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Delhi rape documentary-maker appeals to Narendra Modi over broadcast ban
India’s Daughter director Leslee Udwin appeals to Indian PM to deal with ‘unceremonious silencing of the film’The British director of a hard-hitting documentary about the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi has appealed to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to intervene after authorities banned the domestic broadcast of the film and said they were also trying to prevent it from being shown worldwide.Leslee Udwin, whose documentary India’s Daughter, is scheduled to be broadcast internationally on Sunday, made an emotional plea to Modi “to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film” in India. Related: India’s Daughter: ‘I made a film on rape in India. Men’s brutal attitudes truly shocked me’ Related: UK director gets star backing for ‘daughters of India’ campaign Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:52:28 GMT)

Cameron and Miliband at PMQs: Politics Live blog
Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Cameron and Ed Miliband at PMQs, Nigel Farage’s immigration speech and George Osborne’s Today interview 1.08pm GMT PMQs - Verdict: Paul Flynn may not be entirely right when he said David Cameron was worse than ever at dodging the question today, because at the start of the exchanges Cameron did give an answer to the question about whether he had met his migration target that was semi-reasonable. But then Cameron abandoned all attempts to engage with Miliband and resorted to listing his achievements like Soviet commissar, and citing tabloid trivia. I suppose he will head off for lunch thinking it could have gone worse, but it was demeaning. Ed Miliband exposed Cameron’s failure on immigration pretty effectively, using the “did he mean it?” line that he he used before to make this an issue of trust too. It was a comfortable Miliband win.The interesting question, though, is what else could Cameron have said? Perhaps the best strategy would have been to apologise. Something along the lines of:Look, I’m sorry I made that pledge. It was made in a good faith, but it turned out to be a mistake, and it raised unrealistic expectations. For once I should have listened to Nick Clegg. But no government gets everything right, and it’s silly to pretend that they do. I’m still committed to cutting net migration, and I’ve got a plan for that, but we’re going to produce a more realistic target.I’ve been very clear. I say get on with the debates before the election campaign. I think we should start now. 12.38pm GMT PMQS is over. On a point of order, Labour’s Paul Flynn suggests Cameron should be sent on a course to learn the meaning of the words question and answer, and the link between the two. Today Cameron was worse than ever at not answering, he says. His comments were completely irrelevant, he says.John Bercow says Flynn has made his point. 12.35pm GMT John Woodcock, the Labour MP, asks Cameron if he will accept the recommendations in the report into deaths at Furness hospital.Cameron says the government will accept many of those recommendations. It is important not to sweep these matters under the carpet, he says. 12.34pm GMT Sir Gerald Howarth, a Conservative, says Cameron should abandon his natural reticence and tell voters that Labour ruined the economy. Cameron says he has not felt reticent today. The economy is turning round, things are getting better, and we should not let Labour wreck it. 12.33pm GMT Cameron says he is happy to support a campaign to improve the Cotswolds railway because it would help him.Ed Balls is heckling, and Cameron says Balls told us he was a long, slow burn. (This is a reference to Balls talking about his love life on LBC.) But the only thing in ashes is Labour’s economic credibility, he says. 12.30pm GMT Cameron says Labour promised a price freeze on energy even when prices are coming down. That shows the damage Labour are doing. 12.30pm GMT Mark Hunter, a Lib Dem, asks if Cameron supports a campaign for nursery staff to have training to prevent deaths from choking.Cameron says he will talk to colleagues to see if more can be done to help with this. 12.29pm GMT Labour’s Meg Munn says schools with outstanding academic results can go for years without their child protection procedures being inspected. Shouldn’t child protection be made a more central part of the inspection process.Cameron says he will consider this. Inspections used to take place too often, he says. Boards of governors can always trigger an inspection. 12.27pm GMT Cameron says Labour’s tuition fees policy hits universities, helps richer students rather than poorer ones and will not improve access. It will also be paid for by a tax hitting people like senior nurses, he says. It is an example of the chaos Labour would bring. 12.26pm GMT Oliver Colvile, a Conservative, asks about a development opportunity in Plymouth. A decision needs to be made before the government goes into election purdah.Cameron says he thinks a decision should be able to be taken before the end of the month. If the decision is approved, funding is available. He is committed to it, he says. 12.23pm GMT Guy Opperman, a Conservative, asks about Cameron’s plan for the north east.Cameron says youth employment has risen more in the UK in the last 12 months than in the whole of the rest of the EU combined. 12.22pm GMT Labour’s Julie Elliott asks Cameron if he agrees with a business minister who said prosecuting people who do not pay the minimum wage is the right thing to do. Cameron says people who do not pay the minimum wage should be prosecuted. 12.21pm GMT Labour’s Barbara Keeley asks Cameron if he will debate with Miliband.Cameron says he wants to get on and hold the debates now, not in the election campaign. 12.20pm GMT Liam Fox, the Conservative former defence secretary, says Cameron is a statesman, unlike Miliband. Will he confirm that he will never get involved in a “shabby deal” to get rid of the nuclear deterrent.Cameron says he is committed to renewing Trident, and will do so in the next parliament. But three quarters of Labour candidates are not committed to Trident. Labour should now rule out a “grubby deal” with the SNP over Trident. 12.18pm GMT Labour’s Diana Johnson asks how the police can tackle sex abuse when their budgets are being cut.Cameron says making child sex abuse an issue of national importance will mean that more resources get allocated to this 12.17pm GMT David Ward, a Lib Dem, asks Cameron if he thinks his behaviour at PMQs increase the standing of parliament in the eyes of the public.Cameron says the exchanges are robust, but at least it provides accountability. 12.16pm GMT Labour’s Katy Clark asks why the government is closing a tax office in north Ayrshire.Cameron says Labour were the friends of the tax avoiders. It took a Conservative government to sort it out. 12.16pm GMT Simon Wright, a Lib Dem, asks about a school issue in his constituency.Cameron says he will look at this. 12.15pm GMT Labour’s David Winnick says the Tories are the party of the rich.Cameron says 1,000 people are getting a job every day under this government. Labour should welcome that, he says. 12.13pm GMT Snap PMQs Verdict: Cameron’s bluster machine was on overdrive, and it probably saved him from a total drubbing, but his hyperactive question-dodging could not disguise the fact that Miliband had him bang to rights. 12.10pm GMT Miliband says the broadcasters propose a debate on 30 April between him and Cameron. He will be there. Will Cameron?Cameron says they are debating now, but Miliband cannot talk about living standards. Let’s have the debate now. 12.08pm GMT Miliband says Cameron stance makes Nick Clegg look good.Cameron says he has a copy of his document with him. He starts quoting from his pledges, saying they have been achieved. The Tories cheer every time he does this. Eventually John Bercow shuts him up. 12.04pm GMT Ed Miliband says Cameron made a no ifs, no buts promise before the election. Can he remind us what it was.Cameron says net migration has fallen from outside the EU, but increased from within the EU, because of growth. 12.02pm GMT Andrew Turner, a Conservative, asks about a business investment on the Isle of Wight.Cameron says it’s an excellent development. It will provide 550 students with workshops and learning opportunities, and more than 200 apprenticeships. 12.01pm GMT Labour’s Kalid Mahmood says George Osborne was asked six times on the Today programme if he had discussed tax avoidance with Lord Green. Will Cameron confirm if he or Osborne discussed this?David Cameron says he dealt with this two weeks ago. It is the same Lord Green that Labour gave a job to. 11.58am GMT PMQs is about to start. 11.56am GMT Q: You say there won’t be a cap. But you also expect net migration to be below 50,000. Aren’t you trying to have it both ways?Farage says there is an obsession with floors, ceilings etc. He thinks, if you talk about caps, the public will not believe you. Ukip has not abolished the cap. But it has a plan to deal with immigration. It wants to turn an issue that is divisive and make it positive. 11.51am GMT Nigel Farage and Steven Woolfe are now taking questions.Paul Nuttall, the Ukip deputy leader, is chairing. He calls Gary Gibbon from Channel 4 first. There is some jeering, because of the Channel 4 drama about Ukip’s first 100 days in power. 11.47am GMT Ukip would not deport EU citizens who are here already, he says. We work with them, and welcome them. Some are even standing as Ukip candidates.They can definitely stay. Ukip’s policy is ethical and fair, he says. 11.45am GMT Woolfe says “if”, and then he correct himself, “when Ukip comes to power, when Ukip wins this election” ... Ukip would offer citizenship to immigrants here for five years. 11.44am GMT Woolfe says, when you see migrants queuing up at Calais, it is hard not to want to help them.But, if you do help them, you would be helping the traffickers who are provding funds to groups like Islamic State. 11.42am GMT Woolfe says Ukip would maintain the UN principles governing asylum.At the moment it takes far too long to process asylum seekers, he says. Ukip would speed this up, to allow people to start working more quickly. 11.41am GMT Woolfe says Ukip would abolish any rules giving EU citizens preference. EU and non-EU citizens would be treated the same.Immigrants would have to have health insurance for themselves and their families for the five years they are here before they can apply for citizenship. 11.39am GMT Woolfe says Ukip would introduce one single passport queue at customs for British citizens, and one queue for the rest of the world. That would enable a proper count to be made of people coming in and out.And Ukip would hire an extra 2,500 border staff - not just 1,000 more, as Labour are promising. 11.38am GMT Woolfe says Ukip has thought long and hard about its policy.It would set up a migration control commission to decide how much migration is needed. 11.36am GMT Woolfe says many people in the UK share that tolerant attitude.But other parties do not share that tolerant attitude, he says. He says a Labour adviser said there was a political purpose behind mass migration. Perhaps Labour wanted more votes, or perhaps they wanted to anger the right. 11.32am GMT Steven Woolfe, Ukip’s immigration spokesman, is speaking now.(Sky and BBC News are not covering the Ukip launch anymore, but there is a feed on the BBC website.) 11.28am GMT Farage says his family were migrants. In modern parlance, they were refugees. They were protestants from France.But they came over a period of 100 years, he says.I feel so passionately about this because my ancestors were migrants – technically, asylum seekers. One side of my family were French Huguenot refugees. The “wave” of immigration behind my ending up here numbered around 50,000 people. This was the largest immigrant group in Britain between 1066 and 1945. 11.25am GMT Farage says immigrants should have to have health insurance. And they should not claim benefits until they have contributed for five years.This is a common sense solution, he says. 11.24am GMT Nigel Farage is delivering his immigration speech in London now.He says Ukip wants an Australian-style points system. 11.11am GMT In an interview for BBC News Nigel Farage said his party’s decision to drop the 50,000 net migration target was not a U-turn.It isn’t a U-turn. We’ve looked at the figures very closely - 27,000 people would have qualified under the Australian-style points system to come into this country. I can’t see us getting anywhere near 50,000.I sat with him yesterday. Policies evolve, they develop, they move on. I don’t want the emphasis from today to be what our cap is. 11.01am GMT The police officer in the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” affair has accepted damages of £80,000, the Press Association reports.The conclusion of Pc Toby Rowland’s defamation case against the MP was announced at the High Court in London today. Last November Andrew Mitchell, who vehemently denied using the word “pleb”, lost a high-profile action against News Group Newspapers, publishers of the Sun. 10.53am GMT Here’s today’s Guardian seat projection.Conservatives: 277 10.02am GMT Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has just put out this statement about George Osborne’s Today interview.George Osborne was asked six times whether he discussed allegations of tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green, the bank’s former chairman, and six times he refused to answer.What has George Osborne got to hide? People will draw their own conclusions from his total failure to answer. 9.41am GMT Huffington Post’s Asa Bennett says this is not the first time Nigel Farage has dumped existing Ukip policy unceremoniously.Ukip's migration cap joins the flat tax and their 2010 manifesto in the "dumped by @Nigel_Farage" list pic.twitter.com/yE1x9jMRUe 9.38am GMT You can listen to Nigel Farage’s Today interview here. 9.35am GMT Nigel Farage claims Ukip’s immigration policy would lead to higher wages in the UK.The effects of #UKIP's immigration policies on wages is simple supply and demand. End the open door and wages could rise in accordance. 9.32am GMT Here are the main points from George Osborne’s Today interview.The information that has been published recently has only recently come to light. Until that point, the allegations had been that individuals with bank accounts at HSBC had been evading tax and HMRC was, rightly, investigating it. The new information is that, potentially, the allegation is that HSBC Swiss colluded in this – this is new information.What you’ve heard from our political opponents today, those who are contesting in this general election, is a completely chaotic alternative and they are making it up as they go along ... Nigel Farage seems to be making it up as he goes along inasmuch as you follow his policies, one moment he’s talking about a cap and then he ditches it live on air, which is a novel approach to policy-making.They say, first of all, that incomes have recovered to their pre-crisis levels so the country is not poorer than it was. They actually confirm in this independent report that the richest paid the most towards dealing with our economic problems, not the least, as you often hear. And they also say that, rather than inequality increase which, again, is often said, in fact, inequality has fallen in our country. 9.03am GMT Here’s some Twitter comment on Nigel Farage’s morning interviews.From the Sun’s Tom Newton DunnRe previous tweet, Farage abandoning an immigration target has gifted the down and out Tories a way back into the debate. He may regret it.Farage: "There's something in immigration debate that is about more than money" <-cultural narrative where main parties totally absentLast June, @Nigel_Farage was attacking the power of quangos...today he's proposing putting one in charge of our borders.Farage's goal to return immigration figures to .'normal ' is a rather inspired moment in history of fantasy politicsFarage on immigration http://t.co/OcMkbddI4R (Telegraph). Nb: UKIP says they would increase Commonwealth immigration from current levelsFirst advice from Farage Migration Control Commission? Aussie net migration is triple that of UK, proportionately http://t.co/fpk89U7eP5@AndrewSparrow UKIP's skilled Indians/unskilled Romanians soundbite says we're *too tough* on non-EU immig now. That entails net mig >100kUKIP's policy entails net mig still > 100k as currently measured (tho they'd sensibly reclassify students)as want Commonwealth up & studentsAustralian net migration is 212k/year, 1% of total population of 23m. Triple British rate http://t.co/1nU3LFd54p 8.52am GMT Labour figures were unimpressed by George Osborne’s response to the questions about why he did not discuss HSBC tax dodging Swiss customers with Lord Green, the former HSBC boss who served as a Conservative trade minister.The most significant is probably the one from Margaret Hodge, who is accusing Osborne of concealing the truth about his knowledge of HSBC and its involvement in tax dodging.George Osborne on @BBCr4today once again repeatedly unable to say whether he discussed allegations of tax evasion at HSBC with Lord GreenOsborne all over the place on lack of prosecutions following @HSBC revelations! @BBCr4todayOsborne refusing to say if he talked to Lord Green about HSBC tax evasion or avoidance. Why won't they come clean? Clear to me they knew.Why can't Osborne give a straight answer re whether he spoke to Lord Green re HSBC instead he really was wriggling around @BBCr4todaySurely nobody listening to the interview with George Osborne on Today prog this morning could in all conscience vote Conservative on 7 May 8.43am GMT Here’s the Spectator’s Isabel Hardman on George Osborne’s Today interview.Hahah, Osborne criticises Farage for ‘a novel approach to policymaking’ by dumping immigration cap live on air.…which is pretty much what Theresa May did on the, er, Today programme, when she started talking about net migration target as a ‘comment' 8.35am GMT Osborne claimed that he backed the Tory plan to set a target for getting net migration below 100,000 in his Today interview, but in private his views are said to be rather different. (See 8.25am.) The Times has been running a good series on immigration this week, and this is what Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson reported in a story on Monday (paywall).For the government, the question of inflows and outflows of people has also been the rock in the road of good coalition relations. Immigration has caused more tension within Cabinet than almost any other policy since 2010 — among Conservative ministers as much as, if not more than, between Tories and Liberal Democrats.This is one of the few areas on which George Osborne — a liberal free marketeer who believes immigration is good for the economy — has very different views to Mr Cameron, who is in favour of tougher controls. “George does not want the Treasury briefing against the Home Office but his instincts are very different to David’s,” a friend says. 8.25am GMT Q: Theresa May wants to keep the target of getting net migration below 100,000. Is that a good idea.Of course, says Osborne. David Cameron supports that too. 8.23am GMT Q: Lord Green, the trade minister, was aware of what was going on at the Swiss branch of HSBC. Did you know about that?Osborne says he only knew what the public knew: that information had been handed over to HMRC. 8.20am GMT Q: Only one person has been prosecuted for tax evasion in relation to the HSBC Swiss accounts. Doesn’t the law need to be better enforced?Osborne says it is an important constitutional principle that ministers do not see people’s tax affairs, or tell the prosecuting authorities what to do. 8.17am GMT Q: You are flogging off the family silver (Eurostar). Is there no end to selling stuff to foreigners?Osborne says this is a good deal. The government had a minority stake anyway. It is getting much more for it than people expected. 8.15am GMT Q: But living standards are below their all-time peak in 2009-10.Osborne says the financial crash did enormous damage to the economy. But, compared to most other Western countries, we have grown faster, and created more jobs. 8.13am GMT John Humphrys is interviewing George Osborne.Humphrys says Osborne was smiling as he summarised the IFS living standards report. 8.08am GMT Here’s Nigel Farage’s article in today’s Telegraph setting out his party’s immigration plans, including its proposal for a migration control commission to control immigration.And here are the key points Farage has been making in his morning interviews. (He did not just do Today.) I’ve taken some of the quotes from PoliticsHome.We’ve had years and years of political parties setting targets. I think the public are bored with targets, they don’t believe targets. What’s really important is: are we going to get a grip on mass immigration into Britain, or not?What I want to do, I want to bring immigration to Britain back to normality – and normality from 1950 until nearly the year 2000, from Windrush onwards, normality was net migration into Britain which varied between about 20,000 and 50,000 a year. The effect of Ukip policies would be to bring us back to those kinds of numbers. Each year will be slightly different for obvious reasons, but what we’re pushing here represents a drastic cut.And understand this: Ukip’s immigration policy would give more opportunities to people from the rest of the world, especially from Commonwealth countries, because at the moment we have a massive bias in our immigration policy in favour of white people that come from southern and eastern Europe. So we are putting an ethical immigration forward, we are putting a fair policy forward – one that is fairer to people from the Commonwealth and fairer to British workers, too.” We’re not going to win the election, but what we are going to do is win enough MPs to have a big voice in the next Parliament. So I’m not going to be driving a ministerial car, but I might get the chance to drive the political agenda. 7.47am GMT Nigel Farage is wrong to say Ukip never said it would publish its manifesto at the spring conference. (See 7.44am.) This is what Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, said in January when she was put in charge of compiling the manifesto.I relish the task of putting together the final details and presenting a sensible, radical and fully costed manifesto at our spring conference in Margate. 7.44am GMT Q: When will your manifesto come out?In April, probably later than the other parties produce theirs, says Farage. 7.40am GMT Q: Do you agree with the director general of the IoD, who said last week the non-EU cap was harming business.In a way, yes, says Farage. He says the current system discriminates against people outside the EU who could benefit the country. 7.37am GMT Mishal Husain is interviewing Nigel Farage now.Q: To what level would you reduce immigration? 7.30am GMT Nigel Farage has been trying to address the charge that Ukip are dropping the target it was proposing only last week to get net migration below 50,000.Just told @GMB, we didn't have a "50,000 target", that's was a net migration employment number. Stay tuned for more information later today! 7.02am GMT Here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures. The Tories are still ahead, but by 2 points, not 3 points as they were yesterday.Update: Cons lead at 2 - Latest YouGov / Sun results 3rd Mar - Con 36%, Lab 34%, LD 5%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%; APP -19 http://t.co/stnZZ7a70Z 6.59am GMT Here’s the BBC’s overnight summary of what’s in today’s paper, including a picture gallery of the front pages. 6.58am GMT Two stories are leading the political news this morning. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:10:10 GMT)

