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Nick Clegg on course to lose seat at election, according to Lord Ashcroft poll
Batch of polls in eight key Liberal Democrat seats finds party leader trailing by two points and Tories consolidating position in key south-west seatsNick Clegg is predicted to lose his seat of Sheffield Hallam in the latest batch of polls commissioned by Lord Ashcroft setting out the state of the race for votes in eight key Liberal Democrat battleground seats.The poll shows Clegg trailing Labour by two points, but on Wednesday the Lib Dem leader said he believed he would win in May – partly because of his name recognition with the local electorate. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:52:48 GMT)

Nine Britons 'arrested' trying to cross into Syria from Turkey
Foreign Office looking into reports of UK nationals attempting to cross border in the southern Hatay provinceNine British nationals have been arrested on Turkey’s border with Syria, according to reportsThe Turkish Army is believed to have stopped them in the southern Hatay province after they attempted to enter the war-torn neighbouring country. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:24:22 GMT)

More than 2,000 forced to flee after major central London blaze
Ten fire engines and 70 firefighters called to scene in Kingsway, a major busy north-south route through the capital, after electrical fireMore than 2,000 people have been evacuated from buildings along a main road in central London after an electrical fire sent thick black smoke billowing into the air.Ten fire engines and 70 firefighters were called to the scene in Kingsway, a busy north-south route through central London.#kingswayfire smoke shrouds Holborn area in large electrical fire. pic.twitter.com/vaZvLuGVetMajor fire on Kingsway, police everywhere, smoke pouring out of underground vents. pic.twitter.com/fpvIshoBXQ Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:07:44 GMT)

Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels
GMG becomes largest fund yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies in a move chair Neil Berkett calls a ‘hard-nosed business decision’ justified on ethical and financial groundsSign up to the Guardian’s climate change campaignThe Guardian Media Group (GMG) is to sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund of over £800m, making it the largest yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies.The decision was justified on both financial and ethical grounds, said Neil Berkett, GMG chair: “It is a hard-nosed business decision, but it is influenced by the values of our organisation. It is a holistic decision taking into account all of those things.” Related: Why the Guardian Media Group is getting out of fossil fuels | Neil Berkett Related: 10 myths about fossil fuel divestment put to the sword Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:39:38 GMT)

Nigerian election winner vows to crush Boko Haram insurgency
Muhammadu Buhari says government faces ‘tough and urgent job’ to tackle Islamist group and will also work to eradicate corruption Muhammadu Buhari, the president-elect of Nigeria, has pledged to crush the deadly six-year insurgency by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. The former military dictator was speaking in the capital, Abuja, a day after his victory over the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, in a largely peaceful election that has been praised by Barack Obama, David Cameron, Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders. Related: Muhammadu Buhari: reformed dictator returns to power in democratic Nigeria Related: How Goodluck Jonathan lost the Nigerian election Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:20:29 GMT)

British couple celebrate winning second £1m EuroMillions prize
David and Kathleen Long scoop their second million in as many years, plus a luxury car, and say they always believed they would do it againWinning the lottery is often thought to be a life-changing experience. But little altered for David and Kath Long from Scunthorpe when David won £1m on the EuroMillions almost two years ago. “We’re not extravagant people,” said former lorry driver David, 59. “We still live in a mobile home, believe it or not. We’ve done it up nice, mind – we’ve extended it, put in a modern kitchen and added a conservatory.” Related: What are the odds of winning the EuroMillions draw twice? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:58:51 GMT)

'Germanwings passenger video' is authentic, says French magazine
Paris Match and Bild describe ‘blurred and chaotic’ scenes in video said to show plane’s final moments, but French police say story is falseA video said to show the panicked final seconds inside the cabin of Germanwings flight 4U925 before it crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps is authentic, the French magazine Paris Match has insisted.Questions have been raised about the veracity of the video after a senior French police spokesman said the magazine’s story was false and the French state prosecutor said no video footage had yet featured in the inquiry evidence. The spokesman added that if any film were to exist it should immediately be handed to investigators. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:04:35 GMT)

Clashes in Damascus refugee camp after reported arrival of Isis
Palestinian officials says Islamic State fighters have entered Yarmouk refugee camp in Syrian capital and are under attack from anti-government rebelsFighting has erupted throughout Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, with observers claiming Islamic State has entered the area, less than 10 miles from the Syrian capital’s most secure hub.Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp in Syria, has been a frequent battle zone pitting regime forces against mainstream and Islamist rebels during more than three years of fighting, which along with a brutal siege has emptied it of all but around 15,000 of its pre-war population of close to 200,000 residents. Related: How Yarmouk refugee camp became the worst place in Syria | Jonathan Steele Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:57:22 GMT)

'Very difficult' to live on zero-hour contract, says George Osborne
Ed Miliband promises to turn ‘exploitative’ zero-hour agreements into jobs as chancellor admits practice is sign of employment insecurity George Osborne has said he would find it “very difficult” to live on a zero-hour contract, even though the Conservatives do not think such employment agreements should be banned or further restricted. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:49:07 GMT)

Cynthia Lennon dies at 75
John Lennon’s first wife dies at her home in Spain after a short battle with cancerJohn Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia, has died at her home in Spain, her family said. She was 75.A message on her son Julian’s website said she died “following a short but brave battle with cancer”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:51:17 GMT)

