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Pourquoi Macron lit des thrillers de science-fiction pour se préparer aux guerres du futur

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Alors que le Parlement se prépare à voter mercredi sur les plans d’augmentation des dépenses militaires, les Forces armées françaises devraient continuer à embaucher des auteurs de science-fiction pour imaginer les futures menaces à la sécurité nationale. Jusqu’à présent, les romanciers de science-fiction du projet Red Team Defense ont écrit plus d’une douzaine d’histoires et publié deux livres traitant de la guerre basée sur la désinformation de masse, le bioterrorisme et une nation pirate – et même le président Emmanuel Macron les lit.

“Chronique d’une mort culturelle annoncée” se déroule dans un futur proche. Les forces armées doivent évacuer les citoyens français et européens de la Grande-Ville après la propagation de rumeurs d’attaque biologique contre des lycées. L’agent pathogène est un type de coronavirus qui provoque de graves problèmes respiratoires et une septicémie.

Mais les soldats font face à un défi qu’ils n’auraient pas vu venir. Dans ce monde de science-fiction, les citoyens se sont divisés en communautés, ou “sphères sûres”, en fonction de ce qu’ils veulent voir, entendre et croire.

“Vous avez des communautés structurées autour d’un refus délibéré de voir certaines parties de la réalité, au point que si vous refusez de voir quelque chose, cela n’existe plus pour vous”, explique Virginie Tournay, qui a co-écrit l’histoire. “Les végétaliens peuvent choisir de ne pas voir d’assiettes avec de la viande dessus, ou même des boucheries dans la rue.”

C’est le terrain idéal pour que l’ennemi mène une campagne de désinformation de masse. Bombardées de fausses nouvelles, certaines sphères sûres commencent à se méfier des efforts d’évacuation des forces armées. Les soldats français sont désorientés, et leur cohésion interne commence à se dégrader.

“Aujourd’hui, les fake news sont partout. Le fait qu’il y ait des groupes qui adhèrent aux fake news est une réalité”, assure Virginie Tournay. “Mais jusqu’à présent, nous n’avions pas poussé la question à l’extrême, où il existe des communautés structurées autour de réalités alternatives basées non seulement sur de fausses nouvelles, mais sur des préférences personnelles. Ici, la réalité et la réalité virtuelle sont complètement confondues.”

Fantassin français portant un exosquelette en titane, extrait de Chronical of a Cultural Death Foretold (Saison 1).
Fantassin français portant un exosquelette en titane, extrait de Chronical of a Cultural Death Foretold (Saison 1). © Amaury Bundgen – Equipe Rouge Défense

La science-fiction et le prochain budget militaire de la France

La chambre basse du parlement français, l’Assemblée nationale, votera mercredi 7 juin le prochain budget militaire, qui prévoit une augmentation à 413 milliards d’euros de 2024 à 2030, soit un tiers de plus que la précédente période de sept ans. Tout futur projet de science-fiction, comme l’équipe rouge, relèverait de l’enveloppe budgétaire “Innovation” de 10 milliards d’euros.

Dans le contexte de l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie, Emmanuel Macron et son gouvernement soutiennent qu’une forte augmentation des dépenses militaires est nécessaire pour que la France puisse faire face aux menaces modernes et futures.

Le budget ira à la chambre haute, le Sénat, avant d’être voté une dernière fois à l’Assemblée nationale. Le gouvernement espère que le vote final aura lieu avant le défilé militaire annuel du 14 juillet.

Les équipes

Red Team : Auteurs de science-fiction et graphistes.

Blue Team : Analystes dans les Armées Françaises.

Équipe violette : Experts civils et militaires auxquels l’équipe rouge peut faire appel pour obtenir de l’expertise.

Black Team : Université PSL, en charge des opérations.

Le processus créatif

Virginie Tournay a postulé pour écrire des histoires de science-fiction au ministère des Armées après avoir vu une candidature sur LinkedIn. Tournay est chercheur en science politique au Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Avant de postuler, elle avait déjà écrit et publié un roman de science-fiction.

Elle est sélectionnée pour rejoindre la Red Team, aux côtés d’une dizaine d’écrivains et de graphistes. Aucun n’est membre des forces armées. Leur travail consiste à créer des histoires et des graphiques imaginant les menaces futures entre 2030 et 2060 pour que les forces armées réfléchissent.

