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Landlords enjoy £14bn tax breaks as figures reveal buy-to-let expansion
Shelter urges review of tax treatment of landlords as freedom of information request shows they declared £6.3bn against mortgage interest in 2012-13 Landlords enjoyed a record £14bn in tax breaks in 2013, according to figures revealing the expansion of the UK’s buy-to-let market in the aftermath of the financial crisis.Some £6.3bn was declared against the cost of mortgage interest alone in the 2012-13 financial year, according to information obtained by the Guardian from HMRC through a freedom of information request. Related: Ex-council homes in London are a 'gold mine' for landlords Related: ‘Generation rent’? We’ve been here before | Danny Dorling Letting out property is a business like any other, and is therefore treated and taxed as such Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:02:47 GMT)

Sir Malcolm Bruce: Commons would empty very fast if lying MPs had to quit
Former MP insists lying is widespread as he attempts to defend Alistair Carmichael’s conduct in relation to leaked Nicola Sturgeon memoSir Malcolm Bruce, the former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said lying in public remained widespread as he sought to defend his embattled colleague Alistair Carmichael.The sole Lib Dem MP in Scotland is under pressure from the Scottish National party over his role in leaking a confidential government document during the general election campaign in an attempt to damage the SNP leader and Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.I think people in public life are entitled to make a mistake and move on Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:52:42 GMT)

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian goes on trial in Iran for spying
Tehran correspondent faces charges including espionage and other serious offences in hearing behind closed doorsJason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran for nearly 10 months, is standing trial behind closed doors in Tehran on charges of espionage and at least three other major crimes.The Iranian-American appeared before a revolutionary court presided over by Abolghassem Salavati, a hardline judge notorious for handing down heavy sentences to opposition activists and dissidents, local media reported. Related: Washington Post reporter facing interrogation as Iranian, minister says Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:54:59 GMT)

Chuka Umunna backs Liz Kendall for Labour leadership
In a statement with other supporters, the shadow business secretary says that Kendall has been ‘courageous in challenging conventional wisdom’Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, has endorsed Liz Kendall for the Labour party leadership in a move that will bolster her chances of getting on to the ballot and even winning the contest.There had been speculation that he might back either Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, or Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, decisions that would have been near-fatal for Kendall. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:39:41 GMT)

University tables: Coventry slips past Russell Group peers to enter top 20
Cambridge holds on to the number one spot in the Guardian’s university overall league tableSee how your university has fared in the 2016 rankingsCoventry University has nudged past many of its Russell Group peers to reach the highest position ever achieved by a former polytechnic in the Guardian league table of universities. Coventry reached number 15 in the table, higher than many of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, York, Leeds, Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham and Newcastle. Related: University league tables 2016 Related: University guide Q&A: put your questions to the compiler Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 21:00:04 GMT)

UK and Russia to resume Syria talks
David Cameron and Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Monday and agreed to restart talks to seek solution to civil warDavid Cameron and Vladimir Putin have agreed to resume talks to find a solution to the civil war in Syria.The prime minister and the Russian president spoke on the phone for half an hour on Monday afternoon, with Putin congratulating Cameron on his election win. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:51:46 GMT)

NoW news editor 'used hand signal' to tell Andy Coulson of phone hacking
Former news editor of defunct tabloid tells court that hacking was ‘systematic’ at paper and Coulson knew about it when he was editorA former News of the World news editor has told a criminal trial in Scotland that phone hacking was “systematic” at the paper and Andy Coulson knew about it when he was editor of the Sunday tabloid.When James Weatherup was accused of lying he said he was “100% sure” of his evidence. He said he had not wanted to give evidence and he that felt sorry for Coulson and his family. Weatherup said it was a “gross slur” on his character to suggest he was lying. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:59:26 GMT)

Libor trial: trader was 'ringmaster' in rate-rigging conspiracy, court hears
Tom Hayes, who worked for UBS and Citigroup, enlisted a large number of people to manipulate the interbank lending rate, a court is told at the start of his trialA trader was motivated by greed as he acted as “ringmaster” in a “thoroughly dishonest and manipulative manner” to rig interbank lending rates, a court has heard. Tom Hayes, 35, whose trial began on Tuesday, is alleged to have done “everything in his power” to manipulate the rates, known as Libor. The former UBS and Citigroup trader, of Fleet, Hampshire, denies eight counts of conspiracy to defraud, covering a period from 2006 to 2010. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:01:10 GMT)

Woman found alive with husband's body after weeks lost in California desert
Dianna Bedwell, 68, and Cecil Knutson, 79, became stranded with little to eat and only rainwater to drink after offroad shortcut in Hyundai sedan went wrongA husband and wife stranded for two weeks in southern California’s high desert ate oranges and a pie and drank rainwater they collected in cups, but the 79-year-old man died before they were found, authorities said on Monday.Off-road drivers found Dianna Bedwell, 68, and the body of her husband, Cecil Knutson, on Sunday afternoon near a Boy Scout camp on the Los Coyotes Indian reservation about 65 miles north-east of San Diego, sheriff’s Lieutenant Ken Nelson said. Bedwell was not able to tell authorities when her husband had died but an autopsy was being arranged, he said. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 03:49:48 GMT)

Danish radio station kills rabbit live on air
Radio24syv host kills nine-week old animal to highlight ‘hypocrisy in our relationship to animals’, leading to angry calls for a boycottA Danish radio station has killed a nine-week old rabbit live on air, saying it intended to stimulate a debate around the “widespread hypocrisy in our relationship to animals”.Presenters brought the rabbit, which they called Alan, into the studio on Sunday morning, where he was clubbed with a bicycle pump. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:08:01 GMT)

What Britain in the EU means to us: five leading European writers on the threat of Brexit
Journalists at five European newspapers sum up the public mood towards the possible ‘Brexit’ that may follow Britain’s vote on EU membershipDavid Cameron’s plan for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union leaves the UK’s EU status more precarious that at any point for 40 years. But what do continental powers feel about the possibility of Brexit – a British EU exit? Five prominent writers from leading European newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland reflect the view from their country.London won’t be the destination of choice anymore for young people with two degreesBrexit fans in the British Isles will find few allies on the Polish political scene Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 07:00:02 GMT)

Magazine backtracks on Philip Larkin poem claim
Piece heralded by Times Literary Supplement as unpublished Larkin work is most likely by Hull poet Frank RedpathThe Times Literary Supplement has removed from its website a poem that it claimed was an unpublished piece by Philip Larkin, after it emerged that it is most likely the work of a lesser-known Hull poet, Frank Redpath. The TLS has also taken down an accompanying 1,600-word essay on what it portrayed as an exciting new discovery from one of Britain’s most revered 20th-century poets.‘In and Out’: An unpublished poem by Philip Larkin http://t.co/YIZZLdu5Ov pic.twitter.com/4HErHPoJDdThis unpublished Larkin poem is, I must say, quite magnificent: pic.twitter.com/WaWWWADFwHThis undated lost Larkin poem shows him in a more pastoral mood: pic.twitter.com/07UMPrU1FeWhat I admire most is the way Larkin bravely repeats the opening two lines, to bring thematic conclusion to it. Magic pic.twitter.com/gXWzEiJNXD Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:53:32 GMT)

We are no longer paid what we are worth – just look at dog walkers
With some dog walkers now paid more than the average employee, it’s clear the days when pay was linked to effort, skill and the societal worth of a job are overAre you paid what you are worth? What is the relationship between the actual work you do and the remuneration you receive?The revelation that London dog walkers are paid considerably higher (£32,356) than the national wage average (£22,044) tells us much about how employment functions today. Not only are dog walkers paid more, but they work only half the hours of the average employee.We have seen an explosion of 'crap jobs', especially in the service sector Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:11:03 GMT)

Dad bod and dadcore: how to spot the zeitgeist looks
It’s simple: men who don’t have a body like Channing Tatum, and who don’t dress like Kanye WestWhat’s the zeitgeisty look of 2015? Lifestyle magazines, in the newsagent Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:57:31 GMT)

Which is the safest city in the world?
Urban safety isn’t just about avoiding muggings. Sanitation, immigration and even air-traffic control all matter – often in ways you wouldn’t imagineIt’s not a recent initiative, but as far as unusual – and effective – measures to improve road-traffic safety go, mime is still hard to beat. In the mid-90s, Bogotá’s then-mayor, Antanas Mockus, employed more than 400 mime artists to stand guard at pedestrian crossings, showing wordless displeasure to reckless pedestrians and drivers who violated traffic rules and put lives at risk.The experiment was included on the list of 100 Promising Practices on Safer Cities, a collection of global initiatives commissioned last year by UN-Habitat – the branch of the United Nations which looks at how to make an increasingly urbanised world work best. In recent years, however, various initiatives introduced in Bogotá to make walking and cycling safer have slipped. Bogotá is by no means the world’s safest city. So where is?Tokyo might be one of the safest cities but it also happens to be one of the riskiest Related: Earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis: the world's 10 riskiest cities Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:55:41 GMT)

Do you remember the first time? Some reunion shows might just be better …
As Ride proved with their stunning comeback show, a mixture of nostalgia, improved technology and softening egos can make a band’s return better than they ever were originally Related: Ride review – this reunion lived up to expectations On 23 May, Ride played a fabulous comeback show at Manchester’s church-like Albert Hall. As the evening sun streamed through the former chapel’s stained glass windows, their early 1990s whoppers – Chelsea Girl, Leave Them All Behind, Like a Daydream and the rest – were performed with care and passion. Some of the most special moments involved the audience, who sang all the “ohhh ohhhh”s in Taste and even guitar parts in Vapour Trail. In one particularly memorable moment, the band charged into a five- (or maybe 10-) minute ferocious wall of noise and then, without a visible nod or cue, blasted right back into Drive Blind. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:51:08 GMT)

Eight ads that shatter tired gender stereotypes
As the Cannes Lions festival creates a new award to recognise advertising that challenges gender norms, we look at some of the best past examplesGlass is a wonderful thing. Windows, vases, spectacles, marbles. Such a shame about that whole glass-ceiling thing, isn’t it? Really tarnishes the whole image of glass. At least the Cannes Lions festival has managed to turn it into something positive, in the form of their new Glass Lion award, created this year to recognise advertising that shatters gender stereotypes.Advertising and the real world have diverged on gender. At its best, advertising contributes to culture, taps into the popular mindset and captures the moment. The modern mindset on gender, however, is moving much further and faster than how it is represented in advertising. In the real world, us women play sport, don’t always shave, burp, fart and are your boss. In the world of advertising, we are known to get all giddy over yoghurt and lose our cool at the sight of a chocolate bar. Then there’s the distinct absence of gay and transgender people to call out, which is exacerbated by the omnipresent (and frankly tired) portrayal of the shaving, beer drinking, have-it-all lad. Related: Modern family: can marketers catch up with culture? Related: The Lynx effect: ad land begins to reflect the lives of gay men Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:55:52 GMT)