Road to reconciliation: ex-IRA members and British soldiers come face to face
Former enemies in rare meeting decades after conflict discuss why they took up arms, in effort to learn lessons from the past With handshakes, smiles and four civil words, a small group of men came together in Northern Ireland last month in an attempt to overcome a formidable barrier that remains long after the decades of conflict came to an end.“Do you take milk?” asked one. And with the tea dispensed, four former members of the British army and four former members of the Irish Republican Army commenced a meeting that was intended to start a process of reconciliation among men who had once been the most implacable of enemies.Sometimes it is important to walk in someone else’s shoes for understanding to bring about reconciliationTheir story is not much different from our story as soldiers. The key to reconciliation is listening Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:30:02 GMT)

Former Royal Marine dies fighting Isis in Syria
Briton named as Konstandinos Erik Scurfield was killed on Monday in Al-Hol in Hasaka province, near Iraq borderA former British Royal Marine has died fighting for Kurdish forces who are battling Islamic State in northern Syria, Kurdish political sources have confirmed.Redur Xelil, the official spokesperson for the armed wing of Syria’s largest Kurdish party, the Democratic Union party (PYD), named him as Konstandinos Erik Scurfield and said the man’s family in Britain had been informed and that his body would be repatriated to the UK if they wished. A YPG commander in Rojava - Northeastern Syria - tells me that one of their UK volunteers has been killed in battle against ISIS. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:04:35 GMT)

Couple found guilty of manslaughter of eight-year-old Ayesha Ali
Kiki Muddar turned partner Polly Chowdhury against her own daughter because she saw Ayesha as a threat, leading to girl’s deathA mother and her lesbian lover have been found guilty of killing an eight-year-old girl after getting caught up in a twisted romance revolving around fictional Facebook characters.Polly Chowdhury, 35, and Kiki Muddar, 43, were tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of Chowdhury’s daughter Ayesha Ali at their home in Chadwell Heath, east London, in August 2013. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:54:11 GMT)

Becky Watts: police must release or charge stepbrother and girlfriend
Detectives face Wednesday afternoon deadline over questioning of Nathan Matthews and Shauna Phillips after body parts found near teenager’s homePolice have until late on Wednesday afternoon to release or charge the stepbrother of the Bristol teenager Becky Watts and his girlfriend, who have been arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder. Nathan Matthews, 28, and his girlfriend, Shauna Phillips, 21, were arrested last weekend as police searched for 16-year-old Becky. Detectives were given extra time to question the pair on Tuesday after body parts were found at a house about two miles from Becky’s home.Statement from Becky's dad Darren and step-mum Anjie Galsworthy http://t.co/YcmOXqI0Nm | #BeckyWatts pic.twitter.com/ZRpUdBYl7gBecky Watts inquiry - police stand guard near the house where body parts were found. pic.twitter.com/qsTWGXUj8aTemporary assistant chief constable Julian Moss visiting the site where Becky's remains were found. pic.twitter.com/xEV2FkyFxfBecky Watts - floral tributes near the address where her remains were found. pic.twitter.com/DeTD4Qtgpf Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:22:15 GMT)

Plebgate PC wins £80k damages in Andrew Mitchell libel action
Ruling marks end of two-year battle for officer accused of lying by Tory MP over incident at Downing Street gatesMP and former chief whip Andrew Mitchell has paid £80,000 in libel damages to the police officer he called a “fucking pleb” during an altercation at the gates of Downing Street.It marks the end of a two-year battle for PC Toby Rowland, who was accused of lying by the Conservative MP. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:42:57 GMT)

Dozens feared dead after Donetsk mine explosion
About 50 workers believed to be trapped underground at Zasyadko mine as relatives clamour for news about survivorsDozens of miners are trapped underground and feared dead after a blast at a coal mine in the eastern Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk, with rescuers saying the chance of finding many survivors was slim.Mine officials said the explosion on Wednesday was not linked to fighting at the nearby frontline in the war between Moscow-backed rebels and Ukrainian government forces. Kiev accused the separatists of holding up the rescue effort by restricting access. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:09:07 GMT)

Mohammed Emwazi's father: no proof my son is Isis executioner
Jassem Emwazi tells Kuwaiti newspaper false rumours are circulating and he has appointed a lawyer to prove itThe father of Mohammed Emwazi has been reported as saying there was no proof his son was the Islamic State (Isis) executioner and claiming that a number of “false rumours” were circulating.Jassem Emwazi told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas: “There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner of Daesh (Isis).” Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:55:48 GMT)

Complaints to solicitors' regulator over libel demands from Galloway's lawyers
Legal row erupts as Respect MP’s lawyers issue compensation demands for alleged defamation on Twitter for accusations of antisemitismComplaints have been sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority by Twitter users who have received £6,000 libel demands from solicitors working for the MP George Galloway.The bitter legal dispute, which has erupted over accusations of antisemitism, has become more complex after Galloway’s office said the money would only be used to cover his law firm’s expenses and the Respect party leader would not “receive a penny”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:00:13 GMT)

Apple and Google 'FREAK attack' leaves millions of users vulnerable to hackers
Technology giants hurrying to fix a longstanding security flaw caused by US companies being forced to sell weakened encryption software to overseas customersMillions of people may have been left vulnerable to hackers while surfing the web on Apple and Google devices, thanks to a newly discovered security flaw known as “FREAK attack.”There’s no evidence so far that any hackers have exploited the weakness, which companies are now moving to repair. Researchers blame the problem on an old government policy, abandoned over a decade ago, which required US software makers to use weaker security in encryption programs sold overseas due to national security concerns. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:32:02 GMT)

Three arrested over fatal stabbing of London teenager
Appeal for witnesses to death of Alan Cartwright, killed in Islington on Friday while riding a bicycle with his friendsThree people been arrested on suspicion of the murder of teenager Alan Cartwright, who was stabbed in Islington, north London, while riding a bicycle with his friends.Police said an 18-year-old man was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday after attending a north London police station. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:55:17 GMT)

Eurostar sale to net British taxpayers more than £750m
UK government’s sale of 40% stake in rail link to continental Europe set to exceed market expectations with total proceeds of £757mThe British government is selling its stake in Eurostar in a deal that will deliver £757m to the taxpayer.The sale price is higher than was expected when the government announced that it was inviting offers for its stake, in October 2014. George Osborne described it as a “fantastic deal for UK taxpayers that exceeds expectations”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:01:01 GMT)

UK should begin decriminalising drugs, say Richard Branson and Nick Clegg
Virgin founder and deputy prime minister argue that ‘war on drugs’ has failed and urge UK to follow Portuguese exampleSir Richard Branson and Nick Clegg are urging the UK to begin decriminalising the use and possession of almost all drugs, following the example of Portugal.The Virgin founder and deputy prime minister are to address a conference on fighting drug addiction on Wednesday, and in a Guardian article they argue that the “war on drugs” has failed. Related: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades – end it now | Nick Clegg and Richard Branson Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:00:09 GMT)

Statins work for those at highest risk of heart attack – study
Findings published in The Lancet show chance of heart attack drops by 48% when people most at risk take cholesterol-lowering medicationsPatients with the highest genetic risk of suffering a heart attack benefit the most from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, a study has found.Those in intermediate and low-risk categories are still helped by statins but to a lesser extent, according to researchers. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 03:06:07 GMT)

State secondary schools still letting down talented pupils, says Ofsted
But new research challenges regulator’s claims about bright children, saying most children do not follow linear paths for attainmentTalented pupils are too often set “ridiculously easy” tasks during their first few years of secondary school in England, wasting opportunities to develop the most able into academic high flyers, according to a report by Ofsted.The schools regulator complained that little progress had been made in the last two years after it first identified what it said was a failure by state secondary schools to sustain the performance of the most able students. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:01:01 GMT)

FBI holds suspect after shots fired near NSA headquarters
Officials say they have detained person they believe is responsible for shots fired near Fort Meade installation and on nearby highwayThe FBI said on Wednesday it had detained the person it believes fired shots near the National Security Agency headquarters on Tuesday and was responsible for several Maryland highway shootings.Federal officials said shots were reported near an exit on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Fort Meade, site of the spy agency. No injuries of NSA personnel were reported. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:12:06 GMT)

Mars rover Curiosity halts its work after short circuit
Nasa engineers investigate problem that has stopped the rover’s robotic arm, with testing expected to take daysThe Curiosity rover has temporarily stopped work on Mars while Nasa engineers investigate a short circuit. Related: Methane on Mars: does it mean the Curiosity rover has found life? Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:19:35 GMT)

Paul Gambaccini: police used me as 'flypaper' for almost a year
BBC Radio DJ tells MPs of his support for police bail limit of 28 days, after his bail was extended seven times in 2014, costing £200,000 in earnings and legal costsThe broadcaster Paul Gambaccini has told MPs he was used as human “flypaper” by prosecutors for almost a year in relation to a now-dropped allegation of historic sex abuse, with his arrest publicised in the hope that other people would come forward to make allegations against him.Gambaccini told the Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday that he ”enthusiastically supported” moves to introduce a 28-day limit on the use of police bail after being unable to work for an entire year because of the publicity surrounding the ”completely fictitious” allegation. You are exposed, in the first place, so that other people will accuse you… You can see the pattern in all the cases. Related: Keith Vaz sidelined as Paul Gambaccini show overruns Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:59:42 GMT)

London man accused of aiding al-Qaida faces life sentence in US after extradition
Ming Quang Pham is charged with several counts stemming from his alleged training and propaganda work with al-Qaida in the Arabian PeninsulaA London-based web designer who is accused of training for terrorism and working as a propagandist for al-Qaida is facing a possible life sentence in a US prison after being extradited to New York, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.Minh Quang Pham is charged with possessing and using an AK-47 rifle “in furtherance of crimes of violence”, receiving military-style training and providing support to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based branch of the terrorist network. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:08:52 GMT)

Afghanistan officials sanctioned murder, torture and rape, says report
Human Rights Watch accuses high-ranking officials of allowing extrajudicial killings and brutal practices to flourish after fall of TalibanTop Afghan officials have presided over murders, abduction, and other abuses with the tacit backing of their government and its western allies, Human Rights Watch says in a new report.A grim account of deaths, robbery, rapes and extrajudicial killings, Today We Shall All Die, details a culture of impunity that the rights group says flourished after the fall of the Taliban, driven by the desire for immediate control of security at almost any price. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:31:46 GMT)

Mourners bid farewell to Boris Nemtsov, but fear their hopes have died with him
Thousands queue to pay respects to Putin opponent on icy Moscow day, but many voice fears about what the future holds for RussiaAs the hearse containing Boris Nemtsov’s coffin pulled away, mourners tossed flowers and chants rang out. “Russia will be free!” they cried. “Russia without Putin!” Despite the fighting talk, however, there was an overwhelming sense of gloom among those who came to say a final goodbye to Nemtsov on Tuesday. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:09:31 GMT)

David Petraeus pleads guilty for passing classified 'black books' to lover
General reaches agreement with justice department over charge he gave sensitive information to Paula Broadwell while he was director of the CIAGeneral David Petraeus, the pre-eminent wartime military officer of his generation, will plead guilty in a deal reached with the justice department to one count of passing classified information to a lover while he was director of the CIA.The department announced the plea deal in a statement on Tuesday. The deal calls for two years’ probation and a $40,000 fine, with no prison time. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:00:45 GMT)