Ils soumettent leur travail à la Blue Team, composée d’analystes de l’armée. Tournay dit que les deux équipes ont un “gentleman’s agreement” selon lequel personne ne s’aventure sur le territoire de l’autre.

“Cette expérience ne fonctionne que parce que les côtés création et analyse sont séparés”, dit-elle.

“Côté créatif, nous produisons les histoires et les soumettons. Mais ce n’est pas à nous, en tant que Red Team, d’en tirer des leçons militaires. Je ne pourrais même pas vous dire qui les analyse. Cela nous donne une immense liberté car nous n’avons pas à penser à la façon dont nos histoires seront reçues. Et c’est vraiment important, car sinon nous ne pourrions pas nous permettre de créer des histoires totalement dystopiques. Nous avons une totale liberté de création.

L’Université Paris Sciences & Lettres (PSL) gère les opérations du projet. Son vice-président, Cédric Denis-Rémis, précise qu’il y avait deux critères de sélection essentiels pour les auteurs et les graphistes. Premièrement, ils devaient avoir déjà publié au moins un morceau de science-fiction.

Deuxièmement, ils devaient accepter, avant d’être embauchés, d’abandonner une idée si le groupe voulait prendre une autre direction. Deux consultants, tous deux anthropologues, ont été amenés à agir en tant qu’arbitres.

“Leur super-pouvoir est de dire : ‘on garde ceci, on ne garde pas cela'”, explique-t-il. “Ils sont capables d’arbitrer au sein du groupe, pour que ça puisse avancer.”

L’Université PSL a également mis en place une équipe de chercheurs et de scientifiques auxquels la Red Team peut s’adresser en cas de besoin de connaissances et d’expertises spécifiques.

Un essaim de Wenzis, un petit robot en forme de moustique qui draine l'énergie de ses ennemis.  D'après la nuit carbonique (saison 2).
Un essaim de Wenzis, un petit robot en forme de moustique qui draine l’énergie de ses ennemis. D’après la nuit carbonique (saison 2). © Amaury Bundgen – Equipe Rouge Défense

Faire profil bas

Pour certains membres de la Red Team, produire du matériel pour l’armée ne correspond pas naturellement à leur identité d’écrivains et de graphistes indépendants.

“Certains auteurs travaillent sous un nom de plume,” dit Tournay. “Pour les auteurs de science-fiction qui en font un travail à plein temps, cela pourrait devenir très, très compliqué s’ils travaillaient ouvertement avec l’armée. Parce que la science-fiction est, par définition, un domaine contestataire qui rejette ‘le système’.”

Comme la plupart des chercheurs universitaires en France, Virginie Tournay est fonctionnaire. “Pour moi, cela relève du service public. Ma vocation est de renforcer et d’améliorer le fonctionnement de l’État, l’État souverain”, dit-elle.

Le commandant Jean-Baptiste Colas, de l’Agence de défense de l’innovation (AID) des forces armées, explique que l’objectif de conteurs comme Tournay est de faire sortir les penseurs militaires français de leur zone de confort et de la pensée de groupe.

“Au 21e siècle, face aux crises actuelles et à celles que nous traverserons à l’avenir, il faut savoir s’entourer de personnes qui sauront vous éloigner de vos a priori, préjugés et structures organisationnelles classiques”, dit-il.

Les Français font-ils quelque chose de nouveau ?

Les armées françaises ne sont pas les premières à toucher le monde de la science-fiction. Le Sigma Forum fournit des services de conseil en science-fiction aux responsables américains depuis des années.

Le ministère britannique de la Défense (MOD) se penche également sur le genre. Plus tôt cette année, le MOD a dévoilé “huit visions du futur” écrites par deux écrivains de science-fiction américains renommés, Peter Singer et August Cole.

“Penser l’inimaginable est simplement une journée au bureau pour les écrivains de science-fiction talentueux”, a déclaré la conseillère scientifique en chef Dame Angela McLean. « Qui ne voudrait pas entendre ce que des gens comme ça ont à dire ?

Colas insiste sur le fait que l’approche de la France est différente.

“La France l’a fait à la française. L’approche anglo-saxonne est très axée sur la technologie », dit-il (les Français utilisent le terme « anglo-saxon » pour désigner les Britanniques, les Américains, les Canadiens et les Australiens, ou un mélange des quatre).

Colas tient à ne pas se laisser distancer par les « anglo-saxons ».

