It’s now or never pedestrians: Town installs Elvis lights

BERLIN — Keep your blue suede shoes behind the curb: the central German town where Elvis Presley was stationed as a U.S. soldier in the 1950s has installed three pedestrian lights with images of the American rock icon.

The red shows an image of the singer striking a pose at a microphone and the green depicts his trademarked hip swivel dance.

They went online this week in the town of Friedberg, where Elvis, who died in 1977, was stationed at the U.S. Army’s Ray Barracks from October 1958 to March 1960. He lived in nearby Bad Nauheim.

Friedberg, north of Frankfurt, already has an “Elvis Presley Platz” — Elvis Presley Square — and decided to add the three lights as an added attraction for the many Elvis fans who already make the pilgrimage to the town.

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No deal would be WORSE for Ireland than the UK

No deal would be WORSE for Ireland than the UK and mean food shortages, government papers claim fuelling Brexiteer demands for May to tell Dublin to dump the backstop

  • Report to ministers says Ireland would be hit more than the UK by no deal Brexit
  • Brexiteers say it proves the EU could be forced to backdown over the backstop 
  • But Remain supporters warned against threatening Dublin over the Brexit deal  

A no deal Brexit would be worse for Ireland than the UK, Government papers claim fuelling demands for Theresa May to tell Dublin to drop the border backstop. 

Leaked papers suggest Ireland would face foot shortages and a 7 per cent plunge in GDP if there was a sudden no deal in March. 

It compares to a 5 per cent drop in the UK – with the gap fuelled by Ireland being a more open economy than Britain.

The bleak picture has prompted Cabinet ministers and leading Brexiteers to plead with Mrs May to exploit Dublin’s position before Tuesday’s vote, The Times reported.

Remainers said it was ‘morally reprehensible’ to threaten Ireland given the bloody history of the Troubles. 

A no deal Brexit would be worse for Ireland than the UK, Government papers claim fuelling demands for Theresa May to tell Dublin to drop the border backstop (file image) 

The bleak picture has prompted Cabinet ministers and leading Brexiteers to plead with Mrs May (pictured in Downing Street last night) to exploit Dublin’s position before Tuesday’s vote

The Prime Minister is facing a catastrophic defeat of her deal on Tuesday night as more than 100 Tory MPs say they will not support the backstop.

The backstop effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with Europe if there is no trade deal with the EU after transition – meaning no trade deals and the imposition of EU rules in Britain.   

Priti Patel, the former cabinet minister, told the Times: ‘This paper appears to show the government were well aware Ireland will face significant issues in a no-deal scenario. 

‘Why hasn’t this point been pressed home during the negotiations? There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal.’ 

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Almost 80 per cent of Ireland’s exports travel through the UK before heading into Europe – meaning the UK-Ireland border is crucial.

Brexiteers insist this is why the EU could have been forced to backdown on the backstop with a tougher negotiating strategy.  

But Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: ‘Threatening Ireland in this way is as morally reprehensible as it is futile.

‘Britain should be showing itself to be a dependable neighbour and friend in the future, and it is frightening that Brexiteers are even contemplating a move which could see stopping trade, including food supplies, being weaponised in this way, particularly given the uncomfortable historical echoes.’ 

Brexiteer Priti Patel (left) said the report should be used to pressure Ireland but Lisa Nandy (right) said it was ‘morally reprehensible’ to threaten Dublin 

Irish Government sources said the deal including the backstop was between the entire EU and the UK and would not be reopened.

The source said: ‘That will not be changing, under any circumstances.’ 

Another Irish government source said that contingency planning for a hard Brexit had been under way for most of this year.

They said: ‘We are prepared if there is a no-deal scenario next March. We also have a commitment from the European Commission to support Ireland against the fallout from a hard Brexit.’

The Irish Government led by Leo Varadkar (right with London Mayor Sadiq Khan yesterday) said the deal would not be reopened 

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Thug, 30, dubbed ‘poster boy for soft justice’ is jailed for 25th time

Thug, 30, dubbed ‘poster boy for soft justice’ is jailed for 25th time… for stealing DVDs from Morrison’s just two days after being released from prison

  • Del Banks, 30, has been sent to prison 25 times during his criminal career 
  • His latest spell in prison resulted in a crime committed two days after his release
  • He stole DVDs from a supermarket and tried to sell them to a pawn shop
  • He had just been released on bail from a nine-month jail term for assault  

Del Banks, pictured yesterday outside Perth Sheriff Court, was yesterday for the 25th time after being arrested two days after being released early from prison for assault. 

