather after Pacquiao appeared on his show "When I was younger, in the 1950s and 1960s, people didn’t have as many choices. Nowadays, not only on linear television but also on the internet, you can keep yourself busy and occupied every second for 24 hours.

"But when you have a guy like Tyson, who is coming up with one thing after another, you are intrigued and tend to watch the whole broadcast. They need a guy like Tyson Fury who can not only attract an audience, but can keep an audience."

Not everyone has always been transfixed with interest and admiration.

Fury has in the past free-wheeled straight into homophobia, sexism and anti-Semitism, his Old Testament brand of Christianity tinged with modern conspiracy theories.

In recent interviews, he has said those outbursts were related to his mental illness, or misguided attempts to generate publicity.

"I was the outlaw, the bad boy, the man who didn’t give a damn," he told BBC Radio 5 Live last year.

"I was the man who would say stuff and cause reactions and divide opinions and people would print stuff about me, but it was all part of you know, this character I was playing.

"There comes a point where I couldn’t do it any more, I just had to be me. I had to let go of the character, because I got lost in it. I couldn’t be me anymore."

In an era in which politicians can successfully shrug off illiberal comments from their past, and in a sport in which legends are elevated regardless, any lasting harm to Fury’s reputation seems minimal.

"The most famous sportsman in my lifetime was Muhammad Ali," says Warren.

"When he was Cassius Clay, he called the white man the Devil, he said blacks shouldn’t marry whites, that budgies don’t go with parrots – quite strong and racist comments.

"But that was what he said at that age, it was quite stupid, quite ridiculous, and as time went on he became a well-loved humanitarian and the most loved sportsman of my time."

In any case, maybe there is not a lot that Warren, or anyone else can do about it.

Team Fury is as changeable and unwieldy as the Fairport Convention line-up, with only the man himself fixed as a permanent point.

He split acrimoniously from his uncle and former trainer Peter Fury in the wake of his win over Klitschko. His relationship with former promoter Mick Hennessy went similarly south. Ben Davison, the man who oversaw his comeback to the ring, has been sidelined in favour of American Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill for his preparations for the Wilder rematch.

Warren and Arum are the latest to look after the promotional side. Robert Davis, Fury’s long-time lawyer, has an eye on the finances, and the fighter has also engaged a management company and PR firm.

But none has a full view of his intentions. Nobody is dictating a masterplan."A couple of things we get involved in, but I would say 98% of the stuff comes from him," says Warren, who only learned of Fury’s foray into WWE after it happened.Arum tells a similar story: "He has ideas about things to do, except Tyson being Tyson he does them first and then asks me what I thought!"So firm is Fury’s grip on his own career that Joshua’s camp reportedly made an approach to set up a fight in early 2019 direct to the man himself, with Fury then convening his brains trust to discuss and dismiss the offer.Between them, Warren and Arum have more than 90 years’ experience in the boxing business. What do they compare the Fury phenomenon to?"From a fun point of view it is like working with Naz [Hamed] in the early days, Naz was great fun, he wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but it was great fun promoting him," says Warren."It is like that with Tyson. You never know what to expect, but you know it is never going to be dull. There is always going to be a spark there."He is a man of the people, he has not got a load of agents or entourages that does not let you get near him, he will go down the street and sign autographs, walk into the bar and buy everyone a drink. That is the type of guy that he is.""For me he is like a combination of Ali and George Foreman," says Arum. Hamed, also promoted by Warren, fought five times in the United States, suffering the only defeat of his 37-fight career against Marco Antonio Barrera in Las Vegas in April 2001 "Ali was the genius of the sound bite, but in those short phrases there was a lot of profundity. Tyson does not speak particularly in sound […]

LGBT activists say new bills — including one in Colorado — target transgender youth

LGBT activists say new bills — including one in Colorado — target transgender youth

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis delivers his second state of the state address in the House chambers at the state Capitol on January 9, 2020 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun) By Lindsay Whitehurst and David Crary , The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — At the urging of conservative advocacy groups, Republican legislators in more than a dozen states are promoting bills that focus on transgender young people. One batch of bills would bar doctors from providing them certain gender-related medical treatment; another batch would bar trans students from participating on school sports teams of the gender they identify with.