The people taking their money out of coal, oil and gas
The fossil fuel divestment campaign is gaining traction on campuses, churches and at other organisations, but you can take action on your personal pension and bank account too. Here, three people explain how and why they divestedPaul Mathias, 62, is from Northwich in Cheshire. A retired immigration officer, he has been campaigning on climate change for the past decade. As Paul Polman [CEO of Unilever] said last week there will be no economy if we do not tackle climate change. Divestment needs to be promulgated widely as an antidote to the prevarication of our governments who talk, talk and talk some more while allowing emissions to go on rising, and cannot see beyond growth of GDP nor shake off the stranglehold of the corporations. Once you realise that large financial institutions are so committed to investment in the extraction industries, so the need to tell them they cannot expect to use our money anymore to do that becomes clear. Related: Keep it in the Ground Q&A: how to divest your personal finance Moving to Nationwide was extremely easy. They score well on ethical money and have a local branch. Moving my stocks and shares ISA obviously needed research but was still perfectly doable.Snow was trucked in this February for the Canmore Winter Festival. Many local fundraising events, such as ski races, have seen decimating attendance or been cancelled outright this winter. For a town that gained international notoriety for hosting Nordic ski races for Calgary’s 1988 Winter Olympics, the lack of winter here is crushing revenue sources dependent on winter weather. Locals are referring to it as “the winter that never happened.” The North American media does not often cover climate issues. You are hard pressed to even find the words “climate change” in public print. To bring it up in conversation ruffles feathers, you can feel it dividing the crowd; those that shrink from the very term as if you were asking for spare change.I have asked for green/ethical portfolios before and received the same brick walls and platitudes. Once I mentioned Carney’s recent announcements to the UK bank and drew his attention to the Guardian’s divestment campaign, he took more note.We live in a community very interested in the environment – it’s a no brainer for him to place himself ahead of the curve. Obviously my finances are relatively insignificant, what I do find significant is the ripple of awareness this has had up his chain of command.Even though I’d been concerned about climate change for a while, it [the article] really seemed to simplify the issue for me. Here in Canberra, the Australian National University made a decision to divest from some fossil fuel companies, and it caused a massive political backlash that nobody seemed to expect. So the campaign obviously touched a nerve!Many people don’t even realise that they are invested in fossil fuels indirectly through their pension funds. From my experience here in Australia, super funds are usually chosen by employers, and most people just go with the flow and stick with that, not realising that they have a choice. Sadly, we’re at a point where our choices now will have ramifications for hundreds, if not thousands of generations to come, and I see fossil fuel divestment as a way that ordinary people can collectively make an important statement about how we want the future to look. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:44:04 GMT)

Dating two people at once: why I'm polyamorous and proud
Simon Copland was 16 when he came out as gay. Now – with two partners – he faces a much more difficult coming out This is my coming out story. My second one. When I was 16 years old, I first came out as gay.Coming out then was hard but this time is much harder. This revelation is something I am more fearful about, but I have to come out.Even from those who consider themselves to be 'lovers, not haters' we have often faced derision and discrimination Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 01:11:31 GMT)

Nazis, cake and the Wizard of Oz: a drawing show with a difference
We are invited to make up stories to connect the disparate, uneasy – and sometimes funny – drawings of Andrzej Wróblewski, René Daniëls and Luc TuymansSpring blossom; a row of decapitated heads; a black ship on a dark sea. One thing leads to another in the 58 drawings currently at the Drawing Room in south London: a constellation of discs, a cake, a self-portrait. There seems no end to it. What connects drawings made in Poland in the late 1940s and 50s, in Amsterdam in the 1980s and in Antwerp from the late 70s to today isn’t clear, though there are affinities and echoes everywhere. The mind skips from one thing to another.The exhibition DE.FI.CIEN.CY brings together the drawings of Andrzej Wróblewski (1927-57) and contemporary artists René Daniëls and Luc Tuymans. The title is disjointed, just like the broken narratives and fragments the works themselves present in an exhibition first shown in Poznań. Wróblewski is at the heart of it. As a young boy, he witnessed the death of his father, who suffered a heart attack when the Nazis searched the family home. Wróblewski went on to make numerous drawings and paintings called The Execution, based both on his own childhood trauma and the many public executions perpetrated, and photographed, during the German occupation of Poland. Related: Japanese cannibals and German executions: Luc Tuymans goes over to the dark side Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:25:41 GMT)

Dust, TB and HIV: the ugly face of mining in South Africa
The Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation fund health centres in the country, but remain invested in fossil fuel companies whose mining operations, it is claimed, have a profound impact on the health of local communities Worried that his eyes and urine were turning a deep yellow, Gednezar Dladla made his way to a local clinic and was referred to a district hospital, where he was x-rayed, diagnosed with gallstones, and admitted for the night. Both institutions receive funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.A day later, Dladla set off through the hills and valleys of rural Zululand to a village near his childhood home, where a group of men played cards in the shade of a tree. The environmental activist listened to their grievances about dust pollution, water shortages and lack of assistance from a local mine owned by Rio Tinto – whose investors include the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Related: Africa's health centre at the frontline of HIV research Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:00:00 GMT)

‘Don’t tar us all with the awful Chipping Norton set’ – how I discovered the truth about the Cotswolds town
When I wrote a TV review suggesting there couldn’t possibly be a community spirit in the infamous town, the complaints flooded in. So I visited to see what it was really like Related: Benefits Street review: just look at the community spirit – you don’t get that in Chipping flipping Norton It was a throwaway line in a TV review. Writing about Channel 4’s Benefits Street, I wrote: “But look at the community spirit, you don’t get that in Chipping frigging Norton, do you?”David Cameron is a wonderful person Related: Thought the Chipping Norton set had disbanded? Along comes Alex James to shatter the illusion Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 17:28:25 GMT)

A question of etiquette: do you hold the door for others?
American researchers stake out a door and find it far from an open and shut caseWhether one person holds a door open for another is not simply a question of etiquette, says a study by Joseph P Santamaria and David A Rosenbaum of Pennsylvania State University. No, they say. Nothing simple about it.Santamaria and Rosenbaum worked to pursue the answer through a tangle of belief, logic, probability, perception and calculation. Their study, Etiquette and Effort: Holding Doors for Others, was published in 2011 in the journal Psychological Science. It is, one way or another, a gripping read. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:55:01 GMT)

Misplaced: why do novelists disguise real locations?
Whether to spare local feelings, to emphasise that their stories are fiction, or to license fanciful embroidering, writers love to hide the actual settings of their workThis may sound like a peculiar question, but why do novelists make things up? In particular, why do they invent places? I can understand why they would create imaginary places for fantastical fictions – it would be rather odd to have the Starks of Stirling and the Martells of St Ives in Game Of Thrones – but why does Thomas Hardy send Jude to Christminster when it’s clearly Oxford? Why did George Eliot set her study of provincial life in Middlemarch, North Loamshire, rather than Coventry? What prevented Charles Dickens writing about Preston rather than Coketown? From Barsetshire to Yoknapatawpha County, St Mary Mead to Chester’s Mill, authors have been nudging, shifting, switching and smudging real places into fiction. I’ve been thinking about the nature of fictitious places for the BBC Radio 3 series The Essay, in particular, fictitious Scottish places. When Sir Walter Scott started writing poetry, it was very much rooted in actual, specific locations. The Lay of the Last Minstrel namechecks Hawick, Melrose, Minto Crags, Bowden Moor, Riddell and a host of even smaller places. Related: David Nicholls: Google v old-fashioned legwork - how to research a novel Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:59:42 GMT)

Syrian refugees in the UK: ‘We will be good people. We will build this country’
Four million people have left their wartorn homeland – the UK has offered shelter to just 187, leaving more to risk their lives getting here on unsafe boats or smuggled in lorries. Two of those welcomed here recount their journeySyrian refugees: the dangerous sea journey to Europe – videoSince the conflict in Syria began in 2011, around 12 million people have been displaced by the fighting and almost 4 million people, including 1.6 million children, have fled the country. Lebanon is now home to almost 1.2 million Syrian refugees (they make up over 20% of the country’s population); another 1.8 million have gone to Turkey, and Iraq has accomodated about a quarter of a million. Under a UN-backed government resettlement scheme, Britain has given homes to just 187.Aid agencies and UN officials have called on the UK to be more generous in its approach to supporting those fleeing the conflict, in which between 200,000 and 300,000 people have been killed. So far, around 200,000 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe; Germany has opened its doors to 30,000 under a similar scheme, but the UK has resisted expanding its programme. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:00:01 GMT)

Erno Rubik: how we made Rubik’s Cube
Erno Rubik: ‘I experimented in my mother’s flat, making a prototype out of wood, rubber bands and paper clips’Professor Erno Rubik, inventorIn the mid-1970s, I was teaching design at the Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest. I was searching for a way to demonstrate 3D movement to my students and one day found myself staring into the River Danube, looking at how the water moved around the pebbles. This became the inspiration for the cube’s twisting mechanism. The fact that it can do this without falling apart is part of its magic. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:59:01 GMT)


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(Mon, 25 May 2015 21:02:54 GMT)

Novak Djokovic v Jarkko Nieminen: French Open 2015 – live!
French Open first round from Philippe-Chatrier Court at Roland GarrosRafael Nadal advances to second round after straight-sets victoryEmail barry.glendenning@theguardian.com or tweet @bglendenning 4.02pm BST Riding high on the confidence of having broken Djokovic, Nieminen goes 30-0 up, eventually winning to 15. He’s injected a noticeable and much-needed bit of venom here and leads 4-1 in the second. Let’s see what you’re made of, Novak. 3.59pm BST Nieminen earns himself a round of applause for going 15-30 ahead, prompting Djokovic to call for his towel and give himself a wipe down. A bruising, well disguised forehand down the line makes it 15-40 and suddenly the unfancied Finn has two break points. He converts the first of them with a backhand bullet down the line to go a break up in the second set. 3.56pm BST Nieminen holds his serve again. Here’s how he reacted to being drawn against Djokovic on his personal website. I’d imagine his actual reaction was slightly more concise and possibly potty-mouthed. “He has started this season incredible well by winning almost every single tournament,” wrote Jarkko. “His first half of the season must be one of the most convincing ever. Novak is playing better than ever and so far he has been a step or two ahead of other players so obviously it won’t be easy task to challenge him. At the same time it will be fun, I’m always up to challenges and the match will be guaranteed on a sold out stadium which is great. I will go out there, enjoy the moment as much as I can and fight hard. The match will be on Tuesday.” 3.53pm BST Another routine service game for Djokovic, whose overhead shots are posing Nieminen all sorts of questions he simply can’t answer. 3.52pm BST Jarkko Nieminen holds serve to get the second set off to a good start. It wasn’t shown on television, as they were visiting other courts to see what’s going on elsewhere. A lot of tennis matches, you’ll be unsurprised to hear. On Court Three, Novak’s compatriot Jelena Jankovic is struggling badly against Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva in a potential upset. 3.44pm BST Djokovic serves with the new balls and wraps up the first set without much fuss, with Nieminen netting two and sending his final shot of the set long. First set to Djokovic. 3.41pm BST Nieminen loses the first point, sending the ball long and prompting the line judge to shout so loudly that the crowd burst out laughing and Djokovic to look at him quizzically as if to say: “Oi! Mind my eardrums!” The camera cuts to the relevant line judge, who remains completely impassive. At last, some drama! Djokovic breaks to 15 to make it 5-2 and he’ll serve for the first set. 3.38pm BST Having gone 30-15 up, a rare unforced error by Djokovic sends the ball into the net to make it 30-30. Djokovic goes 40-30 up before winning the game when Nieminen sends a forehand from the baseline a couple of centimetres long. 3.32pm BST Wonderful play from Nieminen, who performs heroics to reach a Djokovic drop shot and somehow pass his opponent down the line with a wonderful shot. Djokovic applauds his effort, prompting the Finn to raise an arm in triumph and salute the crowd. He holds serve to make it 3-2 in the first set, but remains a break down. 3.30pm BST Djokovic holds serve, with a superb overhead shot to make it 30-0 the highlight of the game. Having found himself 40-0 down, Nieminen bravely pulled it back to deuce ... then lost anyway. Poor Jarkko. 3.25pm BST Jarkko Nieminen holds serve to 15. I’m not sure what else to say, really. It’s been a while since I’ve done a tennis game-by-game report and you’ll probably discover there’s a good reason for that in the coming games of this match. Please feel free to mail in your musings on tennis, the French, the meaning of life or anything else that takes your fancy in the hope that we may be able to veer off tangent and enliven proceedings. 3.20pm BST 3.19pm BST With two baseline merchants pummelling the ball back and forth here, this match could go on some time before Nieminen’s inevitable defeat. Djokovic is a righty with a double-handed backhand, while Nieminen is a leftie, who also employs a double handed backhand. The Finn takes Djokovic to deuce in his first service game, but hits long to give the Serb advantage. Djokovic needs no second invitation to conlidate his early break. 3.14pm BST Novak Djokovic has taken to the court wearing an orange T-shirt, black shorts, white socks and white trainers. His Finnish opponent is wearing a lilac T-shirt, with blue and purple patterned shorts,black socks and blue trainers. He’s also sporting a black baseball cap and looks suspiciously like he got dressed for today’s match in the dark. Djokovic breaks his serve at the second time of asking after Nieminen survived a break point. 3.03pm BST (7) David Ferrer (Spa) bt Lukas Lacko (Svk) 6-1 6-3 6-1 2.46pm BST Won’t be too long now. Rafael Nadal has just served out his match against 18-year-old French wildcard Quentin Halys to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, so we can expect to see Messrs Djokovic and Nieminen out on court shortly. 2.36pm BST Hello everybody. Welcome to our game-by-game coverage of the first round clash between world No1 Novak Djokovic and ageing Finnish superstar Jarkko Nieminen on the orange clay of the Philippe-Chatrier Court at Roland Garros. Twice a beaten finalist in this tournament, Djokovic will be hoping to take advantage of Rafael Nadal’s surprisingly poor form on clay this season to complete his collection of Grand Slam titles. He begins his campaign against Nieminen, who has only won one match so far this season on clay. This is the sixth meeting between the pair and Djokovic leads their head-to-head series 4-1. Their last meeting was in Monte Carlo last season, when Djokovic won in straight sets. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 15:02:21 GMT)

