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China: ship carrying more than 450 people sinks in Yangtze river
Vessel was taking passengers between the cities of Nanjing and Chongqing when it sank on Monday nightMore than 400 people are missing after a Chinese passenger boat sank on the Yangtze river after being hit by what the captain described as a cyclone.At least 458 people were travelling on the Dongfangzhixing, or Eastern Star, vessel when it went down at around 11pm on Monday night not far from the city of Jingzhou in Hubei province.President Xi Jinping asks for all-out efforts in rescue work in Yangtze River #Yangtzeshipsinks pic.twitter.com/aKVhkIA2tnBreaking: A ship sailing on Yangtze River capsized and sank on Monday at 11 pm in Hubei, carrying 458 people pic.twitter.com/UAtfbydKgj Continue reading...
(Tue, 02 Jun 2015 00:00:45 GMT)

Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people
Guardian analysis finds 102 people killed by police so far this year were unarmed, and that agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by US governmentThe Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015 – interactiveBlack Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed. Related: Police killings: families, Obama taskforce and more welcome 'essential' public count Related: About The Counted: why and how the Guardian is counting US police killings Related: US police killings: where to send videos, tips and more Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:38:44 GMT)

David Cameron prepared to break with Europe on human rights
‘Nuclear option’ on table if Strasbourg rejects UK plan as prime minister seeks right to veto European court of human rights judgments David Cameron is to keep open the “nuclear option” of withdrawing from the European convention on human rights.The prime minister is prepared to break with the convention, drawn up by British lawyers in the wake of the second world war, if the Strasbourg-based court refuses to accept reforms that are designed to break the link with the European court of human rights. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:01:01 GMT)

Charges against Edward Snowden stand, despite telephone surveillance ban
The former NSA contractor revealed the banned surveillance programme, but an Obama administration spokesman says they will not review his chargesThe White House refused to reconsider its legal pursuit of Edward Snowden on Monday, while it sought to take credit for outlawing the bulk telephone surveillance programme he revealed.Obama administration spokesman Josh Earnest rejected the argument that the imminent passage of legislation banning the practice meant it was time to take a fresh look at the charges against the former National Security Agency contractor. Related: Daniel Ellsberg credits Edward Snowden with catalysing US surveillance reform Related: US surveillance reform: what has happened and what happens next? Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:30:02 GMT)

EU leaders stage late-night mini-summit to try to defuse Greek crisis
Outcome unclear after ECB and IMF chiefs join Merkel and Hollande to seek joint position on negotiations over Greece bailoutThe German chancellor, Angela Merkel, moved to try to defuse Greece’s financial and European crisis late on Monday, converting a routine long-scheduled meeting with French and EU leaders into a mini-summit on Greece.Merkel met France’s president, François Hollande, and the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for what was billed as a session on how to boost investment in the EU. But they were joined by Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, in what turned into a late-night session on Greece. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:32:33 GMT)

Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe: unfit police officers must shape up or go
Britain’s most senior officer says overweight and slow police must improve physical fitness or ‘we haven’t got a job for them’Overweight and unfit police must improve their physical condition or risk losing their job, Britain’s most senior officer has said. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe described the standard of an annual fitness test officers must complete as too low. The 15-minute assessment, which became compulsory in September, requires officers to run a short distance back and forth in time to a bleeping sound. I think you’ve got a duty to your colleagues. If they shout for help, they want fit people to come Related: Two per cent of police officers fail new fitness tests Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:01:02 GMT)

Office employees should be on feet for four hours of working day, study says
Research co-commissioned by Public Health England calls for a workplace revolution through use of sit-stand desks to avoid risks of a sedentary lifestyleOffice workers should spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle, according to a study co-commissioned by Public Health England. Research has long linked excessive time spent sitting to increased risk of morbidity or premature death but the advice, co-commissioned by Public Health England and published on Monday, represents the first time British workers have been provided with quantifiable targets for getting out of their seats. Related: 'I start to feel it in my knees' – working for hours while standing proves a tall order Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 22:30:00 GMT)

UK house prices set to surge over rest of 2015 as election uncertainty clears
Growth in average home value paves way for a further boom over the coming months, although some experts warn against making ‘overblown’ presumptionsBoom conditions are back in the UK housing market and prices look set for a new surge before the end of the year after the Conservative election victory has galvanised buyers and sellers.As the Land Registry reported prices in England and Wales had risen in April – leaving the average value of a home just £1,200 below its pre-financial crisis peak of 2007 – economists said they now expected further increases in the months ahead. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:47:34 GMT)

Sepp Blatter’s Fifa re-election causes anger but Uefa divisions weaken cause
• FA’s Heather Rabbatts steps down from Fifa task force in protest• France, Spain and Russia all defied Michel Platini’s vote pleaProtests against Sepp Blatter’s re-election have increased the pressure on the Fifa president, with Uefa considering its options in the knowledge that a quarter of European associations defied Michel Platini’s plea to oust Blatter from power.Blatter secured a fifth four-year term in office last Friday despite Fifa being engulfed in crisis following a week of arrests and upheaval in Zurich. The fallout continued when the Football Association board member Heather Rabbatts stepped down from the Fifa anti-discrimination taskforce, while a debate in the House of Commons provided a unanimous consensus that Blatter’s re-election was a dark day for the game. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:27:41 GMT)

World’s 50 Best Restaurants list: Spanish eatery reclaims crown
El Celler de Can Roca of Girona wins back the title it last held in 2013 but controversial list draws criticism for lack of transparencyCuisine from Europe’s warmer climes is back on top of the annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, which this year sees El Celler de Can Roca of Girona, Spain, reclaim the title it last held in 2013.Victory was achieved at the expense of Noma, a four-time Danish winner known for its clinical servings of deep-fried moss and pine foam, which was bumped down to third to make way for an Italian runner-up, Modena’s Osteria Francescana.We asked the Roca brothers how they felt to be at No.1. This was their reaction: #Worlds50Best pic.twitter.com/y73LTG07Dh Continue reading...
(Tue, 02 Jun 2015 00:18:17 GMT)

Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover is life-affirming
Posing for Annie Liebovitz, Caitlyn Jenner has pulled off the most provocative and downright fabulous transition ever – one which will do great things for trans awarenessCaitlyn Jenner (and I’m only going to say this once: “The megababe formerly known as Bruce Jenner”) has arrived in the most spectacular style imaginable – in a bustier, on the cover of Vanity Fair, shot by Annie Leibovitz. It is the most ridiculous, bold, life-affirming and gloriously overblown celebrity transition ever. Until now, no one had ever come out in such style. The cover is instantly iconic, up there with other Vanity Fair masterpieces like the pregnant Demi Moore. Caitlyn Jenner is not messing about. She couldn’t have picked a more provocative, attention-grabbing and, let’s face it, fabulous way to introduce herself to the world had she arrived at a press conference, on a beach, floating on a golden conch shell. Related: 'Call me Caitlyn': Jenner owns her identify in Vanity Fair interview Caitlyn Jenner poses for Annie Leibovitz on the cover of Vanity Fair #CallMeCaitlyn http://t.co/NRyh6R09RR pic.twitter.com/GO1ZgJJKBR Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:33:59 GMT)

The real Fifa scandals: Sepp's yodelling, the flop movie and his Dr Strangelove bunker
Never mind the corruption arrests and charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering at Fifa. What skeletons have recently emerged from Sepp Blatter’s closet?Fifa’s reputation as international sport’s grubby uncle reached its nadir last week with the arrest of seven officials in a five-star Zurich hotel and 14 others charged by the US Department of Justice. But away from the multiple allegations of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering levelled at various Fifa officials, some fascinating details have emerged for non-Fifa watchers about the organisation and its re-elected president, Sepp Blatter …Sepp Blatter made money as a young man as a wedding singer and a yodeller Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:28:56 GMT)

End of Patriot Act restrictions is a win but vigilance is needed to make it real
Experience in the UK shows that reforms can be subverted in practice and intelligence agency lawyers are adept at overloading words with meaningsThe expiration of portions of the Patriot Act – particularly the bulk collection of US phone data – marks a clean break from the post-9/11 surveillance era, however brief that turns out to be.The challenge now for reformers, with new legislation underpinning surveillance probably just days away, is to try to make the victory a real rather than symbolic one. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:03:55 GMT)