Greece submits new economic reforms, but no breakthrough yet - live updates
Athens has warned its creditors that the viability of the EU is at stake, as it submits a new economic programme in an attempt to get financial aid before it runs out of cashGreece: Europe must help us, fastHere’s Greece’s reform plan (via the FT)The key chartsEarlier:Greece denies it will withhold IMF paymentPensioners protest in Greece 7.38pm BST Some late breaking news....the European Central Bank has agreed to raise the emergency liquidity on offer to Greek banks by another €700m.That’s quite a small increase, suggesting the ECB is keeping the pressure on Greece to reach a deal. ECB increased ELA limit for Greek banks by €700 mln to €71.8 bln. #Greece #economy #ECB #ELA #banking #markets 7.33pm BST Greece’s government has also proposed setting up a ‘bad bank’ to handle the bad loans that are clogging up its financial system.It warns that there are “Critical Deficiencies” in the banking sector today, in today’s 26-page list of reforms:The Greek banking sector has been marred by clientelism, by too close a link with the mass media and the political systems (through the provision of loans on non banking principles) and, lastly, by lending practices that were either too tight or too loose. The economic crisis has in addition created a vast amount of NPLs [non-performing loans] that impedes credit creation.Broad and deep structural reforms aimed at ensuring financial stability, appropriate credit expansion and governance that constitutes a significant departure from suspect practices of the recent and not too recent past. The Greek government has planned a broad reform programme in order to address critical deficiencies of the banking sector, through the establishment of strong institutions and the introduction of solid processes for the functional supervision of the banks that ensure financial stability, a robust banking sector and banks that are run on sound 8 commercial banking principles. Dealing with the very high levels of NPLs is a top priority for consolidating the banks and restarting the economy. The government wishes to explore the possibility, in conjunction with the institutions, of a capital asset management company to be created towards dealing with NPLs utilizing the remaining buffer of the HFSF. 7.20pm BST Greece’s government is proposing to raise the minimum wage...however, it also predicts that the fiscal impact in 2015 and 2016 will be “negligible”The reforms plan states:Proposed reforms will be introduced in stages: unifying the minimum wages of “white” and “blue collar” workers, abolishing wage differentiation based on age, and gradually increasing the minimum wage after consultations with the social partners. 7.18pm BST The section on Greek privatizations begins with a pop at the failure of the past:The initial goal for revenues from privatizations was €50 billion between 2011 and 2016, with a €5 billion target for 2011, €10 billion for 2012 and €5 billion for 2013. In practice, proceeds from privatizations amounted to €1.6 billion in 2011, no revenues in 2012 and €1 billion in 2013. Seldom has a privatization program failed so spectacularly! 7.12pm BST Greece’s list of economic reforms contains some firm pledges to crack down on tax evasion.The first item is called “Intensification of audits on lists of bank transfers and offshore entities”, and is said to raise €725-€875 million in 2015. €1 billion from 2016 onwards. 6.39pm BST Agence France-Presse have also heard that eurozone finance chiefs aren’t likely to told another meeting about Greece soon.This suggests that Greece’s reform plan, although more comprehensive than before, hasn’t persuaded creditors to release bailout funds:[Today’s conference call] was just to take stock. There won’t be any developments in coming days,” a source close to the discussions told AFP.“We will continue with technical work in Athens. There is no Eurogroup meeting in sight.”Greece: still no deal after eurozone teleconf, no Eurogroup meeting in sight, sources tell AFP http://t.co/3C4XI1mI52 6.18pm BST Over in Athens officials are denying that today’s teleconference with with the euro working group went badly. But they are also saying April is likely to be a month packed with negotiations ... suggesting that a reform-for-cash deal is unlikely to be found at least until the next scheduled euro group of euro area finance ministers on April 24. “There is a growing sense of convergence even if the talks are difficult.” 6.14pm BST Greece’s government has also argued that its reform programme could deliver a chunky primary surplus.Open Europe flags up the details:Greek reform list says impact of reform programme could lead to 2015 primary surplus of up to 3.9% of GDP. #Greece pic.twitter.com/cW1NcABSq9 6.12pm BST So, how much progress was made on today’s eurozone conference call?One eurozone official has told Reuters that there is been “progress and convergence”, but there is still “quite some work that needs to be done” to reach a successful conclusion. 6.08pm BST Greece has also warned that growth in 2015 and 2016 will be weaker than previously expected, confirming that its economy has deteriorated in recent months.The Ministry of Finance now only expects growth of 1.4% this year, down from 2.9% estimated in the 2015 budget, rising to 2.9% in 2016 (down from 3.7%). 5.55pm BST Greece has also warned its creditors that the “viability” of the EU, and the single currency, is at stake.The introduction of the 26-page list of reforms presented today states that:The Hellenic Republic considers itself to be a proud and indefeasible member of the European Union and an irrevocable member of the Eurozone. Yet the viability of that Union, and especially of the common currency, is now in question, in the minds of many Greek citizens as it is in the minds of many among our European partners. The question before us all, as Europeans, is whether the European Union can rise to the challenge before it. It is necessary now, without further delay to turn a corner on the mistakes of the past and to forge a new relationship between member states, a relationship based on solidarity, resolve, mutual respect and a new hope for common progress. 'Viability of Union, and especially of the common currency, is now in question,' warns new Greek eurozone document 5.50pm BST The reforms plan submitted by Greece today could raise between €4.6bn and €6bn of revenue (according to Athens’ calculations, anyway).Here’s the details: 5.32pm BST Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times has obtained the list of reforms which Greece has proposed to its creditors today.It’s 26 pages long, covering taxation, privatisations, Greece’s public sector, its labour market and healthcare, among others.The government requests a speedy and successful conclusion of the Final Review on the basis of this list, so that shortterm funding issues may be resolved and the current crippling economic and financial uncertainties brought to an end. This is an urgent and necessary precondition for the success of the economic and reform program.The new reform measures are similar to Friday’s initial effort and fail to address several issues that bailout monitors have insisted on, including an overhaul of the Greek pension system and further labour market liberalisation.Indeed, the proposal appears to reverse past reforms in several of these areas. The document includes €1.1bn in new spending this year, more than half of it reinstating a so-called “13th pension” — an extra months’ pay — for low-income pensioners. The document suggests that change would add €600m this year. 5.23pm BST With delicious timing, the European Central Bank has just advertised for a Greek translator....Hmmm RT @ecb: Job alert: Greek Translator (traineeship) – Communications http://t.co/rtzT1aaRry 5.12pm BST The Greek government has provided further details of its reform plans to lenders today, in an attempt to unlock bailout funds.Helena Smith reports that:Greek officials say in addition to €3.7bn worth of fiscal measures the left-led government is proposing, privatisations worth €1.5 bn in 2015 have also been outlined in the package the finance ministry has drafted.The operation and management of 14 regional airports (concessions long sought after by Germany) has been included in the privatisations.* Greek Fin Min official says toughest issues in talks with lenders are labour and pension reforms - RTRS 5.10pm BST Over in Athens, officials say a campaign of rumour, innuendo and deliberate leaks is being waged against the new government.“They keep saying ‘the Greeks are not well prepared, they haven’t done their homework, their proposals are vague’; all of which are grotesque and preposterous lies.The Greek side has never been as well prepared and the issue really is not whether they agree with our figures but whether they want an agreement.”“The banking system is at risk, outflows are growing, non-performing loans are mounting. What they are doing is criminal. The February 20th agreement was supposed to give us four months of financial stability and instead they are using it to asphyxiate us.”“The Euro working group prepares the ground for the euro group so if anything it would be surprising if there were a breakthrough....It seems they want to push us to the brink of Grexit, squeeze us to our last drop of blood and breath in the hope that they can get just a little bit more out of us.”“From the start we made that clear. The whole aim is to defeat this government. If they see us retreating they will wipe us out. From time of the Roman legions that is how the Germans have worked. We are not going to do them the favour.” 4.21pm BST Heads-up: Eurozone deputy finance ministers have just ended their conference call about Greece.Euronews’s Efi Koutsokosta reports that the Greek finance minister was also on the call:#euroworkinggroup where @yanisvaroufakis also participated finished. 4.20pm BST The Greek stock market has fallen again today, as the uncertainty and occasional eyebrow-raising headlines jangled nerves.The main ATG index fell 1.3% by the close of trading. 4.16pm BST The very fact that Greece could threaten to withhold its IMF repayment shows the need for a proper process to handle debt defaults.So argues Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA Network.”We’re watching a poker match between Greece, the IMF and the European Union. The stakes couldn’t be higher with the lives of millions of ordinary people on the line.“This is more proof that we need a global bankruptcy process with rules that are above board. We can’t be playing poker with people’s lives.”Greece, here's what the IMF will do if you don't repay its loans on time. h/t @IanTalley: pic.twitter.com/9ZVQeuIkkp” 4.05pm BST Greek government bonds have weakened today, pushing up the yields on its short and long-term debt.Over in the City, Steve Collins has kindly tweeted the details:Greek sweep : 10-yr 11.81½ +18½ 5-yr 17.10½ +18 3-yr 23.31½ +69 Not the highest we have seen, but market taking today's rumours negatively 3.41pm BST Greek gov't celebrates April Fool's Day in excellence. 3.30pm BST The Athens government has moved swiftly to deny that it won’t meet its €450m repayment to the IMF next week unless its gets a bailout payment quickly.A government spokesman has denied Spiegel’s story, and insisted that it still hopes for a ‘positive’ outcomes to the current situation.#Greece sources tell @capitalgr that Voutsis comments re IMF payment not new,were similar 2 what was mentioned in the Tsipras letter 2Merkel 3.26pm BST That Spiegel story suggesting Greece might not repay the IMF next week has sent ripples through the financial markets.Nikos Voutzis’s comments have left traders edgy that the Greek crisis may be flaring up again....Greece choosing not pay IMF loan on April 9 without backstop is more "Lehman Brothers" than "AIG" - let's hope it doesn't get there.Market wobbling on this headline: *GREECE DOESN'T WANT TO RESPECT IMF APRIL 9 DEADLINE: SPIEGEL 3.06pm BST The crisis just took another twist. Germany’s Spiegel news magazine is reporting that Greece might not meet the €450m loan repayment due to the IMF next week.Greek Interior Minister Nikos Voutzis has apparently told the paper that, without fresh bailout aid, Athens would be forced to miss this payment.No April fool's day joke: #Greece doesn’t respect #IMF Apr9 deadline (when Greece is due to repay €460mln), BBG reports citing Spiegel.One of the biggest problems for Greece is that it is still working with the Fund and relies on its sign off (as part of the ‘institutions’) to get its current review completed and therefore funding released. The response of the fund on the ground will therefore be important. Of course, the fund finds itself in a bit of a circular position. It is unlikely to get paid if it does not approve Greece’s review, but how can it approve the review if it is not getting paid?....Gap with creditors grows, reputation harmed: Linked to the above, given that not paying the IMF is usually a course of action reserved only for war torn countries or those on the fringes of the international system, not to mention severly underdeveloped economies, Greece could see its reputation severely dented. Furthermore, it is possible that Greece’s creditors will see that Greece has decided to pay wages and pensions first rather than meet its commitments to them. Whether or not this is a fair assessment, this could drive further animosity between the two sides.So what happens if #Greece fails to pay the IMF on time? Time to read our blog post from this morning: http://t.co/RYrzXAN18I 2.04pm BST A brief recap:Eurozone deputy finance ministers will hold a conference call shortly to discuss the state of play around Greece’s reform plan.“The agreement will close on (Greek Orthodox) Easter week.Greek negotiations are widening the spread between its yields and the rest of the periphery http://t.co/M2PU92yRim pic.twitter.com/zWU9HbmrZG Related: UK productivity growth is weakest since second world war, says ONS 1.39pm BST We’ve not seen so much of Yanis Varoufakis, recently -- hopefully he’s been hard at work writing that economic reform plan.But Greece’s finance minister has just appeared on Twitter, to plug a ‘witty’ joke about Greece moving to Bitcoin.Happy April Fool's Day everyone... http://t.co/HELEDGDpOkYeah @FAZ I was nearly chuckling until I realised you printed my phone number and my phone is now unusable. pic.twitter.com/t7ohYQ35HPIn grand scheme of things of course, this might be one of the more accurate FAZ stories about the ECB. (Spoiler: there is no restaurant.) 1.18pm BST Interesting.... #Greece Gov't to present new fiscal measures at #Eurogroup Working Group's teleconference call this pm, @euro2day_gr reports 1.16pm BST Germany’s finance ministry has confirmed that eurozone deputy finance ministers will hold a conference call this afternoon, to discuss the state of play around Greece.But it has also dampened hopes that this call would take the eurozone closer to an agreement over Greece’s reform plans.“In the best case scenario we expect there could be some kind of preliminary interim review but it’s hard to predict how things will develop next week.” “The agreement will close on (Greek Orthodox) Easter week.” 12.59pm BST Last week, I rather expected that we’d soon see another late-night crunch session in Brussels to debate Greece’s finances.But this (obviously) hasn’t happened yet. And as long as we don’t have an agreement between Greece and her creditors over a reform package, it’s not going to happen.More I talk to people here, the more saying no #Eurogroup before regularly-scheduled meet Apr 24 in Riga. No sign of #Greece deal in sight 12.47pm BST Journalist Loukia Gyftopoulou has more details about those protests, and arrests, in the Greek parliament courtroom this afternoon:Anarchist invasion in Parliament will be a real test for gov after #Syriza promised absence of police in dems. So far 15 detained #GreeceProtesters demand abolition of anti-terror laws, prisoners' release and closure of maximum security prisons #Greece 12.31pm BST Greek police have now swept into the parliament courtyard to break up the protests:Greek police make arrests follwing invasion of parliament courtyard - VIDEO - http://t.co/MZaPieO5oq pic.twitter.com/oo43MPvkn2 12.17pm BST It’s all looking rather lively in Greece today.A group of protesters are now demonstrating on the courtyard of the Greek parliament, as part of a solidarity campaign with prisoners conducting a hunger strike.Solidarity action at the Greek parliament #now by anarchists #hungerstrike2015 p/v @kinimatini #antireport pic.twitter.com/sjLvz1kkHwGroup of anarchists invade Greek Parliament courtyard - http://t.co/hZjiawBtcs pic.twitter.com/5ZiWtmzGcMSpeaker GR Parl Konstantopoulou's first comment on the anarchists' break-in was "you got jumpy bc some people protested?" via @g_evgenidis 12.03pm BST German economist Holder Schmieding blames the new Greek government for the downturn in its economic fortunes this year:Berenberg Bank's Holder Schmieding on #Greece: "Rarely has a new government caused so much economic damage in such a short time." 11.46am BST Over in Athens, pensioners have held an anti-austerity rally to demand pensions and healthcare benefits to be increased.The elderly, who have faced several pension reductions since 2010, also demanded immediate subsidy of their pension funds and measures to restore damage caused by the 2012 haircut (PSI). 11.29am BST Russia faces a lengthy recession, as the sanctions imposed over Ukraine weaken an economy already suffering from lower oil prices.That’s according to the World Bank, which has just slashed its forecasts for the Russian economy. It now predicts that GDP will shrink by 3.8% in 2015, and another 0.3% in 2016. World Bank - says GDP in Russia to fall around -3.8% in 2015 assuming $53 oil 11.14am BST Ireland’s economy continues to bounce back from the lows plumbed during the financial crisis, when its banking collapse triggered a eurozone bailout and years of austerity.Data just released show that Ireland’s unemployment rate has fallen to 10%, from 10.1%. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 4,700 to 350,600, down from 450,000 five years ago.#ireland Central Bank’s 2015 GDP Forecast Revised To +3.8% Vs +3.7%, 2016 Revised To +3.7% Vs 3.8% /via @livesquawk #euro 10.41am BST Most European stock markets have defied expectations and rallied this morning, reversing yesterday’s slide.The news that eurozone factory growth strengthened last month helped to send shares up in Paris, Frankfurt, Milan and Rome. Related: FTSE rebounds as banks lead the way 10.37am BST Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, is also disappointed that Britain’s labour productivity fell back in the fourth quarter of 2014.He writes:Productivity currently remains limited compared to pre-crisis levels and the latest relapse will fuel concern that much of this has to do with structural factors. How productivity develops going forward will be a critical factor in how soon and how far the Bank of England raises interest rates. If productivity has taken a significant lasting hit, it means that the economy has less potential to grow without generating inflationary pressures and that interest rates will need to rise at an earlier stage. 10.13am BST Back to Greece......and eurocrisis expert Yannis Koutsomitis is tweeting some interesting developments around its funding needs:#Greece Public Debt Agency head Papadopoulos to meet with @PIMCO execs today over next week's T-bill auction ~@EFSYNTAKTON#Greece | General Accounting Office notifies Gov't cash runs out May 15 http://t.co/OhDhBjiNGn /via @EFSYNTAKTON 10.10am BST Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics, is concerned that Britain’s productivity fell by another 0.2% in the last quarter:“This still isn’t great - productivity has still not even returned to its long-run average rate of about 2%, let alone recouped any of the shortfall relative to its pre-crisis trend.” 10.08am BST Britain’s persistently weak productivity gives another insight into the true state of the UK economy, as politicians trade blows ahead of May’s election.Today’s ONS report shows that David Cameron has presided over an economy with the weakest productivity record of any government since the second world war, says economics editor Larry Elliott.We're no more productive (q4 2014) than we were in 2007 (ONS): "the absence of productivity growth...is unprecedented in the post-war periodIf reducing corporation tax increases wages and investment, then why have real wages and productivity been taking a hammering? 9.55am BST Despite the recovery, Britain’s economy still suffers from weak productivity.Data just released by the Office for National Statistics shows that labour force productivity fell by 0.2% in the last three months of 2014.The absence of productivity growth in the seven years since 2007 is unprecedented in the post-war period.7 lean years of no productivity growth... Time for a biblical analogy? 9.36am BST Eight-month high for UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index counters some of those slowdown fears: http://t.co/16fY2GkFMk 9.36am BST March was a good month for UK factories too -- the sector grew at its fastest rate in eight months.The UK manufacturing PMI rose to 54.4 in March, up from 54.0 in February, thanks to strong domestic demand. Export orders picked up too, as the “bright start to the year” continues. 9.25am BST Greece is not sharing in this revival in the eurozone economy -- its factory sector contracted again last month.Greece’s manufacturers reported a third straight monthly drop in output in March, confirming that economic conditions have deteriorated since the country’s political upheaval began.Weighing on overall inflows of new business was a sharp and accelerated decrease in new export orders, which panel members linked in part to foreign clients being deterred by political uncertainty in Greece. 9.13am BST The eurozone’s economic recovery has strengthened, as manufacturing activity across the region grew at the fastest pace since last May.Growth accelerated in Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, as the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme stimulates demand and drives down the euro.“Producers are benefitting from the weaker euro, which has had the dual effect of boosting competitiveness in export markets as well as making competing imports more expensive in the home markets.“New orders are consequently showing the best growth for nearly a year, and the fact that manufacturers are boosting their payroll numbers at the fastest rate for three-and-a half years indicates optimism that the upturn will be sustained in coming months. 8.58am BST Those French and German PMIs are both higher than the ‘flash’ readings two weeks ago, suggesting that conditions improved during March.Upward revisions to final PMIs (Germany/France) suggest positive momentum continued in the past 10 days or so. #QEuphoria #QEboost 8.57am BST Here comes Germany’s manufacturing PMI......and it’s another month of solid growth for factories in Europe’s largest economy. 8.52am BST France’s factory sector has shrunk again, but at least the pace of decline has slowed.The French manufacturing PMI came in at 48.8 for March, up from 47.6 in February -- but still below the 50-point mark that splits expansion and contraction.France Manufacturing #PMI rises to 48.8 but still signals deteriorating business conditions http://t.co/bJEqHa6k3W http://t.co/6u8ZIS0WFp 8.49am BST Finally some good economic news for #Italy As its manufacturing #PMI rises to 53.3 http://t.co/4I79ddcDIF #ECB #QE #Euro 8.49am BST Good news from Italy too -- factory output has hit an 11-month high last month.Data firm Markit reports that the Italian manufacturing PMI jumped to 53.3, from 51.9, showing that the sector expanded. Growth is “gathering momentum”, it says, with firms hiring staff at the fastest rate since February 2011. 8.41am BST Spain’s economic recovery continues to pick up pace, as the weaker euro gives Spanish firms a boost.The Spanish PMI jumped to 54.3 from 54.2, which is another month of solid growth.The highlight from the latest survey was the strongest rise in employment since mid-2007, as the labour market continues to recover. Meanwhile, the sharp reductions in input prices seen in the first two months of the year were not repeated at the end of Q1 as the weakness of the euro led to rises in the cost of imported items.” 8.34am BST Turkey’s factory sector has contracted at the fastest rate in almost six years.Turkish manufacturing downturn intensifies in March, #PMI at 48.0 (49.6 in Feb), lowest since April 2009 http://t.co/TZAzecfbof 8.18am BST Russia’s factory sector continued to contract last month.“March’s survey data indicated that operating conditions remained challenging overall, with output, new orders and employment all posting modest falls. Access to working capital also remains a hurdle to overcome for a number of manufacturers.” 8.09am BST Overnight, an official survey of the Chinese factory sector was a little stronger than expected in March, driving the Shanghai stock market to a new seven-year high.Overnight data from China - especially HSBC manufacturing survey - point to a further slowdown in growth. 7.57am BST With a deal before Western Easter looking very unlikely, Greece’s government has now declared that it will reach agreement with its lenders before Orthodox Easter (which falls on 12 April).“The agreement will close on (Greek Orthodox) Easter week.”“The idea that prevailed is that we will not proceed with a privatisation of the 67 percent stake, which would mean a full privatisation of Piraeus port. We are not discussing this.”“We are trying to find some kind of joint venture.” 7.50am BST Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.With Greece’s negotiations with its creditors over economic reforms seemingly becalmed, eurozone finance officials will hold a teleconference call today to assess the state of play.“If it turns out the Greeks leave, that may not be a bad thing for the euro.“If everybody learns that the rules mean something and if they come to general agreement about fiscal policy among members, or something of the sort, that they mean business, that could be a good thing.”#FTSE expected to open around 20 points lower. European stock index futures down on #Greece bailout uncertaintyEu #daybook: manufacturing PMI data; ECB policy makers are said to be holding weekly review of Emergency Liquidity Assistance to Greece Wed. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:39:32 GMT)

