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Billy Bragg helps overturn ban on guitars in prisons

Protest singer Billy Bragg has helped reverse a government ban on steel-strung guitars in prison.

The activist joined politicians and fellow musicians, including former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, calling for inmates to be granted use of guitars with steel strings as well as nylon.

Billy Bragg says guitars can aid the rehabilitation of prisoners.
Billy Bragg says guitars can aid the rehabilitation of prisoners. Credit: Empics

Bragg, who started the Jail Guitar Doors initiative in 2007 as means of helping prisoner rehabilitation through sourcing guitars for prisons, said: "As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation, individual access to steel-strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing."

Labour MP Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West), who also supported the campaign, said: "This is a victory for common sense and I'm pleased after months of campaigning the UK Government has listened.

"If we want to reduce reoffending we need to support purposeful activities like learning to play an instrument."

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Top level task force to look at threat to passenger planes

A "senior level" international task force has been set up by world aviation chiefs to tackle the threat to passenger planes from ground-based weaponry following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Top level task force to look at threat to passenger planes
Top level task force to look at threat to passenger planes Credit: PA

Now a top-level safety conference involving more than 190 nations is to take place under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The ICAO's secretary general Raymond Benjamin said that while aviation was still a safe form of travel, Mr Benjamin said that the MH17 disaster had "raised troubling concerns" in respect of civilian aircraft.

He said the task force would be composed of state and aviation industry experts who would see how intelligence regarding the safety of planes could be effectively gathered and passed on to all those affected.

Tel Aviv protesters rally in support of Gaza offensive

Hundreds of people have demonstrated their support for the ongoing assault against Gaza in central Tel Aviv tonight.

The show of support comes an Israeli military pilot told ITV News that they can see Hamas is increasing its attacks on Israel, as Rohit Kachroo reports.

Read: Hamas footage claims to show tunnel attack

Gazans without power as fresh shelling reported

by - Correspondent
Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza strip, as smoke rises from an airstrike at dusk.
Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza strip, as smoke rises from an airstrike at dusk. Credit: Reuters

At the moment in central Gaza where I am there has been no airstrikes so far this evening, but we are hearing reports of shelling about six miles north. Initial reports suggesting that several people have been killed, and many more injured.

The airstrikes tend to be happening here in the small hours of the morning. I can hear F16s circling and drones, the ever constant sound in the skies.

Many Gazans this evening remain without power due to a power station having been taken out earlier today.

Israel is suggesting that Hamas still has between 3,000 and 4,000 rockets still left in its arsenal still to fire.

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Team Scotland smashes medals record at Commonwealth Games

Team Scotland has smashed its previous medals record with five days of the Commonwealth Games still to go. The host nation broke its previous record when the men's gymnastics team won silver at the Hydro this afternoon.

Scotland's silver medal winning men's gymnastics team.
Scotland's silver medal winning men's gymnastics team. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Scotland's success took their medal haul to 34, surpassing the 33 won at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986. Later Jen McIntosh took silver in the women's 50 metres rifle shooting at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in Carnoustie, Angus.

McIntosh, 23, was thrilled with her performance which makes her Scotland's most successful female Commonwealth Games competitor with five medals, having also won three in Delhi four years ago. It also took her past mother Shirley, who won four shooting medals in 1994 and 1998.

Read: Commonwealth Games - Royals hope to witness Brit success

US denies transcript of phone call between Netanyahu and Obama

A White House official has moved to deny the contents of a transcript of a conversation said to have taken place between Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

In the alleged conversation, translated from a Hebrew transcription by Irael’s Channel 1, it is claimed that Obama said: "I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes." According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu appears to have replied that "Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires."

But a White House Deputy National Security Advisor denied the claims in a tweet:

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This "transcript of POTUS-PM call" report is totally false

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