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Ukraine: government troops move against pro-Russia separatists - live
Ukrainian troops move into Slavyansk and DonetskRussian armour on the move in border areaKiev asks Moscow for explanation 'within 48 hours'Putin warns of 'consequences' for military actionObama warns of new sanctionsRead the latest blog summary 7.41pm BST US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki gives Washington's version of what happened in the clashes at a checkpoint outside Slavyansk. "Last night approximately 90 separatists attacked an arms depot in Donetsk," Psaki said. She said when the Ukrainian military defended the depot, one soldier was wounded. 7.33pm BST As our blog coverage continues, here's a summary of where things stand: Kiev has asked Moscow to "explain and give details" within 48 hours of military exercises near the Ukrainian border, where Russian tanks, troops, armoured personnel carriers and other military vehicles were on the move Thursday. 6.59pm BST The editor-in-chief of the Kremlin broadcast outlet Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, tweets "Ukraine: RIP":. R.I.P.So why are you on Twitter and not with the national guard, chicken? You waiting for someone else to do it? You're scum.""Even in a nightmare I couldn't have imagined seeing OSCE jeeps outside my window. But it's getting worse. War has come to Ukraine all the same." 6.48pm BST The journalist Simon Ostrovsky's Twitter account, using the first-person, confirms his release:I'm out and safe. Thank you all for your support. Had no idea I had so many good friends.Terrific that @SimonOstrovsky is free. But several journalists are still being held hostage. They must be let go now. http://t.co/CpJsk7msPRSixteen persons, including journalists, have been kidnapped over the past week in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Sloviansk and Horlivka, according to Kyiv Post reporting and that of Donetsk-based news website Novosti Donbassa. Some have been released while two have been found dead.The following is a list of the 16 persons and the details of each case. 6.35pm BST President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the Internet a CIA project and made comments about Russia's biggest search engine Yandex, "sending the company's shares plummeting," the Associated Press reports:The Kremlin has been anxious to exert greater control over the Internet, which opposition activists - barred from national television - have used to promote their ideas and organize protests.Russia's parliament this week passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year. Also, businessmen close to Putin now control Russia's leading social media network, VKontakte. 6.22pm BST Ukraine has asked Moscow, under European OSCE security arrangements, to explain and give details of its military exercises near the border within 48 hours, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, Reuters reports.Separately, Ukrainian foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia said the Russian maneuvers at the border "very much escalates the situation in the region." Talking to The Associated Press in Prague, Deshchytsia said his country has been taught a lesson by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula:He said "having this experience, we will now fight with Russian troops if ... they invade Ukraine." He said "Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this." 5.57pm BST Polish foreign minister Radosaw Sikorski tweets that he has spoken with the Canadian foreign minister:It was good to confirm with old friend @HonJohnBaird that Poland and Canada see eye to eye on Ukraine and Western security. 5.45pm BST Simon Ostrovsky, an American-Israeli correspondent for Vice held since Tuesday by pro-Russia forces in Slavyansk for "one-sided" reporting, has been freed, according to multiple reports. A Radio-Canada journalist tweets a photo:UPDATE: Vice confirms Ostrovsky's release:VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health. We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Out of respect for Simon and his family's privacy, we have no further statement at this time.Breaking: hostage @SimonOstrovsky is free and safe. He is with us in CBC car en route to Donetsk @CBCNews @CBCAlerts pic.twitter.com/9uSyr81zDD 5.41pm BST The Russian news outlet Gazeta reports that four people have been killed in Russia near the Ukraine border in two accidents involving military vehicles (translation by @AlanYuhas):"In the Rostov region, two accidents involving military vehicles have killed four people. Among them was the driver of an APC the armored vehicles' were moving with the military exercises on the border with Ukraine, according to the Russian Defense Ministry." In another accident, an APC "drove into the oncoming lane and collided head-on [with a civilian car], in which there were two local residents, a man and a woman. Both died on location. 5.33pm BST A tidbit of Slavyansk local trivia: Viacheslav Ponomariov's cognomen, via a New York Times correspondent:The Slavyansk people's mayor in his former life was nicknamed "Slava boo boo boo" for his tendency to mutter (from the Russian 'Bubnit') 5.16pm BST The Russian mobilization: Many photographs and video (here and here, via The Interpreter live blog) are emerging of moving tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other materiel in what is said to be the area of Novoshakhtinsk, just on the Russia side of the eastern Ukraine border. The Guardian has not independently confirmed the veracity of the images, which come from multiple sources and were uploaded at around the same time. The Russian military buildup on the border has been going on for weeks. Here's an example from today via BBC Russian correspondent Olga Ivshina:Near Ukrainian border from the Russian side. Now @Alexandr_Sam: pic.twitter.com/qUJTzgoez6 4.54pm BST Ukraines acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said in televised address that Ukraine isnt going to "yield to terrorists" and demanded that Russia to move its troops away from the border, Oksana Grytsenko (@grytsenko_o) reports for the Guardian:After some successful steps of Ukraines security forces in fighting the terrorism Russian Federation moved from public intimidations on our address to demonstrative concentration of troops on eastern border of our state," Turchnov said. "There is ongoing deployment of those units that are posing threat to security of our state."We will not step back to terrorist threat and will continue taking measures to protect our peoples lives. We demand Russian Federation to stop interfering in Ukraines internal affairs, stop permanent intimidations and blackmailing and redeploy their troops from eastern border of our country. 4.47pm BST Meanwhile, to the west:Commander of @NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples met with Romanian Defence Officials: http://t.co/W5DIlRSZ4N pic.twitter.com/hCC3XEHg5lBLACK SEA - The forward deployed guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) participated in a bilateral underway engagement with ships from the Romanian Navy in the Black Sea, April 23.The exercise was aimed at improving maritime capabilities and reassuring our NATO allies and partners of our commitment to the alliance and to their security.US, Romanian ships conduct NATO underway engagements in Black Sea: http://t.co/xYhWXkhM7e pic.twitter.com/s1VtCU8YiI 4.17pm BST 4.07pm BST Vladimir Putin's spokesman has said that events in Ukraine raise serious questions about the legitimacy of a Ukrainian presidential vote set for May 25. "There is no doubt that such a development as criminal actions by those in Kiev ... place the legitimacy of the election scheduled for May in very serious question," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. 4.03pm BST ABC News has this interview with the self-proclaimed mayor of Slavyansk, Viacheslav Ponomariov, who explains why Simon Ostrovsky, the US reporter, is being held. Ponomariov says Ostrovsky's reporting has been "one-sided". 3.43pm BST My colleagues, Dan Roberts in Washington and Alec Luhn in Slavyansk, have a round-up of today's developments. Here is an extract.International tension over Ukraine ratcheted sharply on Thursday as Vladimir Putin warned of unspecified consequences in retaliation for a security crackdown against pro-Russian militants and Barack Obama threatened imminent new economic sanctions against Russia.As limited hopes of a peace deal struck last week in Geneva dwindled fast, diplomats responded to violent clashes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk with a fresh war of words that hinted instead at the risk of further escalation. 3.38pm BST 3.34pm BST Viktoria Siumar, deputy head of Ukraines security and defence council has written on her Facebook page: The successful anti-terrorist actions make the Russians very nervous. They decided to activate demonstration of their troops on our border. One more blackmail in support of terrorism. 3.22pm BST Map of Ukraine 2.54pm BST Alec Luhn reports for the Guardian on how pro-Russia protesters are sitting on one of the biggest arms caches in eastern Europe.When pro-Russia protesters stormed a police station in Slavyansk, in eastern Ukraine, they seized several hundred firearms. They also took control of the biggest weapons cache in eastern Europe, which lies beneath their feet.Since March a group of protesters have been guarding the entrance to the Volodarsky salt mine, which holds an underground collection of at least a million firearms ranging from first world war heavy machine guns to Soviet-era Kalashnikovs. 2.46pm BST Ukrainian helicopter just dropped leaflet over Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. Warns residents to avoid "Russian terrorists pic.twitter.com/mlk2LZsXLj 2.44pm BST Footage purportedly showing military action around Slavyansk. 2.37pm BST Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of journalists and officials held by pro-Russian separatists. Amnesty Ukraine researcher Heather McGill said: Taking hostages and using them as bargaining chips for political gain is as abhorrent as it is unlawful. The detention of journalists, municipal officials and residents by an armed group in Slavyansk speaks volumes about the lawlessness that has crept into parts of eastern Ukraine, and raises fears the detainees could be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The harassment, abduction and detention of journalists constitute a serious blow to freedom of expression and must be halted immediately. Anyone unlawfully detaining journalists or others in eastern Ukraine must guarantee their safety and release them immediately and unconditionally. 2.33pm BST A picture from Luke Harding just outside Slavyansk.Ukrainian army at new checkpoint 10kms from #Slavyansk. Soldiers say their job to stop weapons entering city pic.twitter.com/UUC2xavv6o 2.30pm BST 2.27pm BST Those Russian military exercises near the Ukrainian border have started, according to the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu. They involve ground troops in the south and the west and air forces that will be patrolling the border. He cited tension in Ukraine and Nato exercises in Poland for the move."If this military machine is not stopped, it will lead to greater numbers of dead and wounded. Planned exercises by Nato forces in Poland and the Baltic countries do not foster normalisation of the situation surrounding Ukraine, either," Shoigu was quoted as saying. "We are forced to react to such a development of the situation." 2.19pm BST I've just been on the phone with the Guardian's Luke Harding, who told me that he has seen two pro-Russian checkpoints on the outskirts of Slavyansk.There is a main checkpoint across the bridge and and another one. The men are not evidently armed. Ten kilometres due south is a new forward Ukrainian position since this morning, where there is a big Ukrainian flag. The troops are checking cars looking for weapons, there are some sandbag enclosures. But it doesn't feel like world war II. There are people wandering round. Some of the people I've spoken to say 'it's all the fault of Kiev'. Others blame the self-proclaimed mayor of Slavyansk, Viacheslav Ponomariov. So even in Slavyansk, there are differences. 1.56pm BST Reuters, citing a document it has obtained, reports that the EU may ban transactions with financial institutions in Crimea, which has been been taken over by Russia.EU leaders have asked the EU executive arm, the European commission, to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions on Crimea for rapid implementation. These proposals are separate from an EU discussion on stepped-up sanctions against Russia if Moscow does not help de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the government in Kiev. 1.37pm BST 12.53pm BST 12.33pm BST Reuters has this short update on that checkpoint in Slavyansk:Ukrainian troops withdrew from a checkpoint they had taken over earlier in the day north of the eastern city of Slavyansk and pro-Russian separatists moved back in and began to reinforce the position with sandbags. A Reuters journalist said the troops, with armoured vehicles, pulled back after about two hours at the checkpoint on a road near the village of Khrestyshche. 12.31pm BST How did we get here? Reuters has this good analysis of the crisis tracing its roots back to when George W Bush was in the White House. Here's a flavour of the piece which is worth reading in full.Officials from the administrations of Presidents Bush and Barack Obama said American officials initially overestimated their potential areas of cooperation with Putin. Then, through a combination of overconfidence, inattention and occasional clumsiness, Washington contributed to a deep spiral in relations with Moscow.Bush and Putin's post-2001 camaraderie foundered on a core dispute: Russia's relationship with its neighbours. In November 2002, Bush backed Nato's invitation to seven nations - including former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - to begin talks to join the western alliance. In 2004, with Bush as a driving force, the seven Eastern European nations joined Nato. 12.19pm BST Vladimir Putin has admitted that sanctions were hurting the Russian economy but that the damage was not critical. This from Reuters.Overall they are causing (damage), because (credit) ratings are being reviewed, loans could become more expensive and so forth. But this is of no critical character," Putin said of sanctions imposed over Russia's annexation of Crimea. Putin also condemned the use of sanctions as an instrument of policy on Thursday, saying they damage all concerned and reflect badly on those who impose them. 12.15pm BST The situation in Slavyansk seems to be fluid to say the least. Reuters reports that Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from a captured checkpoint and that separatists have moved back in. 12.12pm BST Alec Luhn for the Guardian is on the scene on the outskirts of SlavyanskUkrainian army forces have set up a small checkpoint 13km south of Slavyansk and about a dozen troops in two troop carriers were checking cars for weapons and explosives. Others were fortifying positions along the road with sandbags.There were no signs of conflict and the scene was almost idyllic, with stray dogs lazing in the sun and a local women selling fresh milk to the troops. The outpost commander, who declined to give his name or rank, said his orders were to not let any weapons in or out of the city and he didn't know what fighting might be going on there. 12.08pm BST The BBC's Steve Rosenberg says it's quiet in the centre Slavyansk (spellings of this place differ).Just drove through centre of Sloviansk. Relatively calm. Traffic on roads, people on streets. Noticed several pro Russia armed foot patrols. 12.04pm BST President Francois Hollande of France is in Poland, where he has been talking with the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, about the need to lessen European dependence on Russian gas. Agence France-Presse has this report.France and Poland put forward a proposal for a European energy community to counter the dependence of some European countries on Russian gas. Hollande and Tusk made the proposal, against the background of the Ukraine crisis, for discussion at a European summit on energy policy in June.Hollande said in a joint statement that the purpose was to make "Europe more independent, more coherent, more cooperative in its energy policy". 11.53am BST Oksana Grytsenko for the Guardian writes from Kiev: The interior ministry has said that Ukrainian officials distributed leaflets in Slavyansk calling on people to stay calm, stay inside of their houses, and not to allow children on to the streets unaccompanied. People should not fall to "provocations" and should not obey orders of the illegal self-proclaimed authorities of the city. In response, Viacheslav Ponomariov, the city's self-proclaimed mayor has threatened to shoot on sight everyone possessing this leaflet.Maryna Ostapenko, spokeswoman of Ukraines SBU state security service, said in a briefing: Anti-terrorist operations are going on... Its very hard to conduct when terrorists are using women and children as live shields. 11.43am BST More from Putin, via Reuters: "There will be consequences if Kiev army uses army against its own people." 11.41am BST Reuters quotes the Russian president:If the Kiev authorities have used the army in eastern Ukraine, it is a very serious crime against its own people. 11.28am BST Slavyansk appears to be a flashpoint. Ukraine's interior ministry said its forces had killed "up to five" militants in the separatist-controlled town. The Ukrainian interior minister, Arsen Avakov, says police have retaken Donetsk's city hall, which had been occupied by pro-Russia activists for more than a week. Alexander Marquardt from ABC News tweets: Burning tires at Sloviansk checkpoints as helicopters circle overhead. Shooting reported. #Ukraine http://t.co/ZEEac25Bj3 11.16am BST The Ukrainian "anti-terrorist" offensive appears to be picking up momentum. Reports say Ukrainian troops with five light armoured vehicles took control of a checkpoint north of Slavyansk after pro-Russian separatists abandoned the position. Ukrainian forces appear to be digging in outside the city on the main road south to the regional capital Donetsk, where separatists have occupied several government buildings. Barack Obama, who is in Tokyo as part of an Asian tour, has warned of further sanctions unless Russia follows through on last week's Geneva agreement, which called for militias to leave government buildings. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused the US and the EU of trying to stage "an operation to unconstitutionally change the regime," but added that the Geneva agreement to defuse the Ukraine crisis will be "implemented in practical steps" in the near future.You can read the Guardian's story on kidnappings and murders in eastern Ukraine, which prompted Ukraine's acting president, Olexsander Turchynov, to resume military operations here and Ewen MacAskill's on Russia's military exercises near the Ukrainian border here. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:42:21 GMT)