Barclays in Luxembourg: £593m profits, £4m tax, report reveals
Bank’s country-by-country breakdown for last year also shows it paid £208m corporation tax in UK where it reported £3.4bn profitsBarclays generated £593m of profits last year in Luxembourg – where much of its tax planning services were based – but employed just 30 people and paid £4m in tax.The figures were revealed in the bank’s country-by-country breakdown which shows where it employs staff, generates profits and pays tax. The breakdown also showed the bank paid £208m in corporation tax in the UK, where it reported £3.4bn of its £5.5bn total profits – although £3.2bn of that was generated overseas. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:04:37 GMT)

Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall: 'I stand by the drama's court scenes'
The story of our second series was devised after months of research and legal advice. All writers compress complex procedures, and we were as keen to show the emotional fallout of the trial as the intricacies of the court systemBroadchurch writer hits back at critics of series twoThis series of Broadchurch, just like the first, garnered plenty of media coverage and opinions. After the early storms (Mumblegate! Music-too-loud-gate! Ratings-wobble-gate!), the hunt was on for a new angle. I made a deliberate decision not to comment during transmission, and all the above were rightly refuted by other commentators. But now the series has finished, there’s one issue I do want to address: Legalgate!There’s been plenty of discussion over the accuracy of our portrayal of the trial process. Some argued our court story would never happen. Our research and advisors suggested otherwise. Let me explain our process. Related: Broadchurch courts disaster, say lawyers | Media Monkey Related: In defence of Broadchurch: drama should come before fact Related: Broadchurch recap: season two finale – episode eight Related: Broadchurch 3 – and other shows that outstayed their welcome Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:38:52 GMT)

Do Twitter users have the right to ruin someone's life? – video
In December 2013, New York PR officer Justine Sacco tweeted an ill-advised joke to her 170 followers. The Twitter storm that followed cost her her job and was profoundly traumatising. Jon Ronson argues that Sacco's story shows that users of social media now hold the power to determine the severity of some punishments. But how merciless do we want to be? Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:00:00 GMT)

