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Davis rebuked over Brexit impact papers but not held in contempt
Speaker tells Commons that Brexit secretary’s comments and conduct over non-existent sector studies were ‘most regrettable’David Davis has escaped the possibility of being held in contempt of parliament over the non-existence of Brexit impact assessment papers, but was criticised by the Speaker, John Bercow, for being unclear to MPs when he discussed the matter.Bercow, giving a rare public rebuke to a minister, also told the Commons it was “most regrettable” that Davis had redacted some information from the papers when they were handed over to the Brexit select committee, and that it took so long for this to happen. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:28:01 GMT)

Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light
Office for Nuclear Regulation approves design for new reactor at Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, AngleseyPlans for a major new nuclear power station in Wales have taken a crucial step forward as UK regulators approved the project.The Office for Nuclear Regulation gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:07:52 GMT)

Rupert Murdoch reshapes media empire with $66bn Disney deal
Sale of 21st Century Fox assets includes stakes in Sky in the UK and Hollywood film studio as tycoon focuses on Fox News and newspapersRupert Murdoch has agreed to sell $66bn (£49bn) worth of 21st Century Fox’s assets, including a Hollywood film studio and 39% stake in Sky, in a deal that transforms his media empire. The takeover involves the 86-year-old tycoon and his family taking a 4.25% stake in Disney, gaining control of assets including Avatar, X-Men, The Simpsons and Modern Family as well as the FX and National Geographic businesses. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:40:20 GMT)

Chris Froome says failed drugs test ‘damaging’ but he followed protocol
• ‘ I know that I have fundamentally followed the protocol,’ says Froome• Tony Martin ‘angry’ Froome competed in world championshipsChris Froome has admitted that failing a drugs test at this year’s Vuelta a España has been “damaging” to his reputation – but has again insisted that he did not overstep any boundaries.The four-time Tour de France winner also nodded in agreement when it was put to him that the world only knew about his adverse analytical finding on 7 September because of investigative work carried about by two newspapers, the Guardian and Le Monde – suggesting that both Team Sky, British Cycling and cycling’s governing body, the UCI, were planning to keep the news secret. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:49:08 GMT)

Home Office policy to deport EU rough sleepers ruled unlawful
High court says removal of homeless individuals originally from EEA countries is contrary to EU law and discriminatory A Home Office policy to deport rough sleepers from countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) has been ruled unlawful by the high court after a challenge brought on behalf of two Polish men and a Latvian.Since 2016 the Home Office has designated rough sleeping as an abuse of EU free movement rights in its administrative removal policy. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:42:07 GMT)

British troops breached Geneva conventions in Iraq, high court rules
Court says soldiers subjected civilians to cruel and inhuman treatment in cases that may determine how a further 628 claims are dealt with by MoDBritish troops breached the Geneva conventions and subjected Iraqi civilians to cruel and inhuman treatment by hooding them and taking turns to run over their backs, the high court ruled on Thursday.Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence breached the Geneva conventions as well as the Human Rights Act in the way in which it detained civilians following the 2003 invasion, the court concluded. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:29:39 GMT)

Bollywood sexual harassment: minister for women writes to film-makers
Producers and actors are asked to provide safer work environment, a day after actors’ accounts of harassment emergeIndia’s minister for women has written to leading Bollywood film-makers asking them to crack down on sexual exploitation in the industry after several actors went public with allegations of harassment and assault.Maneka Gandhi wrote to at least 25 prominent producers and actors urging them to “provide a safe, secure and inclusive work environment for women” in line with national laws against sexual harassment. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:25:44 GMT)

6,700 Rohingya Muslims killed in attacks in Myanmar, MSF says
At least 730 young children among people shot, burned or beaten to death in Rakhine state between August and SeptemberMore than 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed between August and September after violence broke out in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, according to Médecins Sans Frontières.The figures released on Thursday by the humanitarian agency are believed to be a conservative estimate and far exceed Myanmar’s official death toll of 400. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:25:10 GMT)

Butlins faces legal action over dodgems hijab ban
Man accuses holiday resort of racial and religious discrimination after daughter was barred for health and safety reasonsA Muslim man has launched a discrimination case against the holiday company Butlins after his teenage daughter was barred from using the dodgems because she was wearing a hijab.Moammer Nasser, 41, a family support worker from Birmingham, is bringing a claim for race and religious discrimination after the incident at Butlins in Minehead in June. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:00:26 GMT)

Third person charged over Salford arson attack that killed four children
David Worrall, 25, charged with four counts of murder and three of attempted murder after attack on family home in WorsleyA third person has been charged with the murders of four children who died in an arson attack on their family home in Greater Manchester.David Worrall, 25, was charged with four counts of murder, three of attempted murder and one of arson with intent to endanger life. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:16:32 GMT)

Size does matter: wine glasses are seven times larger than they used to be
In the 1700s the average-sized wine glass could hold just 66ml of the tipple. Today it’s not unusual to be handed a glass that holds almost half a litreOur Georgian and Victorian ancestors may have enjoyed a Christmas tipple but judging by the size of the glasses they used they probably drank less wine than we do today.Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the capacity of wine glasses has ballooned nearly seven-fold over the past 300 years, rising most sharply in the last two decades in line with a surge in wine consumption. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:11:58 GMT)

My 10 Christmas food commandments
Thou shalt eat trifle on Boxing Day – and thou shalt not serve Christmas pudding. It’s the law, as laid down by Jay RaynerFor boring technical reasons to do with him predating the birth of Jesus by about 13 centuries, and being really quite Jewish, Moses was never in a position to lay down the law where Christmas is concerned. This strikes me as a terrible omission because God knows we could all do with the help. But do not fear. Having last year formulated 10 general food commandments, I feel uniquely placed to have a crack at 10 for Christmas. You can ignore them if you like, but on your own head be it.One Thou shalt not mistake Nigella, Mary and Jamie for the Lord, thy God. Those Christmas specials are only TV programmes. They’re entertainment, not a blueprint for how your Christmas is meant to be. Yours won’t be anything like that because you don’t have battalions of home economists to knock up the food and set designers to decorate the house. Even Nigella’s won’t be like that. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:00:30 GMT)