Steve Bell on David Cameron and Scotland – cartoon
Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 22:08:47 GMT)

Jason Statham: 'Do I want to be the next James Bond? Absolutely'
He’s got the deadliest skills and the maddest stare but has Jason Statham got the chops for comedy? As his new film Spy opens, Britain’s toughest export talks about keeping a straight face, doing his own stunts and having 007 in his sights Related: Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig on Spy: 'When it works, it works like jazz' “If someone wants me to jump off this balcony,” says Jason Statham, nodding to the window behind him, “and land on a crash pad, that’s a piece of cake for me.” We’re only on the first floor of a Mayfair hotel, but it’s still quite a drop. This isn’t Statham boasting – it’s more a casual aside – but we both know he’s not joking, either. I’m tempted to challenge him to do it without the crash pad, though there’s the possibility he’d win the bet by disabling me with a dinner plate to the throat, hurling me off the balcony with him, and using my body as a human cushion, like he did a few years ago in the movie Safe. Related: Spy review – uproarious Paul Feig comedy tickles SXSW Related: Jason Statham: our last action hero (50 million Facebook fans can't be wrong) Related: Jason Statham: 'Me in a cape? Tight tights? Nah!' Related: The secret life of Jason Statham Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:37:00 GMT)

Goodbye to smog, cold noodles and breakneck change: my seven years covering China
I won’t miss the pollution and the many injustices. But I will remember the achievements, the beauty, the exuberant energy and the friends I madeAt 4am I shot out of bed as an explosion outside shook the room. Half an hour earlier, I had crawled beneath my duvet, naively imagining the barrage was almost over. It was February 2008 and Beijing had reached its pyrotechnic peak. On previous trips I had fallen in love with China’s exuberance and energy; the exhilaration of watching a country transforming at breakneck speed. Now the capital was celebrating lunar new year with the most spectacular fireworks display I have ever seen. The skyline bloomed red and green and golden in an unending show of confidence, joy and wealth.The freezing air was sulphurous as I looked out over my new home: a city of brutal office blocks, gleaming malls, high-rise towers and slums; above all, of building sites – the massive construction efforts for the Olympics were still at full pelt. But Beijing was also, still, a city of ancient alleyways, trees bearing fat orange persimmons and old men walking in the parks with caged thrushes. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:42:31 GMT)

What if David Cameron is an evil genius?
The prime minister has successfully pursued an agenda more radical than Thatcher’s – and has managed it without anybody being terribly worried by him‘They abolished the Human Rights Act” sounds like the first sentence of an Aldous Huxley novel. The Conservatives actually campaigned on a manifesto pledge to get rid of human rights and people voted for it. As electoral choices go, it’s not far off choosing to be ruled by a dry, whispering voice taunting you from an antique mirror.Here, in what may well be the final years of our civilisation, I would like to ask a question that has been worrying me for some time. What if David Cameron is a genius? A shrewd and malevolent psychopath who thinks two moves deeper into the game than any of his opponents? What if there sits in Downing Street today a modern-day Moriarty, living in a world where his schemes are only kept in check by the deductive brilliance of Harriet Harman? As Holmes would say, look at the evidence. Cameron has managed to set England against Scotland, Scotland against Labour. He has given his enemies the referendums they asked for, and won. He has left Nick Clegg looking like one of those terrified mouse faces that you find in an owl pellet. He has successfully pursued an agenda more radical than Thatcher’s with less popular support than John Major. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:00:10 GMT)

A man refusing to take his hat off indoors? This once, I doff my cap to George Galloway
Hats on men can often be a vexing style issue but one man and his trusty fedora have rewritten the rules of fashionWhat are the rules about wearing one’s hat indoors?George, London Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:35:28 GMT)

No Offence: why female coppers are the making of Paul Abbott's drama
DC Kowalska is a maverick and DI Deering is a glorious monster of a boss. It just so happens, both are womenI like to knit to detective dramas. When people ask why I like them so much, I don’t usually give that as my answer, but it’s true. I like the structure of a detective show, the way you can predict the shape of them: the murder, the discovery of the body, the hunt for clues, the interrogation, the red herring, the second death and so on. But only very rarely do I find a detective drama so engrossing that I put my knitting down for fear of adding an extra armhole. And that is what happened with No Offence.In the first few moments of the opening episode, we see a couple arguing in the back of a taxi, our sense of unease growing as she boots him out into the street. Is the cab driver going to attack her? Is this the last we will see of her, or her boyfriend? Nope, neither. We’re instantly wrong-footed as she flips her police ID at the driver, and tells him to keep an eye on her stuff while she chases after a wanted man she has just clocked outside. She ditches her high heels and pelts down the street after the suspect. He races up an alley and she follows without hesitation. As he exits the alley, he looks back to see how close behind she is. He trips, falls, lands in the road. His head is instantly crushed by a double decker bus. Cue opening credits. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:00:32 GMT)

Vince Vaughn: guns in schools will prevent mass shootings
In a new interview, the actor claims American citizens should own guns to ‘resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government’Vince Vaughn has emerged as a surprising advocate for gun ownership, likening the right to bear arms to “freedom of speech”.In an interview with GQ, the star spoke at length about gun control in the US. When asked whether firearms should be made available in schools, given recent shootings, he replied: “Of course. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. Related: Hey bro, let it go: how the Frat Pack fell apart Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:26:04 GMT)

Off the grid: the quiet, controlled paintings of Agnes Martin
Although the American abstract painter suffered from debilitating psychosis, it is never explicit in her work. Yet her taut pencil lines, delicate colours and regimented grids speak subtly of both control and escapeChampionship swimmer, teacher, car nut, lesbian, writer, painter: in her long and sometimes troubled life Agnes Martin (1912-2004) was all these things. She also heard voices in her head and suffered debilitating periods of psychosis. Martin’s schizophrenia, though never entirely a secret, seems at odds with her art, which is marked by its clarity and rigour, and an exactitude that never excludes human qualities, and has within it a sense of immanence.One could read her art as both control and escape. But first of all, they are paintings. Born out of solitude and quiet, her paintings demand just as much from us. All this, from a lifetime’s work that probably used not much more than a single box of pencils, a few rolls of masking tape and less paint than some artists ladle on to a single canvas in a day. Martin set herself extreme limits. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:51:49 GMT)

The world's most unfair election system – how would your parliament fare?
In Turkey, parties need 10% to get into parliament or they lose their seats to bigger rivals. How would this system affect chambers in more established democracies like the UK, Germany and Australia?Turkey goes to the polls on Sunday to elect its new parliament. The country has an unusual electoral system, which requires a party to win at least 10% of the national vote to enter parliament – the highest threshold of any country in the world. This means that if a party wins 40 seats but receives only 9.55% of the national vote, as the True Path party (DYP) did in the 2002 elections, it forfeits those 40 seats, which are then reallocated to the larger parties.Click below to discover how the threshold has affected Turkish elections and how this voting system would change the UK, German and Australian parliaments. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:25:49 GMT)

Prada and Louis Vuitton are the new patrons of art – shame they're so boring
Fashion houses are pouring money into shiny new art galleries across Europe. It should be explosive, but sadly they’ve left their imaginations on the runwayFashion houses are the new art patrons of our time. That would be fine, if only they would show the boldness they bring to bags and rags when they collect art. Instead, they follow the rules of the art world, conform to its set taste and dully imitate last year’s look. This month, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris unveils a new hang of its contemporary art collection – the third since it opened less than a year ago. Prada has just opened its spectacular “art city” in Milan, while Paris also has the comparatively venerable Cartier Foundation. Meanwhile, the hottest “art exhibition” in London is Alexander McQueen at the V&A. Related: Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris review – everything and the bling from Frank Gehry Related: Miuccia Prada: I hate the idea of being a collector. I really hate it Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:19:12 GMT)