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema emerges as target for Manchester United
• French international valued at around £40m by Spanish club• Louis van Gaal may have to fight off interest from ArsenalKarim Benzema is being monitored by Louis van Gaal, with the Real Madrid player viewed by the Manchester United manager as an answer to their goalscoring problems. If he does decide to make a move for the striker, who would cost in the region of £40m, they may have to fight off interest from Arsenal.The United goalkeeper David De Gea, who is valued at up to £30m, could well be used as a makeweight in any deal. Related: Manchester United’s target Nicolás Otamendi set to force Valencia exit Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:26:44 GMT)

Australian Trevor Bayliss to take charge of England for Ashes
• ‘I firmly believe the team has a bright future,’ says Bayliss• Caretaker coach Paul Farbrace to work alongside Bayliss• Andrew Strauss: ‘His expertise in the shorter forms of the game will be vital’ • Ben Stokes inspires England to thrilling Test win against New ZealandTrevor Bayliss has been appointed England’s head coach. Bayliss, who will join the ECB next month and take charge of the team for the start of the Ashes series, said: “I firmly believe the team has a bright future.” Related: Trevor Bayliss expertise in white-ball cricket a fine fit for England ECB names Trevor Bayliss as @englandcricket's new Head Coach pic.twitter.com/KbWa1ZXV6u"It’s an honour to be appointed England Coach" - Trevor Bayliss READ: http://t.co/t4tAp7Kekn pic.twitter.com/4IjUVhKYM8 Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:00:31 GMT)

Light shines on Lahore six years after cricket’s darkest day
Not many teams will be following Zimbabwe’s lead to visit Pakistan, but the return of international cricket to the country is a start. And an important oneIn the early morning of 3 March 2009 the Sri Lankan cricket team left the Pearl Continental hotel in Lahore, boarded the team coach and set of for the Gadaffi stadium for the third day of the Test against Pakistan. The umpires for the match followed in convoy. In the mayhem that followed seven people, including six police officers, were killed. No international team had made such a journey in Pakistan since until this week. It’s worth remembering just how horrendous that day in March was and just how long the road back has been:As we approached the Liberty Roundabout, I slowed down. Just then what seemed to be a rocket was fired at my coach, but it missed and I think flew over the top of the vehicle. Almost immediately afterwards a person ran in front of the bus and threw a grenade in our direction. But it rolled underneath the coach and did not seem to cause that much damage ... I was shocked and stunned” – bus driver Mohammad Khalil.For about 20 minutes, I thought I would never be able to return to Sri Lanka alive. We were helpless and just hiding behind the seats even as the bullets were being fired and players getting injured” – Mahela Jayawardene.The driver, in a state of shock, stopped the bus for a couple of minutes as the bullets started hitting the windscreen a few inches above his head. I shouted ‘drive fast, drive fast’ as the gunmen started spraying bullets. If not for the heroic deeds of the driver, things would have been totally different” – Tillakaratne Dilshan.Having talked to Simon Taufel and Steve Davis, I think we all have the same feeling we were just waiting for a bullet to hit us. Ahsan Raza took a bullet in the stomach, chest, I think somewhere in the spleen and the lung region. I was actually lying behind him in the van, bullets were flying all around us. I only noticed he was injured when this huge pool of blood spilled out of his back, spilled out onto the van floor and out of the partially opened door. I couldn’t think what to do. I tried to comfort him. I placed my hand on his back but he was clearly critically injured. He is just an umpire, he just wanted to umpire, he loved the game” – Chris Broad.This was a planned terrorist attack. They had heavy weapons … They are trained criminals. They were not common people. The kind of weaponry they had, the kind of arms they had, the way they attacked ... they were not common citizens, they were obviously trained” – Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab.Today is a grim day for sport. The game of cricket brings players, spectators and nations together in a common, peaceful, purpose, and this appalling attack is a grotesque violation of that. Our thoughts are with the Sri Lankan cricketers and with the families of the Pakistani police officers who died protecting them” – Andy Burnham, secretary of state for culture, media and sport.I don’t regret coming to play cricket. That is what we have done all our lives. That is our profession ... I regret what has happened and the situation that we have gone through. All we want is to go back home to our families and get back home and be safe. That is all I can think now” – Kumar Sangakkara.It is very obvious that the landscape and the thinking has changed dramatically … We are going to have to re-evaluate what we do and where Pakistan plays its cricket,” Haroon Lorgat, ICC chief executive.How do you expect a foreign team to come to Pakistan now? We took pride in hosting our guests. This image has taken a beating. It’s sad for Pakistan” – Wasim Akram.Preparations for the World Cup will start much before 2011 and no country would want to come now to Pakistan. As I said, we will know the extent of damage to our cricket in some time. So I am worried where Pakistan will get a chance to play, not only in Pakistan but outside as well. This is all so sad” – Inzamam-ul-Haq.You never feel vulnerable until something like this, then you’re always feeling vulnerable. Wherever we go in the world we have very good security but I suppose this proves that, no matter how much security, there is always a chance that something can happen. One argument that was used is that it was very unlikely cricketers would be targeted. Clearly that has been proved wrong. That’s not a good situation for cricketers. But people have died and that’s more important than us thinking about any future tours and that sort of stuff. It’s been a terrible day for the game of cricket and the families of the victims” – Andrew Strauss.This is a Muslim country. There are no nightclubs here. For entertainment there is cricket or you can go to a restaurant with your family. But the first priority is cricket. When we play cricket, or watch cricket, we feel so happy” – 28-year-old Shahzad Mehmood, who visited the site of the terror attack to lay flowers.The colonial hangover was removed by the cricket team. When I started we were the generation that couldn’t possibly think of beating England. Then we began beating England. Much more important than beating other teams was to beat England because they were considered the master, the ex-colonialists. It was a country regaining its honour and pride through cricket, getting that self-esteem that colonialism destroys” – Imran Khan.The game of cricket is next to religion in Pakistan. Of course there’s been a tragedy but the solution is not to isolate Pakistan. When a person is down, one way is to put him down further, the other thing is to give a hand of support” – Waseem Bari, former Pakistan wicketkeeper.We have been advised by the home ministry to postpone the tour until further notice” – Bangladesh Cricket Board media chief Jalal Yunus.I can’t paint the entire subcontinent under one brush, but today everyone is asking about playing in that region, full stop” – Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association.It is extremely regrettable that the Board has had to take this decision. However, our No1 priority is to deliver a safe, secure and successful event and the uncertainty created by events within Pakistan created a huge question mark over our ability to do just that” – David Morgan, the ICC president, announces the decision to remove the World Cup from Pakistan.[Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Wilson Manase] told me they are coming and they are coming with their full team but [just] for a week. They will send a security team to assess the situation, following which they will confirm the tour. So they will come in the middle of May and our efforts will be to host matches in Lahore and Karachi” – PCB chief, Shaharyar Khan.We are very concerned about the safety of players, and any match officials who may be sent to Pakistan, should this tour go ahead. The risk assessment that we have received from Fica’s security consultants is that an international tour to Pakistan remains an unacceptable risk and teams are advised against travelling there at present. Although we are sure that the PCB will do what they can regarding a security plan, our experts advice that the risk is unmanageable. Even with the best intentions, the security environment cannot be controlled or influenced to the extent that the risk becomes acceptable” – Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations executive chairman, Tony Irish.We are so grateful to the Zimbabwe Cricket Board for sending their team and for trusting us. We will ensure tight security for every player of the Zimbabwean team” – Subhan Ahmed, chief operating officer of the Pakistan Cricket Board.Whatever resources we have available here in Pakistan we will utilise them to ensure a peaceful tour for the Zimbabwean team. This is a test case for Pakistan and we are hopeful to prove our abilities for hosting and providing foolproof security to any international team” – Shuja Khanzada, home minister of the Punjab.I would like to indicate to the world – especially the Test-playing nations – that Pakistan is a safe country to play cricket … I can tell you that players were never reluctant. They were always ready to go, we never had any dissent within. All players who were selected did come. We are safe, the players are safe and there is no problem” – Wilson Manase. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:15:22 GMT)

Bournemouth join Tottenham in race to sign Burnley defender Kieran Trippier
• Burnley right-back’s current contract has a £3.5m release clause• Presence of Kyle Walker could dissuade Trippier from Spurs move• Premier League season review: player of the yearTottenham Hotspur will have to convince Kieran Trippier he will be given regular game-time in order to secure his signature for the north London club, with Bournemouth having joined the race for the Burnley right-back.The Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is keen to buy Trippier but he faces competition from Bournemouth whose manager Eddie Howe signed the former Manchester City player on a permanent basis in January 2012 when in charge at Turf Moor. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:52:23 GMT)

West Ham back in Europe for first time in nine years thanks to fair play
• West Ham set for early kick-off with first Europa League round on 2 July• Europa League qualifying draw takes place on 22 June• West Ham confirm Sam Allardyce’s contract will not be renewedWest Ham’s new manager will have Europa League football to contend with after the club qualified through the fair play league.Just days after the end of the season and Sam Allardyce’s departure, West Ham have secured European qualification for the first time since the 2006–07 season. They finished top of the Premier League’s fair play table and will be among 104 teams whose Europa League campaign begins with the first qualifying round on 2 July Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:49:51 GMT)

David Squires on … Louis van Gaal and the end of the season
In the final cartoon from his series this season, David Squires finds the Manchester United manager heading for the stage … Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:28:40 GMT)

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool signings show a flaw that cannot be ignored
Luis Suárez’s exit, Steven Gerrard’s retirement and Raheem Sterling’s wanderlust have tested Rodgers but what might do for him now is his transfer policyBefore Liverpool’s 6-1 defeat at Stoke on the final day of the season Brendan Rodgers had already announced that he was “150% certain” he would remain in his job next season. As with so many aspects of Liverpool’s mutable, oddly unquantifiable progress in the last two years, it might just be best to double-check the figures on that one. By Sunday night, Liverpool’s manager had recalculated. “I’ve always said if the owners want me to go, I go,” he reasoned, pirouetting on his heel with a lithe, finely-balanced sense of sure-footedness that brought to mind something almost entirely unlike Emre Can.Rodgers is the kind of manager you can’t help wanting to believe in, even just a little bit. If only because of the memory of Liverpool’s best period in his three years to date, that thrilling surge in the previous season when a run of one defeat from January to April was marked by fast starts and sublime, fluent attacking interchange between three players who have, for different reasons, been largely absent this season. Related: Brendan Rodgers backed by FSG to walk through Liverpool storm Related: Fan view: Brendan Rodgers – should Liverpool give him more time? Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 22:09:08 GMT)