Mountain review – a truly amazing view from the top
The footage is spectacular in this Willem Dafoe-narrated documentary about what mountains mean to us and why we climb themThere are some truly amazing images in this spectacular feature documentary about mountains from Australian film-maker Jennifer Peedom. Her camera miraculously soars and swoops as the film shows extraordinary planes and peaks. I sometimes wished that, like David Attenborough with his nature documentaries, she could put a 10-minute making-of segment at the end, showing how she got these staggering shots. A helicopter? A drone? They are so incredible that you are willing to overlook some slightly unimaginative choices for musical accompaniment. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was a bit off-the-peg. Willem Dafoe is the narrator, reading a text co-written by Peedom and the British writer Robert Macfarlane. The film traces the early days of mountaineering, a new passion marked by humanity’s quest for the sublime, succeeded by the new craze for extreme high-altitude sports, in which the note of humility has been lost, replaced by a new machismo and a dash of near-deathwish egotism. As the narrator shrewdly says, they are “half in love with themselves and half in love with oblivion”. The pictures are remarkable. It’s something to seek out on the big screen. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:43:22 GMT)

Grenfell Tower: delays and trauma mark painfully slow progress
Six months after the fire, with the scarred remains of the tower still standing, we examine what has been done to deal with the aftermath of the tragedyFailure to rehouse Grenfell survivors ‘could worsen mental health’Forty-eight hours after the Grenfell Tower fire, Theresa May pledged that victims would be rehoused within three weeks. It was a wildly optimistic target, and the authorities’ failure to come close has sparked anger and despair. Only one in five of the Grenfell Tower households has been permanently rehoused. The process has been “painfully slow”, said the government’s own independent Grenfell recovery taskforce last month. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:24 GMT)

NERD: No_One Ever Really Dies review – Pharrell's band finally find their groove
Urgent, harsh, but also consistent – come album five, NERD have made the starry collaborations stick, galvanised by US politics. Even Ed Sheeran sounds coolIn 2011, Pharrell Williams launched his own liqueur, Pharrell Williams’ Qream. Created for “Contemporary women who work hard and want to relax with friends at the end of the day” – “I want them to reward themselves deliciously,” Williams offered – it was a disaster. Quite aside from its name, which somehow gave the impression one of the ingredients might be the singer/songwriter/producer’s bodily secretions, there was the packaging, which made it look less like a drink than something that your nana might put in her bath. After 18 months, its failure was the subject of a lawsuit. It was a rare moment where Williams – a polymath apparently capable of effortlessly switching between writing, producing, performing, fashion design and textile manufacturing – appeared not to have a clue what he was doing. Rare, but not unique: if there’s such a thing as a musical equivalent of Pharrell Williams’ Qream, his rap/rock/R&B hybrid NERD might well be it. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:25:31 GMT)

Sofie Hagen's new show is raw, urgent and confessional … but is it comedy?
Having explored her depression and anxiety, the Danish comic is tackling childhood trauma. How do standups amuse an audience if even they don’t find their subject funny?Her first show, Bubblewrap, was about depression and self-harm; her second, Shimmer Shatter, detailed her social anxiety. Now comes a show that digs deeper still, beneath the mental health challenges Sofie Hagen has faced and down to the emotional abuse she feels she endured in childhood, at the hands of her “narcissistic, psychopathic step-grandfather”, Ib. As with its predecessors, Dead Baby Frog feels as much like a therapy session as a standup set.The road that runs from trauma to comedy has been well travelled in recent years – and with considerable success. Bubblewrap won Hagen the Edinburgh fringe’s best newcomer award in 2015. The following year, the festival’s top comedy prize went to Richard Gadd’s show about his experience of sexual assault. This year, Hannah Gadsby won it with Nanette, a fierce reaction against homophobia and gender violence. In comedy, the brutalised are kicking back to a chorus of critical acclaim – and the murmur of: “But is it comedy?” Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:14:51 GMT)

Proud of themselves? The Tory Brexit rebels certainly should be | Polly Toynbee
Parliament’s refusal to march to the extremists’ drumbeat shows that the ‘mutineers’ now better reflect the will of the people than the Brexit press does“Proud of yourselves?” splashes the Mail, with a rogues’ gallery of last night’s Tory rebels. “Yes,” should be their defiant reply. What’s more, they are likely to do it again if the government is foolish enough to put forward other Brexit clauses that defy democratic scrutiny of this most vital decision.Next week they look set to reject the absurdity of fixing an arbitrary date of departure regardless of where we stand at the time. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:36:11 GMT)

US embassy proves a catalyst for £15bn Nine Elms regeneration project
Standing in contrast to dark brick luxury flats, the glass citadel aims to be a benign fortress that is part of a wider rejuvenation of ‘Knightsbridge of the South’Yew hedges containing steel bollards, ditches deep enough to stop a truck and a reflecting pool that doubles as a defensive moat are some of the anti-terrorist measures built into the rolling landscape of the new US embassy in south-west London, a $1bn (£750m) glass citadel that aims to be fortress without walls.The astonishing array of “hostile vehicle mitigation” paraphernalia that surrounds the two-hectare site in Nine Elms is still being covered with bushes and disguised with benches, as the building prepares for its grand opening in January – whether Donald Trump’s state visit happens or not. “An invitation has been sent, and we look forward to receiving the president here when he can make it,” is all US ambassador Woody Johnson will say on the matter. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:51:56 GMT)

Còsagach: is the Scottish hygge more about wet moss than warm blankets?
VisitScotland’s rebranding of the word baffles Gaelic speakers, who say it refers to a damp hole inhabited by small creaturesHygge, the Danish concept of cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing, has generated a seismic marketing boom over the past few years. And Scandinavia as a whole has reaped the economic benefits, as travellers seek out the soothing charms of hot chocolate cradled by candlelight before a snowy vista. So why wouldn’t another northern nation familiar with the privations of long, dark winter months want to cash in, too? Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:02:09 GMT)

