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Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict
US, Russia, Ukraine and EU agree measures including end of violence, disarming of illegal groups and amnesty for protestersFollow the latest updates on the Geneva talksThe US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have agreed a plan aimed at defusing the gathering conflict in eastern Ukraine.At a meeting in Geneva which began with low expectations but led to seven hours of intense negotiations, foreign ministers agreed a series of "concrete steps" to be taken by all sides. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:35:00 GMT)

Caroline Lucas cleared of anti-fracking protest charges
Green MP and four co-defendants found not guilty of obstructing public highway and public order offences during protestsCaroline Lucas, the Green party MP, has been found not guilty of obstructing a public highway and a public order offence during high-profile anti-fracking protests. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:46:00 GMT)

Male university workers sue over alleged sex discrimination
Maintenance staff members at University of Wales Trinity Saint David say they are paid less than female equivalentsTwenty-six men working at a university in Wales are suing their employers for more than £700,000 over allegations of sex discrimination and unequal pay.The men, caretakers and tradesman employed by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, say they have been paid less than female employees in equivalent posts for seven years. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:17:41 GMT)

Putin tells Edward Snowden: Russia doesn't carry out mass surveillance
Claims by Russian president to NSA whistleblower in TV show will be treated with scepticism by western intelligence officialsPresident Vladimir Putin has told the National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, that Russia is not carrying out mass surveillance programmes of the kind Snowden exposed in the US. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:08:16 GMT)

South Korea ferry disaster: captain and crew accused of abandoning passengers
Survivors and families of 287 people thought to be trapped inside sunken vessel voice anger at crew's response to accidentThe parents of hundreds of children missing after Wednesday's ferry accident off the coast of South Korea have accused the captain of the vessel of abandoning passengers after it emerged that he and six other crew members were among the first to leave the ship after it started to sink.The captain, Lee Joon-seok, who is reportedly in his 60s, escaped from the 6,835-ton Sewol just 40 minutes after the vessel apparently ran aground and started to list severely. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:33:00 GMT)

Runaway rhea thought to be bunkered in Hertfordshire golf course
Flightless bird, which can run at up to 40mph, sighted near Royston a month after escaping from owner's homeThe hunt for a runaway South American rhea that went missing from its owner's home more than a month ago is now focused on a golf course about five miles away.The tall flightless bird with a running speed of up to 40mph, appears to be bunkered down on or near Barkway Park club, near Royston, Hertfordshire, just a short trip down the road from Brent Pelham from where she escaped on 15 March. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:19:00 GMT)

Guardian website tops 100 million monthly browsers for the first time
Missing Malaysia Airways plane stories help boost traffic for most UK national newspaper sites in MarchThe Guardian website topped 100 million monthly browsers for the first time in March, when stories including the search for the missing Malaysia Airways jet helped boost online traffic for most UK national newspapers.Boosted by a 12% month-on-month traffic surge, theguardian.com website network which includes MediaGuardian hit a new record of 102.3 million monthly unique browsers in March. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:48:05 GMT)

One in 16 patients in NHS hospitals picks up infection, warns watchdog
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence describes the rate of infections in hospitals as 'unacceptably high'One in every 16 people treated at an NHS hospital fall ill with an infection, according to a government health agency report. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said the rate of infections, which are a "very real threat" to patients' lives, was "unacceptably high".Infections can occur in healthy people, especially if they are undergoing invasive surgery or using catheters or tubes inserted into veins. Children, the elderly and the ill are even more susceptible. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:37:24 GMT)

RBS: no evidence bank forced small businesses to close report
Clifford Chance law firm report says there was no evidence of fraudulent activity but points to 'insensitive' behaviourRoyal Bank of Scotland has been cleared of deliberately engineering the collapse of business customers but has decided to sell off a £3.2bn property portfolio at the centre of the row.The state-backed lender was accused last November in a report by a former government adviser, Lawrence Tomlinson, of putting some distressed commercial clients out of business in order to scoop up assets for its own West Register property arm. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:30:32 GMT)

More than 150 million vote so far on biggest polling day in Indian elections
Voter turnout close to 50% by early afternoon in many of the 120 constituencies being contested across 12 states on ThursdayMore than 150 million people have voted so far in India on Thursday in the biggest single day's polling of the six-week-long general election due to end next month.The often bitter contest is being described locally as the most important election for decades. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:15:00 GMT)

Egypt's gay community fears government crackdown
Recent series of raids and long jail terms fan fears that gay people may be new target of authoritarian governmentEgypt's gay community fears it is the latest target of the country's authoritarian government following a series of recent raids on gay people.Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:09:19 GMT)

Bryan Singer accused of sexually abusing 17-year-old in 1999
Lawyer for director of Usual Suspects and X-Men describes claims that the film-maker raped a teenage aspiring actor as 'absurd and defamatory'Bryan Singer, the director of the X-Men films and The Usual Suspects, has been accused of raping a 17-year-old boy and forcing him to take cocaine in 1999 via a civil lawsuit filed in Hawaii.Plaintiff Michael F Egan III, who has waived his right to anonymity, claims he was abused by Singer and others in Los Angeles and Hawaii during a period in which he was trying to make an acting career for himself in Hollywood. His lawyer Jeff Herman, who handles sexual abuse cases across the US, is due to hold a press conference in LA later today. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:20:19 GMT)

Earthquake of 3.2-magnitude hits Oakham, Rutland
Residents report houses shaking during earthquake that was felt up to 28 miles awayA 3.2 magnitude earthquake near Oakham, Rutland, which was felt up to 28 miles away, is being investigated by seismologists.The quake, triggered at a depth of 2.5 miles at 7.07am on Thursday, was recorded by the British Geological Survey (BGS), which said that its seismologists were analysing the data. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:35:57 GMT)

London police seize large haul of firearms
Assault rifles, sawn-off shotguns and an Uzi sub-machine gun among weapons in one of largest finds ever recorded in LondonPolice have seized 30 firearms including assault rifles, sawn-off shotguns, an Uzi sub-machine gun and a Thompson machine gun in one of the largest arms finds recorded in London.The huge arsenal, which included a large amount of ammunition, was found at an address in Waltham Forest, east London, after Metropolitan police officers executed a search warrant on Wednesday morning. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:13:37 GMT)

Bolton council votes for schools to fly union flag and sing national anthem
Tory councillor, whose grandfather came to Bolton in 1920s from India, proposed motion to encourage patriotism in youngSchools in Bolton will be encouraged to fly the union flag and sing the national anthem in assemblies to foster patriotism in the young after the council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the idea.The motion was proposed by Conservative councillor Mudasir Dean, who said he was inspired by his grandfather, who became a "true English gentleman" after settling in Bolton from India in the 1920s. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:31:13 GMT)

Missing boy existed only on Facebook
Woman in custody after boy reported missing on Friday and parents turn out to be a construct of false Facebook accountsPolice searching for two-year-old Chayson Basinio knew it was a race against time to find the missing child, who had reportedly disappeared from a supermarket car park.The local judge opened an inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration and police divers dredged a lake, fearing the child may have drowned. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:26:47 GMT)

Nigerian students' fate uncertain as head denies they have been released
Headteacher says only 14 of 129 kidnapped schoolgirls have returned after army claims almost all had been freedThe fate of more than 100 girls and young women abducted by Islamic extremists was thrown into uncertainty when their school's headteacher denied a report from Nigeria's military that almost all the students were free."Up until now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students," the headteacher, Asabe Kwambura, said on Thursday. "The security people, especially the vigilantes and the well-meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them. The military people too are in the bush searching." Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:48:54 GMT)