Bath and Saracens final may offer a few clues for England at the World Cup
Playing conservatively rarely has a galvanising effect and pursuing the Bath blueprint could be England’s best way forward this autumn• Premiership final to confirm growth in women’s interest in rugbyThe other day Jason Gillespie took part in a fascinating Q&A in the Long Room at Lord’s. It may not have earned him the England coaching job but the former Australia pace bowler was very interesting on the subject of how to transfer pressure back on to the opposition in an elite team sport.The Yorkshire coach’s view was that, on occasions, doing the safe, obvious thing such as leaving the ball outside off-stump was not always the best policy. As a coach he said he preferred his players to back their talent where possible and if it felt right, to take the risk of trying to drive the odd wide delivery for four. If they did so, he argued, it had the potential to change the course of the game, by encouraging team-mates to have the confidence to do the same and sowing seeds of doubt among the opposition. Playing conservatively rarely has the same galvanising effect. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:07:09 GMT)

Norwich reach Premier League after early blitz sees off Middlesbrough
They played like a team that was in a hurry to get back to the Premier League. Norwich City had dismantled the most parsimonious defence in the Championship inside the opening quarter of an hour and at the final whistle it was the yellow end, rather than Middlesbrough’s banks of red, where the euphoria could be found.At the other side of the stadium, they did at least buck the modern trend of deserting en masse as soon as it became apparent there was no way back for their team. Yet the damage inflicted on Middlesbrough during those three minutes when the goals were scored was always likely to be grievous. The last time they won from 2-0 down was back in 2006 when Steve McClaren was manager, Mark Viduka partnered Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in attack and the opposition was Steaua Bucharest in a Uefa Cup semi-final. The modern-day team do not have a Viduka or Hasselbaink and, though they did rally briefly in the second half, there were only fleeting moments when they seriously threatened. Ultimately, there could be no dispute that promotion had gone to the more rounded team. Related: Norwich too good for Middlesbrough thanks to Alex Neil’s canny approach | Paul Doyle Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 16:07:34 GMT)

Mercedes blunder destroyed Lewis Hamilton’s Monaco GP, says Niki Lauda
• Lauda apologises to Hamilton for F1 pit-stop error• Toto Wolff praises Hamilton’s mature reaction to mistake• Rosberg grabs Monaco win after Mercedes pit Hamilton • Five things we learned from the F1 Monaco Grand Prix Mercedes will regroup at their Brackley headquarters on Tuesday morning to continue their postmortem on one of the most glaring errors in the history of Formula One.Their decision to pit Lewis Hamilton for a second tyre change in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix cost the British driver a certain victory that would have been his fourth in six races and extended his lead in the world championship. Mercedes’ embarrassment would have been a great deal worse had Hamilton fully expressed his intense frustrations and Toto Wolff has acknowledged a new maturity in the world champion. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 21:00:04 GMT)

French Open 2015: Heather Watson win sets up Sloane Stephens showdown
• Watson digs deep in 6-4, 7-5 triumph over Mathilde Johansson• Johanna Konta goes down 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 to Denisa Allertova• Andy Murray joined by Kyle Edmund in second round• Nadal must silence French Open fans and doubters in first round Success has been about as rare as steak tartare for British women at the French Open over the past two decades but if it was not for Heather Watson, their record would be an awful lot worse.Since Clare Wood reached round two in 1994, the nation has managed a paltry six wins but Watson now owns four of them after a hard-earned 6-4, 7-5 triumph over Mathilde Johansson of France. A wild-card now ranked No228 in the world, Johansson reached the third round here three years ago and on a day when a stiff breeze made clean hitting difficult for everyone, Watson did well to recover from 4-2 down to win the first set. She then saved a set point in the second before winning the last four games to advance to round two for the fourth time. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 21:06:23 GMT)

Chicago Bears release Ray McDonald after domestic violence arrest
Player had been released by 49ers after similar allegationsTaken into custody on Monday The Chicago Bears have released defensive end Ray McDonald following a domestic violence arrest in northern California that police say stemmed from him assaulting a woman who was holding a baby.Santa Clara police said that McDonald was arrested at 7am on Monday on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment. It was not immediately known if the woman or the baby were injured. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 18:49:35 GMT)

Life in cold, damp, rat-infested rental housing is scarring – I know, I’m living it
Rogue landlords are raking in £5.6bn a year from unsafe properties – generation rent is suffering, and there’s no end in sightRats, damp and cold; I’ve endured them all. And so it seems, have many others. A Citizens Advice report says that rogue landlords are earning £5.6bn a year renting out unsafe properties, with 16% of privately rented homes deemed physically unsafe. The psychological effects for tenants can be as unpleasant as the accommodation, believe me.In 2009, I decided to live alone after a horrific experience in Manchester. Two alcoholics made my life miserable. I swore never to share again. Lowlights included listening to my Tennant’s-swilling roomie play The Bends at 4am looped, fearfully locking myself in my attic room (lacking an escape route), deterring him from inviting a homeless man to stay over and declining his kind offer of accompanying him to a crack house. He was eventually thrown out by a lacklustre landlord who finally listened to my trembling 3am calls for action. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:32:05 GMT)

David Pickard likely to bring evolution not revolution to the Proms
The new director of the world’s biggest classical music festival has a track record for broadening audience appeal during his time at Glyndebourne – but he’ll face plenty of challenges from his BBC bossesSo the BBC Proms has a new director in David Pickard – the down-to-earth, enthusiastic, deeply musical man who since 2001 has been general director of Glyndebourne. In fact, the journey from the herbaceous borders and evening gowns of Glyndebourne to the egalitarian-minded Proms will be less tortuous than one might imagine: Pickard’s instincts are for opening up classical music, and he has done much to loosen Glyndebourne’s stays – strengthening its education programme, commissioning works for younger people, streaming operas digitally and introducing cheap tickets for the under-30s. Related: ​Glyndebourne chief David Pickard to head BBC Proms Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:29:56 GMT)

Cameron’s bid for special treatment in Europe is a phenomenal gamble
Germany and France talking up eurozone convergence plays to Britain’s Eurosceptics. Few of Cameron’s fellow European leaders would dare take this riskDavid Cameron is about to hurl his irresistible election mandate at the immoveable object of France and Germany, and their desire for ever closer union. He is to clear his diary for a month-long campaign to avert another diplomatic car crash over Europe.Cameron has promised “fundamental change” in Britain’s treaty relations with the EU, with a referendum by the end of 2017. Germany and France have no interest in such a negotiation. They are more concerned with Greece and Italy, and with achieving “economic, fiscal and social convergence” for the eurozone. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:36:59 GMT)

When you're trans, every choice to be more feminine could mean life or death
My gender presentation affects my ability to be gainfully employed and be physically secure. But my femininity comes at a cost I can’t always affordI’ve worn these boots down to the heel base – the wooden part to which the soles are nailed. I should take them in to be re-soled, because every step I take on the mangled pavement whittles away another percentage point of the shoe repair guy’s prognosis of its potential to be made anew. But I don’t run as well in the sea green patent leather Mary Jane pumps that I’d have to wear while these were in the shop.When I was young, newly out – “fresh out of the oven” as we older trans ladies often say, giggling behind glasses of wine in kitchens while hordes of brunching baby queers roam the sunlit streets – I mistook the rush of purchasing a new pair of girly-girl heels for the thrill of freedom fought and won. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:00:07 GMT)

Was this an earthquake in Spanish politics? Not quite, but it’s coming soon
These elections have further eroded the two main parties’ hegemony. But it’s September’s Catalan vote that could radically alter Spain’s political landscapeSo, has there been an earthquake in Spanish politics after Sunday’s local and regional elections as many had expected? The short answer is no. The two establishment parties, the ruling conservative People’s party and the opposition Socialists, have seen their long-time hegemony further eroded, but together they still hold more than 50% of the vote. On the other hand, the new parties that represent Spain’s protest vote, the left-leaning Podemos and the centre-right Ciudadanos, have had good but not great results – around 12% and 6% of the vote respectively. As some had suspected all along, opinion polls were overestimating their strength.And yet, while the size of the protest vote was greatly exaggerated by the pollsters, we now run the risk of underestimating the magnitude of what has happened. Because a lot has happened indeed. The ruling People’s party has seen most of its local and regional power wiped out in one go. Madrid and Barcelona, Spain’s biggest cities, are now likely to be ruled by parties representing the “indignados”, the Spanish forerunner of what came to be known as the Occupy movement. Nationwide, the radical party Podemos has become instrumental in forming leftwing majorities, and as things stand it’s now in a position to form a government in alliance with the Socialists come the next general election later in the year. It may not be an earthquake but it’s certainly far more than a mere shakeup.Is it possible that having vented their anger, voters could turn back to the more traditional parties? Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:42:55 GMT)

When poor people can’t get on due to lack of public transport
As in many US cities, LA’s lack of affordable bus and train links leaves the poorest people out in the cold. Investment would make economic sense and improve social mobilityIf I mention using buses or the LA metro to get around in the city, the reaction from friends and acquaintances will be something like: “Wow, you use public transport?” Or in jest: “There’s a metro?” In a city notorious for its car-dependency and clogged freeways, this reflects how people value their cars and are correspondingly reluctant to use public transport, but beneath the surface there’s something else going on.When you use public transport in LA, it is impossible not to notice that unlike say, London’s tube or some other US cities’ provision, it’s not so much a network as a patchy attempt at one, which is overwhelmingly occupied by people on low incomes and the working poor. What is also evident is that, imperfect as it may be, buses and the underground nevertheless provide a vital artery to what society offers beyond poorer parts of town. LA is one of many US cities currently confronting the impact of deficient public transport. There is an argument to be made that if transport systems were better all round then a wider variety of people would use them, but for someone from a disadvantaged community, access to affordable, reliable buses and trains can be the difference between getting to a job or not, or being able to take advantage of education opportunities that might aid social mobility.Without good transit for the less-advantaged, opportunity will pass them by, like overcrowded buses on a winter day. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:00:08 GMT)

Will Jeremy Hunt be able to join up health and social care?
The health secretary is not new to his brief, but that won’t make it any easier to bridge the damaging culture gap between health and social care and successfully integrate servicesWhen the Queen delivers her speech from the throne today, the one thing there won’t be is new legislation on health or social care. The word in Richmond House is Carry on Quietly, or as quietly as possible, while trying to navigate through a potentially catastrophic debt crisis among NHS foundation trusts that only adds to the familiar pressures of demography and the need to reform.But Jeremy Hunt starts with some advantages, not least that for him this is of course not a start, merely a return to business. Not since Norman Fowler back in the 1980s has a health secretary stayed in post through an election. And although he has yet to clock up three full years in the post, Hunt has already served longer than anyone since Alan Milburn set off with reforming zeal in 1999. So at least he knows what he has to do.Once again the professionals are nervously circling the utopian future of integrated health and social careMuch hangs on the success of the pioneering project to devolve the health budget in Manchester Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:00:07 GMT)

Why are TV writers fawning over royalty?
A slew of upcoming dramas on monarchs past and present all steer clear of controversy and complexityBy tradition, the British royal family is guaranteed 15 minutes of TV exposure each year through the monarch’s Christmas Day address. However, the Windsors and their Germanic ancestors are currently establishing a much more impressive broadcasting empire.ITV has just announced an eight-part drama series about Queen Victoria, while Netflix is making The Crown, which, if successful, may stretch to 70 hours of television, dedicating one season to each decade of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Though created separately, these series may be part of the same zeitgeist, as by the time they appear next year, the modern protagonist should have replaced the historical one as Britain’s longest-serving ruler. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:00:02 GMT)