Dawid Malan maiden century hands England strong start in third Ashes Test
• Stoneman and Bairstow played important innings in total of 305 for four• Malan delivered the first hundred of England’s Ashes campaignOn a ground that has often been a graveyard for English cricket Dawid Malan kept alive hopes of heading for Melbourne with the destination of the Ashes still undecided. Malan hit his maiden Test century, an innings of great character, a bit of luck and some silky strokeplay. His unbroken partnership of 176 with Jonny Bairstow, belatedly promoted to No6, was easily the highest England have managed in the series. Thus the tourists managed to finish the first day on 305 for four after Joe Root had won his third toss of the series. Related: Ashes 2017-18: Australia v England third Test, day one – as it happened Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:43:48 GMT)

The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2017
Before the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday celebrate the best of 2017, here are our anti-heroes from the sporting world this yearThe retiring Taylor’s last year on the PDC circuit has not been without incident. There has of course been sporting success, including a 16th World Matchplay title, but also controversy, much of it centred on the Grand Slam of Darts, where he lost in the semi-finals to Michael van Gerwen. During that match the players were seen in heated discussion as they left the stage for a break. Later the victor was asked what had happened, and recounted a frankly not enormously interesting conversation. “He came to me: ‘You shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that.’ I just said: ‘You’re a knob.’ That’s exactly what I said,” Van Gerwen explained. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:00:29 GMT)

Chris Froome's failed drug test – your questions answered in our live webchat
Sean Ingle and Martha Kelner, the journalists who broke the story about Chris Froome failing a drugs test, are online now to field questions 12.45pm GMT Hello all, sorry for the delay in responding - Martha and I have just been in a departmental meeting that overran a little. We’ll start answering as many questions as we can now ... Cheers, Sean 10.43am GMT Chris Froome was hoping to win his fifth Tour de France title next year but, depending on how cycling’s governing body react after his failed drugs test, he may well be banned from the sport when the race begins on the tiny island of Noirmoutier in July. In a week when Froome may have had designs on winning the Sports Personality of the Year award, he is now fighting to save his reputation. Froome says he has “done nothing wrong” and “fundamentally followed the protocol”. But, unless he can provide a sufficient explanation for his failed test, he is likely to lose his Vuelta title and be banned from his sport. Sean and Martha broke the story on the Guardian and they will be here soon to answer all of your questions. In the meantime, here are some pieces you might have missed: Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:48:47 GMT)

Manchester City’s 15-win record illustrates team’s desire, says Guardiola
• David Silva’s double secures 15th straight Premier League victory• Guardiola challenges players to maintain push for titlePep Guardiola expressed his pride at Manchester City’s record-breaking 15th successive top-flight victory but insisted it will count for little if they do not go on to clinch their third Premier League title. His team comfortably dismantled Swansea City in a 4-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday but Guardiola is adamant his side can still improve, and praised their mental resolve.“In history there were amazing things like Liverpool in the 80s and [Manchester] United with Sir Alex Ferguson or Chelsea with José Mourinho, there were some amazing teams,” said Guardiola. “But we are the first ones to win 15 in a row. If we win the title it will just be a record and this record will be broken but, of course, it will not be easy. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:27:55 GMT)

Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke admits disallowed goal did strike his arm
• Striker had late goal ruled out against West Brom at Anfield on Wednesday• ‘It has clipped my arm. The referee disallowed it but it’s very unlucky’Dominic Solanke has claimed he was “very unlucky” not to register his first Liverpool goal against West Bromwich Albion despite admitting the disallowed effort did strike his arm.The young Liverpool striker had his 82nd-minute celebrations cut short against Alan Pardew’s team when the referee Paul Tierney and assistant Constantine Hatzidakis penalised a handball offence. Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, said he was unsure Solanke had used both his chest and arm to convert Joe Gomez’s cross after watching several replays. “It was another moment where we had no luck,” said Klopp, who maintains Everton were wrongly awarded a late penalty in Sunday’s Merseyside derby. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:02:43 GMT)

Wolves’ Romain Saïss: ‘Busquets is an inspiration – his positioning, his simplicity’
Morocco midfielder who bases his game on the Barça player is relishing facing his idol at the World Cup after reviving his career under Nuno Espírito SantoThe year in which Wolverhampton Wanderers last appeared in the Premier League – 2012 – was also the year in which the player who is now the linchpin of their midfield, Romain Saïss, played his first professional match. He was nearly 22.Now his career is on course to reach new heights. Victory at Sheffield Wednesday on Friday would give Wolves a seven-point lead at the top of the Championship and boost their chances of returning to the Premier League. Promotion would be the perfect ending to Saïss’s club campaign before he goes with Morocco to the World Cup, where he could face the player on whom he has modelled his game, Spain’s Sergio Busquets. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:20:23 GMT)

The 50 best shows of 2017: No 4 Blue Planet II
This majestic ocean tour was not only gorgeous viewing, but brought scientific discovery and a timely reminder of ecological fragilityTop TV of 2017 - our pick of the best in one placeWith Blue Planet II, Sir David Attenborough captivated audiences once again and helped the BBC grab more viewers than Strictly, Simon Cowell doling out stink or indeed any other TV show in the UK. And all with the magic of the natural world. Four years in the making, and 16 years on from his original series, this latest seven-episode tour of the oceans came complete with a portentous soundtrack from composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead, plus specially curated playlists and an excellent accompanying podcast. It also served as a reminder of the danger that our fragile world is in. “We’ve also recognised an uncomfortable fact,” said Attenborough. “[The oceans are] changing at a faster rate than ever before in human history.” Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT)

The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: No 7 Toni Erdmann
Continuing our countdown of the year’s finest films, Catherine Shoard celebrates an audacious German comedy packed with flabbergasting set piecesSee the US cut of this listSee the rest of the UK countdownMore on the best culture of 2017Few people settle in for a three-hour German comedy about an uptight woman and her farty father expecting a masterpiece. Yet that’s what Maren Ade’s extraordinary, genre-bending revolution of a movie is. It tells of Ines (Sandra Hüller), an efficient, humourless, whippet-thin businesswoman in her mid-30s. She’s focused on success with no apparent aim but for its own sake (“You’re an animal,” someone tells her – there are a lot of beasties in this film). To this end, she sacrifices her free time, much of her social life, and many of her ethics.“I’m not a feminist,” she witheringly tells one of her less capable colleagues, “or I wouldn’t tolerate guys like you.” We pity brittle Ines. We don’t necessarily like her. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT)

