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Nearly a third of voters prepared to support Ukip
Observer/Opinium poll shows 31% of voters would back Nigel Farages party if they believed it could win in their constituencyThe phenomenal rise in support for Ukip is underlined by a new Opinium/Observer poll which shows almost one-third of voters would be prepared to back Nigel Farages party if they believed it could win in their own constituency.While the survey, which puts the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck on 33%, shows a substantial boost for the Tories (up five points on a fortnight ago), the rise of Ukip will be deeply alarming to the main parties. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:33:38 GMT)

Miliband barred Lamont from attacking bedroom tax for 12 months
Glasgow Pollok MSP, who quit as head of Scottish Labour, was told to stay mute on topic while party leader decided on policyEd Milibands leadership of the Labour party is under renewed pressure as sources close to Johann Lamont, who dramatically quit as Scottish leader on Saturday, claimed he banned her for a year from condemning the bedroom tax while he made his mind up on it.The diktat from London over the policy, which forces council house tenants to pay extra for spare rooms, was said to be a huge frustration for Lamont who was to come under heavy personal attack for being vague over the critical issue. She accused colleagues of trying to run Scotland like a branch office of London on Saturday, when she announced her resignation. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:35:00 GMT)

Ebola cases hit 10,000 mark
World Health Organisation releases new figures, with practially all victims of virus within west African countries worst hitThe number of people infected in the outbreak of Ebola has risen above 10,000, with the mortality rate now approaching 50%.The World Health Organisation said on Saturday that the death toll had risen to 4,922 out of 10,141 known cases globally in eight countries as at 23 October. Those figures show about 200 new cases since the last report, four days ago. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:59:00 GMT)

Fourth jihadist from Portsmouth killed in Syria
Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, 19, is fourth member of group of six Pompey lads who travelled to fight for IsisAnother British jihadist from Portsmouth has been reportedly killed on the frontline in Syria, the fourth to die from a group of six men who travelled from Hampshire last year to fight for the Islamic State (Isis).Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, 19, is understood to have died in fighting during the ongoing Isis offensive to capture the Syrian border city of Kobani. He was one of a group of six men from Portsmouth who went to Syria in 2013. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:59:00 GMT)

Ofsted launches new inquiry into superheads schools
New evidence prompts independent inquiry into claims that regulators visits were known about days or weeks in advanceOfsted has dramatically announced that it is launching an independent investigation into allegations that schools overseen by a controversial superhead close to former education secretary Michael Gove had advance knowledge of inspection dates.Three days after the schools inspectorate had said it would not reopen an inquiry into allegations concerning Dame Rachel de Souza reported in the Observer last Sunday, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, said that fresh email evidence discovered by Ofsted had forced his hand. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:43:47 GMT)

Victims threaten to boycott Woolf inquiry into child abuse
Survivors of child abuse say they have no confidence in Lady Woolf as relationship with Lord and Lady Brittan is revealedPressure on Lady Woolf to step down as the new head of the government inquiry into child abuse has intensified after a lawyer representing almost 50 victims said a number would not participate because of their concern about how it was going to be run.The claims, by Alison Millar, a partner at Leigh Day solicitors, came as the leading organisation representing abuse survivors said many feared that it would be a whitewash and questioned Woolfs credentials to lead the inquiry. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:20:59 GMT)

Jack Bruce, former Cream man, dies aged 71
The singer, bassist and songwriter of the original supergroup had suffered liver diseaseJack Bruce: five songs that chart his journey through the 60s to CreamJack Bruce, best known as one third of Cream, has died of liver disease. In a statement issued by his family on Saturday, his family said: It is with great sadness that we, Jacks family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.Bruce played bass, sang and was the principal songwriter in Cream, but even leaving aside that group, in which he played with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, his CV reads like a comprehensive guide to the British blues boom, with spells in Alexis Korners Blues Inc, the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayalls Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann. 11 years from now I will be the same age as Jack Bruce 11 years! Is it time to put the clocks back?Just read that Jack Bruce has died! Gutted Cream are a huge influence on me! Still ahead of their time even now https://t.co/BHtt0DCcQ4So sad to hear of Jack Bruce passing. My biggest influence and favourite bass player. Thank you, Jack. RIP.RIP my beautiful friend Jack Bruce .. Thanks your amazing art .. And being such an inspiration when I started playing bass: love you JGH Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:37:12 GMT)

Outlaw revenge evictions by landlords, says housing charity
Shelter wants to curb practice by rogue landlords of throwing tenants out if they complain about inadequate conditionsShelter, the housing charity, is calling for a ban on revenge evictions, which it says are being carried out by bad landlords on tenants who dare to complain about inadequate conditions or ask for repairs to be made.A survey by YouGov of more than 4,500 private tenants, commissioned by Shelter and British Gas, has revealed that poor conditions are the norm for many renting families. Almost half said they had lived in the past year in a property affected by damp (44%) or mould (48%) both of which can cause conditions such as asthma and eczema. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:33:05 GMT)

Ed Miliband accused by carers of failure to back pay strike
Labour leader called on to make a public statement of his support for carers on strike in his constituencyCarers for disabled people, who have been involved in one of the longest strikes in the history of the health service, accused Ed Miliband in a private meeting of failure to offer public support for their cause. The carers, who have been on strike for 90 days, told the Labour leader of their deep disappointment with what they say is his failure to help his constituents in Doncaster.Sixty carers are striking in support of a living wage for staff within the privatised care service, now run by the private equity-owned Care UK. At a 45-minute meeting on Friday, three representatives of the strikers handed Miliband a letter which read: Mr Miliband, its not easy to sit here and say this: we have had private, but no public, support from you or any of the local Labour MPs. The local Labour party and councillors have been worse. We have not had one word of support or visit to our picket line from any of the local Labour party. We cannot tell you how disappointing this has been for us. Most of us have been Labour voters all our lives, a good proportion of us are your constituents Its time to get off the fence. We want you to publicly state your support for our action. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:37:05 GMT)

Labour asks George Osborne to reveal when he knew about 2.1bn EU bill
Chris Leslie calls on Osborne to explain how long government has known about commission surchargeLabour has called on George Osborne to explain what he knew and when, about Europes demand for Britain to pay an extra 2.1bn (£1.7bn).David Cameron responded furiously to the bill from the EU on Friday, complaining that he had been ambushed at a summit of fellow leaders. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:01:41 GMT)

David Cameron kept in the dark over EUs bill for 2.1bn
PM denounces conduct of European commission as he admits Osborne knew of demand for cash two days before he didDavid Cameron admitted that he had been left in the dark by George Osborne for two days as he complained that he had been hijacked by Brussels over an unexpected demand to pay £1.7bn (2.1bn) to the EU.The prime minister said he would refuse to comply with the sudden bill, which he first learned about on Thursday, but questions were raised about Whitehalls competence once it emerged that the chancellor had known since Tuesday. Labour said ministers should have expected the higher bill months ago. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:22:43 GMT)

Iran executes Reyhaneh Jabbari despite global appeals for retrial
Activists say designer killed man in self defence after he tried to sexually assault her, and confession came under duressIran has ignored an international campaign to spare the life of a 26-year-old woman convicted of murder by hanging her at dawn on Saturday.Reyhaneh Jabbari had spent five years on death row for stabbing a 47-year-old surgeon who had previously worked for the intelligence ministry, the official IRNA news agency reported. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 14:26:00 GMT)

Washington shooting: police confirm intervention by cafeteria worker
Police say 40-caliber handgun recovered from sceneJaylen Fryberg may have acted after romantic disputeThe story as it unfolded our live blogPolice are trying to determine why a Washington state high school student shot dead a female classmate and wounded four others on Friday, before killing himself.On Saturday morning, Snohomish County sheriffs spokeswoman Shari Ireton said in a statement that the on-scene investigation at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle was finished and a 40-caliber handgun had been recovered. Ireton said it was believed the gun was the weapon used in the shooting. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:37:51 GMT)

Egypt declares state of emergency in Sinai after checkpoint bombing
Emergency measures to last three months after 30 soldiers killed when suicide car bomber struck checkpoint, according to officials Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency would begin on Saturday in the north and centre of the Sinai peninsula after a suicide car bombing killed 30 soldiers. The bombing on Friday was carried out by a suspected jihadist who rammed a checkpoint with his explosives-packed vehicle, security officials said. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 02:56:10 GMT)

Edward Gibson dies in hospital after punishment shooting in west Belfast
Police Service of Northern Ireland detain three people in connection with the murder of the 28-year-oldA west Belfast man targeted in a dissident republican punishment shooting has died in hospital.Edward Gibson died from his wounds late on Friday night in the Royal Victorial hospital. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:37:49 GMT)

Kurds fear Isis use of chemical weapon in Kobani
Doctor in besieged Syrian town reports arrival of patients with blisters, burning eyes and breathing difficulties after explosionKurds battling Islamic State militants for control of Kobani fear the extremist group may have used an unidentified chemical weapon, according to officials and one of the few doctors still working in the besieged Syrian town.Patients with blisters, burning eyes and breathing difficulties turned up at a clinic after a blast was heard on Tuesday evening, Dr Walat Omar said. He described the symptoms as abnormal and said he could not identify their cause, but suspected a chemical weapon. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:22:47 GMT)

US launches 22 air strikes on Isis strongholds in Iraq
Areas near Mosul dam and cities of Fallujah and Bayji targetedIsis artillery piece near Syrian town of Kobani also destroyedFirst US death in Iraq Isis campaign announcedKobani doctor fears Isis used chemical weaponA day after the Department of Defense announced the first US death in the campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq, Central Command said 22 air strikes had been carried out in the country on Friday and Saturday.Marine lance corporal Sean P Neal, one of 1,600 troops supporting Iraqi forces against Isis, died in Baghdad of a non-combat injury, the US said late on Friday. The Marines said Neals death was under investigation. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:34:53 GMT)