Chris Grayling's policy on absconders and open prisons is declared unlawful
High court rules that excluding prisoners with a history of absconding from moving to open jails is inconsistent with justice secretary’s own directionsA ban on prisoners who have a history of absconding being moved to open prisons has been ruled unlawful by the high court.Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Mitting struck down the ban, which the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, introduced last May in the wake of widespread media reporting of a case in which an armed robber, Michael Wheatley, known as Skullcracker, went on the run while on day release from jail. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:01:08 GMT)

Medieval hospital cemetery for poor found under Cambridge University
Remains of more than 1,000 people, many thought to be struggling scholars from 13th-15th centuries, discovered during excavations at St John’s CollegeOne of Britain’s largest medieval cemeteries containing the remains of more than 1,000 people has been unearthed under part of the University of Cambridge.The hospital cemetery, which catered largely for scholars who had fallen on hard times, was found during excavations beneath the Old Divinity School at St John’s College. Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:01:00 GMT)

Record number of migrants expected to drown in Mediterranean this year
In the first quarter of 2015, nearly 500 migrants have drowned, ten times as many as in the same period of 2014, leading to fears of a record death rate this yearA record number of migrants will drown in the Mediterranean this year if the current death rate remains unchecked, after 10 times as many migrants lost their lives during the first three months of 2015 as during the equivalent period in 2014.At least 486 asylum seekers have drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of the year, compared with 46 in the first three months of 2014, according to preliminary figures supplied to the Guardian by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The death toll has risen sharply even though the number of migrants arriving in Europe by sea has remained roughly the same. It suggests that the EU’s decision not to create a like-for-like replacement of Mare Nostrum, a full-scale Italian rescue operation that folded last October, has neither curbed the number of attempts to cross the sea, nor fatalities along the way. Related: Arab spring prompts biggest migrant wave since second world war Related: Trading in souls: inside the world of the people smugglers Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:00:40 GMT)

Joni Mitchell treated in intensive care at Los Angeles hospital
Grammy award-winning folk singer in ‘fair condition’, say authorities, after paramedics were called to her Bel Air homeThe folk singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is being treated in intensive care in hospital in Los Angeles.The website jonimitchell.com, which describes itself as the artist’s official site, said: “Joni was found unconscious in her home this afternoon. She regained consciousness on the ambulance ride to an LA area hospital. Related: Joni Mitchell: 10 of the best Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:08:36 GMT)

Easter could give pupils 'window of opportunity' to flee UK to join Isis
Former senior prosecutor warns that headteachers are not telling police of their concerns about pupils because they do not want them to face criminal chargesHeadteachers cannot be expected to perform the duties of police officers or security services, union leaders have warned, amid concerns that the Easter holidays will be a “window of opportunity” for pupils to flee the UK to join extremists in the Middle East.More than a dozen parents had alerted leaders of two London secondary school over concerns about children who may have been radicalised, a former senior prosecutor said. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:43:34 GMT)

Andrew Getty, grandson of Getty Oil founder, found dead
Police say death of 47-year-old heir to industrialist J Paul Getty ‘does not appear to be a criminal type of act’The grandson of billionaire Getty oil founder J Paul Getty was found dead on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Los Angeles, the family said in a statement. Andrew Getty’s parents, Ann and Gordon, confirmed the 47-year-old’s death and requested privacy for the family during “this extremely difficult time”, adding that further details would be released as they became available. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:46:43 GMT)

Police face further pressure over covert monitoring of MPs
John Bercow, speaker of the Commons, warns that revelations about monitoring of MPs are extremely serious and will not go awayPolice chiefs are set to come under further pressure after the general election to answer revelations that they covertly monitored MPs after they were elected to Parliament.John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, said the revelations were “extremely serious”, and warned : “This matter will not go away.” Related: Why were special branch watching me even when I was an MP? | Peter Hain Related: The Guardian view on surveillance of MPs: don’t confuse dissent with crime | Editorial Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:40:55 GMT)

New privacy taskforce announced after leak of G20 leaders' details
Australian immigration department makes move after personal details of all leaders attending November summit were accidentally exposedAustralia’s immigration department has announced the creation of a new taskforce to strengthen the handling of sensitive information following an embarrassing data breach involving the personal details of G20 world leaders. The Guardian revealed on Monday the immigration department had inadvertently disclosed the passport and visa details of world leaders attending the G20 summit in Brisbane - including US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin - after an employee sent an email containing the details to a member of the Asian Cup local organising committee. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:00:29 GMT)

Nigeria elections: Muhammadu Buhari hails peaceful handover of power
Election winner congratulates outgoing president for peacefully relinquishing power and says move shows world that Nigeria has embraced democracyNigeria’s election winner, Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated the outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, for peacefully relinquishing power on Wednesday, a day after becoming the first Nigerian politician to unseat a sitting leader at the ballot box. In an unprecedented step, Jonathan phoned Buhari to concede defeat and issued a statement urging his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa’s most populous nation that few had expected. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:08:03 GMT)

Bodies of two children removed from Gibraltar flat where four people died
Four members of the same family were found dead on Monday with stab wounds, though police have not released the identities of the deceased The bodies of two children have been removed from a property in Gibraltar where they were found dead along with a couple, police have said. A 31-year-old British man, a Spanish woman, 37, a four-year-old girl and a six-week-old baby girl were discovered with wounds in the British overseas territory Monday morning. Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:59:52 GMT)

Medomsley abuse inquiry: two former officers arrested on suspicion of abuse
Police say 1,123 men have contacted them to report they were victims of either sexual or physical assault while detained at the County Durham centreTwo former prison officers have been arrested on suspicion of physical and sexual assaults at a juvenile detention centre. A further 14 former officers have been questioned as part of the biggest investigation ever carried out by Durham police.The two ex-officers, aged 69 and 58, were questioned as part of a major probe by police into allegations of historic abuse at Medomsley detention centre, near Consett, County Durham. They were released on police bail. Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:59:13 GMT)

If you want to write about feminism online, be ready to take on the haters
My years of campaigning against the Sun’s Page 3 have given me a whole armoury of retorts to fire back at the delightful randoms who take time out of their busy days to call me a ‘minger’Ah, the internet, simultaneously an exciting tool for creating feminist movements and affecting change, and an introduction agency to the not-so-nice. Yes, we have this terrific space where symbols and symptoms of sexism are brought to their knees by tweeters, bloggers and online petitions, yet anyone who has ever said anything feminist-y online will be aware that they can be left to drown in a murky pool of abuse. Chances are, a range of complete strangers will take time out of their busy days to offer you their viewpoints and suggestions. Here’s just a few I run into regularly ... Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:04:51 GMT)

Lower-leg exoskeleton could take the work out of walking
Gadget created by US researchers won’t be available to the public for some time, but has the potential to help disabled and elderly peopleThe market is undoubtedly there. Country strolls. Visits to museums. Weekend shopping trips. How much easier they would be wearing an unpowered, lower-leg, carbon fibre exoskeleton.Though cumbersome to say, the device itself is sleek and simple, using only a spring, wire and clutch mounted on a carbon fibre frame to take some of the slog out of bipedal locomotion. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:09:09 GMT)

On the campaign trail: whose bus would you vote for?
The parties are wheeling out their battle buses. Now, benefits mean onboard kitchens and U-turns are what you do when you get stuck down a country laneSure, policy is important. Personality, too, though some might not like it. What about the real issue that’s already threatening to dominate the #GE2015 campaign? I’m talking, of course, about the battle of the battle buses (or “on-the-road-photo-op-mobiles”, as they are now more correctly referred to).The Conservative one has a patriotic red, white and blue paint job, and “A BETTER FUTURE FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND BRITAIN” emblazoned boldly down the side. And for Spain, perhaps, where the coach was built, by a company called Irizar. Irizar, which used to be part of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a federation of worker cooperatives, hailed as an alternative to capitalism? Exactly, that one. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:49:28 GMT)

The once-mighty bromance is dead – and Get Hard killed it
The genre that started out celebrating male friendship has become a travesty of itself, as Hollywood trawls the racist, homophobic depthsYou can actually see the moment the bromance genre, for so long one of the most reliable and lucrative of Hollywood film genres, dies – and appropriately enough, it happens in a men’s room. It’s always interesting to witness the death of a film genre. Sometimes it happens in an act of gleeful murder. In 1988 the brilliant Heathers stabbed the then ubiquitous 1980s teen film through the heart with satire, and buried it forever beneath layers of irony. Clint Eastwood did something similar with the genre that had made his name when he released Unforgiven in 1992, a revisionist western with no good guys that, instead of glory, is filled with guilt and grit.But the more common method is for a film genre to commit self-slaughter through laziness. The most recent one to throw itself upon its sword is the bromance, and the metaphorical sword in this case is the execrable new Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart comedy, Get Hard. Related: Get Hard review – Will Ferrell continues the tradition of gay panic comedies The movie’s plot was possibly written on a piece of toilet paper in a Los Angeles private members’ club Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:41:40 GMT)

