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Labour warns of risk to policing as officers stand on the austerity frontline
Warning of return to 1980s emergency-based policing, with thousands of job losses possible in coming years as cuts biteThousands of police officers around the country face losing their jobs by the end of the decade as part of George Osborne’s plans to shrink the size of the state, according to a Labour analysis of figures compiled by the House of Commons library.Amid warnings of a return to the emergency-based policing of the 1980s, the analysis suggests that the Metropolitan police, Britain’s largest force, may have to cut between 1,300 and 5,200 police officers – out of a total strength of 31,000 – if the full planned cuts are introduced. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 21:31:16 GMT)

Six people killed as Glasgow bin lorry crashes into pedestrians
At least eight people seriously injured in crash in George Square as city centre was crowded with Christmas shoppersSix people have been killed and eight were seriously injured after an out-of-control bin lorry ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians and shoppers in Glasgow city centre.The lethal accident happened at around 2.30pm on Monday on busy George Square, when the area was teeming with last-minute Christmas shoppers and visitors to the ice rink and amusements in the square. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:56:00 GMT)

Joe Cocker, Grammy-winning singer, dies at age of 70
Sheffield-born singer, who was famous for his raspy voice, dies after battle with lung cancerObituary: Joe Cocker, 1944-2014Five classic performances from Sheffield’s greatest bluesmanJoe Cocker: a life in picturesSinger Joe Cocker, whose career spanned more than 50 years, has died after a long battle with lung cancer.Cocker, known for his rasping voice, rose to fame with his cover of the Beatles song With a Little Help from My Friends, which went to No 1 in 1968. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:08:59 GMT)

North Korea suffers internet blackout – reports
Connectivity problems not immediately linked to US threats of retribution over Sony Pictures hackingNorth Korea experienced sweeping and progressively worse internet outages extending into Monday, with one computer expert saying the country’s online access went “totally down”. The White House and the State Department declined to say whether the US government was responsible.By Tuesdsay the US-based internet monitoring company Dyn said the country appeared to be back online. But “the question is whether it will return to the unstable fluctuations we saw before the outage” said Dyn spokesman Jim Cowie. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 03:17:35 GMT)

Untested Ebola drug given to patients in Sierra Leone causes UK walkout
Use of amiodarone heart drug at Lakka centre in Freetown deemed ‘reckless’ by scientist as 14 medical staff withdraw over safety fearsEbola patients at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone have been given a heart drug that is untested against the virus in animals and humans, a move that has been deemed reckless by one senior scientist and has prompted UK medical staff at the centre to leave.A 14-strong team of British doctors, nurses and paramedics stopped working at the Lakka treatment centre in Freetown because of their concerns over what they considered the experimental and potentially dangerous use of the drug, and other safety issues. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:02:52 GMT)

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose cancel deliveries after website glitches
Some Sainsbury’s customers offered redelivery dates after Christmas while others told they can collect their orders from a local branchSainsbury’s and Waitrose have become the latest stores to suffer website meltdowns, resulting in the cancellation of Christmas deliveries for customers.On Sunday night Sainsbury’s accidentally cancelled hundreds of online orders after a computer failure. Some customers were offered redelivery dates after Christmas. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:18:00 GMT)

Nantes Christmas shoppers hurt as man drives van into crowd
At least 10 people hurt, five of them seriously, in incident at Christmas marketAt least 10 people at a Christmas market were injured when a man drove a van into the crowd in the western French city of Nantes on Monday evening.Police said five of the 10 casualties were seriously injured. The driver, aged 25, attempted to kill himself with a knife, but his suicide attempt failed and he was reported to have been taken to hospital in a serious condition. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:08:46 GMT)

Nigel Farage attacks pupils’ Ukip parody app featuring Nicholas Fromage
App developed by sixth-formers at Canterbury Academy allows players to kick immigrants off white cliffs of DoverA phone app made by school students and featuring a character called Nicholas Fromage kicking immigrants off the white cliffs of Dover has been criticised by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage.Farage claimed the game, developed by a group of sixth-formers from Canterbury Academy, was “risible and pathetic” and that it had “crossed the line”, despite saying he welcomed the opinions of young people. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:30:28 GMT)

Quarter of private tenants cutting back on food to pay rent – survey
National Housing Federation says 31% of households – and 41% with children – have struggled to pay rent at least onceSome people in private rental accommodation are having to cut back on food and heating to cope with rising rents, according to research by the National Housing Federation (NHF).The organisation, which represents housing associations across England, said soaring rents and high deposits were making life increasingly difficult for those locked out of homeownership. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:05:02 GMT)

Tory Francis Maude says NHS reforms hinge on inclusion of private firms
Maude wants private firms to get health service work under £5.3bn Better Care Fund aiming to knit health and social care A senior minister has criticised the government’s £5.3bn central policy to save the NHS and claimed it will only work if private firms are given a much bigger role. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:00:41 GMT)

Two men charged with PC Neil Doyle’s murder
Andrew Taylor, 28, and Christopher Spendlove, 30, to appear in court over fatal attack on off-duty police officer in LiverpoolTwo men have been charged with the murder of an off-duty police officer.PC Neil Doyle, 36, was attacked in the early hours of Friday morning while on a Christmas night out with colleagues in Liverpool city centre. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:58:48 GMT)

May urged to appoint UK’s most senior female judge to lead child abuse inquiry
Child abuse survivors group wants Lady Hale, deputy president of supreme court, to take charge of statutory inquiryThe home secretary, Theresa May, has been urged to appoint Britain’s most senior female judge, Lady Hale, to chair a full statutory inquiry into child abuse with links to the Westminster establishment.May has conceded that the child abuse panel that has already been set up does not have satisfactory powers, and, with a decision expected soon about what form an inquiry will take, figures representing child abuse survivors are pressing for Hale, the deputy president of the supreme court, to take charge. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:34:28 GMT)

135 retail firms in critical condition, say analysts
More than 24,000 retailers in ‘significant’ financial distress as supermarket price war forces high street to slash pricesUK retailers are facing increased financial stress this year as the big supermarkets fight a price war that has forced the rest of the high street to slash prices and squeeze profit margins.As retailers prepare for the quarterly rent day on Christmas Day, traditionally the time when banks call in the administrators, more than 24,000 retailers are suffering from significant financial distress, according to research by the advisory firm Begbies Traynor. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:05:02 GMT)

Record 17,000 join nationalist march in Germany
Many in Berlin shocked by emergence of far-right anti-Islamist group Pegida as growing numbers join weekly Dresden protest ‘Pinstripe Nazis’ show the immigration debate is overheatedA record 17,000 people have joined the latest in a string of demonstrations against Islam in Dresden, eastern Germany, celebrating the rise of their far-right populist movement by singing Christmas carols.The march on Monday night was organised by Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West – a group that has grown rapidly since its first protest in October. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:31:38 GMT)

Potholes targeted in £6bn funding injection to English local councils
Funding spread between 2015 and 2021 will improve road network after erosion from severe winters and devastating floodsEnglish local authorities are to get almost £6bn to repair potholes over the next six years.Awarded by the government, the fund will help them improve roads between 2015 and 2021. A succession of severe winters and the devastating floods earlier this year have left councils struggling with road maintenance. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:32:42 GMT)

Oklahoma given go-ahead to resume executions
Request for injunction denied, allowing state to carry out four scheduled executions in early 2015Oklahoma will be allowed to resume executions after a federal judge ruled on Monday that the state has learned from the bloody and prolonged death of Clayton Lockett.District judge Stephen Friot denied a request for a preliminary injunction, meaning that executions are set to begin again in the state, which has four scheduled between 15 January and 5 March. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:38:04 GMT)

The deadly history of the Taser may bring its use into question once again
Campaigners complain the Taser can all too easily become a deadly weapon, while the IPCC has warned against its overusePolice have argued that it is an important tool and used only as a last resort, but campaigners have complained that the Taser can all too easily become a deadly weapon, while the police watchdog has warned against its overuse.The death of a man who was Tasered on Monday by officers from Staffordshire police – the force that has discharged the controversial weapon more than any other – will bring its use into question once again. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:41:50 GMT)