Australia v Afghanistan: Cricket World Cup – live!
Live Cricket World Cup updates from the Pool A game in PerthPakistan secure 129-run victory over UAE in NapierIndia deny Virat Kohli swore during rant at journalistAnd email russell.jackson@theguardian.com or tweet @rustyjacko 12.09am AEST 34th over: Afghanistan 135-8 (Zazai 8, Hassan 3)Starc’s next over is basically one long, tantric build-up towards a climactic yorker that never comes. That’s where he’s at as a bowler in ODIs now; you expect a wicket nearly every over. 12.05am AEST 33rd over: Afghanistan 135-8 (Zazai 8, Hassan 3)Hazlewood reappears now but doesn’t quite nail his yorkers in the same manner of his bowling partner. For fans of Rambo headbands and face paint in professional sports, you’ll be pleased to know that Hamid Hassan is now at the crease. I hope he tries to punch a six. You wouldn’t put it past him. 11.59pm AEST Dawlat Zadran disappears almost as quickly as he arrives. This one comes down at 150.6 kmph and takes the base of off stump - another screaming yorker. Starc almost looks dowwnbeat as he raises an arm in celebration. Why the long face, Mitch? 11.56pm AEST Mitch Starc sure knows how to crash a party. Just as we basked in the magnificence of Najibullah’s hitting an over earlier, Starc rips in a fast, in-swinging yorker that crashes into the base of middle stump and lights up the zing bails. Is there a better sight in fast bowling at the moment than Starc’s yorkers? Probably not. 11.53pm AEST 31st over: Afghanistan 131-6 (Najibullah 24, Zazai 7)Najibullah you genius! With Maxwell still wheeling away with his off-spin, the left-hander skips down the track and thumps a stupendous six over cow - all 98 metres of it according to an on-screen graphic. It’s up on a roof! That is prodigious hitting. 11.50pm AEST 30th over: Afghanistan 122-6 (Najibullah 15, Zazai 7)Mitchell Starc is back now with his swerving pace and Shane Warne-approved body language. He can’t quite body language his way to a wicket but by the end of the over he’s built up a decent head of steam. 11.48pm AEST 29th over: Afghanistan 121-6 (Najibullah 14, Zazai 7)“It’s great to see them smiling,” says Shane Warne of the Afghani players. To be honest, what’s been notable from them in this tournament is the way that they haven’t smiled. They’re genuine competitors. Najibullah and Zazai know they have no hope hear and it looks like they’re annoyed by that, not resigned to it. 11.44pm AEST 28th over: Afghanistan 120-6 (Najibullah 13, Zazai 7)In a rare slip-up, James Faulkner is a little too overzealous to deliver to Zazai and oversteps the mark to cough up a fre hit. He folows that with a wide but Zazai can’t get hold of a slower ball next up so the bowlers’ transgression goes unpunished. The batsman ends the over with a rueful shake of the head. 11.41pm AEST 27th over: Afghanistan 116-6 (Najibullah 13, Zazai 5)Maxwell crashes back to earth, belted by Najibullah as the latter grows in confidence and starts expanding his strokes. From the final delivery he canes a quite stunning straight drive down the ground and it’s slamming into the fence before the bowler can even look around to see where it’s gone. 11.38pm AEST 26th over: Afghanistan 105-6 (Najibullah 6, Zazai 1)As Zazai gets off the mark, Mark Taylor goes completely off script about the length of this tournament, making the kind of observations that will probably see his microphone cord yanked sometime in the next five minutes. His heart is in the right place, but you have to wonder how familiar he is with the schedule for the next one. Awesome, a CA board member and commentator doesn't realise the proposed 2019 is longer. Cricket governance. 11.34pm AEST 25th over: Afghanistan 103-6 (Najibullah 5, Zazai 0)Maxwell probably fancies himself to rip through a few tail-end wickets here but Afsar Zaazai keeps out the remaining four balls of the over to make it a wicket-maiden. Zazai can actually handle the bat, to be honest. He’s got an ODI half-century to his name. 11.31pm AEST Glenn Maxwell is thrown the ball and comes up with immediate gold, tempting Nabi forward into a sweep he doesn’t quite nail, flicking the ball into his own helmet and presenting Clarke with the simplest of catches running behind keeper Brad Haddin. Nabi reviews, thinking it had merely deflected off his arm, but replays indicate otherwise - the edge came first. 11.27pm AEST 24th over: Afghanistan 103-5 (Nabi 2, Najibullah 5)With Marsh off receiving some medical treatment, Xavier Doherty has made an appearance as a sub-fielder in another constricting over from Faulkner. A single to Nabi is the only score. 11.24pm AEST 23rd over: Afghanistan 102-5 (Nabi 1, Najibullah 5)Johnson’s bowling with a scrambled seam tonight, as ever, but some odd things are happening when he slants one in to the left-hander Najibullah and it moves away off the pitch. The Afghanis move past 100 with a Johnson wide and the hairy, mean left-arm quick finishes by firing down another testing bouncer. Najibullah is up to the challenge. 11.19pm AEST 22nd over: Afghanistan 97-5 (Nabi 0, Najibullah 2)A keenly felt absence in the first few games of the tournament - particularly against New Zealand - James Faulkner appears now for his first bowl of the night and indeed his first since returning from injury. Najibullah gets him away for a single but it’s typical Faulkner fare; variations of pace and canny change-ups out the back of the hand. What a catch Aaron Finch! https://t.co/vMbDzoz14i 11.15pm AEST 21st over: Afghanistan 96-5 (Nabi 0, Najibullah 1)Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi has been joined at the crease by Najibullah Zadran now. Both have a decent old shift ahead of them with the Aussie quicks raring to go. 11.13pm AEST What a catch! One brings two as Mangal departs. Johnson grabs the ball and fires down a short one and rather than yielding to discretion, Mangal flicks it dangerously in the direction of the cordon and watches Finch fling himself in the air like a salmon and take a wonderful two-handed catch in mid-air. He’s from Geelong, Finch - Aussie Rules football territory. You can’t half tell. 11.09pm AEST Shenwari has thrown away all of his hard work and he’s furious with himself. I’m furious with him. Michael Clarke is happy, he just floated one up on leg stump and watched as the batsman swept it around the corner to Johnson at short fine leg. It’s a disappointingly soft dismissal after Shenwari’s gritty display of an over earlier. 11.06pm AEST 19th over: Afghanistan 93-3 (Mangal 32, Shenwari 17)We get one Mitch back - Johnson this time. 2-6 off 3 was a terrific first spell and he’s straight back on a probing if slightly full length before jamming one in short and getting a jumpy Shenwari straight in the grill of the helmet. It’s not condescending to call Shenwari a streetfighter because he genuinely does look like he wants to punch someone but instead he reacts to the Johnson bouncer by clobbering him for a boundary past mid off. Superb stuff. 11.01pm AEST 18th over: Afghanistan 88-3 (Mangal 32, Shenwari 13)Clarke loves a bowl, doesn’t he? It’s not like anyone can argue with him but this match is treading water while he’s rolling his arm over. Unleash the Mitches, please. After four Australian games at this World Cup, Michael Clarke has faced 18 balls. #CWC15 10.57pm AEST 17th over: Afghanistan 85-3 (Mangal 31, Shenwari 10)Marsh’s concern seems to be a leg or groin complaint but somewhat disconcertingly, he’s thrown the ball and asked to keep bowling. Surely it’s worth a visit to the physios room first, no? Apparently not. He struggles away manfully in the final over before the drinks break but finishes by engaging in animated conversation with Clarke, the gist of which seems to be, ‘err, can I go off now or what?’If Warner were a dog, he'd happily chase his ball over a cliff. Hard to think of a more committed fielder in the world. #AUSvAFG 10.52pm AEST 16th over: Afghanistan 82-3 (Mangal 31, Shenwari 8)As Clarke hurries his way through another over, Marsh continues to look very proppy and uncomfortable in the outfield. Mangal finishes the over by lapping two down to fine leg and the Afghanistan pair is making steady progress now. 10.50pm AEST 15th over: Afghanistan 78-3 (Mangal 28, Shenwari 7)If you were to judge it by the rabid intensity of David Warner’s fielding, you’d have no idea that this match is a one-sided one. He’d be excused for resting on his laurels after his batting heroics but he’s haring around and throwing himself into dives at the boundary when Marsh continues to get tonked about. His first two overs have gone for 22, Marsh. To make matters worse he’s pulled up lame after the over. Watch this space. 10.47pm AEST 14th over: Afghanistan 71-3 (Mangal 27, Shenwari 2)Clarke’s aim is pretty clear at the moment; sprint through as many overs as he can and give his quicks some time to gather themseleves for another onslaught. 10.44pm AEST 13th over: Afghanistan 67-3 (Mangal 24, Shenwari 1)Where Stanikzai failed, Mangal has succeeded. Mitchell Marsh appears to relieve Johnson and is welcomed to the fold with two towering sixes over cow and then a more classical cover drive for three. He really laid into the first of those sixes, Mangal. Just blasted it. Haddin has a forgettable moment to finish the over when he lets through four byes. This match is many things but dull is not one of them. 10.39pm AEST 12th over: Afghanistan 48-3 (Mangal 9, Shenwari 1)He copped a bit of grief earlier for not having a bat, but Michael Clarke has exercised his discretion here and given himself a trundle. His first over is pretty innocuous stuff so Shenwari is off the mark with ease. 10.37pm AEST 11th over: Afghanistan 46-3 (Mangal 8, Shenwari 0)Shenwari is at the crease now. He made 96 against Scotland, what can he pull off tonight? 10.36pm AEST There’s nothing surprising about this one. Stanikzai had shown his hand in all nine previous balls he’d faced when he stepped towards leg and carved Johnson high in the air in the direction of third man. There’s a moment of panic when it looks like the Australian fielders will collide in Waugh-Gillespie style but Steve Smith both snares the catch and avoids any unscheduled dental work. That was an insane innings from Stanikzai, idiocy of a type rarely seen in the somewhat dreary world of professional sport. There should be far more of it. 10.31pm AEST 10th over: Afghanistan 44-2 (Mangal 8, Stanikzai 2)Hazlewood feels a counter-punch in this over in the shape of two contrasting shots from Mangal, the first a classical cover drive to the boundary and the next a straighter effort that bounces over the bowlers’ head and also reaches the rope. Hazlewood grins like a loon, but I don’t think he’s very happy. 10.28pm AEST 9th over: Afghanistan 36-2 (Mangal 0, Stanikzai 2)Asghar Stanikzai appears at the crease know and cracks a wonderful cut shot off Johnson, one that would have gone close to the boundary had David Warner not dived and stopped it in acrobatic style. Warner’s dismount is so effective that a run-out looks a possibility, but the batsmen stand their ground. 10.22pm AEST Ahmadi departs in most unfortunate circumnstances when after hammering Hazlewood straight he’s denied any runs, let alone a boundary, when the ball thumps into his partners’ body. Two balls later he fishes outside off stump and sends a thick edge through to Clarke in the cordon. “That’s something Ahmadi will have to learn for the next time he plays here in Perth,” says Cricket Australia board member Mark Taylor. Anything to share there, Tubby? 10.18pm AEST 7th over: Afghanistan 30-1 (Ahmadi 11, Mangal 0)Nawroz Mangal is the new batsman for Afghanistan and he’s lucky not to catch an absolute snorter from Johnson first up because he struggles with the pace to start with. No shame there because it’s coming down at sizzling pace. 10.15pm AEST Mitch Johnson was nearly belted all the way back across the Tasman against New Zealand and he doesn’t exactly set the world alight early in his first over here. He’s turned for four byes and fires down a wide but then Ghani middles one straight into the hands of James Faulkner at a straight, short mid-on. The ball had angled in a little and although it was struck well, Faulkner barely had to move. 10.12pm AEST 6th over: Afghainstan 25-0 (Javed Ahmadi 11 Usman Ghani 12)Hazlewood catches a severe case of the wides in this over, firing down two and just never quite looking like he’s going to fire. Might it be time for an early bowling change? He’ll probably bowl in bursts anyway. 10.07pm AEST 5th over: Afghainstan 22-0 (Javed Ahmadi 11 Usman Ghani 11)Ghani looks solid again here. He’s compact and economical in his movements to Starc and even clips a two around the corner from a ball that rose awkwardly into his ribs. Starc’s hardly hit his straps here, mind you. He’s muttering away at the end of the over, probably a sign that he’s off his game a little. 10.02pm AEST 4th over: Afghainstan 16-0 (Javed Ahmadi 10, Usman Ghani 6)There’s been some unconvincing defensive work happening so far but given width, Ahmadi belts Hazlewood for three and his expansiveness is contagious; Ghani clatters two more through the same region. That prompts a somewhat predictable response from Hazlewood; a steepling bouncer past Ghani’s left nostril. 9.58pm AEST 3rd over: Afghainstan 9-0 (Javed Ahmadi 7, Usman Ghani 2)Is Starc getting a little carried away here? Shouldn’t he just bowl breathtaking yorkers, ball after ball? Do I place too much stock in the ability of cricketers to live a perfect manifestation of my dreams for them? 9.54pm AEST 2nd over: Afghainstan 8-0 (Javed Ahmadi 6, Usman Ghani 2)Josh Hazlewood is back in the Aussie line-up today and he’s immediately swinging the ball in a gorgeous, exaggerated curve away from Ahmadi. The latter clips one around the corner for a single to fine leg but he might cause some problems here, the big New South Welshman. Afghanistan? They don’t look as flustered as they might be by this searing pace and sideways movement. 9.51pm AEST 1st over: Afghainstan 7-0 (Javed Ahmadi 5, Usman Ghani 2)Fresh from his devastating spell against New Zealand, Mitchell Marsh takes the new ball for Australia with Javed Omani facing the music. Starc’s first two deliveries both swing in sharply outside the off stump of the right hander and Glenn Maxwell hovers close by at short leg. 9.42pm AEST Some reading material before the Afghanistan innings gets startedVirat Kohli has gone off on one, ranting at a journalist in Perth. A week back everyone was having a whinge that the Indians wouldn’t talk to any media. They’re certainly making up for lost time. And the winner of Dad of the Year goes to...#CWC15 #AusvAfg #Aus #Afg pic.twitter.com/86tr6kh8jr 9.33pm AEST Hello cruel world, and welcome to today’s slightly dispiriting ride on the reality bus. Russell Jackson here joining you for the rest of this encounter, an innings in which I sincerely hope Afghanistan can pull back a little of what was lost amid that Warner-Maxwell demolition job.You can get me on russell.jackson@theguardian.com or via twitter: @rustyjacko 9.25pm AEST There you have it. Another glut, another run-fest, another display that crushes the hearts of romantics worldwide. It started so well for Afghanistan, early movement, good bowling, the wicket of Finch at slip, Warner looking as shaky as a palm tree in a gale. Then he clicked, and Australia clicked, and it was carnage thereafter.Warner set the innings up, Smith offered the assured support, while Maxwell ostentatiously finished it off. Hamid Hassan battled hard to finish with 1/70 from his full allotment, while Shenwari and Ahmadi bowled nine comparatively economical overs between them, but the rest got tapped like Sarah Palin, and enjoyed about as much success. 9.17pm AEST 50th over: Australia 6-417 (Haddin 20)Might sound strange, but the Afghans are buzzing in the field after pulling Australia back in these last few overs. There’s an excellent stop at long-off after Marsh pounds a ball down toward the straight boundary, body on the line stuff. 9.12pm AEST 49th over: Australia 5-403 (Marsh 5, Haddin 9)“The 300 comes up, in this case it’s another 400.” Did anyone trust Michael Slater in a run-chase? Hamid Hassan is bowling very well, only going for singles as the Australians keep going hard at each ball. The length isn’t giving them anything. Six from the over. 9.08pm AEST 48th over: Australia 5-397 (Marsh 2, Haddin 6)Clarke determined not to bat today, he’s bumped himself again for Haddin this time. Haddin batted eight in Australia’s last match. It was Dawlat’s slower ball that got him the wicket, and he uses it a couple more times to limit the scoring, but Haddin manages to glide him for four through third man. No respite. 9.05pm AEST Massive sighs of relief for Afghanistan, and Kevin O’Brien’s record for the fastest World Cup hundred is safe for now. Maxwell has just hit a full toss over mid-off for four, then tries to clear cover and doesn’t get the elevation. He still collected it, it was screaming past Nabi but the skipper got in the way and held on. Fine catch. 9.03pm AEST 47th over: Australia 4-386 (Maxwell 84, Marsh 1)Faulkner falls first ball. Mitchell Marsh comes in, still no Clarke. Marsh gets off strike. Maxwell whacks what he thinks is a four down the ground, but Shenwari pulls out a magnificent diving save to slap the bouncing ball out of mid-air and back over the rope as it was about to leave the arena. He eats dirt, leaps up and charges back before sending off a howitzer throw. Such a competitor. 8.59pm AEST Good to see Hassan can still muster a roar and a fist-pump even in these circumstances. Brilliant yorker, tailed in, Faulkner wanted to drive, bailed out and tried to defend, but it totally defeated him and bowled him middle and leg. 8.57pm AEST 46th over: Australia 3-382 (Maxwell 81, Faulkner 7)Nabi back with off spin. Maxwell charges and belts it higher than he does long, but it has enough distance on the hang time to clear the rope at long on. Maxwell is getting the bulk of the strike, a couple of singles handing it back to him, and he’s conscientious about turning one run into two wherever possible. 8.53pm AEST 45th over: Australia 3-366 (Maxwell 66, Faulkner 6)Shapoor bowls a good yorker to keep Maxwell to one run, then a wide half volley that Faulkner can slice over packward point for four. When Shapoor gets on Maxwell’s pads the batsman absolutely beats that ball on the whip shot, sending it onto the grass bank for a crowd catch. 8.47pm AEST 44th over: Australia 3-350 (Maxwell 56, Faulkner 1)Half-century! Glenn Maxwell goes to 53 from 21 balls, another reverse sweep from Nabi that flies away for four. He also picks up a couple of hard-run twos, and it seems like a moral victory when Nabi keeps him to a dot and a single from the last two balls. 8.43pm AEST 43rd over: Australia 3-340 (Maxwell 47, Faulkner 0)Maxwell hears my disbelief about the reverse-hit and says, “I want you to believe.” He does it again, from Shapoor this time, but this time hits it for six. Low full toss and wide of the stumps this time, but still. That followed a wallop off the pads through square for four. 8.37pm AEST 42nd over: Australia 2-325 (Smith 95, Maxwell 34)What is that. That’s outrageous. That shouldn’t be allowed. Maxwell has been bowled a yorker by Dawlat, on about off stump. He’s crouched, reversed his bat, and reverse-hit it over third man for four. I have no idea how the physics of that even tally. It’s Matrix cricket. They work the singles and take nine from the over. 8.35pm AEST 41st over: Australia 2-316 (Smith 92, Maxwell 29)Four, as Smith drives Nabi through cover. 8.31pm AEST 40th over: Australia 2-299 (Smith 88, Maxwell 17)Dawlat Zadran has had a rotten day after a fine early spell, and it continues. Maxwell makes room outside leg and carves the full ball way back over the fence at deep cover. Extraordinary hand-eye co-ordination. He misses the reverse again, then edges just past short third man for four. 13 from the over, the numbers keep ticking. 17 from 8 balls, Maxwell. 8.27pm AEST 39th over: Australia 2-286 (Smith 86, Maxwell 6)Hello sailor. His second ball, Glenn Maxwell reverse-sweeps Nabi for four. Of course he does. They’ve taken the singles excellently this innings, so they get eight from the over. 8.24pm AEST 38th over: Australia 2-278 (Smith 85, Maxwell 0)Interesting. Michael Clarke, desperately short of match practice, has dropped himself down the order and sent in Glenn Maxwell. Smith opens the face and deliberately angles a yorker through third man for four. Outrageous shot. 8.18pm AEST Relief for Afghanistan. Warner goes the big swipe, top edges way into the blue sky, and Nabi settles underneath before taking a tough high catch at mid-on. 8.14pm AEST 37th over: Australia 1-273 (Warner 178, Smith 80)Hassan is the man most likely. Bowls a leg-side pie but Smith hit it riskily toward short fine leg. No run. Yorker, yorker. Single, dot, single. But then Smith plays another yorker brilliantly, opening the face and somehow diverting it over cover, and with no sweeper it easily makes the fence for four. This is very harsh on bowlers. 8.10pm AEST 36th over: Australia 1-266 (Warner 177, Smith 74)Dawlat Zadran is back, and continues falling to pieces. He starts with a no-ball to Warner, full toss above waist height that Warner slams for four. Smith gets a full ball, shifts his front foot out of the way and drives dead straight for six. Dawlat then oversteps, and Warner slices the free hit through gully for four more. 8.05pm AEST 35th over: Australia 1-248 (Warner 168, Smith 67)Hamid Hassan is back to try to change something. We’ve seen two 400s in the last week from South Africa, and a big 300+ by Pakistan today. Hassan does tighten things up though. Two singles from the over, and he nearly bowls Smith with a beautiful yorker that just misses off stump. Smith gets cautious and Hassan ties him down fro the rest of the over. 7.59pm AEST 34th over: Australia 1-246 (Warner 167, Smith 66)They just can’t slow things down. Shapoor cramps things up with three singles, then Warner goes well outside leg, Shapoor follows him, and Warner edges through his own legs and away fine for four. 7.55pm AEST 33rd over: Australia 1-233 (Warner 156, Smith 64)Warner brings up 150 with a flat smeared drive from Nabi through long off. This is getting dispiriting very quickly for Afghanistan, who’ve played well so far in this tournament but have run into a team with a house to get in order. Warner’s second four for the over is much better timed, equally straight, equally lucrative. 11 from that over. 7.49pm AEST 32nd over: Australia 1-222 (Warner 147, Smith 63)Everything must go. Warner has had enough of waiting around. Shapoor comes back and Warner produces his cleanest hit of the day, dead straight and way back into the stand. Next ball he goes more across the line, deep midwicket, and cleans up a boy in the crowd. The commentary makes jolly jokes about how they’re sure his ok. There were several dudes around him who all dived for the catch and nearly landed on him rather than making sure he didn’t get hit. Copped it on the chest and arm. Not great scenes all round. 7.44pm AEST 31st over: Australia 1-207 (Warner 133, Smith 63)Big edge from Warner facing Nabi, I think it was from a full toss but it drifted in towards his feet and was nicked away. Easy for first slip, except there isn’t one. 7.38pm AEST 30th over: Australia 1-203 (Warner 130, Smith 62)Dawlat Zadran is back, but there’s no repeat of his earlier excellent spell. 7.34pm AEST 29th over: Australia 1-180 (Warner 114, Smith 55)“That’s Steve Smith’s half century, and it’s come at a very good time,” says Brendon Julian. Um, yes, this essential match in which Australia were really struggling? Mark Taylor also reckons Smith was coming out of “a bit of bad form” after a record-breaking summer and a low score in New Zealand. 7.30pm AEST 28th over: Australia 1-173 (Warner 113, Smith 49)One one one one one one. That’s Hamid Hassan’s over. Long-off, cover, long-off, cover. Are you sensing a pattern here? 7.26pm AEST 27th over: Australia 1-167 (Warner 110, Smith 46)Steve Smith plays the shot of the day for my money. Yes, it was probably a full toss from Shenwari, but so elegantly whipped through midwicket that it made my eyes water with joy. 7.24pm AEST 26th over: Australia 1-161 (Warner 109, Smith 41)Thwock. Warner plays the ugliest pull shot you’ve ever seen, welcoming Hamid Hassan back by belting a ball from well outside off stump over mid-on for four. Dragged it utterly. Should have holed out but he got enough purchase. He follows up with a less ugly pull shot through wider long-on. 7.20pm AEST 25th over: Australia 1-151 (Warner 100, Smith 40)Smith gives Warner the strike early in the over, and Warner brings up the milestone from Shenwari’s bowling by scoring a two and then a single. Smith celebrates by backing away to cut another four. We could be in for something monstrous here. 7.17pm AEST 24th over: Australia 1-143 (Warner 97, Smith 35)Still just working the runs from Javed Ahmadi, six of them from the 24th over in ones and twos. This is looking very calm and easy for the Australians. 7.13pm AEST 23rd over: Australia 1-137 (Warner 93, Smith 33)Shapoor nearly had a good over there, four singles from five balls, but Smith shuffles in the crease to leg-glance a four from the last ball. 7.09pm AEST 22nd over: Australia 1-129 (Warner 91, Smith 27)The Afghanistanis are loving Javed Ahmadi’s steady overs, and the Australians are probably happy to consolidate. Warner gets a couple of runs, then a leg bye. Smith gets a single. That’s all. Classic middle overs bowling here. 7.06pm AEST 21st over: Australia 1-125 (Warner 89, Smith 26)Shapoor is back, the big frame thundering in to the crease and sending down moderate fire. They’re driving him aggressively, smacking each shot but they all go to sweepers. Only four singles from the over. 7.03pm AEST 20th over: Australia 1-121 (Warner 87, Smith 24)Javed Ahmadi keeping a lid on things, four singles from his steady off-breaks. Along they tick. 7.00pm AEST 19th over: Australia 1-117 (Warner 85, Smith 23)Warner drives Shenwari calmly and classily for four, amongst four singles in the over. Warner is closing in on a century here. 6.58pm AEST 18th over: Australia 1-109 (Warner 79, Smith 20)Javed Ahmadi comes on to bowl some offies, five singles result. 6.52pm AEST 17th over: Australia 1-104 (Warner 77, Smith 17)I’ve cursed Shenwari, he can’t keep it up. Drops short and Warner backs away to cut four. Over-pitches and is driven for two, short again and smashed through point again. Warner flying, 10 from the over. The hundred is up. 6.49pm AEST 16th over: Australia 1-94 (Warner 67, Smith 17)Warner is batting in the cap out there, with spinners at each end. The Aussies are happy to settle down, with a Smith single, Warner’s two through cover, then another run to close the over out. 6.45pm AEST 15th over: Australia 1-90 (Warner 64, Smith 16)Oh yes. The Anger Man, Samiullah Shenwari, is on to bowl his leg spin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, find some clips of his match-winning knock against Scotland: the way he screamed at the ground when his partners got out, scolded them off the field after stupid shots, chewed the bat handle at the non-striker’s end. 6.41pm AEST 14th over: Australia 1-88 (Warner 63, Smith 15)What witchcraft is this? Hamid Hassan bowls a two-run over. A single to Smith, a single to Warner, then Smith is hit in stomach trying to pull, and blocks out the next two. 6.36pm AEST 13th over: Australia 1-86 (Warner 62, Smith 14)Nabi’s quiet spell didn’t last long. Seven from this over in an assortment of singles and twos. I wasn’t convinced by the decision to send Australia in, and I’m even less so now. 6.34pm AEST 12th over: Australia 1-79 (Warner 57, Smith 12)Hamid Hassan is continuing, going slightly short again, and being punished by Warner for another four through wide long-on. Warner is also ticking singles, and he bombs down the pitch from the non-striker’s end to scurry a leg bye with as much intensity as any run that has ever gone to his name. Plenty of pace between the wickets from Smith and Warner. Nine from the over. 6.27pm AEST 11th over: Australia 1-70 (Warner 51, Smith 10)Mohammad Nabi decides it’s time for a change and goes to his off-spin. A good choice for this over at least, as they take only two singles from it. He bowls three dots to David Warner, which is good going right now. 6.25pm AEST 10th over: Australia 1-68 (Warner 50, Smith 9)Warner explodes. Hamid Hassan keeps bowling short. 6.21pm AEST 9th over: Australia 1-54 (Warner 37, Smith 8)Watch out Afghanistan, David Warner is getting going. Smacks four runs though cover from Dawlat. Then a very unjust wide is called. Warner bunts an attempted pull straight of mid-on for two, pulls two more square, then pulls again through wide long on for four. 13 from the over. That hurts. They’ve bowled well and still gone a run a ball from the first nine overs. 6.15pm AEST 8th over: Australia 1-41 (Warner 25, Smith 8)Hamid Hassan is here. The head is banded, the face painted, the rage in his heart is beginning to simmer. Starts with a wide, that’s less menacing. Smith is starting to get ticking now: a single here, a double there, another single. Warner cracks three more on the drive. Smith taps another single to midwicket, then Warner goes through the covers for three more. Suddenly runs a little easier to come by. 11 from that over. 6.07pm AEST 7th over: Australia 1-30 (Warner 19, Smith 4)Warner is all over the place. He got up this morning and spread Vegemite on his thigh. He wore a cat instead of a helmet to the crease. Now he’s trying a terrible sloggy horizontal-bat drive, while squatting, at the widest legal delivery possible. Misses. 6.02pm AEST 6th over: Australia 1-24 (Warner 16, Smith 1)I neglected to mention, please do drop me a line if you’re reading along: email is geoff.lemon@theguardian.com, or get on Twitter @GeoffLemonSport. I want to know everything. Everything. 5.59pm AEST 5th over: Australia 1-23 (Warner 15, Smith 1)And again, another top over from Dawlat Zadran. Makes Smith wait a couple of balls by shaping them outside off stump, then after Smith gets off strike, Warner booms two massive drives that don’t connect, nearly edging behind off both. Warner drives three from the last ball, but Dawlat is enjoying his day so far. 5.52pm AEST 4th over: Australia 1-19 (Warner 12, Smith 0)Clarke was listed to come in at No3, but in walks Steve Smith. This is where many people have suggested he should bat. Shapoor bowls a wide to Warner, then has a massive appeal for another one down leg side that takes the pad on the way through to the keeper. Warner responds by whacking another pull for four. That’s all he gets from the over, as he carefully defends a couple more balls, and finds the field from the last. 5.48pm AEST 3rd over: Australia 1-14 (Warner 8)What an over from Dawlat. He was on the dot throughout, cramping Finch, keeping him tied down, even diving to stop a drive from the fourth ball. For five deliveries Finch couldn’t get away, then Dawlat had his man from the sixth. 5.46pm AEST Got him! Afghanistan strike early, Dawlat pitching up to Finch, getting some movement away and Finch went at it with a big drive that wasn’t really on. The edge carried to second slip and Mangal took it coolly falling away to his left. 5.42pm AEST 2nd over: Australia 0-14 (Warner 8, Finch 4)Hamid Hassan is being kept for first change. That’s handy. Shapoor Zadran is winding up that long run-up from the shadows of the grandstand. It’s double Zadran time. 5.38pm AEST 1st over: Australia 0-4 (Warner 1, Finch 2)Good start from Dawlat Zadran, who comes up with four dot balls to David Warner to start the match, then a top-edged single from a pull where Warner didn’t read the pace off the pitch. You’d take that any game. Dawlat loses his line to the right-handed Finch, bowling a wide, then Finch gets two more runs through mid-on. 5.33pm AEST Right. Afghanistan have been everybody’s second team this World Cup, unless you support Afghanistan in which case they’re your first. With me? Their thriller against Scotland was one of the all-time great stories of the Cup, given their rise from total obscurity less than 15 years ago. This will be one of their sternest challenges yet - we saw the UZE struggle mightily with the bounce and pace of the WACA pitch against India, and this team won’t have seen anything like this either. It’ll be a challenge for their bowlers to get their lengths right, and even more so the batsmen will have a challenge against the pace and bounce of the Australian pace quartet. Even Glenn Maxwell could get a few nicks behind on this bouncy surface. Should be a fascinating game, to see how Afghanistan respond, and to see what Australia come up with after their bizarre, frenetic loss to New Zealand last weekend. 5.27pm AEST Many team news! People who have been waiting for Shane Watson to be dropped will be delighted. Shane Watson has been dropped. But instead of George Bailey coming back to stiffen the batting, everyone has been shuffled up the order to accommodate James Faulkner at No8. That means Clarke at 3, Smith at 4, Maxwell at 5 and Mitchell Marsh at 6. Hmm. Pat Cummins is also out for Josh Hazlewood. 5.21pm AEST Hello Aussies, hello Afghans, hello Ozzy Osbourne, hello Afghan hounds, hello everybody else who fits none of those categories. Geoff Lemon here with you as we prepare for Australia versus Afghanistan to face off for their Pool A contest at the WACA.Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi has won the toss and sent Australia in! Love it. No fear from the visiting side. 4.30pm AEST Geoff will be here shortly... while you’re waiting, here he is in podcast mode, hosting this week’s Cricket World Cup show, featuring guests Russell Jackson (also here, later), Gideon Haigh and Adam Collins. Related: Cricket World Cup 2015 podcast: associates light up tournament Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:09:59 GMT)