« Par exemple, ‘Ghost Fleet’, de Peter Singer et August Cole, est un thriller technologique. Il traite des questions de défense, mais beaucoup d’un point de vue technologique, dit-il. Les alliés saxons s’en sortent.”

Des soldats portant la tenue de protection Enskin attaqués par un Wenzi.  D'après la nuit carbonique (saison 2).
Des soldats portant la tenue de protection Enskin attaqués par un Wenzi. D’après la nuit carbonique (saison 2). © Amaury Bundgen – Equipe Rouge Défense

Pourquoi la science-fiction ?

Les histoires offrent une alternative aux rapports standard de plusieurs pages que les décideurs doivent parcourir.

“Nous avons créé ces histoires comme un moyen de s’évader. C’est comme un mini Netflix pour un décideur”, explique Colas. “Aujourd’hui, beaucoup ont accès à ces récits, jusqu’au président de la République, pour explorer le contexte de ces menaces. Ça change bien des reportages qu’il voit tous les jours, qui peuvent être un peu obscurs, crus et secs. .”

Colas affirme que le président Emmanuel Macron a même demandé une ligne directe hautement sécurisée pour pouvoir poser des questions à l’équipe rouge.

L’histoire ” After the Carbonic Night ” explore la guerre basée sur l’utilisation de l’énergie et a conduit à des réflexions dans les forces armées sur la consommation d’énergie, en particulier de carburant, et une dépendance aux véhicules lourds dans les zones de combat.

Il décrit des températures record qui provoquent une série de mégafeux qui brûlent pendant des mois. L’économie d’énergie devient nécessaire pour la survie immédiate. Les soldats sont équipés d’un équipement de protection spécial “Enskin”, qui comprend des outils de communication et assure la gestion de l’énergie. Ils sont confrontés à des “Wenzis” ennemis, de minuscules robots inspirés des moustiques, qui piquent leurs adversaires pour leur drainer de l’énergie.

Colas indique que la Red Team a été invitée à participer à la réflexion sur le porte-avions de nouvelle génération de la Marine, qui remplacera le Charles de Gaulle. L’équipe rouge a imaginé d’éventuelles attaques de pirates, qui n’avaient pas été anticipées par les ingénieurs et les experts de l’industrie impliqués.

“Grâce à la Red Team”, explique Colas, “quand il s’agissait de protéger le périmètre proche du navire de guerre, c’est-à-dire la zone vraiment, vraiment proche, certaines parties de la sécurité du porte-avions ont été modifiées.” Il n’a pas donné de détails, pour des raisons évidentes de secret défense.

Quel avenir pour l’équipe rouge ?

L’équipe rouge a terminé sa mission, pour l’instant. La quatrième et dernière saison de scénarios sera présentée aux Armées fin juin. Deux histoires seront disponibles en librairie début 2024. Les histoires en vente au public seront éditées, afin de ne pas divulguer d’informations classifiées ou “donner de mauvaises idées à nos ennemis !” dit Colas.

Il est persuadé que le projet, qui a coûté 2 millions d’euros, a fait ses preuves.

“Nous réfléchissons à ce qu’il serait possible de mettre en place, peut-être un programme plus ambitieux qui n’inclurait pas seulement le secteur de la défense”, dit-il. “Ce qui est sûr, c’est que l’aventure ne va pas s’arrêter. Elle changera de format et fera peut-être venir plus d’acteurs que l’expérience.”

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Tanker carrying 1.4 million litres of oil capsizes off Philippines

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A Philippine-flagged tanker carrying 1.4 million litres of industrial fuel oil sank off Manila, leaving one crew member missing and 16 rescued, authorities said. An oil slick was detected, prompting marine environmental protection personnel to contain the spill.

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Biden says it’s time pass torch to ‘younger voices’ in Oval Office address

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Biden mumbles as he reveals why he decided to ‘pass the torch’ and insists he could have served four more years as president in address to nation

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President Joe Biden mumbled his way through an 11-minute farewell address to the nation and claimed he could have served another four years if he wanted to.

Biden, 81, spoke quietly, at times haltingly, and his voice was scratchy as he explained his stunning decision not to seek reelection.

The President said he had chosen to ‘pass the torch’ to Vice President Kamala Harris because it was time for ‘younger voices’ and he believed that would ‘unite’ the country and ‘save’ democracy.

Biden looked intently into the camera during the primetime address for which he was seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

He said: ‘I believe my record as president, my leadership in the world, my vision for America’s future, all merited a second term.