Paul Gascoigne reportedly placed on emergency detox
Medics section former Tottenham Hotspur player under the Mental Health Act after a drinking binge, it is reportedTottenham Hotspur have said they are supporting former football star Paul Gascoigne after it was reported he had been placed on an emergency three-day detox.Medics sectioned the 47-year-old under the Mental Health Act at 3am on Friday after a drinking binge, it was reported on Saturday. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:43:12 GMT)

UK driving licence fees fall
Cost of provisional licence will fall to £34 from £50, while cost of renewing licence online will drop to £14Young drivers facing the mounting costs of taking to the road might well breathe a little easier after the government announced it was slashing the cost of obtaining a licence. The cost-cutting measure, which will see the price of a provisional licence fall to £34 from £50, was announced by ministers, who estimated it would save all new drivers in the region of £80m over the next decade. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 04:49:14 GMT)

Google executive Alan Eustace beats Felix Baumgartner's skydiving record
Eustace jumps 130,000ft from edge of space, hitting 822mph, after ascent in a balloonGoogle executive Alan Eustace has broken the sound barrier and set several skydiving records over the southern New Mexico desert after taking a big leap from the edge of space.Eustace jumped from over 130,000ft in a specially designed spacesuit, beating the mark set by the Austrian Felix Baumgartner in 2012. Eustace hit a top speed of 822mph during a freefall that lasted four-and-a-half minutes. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:06:49 GMT)

Whisper CEO suspends staff pending inquiry into 'anonymity' revelations
Editor-in-chief reported to be placed on leaveHeyward: Guardian reporting just plain wrongRevealed: how Whisper tracks anonymous usersTen questions Whisper must answer on Capitol HillThe chief executive of the anonymous social media app Whisper has placed at least two employees on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation by the company.Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed that Whisper, which promises users anonymity and claims to be the safest place on the internet, was tracking the location of its users, including some who had specifically asked not to be followed. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:40:33 GMT)

14 dead in Nepal bus crash
Bus packed with people including Israeli tourists and locals heading home for Diwali veers off mountain highwayA Nepal bus packed with people, including Israeli tourists and locals heading home for a Hindu festival, veered off a mountain highway, killing 14 and injuring dozens, police said on Saturday.Among those killed Friday were two Israelis, including a woman who was part of a group heading to the Langtang trekking area. Israeli media reported four other Israelis were among the dozens of injured, 20 of whom remained in hospitals. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 04:24:18 GMT)

Ottawa shooting: Stephen Harper oversees resumption of guard duties
Hundreds of Ottawa residents gather to honor fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo as his colleagues retake their positionsThe autumn sun shone brightly as two soldiers resumed guard over the tomb of the unknown soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, a mark of resilience after one of their number, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, lost his life in this weeks attack on the nations parliament.Hundreds of people, including prime minister Stephen Harper, gathered on Friday afternoon to watch the resumption of the honor guard, which had been suspended since Cirillo was killed on Wednesday morning. A heavily guarded Harper watched as the soldiers took their position next to the magnificent tomb decorated with bronze statues, a symbolic gesture of strength for a nation in healing. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:47:42 GMT)

Death in Syria: a man on a mission of mercy
As one family mourns a man who left to join an aid convoy, a campaign group urges a rethink on returnees from SyriaThe last texts of Kamran ul-Haque to his elder brother tell a story of a young man fearful yet thrilled by the prospect of war in Syria. I might be going on a mad mission very soon. Theres a place that has been heavily attacked and bombarded, he wrote.The 29-year-old east Londoner, who had been in the country since December last year, had spent months ferrying the dead and injured to field hospitals in the country in his own words, bloody, gruesome work far from his old life as an Indian takeaway delivery man in Whitechapel, east London. [They] need me here and my ambulance to take people out. Very risky mission but I love the feeling. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:28:00 GMT)

£200,000 smart drugs seizure prompts alarm over rising UK sales
Experimental medicine Sunifiram among record haul of drugs that are increasingly being bought online by studentsA record haul of smart drugs, sold to students to enhance their memory and thought processes, stay awake and improve concentration, has been seized from a UK website by the medicines regulator, which is alarmed about the recent rise of such sites.The seizure, worth £200,000, illustrates the increasing internet trade in cognitive enhancement drugs and suggests people who want to stay focused and sharp are moving on from black coffee and legally available caffeine tablets. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:31 GMT)

India spurns US offer and purchases guided missiles from Israel for $525m
Deal for at least 8,000 missiles and 300 launchers comes amid border tensions with China and exchanges of fire with PakistanIndia has opted to buy Israels Spike anti-tank guided missile, a defence ministry source said on Saturday, rejecting a rival US offer of Javelin missiles that Washington had lobbied hard to win. India will buy at least 8,000 Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers in a deal worth 32bn rupees ($525m), the source said after a meeting of Indias Defence Acquisition Council. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:07:03 GMT)

Italian court overturns Dolce and Gabbana tax convictions
Supreme court reverses decision against fashion duo, who had been sentenced to imprisonment The Italian supreme court on Friday overturned fraud convictions and 18-month jail terms against celebrated fashion duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, their company announced. We have always been honest and we are extremely proud of this recognition by the Italian court of justice. Viva lItalia, the two fashion house chiefs said in a statement. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:57:04 GMT)

G4S and Serco pay out £100,000 in youth restraint claims
Fourteen say unlawful measures used on them as children, with cases coming to light after deaths of two teenagersFourteen children who were assaulted by G4s and Serco staff while being detained in secure training centres (STCs) between 2004 and 2008 have received damages following a Guardian investigation.Neither company has admitted liability, but they have paid out almost £100,000 in compensation to the complainants who are now adults. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:46:11 GMT)

The murderers next door
For 15 years, William and Patricia Wycherley lay buried under their own lawn, killed by their daughter and son-in-law. Had this quiet cul-de-sac been the scene of a family argument gone wrong or something far stranger? We meet the neighboursIn the secure storage vaults of Nottinghamshire police headquarters is a box filled with Hollywood memorabilia. Theres a signed photograph of film star Gary Cooper, unsmiling in a tweed jacket and tie. Theres a bank form, faded at the edges, in which Cooper authorises his stockbroker to sell some shares in a Mexican steel company. Theres a blue-and-cream table card from a 1940s dinner dance, with Frank Sinatras autograph.These yellowed bits of paper look fairly unremarkable, but the people who owned them were prepared to kill for them. Earlier this year, Susan and Christopher Edwards were sentenced to 25 years for murdering Susans elderly mother and father, a crime they managed to conceal for 15 years, while they amassed the contents of this box. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 06:00:23 GMT)