Men are too insecure about penis size to ever stop worrying about it
For so many men, the deeply symbolic and psychological attachment to the penis starts early and ensures it will always be a source of great anxietyToday, researchers answered an age-old question: not “does size matter?”, but “am I normal”? An analysis of what is considered to be the average penis size has been published in the British Journal of Urology International. Pulling together 17 studies involving up to 15,521 males, we now know that 13.12cm (5.16 inches) in length is average for an erect penis. The figure is 9.16cm (3.6 inches) when flaccid.Mankind has always been fixated with penises. Caves around the world are adorned with phalluses and phallic symbols tens of thousands of years old. Often, those drawings or ancient artefacts feature representations that would make even Dirk Diggler proud. The penis is a source of power and shame. Hotshot financial traders are known as “big swinging dicks” and the assertion of male domination is often couched in phallic terms: who’s got the biggest dick? Who’s going to slap it out on the table? The measuring never really stops and is a part of the anxiety. Am I big enough? What is big enough? Related: The results are in: study reveals average penis size Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:00:20 GMT)

The Buried Giant review – Kazuo Ishiguro ventures into Tolkien territory
The Booker-winner’s excursion through Britain’s mythical past is a rumination on memory, love and war worthy of a place among the greatsListen to an exclusive audio extractJoin Kazuo Ishiguro for a live event on March 8, 2015 Related: Kazuo Ishiguro’s turn to fantasy In 1953, JRR Tolkien wrote an essay on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a late medieval poem that features the eponymous nephew of King Arthur undertaking a mysterious quest. He praised it for the deep roots it had in the past – a quality he saw it as sharing with both Beowulf and King Lear: “It is made of tales often told before and elsewhere, and of elements that derive from remote times, beyond the vision or awareness of the poet.” The ultimate origins of the poem, as of the entire corpus of Arthurian myth, lay back in the murkiest depths of the dark ages; a time when native Britons and invading Saxons had been fighting over the abandoned Roman province of Britannia. Arthur, the probably fictional war leader who was supposed to have stemmed the Saxon advance, could be located in the period, and enshrined as a great king, precisely because almost nothing was known about it. Only odd fragments of poetry had survived to hint at how natives and immigrants in post-Roman Britain might actually have made sense of the world. It was from these same fragments that Tolkien, committed to restoring to his country the legends he felt had been lost as a result of the Norman conquest, had fashioned The Lord of the Rings. Related: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro extract - audio Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:00:01 GMT)

Minecraft's creator will always be a hero to me, he gave my autistic son a voice
A new interview with Markus ‘Notch’ Persson paints the multimillionaire creator of the Lego-like blockbuster as a playboy-slacker, but I don’t careThe billionaire creator of Minecraft has a $70m mansion in Beverly Hills complete with iPad-controlled fountains and a 16-car garage. He wastes his days making silly jokes in an empty “office” and his nights burning through hundreds of thousands of dollars in Las Vegas casinos. He doesn’t need to create anymore; he could spend the rest of his life throwing handfuls of cash off his balcony into the balmy LA night. He may sound like a self-indulgent one-hit wonder, but Markus “Notch” Persson is a hero of mine. Persson helped give my son a voice.A new Forbes interview with the coder-turned-playboy-slacker, paints Sweden’s most famous export since Abba in a weird light. For several years, Persson worked on Minecraft with a small team and no budget. It was just another creative sandbox game, a tiny indie project that not many people knew or cared about. But by the time it officially launched in November 2011, it had a large dedicated community of fans. This was a game that put you in a vast blocky world and let you do what you wanted, build what you wanted, and play how you wanted. Word kept spreading. Related: Minecraft at 33 million users – a personal story Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:55:57 GMT)

Wim Wenders retrospective: five to watch, and one to miss
The director, currently the subject of a retrospective in New York, gave us Harry Dean Stanton in the desert and Pina Bausch in 3D. Here are his best films (and one clunker)As one of the key figures – along with Fassbinder, Herzog and Schlondorff – of the New German Cinema movement that reinvigorated (West) German film in the 70s, and gave the country of Marlene Dietrich, Ufa and FW Murnau a bona fide cinematic movement to rival the nouvelle vague, Wim Wenders has been making films for over four decades. In that period he’s produced some genuine masterworks, a handful of uncategorisable oddities and more than his fair share of clunkers. If Herzog comes off as unhinged, and Fassbinder as ice-cold, Wenders appears urbane (when he’s good) and unbearably pretentious (when he isn’t).Be that as it may, Wenders has earned his place among the pantheon of postwar European auteurs and in recent years has expanded his range by increasing the amount of documentaries, essay-films and segments of short-film collections that he turns out. Many are currently being screened at a festival devoted to the director’s work at MoMA in New York. So here are his five best films, plus one to avoid. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:30:07 GMT)

Feast your eyes – 10 of the world's coolest restaurant interiors
From a modern diner in an old chapel to a white-washed cabinet of curiosities decorated with 10,000 animal bones, Gestalten’s new book, Let’s Go Out Again features some of the most unusual and spectacular restaurant interiors around the world. We’ve picked 10 of the most impressive Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:35:00 GMT)

‘What crime have I committed to be held like this?’: inside Yarl's Wood
Migrants and asylum seekers can be locked up at the high-security detention centre indefinitely. Reports of abuse, self-harm and suicide are rife. Now MPs are calling for an end to the ‘expensive, ineffective and unjust’ system. In a rare report, inmates describe their miseryFrom the front, Yarl’s Wood looks like an uninspiring airport hotel, cream-fronted, with red welcome signs painted on the glass entrance doors in Tamil and Bengali. It is only if you walk around the back, through the car park, and peer behind the entrance hall that a vista of prison-like buildings becomes visible, wrapped in layers of tall metal fencing and razor wire.Visitors must give up their telephones and bags before being fingerprinted, patted down, scanned and ushered into a large, airless visitors’ room. Prominently displayed on a noticeboard are a few thank-you letters from former detainees, detailing their gratitude to Yarl’s Wood employees. Related: MPs call for end to indefinite detention of migrants People are under a lot of stress … Most of the women are not coping Related: Locking up immigrants diminishes us all | Diane Taylor You are watched by the men – there is no dignity, they burst in on you. You wake up and a man is standing over you Related: Migrant detention: Souleymanye's story Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:28:01 GMT)

Are you special, basic or complex? Behind North Korea's caste system
‘Songbun’ separates citizens according to ancestral and social standings - or whether they’ve had their photograph taken with the great leader. NK News wonders how will it coexist with Kim Jong-un’s proposed reformsIt might not be obvious from the outside, but experts agree that North Korea is undergoing significant upheaval. Kim Jong-un’s regime is said to be serious about reforms, with the so-called “30th May measures” promising to increase personal income and allow greater social mobility. But this has left many wondering how North Korea’s strict songbun system of social classification will coexist with such unprecedented reforms.'Awarded with an audience' is a title given to North Koreans who have talked to the leader for 20 minutes or more Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:00:15 GMT)

Jack Monroe’s tom kha gai soup recipe
This sweet and spicy Thai coconut soup makes a great lunch – add leftover chicken if you have some, but I often do withoutI first had this delicious, spicy coconut soup on a pavement outside a pub in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Thai food has become popular in pubs over the last few years; on a recent adventure up north I found more pubs offering Thai cuisine than hotpots. I had my second taste of tom kha gai in a boozer in Bolton. Then a bowl at Thai street food place Jane-Tira in Soho sealed the deal – I decided it was time I made my own. Soft, sweet, spicy and satisfying, it has become a work lunch staple, simmering away behind me on the hob as I write at my kitchen table. I’ll add a pile of shredded chicken if there is a carcass left from the weekend, but more often than not I’ll do without. I use ginger in place of hard-to-find galangal, and lemongrass paste to speed things up – it is easy enough to make, and freezes well or keeps in the fridge for around a week. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:00:20 GMT)

Smithsonian Institution bans selfie sticks 'to protect visitors and objects'
Visitors can still take selfies but must ‘leave the sticks in their bags’ in line with similar policies at other museums and galleries The Smithsonian Institution, which includes 19 museums and galleries, has banned the use of selfie sticks by visitors.“For the safety of our visitors and collections the Smithsonian prohibits the use of tripods or monopods in our museums and gardens. Effective today, 3 March, monopod selfie sticks are included in this policy,” the institution said in a statement. This is a preventive measure to protect visitors and objects, especially during crowded conditions. We encourage museum visitors to take selfies and share their experiences – and leave the selfie sticks in their bags. Related: To ban or not ban: selfie sticks turn focus to museum photo policy Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:54:35 GMT)

Simon Munnery on Mark Lamarr’s masterclass in handling hecklers
Comedy in the late 80s was a bear pit and Edinburgh’s Late’n’Live was as tough as they come. When Mark Lamarr went on stage, the place erupted – and then he demolished the crowdMark Lamarr did the bravest thing I’ve seen anyone do on stage. There are others who inspired me when I started (Jerry Sadowitz, John Hegley, Malcolm Hardee, Arnold Brown) and along the way (Phil Kay, Robin Williams) but if heroism requires courage, and it doth, Mark gets my biscuit.I started doing comedy in the late 80s, and things were different on the circuit back then: it was more combative, there was more heckling. Maybe the spirit of punk still wafted in the ether as audiences seemed imbued with the urge to level. Heckling was expected – it was the nature of the playing field. On discovering my profession/malady, people often said to me: “Oh, you’re a comedian – how do you cope with the heckling?” The truth is, we didn’t always. Sometimes, a comeback would occur to you on the spot; sometimes you’d reach for one of your own prepared put-downs (these we carried in our heads, like squirrels with treasured nuts or battle scars from previous encounters), or as a last resort, one of those in common ownership (“What a shame when cousins marry”, “Don’t drink on an empty head” etc. There were about seven.) And sometimes you’d just die, or get heckled off. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:00:22 GMT)

From bling to geek chic: can Italian fashion move beyond ‘molto sexy’?
Gucci showed clothes for Wes Anderson bookworms rather than sunbathers. Versace got digital with hashtags. Milan – fashion’s most classic capital – is out to reinvent itselfAs is often the case, it was the enduringly fabulous Donatella Versace who gave Milan fashion week one of its most memorable moments. Her hair poker straight and preternaturally shiny, her tiny body clad in a flared trouser suit, the designer was flanked by two glamazons in glittering mini dresses as she explained her latest collection. “We’re closing the door on the archive for new interpretations of what Versace is,” she said. “Times have changed. Psychologically and practically, the basis of a fashion language is different. It’s about finding a new language, particularly online.” That new vocabulary was written all over the models’ gowns, the dazzling embellishments hashtags, @-symbols and a new logo called “#GREEK”, or, as Versace explained it, “the emoji of the future”. Related: Versace joins digital age, embracing icons of social media Related: Dolce & Gabbana celebrates motherhood at Milan fashion week Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:58:00 GMT)

Paris court fines UK journalist for flying drones over city
Al-Jazeera said the British reporter Tristan Redman, who pleaded guilty, was compiling a piece for them at the time A French court has fined a British journalist €1,000 (£728) for flying a drone over central Paris, and confiscated the machine.Tristan Redman, 34, from the Qatar-based network al-Jazeera, was arrested last month in the Bois de Boulogne park, on the western edge of the French capital, along with two other journalists. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:14:18 GMT)

Marketing is dead, says Saatchi & Saatchi boss – long live lovemarks
Agency kingpin Kevin Roberts says future is all about creating a movement of people behind your brand – or ‘lovemarks’, as he calls themMarketing is dead. Strategy is dead. Management is dead.So says Kevin Roberts, the man who ran the UK’s most famous advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi for 17 years, until his recent move upstairs to become executive chairman. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:00:41 GMT)

Russell Tovey: he may be proud but is the ‘worst gay ever’ actually sorry?
The actor is having to backtrack after comments about effeminate men, but something about his Twitter apology fails to fully convinceName: Russell Tovey.Age: 33. Related: Russell Tovey: ‘I was a scared, skinny little rat. Then I hit the gym…’ Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:02:25 GMT)

The blockbuster's in decline – here's how to save it
More than 25 superhero movies in the next four years could spell troubled times for the US box office. How can the studios avoid fatiguing film-goers?With every new Marvel announcement (the latest of which is due on 5 March), a combination of excitement and resignation hits. While the Disney-owned studio has a habit of producing superhero films that fly a little higher than the rest, there are only so many costumed crimefighters we can bear to see on the big screen.Do we really need 11 Marvel films in the next four years, which, added to the other superhero offerings on the horizon, makes more than 25 in total? Related: Birdman got it wrong: serious actors love playing superheroes Related: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay's bombed-out dystopia is all too familiar | Suzanne Moore Related: Our pick of 2015's most exciting sci-fi and fantasy films Related: Can Marvel save Spider-Man from his tangled web of sequels? Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:00:42 GMT)