A notorious thug with dozens of convictions has been jailed for the 25th time – after re-offending two days after his early release from prison.

Career criminal Del Banks was dubbed the poster boy for soft-touch justice in 2004 when, aged 15, he was taken by social workers to Manchester to see pop group The Black Eyed Peas.

At the time Perth and Kinross Council claimed the outing had helped slow down his offending.

But since then he has committed 68 offences, including ten assaults, and been sent to prison 25 times in a criminal career estimated to have cost taxpayers £500,000 in court, social work and policing costs.

And he was jailed for a second time this year after he stole DVDs from a super- market and sold them to a pawn shop. Banks, from Perth, committed the offence days after being released on bail from a nine-month prison sentence for assault.

As the 30-year-old was locked up yesterday, critics described Banks as ‘the epitome of the SNP’s soft-touch justice’ system.

Perth Sheriff Court was told Banks, 30, and co-accused James Stuart, 32, stole 17 DVDs from Morrisons in Perth on October 26. Fiscal depute Robbie Brown said they were caught when a staff member saw Banks leaving a pawn shop where he had sold on the stolen goods.

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Banks’s defence solicitor Billy Somerville said: ‘Around this period he was having difficulty as he was consuming drugs.’

Stuart and Banks, who both pleaded guilty, were each jailed for three months.

In February, Sheriff Gillian Wade ignored a social work plea to let Banks walk free despite racking up his 11th assault conviction.

At the time, she said: ‘I find that view hard to understand given that he was on supervised release when this took place, and only just out on supervised release.’

Social workers took Banks to see the Black Eyed Peas when he was 15 in order to stop his criminality, however the controversial intervention has not been successful 

Banks was jailed yesterday for the 25th time following a hearing at Perth Sheriff’s Court

He stole 17 DVDs from a Morrison’s supermarket before trying to sell them to a pawn shop

She warned that social workers had failed to take into account the serious nature of the assault to injury Banks had committed within weeks of being released from his previous prison term.

Banks was previously spared jail in 2005 and was instead ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service after breaching a court curfew four times.

But despite only carrying out 57 hours of unpaid work in the 18 months that followed, he was given yet another chance to finish his punishment during a hearing at Perth Sheriff Court.

After the hearing yesterday, Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: ‘This ridiculous saga is beyond a joke. This criminal has no respect for the justice system, no respect for other people’s property and no intention of changing.’

Mr Kerr added: ‘This is the epitome of the SNP’s soft touch justice and demonstrates exactly why it doesn’t work.’

Since his concert trip to Manchester, assaults by Banks have left three victims scarred for life.

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Monster 20-inch rats ‘the size of dogs’ bite disabled woman, 37

Monster 20-inch rats ‘the size of dogs’ bite disabled woman, 37, in her rodent-infested council house

  • Asia White, 37, claims she’s been bitten by the rodents at Peabody council flat
  • The distressed tenant claims the rats are 20-inches long and as big as dogs  
  • Disabled Ms White released horrifying footage showing one monster rat 
  • Ms White, who lives alone in Lambeth, says the torment has left her suicidal

A disabled woman has released a horrifying image of 20-inch monster rats ‘the size of dogs’ she claims are infesting her council house.

Asia White, 37, claims she has been bitten by the rodents, ingested their urine and found rat droppings in her food during the six month ‘living nightmare’ at her home in Lambeth, London.

The former high-end retail manager, who suffers with mental and physical disabilities, claims the conditions have seen her health rapidly deteriorate to the point she has even been hospitalised last month.

Asia White, 37, claims she has been bitten by the rodents, ingested their urine and found rat droppings in her food during the six month ‘living nightmare’ at her home in Lambeth, London

She alleges housing association Peabody have put down poison to kill the rats but then not returned to remove it – leaving the animals’ decomposing corpses in her basement.

Ms White said: ‘The rats are disgusting, I would say they’re the size of a dog, or a large cat.

‘We caught a 20-inch rodent, only because an even bigger one was too fast for us and escaped. It’s got me to a point where I’m going crazy.

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‘I have found rat droppings in food I was about to eat before, and I have accidentally ingested rat urine on one occasion. I’ve even been bitten, it’s been hell.’

Ms White, who lives alone, claims the torment has left her feeling suicidal and exacerbated her existing health issues.

She has lived in the council house since April 2018, and alleges she first saw droppings and urine around the house when she moved in.