Look at the alternative Queen’s speech and wonder what might have been
A poor campaign, not bad policies, lost Miliband the election. The party’s ‘modernisers’ should take noteFor months before the election, Lord Falconer, the shadow lord chancellor, was hard at work behind the scenes. He toiled away at drafting bills for Labour’s first 100 days in power – ready in time for tomorrow’s Queen’s speech. Labour, he told me, would have hit the ground running with an array of measures – an agenda Ed Miliband said would “change the way the country is run and who it’s run for”.Here’s an exclusive glimpse of the bills that could have graced the goatskin parchment the Queen will slip out of the silk purse. First, a housing bill would have paved the way for 200,000 new homes a year, with planning reform and powers to stop developers sitting on unused land-banks. Plans to regulate the private rented sector included three-year leases, rents only rising with inflation. Related: Attempt to scrap Human Rights Act will not get past Lords, Falconer warns Gove Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 04:59:00 GMT)

Alistair Carmichael’s political survival has become a matter of principle
While Scotland’s last Lib Dem MP has shown poor judgment over the Sturgeon memo leak, his fate should not be decided by an SNP-inspired lynch mobI have been in trouble with zealots in the Twitter posse this week for mildly suggesting that though Alistair Carmichael’s conduct in the “Frenchgate” election leak showed poor character and judgment, his removal as Scotland’s last Lib Dem MP should remain a matter for his constituents in Orkney and Shetland. It’s hard work being right sometimes, but everything that has happened since the controversy broke at the weekend has reinforced my view that Carmichael is right to dig in. On a practical note, as below-the-line comments on the Shetland Times story explain, the SNP-inspired lynch mob which wants him out will tire sooner than he will. Mobs usually do when they find someone else to torment, or remember that it’s lunch time.Politicians and their gofers leak, which is why Whitehall leak inquiries rarely get anywhereSmart politicians know that government functions better when there's an effective opposition to hold it to account Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:34:15 GMT)

This battle will define us. We must protect our children from austerity
David Cameron knows how much his cuts damage young people, but imposes them anywayThe definition of a decadent society is one that destroys its own future, knowing full well the terrible consequences. On that basis, Britain is truly degenerate. Just look at how it trashes its children and teenagers.Our young are the very people on whom the rest of us will one day come to depend – to care for us, and to earn the country’s income. Rather than mere lifestyle accessories, to be slotted in alongside handbags and cars, they represent our best hope. This human truth has sustained societies around the world and down the ages. Yet in austerity Britain, children have been chucked to the bottom of the pile. They have been robbed of their rightful benefits. And the support they could once draw upon – everything from Sure Start centres to youth clubs to mental-health workers – has been hacked back. Related: No more cuts to adventure playgrounds and youth centres – we will defend them | Letter Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 18:48:42 GMT)

Tesco reducing the sugar in its cola is a good start – but we need a national shift
The retailer is leading the way on introducing positive health impacts that consumers will barely notice but businesses can’t be left in charge of our dietsThe announcement by Tesco that it will cut the sugar content of its own-label soft drinks by 5% a year was rightly national news. Here was the purveyor of nigh on a third of the nation’s food openly promising a cut that will be barely noticed over time by consumers but will have a positive health impact. This makes public the strategy we call in policy “choice editing”, changing what the public consumes without it being too troubled. If implemented, it heralds the reduction of two teaspoons of sugar per cola can within four years, not to be sniffed at when obesity is seemingly out of control and soft drinks are such a significant factor. This is progress certainly, but not the big change needed; For that, we need industry-wide and national re-orientation involving new policies, firm regulation and tough reformulation standards plus a major cultural change in the consuming public.The Tesco decision reminds the new government that food and health is hot politics. Government would be ill-advised to see this as the “leave it to Tesco et al” strategy working, which has for too long been the default UK food policy loved by Labour and Tories alike, bowing before market logic, and reducing health to a companies and consumer dynamic. But not even mighty Tesco can sort out obesity. That would require a re-engineering of the entire food system which works hard to over-produce food, and flood markets with ever-cheaper salty, fatty, sugary non-food foods. We’d also need to build exercise into daily living, and curtail out of town supermarkets which can only be reached by gas-guzzling obesity-inducing car culture. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:16:42 GMT)

Labour must take time for a fundamental rethink about education
The party has an opportunity to look at the big questions for the future and rebuild its relationship with teachersNow the dust has settled after the election, the Department of Education seems not to have changed much. Same secretary of state, same ministers and nothing so far to indicate that it won’t be the same agenda. Nicky Morgan may surprise us now that she can move on from just “not being Michael Gove”, and the absence of David Laws will be noticed. His was a voice of reason and I’ve no doubt that he protected education from some frightening outcomes in the last regime.Of course, the Labour party is also back to where it was before the election. Starting the process of soul searching is never easy. But this time we need a different approach from 2010. Labour can afford to be more objective about the record of the last Labour education team, and it has the space and time for medium- and long-term thinking.It’s time to face up to the unintended consequences of the accountability framework. Labour should take the lead Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:50:01 GMT)

Didcot murders: body of Jed Allen found
Police say 21-year-old man suspected of killing his sister, mother and her partner has been found dead in Oxford A man suspected of killing his six-year-old sister, their mother and her partner has been found dead in Oxford, bringing a dramatic end to a police manhunt involving more than 100 officers.The body of Jed Allen, 21, was discovered by members of the public on Monday night in woodland less than a mile from Oxford University Parks where the search had focused. Related: Didcot murders: weapon found in hunt for Jed Allen Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 17:18:55 GMT)

Ryanair profits soar 66% as charm offensive reaps rewards
Budget airline says low fares and better service lured more customers than expected last yearRyanair’s annual profit jumped by two-thirds as low fuel prices drove down costs and passenger numbers grew on the back of lower fares and a successful campaign to transform the Irish airline’s brutal image of old.The low-cost carrier more than tripled its target for additional passengers and net profit for the year to the end of March increased 66% to €867m (£613m). The airline said it expected profits to near €1bn after tax next year. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:02:30 GMT)

Thousands expected at anti-Tory protests as Queen opens parliament
Demonstrators to gather at Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, part of wave of planned protests since Conservatives’ election winThousands of people are expected to join anti-government demonstrations during the state opening of parliament on Wednesday, just over a fortnight after an anti-Tory protest in Whitehall led to clashes with police.Organisers expect a crowd of around 5,000, including a large student bloc, to gather at Trafalgar Square in opposition to Conservative plans for five more years of spending cuts. About 2,000 are expected for a separate march from Downing Street through Westminster.Just 2 days until we march! Fuck austerity and fuck the tories https://t.co/d2T8Fn2pHD http://t.co/54p8s17cBgUPDATE: the 20 June demo will be marching from Bank to Parliament Square. #EndAusterityNow #JuneDemo pic.twitter.com/4UObqVPhekBob Marley - Get Up Stand Up [HQ Sound] https://t.co/Uq7Ekb5PLO via @YouTube #getupstandup @getupstandupUK GET THIS TO NUMBER 1 Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:28:07 GMT)

Obese teenage boys could have higher risk of bowel cancer, study says
Researchers find men who were overweight or obese when they were 16-20 are more likely to develop disease in their 50sTeenage boys who become very obese may double their risk of getting bowel cancer by the time they are in their 50s, research suggests.Past studies have shown that obesity in adults increases the risk of bowel cancer, but little work has been done on whether weight is a risk in adolescents. Scientists from Harvard University and from Sweden investigated a large group of young Swedish men who were conscripted into military service aged 16-20 to see whether their body mass index (BMI, a relationship between weight and height) in their youth was related to their chances of getting bowel cancer 35 years later. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 22:30:04 GMT)

National Gallery hints that disputed art collection belongs to Ireland
Director Nicholas Penny’s remarks seized on as acknowledgement of Dublin’s moral right to impressionist paintings bequeathed by Sir Hugh LaneThe National Gallery in London has given its clearest indication that Ireland has a moral, if not legal, right to a priceless collection of impressionist paintings that have been a cause célèbre of Irish nationalism since the 1920s. The 39 paintings, including some of the most celebrated works of the French artists Renoir, Monet and Manet, were left to the gallery by the art collector Sir Hugh Lane, who was killed on the Lusitania when it was hit by a German torpedo 100 years ago this month. Penny’s remarks are the clearest public acknowledgement of Dublin’s right to these paintings and are very welcome Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:53:24 GMT)

UK pornography industry proposes user ID checks for adult websites
Scheme to verify visitors’ identity with organisations such as banks and mobile providers has support but critics say there are privacy concernsBritons may soon face identity checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between Whitehall and the private sector.A scheme proposed by the pornography industry would see adult sites verifying visitors’ identity with organisations such as banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS.This is the state, yet again, intervening in people’s private lives for no reason other than good old British prurience Related: Tories promise to enforce age limits on online pornography Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 07:41:43 GMT)

Teenager dies after taking drug he thought was ecstasy
Toby Fairclough has died in hospital after reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest on playing fields, Thames Valley police saidA 17-year-old boy has died in hospital after taking a substance he believed to be ecstasy. Toby Fairclough is said to have suffered a cardiac arrest on playing fields in North Marston, Buckinghamshire, and was taken to Stoke Mandeville hospital. His family said Toby’s death ha dleft a huge hole in their lives. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:27:03 GMT)

National Trust calls for footpath around English coast
Britain’s biggest coastal landowner urges the government to keep a coalition promise to create £40m footpath around whole coastBritain’s biggest coastal landowner is calling on the new government to make good on a promise made under the coalition to create a footpath all around England’s coast. The National Trust is becoming increasingly concerned that the plan, which was championed by the Liberal Democrats, could flounder under the Tories. Helen Ghosh, the charity’s director-general, said: “We strongly support the plans for a coastal path that allows people to enjoy the whole coastline, walking through a landscape that is rich in wildlife and heritage. We’ll work with government agencies, partners and other landowners to help deliver this vision.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 23:01:05 GMT)

UK government PCs open to hackers as paid Windows XP support ends
Thousands of computers still running Windows XP at risk after Government Digital Service opted not to renew support in AprilThe Government Digital Service will not extend its £5.5m deal with Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP, leaving government computers that still run on the obsolete operating system at risk from hackers.The service said ending the support meant “weaknesses that are found in unsupported products will remain unpatched and will be exploitable by relatively low-skilled attackers”. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:05:25 GMT)

Northern Ireland coalition close to collapse in row over welfare cuts
Nationalist parties threatening to veto bill but power-sharing partners say talk of better deal with Westminster is unrealistic As Northern Ireland’s first minister, Peter Robinson, recovers from a heart operation, the power-sharing government he leads is teetering on the brink of collapse.The five-party coalition in the regional devolved administration in Belfast is split over a welfare reform bill that nationalist parties are threatening to veto. The centrist cross-community Alliance party has questioned whether Sinn Féin and the SDLP are still willing to govern Northern Ireland. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:29:25 GMT)

Court fines and council tax turning into problem debt, says Citizens Advice
Charity has dealt with marked increase in inquiries over the past two years from people struggling with multiple financial problemsMagistrates’ fines and council tax bills are driving increasing numbers of people into problem debt, an advice charity said on Tuesday, as low wages and the increased cost of living squeeze household finances.In 2014/15, 46,538 people turned to Citizens Advice because they were unable to pay court fines, a 39% increase on the figure for the previous year, according to the charity’s latest analysis of its cases. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 23:01:07 GMT)

Johnny Depp could face 10 years in prison for taking his dogs to Australia
The Oscar-nominated actor has been threatened with a lengthy sentence after failing to declare his pets when flying to the countryAfter illegally bringing his two dogs to Australia, Johnny Depp could face up to 10 years behind bars.The actor, who is currently filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, landed himself in trouble earlier this month when he brought his two Yorkshire terriers to the country on his private jet. He failed to declare them and therefore broke the country’s quarantine laws. Related: Johnny Depp's dogs: their only crime was being born into a life of privilege | Elle Hunt Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:02:52 GMT)