Man jailed for killing father of four who spent two years in coma after attack
Michael Broom, who was orginally jailed for three years for GBH, given further two years after Mark Haley’s deathA violent bully has been jailed for killing a father of four who spent two years in a coma after being floored by a single punch in a “gratuitous, unprovoked” street attack.Michael Broom, 50, was originally sentenced to three years in prison after admitting causing grievous bodily harm to Mark Haley. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:36:25 GMT)

Support for Labour in Scotland half that of SNP, poll finds
Survation poll finds 29% of Labour supporters say Jim Murphy’s election as leader makes it more likely they will vote for partyThe recently elected leader of Scottish Labour, Jim Murphy, faces a daunting challenge to lift his party’s fortunes before next May’s general election as a poll shows support for Labour in Scotland is now half of that for the Scottish National party.A Survation poll for Monday’s Daily Record, the first to be released since Murphy’s election on 13 December, found 48% of Scottish voters planning to support the SNP in May, and 24% Labour. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:51:48 GMT)

Parents jailed over Birmingham toddler’s death
Danielle Cassin and Mark Piper receive nine-year sentences for causing or allowing death of 22-month-old Levi-BluThe parents of a Birmingham toddler have been jailed for nine years each for causing or allowing his death.Danielle Cassin, 27, and Mark Piper, 31, were cleared of murdering 22-month-old Levi-Blu Cassin at Birmingham crown court on Friday and found not guilty of his manslaughter, but they were convicted of causing or allowing his death. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:11:42 GMT)

Spanish king’s sister to stand trial on tax fraud charges
Charges against Cristina de Borbón were brought as part of an inquiry into the business dealings of her husbandCristina de Borbón, sister of King Felipe VI of Spain, is to stand trial on charges of tax fraud, capping the most tumultuous year for the Spanish royal family since the monarchy was restored after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.The princess, 49, will become the first modern Spanish royal to face court prosecution following a scandal that has outraged many Spaniards and contributed to a sharp fall in the popularity of the monarchy. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:13:00 GMT)

Met Office warns of further threats to Christmas travel
Flooding causes problems throughout Scotland and signal failure disrupts train services through Gatwick stationFlood warnings have been put in place across the north and west of Britain as Scotland suffered a day of travel chaos and a significant rail signalling problem stopped trains running through Gatwick railway station in West Sussex.The Met Office issued alerts for parts of northern England and Scotland, with up to 80mm of rain expected in Yorkshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire over the next 24 hours, although temperatures are expected to remain mild. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:19:00 GMT)

Marine mystery as seal found stranded in field 20 miles from the sea
Young grey seal rescued more than four hours after being found in field in Newton-le-Willows near St HelensBemused residents in rural Merseyside, in north-west England, faced a conundrum when they woke up to the sight of a seal stranded in a field miles away from the coast.The young male grey seal was discovered on Monday by a dog walker. It was flapping against a fence post by Newton brook in Newton-le-Willows, near St Helens, which is 20 miles inland. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:20:00 GMT)

Christmas shopping set to peak with lunchtime ‘golden hour’ scramble
Visa expects shoppers to spend more than £15,000 a second on its cards between 1pm and 2pm on TuesdayThe great British tradition of doing Christmas shopping in a frazzled last-minute panic at lunchtime is still going strong, with the busiest shopping hour on the high street expected to fall on Tuesday.The annual buying frenzy will peak between 1pm and 2pm, according to Visa. The company expects consumers to spend almost £1m a minute – more than £15,000 a second – on its cards during the “golden hour”. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:22:00 GMT)

Stansted airport hit by power failure
As efforts continued to restore power, airport reports that flights are operating but with some delaysA power failure has affected a major holiday airport as travellers head off for the Christmas holidays.The failure at Stansted airport in Essex affected a satellite building and the track transit which takes passengers to the satellite for boarding. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:30:00 GMT)

Market-rigging laws will also cover currency, gold, oil and silver
George Osborne announces wider clampdown on malpractice in the City, sparked by Libor fixing scandalLaws to make the manipulation of market benchmarks a criminal offence – sparked by the Libor rigging scandal – will also cover currency, gold, oil and silver markets by 1 April, the government has said.The move announced on Monday is the latest by the coalition government to clamp down on malpractice in the City of London, whose reputation has been further tarnished this year by the exposure of traders colluding to manipulate currency rates. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:09:30 GMT)

Pope Francis makes scathing critique of Vatican officials in Curia speech
Pontiff specifies 15 ‘ailments’ that plague Vatican’s power-hungry bureaucracy including gossip and ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’Pope Francis has ended the year with a scathing critique of the church’s highest-ranking officials, including a list of 15 “ailments” that he said plagued the Vatican’s power-hungry bureaucracy.The Argentinian pontiff used a traditional Christmas greeting on Monday to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See to portray a church hierarchy that had lost its humanity at times, a body consumed by narcissism and excessive activity, where men who are meant to serve God with optimism instead presented a hardened, sterile face to the world. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:53:00 GMT)

Why Ukraine’s internally displaced have given up hope of returning home
Hundreds of thousands have been displaced by war in the east, with those who venture back saying ‘bandits have taken over’With armed men roaming the streets and war closing in, Lena Nagiba decided to escape from rebel-held Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. She took her six children with her. That was in June. “How could I raise my kids there?” she said. “Who would guarantee their safety?”Ever since, she has been living in a sanatorium, a dozen miles outside Kiev, set in a bucolic wood. Home is a single room up on the fourth floor. From the window you see snow. The sanatorium, once used by holidaymakers taking a break from city life, now houses 250 people, most from Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbas region. Some 120 are children. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:50:14 GMT)

Goodbye, cruel 2014: we promise not to miss you once you’ve gone
From flooding to Benefits Street, the rise of Ukip to the Apple Watch, the year was filled with huge, grim events. We could all use a lie-down over ChristmasSo 2014’s almost done, and unless you got married, or had your firstborn, or won a Subaru filled with Maltesers in a radio phone-in, it’s unlikely to be a year you’ll remember fondly. It was filled with huge, grim events. So is every year, of course, but in 2014 it seemed there were fewer light moments to offset the enveloping dread. And everyone seemed angry, all the time. A whole planet, gritting its teeth. Hundreds protesting. Thousands marching. Millions waiting to attach their internalised rage to a hashtag at a moment’s notice. We could all use a lie-down over Christmas.The year started badly for Britain when the sky decided to waterboard the lot of us. It rained incessantly throughout early January; big grey raindrops the size of cupboards. The government issued snorkels to anyone under 5ft 4in, while areas of Devon were submerged for so long the residents evolved gills and blowholes. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:28:37 GMT)

Brum on over: the London exodus to UK’s second city
Canals, culture and housing help make Birmingham the top choice for people leaving capitalNot so long ago it was a city most people tended to bypass or leave as soon as possible in search of brighter lights and greener grass – a place of crumbling concrete, ring-roads and miserable shopping centres. Not now.“Birmingham’s a great place, it’s changed hugely in the last few years,” said Omar Budeiri, a young businessman who has just quit London in favour of a trendy flat in Birmingham’s revived and increasingly funky Jewellery Quarter. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:31:18 GMT)

Heroes, villains and victories – the women who shaped 2014
This was the year we addressed street harassment and made feminist declarations. But there were many more landmarks – big and smallNominees: Malala Yousafzai, Mindy Kaling (who was briefly mistaken for her at a New York party). Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:35:11 GMT)

Alternative Christmas message to be given by Ebola survivor Will Pooley
British nurse will call for a global solution to the epidemic in west Africa, in address from Sierra Leone for Channel 4The British Ebola survivor Will Pooley will deliver the alternative Christmas message on Channel 4, calling for a global solution to the epidemic, which has so far cost more than 7,000 lives.The nurse became the first Briton to be evacuated from west Africa with the disease when he was airlifted back to the UK for treatment in August this year. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:01:02 GMT)