The former high-end retail manager, who suffers with mental and physical disabilities, claims the conditions have seen her health rapidly deteriorate to the point she has even been hospitalised last month

After a month of living there she claims she heard loud squeaks and witnessed rats running around her bedroom and attempting to bite her.

Ms White said while Peabody have laid down poison they have not permanently close the entry point for the rodents, which is located through the basement.

The registered charity have sent contractors out to fix the issue but Ms White claims their contractors were forced to leave because the working conditions in her home were too poor.

Ms White said: ‘I’m constantly being sick, the smell of the rats is unavoidable.

She has lived in the council house since April 2018, and alleges she first saw droppings and urine around the house when she moved in. After a month of living there she claims she heard loud squeaks and witnessed rats running around her bedroom and attempting to bite her

‘One night I woke up so stressed that I couldn’t feel half of my body. My stools have been green, I’ve been having breakdowns.

‘The impact this house and the fear of living here has left me suicidal at times.

‘Peabody has sent contractors out to fix the entry points, but they have swiftly been told to leave because of poor working conditions. But I still have to live there. ‘

Tina Valcarcel, Lambeth’s Larkhall ward councillor, got involved after Ms White was rushed to hospital in November.

She said: ‘I have been helping the resident of my ward with her housing issues for a number of months, in my role as a local councillor.

‘We have made progress, but there’s still a long way to go. I’m determined to continue working on her behalf until these issues are resolved.

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What is James Comey's net worth, why was he fired by Donald Trump and who's his wife?

Here's the lowdown on James Comey who authored a memoir titled 'A Higher Loyalty' earlier this year.

What does James Comey say in his new book?

Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, out next Tuesday, is published 11 months after he was fired by Trump.

Comey’s dismissal triggered the appointment of Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation into Russian election meddling

Under-fire Trump has long denied any collusion and has called the high-profile investigation a “witch-hunt”.

In Comey’s memoirs, obtained by the Guardian, the former FBI chief describes his first trip to Trump Tower in January 2017.

He was called in to brief the then president-elect about the so-called dirty dossier on his links to Russia compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele.

Towering 6ft 6ins Comey writes Trump “appeared shorter than he seemed on a debate stage with Hillary Clinton”.

He adds: “His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assume he placed small tanning goggles."

Comey also mentions Trump's "impressively coiffed, bright blond hair."

He reportedly writes: "I remember wondering how long it must take him in the morning to get that done.”

Comey, who likens Trump’s presidency to a “forest fire”, repeatedly in the 304-page book also paints Trump as a mafia-style boss.

What has the President said about Comey?

Donald Trump labelled Comey a "leaker & liar" in response to the former FBI director's claims in his upcoming book.

According to A Higher Loyalty, the President wanted Comey to help him prove to the First Lady that he hadn’t paid Russian hookers to urinate on a hotel bed.

Trump tweeted: "James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR.

"Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired.

"He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted.

"He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and….untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI."

What is his net worth?

When Barack Obama nominated him as FBI director in 2013, Comey disclosed his net worth as more than £8 million in documents filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation process.

That figure came from a £2.5 million payout he was slated to receive from Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund he worked for at the time as general counsel.

According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, Comey earned about $6 million during his last year at Bridgewater.

The £8 million figure also included a £2.5 million valuation for the house he shared with his wife and family in Westport, Connecticut, which sold for £2 million last year.

Why did Donald Trump fire James Comey?

Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey who was investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The administration says Comey was sacked over his handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's emails.

In a letter to Mr Comey, Mr Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI.

But the sudden sacking of the nation's most senior law enforcement official outraged Democrats who said the White House was interfering in the inquiry into links with Russia.

Under Comey's leadership, the FBI concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had approved a multi-faceted campaign to tilt the vote in Trump's favour, according to reports.

Trump's decision to fire the FBI director is virtually unprecedented, only one director has previously been fired in the bureau's century-long history.

In a letter circulated by the White House, Trump told Comey: "You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.

"It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission."

Trump also used the letter to try to distance himself from the ever-deepening scandal over Russia's involvement in the election.

The White House said the search for a new FBI director was to begin right away.

FBI directors are appointed for a single 10-year term. The 56-year-old Comey, who is popular among rank-and-file agents, was appointed four years ago.

What did Comey say in his goodbye letter?

The former FBI chief in a letter to colleagues and friends refused to be drawn on the circumstances of his sacking.

“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all," he wrote.

"I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed.