MH370 search sub completes first successful scan of Indian Ocean floor
Data from Bluefin-21 still being analysed but nothing of note yet found, say officials hunting for missing Malaysia Airlines planeA robotic submarine has completed its first successful scan of the seabed in the hunt for the missing Malaysian plane, but investigators say tests have ruled out that a nearby oil slick came from the aircraft.The Bluefin-21's first two missions were cut short by technical problems and deep water, but the unmanned submarine managed to complete a full 16-hour scan of the seabed far off Australia's west coast overnight. Data was still being analysed but nothing of note had yet been discovered. The sub has now scanned 90 sq km (35 sq miles) of the Indian Ocean floor. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:26:17 GMT)

Pistorius's expert witness says he was joking about his destroyed reputation
Forensics man Roger Dixon tells the Guardian that a Facebook post on the subject was intended lightheartedlyA defence witness for Oscar Pistorius has claimed that a Facebook post in which he complained about his reputation being destroyed in court was a "joke".Roger Dixon's credibility and competence were repeatedly questioned by prosecutor Gerrie Nel during the trial of the Paralympic sprinter, accused of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's day last year. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:28:28 GMT)

Ryanair drops out of top Google flight search results after website overhaul
Airline's website, despite relaunch with easier booking system, no longer in top 100 results for flights to European destinationsRyanair's customer service overhaul has hit turbulence after analysts warned that a botched relaunch of its website could be losing the Irish airline custom.Since the debut of its new-look website earlier this month, Ryanair has all but vanished from country destination flight searches on Google. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:04:21 GMT)

Portland to flush 38m gallons of water after man urinates in reservoir
Open reservoir holds water that has already been treated and goes directly into mains for distribution to customersPortland officials said Wednesday they are flushing away millions of gallons of treated water for the second time in less than three years because someone urinated into a city reservoir.In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5m-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland. This time, 38m gallons from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:53:13 GMT)

Six people arrested in connection with 'cleaning fluid' attack on teenager
West Midlands police say suspects detained after attack in Tividale in which 19-year-old woman suffered serious burnsSix people have been arrested in connection with an attack in which a 19-year-old woman was doused in high-strength cleaning fluid.West Midlands police said four men and two women had been detained by officers investigating the incident in Tividale, near Tipton. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:02:34 GMT)

Ugandan men to go on trial on homosexuality charges
Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa face life imprisonment if found guilty in first such case since introduction of new anti-gay lawTwo Ugandan men will go on trial next month accused of homosexuality, the first people to be charged since a controversial new anti-gay law was passed.Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had sufficient evidence against Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who denied the charges when they first appeared in court earlier this year. They have been held in Luziro prison in Kampala since December. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:37:41 GMT)

Glastonbury bin enters America's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
When the museum in Cleveland decided it wanted a memento of the world's greatest festival, it asked for a painted oil drum, not Mick Jagger's setlist"I don't really understand why," says a puzzled Michael Eavis. "For some reason the Americans wanted to put one in as a sample of what we do." He's pondering the request he received from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland, Ohio, which wanted a memento of Glastonbury the festival he founded and has overseen for 44 years and asked not for some piece of memorabilia left behind by a grateful headliner, but for a dustbin.And so alongside John Lennon's guitar, Clarence Clemons's saxophone, Elvis's custom motorcycle and Joey Ramone's leather jacket visitors to the museum will be able to see a painted oil drum, one of 15,000 or so that are placed round the site to collect the refuse discarded by the revellers of whom there will be 177,000 this year. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:00:45 GMT)

Gareth Bale goal: I don't think I've seen anything like it, says Xabi Alonso
Welshman's Copa del Rey winner hailed by team-mate Strike against Barcelona 'his most important goal' AncelottiCarlo Ancelotti hailed Gareth Bale after the Welshman's late goal sunk Barcelona and gave Real Madrid the Copa del Rey for the 19th time in their history.The Welshman galloped towards goal with five minutes remaining and had to swerve off the pitch to beat the Barcelona defender Marc Bartra before sliding the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto to secure a 2-1 win. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:09:36 GMT)

Sepp Blatter says stadium closures are 'excessive' punishment for racism
'Football without a crowd is like a concert without sound' Fifa president still wants 'drastic sanctions' for racismThe Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, has claimed punishing fans' racist behaviour by closing stadiums is "extremely dubious" and "unduly excessive". Blatter said sporting sanctions such as points deductions that "cause real hurt to" clubs are a better punishment than closing part or all of a stadium for matches.Fifa has itself ordered games to be played behind closed doors Ukraine were ordered to play a World Cup qualifier against Poland in an empty stadium after fans made monkey chants and performed Nazi salutes. Uefa has also issued a number of similar sanctions after racist behaviour by fans. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:49:41 GMT)

Peter Moores still unsure if he will be reappointed England coach
Appointment unlikely to be made before Easter First one-day game against Scotland is on 9 MayPeter Moores is likely to take Lancashire into their next County Championship game against Warwickshire starting at Old Trafford on Easter Sunday with uncertainty continuing over whether he will be reappointed as the England coach.Moores was one of the candidates interviewed for the job at Lord's on Wednesday, in addition to Nottinghamshire's Mick Newell and Mark Robinson of Sussex, with the incumbent Ashley Giles and Trevor Bayliss of New South Wales and the Kolkata Knight Riders completing the list of known contenders. Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:24:23 GMT)

Breaking the Law: take technology out of the hands of cricketers
The DRS was introduced to remove the 'howler' but it remains a clutch of 'TV gimmicks' of 'spurious accuracy' and should be taken out of the hands of players"Ugh, more tedious DRS controversy" is an often-repeated line for those of us on over-by-over duty at the Guardian. Very few cricket fans got into the game because they enjoy discussions over the accuracy and the ethics of computer programmes, fancy cameras and high-definition microphones, so why do we bother with any of this at all?Cricket writers are rarely united on any one issue, but it is almost universally acknowledged that the purpose of the decision review system is to correct "the howler": the decision so clearly incorrect that we are forced to question the sacrosanctity of the umpire's decision and say "come on now". Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:54:00 GMT)

Liverpool sign heads of terms on road to Anfield stadium redevelopment
Heads of terms commit club to role in £260m regeneration Agreement signed with city council and Your Housing GroupLiverpool have taken another significant step towards their stadium redevelopment by legally committing to the proposed £260m regeneration of the Anfield area.Tom Werner, the club's chairman, has signed the heads of terms document that will lead to a formal contract being entered into by the football club, Liverpool city council and Your Housing Group, the three parties involved in the proposed scheme for the overall area. The results of a recent consultation exercise on the project will be presented to the council's cabinet next week when Liverpool's plans for Anfield stadium a rebuilt Main Stand followed by a new Anfield Road End will be unveiled to local residents and supporters. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:03:47 GMT)

PAOK fan arrested for dumping anchovies on Olympiakos bench
Fan accused of dumping a crate of fish on visitors' bench Match marred by brawls between playersPolice in Thessaloniki have arrested a PAOK fan accused of dumping a crate of fish on the visiting Olympiakos bench, in a stunt that delayed a tense Greek Cup semi-final for more than an hour.Another six PAOK supporters were arrested during clashes with police before and after Wednesday's match, which PAOK won 1-0 to advance. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:22:13 GMT)

Manchester City are mentally tired after Sunderland draw, says Pellegrini
Manager hopes injured David Silva is back for next game 'We have to play five more so we continue having chances'Manuel Pellegrini admitted Manchester City are mentally tired after managing only a 2-2 draw with Sunderland, the Premier League's bottom team, at the Etihad Stadium that leaves their title hopes hanging by a thread. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:35:00 GMT)

Gareth Bale's first season at Real Madrid: an appraisal
Bale scored Real Madrid's winning goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, but has he justified the 100m price tag?Six weeks ago Gareth Bale turned up for a Wales friendly no mean feat for a man of his ability and scored a goal that only he could score. He picked up the ball in his own half and went haring down the wing. Bale was in the right-back position but, aware of the threat he poses from anywhere on a football field, the Iceland defender barged him off the pitch and towards the advertising hoardings. Undeterred, Bale took an outside line and kept sprinting, gathering pace as he galloped down the sidelines. He had only one thought: to attack the goal. He approached another defender, shimmied on to his left foot, and swept the ball past the keeper. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:08:46 GMT)