My childhood in a cult is hard to imagine - but my survival is truly unbelievable
The ATI cult and the ‘Quiverfull’ movement defined my life, until I was old enough to break awayFor the longest time, I didn’t know how to explain to people how I grew up.Raised in Minnesota, my family went to a suburban, evangelical church in the Assemblies of God denomination: most people would consider it conservative, but it was more mainstream than where we ended up. My siblings and I wore shorts during the summer, listened to music and watched Full House on TV. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:25:51 GMT)

Praise her, praise her: should we refer to God as a woman?
God’s a man: big beard, white robe, on cloud – right? Not according to the pressure group Women and the Church, who want to start referring to Him as HerAge: Ageless.Appearance: Well, now you’re asking. Rare, certainly. Last embodied, sort of, more than 2,000 years ago. Allegedly. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:40:58 GMT)

Rafael Nadal’s revival faces stern test at the hands of Novak Djokovic
• Nine-times French Open champion to meet world No1 in quarter-finals• Andy Murray plays David Ferrer and Roger Federer faces Stan WawrinkaAs the summer shadows lengthened on Monday evening the French Open delivered the quarter-final the draw had promised: the world No1, Novak Djokovic, against the slightly vulnerable nine-times champion, Rafael Nadal – and it is still difficult to be sure who will win the match on Wednesday.The Serb, most likely, will start a slight and sacrilegious favourite and looked sharp again beating Richard Gasquet, who tried so hard on Court Philippe Chatrier to deliver for the home fans while it is increasingly obvious his days in the sun, after much early promise, have dwindled. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:09:20 GMT)

Danny Cipriani arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after 5am crash
• Fly-half bailed after his Mercedes is involved in crash• Incident happens hours after Cipriani stars in England win over BarbariansDanny Cipriani’s hopes of making England’s World Cup squad appear to be in jeopardy after the fly-half was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after a 5am car crash on Monday.Cipriani was reportedly breathalysed after a collision in Chelsea, west London, and taken to a nearby police station before being released on bail. On Sunday the 27-year-old scored two tries for England in a man-of-the-match performance against the Barbarians at Twickenham. Continue reading...
(Tue, 02 Jun 2015 00:05:07 GMT)

Liverpool to sign James Milner on free transfer from Manchester City
• England midfielder prefers Anfield to Arsenal and Roma• Lack of Champions League football not a factor for MilnerLiverpool hope to agree the free transfer of James Milner this week with the England international poised to reject Champions League football with Manchester City or Arsenal in favour of a prominent role at Anfield.Milner is one of the items on Liverpool’s agenda for a week that will shape their summer strategy. Tom Werner, the club’s chairman, and Mike Gordon, the president of Fenway Sports Group, are due on Merseyside on Tuesday to conduct an end-of-season review that will have major implications for Brendan Rodgers’ position. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:10:58 GMT)

England will come out ‘all guns blazing’ for Test win, says Joe Root
• England face world-record run chase on final day against New Zealand• BJ Watling says touring side ‘backing ourselves to win’ second TestJoe Root claims England will come out “all guns blazing” as they look to pull off the improbable with a world-record run chase of 455 on the final day of the second Test with New Zealand at Headingley.Alastair Cook and his opening partner, Adam Lyth, reached 44 without loss before rain wiped out five hours of play in the afternoon on Monday, following a morning session in which the tourists hammered 116 runs in 16 overs and declared on 454 for eight. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:04:38 GMT)

Wales pick George North for World Cup training but pledge to take care
• Wing may not play in warm-up matches in August after concussions• Ross Moriarty, Tomas Francis and Dominic Day named in 47-man squadWales have named George North in their World Cup training squad but will wait for at least six weeks before involving the wing in contact training as he continues his comeback from a third concussion in five months.North, who has not played since the end of March, has reached the stage in the concussion protocol when he is allowed to run. But he cannot take contact and Wales will be guided by medical opinion. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:00:00 GMT)

Football Weekly: Arsenal thrash Aston Villa as Fifa farce rumbles on
Arsenal retain the FA Cup, Sepp Blatter lives to fight another day, and a preview of the Champions League final Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:19:47 GMT)

Steve McClaren and Patrick Vieira in battle for Newcastle United job
• McClaren was sacked by Derby County last week• Vieira would leave Manchester City for the right jobSteve McClaren continues to command strong support in the corridors of power at Newcastle United where he is vying with Patrick Vieira for the manager’s job.Much hinges on the outcome of talks involving Vieira, the Manchester City under-21 coach, and Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, who hopes to be in a position to name John Carver’s successor by the end of the week. Related: Patrick Vieira ready to leave Manchester City for right job Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:03:01 GMT)

Rain ruins enticing England chase against New Zealand on day four
• New Zealand 350 & 454-8 dec; England 350 & 44-0• No play possible after 2pm after England are set 455 for victory• As it happened; day four at HeadingleyA good game has been spoiled. The rain that washed in from over the Pennines shortly after lunch precluded any further play on the fourth day of another scintillating Test, depriving New Zealand of an opportunity to make inroads into the England second innings (although the game is still there to be won by them on the final day) but almost certainly derailing any real prospect England may have had of a record score to win a Test. Now there is probably only one potential winner.The cricket that did take place in the morning was as exhilarating as any that had preceded it in this most entertaining of series, with New Zealand’s lower-order batsmen making merry against England bowlers who broke ranks and lost discipline under a fierce assault. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:56:31 GMT)

Liverpool hierarchy to conduct review with Brendan Rodgers this week
• FSG representatives arrive on Merseyside to grill manager• Rodgers under pressure after team’s underwhelming seasonLiverpool’s chairman, Tom Werner, and the Fenway Sports Group president, Mike Gordon, are due on Merseyside this week to conduct the review into the team’s underwhelming campaign and its implications for Brendan Rodgers’ future as manager.The two members of the Anfield hierarchy are expected to arrive from Boston on Tuesday before a far-reaching review into Liverpool’s sixth-placed finish in the Premier League. A poor return on last summer’s £117m transfer spree, swift exits from the Champions League and Europa League and the manager’s part in a campaign that ended in a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Stoke City are all on the agenda. Related: Jürgen Klopp to take break after ‘seven emotional years’ at Borussia Dortmund Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:58:10 GMT)

How far does Cameron want to shrink the state? Ask Barnet’s binmen
In this leafy Tory-run borough, council staff are fighting one of the most important battles in Britain today: the future of local services depends on itFew words are ruder in polite society than “strike”. Hated by politicians. Deplored by the press. As for the party supposedly overrun by trade union barons, whoever can name an occasion when one of their leaders has publicly supported a strike will win a part-share of my immigration-control mug.To such genteel ears, what I’m about to say will sound as sophisticated as breaking wind at a palace garden party. But some things demand directness – which is why I’d urge you to support the binmen, care workers, librarians and other council staff striking in Barnet right now. Related: Outsourced and unaccountable: this is the future of local government | Aditya Chakrabortty Barnet now pays Capita £800 for a day’s training in how to take minutesTrade unions were wiped out in the private sector in the 1980s; they could be destroyed in the public sector this decade Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:07:48 GMT)

Why do female drivers pose such a threat?
From Saudi Arabia to Stamford Hill, north London, bans on women getting behind the wheel are designed to curb independence and keep them at home and not out in the wider world – these fears need to be forced to take a back seatIt was a strange and unsettling row that flared in Stamford Hill, north London, last week, when leaders of the orthodox Jewish sect Belz wrote to parents to voice concern about the number of women driving. “There has been an increase in incidences of mothers of our students who have begun driving cars,” they stated, “something that goes against the laws of modesty in our society.” From August onwards, the letter said, children whose mothers drove them to school would be barred from the classroom.In the days that followed, Nicky Morgan, minister for women and equalities, declared the ban “completely unacceptable in modern Britain”. Dina Brawer, UK ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance told the Jewish Chronicle, “The instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women. In this sense, it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic imperative is shameful and disturbing.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:02:48 GMT)

