Jonathan Aitken becomes prison chaplain

Jonathan Aitken Image copyright Getty Images

Former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who was jailed for 18 months in 1999, is becoming a prison chaplain.

He is among 32 deacons being ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The ex-Tory MP, who spent seven months in prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice, will be based at St Matthew’s Church Westminster.

Mr Aitken, who found his faith while serving his prison sentence, will become the Rev Jonathan Aitken and work as an unpaid prison chaplain.

Old Bailey celebration

The ordination ceremony is the first to be conducted by a female bishop of London – the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally.

A celebration after the service is due to take place at the Old Bailey, where he was handed his prison sentence 19 years ago.

He admitted to perjury and perverting the course of justice, following the collapse of his libel case against the Guardian and World in Action.

While in prison he became part of a prayer group which included murderers and an armed robber, he told the Times.

After being released he took a degree in theology at the University of Oxford.

A statement form the diocese of London, in the Telegraph, said: “Jonathan Aitken, like his fellow candidates, has been through the process of discernment.

“Once ordained, his specific focus will be on prison ministry.”



Austrian GP: Lewis Hamilton loses out to Valtteri Bottas for pole

Sunday’s race is live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website

Valtteri Bottas pipped team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a tight fight for pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Finn was just 0.019 seconds quicker than the world champion, who made a mistake on his first run and just failed to match Bottas on his second.

Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel, of Ferrari, was third but 0.334secs behind.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen took fourth ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who appeared to be having a dispute during the session.

Who, me? Bottas is actually quite good around Austria – this is his second pole. Last year he won from the top spot

Bottas the star for once

Bottas blitzed the first runs in the top 10 shootout, while both Hamilton and Vettel made errors.

The Finn was nearly 0.5secs clear of Hamilton after the Briton ran wide at Turn Three, the second hairpin, and lost speed all the way down the following straight.

Vettel also ran wide and lost time – but in his case at Turn Four.

Hamilton put it together on his second run but was on the back foot and Bottas improved anyway to move the goalposts even further ahead.

Vettel and the Mercedes are starting on different types of tyres after Hamilton and Bottas chose to make it through Q2 on the super-softs, while Vettel will use the grippier ultra-softs off the line.

It was that combination that led to Vettel getting a better start than both Mercedes cars in France last weekend, and then colliding with Bottas when he had to back out of a challenge at the first corner.

Vettel also has to hope he is not penalised for holding up Renault’s Carlos Sainz during qualifying, for which he is under investigation.

Red Bull tension

Red Bull were struggling for pace on their home track, with Verstappen fifth and Ricciardo seventh, split by Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

But there appeared to be tension on track as Ricciardo seemed to slow at one point in Q3 to try to let Verstappen by, but the Dutchman refused the invitation.

Ricciardo was then heard on the radio saying: “There is no point me running. I’m just punching a hole.” It was an apparent reference to the proximity between the two cars on track and the Australian being close enough to give Verstappen a slipstream, which would be an advantage.

Later, Verstappen, again running behind Ricciardo at the start of their second runs, was heard saying on the radio: “What is going on?”

He was told by his engineer Gianpiero Lambiese: “Just overtake him, mate.”

Verstappen replied: “No. Last weekend I was in front and now he is in front.”

He was again told to overtake him, and Verstappen replied: “No. Discipline.”

Ricciardo was angry because the team decided the drivers would do three runs in Q3, and he was ahead for all three.

The pot has been boiling in the Red Bull camp since Verstappen joined the team in mid-2016

The aftermath

The Australian said: “I knew I was going to be first but my argument was, having three runs, at least give me one run when I am not first. I can be disadvantaged for two, but give me one where I got something.

“Every weekend we swap. One car goes first. This time it was me. But at least give me one. I don’t want to think too much into it. It just a simple question – why couldn’t I have at least one run, which was fair? Or give me with a tow one run.

“Call it luck of the draw because it’s my turn this weekend to be first, fair enough I’ll take it, but why all three? I was just bleeding lap time on the straight and 0.2secs is 0.2secs. You’ve got to push back, and I feel this weekend is worth pushing back for.”

Verstappen said the drivers take it in turns and that he had to punch the hole for Ricciardo in France; this week it was Ricciardo’s turn to return the favour.