Mad Men's final season: the bittersweet joy of saying goodbye
The excitement of the final seven episodes arriving on screen is matched by the emotional heartbreak that comes with letting go of Don, Betty and Peggy As the final half of the final series of Mad Men nears, you have to ask yourself how you’re going to feel when it’s over. I wonder, indeed, whether this wasn’t part of the point of the show’s lengthy mid-season break – to elongate this period of imminent loss so that, as we watch these final episodes, we have already been incubating the sadness for some time. Is it a spoiler, to report a rumour? No, sod it – if you care, then you will have already heard that someone will die. While I am on tenterhooks as to the cause of his or her mortality, the fact of their death – if it turns out to be one – is less important. When the series ends, they all die. Their universe dies. The near-limitless permutations of the happenings ahead of them become none. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:55:53 GMT)

Polar bears face starvation as they're unlikely to adapt to a land-based diet
New research casts doubt on the theory that polar bears could survive habitat loss as sea ice declines by foraging for food on landPolar bears face starvation as their frozen habitat shrinks because they will not adapt to land-based foods, according to new research.As the sea ice around the Arctic declines, scientists have theorised that the great bears may adapt to forage and hunt on land. But in a report published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology on Wednesday, scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) said it was doubtful polar bears could find salvation in the caribou, goose eggs and berries of the north. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:00:05 GMT)

Colouring in can free your mind. Let’s learn how to play again
It’s cheering that a colouring book for adults is topping bestseller lists, because as we get older it’s easy to forget about the joy – and learning potential – of playAs George Bernard Shaw once said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”Secret Garden, a book by Johanna Basford, has sold more than 1.4m copies and hit the top of Amazon’s bestseller list this month. What is it? Ninety-six pages of black-and-white drawings of flowers, leaves, trees and birds, and its USP is that it’s a colouring book for grown-ups. And it is not the only one of its kind. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:49:50 GMT)

Amazon moves towards 'internet of things' shopping with Dash
New re-ordering device reduces need to ever leave the house again with a one-touch button for when products run outHave you ever been stuck on the toilet with no toilet roll? An end to that nightmare might soon be in sight. Amazon’s next big thing in the “internet of things” lets you order a new roll at the touch of a button, even as you sit in the smallest room. Related: Samsung pledges over $100m to make an open Internet of Things finally happen Related: The internet of things - the next big challenge to our privacy Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:22:13 GMT)

Boots bother: has David Cameron ruined the Chelsea boot look?
Chelsea boots are a perennial among fashionable men. Then David Cameron turned up in a pair. So have they lost their edge? Simon Chilvers investigatesHarry Styles, Kayne West, David Beckham, David Gandy, and, er, the British prime minister. No, this is not a spoof fashion show frow (or April fool’s joke for that matter), but a group of men united over the Chelsea boot. Imagine.You may have missed the earth-shattering news that the prime minister is the latest adopter of 1960s boot style once popularised by the Beatles. The Chelsea boot –thought to have been originally designed for horse riding – picked up its moniker during the swinging Kings Road era. However, nothing trumps the fact that the original Star Wars stormtroopers all wore Chelsea boots sprayed white. Which if you think about it, in fashion terms, is so terribly Margiela, no? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:37:52 GMT)

Did Trevor Noah and Lena Dunham’s jokes offend Jewish people? It depends
‘If a Jew can’t poke a little fun at her Jewish boyfriend about being Jewish, then what can any of us say any more?’ said one Jewish comedianTrevor Noah, the new host of the Daily Show, caused a real shanda on Monday after tweets emerged from several years ago that contained eyebrow-raising jokes about Jewish people and women.There are those who might claim this belies a latent antisemitism that it has only lately become fashionable to air, and at the very least, might be infectious ... I think it’s actually symptomatic of the opposite: that the generation currently ascendant in the entertainment industry, Jews and non-Jews alike, is the first to be truly, publicly comfortable with Jewishness. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:00:05 GMT)

April Fools' Day 2015 – the best jokes from around the world
The funniest spoofs in the press and on the web – share any you’ve spotted in the comments below 12.01pm BST It’s midday! I’m free! Thanks for joining through this, everyone. Let’s do it again next year! If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @StuHeritage. If you don’t, I fully understand.Oh, and here’s The Guardian’s April Fools’ joke from this year. It was the story about the man who sort of looks a bit like Jeremy Clarkson if you squint at it from a distance. It’s pretty good. You should probably check it out. 11.58am BST Stop emailing me that press release about the reverse toilet. That’s all I want any more. A life without emails about reverse toilets. 11.56am BST INT. A VOID. DAYA group of TIRED-LOOKING STUART HERITAGE CLONES sit around a table, clearly in the throes of deep self-hatred. 11.52am BST April Fools’ Day is the worst day of the year and it’s made me hate myself and everyone who has ever lived NOT REALLY YOLO APRIL FOOLS’ DAY IS THE GREATEST I WISH APRIL FOOLS’ DAY WAS A PERSON SO I COULD KISS IT DEEP INSIDE ITS MOUTH WITH MY TONGUE TAKE ME APRIL FOOLS’ DAY I BELONG TO YOU NOW HA HA WHOOPS 11.50am BST An organisation has announced something NOT REALLY APRIL FOOL HA HA ha. 11.49am BST A person or a thing has done or said or made something unlikely BIFF BAFF BOFF TEE HEE OOH HOO WOW WEE YIKES 11.48am BST Cern confirms the validity of Star Wars WOO HOO TEE HEE HA HA BOINK. 11.47am BST Nick Clegg’s on Grindr now YOLO LOOOOOLLOLOLOL. 11.46am BST Full marks to PlayStation, for taking the word ‘immersive’ and battering it over the head with a brick until it’s limply just wobbling from side to side, skull fragments and brain matter spilling out while its family watches from a slit in its panic room screaming ‘stop it stop it he’s already dead’. 11.41am BST In Hong Kong, it is almost 7pm. The worst of April Fools’ Day is thankfully behind them. But how do they celebrate April Fools’ Day in Hong Kong? Glad you ask. They apparently celebrate it by being legitimately impenetrable:Website and print magazine Wine Times HK, best known for its forthright opinions on the local wine scene, managed to cram three issues into one hoax.In a humorous sideswipe at the large number of new French arrivals on the F&B scene, the number of mainland tourists in the city and the struggle for custom between Lan Kwai Fong bars and convenience stores, Wine Times claimed that 7-Eleven would be recruiting French sommeliers who speak Putonghua to advise mainland customers. 11.34am BST A latecomer in the terrible picture category: the Ham and High are reporting that a bit of a clock tower has fallen off, or fallen down, or was scraped out of existence by an intern who sneezed midway through a PhotoShop job, or whatever. Look, we’re almost done. YOLO! 11.31am BST You know Tool? The band Tool? You own a full-length leather jacket and dislike direct sunlight, don’t you, so sure you like Tool. One of their new songs has leaked.ONLY JOKING! APRIL FOOL! YOLO! In actual fact, Tool have been spending so long in the studio, looking sad and not wearing shoes, that they believe themselves to have invented Rickrolling. Just wait until they see David After Dentist! That’s going to blow their minds! 11.23am BST This morning, I made a vow to myself. A silly, slight vow in retrospect, but a vow nonetheless. I decided that I wouldn’t mention any April Fools’ Day jokes about drone delivery. And now I wish I hadn’t, because about 20% of all the jokes I’ve been sent have been about drone deliveries. There are too many April Fools’ Day jokes about drone deliveries. Guys, use your imagination. I gave you the option of doing a photo of Nigel Farage in a turban earlier, and none of you have done that. Not one of you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m disappointed. 11.19am BST I don’t even know if this is an April Fools’ joke or not. I mean it looks like one, and they’ve made the advert look like Ellen Burstyn’s mental breakdown in Requiem For a Dream, which surely no serious advert would ever do, but there’s still something horribly feasible about it. In summary: I’m scared of the future. 11.14am BST INT. MARMITE HQ. DAYA group of TIRED-LOOKING OLD MARMITE PEOPLE sit around a table, clearly in the throes of deep self-hatred.Proud to introduce the newest member of the family… Say hello to #MarmiteClear everyone! pic.twitter.com/TTDa5cwUd9 11.08am BST I’m so pleased this liveblog will be over in an hour. I’ve lost the ability to trust anything any more. I just deleted an email about cheap holidays without reading it, for fear that it’d contain a hopelessly Photoshopped image of someone from TOWIE licking a bicycle made of ants or whatever. I just want this to end. That’s all I want. 11.05am BST Time Out knows how April Fools’ Day works. It’s not about brand management. It’s about convincing people to sustain serious injuries as they topple helplessly down an endless metal subterranean hellmouth. More of this next year, please. 10.58am BST On one had it makes me impossibly sad that the Albert Hall has done an April Fools’ Day joke. On the other hand, this is possibly my favourite one so far. I mean, it’s no literally just a photo of a woman standing next to a horse, but it’s still pretty good.Unearthed documents reveal that the Hall was furious at being namechecked in a Beatles song: http://t.co/CTgFq6nS8U pic.twitter.com/AjwX8GBBst 10.55am BST I actually know a guy who did this. The despair and regret he feels every day is unparalleled. So thanks for this.Turn your staff into promo items with our new tattoo service from #LogoXTatts, prices starting at £99 per person pic.twitter.com/5pZiXYt1ck 10.50am BST I think I spotted a typo in this tweet:We've replaced the inside of Oreos with toothpaste and put them in our kitchen. Now we play the waiting game. pic.twitter.com/OJBLxLo9DZ 10.44am BST I feel like I should mention this one from my local paper, purely because I have a feeling that working there is the next logical step after liveblogging April Fools’ Day. They’ve Photoshopped something onto a local roundabout. It’s either a screwdriver or a buttplug but either way GREAT JOB GUYS PLEASE HIRE ME I’M NOT ALWAYS LIKE THIS I ALSO HAVE A COLUMN ABOUT MY BABY THAT’S ACTUALLY QUITE TOUCHING. 10.34am BST Another sterling example of what April Fools’ Day is supposed to be about. Remember, the true meaning of April Fools’ Day isn’t taking a picture of a woman next to a horse and somehow thinking that you’ve achieved anything. It’s making people you know feel embarrassed and hurt. Remember that.Oh this is good RT @paulcoxon: So many people are falling for this :D #AprilFools pic.twitter.com/zFkwZIm3Ch 10.31am BST Props to Nature, though, for writing an article about why dragons are real with such unswerving verisimilitude that I read one line, thought ‘this is too clever for me’ and took their word for it, as I have with every Nature article I’ve ever tried to read. 10.27am BST Right, look, I’m getting pummelled with bloody PR emails at the moment. To save everyone a lot of time and emotional energy I’m just going to bulletpoint them for you. 10.14am BST This – this – is what April Fool’s Day should be really about. Let’s never forget that.One April Fool's Day my mum gave us orange juice mixed with milk. We were really little & were nearly sick. She still laughs about it 10.12am BST Meanwhile, on whatever planet Sam Smith is currently orbiting:Guys I have some news... I'm straight 10.08am BST But remember, kids, April Fools’ Day isn’t just a day where brands get to forlornly PhotoShop a load of nothingy crap in the hope that they’ll receive a single pity-retweet from the social media coordinator’s mum in return. No, it’s also when newspapers get to write barely amusing stories that nobody actually finishes because their attention spans have been obliterated by GIFs and tweets. And so I bring you The Independent’s effort, which is about a university renaming itself after King Richard III in the wake of last week’s reburiazzzzzzzzzz. 9.58am BST Guys, you’re not even trying. YOU’RE NOT EVEN TRYING.@stuheritage Don't be an April Fool's neigh-sayer Stu. You're still the mane man in our eyes. #HorseofFraser pic.twitter.com/mcX53nierX 9.56am BST This is interesting. I just looked up ‘April Fools’ Day’ in the dictionary. Look what it says:noun [C usually singular] UK /ˌeɪ.prəlˈfuːlzˌdeɪ/ ( UK also All Fools’ Day) US› 1 April, a day when people play tricks on other people 9.49am BST Hey, thanks The Verge, this story about Microsoft bringing out a new MS-DOS for smartphones is really interesti... wait a minute, what’s that URL? I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t stop slapping my forehead and shaking my fist! The Verge, this is all your fault! 9.42am BST INT. TESCO HQ. DAYA group of TIRED-LOOKING OLD EXECUTIVES sit around a table, clearly in the throes of deep self-hatred.Bouncy aisles were developed with #TOWIE's @lucy_meck. She'll also be passing on her Tumble skills to our colleagues! pic.twitter.com/1VoQh9w3Hq 9.32am BST Tumblr – which, for anyone older than 14, is where kids go to get their BDSM pornography and fan-art pencil sketches of Tom Hiddleston these days – has announced a new executive suite. Presumably it’s for people who prefer spreadsheets to glittery crayon drawings of Sherlock Holmes kissing Smaug the dragon with tongues in a rainbow. Apparently those people exist. 9.21am BST ANOTHER DRINKING GAME UPDATE:Remember that thing about someone killing the Easter bunny? Step forward The Reykjavik Grapevine, creators of the story ‘Police: Easter Bunny Killed?’ In a bizarre reaction to the death of three rabbits, the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police ponder if the Easter bunny was run over last night in Breiðholt. 9.11am BST DRINKING GAME UPDATE:Remember that thing about the Google Glass you have to push up your bum? Step forward Firebox.com. It’s just announced something called an Inner Selfie-Stick, which, yep:The comfortable, slimline design of the insertion tube measures a mere 13.97 cm - however a pocket sized bottle of lubricant is also included should nerves kick in. Extendable up to 110 cm, there’s no nook or cranny this stick won’t reach. 9.01am BST I’ve just realised something. In the interests of fairness, at some point before midday I’m going to have to be mean about The Guardian’s April Fools’ Day prank. It’s got the bloody boss in it and everything. This is a disaster. I’ve been hoisted by my own petard. Note to self: do not be rude about any April Fools’ jokes you find on online recruitment sites today. 8.56am BST STOP THE PRESS. An April Fools’ joke has made me smile. Well, not exactly smile, but it didn’t make me say ‘I hate this joke of a world and everything in it’ out loud, which is new. This must be what Stockholm Syndrome feels like.Anyway, well done to the Radio Times for suggesting that Ant and Dec are becoming a trio called Ant and Dec and Anton Du Beke. 8.52am BST You? Did you enjoy BBC Two’s Wolf Hall? Would you like to buy an intricate and highly-detailed replica codpiece, perhaps because you’re a genuine history enthusiast? Luckily, the BBC shop now sells them!ONLY JOKING! APRIL FOOL! Serves you right for getting your hopes up, you codpiece-liking weirdo. 8.47am BST INT. SANTANDER HQ. DAYA group of TIRED-LOOKING OLD BANKERS sit around a table, clearly in the throes of deep self-hatred. Coming soon to a London street near you? Santander announces plans for first Cycle-Thru branch #SantanderCycles pic.twitter.com/odIxr7Eftd 8.34am BST Really, for this liveblog to have any sort of momentum, I should be listing the pranks in reverse order of rubbishness, so that I can build it to a satisfying crescendo at midday. However, I’ve just seen this on Sun Nation, the weird free Buzzfeedy thing that The Sun has started, and I dare you to find something worse: 8.25am BST This is more like it. Next year, all companies should defer to me before deciding on their April Fools’ jokes. I am April Fools’ Lord! Admire my crown of tears and defeat!@stuheritage We're in a panic because we haven't got one planned. Please tell us what prank to do immediately, April Fool's Lord. 8.20am BST According to Standard Issue, a UKIP candidate wants to tax childless women. He’s calling the policy the Spare Womb Tax! Womb! Get it? Because ‘womb’ sounds like ‘room’! Failed iterations of this joke included ‘They’re making a new period drama that’s really about periods. It’s called Womb With A View’, ‘They’re making a robotic hoover the size of a pantyliner. It’s called a Womb-a’ and ‘An architect has made the world’s first compartmentalised home for unborn children, featuring a living womb, a bathwomb, a bedwomb and a kitchen. No wait, that didn’t work. An attic. No, wait, that didn’t work either. Kill me now’. 8.12am BST Incidentally, the only thing in the world less funny than April Fools’ Day is people who point at real news stories and go ‘LOL HA HA HA SATIRE!!!’ at them. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Guardian commenter Fibmac70“You missed that Camoron zinger about the two million jobs he is going to create in his next (make that his first) term of office!” 8.03am BST Remember that drinking game from earlier?@stuheritage and you were close with your voting/tweeting guess ... http://t.co/ypkGajaYYu *knocks back shot* 8.02am BST The Evening Standard have revealed that Chelsea and Arsenal are going to build a ‘half-half’ statue of Ashley Cole, because he used to play for both of them or something. This is notable for two reasons. First, judging by the piece, it seems as if the statue will closely resemble a terrible PhotoShop of Ashley Cole that was done by an intern at midnight last night. 7.53am BST Like Pies? Like candles? Here’s a candle that smells like a pie! 7.43am BST In other news, never tell people to tweet April Fools’ Day gags at you. Never do that. I’m drowning in awful jokes here. This must be what it’s like to work on Mock The Week. 7.41am BST Obviously it’s been April Fools’ Day in Australia for ages, and they’re now in the part of the day where nobody’s making them sit around liveblogging April Fools’ Day like they have nothing better to do. So here’s what they came up with, including:Australia Post are letting people wrap themselves up in paper and mail themselves now hahaha. This is especially funny because it sounds a bit human trafficky. 7.09am BST Before we get going – and before I’ve actually seen any of them – let’s play a quick April Fools’ drinking game. I’m going to list a bunch of potential April Fools’ gags, and if any of them actually turn out to be a real thing that someone publishes, we can all reward ourselves with a deep sad sigh at the state of humanity. Ready? 7.00am BST Hello, my name is Aprol Fiol and cows have got fingers now or whatever. ONLY JOKING! APRIL FOOL!If that’s the kind of high-concept japery you find amusing, then a) I hate you and b) you’ve come to the right place. Hello, my name is Stuart Heritage and this is The Guardian’s April Fools’ Day liveblog 2015. Over the next five hours, I’ll be bringing you all the April Fool gags from this morning’s papers and beyond, and it’s going to be a fun-filled, side-splitting, laugh-a-minute bantathon from beginning to end. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:01:46 GMT)