Hammond bores us before Boris
There was no cliche or management speak left unturned by the foreign secretary as he kept Boris Johnson waiting to deliver his speech Britain in the World. While it’s always a relief to realise the government has a vague idea of this country’s geographical location when choosing a title for its debate on foreign policy, there is some doubt whether their Britain is of this World. In particular, the foreign secretary Philip Hammond, a man who could could easily pass himself off as a cyborg if only he had the intelligence to match the computerised monotony of his voice. If ever Apple wanted to retire Siri, then they have a natural replacement in Phili. “Can I find you something really dull to do today?” Related: David Cameron must be willing to walk away from EU talks, says Boris Johnson Johnson gave up any pretence at listening and started reading Private Eye​ that he tried to conceal inside his speech Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:40:40 GMT)

The Guardian view on Paris’s padlocks: the heart has its reasons
The city of love draws the line at love locks: unromantic but unavoidableRobert Burns wrote that his love would last “Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear”, but that sentiment is now being rewritten in Paris. The authorities there have decreed that those witnesses to enduring love, the padlocks that festoon some of the city’s bridges, will last only until the clean-up crews get round to chopping them off with heavy-duty bolt cutters. A shame, many will feel. A great relief, say others, arguing that they are unsightly and have made the bridge railings, particularly those on the Pont des Arts, unsafe. The padlock cult began in earnest about 15 years ago and since then has spread beyond Paris to other cities. It is the modern equivalent of carving the linked initials of lovers on a tree or incising them on the plinth of some prominent building. But it is a more collective act, since the lovers identify not only with each other but with the whole community of lovers, from many countries, whose tokens are also fixed on the ironwork. Custom doesn’t have to be old to be worth embracing, and there is something pleasing about the human need to leave a mark that is more permanent than their own brief lives and loves. Something problematic, too, because what is tolerable in small doses becomes rather appalling when it goes well beyond that, as it has in Paris. So the padlocks will have to go, although the discarded keys will still lie on the bed of the Seine. But we can be sure that if it’s not padlocks it will be something else. Love always finds a way. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:22:48 GMT)

On business, Labour must find a path between adulation and the cold shoulder
Any new prawn cocktail offensive will fail unless the party is honest about the challenges involved and the changes neededThe Labour party launched a taskforce this weekend to learn the lessons from our comprehensive defeat. It is certainly needed, but already one of the strongest themes to emerge is that we lost the confidence of business.Before the election business leaders large and small lined up to endorse the Tories while immediately after the vote Alan Sugar fired Labour because we were too “anti-business”. Leadership hopefuls have echoed this, with Yvette Cooper distancing herself from Ed Miliband’s policies, Andy Burnham saying “We got it wrong on business” and Liz Kendall demanding “I want Labour not just to ‘understand’ business but be the champion of people who take a risk”.Our party seems to vacillate between holding business in an uncritical gaze over canapes and hectoring it Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:04:24 GMT)

Drinking, brawling, mayhem. I loved the parties Philip Larkin called ‘hell on earth’
You never knew what would happen next at an old-style literary gathering. Where else could you argue with Doris Lessing about underpants from M&S?In the glorious letter just discovered from Philip Larkin to his Oxford friend Rachel Trickett, Larkin asks her not to nominate him as professor of poetry, explaining that he’d rather be dead in a ditch. The sticking point, it seems, was what Larkin calls “a lot of sherry drill with important people”. “My idea of hell on earth … is a literary party.”Larkin is talking about the Oxford party, but the literary party proper is (I think) on the decline – especially the one to launch a book. Publishers’ margins are tight these days, and the budget tends to go on promotions and author tours, not the splendid bash with canapés in a hired museum. Most authors are lucky to be lent Daunt’s bookshop in Marylebone with a few bottles of white wine. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:04:48 GMT)

The Guardian view on the lessons of the 2015 election: change the voting system or break up the UK
First past the post can’t reflect the diversity of a multiparty BritainOf all the lessons learned on 7 May, the most significant should be the capacity of the electoral system itself to damage political legitimacy rather than to enhance it. That was clear by breakfast time on 8 May. There was Ukip with almost 4m votes and one seat, the Greens with 1m votes and one seat, and the Lib Dems with 2.4m votes and eight seats – 300,000 votes per MP. By contrast, it took little more than a tenth of that, 34,000 votes, to elect a Tory MP, and 40,000 to elect a Labour one. But most starkly of all, the SNP with 1.4m votes now has 56 members of parliament – at 25,000 votes a shot. As the Electoral Reform Society argues, Britain’s voting system is overstating differences so that they create national and regional divides. In effect, the way we vote is contributing to the pressure on the union.In Scotland, the half of the population that supports UK-wide parties is now represented by just three MPs Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:26:46 GMT)

I've seen my friends harass women on the street. I can't be silent any more
Dudes have been hollering, cat calling or cracking on women years before I was even born. But if men are the problem, we can also be part of the solutionOn the first hot day of 2015, I was hanging out with some friends on a street corner in east Baltimore when a woman and her child walked past.Bulk chants of “Ohhhh! Got Damn! Smile baby! Shorty you phat as shit! Bring dat ass over here!” ripped from the corner where about 30 of us stood. We are all different guys, with 30 different occupations, all bought up in the same abrasive culture where many men feel entitled to harass women. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:15:04 GMT)

Is God a woman? To ask the question is to miss the point
The language we use to talk about God is not a patriarchal conspiracy. God transcends gender but we need terms we can comprehendA bit of a row erupted on Twitter over the weekend (no change there then) prompted by reports in the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail (no change there then) about a campaign to call God “she”. The story goes that some women vicars want to start challenging the patriarchy by adding an “s” to the usual pronoun “he” to describe God. The pesky feminists!For many of us with a theological persuasion the debate about gender-specific pronouns for the Divine is as dated as a fondue set and flares, but apparently to some normal people this is not the case. Last week I was at a debate on women bishops and at the end of a very enjoyable and affirming evening, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner sang the 23rd Psalm using feminine pronouns. None of us batted an eyelid. But it obviously riled a journalist in the audience.Language lets us down. To call God 'it' doesn't seem right either so we have to settle on something Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:16:39 GMT)

Secret Teacher: I'm astonished by what some parents complain about
My job is hard enough without being inundated with messages from parents who are unhappy about everything from the weather to sick leaveMore from the Secret TeacherI can honestly say I never thought I would make it. I’m nine years into a teaching career and the mental exhaustion at times is overwhelming. But this year has been the worst by far. I’ve been constantly under scrutiny and made to feel like nothing I ever do is good enough. Around this time last year, my headteacher announced our classes for the year; once again, I had the class that other teachers spoke of with much disdain and damnation, as if they were almost feral. Having been at the school for two years, I knew that this wasn’t the case – the children just needed a firm set of consistent boundaries and expectations. I was up for the challenge. Looking back, I would not change my students for the world. I would change their parents, however. Related: Five of the best apps that help teachers communicate with parents Continue reading...
(Sat, 30 May 2015 06:00:03 GMT)

A 'wife bonus' is just an allowance for a dependent spouse by another name
Feminists fought for years for domestic work to be recognized as labor. We just didn’t expect that the first recognition of it to be so retroHousework and child care is real work and deserves real money, so I’m 100% behind any initiatives that fairly pay women for their time and labor. But after decades of feminist advocacy for fair wages and material acknowledgment of domestic work, what we’ve gotten is the “wife bonus”.According to Wednesday Martin, the author of the forthcoming Primates of Park Avenue, a “wife bonus” is a standby on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where rich husbands reward their stay-at-home wives with a hefty end-of-the-year check to thank them for all their hard work.I’m exceptionally lucky to have a husband who values how important a job it is to stay home and take care of a child, as well as understanding how difficult it is to leave friends, family and career prospects behind to further his career. He was actually pleased to have a tangible way to recognize the contribution that I also make to the success of our lives. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:40:11 GMT)