The proposed laws, if enacted, “would bring devastating harms to the transgender community,” said Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

He warned that the medical bans — now pending in Colorado , Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota and likely to surface elsewhere — could trigger suicides among young people yearning to undergo gender transition.

The bills’ goals have been endorsed by several national conservative groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom and Eagle Forum. “We’ve got lots of legislators working on this,” said Gayle Ruzicka, an activist with Eagle Forum’s Utah chapter. “We don’t let this happen to children.”

The bill recently introduced in South Dakota would make it a felony for medical providers to perform operations or administer hormone therapy to help minors change their gender. The Missouri bill would subject doctors to revocation of their license if they administered gender-reassignment treatment, and parents who consented to such treatment would be reported to child-welfare officials for child abuse.

“I cannot imagine what happens to transgender people if these criminal bans pass,” said the ACLU’s Strangio, a transgender man. “I don’t think we can possibly raise the alarm enough, because people are going to die.”

The medical director of the Trevor Project, a youth suicide prevention service, also expressed dismay, saying the bills could deprive some young people of potentially life-saving treatment. “They would force doctors to make an untenable decision and could result in their imprisonment for providing best-practice medical care,” said Dr. Alexis Chavez, a transgender psychiatrist.

A Utah legislator, Republican Rep. Brad Daw, said he has accepted Eagle Forum’s request to begin drafting such a bill, though his current proposal now contains some changes from the language suggested by the advocacy group.

While his bill would ban surgeries and hormone therapy for minors, it would allow puberty blockers — medications that temporarily puts puberty on hold.

“We want to do what we think is reasonable practice, which is put off that kind of one-way ticket decision until the youth is an adult,” he said.

Daw said he wants to be sensitive and respectful to transgender kids and their families but remains concerned about medical steps toward transitioning.

“What we want is really good policy off the bat,” said Daw, who’s still drafting the bill for the legislative session that begins Jan. 27.

For transgender kids and their families, though, the idea of putting those steps out of reach is terrifying. Robyn Rumsey of Roy, Utah said her child was withdrawn and angry before coming out as transgender at age 12.

“As parents we were completely thrown, to say the least,” she said. In consultation with a counselor and doctors, Dex Rumsey gradually began wearing short hair and boy’s clothes, then began using puberty blockers and eventually testosterone.

“It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly,” Robyn Rumsey said. It’s made her son, now 15, into a happy, thriving person, she said. The family is considering surgery later this year.

“We have seen this child completely turn around,” she said. Dex considered suicide before coming out, and if he didn’t have access to hormones she worries those thoughts would return. Just learning about the idea of a ban sent him into a panic and a sleepless night, she said.

“I know that it would be a life or death situation for my son. We would be desperate to find help and medication for him,” she said.

Dex Rumsey said the time since he’s started hormone therapy has been the happiest of his life.

“I was never comfortable under my own skin. I always felt wrong, disgusting and I hated myself. These hormones have allowed me to feel comfortable with who I am. It’s allowed me to be happier. I don’t hate myself, I’m not depressed, I don’t feel suicidal anymore,” he said.

That kind of sentiment should be a particular concern to state leaders looking to bring down the state’s suicide rate, said Troy Williams with the group Equality Utah.

If a law were to pass, Dex Rumsey said he’d want to leave the state. “I don’t think they realize the damage these types of things are causing,” he said.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is also leading a nationwide campaign to prevent transgender girls from competing with other girls in high school sports. It has filed a federal discrimination complaint on behalf of Connecticut girls who competed in track-and-field and say state’s inclusive policy on transgender athletes has cost them top finishes and possibly college scholarships.

“Forcing female athletes to compete against biological males isn’t fair and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said attorney Matt Sharp, the ADF’s state government relations director. “Likewise, every child deserves a childhood that allows them to experience puberty and other natural changes that shape who they will become.”