Teacher held images of dozens of Southbank school pupils on computer
Principal says 50 to 60 images of children from Southbank International School found on William Vahey's computerParents at the elite Southbank International School in London have been told that a paedophile American teacher held images of dozens of their children.A statement from the school's executive principal released on Thursday evening said 50 to 60 images of children from Southbank were found on a computer belonging to William Vahey. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:08:08 GMT)

Syria: UN chief calls for action to get aid to 3.5m people cut off by war
Ban Ki-moon says blocking of food, water and medical supplies for civilians is flagrant violation of international lawThe United Nations secretary general has called on the security council to take urgent action to ensure 3.5 million people cut off by fighting in Syria have access to food, water and medical help.Ban Ki-moon said the blocking of humanitarian supplies represented "flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:44:45 GMT)

Israel suspends peace talks with Palestinians after Fatah-Hamas deal
Despite confusion over whether Netanyahu or security cabinet took decision, announcement appears to end US-led initiativeIsrael has hit back hard following an agreement on Palestinian unity by suspending already faltering peace negotiations just days before the expiry of a deadline for the US-brokered process.The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, accused the western-backed Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of forming an alliance with Hamas, which he called "a terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel" and hinted at further retaliatory measures. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:37:00 GMT)

Tania Clarence charged with murder of her three disabled children
42-year-old mother arrested at family home in New Malden and is due to appear at Wimbledon magistrates court on FridayA mother whose three young disabled children were found dead at home was charged with their murders on Thursday.Tania Clarence, 42, will appear at Wimbledon magistrates court on Friday, the Metropolitan police said. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:30:15 GMT)

Gherkin's salad days over amid financial pickle for London tower
Owners of landmark expect offers around £550m after currency fluctuations force them to sell, acording to DeloitteThe Gherkin, voted London's favourite tower, has been put into receivership 10 years after its completion helped transform the capital's skyline.The 41-storey City landmark is likely to be put up for sale shortly and is expected to attract offers of more than £550m from Middle East sovereign wealth funds and other potential buyers. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:34:55 GMT)

Ukip member in election broadcast suspended over racist tweets
Andre Lampitt said Ed Miliband 'not a real Brit', 'most Nigerians are bad people' and Islam is an 'evil organisation'The UK Independence party has suspended one of its five supporters chosen to appear on its first European election broadcast after it emerged he had posted a series of racist and Islamaphobic tweets that also condemned Ed Miliband as "a Pole" and called for Africans to be left alone to kill themselves.The election broadcast featured builder Andre Lampitt criticising eastern European immigration. He said: "Since the lads from eastern Europe are prepared to work for a lot less than anybody else, I've found it a real struggle." In common with the other Ukip supporters featured on the broadcast Lampitt is not named. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:50:50 GMT)

U-turn over human rights protection for home care
Amendment to care bill tabled to extend protection of Human Rights Act to people receiving state-funded care at homePeople receiving state-funded care in their own homes will now be given additional protection by the Human Rights Act, ministers have conceded following pressure from the Liberal Democrat side of the government.An amendment to the care bill in the Lords will be tabled to make sure the Human Rights Act covers people receiving care in their own home, whether from the state or a private body under contract to the state. It will not apply to self-funded, privately provided care. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:36:19 GMT)

Monty Python's reunion to hit big screens in live simulcast
Last night of 10-date run, which remaining members say is their last time working together, to be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 20 JulyIt will be the last time to see them together before they pass on, before they cease to be. Before they kick their buckets, shuffle off their mortal coils, run down their curtains and join their bleeding choirs invisible (metaphorically that is, not literally).They will be ex-Pythons, but for fans there is good news. Monty Python's last live reunion show is to be broadcast simultaneously to 450 cinemas in the UK and a further 1,500 across the world, it was announced on Thursday. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:31:00 GMT)

Syria anti-terror plan slammed by parents and community groups
Police asking people to snoop on relatives criticised as unworkable and unrealistic, as 'police are not the Samaritans'A government campaign to urge Muslim women in Britain to tell the police if they suspect their sons are planning to travel to Syria to fight or help the war effort has been widely criticised for targeting the wrong people. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:54:00 GMT)

Three Americans from one family among casualties in Kabul attack
Afghan police officer at Kabul's Cure hospital opens fire on group of foreigners, killing three men and wounding a womanThree Americans belonging to one family were among the casualties of a deadly shooting at a Kabul hospital on Thursday morning.An Afghan police officer who had recently started working as an armed guard at Kabul's Cure hospital opened fire on a group of foreigners entering the hospital, killing three men and wounding a woman, local officials said. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:14:13 GMT)

Spain restricting people's right to protest, Amnesty report finds
Report paints picture of heavy-handed government response to country's growing social movements The Spanish government is using fines, harassment and excessive police force to limit the right to protest, Amnesty International warned in a new report released on Thursday. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:00:01 GMT)

Crime rate in England and Wales falls 15% to its lowest level in 33 years
Fall is one of biggest in history of Crime Survey of England and Wales and is driven by a 22% fall in violent crimeThe crime rate in England and Wales has fallen by an unexpected 15% to an estimated 7.5m offences, its lowest level since the official survey began 33 years ago.The fall is one of the biggest in the history of the authoritative Crime Survey of England and Wales, and was driven by a 22% fall in violent crime, a 25% fall in some types of household theft, a 15% fall in vandalism and a 10% fall in car crime. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:19:23 GMT)

Marshall Islands sues nine nuclear powers over failure to disarm
Pacific nation that was site of 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958 accuses states of 'flagrant denial of human justice'The Marshall Islands is suing the nine countries with nuclear weapons at the international court of justice at The Hague, arguing they have violated their legal obligation to disarm.In the unprecedented legal action, comprising nine separate cases brought before the ICJ on Thursday, the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a "flagrant denial of human justice". It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:11:00 GMT)

Art Fund releases list of nominations for the 2014 museum of the year award
Hayward, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Ditchling museum, Mary Rose Museum and Tate Britain nominatedThere are some very big guns in the running for the 2014 Museum of the Year, literally in the case of the Mary Rose Museum, and then there is a minnow: a small centre celebrating the amazing artists who were attracted to the pretty South Downs village of Ditchling.On Thursday evening The Art Fund named a shortlist of six organisations which will be finalists in this year's award, with the winner receiving £100,000. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:29:02 GMT)

Council workers face strike ballot after rejecting 1% pay offer
600,000 workers in England to vote on action after consultative ballot showed 70% of Unison members opposed pay offerMore than half a million council workers and school support staff are to be balloted on strike action after they rejected a 1% pay offer.Unison said 600,000 of its members in England would vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:06:17 GMT)

Coulson didn't tell police about Blunkett hack 'partly to save own skin'
Former News of the World editor decided not to volunteer information during office swoop, Old Bailey toldAndy Coulson has admitted that he didn't tell police that he knew David Blunkett's phone was hacked partly "to save his own skin". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:02:00 GMT)

Shock as Co-op announces electricity price rise
As rivals cut tariffs, Co-op's increased standard rate means it will be charging £180 more than some competitorsThousands of Co-operative Energy customers are facing an unexpected price hike after the group announced it was putting up its electricity prices by around £28 a year.While its rivals have lowered gas and electricity tariffs in recent weeks, the Co-op said it would increase its electricity prices for all customers on its standard Pioneer Variable tariff. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:33:59 GMT)