The X Factor 2014: week three as it happens
Its movie madness week. Join Stuart Heritage as Rocky, James Bond and the Beatles go to war 9.39pm BST This seems to be the week that the judges turn on Stevi. Stevi planned one put-down Id like you to come up onstage and dance with me but, because everyones slagging him off so hard, hes forced to repeat it over and over again like the doll from Saw if it had slightly deader eyes. 9.37pm BST Just like last week, this is Stevi singing a cheesy song in an ironically bad way while surrounded by dozens of pretty girls. I think the thing stopping me from getting fully onboard with this performance is the uncomfortable feeling that hes probably stifling an erection while he sings. 9.35pm BST Stevis doing Footloose. Didnt someone do the song from Flashdance last week? Is the unofficial theme of this years series Songs From Films About People Who Arent Allowed To Dance? WILL THERE BE A BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL THEME NEXT WEEK? 9.34pm BST Stevi Ritchie now, who only just seems to have realised how far he can get by playing the Wagner card. Note: if playing the Wagner card gets Stevi further along in the competition than Wagner did, there will be open warfare from me. OPEN. WARFARE.In the VT, Stevi gets a tweet from Olly Murs. Which is about 15 steps down from getting a tweet from Wagner, but never mind. 9.29pm BST Oh dear. As Dermot threw to the ad break, they forgot to turn Fleurs microphone down. It turns out that, immediately after singing a song, Fleur likes to sing the song again for everyone backstage. Which is a bit insufferable. At least Andrea doesnt do it. Imagine the structural damage. 9.27pm BST The judges all loved it a lot more than me, though. Which is probably for the best, because otherwise theyd all just sit around making crap jokes and getting excited whenever Wagner tweeted at them. 9.25pm BST I think I like the idea of Fleur more than I like actual Fleur. I always get excited about seeing her perform, and then end up drifting off halfway through. Shes good, but theres something missing. 9.24pm BST Fleur is singing Lady Marmalade. By the sound of it, shes singing every version of it that has ever been recorded at once, but maybe thats just me.This is just like that time Christina Aguilera did a guest performance on the results show and got her bum out. 9.23pm BST Fleur East now. Will she sing? Will she rap? Will she ever mention that she was one of Addictiv Ladies? The answer to at least one of these is Dont be silly. 9.22pm BST By the way, get a load of bloody THIS.Watching @TheXFactor & reading @stuheritage's X Factor live blog (The Guardian). Stuart Heritage: the most entertaining of all writers! Lol 9.20pm BST The judges all hated it, though. Even Mel B, which isnt a very good sign. Hopefully next week is Very Boring Acoustic Busking Night, because then hell show everyone. 9.19pm BST Oh, now its got a bit more traditional. But, still, its Jack Walton singing it. Id quite like to see a Jack Walton training montage, where he files his nails and gets a stairlift in his nans house and sneezes into a damp hankie twice. 9.18pm BST You know how youve got Eye of the Tiger on your phone, and you listen to it when you work out, and it gees you up? This is like something youd listen to if you were about to drown yourself. 9.17pm BST Jacks singing Eye of the Tiger. By which I mean hes Ed Sheeransing it into a soggy pulp. 9.16pm BST Jack Walton now, getting ready to massacre another song you like by wearing a checked shirt and playing an acoustic guitar like a bored child listlessly attacking a bag of meat. I dont know about you, but I cant wait.In the VT, Jack very efficiently reveals that hes never once had a flattering haircut. 9.15pm BST Dermot who is playing a blinder tonight, to be fair is now in the part of the show where he shows Simon Cowell a funny photo of Simon Cowell, and Simon Cowell acts like he couldnt just click his fingers and have Dermot killed on the spot. 9.13pm BST Have a drink whenever anyone says the word Skype tonight. Alternatively, just drink everything youve got as quickly as possible. Whichever involves the least amount of alcohol. 9.11pm BST True story: the most shameful thing about my stag night was waking up the next day and realising from my internet history that Id spent over an hour searching for different Let It Go cover versions on my phone. 9.08pm BST One of two things is happening here. Either:a) This is one of Laurens worst performances, or 9.06pm BST Anyway, Lauren is singing Let It Go. They really missed a trick by not dressing Louis Walsh up as a crazy snowman and getting him to jig about behind her for this, didnt they? 9.05pm BST Lauren hopes that all the small children watching X Factor tonight will sing along with her. ITS NINE OCLOCK AT NIGHT, LAUREN. 9.04pm BST Lauren Platt now. This week, Demi Lovato Skyped Lauren and Skype Skype Skype Skype Skype Skype Skypey Skype Skype Skype. 9.01pm BST Also, there are sexy girls. And Paul keeps singing You gotta over and over again, like one of those Ronald Reagan Raps cassettes from the 1980s. But mainly its just the hip-hop preset thing.In short: Im pleased that he went big, because Im not sure that I would have noticed if hed gone medium-sized. 8.59pm BST To be fair, though, Paul actually is Barry From EastEndersing Try a Little Tenderness tonight. But the judges have promised something big from him, so what could it... oh, wait, someones pressed the hip-hop preset on a Casio keyboard. Thats the big thing, I assume. 8.58pm BST This week, everyone insinuates that Paul lacks self-confidence. And I just called him Barry From EastEnders. OH GOD STUART JUST GO AND LOCK YOURSELF IN A CUPBOARD YOU INSENSITIVE BERK. 8.57pm BST Now for Paul Akister, ready to Barry From EastEnders the living crap out of a power ballad until Louis Walsh cries again. 8.54pm BST This week, the X Factor hairdressers are using Tresemme products to create a sleek and smooth look for the contestants. Which Im pretty sure is what they said last week. Are they just running the same advert every week? I will make it my duty to keep an eye on this. 8.51pm BST All the judges are insinuating that Lola lacks self-confidence. Which makes me feel JUST GREAT for slagging her off a bit just now, doesnt it? OH WELL DONE STUART, YOU MONSTER. YOU ABSOLUTE MONSTER.I will now revise my assessment: Lola Saunders is roughly as good as Leon Jackson. There, thats better. 8.49pm BST I dont really, but I just realised that I hadnt added any Key Events yet this episode. 8.48pm BST Christ, imagine not being as good as Leon Jackson at sining a song. This is the future that Lola must face, because she isnt. 8.48pm BST Lolas singing When You Believe, the first single by former X Factor winner Leon Jackson. Has he been in any films, you ask? No, but Im pretty sure hes got a Saturday job unclogging jammed-up popcorn butter machines with his bare hands at his local Odeon. That counts, right? 8.47pm BST In the VT, Cheryl phoned Lola and was immediately punished for not contacting her via Skype like Jay Jamess 13-month-old daughter did. Jay Jamess 13-month-old daughter knows the score.Also, Lola got a haircut. 8.45pm BST Now its Lola Saunders the singing fishmonger, here to sing something from The Little Mermaid or The Perfect Storm or Jaws or A Fish Called Wanda or Finding Nemo or any other film where I get make a lazy reference to Lola being a fishmonger. 8.44pm BST And an iPhone advert starring Richard Ayoade. You know, if hed used the advert to pointedly question the motives of television adverts in a slightly off-puttingly pre-prepared way like he did with that Channel Four interview, youd have all tweeted about it loads by now and Apple would have been thrilled. 8.42pm BST More ads now. Including an advert for Interstellar a blockbuster movie about space travel full of BLAAAAARM noises. Even that isnt as loud as Andrea was just now. 8.39pm BST All the judges love Andrea, and so do I. Well, its not so much that I love him. Its more that Im just really relieved that I dont live next door to him. 8.37pm BST Andreas singing Listen by Beyonce which, to be fair, is almost My Heart Will Go On. Nice loophole avoidance, Andrea. Nice loophole avoidance indeed.Anyway, in a nutshell: 8.34pm BST In the VT, Andrea... oh god, Andreas brilliant. Hes just said that he wants to take his gigantic power ballad and make it even bigger. Hes ridiculous. I love him. 8.33pm BST Anyway, back to the boys. And Andrea Faustini! He really needs to prove that he can do something more than compulsively stuff soggy power ballads with all manner of superfluous vowels week after week. In short: Andrea, if you do My Heart Will Go On tonight, Im just going to make a load of fart noises for three minutes. 8.32pm BST Incidentally, if you havent commented yet, this is the sort of nuanced criticism that you need to try and best. Full marks, Henry Frequency. 8.29pm BST Next up: a load more adverts. Including one I havent seen before where Ian Brown from The Stone Roses struggles with the basics of parenting. 8.28pm BST All the judges liked Jay James. Except for Cheryl, who inexplicably wanted him to sing it like James Bond. Im not sure what that means, but I have to admit that it would have certainly be more interesting if he used the instrumental break to murder a load of Russians and drunkenly molest a woman. 8.26pm BST Jay, quite ridiculously, is singing Skyfall. Fortunately hes decided not to slow it down this week, otherwise watching him sing it would feel like watching the van fall off the bridge in Inception. Even at the normal speed, though, this is not good. But Im all about the positives, so at least I know what Skyfall sounds like when its performed by someone with innately untrustworthy eyes. 8.24pm BST In the VT, Jay James becomes Professional Dad, just like Peter Andre with a more annoying singing voice. This week, for instance, his daughter said I love you daddy over Skype for the first time. This week, Jay James also looked in the mirror, realised that hed commoditised his daughters love by using it as a product placement, and felt nothing. 8.22pm BST Next up: Jay James. I dont know about you, but I cant wait to see which song Jay slows down this week. Will it be Oops Upside Your Head? I Like To Move It Move It? Get UR Freak On? Im beside myself with anticipation. 8.21pm BST In response to that performance, Louis Walsh sat in his chair and said Wooo about 17 times in a row. So at least now we all know what fire engines would sound like if Louis Walsh had invented sirens. Theyd be a lot more annoying, to be fair. 8.19pm BST This is the first time Ive ever heard this song, but I think theyre saying that Boom Clap is the sound that their hearts make. I dont want to alarm any of them, but that definitely isnt the sound that your hearts supposed to make. My advice would be to lay off the fatty foods. 8.17pm BST Its not great, but at least none of them are dressed as telephones tonight. At least theres that. 8.17pm BST Only The Young are singing Boom Clap from that young adult film about everyone getting cancer. I forget what its called, but I think I heard one of the members of the group describe it as The Fart In Our Stars during their VT. 8.16pm BST In the VT, the members of Only The Young try and introduce the term Cheese on toast as a term of negativity, even though cheese on toast is one of mankinds top three inventions. Ive gone right off Only The Young. 8.15pm BST Only The Young now, who quite unbelievably find themselves as the most successful group on the show. Perhaps its nostalgia. Perhaps people really are ready for the idea of a Same Difference knock-off band who look like they live in sewers and eat rats. Who knows? 8.14pm BST They dont rhyme, Kevin. THEY DONT RHYME. Bacon aint mistaken. See? THATS A BETTER RHYME AND I JUST THOUGHT OF IT. Lord above. 8.13pm BST First ad break of the night. You know, this time next week well have Christmas ads up the wazzoo. But tonight, alas, its just Kevin Bacon desperately trying to sell us on the idea that the words Bacon and Waiting even come close to rhyming. Again. 8.11pm BST Mel B, meanwhile, says that she loved every second of it, despite that cutaway shot of her slyly drinking some coffee to stop her from passing out from sheer tedium during his performance. 8.10pm BST Louis Walsh just critiqued Jake by saying That was great, youre brilliant! But also none of it was good and youre terrible. Ive had editors like that. 8.08pm BST Also, Jake isnt very good at finishing words. So far weve discovered that this girl of his is like the win. Also, if youre counting, shes out of his lee. 8.08pm BST The first verse completed, and Jake has hit approximately zero correct notes, which is pretty good going really, since a Speak And Spell machine could probably perform this song quite convincingly. 8.07pm BST Jakes singing Shes Like The Wind. If she voted for Jake last week, I feel secure in claiming the wind to be a bellend. 8.06pm BST Right, time to get on with this. First up is Jake Quickenden, who people actually voted through last week. People confuse me.This week in the VT, Jake reveals that he originally wanted to be a footballer, but then bounced back with music when that failed. Lets all look forward to him bouncing back by presenting one of those phone-in casino programmes that they have on Channel 5 at 4am. 8.04pm BST And now, even though I still havent found a way to make the sentence Simon Cowell is wearing a suit sound interesting, lets meet the judges.LOUIS! Louis Walsh is wearing a suit. 8.02pm BST Heres Dermot. Ive started judging the quality of the show based on how convincingly he mimes a punch at the start of each episode. This week: a relatively convincing punch. Hooray! 8.01pm BST Also, why does X Factor keep using Transformer nanobot noises in its pre-show recaps? My theory is that its trying to tell us that Cheryl is a cyborg, but its giving me the willies anyway. 8.00pm BST One second in and the show has already confused Fountain Studios with Wembley Stadium. None of these songs are going to be from films, are they? None of them. 7.58pm BST ITS TIME! TO FACE! THE MUVIES! 7.46pm BST All I hope is that nobody slows their songs down again today. Everyone was at it last week. If theyd done their songs at normal speed, wed have been all wrapped up by about half past eight. I could have gone out and seen people. I could have bettered myself with literature. Or, more realistically, I could have just slumped face-down on my sofa and groaned out loud for an hour and a half longer than I usually do. Either way, sort it out X Factor. 7.30pm BST Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this weeks X Factor liveblog. We have two reasons to celebrate this evening. First, tonights episode of X Factor is only two hours and ten minutes long. Realistically thats still one hour and ten minutes too long for most human minds to handle, but at least we wont all end up riddled with osteoporosis by the end of it like we were last week.Second, tonight is the awkwardly-titled Saturday Night At The Movies Week, where the contestants will perform all your favourite songs from all your favourite films. By which I obviously mean theyll perform some of the songs that played third during the end credits of films you either havent seen or dont like but happened to be cheap for Syco to license. Best case scenario: Andrea sings Let It Go. Worst case scenario: Jamie Afro sings Theme From Gummo again. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:39:25 GMT)