JK Rowling ‘unnerved’ by girls who fall for Hogwarts bully Draco Malfoy
Girls are quick to romanticise anti-heroes, says Harry Potter author, as she shares her vision for the future of the boy wizard’s school enemyJK Rowling says that “girls are very apt to romanticise” the antihero, and reveals that she had been forced to pour “cold common sense” on the startling number of readers who fall for the arrogant, unscrupulous bully Draco Malfoy in her Harry Potter books.Rowling has been providing new snippets about the world of Harry Potter on her website Pottermore for the past 10 days, giving fans insights into everything from a “ghost” storyline that she didn’t include in the final story, to the history of the Leaky Cauldron pub. She has now unveiled her lengthiest piece of writing yet, offering a glimpse into the future of Harry Potter’s arch enemy Draco, and her own thoughts on the character. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:27:01 GMT)

How can I have a stylish Christmas?
The real question is why would you want one – just wear your pyjamas, eat mince pies, watch festive films and be happyHow can I have a stylish/healthy/sexy Christmas?Women’s magazines, everywhere Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:14:31 GMT)

Losing your smartphone: the five stages of grief
Given how indispensable a modern smartphone can be for someone who spends a great deal of time online, could losing or breaking one produce a psychological reaction that is essentially a form of grief? In the past, I’ve often scoffed at people who seem to live entirely through their smartphone. I have openly mocked the people who queue through the night to get the latest versions. I have smugly rolled my eyes at people who constantly check their phones for updates and alerts in social situations. I have expressed frustration about people who can’t seem to do anything in any context without taking and posting a picture of themselves doing it. I have enthusiastically agreed with people berating those who obsessively film any live event they’re at, rather than watching the damn thing. I am one of those people who sees his phone as a useful device, nothing more.Or so I thought. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:15:00 GMT)

Behind the restaurant boom: the urban delusion consuming our cities
Eating out is fine, for diners and investors, but the gastronomy craze won’t produce a healthy economyI ate a concept last Thursday. Not just any old abstraction, but a “heavily concepted restaurant trend”, in publicist-speak. No kidding: at the new Lobster Kitchen, the name is the menu is the business model. Here you can have whatever you want, as long as it’s pink: lobster tails, lobster rolls, lobster with macaroni cheese. Dangling from the ceiling are lobster traps and buoys. The seafood, the decor, the condiment trays, even the seasoning, it all comes from New England – a gigantic concept crammed into a small room just off the tat-selling fag end of London’s Oxford Street.As the last paragraph proves, I am no restaurant critic, no Marina O’Loughlin. Given the choice, I’d rather go for a walk than a meal. But if you want a glimpse of the near future for London and Britain, start here. Because part of how this country responds to the loss of its manufacturing base and a banking meltdown appears to be that it gets into eating. London is going through a restaurant boom. According to the website Hot Dinners, the number of restaurants born in central London has surged every year since 2011. In 2013, 196 new places opened; this year it’s 240. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:28:22 GMT)

The best Android apps of 2014
The Guardian’s pick of Android apps that launched for the first time this year, taking in music, productivity, messaging, maps and more• The best Android games of 2014What we say: Mailbox is one of the better ways to attain the fabled Inbox Zero – or at least try to – by swiping unwanted emails aside like they’re unwanted matches in Tinder. Slick design, its integration with Gmail and the ability to “snooze” non-urgent emails made it a useful productivity tool. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:00:03 GMT)

G4S, the company with no convictions – but does it have blood on its hands?
The number of deaths linked to G4S employees, some with racial overtones, means this company must have a problem. When will it be held to account?The racist texts found on the phones of two of the three G4S security guards who escorted Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga to his death in 2009 required a double take. One text, written by defendant Stuart Tribelnig, read: “Fuck off and go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, kid-producing, violent, non-English speaking cocksuckers and take those hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, goat-fucking, smelly raghead bastards with you”. Meanwhile, 76 racist texts were found on the phone of G4S guard Terrence Hughes, which were targeted at black Africans, Asians and Muslims.Ultimately, the judge, Mr Justice Spencer, decided the texts were not relevant to the prosecution of the guards, and the jury subsequently ruled that they were not guilty of manslaughter, after forcing Mubenga’s head down and restricting his breathing as the flight prepared to take off at Heathrow airport. More than 20 people had heard Mubenga say over and over “I can’t breathe.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:00:17 GMT)

Top 10 winter activity breaks in Europe
Winter breaks can come with a twist, whether it’s sleeping inside a snowball, staying on a reindeer farm or even building an igloo. Here are 10 spins on the usual snow-based funSouthern French AlpsOnce you’ve reached your remote spot by snowshoe, and had some expert tips on good and bad construction, you’ll realise that building your own igloo is nowhere near as easy as it looks in cartoons. But the graft will be well worth it when you’re standing at the snowy door arch of a dwelling of your own creation, having had dinner under the stars. Undiscovered Alps runs Winter Multi Activity Holidays in and around the Écrins national park, where you can pick your activities for the week based on a points system. Alongside the igloo expedition, it offers ice-climbing, ski-joering, snow-scooting, paragliding, snake sledging, a giant zip wire and more traditional snow activities, such as ski touring and snowshoeing.• Seven nights’ from £342pp, including accommodation in the Orcieres 1850 resort, or nearby ski villages, snowshoes and poles, unlimited use of swimming pool and ice skating and nine activity points (a two-day igloo expedition is five points including dinner and breakfast, snowscoot is one, as is a moonlit snowshoe walk), 0845 009 8501, undiscoveredalps.com Monarch flies from Manchester to Grenoble from £58 return Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:00:02 GMT)

Share Your Art: your chance to be exhibited in London and New York
In 2015, we are taking the Share Your Art series to the next level with exhibitions in London and New York. What themes would you like to tackle?Killer mice and rainbow wolves: the best of Share Your Art – in pictures Since we started asking readers to share their artworks back in 2012, it’s been a constant treat. Every month we have been delighted by the quality, variety and astonishing imagination shown in your artworks. From pencil drawings to digital artworks, collages and even works in progress, your talents are boundless.In 2015, we want to kick the Readers’ art project up a gear. Between January and July, the artworks you submit will be eligible not only for our online galleries, but for the chance to be displayed in an exhibition in September in Kings Place, the Guardian’s London headquarters, as well as our New York HQ. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:40:52 GMT)

Introducing Star Cat – a Phoenix Comic strip!
Allow James Turner to introduce you to Star Cat, the feline star of his comic strip in The Phoenix, a weekly comic for boys and girls aged six- to-12 (and beyond!). The Phoenix comic is packed with serialised adventure stories, non-fiction and puzzles from the best comic creators in the UK Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:36:56 GMT)

Cesc Fàbregas offers Chelsea festive joy in feisty win at Stoke
The portents are promising for Chelsea and ominous for their rivals. This is the fourth time that Chelsea have enjoyed the view from the top of the Premier League come Christmas Day and on each of the previous occasions they have gone on to win the title. John Terry’s header after only 95 seconds, followed by a second-half goal from Cesc Fàbregas, secured their place at the summit and restored their three-point advantage over Manchester City.It was, in short, a much happier experience for José Mourinho than 12 months ago when his Chelsea side were beaten 3-2 here and the Portuguese departed bemoaning their failure to “kill the game”. Fàbregas’ corner had set up Terry’s opener to take his tally of assists for the season to 12 – Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 in a single campaign looks to be under serious threat – and the Spaniard ensured there would be no slip-up this time when his mishit shot found its way into the bottom corner. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:00:00 GMT)

Clarke Carlisle in hospital after serious road accident in Yorkshire
• Former PFA chairman taken to Leeds General Infirmary• FA and Kick It Out tweet messages of supportThe Football Association has led the messages of support for Clarke Carlisle after the former Leeds, Burnley and QPR defender was airlifted to hospital in Leeds on Monday morning after being hit by a lorry.Police refused to confirm the identity of a man who was taken to Leeds General Infirmary with life-threatening injuries following the incident on the A64 south of York at around 7.30am.The thoughts & prayers of all at The FA are with Clarke Carlisle & his family at this sad time.The thoughts of all at Burnley Football Club are with Clarke Carlisle and his family. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:44:53 GMT)