Six ways the Dutch are nailing student life
Being a student in the UK can be stressful and intense – so I’m glad I opted for the easygoing NetherlandsIt wasn’t easy for me to turn down a place at Cambridge in favour of studying in Amsterdam. As the end of my first year approaches, however, I’m in no doubt that I made the right choice.After an international childhood spent living in four different countries, I wanted to be in a global city. I also wasn’t sure which subject I wanted to study, and the liberal arts course at Amsterdam University College allows me to explore a range of options. Related: Exchange students: how to survive abroad on a shoestring Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:59:29 GMT)

Bird 'backpacks' help scientists discover the longest oversea migration
By fitting it with tiny geolocators, scientists have proven that the blackpoll warbler completes the longest known oversea journey for any land birdA tiny North American songbird migrates 1,500 miles non-stop over the Atlantic, scientists have discovered, in the longest known oversea journey for any land bird.The blackpoll warbler weighs only as much as a £2 coin and normally lives in forest environments, but once a year it embarks on a perilous three-day journey, scientists have found. Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:00:00 GMT)

Raheem Sterling insists he is not ‘a money-grabbing 20-year-old’
• England man confirms no contract talks until the end of Liverpool’s season • Sterling stops short of saying he wants to extend stay at Anfield• Raheem Sterling contract talks hit deadlock Raheem Sterling has insisted he is not “a money-grabbing 20-year-old” despite his contract impasse at Liverpool.The England international has rejected what his manager Brendan Rodgers described as an “incredible offer”, with estimates varying anywhere from £100,000 a week to £180,000 week, and has said he will not hold any further discussions until the end of the season. Sterling still has more than two years to run on his current £35,000-a-week deal so there is no immediate threat of him leaving, but Rodgers has said previously that Liverpool will not pay above what they feel a player is worth. Related: Football transfer rumours: Arsenal to move for Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:57:38 GMT)

Britain’s Aaron Cook wants to compete for Moldova at Rio Olympics
• 24-year-old has been granted passport from eastern European nation• Cook fell out with Team GB over selection for London 2012• Cook taekwondo row ‘embarrassing’ BritainBritish taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook has confirmed he plans to compete for Moldova at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.Dorset-born Cook, 24, who was overlooked for the Great Britain taekwondo squad at London 2012, applied for citizenship after receiving funding from Moldovan billionaire Igor Iuzefovici and has now received his passport from the small eastern European state. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:22:50 GMT)

Police ready to take hard line at Sunderland versus Newcastle match
• Fears that late kick-off could fuel drunken misbehaviour• Miscreants ‘will be dealt with swiftly and firmly’• Newcastle United announce record profits of £19m for 2013-14 season Northumbria police have warned Sunderland and Newcastle United supporters that anyone caught provoking trouble during Sunday’s derby at the Stadium of Light can expect to receive firm treatment from its officers.The 4pm kick-off has prompted fears that violence could once again overshadow a fixture frequently blemished by ugly scenes. As part of an endeavour to minimise drinking time, all derbies since 2006 have been scheduled for lunchtime but this match was pushed back after being selected as Sky’s late afternoon game. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:10:47 GMT)

Grand National 2015: Jonjo O’Neill hoping Shutthefrontdoor runs a blinder
• Aintree favourite has good chance despite being ‘a right old softie’• O’Neill discusses of educational skills used by Tony McCoyTony McCoy may be concerned to learn that his mount in next week’s Grand National has been described as “timid” and “soft” by no less an authority than its trainer, Jonjo O’Neill. But Shutthefrontdoor still has excellent prospects in the famous Aintree race, according to O’Neill, who provided McCoy with his previous winning ride in the race, Don’t Push It.Asked to compare the two horses, O’Neill said he was happier with Shutthefrontdoor’s preparation than he had been with his eventual winner at the same stage in 2010. “Don’t Push It was a bit of a law unto himself. This is a lovely horse, this is a real old pet. The other fella was half mad, really, a character. This fella could be a little bit timid, a bit soft.” Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:15:47 GMT)

Euro 2016 qualifiers and friendlies: 10 talking points from the latest action
This could be Wales’s time, more bother for Vincent Kompany, a face-saving win for Guus Hiddink and much more to discuss from the past weekThe road to France is clearing for Wales and things were smoothed further when Belgium held on for a 1-0 win in Israel on Tuesday night. It confirmed Wales’s second place in the group at the halfway stage (two points clear of the Israelis) and gave further evidence that Israel are short of the quality needed to make the top two. Further good news was the red card picked up by Vincent Kompany in Tel Aviv, which would mean that he misses what now looks like Wales’s biggest game in years when Belgium visit Cardiff on 12 June. Things are going in their favour, but their quality is coming through now as well and the presence of both Gareth Bale (twice) and Aaron Ramsey on the scoresheet on Saturday augurs well; if Bosnia-Herzegovina, who still entertain hopes of catching Wales from six points behind, have Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic then Wales have these two and arguably greater depth beyond them than their rivals. Joe Allen was outstanding against Israel too, and it is no coincidence that, with Allen and Bale now 25 and Ramsey 24, Wales are hitting form as their biggest talents enter their peak years. A couple of wins from the next four games would probably ensure that things are firmly under control by the time they face Andorra in their last game. Chris Coleman cannot look that far ahead yet, and it would be a crying shame if Wales’s golden generation let this slip, but there is an air of authority that suggests their time is coming. Nick Ames Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:33:20 GMT)