Fernando Alonso asks F1 critics to give Ferrari's Marco Mattiacci time
New team principal lacks Formula One experience 'We're obviously hoping he will be successful,' says AlonsoFernando Alonso has urged critics to give Ferrari's new team principal, Marco Mattiacci, time to prove himself despite his lack of experience in Formula One.Alonso lost one of his closest allies in Stefano Domenicali this week as the Italian tendered his resignation on Monday in the wake of the team's poor start to the season, and with just one title to show for his six years in charge, the 2008 constructors' championship. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:28:15 GMT)

Inter confirm interest in Edin Dzeko, Fernando Torres and Álvaro Morata
President Erick Thohir says reports have led club to target trio 'We will sign a striker and he will be of European standard'The Internazionale president, Erick Thohir, has confirmed that the Nerazzurri are looking to bring in a leading striker at the end of the season, with Manchester City's Edin Dzeko and Chelsea's Fernando Torres as their main targets. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:25:02 GMT)

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale gallops past Barcelona to land Copa del Rey
Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid Bartra 68; Di María 11, Bale 85 Read Paul Doyle's minute-by-minute report Click here for the best images from the gameThe Cardiff Express set off at 23.12 and came back with the Copa del Rey on board. Gareth Bale has his first trophy as a Real Madrid player after an astonishing sprint that started just inside his own half and ended with the ball in the back of the Barcelona net. Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:45:02 GMT)

Argentina fret over form of Lionel Messi and fitness of Fernando Gago
With the World Cup finals less than two months away, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella will be concerned over the injury to his defensive midfielder whose importance is enormousFootball is always, ultimately, about compromise. Everything had been looking rosy for Argentina, who had qualified for the World Cup for once with games to spare and the sense of a cohesive team coming together, but then the injuries began. When the draw is made, the World Cup exists in a world of perfect possibility and you imagine every player at peak form and fitness, but it is never like that, and the job of a manager is always to balance the idea with what is possible.The panic over Sergio Agüero's hamstring has begun to subside although there is no doubt that Alejandro Sabella, the national coach, would like to see him complete at least a couple of Manchester City's games before the end of the season. A new concern sprang up last week about Lionel Messi: what was behind his lacklustre display for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League? Was he injured? Is he exhausted? Is he already dreaming of glory in the Maracanã? And then, on Monday, came a far more concrete concern as Fernando Gago damaged his left knee in Boca Juniors' 0-0 draw against Colón. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:34:00 GMT)

Everton's Roberto Martínez refuses to concede fourth spot to Arsenal
Spaniard insists Gunners will drop points before the end 'We were unfortunate not to get a draw against Palace'Roberto Martínez refused to concede Arsenal have the advantage in the race for the fourth Champions League place despite Everton's surprise home defeat to Crystal Palace, a result Tony Pulis believes has now secured the visitors' Premier League status.Everton would have reclaimed fourth place at Arsenal's expense with a point at Goodison Park but goals from the outstanding Jason Puncheon, Scott Dann and Cameron Jerome condemned Martínez's side to a first home defeat since Boxing Day. The 3-2 reverse leaves Everton a point behind Arsène Wenger's team with four matches remaining. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:27:07 GMT)

Fabulous football skills, a cricket knock to forget and sublime skateboarding
This week's round-up also features an insane ice hockey promo and goal as well as a lesson in not taunting baseball players1) Joyous street football, futsal and freestyle skills brilliance.2) Lots to like about this 2009-10 promo video for the Alaska Nanooks ice hockey team. It's insane. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:32:28 GMT)

Manchester City's season promised so much but could end in a whimper
Manuel Pellegrini remained upbeat after Manchester City's loss at Anfield but even he must realise that such a promising season is all but over after tepid draw with SunderlandA lot of things can and will happen between now and the end of the season, Manuel Pellegrini promised, adapting one of Sir Alex Ferguson's favourite lines about twists and turns in a permanently unpredictable business.He was talking about Manchester City, of course. Before this result the rest of Sunderland's season looked all too predictable, and if Gus Poyet can twist and turn his way out of this situation it might be an idea to check whether the travelling circus camped on the Etihad car park is in need of a new Houdini act. What no one envisaged was City losing their confidence and invention to end the season with a whimper rather than a bang, yet on the evidence of this tepid performance that seems likely to come about. Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:28:07 GMT)

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer through to third round in Monte Carlo
Nadal advances in straight sets over Teymuraz Gabashvili Federer happy with confident opening to clay court seasonRafael Nadal safely made it through to the Monte Carlo Masters third round with a straight-sets victory over the Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvilion Wednesday.The 27-year-old world No1 claimed a 6-4, 6-1 triumph in an hour and 12 minutes to move into 12th place above the American Brian Gottfried (who has 679 victories) on the all-time wins list. Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:40:22 GMT)

Sharknado was daft fun but celebrities will kill the sequel
Everyone in Sharknado was a nobody or a would-be has-been and it worked because they played it straight. The self-conscious follow-up is bound to jump the sharkLast year, a cheesy made-for-TV movie called Sharknado achieved a level of fame far out of proportion to its merits. In this joyously inane motion picture, an unexpected hurricane the worst kind churns up the waters off the southern California coast and starts depositing man-eating sharks the worst kind on to the streets of Los Angeles, making rush-hour traffic even more maddening than usual. Oddly, in a jarring lapse of authenticity and narrative cohesion, no other species of fish get involved. Nor are there any whales or dolphins or octopuses or seals or walruses flying through the Santa Monica air. It's Sharknado, not Squidnado.The sharks, to their credit, do not seem all that surprised to find themselves thrashing about on the northbound lane of the freeway or swimming around people's living rooms. They do what sharks always do; they put on their game face and start noshing. Predictable mayhem ensues as battle-tested beach police and one feisty, bikini-clad waitress teach the airborne tigers of the deep not to bite off more than they can chew. Sundered families are reunited, young love is kindled, addled drunks demonstrate guts one would not have expected in such jaded burnouts, and sharks, as usual, meet their match largely because humans have access to helicopters and explosives and science, which sharks do not. Humanity, as the saying goes, takes a licking, but it keeps on ticking. The explosives really helped; without them, the City of Angels would have been toast. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:48:19 GMT)

The shirt on your back: the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry
How did the clothes you're wearing get to you? Guardian journalists trace the lifecycle of the shirt on your back via the teeming workshops of Dhaka, where labour is cheap, factories are cheaper and just going to work can be fatalDid the Rana Plaza collapse change your buying habits?Guardian App users click here Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:16:00 GMT)

Bill & Ted's 25th birthday: party on, dudes!
Who would have predicted that a goofy movie about two time-travelling California metalheads would still be celebrated 25 years after its release? Hadley Freeman was 12 when Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out and she's loved it ever sinceOf all the delightfully improbable scenarios depicted in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure from Napoleon Bonaparte causing havoc on a waterslide to Billy the Kid and Socrates (aka "So-crayts", of course) picking up chicks in a California mall to George Carlin acting in a film alongside Keanu Reeves and a member of the Go-Go's none would have seemed more unlikely on its release than the idea that one day, with much media fanfare, the public would be celebrating the film's 25th anniversary.By the time Bill & Ted was released in 1989, the 80s teen film explosion was starting to taper out. Heathers, which came out in 1987, had so deftly satirised the conventions of the genre (and particularly of John Hughes's films) that teen films were losing their Hughesian innocence and becoming instead laden with self-conscious irony, leading to the 90s trend of remaking classic literature with teenagers (Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, She's All That). Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:20:03 GMT)