Sir Alex Ferguson heaps praise on Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United reign
• Ander Herrera hopeful of quick return to action• Match report: Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester UnitedSir Alex Ferguson has given his backing to Louis van Gaal’s reign as Manchester United manager and stated his belief that under the Dutchman, Wayne Rooney is “flying again” and Michael Carrick has become the “best English centre midfield player”.United are currently third in the Premier League and playing with regained positivity in attack, a far cry from the troubles they suffered under Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford, David Moyes. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:00:05 GMT)

The Guardian’s international cricket XI of 2014
Our special team of selectors make their pick for the best international team of the past 12 monthsChristmas is a time for family, for feasting, for goodwill, and, of course, for lists. Lists that help weary journalists meet onerous end of year deadlines. With great fanfare then, it’s the Guardian’s International XI of the Year! It’s been selected after consultation with a special panel, two of whom have more than 1,500 first-class wickets between them. And four of whom don’t. Thanks, then, to Mike Selvey, Vic Marks, Rob Smyth, John Ashdown, and Daniel Harris. Rigorous rules, in no way concocted in a last-minute rush, meant that the team was selected to play across all three formats, with the most weight being given to performances in Tests, then ODIs, then T20s, and after hours, minutes, seconds of heated email debate, this is the side we came up with: Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:09:35 GMT)

Mathieu Flamini: Arsenal improvement depends on injured players’ return
• Midfielder says Arsenal ‘bit unlucky’ not to beat Liverpool• ‘Having injured players back is very important for the team’• Match report: Liverpool 2-2 ArsenalMathieu Flamini has said Arsenal possess more heart and resilience this season but desperately need an easing of their injury problems so they can handle the demands of the festive schedule.Arsène Wenger attributed his team’s careless performance at Liverpool on Sunday to the psychological burden of their 5-1 humiliation at Anfield in February, when Brendan Rodgers’ team went four goals up inside the opening 20 minutes. Arsenal’s possession rate of 36.5% in Sunday’s 2-2 draw was their lowest since records began in 2003 but Flamini insists the team deserve credit for revealing a more tenacious quality to their game. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:30:01 GMT)

Football stadiums then and now – interactive quiz
Can you identify 10 British football stadiums from historical photographs? Many grounds changed dramatically after all-seater stadiums became the norm in the 1990s but some still retain features and layouts recognisable from many years ago. Study the photos for clues, make your choice and watch as the image fades into a present-day photograph taken from the same perspective. Please refresh your browser if the quiz does not immediately appearStamford Bridge: then and now – explore the history of Chelsea’s ground Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:12 GMT)

Former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia resigns as Brighton manager
• Former Finland defender leaves with team in bottom three• Seagulls have won only three times in the league all season• Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston accused of directing abuse at supporterSami Hyypia’s troubled six-month tenure at Brighton & Hove Albion is over after the Finn tendered his resignation and departed with the club languishing in the Championship relegation zone.The former Liverpool defender has overseen three wins from 22 league games, the last of which proved to be a commendable 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers with 10 men on Saturday. Yet there was discontent expressed by home supporters at Brighton’s last game at the Amex Stadium, a damaging televised 1-0 loss to Millwall, the side immediately above them in the table, after which Hyypia had suggested he was considering his future. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:54:29 GMT)

Steven Taylor: Newcastle can make up for derby loss at Manchester United
• Taylor says: ‘We have to put it right against United’• Alan Pardew had warned of Sunderland’s counterattacking threat• Match report: Newcastle United 0-1 SunderlandSteven Taylor has appealed to Newcastle United’s disgruntled supporters, asking them to keep faith with Alan Pardew’s team in the wake of a fourth straight Tyne-Wear derby defeat against Sunderland.Sunday’s 1-0 reverse at St James’ Park means Pardew has become the first Newcastle manager to concede four consecutive north-east derbies but Taylor and his team-mates are desperate to compensate at Manchester United on Boxing Day. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:30:00 GMT)

Delon Armitage called ‘habitual offender’ in detailed reasons for ban
• Armitage handed 12-week ban for abusing Leicester fans• Toulon back has until 4pm on Christmas Eve to appeal• Premiership talking points: our writers’ views on the weekend’s actionAs Toulon ponder whether to appeal against a 12-week suspension imposed on their sometime England full-back Delon Armitage for swearing at supporters after this month’s Champions Cup defeat at Leicester, they will have to weigh up the risk of the ban being increased given the scathing comments made by the independent three-man panel that heard the case in Dublin last week.The full judgment of the panel was published . It described Armitage as someone with an “appalling disciplinary record” who had showed no remorse after admitting swearing twice at a group of fans, which included children, while he attempted to find a function room after the match. The panel concluded that the 12-week suspension handed out after he was found guilty of misconduct reflected the past record of a “habitual offender”. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:52:51 GMT)

Tour de Yorkshire’s inaugural race to feature county’s coastal roads
• Race introduced to capitalise on the Tour de France• Event will reach parts of Yorkshire that missed out on the Tour• 5 July 2014: The Grand Départ comes to YorkshireWhen the Tour de France snaked up Holme Moss and the Col de Buttertubs on its two stages through Yorkshire earlier this year, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas said the atmosphere “was like being in a disco for four hours”. For the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire next year I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside might be a more apt soundtrack, with organisers revealing on Monday that Bridlington, Scarborough and the county’s coastal roads will all feature in the three-day event.Leeds, York, Selby and Wakefield will all also host either a stage start or finish in the race that has been introduced to capitalise on the huge success of the Tour de France in the region. More than three million people took to the streets and lanes of Yorkshire to witness the passing of the peloton and the economic benefit to the region has been estimated at £102m. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:51:18 GMT)

Premiership salary cap: how would rugby union look without it?
Saracens will need a 75% majority if the salary cap is to be abolished but the landscape would differ vastly if they were successful• Saracens’ attempt to end salary cap looks set to failA day after Saracens sent a shock wave through Premiership Rugby by saying they were going to propose at a shareholders’ meeting in February that the salary cap be abolished, they showed the difference money can make by romping to a 71-point victory over London Welsh.Never mind the salary cap, London Welsh, as a promoted team with only one previous season in the Premiership, receive roughly one-third of the income from central funds that habitués such as Saracens enjoy. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:53:35 GMT)

FA charges Leeds defender Bellusci with making racist remark to Jerome
• Leeds defender accused of abusing Cameron Jerome• Norwich City striker accused Bellusci of racismLeeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci will contest a misconduct charge from the Football Association following allegations that the central defender directed a racist comment towards the Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome.The incident occurred during a Championship match at Carrow Road in October and involved Jerome making a complaint to the referee, Mark Clattenburg, in the wake of a first-half confrontation between the two players. Continue reading...
(Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:06:00 GMT)

The top 100 footballers 2014 – interactive
Welcome to the Guardian’s choice of the world’s top 100 footballers for 2014. Led by Hernán Crespo, Gilberto Silva, Slaven Bilic and Dietmar Hamann, our panel of 73 experts from 28 nations compiled a countdown of the greatest players on the planet this year. Today we count down to No41 and tomorrow we reveal Nos 11-40, before we unveil the top 10 on Christmas Eve to complete this year’s list. Click on individual players in the interactive to read more about their year. • You can see who the judges are and read how we compiled the final list here • In video: members of our expert panel discuss Nos 70-41• In video: see the panel discuss their selections for Nos 100-71• Look back at the top 100 from 2013 Continue reading...
(Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:00:00 GMT)

White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin – a Christmas song for the non-believers
Australian pop singers have a bit of a tradition of going against the grain when it comes to Christmas songs, with Minchin’s contrarian carol no exception“I really like Christmas,” sings Tim Minchin in White Wine in the Sun. “It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it.”Christmas. It’s a time for celebration. Being with your family. Missing your friends. Thinking about those less fortunate. Christmas highlights difference and exaggerates your situation. Makes the happy feel happier, the lonely feel lonelier.And yes, I have all of the usual objectionsTo consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religionTo the westernisation of a dead PalestinianPress-ganged into selling PlayStations and beerBut I still really like itAnd you, my baby girlMy jetlagged infant daughterYou’ll be handed round the roomLike a puppy at a primary schoolAnd you won’t understandBut you will learn somedayThat wherever you are and whatever you faceThese are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this worldMy sweet blue-eyed girlI’ll be seeing my dadMy brothers and sisters, my gran and my mumThey’ll be drinking white wine in the sun Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:31:08 GMT)