“Why is he frustrated? He did all weekend in Paul Ricard in qualifying and we always swap around. Paul Ricard I was ahead. Canada I was behind. And next weekend I’ll be in front again. I understand it is not nice, but it was also not nice for me in Paul Ricard.

“It was very clear what the team wanted and what they said before qualifying and I stick with that.”

Verstappen ended up 0.156secs quicker than Ricciardo, behind whom the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the Renaults of Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

Two great names struggling

McLaren had another difficult day. Fernando Alonso looked as if he could have qualified in around 11th or 12th place but he ran wide on his final run in second qualifying at the final two corners, damaging his front wing and failing to improve on his earlier time.

That left the Spaniard 14th, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne ended up 16th, failing to progress beyond first qualifying, when he was nearly 0.3secs slower than Alonso.

A Williams made it out of Q1 for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix, Lance Stroll qualifying 15th, and giving a little whoop of delight as he was told of his time at the end of the first session.

All three men will be promoted one place on the grid as a result of a five-place penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, who qualified 13th.

Hamilton arrived for qualifying on his motorbike, before promptly choking his fans – to their delight

What they said

Valtteri Bottas: “The whole weekend we have been making good progress with the set-up. The car felt so good and in the last run I knew there was 0.1secs I could improve on the first run and I managed to find it. Apparently I needed it.”

Lewis Hamilton: “Not too bad. I am happy with it. Valtteri did a stunning lap on the first run and I did a little mistake and that kind of ended the run. This is a great result for the team and Valtteri deserved it today.”

The Austrian GP takes place in the dramatic surroundings of the Styrian mountains

Botta has two, Hamilton one, but who has the most poles in Austria? Countryman Niki Lauda, with three – but he never won come race day. Source: Forix



Watford Premier League footballer faces US court over battery

Andre Gray of Watford Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Watford player Andre Gray is alleged to have hit a woman and received a citation from the police

A Premier League footballer is facing a court appearance in the United States after allegedly hitting a woman in a Las Vegas nightclub.

Watford striker Andre Gray, 27, who has been going out with Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock, was in Drai’s nightclub when the incident took place.

Gray is alleged to have hit a woman and received a citation from the police.

It is not an admission of guilt and means he must appear in court in the US at a later date.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andre Gray has been going out with Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said Gray and another man, believed to be a friend, both received a citation for battery from a police officer who was working near the nightclub in the early hours of 26 May.

They are due to appear before a Las Vegas court on 18 July.

The BBC has contacted representatives of Gray, but has yet to receive a response.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The striker was in Drai’s nightclub in Las Vegas when the incident took place

In 2016, Gray was banned for four games by the FA for homophobic comments he posted back in 2012 when he played for non-league Hinckley United.

Gray was also given a £25,000 fine and has been told to attend an FA education course.

Earlier that year he had been named Championship Player of the Year at The Football League Awards, while he was playing for Burnley.



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Newspaper shooting suspect ‘barricaded exit’

Victims of shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis Image copyright EPA
Image caption The victims, from top left: Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman; John McNamara (bottom centre), Wendi Winters (bottom right)

The suspect in the mass shooting at a Maryland newspaper office on Thursday barricaded an exit so that staff could not escape, says a prosecutor.

Officials earlier told reporters the accused, Jarrod Ramos, was not co-operating with the investigation.

Police found evidence at the suspect’s house the attack on the Capital Gazette in Annapolis was planned.

Mr Ramos, 38, appeared in court via video link to be charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

  • ‘It’s the nightmare of nightmares’
Image copyright Anne Arundel Police/Handout via REUTERS
Image caption The shooting suspect, Jarrod Ramos

A judge ordered him held without bail during Friday’s hearing at Anne Arundel County criminal court.

Wearing blue detention clothes, the suspect reportedly said nothing, but watched the proceedings attentively.

Speaking at the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump expressed his condolences.

“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief,” he said.

“Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job.”

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Media captionTrump address “horrific” Annapolis shooting

Read more about US gun violence

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Media captionHow US mass shootings are getting worse

How did the attack unfold?

The defendant is accused of entering the Capital Gazette office on Thursday afternoon and opening fire through a glass door.

He allegedly hunted for victims and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire as journalists hid under their desks and pleaded for help on social media.

Prosecutor Wes Adams said during Friday’s news conference: “We brought to the judge’s attention the evidence that suggested a co-ordinated attack.