Jason Gillespie: Joe Root is ready to lead England … he would embrace it
Yorkshire’s head coach has helped six of his County Championship-winning side into the England squad and will begin the title defence seriously down on numbers but Gillespie chooses to look at the positives• Mum’s tears have Adam Lyth crying over England call to tour West IndiesPart of our job is to help these lads achieve the dream of playing for their country,” admits the Yorkshire head coach, Jason Gillespie, whose side will go into the first month of their County Championship title defence missing six players on international duty with England in the Caribbean. The price of success is a great big hole in his first team.The three-Test series against West Indies starting on 13 April could, in theory at least, see Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett, along with the uncapped Adil Rashid and Adam Lyth, equal the record set by the sextet of Nottinghamshire cricketers who represented England against Australia in Sydney in 1887 – the most from one county. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:11:18 GMT)

Saeed Ajmal’s new bowling action gives Worcestershire no guarantees
• County ‘will have to wait and see’ on returning spinner’s technique• Ajmal was banned in September for throwing and forced to change action• Ajmal cleared to return after testingSaeed Ajmal is poised to return to county cricket this summer but his club admit there are doubts about the effectiveness of the Pakistan spinner’s remodelled action.The 37-year-old claimed 63 wickets in only nine matches last season, helping to power Worcestershire to promotion from Division Two, only to be banned in September after being called for throwing during a Test in Sri Lanka the previous month. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:54:50 GMT)

How IMG spreads Premier League’s global brand – from a trading estate near Heathrow
The Premier League’s commercial TV juggernaut heavily relies on the strongly branded and relentless content generated by the London-based media company, and there’s no sign of audience appetite waning• Premier League promises to share £1bn of TV dealThe secret to the English top flight’s mind-blowing commercial success overseas is not to be found in the Premier League Live events that aim to spread its gospel to new places, most recently Mumbai.Nor in Lagos or Lilongwe, where unofficial replica shirts and liveried taxis bear witness to its strength throughout Africa. Nor in Sydney or Melbourne, where huge crowds last summer greeted Liverpool and Manchester United. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:00:00 GMT)

As analytics enlighten across sports, tennis remains stuck in dark age
Tennis has an analytics problem – and it’s time for the decentralized powers governing the sport to play ball with the publicAs the language of sports grows evermore entwined with analytics, new words and ideas are created from numbers. In baseball, ‘WAR’ (Wins Above Replacement) measures each player’s contributions to his team’s success based on data from each event on the field. In hockey, ‘Corsi’ uses shot attempts and shift data to measure how each player contributes to his team’s puck possession. These sports, as well as basketball and football, all have dozens of new concepts and acronyms inspired by ever-growing troves of statistical databases.But in tennis, there have been few if any new words or ideas, because the numbers to inspire them have been invisible to the public. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:30:02 GMT)

Roy Hodgson should not be criticised for experiment that went wrong
England manager under fire over use of Phil Jones and Theo Walcott against Italy but there is no harm in finding out that something does not work• England 1-1 Italy: Daniel Taylor’s match report• Simon Burnton: Five talking points from Turin friendly• Andros Townsend hits back at critics after Italy drawThe immediate reaction inspired by Roy Hodgson’s selection for the friendly against Italy was to lower expectations and come to terms with the likelihood it was going to be an evening of the purest English stodge. Phil Jones was going to offer his unique take on a role perfected by Andrea Pirlo, Wayne Rooney was in midfield, Theo Walcott was up front and it was not obvious how England were planning to penetrate a side who were set up to squeeze the space in front of their defence and counterattack swiftly.All of which meant there could be no surprise about a first half in which England’s flaws – the skittishness in possession, the predictable movement, the lack of imagination – were sorely evident. Italy deservedly led at half-time through Graziano Pellè’s header and England were fortunate it was only 1-0. You could hear the alarm bells ringing in Hodgson’s head. England were sleepwalking towards another kicking. “We were definitely told at half-time that we needed to change that,” Kieran Gibbs said. “We did.” Related: Euro 2016 qualifiers and friendlies: 10 talking points from the latest action Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:54:49 GMT)

ICC president Mustafa Kamal resigns with scathing attack on ‘ugly people’
• President exits with outspoken attack on Indian and ICC officials• ‘People will find out why I have resigned and unearth the truth’• ICC claim Kamal resigned ‘offering his apologies to all at the ICC’• Kamal issues threat to reveal ‘mischievous things’Days after threatening to reveal “mischievous things” about the International Cricket Council, the governing body’s president, Mustafa Kamal, has resigned with an outspoken attack on its officials.Kamal said he had resigned after being denied the right as ICC head to award the World Cup trophy to the winners, Australia, in Sunday’s final in Melbourne. Related: Incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves goes to bat for four-day Tests Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:34:14 GMT)

Hearts to feature Save the Children on shirts for next three seasons
• Seven-figure sum to be split between charity and club• Payday company Wonga was previous kit sponsorThe name of Save the Children will appear on the strips of Heart of Midlothian for the next three seasons, after the Edinburgh club announced an historic tie-up with the charity on Wednesday.A group of anonymous Hearts-supporting businesspeople contacted the club’s owner, Ann Budge, several months ago with a view to offering financial support. The upshot was a unique deal whereby what Budge confirmed as a “significant seven-figure sum” will be split between the charity and football club. Hearts will become the first UK side to carry the name of a worldwide charity on their home and away tops having rejected standard shirt-sponsorship opportunities. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:05:02 GMT)

Northampton’s George North to miss Clermont after latest concussion
• Wales wing misses European Champions Cup quarter-final• North was knocked unconscious again during win over Wasps• Wasps players attack three-week ban given to Nathan Hughes• Dai Young says Wasps will contest ‘really harsh’ ban• RFU release details of Hughes disciplinary hearing [pdf]The Wales wing George North will not play for Northampton in Saturday’s European Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne after his latest head injury.North has been knocked unconscious three times in recent months, the last of them in last Friday’s 52-30 win over Wasps.Does this picture look like Nathan has intentionally hurt North? Bizarre decision that seems out of touch. pic.twitter.com/sx6NMkJtRQ Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:18:18 GMT)

Real Madrid agree £23m deal for Porto’s Brazil international defender Danilo
• 23-year-old Brazil right-back will join Real next season• Danilo, who joined Porto in January 2012, signs six-year deal • Javier Hernández reveals frustration at lack of playing time• Zinedine Zidane expresses interest in managing Real one dayReal Madrid have reached an agreement with Porto to sign their Brazil right-back Danilo for a fee of £23m.The 23-year-old Brazil international, who has agreed a six-year contract until 30 June 2021, will join the La Liga club next season. Related: Football transfer rumours: Arsenal to move for AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:20:00 GMT)

Andy Murray reaches 500 milestone in Miami Open but it is no cakewalk
• Murray beats Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach quarter-finals • ‘I have a number in mind before I finish my career,’ says MurrayAndy Murray racked up his 500th career win by beating Kevin Anderson over three sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He needed a little over two hours to dispatch the South African 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, passing an important personal milestone while making the last eight of a competition which has seen Rafael Nadal make an early exit.Murray fired down two aces in response to Anderson’s 11, with his first serve malfunctioning as he surrendered the second set before rallying to end the world No17’s challenge in Florida. Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:10:14 GMT)

Beyond the Westminster bubble, nobody cares about the TV debates
The artificiality of the debates makes them simply a spectacle, not an exercise in accountability, and they make no difference to an election’s outcomeWhen I worked in 10 Downing Street for David Cameron I had a quote from Tony Blair’s memoirs on the wall next to my desk – and used to include it in as many presentations as I could get away with, because it captures a defining fact about politics and elections.“The single hardest thing for a practising politician to understand,” Blair wrote, “is that most people, most of the time, don’t give politics a first thought all day long.” The reason why this matters so much, he concluded, is that it leads politicians to “focus on the small picture, not the big picture”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:47:09 GMT)

Trevor Noah sent 8,882 tweets. Some weren't funny. Get over it
Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show has been accused of being an antisemite, racist and sexist. Noah should ignore the dramaComedians exist to make people laugh, often by pushing boundaries and saying things that the rest of us don’t dare say. Comedians, like Shakespeare’s fools, speak a truth – even if it’s an ugly one, and even if it’s not their truth. Some jokes are real knee-slappers, some make us chuckle, some fall completely flat and others make us think. Anyone serious about being funny will at least attempt to go there, with the collective understanding that it’s not serious and that we’re all here to have a good time. No harm done.On Monday Comedy Central unveiled the man set to replace Jon Stewart on their flagship comedy news program The Daily Show: 31 year-old South African comedian Trevor Noah, a relative unknown. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:29:46 GMT)

We can't live, if living is without George Osborne
Chancellor found himself visiting two of the very same companies whose bosses had written to the Telegraph thanking the Conservatives for saving the economyOn the very day that 103 business leaders signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph thanking the Conservatives for their magnificent handling of the economy, George Osborne just happened to find himself dropping in on two of the companies whose head honchos had been signatories of the billet-doux. Truly God moves in mysterious ways; though it never hurts to make your own luck.After necking a quick pint at Marston’s brewery in Wolverhampton at lunchtime, Osborne headed north to the Britvic soft drinks factory on the outskirts of Leeds. Here the chairman Gerald Corbett was so thrilled by the pace of the country’s economic recovery that he had shut down the entire plant for the afternoon to allow his staff to worship at the shrine of St George. “Thank you, thank you, Chancellor,” Gerry gushed. It was very much a first names kind of day. “Thank you for visiting and for making me whole. You complete me. You are my rock. I can’t live, if living is without you…” Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:36:59 GMT)

Why call a royal baby Alice? Purple Rain gets my vote
For Kate and William, naming the second baby must be a minefield. Alice is the hot favourite, but other more exotic options are sadly off the tableOne of the most useful bits of advice for when you get pregnant is don’t tell anyone the names you are considering for your offspring. This is something that Kate and William, Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, are surely aware of, although there is probably a constitutional naming committee set up to advise the expectant royal parents. Apparently, bookies are already refusing bets that the girl (and we don’t know if it’s a girl yet) will be called Alice.As soon as you suggest possible names for the contents of your belly, everyone has an opinion. Everyone knows someone with that name, and that person was either absolutely fantastic or the worst person who ever lived. You will be informed of all the possible nicknames or taunts that they will be given by your pathologically unfunny acquaintances; “A Town Called Alice!” “Who The Fuck is Alice?!” “watch out for rabbit holes!”'She may try to change the world, like Alice Paul or Alice Walker' Related: New Zealand sees no Justice in quirky baby names Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:57:29 GMT)

The Germanwings crash was a tragedy for our school. Then the press descended
We wanted space to grieve for fellow students and teachers killed in last week’s appalling air crash. But the ruthlessness of some journalists made it impossibleTo begin with, a small note about myself: I am a student at the Joseph-König high school in Haltern, Germany. I knew both the teachers and some of the students who were killed in the Germanwings plane crash in the south of France on 24 March. I was not the best friend of any of the victims, and nor do I claim to be a representative or spokesperson for all of the students, but I would like to write about something many people I have spoken to have experienced: dubious methods of journalism when dealing with the grieving.Let me start chronologically: Tuesday, 1.05pm. An announcement from our headmaster: all students should go home, something had happened, but the early termination of lessons should not be taken as a cause for celebration. Some already knew what might be happening. The date of the exchange with the Spanish school had been announced in the school newsletter, and some students use their smartphones in the classroom during lessons. All of us knew that the plane was supposed to land in Düsseldorf. Related: Should the media rethink how they cover disasters? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:39:51 GMT)

April Fools' pranks reveal the unfunny future of consumerism
Companies’ prank products reflect consumer demands in a slightly exaggerated alternate universe, but they could also be future marketing hooks The tech industry, hovering constantly one buzzword away from self-parody, is a hostile environment for mockery. So why are tech companies such zealous April Fools participants, second only perhaps to my cousin, who once pranked my grandmother by snail mail because she’d been warned not to believe anything he said on the phone on 1 April? This year’s tech industry April Fools’ pranks started sliding out a day in advance. Maybe companies couldn’t bear to keep their jokes under wraps, or maybe they thought they’d sucker more people with a 31 March-dated press release. How else do you explain that, one day before 1 April, we already had Google Panda (a huggable version of Siri), the Samsung Galaxy BLADE edge (which turns your phone into a cleaver), and PACMaps, which merges PacMan with Google Maps. As usual, tech companies are falling all over each other to roll out a gag product, though this is the first time I’ve noticed them being so eager that they bring them out a day early. As usual the offerings are mildly funny, mildly annoying and only barely distinguishable from actual real-life products offered for sale. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:45:07 GMT)