Syria to hand over chemical weapons but doubts linger over full arsenal
Inspectors and western officials say there is evidence chlorine has been used and stockpiled by Damascus regimeSyria is to hand over all its declared stockpile of chemical weapons and chemical warfare materials in the next few days but has failed to declare everything it has, British officials said on Thursday.The officials said that there is strong evidence that Syria is using chlorine as a weapon and has held back rockets capable of carrying a chemical warhead of a type used in the sarin gas attacks in the Ghouta district of Damascus last August, for fear of directly implicating Bashar al Assad's regime. The Ghouta attacks are believed to have killed about 1,400 people. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:32:39 GMT)

Tories would scrap windfarm subsidies
Minister says Conservatives will end projects funded by energy bills and hand planning power to local councils Eco audit: will Tory plans kill onshore wind in the UK?The Tories have pledged that if they are elected with an overall majority in 2015 they will axe public subsidies for any newly planned onshore wind turbines.Existing windfarms and those already with planning permission would be protected from the change but the energy minister, Michael Fallon, said these would be enough to meet 2020 targets set by the EU meaning any further developments should not be subsidised. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:26:29 GMT)

Pet Shop Boys, CBeebies and Military Wives among Proms debuts
Other highlights of this year's BBC Proms season include the Berlin Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the return of both Daniel Barenboim and Marin Alsop, announces outgoing director Roger WrightA new work by the Pet Shop Boys exploring the life and work of wartime codebreaker Alan Turing is to get its world premiere at this year's Proms, the 120th edition of the world's biggest music festival.Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe will perform A Man from the Future at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of Prom 8 with the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:03:00 GMT)

Primary schools expanded to deal with shortages around Bedfordshire
Council reacts quickly to complaints that parents were facing six-mile trips with their children after places were filledAn outcry over a shortage of primary places that left families facing six-mile trips to school has forced a council to rush through plans to expand provision.The Guardian reported on the dilemma facing families in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, following last week's national admissions day, when it transpired that despite three good primary schools, families had been left short of places for miles around. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:25:56 GMT)

Modi draws huge crowds as election campaign moves to Varanasi
Indian election frontrunner Narendra Modi 'overwhelmed' by support as he enters contest to become holy city's MPIndian election frontrunner Narendra Modi said he was overwhelmed on Thursday by a huge show of support in Varanasi as the Hindu nationalist leader entered the contest to become the holy city's member of parliament.The streets of the ancient city on the banks of the river Ganges were flooded with people keen to greet or at least glimpse the rightwing Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader as he came to file his nomination papers. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:31:08 GMT)

B31: huge Antarctic iceberg headed for open ocean
Iceberg that calved from the Pine Island glacier last year is headed for the open ocean, scientists sayAn enormous iceberg half the size of Greater London that broke off an Antarctic glacier last year is headed for the open ocean, scientists said on Wednesday.B31, which calved from Pine Island glacier last November, is large enough at 33km long and 20km wide to lead Nasa to monitor its movements via satellite. It is up to 500 metres thick. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:26:35 GMT)

London's Gherkin put into receivership
Deloitte appointed receivers to landmark tower completed 10 years ago, which houses Sky News and insurer Swiss ReThe landmark Gherkin building in London's Square Mile has been put into receivership 10 years after its completion transformed the capital's skyline.Deloitte has been appointed receiver to the 41-storey landmark tower in the City of London, whose first 15 floors are occupied by insurer Swiss Re, with Sky News at the top. They said the building, formally known as 30 St Mary Axe, was still in strong demand among tenants and "remains in trophy condition". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:07:27 GMT)

Football Weekly Extra: Manchester United dump David Moyes
The pod delivers its verdict on the shambles at Old Trafford. Plus the Champions League and Liverpool v Chelsea reserves Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:22:46 GMT)

How Tony Pulis turned Crystal Palace from no-hopers into history-makers
Down and out when he arrived in November, the manager has guided Palace to a second consecutive season in the top flightThere is an image from Upton Park last Saturday that sums up a season. In it 12 Crystal Palace players, all but the goalkeeper clad in yellow with hands interlocked and arms held aloft, are saluting an away contingent joyously spilling from the lower tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking stand. A 13th, Jason Puncheon, is absent and still handing over his shirt to a fan by the billboards but the sea of smiles beyond the line tells its own story. Mid-table obscurity, out of the glare of European pursuit or relegation concern, has rarely felt this triumphant.The photograph illustrates unity, a group whose collective industry and commitment has helped eke flair and invention from its most skilful members and bridge the chasm in quality between Championship and the top flight. All but four of the players celebrating a fifth consecutive victory were part of the Palace side who had limped into the play-offs a year ago before reviving at the expense of Brighton and Watford last May. Puncheon and Adrian Mariappa act as reminders of the 16-man transfer splurge undertaken last August, while only two of those pictured Scott Dann and Joe Ledley were mid-season additions. They are a team aware of their limitations but set up and focused on showcasing their strengths. The main man is missing from the photograph. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:25:01 GMT)

Bernie Ecclestone launches defence against bribery charges
Formula One chief claims $44m of payments were result of banker threatening to supply false information to tax officialsFormula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has launched his defence against charges of bribing a public official in the first of at least 26 days of hearings at a Munich court.Ecclestone has denied the bribery charges, claiming he was the victim of a blackmail scam. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:44:55 GMT)

Benfica v Juventus: Europa League semi-final live!
Sevilla v Valencia: follow the latest from the other semi And feel free to email john.ashdown@theguardian.com 7.36pm BST A picture of a dog in a Juventus shirt? A picture of a dog in a Juventus shirt!@juventusele1897 @juventusfc pic.twitter.com/0tlj36BArG 7.13pm BST Benfica (4-3-3 ish): Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Garay, Siqueira; Markovic, Pérez, André Gomes; Rodrigo, Oscar Cardozo, Sulejmani. Subs: Oblak, Jardel, André Almeida, Rúben Amorim, Djuricic, Cavaleiro, Lima. Juventus (3-1-4-2 ish): Buffon; Cáceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Pirlo; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah; Vucinic, Tevez. Subs: Storari, Ogbonna, Barzagli, Padoin, Giovinco, Llorente, Osvaldo. 7.11pm BST Champions League group: PSG, Olympiakos, Anderlecht 7.05pm BST Evening all. One of the great things about the Europa League is its ability to throw up ties that have a certain faded old-school charm. And this tie is exactly that if it feels like something from the early 90s then that's probably because it is. The last time these teams met was in the Uefa Cup quarter-finals back in 1993, when Jurgen Kohler, Dino Baggio and Fabrizio Ravenelli scored at the Delle Alpi to give the Italian side a 4-2 aggregate win. (By the way, if tonight gets a little dull, the entirety of that second leg is available here.)Juventus went on to win the tournament that year, steamrollering Dortmund 6-1 on aggregate in the final, but of late their European adventures have been, like Nigel de Jong, short and brutal.This is Juve's first European semi-final since 2002-03, when Del Piero, Davids, Ferrara, Montero and co reached the Champions League final and lost on penalties to Milan. Benfica, meanwhile, are old hands at this stage this is their third Europa League semi-final in four years (and the other season they were in the Champions League quarters). Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:36:22 GMT)

Can Steffon Armitage find his way into Stuart Lancaster's World Cup plans?
Having established that Steffon and Delon Armitage remain keen to pull on an England jersey again, there is nothing to lose by putting both on standby for the New Zealand tourThe flutter of excitement surrounding Stuart Lancaster's decision to fly to Toulon on his first day back from holiday this week to talk to Steffon and Delon Armitage appears to have been premature. Sources within the Rugby Football Union insist there are no plans for either brother to be called up for this summer's tour to New Zealand, a trip which also seems unlikely to feature Danny Cipriani, the in-form Sale fly-half.Despite telling the Armitages that the "door remained open" for them in the future, Lancaster's visit was simply made to establish whether the pair might be available, if selected, for a pre-World Cup training camp next year. The RFU remains committed to not picking players based outside England other than in "exceptional circumstances" and Lancaster wanted to clarify what the response might be should that emergency call materialise. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:24:58 GMT)

'The Chosen One' David Moyes banner is removed by Manchester United
Flag at Stretford End replaced by Sir Bobby Charlton tribute Owners undecided what to do with controversial bannerThe David Moyes era at Manchester United ended on Tuesday and now the "The Chosen One" banner has been removed from Old Trafford.Placed at the Stretford End at the start of the season as a show of support for the man who replaced Sir Alex Ferguson, the banner was mimicked last month when a group of supporters arranged for a flypast with the message "Wrong One Moyes Out" during the victory against Aston Villa. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:49:29 GMT)

Heineken Cup torn between a rock and an empty place for semi-final crowds
Is it better for Saracens and Clermont to play their Heineken Cup semi-final at a half empty Twickenham or at smaller stadiums?Saracens face Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham on Saturday in the Heineken Cup semi-final, their biggest match of the season so far. They attracted more than 83,000 spectators for their Premiership encounter with Harlequins last month, but fewer than one-third of that number will watch them trying to reach their first European final. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:33:33 GMT)

Manchester United set sights on Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani
Managerial turmoil fails to deter club over transfer targets United confident of landing Shaw and still want FábregasManchester United intend to plough ahead with their transfer business during the potentially long process of waiting for a new manager to start almost three months in Louis van Gaal's case and their extensive inquiries include exploring the possibility of whether Paris Saint-Germain might sell Edinson Cavani.United confidently expect to close a deal of around £30m for Luke Shaw, offering the teenage Southampton full-back a lucrative financial package that could be worth as much as £100,000-a-week over five years. The offer will be difficult for Chelsea to match bearing in mind their issues over keeping in line with Uefa's financial fair play rules. Ed Woodward, United's chief executive, has been made aware that Cavani might be available and is also tempted to look again at Cesc Fábregas's position at Barcelona, despite the unsatisfactory way it turned out when they tried to sign him last summer. Continue reading...
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:32:00 GMT)

Luis Suárez: Premier League charge has even surprised Liverpool players
Striker says squad cannot compete against big spenders 'The truth is we are surprised at how well we're playing'Luis Suárez admits Liverpool's title charge this season has come as a complete surprise to the squad, who he suggests is weaker on paper than the Premier League's big spenders.The Liverpool striker has been in scintilating form this season with his side now favourites to win the league in the buildup to Sunday's potential decider against Chelsea. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:38:00 GMT)

Stuart Lancaster tells Steffon Armitage: 'England door is not closed'
Coach held talks with Toulon flanker over international chances Brother Delon could also force his way into reckoningThe Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage has been handed hope of an international recall by Stuart Lancaster after the England head coach held talks with the Toulon flanker and brother Delon.The 28-year-old has been preparing for the French side's Heineken Cup semi-final with Munster on Sunday but met Lancaster in Toulon on Monday and was told that "the door is not wholly closed" regarding his England future. Armitage, who already has five caps, has not represented England since 1999 and may have thought his chance had gone given the Rugby Football Union's policy of not selecting players who play overseas. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:09:18 GMT)

Roy Hodgson: 'Sexy football' that's never really been a description for me
The England manager knows he is not everyone's cup of tea but, in this extract from 2012, he explains how his travels have shaped his coaching philosophyThe following is an extract from Philippe Auclair's's article from Issue Five of the Blizzard, published in June 2012. The Blizzard is a quarterly football journal available from www.theblizzard.co.uk on a pay-what-you-like basis in print and digital formats. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:59:02 GMT)