Lamb curry or chicken? Could you identify the meat in an Indian takeaway?
Which? has revealed that the meat in takeaways is often not as advertised. We put our panel's identification skills to the testIt was a scenario to strike fear into a food writer's heart. Standing at a wedding reception, tucking into the canapes, a tipsy argument broke out over the nature of the meat on those cute little sticks. As the professional, I was called upon to adjudicate. The sauce was spicy, I'd had three glasses of prosecco and no lunch. "Beef," I said, confidently. Everyone accepted my verdict happily, and when I later discovered they were lamb, I kept my trap shut. Fortunately no qualifications are required for this job I've seen chefs swooning over meltingly tender beef steak which turned out to be rare pork even those of us who cook and taste for a living can be shockingly bad at identifying what we're putting in our mouths.Unfortunately, as the nation discovered during last year's horsemeat scandal, you can't always trust the label either and now a new survey from Which? reveals that, even if you've never bought a frozen lasagne in your life, you may still have been the victim of food fraud. The consumer organisation tested 60 takeaway lamb curries purchased in London and Birmingham only to find the meat in 24 of the samples was adulterated, with seven containing no lamb whatsoever. Instead, cheaper chicken and beef had been substituted. Perhaps more worryingly, five contained meat that could not be identified full stop. It's a serious business; as Which? observes: "Regardless of whether or not they can taste the difference, some people for religious or other reasons will have chosen not to eat these meats and don't expect them to be secretly hidden in their dinner." Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:19:00 GMT)

Cupuaçu: Brazil's new alternative to chocolate
Forget carob, Catherine Balston meets cocoa's Brazilian cousin, cupuaçu, a new contender in the field of tasty chocolate substitutesThe best Easter egg, as tested by schoolchildrenAh Easter. Despite what David Cameron wants to believe (it's not just about eggs, he says), for many people, it's now a celebration of chocolate more than Christianity; confectionery worshipped in perfect oval form. Cheap and cheerful varieties loom large, providing relief from the cacao purists, who agonise over the precise percentage of cocoa in their painstakingly sourced Peruvian "tree-to-bar" variety. While friends with superior palates opt for 100% cocoa products, I research the content of childhood favourites that still put a smile on my face: 26% in Dairy Milk, 25% in Galaxy.So my ears pricked up when I heard about a new Brazilian "chocolate" that didn't contain any cocoa at all. Far from being a cheap, artificial candy, this is a gourmet product, made using the beans of the tangy cupuaçu fruit, from the same plant family Theobroma to which cacao belongs. The company making it is Amma a premium, organic bean-to-bar brand in Brazil whose regular chocolates have scooped up a number of International Chocolate awards in the past couple of years. The cupuaçu fruit (Latin name Theobroma grandiflorum, and pronounced coo-poo-asoo) is processed in the same way as cacao (Theobroma cacao), using 80% cupuaçu solids, for Amma's new bar. Reviewers online seem intrigued and delighted in equal measure, and it's particularly noted for its creaminess. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:00:00 GMT)

Pixies: Indie Cindy review 'They no longer seem strange'
Pixies' first album since 1991 sounds like it could have easily have followed Trompe Le Monde and that's the whole problemAnyone inclined to ponder the changing of attitudes towards beloved rock acts reuniting is advised to look at the respective fortunes of Television and Pixies. The former an east coast act famed for a unique perspective on alternative guitar rock, sounding utterly unlike anyone else, immune to copyists, makers of a debut album that remains a milestone, and possessors of a sizable cult audience in Europe first time round returned in 1992. They made an album that was pretty good far better, in fact, than one might reasonably have expected and hit the worldwide gig circuit in a limited fashion for a couple of years. Nonetheless, by the time they played the final show of that cycle, at the Forum in north London in June 1993, public interest was so sparse they played to a bare few hundred people. The upstairs of the venue was closed, and there was room for the few downstairs to wander at will from vantage point to vantage point.By contrast, the latter an east coast act famed for a unique perspective on alternative guitar rock, sounding utterly unlike anyone else, immune from copyists, makers of a debut album that remains a milestone, and possessors of a sizable cult audience in Europe first time around reformed in 2004, to wild excitement: the four shows they played at Brixton Academy in London that summer became the fastest-selling in the venue's history, and they've managed to maintain a fairly constant touring schedule ever since, still selling out shows in big venues in major cities to great acclaim, despite the lack of a studio album since 1991. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:00 GMT)

Cannes 2014: competition presents Mike Leigh v Ken Loach showdown
British directors will go head-to-head at 67th Cannes film festival, which will also welcome new work from Jean-Luc Godard and the directorial debut of Ryan GoslingWith the announcement of the lineup at this year's Cannes film festival, the stage is set for a showdown between perhaps the two most venerable British directors working today. In the red corner: Ken Loach, presenting his final feature film, Jimmy's Hall. And in the blue: Mike Leigh, whose biopic of the painter JMW Turner had been tipped by many to premiere at Venice later in the summer, but was today revealed to be debuting on the Croisette.Leigh's film, Mr Turner, will compete with Loach's Jimmy's Hall for the Palme d'Or. A biopic of JMW Turner that stars Timothy Spall, it could feasibly prevent Loach from winning his second Palme d'Or. Jimmy's Hall a drama about the Irish political activist James Gralton is said to be Loach's last feature. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:31:00 GMT)

Britons are living longer than ever, but it doesn't mean we're healthier
Pensions minister says death estimate would help pensioners manage money, but quality of life is as important as quantityIt's hard to miss in Britain's seaside towns, not to mention weekday mornings in cafes and garden centres across the nation. Men and women in the UK are living longer than ever before. Records are broken every time new statistics come out. Life expectancy for men in the UK in 2012 was 79.5 years and for women 82.5 years.While women born in Japan, the longest-lived nation in the world, can enjoy nearly eight years more (and men a more modest 3.5 years), it is reasonable for all of us to look forward not so much to future years as future decades when we retire. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:36:12 GMT)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 review appealing leads and zappy scraps, but a sense of deja vu
The webslinger and his conspicuously male adversaries have some zappy scraps in this reboot sequel, but the most intriguing clashes here are between Peter Parker and Gwen StacyHere is the second new Spider-Man film or the fifth, if you are tactless enough to remember the once colossal Sam Raimi-directed trilogy that finished in 2007, quickly to become the boringly obsolete boot to this reboot a sobering lesson in consumer capitalism and franchise movie-making.This latest Spidey, written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner and directed by Marc Webb, is high-energy entertainment; Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker has rangy charm and there is a genuine romantic spark between him and Emma Stone, as sharp as ever playing Gwen Stacy. Webb at one stage conjures a beautiful seasons-passing montage of Peter Parker's unhappy loneliness that reminded me of the relationship comedy (500) Days of Summer, which made his name. But despite sensational new backstory developments, the sense of template deja vu here is unavoidable, and as in Raimi's SM3, the dramatic investment is thinly spread across a portfolio of characters, each of whom individually has quite a small supporting role. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:11:00 GMT)

Tehran the secret party town
The city all but shuts down after midnight apart from a few affluent party pockets where people turn a blind eye to illegal activity, like wearing too much make up and drinking alcohol The streets of Tehran turn deceptively quiet after midnight, but one anomalous corner in the affluent part of the city offers a rare glimpse of what goes on between four walls. In contrast to the deserted sidewalks and shopfronts lining Tehran's boulevards, the block around the late-night grocery store Super Jordan buzzes with activity. Traffic is denser here, as drivers line up behind Porsches and Mercedes Benzes whose owners swerve in and out of lanes, either because they are drunk or because they can. While a strictly enforced law compels other shopkeepers to close by midnight, Super Jordan stays open through the wee hours, monopolizing late-night refreshment sales. It is rumored that the owner has exquisite connections to the municipal government; in any case, shoppers in various stages of inebriation complete their purchases without police intervention. On weekend nights, a gang of young men with mod haircuts and chest-baring vests loiters outside the entrance. Nearby, a corresponding group of girls with neon-colored hair and lips swelled by botox injections wobble on six-inch heels; their comings and goings are more frequent than those of their male companions. Aside from this cohort of regulars, the shop is frequented by a spectrum of north Tehran residents looking to stock up on cigarettes, mixers and late-night snacks. The crowded and brightly lit interior creates a tense atmosphere as shoppers avoid eye contact, anxious to hide the drops of sweat on their brows and the liquor on their breath. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:00:31 GMT)