I have 200 or 250 pairs of trainers: meet the men who are hopeless repeat fashion buyers
It starts innocently enough: you buy a pair of trainers (or a cap, or a printed shirt) and the next minute your wardrobes stuffed with them. Here are the men who know what they like and are sticking with it I have never thought of myself as a collector, but what the eye likes, the hand grabs over and over, as it turns out, and now my wardrobe looks like an ageing mobsters capsule collection. I have about 30 shirts. Some are vintage finds (Mint in north London and Stella Dallas in Brooklyn are great) and some are new (Lazy Oaf and Goodhood are favourite labels). Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:00:23 GMT)

Singing nuns and dancing priests brother and sister acts go viral
Videos of a nuns rendition of Like a Virgin and two tap-dancing priests prove that while their beliefs may not be universal, the appeal of song and dance isWhen we think of nuns, thoughts of Madonna may often follow. Ordinarily, this would be a reference to the Virgin Mary; for some this week, however, the other one, the singer, came to mind. Sicilian sister Cristina Scucci, who won on The Voice of Italy show earlier this year, released her version of the 1984 hit Like a Virgin.This was quickly followed by a video of two American priests, Reverends David Rider and John Gibson, engaging in a tap dance-off, at an April fundraiser at the Pontifical North American College near the Vatican. The video has recently gone viral, with over 700,000 views. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 14:31:09 GMT)

Our three-way relationship isn't your business. Even if were doing business
Call us a thruple if you must. My boyfriends and I are happy together, even if it makes some people uncomfortableAs the real estate agent showed me what would eventually become my new apartment, I quietly slipped into the closet without even taking a step. So, youre looking for a two bedroom, he said, peering at the notes on his phone. You and a roommate? Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:22:50 GMT)

John Peel day: Pink Floyd, PJ Harvey, Roxy Music and more of the bands he broke in pictures
Saturday 25 October marks 10 years since the death of the DJ who was instrumental in launching the careers of some of musics most successful acts. From PJ Harvey to Public Enemy, the Pogues to Pink Floyd, here are some of the bands he championed Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 06:00:27 GMT)

Luis Suárez: me and my big mouth
Banned from playing football since the World Cup, Luis Suárez is finally set to make his debut for Barcelona against Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season. Is the worlds most thrilling (and volatile) striker a reformed man? Simon Hattenstone tries to stay on his right sideRead an exclusive extract from Suárezs new bookLuis Suárez is squinting into the Spanish midday sun. We are sitting by the side of a pitch at Barcelonas training ground, and he is talking movingly about his relationship with his wife, Sofi, the humility of his new team-mates at Barcelona, the Monopoly games he enjoyed with the players back at Liverpool. And the more he talks, the more Im thinking, can this be the same man who sank his fangs into Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup? He speaks quietly, with a sweet if monotonous intensity, and still theres this nagging question. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 07:30:23 GMT)

From Python to Seinfeld - are these 12 classic comedies still funny?
Theyre known as comedy gold but are they? Really? Our critics cast an unsentimental eye over 12 from the hall of fame Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:00:30 GMT)

Sophie Heawood: Jude Law and the accidental babies
Under Judes Law, there is a good chance that, if a man keeps having unprotected sex with young women, a number of them will get pregnantLook, I must admit my eyes boggled a bit when I saw that the actor Jude Law is having another unplanned baby, which is rich of me, because Im hardly the nations most organised person. Still, I was surprised to see that after three kids from his marriage to Sadie Frost, and the affair with their nanny (while engaged to Sienna Miller), and then the daughter born to an American model after a brief fling, Law has had a short relationship, now ended, with a singer/songwriter, and a baby is on the way in the new year. It does feel that life just keeps on happening to some people, again and again and again.Most of us will have heard of sods law, under which there is a good chance that, if anything can go wrong, it will. Under the lesser-known precept of Judes Law, there is a good chance that, if a man keeps having unprotected sex with young women, a number of them will get pregnant. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:00:22 GMT)

David Shrigley at Sketch, London W1 restaurant review
This might be the most absurd restaurant in the country. Is Jeff Koons cooking?I bow to no restaurant fan in my admiration of Mourad Mazouz, aka Momo. In a landscape where nobody takes risks, where the sure-fire route to success is to pinch somebody elses ideas (yes, Paesan and Tomboy Burrito, I am looking at you), he continues to go his own oddball way.Of his remarkable Sketch, he said when it opened, I could have opened a safe little brasserie like the Ivy. Instead, in this grand, sprawling Georgian town house, he created a multi-venue pleasurama, a sensory overload of challenging artworks, aliens egg loos and extraordinary and curious food. Itll never last, said everyone, clutching their pearls. Yet here we are, nearly 12 years later, and the place as busy as ever. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:00:09 GMT)

Lauren Laverne: More charisma than any woman presenter of her generation
The former Kenickie frontwoman has overcome accusations of triviality to become one of Britains best-loved radio DJsLauren Lavernes big break came when Bob Stanley stumbled across her band Kenickies single in a record shop, loved what he heard, and called the number on the sleeve. Laverne was the bands lead singer and, this being the mid-1990s, it was her home phone number. She was very cool about it and not acting shocked when I rang, says Stanley, a journalist and musician with the band Saint Etienne, who at the time was running a small imprint of the record label EMI. But I think they were quite excited about EMI calling up. Obviously she lived with her parents at the time they were only 16 then.Two decades later, Laverne is a wife and mother, an enthusiastic user of social media, the author of a novel for young adults, a newspaper columnist and a multi-talented TV presenter who can turn her hand, seemingly effortlessly, to everything from pop music to high culture to comedy and current affairs. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:40:00 GMT)

Market forces: Spitalfields children at the start of the 20th century
Amateur photographer Horace Warner documented the lives of Spitalfields poorest residents in the early 1900s. More than a century later, his collection is printed for the first time Plus a gallery of Warners photographs of children in and around Spitalfields in the early 1900sHorace Warner came to Spitalfields at the end of the 19th century as superintendent of the Sunday school at the Bedford Institute, one of nine Quaker missions in the East End of London. He worked in the family wallpaper business and was a photographer in his spare time. Warner befriended and photographed those living in the shadow of the Bishopsgate goods yard, some of the poorest people in London.In 1913, the Institute paid two pounds, 15 shillings and sixpence for about 20 photographs, for use in their fundraising activities. But Warner took many more pictures that he collected into two albums of photography that, after his death, passed from his wife, Florence, into the possession of his elder daughter, Gwen, and subsequently his grandson, Ian Warner McGilvray. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:00:12 GMT)

Why you should never, ever wash your jeans (unless you really, really have to)
What do winners smell like? Dirty jeans or so say some manufacturers of raw denim who claim that not washing your jeans will make them last longer. But what on earth do you do when nobody wants to come near you any more?Most clothes come with simple washing instructions which Id hazard most men interpret as pick quickest setting, use same for everything, hope for best. Raw denim on the other hand comes with much starker diktats. For anyone whos invested in* (*forked out for) a pair of raw jeans, youre confronted with a whole new attitude to washing basically, dont do it.Take this from Hiut Denim: Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave it, the better your jeans will look. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:44:09 GMT)

My mums a sex therapist
Ann-Marlene Henning, a best-selling Danish sexologist, is on a crusade to give the internet generation a porn-free sex education with a little help from her sonAnn-Marlene Henning gives a sad shake of her head and rolls her eyes as she recalls her attempts to talk to her teenage son about sex. I tried but he didnt want me to! she exclaims. James reached puberty and I thought, Ive got to tell him something, havent I? Hed say, No! I dont want to hear this! Hed say, Mum! Im a boy! I dont talk!Henning laughs, then looks wistful. Maybe a daughter would have asked me more Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:30:04 GMT)

Jake and Dinos Chapman review a hilarious, horrifying orgy of darkness
Jerwood Gallery, HastingsFrom copulating plastic dinosaurs to crucified Ronald McDonalds and the severed feet of God, the arch-provocateurs teeming macabre landscapes offer a powerful vision of modern brutalityJake Chapman is looking down from the balcony of the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings on to a pebbled beach scene with fishing boats and seafood stalls. The seaside towns quaint old quarter is, he insists, all trompe loeil. He points to a sign on a fish-sellers hut that he interprets to mean all its produce comes from Lidl. The boats on the horizon are cardboard cutouts, he says.The Chapman brothers, arch-provocateurs of Young British Art, have returned to their hometown to put on a bold exhibition titled In the Realm of the Unmentionable at its beachside art gallery. It seems a generous, affectionate gesture to come back to the place where they grew up and which is so keen to welcome them that locals have crowdsourced nearly £30,000 to fund the show. Yet they just cant be sentimental about growing up here. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:16:33 GMT)

The weekend cook: Mexican-inspired recipes to celebrate the Day of the Dead
How better to celebrate one of Mexicos most famous holidays than with recipes based on the countrys key flavours?It is Day of the Dead, or All Souls Day, on 1-2 November, a global festival to celebrate those we have loved and lost. In Mexico, it is a time of great festivity, when families get together, cook and make toasts to relatives. Last weekend at the market, I picked up lots of pumpkins, and decided to use some in my own Day of the Dead feast. Theyre so versatile: you can roast or steam them, and use as a vegetable side or main course; they even work in sweet dishes, too. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:00:05 GMT)

Growing up in the family funeral parlour
Kate Mayfields father was an undertaker and his workshop was at their home her early memories of life were all about its endIts one thing to choose to be in the death business and quite another to be born into it. My first introduction to all things funereal began when my parents carried me from the hospital straight to the funeral home. My playground, carefully curated by my undertaker father, consisted of rooms full of gleaming coffins, the neon glare of brightly coloured embalming fluid bottles, and the bodies, always the bodies.We lived in a small town in southern Kentucky on the Tennessee border. On Main Street, the old, sprawling house was large enough to host the business of death on the ground floor, while our family lived quietly, as silent as the grave, on the floor above. The staircase led straight up to our living quarters and offered no door of comfort, no solid thing to shut us away from the funerals and visitations that occurred below. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:00:03 GMT)

