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Jordan demands proof from Isis that captured pilot is alive
Sunset deadline passes for Jordan to hand over convicted bomber to spare lives of pilot and a Japanese hostageJordan has demanded proof from Islamic State (Isis) that its captured pilot is still alive before it goes ahead with a possible exchange for a convicted terrorist.Isis had given Jordanian authorities until sunset on Thursday (approximately 2.30pm GMT) to hand over the failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi in return for a second hostage, the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto – a deal that Isis said would keep alive Muath al-Kasasbeh, whose fighter jet was shot down over eastern Syria in December. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:44:09 GMT)

Ebola outbreak moves into endgame
With fewer than 100 cases of deadly virus reported in west Africa in last week, focus turns to contact-tracingFewer than 100 cases of Ebola have been reported in west Africa in the last week, according to the World Health Organisation, which says the outbreak has now effectively moved into the endgame.The massive effort that went into building treatment centres for thousands of sick people was now being diverted as quickly as possible into contact-tracing. All previous Ebola outbreaks, although on a far smaller scale, have been stopped by the efficient tracing and monitoring of every person who might have come into physical contact with someone with the virus. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:04:09 GMT)

Surge in migrant voters could swing vote in key UK constituencies
Two seats may for first time be decided by migrants, who make up majority of voters, with parties warned not to ignore this electorateA record number of people who were born outside the UK will be able to vote in this year’s general election and are likely to hold the balance of power in several key constituencies, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the migrant vote. Related: Politicians, ignore the UK’s migrant voters at your peril | Robert Ford and Ruth Grove-White Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:45:00 GMT)

Heavy snow brings travel chaos and disruption to UK
Schools close in Scotland and Northern Ireland and Manchester airport shuts down as further icy conditions are forecastHeavy snowfall has closed schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland, shut down Manchester airport, disrupted rail services and brought traffic to a standstill on some roads in the north-west.In Scotland, 29 schools and nurseries closed in the Highlands and 22 in Dumfries and Galloway, while more than 130 schools were closed across Northern Ireland. Cumbrian authorities closed 34 schools, with half of those being in Carlisle.Thinking of attempting the #SnakePass? Seriously don't. High winds and heavy snow, can just about see where our car park is. #snowstormtim Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:31:00 GMT)

MH370: Malaysia officially declares disappearance of plane an accident
Officials declare search for survivors over but underwater hunt for missing plane to continueMalaysia has officially declared the disappearance of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident and its passengers and crew presumed dead, 327 days after it vanished.The announcement cleared the way for the company to pay compensation to families, but provoked fury among relatives of the 239 people on board, some of whom believe there is still a chance their loved ones may be alive. Several said they could not accept the decision. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:39:56 GMT)

MI5 says rendition of Libyan opposition leaders strengthened al-Qaida
Intelligence assessment concludes abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi allowed dissident group to be taken over by exponents of al-QaidaA secret UK-Libyan rendition programme in which two Libyan opposition leaders were kidnapped and flown to Tripoli along with their families had the effect of strengthening al-Qaida, according to an assessment by the UK security service, MI5.Prior to their kidnap, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi had ensured that their organisation, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), focused on the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, the classified assessment says. Once handed over to the Gaddafi regime, their places at the head of the LIFG were taken by others who wanted to bring the group closer to al-Qaida. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:27:35 GMT)

BA airmiles now offer a worse deal for economy class passengers
Avios scheme used by millions of travellers will instead give business and expense-account flyers enhanced rewardsBritish Airways is to make radical changes to its airmiles scheme used by millions of travellers - called Avios - which will slash by 75% the airmiles the cheapest economy class tickets will earn, while giving business and expense-account flyers more rewards.A basic economy-class ticket from London to New York will from 28 April earn just 865 airmiles, down from 3,458. Previously the number of points earned on a return flight across the Atlantic would have been enough to obtain a flight from London to Milan (plus a £35 fee), but after the changes it will fall far short of any destination served by British Airways. Avios is one of the biggest airmiles programmes in the world, used by 6.4 million travellers, and the changes immediately sparked accusations that the airline has “gutted” the scheme. Related: I’m an airmiles addict but BA’s points-slashing plan is testing my loyalty | Daisy Buchanan Looks like @british_airways just utterly gutted the Avios scheme for most flyers. Shame, it made a big difference to the overall cost.Sad to see the @British_Airways Avios devaluation - Philly to London biz was 80k points now 120k plus exorbitant taxes/fees of $1k+ #ttot@British_Airways is disgusting the way you reward the richer with more #Avios . To Fly To Serve? Who? Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:20:43 GMT)

Tory MPs 'plotted to sabotage House of Commons documentary'
Rightwing backbenchers unhappy at filming in chamber plotted to knock over cameraman, but were thwarted by Westminster security, BBC2 film-maker saysA group of rightwing Tory MPs plotted to sabotage a BBC documentary about the House of Commons by knocking over a cameraman and forcing filming to be abandoned, it has been claimed.The film-maker Michael Cockerell said there was a small group of Conservative MPs who were unhappy that crew had been given unprecedented access to the Commons for the documentary, which begins on BBC2 next week. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:05:14 GMT)

Number of English schools failing on GCSE targets doubles in a year
Worsening national performance follows a series of changes to the make-up of the GCSE league tablesThe headline measure of school performance in England has plunged dramatically in the wake of changes to exam rules and league tables, according to official figures for school GCSE results published by the Department for Education.The impact of the changes, along with a slight fall in GCSE grades awarded last summer, saw a doubling in the number of schools that failed to reach the government’s floor target of 40% of pupils attaining five GCSE grades between A* and C, including passes in English and maths. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:30:09 GMT)

Rick Perry shrugs off felony charges as he sets sights on 2016
Former governor says he’s not worried about abuse of power charges against him, but shadow of a court case hangs heavy over White House prospectsFormer Texas governor Rick Perry exuded a mixture of defiance and nonchalance at a news conference in Austin on Wednesday as he said that the latest setback in his attempt to fight felony abuse of power charges will not derail his likely 2016 presidential run.His mood was consistent with his public demeanor in recent months, but Texas swagger is less useful to Perry’s White House ambitions than the ability of his costly legal team to find a way to make the charges against him vanish by the summer. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:06:10 GMT)

File on Mark Duggan police shooting lost in the post
Ministry of Justice investigating after computer disc containing information on inquest and two other inquiries goes missingInformation relating to three judge-led inquiries, including the inquest into the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by the police which sparked the summer riots of 2011, have gone missing in the post, the Ministry of Justice has admitted.Two discs containing documents about the Duggan inquest and the inquiries into the fatal police shooting of Azelle Rodney and the death of Robert Hamill in Northern Ireland have been lost since early this month. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:05:23 GMT)

Brooks was told Murdoch wanted more serious news in the Sun, jury hears
Fergus Shanahan warned the then editor that the News Corp owner would go through the paper with a ‘fine-tooth comb’Rupert Murdoch once complained that the Sun was “too light” and demanded the then editor Rebekah Brooks put more stories of “substance” into the paper, a jury has heard.Brooks was warned in 2005 that there was “no escape” from the proprietor’s eagle-eyed scrutiny of the paper. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:13:54 GMT)

Burglars rained blows on Soas professor, court hears
Paul Kohler, 55, suffered severe facial injuries during attack at his home in south London, after gang of men broke inA gang of burglars seemed to enjoy raining down punches on a university professor as they raided his house, a court has heard.Paul Kohler, 55, suffered a fractured eye socket, a fracture to his left jawbone, a broken nose and bruising that left him “utterly unrecognisable” in the attack at his home in Wimbledon, south London. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:48:33 GMT)

Solar power in the UK almost doubled in 2014
Installed solar photovoltaic capacity grows from 2.8GW to nearly 5GW as industry hails ‘milestone achievement’Solar power almost doubled in the last year, with 650,000 installations ranging from solar farms to panels on homes, figures showed.By the end of 2014 there was almost five gigawatts (5GW) of solar photovoltaic panels installed, up from 2.8GW at the end of 2013, the Department of Energy and Climate Change figures showed. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:01:29 GMT)

Ed Miliband gives Scottish Labour full backing to make own decisions
Miliband gives Jim Murphy full backing after previous leader accused her Westminster colleagues of treating Scottish Labour like a branch officeEd Miliband has stressed that the new Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, has his full backing to make his own decisions for his party north of the border, as polls suggest a potentially devastating swing from Labour to the SNP.Acknowledging the important impact that Scottish voters will have on the general election, Miliband denied that his own unpopularity with the electorate was a cause for concern, insisting that Jim Murphy had “a plan to show that Labour is back on the side of the people of Scotland”. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:51:47 GMT)

Appeal court extends jail term over claw hammer attack
Philip Spence will serve minimum of 27 years, instead of 18, for attacking three sisters during burglary at a London hotelA man who smashed the skulls of three sisters with a claw hammer as they slept in a London hotel room has had his minimum term increased from 18 years to 27.Philip Spence, 33, attacked Ohoud al-Najjar and her sisters Khulood and Fatima, who were visiting from their home in the United Arab Emirates, during a burglary at the Cumberland hotel in Marble Arch in April 2014. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:57:29 GMT)

Afghans live in peril among unexploded Nato bombs that litter countryside
Ordnance left by parting international troops kills or injures about 40 people a month – the vast majority childrenInternational troops pulling out of Afghanistan have left behind a lethal legacy of unexploded bombs and shells that are killing and maiming people at a rate of more than one a day. The vast majority are children.Bombs dropped from the air coupled with munitions left behind in makeshift firing ranges in rural Afghanistan have made parts of the countryside perilous for locals who are used to working the land for subsistence and raw materials. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:24 GMT)

Clegg: next Cameron will ask the ‘tea lady’ to join debates
Lib Dem leader accuses PM of encouraging broadcasters to invite a ‘smorgasbord’ of political leaders to join TV eventsDavid Cameron is “ducking and weaving” on a ludicrous scale by encouraging broadcasters to invite a “smorgasbord” of political leaders to join the television election debates to try to avoid scrutiny, Nick Clegg has said.The deputy prime minister, who said he expected Cameron to ask for the Monster Raving Loony party and the “tea lady” to join the debates, warned that viewers would become so bored they would switch channels to Coronation Street. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:00 GMT)

Boy, 16, who murdered teacher Ann Maguire loses challenge to jail term
Will Cornick stabbed Maguire seven times as she taught a Spanish class at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds last yearThe 16-year-old boy who murdered teacher Ann Maguire has lost a challenge to his 20-year minimum term.Will Cornick stabbed Maguire, 61, seven times from behind as she taught a Spanish class at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April last year. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:21:37 GMT)

NHS strike goes ahead in Northern Ireland
Up to 3,000 health workers, including 450 ambulance staff, stage 12-hour stoppage in pay disputeNorthern Ireland is the only part of the UK where a planned national NHS strike has gone ahead, with up to 3,000 health workers staging industrial action.The strike, which will last for up to 12 hours on Thursday, includes 450 ambulance staff and involves the Unite and GMB unions. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:38:40 GMT)

European court rules extradition of alleged British jihadi to US was lawful
Haroon Aswat, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was flown to US last year after allegedly conspiring to establish a terror camp in OregonThe extradition of a mentally ill British suspect to face trial in the US for running a jihadi training camp was lawful, the European court of human rights has ruled.Haroon Aswat, who had paranoid schizophrenia, was flown to the US last October. It is alleged he conspired with the extremist preacher Abu Hamza in 1999 to establish a terror camp in Oregon. Aswat, 40, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, had alleged that his removal was based on inadequate assurances from US officials about his treatment, and therefore breached article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European convention on human rights. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:43:20 GMT)

Scotland’s political leaders set aside FMQs for tennis
First minister Nicola Sturgeon joked that she would open up her office to watch Andy Murray’s Australian Open semi-finalThe all-female leadership of the three largest parties in the Scottish parliament have been praised for breaking with the confrontational style of Westminster after they joked about cancelling preparations for their weekly clash to watch Andy Murray in the Australian Open.As Nick Clegg said he would be better off playing Candy Crush during prime minister’s questions at Westminster the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, joked that she would open up her office to watch Murray play in the semi-final. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:49:58 GMT)

Sexual assaults in prisons in England and Wales on the rise, figures reveal
Ministry of Justice statistics show 170 cases reported in 2013 – the highest in 10 years – while violent attacks also roseA bleak picture of a rising tide of sexual assaults and violent attacks inside prisons across England and Wales has been revealed by the latest Ministry of Justice figures.The first separately published figures for sexual assaults in prisons show that there were 170 cases reported in 2013 – an increase of more than 50% on the 113 reported the previous year and the highest recorded level for at least 10 years. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:40:06 GMT)

Ukip study scoops £10,000 prize for political book of the year
Revolt on the Right beats Alan Johnson memoir and The Snowden Files, while life of Roy Jenkins wins biography prize at 2015 Paddy Power awardsA study of the rise of Ukip was named the political book of the year at a ceremony on Wednesday.Revolt on the Right, by the academics Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford, won the £10,000 prize ahead of titles including MP Alan Johnson’s memoir Please, Mister Postman, Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s story of Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing, The Snowden Files, and Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk’s allegations about Cyril Smith’s child abuse, Smile for the Camera, which sparked a criminal investigation last year. The prize money was donated by Lord Ashcroft, who judged the award alongside Mary Beard, the MP Keith Simpson, Lord Adonis and the journalist Ann Treneman. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:42:07 GMT)

