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Tight security and tears as Manchester benefit concert kicks off

By Mark Hanrahan1 | MANCHESTER, England

MANCHESTER, England U.S . pop singer Ariana Grande headlined a star-studded benefit concert in Manchester on Sunday that was both joyful and mournful, in aid of victims of the bombing that rocked the city last month, as security fears ran high after attackers in London killed seven people.

Around 50,000 fans crammed into Old Trafford cricket ground under the watchful eye of hundreds of police, including a significant number of armed officers, a sight that would be unusual under normal circumstances.

The show saw performances from big pop acts from both sides of the Atlantic, including local heroes Take That and Liam Gallagher, along with Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas, and Grande.

The show was a mix of gaiety and somber reflection – fans could at times be seen jumping for joy, while others, holding banners saying “for our angels”, could be seen wiping away tears . The event began with a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing less than two weeks ago.

“I don t want to feel or hear or see any fear in this building,” U.S . singer Pharrell Williams told the crowd as he led them in a rendition of his hit single “Happy”. “The only thing we ll feel here tonight is love, and positivity.”

Fellow singer Miley Cyrus joined the rendition and said: “I d like to wrap my arms around each and every one of you and thank you .. . The most important responsibility we have in this time is to take care of one another.”

During her set, “Part of Me”, singer Katy Perry told the crowd: “love conquers fear and love conquers hate, and this love you choose will give you strength and it s our greatest power,” before asking the crowd to turn and hug the person next to them.

The somber cause that the concert was being held to benefit was never far from the crowd’s mind . Grande told the audience that her song selection was influenced by the mother of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, who died in last month’s bombing.

“Sorry” singer Justin Bieber also paid tribute, saying: “I just want to take this moment to honor the people that were lost . We love you so much .

To the families, we love you so much.”

Up to 14,000 of those who attended Grande’s May 22 concert, at which a suicide bomber killed 22 children and adults, were given free tickets to attend Sunday’s show, with some persuaded to attend by their affection for the pop star, and despite their very real concerns about security.

“I m real excited, but real scared,” Shannon Beetham, 14, who was injured in last month’s bombing, told Reuters. “We were there in Manchester (arena) as well, I was hit.”

There were also plenty of upbeat moments, such as when a uniformed police officer was seen holding hands and dancing hand-in-hand with young fans, or when former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher belted out a swaggering version of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”.

Grande closed the show by inviting all the other performers on stage to help her sing her 2014 hit “One Last Time”, before she closed with a moving solo version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Fans seemed to have forgotten any lingering fears about security towards the end of the evening, with a lively crowd of middle-aged fans singing “Tonight, I’m a rock and roll star” as they made their way out of the stadium.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan and James Dalgleish)


References

  1. ^ Mark Hanrahan (uk.reuters.com)

Roses in hand, Venezuelan women protesters face security forces

CARACAS Dressed in white and chanting “Liberty!”, tens of thousands of women opposed to Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro marched on Saturday, proffering roses to security forces who blocked their way.

The women’s marches, which took place in most major cities around the South American oil producer, were the latest in five weeks of sustained protests against Maduro whom opponents decry as a dictator who has ruined the economy.

In Caracas, marchers sang the national anthem and shouted “We want elections!” They were halted at various points by lines of policewomen and National Guard troops with armoured cars.

The opposition, which has majority support in Venezuela after years of being in the shadow of the ruling Socialist Party, is demanding that delayed state elections be held and the 2018 presidential vote be brought forward.

They also want the government to free scores of jailed activists, allow humanitarian aid from abroad to offset a brutal economic crisis, and respect the independence of the legislature where the opposition won a majority in 2015.

Highlighting vandalism and violence by young masked protesters, Maduro says opponents are seeking a coup with U.S . support and harbour “terrorists” and “murderers” in their ranks.

In response to the crisis, the 54-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez is setting up a super body known as a “constituent assembly” with powers to rewrite the constitution, shake up public powers, and potentially replace the legislature.

“This march is against opposition terrorism, they are destroying everything,” said cook Fredesvilda Paulino, 54, at a pro-government rally also in Caracas on Saturday where red-shirted women waved pro-Maduro flags and banners.

The women’s marches were organised as part of an opposition attempt to vary tactics and keep momentum against Maduro.

Women have often been feeling the brunt of Venezuela’s economic crisis due to widespread food and medicine shortages, huge lines at shops, soaring prices, and increasing hunger in the nation of 30 million people.

THIRTY-SEVEN DEATHS

Since the anti-Maduro protests began in early April, at least 37 people have died, with victims including supporters of both sides, bystanders and members of the security forces.

Opposition leaders say the constituent assembly is a biased mechanism designed to keep an unpopular leader in power.

They say the government is to blame for violence by young protesters as authorities are refusing a free vote to resolve the crisis and are needlessly blocking and repressing marches.

“Just let us vote, and this will all end,” said teacher Anlerisky Rosales, 22, in the opposition women’s march in Caracas. “There is too much suffering in Venezuela . If we have to, we will give our lives in the street until Maduro goes.”

Various female protesters marched topless with black face masks in mourning for the fatalities.

At one point, a female government official emerged from the security lines to receive a petition and talk with the demonstration leaders.

With Maduro’s approval ratings at around 24 percent – less than half the level at the time of his narrow election victory in 2013 – and Venezuela suffering a fourth year of harrowing recession, the opposition’s challenge is to keep up street pressure and draw in support from poor former “Chavista” sectors.

Officials are hoping they become exhausted and disillusioned, while highlighting the violence of young opposition hotheads to try to discredit the whole opposition.

Many Venezuelans are closely watching the armed forces, who have the potential to tip the balance if they disobey government instructions or give Maduro a nudge behind the scenes.

Top armed forces officials have been pledging loyalty in public, though opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Friday that 85 military officials had been arrested for dissent.

(Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas, Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal, Maria Ramirez in Ciudad Guayana; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Security guard injured in knife-point robbery in Mansfield

A man has been arrested in connection with a knife-point robbery at a Nottinghamshire bookmakers. A security guard was injured while detaining a man in Market Place, Mansfield, following the robbery at Betfred at about 11.15am today (Tuesday, May 2).


Read more: Patients recalled after Nottingham surgeon is diagnosed with HIV1


He was taken to hospital but his injuries are not believed to be serious. Nottinghamshire Police2 officers arrested a 44-year-old man on suspicion of robbery and wounding with intent in connection with the incident.


Read more: Renewed appeal after sex attack on Nottingham canal path3


The Post has launched a Whatsapp to help you keep up to date with the latest news . If you’d like to receive one daily message with the main headlines, as well as breaking news alerts, text NEWS to 07790 586202 . Then add the number to your phone contacts book as ‘Nottingham Post’ .

Your phone number won’t be shared with other members of the group.

References

  1. ^ Patients recalled after Nottingham surgeon is diagnosed with HIV (www.nottinghampost.com)
  2. ^ Nottinghamshire Police (www.nottinghampost.com)
  3. ^ Renewed appeal after sex attack on Nottingham canal path (www.nottinghampost.com)