Malaysia mass graves: villagers tell of migrants emerging from secret jungle camps
Residents on the border village of Wang Kelian fear the worst as they reveal stories of desperate migrants who stumbled into their midstThe residents of Wang Kelian sensed something was amiss when a number of people stumbled on to their streets, weak and injured, and began to beg for food and water. “They would walk into my shop, with injuries covering their hands and feet. Some were just too weak to even speak properly,” said Lyza Ibrahim, who runs a food stall in the town on the northern Malaysian border with Thailand. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 07:18:48 GMT)

Mexico and US lashed by storms, leaving at least 17 dead
Texas and Oklahoma hit hard by tornado and flash floods, with thousands of Texans forced from their homesAt least 17 people have died in Mexico and the US after extreme weather lashed regions along the border over the weekend and into Monday.A tornado that struck Ciudad Acuña on the Mexican side of the border killed 13 as it destroyed homes and flung cars against buildings. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:23:04 GMT)

Oil company bosses' bonuses linked to $1tn spending on extracting fossil fuels
ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP pour funding into projects to unlock oil reserves – despite scientists warning they will lead to climate change disasterBosses at the world’s big five oil companies have been showered with bonus payouts linked to a $1tn (£650bn) crescendo of spending on fossil fuel exploration and extraction over nine years, according to Guardian analysis of company reports. Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 21:00:04 GMT)

Kenyan police attacked by al-Shabaab gunmen
At least five officers injured in heavy exchange of fire with militants in Garissa CountyAl-Shabaab gunmen attacked Kenyan police vehicles near Somalia’s border, injuring at least five officers and burning five cars, police said on TuesdayTwo officers were critically injured and three others sustained minor injuries in the attack in Garissa County, national Police Chief JK Boinnet said in a statement. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:57:19 GMT)

2015 is 'year of fear' for children worldwide, warns Gordon Brown
UN special envoy says this year is worst for children since 1945, with huge numbers becoming refugees or being forced from school Children are bearing the brunt of escalating worldwide refugee crises, armed conflicts and natural emergencies with 2015 – dubbed “the year of fear” – already the most dangerous since 1945 for the youngest and most vulnerable in society, according to Gordon Brown, UN special envoy for global education. Delivering an impassioned call for urgent international action in a briefing in New York, the former British prime minister and Labour party leader said more than half the world’s record numbers of 38 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 16.7 million refugees are children. Related: We are failing the children of Syria and Lebanon. This tragedy is avoidable | Gordon Brown 2015 is the worst year since 1945 for children being displaced, for becoming refugees, for seeing their schools attacked Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:59:56 GMT)

David Cameron takes hit as France and Germany agree closer EU ties
Proposals to be presented at EU summit in June will come as a blow to David Cameron who will table British pre-referendum demands at same meetingGermany and France have forged a pact to integrate the eurozone without reopening the EU’s treaties, in a blow to David Cameron’s referendum campaign.Sidestepping Britain’s demands to renegotiate the Lisbon treaty and Britain’s place in the EU, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, François Hollande, have sealed an agreement aimed at fashioning a tighter political union among the single-currency countries while operating within the confines of the existing treaty. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:53:34 GMT)

Sydney mother allegedly abandoned her two children to join Isis in Syria
A friend of Muslim convert Jasmina Milovanov says she travelled to Syria to get married ‘as she was very lonely’ and not to join fightingA Sydney woman who abandoned her two children to join Islamic State has been brainwashed, her mother says. It’s believed Muslim convert Jasmina Milovanov left her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter for a life with Isis in Syria. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:42:29 GMT)

Hong Kong activist refused entry to Malaysia over 'threat to ties with China'
Joshua Wong, 18, was travelling to speak about the umbrella movement which he spearheaded in the city last year and the Tiananmen Square massacre Hong Kong pro-democracy student leader Joshua Wong has been refused entry to Malaysia because of fears he would threaten ties with China, the country’s police chief has said. Wong was the teenage face of the umbrella movement, which brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months late last year with mass rallies calling for fully free leadership elections. Related: Creeping censorship in Hong Kong: how China controls sale of sensitive books Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:24:52 GMT)

Shinzo Abe urged to confront Japan's colonial aggression and use of sex slaves
Japanese academics add to pressure on prime minister during runup to 70th anniversary of end of Pacific warJapanese historians have urged prime minister Shinzo Abe to offer an honest account of the country’s wartime use of sex slaves in the runup to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific war.In a statement released this week that echoes a demand recently issued by overseas experts, 16 groups of academics, including the Japanese Society for Historical Studies, said the government must “squarely” confront Japan’s wartime conduct. Related: Anger of wartime sex slaves haunts Japan and South Korea Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:37:13 GMT)

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut join companies doing away with artificial ingredients
Fast-food chains join McDonald’s and Subway in nixing artificial dyes and flavors as they face pressure from smaller rivals positioning themselves as wholesomeTaco Bell and Pizza Hut say they’re getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing. Instead of “black pepper flavor”, for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain’s chief food innovation officer. Related: Pleased to meat you: the biggest, baddest burgers in America – in pictures Related: Taste the rainbow forever: yellow mac & cheese is dead, but the nostalgia lives on Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:41:49 GMT)

Twitter reportedly eyeing $1bn Flipboard acquisition
Social network and magazine app have been in talks since the beginning of the year, according to reportsTwitter is discussing the possibility of acquiring the social media aggregation app Flipboard at a valuation of more than $1bn, according to reports.Twitter’s chief financial officer Anthony Noto has been leading the talks since the beginning of the year, though they are currently stalled, reports Kara Swisher at the technology website Recode. Related: Flipboard moves to the web with plans to host some news publishers' content Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:07:24 GMT)