So far this year, bills to restrict transgender students’ sports participation are pending in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington state, according to the ACLU. Idaho State Rep. Barbara Ehardt told the Idaho Statesman she’s preparing a similar bill. In several cases, the bills would override trans-inclusive policies adopted by state high school athletic associations.

The Alabama measure, titled the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, would bar any K-12 public school from participating in interscholastic sports events which allow trans athletes to compete according to their gender identity.

“The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student-athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Chris Pringle.

Several national women’s rights and sports organizations are pushing back, saying that barring transgender people from sports teams aligning with their gender identity often means they are “excluded from participating altogether.”

Crary reported from New York

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Brexit: UK has ‘crossed Brexit finish line’, says Boris Johnson

Brexit: UK has 'crossed Brexit finish line', says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has said the UK has "crossed the Brexit finish line" after Parliament passed legislation implementing the withdrawal deal.

The EU Bill, which paves the way for the country to leave the bloc on 31 January, is now awaiting royal assent.

The PM said the UK could now "move forwards as one" and put "years of rancour and division behind it".

The EU’s top officials are expected to sign the agreement in the coming days, while MEPs will vote on it next week.

The European Parliament will meet on 29 January to debate the agreement, which sets out the terms of the UK’s "divorce" settlement with the EU, the rights of EU nationals resident in the UK and British expats on the continent and arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Its ratification is expected to prove a formality.

The UK will officially leave the 27-member bloc at 11.00 GMT on 31 January – more than three and a half years after the country voted for Brexit in a referendum in June 2016. What is the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

Devolution politicians reject PM’s Brexit bill

Government loses first votes since election

From 1 February, the UK will enter into an 11-month transition period in which it will continue to follow EU rules but without representation in the bloc’s institutions.

This arrangement will come to an end on 1 January 2021, by which point the two sides hope to have completed negotiations on their future economic and security partnership, at the heart of which the government believes will be an ambitious free trade deal. What happened on Wednesday?

The government’s Brexit bill, which enshrines the agreement reached by Mr Johnson in October, is one step away from becoming law after completing its passage through Parliament without any changes.

MPs overwhelmingly rejected all the changes made to the bill in the House of Lords earlier this week – on citizens’ rights, the power of UK courts to diverge from EU law, the independence of the judiciary after Brexit and the consent of the UK’s devolved administrations.

MPs also removed an amendment which would have obliged the government to negotiate an agreement with the EU to allow unaccompanied children who have claimed asylum elsewhere but have a relative in the UK to be re-united with their family.

The bill, as agreed by Parliament, would only compel the government to make a statement on the issue within two months.

Ministers insisted they backed the principle of the Dubs amendment , tabled by the Labour peer Lord Dubs, but argued that there was no point legislating before the UK reached an agreement with the EU on future numbers.

Lord Dubs, who has been campaigning on the issue for years, said the outcome was "bitterly disappointing" while Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the government had shown a "compassion by-pass". What happens next?

The ratification process will be completed over the next week in time for the 31 January deadline.

Belgian politician Charles Michel, who represents the 27 remaining states as president of the European Council, is expected to sign the document in the coming days as will European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Mr Johnson will also sign officially the agreement on behalf of the UK government.

The prime minister, who became Tory leader in July on the back of a promise to "get Brexit done" and won an overwhelming victory at last month’s general election, said Parliamentary approval was a major milestone.

"Parliament has passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forwards as one United Kingdom.

"At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it. Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future."

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Newspaper headlines: Fears over deadly virus and ‘sour’ UK-US relations