‘But nothing, nothing, can come in the way of saving our democracy, and that includes personal ambition, so I decided the best way forward is to pass the torch to a new generation.’

He added: ‘There is a time and a place for long years of experience in public life. There’s also a time and a place for new voices, fresh voices. Yes, younger voices.’ 

Biden did not address questions over his own age, health and mental acuity, which have plagued his presidency from the start.

Doubts about his ability to do the job intensified following a disastrous debate performance last month, which shocked senior Democrats into calling for him to leave the 2024 presidential race.

President Joe Biden, in an Oval Office address, revealed why he decided to step down as the Democratic nominee

President Joe Biden, in an Oval Office address, revealed why he decided to step down as the Democratic nominee

From right: Jill Biden, Ashley Biden and husband Howard Krein, and Hunter Biden and his daughter Finnegan listen to Joe Biden speak

From right: Jill Biden, Ashley Biden and husband Howard Krein, and Hunter Biden and his daughter Finnegan listen to Joe Biden speak

As Biden spoke his wife Jill Biden, and children Hunter and Ashley, sat to his left along a wall watching his valedictory. 

Also present were several of his grandchildren including Naomi Biden and Maisy Biden.

The family broke into applause when the president finished speaking. Jill Biden joined him at the Resolute Desk, and Hunter Biden hugged his father.

Biden, who has just recovered from a bout of COVID  fumbled briefly in his delivery, mumbling at times. 

He used the address to outline what he hopes will be his legacy and said he has more work to do in the six months he has left in office.

Hunter Biden gives his dad a hug

Hunter Biden gives his dad a hug

He said: ‘I revere this office but I love my country more.

‘It’s been the honor of my life to serve as your president but the defense of democracy, which is at stake, I think is more important than a title.’

Biden made it clear he is stepping down voluntarily, drawing a stark contrast with his predecessor.

He did not mention Donald Trump by name but talked about how the country is more important than anyone’s ambition to stay in the Oval Office.

‘America is an idea – an idea stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator,’ Biden said. 

As the president spoke, his staff were gathered one floor up, on the state floor of the White House, to watch his remarks with wine and pizza.

Before the speech began, staffers were spotted walking in from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is across the street of the West Wing, into the White House proper for the event.  

Biden’s decision to step down sent shock waves throughout the world and ended his political career that has lasted more than 50 years. 

He has already endorsed Harris and turned over his campaign infrastructure to her.  The campaign has renamed itself ‘Harris for President.’

President Joe Biden's granddaughter Finnegan Biden is tearful as Biden hugs his daughter Ashley Biden

President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Finnegan Biden is tearful as Biden hugs his daughter Ashley Biden

Within 30 hours of Biden announcing on Sunday that he was stepping aside Harris had pledges from enough delegates to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

In his speech on Wednesday night, Biden did not explicitly endorse Harris but noted he had ‘made my views known.’

He said: ‘I made my choice. I’ve made my views known. I’d like to thank our great Vice President Kamala Harris. She’s experienced. She’s tough. She’s capable. She’s been an incredible partner to me and a leader for our country.

‘Now the choice is up to you, the American people.’

Hunter Biden, his daughter Finnegan, Howard Krein, Ashley Biden and Jill Biden in the Oval

Hunter Biden, his daughter Finnegan, Howard Krein, Ashley Biden and Jill Biden in the Oval

Jill Biden joined Joe Biden at the Resolute Desk when he finished his speech

Jill Biden joined Joe Biden at the Resolute Desk when he finished his speech

President Joe Biden returning to Delaware after being diagnosed with COVID

President Joe Biden returning to Delaware after being diagnosed with COVID

Democratic delegates will nominate their presidential ticket virtually in early August ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which kicks off August 19th in Chicago. 

The president returned to the White House on Tuesday after spending six days isolating in his beach house in Delaware, where he was suffering from COVID.

He has canceled a West Coast fundraising swing scheduled for the end of the week.

He will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Thursday. 

Biden spent weeks rebuffing pressure from senior figures in his party to step down as its nominee. But, on Sunday, he bowed to the inevitable.

He is the first incumbent president not to seek re-election since 1968 when Lyndon Johnson, under fire for his handling of the Vietnam War, abruptly pulled out of the campaign on March 31.

The president also joins James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman as presidents who all decided not to stand for a second term.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday denied there was a ‘cover-up’ of Biden’s declining health and mental capabilities by staff and Biden family members.