From One Direction to Olly Murs: the indie underbelly of mainstream pop
Nick Hodgson has revealed he's been writing songs for Olly Murs. But it's not a skill to be sneered at as Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Ordinary Boys's Preston and Athlete's Joel Potts will affirm A few months ago, I interviewed pop songwriter Wayne Hector a man responsible for such chart toppling hits as Westlife's Flying Without Wings, Nicki Minaj's Starships and the Wanted's Glad You Came. As someone who has seen chart trends fluctuate over the years, Hector was an ideal candidate to comment on the changing styles of pop, comparing the styles favoured in the 90s to pop acts in the present. More specifically, he described the way in which pop acts now request a more "left-field" means of songcraft."Back in the 90s you could write about pure love. But now it has to have substance. Everyone wants songs to be slightly cooler. Bands still want pop, but it has to have some kind of edge," he said. "One Direction working with Justin from the Vaccines proves that they want to add a little bit of indie to their sound too. They have one more album to go [in order to] bring people along with them, and then they can get past that point, then they could mature." Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:35:04 GMT)

Peak District national park: a ranger's guide
From the best Peak District walks and where to spot wildlife, to great places to eat, ranger Jenny Waller has the lowdownPeak District marks 63rd birthday with a Google DoodleI'm excited about the first Peak District Cycling Festival on 7-15 September. A week-long festival of more than 60 events, it starts with the Slicks 'n' Nobblies Cyclo Sportive from Castleton and ends with a weekend family camp at Thornbridge Outdoors Centre, with activities for beginners, improvers and experts. There are 65 miles of traffic-free trails in the park, and plenty of challenging mountain biking routes, so I hope people will jump on a bike and discover places they may not otherwise see. Continue reading...
(Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:00:00 GMT)

Easter TV: will Fargo be the only show worth watching?
Where are the bunny ears? We pick 10 highlights from a slightly underwhelming schedule that includes food specials, the pope and a man with a beard (no, not that one)This Easter weekend, television has something for everyone. Or does it? The lack of effort on the part of the broadcasters this year is staggering. We're basically getting a normal weekend of telly, with a cursory amount of quasi-festive programming chucked in as an afterthought.Don't ignore your television completely though. Alongside the barrage of Don't Get Done, Get Dom, Flog It! and repeated Benny Hill retrospectives (and snooker; my God, there's a lot of snooker on this weekend), there are a few bright spots. I've scoured the schedules and found 10 shows that are either Easter-specific or decent enough to count as festive programming. Don't have time to watch them all? Luckily for you, I've ranked them in descending order of importance. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:13:51 GMT)

Kickstarter's biggest hits - why crowdfunding now sets the trends
Artists, filmmakers and technologists can bypass the moneymen to raise millions for their projects, from Spike Lee and Ouya to Veronica Mars and Broken AgeEarlier this week, musician Neil Young finished raising the third biggest amount ever on crowdfunding website Kickstarter. His Pono music player and downloads store attracted $6.2m of pledges, with plans to launch both later this year.Pono unites the two key strands of projects that have been most successful on Kickstarter: art and technology. The site has popularised the idea of crowdfunding, where creators or companies go directly to their existing fans or potential customers and ask them for money in return for the finished product as well as more rewards for those who choose to pay more. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:18:21 GMT)

Summer cycling on the cheap? Bike gear for £25 or less
A brief guide to looking the part on two wheels this spring/summer without breaking the bankWhen, in the past, weve tried out bike clothes from posher outlets like Rapha or Vulpine theres often been a (perfectly fair) response of: hey, we cant all afford £200 for a jacket, what about something cheaper?The alternative often mentioned is Aldi, and while they do some amazing offers you cant argue with £20 cycling shoes these are intermittent and so not ideal to review. Hence I turned to Decathlon, the French sports good behemoth which sells cycle clothes under its in-house BTwin label. They sent me a selection of spring/summer items, nothing costing more than £25. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:00:43 GMT)

You can't cure a rabid dog: teaching Russian children to hate the 'terrorists' - video
This video contains graphic contentRussian children learn to hate 'terrorists' and love their country at the Kaskad military summer camp. Veterans of the Afghanistan invasion set up the camp to prepare young boys to fight. Many more like it have appeared since Vladimir Putin put nationalism at the centre of Russian politics. In these extracts from the documentary Summer with Anton, filmmaker Jasna Krajinovic follows a 12-year-old boy from the Moscow region as he learns to wield a gun and is told who his enemies are. Find out more here, or watch the whole film here Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:30:46 GMT)

Sony Xperia Z2 review: a great phone that is just that bit too big
Sony's latest flagship Android phone is an absolute powerhouse with a great camera and screen, but its large size creates a serious tradeoff in usabilitySonys Xperia Z2 is an update to the Z1, its flagship released just six months ago. It's slimmer, lighter and stretches the screen all while adding 4K video capture.The Sony Xperia Z2 is quite clearly what its predecessor should have been the first time round. It's also Sonys latest weapon in its war with Apple, Samsung and HTC - more the latter than the former two, as its phone sales put it third in the UK in 2013 with an 11% market share, trailing Samsung with 37% and Apple with 22%, but ahead of HTC's 5%, according to data from research firm IDC.Pros: great screen, waterproof, powerful camera, long battery life, built-in noise cancelling, premium materialsCons: fiddly doors for ports, wide footprint makes it difficult to hold one handed, heavier than some competitors Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:43:25 GMT)

Iranian killer's execution halted at last minute by victim's parents
Convict had noose around his neck when victim's mother approached, slapped him in the face and spared his life Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:24:44 GMT)

Why is Good Housekeeping's 'intimate test' on vibrators so shocking?
Vibrators became mainstream with Sex and the City in 1998 but some people still seem confused about women using them Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:37:05 GMT)

Ukraine crisis: John Kerry announces Geneva agreement - live updates
'Occupied' buildings would be vacatedKiev would grant amnesty to protestersRead full text of joint statementAnalysis: 'better outcome' in Geneva than expectedAt least one killed in Mariupol: how clash played outRead latest blog summary Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:28:55 GMT)

Putin asserts right to use force in east Ukraine
President says he hopes he does not have to exercise military force as he points out eastern Ukraine was once part of Russia Putin tells Snowden: Russia doesn't carry out mass surveillance Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:37:00 GMT)

Five perfect books for men who never read
Just under a third of the male population don't read books, says a Reading Agency survey. Here are five man-friendly page-turners they might enjoy anywayLooking for more inspiration? Here are the 100 greatest novels of all time Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:28:34 GMT)

Jane Hilton's best shot: the line-up at Madam Kitty's Cathouse, Nevada
'They ring a bell and all the girls at the brothel have to come out of their rooms and line up, and the clients get to choose' Reading on mobile? See full image here Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:45:00 GMT)

Wu-Tang-linked rapper cut off penis and leapt off balcony, say reports
Forty-year-old artist taken to hospital in California with serious injuries a day after releasing latest video Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 02:58:39 GMT)

Texas man executed for triple murder: 'It does kind of burn. Goodbye'
Jose Villegas becomes third Texas inmate to be executed with new stock of pentobarbital from an undisclosed provider Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:04:16 GMT)

Jordan Henderson is now invaluable can Liverpool cope without him?
The player who was nearly off-loaded to Fulham as a makeweight for Clint Dempsey has started every league game since March 2013 but is suspended for the next three Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:11:00 GMT)