Newspaper headlines: Fears over deadly virus and 'sour' UK-US relations

The main photo on the front of the Metro is dedicated to Monty Python star Terry Jones, who has died at the age of 77. The paper’s top story is on the spread of the Chinese coronavirus, as the UK stepped up its precautionary measures. The virus is "on its way to Britain and may even have arrived already," the paper says, adding that that medical teams are meeting planes arriving in Heathrow – including one from Wuhan, where the outbreak began. The Sun reports that the coronavirus could now have infected 10,000 people in China alone. The figure comes from a professor based at a London university, who also claimed the death rate could be two in 100. Experts say the virus may have initially spread from snakes, the paper adds. Like the Sun, the Mail also attempts to draw comparisons between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex on its front page. But its main story is on the Chinese virus, saying questions have been raised over the UK’s response. The paper has spoken to air passengers who arrived in London from Wuhan who say they had not been subject to any screening. Other countries "have introduced more rigorous checks", the paper says. The i newspaper also focuses on the virus, reporting that medics are fearful of a "global pandemic". It comes as the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the outbreak started – has closed its public transport, as 17 people are confirmed to have died. The Daily Mirror leads with tributes to Jones. It focuses on the Welsh actor’s Monty Python co-star Michael Palin who said his friend, who had a rare form of dementia, still showed his typical humour until his final days. Palin said he had taken Jones a book, adding: "He laughed at the bits he wrote." The Times suggests Boris Johnson is preparing to clash with the United States on three issues – tax, trade and foreign affairs. According to the paper, Mr Johnson is planning a levy on large technology companies such as Facebook and Google. Clashes could also happen over the UK’s stance on Huawei and also the Iran nuclear deal, the paper adds. The Financial Times also reports on relations between the UK and US, suggesting they have turned "sour" following tensions at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It reports US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has reiterated his threat that the US could put tariffs on the UK’s car industry if Britain pushes ahead with the digital services tax. The Guardian follows up on the story that they also splashed with the previous day – the allegation that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. UN experts have said they are "gravely concerned" and are now demanding an immediate investigation, the paper reports. Saudi Arabia’s US embassy has denied the "absurd" story. The Daily Telegraph also leads on the allegations that Mohammed bin Salman hacked Bezos’s phone. The paper has spoken to UN investigators who say the Saudi crown prince personally attempted to "intimidate" Bezos with a WhatsApp message suggesting he had incriminating information about Bezos’s extramarital affair following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia adamantly denied the claims – calling them "absolutely silly". The government did not respond to the UN investigators’ intimidation allegation. The Daily Star reports that one of the most famous bingo calls – "two fat ladies" for the number 88 – is being changed to appeal to "snowflakes". The paper says online gaming site Foxy Bingo is considering changing traditional calls later year. "Christmas cake 38" would become "avocado on a plate", "time for tea 83" would be "gluten free" and as for 88? "Wills and Kate." Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted at a cut in tax for working people, according to the front page of the Daily Express. Mr Johnson was taking part in an online question and answer session organised by No 10 when he "acknowledged that taxes needed to be reduced to help lower-income households," the paper says. Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

US plans limits for ’emotional support’ animals on flights

US plans limits for 'emotional support' animals on flights

An emotional support peacock was turned away from Newark airport in 2018 The US is seeking to limit the kinds of animals that airlines must allow on board for free.

The Department of Transportation has proposed to restrict that right to dogs that are trained to help people with disabilities.

It said the plan is a response to concerns that increasing passengers are falsely claiming pets as "service animals".

The proposal is subject to public comment before it goes into effect.

Among other changes, the proposal would mean that so-called emotional support animals are no longer entitled to the same rights as "service animals".

While passengers could have psychiatric service animals, that classification would require animals to have training. ‘Comfort turkeys’

US airlines welcomed the plans. They had called for action, saying a rising number of animals travelling in aeroplane cabins has led to growing complaints and incidents such as biting.

"Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone," said Nicholas Calio, president of industry lobby Airlines for America.

The changes, if they move forward, would bring the US closer to the UK, which does not recognise "emotional support" animals.

In the US, passengers attempting to bring turkeys, peacocks and squirrels inside plane cabins in recent years have drawn attention to the issue and prompted some airlines to tighten their rules on their own.

American Airlines, for example, prohibited flying with frogs, ferrets, hedgehogs and goats, even if they are therapy animals.

Delta noted in 2018 that some passengers "attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes" and spiders.

The Department of Transportation proposal would allow airlines to limit the number of animals passengers may bring with them, impose size rules and require paperwork certifying their service animals.

However, airlines would not be allowed to refuse transport to service animals based on breed.