“The barricading of a back door, and the use of a tactical approach in the hunting down and shooting of the innocent victims.”

Mr Adams said Mr Ramos had “entered through the front door and worked his way through the office”.

He also said there was “one victim who attempted to escape through the backdoor and was shot at that point”.

The victims were Wendi Winters, 65, editor and community reporter; Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant; Robert Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor and columnist; Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial writer; and John McNamara, 56, reporter and editor.

Two other people who hurt by broken glass, said police.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A woman who knew some of the dead stands before a makeshift memorial to victims of the Capital Gazette newspaper attack

Who is the suspect?

Investigators say he had a “long-standing grievance” with the newspaper.

He sued the Gazette for defamation over a 2011 column that reported on his guilty plea to criminal harassment of a former high school classmate on Facebook. He lost the lawsuit in 2015.

In the harassment case, he was reportedly spared jail time and ordered to get therapy.

Police said on Friday the defendant had made threatening comments online in May 2013 against the Gazette. But the newspaper declined to pursue charges, not wishing to “exacerbate” the situation, said investigators.

The woman who said she was stalked by him told Baltimore’s WBAL she had warned a former police official years ago the suspect “will be your next mass shooter”. She added: “He’s a [expletive] nut job.”

The accused became “fixated” with her for no apparent reason, she said, causing her to move three times, change her name and sleep with a gun.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Capital Gazette staff worked through the tragedy, publishing a newspaper for circulation by the following morning

What’s the latest in investigation?

On Friday, Anne Arundel County police chief Timothy Altomare said authorities had found evidence at Mr Ramos’ residence “showing the origination of planning” for the attack.

He was asked by reporters how the suspect was able to buy a 12-gauge shotgun despite having been found guilty of harassment.

Mr Altomare said only those convicted of serious crimes and certain misdemeanours were banned from buying guns in Maryland.

Police said they used facial recognition technology from the Maryland Image Repository System to identify Mr Ramos.

Maryland is one of several US states that provides the FBI with access to its drivers’ licences, police mug shots and other prison records.

How did the newspaper respond?

Despite falling victim to one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in US history, the Capital Gazette staff worked through the tragedy, publishing a newspaper for circulation by the following morning.

The newspaper’s editors left the editorial page blank with a note saying they were speechless.

Photographs widely shared on social media showed Gazette reporters working on laptops in a parking garage to produce Friday’s edition.

The newspaper was one of the first to publish the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, though the report appeared on page two because local news always leads its editions, according to the Baltimore Sun.



Migrant crisis: EU leaders split over new migrant deal

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EU leaders have differed sharply over how a new deal on curbing irregular migration will work.

The agreement foresees the creation of secure centres to receive migrants.

France’s president said his country would not set any up as it was not the EU country where migrants landed first.

Italy’s prime minister – who had held up agreement at the Brussels summit – said centres could be anywhere within the EU. EU President Donald Tusk warned of difficulties to implement the deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a “significant step forward” but said more must be done to resolve disagreements.

A common policy at last?

By Katya Adler, Europe Editor, BBC News, in Brussels

So has Europe’s migrant crisis now been solved? In a word, no. On two fronts. Firstly, that of preventing illegal migration and saving migrant lives.

Take for example the processing centres that are to operate inside and outside the EU. The idea behind those is to put economic migrants off coming to Europe as they’ll know only those with a legal right to asylum or refugee status can stay. But these processing centres are voluntary. We don’t know where or when (or if) they will be operational – and in the meantime, migrants will keep making that perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

The second failure is more of a half-failure, and it’s a political one. Let’s face it – with the sharp drop in arrivals to Europe, the stresses and strains between EU countries are clearly political. The fact that leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel leave this summit claiming that “a significant step forward has been taken” is a hint that, in true EU summit style, leaders have papered over the cracks.

But is Europe North, South, East and West united now over a common migrant and asylum policy moving forward? Absolutely not.

Who gets what from the deal?

The deal is being billed as a lifeline for Mrs Merkel, who has faced a political crisis at home where a key ally, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, has threatened to start turning away migrants who have already registered elsewhere.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The deal will likely help to stabilise Angela Merkel’s rocky coalition

Italy also differed with Spain and Greece who agreed to take back migrants registered on their territory who had travelled on to Germany.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had earlier taken the rare step of blocking the conclusions of the summit’s joint communique until the leaders had settled the migration issue.