The top 10 architecture and design events of 2017
It was a year that celebrated new dawns. From plywood to postmodernism, from the return of council housing to a Cornish art gallery, our critic picks his highlights Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:17:33 GMT)

The best albums of 2017, No 7: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel’s star shines bright on a record that combines 70s rock sounds, 80s MOR pop and melancholic melodies to glittering effectMore on the best albums of 2017More on the best culture of 2017Adam Granduciel has been transformed from another plaid-shirted US indie musician into something approaching a rock star – a tentative one, uncertain of the spotlight, but a bandleader capable of pulling 10,000 people to his shows – by combining two impulses. On the one hand, there’s the version of him that made the first War on Drugs album, Wagonwheel Blues – a man in thrall to the freewheeling music made by beloved of and made by 70s heads. On the other, there’s the Granduciel who loves the sleek and shiny sounds of 80s pop rock – on second album Slave Ambient, Granduciel hit on the idea of throwing motorik pace and rhythms into his MOR and classic rock mix, and came up with a style he’s been revisiting and redefining ever since.It’s easy to understand why some people who snigger that the War on Drugs sound like Bruce Hornsby and the Range with more guitar solos. (In some ways, Hornsby is an apt comparison – he, too, saw the attractions of slick MOR and the endless jam, and let’s not forget that he played keyboards for the Grateful Dead.) On tracks such as Holding On and Nothing to Find, Granduciel’s gift for melody (which is what brings those big crowds to the shows) is welded to a propulsiveness that summons up the horizon at the end of a long, straight, flat road. But A Deeper Understanding, the band’s fourth album, was more than music for the drive-time hour. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT)

No room at the refuge? Not with women like Tania around | Frances Ryan
Every day 200 women and children fleeing domestic violence fail to find a safe place. That’s why refuges like Lambeth need the Christmas spirit all year roundThe first time women set foot in Lambeth Refuge, some of them are still wearing pyjamas. When you hear this, it can take a few seconds for the penny to drop: they are in pyjamas because fear has driven them to leave their homes in the middle of the night without stopping even to get dressed. Often they arrive with their children. Tania, the manager of Lambeth and other Refuge services, doesn’t sugarcoat it: “They are fleeing in fear for their lives.”Refuge has been helping domestic violence victims in Lambeth for over a decade. Right now, there are 15 women and 12 children housed across three locations. It means they’re full to capacity for December. As Tania puts it, a space is “like gold dust”. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:00:26 GMT)

Why a Christmas jumper isn’t just for Christmas Day | Daisy Buchanan
I understand the urge to splurge on fresh festive knitwear every year. But it’s a wasteful habit that should come with an environmental elf warningI will admit to owning three Christmas jumpers. There’s the chunky, cheery red one, featuring two penguins holding hands on an iceberg, as if they’re on a romantic festive avian break instead of trying to survive a potentially perilous situation. There’s the one I bought last year, which doesn’t feature any traditional motifs but is made of gold Lurex – undeniably festive but also acceptable in February and November. Then there’s the one I’m currently wearing, which I bought in a weak, impulsive moment last week, and features a sequinned dachshund wearing a Santa hat.So I can’t defend the practice, but I can understand the urge to buy multiple jumpers. After all, the secular celebration of Christmas revolves around finding and enjoying all things bright and cosy when the world feels especially dark, dank and dreary. If you have the impulse and the disposable income, why not buy one? Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:00:27 GMT)

EU must not burn the world's forests for 'renewable' energy
A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qualify as renewable energy when in fact this would accelerate climate change and devastate forestsThe European Union is moving to enact a directive to double Europe’s current renewable energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a critical flaw in the present version would accelerate climate change, allowing countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees and burning them for energy fully qualifies as renewable energy. Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quantity of trees and to avoid profound harm to the climate and forests worldwide the European council and parliament must fix this flaw. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:01:06 GMT)

Maybot's fawning reception from cabinet evaporates at PMQs
The prime minister is just as hopeless and out of depth as her party originally suspectedWhat a difference a couple of days make. On Monday, Theresa May was given a fawning reception by her own benches in the Commons for deferring the tricky stuff and progressing the EU negotiations to the second phase. Despite the best efforts of David Davis to torpedo the preliminary agreement before it had even been ratified.Come prime minister’s questions, many on the Tory benches appeared to have had second thoughts, as Theresa’s arrival in the chamber was greeted with barely a murmur. The intervening hours had concentrated their minds. Theresa was still barely in command of her party, let alone the country. She faced defeat at the committee stage of the EU withdrawal bill and could easily be out of office by the middle of next year. She was just as hopeless and out of her depth as they had originally suspected. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:48:17 GMT)

A bubble? We don’t even know how to value Bitcoin | Alicia (Lucy) Cameron and Kelly Trinh
The Bitcoin market is only just maturing as an investment and the underlying value of the cryptocurrency is still unknownBitcoin is a “speculative mania” according to the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. But it’s not so easy to say that Bitcoin is a bubble – we don’t know how to value it.Recent price rises (close to $18,000 in the past three months) may be too great and can’t continue. But the Bitcoin market is only just maturing as an investment and as a currency, and so it may still have room to grow. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:39:56 GMT)

Universities are bastions of privilege. They have to change | Simon Jenkins
The astronomical course fees for these bloated institutions are no longer defensible. Two-year degrees would be a good moveThe ice mountain is cracking. The glaciers are loosening. The greatest cultural confidence trick since the medieval monastery is dissolving. This week the universities minister, Jo Johnson, said the unsayable: the British three-year university course, virtually unchanged in 100 years, is absurd and should end. That many foreign universities are equally conservative is neither here nor there.To Johnson, the overwhelming majority of courses can be done in two years. The internet has transformed – or should have transformed – both teaching methods and student research. The astronomical cost of a course – averaging some £60,000 – is no more defensible than the outrageous vice-chancellors’ salaries, the inflexibility of teaching time, and curbs on free speech. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:24 GMT)