Real Madrid outclass Barcelona after Ronaldos penalty turns tide
In pictures: the best images from el clásicoFor a while, Luis Suárez must have thought his would be the perfect debut, but the feeling would prove fleeting. When the fixtures came out with the biggest game in club football scheduled the day his ban ended, he had described it as destiny and just three minutes into his Barcelona career he provided the pass that enabled Neymar to give them the lead. Eighty-seven minutes later, though, he watched from the bench as the final whistle was greeted by a roar from the Bernabéu after what was ultimately a comfortable Real Madrid victory.We didnt deserve any more, said the Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:09:59 GMT)

Andy Murray closes on ATP Finals with semi-final win over David Ferrer
Andy Murray wins 6-4, 7-5 to reach Valencia Open final Tommy Robredo to face Scot after beating Jérémy Chardy Rafael Nadal pulls out of ATP Tour Finals in London Erste Bank Open final: Murray sees off FerrerAndy Murray gave his hopes of qualifying for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London an almighty boost with a high-calibre win over David Ferrer to reach the final of the Valencia Open.The Scot had to endure a major scare in the second set when he lost four straight games to go from 3-0 up to 4-3 down before regrouping to seal a 6-4, 7-5 success over the top seed in just under two hours. Murray will play Tommy Robredo in Sundays final after Ferrers Spanish compatriot beat Jérémy Chardy of France 7-6, 7-6. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:49:24 GMT)

Leeds Uniteds Darko Milanic sacked after defeat by Wolves in sixth game
Massimo Cellino says that fans deserve better results Neil Redfearn steps up to take permanent charge Milanic in September I do not fear Massimo CellinoLeeds Uniteds controversial owner, Massimo Cellino, has apologised to fans after sacking his third manager in five months with the latest, Darko Milanic, lasting just 32 days in the job.Cellino, dubbed the manager eater in Italy for sacking 36 Cagliari coaches in 20 years, hired Milanic from Sturm Graz on 23 September as a replacement for Dave Hockaday who was also dismissed after just six games in charge. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:41:16 GMT)

Toulouse show European pedigree to expose Baths inexperience
Bath 19-21 ToulouseBath once enjoyed success in Europe, but their record of one Heineken Cup title pales alongside Toulouses four. The French clubs season has not been without its travails and it is not unknown for clubs from the Top 14 to sacrifice Europe to concentrate on survival at home.Not Toulouse. Their ambition to prosper in cross-border competition burns as fiercely as ever and they put in a consummate away performance, scoring three tries and fending off a late rally by Bath. Here is an example of the difference in experience. Through injuries to half a dozen regulars, Bath selected this back row: Dominic Day, more accustomed to the second row, David Sisi and the debutant 19-year old, Charlie Ewels, also a second row. Against them were Thierry Dusautoir, Imanol Harinordoquy and Louis Picamoles, who just happened to have 181 caps for France between them. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:17:10 GMT)

Mario Balotelli and Liverpool fire blanks in draw with Hull City
Mario Balotelli went from whipping boy to Liverpools most effective player in the space of four days. That was Steve Bruces opinion, at any rate. Unfortunately standing out in a performance like this does not count for a great deal. Philippe Coutinho was arguably more effective in the half-hour he was granted, and Balotelli is still looking for his first league goal for Liverpool in spite of a couple of presentable late chances.The Italian starting the game was a mild surprise, and it is true he accomplished more of note in the first 45 minutes than he managed in his half a game against Real Madrid in midweek, though Hull Citys defence are not quite of the standard of the European champions. Balotelli brought a good save from Eldin Jakupovic after 12 minutes, sent Alberto Moreno galloping down the left wing with an elegant backheel a little later, and even passed to colleagues on occasions instead of shooting every time he received the ball. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:11:59 GMT)

Brendan Rodgers defends goal-shy Mario Balotelli after Hull draw
Mario was unlucky, says Liverpool manager Steve Bruce praises goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic Match report: Liverpool 0-0 Hull CityMario Balotellis search for a first Premier League goal for Liverpool goes on after the striker played the whole match against Hull City and missed a couple of late chances in front of the Kop.Mario was unlucky not to get a goal, Brendan Rodgers said after the goalless draw. The Liverpool manager withdrew his misfiring striker after 45 minutes against Real Madrid in midweek and accepted the uncertainty that has been surrounding the Italian since could hardly have been the best preparation. Maybe he thought he wasnt going to play today, and in the circumstances he did well, Rodgers said. Hes working hard and doing his best, he keeps getting into the right areas. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:16:13 GMT)

Arsenals Alexis Sánchez punishes Sunderlands defensive howlers
Arsène Wenger has described his side as warming up nicely but still striving to reach boiling point. In other words Arsenals class of 2014-15 are big on promise but not yet quite as formidable as they probably should be.There were rare moments when his players threatened to drop a point here but, for the most part, Sunderland made things reasonably straightforward as the excellent Alexis Sánchez scored twice and the latest bout of perceived pressure surrounding Arsenals manager eased. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:20:27 GMT)

England in anxious wait after Luther Burrell has x-ray on hand injury
Northamptons Luther Burrell injured during cup win Centres involvement in Englands autumn series in doubt England name Rokoduguni and Kruis in elite squadEngland will be without Manu Tuilagi for at least the start of the autumn international series and as Stuart Lancasters squad gather at their Pennyhill Park training base tonight, they will discover whether his likely replacement at outside-centre, Luther Burrell, will also be missing. Burrell suffered an injury to his right hand during the first half of Northamptons European Champions Cup victory over Ospreys. He was bandaged up at the interval but left within 90 seconds of the restart after complaining that he was unable to use the hand to grip. He was later taken to hospital for an x-ray. The hand is very sore and Luther is struggling to grip with it, said Jim Mallinder, Northamptons director of rugby. He needs an x-ray to see whether he has broken a bone in his hand and I just hope he has not suffered any lasting damage.The Wasps captain and England flanker James Haskell has been discharged from hospital after his state improved following a viral infection. A club statement said that he will continue to rest up at home this week before a gradual re-introduction to England training. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:46:05 GMT)

Fifa film United Passions is PR exercise that rankles even with its stars
Football governing bodys £20m attempt at a box-office blockbuster is bemusing film with an embarrassing lack of focus on corruption but Sepp Blatter was touched Blatter is no longer serving football, says Platini Cantona: Fifas corruption divides Brazilian footballIt is fair to say that Sepp Blatter will not be gatecrashing any selfies at next years Oscars. Indeed, no one involved in Fifas attempt at a box-office blockbuster, United Passions, should be winning awards any time soon. Considering the film tracks the development of a sports governing body, with all the excitement of arranging tournaments and striking marketing deals, that does not really come as a surprise.Yet at a cost of £20m, someone, somewhere, obviously thought documenting Fifas apparent progress through the 20th century over one hour and 45 minutes was a good idea. Perhaps in the gilded corridors of Zurich they still do but the recurring sensation while watching the story of Fifas foundation and subsequent globalisation of football is predominantly one of bemusement. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:00:10 GMT)

West Ham Uniteds Diafra Sakho on target again to down Manchester City
Behold the new West Ham. Last season Sam Allardyces side were beaten four times by Manchester City, shipping 14 goals in the process, but here the revamped east Londoners outgunned the Premier League champions in a thrilling early afternoon showdown. In doing so they confirmed their emergence as entertainers and surprise candidates for an enduring place in the top four.Back in the summer, when the sun never set on the grumbling of West Ham fans about the their teams bleak play under Allardyce, few would have foreseen such a scenario. But crafty recruitment has helped Allardyce fulfil his promise to deliver a more flamboyant style and all of the recent acquisitions made important contributions here, while stalwarts such as James Collins and goalkeeper Adrián excelled to deny City an equaliser as the champions raised their game in the second half. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:53:41 GMT)

Kevin Pietersen affair shows sport stars are really just like us
Far from being an unknowable, elite atmosphere, as suggested by the England cricket team, the dressing room poses problems we all face Pietersens book and his England legacyAs the Kevin Pietersen storm rumbled mightily in its teacup, Graeme Fowler sent a tweet. Anyone who has not been in a pro sport dressing room will not understand its dynamic, wrote the swashbuckling, leftie former opening bat. Similarly we dont understand your office. Graeme Swann, one of the players fingered by KP, retweeted his tacit approval. Soon after, Swann linked to his latest Sun column entitled: This is elite sport not under-11s.Elsewhere, the vicious assault by Wigans Ben Flower on Lance Hohaia of St Helens in rugby leagues Grand Final brought some surprising pleas for clemency from former players. Jonathan Davies, a dual-code legend, told BBC Radio 5 Live: People who havent been involved on a rugby field cant understand the emotion and controlling that on the big stage. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:30:00 GMT)

Serena Williams beats Caroline Wozniacki in thriller at WTA Finals
World No1 sets up rematch Simona Halep in Singapore final Wozniacki fails to serve out match, losing 7-6 in decider Williams slams Russian officials sexist and racist commentsSerena Williams regained her composure after smashing her racket and being on the brink of defeat to beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 on Saturday and set up a rematch with Simona Halep in the WTA Finals title decider in Singapore.The best of friends off the court, the pair slugged it out like prizefighters for over two hours until Williams delivered the blow to end a contest filled with drama and escalating tension. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:27:19 GMT)

Southampton dig deep against Stoke City to give Sadio Mané due reward
There was a danger that this was going to be Southamptons difficult second album, that everyone would arrive here excited to see another thrilling exhibition of attacking football from Ronald Koemans side and another 8-0 victory, only to leave disappointed after 90 tone-deaf minutes. The identity of the opposition contributed to those fears. Stoke City seemed perfectly suited to playing the role of spoilsports. All that hope, all that expectation it was all set up for a scrappy 1-0 win to Stoke thanks to a header from Marc Wilson. It sure is a funny old game.You know what they say about good sides, though: they find a way to win when they are not at their best and while Southampton occasionally threatened to scale the heights of last Saturdays humiliation of Sunderland, this latest victory owed as much to their organisation off the ball as it did to their ability on it. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:13:32 GMT)