McDonald’s chief executive steps down after sales slump
Briton Steve Easterbrook next in line as Thompson retires after investor frustrations at McDonald’s poor performanceMcDonald’s has announced the departure of its chief executive just days after the world’s biggest fast food chain reported its first fall in sales in 12 years.The company, which is losing US market share to rivals such as Shake Shack and Five Guys, said Don Thompson would step down as McDonald’s president and chief executive on 1 March. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:19:11 GMT)

European parliament chief visits Greece; bank shares recover – live updates
Rolling coverage of political and economic events in Greece and beyond, as Martin Schulz visits AthensClosing Summary: Schulz hopes Greece sticks on courseAthens market recoversTsipras tells Schulz: Greece needs solidarityGreek fin min coming to London on MondayGreece want to link debt payments to growth 3.59pm GMT Martin Schulz ended what will go down as the first visit of an EU official to Greece since the radical leftists stormed to power, saying: “I hope that your wonderful country will remain on a European course as it always has.” 3.55pm GMT There must be sighs of relief on the Athens stock market tonight, after shares recovered some - but by no means all - of Wednesday’s huge losses. 3.39pm GMT Newsflash from Athens:*GREEK GOVT OFFICIAL SAYS TSIPRAS, SCHULZ DISAGREED ON RUSSIA @business 3.27pm GMT Greek cleaners sweep up all the discarded austerity plans (h/t @mariamargaronis) pic.twitter.com/nhtXb6oVmQ 3.08pm GMT Greece's Varoufakis planning blitz of talks: Osborne, Sapin, Macron, Gurria in early February. #Greece pic.twitter.com/7Nq6z6ooZ9 3.05pm GMT The Greek finance ministry also announced that Ángel Gurria, general secretary of the OECD, had accepted Alexis Tsipras’ invitation to visit Athens on February 11, says Helena.“With the purpose of discussing the government’s proposals for radical reforms with the economic leadership and to offer his good services in this and finally to exchange views on his own experience in the practicalities of renegotiating public debt as finance minister of Mexico when the public debt of his country was substantially reduced.” “The new government is working hard in collaboration with our European partners and international fora, like the OSCE, for stability, reforms and the prospect of immediately getting over the self-perpetuating crisis.” 2.48pm GMT The Greek finance ministry has just confirmed that Yanis Varoufakis is going to visit London next Monday....with the aim of close cooperation between the two countries on issues of common European interest. The minister will also meet with the financial sector in the city of London.” the start of negotiations with our partners which will lead us to a viable and comprehensive solution for the reconstruction of our social economy in the framework of a developing Europe. 2.35pm GMT The talks between Alexis Tsipras and Martin Schulz are over.And the European Parliament president says he’s encouraged by Tsipras’s stance:"There's a sense in EU that Greek gov't will follow own course. I see that's not the case," says @MartinSchulz after @atsipras talks #Greece 2.26pm GMT Ratings agency Fitch has warned that it could downgrade Greece’s credit rating if there’s no progress with its creditors by May 15 (the next scheduled review).It also predicted that there could be “negative rating implications” for Greece’s banks too, but reckons the “systemic risk” posed by a Greek exit is lower. 2.21pm GMT @yanisvaroufakis to meet Osborne Monday, then hedge fund managers in City. Says he doesn't want to "negotiate" rather "deliberate"... 2.14pm GMT Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is reportedly visiting London on Monday, to see chancellor George Osborne and investors in the City.Have put a call into the Treasury to confirm.....UK Chancellor Osborne To Meet Greek FinMin Varoufakis On Feb 2nd In London#Greek Fin Min #Varoufakis to meet with City bank officials in London Monday.That will be interesting #greece 1.59pm GMT 1.27pm GMT Foreign minister says Greece wants peace in Ukraine - PHOTO - http://t.co/pMPfsIV2Qa pic.twitter.com/74ud37c4mp 1.24pm GMT Meanwhile in Brussels...Greece’s new foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, is meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier. They’re both attending a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Now: 1st meeting of FM #Steinmeier with his new Greek counterpart @NikosKotzias before start of #EU #FAC on #Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/c4YqaiMCTe 1.19pm GMT Did Tsipras get a dressing down for being too dressed down?Martin #Schulz comments on Alexis #Tsipras not wearing a tie. @MartinSchulz @PrimeministerGR pic.twitter.com/AuWJBbwUyfEuro-Pariament Pres Martin Schulz in Athens, jokes that Tsipras not wearing tie #Greece pic.twitter.com/L95dfoPfVv 1.03pm GMT Just in... Germany’s inflation rate has turned negative.Prices across Europe’s largest economy fell by 0.3% year-on-year in January, for the first time in over five years.German consumer prices fall for first time since 2009, down 0.3 % y/y #deflation http://t.co/RAt76r5Kn2 12.50pm GMT .@PrimeministerGR Tsipras tells @MartinSchulz that Europe "needs solidarity" and a solution can be found pic.twitter.com/eD5YZLO4UN 12.45pm GMT Another photo from Athens. Apparently Tsipras is telling Schulz that:“You are a close friend of Greece and a close friend of mine”.Tsipras zu Schulz: "Sie sind ein enger Freund Griechenlands und ein enger Freund von mir!" @BILD pic.twitter.com/DT1zlhR8cI 12.43pm GMT It was all smiles (but only one tie), as Schulz and Tsipras met a little while ago.....Martin Schulz meets Alexis Tsipras in Athens - PHOTO - http://t.co/4fhqgS3c0t pic.twitter.com/q8cqZTxUM3 12.41pm GMT French finance minister Michel Sapin has indicated that Paris would support renegotiating the terms of Greece’s debts....but nothing more dramatic.Sapin told French daily Liberation that Greece’s fiscal position mustn’t be allowed to worsen:“Cancelling the debt is an aberration, a renegotiation is on the table.”“Since 2013, spending has been balanced by revenues ... It is out of the question to allow the Greek budget to go out of balance again and spin off into a spiral of deficit,” 12.32pm GMT Martin Schulz may see signs of public anger over Greece’s bailout programme during his visit today, judging by these photos taken this morning: 12.23pm GMT The new government giveth, and also taketh away?Greek gov't says it'll bring back 3,500 civil servants fired "unconstitutionally" but will subtract from new hires planned for 2015 #Greece 12.02pm GMT Greek bank deposits dropped in December for the third month running, as nervous savers pulled out cash ahead of last Sunday’s election.The Greek central bank reported that business and household deposits fell by 2.4% in December to €160.3bn, from €164.3bn the previous months.#Greece Dec deposits -2.4% MoM to €160.3 bln. Net outflows at €4.2 bln in Dec from €222 mln in Nov (BoG). #economy pic.twitter.com/Zk32cuyGre 11.51am GMT European parliament officials are trying to dampen speculation that Martin Schulz is visiting Athens to act as an intermediary between the government and its lenders.“The purpose is to speak openly with the government. Both men in recent years have built up a relationship. Schulz has described Tsipras as a realist”. “I do not think that this is the moment for politicians to be speculating on what each side should consider as their red lines and what they should be ready to concede on,”“More important neither is it time for any side to be making any headline grabbing statements. Rather all political forces, both in Europe and in Greece, would do well to take good note of the result in Greece and work to create the most serene environment within which talks can take place.” 11.18am GMT One blog reader, James Wilkins of Thessaloniki, isn’t impressed that Martin Schulz will meet with four opposition leaders as well as prime minister Tsipras today:The decision of Schulz to meet leaders of political parties who have just been resoundingly defeated in a democratic election will only inflame the situation. It will make many Greeks angry. I fear that the EU, and the Eurozone in particular, is incapable of responding to events that do not fit in with its narrative. 11.15am GMT Greek banks stocks are on something of a tear this morning, as the Athens market recovers.Shares in Eurobank have surged by 18%, recovering most (but not all) of yesterday’s huge losses.Someone caught the falling knife by the handle: Greek bank shares up 13% this morning after 27% fall yday 10.58am GMT Standard & Poor’s decision to lower Greece’s credit rating outlook to negative last night is driving Greek bond yields steadily higher:Greek 3-yr bond yield above 18% - above the level which prompted the May 2010 first bailout of the country. 10.39am GMT Martin Schulz tweets that he’ll be meeting several Greek political leaders today, not just the winner of Sunday’s election.I am on the way to #Greece today where I will meet PM @atsipras, and party leaders Samaras, Theodorakis, Venizelos, and Papandreou 10.20am GMT The chief of the Eurogroup (eurozone finance ministers) confirms that he will meet with the senior members of the Greek government tomorrow afternoon. Happy news; he and finance minister Varoufakis will give a statement to the press corps.Friday in the afternoon in Athens meeting PM Tsipras, vPM Dragasakis, Mins Varoufakis and Stathakis, co-Min Tsakalotos. (1/2)+/- 4.30 (Greek time) short press statement Dijsselbloem and Varoufakis at Greek FinMin. Accreditation through Greek FinMin. (2/2) 10.00am GMT Greek government bonds continue to weaken in the financial markets. That has pushed the yield, or interest rate, on its five-year debt up to 15% -- compared to around 5% when it was sold last April.Greek borrowing costs are surging again today. pic.twitter.com/QSI8rjXMxU 9.44am GMT From Athens, Helena Smith reports that Syriza is making much of Barack Obama’s backing last night. The US, generally, has taken a much more pragmatic approach to Greece than Europe (perhaps because it doesn’t hold billions of euros of Greek debt?). Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis co-authored a book with Jamie Galbraith, a close friend with whom he spent much time when he was seconded to the University of Texas at Austin, entitled: A modest proposal for resolving the euro zone crisis. Over the summer I met the economist/political science professor Barry Eichengreen at Berkeley University, who follows Greece closely, and said despite being nine time zones away from Athens was an avid reader of this blog. “The Greek crisis has not gone away. It’s no longer acute. Its chronic,” he had said. How his words resonate today! 9.38am GMT A handy reminder of holds Greece’s debt:Greek debt crisis rears its ugly head: Who has the most to lose? http://t.co/H2MZM43kue pic.twitter.com/8JXA0ejkhq 9.36am GMT Greece’s decision to freeze the privatisation of the Piraeus Port has not gone down well in Beijing.Chinese media warned Tsipras over halting the privatisation of the Piraeus port, for which China’s COSCO group has bid, saying he was in a similar position to the Greek mythological figure of Phaeton, who was given the reins of the sun only to lose control and nearly destroy the earth. 9.24am GMT The Athens stock market is calm this morning, after yesterday’s sensational selloff which wiped a third off the value of its banking sector.The main ATG index has risen by 1.4%, led by financial stocks. 9.23am GMT Francesco Papadia, who used to run the ECB’s Open Market operations, reckons a deal is possible.....Beyond posturing an agreement is possible on #Greece: structural measures against debt alleviation. But will this agreement be reached? 9.22am GMT Some Greek newspapers appear to have the inside line on the government’s negotiating strategy (see financial portal Euro2day and newspaper Efsyn, which is sympathetic to Syriza)They say that PM Tsipras and finance minister Varoufakis will argue that Greece’s bond payments should be “frozen” until the country is growing steadily. #Greece Gov't leaks its plan for negotiations w the Eurozone: 1. Growth-based loan payments 2. Lower primary surpluses yet balanced budgetsIt is obvious the Greek gov tries to move out of the corner. Major road block: The extension of the bailout agrmnts. Hardliners won't accept 9.16am GMT Germany’s jobless rate has hit a new record low, underlining the sharp economic differences across Europe.The number of people unemployed across Germany fell by 9,000 in January. And with December’s figures revised lower, the German unemployment rate is now a record low of 6.5%.German Unemployment Data (Jan): Unemployment Change -9K v -10K exp, prev -27K rev to -25K Rate 6.5% v 6.5% exp, prev 6.5% rev to 6.6% 9.09am GMT European Parliament President Martin Schulz is expected to arrive in Athens at noon, or 10am GMT. 9.03am GMT Apparently Barack Obama also urged Alexis Tsipras to get some rest.During their telephone call last night, the US president told the new Greek prime minister that:“I started young as well, and now my hair has turned grey”.Good News! #Obama calls #Tsipras to offer support "I also started young; Now my hair has turned grey" http://t.co/BOGJ2qoLMr via @TheTOC_eng 8.52am GMT Germany’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has warned Greece not to ‘burden’ the rest of Europe with its problems.He was speaking in the Bundestag (parliament) this morning - here’s the headlines: 8.47am GMT The selloff in Greek government debt is continuing this morning, as investors continues to ditch its bond.This is pushing up the yields (or interest rates) on the bonds further into dangerous levels. The three-year Greek bond is how yielding 17%(!), showing that traders see it as particularly risky.Some radio silence from #Greece gov would be advisable pic.twitter.com/pDZld4Tlp7 8.39am GMT A senior European Central bank policymaker has ruled out giving Greece any relief on the debt held by the ECB.Benoît Cœuré, ECB executive board member, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that it was impossible to give Greece more time to repay its loans. Greece’s debt is made up of various components. As regards the government bonds purchased by the ECB as part of the Securities Markets Programme launched in 2010, we cannot grant even an extension of maturities: it would be like granting a loan to the country and that is prohibited by the treaties.As regards loans given to Athens by European countries, that’s not for us to decide. Interview Benoît Cœuré with Corriere della Sera http://t.co/v9XtMRKmvn 8.26am GMT There’s a(nother) row brewing over whether Greece officially opposes sanctions on Russia.Yesterday, energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis veered off his brief, to declare that:“We are against the embargo that has been imposed against Russia. Greece has no interest in imposing sanctions on Russia. We have no differences with Russia and the Russian people.”Our Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, briefed us that on his first day at the job he heard in the news bulletins that the EU had approved new sanctions on Russia unanimously. The problem was that he, and the new Greek government, were never asked! So, clearly, the issue was not whether our new government agrees or not with fresh sanctions on Russia. The issue is whether our view can be taken for granted without even being told of what it is!Painful. @yanisvaroufakis is finding that EU, & media camp followers, have no 'respect for our national sovereignty' http://t.co/voUpkGYLhO 8.16am GMT The new Greek government’s relationship with Russia are also causing a stir in Europe this week.The Financial Times reports this morning that EU leaders are fuming behind closes doors:European and Nato intelligence officials are now poring over links between the Kremlin and senior figures from Syriza and its coalition partner, the Independent Greeks party.The fact that the first foreign official Mr Tsipras invited to the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Monday was Andrey Maslov, Russia’s ambassador, speaks to their concerns. 8.03am GMT Overnight, US president Barack Obama phoned Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him on his victory.“The president noted that the United States, as a longstanding friend and ally, looks forward to working closely with the new Greek government to help Greece return to a path of long-term prosperity,”.“The two leaders also reviewed close cooperation between Greece and the United States on issues of European security and counterterrorism.” 7.56am GMT Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the Greek election, and other key developments across the financial markets, the world economy, the rest of the eurozone, and business.#greece @MartinSchulz gets uppity with @tsipras_eu .off to athens to read the riot act. taking german journos to ensure he makes headlinesBank of England governor attacks #Eurozone austerity. Urges Eurozone to spend its way out of stagnation. http://t.co/PC3SJImAa0“Greece must comply with Europe......there is no question of cancelling the debt”.“We respect the popular vote in Greece, but Greece must also respect others, public opinion and parliamentarians from the rest of Europe.” Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:02:27 GMT)