What are British values? And are faith schools really undermining them? | Catherine Pepinster
Ofsted’s latest report has given the critics of faith schools another excuse to attack them – and again they refuse to distinguish between good and bad It was in the green room at the BBC that I first experienced the antipathy that faith schools inspire. Just as I was about to talk about religion on the Today programme, and had explained this to an eminent QC waiting to speak on another issue, he took this as a cue to let rip about how awful faith schools were and how divisive. Then, he added, getting angrier, “They wouldn’t give my daughter a place.”This complaint – I’m opposed to them but I want my kids to go there – is one of the critiques one hears often about faith schools. People, while disliking them, find them desirable because they know that some are highly successful. And it’s often their ethos that is responsible. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:07:23 GMT)

Think our governments can no longer control capitalism? You’ve been duped | Larry Elliott
In reality there has been a class war, in which the right has spent decades using the state to undermine workers. We can fight backBlue Planet 2 demonstrated the terrifyingly fragile state of nature’s ecosystem. One of the key messages from the BBC series was that a delicate balance exists in the oceans between predators and prey. If there are too many predators, the stocks of prey fall. The predators go hungry and their numbers dwindle, allowing the prey to recover. Balance is restored. Related: Workers' rights are under threat across the world | Keith Ewing Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:24 GMT)

Politicians need to be more civil to make success of Brexit, says archbishop
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, says leaders must be ‘united in attitude’ even if they are not united on policyThe archbishop of Canterbury has called for a “ceasefire from insults” in British politics in order to make a success of leaving the European Union.Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, which was broadcast from Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s home, Justin Welby said: “It would be very good to have a ceasefire from insults and the use of pejorative terms about people at this time. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:15:52 GMT)

Leap forward towards gene therapy cure for haemophilia A
Scientists around the world congratulate the team that has made a major advance in finding a cure for the life-threatening blood disorderScientists believe they are on the way to finding a cure for haemophilia A, the bleeding disorder that currently requires sufferers to inject themselves every other day to avoid life-threatening complications.One dose of a gene therapy given experimentally to 13 patients by NHS doctors in the UK has allowed them all to come off treatment. These were men – most sufferers are – who would not only bleed without stopping from an injury but would bleed into their joints even in their sleep causing pain and disability, without frequent injections of a clotting factor. None of them now bleeds spontaneously in that way. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:01:16 GMT)

Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold at 0.5% - business live
All the day’s economic and financial news, as central bankers hold their final monetary policy meetings of 2017Latest: Bank of England monetary policy decisionBoE warns that growth may slow this quarterEarlier:UK retail sales jump 1.6% in NovemberEurozone PMI hits highest level in nearly seven yearsIntroduction: Central bank meetings todayJanet Yellen raises interest rates in final act as Federal Reserve chair 12.45pm GMT Disney’s Bob Iger has been talking about the Fox deal:Asked whether @21CF CEO James Murdoch will be joining Disney, Bob Iger says: "James and I will be talking over the next number of months. He's going to be integral to the integration process. And he and I will be discussing whether there's a role for him or not at our company."Fox-Mouse deal is a brilliant two-fer for Rupert Murdoch: he gets billions from sale and settles dynastic succession problem #Disney.@tomkeene on Disney buying Fox assets to @FerroTV: I'm wondering what's going to happen to @TheSimpsons franchise.. Why do you think I became who I am?.. Inspired by Homer, it's poetry. It's like American Shakespeare. pic.twitter.com/YkKhw7pJL2Disney officially buys Fox....and another Simpsons joke comes to life: pic.twitter.com/FshXPmXnrT 12.23pm GMT Breaking news: Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has agreed to sell its entertainment assets to Disney in a $66bn (£49bn) deal that transforms his media empire by offloading a 39% stake in Sky.My colleague Mark Sweney explains:The takeover involves the 86-year-old tycoon and his family taking a 4.25% stake in Disney with assets including the 20th Century Fox film studio, the controlling stake in Britain’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster and a number of cable channels going in the other direction.Murdoch will retain control of the profitable, and controversial, Fox News channel. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:45:41 GMT)

Charities urge ministers to let councils oversee asylum seeker housing
Thirty-three groups ask government to let councils provide ‘independent oversight’ of housing for those seeking sanctuary More than 30 leading refugee and asylum seeker charities have called on the government to give local authorities more power over accommodation for those seeking sanctuary in the UK.Around £4bn of government contracts to provide housing to asylum seekers from September 2019 was put out for tender in November. The closing date for bids is 17 December. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:05:30 GMT)

Conservative MP gives evidence in former aide's rape trial
Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, says defendant Sam Armstrong worked long hours and was dedicated and reliableThe Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has appeared in court as a witness in the trial of his former chief of staff for rape.Sam Armstrong, 24, is alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted the woman in his boss’s office within the Houses of Parliament after a night of drinking, Southwark crown court has heard. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:23:47 GMT)

WikiLeaks recognised as a 'media organisation' by UK tribunal
Definition by the UK information tribunal may assist in Julian Assange’s defence against US extradition on grounds of press freedomA British tribunal has recognised Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks as a “media organisation”, a point of contention with the United States, which is seeking to prosecute him and disputes his journalistic credentials.The issue of whether Assange is a journalist and publisher would almost certainly be one of the main battlegrounds in the event of the US seeking his extradition from the UK. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:00:28 GMT)

Number of homeless households has risen, official figures show
Local authorities accepted 15,290 households as homeless from July to September, up 6% on previous quarterThe number of households accepted as statutorily homeless and those living in temporary accommodation in England has increased, government figures show.Local authorities accepted 15,290 households as being statutorily homeless between 1 July and 30 September, up 6% from 14,390 on the previous quarter and up 2% from 14,930 on the same quarter of last year. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:05:08 GMT)

Inquiry under way after Pentonville murder trial witness exposed
Prison murder trial defendant saw witness whose identity was supposed to remain secret ‘through crack in the door’A prison officer is under investigation after the alleged killer in the Pentonville murder trial saw the anonymous star witness “through a crack in the door”, plunging the case into crisis, it can now be reported.An inmate, known as Bobby Dorset, was about to give key evidence on what he saw on G Wing when 21-year-old Jamal Mahmoud was stabbed to death on 18 October last year. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:39:16 GMT)