Anti-Muslim suspicion in Britain has a whiff of McCarthyism about it
Allegations of an Islamic takeover plot in Birmingham schools aren't justified by the evidence and the government response is way out of proportionAllegations that 25 schools in Birmingham are at risk of an "Islamic takeover plot" reached new levels of hysteria recently. An announcement was made that a counter-terrorism expert has been drafted in to conduct yet another investigation. The minister responsible, Michael Gove, has managed at a stroke to increase fear and suspicion between Muslim and non-Muslim in the city. The fact that the chief constable of West Midlands police, Chris Sims, has denounced the decision as "desperately unfortunate", itself an extraordinary move, gives an indication of the scale of the concern.So what was the evidence that provoked such a serious intervention and the accompanying media frenzy? A four-page document in which "plotters" outlined their dastardly plans to oust a headteacher for not being "open to our suggestions of adhering to strict Muslim guidelines". Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:06:30 GMT)

Britain's church and state should divorce: it would set them both free
I welcome the debate about the church that David Cameron has prompted, but it's time we embraced disestablishmentGood on David Cameron not words I'm accustomed to writing for kickstarting a debate that needs to be had. A prime minister publicly talking about his faith will inevitably be met by an avalanche of cynicism, provoking reactions ranging from passive eye-rolls to full-on rants at the radio. But I'm sure his Church Times piece (republished in the Guardian) was not intended as a last word, and in that spirit, let me respond: for the good of believers and heathen alike, it's time for church and state to divorce.I'm not going to quibble over Cameron's declaration that Britain is a "Christian country": it's just a statement of fact. Because of the bond between church and state, we are officially a Protestant nation in contrast to, say, a formally secular country like the United States, where the founding fathers declared a "wall of separation between church and state". Bishops sit in the House of Lords, making Britain the only nation outside Iran to have unelected clerics in the legislature. One in four primary and middle schools are run by the church, and unlike any other western nation all state schools are legally obliged to have a daily act of "collective worship". Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:47:24 GMT)

Save Syria's bombed buildings from the Unesco ruin fetishists
The cultural tragedy that is the bombing of Syria's ancient monuments would be compounded if they are not rebuiltI doubt if there are many "monuments men" in Syria just now. George Clooney is not filming on the streets of Damascus. When people are dying in their thousands, it is hard to look at the fate of monuments. But when the horrors of civil war pass, Syria's heritage, the most glorious in the eastern Mediterranean, will have to be rebuilt. War's survivors recover. Their past may not. Syria will one day need the greatest campaign of historical rescue of modern times. We should be ready.The indiscriminate bombing and shelling of Syrian cities, by whichever side, has devastated ancient Aleppo and the old city at Homs. Crac des Chevaliers, the grandest and best-preserved of crusader castles, has been pummelled by Syrian jets, as has Saladin's fortress at Qal'at Salah el-Din. The 11th-century minaret of Aleppo's Umayyad mosque is now a heap of rubble in the courtyard below. The exquisite Souk al-Madina, hub of the silk route trade since before Christ, is a gutted ruin. Everywhere has been looted. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:08:46 GMT)

It's simple: criminalize revenge porn, or let men punish women they don't like
No one should have to fear that the price of intimacy will be a ruined life. And the law can helpParting from someone you love is never easy. It often means watching the affection and intimacy you once shared turn into bitterness and resentment. It often means sorting out who sees the children when, who lives where, and who gets what. Now imagine that in addition to all that sorrow and chaos, you discover that the person you once loved and trusted has taken your most intimate, vulnerable moments and turned them into sexual entertainment for strangers. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:40:50 GMT)

Being an actor? I'll bet you think 'I could do that'
I've worked 14-hour shifts, handled multibillion industry inquiries and nothing compares to the obsession that acting demandsMost people believe their job is hard. In most cases, it is. The difficulties presented by each job are different, and we acknowledge that to each other. We think about the skill set involved and say "I couldn't do that". Few jobs, however, are as misunderstood as that of a professional actor.Part of the underestimation is rooted in a basic view of acting as "the art of lying". It is quite the opposite. Great acting is the art of telling the truth and telling the truth can be exhausting. But here's the rub. Great acting should also look effortless, natural and easy. And so, it is often misjudged as actually effortless, natural and easy. We recall our fond experiences of school theatre or amateur dramatics and think, "I could do that". It is like comparing the enjoyment of riding one's bicycle around a park on a sunny day, to the life of a professional cyclist. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:00:02 GMT)

Charging for crutches is the first painful step towards dismantling the NHS
South Warwickshire CCG is in trouble, of course, but this move feels like a return to the have and have-nots health systemThere is little doubt that the NHS is under huge strain from a period of sustained austerity. In this difficult economic climate it is not surprising that local NHS bodies across the country are having to make difficult choices in agonising circumstances but we must not allow this to compromise the founding principles which have sustained our health services since its creation.South Warwickshire clinical commissioning group (CCGs) is clearly facing serious financial issues, caused by the government's failure to recognise that the NHS is struggling to cope with rising patient demand, especially from our ageing society. It is the lack of understanding of these pressures that is causing CCGs like South Warickshire to look at plans like alternative income streams. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:00:00 GMT)

Steve McQueen: Anti-Slavery's 175th anniversary is nothing to celebrate
For me, 12 Years a Slave offered too many modern parallels for the 175th birthday of Anti-Slavery International of which I am a proud patron to prompt anything other than renewed effortIt was 175 years ago, on 17 April 1839, that a group of abolitionists gathered to found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Today that organisation is known as Anti-Slavery International; it is the oldest international human rights organisation in the world, and I am proud to be a patron.At the time the society was founded, slavery had just been abolished in the British colonies and the plan was to campaign for the abolition of slavery in the rest of the world. But the founders soon realised that the formal abolition of slavery did not prevent people being forced to work against their will. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:00:14 GMT)

Mirror's weeping child picture is a lie and smacks of lazy journalism at best
Paper's use of stock shot of American child to illustrate splash about food banks in UK is betrayal of its photographic heritageThe Daily Mirror's weeping child picture was basically a lie, and we don't normally condone lying. The Mirror used a stock shot of an American child taken five years ago to illustrate their front-page splash about the growth of food banks. This is the prime position for a news image and the Mirror has a fine tradition of commissioning and publishing strong news pictures.Its photographic style has its roots in gritty Picture Post-type reportage of UK social affairs. To use a stock shot on the front page is misleading its readers and a betrayal of its photographic heritage. The reader really doesn't expect a picture used with a front-page hard news story to be a soft library image. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:57:48 GMT)

Unisex changing rooms are depriving me of getting naked with my fellow women
Emma John mourns the loss of the old segregated changing rooms at her local swimming pool when women could let it all hang out togetherMy local swimming pool has been undergoing refurbishment for many months, during which period the men and women were forced into temporary, unisex changing rooms. It was all a bit uncomfortable, and awkward, but there was a certain blitz spirit about, and we smiled grimly at each other as we waited for the next available shower stall, and carefully choreographed our eye movements to avoid any appearance of staring.Last week, I visited the refurbished pool for the first time. The new changing facilities were roomier, brighter, even, for now at least, a tad cleaner. Unfortunately they were also still unisex. This appears to be a new policy on the part of municipal leisure facilities the Aquatic Centre in the Olympic Park operates a similar system and I now feel as if all that time, I was taking exercise under false pretences. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:00:07 GMT)

India's transgender law is no help to its lesbian, gay and bisexual communities
We now have contradictory laws on gender and sexuality in India with homosexuals now seemingly singled out as a threatIn a landmark judgment by India's supreme court on Tuesday, transgender people were granted the status of a "third gender" category, recognising them as a socially and economically disadvantaged class. "It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the detailed judgment stated, thus granting rights to those who self-identify as neither male nor female. The court also directed the central and state governments to take the necessary steps to allow for equal status by ensuring adequate healthcare, education and employment as well as separate public toilets and numerous other safeguards against discrimination. All identity documents such as birth certificates, passports and driver's licences will now have a third gender box. The ruling stresses a number of times how much the transgender community has suffered historical abuse and discrimination. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:00:00 GMT)