Andrew Miller to stand down as chief executive of Guardian Media Group
Miller to ‘explore other opportunities’ from mid-2015 after near five-year stewardship of publisher of theguardian.comAndrew Miller is to stand down after almost five years as chief executive of the Guardian Media Group (GMG), during which time the company behind the Guardian and Observer newspapers and theguardian.com has expanded overseas and increased digital revenues.Miller’s departure, at the end of June this year, means that the new editor-in-chief due to take over from Alan Rusbridger – who also stands down this summer – will work alongside a new commercial head of the business. Related: Alan Rusbridger to stand down as Guardian editor-in-chief Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:00:20 GMT)

Chinese couples urged to have more children
Just 5% of women of child-bearing age in Shanghai have taken advantage of change to one-child policy, figures showFor decades, most urban Chinese families could have only one child. Now officials in China’s biggest city are telling young couples: please have more children.Fan Hua, of Shanghai’s family planning commission, said fewer people than expected had taken advantage of a recent rule change that allows more households to bear a second child. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:06:37 GMT)

Inherent Vice review – deliriously masterful sunlight noir
Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Pynchon’s stoner detective story is film-making of a higher order• Joaquin Phoenix: ‘In real life, evil seduces’• Back with a bong: why we need stoner movies more than everAfter a publishing career of more than 50 years, Thomas Pynchon has finally allowed one of his novels to be filmed. Inherent Vice, which has been adapted and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is all about a stoner private detective named Larry “Doc” Sportello in 1970 southern California, called in by an ex-girlfriend to investigate the sinister disappearance of her married lover. It is an occult mystery upon which Doc attempts to shed light using the torch he still carries for her.The resulting movie is a delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon’s prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges. Each enigmatic narrative development is a twist of the psychedelic kaleidoscope. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:29:14 GMT)

Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night review – an unalloyed pleasure
It’s Bob Dylan’s turn to take on the Great American Songbook – and he manages to make it utterly his ownIt’s obviously up against some stiff competition from lingerie adverts and festive albums that came with free Christmas cards, but there’s an argument that Shadows in the Night may be the most improbable moment yet in Bob Dylan’s latterday career. By releasing a collection of standards from the Great American Songbook, Dylan, presumably inadvertently, joins in a trend begun 14 years ago by Robbie Williams. Ever since Williams proved that you could sell 7m copies of Swing When You’re Winning to an audience who’d never previously evinced much interest in the work of Cole Porter or Johnny Mercer, the Great American Songbook album has become a kind of sine qua non among rock stars of a certain vintage. They’ve all been at it, from Paul McCartney to Carly Simon to Linda Ronstadt. Rod Stewart seemed to treat the whole business less like a canny career move than a terrible endurance test to inflict on the general public. By the time he released his fifth Great American Songbook collection, you got the feeling that even the most indefatigable fan of the jazzy standard was on the floor tearfully pleading for mercy, and in danger of developing a nervous twitch brought on by the opening chords of Mack the Knife.However, Dylan has latterly made a career out of doing the exact opposite of what most of his peers do. They dutifully tour their big hits, or perform classic albums in order; he takes to the stage and either brilliantly reinterprets his back catalogue or wilfully mangles it beyond repair, depending on whether you’re the kind of critic who gets whole paragraphs out of a change of syllabic emphasis in the lyrics of All Along the Watchtower or an audience member who’s heard three-quarters of Like a Rolling Stone without realising it’s Like a Rolling Stone. They make albums that cravenly attempt to conjure up the atmosphere of their best-loved classic works; he makes albums that conjure up a world before Bob Dylan existed – filled with music that sounds like blues or rockabilly or country from an age when pop was as yet untouched by his influence. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:31:00 GMT)

Reality check: is this the end for Downton Abbey?
The Daily Mirror reports that ITV’s hit period drama will end after its sixth series later this year, and the web is awash with obituaries. But does the story stack up?According to the Daily Mirror, some of the show’s younger stars are said to be in talks to follow in the footsteps of Dan Stevens to Hollywood. Related: Maggie Smith: from Desdemona to Downton – a career of comic precision Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:22:40 GMT)

Greece's debts: what happens next?
The new Syriza government in Greece now faces the challenge of renegotiating its debts. Phillip Inman explains the options on both sides in a game of high-stakes brinksmanship Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:34:01 GMT)

Welcome to the new Guardian website
After more than 18 months of development, the Guardian has unveiled a new site for its readers in the UK and around the worldThe Guardian has a history stretching back almost 200 years of creating world-class journalism. In more recent times, the Guardian has also become one of the world’s most influential news organisations with newsrooms in the UK, the US and Australia. The Guardian has reached more than 110 million unique browsers worldwide in a month, while our readership in the UK also continues to grow. On any given day, Guardian readers are using thousands of different types of devices to read, view, discuss and share our journalism with each other. The amount of device types on which you can access the Guardian will only continue to increase so we want to make sure that we always provide you with a consistent, fast-loading, familiar and pleasurable experience, whatever your screen size. Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:02:23 GMT)

Just what was it Kim Sears was saying during Andy Murray’s match with Tomas Berdych?
• Australian Open rant appears to have lot of words beginning with ‘f’• Murray defends Sears over outburst• Comes in wake of Wawrinka row with Mirka Federer at O2 Arena• Andy Murray storms into Australian Open final by beating Tomas BerdychNo one could deny that the Australian Open semi-final against Tomas Berdych was tense but it wasn’t just Andy Murray who was putting his heart into the affair.The Scot is no stranger to outbursts on court but on this occasion his fiancee Kim Sears got in on the act at Melbourne Park with what appeared to be a lot of effing and jeffing in the direction of Murray’s Czech opponent. Related: Andy Murray storms into Australian Open final by beating Tomas Berdych Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:24:00 GMT)

50 ways to really annoy your partner (or the quick road to divorce)
Hearing of the woman who marked her husband’s birthday by giving him 50 tasks, Stuart Jeffries felt he should do the same for his wife. Just don’t expect a happy ending …As if my wife didn’t already have enough grounds for divorce, here is a list of 50 tasks for the woman in my life, inspired by reading about the list Claire Potter set her husband Jim Greenan to mark his 50th birthday. Potter said she wanted to give her partner a “present that lasted”. I don’t pretend to know Mr Greenan, but if he had wanted a present that lasted, it would probably have been one of those ovens with fold-away doors, like on The Great British Bake Off. But, oh no: she gave him a list of tasks to perform. Tasks such as make a bird feeder, go skinny-dipping, swim in a river, do something grotesque called “laughter” yoga. Admittedly, she did suggest nice stuff, such as slipping some money into a newspaper at the library and listing 50 things he liked about her. But still, one online commenter said he would rather die aged 49 than have to complete the tasks on her list. Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:01:41 GMT)

Wolf Hall is wrong: Thomas More was a funny, feminist Renaissance man
He was a literary wit, a family man ... and a proto-feminist. Evidence that Hilary Mantel’s version of More is a travesty abounds in Hans Holbein’s revealing painting and the statesman’s own masterpiece, UtopiaWhy does Wolf Hall demonise one of the most brilliant and forward-looking of all Renaissance people? Its caricature of Thomas More as a charmless prig, a humourless alienating nasty piece of work, is incredibly unfair. You only have to consider one of Hans Holbein’s greatest works to see this.Thomas More and his family were still settling into their new house near the river Thames when they all posed for Holbein. It was a new kind of portrait – an emotional revolution, even. Related: Wolf Hall – the good, the bad and the codpieces | Letters The drawings tell a story of a truly loving family and a politician with almost feminist ideas Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:08:19 GMT)

Does your job depend on how privileged you are?
Many who rise to the top in their field have some kind of privilege. It’s a testament to the inequality of our society – and it’s also something we can fixI prefer to call it luck. Or even, when my hubris and self-esteem triumph over reality, hard work and talent. I rarely stop and reflect on the reality, which is that my ability to work as a writer and a journalist is more due to the demographic group I belong to than to anything about me as an individual. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:30:04 GMT)

Seven things we learned from Facebook's latest financial results
Native video is growing rapidly, mobile advertising is still very big, and there’s no release date for Oculus Rift yetRemember the days when Facebook was criticised for failing to make enough money from mobile advertising? The social network’s latest financial results emphasised how far in the past those days are.Here’s what we learned from the results, and the ensuing earnings call with financial analysts. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:46:12 GMT)

The Bletchley Girls and The Debs of Bletchley Park – review
The dashed hopes and the (sometimes) awful men … an insight into the lives and loves of the female codebreakers – and those with less glamorous jobs‘Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines,” Alan Turing says to Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game. This is the appeal of the Bletchley Park war. It’s a particularly British story, whose eccentric heroes are more likely to be found solving crossword puzzles than flying aeroplanes. They can sometimes be observed throwing cups of tea into the lake or stuffing their pipes with sandwiches instead of tobacco. And it is especially satisfying to think of this gaggle of dishevelled boffins defeating the disciplined pomposity of nazism. They were certainly not the kind of men to be given much shrift by Hitler.But supporting the tweedy heroes was a cast of less unusual people, many of them women. Although there were just 186 staff at Bletchley in August 1939, by 1942 there were 1,600 and by the end of 1944 this had risen to 8,743. Three-quarters of them were women, made available by the introduction of female conscription in 1941. Their stories have been neglected, largely because the exploits of the leading Bletchley code-breakers are more exciting. The women who have found their way into the histories have tended to be the handful of female cryptanalysts. Joan Clarke has now been given spirited if pouting form by Keira Knightley. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:30:26 GMT)

Dippy the Diplodocus is displaced from Natural History Museum by blue whale
Dinosaur cast that starred in films and featured at parties will surrender its spot in central hall to even bigger whale skeletonDippy is leaving the building. After decades of dominating the central hall of the Natural History Museum, starring in movies right up to the recent Paddington, and enthralling generations of schoolchildren who imagined that with one swish of its tail it could take out an entire class and teacher too, the Diplodocus skeleton cast is making way for a whale.Dippy was cast from original fossil bones discovered in the US in 1898, and has been the first enthralling object most visitors saw at the museum, in South Kensington, London, for the past 35 years, having moved to the central hall in 1979. However, the museum announces today that it will be replaced by a real and even more vast specimen: the skeleton of a blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have lived on earth, brought to the brink of extinction by human hunting. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:24 GMT)

Tesco towns count the cost of a retail empire in retreat
Supermarket giant’s shock decision to close 43 stores and abandon 49 planned sites will cost thousands of promised jobs and planned homesTesco store closures - the list in fullOver the course of a generation Tesco steamrollered its way across the country, seemingly building supermarkets in every postcode to cement a dominant position resulting in its tills ringing up nearly £1 in every £7 spent on the British high street.But at the start of this month new Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, faced with falling profits and last year’s accounting scandal, not only abandoned plans for 49 new stores but said it would shut 43 existing branches. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:24 GMT)