Euro and Greek bonds hit by bailout fears -- live updates
All the latest economic and financial news, as speculation swirls that Greece could fail to meet its IMF repayments in JuneLatest: Eurozone official says no deal by ThursdaySummary: Euro drops as Greek fears swirlGreek bond weaken after Varoufakis blames creditorsSpanish bonds drop after regional election 3.13pm BST More US data, with consumer confidence and new home sales both beating expectations.According to Conference Board figures, the May consumer confidence index came in at 95.4, up from a revised 94.3 in April and better than the expected 94.9. 3.02pm BST European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for one reckons there is a growing belief that a Greek default can be avoided. Juncker told the MNI news agency:My impression after talking to a series of colleagues is that the feeling is growing that a default should be avoided.On the other hand all those I’ve spoken to are insisting on the involvement of the (International Monetary Fund). No deal without the agreement of the IMF. 2.49pm BST Back in the US, and new figures show that service sector growth slowed for the third month in a row in May.The Markit preliminary purchasing managers index for services came in at 56.4, down from 57.4 in April . The composite index - an average of manufacturing and services - fell to 56.1 from 57 in April. Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said:The rate of expansion remains below the buoyant rates seen throughout much of last year, as slower growth of service activity has been accompanied by a slowdown in the manufacturing sector, which has seen exporters hit by the stronger dollar. 2.37pm BST Apparently it’s now a teleconference this afternoon between Greece and its creditors.Government Official: Greek creditors are to hold a teleconference today, meet tomorrow - BBG 2.31pm BST And the sense of frustration is palpable:Another day was wasted talking abt possible tax on withdrawals from ATMs. Still going around in circles after 4 months in office #GreeceDrafting & re-drafting is a great process to reach gd deal. Throwing weird (non-reforming) proposals & retracting w/in 1 hour, not so much. 2.28pm BST The idea of Greece consolidating all the payments due to the IMF in June into one lump sum could be risky unless a deal is done with its creditors. Here’s the full Reuters’ report on the idea:Cash-strapped Greece could avoid paying back the IMF on June 5 and win more time to negotiate a funding deal without defaulting if it lumps together all IMF repayments due in June and pays them at the end of the month, officials said on Tuesday.Greece has to repay the International Monetary Fund 300 million euros on June 5, the first of four instalments due in June that total 1.6 billion euros. 2.27pm BST On the other hand... Efi Koutsokosta, Euronews’s Brussels correspondent, reckons that negotiations between Greece are continuing.....Technical contacts for #Greece taking place today as scheduled, #brusselsgroup tomorrow- Not cancelled according to EU Commission sources. 2.20pm BST Now the Greek finance ministry is saying (according to Reuters) that a banking transaction tax and a levy on ATM withdrawals is “no longer” being discussed in talks with EU/IMF lenders. Not clear what that means if the talks have in fact been cancelled, however. 2.13pm BST An unnamed eurozone official has warned that progress is still too low, and ruled out a deal by Thursday.They also criticised the Athens side for not producing credible proposals for VAT reforms, which rather undermines the argument that a deal is close. 2.10pm BST Enikos is also reporting that today’s talks between Greece and creditors is off.They say:The scheduled meeting of the so-called Brussels Group on the Greek bailout has been cancelled.A Greek senior official did not give a reason for the cancellation of the meeting that was due to be held on Tuesday afternoon.#Brussels Group meeting cancelled #Greece #bailout- BREAKING - http://t.co/VPVGb8mbYs pic.twitter.com/UMIB0cVBkX 2.06pm BST Interesting..... talks between Greece and its creditors in Brussels have been ‘postponed’, according to Greek financial website Capital.grToday's #BrusselsGroup meeting is postponed. Oops... #Greece https://t.co/TncsLt7Q5I 2.02pm BST Time for a quick recap.Concerns that Greece might fail to meet the €1.6bn repayments due to the International Monetary Fund have hit Europe’s financial markets today.If we decide that there is no money left for the IMF, we have repeatedly said that our priority is to pay salaries, pensions, health, education”.Greek 2yr yields jump to almost 25% on more Greek noise. #ECB’s Hansson says agreement on #Greece ‘not in sight’ yet. pic.twitter.com/83UPNUBC3Q 1.38pm BST Finally, some economic data is hitting the wires, from America.And the news is that durable goods orders, excluding the volatile aircraft orders, jumped by 1.0% in April. That’s stronger than expected.Really solid durable goods number. This is the kind of report we've been waiting awhile to see. http://t.co/hHgcY3iFmiMajor upward revisions to prior months. And solid beats on the core numbers. 1.29pm BST The trial of Tom Hayes, the former UBS and Citigroup trader accused of manipulating the Libor rate, has begun at Southwark Crown Court in London.A trader was motivated by greed as he acted as “ringmaster” in a “thoroughly dishonest and manipulative manner” to rig interbank lending rates, a court has heard.Tom Hayes, 35, whose trial began on Tuesday, is alleged to have done “everything in his power” to manipulate the rates, known as Libor. Related: Libor trial: trader driven by greed was 'ringmaster' in rate-rigging conspiracy, court hears 1.15pm BST Mujtaba Rahman, analyst at Eurasia Group, reckons that Greece will probably reach a deal with the eurozone in time.Despite the inflammatory talk of defying Greece’s creditors, Rahman believes that a compromise will be hammered out; and that Alexis Tsipras will only suffer a handful of defections.We continue to believe Tsipras will lose around 5-10 lawmakers from his coalition when the package is presented to parliament (potentially attached to a vote of confidence). But we suspect he will lose less than 12 MP’s allowing him to keep his parliamentary majority. Albeit ideological, Lafazanis is a team player who understands the government and party’s needs need to come before those of the Left Platform, and importantly, believes Syriza can make a difference in government. He will therefore want to avoid creating the circumstances that could result in a National Unity government in which Syriza’s influence would be heavily diluted.While Lafazanis will not support any deal, concessions over the fiscal primary surplus, labour and pensions should be enough to keep him and his MP’s in line. Moreover, Lafazanis has a lot of meddling power outside of parliament with the capacity to delay and water down implementation of reforms once they are legislated, as well as to challenge them in court. This affords him another less destructive avenue to express his disagreement with the deal rather than overthrowing the government. 12.38pm BST #Varoufakis tells journos govt mulls imposing a small tax on cash withdrawals from ATMs to give incentive to use credit cards #Greece 12.32pm BST Yanis Varoufakis has apparently also indicated today that Greek savers might incur a ‘small’ fee when they use a machine [he’s been speaking to reporters in Athens].#Greece FinMin Varoufakis says there may be 'a small' levy on bank withdrawals via ATMs. 12.19pm BST Over in Athens the main opposition party has issued a withering attack on the government, saying that Greece is being ruled by a party where 40 percent want to take the country out of the euro.“It has become clear that we are being governed by a party where 40% want us to leave the euro zone and to return to the drachma.In the event that this is adopted we will live a huge national catastrophe and we will speak of the great national tragedy of the 21st century.” 11.55am BST Heads-up: Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has apparently pledged that Greece will meet its €305m repayment to the International Monetary Fund: 11.27am BST Optimism across Britain’s retail industry has hit its highest level since 1988, according to the Confederation of British Industry this morning. 10.50am BST European commissioner Pierre Moscovici hasn’t changed his tune this morning.Moscovici has just warned that there is no Plan B for Greece, and that more effort is needed to agree a reform plan. 10.43am BST The crisis continues to bring out the best in Greece’s street artists. 10.27am BST An (unnamed) German government official has told Reuters that Berlin still hopes Greece will meet its IMF repayment next week: 10.09am BST Another Greek government minister has floated the prospect of failing to repay the International Monetary Fund next month.Deputy Minister of Social Insurance Dimitris Stratoulis told Mega TV this morning that pensions and wages must come first:“If we decide that there is no money left for the IMF, we have repeatedly said that our priority is to pay salaries, pensions, health, education”.Failure to pay IMF is NOT a credit event, says Greek minister - http://t.co/wAhEvtIbM5A: A missed payment date starts the clock ticking. Two weeks after the initial due date and a cable from Washington urging immediate payment, the fund sends another cable stressing the “seriousness of the failure to meet obligations” and again urges prompt settlement.Two weeks after that, the managing director informs the Executive Board that an obligation is overdue. For Greece, that’s when the serious consequences kick in. These are known as cross-default and cross-acceleration.Important read from @nchrysoloras and @johneglover: FAQ on what happens if Greece doesn't pay the IMF http://t.co/bnyH4kqRF6 9.49am BST Arnaud Masset, Market Analyst at online Swiss bank Swissquote also blamed Greece for the euro’s weakness today:In Europe, mounting uncertainty about Greece’s next payment to the IMF on June 5 adds pressure on the single currency as Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s PM, declared that his government would accept a sustainable deal “but not a humiliating” agreement, threatening to default on €1.6bn loan repayment due to the IMF in June. As a result, the fall of the euro against the dollar accelerates. 9.39am BST Kit Juckes, chief currency strategist at French bank Société Générale, sums up the situation this morning:The Greek government will need some form of deal in order to release further funds if it is to avoid missing payments to the IMF in June. Whether Greek PM Tsipras can negotiate a deal that is acceptable to enough MPs of his party isn’t clear and markets are once again, very edgy.Across the Mediterranean, there have been heavy losses by Spain’s ruling Popular Party to anti-austerity parties in regional and local elections. Peripheral European government bond spreads are wider though not drastically, but the euro is much weaker. 9.33am BST European stock markets are being buffeted by the Greek crisis, and the Spanish regional election results.The main indices are all in the red this morning, led by Madrid. 9.22am BST Greece’s two-year bonds are now at their weakest level in a month:Greek 2yr yields jump to almost 25% on more Greek noise. #ECB’s Hansson says agreement on #Greece ‘not in sight’ yet. pic.twitter.com/83UPNUBC3Q 9.07am BST Greek bonds are falling this morning, pushing yields (the rate of return on the debt) higher into the danger zone.Some in the City are blaming Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who yesterday pointed the finger at Greece’s creditors for the lack of progress.The problem is simple: Greece’s creditors insist on even greater austerity for this year and beyond – an approach that would impede recovery, obstruct growth, worsen the debt-deflationary cycle, and, in the end, erode Greeks’ willingness and ability to see through the reform agenda that the country so desperately needs.Our government cannot – and will not – accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease.Fair-minded observers of the four-month-long negotiations between Greece and its creditors cannot avoid a simple conclusion: The major sticking point, the only deal-breaker, is the creditors’ insistence on even more austerity, even at the expense of the reform agenda that our government is eager to pursue.Greece 10 years up 46bp this morning to 11.83% - the mkt hated Varoufakis's article and the big split in SYRIZA adding to concerns. 8.42am BST Traders are also blaming Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, for today’s euro selloff.“There is little time left... That’s why we’re working day and night for an agreement. Without an agreement with the creditors, Greece will not get any new loans. Then there’s a threat of insolvency. There are a lot of risks contained in that,” 8.36am BST Newsflash from Madrid; Spanish bank shares are falling, as last weekend’s regional election results ripple through the markets.At a local level, the PP faces a new era of coalition and compromise for which it is ill-prepared.Rajoy - whose party must form pacts with some of the new groups if it is to retain power in a number of regions, including Madrid - has campaigned hard against them. Earlier this month he said they were “gangs” and a threat to Spain’s political and economic stability. 8.30am BST The euro is continuing to lose ground, and is now down 0.85 of a cent against the US dollar at $1.089.It’s not just about Greece, though. The dollar is romping ahead against most currencies this morning, on speculation that US interest rates will rise soon. 8.21am BST Spanish government debt is falling in value too, after anti-austerity activists secured a stunning victory in last weekend’s regional elections. Related: Spain's indignados could rule Barcelona and Madrid after local election success 7.58am BST The euro is losing ground against almost every major currency today:EURUSD 1.0909. pic.twitter.com/cOTbJ5PYCh 7.57am BST Fears over the Greek bailout have pushed the euro down to a one-month low this morning.The single currency has fallen by over half a cent against the US dollar to $1.0909, its lowest point since late April. “The Greek political saga will remain in the spotlight as the deadline for payments to the IMF approaches”,“A light data calendar and continued political uncertainty in Greece should continue to weigh on the euro.” Related: Greece warns it is set to default on debt repayment loans “It would not be a catastrophe to exit the euro, (nor) a terrorist act not to pay the next instalment to the IMF.” 7.46am BST Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.Amid mounting fears of financial collapse, Tsipras instructed officials to act speedily as his government sought to defuse tensions saying it would do its best to honour its debts – even if it failed to reveal how, exactly, it would find the money to pay €1.6bn in loans to the International Monetary Fund next month.“We are very close to a deal,” the finance minister Yanis Varoufakis told reporters. “There are many different Germans, just as there are many different Greeks,” he said responding to reports that Berlin would not be prepared to retreat in what has become an all-out tug of war between the two governments. Related: Greek PM convenes emergency meeting of his bailout negotiation team Our European opening calls: $FTSE 7037 up 5 $DAX 11782 down 33 $CAC 5101 down 16 $IBEX 11259 down 64 $MIB 23269 down 17 Related: First Libor defendant faces trial in London Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:13:16 GMT)

Iraq launches counterattack against Isis near Ramadi
State TV says troops will be backed by Shia and Sunni paramilitaries as Iraq attempts to retake western Anbar province Iraq has announced the launch of a military operation to drive Islamic State out of the western Anbar province, where the extremists captured the provincial capital, Ramadi, this month. Related: Rout of Ramadi reawakens Iraq to 'brutal reality' Related: US defense secretary says fall of Ramadi shows Iraqi forces lack will to fight Isis Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:29:01 GMT)

Japan braces for severe butter shortage
Government prepares for emergency imports as demand for butter is expected to outstrip supply by more than 7,000 tonnesJapan is bracing for a severe butter shortage that threatens cake making across the country, echoing last year’s dairy disaster that left supermarket shelves empty.The Japan Dairy Association is warning that demand for butter will outstrip supply by more than 7,000 tonnes, prompting the government to ready emergency imports. Related: Japan's exhausted cows cause butter shortage ahead of Christmas Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:14:56 GMT)

How Spotify trolled my friend over his viral cat tweet
Poor ThomMeet Thom Phipps.just drank a nice oranginaimagine drinking a pint of mayonnaisefound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the wallfound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there’s a picture of him on the wallFound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the wallfound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the wallfound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the wallfound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there’s a picture of him on the wallfound out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the walleverybody except me knows the new musici dont even listen to the radio so i have no ideas what the popular bangers of the day arecan somebody make me a spotify playlist of the ten songs i should be familliar with@thwphipps Hey Thom, we've got what you need: http://t.co/8DVjRCLVLW Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 13:33:27 GMT)

BBC axes Never Mind the Buzzcocks after 20 years
Music panel show, which has featured team captains including Phill Jupitus, Noel Fielding, Sean Hughes and Bill Bailey, has run to 28 seriesThe BBC has pulled the plug on Never Mind the Buzzcocks after 20 years and 28 series of the music panel show.The show, which has been presented by Mark Lamarr, Simon Amstell and, in its latest incarnation Rhod Gilbert, has featured team captains including Phill Jupitus, Sean Hughes, Bill Bailey and Noel Fielding. Related: Phill Jupitus interview: 'I am not everyone's cup of teA' Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 12:31:45 GMT)

The best women's summer cycling kit, tried and tested
The mercury is rising - time to put summer cycling gear to the test. But is a jersey costing £130 that much better than one at £40? Helen Pidd tries out dhb, Twin Six, Rapha, Café du Cycliste, Howies and Morvélo• Tomorrow: Peter Walker on the mens’ gearWith summer looming, I’ve tried out jersey-and-shorts combinations from six companies, with prices ranging from about £40 to £130. To qualify, brands had to offer, if possible, matching shorts and jerseys, and they couldn’t be too boring. The jazzier the better. The problem, as we discovered, is that jazzy does not always equal flattering. And there’s a good reason shorts tend to come in dark colours.I tested all of the women’s kit personally on rides of 40 miles-plus, before handing them over to members of Team Glow, Manchester’s premiere ladies-only cycling club, for their verdict. We’ve washed them all at least three times too. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:54:28 GMT)

Hey, McFly! Canadian sets new hoverboard distance record
Catalin Alexandru Duru recognised for 275.9m flight over a lake on craft that is more Green Goblin glider than Back to the Future II skateboard A Canadian inventor has set a new world record for hoverboard flight distance, hovering 5m over water for 276m.Catalin Alexandru Duru flew over Lake Ouareau in Quebec, Canada, reaching 275.9m before the batteries ran out. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:11:29 GMT)

Nigel Slater’s fontina, sausage and mustard sandwich recipe
Sometimes you just want a toasted sandwich, hot and sizzling from the panTo make two sandwiches, slit the skin of 175g of good, herb-freckled breakfast sausages and peel it away. Crumble the sausagemeat into large pieces and fry until golden. Slice three rashers of smoked streaky or back bacon into postage stamp-sized pieces and fry with the sausage until the fat is crisp. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 10:59:07 GMT)

What's it like to be hated by the Russian internet?
As online space becomes increasingly toxic, Afisha talks to four prominent figures about managing torrents of personal abuse Facing death threats and streams of abusive messages, some Russians are becoming increasingly targeted by rising levels of online vitriol.Trolling and internet abuse is a global problem, but each of these stories reveals how for some people working in Russia the digital sphere has become increasingly pernicious, with some saying it has become particularly bad since the annexation of Crimea. Related: Salutin' Putin: inside a Russian troll house ‘The hatred and pain will pass’ Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:53:42 GMT)