Leonard Nimoy’s photographs of fat, naked women changed my life
The late actor’s Full Body Project was bold and radical. It was the first time I’d seen women like me presented as objects of beauty instead of punchlinesI didn’t realise it until after he died – for whatever reason, I’d just never done the mental arithmetic – but Leonard Nimoy is responsible for the single most transformative moment of my life. In a very tangible way, Leonard Nimoy saved me.Of course, I have all the standard emotional attachments to the man as an actor and cultural icon: I grew up on Star Trek reruns and the ensuing films (when you’re done here, please sign my Change.org petition to get my fiance to wear Spock’s Voyage Home wizard bathrobe at our wedding); I used to watch The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins about 7,000 times every weekend, before I had to quit smoking pot because I convinced myself that I could “walk backwards through time”; and, in all seriousness, as a human being who believes in things – in love and humanity and the thrill of consciousness – it’s impossible not to be awestruck at the existence of such a principled, kind, talented, ravenously curious polymath. Related: The Full Body Project by Leonard Nimoy – in pictures I asked them to be proud, which was a condition they took to easily, quite naturally. Having completed the compositions that were initially planned, I then asked them to play some music that they had brought with them, and they quickly responded to the rhythms, dancing in a free-form circular movement in the space ... In these pictures, these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others Related: Zachary Quinto: Leonard Nimoy was like a father to me Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:14:25 GMT)

The shadow of Lewinsky: why Clinton deserves more respect
Painter Nelson Shanks’s recent revelation that he showed the shadow of Monica Lewinsky’s stained dress in his official portrait of Bill Clinton has garnered him kudos. But is he really such a hero?I wonder what would happen if an artist revealed that in an official portrait of George W Bush, he painted a dark shadow representing the Iraq war.Actually I know what would happen. Fox News would lead a conservative uproar that condemned this insidious piece of unpatriotic propaganda. I can hear them now. Related: Bill Clinton portrait artist hints at Monica Lewinsky scandal Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:11:23 GMT)

Matt Lucas’s Pompidou: why are we so snobbish about silent comedy?
The BBC’s new sitcom, like Mr Bean before it, has been called cynical and childish – but family entertainment shouldn’t be dismissed as unsophisticatedOuch. There’ve been some stinking reviews for Matt Lucas’s new silent sitcom Pompidou. A failed experiment, says Chortle. “Few laughs,” says the Arts Desk. “Painful,” says the Telegraph – which only a few days previously had assured us that, “with its roots in [the UK’s venerable silent comedy] tradition, Pompidou has the surest of starts”. Related: Are you a comedy snob? Related: Critics aren’t comedy snobs – I like Lee Mack as much as Stewart Lee Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:09:26 GMT)

Cannabis: what's in a name?
Recent studies have used “hash” and “skunk” to describe varying strengths of cannabis. Amir Englund explains the complexities of cannabis strain variationCannabis tends to be subdivided into 3 different species: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. However, these are merely terms used to describe the typology of the plant (it’s “looks” – shape, height, bushiness, and the like) rather than a specific distribution of its cannabinoids. When looking at the genome of the plant it becomes apparent that they all fit under the same species Cannabis sativa L, which is also evident as the different types can “mate” with each other (crossbreeding). Users often make the claim that “sativas” produce a more “head-high” while “indicas” a more “body-high”, and that this could potentially be because of differences in THC content and CBD/THC ratio. However, there is no evidence to support the notion that CBD/THC ratios differ among the different types. Furthermore, nowadays there has been extensive crossbreeding which would make a further distinction between the types less meaningful. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:43:39 GMT)

Oat cuisine: UK's first pop-up porridge cafe opens for business
Venture serving only porridge-based dishes follows trend for ‘brinner’ – using foods associated with breakfast and ‘reinventing’ them for dinnerFor lunch, Ellie Bamber had treated herself to an arborio rice porridge of slow-cooked beef ragu, feta and basil, which she followed with buckwheat porridge topped with passion fruit, coconut and agave nectar. Dessert, she concluded, wasn’t quite as good as the main, “but only because the beef was fantastic”. How was it otherwise? “Filling.”Most people wouldn’t generally tend to have a two-course porridge meal, all the same? “Oh, I probably would,” said Bamber, a student who had skipped her daily morning porridge to save some room for lunch. “I just love oats.” Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:00:10 GMT)

How well do you know these 80s remakes? – quiz
With Brewster's Millions now joining the seemingly endless list of 80s films heading for a remake, here's your chance to put your childhood-pillaging anger aside for a few minutes and show how much you know about other 'reimaginings' from the era Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:24:59 GMT)

I'm with Simon Cowell, let's bring professional wrestling back to British TV
I agree, the return of tummy-bumping to our screens could be a glororious thing. But there are a few rules. …This weekend, Simon Cowell revealed that he’d like nothing more than to bring wrestling back to British television. You can’t blame him: professional wrestling was once a huge part of British culture, and the fact that it has fallen by the wayside is a cause for despair.For some people, Britishness is a gentle stroll through a springtime meadow. For others it’s the endless nocturnal swirl of city life. Not for me, though. For me – and, we can assume, for Simon Cowell – to be British is to spend your Saturday afternoons sitting on a tatty sofa in a house that smells of chip fat, watching two fat blokes repeatedly bump tummies in their pants for money. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:54:58 GMT)

Samsung Galaxy S6 sacrificed what it does best in its war with Apple
Pursuit of premium design and slender profile have come at the cost of losing what made the company’s smartphones interesting and different The announcement of Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S6 smartphones has caused quite a stir, with a new design, interesting features, and a stripped back approach – but the company has lost what made its phones different in its war with Apple.Samsung has been the dominant player in the smartphone market since it took the top spot in global smartphone shipments from Apple in 2011. The phone to help it do that was the Galaxy S2, Samsung’s first hit, which succeeded because it was both different and capable.Samsung’s use of metal and glass addresses shortcomings of last year's all-plastic Galaxy S5 – good move. pic.twitter.com/PjKPHayM0kNo removable battery, no external sd slot no thank you.Without the ability to change the battery, the Galaxy loses the main point of having it. As to the astonished people who can't conceive of someone carrying a spare battery that always respond to this, just accept that some people have a bit of foresight.Samsung seem to have been influenced by the reviewers who keep harping on about its phones being made of plastic, so they've gone down the "style over substance" route and put the phone in a shiny package while at the same time introducing two major downgrades (replaceable battery and Micro SD slot).As someone who uses a phone because of its functionality, rather than as a fashion accessory or status symbol, this is a disappointment. I think I'll stick with my S4, which still works perfectly and hasn't been "dumbed down" like this new one.Ha! Just as I was considering switching from an iphone to a Samsung because of the SD card memory capability. Maybe I'll end up with a HTC or LG after all... Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:19:39 GMT)

Premier League webchat – live!
Barney Ronay is online to discuss the midweek fixtures in the Premier League 1.10pm GMT snuffy asks:What is your best long-shot prediction for the Premier League? The one that will make us say, “that man is a genius!” Please.There are no longshot predictions. Eveything in elite level football is strictly callibrated according to income. Surprise is impossible, or at least any extended run of unexpected success is impossible as money simply won't allow it. See, for example, Southampton losing to Lvierpool last week because they coulnd't convert their chances. This was against a tean that spent £25m buying their two best finishers in the summer, one of whom stayed on the bench last Sunday. If you look at it like that there was nothing surprising or unpredictable in Southampton being unable to score or Liverpool winning the game. It was won in the boardroom last summer, and propelled on its way by the inherent and very easily quantified bias, whereby money equals success almost entirely without exception. The days of teams being built, of managers being allowed to coach and polish and overcome those kind of hurdles, or where the differences in means were much smaller will never come again. From 1970 to 1981 seven different teams won the league title. It seems safe to say nothing like that will ever happen again. So, anyway, no not really. But I'll have a think. 1.05pm GMT MrGarethE asks:After the intervention of the fourth official, acting as peace keeper in a drunken fight at a wedding by pinning Steve Bruce back, what do you think would be the most entertaining battle of the head coaches? No one would dare ruck with Nigel Pearson but I can see a few others going toe to toe.I actually think the official made it all look worse last night. All Steve Bruce was doing was walking slowly towards another man, who was walking off. It looked bad with loads of people hanging off him and getting in his way, holding him back like a bunch of terrified Liliputians, but really nothing actually happened. Also feel a bit sorry for Gus Poyet. Who cares if somebody kicks a bucket full of sports drinks anyway. Hardest manager? Manuel Pellegrini. You wouldn't get within 30 paces of him. 1.03pm GMT ValenciaSkyBlue asks:How many points do you think Chelsea will drop between now and the end of the season?It doesn't really matter does it? no one else actually wants to win the league. The chance has been there - in all comps before the League Cup final Chelse had won twice in eight games. And still they're in effect eight points clear in the league. Mourinho has won league titles either by a distanace or on the final day. He is too good and his team is too strong-willed to let this one go. 12.58pm GMT DennisFranz asks:A lot of big games tonight, but how do you see Newcastle v United going? Tough game for us, but Rooney is back among the goals.I think Man Utd will keep on winning and finish third if Rooney plays in attack. Not only is he not a great midfielder, he's their best central striker right now in this league against these teams. It's intellectual perversity to play him anywhere else. 12.56pm GMT Donnacha ‘big Wenger’ Egan asks:I’m a big Wenger and finishing in the top four is great but we’re not building upon it even though we’ve started to spend money. It looks like we’re going to go out at the last-16 stage of the Champions League for the fourth time in a row, this time to Monaco, a team who we really should be beating and there’s been no Premier League title challenge. Do you think Wenger is still the man to bring Arsenal success both in Europe and domestically? If not what manager could?I'm a big Wenger too. I dress up in the padded coat and wear stilts and just walk around my living room looking pained, head brushing the ceiling. But seriously though.... I used to think the Wenger out lobby as a little premature, a little entitled and ungrateful. I'm starting to change my mind. Years of fine achievement staying in the top four. But things have changed now. Something else may soon be required. Given Wenger's selflessness and dedication to the club i still think he will recognise when that time comes, and if the right, younger alternative is available will make his own call. 12.52pm GMT ID4702058 asks:With the prevalence of high-profile refereeing “issues” around the box impacting upon the league of late, would you like to see indirect free-kicks awarded in a wider-range of scenarios? For me, it would reduce the all/nothing element in many cases - but perhaps that’s the sort of “scandal” the sport is hooked on?I've already suggested the best thing to do is simply to stop talking about referees and "decisions". It has a retarding effect. Maybe referees should be pixelated, or even airbushed out completely on TV. Their names should be kept secret. There are many things that are genuinely "in crisis" in english sport and indeed in the world generally. Debatable issues of footballing judgement and interpretation hammed up in slow motion are not one of them. 12.48pm GMT Karan Sood asks:With Steven Gerrard nearing return, what will Brendan Rodgers do with him? That alone is a “three-points question” for Liverpool.He's leaving. They're playing well. He's 34 years old. the obvious answer is to leave the team as it is. It's a big test for Rodgers, also for Liverpool's fans I guess. Looks pretty straightforward to me though. 12.47pm GMT yigman asks:Gabby Agbonglahor was played in front of Christian Benteke allowing him to use his pace to run on to flick-ons; sub Jack Grealish was played in a free role when he came on which revitalised Villa’s attack and creative talents such as Sinclair and Gil were rested so should be fresh for the FA Cup tie this weekend. Is there a teeny, tiny chance that Tactics Time actually knows what he is doing?Sherwood has some very clear tactics. He played a certain way at Spurs, straight lines, width and speed in midifeld, big striker, close down aggressively, get it forward quickly, shout a lot on the touchline. It's just people don't like those kind of tactics, or see them as basic or retrograde or not "funky" enough. Plus possibly it becomes easy to counter them over time. Having said that I thought Nzogbia playing at the tip of a diamond was quite innovative. Perhaps Sherwood is dismissed too easily by some. Probably it's a bit of snobbery because he's a bold, loud, straight up English bloke. 12.45pm GMT trinder19 asks:Barnaby, look into your crystal ball and tell me who will be managing the Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Leicester City, Newcastle United and Everton next season. Newcastle aside, it looks to me as though there is just as much chance of there being a new manager as there is the current manager staying.Van Gaal, Guardiola, Klopp, Heskey, Beardsley, Martinez. That's my fun lineup anyway. Beyond that probably exactly the same people who are managing them right now. 12.41pm GMT Jjustabouthopeful asks:Is there any manager who could take Steve Bruce in a fight?I don't believe Steve Bruce would ever actually have a proper fight. He looks the kind of bloke who might get you in a headlock somewhere private, maybe a pub carvery car park, and speak to you soothingly for 20 minutes or so until you calm down, apologise, agree with him, shake hands and go back inside, where he introduces you to his wife and calls you, "a friend of mine" and sends you off on your way with stern look. Aside from that, Sean Dyche seems quite extreme. 12.39pm GMT Ashwath Ravisankar asks:Should Louis van Gaal’s tactics be criticised for United’s boring play or should he be judged next season? His Ajax team played attractively by the way.Van Gaal's Ajax were great to watch while they were winning the Champions League. I can't speak to what they were like when he'd only been in charge for eight months. My opinion is, if United were to get rid of Van Gaal, a manager you simply have to give time, then they've bascially wasted a year. Let him do his thing, make his mistakes, find his sytem. If they do make it inot the Champions League, I'd judge him on next season and how he does there after a proper pre-season and summer trnafser window. We are a uniquely fretful, short-termist football culture. A few good results from here and all this will look very different by the end of the season. But then I have a weakness generally for arrogant scholarly central Europeans. 12.36pm GMT Howiee asks:Walcott seemed to be in good shape then why he is not being played?I think he's not starting for tactical reasons, as David Hytner pointed out last week. Wenger lieks to play with two wide players, and so far this season one of those has always been Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez is a genuinely attacking wide player, so on the other side Wenger likes a little more muscle and heft and defensive protection. Enter: Danny Welbeck. Yes, sorry Danny. I know. You wanted to be centre forward. But you're good at this. Beyond that I have no idea what effect Walcott's contract running down has on thigns but certainly last time around he was in and out for a while during those negotiations. He won't be happy though. 12.30pm GMT Barney is online and checking his mail: Hello. Welcome to the web chat. I'm going to start rummaging around in my post bag now. 12.01pm GMT Barney will be online from 12.30pm GMT to answer your questionsIn the meantime, here are last night’s results, tonight’s fixtures:and some of our previews: Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:10:44 GMT)

Kevin Pietersen and the Thatcher parallel: the batsman’s not for returning
The means by which his supporters could restore Pietersen to his former England glory are as ill-defined as they are inherently doomed – yet they fight destructively on, and on• Pietersen debate the last thing England need – Stuart BroadFor almost 30 years, the passport of ex-King Constantine of Greece did not admit of a surname. It billed him simply as “Constantine, former king of the Hellenes”. I wonder if Kevin Pietersen might consider amending his British one so it reads simply: “Kevin, exiled England batsman”?There are deathless stories, and then there is the question of whether a way back to the England side can be found for Kevin Pietersen. None of us should rule out this discussion being the last thing we hear before we die – even if our expected checkout date is several decades away. Pietersen could be fielding in a Zimmer frame for the Jaipur Twilight Homers in the IPL seniors’ league, and people would still be arguing whether the door to an England return was truly shut. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:48:07 GMT)