Churchill: The Nation’s Farewell – review: rottweiler Paxman admires bulldog Churchill but he’s no lapdog
Jeremy has mellowed since his Newsnight days and shows genuine affection for his subject, but this is no fawning hagiographyHow many rottweilers can you fit in a Mini? Just the one by the look of it if we’re talking proper old Issigonis mini Mini, not new BMW big Mini, and the rottweiler in question is Jeremy Paxman (1.91m tall).He’s had to crumple himself in and twist a bit sideways, to the left, then he steers one-handed mostly. Yes, I remember that (I used to have a mini Mini, I’m also 1.91m); my left leg had to go on the passenger side on the motorway, or else I’d get cramp. Jeremy is not on the motorway, but nipping about London, to My Generation by The Who. Hats off, incidentally, to whoever managed to get him into a Mini in the first place. Not from a squeezing-in point of view but from an old-dog-new-tricks point of view; you can almost hear him muttering, curmudgeonly, “stupid bloody stunts” (unless it wasn’t stunts) to the poor director. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:00:25 GMT)

Andy Murray storms into Australian Open final by beating Tomas Berdych
• Murray overpowers Berdych 6-7 (6-8), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5• Just what was Kim Sears saying during Murray’s match?• Andy Murray v Tomas Berdych: as it happened!• Pictures: the best images from the men’s semi-final• Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova to meet in finalWith his fiancee, Kim Sears, offering what a proficient lip-reader might interpret as unequivocally Anglo-Saxon encouragement, Andy Murray won a semi-final of swearing, tantrums and some excellent tennis, beating Tomas Berdych in four sets with his best performance of the fortnight to reach his fourth Australian Open final, and his eighth in majors.Murray had hoped for two things to happen: a forecast stiff breeze to materialise on cue to disrupt Berdych’s high ball-toss, and for the Czech to crack under pressure – like he did in the 2012 US Open semi-final. The first never happened, the second did and, after three hours 25 minutes, Murray celebrated a thoroughly convincing 6-7 (6-8), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 victory. On this form, he has an excellent chance of winning his first title here. Related: Britain’s Katie Swan makes semi-finals of girls’ singles in Australian Open Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:21:01 GMT)

Transfer news: Chelsea prepared to meet Cuadrado clause – live!
All the latest transfer window news and updatesThe Rumour Mill: Chelsea target Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho?Send thoughts to nick.miller@theguardian.com or tweet @NickMiller79 3.47pm GMT Right, significant update on the Juan Cuadrado deal now, from Dominic Fifield:Chelsea are prepared to meet the £26.8m release clause in Juan Cuadrado’s contract with Fiorentina but will only progress with a deal for the Colombian once they have received an acceptable offer for André Schürrle.The Bundesliga clubs Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund have expressed an interest in the Germany international, but neither has indicated they would be willing to match Chelsea’s valuation for the World Cup winner. The London club are seeking at least £25m for a forward who joined for £18m from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2013 and has started only five Premier League games to date this term, with negotiations on-going between all parties. 3.44pm GMT DONE DEAL! PossiblyGazzetta report that Standard Liège’s Paul-José M’Poku will become Cagliari’s Paul-José M’Poku very shortly. 3.41pm GMT Remember that Mino Raiola interview from earlier in Gazzetta? Well, here’s some more from it - some very interesting stuff about Paul Pogba, specifically:I want the club that buys him to believe in him and be willing to pay for him. If Paul leaves Juventus, it is for the absolute top. If it does not happen this year, it will be next year.Paul is at the same level economically as the other big stars and has a similar reputation, so he could stay for another year. But Paul is the only major star who is available at the end of the season. 3.35pm GMT Word from Brendan Rodgers now on what business Liverpool will be doing before Monday - or what they won’t be doing, more accurately.Every manager will always want more - but you can’t just go and pluck the players out of the air.Every manager would know what you would want. I would want to be able to do one or two things - but players aren’t always available, and players that can come in and improve you. 3.25pm GMT Not sure if we’ve had these words from Vincenzo Montella on the apparently Chelsea-bound Juan Cuadrado before, but here they are again anyway:He has the characteristics suited to English football because he’s fantastic in positive transitions and with Mourinho it could be perfect. I think Chelsea have probably been in talks with his agent, but I don’t know. His €35m release clause has to be paid if he is to leave. 3.11pm GMT Here’s Shola Ameobi on what it’s like to be working with Alan Pardew again, something most of us can and indeed do only dream of.I’m very excited to be here, I wanted to get back in the Premier League and having worked with the manager before it’s been great to come back and hopefully help us avoid the relegation battle.I had a couple of other clubs interested but I think my relationship with Alan [Pardew] and how much I enjoyed working with him was one of the big factor in my decision. 3.09pm GMT Hot hot hot off the...lotsGuinea win. 3.07pm GMT If you place any stock in these things, Blackburn striker Rudy Gestede has been cut to 4/1 to join QPR with some bookies. The striker had of course dangled himself in the hope that Crystal Palace would nab him, but they’ve signed Shola Ameobi instead, which must sting a little. He’s been left on the bench for the last couple of games in anticipation of a move. 3.04pm GMT In some ways relevant to transfer yuks, word reaches the world that Kevin Strootman has something called ‘cyclops syndrome’, which appears to be related to his knee rather than eye. He’ll require surgery to remove tissue that has been hindering recover from the ACL banjaxing he suffered last year, but it doesn’t sound like this latest problem is as bad as before. 2.57pm GMT ConfirmedPremier League confirm that BBC have renewed MoTD deal until 2019 - £204m over three years. 2.54pm GMT “Not sure if this has been mentioned but Cork to Swansea is also a ferry route,” notes Brian Furlong. “I don’t think this is relevant though.”I smell another riff in the near future. Don’t disappoint me, people... 2.49pm GMT New contracts ahoy - Stoke have agreed fresh deals with a couple of players, but we’re not going to tell you which ones.Just kidding! It’s Peter Crouch and Glenn Whelan, who have both penned two-year extensions. 2.43pm GMT Believe it or not, we’re doing a liveblog of the Africa Cup of Nations drawing of lots, to decide who from Guinea or Mail is going through to the second phase. What a time to be alive. Join David Hills here. 2.34pm GMT Looks like Brendan is confident Raheem Sterling is going to stick around. Also, despite it sounding a bit like an insult, I think he means ‘sponge for learning’ as a good thing.Rodgers on Sterling contract: "It's all in hand with his reps.He''s happy and sees his long-term future here.He's a real sponge for learning 2.30pm GMT Add Jordon Mutch to the file of ‘footballers who look absolutely delighted to sign for the club they’re signing for’.Jordon Mutch signs for Crystal Palace FC. https://t.co/XIoch9s9eQ 2.27pm GMT You want details? We got details up the wazoo. Specifically, details on the two signings Crystal Palace have made today. 2.25pm GMT Undecided as to whether this is a good or a bad thing...BBC look certain to retain MoTD highlights after ITV decide against bidding.. 2.24pm GMT Bit more on the Cork to Swansea whisper from earlier, via the PA:Garry Monk hopes to sign Cork for a reduced price, although Press Association Sport understands no fee has yet been agreed between the two Barclays Premier League clubs. 2.21pm GMT I should stress that the last few entries, in particular the Roxette clip, were made by noted Swede Marcus Christenson while I had a sandwich. Trouble is, nobody will believe me, will they? 2.18pm GMT And Neymar, just to be clear, is not going anywhere. Not that we thought he was but just if you see some silly rumour that he is joining Manchester City over the next few days then think of this (from none other than Neymar Snr): “Neymar is very happy at the moment. Things are developing and he is very settled.” 2.15pm GMT And just because I can ... here is a Roxette video. 2.14pm GMT Chris Dawkes has more information on that Sheffield Wednesday takeover. #swfc takeover has been confirmed by the club. Delphon Chansiri has already financed 2 loan deals and says club are working on more signings 2.12pm GMT Shola Ameobi has joined Crystal Palace until the end of the season. What a busy day for Pards and co. Successful? Not for me to say. 2.10pm GMT Club changing hands! The Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri has acquired 100% of the shareholding in Sheffield Wednesday. He’s delighted.“I am very excited at the prospect of taking over control from Milan. I believe this club has huge potential and I can assure all our supporters that I will be working extremely hard to bring the success that I already sense from my short time in your city our supporters so desperately crave.” 2.06pm GMT One player who is not moving this transfer window is Rubin Kazan’s Carlos Eduardo. Well, according to his president that is. Or maybe the president just wants a bit more money for him. Impossible to say these days really. German side FC Cologne have been trying to sign him but they better hurry up. Clock is ticking! 1.58pm GMT So we haven’t talked about Juan Cuadrado for several hours now but fear not - he is moving closer and closer and closer to that move to Chelsea, likely to be for around £27m. How close is he to a move to Chelsea? Vicinissimo, according to the latest reports from Italy, which is pretty much as close you can get to swapping clubs without actually doing so. I reckon it will happen today or tomorrow. 1.49pm GMT Balotelli? Balotelli! Here’s some more of yer man’s agent, the ever-willing to yak Mino Raiola, on Mario’s future:I saw him on Monday and said: ‘You’ve got a [long] contract and I’m not taking you away. Either you leave Liverpool for €60m or €70m and I win the bet or you die there’. It’s the first time that I’ve had such a conversation with a player. I saw that he was calm, changed, different with respect to at Milan. Very disappointed in himself too.He is going through times he’s never had before. Before everybody wanted him to do well. He had space. At Liverpool, no: either you do as we say or you stay out [of the team]. Then he was out injured for eight weeks. He lost rhythm. 1.43pm GMT At one point it looked like Ivica Olic was going to swap burgs, moving from Wolfs to Ham, but his current club have blocked the deal. But it’s no bother to the man himself, who told Kicker:It’s not a problem for me to stay at Wolfsburg. I enjoy being here, and I am looking forward to the the second half of the season. 1.34pm GMT Could be the first of a couple for Palace today, thisMUTCH JOINS #CPFC: Midfielder @jordonmutch has joined @CPFC in a permanent transfer for an undisclosed fee pic.twitter.com/FiuU1AK47o 1.18pm GMT A few more own-goals to enjoy now. “Probably the most known OG in Denmark ever,” writes Niels Bundgaard. “It’s a match between Lyngby and…. Hmmm can’t really remember but I’m certain it’s a first division game and it’s from the eighties.” Ooof.@NickMiller79 Surely this one has to be up there for best/funniest own goals https://t.co/OhVSnIJZBj@NickMiller79 https://t.co/MzyFoi815I 1.13pm GMT According to the BBC, Swansea are chatting with Southampton over a permanent move for Jack Cork, whose contract expires in the summer. 1.09pm GMT Some stars burn bright then quickly flicker out, others burn a little longer, but some just don’t light up at all. You can add the splendidly-named Arvid Schenk to the latter list, as the Dundee goalkeeper has left the club after just one game - in which he conceded six goals. 1.06pm GMT Some lunchtime reading for you from the Guardian Sport Network, about the lost generation of Real Madrid ‘Pavones’, by Blair Newman.They are an oft-told chapter of the club’s success story and Pérez seemed to continuously read that chapter to himself as he brought in Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, David Beckham and so on. They would become known as “Los Galácticos”, but Perez’s concept was originally called “Zidanes y Pavones”, with the underlying principle being to intertwine world class signings like Zidane, with home-grown talent like Francisco Pavón.The “Zidanes” were otherworldly. Alien beings brought in to entertain, excite and enrich. People from all corners of the globe knew them and may even have bought the shirt to prove it. They were memorable and left an indelible mark on Real Madrid history. The “Pavones”, however, were flawed, entirely human and ultimately forgotten. They were the twisted sideshow in a flawed experiment. 1.02pm GMT Looks like the Mattia Destro to Meeeeeeeeeelan deal is all confirmed, and wrapped up with a nice wee bow.pic.twitter.com/BswxXSkdQ7 12.52pm GMT There’s been talk that Juventus are keen on Fluminense midfielder Gerson, perhaps in the hope that he’s as good as his namesake in the 1970 Brazil World Cup team. With talk of an offer of around €11million for their man, which hasn’t been especially well-received by Fernando Simon, sports director of the Brazilian club. As quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport, he said:You must be joking. The figures circulating in Italy are simply ridiculous. Eleven million for a player of the caliber of Gerson is a trifle. We would never accept such an offer. 12.44pm GMT Sam Allardyce has confirmed that young Hamilton left-back Stephen Hendrie has been poked, prodded and asked to cough ahead of a move to the Boleyn. “It’s with view to a move in the summer yes,” Allardyce said. “He’s one for the future, not for now.” The West Ham website bods posed a few other transfer questions to Sam too:What is the situation with Darren Fletcher?SA: “It is still a possibility. It’s not dead yet, so it still could happen.” 12.27pm GMT Blimey. That’s...that’s a fair old drop-off, no?Meanwhile Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure claiming Juventus will go for Axel Witsel should Pogba leave in the summer. 12.25pm GMT DONE DEAL!Two in a row! We’re cooking on gas, lads and lasses, although this one is a little more low-key. Iain Hume has re-signed for Tranmere on a six-month deal. He’d been playing for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League before that. 12.19pm GMT Such is the modern world, Ravel Morrison seems to have confirmed his move to Lazio on Instagram. 12.12pm GMT Some more of your favourite own-goals, now.Adam Hirst nominates this disaster, from Sheffield United’s Brian Gayle. “There is no OG more heartbreaking than this one,” Adam says. “Not only does it have no touch from the scoring team inside the half, with a whole three touches from the defending team... but it also won a league title.” 11.54am GMT According to the Blackpool Gazzette, Lee Clark is looking at young West Ham defender Dan Potts, a fairly low-level rumour we’ll grant you, but it’s notable because Potts would be the 50th - five-zero - player signed by Blackpool this season. Me-o-oh-my-o. 11.45am GMT Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola has given an interview to Gazzetta dello Sport, and as you might expect it’s pretty...well, frank. There’s some interesting stuff about Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but he also spoke about Balotelli and how, despite not scoring any goals, he’s actually quite happy at Liverpool.He said, with translation via ESPNFC:Of all the champions I have dealt with, I’ve never managed one who has suffered more injustices than Mario. People just don’t know him. The truth is Mario is an insecure lad and, due to this insecurity, he tends to do some ridiculous things.I’ve always been one who wanted to make my players happy. With everybody else, I’ve always done things my way, but not with him. ‘I need my mum and my friends in Italy,’ he said. And being a father myself and wanting him to be happy, I took him back to Italy from City. I should have told him: ‘You are not going back to Italy. City are a big club and they will always support you. This is the football that matters and you want out of it.’ 11.28am GMT DONE DEAL! Charlton have confirmed the signing of Christophe Lepoint from K.A.A. Gent. He’s a midfielder, and he’s bald. That’s all I’ve got. 11.23am GMT Some nominations for your club’s version of Strootman - the player you’re always on the bring of signing, but never actually do:“As a Spurs fan, up until the last couple of windows it was the Brazilian striker Leandro Damaio. Even now, just seeing his name in print brings me out in a cold sweat,” writes Dan Carney.@NickMiller79 Watford's Strootman was Keith Andrews. Then we did sign him and it was a disaster. A lesson for all.@NickMiller79 Wesley Sneijder is still signing for Man Utd imminently right? 11.11am GMT Interesting...very interestingRoberto Mancini has his sights set high, and buried fairly deep in this interview with Italian paper Il Giornale he lets us know that he’s keen on bringing Yaya Touré to Inter. With translation thanks to Football411.com:He’s one of the best players in the world, he can still have his say. He played for many teams, in many leagues like Belgium, Spain, Russia, England. He only misses Italy, this may be a good chance for him.We’re working on it. You know, there are some players who may change team and Yaya is one of them. Next year we may try: we just need three champions to close the gap with Juventus. 10.59am GMT Should you care about this sort of thing, new Arsenal defender Gabriel will wear No.5. But you really shouldn’t. 10.52am GMT This could be pretty big - according to the Evening Standard, Jose Mourinho’s main target in the summer will be Real Madrid centre-back Raphaël Varane, the young Frenchman of whom Jose was quite the fan when he was managing in Spain.Indeed, this is what Mourinho said when entertaining loon Pepe expressed his dissatisfaction at being ousted from the team by Varane a couple of years back:Pepe’s comments? It is very easy to analyse what he says. Pepe has a problem and his name is Raphael Varane. A 31-year-old has lost his place to a 19-year-old. It’s the law of life. But who had the courage to field Varane? I did. 10.43am GMT Back to transfers, which is sort of what this is meant to be about, and according to L’Equipe Arsenal will make a £15million bid for Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer. One imagines it should take much more than that to get him, but perhaps this is your standard Wenger initial, low-ball bid. 10.38am GMT A couple of early ogger shouts, firstly from Charlie @Ordnances... 10.34am GMT Meanwhile, some people have been locked in a room with a load of Lego again, and told not to come out until they’ve recreated Le Tiss’s top three goals in brick-by-brick form. 10.34am GMT Away from own-goal/transfer news, our own Barry Glendenning has been talking to everyone’s favourite languid genius who stayed at his home club even though he could probably have gained more riches and rewards elsewhere, your man Matt Le Tissier. 10.29am GMT And another....@NickMiller79 was thinking of asking what people's favourite own goal is, maybe you could ask your readers the same 10.24am GMT A suggestion for a riff to help us get through the day...@NickMiller79 @guardian_sport who's your club's Strootman/Hummels? A player you're always on the brink of signing but never actually signs. 10.21am GMT Here’s something about a new signing for Arsenal. Well, he’s like a new signing. If he’s ever fit. Which he isn’t. And will never be. Amy Lawrence ponders whether Arsène Wenger should offer Abou Diaby a new contract.The last couple of years for Diaby have been a virtual write-off. This season he has played only 67 minutes of a Capital One Cup tie. Last season he managed one 16-minute substitute appearance during the entire campaign. That is it. When he is not abroad in his persistent search for fitness he watches games at the Emirates, pops into the dressing room to see his team-mates but seldom gets close to the pitch.Last week Wenger altered the generally positive tune he maintains when discussing Diaby. The Arsenal manager said he had “a decision to make” about the player’s future – a decision complicated by the fact he is not strong enough to take any part in practice on the training pitch. A couple of months previously Wenger had been much more encouraging, stating Diaby would be given a new contract if he was fully fit. 10.14am GMT News of a new contract now, and according to ESPNFC, Harry Kane has his pen hovering over a box-fresh deal at Tottenham, making the dreams and desires of all those fans who love him so very deeply come true. 10.12am GMT Ah, interesting...SA: "Fletcher is still a possibility. The move isn't dead yet but we'll see." 10.10am GMT Over to Spain now, where Asier Illarramendi has been the subject of interest - and indeed a whacking great cash money €25million offer - from Athletic Bilbao, but according to AS he’ll turn his nose up at such overtures and stick around at Real Madrid, at least until the end of the season. 9.55am GMT Quick couple o’ lines from Italy, where according to most people Mattia Destro’s move from Roma to AC Meeeeeeeelan should be done and done today, while Roma are in the market for a winger, with Luiz Adrian and Yevhen Konoplyanka the men they’re after. Meanwhile, social media’s Mauro Icardi could be invited to do one from Inter, after Roberto Mancini decided he was no longer keen on the cut of the striker’s jib. 9.49am GMT Moves afoot at Crystal Palace, who according to our man Dominic Fifield could be set for a TRIPLE SWOOP. Think of your own eagles pun while reading:Crystal Palace’s busy squad strengthening before next week’s transfer deadline is to continue with the imminent arrivals of Jordon Mutch from Queens Park Rangers and Pape Souaré from Lille to bolster the club’s battle against relegation. Negotiations also continue with Manchester United to make Wilfried Zaha’s loan spell back at the club permanent. 9.46am GMT Big word from the Swiss second division, where Lausanne have snapped up Florent Sinama-Pongolle, erstwhile Liverpool forward, on a six-month contract. 9.41am GMT Some word knocking around today that Aston Villa’s move for Scott Sinclair has been revived, after the initial transfer was called off when rust was found on the winger’s joints. Possibly.Scott Sinclair's Aston Villa medical presumably to check he hasn't gnawed off both of his own feet through sheer inactivity since 2012. 9.39am GMT Blimey. Any prospective Sampdoria signings might want to take note...Mihajlovic in CdSera: If I ask my players to throw themselves off the roof of a building I expect them to do it + then ask me why 9.35am GMT Yes friends, it’s time to body pop in celebration, for the Rumour Mill is here, and today it features: 9.23am GMT A reiteration of Martinez’s words from yesterday suggesting Everton won’t be delving too deeply into the transfer market this month...Now at #EFC no plans to find a direct replacement for Eto'o. Martinez: "We have plenty of options in that role." pic.twitter.com/rsJ4lZJkoI 9.19am GMT If you were following the blog yesterday - and if you weren’t, take a good, long look at yourself - you’ll know that West Brom completed the signing of Callum McManaman, details of which are here. Also included in that story is brief word that Tony Pulis is awfully keen on Wolves battering ram winger Bakary Sako, who Kenny Jackett’s men have managed to keep hold of before in the face of much interest from elsewhere down the years. 9.14am GMT Let us begin. And let us begin with word from Germany, specifically Bild, that tells us Manchester United are awfully keen on Mats Hummels - indeed, Borussia Dortmund have been told that Louis van Gaal wants the handsome defender, but here’s the catch: he’ll cost something like €50million.Ouch. 9.14am GMT What sick ridiculous transfer puppets we are, and what gross little stage we dance on. What fun we have dancing and transfer rumouring. Not a care in the world. Not knowing that we are nothing. We are not what was intended.I’m sure that’s what John Doe would think if he was around for the transfer window, rather than being a fictional character in the film Se7en. I was about to reveal a crucial plot point about that film, but held back on the basis that there might be two or three people who haven’t seen it. If you are one of those people, I recommend binning this blog for a bit and going to watch it, because it’s a) really very good and b) about 20 years old, so you should probably update your cultural references a bit. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:47:49 GMT)