British jihadists in Syria are playing into Assad's hands
The rise of extremist groups swelled by fighters from the west has inflicted extra suffering on Syria's people and made a national uprising impossibleThe results of new research reported by the Guardian this week on young westerners who have travelled to Syria to fight in the civil war provide some fascinating insights into their motivations, their interactions with pro-jihadi communities online, and the groups they join when they arrive in the war zone.According to researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London, many of these young men are driven by what, in their minds, are humanitarian concerns for their co-religionists and the Syrian people. An article by George Monbiot comparing them to volunteers in the Spanish civil war was apparently very popular among these foreign fighters. But the fact that most volunteers (among whom the British are the largest contingent) appear to be joining the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), or Jabhat al-Nusra to a lesser extent, shows that far from helping the anti-Assad cause, they are probably helping him to stay in power, and imposing yet more suffering on the Syrian population. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:00:04 GMT)

Boko Haram will keep killing, and Nigeria's leaders are powerless
Islamic militants killed at least 71 people in a bus station bombing and kidnapped 100 school girls this week. Despite his bold words, President Goodluck Jonathan is failing to address the problem, says Simon AllisonAt the beginning of this year, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said its only a matter of time before his government defeats Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Boko Haram insurgency is a temporary challenge... We will surely overcome Boko Haram.Even then, in January, these bold words rang hollow (and it didnt help the tense sectarian atmosphere that the president was speaking from a Church of Christ pulpit). Having abandoned any form of diplomacy, Jonathans administration was eight months into an all-out military offensive against Boko Haram in its northern strongholds. Three states were, and remain, under a State of Emergency, with curfews in place and mobile phone signals interrupted to disrupt communications. The army was out in force, hunting the militants down, while air force bombers harassed them from the air. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:59:05 GMT)

Kate Humble: We don't value food because it's not expensive enough
The Springwatch presenter talks about food waste, keeping sheep, not having children and her mission with aquaponics"I'm over here!" shouts Kate Humble, and she of Springwatch and Lambing Live gambols towards me, closing the gate on a field of anxious goats and their Disney-cute babies. She's carrying a bucket. "I was just about to muck out," she announces, and I'm reminded this is a working farm in the Wye Valley and in no way a TV set.The photographer has already done his work and gone. Apparently Humble had no idea he was coming. It is hard to think of another TV person on the planet for whom an impromptu photoshoot while wearing a well-loved fleece and no makeup would be OK, but Humble couldn't give a hoot. She's been up since the wee small hours: "I love getting up early. I can bounce out of bed at 5am but I'm useless at night." Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:38:23 GMT)

Ronnie Spector: 'When I hear applause, it's like I'm having an orgasm'
The lead singer of the Ronettes on being the bad girl with big hair, the glass coffin in her basement, and whether she should have married John Lennon instead of Phil SpectorHi Ronnie! Does anyone ever call you Veronica?Nobody calls me Veronica unless I go to California. A few people there only knew me as Veronica, such as my ex-husband's (1) secretary I was out there [recently] and she left me a card saying: "Hello, Veronica!" But my relatives called me Ronnie. I used to read the Betty and Veronica comics, and Veronica was called Ronnie, so I wanted to be Ronnie too. It's a cute name.You're the original bad girl of rock'n'roll (2). How bad are you feeling today?The "bad girl" came from when the Ronettes would walk out onstage and we didn't have a hit record yet and all the other groups did Marvin Gaye, the Crystals. We didn't have a hit record, but we had attitude. When the three Ronettes walked onstage, people went nuts because we were different. We wore tight dresses when everyone else wore those flared dresses, we had long hair when people had short hair; it was like the Beatles and the Stones wearing suits that's what made them different. The Stones got the long-hair idea from us, when they supported us on tour in the UK in 1964. I love having attitude onstage, and the "bad girl" thing still runs through my entire show (3). Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:05:00 GMT)

Former Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee holds running clinic for Palestinian women video
The six-time Olympic medallist visits the West Bank to give running lessons to Palestinian mothers and daughters. The women jump over low-hurdles, compete in a race and take part in basic exercises. The initiative is a part of the US State Department's sport programme to encourage women to be physically active Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:30:00 GMT)

A sniff of theatre, a dash of sympathy and the royal convoy moves on
The bustle of security guards sets the scene for a smile, a smattering of comfort for bushfire victims and the planting of a tree that is already plantedWally the explosives dog was working the little crowd outside the Yellow Rock Girl Guides hall in the Blue Mountains. Local dogs on leads brought to greet their royal highnesses gave him a hard time. This is lifestyle country and that means dogs.Out of the bush emerged a line of police. God knows how long they had been in there or what they were looking for. Men with wires in their ears clustered round the hall. Posted every few paces along the fence were security guards apparently ready to prevent the subdued crowd storming the compound. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:42:52 GMT)

Sky Ferreira attacked for 'racist' I Blame Myself video
The singer has written a statement responding to accusations that she used black dancers as props in her new videoSinger Sky Ferreira has been accused of racism following the release of her new video for the single I Blame Myself. Responding to the allegations with a lengthy Facebook post, Ferreira has said that she felt "insulted" by the charges.In the video, the singer appears as a kind of gang leader, called up to settle a dispute; she's then pictured dancing with her black male crew, and is arrested and interrogated. "I'm tired of seeing black people used as props," one person wrote on Facebook, while another tweeted: "a #racist mess. She, white woman, dances in Compton in front of #POC [people of colour]". Other comments included "Just because racism isn't intentional or blatant doesn't mean it's not racism", and "these actors BECAUSE of their skin color are automatically reduced to the neighborhood setting you shot this video in".Nothing upsets me more than being called racist because that is one of the most hateful things anyone can be. Not only do I find it insulting towards myself but I also feel insulted for the actors & dancers & my family in the video. No, I did not use black back-up dancers as "props". I never have and never will look at any human being as a prop. That's disgusting. It's also an idea that has never crossed my mind, which is what I find questionable of the people telling me that I did so. Dancers are objects?!?!?! How dare you! Dancers make things come to life. I know that you have to be socially aware & mindful of others but when I look at this video I don't see race as a issue. Stop trying to search for something that isn't there. Comments like "rich little white girl exploiting the black people & the ghetto" ... I never exploited anyone & I don't use people in any shape or form. My brother is half black. My cousins are black. My family is Latina & Native American. Some of my family is in the video. I wasn't raised in a "white" house hold & I'm not little & I have financially supported myself since I was 15 years old. I'm a woman, not a fucking little girl. Because I have pale skin & green eyes doesn't mean I was raised in Beverly Hills and have Swedish film investor parents or whatever some have created in their minds. Would you feel more at ease if I danced with a bunch [of] blond white boys at a mall? Should I consciously only cast white dancers for now on? If I'm racist does that mean you're pro-segregation?! I'm from LA & shot the video there. I referenced 90s hip-hop videos and Michael Jackson because both of those things inspire me & played a big part of my childhood. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:11:00 GMT)

Beverley Martyn: 'Otis Redding thought I was a high-class hooker'
The long-lost British roots singer is back, aged 67, with a new album and a new lust for life. She looks back on a past filled with dark drama"I thought I was over the hill," says Beverley Martyn, sipping water in a west London cafe and poring over a life filled with dark drama. "Nobody really wanted to know."While every other long-lost British roots singer seems to have been granted legendary status over the past decade, Martyn was left in the wilderness. Now, aged 67, she has returned to rectify the oversight. The Phoenix and the Turtle is her first album in 13 years, and only her second since Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin, the pair of classic folk-rock records she made in 1970 with her ex-husband, the late and her words "Luciferian" singer-songwriter John Martyn. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:02:52 GMT)