Swansea Citys Wilfried Bony a cut above against Leicester City
Swansea made sure their winless run ended at five games as Wilfried Bonys double restored smiles to faces after a testing week. Bony finished off excellent buildup for both goals. Exchanging passes with Gylfi Sigurdsson for the first, while Jefferson Montero teed up his second.Leicester are four games without a win and Nigel Pearson will know his side need to find a cutting edge after failing to direct an effort on goal during the opening half and rarely threatening thereafter. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:31:22 GMT)

West Bromwich Albions Saido Berahino spot-on to deny Crystal Palace
Neil Warnock claimed West Bromwichs Craig Dawson got away with assault after his challenge on Crystal Palaces Julián Speroni. The goalkeeper was taken out by Dawson when Victor Anichebe scored to ignite an Albion recovery as they fought back to claim a draw. Saido Berahinos injury-time penalty completed the comeback after Palace eased into a 2-0 lead.Brede Hangeland and Mile Jedinaks penalty had put Palace in control but Warnock was furious with Dawson, comparing the incident to Peter Murphys challenge on Bert Trautmann in the 1956 FA Cup final. That infamous incident left the Manchester City goalkeeper with dislocations to five vertebrae in his neck and meant he missed a large part of the 1956-57 season. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:20:46 GMT)

Why legacy of West Indies cricket cries out for a truly stout defence
Pulling out from their tour of India has left the Caribbean game in crisis which deserves urgent understanding and help Withdrawal from tour a mistake, says Clive Lloyd India may decide not to tour West IndiesThe West Indies are often cited as everyones second favourite team in world cricket except perhaps in the Caribbean where they may currently be regarded as the least favourite team of the lot.Even in this era when West Indies have so often been emasculated they have still had the capacity to enchant fleetingly as they did in Colombo when winning the World T20 in 2012. The current team lacks the majesty and power of the magnificent sides of the Eighties, yet in Sri Lanka two years ago they had a rollercoaster ride to the T20 final, which was ultimately mesmerising. Their campaign was unpredictable, joyous and stylish and everyone enjoyed their triumph. Yet now, with the 50-over World Cup round the corner, there is serious doubt whether West Indies will even turn up - or indeed whether the ICC will want them there. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:00:03 GMT)

Manchester City struggled with West Hams quality, says Sam Allardyce
Allardyce heralds positive atmosphere after dream start Manuel Pellegrini bemoans Citys undeserved defeat Match report: West Ham United 2-1 Manchester CityA jubilant Sam Allardyce said the Premier League champions could not cope with West Ham Uniteds firepower after his team continued an encouraging start to the season with a 2-1 home win over Manchester City.Goals from Morgan Amalfitano and Diafra Sakho enabled West Ham to prevail in a thrilling contest despite David Silva pulling back a goal in the 77th minute. City twice hit the crossbar and were foiled several times by the goalkeeper Adrián, but West Ham also created opportunities to increase their tally and Allardyce was adamant his side merited their win. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:04:52 GMT)

Australia fall to New Zealand in Four Nations opener
Australia 12-30 New ZealandEngland 32-26 SamoaThe jury is still out on Australias generation next after New Zealands 30-12 triumph over a depleted Kangaroos side in their Four Nations opener in Brisbane.For the first time since the 2010 Four Nations final, the Kiwis emerged victorious over Australia - albeit after Daly Cherry-Evans (back) and fullback Greg Inglis (illness) were added to the Kangaroos already bulging injury list. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:26:16 GMT)

Ulster face an uphill task after home defeat by impressive Toulon
Ulster 13-23 ToulonToulon made it two wins from two after tries from Bryan Habana and Delon Armitage secured an impressive victory at Ulster, putting the French side in a strong position in European Champions Cup Pool Three.Habanas try on the stroke of half-time gave the visitors a 16-3 lead, before Armitages interception score saw Toulon home. There were fine performances from Steffon Armitage and Juan Smith, while Leigh Halfpenny contributed three penalties and two conversions. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:29:15 GMT)

Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho take friendship and rivalry into battle
Chelsea and Manchester United managers were together at Barcelona, where closeness and respect grew strongly, but their different paths since will be on display in Sundays showdown The last time they met: 2010 Champions League finalWhen Louis van Gaal took the managers job at Barcelona in the summer of 1997, he was a year early. Originally, the idea had been to go to Catalonia for a season, familiarising himself with his surroundings, the league and the language, plan for the clubs future and then take over the following season. Instead the process was accelerated by a president under pressure and with an eye on looming elections. Bobby Robson was shunted out of the way, becoming a director of signings who made no signings, and Van Gaal moved in.My place is on the bench, Robson pointedly remarked at the end of the 1996-97 season, having won the Cup Winners Cup and Copa del Rey. By then, he knew he would be bundled upstairs. He had found out in late April when Barcelona played at Fiorentina. Amid the rumours he had confronted Josep Lluís Núñez, the Barcelona president who was this week found guilty of bribing a tax official and who back then publicly and cynically claimed to be the only one standing by Robson. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:00:02 GMT)

Mike Ashley wins control of Rangers after Brian Kennedy bid fails
Newcastle owner understood to have had offer accepted Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedys late bid rejected Louise Taylor: What Rangers bid might mean for NewcastleMike Ashley has won the battle for control of Rangers after the Ibrox board rejected a rival 11th-hour offer from the Sale Sharks owner, Brian Kennedy. The Newcastle United owner who already has an 8.92% stake in the club will now strengthen his grip on the boardroom after his offer of a £2m emergency loan was accepted by directors on Saturday morning.Kennedy, a member of the Blue Knights consortium that failed to stop the club from falling into liquidation in the summer of 2012, had made a last-minute £3m counter-offer, but officials have decided to put their faith in Ashley. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:02:32 GMT)

Detroit Lions in the driving seat against Atlanta Falcons at Wembley
The Lions are expected to have the edge at Sundays NFL clash in London, while an American football franchise for the city is becoming more viable, says the Falcons president Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions, 1.30pm Channel 4/SS2 Atlanta Falcons prepare for meeting with Detroit Lions Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson an injury concernAround 84,000 people will swarm into Wembley on Sundaylunchtime to watch the Atlanta Falcons face the Detroit Lions, another sellout for the second of three NFL matches to be staged in London this season. And, for a change, it might be more of contest than a rout.Last month at Wembley the Miami Dolphins beat the Oakland Raiders 38-14, while three of the last four NFL games at Wembley have been won by 24 points or greater. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:59:02 GMT)

Angel di María: Manchester Uniteds £59.7m, £280,000-a-week bargain
The amount of money Manchester United have spent and will spend on Di María is extraordinary but then so is he Barney Ronay: Mourinho got a total education under Van GaalFootball was invented for a single purpose to make people happy and accordingly football clubs exist for a single purpose to make their supporters happy. So it is often curious when a football club is accused of overpaying for a football player since, unless the funds would otherwise subsidise admission, they can have no better use.It is unlikely that this was the intention of the Glazer family, had Angel di María not moved to Manchester United and yet, the expenditure that secured his signature attracted plenty of criticism. Clearly £59.7m in fees and £280,000 a week in wages is extraordinary but then so too is Di María; players of his quality and qualities are cheap at whatever exorbitant price you are lucky enough to pay for them. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:29:23 GMT)

Mourinho was a gopher under Robson. With Van Gaal he got a total education
At Barcelona they were Dutch master and Portuguese apprentice. Barney Ronay looks at their reunion on Sunday Van Gaal: my iron shield makes me immune from MourinhoShortly before the 2010 Champions League final between Internazionale and Bayern Munich, José Mourinho sent his opposite number, Louis van Gaal, a text message that read: A big hug before the final a big hug after the final. Yes, that José Mourinho. Well, its better than a poke in the eye. That match at the Bernabéu was the only previous time Mourinho and Van Gaal have met on opposite sides in a competitive match, as they will again when Manchester United play Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday. It is a fixture that has for nine of the past 10 seasons been cast as a collision of title hopefuls but that this season is, from a certain angle, just as significant as a meeting of two unusually intimate managerial grandees.There is of course a famous coaching confluence at work here, a re-entwining of two of the most significant offshoots of European footballs own mid-1990s Bloomsbury set. The Van Gaal era at Barcelona also featured Mourinho as assistant coach, Pep Guardiola as club captain and the managers of Barça, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax Luis Enrique, Phillip Cocu and Frank de Boer as fellow members of the playing staff. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:30:10 GMT)

England survive Samoa scare to secure victory in Four Nations opener
Steve McNamaras side recover from 22-20 deficit to win 32-26 Pacific Islanders twice led at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane All the latest rugby league news on our dedicated siteEngland are bidding to make history at this Four Nations but went perilously close to making it for all the wrong reasons in their first outing. Since the Tri-Nations was expanded to add a developing nation, in 2009, none of these minnow countries has managed a victory. But Matt Parishs freewheeling, passionate Samoans led England 10-6 and 22-20 before tries by the Tomkins brothers, Joel and Sam, saved the day.Englands aim is to win a series involving Australia for the first time since the 1970 Ashes series, when they played as Great Britain. They now face Australia next Sunday in Melbourne in a vital match for the hosts. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:26:06 GMT)

Marussia join Caterham in missing F1 US GP, confirms Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone gave Caterham dispensation to miss next two GPs Marussia will also miss following GP in BrazilThe struggling Caterham and Marussia Formula One teams will miss next weekends US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Neither of those two teams are going to go to America, said F1s chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, on Saturday.Caterham are in administration while the Russian-registered Marussia are struggling financially and are still reeling from Jules Bianchis serious accident in Japan three weeks ago. Neither team was contactable on Saturday. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:15:27 GMT)