Breaking the Law: eradicate double punishment for penalty area fouls
The latest in our series suggesting revolutionary ways to improve sport focuses on a contentious issue in footballNo matter how many times the incident was replayed, no one could be certain beyond doubt that Sergio Ramos had fouled Neymar in last month's clásico. Some people, squinting hard and slowing down the replay as much as possible, claimed that they could see the slightest of touches from Ramos, while others insisted that Neymar had made the most of what was minimal contact at best and conned the referee. Even after countless viewings, the evidence was inconclusive.For Alberto Undiano Mallenco, who only had a split second to make up his mind, the decision was simple once he blew his whistle and awarded Barcelona a penalty. He had no choice but to send off Ramos, Lionel Messi made it 3-3 from the spot and what had been one of the season's most thrilling games turned into an exercise in attack versus defence as Real's 10 men attempted to cling on to a point that would have kept them in first place. Real cracked in the end and another debatable penalty from Messi secured a 4-3 victory for Barcelona. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:03:27 GMT)

Team Sky put Peter Kennaugh on steep learning curve in Giro d'Italia
Bradley Wiggins absent to prepare for Tour de France Ben Swift joins Kennaugh in Sky's Giro teamTeam Sky's squad for the Giro d'Italia will include the British riders Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift and the multitalented Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, with the Tour de France winners Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome keeping their powder dry for July. With the race starting with three days in Northern Ireland and the Republic, the team also field their only Irishman, the Vuelta a España stage winner Philip Deignan.The team also include the Italians Salvatore Puccio and Dario Cataldo, the Colombian Sebastián Henao, Austria's Bernhard Eisel and the Belarusian Kanstantsin Sivtsou. There is no obvious leader among the nine but the Guardian understands that Sky's plan is for Kennaugh to aim for a high placing in the final standings, so that he can gain experience of riding for the overall classification in a three-week tour for the first time. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:43:27 GMT)

Michael Fassbender: Frank and me
The actor on why he's happy inside Frank Sidebottom's fibreglass head for Lenny Abrahamson's comedy about an eccentric band and his own teenage fantasies of rock stardomA wooden cabin by a lake in the middle of rural Ireland. A freezing midwinter morning. Four musicians are in the living room. A bass guitar wobbles between two alternating notes. A complex drum fill crashes for half a bar, then stops. Two atonal synthesiser stabs, each from a different keyboard. From somewhere else in the cabin, a man's voice moans: "Again." The musicians go through the cycle again: bass wobble, drum fill, synth, synth. "Again," the voice wails, from a  different room. Bass, drum, synth, synth.I'm watching the band play on a monitor from the room next door, huddled with other technicians out of shot. The man shuffles past us and shouts through the wall: "Again!" Bass, drum, synth, synth. He is wearing a giant fibreglass head with big blue eyes and a severe parting painted on to it. The technicians are trying to keep their faces straight. The man opens the door and pokes his head into shot: "Again!" Underneath the head is Michael Fassbender, though at this stage, it can't be proved. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:14:24 GMT)

How to make the perfect chicken tikka masala
Is chicken tikka masala the ultimate spicy comfort food or a shameful British abomination and is it worth making at home?Like many great dishes, the origins of chicken tikka masala (or CTM, as it's known to aficionados) is a subject of spicy debate. Ahmed Aslam Ali claims he invented the dish, which bears a strong resemblance to Punjabi butter chicken, in his Glasgow restaurant in the early 1970s after a customer complained that his chicken tikka was "a bit dry" a story repeated by innumerable others, often embellished with the detail that the original sauce was made from tinned tomato soup.But as credit has also been given to everyone from the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, to Tony Blair's friend Sir Gulam Noon and Delhi street food vendors, it seems likely that we will never know who first came up with the idea of smothering tandoori chicken in a rich, tomatoey gravy. My suspicions are that chicken tikka masala is simply a British adaptation of the aforementioned murgh makhni Alfred Prasad of the Michelin-starred Tamarind restaurant in London reckons the only significant difference between the two is the onions in the CTM, while Indian-born food blogger Michelle Peters-Jones tells me it's the cream and fenugreek leaves in butter chicken that set it apart. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:00:00 GMT)

Britpop: a cultural abomination that set music back
During the heyday of Blur and Oasis, ruthless ambition became the order of the day, as scores of unrelentingly pedestrian bands ditched everything that once made British pop music interesting Britpop casualties: Dodgy, Marion, Menswe@r, Salad and the Bluetones on the dark side of the sceneIt's all down to Bobby Robson. Well, partly at least. The true starting point of Britpop was not Select magazine's infamous April 1993 cover which pictured Suede's Brett Anderson in front of a union jack, with mentions for the Auteurs, Pulp, Saint Etienne and Denim, and the headline "Yanks Go Home!" but the 1990 World Cup.New Order released a song for it; hooliganism, though present, wasn't the main story in town as England reached the semi-finals; the myth developed of fans dropping ecstasy and getting loved up instead of violent. Suddenly almost overnight, it seemed at the time patriotism ceased to be the last refuge of the scoundrel, but a worthwhile expression of national self-confidence. Beer, music, football and fashion came together, united by Paul Gascoigne's tears and John Barnes' rap. And the lad, formerly demonised in the popular imagination as the Sergio Tacchini-wearing, broken-bottle-wielding thug of the terraces, began his journey to the heart of British popular culture. As Loaded magazine, first published in 1994, would have said: Good work, fella! Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:00:04 GMT)

What The Simpsons teaches us about Rob Ford and other mayoral mysteries
There's only one way to explain the baffling fact that the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto stands a chance of re-election ... look to Springfield's tax-cheating, pot-smoking spendocrat Quimby Ford More Years: the slogan was emblazoned on T-shirts at the Toronto Congress Centre last week as Rob Ford launched his re-election campaign. There have been some rocky moments over the past year, the city's embattled mayor told the assembled hundreds. I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes.Fords improprieties as mayor of Toronto are well documented the crack-smoking, the alleged family ties to drug dealing, the inebriated rages, the vulgar remarks, knocking down councilwoman Pam McConnell yet to the befuddlement of many, he has maintained his popularity. He could even win again. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:14:39 GMT)

Quality street: Peabody rolls out the future of affordable housing
Peabody has been making model homes for the 'needy of this great metropolis' since Victorian times. Now, it unveils the first build of the next generation and it's all about ping pong tables, bullet-proof fittings and young architects having fun with bricksRising above a bend in the railway tracks at Bethnal Green in east London stands something of an architectural anachronism. Front doors pop out from a stately two-storey plinth, clad in bottle-green glazed bricks like a Victorian pub. Inside, there are big flats, with tall ceilings and views in two directions, looking out over a shared courtyard garden.The building has the generous scale and quality of an old factory conversion, the kind now reborn as million-pound studio flats, luxury lifestyle solutions to be snapped up in London's crazed housing super-bubble. But it is nothing of the sort. It is a new affordable housing development, built by the Peabody Trust and designed by the young architectural practice Pitman Tozer. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:50:12 GMT)

Cornish and proud: how to dress in the traditional Cornwall way
Express your joy in Cornwall's newfound minority status by sporting the local tartan or perhaps a bonnet. Here's how Cornish recognised as a national minority group for the first timeToday's news that the Cornish are to be granted minority status in the same way as other Celtic groups in Scotland, Ireland and Wales is a historic moment in the campaign for recognition of Cornwall's unique identity, of which traditional clothes are a significant part. Here are the three most important Cornish dress customs, according to Dr Merv Davey, a Cornish historian specialising in folk tradition and identity. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:14:00 GMT)

Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots review no revelations, but dazzlingly lovely songs
It's hardly the big personal reveal that it's been promoted as, but Damon Albarn's first solo album is still a lovely piece of workAt the height of Britpop when antipathy between fans of Blur and Oasis was at such a level that, the Sun reported, a Bristol woman called Mandy Vivian-Thomas was withholding sex from her husband because he preferred Country House to Roll With It one of the chief allegations levelled at Blur was that they were somehow inauthentic. Damon Albarn, in particular, dealt in artifice, adopting personas and inventing characters rather than revealing himself. In retrospect, that seems a bizarre thing to get cross about, given rock and pop music has always been about artifice, disguise and reinvention. And as it turned out, keeping himself to himself might have been the smartest move Albarn ever made. It ensured he was never trapped by public perceptions in the way Oasis seemed to be, and enabled him to spend the last 15 years or so flitting between disparate projects from Gorillaz' hip-hop-infused pop to Afrobeat to operas written in the five-note pentatonic scale of Chinese folk without anyone really raising an eyebrow or questioning why. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:59:00 GMT)

My guilty pleasure: Eat Pray Love
David Jenkins: Watching Juila Roberts take a year-long romp of global self-discovery, the thing most people miss is that the film is a pin-sharp mockery of Liz Gilbert's bestselling book More from the guilty pleasures seriesWriting a negative review of Eat Pray Love isn't like shooting fish in a barrel. It's like hauling out a fish, placing the barrel of a revolver against its slimy gills, then pulling the trigger while intoning a grave, possibly aquatic-themed, soliloquy. The irony being that Liz Gilbert, the character Julia Roberts plays in the film, would cheerily consume said fish. She would then go on to share some little-known and untranslatable foreign epithet that captures the indefinable feeling of consuming seafood that would have otherwise been destined for the chum bucket. I don't know what the exact term is, but it would probably ends in -delle, or -isimo, or -ante. And then she'd probably peer over her oversized grand-dame shades, breadstick pressed erotically against bottom lip, so she could wink directly to camera as if to say: "I am one of you. Join me."But I came here to praise Eat Pray Love, Ryan Murphy's largely despised 2010 film, based on the million-selling volume of Martini-time spiritualism by (the actual) Elizabeth Gilbert, not bury it. Demanding that a bile-fuelled film journalist should temporarily suppress his or her ingrained prejudices in order to care about the travails of a successful career woman who, for reasons known only to her, opts to dispense with her strutting, frappuccino-doused Manhattan lifestyle for a year-long romp of global self-discovery, was always going to be a big ask. It's hard not to hate the entitled souls that Roberts's character represents. We may even be turned off by the fact that her character, for most of the film, resembles nothing less than a tie-dyed Quaver. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:16:24 GMT)

Exhibition review Joanna Hogg creates a masterful cinematic enigma
The anxieties of the bohemian classes are up for inspection in this sensual, brilliant film about about two dysfunctional artistsJoanna Hogg is an artist and film-maker who entrances and enrages. After the first wave of praise from fans (such as me), her movies tend to get a backlash of incredulity and scorn from those who would prefer the envelope unpushed and unmolested. In the runup to its release, this latest film has already provoked some giggles and putdowns online. Some of the tweets I've been getting have felt like seat-bangs from some derisive digital walkout. It only makes me love her more.Exhibition is a superbly glacial and composed experiment in fictional cine-portraiture; a refrigerated study in domesticity and sophistication, mysterious and preposterous a movie that might claim its lineage from Rachel Whiteread's cast sculpture House, or David Hockney's painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy. Hogg uses her characteristic long takes from fixed camera positions; she uses available light, and a kind of middle-distance sound design; it's a film-making technique that makes you expect people on screen to start speaking not English but Austrian-accented German. This a movie quite uninterested in the structural conventions of narrative, though there is a story of a sort. It is also uninterested in the conventional tonal imperative of irony, though there is comedy, and tragedy of a sort. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:30:00 GMT)