Salma Hayek claims that Harvey Weinstein threatened to kill her
The actor has penned an essay detailing a history of predatory behavior from the disgraced producer, referring to him as a ‘monster’ with ‘Machiavellian rage’Salma Hayek has come forward with an essay, detailing her alleged experiences working with Harvey Weinstein, claiming unwanted sexual advances and threats of violence.In a piece for the New York Times, the Oscar-nominated actor writes that she spent years saying no to the disgraced producer following his demands for sexual activity with her. She joins numerous other women in Hollywood who have accused Weinstein of similar impropriety. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:31:04 GMT)

Stranded migrants rescued from rocks off Turkey in dramatic operation
Footage shows rescue personnel airlifting child as people wait next to partially deflated rubber dinghy on Aegean coastThe Turkish coastguard has mounted a dramatic rescue operation in the Aegean Sea, saving 51 people who became stranded on rocks as they attempted to cross to Greece.Authorities intervened after receiving an emergency call at 1.12am local time. The coastguard said the rescue operation could only begin in daylight due to the rocky area and bad sea conditions. Helicopters dropped food and blankets in the night. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:00:16 GMT)

Congolese fighters convicted of raping young girls in landmark case
Kavumu in east Congo known as the ‘rape capital of the world’, where sexual violence crimes are ignoredTwelve members of a Congolese militia group have been convicted of raping 37 toddlers and young girls in a landmark case that lawmakers hope will deter potential future perpetrators.Fighters from a group that christened itself Djeshi ya Yesu (The Army of Jesus), carried out the rapes in the belief they would give them supernatural powers on the battlefield, a court in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) heard. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:44:32 GMT)

World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half
Inequality report also shows UK’s 50,000 richest people have seen their share of the country’s wealth double since 1984The richest 0.1% of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50% – or 3.8 billion people – since 1980, according to a report detailing the widening gap between the very rich and poor. The World Inequality Report, published on Thursday by French economist Thomas Piketty, warned that inequality had ballooned to “extreme levels” in some countries and said the problem would only get worse unless governments took coordinated action to increase taxes and prevent tax avoidance. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:24 GMT)

South Korea demands apology from Beijing over attack on journalist
Photographer was severely beaten by around 15 security guards while covering President Moon’s visit to China, reports saySouth Korea is demanding a formal apology from Beijing after a South Korean photojournalist was severely beaten by more than a dozen Chinese guards while attempting to cover a state visit by its president, Moon Jae-in. Moon’s four-day visit, his first to China since his election in May, was supposed to promote warmer ties between Seoul and Beijing after a long-running feud over Thaad, the controversial US missile defence system introduced to counter attacks from North Korea. On Thursday night Moon, a left-leaning human rights lawyer, is due to meet China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:44:48 GMT)

Rupert Murdoch set to sell off 21st Century Fox assets to Disney
Deal includes stakes in Sky and Hollywood studio and is expected to lead to split in family empire building dynastyRupert Murdoch is set to announce a $60bn (£45bn) deal to sell assets in 21st Century Fox, including a 39% stake in Sky and a Hollywood studio, to rival Disney.The deal, which will reportedly be announced before the New York stock exchange opens on Thursday, or around midday UK time, marks a turning point in an empire building career that started in the 1950s and is expected to lead to a split in the Murdoch family dynasty. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 20:31:16 GMT)

Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies
Of more than 50,000 killings of women since 1985, nearly a third took place in last six years, official report saysThe number of women being murdered in Mexico has risen sharply over the last decade amid the country’s drug war, more than wiping out two decades of gains when the rate fell by half, a new study shows. Related: 'Impunity has consequences': the women lost to Mexico's drug war Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:25 GMT)

Doug Jones’s victory over Roy Moore could mean a dramatic shift in Congress
Democrats now have a plausible path to a House majority in 2018, while Republican control of the Senate rests precariously on the narrowest seat marginDoug Jones’s stunning victory over Roy Moore in Alabama – which handed Democrats a rare win in the Republican South on Tuesday night – threatens to imperil Donald Trump’s legislative agenda and raises the prospect that the 2018 midterm elections could dramatically shift the balance of power in Congress. Related: Alabama election: Democrats triumph over Roy Moore in major blow to Trump Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:45:43 GMT)

'Some don’t have bodies to bury’: My journey back to Dominica after the hurricane - video
This year the Caribbean experienced its most destructive hurricane season in decades. While large countries dominated the headlines, the small island nation of Dominica suffered the worst devastation it has ever seen. Josh Toussaint-Strauss visits his family in the country and asks, with next year forecast to be worse, how Dominicans see their future Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:00:28 GMT)

'I became a black man when I arrived in England': Inua Ellams on his play Barber Shop Chronicles
Inua Ellams was recently nominated for the Writers' Guild award for best play for Barber Shop Chronicles, which is currently on at the National Theatre. He speaks to the Guardian journalist Iman Amrani about black masculinity, his story as an immigrant and how he channels anger into his art Continue reading...
(Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:09:02 GMT)

Exclusive Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake music video: The Priest
Watch Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake's music video The Priest, about a young homeless girl's experiences of life on the street Continue reading...
(Mon, 11 Dec 2017 09:25:17 GMT)

Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House by Luke Harding – review
Secret meetings and dirty money in a compelling investigation of the US president’s 30-year relationship with RussiaThe subtitle of Guardian investigative reporter Luke Harding’s comprehensive and compelling volume hints at the scope here. Trump’s interactions with Russia go back more than 30 years – Vladimir Putin is perhaps the only person in the world who will never have to worry about being attacked on the president’s Twitter feed.Many of the incriminating facts reported in Collusion won’t be new to serious students of this saga, but the experience of reading them all in one place can be almost overwhelming. When, less than halfway through the book, ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele describes the Trump-Russia conspiracy as “absolutely massive”, it sounds like classic British understatement. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:30:25 GMT)