Singer Joe Cocker's unlikely influence on hip-hop
A 1972 track would become the basis of some of hip-hop’s most notable tracks from EPMD and Ultramagnetic MCs to one of Tupac’s greatest hitsFive classic performances from Sheffield’s greatest bluesmanJoe Cocker, Grammy-winning singer, dies at age 70One track from Joe Cocker’s eponymous 1972 album would go on to have an unlikely second life. His funk classic Woman To Woman became a go-to sample for hip-hop producers throughout the 80s and 90s, who used the piano hook and horn stab to provide the backbone for some of hip-hop’s most influential tracks. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:56:07 GMT)

Ego Maniac, Curmudgeon or Control Freak – which Christmas guest are you?
Which of 12 dysfunctional roles do you play at festive get-togethers? The Placator, desperate to make everyone happy? Waif and Stray, ferried in to keep the peace? Here’s how to spot themTries to get it right for one and all. She needs to please everyone, all the time. Asked what she wants for Christmas, she will reply that she “just wants everyone to be happy”. To this end, she has been stockpiling presents since August and has cooked four different types of vegetable plus three different roasts so everyone can have their favourite. But it’s hard because the twins want to watch telly and Granny has decided everyone should play charades, so the Placator’s happiness-for-all goal is impossible. Her trouble is that she seems to imagine that if she fills everyone else’s cup with joy, then a little might just spill over the brim for her. It never works and some years she reaches breaking point; last year that happened with her younger sister’s eggnog incident (see below). Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:30:11 GMT)

It’s a Wonderful Life: my most overrated Christmas film
Frank Capra’s classic movie is a celebration of picket-fence smugness. Boring Bedford Falls would have been better had George Bailey never lived – from the magical, sleazy bar to the bowling alleyWell hot dog dickety damn, what is it about this film that makes people love it so much? Is it the bit where the black maid gets spanked back into her kitchen? The bit where the little people of Bedford Falls joyously tip out their entire life savings to rescue the bungling banker? Is it the snappy dialogue? “You’re 18!” our hero George Bailey exclaims at one point. “Why, it was only last year you were 17!”I don’t, by the way, think It’s a Wonderful Life is terrible. I just think it’s frequently wrongheaded and desperately overlong, with more suburban prejudice than Margaret Thatcher at a Grantham fete. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the key section when George, played by James Stewart, facing ruin over misplaced money, contemplates leaping to his death off a bridge. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:27:51 GMT)

How many people in the UK work on Christmas day?
While you’re tucking into your festive lunch or tearing the paper off presents, take a moment to think of the around a million people across the UK working on Christmas dayWorking in public services this Christmas? Share your picturesAh, Christmas! ‘Tis the season to be ...hard at work? Most of us are relaxing with our few days off, whether its overindulging on eggnog, excitedly opening presents or quarrelling with relatives. But across the UK, around one million people will be hard at work on Christmas Day. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:33:47 GMT)

Madonna: I did not say, ‘Hey, here’s my music, and it’s finished.’ It was theft
In an exclusive interview, the singer defends her description of the leak of demos from her new album as ‘artistic rape’Madonna has defended her description of the leak of 13 unfinished demos from her forthcoming album as “a form of terrorism” and “artistic rape”.Speaking to the Guardian on Sunday, the singer said she was “living in a state of terror” following the leak, adding that there was “a big possibility” they were the result of her personal computer being hacked. Continue reading...
(Sun, 21 Dec 2014 20:21:04 GMT)

Best TV of 2014: No 2 – Line of Duty
The second series of Jed Mercurio’s brutal cop corruption thriller saw Keeley Hawes giving the performance of a lifetime as DI Lindsay DentonSee the rest of the countdown hereWhat is it that you remember when you think back to the shows you’ve enjoyed most over the past year? The intricacies of the plot? The sharpness of the dialogue? Or moments such as Keeley Hawes whacking her neighbour over the head with a wine bottle?The first series of Line of Duty had one big advantage over the second: it didn’t have to live up to the first series of Line of Duty. With an explosive start (a botched anti-terror raid), a great cast (the excellent Lennie James alongside Gina McKee, Adrian Dunbar, Vicki McClure and a surprisingly nuanced Neil Morrissey), and a plot that was both gripping and twisty but also packed with enough ambiguity to keep you guessing to the end, it was both a critical and popular success. It was BBC2’s highest-rating drama in a decade, and therefore a lot to live up to for this year’s second series – especially with a Tony Gates-sized hole to fill. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:44:47 GMT)

Soul II Soul review – Back to Life, back to Camden
Koko, LondonJazzie B and the 80s dance-music pioneers return to home turf for a night of timeless, shimmering popTwenty-five years on from their seminal debut album, Club Classics Vol 1, Soul II Soul return to their old creative hub, Camden. “There’s nothing sweeter than to come home to your home turf,” says Jazzie B, founder of the 80s sound system that blended reggae with disco, soul and house to create distinctly British, hedonistic dance music. Or, as the band’s motto says: “A happy face, a thumping bass, for a loving race.”A lot has changed since Soul II Soul brought their Funki Dred style and entrepreneurial spirit to this part of north London. The building where the 16-strong crew established their headquarters and clothes shop is now a McDonald’s, while the Soul II Soul brand has been given heritage status by luxury store Harvey Nichols. The band now has 12 members, including four sublime backing singers and an overwrought, overused rock guitar. Caron Wheeler, the voice behind Soul II Soul’s biggest hits, glides on stage hand in hand with Jazzie B – the recipient of an OBE in 2008 – tantalising fans with a snatch of the original a cappella version of Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) before diving into the rich, mellow groove of Keep On Moving. Wheeler is a beguiling presence with expressive hands and a distinctive, sultry tone, while Jazzie B stands at the back of the stage, surrounded by equipment. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:24:06 GMT)

Big Brother most complained about show of the year, watchdog reports
Ofcom top 10 includes complaints of contestants’ bullying, and Gary Busey’s behaviour in celebrity version of Channel 5 showIt was a ratings disaster, but Big Brother has topped one list this year: the programme was the most complained about TV show, communications watchdog Ofcom said yesterday on Monday.It received 3,784 complaints about the Channel 5 reality television show, and 1,874 about its sister show Celebrity Big Brother. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:59:03 GMT)

Santa Claus has a high-fashion makeover
Alexander Wang for … Santa Claus? That’s right, Father Christmas has a new look for winter 2014. From Kenzo to Marni, meet Designer SantaLet us imagine, for one moment, that Father Christmas was a new phenomenon. Would he do hipster, health goth or Hedi Slimane? Well, wonder no more, because design studio Joint London has given Father Christmas – or rather, the Coca-Cola Santa Claus – a high-end makeover. Here is Santa in Kenzo, Raf Simons and even Hood x Air. Oddly enough, Designer Santa works. Maybe it’s the beard … Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:54:37 GMT)

Mandy Rice-Davies called the Profumo affair ‘a pimple’. Now that’s resilience
We could learn from a woman who nearly brought down a government yet got on with life rather than milked her fameMandy Rice-Davies didn’t go to Eton. If she had – which might, it’s true, have been tricky, since she was neither male nor rich – she might have learned that pupils at Eton are “expected to take a risk”. And she might have learned that they “have the freedom to make and then learn from their own mistakes”.I learned these things about Eton, and other “schools of character”, at a conference hosted by the thinktank Demos to look at the role that policy can play in building character. Lots of people in politics, on both left and right, have started talking about character. An all-party parliamentary group has even published a report on “resilience and character”. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:38:53 GMT)