Doctor Who recap: series 34, episode 10 In the Forest of the Night
Frank Cottrell Boyces episode had one of the greatest setups Doctor Who has ever known, riffing on the classic childrens story phrase, And they ventured into the forest SPOILER ALERT: This weekly blog is for those who have been watching the new series of Doctor Who. Dont read ahead if you havent seen episode 10 In the Forest of the Night Read Dan Martins episode nine episode blog hereIf you read almost any story a kid writes in primary school, it will say, And they ventured into the forest The forest is danger, isnt it? But Id never seen it in a dystopia, really. When youve had post-apocalyptic worlds in films, theyre always flooded, or cold, or barren, not invaded by forests. Also, the forest is a fairytale. That idea of children lost in the wood thats got a power going right back to Little Red Riding Hood, and further. Were primed to be afraid for a child in a forest. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:05:00 GMT)

Grayson Perry: Who Are You?; Life Story; Grand Designs TV review
Grayson Perrys subjects reveal all at the drop of a hat, while David Attenborough captures a different sort of life on the edgeGrayson Perry: Who Are You? (C4) | 4ODLife Story (BBC1) | iPlayer Grand Designs (C4) | 4ODAs he showed in the 2012 documentary series All in the Best Possible Taste, the straw-haired artist Grayson Perry is an astute observer of social class. Alive to the customs and curiosities of tribal membership, he is armed with an engaging mixture of empathy and irony. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:59:07 GMT)

Liam Gallagher calls time on band: Beady Eye are no longer
Fans speculate about whether the end of Beady Eye could signal an upcoming revival of Oasis by the Gallagher brothersLiam Gallagher has announced that his band Beady Eye has split up after five years.He posted the news on Twitter on Saturday and thanked fans for their support but he offered no reason why they were disbanding. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:10:26 GMT)

Marriage in recovery: The things that keep me sane
In my penultimate column, here is a list of things Ive learned that have kept me goingRecently, my 13-year-old daughter was asked by a teacher to imagine the advice that an 18-year-old her would give to her current self. She sighed and said, What a bloody waste of time, before producing a fantastic list that could, if put into practice, help her to get out of certain stuck-in-a-rut situations. In this, my penultimate column, I want to talk about things I have learned in the past couple of years. My list reminds me of the things I need to remember in order to stay relatively sane. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:30:20 GMT)

Everything you need to know about the clocks going back
The clocks go back one hour this Sunday 26 October at 2am, but why do we do it? And why is it so controversial?Daylight saving time (DST) is the biannual event when we forget whether to put our clocks one hour back or one hour forward, and whether this means well get some extra sleep or not.In the UK, clocks go back one hour this Sunday the 26 October at 2:00am, marking the end of British Summer Time (BST). It means that we end up having a 25-hour day.To alter the time of the clock at the equinoxes so as to bring the working-hours of the day within the period of daylight, and by utilising the early morning, so reduce the excessive use of artificial light which at present prevails. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:13:44 GMT)

Our 10 best pumpkin recipes
With Halloween just around the corner, its time to brush up on the best things to make with the iconic squash curries, salads, sweet waffles and a classic all-American pieWaffles make for a handsome breakfast, and pumpkin imparts a mellow sweetness to these gluten-free beauties. If pumpkins are out of season, you can use 600g mashed ripe banana instead of the pumpkin puree. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:00:20 GMT)

Ask Molly Ringwald: my girlfriend cant forgive my stag do prank. Do I beg?
Our agony aunt advises a man whose girlfriend says she is disappointed in him and is ignoring himMy girlfriend of two years is furious because of a prank I played while on my way to a stag do. I sent everyone a photo of a (fully clothed) girl, joking that she was a stripper who was coming to the stag do with me (this was made up, I found the photo online). My girlfriend found out and says she is disappointed in me, that it was indecent, and insulted my friends. She has ignored me since. Were pretty happy together normally, but sometimes she gets really angry for no apparent reason and I have to beg for forgiveness. Do I do that now, or should I make a stand?Disappointed? Indecent? Did she also give you a spanking and send you to your room without dinner? Begging for forgiveness should be saved for the really big stuff forgetting anniversaries, betrayal, leaving the toilet seat up. Using it up on the tiny stuff is just bound to make you resentful and further entrench you in your already somewhat unhealthy relationship dynamic. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:00:02 GMT)

20 best Android apps and games this week
Nokia HERE, Inbox by Gmail, Skylanders Trap Team, Autodesk SketchBook, République, New Words With Friends and moreIts time for our latest roundup of the latest, greatest Android apps and games, this time from the last two weeks worth of releases on the Google Play store.As ever, the prices provided in brackets are for the initial download only: when an app uses in-app purchases, this will be listed as (Free + IAP). Something to look for: a new section of each apps Google Play store listing, which explains the full range of IAP (for example, £1.23-£8.01 per item for Ultralingua Dictionaries from this weeks roundup). Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:23:11 GMT)

Kerrys List; 52 First Impressions With David Quantick radio review
Kerry Godlimans and David Quanticks comedies work because they are allowed to be themselves lets hope their new BBC minders keep it that wayKerrys List (Radio 4) | iPlayer52 First Impressions With David Quantick (Radio 4) | iPlayer Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:00:08 GMT)

Magic Leap: startup promises a leap forward for virtual reality
Google is one of the hopeful investors in what could be a revolution in creating screen-free, Matrix-style dream worldsLike fusion power or jet-packs, virtual reality has always been 20 years away. Matrix-inspired dreams of being transported via headset to another realm have been held back by poor graphics, high costs and, most damagingly, nausea. Virtual reality has had an unfortunate habit of making the users really sick. Products have been announced with fanfare, come and then slipped away.Now it seems that something more substantial might be afoot. Last week it was announced that Magic Leap, a mysterious startup, had raised $542m in funding, a gargantuan figure even by the standards of Silicon Valley, valuing the company at around $2bn. The investors are also of an unusually high calibre, including Google and the semiconductor magnate, Qualcomm. More impressive still is that nobody has a clear idea about what exactly Magic Leap does. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:37:13 GMT)

Travel quiz: wine, beer and spirits of the world
Where do caipirinhas come from? How do you say 'cheers!' in Spanish? If you like a tipple on your travels, see how much 'knowledge' you've soaked up in our world booze quizTry our other quizzes and prove how much you know about flags, the UK and the world. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:08:00 GMT)

The 10 best ghosts
With Halloween just around the corner, Michael Hogan chooses his favourite otherworldly charactersHave we missed a ghost from the list? Leave your suggestion in the comments below and it could feature in the alternative list next weekSam Wheat from GhostThe clues in the title of the 1990 mega-hit Ghost, meaning Patrick Swayzes dead banker is one spook we can safely mention without fear of spoilers (were looking at you, The Sixth Sense). New York ceramicist Molly (Demi Moore) is in danger from criminals, so the spirit of her murdered lover tries to save her with the help of a psychic (Oscar-winning Whoopi Goldberg). Its most remembered, though, for its potters wheel scene, in which shirtless Swayze and Moore get erotically clay-coated to the strains of Unchained Melody. Worryingly, a US TV adaptation is in development. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:02 GMT)

Have you changed your political allegiance?
Were looking for people who are planning to vote for a different party in the next election. Perhaps youve gone from Labour to Green, or Lib Dem to Ukip. If so, we want to hear from youAre you thinking about voting Ukip, because youve had enough of the mainstream parties? Perhaps you voted Lib Dem last time, and now youre thinking never again? Were interested in whats happening in your area, and how you feel about the main political parties. If youre planning to vote for a different party at the next election, wed like to know which one - and why. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:14:42 GMT)

What I wore this week: three-storey dressing
Three-Storey Dressing means an outfit consisting of three vertical sections like a traffic light, or a Fab ice lollyWhen we were taking the pictures for this page, the photographer was looking through the camera and frowning Lean in a bit, leg a bit straighter, um, thats not working, try the other one, and I was shifting about awkwardly in my Thunderbirds-puppet modelling style, and eventually he sighed and asked, imploringly: Jess can you try and be a bit taller? Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:30:06 GMT)

New band of the week: Pinkshinyultrablast (No 28)
Introducing the finest Russian shoegaze band in the world today! Hometown: St Petersburg, Russia.The lineup: Igor (bass), Lyubov (vocals), Sergey (drums), Rustam (synths, electronics), Roman (guitars). Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:16:50 GMT)

20 best iPhone and iPad apps and games this week
Ruby Tandoh, Flickr, Angry Birds Transformers, Best Fiends, Inbox by Gmail, Toca Boo, Skylanders and moreIts time for this weeks roundup of the best new iPhone and iPad apps and games released on Apples App Store.As ever, the prices provided in brackets are for the initial download only: when an app uses in-app purchases, this will be listed as (Free + IAP). Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:42:00 GMT)

Should fans be refunded for poor performances? 
Sunderland players offered travelling supporters refunds last week after being trounced 8-0 away by Southampton. Is that a wise precedent? Two writers argue the tossNo refunds! Because there are no guarantees. The lack of a guarantee is the whole point of sport at least for this spectator. Youre not buying a Dyson here, or a raincoat, with a full and justified expectation of cleaner carpets, or dryer shoulders. Will a game (a race, a test, a morning session, a days play) be entertaining? Worth the money to see live, or worth the time parked on a sofa at home? Nobody can say, and phew for that. Its only the unpredictability that makes these repetitive events so endlessly watchable. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:00:05 GMT)

Leaderless Scottish Labour is now a party bereft of ideas
Johann Lamont is walking away from a party in disarray and in desperate need of modernisationAmong the SNPs senior figures and strategists, more than a few would have settled for this for less than this even before the independence referendum. The party is guaranteed at least two more terms in government; its membership has increased threefold since 18 September and if Scottish Labour were a family then the children would have been taken into care long ago. The resignation of Johann Lamont as leader was not unexpected. Hers was a subdued voice during the referendum and since then there has been a feeling that the wolves of Westminster would eventually get to her and that they would either have devoured her or simply harried her to the point of exhaustion; the latter turned out to be the case.Labours performance and conduct throughout the referendum were considered by many of its supporters to have been a disgrace. At the outset, they ought to have been listening to the Labour for Independence group, instead of denying it existence and then actively demonising it and intimidating it. These people were clearly more in touch with Labours grassroots instincts than the Scottish leadership was. This, of course, was confirmed when Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee and West Dunbartonshire all Labour heartlands all voted yes. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:05:01 GMT)

