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Author defends right to free speech

JK Rowling has defended her decision to weigh in on the debate about transgende­r issues. Speaking on the latest episode of podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling , released yesterday, the author said that she had been aware of the backlash she might receive from fans over her views on gender and trans rights. “When I first became interested in, and then deeply troubled by, what I saw as a cultural movement that was illiberal in its

methods and questionab­le in its ideas, I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many people who love my books would be deeply unhappy with me,” she said. “I knew that, because I could see that they believed that they were living the values I had espoused in those books. I could tell that they believed that they were fighting for underdogs and difference and fairness. And I thought it would be easier not to. I knew that this could be really bad and it has been bad personally, it has not been fun, and I have been scared at times for my safety and, overwhelmi­ngly, for my family’s safety.”

She continued: “Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong. I can only say that I’ve thought about it deeply and hard and long and I’ve listened, I promise, to the other side, and I believe, absolutely, that there is something dangerous about this movement and that it must be challenged.”

Cold medicines withdrawn over safety fears

Cough and cold medicines from the country’s top pharmacies have been withdrawn from sale over risks patients could suffer an allergic reaction. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said products containing pholcodine should be withdrawn over concerns those taking them may experience a severe allergic reaction to muscle relaxants (neuromuscu­lar blocking agents) they contain. Around half of all general anaestheti­cs are thought to use these blocking agents that are used during general anaesthesi­a in surgery. The risk of suffering a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxi­s, is thought to affect people who have taken a cough or cold product containing pholcodine in the 12 months before having surgery.

Dr Alison Cave, MHRA chief safety officer, said: “If you are taking a cough or cold medicine, check the packaging, label or patient informatio­n leaflet to see if pholcodine is a listed ingredient. If it is, and you have any questions, you can talk to your pharmacist who will suggest an alternativ­e medicine.”

Johnson to give Partygate evidence within week

Boris Johnson will give evidence to the parliament­ary Partygate inquiry within the next seven days, after MPs in charge of the investigat­ion said it would have been “obvious” events he attended in No 10 breached Covid restrictio­ns. The former prime minister will appear before the Commons privileges committee next Wednesday at 2pm. In an interim report issued earlier this month, the cross-party committee said Mr Johnson may also have misled the Commons about lockdown parties in Downing Street on four occasions. The committee also revealed that his own communicat­ions chief suggested there was a “great gaping hole” in the prime minister’s account of Partygate.

Work continues to make Swansea blast street safe

Residents evacuated after a large house explosion in Swansea that claimed the life of one man and injured three other people have not been allowed to return to their homes as work continues to “make the gas main safe”. Those affected by the blast that ripped apart two houses in the Morriston area of the city on Monday morning are said to be “traumatise­d”, as others continue to fear the area remains unsafe. The man who died following the explosion on Clydach Road has been formally identified as 68-year-old Brian Davies. Police said an investigat­ion is underway to establish the cause of the devastatio­n.

Facebook owner Meta to axe another 10,000 jobs

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has revealed it plans to cut around 10,000 jobs globally, just four months after it axed 11,000 workers. The group’s founder and boss, Mark Zuckerberg, told staff in a company blog that Meta is also looking to ditch about 5,000 open job vacancies as part of his push to slash costs and restructur­e the firm. Meta will first trim the size of its recruiting team, with staff in this division expected to be told where the

cuts will be made today, followed by layoffs in its tech groups in late April, before taking the axe to roles across its business groups in late May.

Mr Zuckerberg said: “This will be tough and there’s no way around that. It will mean saying goodbye to talented and passionate colleagues who have been part of our success.” It follows Meta’s announceme­nt last November that it was cutting 11,000 jobs out of its 87,000-strong global workforce. Those cuts were expected to mean as many as 650 job losses in the UK and around 350 at risk in Ireland. But Meta said yesterday it would not provide a breakdown of where the latest job cuts would come worldwide.

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 ?? (AFP) ?? JK Rowling says she predicted fans would be upset by her views on transgende­r rights
(AFP) JK Rowling says she predicted fans would be upset by her views on transgende­r rights

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