Australia to import micro wasp to wage war against plague of crazy ants
Scientists hope the Malaysian wasp will severely dent populations of crazy ants, which have been blamed for killing red crabs on Christmas Island A diminutive Malaysian wasp is set to be imported to Australia in order to wage war against a plague of destructive crazy ants on Christmas Island.The tiny wasp, which is just 2mm long, doesn’t sting or build nests but, it is hoped, will severely dent crazy ant populations. Related: Australian cane toads meet their match Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:18:40 GMT)

Could thieves use jamming technology to steal your car?
Theoretical attack becomes real as criminals begin using jammers to block remote locking car keysNext time you come back to your car and find it unlocked it might not be because you forgot to lock it – a thief sitting nearby might have actually stopped you locking your car without you knowing.For years science fiction has depicted criminals, governments and security forces being able to block signals with radio jammers. Now criminals in the UK have started to get their hands on jammers and are using them to break into cars. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:00:02 GMT)

How to solve it! Cheryl's birthday puzzle part two: Denise's revenge
The last word on Albert, Bernard, Cheryl and Denise. With workings. Guzzlers, how did you get on? Let me first restate the problem. Albert, Bernard and Cheryl became friends with Denise, and they wanted to know when her birthday is. Denise gave them a list of 20 possible dates.Albert: I don’t know when Denise’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know.Bernard: I still don’t know when Denise’s birthday is, but I know that Cheryl still does not know. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:30:02 GMT)

Skyping with the enemy: I went undercover as a jihadi girlfriend
When a French journalist posed online as a young woman interested in Isis, she was soon contacted by a fighter in Syria. He proposed marriage – but could she maintain a double life?It was 10 o’clock on a Friday night in spring 2014 and I was sitting on the sofa in my one-bed Paris apartment when I received a message from a French terrorist based in Syria: “Salaam alaikum, sister. I see you watched my video. It’s gone viral – crazy! Are you Muslim? What do you think about mujahideen?”A journalist, I had been writing about European jihadists in Islamic State for about a year. I created a social media account, using the name Mélodie, to investigate why European teenagers were attracted to Islamic extremism. I spent hours scanning feeds filled with descriptions of gruesome plans. I had spent that night on my couch, flicking from account to account, when I came across a video of a French jihadist who looked about 35. He wore military fatigues and called himself Abu Bilel. He claimed to be in Syria.I wanted to understand how European children were falling for this propaganda, and grasp the mindset of these soldiersThe idea of a terrorist becoming familiar with my face didn't thrill me, especially as he might come home at any momentHe got out of his car and his smartphone showed images of a devastated Syria. Suddenly, men's voices broke the silenceI wondered how many girls were being lured by men like Bilel right now. 'I have to hang up,' I said, 'Mum's coming home'We were to continue on to Kilis, a Kurdish-controlled city near the Syrian border. The story would end there'I command 100 soldiers every day. I haven't even told you a quarter of the truth. I'm wanted internationally'Recently, a journalist friend called to tell me he'd learned from a reliable source that there was a fatwa against me Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 07:00:02 GMT)

The inside story: how to avoid gang culture
Ex-inmates’ accounts of jail are deterring young people from getting involved in gangs and crimeA voluble cry of disgust goes up as senior prison officer Mick Sherwood declares that the baggy boxer shorts dangling from his hand are “unisex prison underwear – three pairs a week and you don’t know who had them last week”. When former inmate Paul Murdoch adds that he worked in the prison laundry and washes were on such low temperatures that “skid marks” were common, the faces of the listening 11 and 12-year-olds are a picture of horror. “Often it is the immediacy of the physical that first fires the students’ imagination and focuses them on the consequences of crime,” says Alison Zilberkweit, project co-ordinator of Your Life You Choose Brent, “but we know from the feedback that they take in the more serious issues too.” YLYC is a magistrate-led project, bringing together justices of the peace, the police, victim support, prison officers, and ex-offenders to provide a day of workshops for schoolchildren about the ease with which young people slip into crime and what that means for them, their families and their future. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 14:00:11 GMT)

Simon Armitage: Making poetry pay
In a culture that has consigned poetry to the margins, Armitage has become something very rare: a genuinely popular British poet. Aida Edemariam hits the road with the busiest man in verseOne Indian summer evening last September, off a busy slip road not far from the Tower of London, Simon Armitage took to the stage of the world’s oldest surviving music hall and, after a short introduction from the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, started to read. “It begins with a house, an end terrace / in this case …” The hall was full, generous with silence and later with laughter: young couples in careful retro outfits, men in suits dropping by after work, students, and older women; audience and performers held beneath a glowing tent of wobbly fairy lights that rose from the balconies to a bright apex in the roof. “But it will not stop there. Soon it is / an avenue / which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics’ Institute …” Armitage’s reading voice is light; not exactly monotonal, but strung on a more delicate, questioning skein than his conversational voice. The poem, Zoom!, the title piece in his very first collection, in 1989, turns left at the main road, leads to a town, “city, nation, hemisphere, universe, … [is] bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy”, before finally coming to rest in the checkout queue at the local supermarket.How did the poem come about, Bragg asked. Daydreaming, answered Armitage: “I’d been bunking off school – which was a bit of a worthless pastime in those days because it was before daytime TV.” The audience laughed. He spoke of the challenge, these days, of building thinking time into a day. “‘What have you been doing?’ ‘Thinking’” – another murmur of laughter – “It sounds like an excuse, but actually, it’s vital.” It was a deft, confident performance, an unstrained mixture of taking himself and his work seriously while making sure to puncture anything that might come across as pretension; playing with anti-intellectualism while depending on the fact that no one would be here if they were not intellectually engaged. Did he plan his poems? “I know other poets who work on poems as exploration, but I’ve usually got a destination in mind. I knew in that poem I wanted to end up in Sainsbury’s supermarket” – a slight pause, as the audience guffawed – “it was just a question of getting back from the outer periphery of the universe.”Poetry has taken Armitage to the Amazon and Iceland, to the US and New Zealand, to prisons and to EtonI have got to a point in my life career where I’ve stopped having to feel apologetic about what I do and why I do itArmitage’s father is 'a born exaggerator', a barbershop singer and amateur actor Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 05:00:00 GMT)

Confessions of a humanitarian: 'There are days I'd sacrifice world peace for a chocolate croissant'
In the first of a regular series, Congo-based aid worker Dara Passano admits that years of humanitarian work have finally turned her capitalist I used to be the real thing – one of The People. I lived in a village. I wore plastic shoes. I rode a Flying Pigeon bicycle. I hosted such colonies of parasites that a whole university department might have built its reputation on the study of my intestines. Instead of toilet paper, I had leaves. Instead of electricity, I had starlight. Instead of wine, I had iodine tablets.This, I thought, was solidarity. Related: 52 reasons not to date an aid worker Related: 12 tips for getting a job in international development Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 09:16:23 GMT)

The Silk Road: who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts? - video
Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind The Silk Road drugs trading website, was convicted in February 2015. In the lead up to his sentencing, Deep Web explores whether Ulbricht was the swashbuckling criminal kingpin he was made out to be in court, or simply a naive tech visionary. Narrated by Keanu Reeves, it questions the FBI's methods in seizing the Silk Road's servers and asks whether the investigation has chilling consequences for state surveillance. To see more from Deep Web go here Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 08:00:00 GMT)

Home or away – is student accommodation becoming a luxury?
With the price of university halls or digs doubling in a decade, we look at the pros and cons of living with your parents while studyingApplying to university? Consult the Guardian University Guide 2016For Abla Klaa, one of the main perks of living with her parents while studying is that the fridge is always stocked. “I’m saved from worrying about grocery shopping or choosing between a greasy takeaway or cooking dinner – if I knew how to,” says Klaa, a second-year broadcast journalism student at Leeds University. The downside is she has to help do the dishes “and make sure the state of my room meets my mum’s impossible standards of cleanliness”.For prospective students, deciding whether to go away to university or stay at home is becoming more pressing.Most significantly, live-at-home students are less likely to achieve first or upper-second class degreesWomen were more likely to live at home, and it was also more prevalent among black and ethnic minority students Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 06:00:01 GMT)

How Curitiba's BRT stations sparked a transport revolution – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 43
When Curitiba’s bus rapid transit stations were revamped in 1991, the futuristic glass-tube stops became a new symbol for the Brazilian cityRua Padre Anchieta, as one of the main thoroughfares in Curitiba, Brazil, is a logical focal point for the city’s bus network. But whereas bus stops in many other cities consist of little more than a sign and perhaps a bench, the ones on Rua Padre Anchieta are a bit different. In the middle of the street sit two tube-shaped stations, raised from ground level and protected from the elements, that open on to two-way express lanes. These lanes are reserved for long orange buses, which zip past slower car traffic and quickly shuttle passengers on and off at the stations on outward-folding ramps. Stations like this now exist throughout the city and metropolitan area. Though difficult to imagine, these distinctive stations that are now the symbol of the city were originally a cost-cutting measure. Implemented as a practical way for the city to create faster mass transit without breaking the bank, they would go on to revolutionise transport, not just in Curitiba but in cities around the world. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 11:48:16 GMT)

The forgotten land of colours: a trip through Iran's Persian Gulf
Our correspondent savours the natural beauty and the traditional lifestyles on the islands, under threat from commercial developments “This rock is a dragon, left here before the last great war.”“Look at the top of the cliff. We call that rock Ferdowsi, as it looks from afar like the great poet.” Related: A Londoner in Iran, off the beaten track Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 04:00:11 GMT)

Cambodia's new bomb divers aim to make its rivers safe
The country’s first squad of scuba divers trained to find and help defuse unexploded war time ordnance have started workIt was on an unrelentingly hot day last week when Sok Chenda dived into the Mekong river and helped change how Cambodia deals with a deadly chapter from its history.He slipped into the warm water, adjusted his mask and scuba gear, steadied his breathing and slowly began his descent several meters below, where the river water gradually turns from pale to thick, acidic yellow. Continue reading...
(Tue, 26 May 2015 01:22:52 GMT)

'Black Bike Week' riders cry foul over security increase at annual gathering
A week after a shootout between bikers in Texas and a year after three died in Myrtle Beach, Bikefest attendees say they are not being treated equally Related: Waco shootout: how a friendly Sunday get-together ended in a biker bloodbath For more than two decades, thousands of African American motorcyclists have traveled across the nation to South Carolina, to attend the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest. On the last weekend in May every year, the low hum of customized choppers with high-handle bars and the high-pitched revs of neon-painted street bikes have sounded out on Ocean Boulevard.“This isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Our staff has been working non-stop this weekend to try to keep everyone safeHere, in Myrtle Beach, because of unfortunate events, the collective group of black bikers gets punished Related: Texas motorcycles, politics and guns: welcome to the biker world Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 12:00:03 GMT)

Isle of the sea eagle: 'It's our version of the wolf'
Britain’s biggest bird of prey is back from extinction and thriving on Mull. It’s great news for wildlife tourists, but the sheep farmers are yet to be convincedWe are lurching along the loch when the 25 seagulls hanging above our boat suddenly scatter. “It’s coming,” says David Sexton quietly. A dark shape materialises low over the water, gaining on us fast.With wings like planks and a meat-cleaver for a beak, the white-tailed eagle fixes its eyeballs (twice as large as ours) on the boat. Taking great scoops of air with each flap, it stretches yellow talons to pluck a fish from the water.If farmers see a sea eagle sat on a lamb, they aren’t going to ask whether it’s actually killed itFarmers don’t just want to be here providing a food supply for the eagles Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 15:47:01 GMT)

University guide Q&A: put your questions to the compiler
Got a question about the 2016 university league tables? We’re giving readers the chance to discuss them live with the person who compiled them The Guardian University Guide 2016 is now online, including league tables at both institutional and subject area level, and we now know how every major higher education institution in the UK performed over the past year.Some readers will want to know how it all works. What is the Guardian’s special recipe for calculating the performance of universities – and how do our tables differ from those of other guides? Related: University league tables 2016 Continue reading...
(Mon, 25 May 2015 20:58:02 GMT)

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