How could the home secretary blunder so badly over Fiona Woolf?
After the first chair of the child sex abuse inquiry had to resign, surely her successor had to be beyond reproachIt is as if Theresa May actively aspired to the kind of immortality conferrable by the popular internet meme: You had one job. Unless, given that he is said to run everything, credit should go to the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood. To avoid unfairness, maybe they should share with David Cameron the glory of having surpassed every variation on You Had One Jobsince its original manifestation in the 2001 film, Oceans Eleven, when a robber curses his dedicated alarm-disablers (a key alarm not having been disabled): You tossers! You had one job to do!Either way, following the resignation, in July, of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss from her chairmanship of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse, on account of awkward establishment connections, it was paramount for this team to pick a replacement whose loyalties were not in doubt. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:04:10 GMT)

In his anger, Cameron has made Britain a toxic brand
The prime minister rages at the EUs £1.7bn bill, but his miscalculations have lost Britain vital allies in EuropeAnger suits David Cameron. Its one of the modes he does well. He is skilled at contrition his Bloody Sunday apology was the moment he became, rather than merely held the office of, prime minister but fury is his forte. The cheeks colour, the fist pounds the lectern, the words turn plain and demotic. On Friday he channelled the voice of middle-aged men everywhere as they open a brown envelope to discover an unexpected demand for cash. Im not paying that bill, he said, the face puce. Its not going to happen.The sceptical will say Cameron was play-acting, that he cant really have been surprised by the European commissions demand that Britain top up its contribution by an extra £1.7bn to reflect the UKs better than realised economic performance over the past two decades and cough up by 1 December. Treasury officials have known this was in the works for months. Still, even if this was no October surprise, Cameron had to turn his facial setting to purple. He couldnt afford to be out-angered by Nigel Farage. With the Rochester byelection looming, a Tory-Ukip showdown, the right of British politics has become an auction of rage: two parties competing to display more vein-bulging ire at Brussels. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:08:12 GMT)

Taxpayers money spent on childcare is not wasted its an investment
Fifteen hours of free childcare a week might not allow mothers to return to work immediately but it lets them know that the state respects and supports their intention to do so in futureThere are more women working now in Britain than ever before: two thirds of us, or 14.4 million. Thats a rise of 368,000 in the last year, and of 771,000 since the start of the decade. Britains female employment rate is now well above the average in major industrialised nations. The Treasury is delighted with its figures. And George Osborne is thrilled too. Im thrilled as well, not least because most of the new posts are full-time and in highly skilled occupations.Not everyone is happy, though. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reckons that whatever the reasons for the surge in female employment, state help with pre-school childcare in England and Wales is making only a marginal and expensive difference. Research conducted by the thinktank, in partnership with the universities of Surrey and Essex, has concluded that the policy, introduced in 1998, costs approaching £66,000 for each person helped into work. Which does seem quite steep. Thankfully, however, these figures are so anal and literal that theyre almost without meaning at all. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:41:00 GMT)

Britain, dont put your faith in Russell Brands revolution
The comedians excitable appearance on Newsnight this week betrayed the incoherence of his political viewsOh, Britain have you not read your King James Bible recently? Permit a New York Jew to quote some to you: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.It is one such fruit that is up for discussion today: Russell Brands interview on Newsnight with Evan Davis on Thursday night. If you missed this because you were too busy washing your hair, I shall catch you up. As you doubtless remember, it was Brands appearance on Newsnight exactly a year ago that, after an article by him in the New Statesman, changed the popular perception of him as an amusing chap who confused a thesaurus with eloquence into the political prophet the country had been waiting for. In the cold light of 365 days later, it is not entirely clear why this happened. Perhaps somewhere in the New Testament the Lord sayeth, And my son will return, and ye shall know him by his lack of fear of Jeremy Paxman. But as I said, I am a Jew. So, well, dont count on it. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:05:13 GMT)

Martin Rowson on David Cameron and the EU bill  cartoon
Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:46:33 GMT)

Tunisia is showing the Arab world how to nurture democracy
Despite the turmoil surrounding Tunisia, its cohesive society has brought about stability and, this weekend, the countrys second free electionsTunisia is bracing itself for the second open and free elections since its revolution and the toppling of its dictator in January 2011. While the rest of the Arab spring countries Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen have slid either into chaos and civil strife or back into the bleak and brutal era of military coups, Tunisia seems to have withstood the powerful storms raging around it and will elect a representative parliament on Sunday.The country has adopted a modern democratic constitution that won the approval of 93% of its diverse political parties. It is the most progressive constitution in the Arab region, enshrining womens rights, freedom of belief, conscience, and worship, and banning incitement to violence and religious excommunication. Continue reading...
(Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:00:26 GMT)

Ripping up the sea floor on behalf of royal profits
Even the pathetic laws protecting marine life in this country are instantly swept aside in response to lobbying by Prince Charless tenantsA few days ago, I visited the Flamborough Head no take zone, one of the UKs three areas in which commercial fishing is prohibited. Here marine life is allowed to proliferate, without being menaced by trawlers, scallop dredgers, drift nets, pots and all the other devices for rounding it up, some of which also rip the seabed to shreds. A reef of soft corals, mussels, razorfish and other species has begun to form, in which plaice and cod, crabs and lobsters can shelter, unmolested by exploitation. Fantastic, isnt it?We are not apologists for farming and fishing, nor pushing out propaganda for them ... The [display] board does not take a view on farming it offers no support nor is it designed to campaign against the appalling state of British farming today. Likewise for fishing. We, of course, understand that fishing has devastated the North Seas wildlife it is why YWT has built capacity to campaign on marine wildlife protection over the last five years. But again, regardless of our views on fishing, fishing has been part of the Flamborough community for thousands of years it is part of the story of the people who live and work at Flamborough. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:07:02 GMT)

Dont let those high achievers bring you down
Thanks to social media were all aware of the feats of Mark Zuckerberg and his superhuman ilk. But its OK to be a mortalAs someone who works from home, I consider getting up and getting dressed in the morning the pinnacle of achievement. Getting up without an urgent need to is a herculean task. I have been known to get round this tricky problem by, on occasion, working from bed.And often I get up but somehow fail to get dressed. Yesterday my neighbour asked me to help him move a heavy picture, and I had to go outside in the street in my pyjamas. To be fair, he could see me working in my window, and my top half was dressed like a newsreader. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:14:35 GMT)

Spiritual but not religious? Youre not alone
Is it time for rationalists who think spirituality is a meaningless term to get over themselves, asks Oliver BurkemanIts been reported that 20% of British people and 25% of Americans describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. The others probably rolled their eyes and muttered, Oh, please. Its a maddening phrase, exuding both smug superiority (Im deeper than an atheist but smarter than a believer!) and new age credulity of the wind-chimes-cure-cancer variety. Yet its how Id reluctantly describe myself. So its jolting to learn that Sam Harris, the celebrity atheist much of whose work I think is wrongheaded is one of us, too. While denouncing religion in public, it turns out Harris spent years studying with gurus in India, going on meditation retreats, and using mind-expanding drugs to feel boundlessly at one with the universe. His new book, Waking Up, makes a powerful case that theres no contradiction here and that its time for rationalists who think spirituality is a meaningless term to get over themselves. Pretty much literally, in fact.What Harris means by spirituality stems from the realisation that the feeling of being a distinct self the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from you is an illusion, and can be altered, even extinguished. Meditation and magic mushrooms are among the ways of achieving that. But why bother? Because not realising this truth is what keeps us trapped in the endless quest to acquire the things we think will make us happy: relationships, money, power. That quest locates happiness in the future, yet the reality of your life is always now. Step out of the self, even briefly, and you step into the present and a kind of happiness that doesnt depend on certain criteria being met. Is it possible to be happy before anything happens, before ones desires are gratified in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease and death? Harriss answer is yes. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:00:01 GMT)

25 years since the Berlin Wall came down. Now Germany must be bold
Angela Merkel has helped turn a unified Germany into a great country. It must start acting like oneA quarter of a century ago I went for a beer with a friend from East Berlin. We downed our frothy brew in the Märkischer Markt, a stroll from Checkpoint Charlie. Afterwards he stayed locked behind the Berlin Wall as one of the majority of East Germans who had never been permitted to travel to the west while I headed past the grim-faced guards to my parallel world of late bars and tinned tomatoes.Our standing joke was that we did our beer-drinking under communism, but only I went to the loo afterwards under capitalism. By late 1989 that quip felt sour and the mood more bitter than I had experienced, living in the east on and off since 1983. Hungary had opened its border with Austria, and young East Germans were taking the opportunity of the first mouse hole since the Wall went up in 1961, even if it seemed likely to mean permanent estrangement from those they left behind. Fear, always nagging in a country that relied on the secret police to tamp down dissent, mingled with hopes of reform. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet president, had come to East Germany and wagged a finger at the countrys ailing leader, Erich Honecker and even after a nominal change at the top, the system looked resistant to perestroika, impervious to glasnost. Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:59:50 GMT)

Ill drink to child-free pubs and cafes
The increased presence of children in adult spaces might reflect progress, but sometimes I want a drink without someone screaming in my earAn Australian business owner did a brave thing this week. Jodie Morris announced that her cafe would no longer be accepting badly behaved children. If parents were looking for somewhere for children to run rampant and annoy other customers, she wrote on Facebook, then her premises were not child friendly.This has upset some customers, but I imagine others will breathe a sigh of relief. I would have gone further. The well behaved rule will no doubt lead to conflict further down the line (Why does my darling have to leave when that other child can stay?). So why not ban the whole lot of them? I believe in the sanctity of child-free spaces. Am I the only one; will someone not think of the adults? Continue reading...
(Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:00:08 GMT)

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