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Meghan and Harry go head-to-head in netball shootout

Image copyright Reuters/AFP
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Sussex laughed their way through the netball shootout

Dancer Ginger Rogers famously did everything her partner Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.

And the Duchess of Sussex seemed to have taken the example to heart when she took on her husband Prince Harry in a netball shootout.

Meghan arrived in towering stiletto heels for an awards ceremony at Loughborough University – but still got stuck into a sports masterclass.

The royal couple were snapped laughing their way through the on-court contest.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duke and Duchess clearly enjoyed their sporting face-off
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Meghan's blue Oscar de la Renta top and Altuzarra trousers made for an unconventional netball ensemble, as did Harry's shirt and suit
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince Harry was also unusually dressed for the netball court

Meghan was joined by a roster of sports stars including tennis player Laura Robson, gymnastics coach Scott Hann, and England netballer Eboni Beckford-Chambers – an obvious advantage, you might think.

Not to be outdone, Harry's team got a boost from ex-US basketball star David Robinson, as well as marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, former England cricketer (and Strictly Come Dancing champion) Mark Ramprakash, and ex-England rugby player Ugo Monye.

Skip Twitter post by @scobie

The Sussexes are clearly enjoying the masterclass with England netballer Eboni Beckford-Chambers!

— Omid Scobie (@scobie) September 24, 2018


End of Twitter post by @scobie

Harry and Meghan were at the university to present awards to graduates of Coach Core, an apprenticeship programme that trains unemployed young people to be sports coaches and mentors.

It was founded through the Royal Foundation following the 2012 London Olympics. The Foundation was set up as a vehicle for Prince William and Prince Harry's charitable work in 2009.

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The Coach Core programme is set to double its reach over the next three years, adding 10 new sites thanks to a £995,500 National Lottery grant.

Harry's team ultimately won the netball skill test – but if Meghan wants a rematch, she needn't look far for a willing teammate.

Her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, is never one to dodge a sporting challenge – no matter how unorthodox her attire.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge is handy with a hockey stick – even in heels

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Jamal Khashoggi’s death exposes Saudi regime

Jamal Khashoggi was a gracious, polite and gentle man to meet.

Not the type to risk a fight with a bunch of goons behind closed doors in a consulate, or anywhere else for that matter.

For those who met and knew him, the latest storyline out of Riyadh is preposterous.

It also contradicts the shrill Saudi denials of the past two weeks that anything untoward happened in the consulate, leaving the credibility of the Saudi government in shreds.

The most likely explanation must remain Mr Khashoggi's killing was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Khashoggi 1:43
Video: CCTV has captured journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his fiancee at their apartment on the day he disappeared.

Second most likely is an interrogation, intimidation or rendition operation, authorised or not by the prince, that went badly wrong.

If that was the case it is unthinkable the Crown Prince did not know what happened. He is after all Crown Prince and defence minister: intelligence agencies answer to him. He would have been told.

So he was either complicit in the killing and ordered it.

Or it was a botched operation which he soon learned about.

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If that was the case, inexplicably he waited two and a half weeks before letting the world know.

Two and a half weeks of damaging diplomatic fallout.

In that time his government, and supporters in the media angrily denied claims the writer died in the consulate. Claims they now say are true. The fortnight damaged both Saudi credibility and relations with allies.

Donald Trump says he believes the Saudi government's account of events is credible 7:07
Video: The White House reaction

That would make him incompetent.

So either a rash impetuous ruler who dispatches assassins to kill journalists or an inept one. Neither are what America or Britain seek as a partner in this crucial region.

Critics say this is the price America pays for giving the young prince free rein.

Video: Saudi Arabia said Mr Khashoggi was killed after a fight broke out.

Mr Trump's amoral foreign policy has led to an immoral one as the administration scrambles to give cover to its ally. A rogue ally that has caused considerable damage but is now too important to lose.

In his short time in office, MBS has presented himself as a twenty first century form of enlightened despot.

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An absolute ruler but one who wants to use his authoritarian power to reform and modernise his country.

That image may well have died with Jamal Khashoggi at considerable cost to his country and support from the west.