How to deal with sexism and racism? What about some shock treatment
Everyday behaviour shows us that race and gender equality remain a long way off, which is why desperate measures are worth dreaming aboutIn an experiment that sounds as though it is owed directly to Brave New World, scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, have found that sleep training can reduce levels of unconscious sexist and racist bias. Such experiments may sound like science fiction, but when it comes to the intractable problems of structural sexism and racism, why not try anything?Lean against a bar in this country and eventually you’ll encounter an “I’m not racist, but … ” rant (always a clear indicator that what you’re about to hear will make Katie Hopkins sound like Ruth First). Let’s not forget that our Glorious Overlord, David “calm down, dear, it’s only another closed-down women’s refuge” Cameron took an all-expenses paid trip to apartheid South Africa and belongs to a party which, in Lambeth in 1964, distributed leaflets which read: “If you desire a coloured for a neighbour, vote Labour. If you are already burdened with one, vote Tory.” And if you think that times have changed since then, consider last year’s Social Attitudes Survey, or the fact that Roy Chubby Brown is still touring. Meanwhile the Everyday Sexism Twitter feed, the rape conviction rate, the fact that two women a week are murdered by their male partners, all stand testament to the fact that gender equality is a long way off. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:00:02 GMT)

A huge victory on mass surveillance for Snowden – and it’s not over yet
The end of bulk collection of phone data represents not only a loss of power for the NSA but also the death of the idea that US intelligence agencies can avoid transparencyIt is the first serious reversal in almost four decades for the US intelligence agencies in terms of accumulation of power – and a huge victory for the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Last night at midnight the National Security Agency lost key powers, primarily the bulk collection of phone data. These powers expired for the mammoth surveillance agency because of miscalculations on the part of a complacent Republican leadership out of touch with the mood in America. Related: The NSA can't surveil Americans' every phone call – at least for now | Trevor Timm Related: NSA reform: Bush-era powers expire as US prepares to roll back surveillance Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:15:02 GMT)

Solving the refugee crisis begins by changing the way we see them
The voices least heard in the debate are migrants themselves. While media and politicians perceive them as cockroaches or statistics, the crisis will only escalatePeople move. The history of humanity is a history of migration. Since the earliest movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia, humankind has had reason and the means to travel from one place to another. Sometimes that movement is orderly, planned and peaceful. But just as often it is harried and desperate, a violent expulsion of large numbers of people fleeing persecution, war, famine or other natural disasters. Related: Burma’s boatpeople ‘faced choice of annihilation or risking their lives at sea’ Politicians use control of information to build broader narratives around 'illegals' or 'suspected terrorists' Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:21:36 GMT)

The NSA can't surveil Americans' every phone call – at least for now
The bulk surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act expired Monday, allowing people to speak freely. But the NSA’s supporters can still eke out a winToday is a landmark day for Americans’ privacy: you can finally make a telephone call in the United States without the NSA automatically keeping a record of who you called, when, and for how long. It’s been more than a decade since that was the case. Now the only question is: will it last?After the Senate voted down an extension of the Section 215 of the Patriot Act in a rare Sunday evening session, the dreaded law authorizing the mass surveillance of Americans expired at the first stroke of midnight and, with that stroke, one of the NSA’s most controversial and invasive surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden was reportedly shut down. But what powers the NSA will have by the end of the week – the details of which is still up in the air and changing by the hour – is anyone’s guess. Related: A huge victory on mass surveillance for Snowden – and it’s not over yet | Ewen MacAskill Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:45:15 GMT)

Labour’s next leader should look to David Cameron, not Tony Blair
For lessons on how to lead a doomed party to power while sticking to your guns, Labour’s hopefuls should study the Tories in 2005 rather than Labour in 1994Unsurprisingly the early days of Labour’s leadership contest are defined largely by where candidates stand in relation to the party’s great election winner. Is X following the course set by Tony Blair? Is Y moving away? The questions are bound to erupt after confidence-sapping election defeats. While the future is hazy, there is a past in which the party used to win.But rather than dwelling on Labour’s complex, still highly charged recent history, the candidates to succeed Ed Miliband do have another leader to learn from, one who has also won elections. He is there in front of their eyes and set out on his course in a very similar context to the one facing the potential Labour leaders. He is none other than the newly elected prime minister. Related: The British left must learn to speak a new language – Spanish | Owen Jones The levers were aimed at ‘reheated Thatcherism'. But Cameron would never put it like that Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 05:00:12 GMT)

There’s no silver lining in the sea of litter. Only a plastic one
Every sort of muck lines our parks and streets but, if you dare to reprimand a slob, you risk getting into a scrape. What is happening to us?I try to keep calm, I really do. That’s why I go to parks with the dog – to see grass, trees and loveliness. But what do I find there? A sea of filth.Every sort of muck: cans, bottles, fag ends, wet wipes, plastic, rotting snacks, tissues, and mountains of dog shit. My sunny mood is soon shot to hell. And the better the weather, the more the crap. The poor park keeper goes on his rounds with his sacks, picking up everything the slobs have dropped all over the lawns and in drifts against the football pitch fence – where the sports people like to drop their cans and bottles, and the parents, watching their kiddies, drop their paper coffee cups, training up the next generation of litterers. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:50:41 GMT)

Xi Jinping’s China is the greatest political experiment on Earth
The success or failure of the president’s domestic programme will determine whether there is peace or war in east AsiaCan Xi do it? This is the biggest political question in the world today. “Yes, Xi can,” some tell me in Beijing. “No, he can’t,” say others. The wise know that nobody knows.There is a great debate going on in Washington about whether the US should change its China policy in response to Beijing’s more assertive stance under President Xi Jinping. This includes the reported stationing of artillery on the extraordinary artificial islands it is building on underwater reefs in the South China Sea. It also matters to everyone everywhere whether China can sustain its economic growth as it exhausts its ready supplies of cheap labour, avoiding the traps into which some middle-income economies have stumbled. Yet even more than in other countries, the future of China’s foreign policy and its economy depend on the quality of decision-making produced by the political system. It’s the politics, stupid. Related: South China Sea islands are Chinese plan to militarise zone, claims US It’s likely Xi’s brand of smart authoritarianism will keep not just his party in power but the whole show on the road Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 06:00:13 GMT)

Cameron is right that Europe needs to reform. But it’s already happening
While the prime minister poses as a lonely crusader for change, the EU is getting on with its usual work of creating shared solutions to shared problemsIt’s rare to find a politician in Europe who can talk about the EU without mentioning the R-word. Reform is the apple pie of European politics: every politician wants a slice.This is fair enough. Nobody would seriously argue that the EU doesn’t need to evolve. But the point that our own prime minister seems not to appreciate is that changes are already happening. Indeed, they have always been happening. Related: Merkel suggests a deal can be reached over Cameron's EU demands There’s the temptation to invent “problems” that everyone can “solve” without much fuss, and claim victory back home Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 08:00:15 GMT)

A pre-pay electricity meter made my student life hell
Having to top up is an expensive and inconvenient drain on students living as independent adults for the first timeThe news that there have been more than half a million pre-payment energy meters forcibly installed into people’s homes over the last six years struck a chord with me.Two years ago, fresh out of university halls and living in our first truly independent home for less than a month, my housemates and I were woken up by two men in blue boiler suits. Court warrant in hand, they were ready to install a pre-payment meter.I had to forgo washing in the morning a few times because the meter had run out overnightSomeone came in our house and changed our meter while we were out. We had a huge bill to pay later Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 08:58:09 GMT)

The liquidity timebomb - monetary policies have created a dangerous paradox
Central bank responses to the financial crisis are feeding booms and bubbles while market illiquidity will eventually trigger a bust and collapseA paradox has emerged in the financial markets of the advanced economies since the 2008 global financial crisis. Unconventional monetary policies have created a massive overhang of liquidity. But a series of recent shocks suggests that macro liquidity has become linked with severe market illiquidity.Policy interest rates are near zero (and sometimes below it) in most advanced economies, and the monetary base (money created by central banks in the form of cash and liquid commercial-bank reserves) has soared – doubling, tripling, and, in the US, quadrupling relative to the pre-crisis period. This has kept short- and long-term interest rates low (and even negative in some cases, such as Europe and Japan), reduced the volatility of bond markets, and lifted many asset prices (including equities, real estate, and fixed-income private- and public-sector bonds). Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 08:34:57 GMT)