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Media captionMigrant crisis: EU border force Frontex explained

The 28 EU leaders agreed several other measures, including:

  • Strengthening external border controls, with more funding for Turkey and countries in North Africa
  • Exploring the possibility of “regional disembarkation platforms”, designed to thwart people-smuggling gangs by processing migrants outside the EU
  • Boosting investment in Africa to help the continent achieve a “socio-economic transformation” so people no longer want to leave in pursuit of a better life in Europe

Where would the secure centres be built?

The centres are meant be set up by EU states on a voluntary basis, but there are no details on which nations might host them or take in refugees.

French President Emmanuel Macron said they would be in countries where migrants initially arrived in the EU, and that France would not have any as it is “not a country of first arrival”.

But Mr Conte told reporters that all EU states would be able to establish the centres, “including France”. He suggested Mr Macron had been “tired” when he spoke.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte took issue with France’s President Macron over the specifics of the deal

About 56,000 migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration says, compared to more than a million in 2015.

Several Central European states have so far rejected an EU scheme to relocate 160,000 refugees from overcrowded camps in Greece and Italy.

How have aid agencies responded?

Non-governmental organisations have fiercely condemned the deal, saying it betrays vulnerable people and those trying to stop them dying in the Mediterranean.

The deal also aimed to “demonise non-governmental search and rescue operations”, MSF’s emergencies chief Karline Kleijer said.

On Friday, around 100 people were said to have drowned off the Libyan coast, with 16 rescued.

Italy’s anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has previously railed against rescue ships run by international NGOs, and said on Friday that they helped people traffickers “consciously or not”.

“The NGOs will only see Italy on a postcard,” he told Italian radio. “The ports will be closed all summer.”



Adam Sandler: Wedding Singer turns wedding crasher

Adam Sandler dressed in running gear poses with a bride and groom at their wedding Image copyright Mlle Sana Photography
Image caption The Hollywood star offered his congratulations to the couple on their wedding day

Kevin and Alex were never in danger of forgetting their wedding day, but now they will have a permanent reminder of a surprise twist – a shock cameo from Adam Sandler.

The Hollywood star was enjoying lunch with his family in Montreal when he crossed paths with a couple having their wedding photographs taken.

After a brief conversation, it came to pass that the bride and groom, dressed in a white gown and a sharp tuxedo, were photographed beside a mustachioed man in a white T-shirt and red shorts.

The photo was shared by a friend of the family on Reddit, where it has been upvoted more than 27,000 times.

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“My wife yelled his name”, Kevin Goldstein told the BBC. “We were taking photos. He came over and wished us well, he was just chatting to us.

“We told him we’re huge fans, we love his work, we’ve watched all his films.

“He replied, ‘Good, I’ll take some photos then – mazel tov!’

“My wife invited him to the wedding – he couldn’t make it, but she was ecstatic, absolutely over the moon. We couldn’t believe it.”

Image copyright Mlle Sana Photography
Image caption Kevin said the chance meeting “made our special day even more special”

Kevin was speaking to the BBC from the newly-weds’ honeymoon in Italy, and said Sandler was “the nicest guy”.

“He took the time to take photos with us and spend time with us,” he said.

“It made our photos and wedding that much better.”

Image copyright Mlle Sana Photography
Image caption Kevin called Sandler’s cameo appearance “a very nice touch to the wedding”

By Tom Gerken, UGC & Social News



World Cup 2018: All you need to know about the last 16

World Cup 2018: Best goals of the group stage
2018 Fifa World Cup last 16
Venue: Russia. Dates: 30 June – 3 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button and iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online.

The knockout stage of the World Cup gets under way on Saturday, when France face Argentina in Kazan at 15:00 BST, a match you can watch live on BBC One.

The last 16 features eight matches over four days in seven cities across Russia.

Hosts Russia are through, along with former winners Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France and Spain.

Defending champions Germany were among the 16 teams who did not qualify from the group stage.

The 21st edition of the World Cup has provided 122 goals, 36,349 completed passes, 158 yellow cards and lots of video assistant referee drama.

If the scores are level after 90 minutes in knockout games, 30 minutes of extra time will be played, followed by penalties if necessary.

If a match goes to extra time, each team will be allowed to make a fourth substitution, the first time this has been allowed at a World Cup.