Moranbong: Kim Jong-un's favourite band stage a comeback
Some thought the queens of North Korea's pop music scene had fallen out of favour, but after a six-month hiatus the group has returned to rave reviews from state mediaStep aside, Sea of Blood Opera. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's favourite guitar-slinging, miniskirt-sporting girl group, the Moranbong Band, is back. And these ladies know how to shimmy.After a six-month hiatus, the queens of North Korea's pop scene are once again playing to standing-room-only crowds and rave reviews in the state media. They're the darlings of primetime TV, such as it is. Even athletes at this month's Pyongyang marathon were treated to one of the band's livelier tunes blared at them from a sound truck. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:26:27 GMT)

Top 10 craft beer pubs in central London
Coverage of London's craft beer scene tends to focus on pubs in the east and north of the capital, neglecting the area where most visitors end up: central London. So here's our guide to the best boozers in Soho, Euston, Covent Garden and ClerkenwellAt first glance, this Beak Street boozer is indistinguishable from its Soho competitors. Its 18th-century interior is decorated with tourist-titillating vintage tat. Almost inaudibly, pop and R&B music nag on in the background while, on one wall, a muted TV relays the Sky Sport News headlines. However, it has one crucial thing going in its favour: it is run by Brodie's. The Leyton microbrewery is one of the capital's most innovative breweries and the Coffee House showcases a large range of its fine beers. For Brodie's boldest brews look to the keg fonts where, among coffee and bacon flavoured beers, I opted for the Hoxton Special IPA (half £2.90). It was immense: a great big gob-stopper of pineapple, tropical fruits and assertive bitterness. Brodie's have a second pub in Covent Garden, the Cross Keys. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 05:00:00 GMT)

Fashion fetish: unseen Guy Bourdin photography  in pictures
Love-hearts and satin sheets, juicy lips and neon hips ... Guy Bourdin's erotic images were a staple of French Vogue for more than 40 years and they changed fashion photography forever. As rare offerings from his vast archive go on show for the first time at Paris Photo in Los Angeles, here are some of his boldest and brightest creations Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:15:56 GMT)

The weekly quiz
In the quiz this week: Not keeping Inn with the viewers, another honour for Andy plus who's got the gig at Old Trafford? Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:47:04 GMT)

Avril Lavigne's Hello Kitty, and other terrible music videos
Open thread: In the wake of the online furore over Avril Lavigne's latest promo, we want your nominations for the worst music videos of all timeBehold, the most controversial music video of the week, courtesy of Canadian pop stalwart Avril Lavigne. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:28:30 GMT)

Cycle path fails around the world
Bike lanes work better without cars, signposts or scaffolding parked in the middle of them. Here are some of the worst examples submitted by Guardian readers from around the worldSent via GuardianWitness By Kirstie Sharp 14 March 2014, 20:21 Marseille is discovering bicycle paths, but it is a painful beginning.Sent via GuardianWitness By Charlotte Grandjean 14 March 2014, 22:32 So this is what all this blue paint is for...Sent via GuardianWitness By luckyluke77 4 March 2014, 11:39 Who cares if the bike path is useless? At least they can say that they have a whole 50m of bike bath! (Yes, what you can see is all there is to it.)Sent via GuardianWitness By Dorcia 10 March 2014, 19:33 Crisis-stricken Greece. A 3 million euro cycle path coming from nowhere and going nowhere planned by someone in a far away office by drawing a random line on a map. Simply to take up certain EU funds. Work was halted three months ago because no-one has been paid.Sent via GuardianWitness By siren45 16 March 2014, 19:48 In Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain) our authorities have spent a lot of money "building" a non sense "cycling lane"Sent via GuardianWitness By Antonio Armas Diaz 6 March 2014, 8:47 Believe it or not, this is a route into Belfast which forms part of the National Cycle NetworkSent via GuardianWitness By nigreenways 24 March 2014, 21:26 Actually, it's more of a parking lot than a bike path.Sent via GuardianWitness By CanadianInOz 15 March 2014, 6:05 Cyclo Guerilla is tired of waiting for safe bike paths in Brussels. So they do it themselves...Sent via GuardianWitness By Bram 'Kitsumi' Dewolfs 4 March 2014, 14:19 Cyclo Guerilla is tired of waiting for safe bike paths in Brussels. So they do it themselves...https://www.facebook.com/cyclo.guerilla.bxlSent via GuardianWitness By Bram 'Kitsumi' Dewolfs 4 March 2014, 14:20 Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:59:33 GMT)

Bright sunglasses: the wish list - in pictures
Frame your eyes this summer with a pop of colour. Whether you are lazing by the pool or out on the town choose from hot pink, apple green, cobalt blue, two tone or contrasting hues, in styles to suit every face shape. The Observer fashion team pick their favourites Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:00:00 GMT)

Arab women join Israeli football team video
Professional Israeli women's football club Hapoel Petha Tikva has recruited five Arab women after losing players to the Israeli national team. Arab players are rare throughout the rest of the Israeli Women's Premier League, but Hapoel Petha Tikva already has an Arab captain, 26-year-old Noura Abu-Shanab. The founder of the club says Israeli and Arab footballers are happy to be playing together Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:05:47 GMT)

Here be dragons: the science of the flying fiery reptiles
With prominent examples including Game of Thrones and the Hobbit films, it's clear dragons are as popular ever. But why is there this widespread affection for a fictional species that couldnt possibly exist or could they? Philip Hoare: from Smaug to the Clangers a brief history of dragonsIf you saw a heavily armoured winged reptile the size of a building that started belching boiling flame at you, youd probably run for it. Or, alternatively, you might base copious amounts of fiction on it, or artwork, or, if youre like us Welsh folk, you might stick it on your flag. Despite the tremendous danger they would obviously pose to physically inferior life forms (ie everything), dragons are very popular with humans. Yesterday was St Georges day in England, and St George is celebrated for killing a dragon. But he wouldnt get away with that these days, what with dragons being (ironically) very cool. There hasnt been such mainstream affection for a non-existent entity since Jesus himself. That last sentence is a joke, by the way; dragons are definitely real (well, sort of). Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:15:10 GMT)

Barbie to star in live-action movie
Buddy comedy will team her up with an overworked bureaucrat, and play on Mattel-manufactured doll's passion for fashionBarbie is set to hit the big screen for the first time in her own movie, with the debut instalment in a new live-action series tipped to enter production by the end of the year.The Hollywood Reporter says the new film will team the doll, first marketed in 1959, with an overworked bureaucrat looking for an assistant. It is being billed as a contemporary buddy comedy and will be based on a screenplay by Jenny Bicks, sometime writer on the TV version of Sex and the City. Producers Walter F Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will work with studio Sony on the project. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:39:59 GMT)

Planet Earth comes under fire from asteroids video animation
An asteroid big enough to destroy a city strikes the Earth every 100 years. Our strategy for preventing disaster? Blind luck. This film was made by the California-based B612 Foundation, which promotes strategies to protect the Earth from asteroid strikes. It says there is evidence of 26 explosions in the upper atmosphere between the year 2000 and 2013, ranging in energy from 1 to 600 kilotons Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:41:00 GMT)

Heartbleed: why did a computer bug have a name and a logo?
David Chartier, CEO of the firm that discovered Heartbleed, explains why it was given a name and a logoThe Heartbleed flaw is being fixed more quickly because of the decision to give the bug a memorable name and a cute logo, according to the firm that first identified it.The flaw was caused by a simple coding error which resulted in passwords and security credentials being leaked from affected websites. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:30:15 GMT)

When you call a rape anything but rape, you are just making excuses for rapists
From college campuses to Game of Thrones, why the sudden urge to re-name sexual assault? Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:30:19 GMT)

Apple's iPhone 'lock-out patent could end texting while driving
A new automatic system to preventing phone use while driving could change the culture of texting addiction, say experts Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:00:12 GMT)

Southbank International School was warned over vetting processes
School whose pupils were molested by William Vahey was told criminal records checks were not up to date by inspectors London school confirms pupils were abused by teacher FBI investigates Vahey's London links Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:57:53 GMT)

Chelsea give José Mourinho permission to rest key names at Liverpool
Mourinho prioritises Atlético Madrid game over Anfield Manager, Rui Faria and Ramires facing FA charges Continue reading...
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:00:00 GMT)

Tania Clarence seemed to be coping with children's disability, says friend
Family friend of woman suspected of murder says diagnoses of spinal muscular atrophy in three children had huge impact Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:06:22 GMT)

Abortion law is no longer fit for purpose
The awful case of pre-signed abortion forms in 14 British clinics shows this law is outdated, paternalistic, and overdue for review Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:53:19 GMT)

Sorry, Boris Johnson: you're not the man to save the Tories
I once thought Johnson a formidable opponent, but now I and many Tory voters don't believe he's cut out to be PMRight, so here's your Thursday morning problem to solve. You're in a political party that is widely seen as the plaything of a public school racket that could easily have been running the country under Queen Victoria. More of your MPs went to Eton than have a manual background. Every time your frontbench is snapped laughing or "braying" as it looks to anyone who can't trace their lineage back to the Norman invasion a new Labour party election poster has been created. Fifty-one per cent of the British public think your crew "only represents the interests of the rich", which has not really been an electoral asset since the 1832 Reform Act. Your party hasn't won an election since 1992, in large part because you are struggling to win northern seats that were once Tory strongholds. Is appointing yet another Old Etonian as leader the best course of action? Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:38:48 GMT)

The NHS needs a life-saving idea how about a health tax?
We rail against general taxation yet clamour for the NHS to be replenished. What's needed is a bold solutionThe NHS is a monster. Its capacity to consume public resources is without limit. That is not just because of an ageing population or developments in expensive medical technology. It is also because of rising expectations. Nobody ever considers themselves to be in perfect health: there is always a wart to be removed, an irritable bowel to be explored, a cough to be relieved, a sex drive to be restored.Proposals to charge for visits to GPs or for hospital stays are never met with anything less than public outrage. Failure to supply expensive drugs that give, at best, an extra few months of life to the terminally ill are denounced by newspapers that otherwise rail against high taxes. Any evidence that a hospital fails to strain every sinew to keep alive an ailing 95-year-old is branded as unacceptable "age discrimination". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:00:05 GMT)

Lupita's elevation to 'Most Beautiful' distracts from the lack of racial progress
How can we celebrate Lupita's body at the same time that black bodies are over-incarcerated and concentrated into poverty? On Tuesday, the US supreme court upheld Michigan's ban on race as a factor in university admissions. Less than 24 hours later, People magazine put Lupita Nyong'o on the cover of its "Most Beautiful" issue. And today we are left to ask: what does it mean for Lupita to be lifted up the day after affirmative action was struck down?We live in a post-racial society, many claim. With Obama as president, Pharrell making people of all races happy, and Lupita as the new Hollywood sensation, things are clearly better for black people, right? Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:52:08 GMT)

I boycotted Primark after the tragedy of Rana Plaza for a more ethical wardrobe
It's never been easier to dress ethically, whether it's buying vintage or checking retailers' policy onlineA year ago, I was just like any other fashion-conscious female on a budget. A large section of my wardrobe came from popular retailer Primark, which allowed me to satisfy my desire to covet the latest season must-haves without breaking the bank. But then the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed and, with it, 1,129 people lost their lives and almost 3,000 people were injured.In the days following the disaster, I read article after article highlighting the poor working conditions of those making clothes for a number of household names including Primark, Mango and many more. As a former Primark employee I took an active interest in the story, and the closing sentence of an article by Susanna Rustin particularly struck me: "Some of us are wearing clothes sewn by those killed this week in Dhaka." Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:24:50 GMT)