Britain's Got Talent producers sorry for switched dogs in final
Show faces potential Ofcom probe after viewers complain that winner Matisse was replaced with a stunt double during ITV show’s finaleBritain’s Got Talent producers have apologised for not making it clearer that the winning act – a dog called Matisse – was substituted for a lookalike in the high-wire stunt that helped the animal and its owner win the talent competition. A spokesman for the producers said viewers of the semi-final had seen that winner Jules O’Dwyer’s act involved several dogs who participated alongside Matisse to help perform her “unique mixture of dog agility and storytelling”. Related: Britain’s Got Talent dog replaced with stunt double for performance in final Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:06:07 GMT)

Britain's oldest dinosaur fossil found on North Yorkshire coast
Experts say they have identified 176m-year-old sauropod from fossil backbone discovered on a beach at WhitbyExperts say they have identified Britain’s oldest sauropod dinosaur from a fossil bone discovered on the North Yorkshire coast.The dinosaur backbone – which dates back about 176m years to the Middle Jurassic period – was found on a beach at Whitby after it fell out of a cliff face. Related: British dinosaurs should be everyone’s cup of tea Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:00:10 GMT)

No more £3,500-a-shift doctors, Jeremy Hunt tells NHS
Health secretary demands reduction in use of employment agencies and claims some are ripping off the health serviceJeremy Hunt has told the NHS to cut its soaring £3.3bn bill for agency staff, which has resulted in hospitals paying up to £3,500 for a doctor to work a single shift. The health secretary is introducing curbs on the use of employment agencies, some of which he says are “ripping off” the NHS by charging “extortionate” rates. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:01:01 GMT)

Downing Street rejects Iain Duncan Smith plan for new limit on child benefit
Restricting child benefit payments to first two children advocated by work and pensions secretary – but ruled out by No 10Downing Street has rejected a renewed move by Iain Duncan Smith to cut child benefit from parents with more than two children as a way of helping to achieve the £12bn in welfare cuts proposed by George Osborne.No 10 made a point on Monday of distributing remarks made by David Cameron on the eve of the general election in which the prime minister confirmed that child benefit would be retained in its current form for the next five years.The PM’s view is that, as he said during the election campaign, we keep child benefit. We don’t cut child benefit. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:11:27 GMT)

UK financial system needs urgent overhaul, says thinktank
New Economics Foundation calls for banking reforms and warns that strength of Britain’s financial system lags behind majority of G7 peersThe UK’s financial system remains at risk of upheaval despite the regulatory changes undertaken since the 2008 banking crisis, according to a thinktank.A report published by the New Economics Foundation on Tuesday places the strength of the UK’s financial system fifth out of the G7 bloc of leading industrial countries, behind Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Canada. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:01:01 GMT)

Doctors aim for single test to detect risk of four cancers in women
Europe-wide trial launched in attempt to develop test similar to cervical smear, but also checking for ovarian, womb and some forms of breast cancer Doctors have raised the possibility of a single screening test which could detect the risk of four different cancers in women, raising hopes of catching them early and saving lives.A four-year Europe-wide trial was announced on Monday with the aim of developing a test similar to the current simple cervical smear, which will identify a woman’s risk of developing cervical, ovarian, womb or certain sorts of aggressive breast cancer. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 23:01:01 GMT)

SAS march on which three men died 'went ahead to avoid paperwork'
Mother of man who died on 16-mile Brecon Beacons march in 27C heat tells inquest that officer said postponing march would have created too much workA senior army officer told a grieving family that a gruelling special forces test march, during which three men suffered heat illness and died, was not called off because of the paperwork a cancellation would have created, a coroner has heard.The mother of Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, one of the trio who died during the SAS test on the Brecon Beacons in July 2013, said that when she went to identify her son’s body she asked why the march had not been delayed on one of the hottest days of the year. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:47:42 GMT)

Oxford Union condemns itself as racist over cocktail poster
Flyer featuring image of shackled black hands advertised ‘Colonial Comeback’ cocktail to be served at reparations debateThe Oxford Union has passed a motion condemning itself as institutionally racist after a flyer was posted advertising a cocktail called the “Colonial Comeback”, to be served at a debate about the British Empire.The flyer, which featured an image of a pair of black hands shackled in chains under the heading “Reparations Debate Cocktail”, prompted an outcry from students and sharp condemnation from the university. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:27:02 GMT)

Ovarian cancer patients denied innovative drug amid cost concerns
Cancer charities criticise NHS watchdog’s decision to reject olaparib, which is available elsewhere in EuropeCancer charities have criticised the decision by the NHS treatment watchdog to reject an innovative new drug to treat ovarian cancer on the grounds of cost.Nice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, said in draft guidance it was disappointed that it must turn down olaparib (Lynparza), but the price tag of more than £49,000 a year was considerably higher than its ceiling of £20,000 to £30,000. When tests to assess patient suitability for the drug are included, the price rises higher still. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:04:36 GMT)

Election swing Labour needs for majority has doubled, study finds
Boundary changes have pushed majority further from opposition’s grasp, with party needing to gain at least 106 seats in 2020, Fabian Society saysLabour will need to gain at least 106 seats in 2020 to secure a majority, after taking account of the forthcoming boundary changes, according to a thinktank analysis of the consequences of the party’s election defeat.The Fabian Society concluded that Labour would require an electoral swing in marginal seats of 9.5 percentage points, more than twice the 4.6 points that the party needed for victory in 2015. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:42:28 GMT)

Violin teacher raped former student, court hears
Malcolm Layfield admits ‘inappropriate sexual relationships’ but denies abusing his power to assault former Chetham’s school of music pupilA violin teacher abused his power and influence to rape a pupil from a world-renowned music school in Manchester, a court has heard.Malcolm Layfield, former head of strings at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and a one-time violin tutor at Chetham’s school of music in Manchester, admits having “inappropriate sexual relationships” with a number of his former students, including the rape complainant, a jury at Manchester crown court was told. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:00:45 GMT)

Hillsborough officers describe efforts to revive unconscious boy
Two officers carried Adam Spearritt to far end of stadium where volunteer constable gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, inquest hearsA teenage boy who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 was carried to the far end of the football stadium by two South Yorkshire police officers who left him lying on the pitch, an inquest has heard.Adam Spearritt, 14, was pulled unconscious over the fence in front of pen 3 of the Leppings Lane terrace during the lethal crush at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:06:42 GMT)

Parents who lost baby ashes demand apology from crematorium
Report finds no ashes were recovered in more than 50 cases at Emstrey crematorium in Shrewsbury, which had no special facilities for infantsDistressed parents who did not receive the ashes of their babies after they were cremated want an apology after a report found no ashes were recovered in more than 50 cases.An inquiry into infant cremations at the Emstrey crematorium in Shrewsbury found that the techniques it used between 1996 and 2012 meant there were no ashes from the cremation of children under a year old that could be returned to families. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:37:24 GMT)

HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver expected to announce thousands of job cuts
Up to 20,000 job losses are reported to be on the cards as the chief executive attempts to pacify investors by reducing costs to bolster profitabilityThe chief executive of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, is expected to signal next week that thousands of jobs are to be cut when he outlines his latest strategy for the global banking business, according to reports.After he took the helm in 2011, Gulliver outlined the need for 25,000 job cuts from a global workforce that then stood at 296,000. The annual report for 2014 puts the current number of employees at 266,000, or 257,600 full-time equivalents. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:16:24 GMT)

Audi roof collapse sends 20 cars crashing into workshop
Workers flee just in time, with firefighters called to scene after vehicles pile up at Milton Keynes showroomStaff at an Audi dealership in Milton Keynes escaped unhurt on Monday when about 20 cars plunged through the ceiling over a workshop. Brand new cars tumbled on top of each other as a third of the 2,000 sq metre roof of Milton Keynes Audi gave way at about 12.20pm. #HeartNews View INSIDE MK Audi showroom where the roof has partially collapsed. No injuries. #Audi #MiltonKeynes pic.twitter.com/v2Fw5i82mx@Bucksfire Milton Keynes Audi temporarily closed due to onsite emergency. Click here for latest updates http://t.co/t2kvfnyARa Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:45:46 GMT)