Vanished by the Lake review – all the coincidences of a classic French thriller
Walter Presents’ latest Gallic import has the requisite good-looking cop and a close-knit-community riddled with secrets. Plus: Penelope Keith goes coastalHow do you like your foreign-language thrillers? Period-set and perfectly plausible? Psychologically astute with a side of gruesome violence? Or Scandi-influenced, but mostly in English. From Broadchurch to The Bridge, Witnesses to Wallander and Dicte to Dark, there is now enough choice to cultivate some pretty recherché tastes. Personally, I won’t lift the remote for anything without a fortysomething, single-mother protagonist investigating serial murder in a mid-sized Jutland community, with a gaping class divide and stark, functionalist architecture for a backdrop. And still, I’m spoilt for choice. So how does Walter Presents’ latest French import Vanished by the Lake (Channel 4) measure up?It’s got the looks, that’s for sure. The titular lake is a brochure-worthy expanse of twinkling turquoise in Provence that makes Broadchurch’s Jurassic Coast look like a Butlin’s car park on a grey day in February. There could be corpses piling up waist-high on the Sainte-Croix plage, and I still wouldn’t cancel my holiday booking. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT)

Judd Apatow: The Return review – Netflix stand-up special is a bit of a trainwreck
Hollywood super-producer’s attempts at self-deprecation don’t combine well with boasts about schmoozing the presidentWe have Amy Schumer to thank for the filmmaker Judd Apatow’s return to standup. Apatow directed Schumer’s movie Trainwreck, and found himself envious when, after a day’s shoot, Schumer kept stealing off to perform live comedy. Twenty-five years previously, his younger self quit standup, convinced of his inferiority to his peers, such as Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler. “Looking back,” he said in a recent interview, “I’m surprised how bad I was.” Fellow comic – and co-producer of Apatow’s new Netflix special The Return – Wayne Federman is more upbeat about his friend’s standup skills. But only slightly. “Judd,” he says, “was not that bad at all.” Related: ‘Life is messy’: Judd Apatow on Freaks and Geeks, Lena Dunham and his return to standup Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:48:16 GMT)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – an explosive thrill-ride of galactic proportions
Director Rian Johnson delivers a tidal wave of energy and emotion in the eighth episode of the saga, as Luke, Leia, Finn and Rey step up to meet their destinyHave you seen the film? Tell us what you thinkAn old hope. A new realism. An old anxiety. A new feeling that the Force might be used to channel erotic telepathy, and long-distance evil seduction. The excitingly and gigantically proportioned eighth film in the great Star Wars saga offers all of these, as well as colossal confrontations, towering indecisions and teetering temptations, spectacular immolations, huge military engagements, and very small disappointments. The character-driven face-offs are wonderful and the messianic succession crisis about the last Jedi of the title is gripping. But there is a convoluted and slightly unsatisfying parallel plot strand about the Resistance’s strategic military moves as the evil First Order closes in, and an underwritten, under-imagined and eccentrically dressed new character – Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, played by Laura Dern. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:34:04 GMT)

‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off
Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them. By Jacob MikanowskiThe Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:23 GMT)

'Dark forces will be unleashed': the fire temple v the Mumbai metro
The Indian city desperately needs its new metro, but Zoroastrian priests are warning of a ‘backlash from nature’ – and they’re not the only detractorsIn early October, a petition was sent to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, about the latest phase of the Mumbai metro – a 33.5km stretch that is currently under construction.The petition claimed that the metro, if built, would “breach the magnetic circuits” of two Zoroastrian fire temples, thus “diminishing their spiritual powers” and unleashing “dark forces”. Signed by 11,000 people, the petition concluded that, the temples being “living, vibrant ... intermediaries between God and mankind” as they are, if these “holy fires are defiled, the backlash from nature will not spare those responsible”. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:24 GMT)

From ‘crush the saboteurs’ to the Maybot’s P45 – the year in Westminster digested
In 2017 there were bitter rows about leaving the EU, a chaotic election and the rise of the Corbyn cult. Our parliamentary sketch writer recaps a farcical 12 months in politicsTheresa May: Brexit means Brexit. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:19:02 GMT)

Five years after Sandy Hook: families keep the memory of lost children alive
In the years since the mass shooting that killed 20 children and six educators, families have memorialized their loved ones in many different waysSchool safety campaigns. An animal sanctuary. A children’s book. Support for mental health reform. A lawsuit against the manufacturer of a military-style rifle.In the five years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, the families of the 20 children and six educators killed have taken very different paths to honor the lives of their loved ones. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:25 GMT)

The A to B of Abba: Nirvana, holograms and Des Lynam
As a new exhibition celebrating the Swedish pop group’s musical legacy opens, we explore their historyAbba’s banger-strewn legacy goes on and on. In 2019 they are touring as holograms because, well, of course they are. Before that, there will be a 2018 sequel to Mamma Mia!, and before that – starting on 14 December in fact, they launch Super Troupers, a major immersive exhibition at London’s Royal Festival Hall. As good a time as any, then, to assess their career from A to B and back again.Abba, like total pop bosses, released their first greatest hits album just two years after their debut, 1973’s Ring Ring. Their definitive compilation Abba Gold is the UK’s second best-selling album of all time. Continue reading...
(Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:00:29 GMT)

How very 2017: the trial by media of 11-year-old Keaton Jones | Hannah Jane Parkinson
A viral video of a boy crying about being bullied was picked up by mainstream media – sparking more bullying, this time on a global scalePatience used to be a virtue. Now it’s gold dust. Especially when it comes to mainstream media picking up social media intrigue. I refer you to the story of 11-year-old Keaton Jones, who went viral just a couple of days ago after his mother posted a video of him, crying, explaining how his classmates had bullied him and questioning the purpose of bullying in general. “Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and find a way to be mean to them?” Related: Justin Bieber and Katy Perry rally in support of bullied boy Keaton Jones Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:09:31 GMT)

Amazon Fire TV 4K HDR review: compact upgrade to make your TV smarter
The tech firm’s new streaming dongle condenses what was great about the previous generation into a smaller, cheaper packageThe Amazon Fire TV with 4K HDR is arguably the easiest and best way to play ultra HD content on your TV, condensing what was great about the previous generation into a smaller, cheaper package.The new Fire TV is no longer a set-top box – instead it’s more like the cheaper Fire TV Stick, hanging off a built-in flexible HDMI cable. It means the new Fire TV can be inserted straight into the back of a TV, hidden from view, and likely powered straight from the TV’s USB port. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:57:34 GMT)