BBC pay £204m to keep Match of the Day as ITV decline to bid
• Three-year deal to keep Saturday night highlights on station• Premier League set for multi-billion pound auction of live rights• How does your team fare on MOTD’s running order?The familiar theme tune to Match of the Day will remain a fixture on the BBC until at least the end of the decade, after the corporation paid £204m to renew the rights for three more years.Under the new deal, which runs from 2016/17 until 2018/19 and represents a modest increase on the current contract, it will also air a new magazine programme on BBC2 at 10pm in midweek. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:13:16 GMT)

Guinea through, Mali out of Africa Cup of Nations after drawing of lots
Mali’s tournament is over after Guinea win the drawing of lots Guinean minister: ‘We’re lucky … but we can go all the way’Jonathan Wilson: Ivory Coast tale of two Tourés is far from pretty 3.46pm GMT And some more reaction from the lobby. Domani Dore, the Guinean sports minister, had this to say about winning the draw: “Today is a very important day for our country. It shows when you work hard, and work together, good things can happen.” And some togethernesss: “The whole of Africa has come together to fight the Ebola epidemic, including our brothers in Mali. They are a brother country.” 3.42pm GMT Reuters have reported how the event itself unfolded. A representative from both countries drew a ball each from a bowl with Mali’s football association president Boubacar Diarra going first and pulling out the one that placed them third in the group and out of the running. Amara Dabo, financial director of the Guinea Sports Ministry, then drew the ball that confirmed his side in second place behind group winners Ivory Coast. 3.33pm GMT Some reaction is starting to make it out of the scrum. On one side, Guinea’s minister for youth admits: “We’re lucky to go through. Nobody expected us to be here, but we believe we can go all the way.” And on the other side:A Malian delegate in a grey suit has walked out crying. "It's the cruellest way to lose," said another. "They have to find another way." 3.21pm GMT Diabo looks a little overcome. His brow is beaded in sweat and he keeps on putting his hand to his head. He's wearing a white Hackett top.Diabo's now dancing with a man in an orange shirt. He's now speaking on two phones simultaneously. He's milking this and why not? 3.16pm GMT More from Jonathan Wilson in the lobby. “The bowl was carried back towards the kitchen. I think it may just have been one they use for the buffet. Amara Diabo, from the Guinean sports ministry, did the draw. He’s just jogged down the length of the lobby, beaming, and is now giving interviews.” Reaction, from both sides, to follow. 3.13pm GMT Good pre-draw shout below the line, but it wasn’t to be. Anyone else expecting Qatar to be take their rightful place in the last 8... 3.11pm GMT Heady scenes at the Hilton. After all the preparation, the training, the massive budgets and outlays by fans, Mali are out without having lost a game, and Guinea are through without having won one. They play Ghana in the quarter-finals. Huge cheers, Guineans hugging, the bowl has emerged from the third lift-shaft. 3.08pm GMT Guinea win. 3.01pm GMT The 3pm deadline has arrived. It’s all going on on the fourth floor. And it’s getting too much in the lobby.They've blocked off two of the three lifts with bins. There'll be no gatecrashing. 2.56pm GMT Meanwhile in the lobby...The big screen in the corner of the lobby is showing Pirates of the Caribbean, but the mood's so tense nobody's watching it. 2.54pm GMT Early speculation is in.BREAKING NEWS: Guinea and Mali have drawn in the drawing of lots. Winner to be decided by a Dance Off. 2.50pm GMT Jonathan Wilson is there for us. The draw looks like its happening on the fourth floor – home to normal rooms and the presidential suite. “The lobby is filling up with journalists, most of them badgering Natalie, the beleaguered CAF rep, to be allowed upstairs. She’s adamant that it’s Malians, Guineans and international agencies only.” There are better ways of sorting this out, right? 2.40pm GMT So it’s come to this. Heads or tails, short straws, the Ip Dip Africa Cup of Nations. With Mali and Guinea on P3 D3 F3 A3 Pts3 in Group D, instead of being split by penalties or a replay or a golden goal, they’re waiting on a lucky dip in a hotel room in Malabo to see who plays Ghana in the quarters. The coaches aren’t having it. “We must find a fairer way,” says Mali’s Henryk Kasperczak. “This does not correspond to a sporting spirit.” Guinea’s Michel Dussuyer: “Mali do not deserve to be eliminated in this way, just as we do not. No-one deserves to be eliminated.”That might be problematic, too. But there are precedents: Algeria made it to the Afcon knockouts in 1988 instead of the Ivory Coast via lots. A 1954 World Cup qualifier in Rome between Turkey and Spain was settled by blindfolding 14-year-old Luigi Franco Gemma and asked him to choose one of them – the scamp sent Spain home. And in 1990 Sepp Blatter, who only really comes alive when there’s a chance of an honest, fair-play solution to a problem, conducted a glitzy live draw on TV to decide Group F’s final table. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:46:38 GMT)