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US Mega Millions lottery jackpot hits record $1.6bn

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A record-breaking US lottery jackpot of $1.6bn (£1.2bn) is up for grabs after players failed to pick the winning ticket in a $1bn Mega Millions draw.

The competition, which saw 15 "second-tier" tickets scoop about $1m each, had people lining up at service stations and stores nationwide on Friday.

The odds of choosing the matching six numbers to win the Mega Millions prize are said to be one in 302,575,350.

Another draw for the huge US jackpot will be held on Tuesday.

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The Mega Millions draws, tickets for which are sold in 44 US states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands, have failed to produce a top prize winner since July.

The competition was created in 2002 and has seen a number of changes to the rules over the years that have reduced the odds of winning, leading to larger jackpots.

Top five US jackpot wins

  • $1.58bn: A Powerball win in 2016. The prize was split three ways by ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee
  • $758.7m: Won in 2017 by mother-of-two Mavis Wanczyk from Massachusetts. She said she had picked the numbers based on relatives' birthdays
  • $656m: A Mega Millions top prize win in 2012, shared between three winners who purchased tickets in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois
  • $648m: Another Mega Millions win, this time in 2013 by two ticket holders; a woman in Georgia and a man in California
  • $590.5m: A Powerball jackpot won by an 84-year-old Florida woman

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Spain will NOT VETO final Brexit deal – Madrid DROPS Gibraltar demand

SPAIN has hinted it will not veto any final Brexit deal following negotiations between Madrid and London over Gibraltar this weekend, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez accused of "wasting" the country’s powers to veto the UK’s exit from the EU.

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Sturgeon boycotts event in far-right row

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Image caption Steve Bannon left his White House job amid reports of a power struggle

Nicola Sturgeon has pulled out of a conference in Edinburgh next month because Donald Trump's ex-strategist Steve Bannon was also due to speak.

The first minister had been scheduled to take part in the three-day News Xchange event, which is being co-hosted by the BBC, on 13 November.

However, she said that giving Mr Bannon a platform risked "legitimising or normalising far-right, racist views".

Steve Bannon was one of Donald Trump's most trusted aides until August 2017.

He left the US government after losing his seat on the National Security Council amid claims of a power struggle among President Trump's top team.

'Balanced judgements'

Since leaving the White House, Mr Bannon has continued to champion right-wing political causes, although his appearance at events has proved controversial.

In September he was disinvited from the New Yorker Festival after a high-profile backlash by actor Jim Carrey, producer Judd Apatow and presenter Jimmy Fallon.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said Steve Bannon's inclusion in the event risked normalising far-right views.

Nicola Sturgeon was due to be introduced by the BBC's Scotland editor Sarah Smith on the opening evening of the conference on 13 November.

Steve Bannon is expected to take part in a session the next morning, which is also due to be moderated by Sarah Smith at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

'Influential figure'

In a tweet, Ms Sturgeon said she regretted the position she had been put in by the BBC.

She said: "I believe passionately in free speech but as @ScotGovFM I have to make balanced judgments – and I will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views. I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position."

She also attacked the event's description of Mr Bannon as a "powerful and influential figure…promoting an anti-elite movement."

She added: "This kind of language to describe views that many would describe as fascist does seem to me to run the risk of normalisation."

Image caption The event is due to be moderated by BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith

In a statement the BBC said Steve Bannon had been invited on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union's (EBU) News Xchange committee.

They added: "Good journalism in a world of fake news and disinformation is more vital than ever.

"Journalism is about asking tough questions and understanding what is happening in the world and why.

"A conference designed to analyse the big issues impacting that world isn't an endorsement of anyone or anything – it is a function of what journalism is."

'Relevant viewpoints'

Event organisers, the EBU, said the News Xchange event sought to explore industry trends and challenge delegates to understand the wider political and social context.

They said: "Steve Bannon is a key influencer in the rise of populism – one of the dominant political trends of our times.

"He has been invited to speak at News Xchange this year because his views are relevant to today's society at large and therefore to the media industry.

"We also consider it our journalistic responsibility to share and scrutinise a range of relevant viewpoints within the framework of a balanced debate.

"He will be interviewed about his views by a BBC journalist, followed by an open Q&A with delegates."

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Afghanistan polls: ‘Voting is an act of bravery’

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