Miriam González Durántez: the Michelle Obama of the coalition
Unlike Samantha Cameron and Kate Middleton, Nick Clegg's partner refuses to play the silent, demure 20th-century wifeThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge finish their tour of New Zealand and Australia on Friday, a successful off-West End run for reinventing monarchy, the show.David and Samantha Cameron have done the obligatory holiday snaps on their Easter break in Lanzarote, exposing their choice of destination and footwear to a judgemental nation. Last month, Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton did the couple thing in Israel. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:15:08 GMT)

Do you feel European and, if so, why?
Academics say it's consumption of certain food and music, not trips abroad, that make us feel more European. What do you think?Research carried out by the London School of Economics and the University of York has found that food is an easy way to make us feel more European. While you might think that frequent breaks to mainland Europe would give people a stronger connection, academics found that the more food or music from EU countries someone experiences, the more they are likely to identify themselves as a European.Do you feel European? If so, what is it down to? Does a glass of chilled white wine on a warm summer night make you feel as sophisticated as our brethren in France, perhaps, or does an interest in art and culture make you feel a special closeness to the Italians? Tell us what, if anything, gives you a link to Europe. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:05:25 GMT)

James Lovelock's book shows genius is no defence against being wrong
The retired scientist's claims about heating costs and DDT don't stack up in his new book, A Rough Ride to the FutureIs there anyone as stimulating, infuriating, fascinating and contradictory as James Lovelock? As I found during our radio discussion this week, at 94 he's as acute and lively as ever. And, as ever, I kept switching between delighting in what he said and groaning with despair. He has greatly enriched our understanding and experience of the living planet. But he doesn't half talk some rubbish sometimes.James epitomises that romantic ideal: the independent scientist and inventor. Few succeed in going it alone in any field, least of all these. For every lone genius, there are 1,000 people who believe themselves to be one, but who either unwittingly repeat other people's work or who, without a sufficient grounding in science, begin with a wildly mistaken premise and go downhill from there. If I had a pound for every email I've received claiming to have discovered new forms of energy or propulsion, I could have bought myself a warp drive.it costs three to 10 times as much to heat a house in Britain as it does to heat a comparable house in America, which overall has a colder climate. This huge discrepancy, which affects everyone and all our industry in Britain, is part of the cost of believing in renewable energy as if it were a religious obligation.'Young ideologues' and 'urban green lobbies' ... 'made noisy demands until the US Congress obliged them and other nations soon followed. One consequence of this ban was a sharp rise in the human death rate from malaria and other insect-borne diseases in tropical regions.'Neither Rachel Carson, nor the green movement nor the US government seemed aware of the dire human consequence of banning the manufacture of DDT and its lookalikes before substitutes were available ... In 1963 malaria was about to become effectively controlled. The insecticide ban led to a rise in malaria deaths to 2 million yearly, plus over 100 million disabled by the disease.DDT was banned outright. Subsequently it became usable again for malarial control in a limited way. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:31:54 GMT)

Ofcom should be looking again at Putin's TV news channel
News reporting needs alternative voices, but the toxic opinions presented on RT should trouble usIf a 24-hour news channel must have a slogan then RT's Question More is not a bad calling card. The channel, which began life in 2005 as Russia Today, promotes itself as an international network providing a necessary antidote to the "mainstream" news agenda of the other big networks.Its reports on the UK include tales from austerity-hit Britain, trenchant criticism of the "war on terror" and views on capitalism more likely to be found at an Occupy rally than on a television screen. George Galloway and Nigel Farage are among the roll call of guests, and bankers are bashed on a regular basis. The crisis in Ukraine has provided the channel with a fresh opportunity to make a mark. Unashamedly pro-Russian, it has relentlessly pushed stories that portray the crisis in a very different light to that found on other news channels. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:34:09 GMT)

Will you read this article about terms and conditions? You really should do
I've been reading online small print so you don't have to but you need to know how much information you're giving awayWe live in a time of terms and conditions. Never before have we signed or agreed so many. But one thing hasn't changed: we still rarely read them.According to a Fairer Finance survey, small print for some companies now runs to more than 30,000 words (the length of a short novel) and, unsurprisingly, 73% of people admit to not reading all the fine print. Of those who do, only 17% say they understand it. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:37:08 GMT)

Why sex should never be whitewashed from the art world
Jonathan Jones responds to prudish critics who accuse him of turning Renaissance art into a 'pornotopia' and explains why you should always go to galleries with sex on the brainIs it merely prurient to want to know who a famous artist slept with? I don't think so. Personally I love to know what made the masters tick, and by tick, I mean get aroused. Many people see this kind of curiosity as superficial, sensationalist and irrelevant to the higher world that is art. I've even been told I see the Renaissance as a "pornotopia".It seems trendy in conventional biographies to deny that artists slept with their models. We should not leap to conclusions just because their art seems massively sensual. That's why writer Hilary Spurling insists that Matisse never jumped into bed with the women he painted with such nakedly erotic pleasure, while Andrew Graham Dixon denies Caravaggio was gay just because he painted men with fleshly fascination. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:10:30 GMT)

Reviving trade unionism won't be easy, but we need it to fight inequality
If unions are to once again battle runaway capitalism, they and the Labour party will require total transformationThe widespread growth in income inequality in recent decades is quite rightly the subject of widespread commentary these days. But it is all too rarely identified clearly enough with one of its most important root causes: the defeat of trade unionism.Insofar as there was a tendency to greater income equality in some capitalist countries in the postwar period, it was in large part because for a few decades trade unions were strong enough to convince or coerce employers to pay workers higher wages, better benefits, and give them more secure employment, thereby setting the bar for non-unionised employers. And the reason that chief executives didn't pay themselves the astronomical amounts they later did was precisely because of the bad example it set in terms of the next round of collective bargaining. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:04:04 GMT)

Nigeria's grief over the abducted school girls is uniting our country
Boko Haram's attempts to tear the country apart have succeeded in showing just how much Nigerians can care about one another 200 girls are missing so why doesn't anybody care?The mood in Nigeria at present reminds me of one of those adventure-horror films where an unseen fiend is let loose upon a community and survivors keep glancing backwards in dread, not knowing when or whom it might strike next.Just when the country was nursing its grief caused by the rush-hour bombing of a bus park in the capital Abuja, which killed 71 people and wounded dozens more, we were struck another devastating blow: the abduction of 234 girls from their school in Chibok, in the north-eastern Bornu State. Boko Haram terrorists claimed responsibility for the bombing; they are also the chief suspects in this fresh brutishness. Continue reading...
(Fri, 25 Apr 2014 08:00:00 GMT)