Sunderland’s Gus Poyet plays down touchline clash with Hull’s Steve Bruce
• Uruguayan was sent to the stands during first-half at KC Stadium• Poyet admits Adam Johnson arrest has been hard to deal with• Hull 1-1 Sunderland: match reportGus Poyet revealed the 24 hours preceding Sunderland’s Premier League draw at Hull had been the most difficult of his managerial career.Sunderland suspended Adam Johnson on Monday, pending the outcome of a police investigation, after the 27-year-old England winger was bailed following arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:28:18 GMT)

Pakistan secure 129-run victory over UAE at Cricket World Cup
• Pakistan 339-6; UAE 210-8 (Pakistan win by 129 runs)• Ahmed Shehzad run out just short of a century• The Spin: cricket’s great data debate – art v sciencePakistan boosted their chances of reaching the Cricket World Cup quarter-finals by defeating the United Arab Emirates by 129 runs in Napier.A second-wicket partnership of 160 between Ahmed Shehzad (93) and Haris Sohail (70) and a quick-fire 65 from the captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, helped Pakistan amass 339 for six in their 50 overs and, although the UAE lost only eight wickets in their reply, they made 210, leaving them well short of their target. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:45:54 GMT)

Manuel Pellegrini digs in his heels at Manchester City
City manager needs to get back on track against Leicester on Wednesday after back-to-back defeats that threaten to sabotage the season• Pep Guardiola rules out joining Manchester City in summerOne of the strangest things perhaps, after all the expenditure and all the grand plans, is the amount of time – and the total number of days might surprise you – Manchester City have actually spent at the top of the Premier League since that afternoon in 2012 when Sergio Agüero pulled back his right boot, the clock ticked into the 94th minute and Martin Tyler’s commentary went up several octaves.We are approaching the three-year mark and, in total, there have been only 22 days since when City have been looking down on everyone else. The longest run at the top? That was a mere week in November 2012 before everything unravelled for Roberto Mancini. Last season? Six different spells on the summit but never more than four days, even if 7 May to 11 May were the most important four days of the campaign. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:51:53 GMT)

Sadio Mané the main man as Southampton squeeze past Crystal Palace
This was just the tonic Southampton needed to halt a steady decline. With 10 minutes remaining their malaise of late looked set to continue but Sadio Mané’s determination and deft touch secured a first win at home since New Year’s Day for Ronald Koeman’s side, whose top-four ambitions appear renewed.Crystal Palace had won five successive away matches under Alan Pardew before this defeat and will count themselves unlucky to not have at least earned a point. Wilfried Zaha hit a post and Fraser Forster was twice called on during a second half that could have easily have swung their way, with unease beginning to creep in at St Mary’s as Southampton struggled to create any telling opportunities. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:50:44 GMT)

Dave Mackay: all I wanted all my life was to play for Hearts. And Scotland
The former Hearts, Tottenham and Derby player won the league with all three of his major clubs, as player or manager, and retained close links with their fansThe enduring image of Dave Mackay is one of the most instantly identifiable in football: the one with a firm grasp of Billy Bremner’s shirt and a threatening stare towards the Leeds United captain’s face during a match in 1966.People routinely chuckle when seeing that photograph but Mackay was uncomfortable with the legacy. He felt it portrayed him in an unfair light; as a bullying aggressor rather than what he was, a hard but perfectly fair footballer. Albeit he would never say so himself, the Mackay memories should surround success rather than an isolated flashpoint. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:42:50 GMT)

Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal backs backpass as means of attack
• Fans booed Jonny Evans for passing to David de Gea against Sunderland• ‘What we can improve is our unnecessary ball losses’ says manager• Van Gaal confident despite tough fixturesLouis van Gaal understands why Manchester United fans booed Jonny Evans for passing the ball back to David de Gea during Saturday’s win over Sunderland though the manager says his defender deserved the benefit of the doubt.United defeated Gus Poyet’s side 2-0 at Old Trafford yet the display was again sluggish, particularly in the first half when supporters began imploring the team to “attack, attack, attack” after 23 minutes. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:29:10 GMT)

Dave Whelan resigns as Wigan chairman and names grandson as successor
• Wigan chairman stands down shortly after serving ban for racist comments• David Sharpe to replace Whelan, whose family retain stake in club• Cardiff board boycott Wigan trip in protest at Whelan and Mackay rowsThe 23-year-old grandson of Dave Whelan is to replace him as the chairman of Wigan Athletic. Whelan resigned on Tuesday after 20 years at the helm, with David Sharpe set to take charge.Whelan’s departure was announced in a statement on the Championship club’s website and came shortly after the 78-year-old had served a six-week ban from football for racist comments made in an interview with the Guardian. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:25:34 GMT)

Football quiz: which player's name is missing from the pop song lyrics?
Name the footballers who pop up in these song lyrics Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:43:51 GMT)

Fernando Alonso to miss start of F1 season on doctor’s orders
• McLaren driver suffered concussion during testing session in Barcelona• His place at Australian Grand Prix to be taken by Kevin Magnussen• McLaren admit they will be off the pace in Formula One until MayFernando Alonso will miss the season-opening Formula One Grand Prix in Australia on advice from doctors.The Spaniard sustained concussion following a heavy smash during the recent second pre-season test in Barcelona, resulting in him spending three days in hospital. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:38:49 GMT)

Brendan Rodgers feared sack before timing Liverpool rally to perfection
• ‘We had no identity and everyone could see it’ early in season• Win over Burnley on Wednesday would give team 29 points from last 33• Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard back in trainingBrendan Rodgers believes he would have lost his job as Liverpool’s manager without the “radical” change that has transformed the club’s Premier League season.Rodgers made the frank admission before Burnley’s arrival at Anfield on Wednesday night when a home victory would give his team a staggering 29 points from the past 33 available. In the leading five European leagues only Wolfsburg have a better points-per-game ratio than Liverpool in 2015. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:30:10 GMT)

Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger: Francis Coquelin could be a long-term solution
• Arsenal manager admits to being surprised by player’s renaissance• Former defender, heavily criticised by Sir Alex Ferguson, is enjoying new role• Wenger’s masterclass or did Arsenal get lucky?Arsène Wenger believes Francis Coquelin could be Arsenal’s long-term solution in defensive midfield, praising the Frenchman’s mental fortitude after clawing himself back into the first-team frame when he appeared to have no future at the north London club.Coquelin was at risk of missing Premier League game at Queens Park Rangers following a clash of heads with team-mate Olivier Giroud during Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Everton. Coquelin broke his nose but continued playing until the 89th minute when he was involved in another collision. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:30:09 GMT)

No, Mr Osborne, selling our stake in Eurostar is not securing Britain’s future
As ever, profit gets privatised and risk or liability remains the business of the stateThe government is thrilled that it has found a buyer for the Treasury’s 40% stake in Eurostar. And no wonder. An Anglo-Canadian consortium has offered to pay £757m. In the autumn of 2013, when the coalition first announced its plan to sell, it expected to raise £300m. Which looks like prima facie evidence that the government doesn’t have much idea about how valuable national assets are. It’s all, says the chancellor, George Osborne, “part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.” To an idiot such as myself, it looks like part of a long-term plan to secure the future of Patina Rail LLP.I thought the long-term economic plan was to narrow the deficit. I do see how a large injection of cash can do this in the short term – by paying off some debt. But in the long term, selling off state-owned, profit-making assets can only ever make the government all the more dependent on tax revenues. As ever, profit gets privatised and risk or liability remains the business of the state. If Patina Rail LLP makes a mess of running the service, it’s not hard to see who’ll be expected to pick up the pieces. Related: Eurostar sale to net British taxpayers more than £750m Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:35:04 GMT)

Mirror group phone hacking is not getting headlines it deserves
Too many newspapers have failed to give the story appropriate coveragePhone hacking was “rife” and reached an “industrial scale” at the Daily and Sunday Mirror and at the Sunday People from 1999 until 2009. If you read the Guardian, this will not be a surprise. It was carried prominently on this website yesterday and it is the page 1 lead in today’s print edition. The story was given major billing on the TV and radio bulletins of the BBC, and on Sky News. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:17:03 GMT)

For the Tories, policy by nostalgia ain’t what it used to be
This is the party that wants to encourage aspiration, but its methods are just the old ways polished up as newThe most famous image of David Cameron on a council estate was taken during a visit to Wythenshawe, Manchester in 2007. He ambles towards the camera in dark jacket, gleaming white shirt, no tie; all modern Conservative casual. A few paces behind, a hooded youth, fingers and thumb in the shape of a gun, mimes the assassination of the leader of the opposition.The image dramatised the limits of Cameron’s plan to recast his party as agents of social reform. The new Tory leader had strayed from his natural habitat and met vigilante PR justice.Attachment to grammars testifies to the power of nostalgia over evidence Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:00:15 GMT)

I have bipolar disorder, but I wouldn’t want to ‘fix’ my mind
Having experienced the crippling depression and manic highs of bipolar, my relatively mild mental illness has also given me a reservoir of insight and compassion to draw fromA couple of years ago, I started writing a novel called The Mirror World of Melody Black. It’s about a young woman with type II bipolar disorder whose life begins to unravel after she goes to her neighbour’s flat and finds him dead on the settee. As soon as I started writing this scenario, I knew that I’d probably have to explain it somewhere down the line. There are certain subjects in fiction that are almost guaranteed to provoke curiosity regarding the relationship between an author’s work and their life.Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the death of a neighbour; I didn’t expect anyone to ask if that part of the story was based on personal experience (it was, though the context was different). I’m talking about mental illness. I think it’s nearly impossible to write a story about depression, or in this case manic depression, without people questioning how much of the author is in the work. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:59:27 GMT)

Is Isis the ultimate evil? They would love you to think so
Presenting Isis as iconic demons obscures the symbiotic relationship between jihadis and the westSomething about the term “barrel bomb” fails to convey the horror of the weapon. Perhaps it is the alliteration, which has a kind of playful quality; maybe it’s because we associate barrels with beer and wine. But barrel bombs are the source of unimaginable horror and cruelty. As well as explosives, they often contain shrapnel to maximise the human carnage. Dropped from helicopters at heights that make precision targeting impossible, they are employed by the Bashar al-Assad regime, our de facto allies – let’s stop pretending otherwise – and until recently, by the Iraqi government too. In just a year, barrel bombs killed more than 6,000 civilians in Syria, nearly a third of whom were children.But the Assad regime does not flaunt its cruelty. It does not make videos with Hollywood effects – slo-mo, closeups, haunting music, the aftermath in high definition. Instead, it adopts the same regretful tone of western powers, like when the US dropped flesh-burning white phosphorus over Falluja. We regret any civilian casualties (or “collateral damage”, as the west prefers). We do not target civilians, unlike our opponents – and so on. The scale of death may be far greater, but the claimed intentions are different: unlike our opponents, we do not aim to kill civilians, they say, so we retain our moral superiority. Above all, the Assad regime does not execute white westerners and film it. Islamic State (Isis) is now the iconic demon, the stuff of nightmares – which is exactly what it wants, of course.If we can provide context for the rise of Nazism, why not elsewhere? Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:47:55 GMT)

Indian women found their voice after the Delhi rape. Could this film help silence them again?
By giving a rapist a platform to justify his terrible crime, India’s Daughter risks reinforcing the views that have normalised violence against womenIt was at a campus protest in March 2013 that I heard that Ram Singh had been found hanged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.All through that winter, women and men had been out on the city’s streets, marching and organising in search of an elusive justice and equality. The city had been in a state of seething unrest since 29 December 2012, when Jyoti Singh, a medical student in her 20s, died of terrible injuries inflicted on her by a group of men who raped and tortured her on a bus. Ram Singh was one of those men.In this, there is a very real risk of turning a rapist into the Twitter celebrity of the day Related: India’s Daughter: ‘I made a film on rape in India. Men’s brutal attitudes truly shocked me’ Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:35:37 GMT)

Ah, the unmistakable scent of Eau de Terror
Maybe it’s the promise of virility that draws Anders Breivik and Islamic State’s Abou Bilel to Chanel fragrances. I just get lemons with a top note of Toilet DuckAs the leisurewear outfit Lacoste discovered during the trial of Anders Breivik, there is such a thing as negative publicity. Breivik’s proud displays of their pullovers, as he explained his reasoning for murdering 77 people, mostly children, led to Lacoste requesting police intervention to end his remorseless product placement.Bad news for Lacoste, good news for Chanel, as it threw people off the scent of Breivik’s other big brand passion: Platinum Egoiste, Chanel’s cologne “expressing energy, light and virility, with the warmth of exotic woods”. His followers still ship him bottles in prison along with books and CDs and Knights Templar cufflinks, though one chap on the Commander Breivik Report online forum did express some queasiness: “I wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable sending another man some perfume.” Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 06:00:00 GMT)

As we boldly go jetpacking to work, we'll pine for relics of old times. Like keyrings
Wallets and awful driver’s licence photos may become museum pieces, replaced by sci-fi technology, but we will end up missing reminders of our messy old livesThe most fanciful prediction of sci-fi lovers finally came true this week. A jetpack designer is preparing to float his invention on the Australian stock market. Star Trek is now. Beam us Aussies up, Scotty. Days later, a multinational home furniture chain known for its no fuss Scandi design that comes with a side of meatballs (if never all the right parts), announced it was creating furniture that will charge all our umbilical devices, like smartphones and computers. No more messy cables and lost chargers and calls to hotels asking if the cleaner found our plug in the vacated room. All you’ll need to do is pop your phone down on the tabletop and, presto, job done. How very futuristic. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 02:28:16 GMT)

How did Bobby Davro think his racist jokes at a Tottenham-Chelsea game were OK?
The comedian was comfortable as he delivered racial and discrimatory slurs at an official event before the game at Wembley. I wasn’t“He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Harry Kane, he’s one of our own.” There’s something beautiful about that chant sung by Tottenham fans for Kane, our home-grown striker. It gives a real sense of unity – a connection between the stands and the pitch, and a feeling that everyone in that stadium belongs. It’s why I made my way to Wembley on Sunday to watch Tottenham – my team – take on Chelsea in the Capital One Cup final.But when I arrived at an official pre-match Spurs supporters’ event, I was met by a different type of feeling. It was a feeling that told me I didn’t belong. Hanging over the balcony in a function room in nearby Wembley Arena, microphone in hand, was television’s Bobby Davro. He’d been hired to host the event, and chose the venue to deliver a routine of largely racist and discriminatory jokes. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:13:01 GMT)

Ignore the ‘pro-business’ rhetoric: a pro-rich government is anti-business
No party can claim to be ‘pro-business’ if it is soft on tax avoiders and market fixers – that only hurts other businessesDespite the best efforts of some of its members to discredit it with market rigging, tax avoidance, and unjustified bonuses, the business community is still held in awe in Britain. Any suggestion of higher taxes for top earners or tougher regulations on the abuse of market power is howled down as dangerously anti-business. Politicians who are serious about the nation’s prosperity and its citizens’ welfare, it is accepted, need to be “pro-business”.But what does it mean to be pro-business? First, we should not confuse a pro-business stance with a pro-rich stance. Not all rich people are business people, or “wealth creators”, as they are often called these days. Some of them have simply inherited vast sums of money, while others have created wealth elsewhere and are simply enjoying their lives in the UK. Related: Tax avoiders and hedge funds. The Tories invited them to the party … We have allowed the idle rich to parade as wealth-creating, rule-breaking business people for far too long Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:16:48 GMT)