What if Downton Abbey told the truth about Britain?
The period detail is impeccable but the series is a far cry from the brutal reality of upper-class attitudesDownton Abbey is back. Christmas day brings a two-hour wallow in heritage visions of our feudal yesteryear, as glimpsed through rose-tinted decanters. There will be snow and grouse shooting, we’re told. Escapist fantasy, National Trust nostalgia, here is history scrubbed clean – absurd, silly, enjoyable and vastly popular, in my family too. But it’s not harmless. Far from it.To control history by rewriting the past subtly influences present attitudes too: every dictator knows that. Downton rewrites class division, rendering it anodyne, civilised and quaintly cosy. Those upstairs do nothing unspeakably horrible to their servants, while those downstairs are remarkably content with their lot. The brutality of servants’ lives is bleached out, the brutishness of upper-class attitudes, manners and behaviour to their servants ironed away. There are token glimpses of resentments between the classes, but the main characters are nice, in a nice world. The truth would be impossible without turning the Earl of Grantham and his family, the Crawleys, into villains, with the below-stairs denizens their wretched victims – a very different story, and not one Julian Fellowes would ever write. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:17:46 GMT)

Angela Merkel has faced down the Russian bear in the battle for Europe
In dealing with Putin, the German chancellor has united Europe. She is the stateswoman of the yearIn 2014, the battle for Europe’s future has been fought between two leaders: Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The contrast between them could not be sharper. There the Russian man: macho, militarist, practitioner of the Soviet-style big lie (Russian soldiers in Crimea? What soldiers?), a resentful post-imperial nationalist who in a recent press conference compared Russia to an embattled bear. Here the German woman: gradualist, quietly plain-speaking, consensus-building, strongest on economic power, patiently steering a slow-moving, sovereignty-sharing, multinational European tortoise. 19th-century methods confront 21st-century ones; Mars, the god of war, against Mercury, the god of trade; guns versus butter. For the first half of 2014, the bear was making the running, but now, with the Russian economy close to meltdown, it seems the tortoise may be winning after all.Merkel has long been recognised as Europe’s leading politician, but this year, during the crisis over Ukraine, she became its leading stateswoman. I remain critical of her handling of the eurozone crisis, but I have only admiration for how she has addressed the return of war to European soil on the hundredth anniversary of 1914. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:59:03 GMT)

People who’ve been raped are survivors not just victims, John Humphrys
John Humphrys was wrong to dismiss the use of the word survivor in relation to this heinous crimeAs reports came through that the child abuse inquiry panel may be replaced with a more powerful body, Napac’s chief executive, Peter Saunders, appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme. His interviewer, John Humphrys, seemed to have something on his mind: the use of the term survivor in relation to those who have been raped as children. The second time he brought the issue up, he said to Saunders: “I have some difficulty with the word survivor and I think perhaps others do as well. But anyway, let’s call them victims can we? Can we agree on the word victims at any rate?” Saunders had already used the term “victim/survivor” in the interview, as he usually does.At Napac we use the word survivor to describe any adult who has managed to get through a childhood where any type of trauma occurred. We include emotional abuse in our definition of trauma as well as sexual and/or physical abuse and/or neglect. Some people who were abused would rather be thought of as a thriver who has managed to move on and leave all the pain behind. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:27:54 GMT)

If the abuse of children by politicians is a conspiracy it needs to be put to rest
The reported disbanding of the abuse inquiry panel suggests that facing up to the truth is low on the government’s list of prioritiesFor all the screaming headlines about paedo rings, investigating child abuse does not seem to be an urgent matter for the establishment. Since July, when Theresa May announced two reviews of historical child sex abuse, rumours have continued to swirl. Both of the women appointed to head the inquiry, first Baroness Butler-Sloss, then Fiona Woolf, have had to stand down because they were too connected to the establishment. Butler-Sloss’s connection came via her brother, who was attorney general at the time of some of the allegations; Woolf’s via her dinners with former home secretary Leon Brittan. (Brittan dismisses claims that he did not act properly when Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens first made these allegations in the early 1980s.)So the inquiry has no chairman and has now effectively been disbanded. The panel members have been told that their jobs will go in the new year and they can apply to be on the next panel, which may have statutory powers. The panel members can apparently decide whether to continue or suspend their work. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:04:56 GMT)

Seven things I’ll miss about the traditional library
If they’re going to insist on monetising and modernising libraries, it’ll be the sights, sounds, smells and texts that I missLast week it was suggested that in order to bring libraries into the modern era, visitors should be cossetted with new-fangled indulgences such as heating, toilets, WiFi and coffee machines. For those so decimated by web culture and capitalism that they can’t read a sentence without wanting to get up and spend some money, there could even be the possibility of combining libraries with “retail space”.Well, I don’t want to see a branch of Paperchase thrown up between the bookshelves and the traditional rack of filthy old CDs. If we’re going to keep local libraries they need to stand for something from before the time when every square inch of public space could be monetised. If libraries were to change, this is what I’d really miss. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:07:23 GMT)

Calls for a UK exit from the EU are at best perverse, and at worst unpatriotic
Withdrawal would be a disaster economically and politically. In these uncertain times we must strengthen ties, not weaken themPolitical fashion has left the Europhile out in the cold over the past 10 years. It hasn’t been easy to get air time to articulate a case for a stronger and more powerful Britain shaping politics and policy at the heart of Europe. But fashions turn, and the European Movement, which I now chair, is regaining its stature as a strong voice for the silent majority. Europhiles are again making their case, reshaping our movement to amplify the argument that the UK’s future needs a strong voice at the European top table.Those already at the door marked “exit” embody a strange combination of defeatism and lack of ambition. They pose as the great patriots, but would any prime minister or British monarch (at least since Elizabeth I refused to marry a continental king) develop a clear policy to reduce the UK’s influence in Europe? That is what exit means – a real and highly substantive reduction in the UK’s influence with our neighbours and in our power to shape Europe’s policy. I do not see how anyone could think that a UK sitting on the outside would be a more powerful country; that withdrawal from any international club would enhance our international influence; or that leaving a trading organisation could in anyone’s mind reflect an economic strategy that will serve British business and jobs better. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:30:18 GMT)

Heroes of 2014: Karl Stefanovic, the TV anchor who wore the same suit for a year
The Australian journalist donned his cheap blue suit every day to highlight how his female colleagues are judged for their sartorial choicesUnless you’re Australian, you probably wouldn’t recognise Karl Stefanovic. And even Australians arguably haven’t been looking at him very closely.We know this because Stefanovic, a TV anchor, recently confessed to wearing the same cheap blue suit on air every day for a year to see if anyone noticed (they didn’t). But what makes Stefanovic rather more than a skinflint in a stale-smelling jacket is that he did it to prove a point. As a man, even working in a visual medium, he’s judged on how he does the job. Nobody notices what he wears, because it’s irrelevant. Yet women in public life – be it politics, business or the media – are judged constantly and pointlessly on clothes, hair, and makeup: you may bestride the free world, lady, but woe betide you if you can’t accessorise. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:13 GMT)

Special advisers: best not seen or heard
Spads are a busy minister’s eyes and ears in Whitehall. Where it goes wrong is when they’re too pro-active, too partisanAt a time when youthful coalition special advisers are again making mischief and self-damaging headlines, it’s hard to recall that in the role’s Whitehall infancy such people used to be grey beards, eminent economists such as Tommy Balogh and Nicholas Kaldor, the two Hungarian eggheads who advised Harold Wilson’s Labour government in the 60s.It’s not that Balogh and Kaldor, who were part of the Fabian Labour elite’s effort to raise sluggish rates of economic growth, were averse to controversy or hostile headlines – they were often attacked by MPs and the press as sinister foreign intellectuals, labels as unpopular then as now. But it was mostly about policy (they invented something called selective employment tax to subsidise manufacturing jobs by taxing service jobs), and done on a higher plane than whether or not the pair would turn out to canvass in a byelection – as happened this week to Theresa May’s special advisers, Nick Timothy and Stephen Parkinson, struck off the Tory candidates’ list for insubordination. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:51 GMT)