What I saw at the Nigerian polling booths was inspirational. Brits could learn from it
Corrupt politicians? Identikit parties? Nigerians have the same reasons as us to not bother voting – plus 38C heat and day-long queues. But there was no sign of apathyAt 3am this morning, the official announcement came. Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate for the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), had gained 15.4 million votes; the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic party (PDP), had won 12.9m. Jonathan had already made a telephone call to Buhari the night before, conceding defeat.This is a landmark moment for Nigeria. It is the first time a sitting president has conceded defeat, and will lead to the democratic handover of power for the first time in the country’s history.Joy at being part of the democratic process was something I encountered everywhere I went Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:10:00 GMT)

Rosamund Pike as Bond? Ed Miliband is the man with the Midas touch
Ideas win elections, not kitchens or debates. And this one from Miliband is a simple stroke of brilliance that says so muchThe election campaign can stop here. There is not going to be a better idea. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, thinks Rosamund Pike should be the next Bond. This is, simply, the perfect proposal – perfect for Bond and incidentally pretty good as a piece of political positioning, all the better for looking like the sort of off-the-cuff idea you would like your prime minister to be capable of having.Pike is surely out in front as the actor of her generation. Most recently she was in Gone Girl as the woman who sat down and invented her life and also her husband’s; plausible, irresistible and icily cruel as she plotted the perfect revenge. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:07:15 GMT)

Telegraph is the Torygraph again with this Conservative propaganda
ELECTION MEDIA WATCH: Forget the other parties, blue papers attack Labour The Daily Telegraph is the Daily Torygraph all over again. Today’s front page resembles a Conservative campaign poster with a huge headline announcing that 100 very rich people are urging much poorer people not to vote Labour.The “coalition” of business executives have written “an exclusive letter to the Telegraph” in which they claim a Labour government would “threaten jobs and deter investment” in the UK. “The point is no one really knows what Labour would do. It is this uncertainty and the party’s track record for mismanaging the public finances that has alarmed business leaders, just as it should alarm the country”.“This paper finds it baffling how anyone – young or old, rich or poor, employed or looking for a job – should even consider putting Britain’s economy back into the hands of the union-dominated Left that has repeatedly destroyed it. Heaven knows, it’s a straightforward enough message. When will the Tories muster the passion to get it across?”“This figure fails even the most basic tests of plausibility. Quick examination by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed multiple sleights of hand, including the arbitrary accumulation of four years’ putative tax into one, and positing a fiscal target that Labour would not need to hit”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:19:59 GMT)

Is this a dark age for parenting?
A panel of writers consider if, in an era of pornography addiction, e-cigarettes and video game violence, the job of a parent is genuinely tougher than everEvery day there seems to be a new story highlighting the dangers facing children and teenagers. Yesterday, for instance, it was reported that 10% of 12- to 13-year-olds are worried that they might be addicted to pornography – and also that one in five 14- to 17-year-olds have tried or bought e-cigarettes. There was a report last week that teenage boys spend an average of eight hours in front of a screen each day, a figure which just adds to the swirling anxieties around cyberbullying and video game violence. So, in the midst of all this, are we living in a particularly dark age for parenting, or one of the sunnier eras on record? Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:04:16 GMT)

Improving mental health should be a priority in this election
Nick Clegg deserves praise for pushing the mental health agenda. The campaign against smoking shows the preventative approach politicians need to takeTo be fair to Nick Clegg … you won’t find me saying these words too often, what with his broken promises and his propping up of one of the nastiest, most rightwing and incompetent Tory governments we have known. But – to be fair to Clegg – he has at least helped drive mental health and mental illness up the political agenda. He has been a consistent supporter of the Time to Change campaign. He made mental health the centrepiece of his conference speech, and the subject of his first major outing of the election campaign, with a Lib Dem manifesto commitment pledge of £3.5bn funding for mental health over the next parliament. Related: I’ve suffered from depression. The only life I’ve ever considered taking is my own | Matt Haig Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:33:14 GMT)

Don't stress out. Our kids are just fine when their mothers work late
The so-called Mommy Wars aren’t just hurting women – they’re hurting kids as well. So why don’t we end the omnipresent guilt?Some welcome news for working moms: you can stay late at the office tonight and your kid will be just fine. A new study published this April in the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that the widely-held belief that young children do better when their mothers spend significant time with them is actually wrong: kids are okay no matter how many hours mom works. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:30:02 GMT)

I was Paloma Faith’s support act – but politics can’t reach the parts music can
Times change and musicians seem much less political these days, but can we discover new songs of struggle, and music that will change the world? Music can inspire, move, even devastate, like few cultural forms. Its functions and roles differ: making that morning jogor an afternoon of exam revision bearable, the backdrop to millions of unforgettable nights out, the comfort blanket after the traumatic end of a relationship.Music can date our lives like the rings of a tree trunk. We sometimes listen to a song because it conjures up a period of our lives. And because of its raw emotional power, music has the potential to make us contemplate social injustice more effectively than any column the likes of me can churn out. Yet this function has been neglected – partly by circumstance, partly by conspiracy. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 06:00:08 GMT)

Ex-policeman who leaked Milly Dowler information to the Sun is jailed
Simon Quinn made £7,000 from tips over a decade while he worked as a detective constable at Surrey policeA former police officer who leaked details of the Milly Dowler investigation to the Sun newspaper has been jailed for 18 months.Over the course of more than a decade, Simon Quinn, 43, made £7,000 from tips to the tabloid while he worked as a detective constable at Surrey police. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:15:06 GMT)

Kurds protest in support of British teenager at terrorism hearing
Two dozen protesters gathered outside London’s Old Bailey at the pre-trial hearing of Shilan Ozcelik, 18, charged in relation to activities in Syria and IraqA small but noisy group of Kurdish protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday to protest at terrorism charges brought against a British teenager. Shilan Ozcelik , an 18-year-old of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:58:25 GMT)

Direct Assist goes into liquidation after being fined £80,000 for nuisance calls
The Bolton-based personal injury claims company were reported to the government watchdog more than 800 times for plaguing householdersA Bolton-based personal injuries claims management company has gone into liquidation after being fined £80,000 by a government watchdog for plaguing householders withnuisance calls. In a deluge of consumer complaints about Direct Assist – which offers access to solicitors for claims – 801 concerns were registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) between January 2013 and July 2014. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:01:16 GMT)

Russian opposition activist is granted asylum in UK
Anti-corruption campaigner and ally of prominent Vladimir Putin critic has sought asylum after being accused of embezzlement in RussiaFacing prosecution in his homeland, an ally of Russia’s leading opposition activist and anti-corruption campaigner has received political asylum in the UK.Former banker Vladimir Ashurkov is the executive director of the anti-corruption fund led by Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of president Vladimir Putin who was recently convicted of fraud in a trial that was widely seen as politically motivated. Related: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny given suspended sentence and brother jailed Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:23:19 GMT)

Secret terror trial: two men jailed over bomb-making manual
Sentencing of Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar concludes one of the most secretive trials held in the UK One of the most secretive trials held in Britain since the second world war has ended with two men being jailed for possession of bomb-making manuals.Erol Incedal was jailed for 42 months for possession of a document likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism, while Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, who had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, was sentenced to three years. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:44:27 GMT)

Rabbi credited with helping John Galliano make amends with Jewish community speaks
Rabbi Barry Marcus struck up friendship with disgraced designer after Galliano’s outburst in 2011A London-based rabbi credited with helping John Galliano make amends with the Jewish community has spoken out in defence of the designer.Rabbi Barry Marcus, an active promoter of Holocaust remembrance and education, was enlisted by the AntiDefamation League in New York to try to help the disgraced designer build bridges with the Jewish community after a failed attempt to make peace with the Jewish community in Paris. Related: John Galliano found guilty of racist and antisemitic abuse Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:30:43 GMT)

'Kidnap Obama': Ukip candidate Jeremy Zeid replaced after outburst
Party’s nominee for London seat of Hendon had posted on Facebook that Israel should ‘do an Eichmann’ on US president after nuclear memo was declassifiedJeremy Zeid, a Ukip candidate in Britain’s 2015 election, has been replaced after writing on Facebook that Israel should “kidnap” Barack Obama.The post by Zeid was a response to the declassifying of US federal government documents on Israel’s secret nuclear programme and was written last week as he prepared to run for a seat in the election on 7 May. Related: Ukip faces crisis after suspensions and racism claims Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:45:52 GMT)

Scotch whisky exports slump by 7% as key export markets dry up
US leads sales decline after decade of strong global growth with purchases also slumping at home in UKScotch whisky exports fell last year for the first time in a decade, declining by 7% to £3.9bn, adding to the industry’s difficulties with domestic sales during 2014.The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) blamed weaker economic conditions in some markets and political volatility in others for the decline, with the volume of whisky sales overseas also falling by 3% to 1.2bn standard bottles. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:37:53 GMT)

Widow of property investor Jack Dellal wins round of legal battle over estate
High court is told Ruanne Dellal inherited £15.4m but her husband, who died in 2012, must have given away some of his fortune without her knowledge The multi-millionaire widow of a property dealer said to have gambled £1.7m in one night has won the latest round of a legal battle for “reasonable provision”.Jack Dellal, who died in October 2012 aged 89, left his supposedly entire £15.4m estate to his widow, Ruanne, who now says that figure was an “absurd presentation” of the true scale of her husband’s wealth. She says if the fortune had shrunk to £15.4m he must have given money away to blood relatives without her knowledge. Related: Jack Dellal obituary Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:02:05 GMT)

UK productivity growth is weakest since second world war, says ONS
As data shows 0.2% drop in output, two-thirds of leading UK economists say coalition austerity has been bad for the economyDavid Cameron has presided over an economy with the weakest productivity record of any government since the second world war, the Office for National Statistics said as it revealed output per worker fell again in the final three months of 2014.The ONS said productivity decreased by 0.2% in the third quarter of the financial year, leaving output per hour worked little changed on the previous year and slightly lower than in 2007, before the UK’s longest and deepest modern recession. Related: Election 2015: 100 business leaders sign letter backing the Conservatives – live Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:04:26 GMT)

Superdrug criticised by doctors for stocking genetic self-testing kits
Campaigners also accuse high street chain of ‘acting irresponsibly’ after retailer teams up with 23andMe to sell products currently banned in the USThe leader of Britain’s GPs has warned that doctors are “extremely worried” by the sale of genetic self-testing kits by the Superdrug chain which started on Tuesday.Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, suggested the move would lead to “unnecessary worry and anxiety” for patients and have huge implications for doctors already struggling to care for those with increasingly complex diseases. Related: DNA-screening test 23andMe launches in UK after US ban Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:59:43 GMT)

CPS seeks retrial for prison officer after conviction quashed
Lord Chief Justice accedes to request for retrial over alleged payments for leaks to newspapers as review of Operation Elveden cases continuesA prison officer whose conviction over leaks to newspapers was quashed by the court of appeal is facing a retrial, it has been confirmed.The Lord Chief Justice sitting in the court of appeal acceded to the request by the Crown Prosecution Service in a special hearing at the high court on Wednesday. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:24:32 GMT)

Children clung to father during Northern Ireland 'punishment' attack
Man in hospital in Derry says he feared for safety of son and daughter, five and nine, during beating by a masked gang of suspected New IRA paramilitaries Two young children clung to their father while six masked men beat him with nail-studded bars during a so-called paramilitary punishment attack in Northern Ireland.Gerald Lavey, 30, speaking from his hospital bed on Wednesday, said that his nine-year-old daughter and five-year-old son had refused to let him go even while the gang, believed to be connected to the New IRA, inflicted horrific injuries on his head, arms and legs at family home in the strongly republican Creggan district of Derry on Monday. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:21:48 GMT)

Father jailed for 10 years for manslaughter of 11-month-old son
Paul Thomas left Oliver Sargent with ‘catastrophic and fatal injuries’, says judge, handing Ashlea Thomas a suspended sentence for allowing the death of her sonThe father convicted of the killing of his “smiley and cheerful” 11-month-old son has been jailed for 10 years. Paul Thomas was convicted on Wednesday by majority verdict of the manslaughter of Oliver Sargent – who suffered head injuries consistent with a 40mph car crash – after a five-week trial at Birmingham crown court. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:28:12 GMT)

