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Gone are the days of London's "pea souper" smogs, but like many European cities, the British capital is once again being choked by pollution - and has road traffic firmly in its sights.

In 1952, the Great Smog suffocated London for five days, bringing the city to a standstill as soot-filled clouds descended onto the streets and into people's lungs, leaving more than 12,000 dead.

The crisis prompted a clampdown on the use of coal in the city - but decades on, pollution is still causing more than 9,000 premature deaths per year.


This time, the key culprit is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), produced by cars and trucks - and particularly diesel engines, which emit three times more NO2 than petrol vehicles.



Drivers of the most polluting cars will be charged to travel into the centre of London from 2019, Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tuesday, describing his city's air as "lethal".

Khan hopes the move will halve harmful nitrogen oxide emissions in central London, where air pollution is thought to cost 9,000 premature deaths per year.

Under the scheme, vehicles will be charged £12.50 ($15.50, 14.60 euros) to enter a planned "ultra-low emissions zone" (ULEZ) around the city centre.

Diesel cars more than four years old in April 2019 and petrol cars more than 13 years old will face the charge 24 hours a day.

Private buses, coaches and trucks failing to meet emissions standards will have to pay £100.




A man suspected of preparing acts of terrorism was arrested on Tuesday (April 4) as he was trying to leave Britain from a central London train station served by Eurostar, police said.

The 18-year-old was apprehended by the counter-terrorism command at St Pancras International station, from where Eurostar trains depart to continental destinations including Paris and Brussels, London's Metropolitan Police said.

"He was arrested on suspicion of preparation of acts of terrorism, dissemination of terrorist publications and inviting support for a proscribed organisation," the police said in a statement.





Britain's intelligence expertise may be "too precious" to use as a bargaining tool in the upcoming Brexit talks, experts said, after a terror attack in London highlighted the need for continued European security cooperation.

The suggestion that Britain could use security to negotiate with Brussels came following US President Donald Trump's election and his calls for a more isolationist foreign policy.

"If the US does adopt a more isolationist stance, then ongoing security cooperation with the UK becomes more valuable," the Institute for Government said in November.

"This could strengthen the UK?s negotiating hand in Brexit talks, as it could use the promise of ongoing cooperation on security measures to extract a more favourable deal from the EU," the think tank said in a report.


Britain's new £1 coin with the symbols of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland goes into circulation from Tuesday on the eve of the launch of a Brexit process that has put national unity in doubt.

The 12-sided coin is the first change to the shape of the £1 coin since its introduction in 1983. Britain's finance ministry said the new coin would be "the most secure of its kind in the world" to prevent a rise in counterfeits.

About three percent of the current round-shaped coins are fakes.

The new pound coins will be thinner, lighter and slightly bigger than the old ones and will have a hologram-like image that changes from a "£" symbol to the number "1" when viewed from different angles.




British police said Monday they had found no link between the man behind last week's terror attack outside the British parliament and the Islamic State group, which had claimed him as one of its "soldiers".

The statement came as 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood's mother spoke out for the first time, saying she was "deeply shocked, saddened and numbed, and relatives of the US victim voiced their grief.

"Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ (Al-Qaeda), there is clearly an interest in Jihad," Neil Basu, deputy assistant police commissioner, said in a statement.

Masood was shot dead after ploughing through a crowd of pedestrians and fatally stabbing a policeman just inside the gates of the British parliament in a frenzied attack lasting just 82 seconds on Wednesday.

Four people were killed and dozens more injured.

Basu said Masood's low-tech methods appeared to be "copied from other attacks and echo the rhetoric of IS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others".

He also said there was "no evidence that Masood, who was born as Adrian Elms, was radicalised in prison in 2003" as suggested in some media reports.

Basu said he changed his name to Masood in 2005.

Masood served two stints in prison for a knife attack in 2000 and again for knife possession in 2003.

"His last criminal offence was in 2003 and he was not a current subject of interest or part of the current domestic or international threat picture," Basu said.

The police commander said Masood's communications on the day of the attack were "a main line of inquiry" and he asked for anyone who had heard from him to come forward so as to establish "his state of mind".

The government has confirmed that Masood used the WhatsApp messaging service shortly before the attack, saying it was crucial that the security services be allowed to access the heavily encrypted app.

Twelve people have been arrested since the attack and two men remain in custody after nine were released without charge and one woman was let out on bail.

- 'Do not condone' -

Masood's mother Janet Ajao also on Monday released a statement saying: "Since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident".




The British government said Sunday that its security services must have access to encrypted messaging applications such as WhatsApp, as it revealed that the service was used by the man behind the parliament attack.

Khalid Masood, the 52-year-old Briton who killed four people in a rampage in Westminster on Wednesday before being shot dead, reportedly used the Facebook-owned service moments before the assault.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told Sky News it was "completely unacceptable" that police and security services had not been able to crack the heavily encrypted service.

"You can't have a situation where you have terrorists talking to each other -- where this terrorist sent a WhatsApp message -- and it can't be accessed," she said.

Police said Saturday that they still did not know why Masood, a Muslim convert with a violent criminal past, carried out the attack and that he probably acted alone, despite a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group.



Britain and the United States have announced bans on laptops and tablet computers from the cabin of flights from several Middle East and North African nations.

The restrictions are different in the two countries and only Britain has specified the maximum size of electronic device allowed -- 16 by 9.3 centimetres (6.3 by 3.7 inches).

Canadian and French officials are considering whether to impose similar measures, but Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand said they are not currently mulling a ban.



A man suspected of slashing an 18th century painting at Britain's National Gallery which featured in a James Bond film is due to appear in court on Monday.

Keith Gregory, 63, was arrested on Saturday after allegedly damaging Thomas Gainsborough's painting "The Morning Walk" in the prestigious London museum.


British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek to rally her party faithful Friday after a week in which her political honeymoon abruptly ended, laying bare her weaknesses over Brexit.

The Scottish government’s call for a second independence vote has left May fighting on two fronts as she prepares to start the process of leaving the European Union later this month.

She was also forced to drop a planned tax rise after pressure from backbench MPs, revealing how she could become a hostage to factions in her Conservative Party as the complex Brexit negotiations progress.

At a party conference in Cardiff she will seek to regain the initiative, setting out plans to deliver “a brighter future” after exiting the EU.

May’s centre-right Conservatives are ahead by as much as 19 points in some polls, but much of the lead is because of a weak Labour opposition.