Petition revives calls for LGBT street names

Petition revives calls for LGBT street names

A man has started a petition to change the name of Isis Street to Harvey Milk Street. Photo: Courtesy Twitter A petition to rename a South of Market street after Harvey Milk has reignited the issue of honoring LGBT leaders with street names in San Francisco.

Last week, a petition ( ) was created that asks Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to change the name of Isis Street, a small side street in the South of Market neighborhood, to Harvey Milk Street.

As of Tuesday, it had garnered 45 signatures toward a goal of 100.

The first such proposal to rename a street after Milk failed to gather steam back in 1999. Milk was the first openly gay man elected to office in San Francisco and California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated the next year.

But now the creator of the petition — David Collins, 59, a straight ally who owns property on Isis Street — said he would be open to renaming the street after someone else, after members of the LGBT community indicated in Facebook discussions after the Bay Area Reporter’s initial January 15 article online that a street in SOMA should be named for a member of the leather community, or that Milk should be honored with a different street.

"Maybe instead of Isis Street, it could be something that has a patriotic connotation like Veterans Street," Collins said in a January 17 interview with the B.A.R., adding that he may rework his efforts to reflect that. "The most compelling thing is to take the Isis name off.

"The LGBT community is in a better position to name Harvey Milk street, and I would support that," he added.

Terry Beswick, the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, wrote on Facebook that he would support renaming Market Street for Milk. The 1999 proposal would have renamed a section of Market Street for Milk.

Gerard Koskovich, also of the GLBT Historical Society, suggested renaming Isis Street for Michel Foucault, the French philosopher who frequented the SOMA LGBT scene and died of complications from AIDS in 1984.

At least two San Francisco supervisors expressed their support for the idea after the initial petition was launched. District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney (Isis Street is in his district) wrote to the Bay Area Reporter via text message, "I love it."

"I’m definitely for more streets named after our local LGBT heroes, and it’d be amazing to have a street named after Harvey Milk in West SOMA," Haney wrote. "It’s a great location for that. I’ll check in with the community about it and next steps."

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the lone LGBT member of the board, wrote to the B.A.R. that he supports having a street named for Milk, but would prefer it if such a street would be in the Castro neighborhood that Milk represented.

"I’m a fan of naming everything we can after Harvey Milk! Naming a San Francisco street after Harvey certainly seems appropriate, though I’d obviously love for it to be in the neighborhood he represented on the Board of Supervisors," wrote Mandelman, who now represents the Castro at City Hall. "I’m happy to have discussions about any possibilities with community members and friends and family of Harvey’s."

Isis Street is near the SF Eagle leather bar and the under-construction Eagle Plaza in the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District.

"Its name presumably had paid homage to ‘Isis,’ a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt," the petition states. "Unfortunately, Isis has taken on a new, maleficent meaning, referencing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"This petition will be presented to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in hopes that they will take action and change this street name to Harvey Milk St.," it reads.

Collins spoke with the B.A.R. by phone early January 16. He owns a 10-unit building on Isis Street.

"How would you like to be a disabled American veteran in your wheelchair on Isis Street?" he asked.

Collins said that his proposal is primarily about getting the Isis name off the street while honoring Milk, saying his LGBT relatives and friends might not have come out if not for Milk. The gay leader, both in his political columns he wrote for the B.A.R. and in his campaign stump speeches, implored LGBT people to come out of the closet.

"This isn’t about me," Collins said. "If someone in the LGBT community wants to take the mantle, I don’t mind. But if it starts with me, it’s OK. I just want a more positive name for the street and neighborhood."

Collins feels that the location is appropriate because of the historic LGBT presence in the South of Market neighborhood.

"We have the Eagle Plaza on one side and Folsom Street on the other side," Collins said. "Harvey Milk would fit right in."

Robert Goldfarb, a gay man who serves as the president of the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District board, wrote in an email to the B.A.R. January 16 he will see what people in the area think of the proposal.

"Naturally, we are in favor of ways to honor Harvey Milk and we’re also interested in what the residents think of the change," Goldfarb wrote. "Additionally, we believe that on other streets in the leather & LGBTQ district, there are many ways to commemorate leather leaders and the neighborhood’s rich history which would benefit everyone who visits, works, or lives in the district."