Goodbye to the GOATs?

Two of the greatest players of all time could be on their way home from the World Cup by the end of the weekend.

Lionel Messi scored in the 2-1 group win over Nigeria on 26 June to become the third Argentine to find the net in three different World Cups, alongside Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta.

However, the Argentina captain has never scored in a knockout game at the tournament – a statistic he is hoping to address against France as he carries the weight of a nation on his shoulders.

World Cup 2018: Is Lionel Messi the GOAT or a mere human?

“Fans and some parts of the media in Argentina are too much on him, so of course he feels the pressure,” Messi’s former international team-mate Pablo Zabaleta told BBC Sport.

“He is a human being and it is not easy to be the best player in the world.”

As Argentina move into new accommodation in Kazan after narrowly qualifying from the group stages, Messi will be confronted with an all too familiar face – that of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

A mural depicting the Portugal and Real Madrid star has been painted in a courtyard by the hotel where the Argentina team is staying.

A mural of Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo by the hotel where Argentina are staying in Kazan

Ronaldo is also in action on the first day of the knockout stage as he looks to propel Portugal into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006.

The Euro 2016 winners face Luis Suarez’s Uruguay, when all eyes will be on Ronaldo, who lit up the World Cup with a hat-trick against Spain on 15 June.

Earlier this month, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said Messi, 31, and Ronaldo, 33, “probably have one last chance” to win the World Cup.

  • France v Argentina – live on BBC One from 14:30 BST, Saturday

Super Saturday

On Saturday, four heavyweights slug it out for a place in the quarter-finals.

The Kazan Arena was the scene of Germany’s shock exit after defeat by South Korea earlier in the week.

The venue will see the demise of another former world champion on Saturday when it hosts France against Argentina in what some pundits predict could be the tie of the round.

Argentina are two-time winners while France have reached the final of the past two World Cups staged on European soil, winning as hosts in 1998 before losing to Italy in the 2006 final in Germany.

Maradona, a World Cup winner in 1986, has been at all of Argentina’s games in Russia, and is again expected to be in Kazan despite being seen by a doctor at the final group match.

Diego Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina

That game is followed at 19:00 by two-time winners Uruguay against Portugal.

Uruguay were one of only three teams – along with Croatia and Belgium – to emerge from the group stage with a maximum nine points.

Oscar Tabarez’s side are the only team not to concede a goal in three games in Russia – the last South American team not to concede in their first four matches of a World Cup tournament were Brazil in 1986.

“This will be a busy evening for the referee, not least with Uruguay’s Atletico Madrid centre-halves Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez up against Portugal’s Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo,” said BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson.

Germany gone – but 11 of world’s top 15 left

Even with Germany out, the last 16 contains 11 teams in the top 15 of the Fifa world rankings.

Five-time winners Brazil will be hoping star forward Neymar can stay on his feet long enough to help them beat Mexico in Samara on Monday (15:00).

The world’s most expensive player has been on the ground so much in Russia that one pub in Rio gave out free shots each time Neymar was on the floor against Serbia on 27 June.

Neymar did score in his country’s second group game against Costa Rica but was denied a penalty and booked for dissent in the same match.

“It was front page on one of the papers that Neymar has been going to ground once every nine minutes at this World Cup,” said South American football expert Tim Vickery.

“There is so much that is good but there are things that are deplorable about him.”

World Cup 2018: The good, the bad, and the Neymar

Spain, the 2010 winners, have been far from their best, but are unbeaten in the past 23 games before meeting hosts Russia on Sunday at 15:00.

This tournament represents a last chance for several of Belgium’s players to win a World Cup.

Defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are 32, while defender Jan Vertonghen and forward Dries Mertens are 31.

“It’s now or never for a lot of these players,” former Belgium striker Gilles de Bilde told BBC Sport.

Belgium, third in the Fifa rankings, face Japan in Rostov-on-Don on Monday at 19:00.

  • Spain v Russia – live on BBC One from 14:30 BST, Sunday

Will England overcome a 12-year itch?

With an average age of 26 years and 18 days, England arrived in Russia with the third-youngest squad in the tournament.

They overcame Tunisia and Panama to reach the knockout stage before a much-changed team lost the final group game 1-0 to Belgium.