Terry Pratchett stars in Alzheimer’s advert
Discworld author who died in March features in campaign for Alzheimer’s Research UK along with Seth Rogen, James Nesbitt and Katie DerhamThe late Sir Terry Pratchett stars in the first national TV campaign by Alzheimer’s Research UK – just months after the Discworld author died from the disease.The TV ad campaign, which aired in the final of Britain’s Got Talent on Sunday night, also features famous faces including Hollywood actor and charity ambassador Seth Rogen, James Nesbitt, choreographer Arlene Phillips, Dame Joan Bakewell and broadcaster Katie Derham. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:52:06 GMT)

Terror trial collapses after fears of deep embarrassment to security services
Swedish national Bherlin Gildo’s lawyers argued British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he wasThe prosecution of a Swedish national accused of terrorist activities in Syria has collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain’s security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead, the Guardian can reveal.His lawyers argued that British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:33:42 GMT)

Pursuit of profit is not evil, says Labour's Stella Creasy
Deputy leadership frontrunner says making profit is central dynamic of the economy but businesses should have wider ambitions The pursuit of profit does not make you evil, the Labour deputy leadership frontrunner Stella Creasy has said in a speech designed to improve the party’s relations with business.Creasy, who won praise during the last parliament for her campaigning against some of the practices of payday lending companies, said it was time to turn the page on “tired old cliches”. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:39:32 GMT)

BBC to be investigated over child shown backing Ukip to 'get the foreigners out'
Broadcast of primary school pupil telling Tristram Hunt he would vote Ukip may have broken child welfare rules and could have sparked backlash, claim criticsThe BBC is to be investigated over a news bulletin that featured a child saying he backed Ukip “to get all the foreigners out”.The child’s comments were broadcast by BBC regional news programme East Midlands Today during an item on Labour MP Tristram Hunt’s visit to a primary school in the runup to the general election. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:10:02 GMT)

Lib Dem leadership candidate Norman Lamb calls for cannabis legalisation
Lamb criticises ‘catastrophic failure’ of war on drugs and urges rational, education-based approachThe Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Norman Lamb has called for the UK to legalise, regulate and tax the sale of cannabis.The former care minister and MP for North Norfolk said the UK should draw on examples from US states such as Colorado, which legalised the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by over-21s in November 2012. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:00:33 GMT)

Rail strike: unions call off industrial action after Acas talks
Unions agree to suspend industrial action planned for this Thursday and next week with new pay offer from Network Rail on tableThe rail strikes planned for this Thursday and next week have been called off. Unions have agreed to suspend the industrial action after talks at Acas with Network Rail, in an ongoing dispute over pay, working practices and job security at the track operator. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:17:17 GMT)

Man accused of killing son with scaffolding pole over custody dispute
Court told that Colin McSweeny, who denies murder, killed adopted son at family home in south London and attempted to dispose of his body in ThamesA man killed his adopted son by hitting him over the head with a scaffolding pole then made a bungled attempt to dispose of the body in the river Thames, a court has heard.Colin McSweeny, a retired firefighter, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering Shaun McSweeny at the family home in Thornton Heath, south London, on 20 November last year. He denies murder. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:34:44 GMT)

Hermès Birkin bag sells for record £146,000 at Christie’s auction
The fuchsia diamond-encrusted crocodile skin bag was snapped up by an anonymous phone bidder at auction in Hong KongA rare Hermès bag has set a new record for the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction – going for HK$1.72m (£146,000). The fuchsia diamond-encrusted crocodile skin 2014 Birkin was sold to an anonymous phone bidder at Christie’s international handbags and accessories auction in Hong Kong. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:39:11 GMT)

UK renewable energy industry warns of legal action over subsidies
Closing scheme an year earlier than due would amount to ‘wilful destruction’ by the government, climate secretary told The UK renewable energy industry has warned the government’s new climate secretary that she will face a legal challenge if she oversees the “wilful destruction” of the industry by retrospectively curtailing subsidies.Later this week, the Department of Energy and Climate Change will announce that the existing subsidy scheme for onshore wind power will be closed a year earlier than it was due to, according to a source close to the process. Related: Amber Rudd, don't destroy the wind power industry Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:20:09 GMT)

Dread of literary parties led Philip Larkin to shun Oxford poetry professorship
In letter to colleague, poet wrote that he dreaded post’s ‘sherry-drill with important people’ and that he would be ‘entirely unfitted’ for the jobA vision of the “hell on earth” that is a literary party and revulsion for “a lot of sherry-drill with important people” drove Philip Larkin to rule himself out of consideration as the Oxford professor of poetry, according to an unpublished letter recently discovered in a college safe.As Oxford graduates prepare to vote for the next incumbent this June, with a spat breaking out over Wole Soyinka’s suitability for the post, the archivist at St Hugh’s College in Oxford has stumbled across a letter from Larkin declining a nomination. Related: Wole Soyinka dismisses claims he is too grand and old for Oxford poetry chair I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,Holding a glass of washing sherry, cantedOver to catch the drivel of some bitchWho’s read nothing but Which Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:30:23 GMT)

Man accused of slapping elderly people for sneezing in public
Stephen Jackson charged with assault after allegedly attacking five people aged 65-82 in Carlisle A man accused of slapping or threatening elderly people for sneezing in public has been charged with assault.Stephen Jackson, 49, allegedly carried out the “highly unusual” attacks against at least five victims – aged 65-82 – in Carlisle city centre. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:30:02 GMT)

Belmarsh prison officer guilty of being paid mole for reporter
Robert Norman received more than £10,000 for 40 tips to Daily Mirror and News of the World journalist Stephen Moyes, Old Bailey toldA prison officer at Belmarsh high-security prison has been found guilty of being the paid mole of a reporter working at the Daily Mirror and News of the World over five years.After an Old Bailey trial, Robert Norman, 54, was convicted of committing misconduct in a public office while working at HMP Belmarsh, south London, home to a number of high-profile prisoners. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:57:34 GMT)

Lord Falconer: government must clean up assisted dying legal mess
Shadow justice secretary pushing private member’s bill that he hopes could reform a law he sees as no longer enforceableThe government must make parliamentary time available to reform the law on assisted dying, Lord Falconer, the sponsor of a private member’s bill on the issue, has urged.After winning only 21st place in the peers’ lottery for private legislation, the new shadow justice secretary is warning that the existing law – which criminalises those helping the terminally ill end their lives – is in a mess and no longer capable of being enforced. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:01:35 GMT)

Carsten Höller exhibition lets visitors bed down for the night at the Hayward
At £300 for two, guests can spend a disorientating night stretched out in robotic beds as they trundle around galleries among giant slides and flying machinesThe customary “look but don’t touch” etiquette for art exhibitions is about to be torn up at the Carsten Höller show in London, where members of the public will be invited to to spend a comfortable if discombobulating night stretched out in one of the works – a bed which will pass the hours of darkness trundling slowly around the Hayward Gallery. Related: Carsten Höller: ‘It is impossible to travel down a slide without smiling’ Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:21:15 GMT)

Escaped Dovegate prisoner who fled to 'test jail security' arrested in Nottingham
Staffordshire police confirm Haroon Ahmed is back in custody after Sunday Mirror said he had been tracked down in SpainAn armed robber who escaped from prison “just to test out the security” has been arrested in Nottingham, despite having apparently fled to Spain. Haroon Ahmed, 26, walked out of HMP Dovegate, a privately run maximum security jail in Staffordshire, last Wednesday, reportedly with a group who had come to visit him. Police launched a manhunt but the Sunday Mirror said it tracked him down in Marbella on the Costa del Sol. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:33:52 GMT)

Shell sought to influence direction of Science Museum climate programme
Oil giant raised concerns one part of the project, which it sponsored, could give NGOs opportunity to open up debate on its operations, internal emails showShell tried to influence the presentation of a climate change programme it was sponsoring at the Science Museum in London, internal documents seen by the Guardian show.The Anglo-Dutch oil group raised concerns with the museum that one part of the project “creates an opportunity for NGOs to talk about some of the issues that concern them around Shell’s operations”. Related: Join the Guardian's climate change campaign Related: Oil companies' sponsorship of the arts 'is cynical PR strategy' Continue reading...
(Sun, 31 May 2015 19:17:47 GMT)