Collins said that he reached out to then-District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim "four or five years ago" about the possibility of a name-change for Isis Street and she said she would support it if Collins got a petition started. But at the time he thought that ISIS would fade from people’s memories, and he was occupied with other things.

"I thought ISIS would go away, but in the meantime it’s only gotten worse," he said.

Kim did not respond to a request for comment.

Past effort unsuccessful
San Francisco does not have a street named for the slain LGBT civil rights icon. San Diego had the first street named for Milk, in 2012. Salt Lake City named a street for Milk in 2016, followed by Portland, Oregon in 2018.

Twenty-one years ago a proposal to rename a stretch of Market Street from Octavia Boulevard to Portola Drive — a main artery through the heart of the city’s LGBT Castro district — after Milk went nowhere. A resident and business owner of the Castro, Milk represented the neighborhood at City Hall for 11 months in 1978 until he was assassinated November 27 that year.

That proposal from the Castro Citizens Congress, a neighborhood improvement group, needed 10,500 signatures to make the November 1999 ballot, according to a contemporaneous story in the San Francisco Examiner.

It didn’t make it, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections website.

But in the City by the Bay, and especially in the Castro neighborhood, Milk’s name is still omnipresent.

The San Francisco Public Library branch in the Castro is named for Milk, as is the plaza above the Castro Muni station, and the LGBTQ Democratic club he founded after his 1976 election defeat (originally called the Gay Democratic Club).

Milk’s name appears on Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport, the building that houses a Job Corps center on Treasure Island, an elementary school in the Castro, and an arts center in Duboce Triangle.

Milk also has an F Market streetcar, a bust in City Hall, a United States Postal Service stamp (2014), and a state holiday of special significance on May 22, Milk’s birthday.

The U.S. Navy announced last month that it began construction on a ship named for Milk.

Street names
Any request for a street renaming faces a lengthy process. It would need to be scheduled for a supervisors committee and voted on by the full board.

Several street names in San Francisco have changed in recent decades to reflect the diversity of the city’s population. Most notably, there was a bitter fight in 1995 over Army Street.

The Board of Supervisors voted to rename the street after Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez in 1995. But the name change came at a time of racial discord in California in the aftermath of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, and many white residents wanted the name changed back to Army.

A ballot proposition to remove Chavez’s name went down in defeat November 7, 1995 by 54%-45%, according to the elections department.

In more recent years, there was considerably less controversy when Phelan Way was renamed in 2018 for Latina bisexual artist Frida Kahlo, and when a block of 16th Street was renamed 1 José Sarria Court, after the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. Sarria, a legendary drag queen, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961 and founded the Imperial Court system.

That block, where the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library is located, was renamed for Sarria in 2006, when he was still alive. (Sarria died in 2013.)

The city has also bestowed honorary street names that recognize LGBT community members, meaning that they do not impact the mailing addresses for businesses and residences on that block.

The 100 block of Taylor Street was renamed Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way after the business where a transgender-led uprising against police brutality occurred in 1966, three years before the more famous Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

The 100 block of Turk Street was named Vicki Mar Lane, after trans performer Vicki Marlane, who died in 2011 at the age of 76 due to AIDS-related complications.Marlane had hosted a popular drag revue show at gay bar Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, which is located at 133 Turk Street. She is the first transgender person to be honored with a street naming in San Francisco.In 2014, Lech Walesa Alley between Polk Street and Van Ness Avenue was renamed Dr. Tom Waddell Place, due in part, to the former Polish leader making homophobic comments. Waddell was the founder of the Gay Games.A block of Myrtle Street near City Hall is named for lesbian author Alice B. Toklas, who was born nearby. And Jack Kerouac Alley in North Beach honors the bisexual Beat Generation writer.

Online Extra: CA LGBTs urged to fill out census forms

Online Extra: CA LGBTs urged to fill out census forms

Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur said the organization is launching a campaign for LGBT people to pledge to complete the 2020 census. Photo: Courtesy EQCA With billions of federal funding at stake and California at risk of seeing its congressional representation diminish, the state’s LGBT residents are being urged to fill out their 2020 census forms. Doing so is being pitched as a way to not only protect the Golden State’s political clout and financial resources but also as a protest against the Trump administration’s rollback of federal LGBT rights and protections.