England must now beat Colombia, quarter-finalists in 2014, in Moscow on Tuesday at 19:00 if they are to repeat their feats of 2002 and 2006 by reaching the quarter-finals.

“Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that,” said boss Gareth Southgate. “We are still a work in progress but that’s not a bad thing at this stage.”

Southgate defends team selection

England must do something they have not managed since 2006 if they are to reach the last eight – win a knockout match at a major tournament.

Under Roy Hodgson in 2014, they failed to get out of their World Cup group, while in 2010 Fabio Capello’s team lost 4-1 to Germany in the last 16.

Indeed, England have won only two of their past eight knockout games at the World Cup – against Denmark in 2002 and Ecuador in 2006.

They also went out on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals at the 16-team Euro 2012 and lost to Iceland in their first knockout game at Euro 2016.

Southgate describes the Colombia match as England’s “biggest game for a decade”.

History in the making for Japan?

With a population of 144 million willing them on, Russia have turned on the style to emerge from the group stage at their own World Cup – despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

The team sitting 70th in the Fifa rankings can expect more feverish support when they face Spain in Moscow’s 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium at 15:00 on Sunday.

Russia scored eight goals and won two games in the group stage

Japan, who face Belgium, are one win away from reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, while Switzerland’s most recent appearance in the last eight came in 1954.

Switzerland play Sweden, who came third in 1994, in St Petersburg at 15:00 on Tuesday, while Mexico must beat Brazil to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since hosting the World Cup in 1986.

Croatia meet Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod at 19:00 on Sunday. Whoever wins will be make the last eight for the first time since 1998.



Capital Gazette shooting: Remembering the victims

Capital gazette front page 29.6.2018 Image copyright EPA

Robert Hiaasen was a veteran editor and columnist who believed in the importance of community journalism. He was a towering figure in the Capital Gazette newsroom, both in stature and in his craft, according to his brother.

“He was killed while he was doing what he loved to do, which was to put out this newspaper for the people of Annapolis,” his brother, author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen, told CNN.

“We’ve written about this sort of thing very, very often and now it touches desperately close to home,” Mr Hiaasen said. “It’s a grimly predictable tragedy”.

“It’s the nightmare of nightmares.”

Here is what we know about the five victims who were killed by a gunman with an alleged grudge in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday.

Rob Hiaasen

Image copyright Facebook/Carl Hiaasan
Image caption Robert Hiaasen (left) and Carl Hiaasen (right)

Robert Hiaasen, 59, was assistant managing editor and a columnist for the newspaper, according to the Capital Gazette website.

He was a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and lived in the Maryland suburb of Timonium, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Hiaasen worked as a reporter for the Palm Beach Post in Florida before he moved to the Baltimore Sun, where he was a reporter for 15 years. He joined the Gazette in 2010 as an assistant editor.

“Big Rob”, as he was affectionately known, recently celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary with his wife, Maria Hiaasen, according to his brother.

Maria Hiaasen celebrated her 58th birthday on the day of his death, he told CNN on Friday. The couple have three children.

“He was a tall man, 6ft 5in, but he was a giant not just in stature but in character,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “He was just the best husband.”

Former Gazette reporter Binghui Huang recalled nervously losing her keys on her first day on the education beat for the paper.

“Hiaasen bounced out of his chair and offered to drive me,” she wrote on Twitter.

“He waited in my car as I did my interviews, like a dad waiting for his kid’s dance lesson to end.

“I felt embarrassed, like I had brought my dad to a party. But also proud, that I had someone who had my back like that.”

Carl Hiaasen said on Facebook his brother was “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known”.

John McNamara

Image copyright Capital Gazette

John McNamara, 56, spent nearly 24 years as a sports reporter at the Capital Gazette, according to the Baltimore Sun.

He was remembered for “his flexibility, concise writing and extensive knowledge of region sports,” the paper said.

“He had a razor wit that came in bursts like a social media post,” a Capital reporter told the Sun.

Washington Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga posted that McNamara, known as Mac, was one of the first people he met in sports media in Washington DC, describing him as “relentlessly kind” and “incredibly understated”.

He authored two books about the University of Maryland’s football and basketball teams, and was reportedly working on a third book about baseball players who were raised in the Washington area, according to the Sun.

Before his tenure at the Gazette, McNamara worked at The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown and the Prince George’s Journal, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Wendi Winters

Image copyright Capital Gazette

Wendi Winters, 65, spent her early career in fashion and public relations in New York City before she moved to Maryland 20 years ago, according the Sun.

