The Church of England has urged the Government to ensure age verification systems are put in place to protect under-18s from online pornography. The widespread availability of porn to children means they are growing up in a culture where violent, degrading and harmful sexual activity is being normalised. In 2017, porn checks were approved by Parliament under the Digital Economy Act but plans to implement them were abandoned in 2019 when the Government claimed they would be covered by future legislation. The abandoned Online Safety Bill stated, ‘pornographic websites could face large fines and risk being blocked if they do not have age verification systems in place to prevent children from accessing content.’ But now the Government announced, ‘further parliamentary consideration of the Bill is delayed until after the summer recess.’
Archie Battersbee’s parents, Hollie and Paul from Southend-On-Sea, have been fighting a legal battle since their son was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck in a tragic accident in April. On 15 July, Mr Justice Hayden ruled ‘it is in Archie's best interests for life-support to be removed as it is futile, compromises Archie’s dignity and serves only to protract his death rather than prolong his life.’ Archie's family appealed the decision. At the time of writing, the president of the Family Division of the High Court, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson are considering arguments at a Court of Appeal. Pray for Archies’ parents who said, ‘Planned death is another name for euthanasia, which is illegal in this country. It is for God to decide what should happen to Archie, including if, when and how he should die’.
In April, the UK said some people arriving on small boats from France to claim asylum would be sent to Rwanda - a policy meant to deter dangerous channel journeys. But MP Diana Johnson, chair of the home affairs committee, said it ‘appears to have gone unnoticed’ by migrants. A group of MPs said there is ‘no clear evidence’ that the UK's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda will stop risky Channel crossings and numbers have significantly increased since it was announced.
SNP ministers are facing a new legal battle over the definition of women, after they were accused of flouting a court ruling stating that biological men cannot be counted as female. The campaign group For Women Scotland claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s administration was trying to ‘redefine women yet again’ by issuing transgender rules it says are ‘wholly incompatible’ with a landmark court victory, which it won only five months ago. The feminist organisation was backed by Scotland's top civil court in its claim that SNP legislation designed to increase the number of women on public boards was unlawful as it stated that anyone ‘living as a woman’, regardless of their biological sex, would count as female. However, the Scottish Government has issued new statutory guidelines which state transgender women should still be counted as female in the workplace quotas, so long as they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Trina Budge, a director at For Women Scotland, said, ‘The Government seems incapable of either abiding by a court order, or understanding that the definition of woman does not include any males.’
France and Germany are pressuring Brussels to take the hardest possible line towards the next Tory leader over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Both Tory leadership candidates have pledged to press ahead and scrap goods checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Brussels says the Northern Ireland Protocol bill is illegal and will retaliate with lawsuits and import tariffs to strategic UK exports. Senior EU sources said the bloc would prefer to restart talks with a fresh face rather than Liz Truss, who has been running the negotiations. Ms Truss initially adopted a conciliatory approach after taking over as the UK’s chief negotiator from combative Lord Frost. But her position has hardened recently as she became frustrated at the lack of movement in the talks. EU insiders believe she dropped her friendly approach when it became clear that Boris could be ousted over partygate.
Evangelical churches across Bosnia and Herzegovina will be putting on a series of camps for children, teenagers and young people across the country. Ask God to bless, strengthen, and protect the adults who have cleared spaces, prayed over them, and sought blessing for the young Bosnians. Pray for unity through these efforts, as well as much fruit. Pray for God to move in the young people, and for Him to raise up disciples who in turn also make disciples. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give the adults insight into how to pray for the youth coming to the camps. Pray that Jesus would move powerfully through His people. Ask Him to give the average church attender a desire to join in these prayer camps and that there would be unity in the Evangelical church.
Vladimir Putin visited Iran this week in only his second overseas trip since invading Ukraine. He received a red carpet welcome from Iran’s supreme leader who wants to strengthen long-term cooperation with Russia. Tehran and Moscow are both suffering under Western sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Putin for ensuring his country had ‘maintained its independence’ from America and said their two countries needed to remain vigilant against ‘Western deception’. Ahead of Putin’s arrival, Iranian officials indicated they could strike weapons deals with Russia. ‘Currently, we are ready to export military equipment and weapons’ said Iran's army ground forces commander. His comments came a week after America claimed Iran was planning to send hundreds of weapons-capable drones to Moscow for use in Ukraine. Meanwhile a Ukrainian missile struck a key bridge linking Russian-occupied Kherson city with the heavily militarised Crimean Peninsula, amid reports Kyiv is preparing to take back captured territory in the South.
Ghana has confirmed two deaths from the Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease in the same family as Ebola. No treatment yet exists for Marburg. Ghana Health officials said 98 people were under quarantine on 19 July. The symptoms of the severe, often fatal illness include headache, fever, muscle pains, vomiting blood and bleeding. Doctors advise drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms to improve a patient's chances of survival. The virus is transmitted from fruit bats and spreads between humans through bodily fluids. On 20 July, the Ivory Coast raised a Marburg alert in response to there being a ‘high risk of spreading’ and any suspected cases should be immediately flagged. They want careful sample collection and transit protocols. Also the World Health Organisation said it’s supporting a national investigative team in Ghana, and is also alerting neighbouring countries considered high risk.