Let’s sell off Westminster and send our MPs out to roam the land
Rather than spending billions trying to restore the mock-Gothic palace, why not flog it as a luxury hotel, eject most of its occupants and have a peripatetic parliamentI confess I have not detected much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the news that the palace of Westminster, home of the Lords and Commons, is falling down, and will slide into the Thames in a decade or two unless what speaker John Bercow calls the “not inconsequential” sum of £3bn is spent tarting it up. Let it slide seems to be the general view, preferably with most of its present occupants in it.When the old palace burned down in 1834, its mock-Gothic replacement – the style was chosen as a consciously reactionary throwback to the Middle Ages – took 30 years to build. The original estimate for construction was well under a million quid. It came in at double that, and no doubt Bercow’s £3bn will in the end be £6bn and rising. Not inconsequential? In fact, far too much. Forget it. Related: Two bed flat with riverside views – who wants to rent the Houses of Parliament? Related: MPs could be forced to 'abandon' crumbling Westminster, Speaker warns Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:49:24 GMT)

We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades – end it now
As other nations have been rethinking their approach and admitting mistakes, British politicians have been too scared to embrace reformBy any standard, the global war on drugs has been an abject failure. Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.Portugal's reforms have allowed resources to be redirected towards the treatment system Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:00:09 GMT)

How long should a severely disabled child wait for housing?
I have leukaemia and my five-year-old daughter is disabled but we’ve been waiting two years for appropriate accommodation. We’re apparently not a priority – and we’re not aloneA mother with leukaemia. A five-year old daughter so disabled she can’t even throw an arm around the shoulders of someone carrying her up the stairs to her flat. Over two years on the housing register and no chance of even being shortlisted for a property. This is the reality of being disabled and living in housing completely inadequate for your needs. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:52:10 GMT)

Barclays boss gets £1.1m bonus for a job half done
Antony Jenkins has cut costs and toughened up over traders’ bonuses – but he has yet to prove that a viable investment bank will emerge eventuallyIt was a year of “steady progress”, said Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins. Indeed, he regards it as so steadily progressive that he thinks it “appropriate” to accept the pay committee’s kind offer of a £1.1m bonus, taking his package for the year to £5.5m.Most bank bosses, and most chief executives of large companies, would do exactly the same, make no mistake. Even so, this payout looks like a reward for completing only two laps of a four-lap race. Jenkins’ biggest task is to knock Barclays’ investment bank into shape and that job is only half-done – at best.We still have much work to do Related: Barclays' Antony Jenkins: the man with transformation on his mind Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:13:44 GMT)

Are all atheists simply angry, or just the ones to whom you're listening?
Science suggests that atheists are no more prone to anger than people of faith – but everyone believes that they areWhy are atheists so angry? The question – regularly flung around in debates about religion – is a self-fulfilling one, since atheists get pretty irritated whenever they’re asked it. But it’s revealing, too, because it pinpoints a surprising zone of agreement between believers and non-believers: many on both sides accept the premise that atheists are angrier than average. Naturally, their reasoning differs. Evangelical Christians sometimes assert that atheists secretly believe in God and fear he’s judging them; atheists retort that religion gives them plenty of things to be angry about. Either way, it’s difficult to examine Richard Dawkins’s Twitter feed (to pick the most unfairly obvious example) and fail to conclude that tetchiness and faithlessness go hand in hand. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:53:14 GMT)

Locking up immigrants diminishes us all
The latest horrors exposed by Channel 4 at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre must spark wholesale change. Tinkering and business as usual is not acceptableThere was a lot of noise at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire on Monday evening as female detainees watched the Channel 4 News undercover investigation into conditions there. I contacted women at the centre just after the report was broadcast and could hear shouting and crying on the wing. The women expressed horror at the revelations, but at the same time joy that the attitudes of some staff had been exposed. In the footage, detainees were referred to as “black bitches”, “beasties” and “caged animals”. The investigation also found numerous incidents of self-harm and questionable standards of healthcare, including for pregnant women.The detention centre, which has been controversial since it opened in 2001, is run by the private contractor Serco, which has suspended one member of staff in the wake of the revelations and is launching an independent review, saying: “We will not tolerate poor conduct or disrespect and will take disciplinary action wherever appropriate.” The Home Office has also ordered an investigation into the issues raised in the Channel 4 report.Last year, 30,000 people were held in 11 immigration removal centres. Many had committed no crime Related: Conference makes case for ending detention of female asylum seekers Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:55:45 GMT)

Is stealing from a small shop worse than from a chain?
David Lammy has raised interesting questions on how we judge a crime like theft. Moral absolutism and monetary value are more compatible than you thinkIs it better to steal from a large chainstore than from a small independent shop? This is one of the questions raised in a new report on property crime compiled by David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham. Lammy suggests that judgments about the seriousness of shoplifting should take into account the theft’s impact on its victim. His report argues that, “the impact of a £200 theft to a large retailer is much smaller than it would be to an independent retailer.”Lammy’s report emphasises the severity of property crime, highlighting research by the Policy Exchange thinktank which found that half of burglary victims do not hear back from police after reporting the crime. Related: Shoplifting on the increase as overall crime figures fall Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:56:48 GMT)

Steve Bell on Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress – cartoon
Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:42:27 GMT)

'Jihadi brides' aren't oppressed. They join Isis for the same reasons men do
The ‘jihadi bride’ narrative is inherently sexist – it fails to acknowledge the agency of Muslim women, either in conflict or in preventing terrorism The Islamic State (Isis) opened a women-only mall in Mosul, Iraq. In under 150 characters Um Anas expressed her praise: “No brothers allowed, this is the Khalifa.”In another tweet, Umm Muthana brags about her newly acquired car: “Never got my license in Britain, failed it many times haha but here I drive this #IS. You jealous women of Saudi?” ... young western women are also lured by the promise of a politically and religiously pure Islamic society. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:36:22 GMT)

I lived with an older person in return for cheap rent, but my chores quickly grew
Schemes that match young people priced out of renting with older people with a spare room and in need of company are not the simple solution to live-in care they may appearOn paper, homesharing sounds perfect. It matches young people, like myself, who can’t afford London’s rocketing rents, with older people who are lonely.As I was about to start a full-time master’s course, I was only going to be able to work part-time, so renting a normal flat was out of the question. I searched for alternative options from being a property guardian to being an au pair. Related: No party has clear policies about the care of older people | Stewart Dakers How many older people are relying on unpaid and untrained young people in order to get cheap care in the home? Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:38:38 GMT)

Incomes rise but working-age households remain worse off
Average income of people aged between 22 and 30 estimated to be 7.6% lower than before the financial crisis, according to Institute for Fiscal Studies Average household incomes in Britain have finally returned to their pre-financial crisis levels, but recovery has been very slow and working-age households are still worse off, according to a leading thinktank.The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said average incomes in 2014-15 are about the same as they were in 2007–08, before the banking crisis triggered a deep recession. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:14:45 GMT)

UK properties held by offshore firms used in global corruption, say police
Anti-corruption groups and Met detectives say £180m worth of real estate is under investigation as being used in money laundering and stolen capitalHundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of UK properties held in secretive offshore companies have been used to launder the proceeds of international corruption, Scotland Yard investigators suspect.The Metropolitan police have revealed that more than £180m of British property has been put under criminal investigation in the last decade as the likely proceeds of corruption. Detectives have warned it is the tip of the iceberg. Related: Inside 'Billionaires Row': London's rotting, derelict mansions worth £350m Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:01:01 GMT)

London man admits 'callous and sickening' robbery of 92-year-old
Soloman Bygraves, who pushed Stanley Evans to the floor and took his wallet, will be sentenced in AprilA man has admitted carrying out what police called a “callous and sickening” robbery, knocking down a 92-year-old man for just £5.Soloman Bygraves followed Stanley Evans into his block of flats and pushed him over as he lunged for his wallet. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:53:24 GMT)

Chair of Ipso funding body should quit over Trinity Mirror, says Hacked Off
Campaign group claims Paul Vickers is ‘unfit for the role’ because of allegations of widespread phone hacking at Mirror publisherA campaign group is to call on the press industry to sack the chair of the body which controls new media regulator Ipso, claiming that Paul Vickers is “unfit for the role” because of allegations of widespread phone hacking at Trinity Mirror while he was legal director there.Hacked Off said that his departure had become necessary after the beginning of the the first civil trial claiming damages against the newspaper group because of “industrial-scale” phone hacking at the company between 1999 to 2006. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:00:20 GMT)

Poundland must no longer claim everything it sells costs £1, says ASA
Retail firm told future advertising must not state everything it sells costs £1 following complaints that it sells DVDs and other special offers for morePoundland must no longer claim that every item it sells costs £1 after a watchdog upheld complaints that it sold DVDs and other “special” offers for more.The poundland.co.uk website’s About Us page said its “Everything for £1” claim was “the idea of our founders in 1990 and we’re still true to that great vision today”. Related: Amazon Prime ‘free trial’ offer banned for misleading over fees Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:39:32 GMT)

Amazon Prime ‘free trial’ offer banned for misleading over fees
Advertising watchdog rules ad did not make sufficiently clear that paid subscription would start immediately if not cancelled during trialAn offer of a “free trial” of Amazon’s Prime delivery service has been banned after the advertising watchdog found the online retail company misled consumers about subscription fees.The direct mailing sent to consumers with Amazon accounts included a plastic card stating “30-day free trial”, information about the associated Amazon Prime Instant Video and a letter reading: “Dear (recipient’s name), I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime … Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want ... That’s all there is to it …” Related: Poundland must no longer claim everything it sells costs £1, says ASA Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:25:08 GMT)

Kew Gardens funding is 'recipe for disaster', warn MPs
Government criticised over short-term, stop-start funding, which has meant that Kew’s managers cannot plan for its long-term futureWorld class research at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London is being undermined by the government’s financial mismanagement of the organisation, MPs have warned.Funding for the renowned Kew Gardens was “a recipe for disaster” that took big decisions out of the hands of managers and left them unable to plan for the site’s long-term future, they said. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:49:20 GMT)

MPs slam 'capacity market' scheme for raising energy costs
Government scheme to keep the lights on during peak demand could also cause higher emissions because it favours paying fossil fuel plants to stay open over technology that cuts demand, MPs have saidA government scheme to keep the lights on could lead to unnecessarily high energy costs because it favours fossil fuel plants over smart technology which cuts demand, MPs have said.The “capacity market”, which aims to ensure there is enough power generation in the system to meet peak demand, could also result in higher carbon emissions because it is skewed towards paying coal fired power plants over reducing electricity demand. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:31:54 GMT)

Woman acted as surrogate mother for son's IVF baby, court hears
Man in his 20s told he may adopt his biological son after court is told how he embarked on ‘process of becoming a father’ with assistance from his own motherA woman acted as a surrogate mother for a baby whose biological father is her adult son, a family court judge has been told.The man, who is in his mid-20s and lives alone, had taken advice from specialist lawyers before embarking on the “process of becoming a father”, Mrs Justice Theis heard. He had looked after the little boy – now seven months old – since birth. Theis has ruled that he can adopt. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:36:12 GMT)

Steve Coogan backs bid to buy BBC3
Independent producers Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday respond to BBC TV chief Danny Cohen following initial rejection of £100m proposal The comedian Steve Coogan, and his independent TV production company Baby Cow, have backed Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday’s bid to buy BBC3.Coogan’s support will be one of the central planks of a letter to be sent on Wednesday by Thoday and Mulville to Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television. Related: BBC3: Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday's letter to Danny Cohen - full text Related: BBC3 bid: ​Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday step up pressure on trust Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:00:09 GMT)

Professionals blamed Oxfordshire girls for their sexual abuse, report finds
Serious case review says mindset that girls were ‘difficult’ allowed gang rape to continue, with victims perhaps totalling more than 370 Police and social workers in Oxfordshire had a tainted perception that girls as young as 11 consented to sex with men who raped and brutalised them, an independent report into the failure to stop their exploitation has said.Throughout their interactions with six young girls in Oxford, professionals struggled with the law on consent, failing to understand that such was the power of the grooming process the children had no power to say no to gang rape, sexual torture and violence. I went to the police, blood all over me, soaked through my trousers to the crotch. They dismissed it as me being naughtySocial workers asked me questions which showed they knewI wouldn't ever have said no - they'd have beaten the shit out of me Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:44:44 GMT)

UK shop price deflation deepens as food costs fall
British Retail Consortium said overall prices in February were down 1.7% on last year amid supermarket wars and drop in commodity costs High street price cuts deepened last month as fresh food costs dropped at the fastest pace for at least eight years, according to industry figures that will reinforce expectations the UK is headed for a brief period of deflation.The British Retail Consortium reported deflation in overall shop prices for the 22nd consecutive month, as prices in February fell 1.7% on a year ago. That followed deflation of 1.3% in January.The fiercely competitive market will see retailers continuingly responding to their customers with keen prices and promotions to maintain market share.The challenge for food retailers is that in store promotions also remain close to an all-time high at 33% of sales and the use of vouchers or coupons continues, making consumer demand rather unpredictable. Even so, shoppers are seeing a double benefit of price cuts and promotional offers,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s head of retailer and business insight. Related: Incomes rise but working-age households remain worse off Coffee prices have fallen quite dramatically in February, as continuing rains in Brazil dampened worries of a large shortfall in Arabica beans. Prices have fallen 38% since their recent peak in October 2014 when drought conditions in Brazil caused prices to soar.Just when drivers and businesses hoped that there might be some stability in petrol and diesel prices, commodity market greed has pushed up costs again and many petrol stations have wasted little time in passing them on.” Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:06:04 GMT)

Lib Dems promise to triple flytipping fines to £9m
Increased fines would target businesses that dump rubbish on an industrial scale in Britain’s parks, hedgerows and roadsidesFines for companies caught flytipping on an industrial scale should triple to £9m, the Liberal Democrats have said.The increased penalities would target businesses that avoid paying landfill tax by dumping rubbish in hedgerows, parks and roadsides, and follows a 20% increase in such incidents in 2013-14. Related: Man jailed for record tyre dumps Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:01:17 GMT)

Emergency care fund failing to reach A&E departments, research shows
Report suggests only 1% of £700m fund allocated to improving emergency services ended up directly in A&Es, with some of it used to pay off trust debtsLess than 1% of the £700m allocated by the government for emergency care in England this winter ended up directly in A&E departments, according to a survey of senior clinicians working on the NHS frontline.The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which commissioned the research, published on Wednesday, said the results suggested the cash was not spent in a way that would improve emergency services, with some of it even being used to pay off trust debts. Continue reading...
(Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:01:01 GMT)

Furness hospital's 'lethal mix' of failings led to deaths of 12, report says
Bereaved parent says ‘To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable’ as report finds ‘failures at almost very level’ including midwives on ‘seriously dysfunctional’ maternity ward dubbed ‘musketeers’ due to cavalier attitudeA “lethal mix” of failings at almost every level led to the unnecessary deaths of one mother and 11 babies in the maternity unit of a Cumbrian hospital, according to an independent report (pdf).The investigation into deaths at Furness general hospital in Barrow between 2004 and 2013 found maternity services were beset by a culture of denial, collusion and incompetence. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:36:43 GMT)

Rolf Harris is stripped of CBE
Harris, 84, who was jailed for nearly six years for sex attacks on girls as young as seven, loses honour awarded in 2006 Rolf Harris, who was convicted of assaulting young girls last year, has been stripped of the CBE awarded to him by the Queen.An official announcement in the London Gazette states: “The Queen has directed that the appointment of Rolf Harris to be a Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, dated 17 June 2006, shall be cancelled and annulled and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.” Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:57:30 GMT)

HSBC files: MPs call in top executives over Swiss revelations
Senior figures at bank including current BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead ordered to appear before public accounts committee over Swiss operationTwo senior HSBC executives and non-executive Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust chair, have been ordered to appear before MPs for a fresh hearing on the bank’s Swiss operation.The public accounts committee, chaired by the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, has requested evidence at a hearing next Monday from a group including the chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, the former head of HSBC’s global private banking division Chris Meares, and Fairhead, the former chair of the bank’s audit committee and current chair of its North American division. Continue reading...
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:51:07 GMT)

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