Biden’s top spokesperson was grilled repeatedly about his apparent change of heart when it came to a second term and denied his health had anything to do with the decision.

During her press briefing – the first since Biden’s historic decision to step down as the Democratic nominee – Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked her: ‘It would seem that people in this White House knew that President Biden was slipping and it was hidden from the American people – so who ordered White House officials to coverup a declining president?’

‘There’s been no coverup,’ she replied.

For weeks Jean-Pierre and other aides had denied Biden was considering leaving the presidential race.

They had denied reports his health was on the decline.

But, in the June 26th presidential debate, Biden repeatedly fumbled for words and froze on camera, leading to questions from his own party about his ability to serve a second term in the White House.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied there was a 'coverup' of President Joe Biden 's health and mental capabilities

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied there was a ‘coverup’ of President Joe Biden ‘s health and mental capabilities

Jean-Pierre said the president made his decision in  ‘very short period of time.’

She pushed back against reports that aides, lawmakers and Democratic officials had noticed for months that Biden was on the decline. 

She also said his health was not a factor in his decision to exit the presidential race.

‘It has nothing to do with his health,’ she said. ‘I can say, no, that’s not the reason.’

She also called calls for the president to resign from office ‘ridiculous.’ 

There have been questions as to why, if Biden can’t serve four more years, he can serve six more months. 

Jean-Pierre argued that Biden was capable of serving out a full second term. 

‘He didn’t step down from from campaigning or from running because he didn’t believe he can serve in a second term. That is not why,’ she said.

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Divers find long lost carvings of Tutankhamun’s grandfather and other Egyptian pharaohs at bottom of Nile River

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Ancient carvings featuring the faces of Tutankhamun’s grandfather and other ancient Egyptian pharaohs have been rediscovered.

Archaeologists found the giant stone slabs at the bottom of the Nile River while searching for artifacts lost in a flood in city of Aswan in the 1970s. 

The slabs included hieroglyphic inscriptions about the kings’ achievements, including King Amenhotep III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent and ancestor of King Tut.

Archaeologists have discovered mysterious carvings of ancient Egyptian pharaohs that have been submerged underwater for decades

Archaeologists have discovered mysterious carvings of ancient Egyptian pharaohs that have been submerged underwater for decades

During their exploration of the Nile River, archaeologists uncovered rock slabs containing hieroglyphic inscriptions and carvings of King Tatmas IV who ruled in the early 14th Century BC and King Amenhotab III who ruled from 1390 to 1353 BC

During their exploration of the Nile River, archaeologists uncovered rock slabs containing hieroglyphic inscriptions and carvings of King Tatmas IV who ruled in the early 14th Century BC and King Amenhotab III who ruled from 1390 to 1353 BC

Etches in the stone also discuss King Thutmose IV who ruled in the early 14th Century BC and was celebrated for his restoration of the Great Sphinx of Giza.

Team members said they were surprised that the carvings were in such good condition and hope to extract more artifacts in future dives. 

The ancient artifacts were discovered in the area in 1960, but were lost the following decade during the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Aswan.

Archaeologists had rushed to remove them before they were lost underwater, but many couldn’t be relocated in time. 

The latest dive was to search for the lost objects, but led the team to the remarkably well-preserved depictions of notable pharaohs that have never been studied before.

‘For the first time, we [have] gone underwater to study the rock formations between the Aswan reservoir and the Aswan High Dam,’ the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities told Smithsonian Magazine

‘Since the site remains in good condition, the mission was able to fully document it.’

King Amenhoteb III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was featured on one of the slabs and was renowned for his expansion of diplomatic relationships and the period of peaceful prosperity the citizens experienced under his rule. Pictured: Burial mask of King Amenhoteb III

King Amenhoteb III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was featured on one of the slabs and was renowned for his expansion of diplomatic relationships and the period of peaceful prosperity the citizens experienced under his rule. Pictured: Burial mask of King Amenhoteb III

King Apries succeeded his father, Psamtik II and during his reign actively built up four Egyptian temples but was plagued with military problems after he sent his army to help Libya against Greek invaders

King Apries succeeded his father, Psamtik II and during his reign actively built up four Egyptian temples but was plagued with military problems after he sent his army to help Libya against Greek invaders

The researchers used underwater filming and photographing techniques to document the discovery.