Matt Le Tissier: 'I've never drunk a pint of lager in my life' – video interview
Southampton and Premier League legend Matt Le Tissier talks to Barry Glendenning about his favourite tipple; the disappointment over being omitted from England's 1998 World Cup squad and the impact it had on the remainder of his career; plus his penchant for early morning sausage-and-egg McMuffins before training• Matt Le Tissier's top three goals – brick-by-brick video Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:05:00 GMT)

McLaren-Honda unveil car for 2015 F1 world championship
• Fernando Alonso to test MP4-30 in Jerez on Sunday• McLaren aim to revive glory years with partners HondaMcLaren and Honda, one of the most famous partnerships in Formula One with 44 victories and eight world championships, unveiled their 2015 car online on Thursday, three days before it will take to the track for the first time.Their new signing Fernando Alonso, who has replaced Kevin Magnussen, will be the first driver to try out the MP4-30 in Jerez on Sunday, with his team-mate Jenson Button having a drive the following day. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:08:07 GMT)

Mario Balotelli will leave Liverpool for €60-70m or ‘die there’, says agent
• Liverpool is the best lesson in Mario’s career, says Mino Raiola• Bringing him back to Italy from City was my biggest mistake, admits agent• Why always him? Why did Rodgers turn to Balotelli at Chelsea?Mario Balotelli’s agent has told the player to knuckle down and fight for a place in the Liverpool starting lineup while also admitting that bringing the forward back to Italy from Manchester City was one of the biggest mistakes of his career.Balotelli has had a difficult start to his time at Anfield but Mino Raiola, who also represents Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba among others, said that being at Liverpool was the best lesson the 24-year-old had had in his whole life and that he expects the player to see out his contract with the Premier League club. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:41:44 GMT)

The Abou Diaby dilemma: should Arsenal offer midfielder a new contract?
Arsène Wenger’s reluctance to close the door on Diaby is admirable – a human response in a hard-nosed business. But would a new contract be the right thing for the club?Watching the deceptive no-look pass, the driven volley and the general sparkle that invited acclaim for Tomas Rosicky over the weekend, what must have been going through the mind of his unluckiest team-mate? Abou Diaby, as with Rosicky not so long ago, lives in a cycle of seemingly endless rehabilitation wondering what will become of his football aspirations. The thought of expressing himself in a big game is something that must be painful as well as an imperative target to cling to.Rosicky was 28, the same age as Diaby is now, when his career suddenly broke down. The Czech spent one and a half seasons out the game, the victim of an injury so baffling that nobody appeared to know exactly what was wrong or how to deal with it for months on end. Arsène Wenger gave evasive answers and Rosicky existed in some kind of footballing Bermuda Triangle. Related: Gabriel Paulista completes transfer to Arsenal from Villarreal Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:12:19 GMT)

Suspicious football, Marshawn Lynch and revenge of the seagull
This week’s round-up also features young cricket talent, Mark Cavendish telling it like it is and Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao on court1) A lot of anger among Albanian fans after this match between Flamurtari and Teuta. Judge for yourselves. Certainly, Flamurtari finally did win, but only after Teuta had all but put the ball in his own goal after giving their opponents more opportunities than is polite to score. Not a patch on this game from Indonesia, however, where both PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang attempt to not win a match, plus it stirs memories of the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup.2) Amelia Kerr, just 14 years old, shows extraordinary talent and confidence in her leg-spinning, taking three for 19 in four overs at the New Zealand domestic T20 final, where her side, Wellington, won the game. Captain Sophie Devine notes: “She’s unbelievable. Thinking back to that age, I would’ve been crapping my pants.” Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:04:59 GMT)

Steffon Armitage and Toulon team-mate arrested over alleged attack
• Sometime England forward questioned by French police• Incident happened after December victory against Leicester• Robert Kitson: why Lancaster should have picked Armitage for Six NationsEngland’s injury-hit build-up to the Six Nations hit further trouble on Wednesday when their potential World Cup candidate Steffon Armitage was reportedly arrested by French police. According to a French radio station, the flanker and his Toulon team-mate Xavier Chiocci were held in custody at a police station for several hours and questioned about an alleged attack on a 30-year-old man in December that left him with a severe eye injury.The radio station France Bleu Toulon said the incident at a Mourillon beachside bar had occurred during an alcohol-fuelled party after a victory over Leicester in the European Rugby Champions Cup on 13 December. Both players are understood to have told investigators they have no memory of what happened. No one at Toulon was available for comment. Related: Stuart Lancaster says England have learned lessons for Six Nations | Robert Kitson Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:34:45 GMT)

England eye confidence-boosting win over India ahead of World Cup campaign
Eoin Morgan’s side face India on Friday in Perth for a spot in Tri-Series finalEngland skipper wants to build momentum before World Cup openerEoin Morgan believes there is far more resting on Friday’s must-win game against India at the Waca Ground than a place in the Tri-Series final, with England’s one-day captain insisting victory will be crucial to build momentum and confidence ahead of the World Cup. England face a shoot-out with India in Perth for the chance to meet Australia back at the same venue on Sunday and, with less than two weeks before Morgan’s team open their World Cup campaign against the Australians in Melbourne, Morgan believes the time is right to start winning crunch games. Related: Convicted spot-fixer Mohammad Amir cleared to return to cricket in Pakistan Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:23:10 GMT)

What is Lance Armstrong doing?
Lance Armstrong’s interview with the BBC is his latest attempt to state his case, rewrite his narrative and rectify his reputation. He seems to want a career in politics, but Armstrong should realise that the world has had enough of his liesBy Suze Clemitson for 100 Tales 100 Tours, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkThose seven jerseys on the wall. The yellow of sunshine and daffodils, the most visible colour in the spectrum. The yellow of cowardice, treachery and madness. The yellow of the Yellow Jersey. Big Tex is at it again. This time seated in his Mellow Johnny bike shop – named for a lazy American corruption of maillot jaune – those seven jerseys hanging defiantly on the wall. He is surfing a tsunami of self-pity, employing every well-worn facial tic – the steely gaze, the half-grimace and the self-satisfied smirk – to assure us that, if he had to do it all again he would (in 1995) or he wouldn’t (in 2015) and that he thinks now he would change the man, if not his decision to participate in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:31:36 GMT)

Kel Nagle, Australia's champion golfer, dies aged 94
Nagle, who won the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1960, passes away at a Sydney hospitalAustralia’s former Open Championship winner Kel Nagle has died, aged 94.The golf icon is being remembered as the “great gentleman” of the game after he died peacefully in the early hours Thursday morning at Sydney’s Mona Vale Hospital, his family said in a statement. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 01:28:14 GMT)

Pete Carroll and baseball's most feared man: an unlikely tale of friendship
Scott Boras and Pete Carroll attended college together, and the baseball agent says they helped shape each other’s careersBaseball’s most feared agent does not watch many sports beyond his chosen game. Scott Boras is a baseball man, after all, consumed with the business of wresting hundreds of millions from owners worth billions. He has time for little else. Except on those autumn Sundays when the Seattle Seahawks play. Those are Pete Carroll’s days. And Scott Boras’s television always comes on for Pete Carroll. “I have to see what that guy is doing,” Boras tells the Guardian. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:00:01 GMT)

In 2014 feminists spoke up. This year we’re taking to the streets
Sisters Uncut, which focuses on helping survivors of domestic violence, is at the heart of a new wave of direct-action feminismThere can be little doubt that 2014 was a watershed year for feminism. The niggling sense that women had been short-changed became a conversation, which grew into a roar. As Rebecca Solnit put it on this very site, feminism in 2014 was “loud, discordant, and maybe transformative, because important things were said – not necessarily new, but said more emphatically, by more of us, and heard as never before”.Well I’d like to offer a hopeful prediction: if 2014 was the year women made their voices heard, 2015 will be the year women take to the streets. It’s the next natural step for this new wave of feminism and it can’t come soon enough. In fact, over the last few weeks, I’ve seen the green shoots of feminism’s next phase emerging, because I’ve taken up invitations to attend the meetings of a new feminist direct action group called Sisters Uncut. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:36:08 GMT)

A&E helped us through a miscarriage. Then we got a feedback text
At our darkest hour an NHS text asked my wife to rate her A&E experience. It’s hard to describe how crass and inappropriate this isThe NHS wants your feedback. I know this because they ask for it. On a cold evening in October last year, my wife Jane and I had to make a sudden, desperately unwanted trip to our nearest A&E department. Jane was 12 weeks’ pregnant, and we were concerned she might be having a miscarriage.The waiting room wasn’t as crowded as we had feared it would be, though it certainly contained a few scattered casualties of nights out gone wrong. Within half an hour we were taken to what looked like a storage room, where we were attended by a gynaecologist who performed an ultrasound scan on Jane. She was calm, compassionate and clear, and I could see that she desperately wanted to find what was no longer there; but the awful truth dawned on all three of us long before she gave in to it. Eventually the doctor put down the scanner and paused briefly. Then came the euphemistic diagnosis: “I’m afraid this pregnancy has not progressed in the way that we would have hoped.” Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:56:06 GMT)

Are these the worst political comparisons ever made?
Did an analogy with the Third Reich ever win an argument? Unlikely, but that doesn’t stop people trying. Take note of these cautionary talesAnalogies can be great if you want to explain how something works. The heart is like a pump. No problem there. Analogies can be very bad, however, when you use them to trash someone or something you disagree with. Tax rises are like Hitler’s invasion of Poland? Not totally convinced that works. You’d be surprised how often public figures feel the need to use Hitler, the Nazis or the Holocaust to drive home a point, however. And they don’t stop there, as you’ll find out in the following list of cautionary tales. I apologise in advance for any forehead injuries sustained as a result of repeated facepalming. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:13:24 GMT)

To end violence against trans people, the police must stop perpetuating it
Transgender women, especially women of color, face physical risks so routine that we barely hear about them. Erasure of their identities is more routine stillThree transgender women of color have been murdered in America less than one month into this new year: Lamia Beard in Virginia, Ty Underwood in Texas, and Goddess Edwards in Kentucky. Their names join the list of more than 200 trans people worldwide who were murdered last year, according to statistics compiled by Transgender Europe – and that’s only counting cases that were reported to the police and in which the victim’s gender identity was known. The real number is certainly higher.Like the ticking hand on a clock, violence against trans women (especially women of color) is so routine we barely hear it, except in those few and far between spaces, primarily online, where trans people have created room to discuss these issues safely amongst themselves. What infuriates me most about the wider world’s reaction to these murders is the erasure and transphobia that characterizes what little discussion even occurs outside those few safe enclaves.Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:35:43 GMT)

I was six when a man first touched me. I didn't speak up until I was an adult
I never felt like a victim, but long after I grew up, every sexual experience brought me back to that winter night I didn’t understandThere’s a reason why, when a woman whispers her story of sexual abuse, when she writes about it, when she Tweets about it or carries a mattress around on her back, calls the police or a rape crisis line, I believe her.The reason is because it happened to me. And you didn’t know, because I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell anyone. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:20:41 GMT)

Will the Obama administration finally bring the CIA's torturers to justice?
In the hearing to confirm her as attorney general, Loretta Lynch confirmed that waterboarding is torture. She should prosecute those who did itThe woman who will probably be the nation’s top lawyer opened the door to prosecuting the men and women responsible for the CIA’s torture program on Wednesday. And whether the President who nominated her likes it or not, she should act on it as soon as she’s in office.President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, in her first Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, admitted that certain actions taken by the CIA constituted torture and were illegal. In an exchange with Senator Patrick Leahy in which he asked her if waterboarding was torture, she responded:Lynch: “Waterboarding is torture, Senator.” Leahy: “And thus illegal?” Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:44:20 GMT)

Ship Your Enemies Glitter fooled us all by shipping enemies glitter. Wait, what?
When is a stunt not a stunt? Perhaps when you set up a website, take thousands of orders, process the majority, and then sell the site for $85,000Mat Carpenter fooled us all. The 22-year-old Australian SEO expert and online marketer managed to convince the world’s media that he had set up ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com, a website which would package up glitter in an envelope and ship it to your enemies anywhere in the world for just AU$10.In fact, the whole thing was a stunt, Carpenter says. The joke is on us: all he actually did was set up a website, take more than 2,000 orders, ship out the majority of the packages, and then sell the site for $85,000 to a buyer who promises to fulfil the rest of the orders, as well as continue the website as a going concern. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:54:01 GMT)

Children are naive to the power of corporations – how about a lesson in ‘profitics’?
Apple earns as much as Hong Kong. IBM and McDonald’s are insinuating themselves into curriculums. Schools must get wiseIn the time it takes you to read this sentence, Apple will have made enough money to buy the rights to your firstborn child. I may, of course, be miscalculating the market capitalisation of firstborn children; but the fact remains that Apple is making shedloads of cash. On Wednesday the technology giant reported record quarterly revenue of $74.6bn and record profits of $18bn, topping the $16.2bn made by Gazprom in 2011.This string of dollar signs doesn’t just mean that Apple is richer than most companies; it means that it’s richer than most countries. If Apple’s earnings continue apace its annual revenue will be almost $300bn; a figure comparable to the GDP of Israel, Greece, Denmark or Hong Kong. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:01:53 GMT)