Oliver Stone: China's film-makers need to confront country's past
Stone causes controversy by telling Beijing international film festival audience that Chinese directors fail to make movies about Mao Zedong's damaging legacy China Film Group part-funds Warcraft film China may relax foreign film quotaHollywood's habit of allowing Chinese censors to cut offending material from blockbuster movies has led to accusations of artistic surrender from some critics. But at least one US film-maker has clearly not been reading the script: Oliver Stone has told an audience in Beijing that the world's most populous nation desperately needs to confront its past on the big screen if its burgeoning film industry is to be taken seriously.Speaking at the Beijing international film festival, Stone caused huge embarrassment for organisers when he began to discuss the failure of local directors to confront the damaging legacy of the country's revered founder Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution a half century ago. The outspoken film-maker was appearing on a panel that was supposed to be discussing co-production between China and Hollywood. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:10:53 GMT)

'I love parliament but I don't want to die in the chamber': farewell from Austin Mitchell MP
The 79-year-old has been Labour MP for Grimsby for 37 years, but he's reluctantly decided to make way for a younger model. In this farewell note, Mitchell explains why he is standing down - and it's not because of Ed MillibandIts time for me to retire. Ive served Grimsby for 37 years. Thats longer than any previous MP, and a greater privilege than any Member is really entitled to. So Ive decided Im going when this Parliament comes to an end next year to allow the proceedings to select a new Labour candidate to begin. I hope they will hold the Grimsby seat for Labour and continue the fight for a better deal for our town.Im not standing down because of any dissatisfaction with the Labour party. Ive always been pretty independently minded and prepared to vote against my party. MPs should decide things for themselves and not become sheep to be driven through lobbies, but Grimsby and the country need a Labour government to repair the damage done to society by excessive austerity and the unnecessary cuts imposed by a coalition government whose aim is to roll back the state and outsource government functions to agencies. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:16:43 GMT)

Football transfer rumours: Liverpool to sign Marcel Schmelzer?
Today's tell-all would like to apologise for its tardiness and minimalist style Arsenal's plans to sign the 20-year-old attacking midfielder Julian Draxler from Schalke are this close to going up in smoke. "If nothing extraordinary happens, Julian will stay with us," said the Bundesliga club's chairman, Clemens Torries. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:40:08 GMT)

David Cameron: I am evangelical about Christian faith
Prime minister criticises some non-believers for failing to see that faith can give people a 'moral code'David Cameron has declared himself an "evangelical" about his Christian faith as he criticised some non-believers for failing to grasp the role that religion can have in "helping people to have a moral code".In his third effort this week to highlight his own strong faith, the prime minister said he wanted to see a bigger role for religion in Britain as a Christian country and urged fellow believers to be more confident in spreading their views. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:04:00 GMT)

Robin Williams to star in Mrs Doubtfire sequel
Follow-up in the works to 1993 comedy about a divorcee who impersonates a Scottish nanny to be closer to his kidsRobin Williams is set to return in a sequel to Mrs Doubtfire, the 1993 comedy about a divorced dad who impersonates a Scottish nanny to be closer to his children, according to the Hollywood Reporter.Williams played a struggling actor who dons drag to become the no-nonsense Euphegenia Doubtfire in Chris Columbus's film. The role which won him the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical two decades ago. The sequel's screenplay is by Elf director David Berenbaum, and the new production would also see Columbus return to the director's role. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:18:00 GMT)

Denver Post hires Whoopi Goldberg to write for marijuana blog
Goldberg, a New Jersey resident, wrote on the Cannabist that she uses pot to provide relief from glaucoma-related headachesThe Denver Post, the Colorado newspaper that has closely chronicled the legalisation of recreational cannabis in its home state, on Thursday unveiled the actor and TV star Whoopi Goldberg as a celebrity contributor to its marijuana blog.In her inaugural post on The Cannabist website, Goldberg wrote a paean to the vaporiser that allows her to inhale marijuana easily. The vape pen has changed my life. No, Im not exaggerating. In fact, her name is Sippy. Yes, shes a she. And yes, I named her Sippy because I take tiny, little sips sassy sips, even from her. And with each sip comes relief from pressure, pain, stress, discomfort. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:18:12 GMT)

Bob Dylan 'racial hate' charges dropped
A French judge has dismissed charges against musician for comments in Rolling Stone, as prosecutors pursue publisherA French judge has dismissed the charges that Bob Dylan "incited racial hate" by making a comparison between Croatians and Nazis in an interview with Rolling Stone, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors are now said to be pursuing the magazine's French publisher, Michel Birnbaum, for his decision to print the inflammatory remarks.Dylan had been charged with public insult and promoting racial hate following a complaint by a Croatian community organisation. Though the suit corresponded to an interview published more than a year earlier, it was filed in November 2013, just two days before he was due to receive the Légion d'Honneur. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:25:51 GMT)

Coldplay announce six international tour dates
The group will mark the release of their new album, Ghost Stories, by playing six low-key gigs in six different cities Coldplay's Magic: exclusive behind-the-scenes video Coldplay announce new album Ghost StoriesColdplay have confirmed details of six shows in support of their forthcoming album Ghost Stories.The tour, which begins in Germany on 25 April, will visit a handful of low-key venues in contrast with their previous stadium visits. Following the E-Werk show in Cologne, the series of gigs will stop by at the Beacon theatre in New York, Royce Hall in LA, Casino de Paris in Paris, Dome City Hall in Tokyo and a final date at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which has a capacity of just over 5,000. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:46:01 GMT)

Easter week celebrations around the world in pictures
Christian believers around the world mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:00:48 GMT)

Cabin luggage: the wish list - in pictures
Don't just limit your summer wardrobe to your clothes, invest in a super-stylish piece of cabin luggage to turn heads at the airport too. Avoid struggling the length of the terminal with awkward bags when you can wheel with ease. Choose from a pop of pink or orange or slick metallic and chic black. The Observer fashion team pack their favourites Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:00:00 GMT)

Photo highlights of the day
The Guardians picture editors bring you a selection of the best photographs from around the world Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:14:45 GMT)

Drones, monkeys and psychedelia: Sigmar Polke at MoMA in pictures
Sigmar Polke is the experimental trickster of postwar German art, from his wall-tower paintings that evoke concentration camps to his trippy photography phase after he travelled around Afghanistan in the 70s. His art is 'unceasingly inventive and often hilarious', and he's the focus of one of the largest ever exhibitions at MoMA in New York. Here is a selection of the best works on show Sigmar Polke at MoMA five-star review a rare and glorious gift to New York Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:10:38 GMT)

Anti-Slavery anniversary: 175 years of campaigning for freedom in pictures
Formed by a group of abolitionists in April 1839, Anti-Slavery International is the oldest human rights group in the world. To mark the 175th anniversary of an organisation that has brought hope and inspiration to countless lives, we revisit some of the key moments in its history, from the landmark 1841 conference at London's Exeter Hall to the ongoing Home Alone campaign 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen on why Anti-Slavery's 175th birthday is nothing to celebrate Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:37:38 GMT)

Sherlock Holmes: the many identities of the world's favourite detective in pictures
According to our readers, Sherlock Holmes is the perfect way to get back into the reading habit. But how does his appearance on the page compare to his screen incarnations? And if you've never investigated the world's most famous detective, then where should you begin? Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:52:44 GMT)

Enter the surreal wonderland of pagan China in pictures
Zhang Xiao's photobook Shanxi explores ancient new-year rituals in rural China. With hallucinatory images of villagers dressed up as supernatural beings and near-forgotten deities, it is a fascinating portrait of Chinese peasant life today. Here's a selection of the best images Mythical beasts and voodoo worship: photographing pagan rituals in China Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:19:59 GMT)

Is it a cloud? Is it a plane? No, it's the Starship Enterprise: your pictures of clouds that look like things
After our cloudspotting lesson in Do Something, we asked readers to submit pictures via GuardianWitness of oddly familiar things they had seen while watching the skies. Here is a selection of our favourites, from a sad bear to a glorious Starship Enterprise, via Britain and a guest appearance from Yoda. There is still time to enter the assignment yourself: we will print a further selection in the May issue of the magazine. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:40:16 GMT)

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