They are also creating 3D models of the images using photogrammetry – the process of using surface measurements from pictures to create an accurate three-dimensional version.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism did not provide a translation for the hieroglyphs nor did they describe what the carvings looked like.

These finds were thought to be lost after the Awan Dam was constructed from 1960 to 1970, as archaeologists raced against time to save the historical Egyptian artifacts and monuments – including the Temple of Dendur now held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now their new finds are shedding renewed interest in the archaeological significance of the site. 

For the first time, a team of Egyptian and French archaeologists have dived to recover the lost treasures including the carvings of at least five rulers who reigned during the 18th and 26th dynasties.

For the first time, a team of Egyptian and French archaeologists have dived to recover the lost treasures including the carvings of at least five rulers who reigned during the 18th and 26th dynasties.

Dr Islam Saleem, the director general of the General Administration for Sunken Archaeological Archaeology, emphasized in a Facebook post that the team’s initial findings suggest there are additional carvings yet to be discovered.

The researchers hope the findings can help them gain a better understanding of the 18th dynasty’s reigns, which is already renowned for its architectural and artistic accomplishments. 

Aswan is a notable area in Egypt because of its historical site that houses the Abu Simbel temple which features four colossal statues of the pharaoh Ramses II that guard the entrance and stand 65 feet tall.

It is also home to the Philae temple which is the location of where the last known hieroglyphic inscription was written in 394 AD.

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🔴 Live: Biden explains decision to step aside in Oval Office address

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In his first address to the nation since quitting the race, 81-year-old US President Joe Biden gives an Oval Office speech Wednesday night to explain his historic decision to step aside as the Democratic candidate in this November’s election and pass the torch to Kamala Harris.

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Soaring interest rates pushing hundreds of thousands of Brits ‘into poverty’, research warns

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  • Bank of England elected to hold interest rates at 5.25% in June to curb inflation 

A third of a million of homeowners have been pushed into poverty because of soaring interest rates, according to new research.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the number is likely to have risen by 320,000 between December 2021 – when the Bank of England started putting rates up – and December 2023.

The average mortgage rate was around 2.3 per cent in 2022, translating to interest payments of £240 per month for a household, a report from the IFS said.

But a tenth of households faced a mortgage interest rate of at least 4.7 per cent, equivalent to £490 per month.

The research group has warned that this could have pushed more adults into financial hardship.

This is more than the 230,000 people projected when applying a single average interest rate.

As many as 320,000 people may have been pushed into poverty by rates in the period December 2021 - when the BoE (pictured) raised rates - and December 2023

As many as 320,000 people may have been pushed into poverty by rates in the period December 2021 – when the BoE (pictured) raised rates – and December 2023

The Bank's governor, Andrew Bailey, said in June policymakers 'need to be sure that inflation will stay low' in deciding to keep the level on hold at 5.25 per cent

The Bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, said in June policymakers ‘need to be sure that inflation will stay low’ in deciding to keep the level on hold at 5.25 per cent

The surge in poverty comes as borrowers remortgaging in 2022 were more likely to fall behind on payments than those with mortgages who had not remortgaged, the IFS said.

Sam Ray-Chaudhuri, a research economist at IFS and an author of the report, said: ‘Rising mortgage rates have played and are likely to continue to play an important role in many households’ living standards. But, perhaps surprisingly, they are not measured properly in the official income data.’

He added: ‘At a time when rates of deprivation and food insecurity have risen substantially, poverty statistics that hide the real scale of these increases risk policymakers missing what is truly happening to poverty.’

Peter Matejic, JRF chief analyst, said: ‘This report raises many questions about whether social security is adequate for the challenges looming over struggling households.’

But millions of borrowers will be hoping that the Bank of England will cut interest rates when officials meet next Thursday.

The bank rate has been at a 16-year high of 5.25 per cent since last August.

The Bank was one of the first central banks to start raising borrowing costs after the pandemic and is expected to start easing this policy.

The Bank of England kept interest rates at 5.25 per cent, potentially paving the way for an August cut

The Bank of England kept interest rates at 5.25 per cent, potentially paving the way for an August cut

But separate data last month from the Bank’s latest Financial Stability Report warned that four million mortgage borrowers still face steep increases in repayments over the next few years.

Homeowners reaching the end of their fixed-rate deals are on course to see monthly payments rise by a typical £180 – or 28 per cent, equating to more than £2,000 a year – by the end of 2026.

For some 400,000 people, there is expected to be a ‘very large’ rise of 50 per cent or more, the report said.