The mother of four worked as a freelance reporter for more than a decade before joining the Gazette as full-time staff in 2013. She was the editor of special publications, a community news reporter and columnist for the newspaper.

Winters Geimer, daughter of Wendi Winters, spoke to the Baltimore Sun and described her mother as “a gift to everyone who knew her”.

Leslie Hunt, a former Capital Gazette community news editor, said she was “dedicated and loved the work”.

“She loves the news business,” she added.

Gazette editor Kathryn Flynn said: “When we had something that needed to be covered on the weekends, when we only had a few people to call on, you could always call on Wendi.

“She would good-naturedly crank out three or four stories in a weekend.”

Gerald Fischman

Image copyright Capital Gazette

Gerald Fischman, 61, had been at the paper since 1992, and Maryland House speaker Michael Busch told the Baltimore Sun he was a “respected writer” who captured “the feelings within the community”.

His colleagues praised his “brilliant mind, wry wit and ‘wicked pen'”.

The editorial page editor “had an encyclopaedia knowledge of everything from philosophy to who knows what,” said retired editor Brian Henley.

”It didn’t matter if you were working late at night or early on a Saturday, he was there,” Elisha Sauers, a former Capital reporter who worked with Fischman for eight years, told the Washington Post.

In May he won first- and second-place awards for editorial writing from the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association for his pieces about a noose left hanging outside a school and a council member accused of censoring public comments at council meetings, according to the paper.

“He had a much louder voice in his writing, than he did in person,” Ms Sauers said.

”He was so shy and avoided eye contact, but he was a lot more confident in his writing voice.”

Rebecca Smith

Image copyright Handout

Rebecca Smith, 34, was a recent hire, joining the paper in November 2017, but colleagues said she had already proved herself “a valuable asset”.

The Gazette’s advertising director Marty Padden told Time magazine described the sales assistant as “a very thoughtful person”, adding she was “kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed”.

The Baltimore native described herself on her Facebook page as an “Endo Warrior”, a reference to being a survivor of endometriosis, and a “Dog Mom. Softball Fiance. Bonus Mom to the best kid ever”.

Smith lived in eastern Baltimore County with her fiance, DJ Poling, who has a daughter from a previous relationship.

Kelli Peleska, a friend of Mr Poling, said she was very close with her fiance’s daughter.

“They had such an amazing relationship. Can’t even imagine her pain when she hears of this.”

“This cant be real,” Smith’s fiance, DJ Poling, wrote on his Facebook page.

“No one ever put up with or attempted to make me a better person like you did. I will love you forever.”



Ed Sheeran’s wedding chapel plan rejected

Ed Sheeran Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ed Sheeran announced his engagement to girlfriend Cherry Seaborn in January

Ed Sheeran has been denied planning permission for a private wedding chapel in the grounds of his home.

The 27-year-old chart-topper had hoped to wed fiancee Cherry Seaborn in the custom-built Saxon-style round tower at his estate in Dennington, Suffolk.

But planning officials said the structure would cause “unsatisfactory visual impacts” and create “the impression of a second village church”.

It is not known if the couple will appeal or opt for an alternative venue.

Suffolk Coastal District Council refused the application because the design would “be in conflict with the prevailing landscape character, creating the impression of a second village church”.

“This would result in visual conflict with the character of the existing local landscape,” it added.

The singer’s application said the building would not hired out and was solely intended for use by the owner.

It justified the need for a chapel and said: “It is every person’s right to be able to have a place of retreat for contemplation and prayer, for religious observance, celebration of key life and family milestones, marriages, christenings and so forth.”

Image copyright Donald Insall Associates
Image caption The proposed chapel would have been built in a Saxon style, according to the plans

Sheeran, who announced his engagement in January, has faced opposition from locals over the project.

He had called in experts to check whether great crested newts could scupper his plans for the private chapel after concerns from people living nearby.

The species has declined in recent years and is now legally protected.

But, aside from the visual impact, planning officials also said it was not a sustainable development and would require artificial lighting in an area not currently polluted by light.

Had the planning application been successful, Sheeran would have needed to obtain a wedding licence for the ceremony.

Image caption The great crested newt is found throughout Europe and is a protected species in the United Kingdom