House prices resume growth, says Land Registry
Figures show 0.9% increase in April, as leading economist says housing market conditions risk another ‘boom’UK house prices are likely to surge over the next few months, an economist said on Monday, as the Land Registry reported a return to growth in April.A 0.9% rise in house prices during the month followed a 0.8% dip in March, and took the average price of a home in England and Wales to £179,817. Despite the increase, the annual rate of growth fell to a 14-month low of 5.1%. Related: Number of £2m-plus homes for sale more than doubles since election A strong housing market is an indicator that financial conditions are too loose Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:40:03 GMT)


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(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:00:17 GMT)

Tehran auction shifts millions of pounds worth of art in spite of sanctions
Sale of Iranian art generates nearly double what was predicted, taking in more than £4m and setting the record for most expensive painting sold in IranIn Tehran’s luxurious Grand Azadi hotel, a row of women dressed in black with red headscarves hold the lines open to bidders as the auctioneer tries to conjure up increasingly large sums with his hammer. As artworks are displayed, prices in the tens of billions of Iranian rials – hundreds of thousands of pounds – light up the large Samsung screen on the wall. In the crowd are some familiar faces including actors, politicians and the retired Iranian football star Ali Daei. The auction of modern and contemporary Iranian art, which is jockeying to be among the big auctions in the Middle East, is an annual event and was being held for the fourth time. But this year was different: the prices that were bid were astonishing for a country still struggling with international sanctions. And the auction, held on Friday, made nearly double what had been predicted, totalling £4.3m. Related: Tehran swaps 'death to America' billboards for Picasso and Matisse Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 18:32:54 GMT)

Turkey's Erdoğan invites opposition to get to bottom of gold toilet seat claims
President invites Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu to inspect lavatories in his palace after secular party leader accused him of spending public money on luxuriesTurkey’s president has invited the country’s main opposition leader to inspect the lavatories in his lavish palace, insisting he would not find any gold-plated toilet seats.Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu to the 1,150-room palace for the inspection on Monday after the leader of the secular Republican People’s party accused Erdoğan of spending taxpayers’ money on luxuries, including gold-plated toilet seats. Related: Turkey's new presidential palace unveiled - in pictures Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 16:34:36 GMT)

Pont des Arts love locks removed after Parisians lose affection for eyesore
Municipal workers remove 45 tonnes of padlocks that weighed down the bridge over the Seine in the centre of the French capital, sparking fears of collapseAs far as Paris and padlocks are concerned, it’s the end of the affair.The French capital has had a definitive falling out with the estimated 1m “love-locks” that it says are threatening some of the city’s most historic monuments.We still hope that Paris will remain the capital of love and romance Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:08:20 GMT)

Vitaly Mutko;s Russian football hold will strengthen Putin’s power
• Mutko expected to become new president of RFU• Minister for sport held position from 2005 to 2009Vladimir Putin’s grip on Russian football is likely to tighten with predictions that the Fifa executive committee member and 2018 World Cup chief, Vitaly Mutko, will take over as the president of the Russian football union.On Sunday the RFU voted to kick out the president, Nikolai Tolstykh, before the end of his term and Mutko, a close associate of Putin who was placed in charge of Sochi’s Winter Olympics in 2014, is favourite to take over. Mutko spearheaded the charm offensive for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup, reportedly persuading Putin to support the bid and meet many of the members of the Fifa executive committee. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 19:37:19 GMT)

Top US court rules for Muslim woman denied Abercrombie job over hijab
Supreme court votes 8-1 in favor of Samantha Elauf, but company tells the Guardian the ruling ‘did not determine that A&F discriminated against Ms Elauf’The US supreme court on Monday ruled in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store in Oklahoma because she wore a headscarf for religious reasons.The justices decided the case, which united Christian, Muslim and Jewish and other religious organizations, with an 8-1 vote, ruling in favor of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which sued the company on behalf of Elauf. Related: Abercrombie & Fitch case: justices set to side with Muslim woman over headscarf Related: Abercrombie & Fitch employees embrace death of sexualised dress code Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:02:28 GMT)

South Africa beach service to honour slaves drowned in 1794 shipwreck
Ceremony to be held on Clifton beach, Cape Town, near recently discovered wreck site of Portuguese ship that sank, leading to the loss of 212 slaves’ livesA small, solemn memorial service will be held on one of South Africa’s most popular beaches on Tuesday, close to a recently discovered shipwreck where more than 200 African slaves drowned at the bottom of the sea.The Portuguese ship, the São José-Paquete de Africa, was sailing from Mozambique to Brazil when it sank in turbulent waters near Cape Town in December 1794. Researchers say it is the first time that the remains of a slavers’ ship that went down with its human cargo on board has been identified. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:03:44 GMT)

Lion mauls American tourist to death in South African game park
Woman dies and second tourist wounded after big cat leaps through open car window in Lion Park, near JohannesburgAn American woman has been mauled to death by a lion that leaped through an open car window at a game park in South Africa, an official has said.A man who was driving the car was reportedly injured when he tried to fight off the lion. The tourists have not been named. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:58:43 GMT)

Rightwing Northern League makes gains in Italian elections
Leader Matteo Salvini says his party offers real alternative to PM Matteo Renzi after gains in central and left-leaning parts of Italy He is virulently anti-immigrant, has called for Roma camps to be razed and once referred to the euro as a “crime against humanity”. Matteo Salvini, the bombastic rightwing leader of Italy’s xenophobic Northern League, has even accused Pope Francis of doing a disservice to Catholics by promoting dialogue with Muslims.None of this appears to be doing him any harm at the ballot box. On the contrary, in the divided and economically battered Italy of 2015, it seems to be a winning formula. The 42-year-old is riding high after his party made significant electoral gains in central and left-leaning parts of Italy, results that reflect growing opposition to the EU and concern over the thousands of migrants landing on Italy’s shores each week.GRAZIEEEEE! Felice e orgoglioso, al Lavoro per mantenere gli impegni, crescere e vincere! #Renzi, stiamo arrivando. #Salvini #Lega Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:15:56 GMT)

Elderly woman's body found in suitcase at Tokyo train station
Corpse discovered by worker after luggage was left unclaimed in coin locker at Japanese stationThe body of an elderly woman has been found in a suitcase left abandoned for a month in Tokyo’s main train station.A worker at the station discovered her on Sunday after opening the suitcase, which had been moved from a locker to a left-luggage storage room when it was unclaimed. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:24:13 GMT)

Isis suicide bombers in Humvees attack Iraqi police base
At least 30 troops killed in attack by three bombers driving vehicles seized from Iraqi armyIslamic State suicide bombers targeting a police base have killed at least 30 troops in western Anbar province.Officials said three Isis militants drove Humvees seized from the Iraq army into a police base in the Tharthar area. The attacks caused a large explosion in an ammunition depot inside the base. Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:42:30 GMT)

Berlin becomes first German city to make rent cap a reality
Capital pioneers law prohibiting landlords from charging new tenants more than 10% above local averageBerlin has become the first city in Germany in which rent-control legislation has come into force in a bid to put the breaks on some of the fastest rising rents in Europe.From Monday, landlords in the capital will be barred from increasing rents by more than 10% above the local average. Such controls were already in place for existing tenants but have now been extended to new contracts. Related: Germany to impose rent-rise caps on inner-city properties Related: Berlin's housing bubble and the backlash against hipster tourists | Jochen Hung Related: Unaffordable cities: Berlin the renters' haven hit by green fog of eco-scams Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:13:51 GMT)

Rapid Arctic ice loss linked to extreme weather changes in Europe and US
Arctic warming appears to be the prime reason behind fluctuations in the polar jet stream that is causing unusual weather, study says The string of massive snowstorms and bone-chilling cold on the US east coast, as well as flooding in Britain and record temperatures in Europe, are linked to rapid ice loss in the Arctic, new research appears to confirm.While the rapidly-thawing Arctic cannot be held responsible for specific weather events like the “snowmageddon” in 2009, Hurricane Sandy, or European heatwaves, researchers at Rutgers university said it appears to be a prime reason why the polar jet stream – a ribbon of winds that encircles the globe – gets ‘stuck’ with increasing frequency. Related: Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss Related: US polar vortex may be example of global warming Continue reading...
(Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:51:07 GMT)

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