"I hope you won't either. It is done and I will be fine."

The former lawyer, appointed by Barack Obama in September 2013, praised the FBI's work.

He added: "I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence."


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De Blasio meets with Ben Carson in DC to talk future of NYCHA

Mayor de Blasio met for an hour Thursday in Washington with federal housing chief Ben Carson to discuss the future of the city’s scandal-rocked Housing Authority.

The meeting comes a week before a key hearing in Manhattan federal court that could determine the future of the agency.

“De Blasio came to Washington to present his version of triaging NYCHA’s woes and presenting himself in person as a gesture of cooperation with HUD,” said one source.

Both sides described the meeting as productive, but offered few details.

The goal was to get City Hall and the feds on the same page with regards to an overhaul plan, after federal Judge William Pauley disapproved a previously proposed settlement. Pauley said that agreement — which would have put NYCHA under a federal monitor and injected an additional $2.2 billion for repairs — didn’t go far enough.

But the source said neither side wants to put NYCHA into ­receivership.

“This administration’s HUD can barely keep up with their day-to-day, let alone a new project that will have an intense microscope,” the source said.

NYCHA, which provides housing for more than 400,000 New Yorkers, faces a $31.8 billion bill to repair its 325 complexes.

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What happens next if Theresa May cancels next week's Brexit vote in Parliament?

Here's what could happen if the PM chooses to back down and not hold the vote.

Could Theresa May cancel the vote?

The Sun first revealed the Government had secretly discussed pulling next Tuesday’s crucial vote on the Brexit deal because the parliamentary arithmetic was stacked against the PM.
Former PM Tony Blair told Westminster journalists: “I don’t personally think it is very sensible just to plunge along and be defeated very heavily. What does that tell you?”
He added: “I don’t see what the point is in going down to a huge defeat.”
Instead he said the PM must “understand” that she can’t get a majority of MPs to back a single Brexit plan and the only other option is to hold a second referendum to settle the issue “for a generation”.
Mr Blair blasted Mrs May for trying to sell a deal that was “half-in, half-out”, declaring: “Do Brexit or don’t”. And mocking his famous moto, he said: “this time there is no acceptable third way.”

What would happen in the vote was cancelled?

Theresa May has rejected pleas from jittery senior Tories for a delay in the crunch Commons vote on her Brexit deal.

A string of ministers and backbenchers pressed the Prime Minister to postpone the so-called "meaningful vote" in Parliament scheduled for next Tuesday on the agreement with Brussels in the face of a mass rebellion.

But May and her allies insisted the division will go ahead next week and vowed to continue their attempt to win over dozens of rebel Tory MPs.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The vote is happening on Tuesday."

What has the Tory party said about postponing the vote?

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, publicly urged the Prime Minister to put off the vote until the party row over the so-called Northern Ireland backstop could be resolved.
"I think the most important thing is to have clarity about how we might remove ourselves from a backstop if we were to enter into one in the future," Sir Graham said.
"It's having the answer to that question of substance that is most important, not the timing, so if that question can be answered in the course of the next few days then all well and good.
"If it can't then I certainly would welcome the vote being deferred until such time as we can answer that question."
Amid growing speculation about the looming vote, several Cabinet ministers met the Prime Minister in Downing Street to discuss the crisis over the parliamentary vote.

Philip Hammond, Michael Gove, Amber Rudd, Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox were among ministers seen going into Number 10.
Other sources said pro-Brussels ministers including Mr Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark told Mrs May they could not support the country quitting the EU without a deal.
After the meeting, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister has been meeting her colleagues. She meets and talks to her colleagues regularly and this is part of that."

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Yemeni FM's remarks at Sweden peace talks trigger anger in Sanaa

Khaled al-Yamani demanded the Houthis lay down their arms, something they have previously refused to do.

    Rimbo, Sweden – Yemen’s foreign minister has sparked anger in his home country after he demanded Houthi rebels, who control the capital and large swathes of territory, hand over power to his exiled government.

    Speaking at UN-sponsored peace talks in the Swedish town of Rimbo, Khaled al-Yamani gave little indication he was going to offer concessions to his adversaries after the first day of peace talks were held in nearly two years.

    “They [the Houthis] should withdraw from the institutions of the state and hand them back to the legitimate government,” a defiant al-Yamani told Al Jazeera.

    “They should respect the will of the international community and surrender their arms, ammunitions and missiles.”