Theresa May: don’t close the doors on international students
Non-EU students contribute so much to the UK economy – so why is the home secretary is trying to deter them, asks the NUS’s international students officerTheresa May has announced plans to force foreign graduates to leave the country before they get a chance to apply for work here.As international students’ officer at the National Union of Students (NUS), I believe this to be discriminatory, counter-intuitive and impractical. It appears to be yet another way of scapegoating non-EU international students, to fulfil the government’s target of reducing net migration. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:16:51 GMT)

Has your parent turned into a passive-aggressive helicopter grandparent? Mine, too
There’s no way you can be as good of a parent without your own. But it’s about time our own parents accepted us as more than just their childrenWhat she says is: Are my granddaughter’s bangs getting in her eyes? What she means is: Your kid needs a haircut. What she says: Does your daughter need a sweater? What it sounds like: What kind of mother would let her daughter run around like that?There is no circle of hell quite like the one featuring a passive-aggressive grandmother with opinions about how you parent your children. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:30:13 GMT)

Britain’s national museums should beware arms trade sponsorship
A financial association with cultural institutions and events lends arms companies a legitimacy they would not otherwise haveChristmas is meant to be a time for peace, but as the coverage of the centenary of the semi-mythological Christmas truce of 1914 tells us, it has also been a time for war. The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert may have divided audiences and provoked a debate about how we depict the first world war, but the supermarkets are far from the only ones that can be accused of profiting from the legacy of those who died in conflict.Far more secretive have been some of our best-known museums and public spaces which, unfortunately, have only been too happy to accept money from those in the arms trade. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:00:14 GMT)

How the Bank of England is failing its transparency test
Replacing a drip-feed of information with a deluge will make it harder to digest. Most observers will end up less well informedCommunications are an important aspect of monetary policy. They help the central bank to shape expectations, heightening the effectiveness of policy. In addition, clear communications enhance transparency, which is vital for holding the central bank properly accountable, not just before parliament but also in the court of public opinion.So it is to be welcomed that the Bank of England commissioned Kevin Warsh, former governor at the Federal Reserve board, to review the Bank’s communications practices. But in response to Warsh’s report, the Bank is proposing changes in its procedures that fail the transparency test. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:43:45 GMT)

The Christmas I realised a world was out there for me to discover
The wonders of Italy and France brought my family closer – and began in my seven-year-old self a thirst for explorationTo understand the impact of Christmas 1978 on a seven-year-old boy from a small island in Greece, you have to clear your mind of a lot of developments.Back then, Greece was four years out of a dictatorship and not yet a member of the European Community, travel abroad was expensive and uncommon, information was sought in the pages of bulky home encyclopaedias and important moments were captured with a Kodak Pocket Instamatic. Back then, a holiday road trip through Italy and France in a red Simca that broke down every time Dad drove too fast over a puddle was an impossible folly. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:40:09 GMT)

‘We need permanent revolution’: how Thomas Piketty became 2014’s most influential thinker
The French economist, whose book on inequality became a bestseller, tells Owen Jones about his extraordinary year – including his sudden rise to stardom and his battles to defends his ideasFor a man with the unlikely description of “rock-star economist”, there is nothing rock’n’roll about Thomas Piketty’s cramped, book-lined office in a nondescript Parisian office block. By his feet are scattered various foreign translations of his publishing sensation, Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Greek, German, Japanese, and so on. There are 20 foreign editions already published, he tells me with evident pride, and another 37 to come. It must be rather surreal, I suggest: one doesn’t normally expect a French economist to become a global superstar. “Is there something particular with being French, or economists in general?” he jokes in a thick Parisian accent, effecting a faux wounded Gallic pride.Piketty’s book is surely the most influential published by an economist in a generation, infuriating the right as much as it delighted an intellectually starved left. Using a mass of data, the book sought to expose why modern capitalism is an engine of exploding inequality: the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate at which the economy grows, he argues, and wealth is becoming ever more concentrated at the top of society. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:01:03 GMT)

Yosemite Falls come back to life thanks to California storms but drought persists
Drought had left towering falls dry in summer monthsCascades in Yosemite National Park among country’s foremost natural wondersYosemite National Park’s famous waterfalls are cascading down the valley’s towering cliffs despite one of the worst droughts in California’s history.Thanks to a handful of December storms that have hit the dry state, Bridalveil, Cascade and Yosemite Falls are living up to their reputation as some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the country. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:26:10 GMT)

Reindeer herders, an app and the fight to save a language
After decades of prejudice in Sweden, Ume Sami is spoken by fewer than 50 people. Today the last speakers have turned to technology to revive the indigenous languageThe gates open and the herders take us into a 300ft-wide circular pen. Away at the other end, 200 reindeers are running in a tightly-packed circle. Amid the silence of the forest, all you can hear is the strange, dull “clck clck” noise of the tendons in their feet. It’s December and I’m deep in the snow-covered forests in Lapland, north Sweden with a group of Sami herders – the indigenous people of this region – and their reindeers. While it feels as if I’ve been dropped into an animated Christmas card, it’s the herders not the reindeers that I’m here to meet and the conversation is not exactly festive. In the past you weren’t allowed to speak Sami in schools; it was ugly, you were ashamed to do itI would have been working for something else if I felt for one moment that it wasn’t possible to revive the language. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:13:16 GMT)

The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology
Ignore the futuristic visions of governments and developers, it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabricThe truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy’ We are lucky enough to live at a time in which a furious wave of innovation is breaking across the cities of the global south, spurred on both by the blistering pace of urbanisation, and by the rising popular demand for access to high-quality infrastructure that follows in its wake. From Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting and the literally destratifying cable cars of Caracas, to Nairobi’s “digital matatus” and the repurposed bus-ferries of Manila, the communities of the south are responsible for an ever-lengthening parade of social and technical innovations that rival anything the developed world has to offer for ingenuity and practical utility. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:16:00 GMT)

Few grieve for the passing of Mumbai’s red-light district
Brothels are being turned into offices and flats as city’s property market takes offIt is dusk in Lane 14. Pools of water in the potholes reflect the lights flickering in an office block high above. The skeletal cement frames of half-built apartments are silhouettes against the darkening sky.Down in the narrow alley below, trade is slow. It is early; the women spread plastic sheets in front of the rickety building that is both home and workplace, and share a frugal dinner. The rooms they rent for 300 rupees (£3) a day are too small for anyone to share a meal indoors. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:52:19 GMT)

Scientists far from home at Christmas - podcast
We speak to researchers working in the Arctic, Antarctic, Greenland, Sudan, South Africa and the Indian Ocean to find out what they will do on Christmas Day far away from home. Plus, Ian Sample, Nicola Davis and Robin McKie review the year's best science stories Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:20:00 GMT)


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(Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:33:48 GMT)

Joe Cocker: Five classic performances from Sheffield's greatest bluesman
The great Steel City singer has passed away – here are five reasons to remember himJoe Cocker, Grammy winning singer, dies aged 70Joe Cocker obituaryJoe Cocker’s first big hit – after four years of trying – came when he took With a Little Help From My Friends to No 1 in the UK in 1968. Far better, though, was this single from the following year, his version of Leon Russell’s Delta Lady. And far better than that was the live version, recorded for his Mad Dogs and Englishman live album. At this point, Cocker’s sound was a delightful amalgam of rock and soul and blues, a stew that he arguably practised better than likeminded contemporaries such as Derek and the Dominoes (members of whom played with him at this time) or Traffic. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:05:12 GMT)

No confession and no remorse from 'Mississippi Burning' killer 50 years later
First interview since conviction for ’64 murders of three civil rights workersNow 89 and serving 60 years, says he has never discussed case beforeGuardian coverage: Klan member guilty in 1964 killingsCraggy-faced and ornery, Edgar Ray Killen bears the signs of his 89 years. His hands are still scarred and rough from decades in the east Mississippi sawmills. He has a muscular build even as he maneuvers in his wheelchair. Time has not softened his views and he remains an ardent segregationist.And he steadfastly refuses to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings of three civil rights workers, which sparked national outrage, helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and landed him behind bars. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:49:14 GMT)