Will Tory plans kill onshore wind in the UK?
Energy minister Michael Fallon says the UK has enough onshore wind. Will new plans to pull subsidies and change planning permission mean the end of the industry?Join the debate. Post your views in the comments below, email karl.mathiesen.freelance@guardian.co.uk or tweet @karlmathiesen 5.10pm BST There seems to be little doubt that this policy will eventually sink the onshore wind industry in this country. The potential for the technology to compete without subsidies is poor and the handing over of power to local authorities will likely be the final nail in the industry's coffin. Tories and many industry leaders are loath to admit that this will put an end to onshore wind, saying that current capacity will be maintained and even grow for a time as projects granted permission before 2015 come online. But what industry survives without long-term growth? For onshore wind to continue to generate investment in research and development (and therefore to stay competitive) it will need to have the potential for new growth and projects. As Jennifer Webber, from RenewableUK says, this policy "will kill the industry dead". 4.33pm BST Prime minister David Cameron has weighed into the debate, telling Sky News this is not the end of onshore wind but we "won't see lots of new large-scale wind farm developments"."Onshore wind has an important role to play in generating electricity in our country. We want a varied supply of electricity."We are going to be having a decent amount of onshore wind but the fact is we don't need any more than what we have got in the planning system. 4.17pm BST Shameless politiking by the tories to head off the UKIP threat. The horrible thing is that DC 100% knows that onshore wind provides clean cheap energy, but is pandering to rich reactive curtain twitchers who are worried about property prices.Politicians need to grow some balls and think about their kids future and less about Nigel Farage.Madness. They say they want to cut the cost of 'green crap' while appeasing their rural constituents, so they phase out the cheapest low carbon energy source (onshore wind), and replace it with more expensive nuclear, rooftop solar and offshore wind. And if they believe that stopping onshore wind will appease the shire counties, wait till they experience what widespread fracking will do to their back yards!Typical reactive nonsense from the left. This country produces a higher percentage of its energy from renewables than most western economies, and we've met our internationally agreed renewable energy targets (unlike many).But you can't base you're entire energy strategy on green energy sources which are dependant on the weather. We need to balance our energy sources, which is why subsidies can now be directed to other areas. 4.08pm BST Carbon Brief's Robin Webster has published an analysis that questions whether the UK will reach its greenhouse emissions reduction targets of 80% by 2050 without increasing onshore wind. She points to figures from the government's Commission on Climate Change (CCC) which shows various scenarios for reaching that target. All involve an increase in onshore wind from 7GW now to 25GW by 2030. Projects which already have planning permission would bring the UK's onshore wind to a Tory maximum of 13GW, which Michael Fallon says is enough.All 2050 80% GHG reduction scenarios require onshore wind capacity to double. Source: @theCCCuk, @carbonbrief pic.twitter.com/r5so5tWFgTIt would certainly be possible for the UK to do so in 2020 and keep cutting carbon emissions for another three decades - but it would be a lot more expensive.The government expects the cost of offshore wind to come down in the 2020s - but not enough to overtake onshore wind. Overall, investing in 10 GW of onshore wind in the 2020s rather than other less-developed clean technologies could save the economy two to three billion pounds, the CCC predicts. 3.50pm BST Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, told reporters at the Guardian this afternoon that this policy would not kill the onshore wind industry because existing plants would remain operational. However she did not say new plants would continue to be built. She said the Conservatives were responding to local concerns that were not taken into account when onshore wind policy was formulated in 2008 and that there had been a sustained campaign against onshore wind inside the Tory party."I don't think it's much of a surprise because it follows concerns raised by MPs in the Houses of Parliament," she said. 2.19pm BST Liberal Democrat energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said the party would continue to fight their coalition partners on onshore wind.We have already fought the Conservatives over capping onshore wind in this Government and won.Putting the brakes on onshore wind would be disastrous for business and jobs in our growing green economy. Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of green energy, so cutting it could lead to higher bills."I am delighted for all the communities across my constituency, North Yorkshire and the country who have been given this fantastic commitment by the Conservatives. Ending future subsidies and adding planning powers to allow communities to say 'no' are sensible and responsible moves and the result of years of campaigning by Conservative MPs representing the concerns of their constituents, the majority of whom have totally had their fill of wind."Delighted to support 2015 Conservative manifesto commitment to end wasteful onshore wind taxpayer subsidiesAt long last. A Tory Govt says "enough is enough" to energy giants determined to destroy British landscapes with hideous wind turbines.What we really need to know from the Tories is how they intend to achieve the renewable energy targets we are signed up for with the EU. Only Malta and Luxembourg have a worse record on renewables with the UK. The coalition has cut spending on energy conservation meaning we will have to find more energy in more expensive ways. This is a government without an energy strategy. 2.15pm BST Chris Goodall at Carbon Commentary says Scottish independence could throw the UK's renewable energy targets into disarray.If Scotland votes to break away, the remaining UK will not come close to achieving its targets without wind. About 15 GW of 2020 renewables will be in Scotland or in Scottish waters. Only about 18 GW will be in England and Wales. Independence will mean 40% of total renewables will disappear but only 10% of UK electricity consumption.Scottish renewables are cheap to generate - needing a subsidy of on average £44 or less than half the rest of the UK. A move away from onshore wind in England and Wales will further increase the average levels of subsidy required, raising household bills.Scottish renewable energy is less than half the subsidy cost of rest of UK. HT @ChrisGoodall2 http://t.co/WZ9fFzuAlh pic.twitter.com/azWzDXVlek 1.47pm BST Green energy entrepreneur and Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said today:Before the last election, David Cameron promised to lead the greenest government ever - that promise lies in tatters now, as he prepares to fight the next election dancing to the tune set by UKIP.It's a shameful abdication of his responsibility as prime minister, to put his party before the country in this way. This kind of nakedly political positioning from the Conservatives undermines all the positive work this Government has put into renewables. The shale gas industry has Governments unwavering support, and yet according to its own figures its potential for jobs is less than the renewables industry already achieves in the UK.Renewables are delivering today, while any potential benefits from shale gas are still some way off. Renewable energy is attracting investment, creating jobs, cutting costs, improving our energy security and preserving our environment. We urge the pragmatic wing of the Conservative Party to resist this political game-playing and make their voices heard in the debate."The effect of removing subsidies for onshore wind will be to seriously damage British industry and increase energy prices for consumers. Onshore wind energy is the cheapest source of renewable energy, which means with support cut a future government would have to rely on more expensive technologies - pushing energy prices up."The IPCC report last week showed that the world urgently needs to switch to renewable sources of energy. We need investment in all forms of renewable energy, but the government should in particular be supporting those that already have the capacity to deliver for Britain and have thousands of skilled workers for.""We should all feel cheated by Michael Fallon's insane decision to ban future onshore wind developments should the Conservatives win the next election. It goes against common sense in every conceivable way."Wind is cheap, clean and straightforward to install. Having more of it will reduce bills for everyone for the long-term. Having more of it will help clear up our air pollution problems and mitigate the effects of climate change. Having more of it makes us a better society and a better economy (especially if it is funded by us - so we can financially profit from it too) because the wind is a free, clean and infinite resource."The Conservative party's pledge was creating uncertainty for onshore wind investments beyond 2020, the year when Britain's target to generate 15 percent of its energy from green sources has to be met. ""(This announcement) reinforces questions about the prospects of renewable energy post-2020, when the current UK and EU frameworks expire," said Tom Murley, responsible for renewable energy funds at HgCapital." 12.47pm BST "Britain will still meet its renewable energy targets if it scraps support for onshore wind, but the cost of meeting those targets will rise as the country turns to more expensive alternatives," says Gerard Wynn at Responding to Climate Change. "The shift to offshore wind is politically motivated, to satisfy the rural backbone of Conservative Party support, and appease concerns about landscape blight."Wynn says the UKs national renewable energy action plan (NREAP) anticipated some 38.2 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity in 2020. Operational capacity is currently 16.1 GW. There is a project pipeline that would provide an additional19.3 GW - bringing the total to 35.4 GW. Some of these projects will not receive funding, but others will take their place meaning Britain should easily reach the 2020 targets even without new onshore windfarms.By 2020, Britains NREAP anticipated some 14.9 GW of onshore wind, 13.0 GW of offshore wind, 3.1 GW of biomass-fired generating capacity and 2.7 GW of solar.Presently consented projects either operational or awaiting construction presently total some 13.9 GW for onshore wind; 9.4 GW of offshore wind; 4.9 GW of biomass; and 3.2 GW of solar.The decision of the Conservative Party to favour offshore over onshore wind farms makes no economic sense.The government plans to introduce a new system for renewable power subsidies, where generators earn a guaranteed flat rate per unit of power, called a strike price.Onshore wind is biggest contributor of renewable energy in UK. Source: Decc/RTCC pic.twitter.com/F5nxBXzPQvGerrd Wynn's/NREAP solar figures are already out of date...We apparently already have 4.46 GW of cumulative installed PV 12.23pm BST Earlier this month, Professor Richard Green, who is a member of a working group reviewing UK energy, told the BBC that removing subsidies from onshore windfarms would shift the focus to offshore wind costing taxpayers millions. Green said taxpayers would pay £300,000 for each turbine that shifted offshore. The BBC reported:Under government plans, onshore wind turbines will receive £90 per megawatt hour of electricity generated from 2017. But offshore turbines get more aid, around £140 per megawatt hour."That's about £300,000 per year per turbine that is moved from onshore to offshore," said Professor Green, who is an economist.Scrapping support for wind turbines would be bad news for jobs, energy bills and the environment.Onshore wind has fallen dramatically in price it already costs less than nuclear, and is set to be cheaper than gas in the next few years. 12.07pm BST Mark Pengelly, editor of Energy Risk, says this policy is another blow to already shaky investor confidence. While he was not willing to write the industry off altogether, he said the government had sent "very mixed messages" about how it intended to approach renewable energy targets and that there will certainly be turbines that do not get built if the Tories are elected in 2015. "Investors will be looking at this and the certainty investors were hoping to gain post the electricity reforms will dissolve... You'd definitely think twice about investing in onshore wind.""There is no doubt that onshore wind is one of the cheaper renewable energy option out there," said Pengelly. It followed that this decision had been politically driven by aesthetic dislike of wind farms, rather than based on economic rationalism. 11.44am BST Michael Fallon is having a busy day. He has announced the release of a report that says a shale gas boom in the UK could potentially bring in £33 billion and over 64,000 jobs.The Business and energy minister said:This report shows the huge prize at stake for the UK in terms of jobs and manufacturing in the supply chain for our onshore oil and gas industry.Shale gas has the potential to kickstart a whole new industry, building on the world leading expertise the UK already has in the energy sector. There will be significant opportunities across the steel, manufacturing and engineering industries as shale develops. 11.20am BST Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Louise Hutchins said the policy would shift the emphasis away from clean fuel technology.This disastrous policy risks undermining our energy security, putting up bills, and wrecking efforts to stop climate change. Cutting incentives for wind power when were trying to reduce our reliance on energy imports is tantamount to self-sabotage our suppliers of costly, polluting fossil fuels, including Putin, will be rubbing their hands.UN scientists have just warned about the risks of climate change and the need for a massive clean energy shift, yet the Tory right wing seems to think this is happening on a different planet."Onshore wind is the cheapest, most efficient of the current crop of renewable energy technologies. This announcement seems to be more spin than substance but is no less damaging to investor confidence who are crying out for certainty and stability so that they can get on with the job of renewing the UKs dirty and out of date energy infrastructure."What the Minister appears to be saying is that there is enough wind in the pipeline - i.e. he is not scrapping wind turbines but trying to placate a narrow minority of the Tory right who hate wind farms only slightly more than they hate immigration and benefits cheats.@KarlMathiesen Results of Govt's public survey on attitude to wind energy Feb 2014. http://t.co/EuLZInCdxW pic.twitter.com/nB6uXoDFSu"At a time where energy security and the cost of living are taking centre stage in UK politics, proposals to ban onshore wind, a reliable technology that has cut its cost globally by 43% in just four years, come across as highly irrational. While wind farms need to be carefully located, a recent YouGov poll showed that onshore wind was by far the preferred energy infrastructure that Britons would be prepared to host in their communities. These latest proposals on onshore wind reveal a deep misunderstanding of public opinion and the UK's energy security, consumer and environmental interests." 11.09am BST Good to see Labour supporting onshore wind whilst Tories happy to kill off the industry http://t.co/ANGvgsVSSBThe reality of #RenewableEnergy . Will never be economic & we can no longer afford the subsidies. #auspol @KarlMathiesen @guardianecoTo be fair to Cameron, all politicians are cowards when it comes to onshore wind farms. I used to lobby for them and I've heard every excuseDelighted to support 2015 Conservative manifesto commitment to end wasteful onshore wind taxpayer subsidiesRT @TelePolitics: No more onshore wind farms if Conservatives win 2015 election http://t.co/DSRamlSfiQ At last! Thank you PM for listening.@Conservatives stance on onshore wind energy is a gross error of public policySweet jesus they are idiots. http://t.co/BWfAAED9FI But they'll keep the coal, gas and nuclear subsidies will they? IDIOTSI thought Michael Fallon was a 'cheap green'. By banning onshore wind he's ruling out the cheapest source of clean energy we have. 10.41am BST Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at RenewableUK, is adamant that onshore wind would not survive the Tories' assault."The onshore industry isn't in a place where it could cope without subsidies straight away. If subsidies were cut in 2015 as the minister is suggesting, that would kill the industry dead." 9.54am BST Onshore wind is shaping as a clear policy division between the Conservatives on the one hand and Labour and the Lib Dems on the other. Labour leader Ed Miliband said this week that onshore wind would be a firm part of Labour energy policy in the future.The Telegraph reported that Miliband said:"People always have to have the right to make their objections, planning issues and so on. I do think personally that we have got to embrace in general both offshore and onshore wind situated in the right way."He said that the Conservative approach of having "no more offshore wind", which has been championed by John Hayes, a Tory minister without portfolio, is wrong. 9.44am BST The Conservatives will today announce plans to pull public funding of onshore windfarms and change the way planning permission is granted.Energy minister Michael Fallon will say that if the Tories win the 2015 election any project that had not already been granted permission would not receive subsidies. Fallon justifies the policy by saying the UK already has enough onshore wind to meet its EU renewable energy commitments for 2020. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:15:45 GMT)

The third Scotland: self-organising, self-determining, suspicious of the SNP
Establishment visions rejected by the young, authority figures crumbling Scotland has unambiguously become another countryIn the past few months the polls for the Scottish independence referendum have narrowed markedly and what was previously seen by many as a mere formality has become a real competitive contest.Such a swift transformation has left most of the British political classes and media struggling to catch up with events. But it has also left large parts of pro-union Scotland feeling bewildered and disoriented at the pace of change. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:00:03 GMT)

Must the Catholic church dehumanise John Paul II to make him a saint?
Sadly, the process of canonisation seems to require stripping the former pope of his personality, to fit the sterile mould of a saintWhen John Paul II is canonised on Sunday, it will be as much a result of his own actions on earth as any heavenly intercession. In streamlining the canonisation process during his pontificate, reducing the number of miracles required to prove that the candidate is reliably in heaven (all that canonisation amounts to), John Paul unwittingly made it possible for himself to be made a saint a mere nine years after his death. Two miracles the apparent cure of a French nun from Parkinson's disease and of a Costa Rican woman from a brain aneurysm were sufficient for both canonisation and the extension of the PR value of this most charismatic of popes well into the 21st century a century that, until the election of Pope Francis, seemed to be without any spark of vitality for the Catholic church.In reality, the former Karol Józef Wojtya is a saint already in the popular imagination, and this canonisation is the formalisation of a process of idolisation common to many "secular saints". But like any celebrity, John Paul's popular representation is contested, fluid and controversial. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:30:02 GMT)

Jane Bown: turning the lens on Britain's shyest photographer
She's always preferred being behind the camera, but from her childhood passed around a circle of aunts to her time as a Wren in the second world war, Jane Bown had a story to tell and it took her friend and assistant Luke Dodd to persuade her to tell itJane Bown's increased frailty towards the end of her lengthy career forced the photographer to relax a life-long prohibition on having anybody extraneous with her on a shoot so occasionally I would get the call to accompany her. When I first got to know Jane in 2001, she still came to the Observer office on a Thursday and Friday as she had done for half a century and sat dutifully at her desk waiting for an assignment, surrounded by numerous filing cabinets that contained her life's work. I had come to the Guardian and Observer to set up an archive, to which, in an extraordinarily generous gesture, Jane agreed to donate her entire "back catalogue". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:01:00 GMT)