    Officials from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and representatives from the Houthi movement are holding separate closed-door discussions with the UN until December 14 aimed at discussing ways to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 56,000 people.

    “It’s [UN Security Council Resolution] 2216 and nothing more,” al-Yamani said.

    “Other than that, there will be no settlement, no solution.”

    Martin Griffiths, UN Special Envoy for Yemen

    ‘Spat it out’

    The Houthis have previously refused to abide by UN Resolution 2216, which stipulates they withdraw from areas they seized in 2014 and hand over heavy weapons to the government.

    The rebels have claimed they have a popular mandate to govern Yemen and say Hadi, who was appointed in 2012 to rule the country for an interim period of two years, has lost his legitimacy.

    When asked by Al Jazeera about a Houthi proposal to replace the presidency with a presidential council, Yamani lashed out, calling the idea “nonsense”.

    Residents in the capital criticised al-Yamani’s remarks saying it appeared the government was trying to sabotage negotiations before they could even begin.

    Mohammad al-Ghabsi, a journalist at the al-Thawra newspaper said: “Al-Yamani represents the ‘legitimacy’ [the Yemeni government], that the Saudi capital has taken in, by mobilising armies and the world’s weapons to try and return it to the Yemeni people. But they [Yemenis] have spat it out and thrown it outside their borders, politically and geographically.

    “He, and others like him, who have similarly thrown themselves in the arms of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – have a prescribed role, he can’t overstep the boundaries drawn for him nor can he read from a different script than the one handed to him.”

    Another resident said it was surprising that al-Yamani would make such remarks and not focus on his government’s inability to return to Aden, where the foreign minister hails from.

    “He’s unable to return to his hometown and knows this well, so how does he think can return to Yemen and take our cities,” he said requesting anonymity.

    Hadi and much of his government have been based in Riyadh since 2015 when the Houthis, in cooperation with troops loyal to Hadi’s predecessor, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured Sanaa and large expanses of the country.

    Saudi Arabia, along with several other Sunni Arab countries, then intervened in the conflict, launching a massive aerial bombardment campaign aimed at restoring Hadi’s government.

    Perceiving the Houthis’ advance as an Iranian-orchestrated plot to destabilise the region, analysts expected the fighting to last only a few months.

    But after more than three years of fighting, the violence shows no signs of abating, and has cost the coalition billions of dollars and left a staggering 22 million people needing humanitarian assistance.

    ‘2216 is not out of date’

    The UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is seeking to introduce a set of confidence-building measures at the talks that will eventually pave the way for future negotiations to end the war.

    While the opposing sides are not meeting face-to-face, Griffiths wants the parties to negotiate a ceasefire in Hodeidah city, make further agreements on planned prisoner swaps and reopen Sanaa international airport.

    Griffiths said while the talks were “consultations” and “not yet beginning the process of negotiations”, they could “bring good news for Hodeidah and for the people of Yemen”.

    “What we’re trying to do is provide a just resolution to this conflict based on resolutions, including UN resolution 2216, which is not out of date,” Griffiths said.

    “It is a part of my mandate. Resolution 2216 calls for an inclusive political solution and that’s what we’re hoping to achieve.”

    The Houthis have told Al Jazeera they are committed to the talks and are willing to hand over the strategic port of Hodeidah to the UN. 

    Hodeidah is a lifeline for humanitarian supplies for the country’s war-wracked population.

    The other main route in and out of Houthi-held areas is the Sanaa airport, but access has been restricted by the Saudi-led coalition which controls Yemen’s air space.

    Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a Twitter post that if no deal was reached to re-open the airport, which has been shut since 2016 and suffered repeated air strikes, his movement could close it on the ground to all traffic including UN flights.

    The rebels had previously promised to end all drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in return for the alliance ending its air attacks.

    International pressure to end the war has mounted since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi crown prince, in October by Saudi nationals in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Western powers have expressed their anger over the killing, with countries such as Germany and Norway suspending arms exports to Saudi Arabia and senators in the US questioning Washington’s strategic partnership with Riyadh.

    On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a strongly worded resolution holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for alleged atrocities committed during the Yemen war.

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    Students hit each other around head with WOOD outside college

    Girl students hit each other around the head with planks of WOOD in a violent brawl outside their college

    • Footage captured students fighting outside Sandwell College in West Bromwich 
    • They scream as fight descends into chaos with planks of wood used as weapons 
    • College security guards appear too nervous to intervene in fight until the end 

    Shocking footage has captured the moment teenage girls smashed one another around the head with planks of wood outside their college. 