During the Obama administration, a working group of federal agencies had been looking at including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2020 census form but the final decision was left up to the administration of his successor. And in March 2017, nearly two months after President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed the forms would not include SOGI questions, causing an uproar among LGBT groups and federal lawmakers supportive of seeing the census collect SOGI data.

Since then LGBT groups and advocates have been using the hashtag #WillBeCounted on social media platforms to drum up awareness about the importance of taking part in the census despite the lack of the SOGI questions. It is especially critical in California, where for the first time in the state’s history it could lose a House seat in Congress because the state’s population is no longer growing as fast as several Western and Southern states that are expected to pick up House seats next year.

Not only is the census population count used to allocate House seats to the states, it also determines funding for myriad social services, from food stamps and Medicaid to Section 8 housing vouchers and community health centers.

Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, on its website is asking people to pledge that they will fill out their census forms this spring. For the first time people will be able to do so online, or they can return the printed forms that will be mailed to them by April 15.

"Thank you for taking the pledge and letting the Trump-Pence administration know we #WillBeCounted!" states a note that pops up on the screen of those who fill out the online form.

Pledge to be counted
Starting Wednesday (January 22) EQCA will be running ads on Facebook and the hookup app Grindr to encourage people to sign the pledge. It is part of a $1 million campaign the agency is undertaking this year to ensure LGBT people fill out the census.

"The 2020 census is nothing less than a fight for our future — a future that values diversity and invests in the communities that need it most," stated Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur. "Too often, California’s diverse LGBTQ community is undercounted — which denies us power, representation and funding for programs that the most vulnerable members of our community need to survive. There’s far too much at stake to allow that to happen in 2020. LGBTQ Californians will be counted."

The bulk of the money came from a grant EQCA received from the California Complete Count Office, which is overseeing the state’s 2020 census efforts. It also received funding from the California Community Foundation specifically for outreach efforts in Los Angeles County and from the California Wellness Foundation for its statewide efforts.

"Right now we are just asking people to pledge to complete the census. In March, we will be doing follow up outreach to people to remind them to fill out the census," said EQCA spokesman Samuel Garrett-Pate.

EQCA has been working with a coalition of LGBT groups around the state to prepare for this year’s census. A major awareness drive was conducted last year at Pride events across the Golden State.

Amanda McAllister-Wallner, director of the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, told the Bay Area Reporter that the census campaign generated overwhelmingly positive reactions.

"I think people were both receptive to the idea of being counted and that this is important for these services that are important to me and the community," said McAllister-Wallner, adding that the Trump administration’s attempts not to count LGBT people in various government surveys also registered. "They are attacking you at the federal level constantly and this is an opportunity to fight back and demand I will be counted in the census. It is a way for people to say, ‘You can’t erase me. You can’t erase my community.’"

The decennial count of the nation’s population will fall short in terms of collecting exact data on the number of LGBT residents, since the 2020 census will not be asking people to specify if they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. In terms of a person’s gender, the only choice one can select is either male or female.

There will be a question where same-sex couples can clearly mark their relationship. New to the 2020 census forms in explaining how people living in the same household are related are the options "same-sex husband/wife/spouse" or "same-sex unmarried partner." In 2010 the options on the census form were the generic terms "husband or wife" or "unmarried partner."

Despite the lack of SOGI questions for LGBT individuals, there does not appear to be a concerted effort to depress LGBT participation in the 2020 census, according to half a dozen LGBT leaders the B.A.R. spoke to about this year’s count. Rather, there seems to be a broad recognition within the LGBT community of the critical importance for filling out this year’s form.

"We need to be counted as a community. We need to know we exist," said Miguel Bustos, a gay San Francisco resident who serves on the California Complete Count Committee and is the senior director of the Center for Social Justice at GLIDE SF.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more about efforts to ensure LGBT Californians take part in the 2020 census in its January 30 issue.