Hubris, chemistry and Susanna Reid: welcome to ITV's 'new' breakfast show
If aspects of Good Morning Britain sound strangely familiar, that's probably because they are. Take the presenters and title for a start Why does Drake's insult-trading with Jay-Z sound like a 70s dinner party?Idea for a novel: The Damned Sofa, in which the ill-fated, short-lived tenure of any number of presenters in the ITV breakfast slot is imagined in forensic literary detail by a highly acclaimed writer. A movie adaptation will obviously follow, in which Michael Sheen is slated to play Kate Garraway.And so to the dawn of yet another era in the storied history of what ITV sticks between its 5.05am repeat of The Jeremy Kyle Show and its 9.25am repeat of The Jeremy Kyle Show (that's honestly the schedule). Monday sees the launch of Good Morning Britain the last possible combination of jaunty, early-birdy words the channel has not yet strung together in its 900-year quest to render the slot something other than an eternally unlearned lesson in broadcasting hubris. Actually, strike that. Turns out TV-am's breakfast show was called Good Morning Britain when it launched in 1983, so we're currently 10 years off GMTV coming around again. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:47:55 GMT)

Britain a Christian country? Mostly, says Archbishop of Canterbury
If debate limited to number of churchgoers, says Justin Welby, answer is no, but in ethics, law, justice and value, it isDavid Cameron thinks that it is. More than 50 leading atheists and humanists insist that it is not. Now the Archbishop of Canterbury has had his say on the question, with the perhaps surprising admission that if one limits the debate to the number of regular churchgoers, Britain is "certainly not" a Christian country.On the broader sense of the country's ethics, law, justice and values, however, Justin Welby takes a less controversial position, siding firmly with the prime minister. "It is clear that, in the general sense of being founded in Christian faith," he argues, "this is a Christian country." Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:49:09 GMT)

Jerry Dammers to be honoured in South Africa for Free Nelson Mandela
Man behind song that became an anti-apartheid anthem to receive award for outstanding work benefiting the countryIt is arguably one of the most effective political songs in pop history. Just over 30 years ago, in March 1984, Jerry Dammers released Free Nelson Mandela with his band the Special AKA, and this straightforward, cheerful but angry demand for the release of South Africa's most celebrated political prisoner became a top 10 hit in the UK, a bestseller across Europe and a no 1 in New Zealand.More importantly, it was heard in South Africa where it was banned but became an anthem in the fight against apartheid. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:30:54 GMT)

Birthplace of 'good pope' John XXIII prepares for post-sainthood invasion
Thousands expected to descend on Sotto Il Monte, home town of sharecroppers' son who went on to become popular pontiffGimmy Schiavi is trying to explain the function of the Casa del Pellegrino (Pilgrim House) in Sotto Il Monte, but his phone is ringing off the hook."As soon as possible," he advises one woman inquiring when she should book for a group of elderly locals to come for a visit. "Because May is already looking very busy." Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:05:36 GMT)

Josie Long: finding the funny in a tour of Tate Modern
Josie Long has never been one for comedy clubs her latest gig takes audiences on a whistlestop tour of Tate Modern. Art always inspires her sets, but she may be an unreliable guideI used to go to galleries for writing inspiration When I was in my mid-20s, galleries and museums were a massive source of inspiration for me. I found it useful to look outside my own life, and I love those little potted stories that you get by the side of an exhibit they spark my imagination. I've always written standup about art and I try and get a bit in now, even in a show about politics.Hieronymus Bosch was an amazing find for me, I was really thrown that I didn't know about him and I talked about him in my show All of the Planet's Wonders. Edward Hicks was another one, I loved the story behind Peaceable Kingdom. He did 100 of the paintings, and I had a bit about his wife getting upset with him about it "I've got a present for you?" "Is it another fucking Peaceable Kingdom? Throw it on the pile." Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:51:00 GMT)

Christopher Doyle: a legend in his own Y-fronts
The straight-talking cinematographer rants about Martin Scorsese, raves about Juno Temple and christens himself the Keith Richards of the film worldEarly evening in Hong Kong and Christopher Doyle is cracking open a beer in his studio. What's he been doing today? "I can't tell you!" Why? "I don't remember! But it was good. It was good for her. It was good for me. The usual stuff."In Doyle terms, this is indeed the usual stuff. Throughout our one-hour Skype session he rants, raves, laughs (a lot, uproariously, mostly at his own jokes), gets angry, gets upset, and it's never entirely clear whether he's speaking on or off the record. A gloriously unbridled and candid interviewee, he can't get his words out fast enough. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:42:00 GMT)

Imelda Staunton: 'It's in my DNA to duck and dive'
As Imelda Staunton storms the West End as another hard-scrabble working woman, she explains why it's class and not the classics that matters"Those women!" says Imelda Staunton. "They got up, did the house, went to work, did the shopping, came home, looked after the kid. They just did everything." Staunton is talking about the women who populated her childhood overworked women like her own mother. "I think the first 10 years of my daughter's life were my mother's happiest," she says. "Because she could finally have carefree time with a kid."Bridie Staunton, who ran a hairdressing business and occasionally played fiddle in Irish showbands, rarely had such times with her only child, Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton. "Mum would take me in a pushchair to Maisie Baker's, who'd look after me. She'd drop me off, walk to work, pick me up, and roll me back home." Staunton drew upon her mother (and the women she'd see "in headscarves standing at bus stops in the dark waiting to go to work") when she devised, with director Mike Leigh, her 2004 film breakthrough role as Vera Drake, a downtrodden cleaning lady who performs illegal abortions in 1950s London. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:29:00 GMT)

Britain's film pioneers: once destined for the dump, now feted on stage
With their two-minute 'topicals', Mitchell and Kenyon gave us an unparalleled picture of Edwardian life then split in mysterious circumstances. A new play sets out to tell their story The Life and Times of Mitchell and Kenyon reviewTwenty years ago one of the most significant finds in British cinematic history occurred in the basement of a ladies' outfitters in Blackburn. Builders renovating the property removed three rusted milk canisters that were found to contain thousands of feet of old film stock. The hoard was destined for the tip before a local historian, Peter Worden, recognised the footage as the work of the pioneering Lancashire film-makers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon.Prior to the find, Mitchell and Kenyon were known only to a handful of film specialists for a thin corpus of silent dramas and some undistinguished Boer war re-enactments that had been shot entirely in Lancashire. But what the canisters contained were some 800 two-minute "topicals", illustrating everyday life in the north of England at the turn of the 20th century: workers streaming from factory gates, images of fairgrounds, panoramas shot from moving trams, even the earliest footage of Manchester United in action. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:23:27 GMT)

Jodie Foster marries partner
The Oscar-winning star and director has wed girlfriend Alexandra HedisonThe Oscar-winning actor and director Jodie Foster has married her girlfriend, Alexandra Hedison, at an undisclosed location, according to her publicist.Foster, who came out at last year's Golden Globes, was previously involved with Cydney Bernard, with whom she has two sons. Their 20-year relationship ended in 2008. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:31:00 GMT)

South Sudan: supermodel draws world's attention to crisis at home
Nykhor Paul launches campaign to highlight violence that has engulfed South Sudan, asking people to put aside ethnic differences, and put down their weapons. Afritorial reports Im Nuer, but Im not a tribe, Im South Sudanese. I know the resilience of the tribes, but I believe that when the South Sudanese come together, our resilience and determination will be greater than what divides us. Im stepping out with fellow models from South Sudan, representing various tribes, to show that on the world scale, the tribe you come from doesnt matter. Hopefully this shows the unity and pride that we should have in ourselves; the peace that can be formed if we put down our weapons and ancient hostilities, we can move up and progress. We are not Nuer or Dinka, we are South Sudan, we are Nilotic (of the Nile).This defiant statement comes from supermodel Nykhor Paul who has recently launched a campaign to turn the worlds attention to the crisis in South Sudan. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:50:34 GMT)

Jessica Chastain to play Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood biopic
Andrew Dominik slated to direct big-screen adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates's novel BlondeJessica Chastain will play Marilyn Monroe in a biopic aimed at reimagining the "inner, poetic and spiritual life" of the Hollywood icon, reports The Wrap. Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:59:21 GMT)

RZA issues 30-day ultimatum to decide fate of Wu-Tang Clan album
Rap group's leader says they have to resolve their dispute with Raekwon, who has condemned new material as 'mediocre'Wu-Tang Clan's leader RZA has issued a 30-day ultimatum for the hip-hop group's comeback album, announcing that if the group doesn't "come to terms" with their disaffected rapper Raekwon, A Better Tomorrow will either go unreleased or appear without one of the group's stars.Wu-Tang Clan have already started taking pre-orders for A Better Tomorrow which should not be confused with their "single-sale collector's item" Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and have released a new single, Keep Watch. But despite RZA's plans to unite the entire hip-hop crew for a summer release, Raekwon has refused to participate in the album or the song, calling Keep Watch "mediocre shit". Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:58:28 GMT)

Stunning food photography from around the world - in pictures
The Pink Lady food photographer of the year competition attracts more than 6,000 entries from 41 countries (is this a good time to mention that the Guardian's Cook supplement won two awards for their animated film of Ruby Tandoh's florentines recipe? Watch it here). The panel of judges includes chefs Angela Hartnett and Yotam Ottolenghi, photographers Martin Parr and David Loftus, and writer Jay Rayner. Here are some winning photos: from an Egyptian piggery to a Rwandan coffee roaster Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:34:00 GMT)

North Korean hair cuts in pictures
From the colleges of Pyongyang to a barber shop in Gunnersbury, there's been a lot of talk about Kim Jong-un's hairstyle recently. They may not be forced to copy their leader, but what are the customs for the coiffures of ordinary citizens?Read about North Korea's fashion police Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:00:15 GMT)

'Indonesia's deforestation is a disaster for the planet' - audio slideshow
Award-winning Hong Kong photographer and photojournalist Paul Hilton's latest series of images looks at the impact of deforestation on Indonesia's wildlife. Basing himself in one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world - the Leuser ecosystem in Aceh, home to rhino, orangutan, tigers and elephants - Hilton found that the clearing of forests for palm oil plantations means more roads are being cut into habitat, with endangered species being killed or sold for the wildlife trade in roadside markets These photographs will be featured in an exhibition by the Sumatran Orangutan Society, from 1 May 2014 Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:00:00 GMT)

Photo highlights of the day
The Guardians picture editors bring you a selection of the best photographs from around the world Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:18:11 GMT)

Barclays hit by protests at AGM over pay and bonuses
Shareholders and protesters gathered for Barclays bank's annual general meeting in LondonFollow the live blog here Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:38:15 GMT)

Women's shirts: seven different looks in pictures
Take your cues from menswear with the cut and colour of your shirt. Try mixing a traditional city stripe with shorts, or layer two shirts for a new twist on an old favourite Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:30:00 GMT)

Lion attacks warthog in African game park in pictures
A warthog took a wrong turn in the Addo elephant park in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa when he crossed the path of a hungry lion. The park was founded in 1931 to provide sanctuary for the last remaining elephants in the area. It now provides a home for at least 450, as well as many other animals Continue reading...
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:00:07 GMT)

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