    Video filmed outside Sandwell College in West Bromwich shows the scene descend into chaos after the youngsters throw punches and slaps.  

    In the clip, students scream as one girl picks up a huge plank of wood and hits the other across the head it.

    One girl can be seen grabbing a plank of wood and using it to hit the other over the head with it

    Onlookers try to pull the girls apart and some even flee the scene of the fight 

    College security guards appear too nervous to intervene in the ferocious fight until the end. 

    The mobile phone footage, believed to have been filmed on December 6, begins by showing two girls – one in a red coat and one in a black leather jacket – embroiled in a violent fight.

    The girl in the red coat grabs the other in a headlock and wrestles her.

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    Friends desperately try to separate the warring pair and a crowd of screaming students gather to watch the fight.

    Onlookers manage to break the twosome up but they continue to hit and slap each as they are separated.

    In the clip, students scream as one girl picks up a huge plank of wood and hits the other across the head it

    The pair try to grab one another and trade blows as the fight intensifies 

    Then the girl in the black leather jacket grabs a huge plank of wood from the ground and takes a run-up before hitting the other girl over the head with it.

    Bystanders can even be seen fleeing as the pair start hitting and grabbing each other again. 

    As the girls walk away from each other, college security guards can finally be seen intervening to end the chaos.

    Police officers can also be seen arriving at the scene as the footage cuts to an end.

    In February 2018, Sandwell College hit headlines when around ten male students were filming fighting in a college study room.

    Sandwell College and West Midlands Police have been contacted for comment. 

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    Grace Millane – Brit millionaire dad of backpacker, 22, who vanished in New Zealand breaks down in tears while begging for help finding her as cops say they have 'grave fears'

    Grace Millane, who turned 22 on Sunday, vanished on December 1 less than two weeks after arriving in Auckland as part of a round-the-world trip.

    At a news conference this morning, her father David, from Essex, made an emotional appeal for help in finding his "outgoing, fun-loving" daughter.

    Detective Inspector Scott Beard spoke of his fears over Grace’s safety while revealing that she was last seen with a “male companion” at a hotel in the city.

    He said: “It has now been six days since Grace was last seen. At this point, we hold grave fears for her safety."

    The detective added that they "still have no evidence of foul play".

    Mr Beard said: “We now have the last known sighting of Grace at 9.41pm at the Citylife Hotel, on Saturday 1 December with a male companion.

    "Police have identified this man and he has been spoken to."

    Mr Beard said officers had also identified an apartment at the city centre hotel as a location of interest.

    Her dad David, a millionaire property developer, arrived in New Zealand on Friday morning and told reporters it was unusual for his daughter to be out of contact.

    Fighting back tears, he told reporters: "Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter.

    "She's usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself, her two brothers or members of the family on social media."

    He added: "She has been bombarding us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures.

    "We are all extremely upset and it's very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are going through."

    At this point, we hold grave fears for her safety

    Grace arrived in New Zealand as part of her year-long travels on November 20, having previously visited Peru.

    Police said more than 25 staff were working on the case and were trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements.

    A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are providing consular support to the family in the UK, and working with the New Zealand Police in relation to reports of a missing British national in New Zealand."

    Yesterday, a local woman, who refused to be named, told the NZ Herald she saw a young woman near the Southern Motorway in Manukau – around 14miles from where Grace was last seen.

    She said: "Where she was standing, it was really bizarre and she was by herself, nobody around, just a girl on her own.

    "I can honestly 100 percent say I saw a young girl, absolutely so close to her description that it's not funny, and there was no way I was going to stop.

    "She was in a very unusual place to stand, I would have thought a hitchhiker would have stopped on the left-hand side to get in the car, she was on the other side.

    "I looked at the photo (of Grace) and I was quite adamant I had seen that girl. She had like a raincoat… she had a bigger sort of jacket, not a fashion like one."

    Previously, her loving brother Michael said Grace had failed to return to her room at a hostel in the city and police were now scouring social media and CCTV for clues.

    He also posted a public appeal on Facebook, imploring those who read it to share it across community groups.

    Michael wrote: "She has not returned to her hostel room in Auckland New Zealand and family members have had no contact since Saturday 1st December.

    "The Embassy have been contacted. Please share and contact if you have any information regarding her whereabouts."

    Grace has been staying at the Base Backpackers on Queen Street, a popular accommodation provider in the centre of the city.

    Grace graduated from the University of Lincoln in September.


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