Yes, the NHS has been weaponised, but it was the Tories who primed the guns
The health service was politicised the moment the Conservatives made it compulsory for any service to be put out to tenderEd Miliband has no need to “weaponise” the NHS. It’s a sidewinder missile all on its own, headed straight at Conservative Central Office, guided there by themselves. Any drone hovering over the NHS right now cannot fail to see where it is bursting at the seams.Not surprisingly, the government is trying to silence the NHS by attempting to stop A&E departments declaring a major incident when they are full up, ambulances stacked at the door and unable to take more patients. David Cameron pretended that this was just a West Midlands instruction, but Labour produced an NHS England document in which hospitals were told, under the heading “Politics”, that they must get it “agreed with the on call director for NHS England out of hours” before making an announcement, after considering “excessive media coverage” and asking itself, “Is there a requirement to bolster or assure public confidence. Is there a risk of reputational damage?” The pressure on NHS staff and managers to zip their lip is intense. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:41:09 GMT)

Bitter Lake is a brilliant portrayal of the west's terrible arrogance in Afghanistan
Adam Curtis’s Afghanistan documentary occasionally oversimplifies a complex story, but overall it is a powerful film that conveys the high cost of invasionAdam Curtis’s long dive into the troubled and troubling history of Afghanistan is a brilliant summary of a lesson drummed into me over four years living in Kabul – how devastating naivety and good intentions can be when untempered by humility, knowledge or at least a desire to learn.Bitter Lake, which is available on iPlayer, begins with the dam projects of the 1950s that sought to remake southern Afghanistan in America’s image, looks at ill-fated Soviet efforts to transform the country, then returns to castigate Washington’s second attempt at social and economic engineering. Related: Bitter Lake – review: Adam Curtis’s beautiful, gripping film unravels a story of violence, bloodshed and bitter ironies Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:06:58 GMT)

Dara O Briain review – serenely untroubled comic doesn’t stint on laughs
Anvil, BasingstokeThe Mock the Week comedian puts inner torment to one side with perky routines and riffs on our culture of sentimentalityIt’s a daft cliche that comedians are tortured souls, says Dara O Briain: dentists are reportedly more depressive, and no one claims they dredge their surgical skills “from a very dark place”. It’s clear why the tears-of-a-clown myths annoy the Mock the Week man: if humour sprang only from inner torment, he’d be stuffed. His comedy is serenely untroubled; he comes across as delighted by how his life is panning out, thanks very much, and no turbid psychological depths are plumbed by these perky routines about drunken dancing, ABC books for children or the critical global shortage of helium.By instinct, I bridle at the frictionlessness of it all. But there’s no gainsaying O Briain’s comic aptitude, while his material is often refreshing in its intelligence, its scepticism of convention and easy simplifications. I enjoyed his scorn for the cult of high-end telly (Breaking Bad; Nordic noir) – even if the interactive routine assembling a new, identikit crime show is a blunt instrument with which to unpick it. Later, he riffs on our culture of sentimentality, nailing its fraudulence while professing merely mild personal distaste. (There’s also a precious gag here about unearthing unlikely ancestors on Who Do You Think You Are?) Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:44:09 GMT)

Star Wars: Boba Fett replica sells for £18,000 at auction
Toy costing £1.50 35 years ago thought to have commanded highest price of any Star Wars figure ever auctionedA Star Wars toy that cost £1.50 when it came out 35 years ago has sold for £18,000 at auction.The Boba Fett replica is believed to have commanded the highest price of any Star Wars action figure to have gone under the hammer. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:37:16 GMT)

The Good Wife: an essential crib sheet for new and returning viewers
Missed the first five seasons of The Good Wife, or just lost track of what’s going on? No problem! Get up to date with our handy primer. Contains some spoilers, obviouslyThe beauty of The Good Wife, the CBS political/legal drama which returns tonight for a sixth series, is that it follows a standalone template. While understanding the nuances of relationships and in-jokes enriches viewing, and some of the plotlines do play out over several instalments, it is possible to dip into an episode with little or no background of the previous one and still enjoy it. Useful because, well, there isn’t much time to play catchup. With that in mind, and to recap for devoted viewers, hereis What You Need to Know About the Good Wife. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:09:31 GMT)

Let’s go snowboarding – in West Yorkshire
Fancy hitting the slopes a short drive from Leeds or Manchester? Grab your board and head for Another World, a few miles from Halifax, with (basic) lifts and, this week, plenty of fresh showMore skiing in EnglandIn the past couple of years my snowboarding has very much become a “get it where you can” affair. With time and funds in short supply, week-long holidays have given way to a few days here and there. So whenever snow hits England I’m motivated to try to get involved here.In recent years, snow even at sea level has made it possible for me to enjoy riding rails on the mean streets of Leeds. So far this year, however, snow has been limited to the highest places. Last Wednesday (21 January), it was looking good in the hills so my friends and I planned a jaunt up to Yad Moss, a small ski area with a button lift on the very top, 90 miles away on the border between County Durham and Cumbria. As that plan was being hatched on social media, a friend sent a message saying that we should check out West Yorkshire’s very own ski resort, Ogden, a few miles north of Halifax. On its Another World website, I could see rope tows, jumps, a tree run and even a boardercross course. Within two minutes we changed our plan. Out with the four-hour round trip and in with a 40-minute one for a Yorkshire shred! Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:20:48 GMT)

How running helped me get back on my feet
We all run for a different reason. For Helen Gregory, it’s to heal the emotional scars of battling infertilityLife isn’t always what you think it’s going to be. Growing up, I always imagined my 30s would see me running around after two children. Never in a million years would I have seen myself running a marathon.But life for me hasn’t turned out the way I imagined. Back in 2011, my partner and I found out we couldn’t have children, at least not naturally. I was 31 and ill-prepared for such devastating news. I couldn’t have imagined the pain of going through IVF and the grief of a failed pregnancy test at the end of it. But that’s the situation I found myself in at Christmas. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:54:28 GMT)

How small is the smallest chess game in the world? This small
It can fit in three and a half tweets, or seven and a half IBM punch cards: chess doesn’t come leaner than BootChess.If you’ve got an older smartphone you’ve probably run out of space for apps.Except for this one: BootChess is a fully working chess game coded in just 487 bytes. That’s an entire game in the same number of characters as this article. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:50:13 GMT)

Our favourite things online this week: from Deflategate to Peter Schmeichel
Featuring Eric Cantona’s politics, the joy of flopping, a seamstress’s view of the Deflategate scandal, two goalkeepers having a chat and sport’s place in culture Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We’ve all been there, but few of us have experienced the five stages of grief because 11 footballs were under-inflated. Hot air is big news in the US right now and Ian Crouch of the New Yorker is on hand to explain the whole Deflategate fandango and give this ballbusting tale some meaning. Crouch tells the story from the perspective of a New England Patriots fan and reaches the satisfactory conclusion that all’s well that ends with a Super Bowl. Sport is everywhere but do you ever notice that it’s always on its own? Music and film have been copulating for decades now, so too have food and art, politics and architecture, dance and theatre. Yet sport remains a phenomenon in almost complete isolation. If sport is popular, ubiquitous and current, why has the non-sporting world cast it aside? Why isn’t sport invited to the party?Many professional footballers in the 21st century are entertainers, performing unscripted theatre in outdoor arenas in front of huge audiences simultaneously broadcast globally on televisions, computers, and smartphones. Oddly for such a media-reliant industry, the stars of the show are rarely known for being articulate public speakers or great thinkers. Their feet, apparently, do the talking. This is a great shame. When was the last time a footballer said something of interest in a post-match interview that provided authentic insight into what had just transpired on a field of so-called “dreams”? When a footballer does come along who thinks about the world outside the self-obsessed bubble many inhabit, it comes as a great surprise. A footballer who behaves like this is a deemed “character”, considered somewhat eccentric, and not cut from the same cloth as most of his peers.“Moments after unfurling a touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse that punched the Seattle Seahawks’ ticket to the Super Bowl, quarterback Russell Wilson joined a bunch of his team-mates as they knelt in a prayer circle in the middle of CenturyLink field. As the camera lingered on this impromptu congregation, tears mingled with the sweat on Wilson’s ecstatic face. Once the worshippers had finished giving thanks and praise, he was corralled by a television crew to whom, through sobs, he offered a very spiritual take on leading the Seahawks to a famous comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers. “God is for good, man, all the time, every time,” said Wilson. “I just believe God is preparing me for these situations, God is preparing our team too as well.” The touchdown celebrated by pointing skyward in acknowledgment of a higher power, the victory that isn’t really complete until franked by a breathless, on-camera explanation of the unseen part played by Jesus in the triumph.“Vic Braden did more than anyone to make tennis big in America. He taught countless players, from world No1s like Tracy Austin to hopeless hackers to Hollywood stars. He trained armies of teaching pros who went on to inspire others. He applied science to the sport and taught the world what actually happens when a racket meets a ball. He helped Jack Kramer, the American tennis star and entrepreneur, promote the fledgling professional tour, which eventually forced the Grand Slam tournaments to open their draws to both amateurs and pros. Once upon a time, Braden’s name had such cachet that he even started a ski school in Aspen.”The emotions you experience after your team has scored are intense. It’s pure ecstasy. As such, the players who score goals are the most coveted and cost the most to buy. All of this we know to be true. So please, pretty please, please with a cherry on top, can you tell me why would you not celebrate scoring for your team? I find it incomprehensible. Yes, I know that you used to play for them, but if you loved them that much, why did you leave? Scoring against your old club was always going to be a possibility. If it was going to cause this much heartache, why didn’t you save yourself the trouble and stay? What’s that? You didn’t want to leave? They didn’t want you so you had to leave? Mate: THEY DIDN’T WANT YOU. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:48:56 GMT)

How to make the perfect salted caramel sauce
Is salted caramel a fad or the world’s most delicious foodstuff? Does the sauce need any extra flavours – vanilla, rosemary, chilli – and what do you drizzle it on?Salted caramel is one of those trends that came from nowhere, seemed daring for a bit (salt? In a sweet?), got all saucy with Nigella on the cover of a glossy magazine, and is now reduced to flogging overpriced milkshakes at my local multiplex, which presumably means its moment in the sun is over. But salted caramel could be as unfashionable as the sun-dried tomato and I’d still love it – once you’ve tasted that alchemic combination of bittersweet, toasty sugar, rich butter and salt, you can’t go back.Though caramel au beurre salé first pops up in Brittany, home to some of the world’s finest butters, Nigella reckons it arrived on our shores from the other side of the Atlantic, rather than the Channel – which makes sense, given the Americans seem far more attuned to the pleasurable combination of sugar and salt than we are. Just think of their chocolate-covered pretzels, or bacon and maple syrup pancakes, or their enviable range of nut-based confectionary. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:33:52 GMT)

Is it right to retire Dippy, the Natural History Museum's famous diplodocus?
Dippy the famous Diplodocus skeleton at the Natural History Museum in London is to be replaced by a blue whale. Is this right?I should be in a lather.Dippy the famous Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum in London is to be retired. This is something I had not anticipated. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:28:57 GMT)

'Fatherland! Victory! Battle!' – tattoos in North Korea
For teenagers beginning their military service skin art offers a limited way to express themselves, North Korean defectors tell Markus Bell In North Korea, men and women wear their ideology on their skin. Tattoos are a time-honoured form of self-expression created within the political lexicon of one of the world’s most isolated countries. There were plenty [of phrases] to choose from, like: Defend the Fatherland! Victory! and Battle!Having a picture of Kim Jong-un’s smiling face emblazoned on your bicep would lead to swift punishmentIn North Korea, if a woman has a tattoo it usually means she comes from a bad familyThe biggest struggle for the mostly self-taught artists is finding the ink to draw the image Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:29:40 GMT)

Hipster churches in Silicon Valley: evangelicalism's unlikely new home
Netflix fasts, coffee vouchers, plaid-wearing worshippers is what it takes for ‘church transplants’ to make their home in the affluent Bay AreaLike many San Franciscans, overpriced coffee is a considerable portion of my weekly budget. One day in Soma, the industrial district home to many start-ups, I came across a flier advertising a free gift card to Philz, a nearby coffee shop. All that was required was to show up for service at a local church called Epic. I hadn’t been to church in months, and decided to give it a try.The Bay Area has never been perceived as religious: a 2012 Gallup poll found that fewer than a quarter of residents identify as “very religious” (defined as going to church weekly), as opposed to 40% of the nation as a whole. High salaries have drawn droves of well-educated millennials to the booming tech sector, which correlates with lower religious sentiment. So far afield from the Bible belt, the region is in fact seen as hospitable to all forms of old testament abominations: fornication, paganism – even sodomy. When Ben and his original team came out here for the first time, it was during Obama’s inauguration. The first thing we did was to go down to Civic Center. People were throwing shoes at what I think was a picture of George Bush. Rick Warren came on screen, and people would boo him. It was just so insanely San Francisco. I wanted to watch how Ben and his team related to it, and I hadn’t even told them about Soma ... But I asked afterwards, ‘How was it?’ And they really liked being there. They loved it.Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss … Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:04 GMT)