The figures illustrate that while rate cuts are expected to deliver relief for many over coming months, a large number of borrowers are still facing painful hits to their finances.

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International

Thousands protest in Washington as Netanyahu addresses US Congress

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Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of  Washington on Wednesday, in opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu’s visit and his address to a joint session of US Congress Wednesday afternoon. The Israeli prime minister drew boos from US lawmakers during his speech when he criticised protesters outside as “Iran’s useful idiots.” 

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May we haveth one’s attention? British Airways releases hilarious new ‘period-drama’ safety video made by Bridget Jones director Sharon Maguire – and hailed as a ‘work of art’

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British Airways has released a hilarious new safety video that’s proved a massive hit on social media, with one person hailing it a ‘work of art’.

The video has chalked up more than 93,000 views on YouTube in 24 hours and more than 180 comments. 

The video has been created in the style of a period drama and was directed by Sharon Maguire, best-known for helming Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones’s Baby. 

The new video was filmed at country houses across the UK, including Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and Englefield House Estate in Berkshire.

Commenting on YouTube, ‘Felix_velasquez’ says: ‘This is the most creative video I have ever seen – a work of art.’ 

British Airways has released a hilarious new safety video that's proved a massive hit on social media, with one person hailing it a 'work of art'

British Airways has released a hilarious new safety video that’s proved a massive hit on social media, with one person hailing it a ‘work of art’ 

The video has chalked up more than 93,000 views on YouTube in 24 hours and more than 180 comments

The video has chalked up more than 93,000 views on YouTube in 24 hours and more than 180 comments 

Plane Eyre: The video has been created in the style of a period drama and was directed by Sharon Maguire, best-known for helming Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones's Baby

Plane Eyre: The video has been created in the style of a period drama and was directed by Sharon Maguire, best-known for helming Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones’s Baby 

‘MattJDCooke’ says: ‘Love this. BA meets Bridgerton, Downton, Jane Austen et al. Original and memorable.’ 

BA explains: ‘The film depicts ladies and lords of the manor, as well as housekeepers and butlers going about their everyday lives in period Britain, before being abruptly interrupted by present-day British Airways colleagues demonstrating the safety briefing.’

At one point, a character is ‘bewildered by modern day contraptions and when posed with the question, “Is it a winged creature of the air or, perchance, a celestial contrivance navigating the skies?”‘, Ellis Brett, an apprentice in aircraft maintenance, responds with, ‘No, ma’am. That’s a British Airways A350.’

The new video was filmed at country houses across the UK, including Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and Englefield House Estate in Berkshire

The new video was filmed at country houses across the UK, including Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and Englefield House Estate in Berkshire 

Commenting on YouTube, 'Felix_velasquez' says: 'This is the most creative video I have ever seen - a work of art'

Commenting on YouTube, ‘Felix_velasquez’ says: ‘This is the most creative video I have ever seen – a work of art’ 

BA explains: 'The film depicts ladies and lords of the manor, as well as housekeepers and butlers going about their everyday lives in period Britain, before being abruptly interrupted by present-day British Airways colleagues demonstrating the safety briefing'

BA explains: ‘The film depicts ladies and lords of the manor, as well as housekeepers and butlers going about their everyday lives in period Britain, before being abruptly interrupted by present-day British Airways colleagues demonstrating the safety briefing’ 

The video features more than 40 BA members of staff, who received training from dialect coach Jill McCullough to ‘perfect their accents’. 

Helen Lau, a BA first officer who plays herself in the campaign, says: ‘As a first officer, my job means I am in the flight deck during the safety briefing, so to know that I will be appearing on the video in the cabins feels very surreal. 

‘I love the closing line, which says stay safe, look after one another and never change. It featured in the previous video and I hope is carried onto the next. It’s such a touching and uniting phrase.’

Sharon explains that the video was made with the help of ‘industry legends’, including three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan. 

Calum Laming, British Airways’ Chief Customer Officer, said: ‘We know that these videos deliver vital safety information, and it is so important that we do everything we can to keep our customers engaged throughout. When it came to selecting a genre, we wanted something that would enable us to do this, while resonating with global audiences, so a period drama with a little bit of humour seemed like the perfect fit. 

‘I am also incredibly proud that more than 40 colleagues star in the film as we have always said it is our people who make us who we are.’ 

The safety film will be shown on BA’s long haul flights from August 1. 

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