Cumberbatch for an Oscar and no life on Mars: Britons' predictions for 2015
Britons make their predictions on what next year will bring for the UK’s economy, sporting fortunes, news and the 2015 electionBenedict Cumberbatch is expected to win an Oscar, it seems increasingly unlikely that Prince Harry will follow his brother’s example and get engaged and there is little chance of finding life on Mars - at least that is the opinion of a wide ranging survey of what Britons think will happen during 2015.The poll by Ipsos Mori and the Guardian detects a definite sense of mild, if unfocused pessimism. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:09:48 GMT)

Former Swansea MP and minister Alan Williams dies, aged 84
Williams, an MP for 46 years, was described by ex-Welsh secretary Peter Hain as ‘supreme House of Commons man’Former Labour minister Alan Williams has died 50 years after first being elected to the Commons.The veteran, who with 46 years of continuous service as an MP was father of the house when he stepped down at the 2010 election, was described by the former Welsh secretary Peter Hain as a “supreme House of Commons man”. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:35:05 GMT)

JRR Tolkien’s wartime narrow escape revealed
Online records show the Hobbit author was shipped home in 1916, just before his battalion underwent massive shellingJRR Tolkien’s war records show that trench fever “of unknown origin” meant the author was shipped home to Britain shortly before his battalion was hit by a “massive” bombardment.Discovered by the Forces War Records team as they digitise tens of thousands of records for the public to view for the first time, Tolkien’s documents show the 25-year-old second lieutenant was referred to the casualty clearing station from the 75th field ambulance on 28 October 1916. He was treated there for two days, before being transferred to number 22 ambulance train, and sent home to the UK.The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers,” wrote Tolkien. “Hurrying forward again, Sam tripped, catching his foot in some old root or tussock. He fell and came heavily on his hands, which sank deep into sticky ooze … For a moment the water below him looked like a window, glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hand out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. ‘There are dead things, dead faces in the water,’ he said with horror.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:31:22 GMT)

'She taught me that truth has a sound': Lisa Dwan on Billie Whitelaw
After performing Samuel Beckett’s mouth-only performance Not I, Lisa Dwan found a valuable guide in Beckett’s muse, Billie Whitelaw, who died this week. She remembers Whitelaw’s tenacity, devotion and masteryMichael Billington on Beckett’s ‘perfect actress’A screen and stage career in picturesBillie Whitelaw obituaryWhen Billie Whitelaw spoke, she did so with the arresting gravitas that only someone of profound integrity can. She never minced her words, she was direct, never suffering fools, but she was also disarmingly open, extremely generous and often seemed so emotionally vulnerable as someone who seemed to live life without their skin on. This is precisely why Samuel Beckett loved her. Despite being a child star Billie had no formal training as an actor. She was therefore a very instinctual artist with a fierce commitment that came direct from the gut. She fearlessly stretched her private landscape around Beckett’s creatures and Beckett drew as much from hers as his own. Their names will always be intertwined as one of the greatest theatre partnerships: a towering master of European theatre and his muse. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:26:58 GMT)

Hackers threaten to issue alleged Iggy Azalea 'sex tape' images
Rapper denies reports that she has a sex tape after a branch of Anonymous suggest otherwise following online altercation with Azealia Banks surrounding black culture A branch of the hacker group Anonymous has threatened Iggy Azalea following her recent criticism of rapper Azealia Banks. Accusing Azalea of “misappropriating black culture” and “making light of Eric Garner’s death”, an Anonymous spokesperson claimed that if the rapper does not issue an apology, they will release photo stills from her alleged “sex tape”.“Fuck you, @IGGYAZZALEA. #ICantBreathe,” tweeted the popular Anonymous account @TheAnonMessage on Saturday. “We have so much shit on you, your scandal would be bigger than Bill Cosby’s ... You are guilty of misappropriating black culture, insulting peaceful protesters, and making light of Eric Garner’s death ... You have exactly 48 hours ... to release a statement apologizing to @AzealiaBanks and the protesters in NYC.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:48:26 GMT)

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's first fashion campaign, for Balmain – stylewatch
The Kardashian-Wests have claimed 2014 for their own, in fashion terms. This sultry moment of face-gripping is their first official campaignClearly, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have been on a mission to woo the fashion industry for the past couple of years – and boy is it working. Having appeared on the cover of Vogue, and sat front row at Paris Fashion Week with baby North West, they now star in their first joint fashion campaign, for luxe French fashion house Balmain. Caught on the edge of passion, indulging in a moment of pre-snog face-gripping, Kardashian wears the censorship-inspired dress from the label’s spring/summer collection while West is all about the slightly hairy heavage. The couple are great friends with Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director, whose brand ethos veers towards the sexy and sultry. With echoes of a David and Victoria Beckham perfume advert, this is very much on-brand for all concerned. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:27:20 GMT)

Paul Dacre earnings up by nearly 25% to £2.4m in 2014
Annual report reveals more details of Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online editor-in-chief’s new remuneration arrangementsPaul Dacre’s pay and bonus package soared by 25% during 2014, taking the total remuneration of Britain’s best-paid newspaper editor to £2.4m.The editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online received an extra £1m this year – double his usual £500,000 annual salary supplement – on top of basic salary and fees of £1.38m. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:03:05 GMT)

Jane Bown obituary
World-renowned photographer whose career on the Observer spanned six decadesThroughout her long career as an Observer photographer, Jane Bown, who has died aged 89, produced a consistent and singular body of work that straddled many areas of photojournalism. However, she will be remembered above all for her deeply insightful portraits.By the time Jane began working at the Observer in 1949, her trademark style – a unique capacity to blend the iconic with the informal – was already fully formed. Her account of the first Observer commission, which was a portrait of the philosopher Bertrand Russell, is classic Jane: concise, self-deprecating and modestly assured. “I was terrified, I don’t think I even knew who he was,” she said. “But the light was good ...” Continue reading...
(Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:23:47 GMT)

Russell Crowe: even at my most successful, I just wanted to be home
The road to Oscar-winning stardom has been a long, slow slog for the antipodean actor. If his directorial debut, The Water Diviner, proves a commercial success, Crowe hopes it will deliver him his ultimate career goal – to be back in Australia • The Water Diviner review: a handsome crowd-pleaserRussell Crowe, like a lot of us, is sick of commuting. “I commute to work and it is a long commute and sometimes it can be really tedious,” says the 50-year-old. “As the years go by, it is more and more of a problem for me – it doesn’t feel natural for me to get on a plane anymore.” Which explains, in part, why we are here, at the end of 2014, talking about his directorial debut.The Water Diviner stars Crowe as Joshua Connor, an Australian farmer whose three sons have been killed at Gallipoli. Connor’s wife, unhinged by the loss, blames him for not protecting them – for letting them go. When she dies, he promises her that he will bring them home. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:27:16 GMT)

George RR Martin offers to screen The Interview at his own cinema
Game of Thrones author volunteers his Jean Cocteau cinema in Santa Fe for a screening, after ‘stunning display of corporate cowardice’ from Sony and cinema chainsThe bestselling Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has offered to screen The Interview in his own independent cinema, in the wake of what he described as “a stunning display of corporate cowardice” from Sony and America’s cinema chains.After anonymous terrorist threats last week to target screenings of the film, in which James Franco and Seth Rogen play journalists attempting to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, chains and distributors across America refused to show it. Sony then cancelled its 25 December theatrical release. Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:00:25 GMT)

Glasgow lorry crash: six confirmed dead - video
Police in Glasgow have confirmed that six people have died after a bin lorry crashed into pedestrians in George Square. At least seven others are seriously injured after the incident, which ended when the vehicle crashed into the city's Millennium hotel. Police are investigating the cause of the incident Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:11:13 GMT)

Photo highlights of the day
The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of the best photographs from around the world including the winter solstice, fog in India, the first day of summer in Brazil and Baba Noel in Jerusalem Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:33:33 GMT)

Francis Maude: give private firms a bigger role in NHS to combat 'endless process and bureaucracy' – video
Speaking at an event in London, the Cabinet Office minister criticised the government's £5.3bn central policy to save the NHS. He described the Better Care Fund as a disappointment which was unlikely to lift the pressure from overcrowded hospitals Continue reading...
(Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:25:56 GMT)

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