Bryan Talbot: an interview with the father of the British graphic novel
The author of the Grandville series and Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes talks about steampunk, Judge Dredd and Beatrix PotterChoosing an animal sometimes takes a while, says graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, sitting in the crepuscular basement of his Sunderland home. Casting a badger as the steampunk detective in a world where Britain is a former colony of France was straightforward compared with other figures in his anthropomorphic Grandville series.“I wanted a tenacious character who would battle against all odds, and badgers are tenacious. They also look cool – it’s to do with the black-and-white stripes,” he says of his hero, Archie LeBrock, a remarkably ripped detective inspector who dresses like Sherlock Holmes and fights like a Tarantino villain. But Talbot struggled to find the correct animal head for a “snooty French waiter” until his wife, Mary, an academic turned prizewinning graphic novelist, told him: “‘That’s obvious, a cod.’ Yeah! It’s ideal,” laughs Talbot. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:05 GMT)

The urbanist's guide to the world
Interactive: Click on the map to read our bloggers’ insider guides to their cities – from cosy, sexy Copenhagen to seeing beyond the stereotypes in Cairo …Guardian ‘mayors for a day’ demand more public spaces in their cities Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:59:19 GMT)

Down with Debrett’s: an alternative guide to UK music's most influential
Debrett’s guide to ‘Britain’s 500 most influential people’ has been published, and its music category is dominated almost exclusively by white men. Caroline Sullivan lists her preferred contendersDebrett’s etiquette guide has for centuries provided the rules for handling ticklesome social situations, such as not knowing how to address an envelope to the widow of an earl (“The Dowager Countess of Wherever” should do it, FYI). But last year, the launch of the Debrett’s 500 saw the company edge close to communing with ordinary slobs. The 500 was a list of “Britain’s 500 most influential people” – many of them actually untitled – across 24 categories, including music.The 2015 list has just been released, and the music section is a surprise. Actually, on second thought, it’s not in the slightest: the 20 influencers are uniformly male, and – apart from One Direction’s half-Pakistani Zayn Malik – uniformly white. Go figure, eh? What is surprising is that it was in part compiled by Virgin EMI president Ted Cockle, whose roster includes Laura Marling and MNEK; Universal, Virgin’s parent company, say the list he submitted did contain people who were neither male nor white, and it was Debrett’s who finalised the 20. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:00:26 GMT)

Taylor Swift's 'this sick beat' may be the world's first trademarked lyric
While there are precedents in the world of celebrity and sport, Swift is the first musician to make a pre-emptive strike against opportunistic third partiesTaylor Swift is valiantly protective of her copyrights, as last year’s withdrawal from Spotify proved. As arguably the most successful solo performer in the world, she has just moved to trademark certain lyrical phrases, notably “this sick beat” from Shake it Off as well as “nice to meet you, where you been?” and “party like it’s 1989”. This is arguably less about her wanting to boil every single thing she does down to a “revenue stream” and more about a pre-emptive strike against callously opportunistic third parties who might want to make money off her without either her involvement or her say-so.“What she is trying to do is to protect individual phrases within her lyrics where those lyrics have become catchphrases,” explains Alexander Ross, a partner at law firm Wiggin who specialises in music. “Once you have a trademarked phrase you have the right to stop someone else using it on things like merchandising.” Related: Taylor Swift applies to trademark 'This Sick Beat' Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:51:28 GMT)

‘Love jihad’ in India and one man’s quest to prevent it
Vijaykant Chauhan believes that, all over India, gangs of Muslims are seducing Hindu women and forcing them to convert to Islam – and he’s made it his mission to stop them. Aman Sethi reports on India’s rising religious tensionsEvery few days, Vijaykant Chauhan WhatsApps me a photograph of himself. The photographs are invariably scenes of crowds gathered on a north India street corner. Chauhan is right in front: a thickset, mustachioed man in his late 30s, in faux-army fatigues, a camouflage-print baseball cap and sunglasses. He stands with his fists tightly bunched, arms upraised. Occasionally the police make an appearance – their faces creased by patient smiles, their hands held close to their chests, palms facing outwards, in gestures of pacification.These are photographs of protests, celebrations, rallies and, most often, “cultural programmes”: neighbourhood events usually organised under the patronage of the local political representative to promote good values in society. Onlookers peer out from the margins, their faces inscrutable amid all the posing and scuffling, shouting and jostling.Anyone who attacks the four pillars of Hindustan deserves to be put to deathThey are using our daughters to breed children who are sent to madrasas, trained in Pakistan and turned into terroristsWhen the mob came for my nani, she squeezed herself under a pile of fresh corpses that lay in the local vegetable marketThis love jihad idea has ruptured what remains of Uttar Pradesh’s social fabric Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:27 GMT)

Jordan shows that negotiating with terrorists can reap rewards
The country’s prisoner swap with Isis will horrify some governments, but it is a more effective strategy than stonewalling the terror groupJordan’s willingness to free a jailed terrorist who helped kill dozens of civilians in return for the release by Islamic State (Isis) of a captured Jordanian air force pilot will horrify some western governments, politicians and diplomats. But in much of the Middle East, the exchange – if it goes ahead – is likely to be greeted with a shrug.Hostage-taking and hostage swaps have been a common form of conflict zone commerce in the Middle East for as long as caliphs, emirs and tribes have fought for territory and power. Much the same held true in the Europe of the Middle Ages. Even popes sometimes fell victim, Leo IX being a prime example. Many princes certainly did. Hostages are currency. They are power levers. And they are usually more valuable alive than dead. Continue reading...
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:55:12 GMT)

South Sudan's Nuba refugees strive for independence – in pictures
About 4,000 refugees from villages in the Nuba mountains are living on a small settlement near Kodok, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. Conditions in the displacement camp, which is situated close to areas where civil war continues, are hard, with food scarce, schooling patchy and drinking water hard to come by Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:49:05 GMT)

Donetsk, Ukraine: 'They are trying to destroy us' – video
Residents of Donetsk react to an artillery attack on the outskirts of the city on Thursday. The strike killed at least three civilians and wounded another two early on Thursday morning. One resident, his comments punctuated by further shells falling, says he cannot find words to describe his experience in the east Ukrainian city anymore. The attack comes as a rebel advance launched last week continues in the east of the countryWARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS IMAGES THAT SOME VIEWERS MIGHT FIND DISTRESSING Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:45:12 GMT)

Sydney siege inquest told Tori Johnson made to kneel before being shot
Johnson’s shooting triggered the police assault in which Katrina Dawson was killed by police bullet fragments, inquest hears on first dayOne of the victims of the Sydney siege, Tori Johnson, was ordered to his knees at 2:14 in the morning and shot “without further notice or warning”, an inquest has heard.“The end of the barrel was about 75cm from Mr Johnson’s head at the moment of discharge. Mr Johnson is believed to have died instantly,” counsel assisting the coroner, Jeremy Gormly, SC, told the opening of the inquest into the Lindt Cafe deaths. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:27:32 GMT)

North Korea may be restarting reactor which produces nuclear bomb fuel
US research institute says recent satellite imagery shows possible signs of reactor activity North Korea may be attempting to restart its main nuclear bomb fuel reactor after a five-month shutdown, a US research institute said Thursday.If true, the finding, which is based on recent commercial satellite imagery, will be an added worry for the United States and the North’s neighbours at a time of increasing animosity over recent sanctions against the North and Pyongyang’s fury about a UN push to punish its alleged human rights abuses. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 02:40:58 GMT)

Explosion at Mexico City children's hospital leaves dozens injured
Reports say at least one person dead after gas tanker exploded outside the hospital in the west of the capitalA gas tank truck exploded outside a maternity and children’s hospital in Mexico City on Thursday, collapsing much of it. At least one person was reported dead and dozens injured.Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told MVS radio that the body of a woman was found inside the hospital. He earlier told the Televisa network that at least 54 people were injured, 22 of them children.Al menos 54 heridos por la explosión a las afueras del Hospital de #Cuajimalpa #México vía @siempre889 pic.twitter.com/HRktlJgnMe Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:03:41 GMT)

Crowds of women rally in Cairo to denounce death of female protester
Officials have denied the police shot and killed 32-year-old mother and activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh in Egyptian capital on SaturdayDozens of women have rallied in Egypt’s capital Cairo to denounce the killing of a female protester and blame the police for her death during a peaceful demonstration.The slaying of 32-year mother and activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh on Saturday has set off a storm of criticism against the police. Officials have denied the police shot and killed her. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:29:17 GMT)

Hershey buys Krave Jerky and ponders 'meat bars' to lure diet-conscious women
Hershey has a sudden hankering for protein, with plans to add jerky to its lineup in order to offer more products across ‘the snacking continuum’Hershey has a sudden hankering for protein, with plans to add jerky to its lineup.The maker Reese’s, Kit Kat and Twizzlers says it’s buying Krave Jerky for an undisclosed sum. Krave, based in Sonoma, California, positions itself as a premium jerky with no artificial ingredients and comes in flavors like black cherry barbecue, basil citrus and lemon garlic. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:30:38 GMT)

India investigates reports of mass ‘reconversion’ of Christians
Up to 100 Christians ‘welcomed back’ to Hinduism in West Bengal, raising concerns about possible coercionReports of a new mass conversion of Christians in India have raised concerns over freedom of worship, days after Barack Obama challenged the country’s record on religious tolerance.Details of the incident are unclear but it was reported that between 50 and 100 Christians from some of the poorest communities in India were “welcomed back” to Hinduism in a “homecoming ceremony” in a remote area in the eastern state of West Bengal on Wednesday. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:49:52 GMT)

Opposition leaders launch Russian TV channel
Belarusian and Russian opposition leaders launch channel to combat Kremlin propaganda around eastern EuropeBelarusian and Russian opposition leaders are launching a Russian-language television channel in Estonia to combat Kremlin propaganda around eastern Europe.For now, aru.tv is broadcasting three times a week online, but plans to expand its coverage from April, according to its founder, Belarusian activist Pavel Morozov. Related: Russian propaganda over Crimea and the Ukraine: how does it work? | Alan Yuhas and Raya Jalabi Related: Russian propaganda and Ukrainian rumour fuel anger and hate in Crimea Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:28:33 GMT)

Italy begins search for new president with Berlusconi still pulling the strings
Election will have major consequences for Italian politics and prime minister Matteo Renzi’s long-term ambitionsThe shadowy process of selecting a new Italian president will begin on Thursday, testing the political prowess of the country’s centre-left prime minister, Matteo Renzi, less than a week after elections in Greece rattled the European establishment.The election is also expected to prove the enduring influence of Silvio Berlusconi, the disgraced former prime minister and media mogul who remains at the helm of the centre-right opposition party Forza Italia. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:30:26 GMT)

Security guard avoids jail by blaming Bollywood for stalking habit
Australian lawyer defending Indian man says obsessively pursuing uninterested women is ‘quite normal behaviour’ for those who take their cues from Bollywood moviesAn Indian security guard accused of stalking has avoided a conviction in an Australian court after blaming his actions on a passion for Bollywood movies, reports ABC.Magistrate Michael Hill said he was taking into account the cultural background of 32-year-old Sandesh Baliga in adjourning the complaint against him for five years on condition of good behaviour. Baliga had been accused of stalking two women in 2012 and 2013, but his lawyer Greg Barns argued successfully that it was “quite normal behaviour” for Indian men to obsessively target women without obvious sign of their affections being returned. Male characters in colourful, romantic Bollywood movies are often seen determinedly pursuing their female counterparts until they finally acquiesce to a relationship, argued the defence team. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:02:42 GMT)

Balloon pilots draw closer to home in bid to break world record
Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev expected to cross into North America sometime Thursday evening and are on course to break 36-year-old recordBThe pilots of a helium-filled balloon on a daring flight across the Pacific ocean drew closer to North America as they attempt to break two world records.alloon pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia are expected to cross into North America sometime Thursday evening and are on course to break a distance record that has stood for more than three decades. They’re also looking to break the flight-duration record set in 1978. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:23:41 GMT)

Portugal to grant citizenship to descendants of persecuted Jews
Legal change means Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled in the 15th century, can apply for dual nationalityPortugal is to introduce a law granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago, following Spain’s adoption of similar legislation last year.The cabinet spokesman Luís Marques Guedes said the government passed changes to its nationality law providing dual citizenship rights for Sephardic Jews, the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:17:59 GMT)

Senators to introduce legislation to end US travel restrictions to Cuba
Eight Republicans and Democratic senators to make first effort in Congress toward ending the US embargo since Obama moved to normalise relationsEight Republican and Democratic US senators will introduce legislation on Thursday to end restrictions on US citizens’ travel to Cuba, the first effort in Congress toward ending the US embargo since President Barack Obama moved to normalize relations last month. The bill would end legal restrictions on travel to the island by US citizens and legal residents, according to a statement about the senators’ plans. Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:23:53 GMT)

Rome Jewish leader trapped in Auschwitz and questioned by police
Riccardo Pacifici speaks of shock at finding himself and television crew locked in and then ‘farce’ as they are held by policeThe top Jewish leader in Rome, some of whose family members died in Auschwitz, has spoken of his shock at being trapped in the visitors’ centre of the Nazi death camp on Holocaust Memorial Day and then being questioned by Polish police.Riccardo Pacifici and a television crew had been filming until 11pm for a piece to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation when they realised that the guards who were meant to let them out had not arrived and that the camp had closed.Siamo stati sequestrati da un ora dalla polizia polacca dentro Auschwitz dopo trasmissione di Matrix. Una vergogna Continue reading...
(Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:49:38 GMT)


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