Asos half-year profits fall but sales rise boosts share price
Price cutting and investments cut profits at online fashion retailer but markets greet news of increased sales with jump in share pricePrice cuts and investment in its international business drove down profits at online fashion retailer Asos in the first six months of the year. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:39:45 GMT)

Ed Balls: a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories
Shadow chancellor will say in speech in Glasgow that voting Labour is the only way to end Conservative austerityA vote for the SNP is a vote for continued Tory austerity, Ed Balls will tell an audience in Glasgow on Wednesday. In the second major speech by a senior Labour figure this week, the shadow chancellor will tell an audience at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall: “There is only one way to end Tory austerity in Scotland and that’s by voting Labour.” Continue reading...
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:01:00 GMT)

Man crashed car to kill wife after hearing she wanted a divorce, court told
Leicester crown court hears Ian Walters, who denies murder, deliberately steered pick-up off motorway after ‘make-or-break’ weekend ended in argumentA man murdered his wife in a high-speed motorway crash that resembled an explosion after she told him she wanted a divorce, a court has heard.Leicester crown court was told that two dogs and items of luggage were propelled into the air from a pick-up truck being driven by Ian Walters as it ploughed into a row of trees. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:45:49 GMT)

BBC Radio 5 Live too focused on football, claims TalkSport owner
UTV Media says BBC station should drop its ‘chest-beating’ and ‘aggressive’ approach to commercial rivalsThe BBC should slash the amount of money it spends on mainstream sport on Radio 5 Live and drop its “chest-beating” and “aggressive” approach to its commercial radio rivals, according to TalkSport owner UTV Media.UTV claimed 5 Live’s output was dominated by football, to the detriment of news and other sport on the broadcaster, and accused station chiefs of trying to “keep football fans within a BBC walled garden”. Related: BBC Radio 5 Live audience 'below where I’d hoped', admits controller Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:47:19 GMT)

Crisis in Yemen – the Guardian briefing
Proxy war in country between Saudi Arabia and Iran will fuel wider instability unless power-sharing can be agreed uponThe Arab world’s poorest and most misunderstood country has been facing multiple crises for years: a shortage of oil and water, a rapidly growing population, hunger, dictatorship, corruption, an international terrorist presence and deep internal regional and political differences. Now escalating regional rivalry between neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Iran has sparked a wider war that threatens chaos and possible collapse. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:31:28 GMT)

Iran nuclear negotiators have reached broad understanding, says UK
UK foreign secretary says detailed and technical issues still to be resolved but he is optimistic further progress will be made on broad framework agreedBritain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has said negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland have reached “a broad framework of understanding”, but that details still have to be agreed.Hammond was speaking after the negotiations missed a midnight deadline to produce a preliminary accord on the main issues in dispute in Iran’s nuclear programme. After breaking off in the early hours of the morning, talks among foreign ministers and senior diplomats resumed on Wednesday. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:18:34 GMT)

Noose found hanging at Duke University two weeks after racist incident
University already rattled by allegations that a black student was taunted by white students singing a racist chant on campus Duke University students found a noose hanging from a tree along the school’s main thoroughfare early on Wednesday morning, rattling the campus less than two weeks after a black student was allegedly taunted by white students singing a racist chant.Police removed the noose, made of yellow string, from a tree in Bryan Center Plaza around 2.45am. A spokesman for the department said police were still gathering information on the case. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:12:18 GMT)

Crimea's independent Tatar TV news channel silenced by 'red tape'
Russian authorities’ refusal to renew licence over alleged paperwork ‘errors’ forces ATR to shut down after annexation from UkraineCrimea’s only independent TV news channel, ATR, has been forced to stop broadcasting after the new authorities rejected its attempts to register for a licence.ATR is also the only channel that broadcasts in the language of the Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority that opposed Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in March 2014. Sixty per cent of the channel’s content was in Russian, 35% in Crimean Tatar and 5% in Ukrainian. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:59:31 GMT)

Obama targets foreign hackers and state-owned companies over cyber-attacks
Executive order creates sanctions that could potentially penalize companies in China and Russia that benefit from hacks in attempt to curtail rising threatPresident Obama on Wednesday created the first-ever sanctions program to penalize overseas hackers who engage in cyber-spying and companies that knowingly benefit from the fruits of that espionage, potentially including state-owned corporations in Russia and China.“Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States,” Obama said in a statement after signing an executive order creating the sanctions. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:30:02 GMT)

Hitler ads from pro-Israel group begin running on Philadelphia transit buses
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority decided it would not appeal ads, which depict Adolf Hitler meeting with former Palestinian leaderAds showing a photograph of Adolf Hitler with a former Arab leader have started appearing on Philadelphia transit buses. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses serving riders Wednesday bear ads with the tagline “Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:34:32 GMT)

Gaza man 'duped' into selling Banksy work for fraction of value
Rabie Dardouna says he did not know what the door mural thought to have been painted by the British street artist was worth and claims the buyer tricked himA man in Gaza says he has been duped into selling a Banksy artwork worth thousands that was painted on the door of his war-damaged house for just $175 (£118).The mural of Niobe, a mourning Greek goddess – entitled Bomb Damage – had been painted on a metal door which was all that remained of the home of Rabie Dardouna, 33, after it was hit by Israeli munitions in last year’s Gaza war. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:22:04 GMT)

Five US health workers released after Ebola monitoring in Nebraska
Workers were monitored for 21 days in Omaha after participating in a mission to Sierra Leone where a colleague tested positive for EbolaFive US healthcare workers who underwent monitoring at a Nebraska medical center after possible exposure to the Ebola virus in west Africa have completed their quarantine periods and were symptom-free, the hospital said on Tuesday. The workers underwent monitoring for 21 days at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha after participating in a mission to Sierra Leone where a colleague tested positive for Ebola. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:35:41 GMT)

Arizona orders doctors to misleadingly tell women abortions may be reversible
State governor Doug Ducey passes law as part of broader anti-abortion legislation, but most doctors say claim is wrong and not supported by factsArizona governor Doug Ducey signed a law late on Monday that requires doctors in the state to tell women having a medical abortion that the procedure is reversible, advice regarded by most doctors as wrong and misleading.The legislation also bans insurers from covering abortions under plans sold through the federal health exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. Arizona became the 15th state to pass restrictions on abortion coverage specifically for plans sold through the federal exchange. Gov @dougducey has signed #SB1318! It ensures women are told about the Abortion Pill Reversal & protects taxpayers. pic.twitter.com/OBdWzZciKx Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:33:38 GMT)

How Goodluck Jonathan lost the Nigerian election
For the first time ever a Nigerian president has failed to win the popular vote. It’s a landmark for democracy, but where did it all go wrong for Jonathan?Goodluck Jonathan has earned the dubious distinction of being the first president in Nigerian history to lose an election. In many ways, Jonathan was the architect of his own downfall. He made critical mistakes that turned the public and allies against him, and led them to gravitate towards the opposition. Here’s where it all went wrong: Getting on the wrong side of Obasanjo is the political equivalent of crossing a mafia donJonathan’s relations with party members at times resembled a football coach antagonising his star playersThere was a perception that Jonathan gave slices of the cake largely to members of his own community Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:59:14 GMT)

Thailand 'still in the same boat' after martial law lifted
PM Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he will invoke special security measure referred to in the media as ‘dictator law’Thailand lifted martial law in most of the nation on Wednesday, but 10 months after staging a coup, a military junta remains in control, essentially with absolute power. The government of coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha had faced growing pressure from foreign governments, human rights groups and particularly its own business community to remove martial law. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:28:01 GMT)

World's oldest person, Misao Okawa, dies weeks after 117th birthday
Japanese daughter of a kimono maker, who once declared that life seemed too short, died peacefully as if she had fallen asleep, nurses saidThe world’s oldest person, Misao Okawa of Japan, has died a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.Okawa succumbed to heart failure surrounded by relatives and nursing home workers who praised her for achieving a long, healthy life. Related: Life seems short, says world's oldest person at 117 Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:56:09 GMT)

Turkish police shoot attackers outside Istanbul headquarters
Attack comes day after Turkish prosecutor taken hostage dies in police shootout alongside hostage takersTurkish police shot two attackers outside Istanbul’s police headquarters on Wednesday, killing one of them.Istanbul’s governor said a female attacker carrying a bomb and a gun was killed and her male accomplice was injured. The accomplice was reportedly arrested after fleeing the scene. A policeman was also injured. Related: Turkish prosecutor taken hostage dies after police shootout kills two leftist militants Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:58:48 GMT)

Palestinian Authority becomes member of international criminal court
Move is welcomed by activists as opportunity to bring accountability to years of conflict between Palestinians and IsraelThe Palestinian Authority completed its journey to formal membership of international criminal court on Wednesday following a low-key ceremony at the Hague headquarters of the global institution of last resort.The move could open the way for Israelis to be prosecuted for war crimes - despite Israel not being a member - and it also allows the prosecution of Palestinian militants, including those from Hamas, who now fall under the court’s jurisdiction. Related: ICC may investigate possible war crimes in Palestinian territories Related: Palestinian president signs up to join international criminal court Related: Israel may have committed war crimes during Gaza offensive, UN says Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:01:56 GMT)

Kenya court urges change to law that penalises women who pass HIV to baby
Human rights groups welcome Kenya high court ruling that section of law to curb spread of HIV and Aids is unconstitutional Human rights groups have welcomed moves to change Kenya’s 2006 HIV and Aids Prevention Act which at present effectively criminalises pregnant women who pass HIV to their babies.The law says that a person knowing they are HIV positive must tell “any sexual contact” of their status in advance and could be jailed for seven years if they “knowingly and recklessly” placed another person at risk of being infected.This law has inflicted fear, shame and punishment on countless Kenyans, especially pregnant women Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:27:30 GMT)

German policeman convicted of killing man from cannibalism website
Detlev G sentenced to more than eight years in prison for murdering 59-year-old businessmanA German police officer has been convicted of murdering a man he met in an internet forum devoted to cannibalism. A regional court in the eastern city of Dresden sentenced Detlev G, whose last name has not been released, to eight years and six months in prison, court spokesman Ralf Hoegner said. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:34:28 GMT)

Squeaky serenade: male mice woo females with song, scientists discover
Study reveals that high-pitched ‘singing’ varies according to to social context, placing mice in an elite group of animal vocalisersThey may stop short of singing The Bells of Saint Mary’s, as demonstrated by the mouse organ in Monty Python, but scientists have discovered that male mice woo females with ultrasonic songs. Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:26:53 GMT)

The Fresh Prince to The Crystal Maze: standby for a bizarre VHS odyssey
In Standby for Tape Back-Up, Ross Sutherland unspools hidden meanings from the programmes on a fuzzy video left to him by his grandfatherIt’s extraordinary how potent cheap videotape is. That’s one of the lessons borne out by Standby for Tape Back-Up, a witty, resourceful and emotionally intense show by the 35-year-old performance poet Ross Sutherland. The stage is bare but for a chair, a TV and a wheezing VCR machine. Looking like a lone Reservoir Dog in his black tie and white shirt, Sutherland paces the stage brandishing a remote control, zipping back and forth through the images projected on the wall behind him. Related: Rewind and recoil: Joseph Morpurgo's twisted world of VHS comedy Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:00:08 GMT)

The best cities to play Pac-Man in Google Maps
Google has marked this April Fools’ Day by superimposing the classic video game on to its 2D maps. Here’s our urbanist’s guide to the best street layouts to play onApril Fools’ is usually a day when it pays to stay offline; the internet is saturated with wildly misleading stories and it’s hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. The programmers at Google, however, have given us a good reason to keep surfing: they’ve superimposed the video game classic Pac-Man on to various cities across the world.Though mobile users are limited to 15 locations – Google have listed clues to the locations here – desktop users can play the game in almost any city they like. We’ve been “hard at work” all morning working out our favourites, so here eight of the best – plus one that should be good, but is actually a bit of a letdown ... Continue reading...
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:56:46 GMT)

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