Is there an easy way to delete masses of emails in Gmail?
Alan’s Gmail inbox needs tidying up, and it’s easy to sort emails and save space using built-in search commands. But not before he makes a back upIs there an easy way of doing mass deletes in Gmail? I’ve rather let the inbox grow, and I would like to trim it. Manual deletion would take forever. Yes, I know I should have archived important, useful emails. Slapped wrists! AlanYou may be surprised at how easy it is to delete thousands of Gmail messages with just a couple of clicks. The tricky bit is deleting the emails you don’t want while keeping the ones you do. Computers are stupid and do what you tell them to do, which may not be what you intended. This is why you should take a backup before embarking on an email delete-fest, but I’ll discuss that later. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:09:33 GMT)

10 of the best places to visit in Malaysia: readers’ travel tips
Lunch with monks and a poignant war memorial park share equal billing with Penang’s street food and sundowner views over Kuala LumpurThe Mossy Forest of the Cameron Highlands offers the chance to get among gnarled, moss-covered trees, exotic plants, orchids and extraordinary wildlife. Near a low mountain called Gunung Brinchang, there is 150 metres of wooden boardwalk with platforms beginning by a clearing next to the road. At the end of the boardwalk is the two-hour hiking trail up to the top of Gunung Irau, the area’s tallest peak (2,110 metres). The entrance to the trail itself is free but local operators run tours and, if you haven’t hired a car, joining a tour is the easiest way to get up the very narrow mountain road. • Cameron Secrets’ Mossy Forest tour £10, including tea factory visit Paul Jones Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:00:29 GMT)

'Government is an agglomeration of defeats and weaknesses': your best comments on the Guardian today
Discussion turns to the aftermath of the Brexit amendment vote, and we also look at your conversation around the size of wine glassesToday, readers have been discussing the latest on the government’s Brexit defeat, as well as the size of wine glasses and the short story Cat Person.To join in you can click on the links in the comments below to expand and add your thoughts. We’ll continue to highlight more comments worth reading as the day goes on. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:03:26 GMT)

Readers recommend playlist: songs about Asian cities
This week a reader takes us for a bustling tour of Asian towns through music from Eartha Kitt, Robyn, Cornershop and Ryuichi SakamotoHere is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.The continent of Asia is where cities began, ancient settlements such as Jericho, Ur and Çatal Hüyük were the first places people got together to moan about the traffic, their neighbours and housing prices. Let’s take a journey to visit a few of the modern cities of Asia – as seen through the music you’ve recommended. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:00:30 GMT)

Tell us what you think of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Peter Bradshaw said ‘it’s impossible not to be swept away’. Now we want to hear what you made of the eighth episode of the sagaBack in October we asked readers to give their predictions for The Last Jedi, but now it’s finally here and we want to know what you think. Did the film meet your expectations? Were questions you were waiting to be answered addressed? What scene stood out for you and how do you think the tone has been set for episode IX? Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:43:59 GMT)

Poetry Pharmacy webchat: Feeling blue? Could a poem be the answer? Ask William Sieghart
Are you lonely, nervous about Christmas or frustrated with relatives? William Sieghart of the much-loved Poetry Pharmacy will be in to prescribe you a poem for your problems on Friday 15 December at 1pm GMT. Post your requests in the comments below 1.09pm GMT One day as he was crossing a street, National Poetry Day founder William Sieghart saw a man be hit by a car. After getting his heart beating again, William was left with blood on his hands – and a poem in his head: Ambulances by Philip Larkin. It did not comfort him, but it offered complicity, William says: “Poetry is not a lullaby. Poems help you feel you are not mad, that what you are going through has been experienced by others.”Motivated by his wish to “get people to drop their fear of the P-word”, William began setting up a tent at literary festivals with two armchairs and a prescription pad and allocated visitors 10-minute slots. Hours later, people would still be queuing to get their poem – and have their stories and feelings heard. After collecting poems to help people with everything from feeling overwhelmed by news to sexual repression, from loneliness to romantic boredom, William published The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:09:26 GMT)

Kezia Dugdale ‘deeply regrets’ effect of Celebrity trip on successor’s first weeks in job
Former Scottish Labour leader to receive written warning for agreeing to take part in reality show I’m a Celebrity without formal approval Kezia Dugdale, the former Scottish Labour leader who angered colleagues by joining the reality show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! just as her successor, Richard Leonard, was elected, has said she “deeply regrets” the effect of her decision on the first weeks of his leadership. Dugdale arrived at Glasgow airport on Wednesday, having stayed in Australia until the conclusion of the show, and told waiting reporters that it was “good to be back”. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:46:51 GMT)

Abba's Björn Ulvaeus: I had no idea 1970s Britain was so gloomy
Band member speaks at preview of London exhibition that lovingly recreates scenes from era of band’s sensational successThere were endless strikes, power cuts, three-day weeks, TV programmes that finished at 10.30pm and Noel Edmonds. “You get very close to the reality of Britain in the 70s,” said Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus. “I had no idea it was so gloomy.”Ulvaeus was speaking at the first preview of a new immersive Abba show at the Southbank Centre, which aims to tell the sensational success story of the band, as well as put it in the social and political context of 1970s Britain. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:29:23 GMT)

The story behind Kendrick Lamar's Gordon Parks exhibition
A new exhibit of the pioneering photographer who documented the civil rights movement brings together the Grammy-winning rapper’s favorite worksThis summer, Twitter was awash in skepticism when California rapper Kendrick Lamar released the music video for his song Element.Some of the music video’s scenes were staged replicas of photographs by Gordon Parks, a pioneering African American photographer who documented the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:53:50 GMT)

Jennifer Lawrence to star in film adaptation of Hannah Kent's Burial Rites
Film will be directed by Luca Guadagnino, whose latest, Call Me By Your Name, has been nominated for three Golden GlobesThe Oscar-winning actor Jennifer Lawrence will reportedly star in and produce the upcoming film adaptation of the Australian author Hannah Kent’s award-winning 2013 novel, Burial Rites. Kent’s novel is based on the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland in 1830. A farm worker, Magnúsdóttir was sentenced to death for her part in the murder of two men and, due to the structure of the Icelandic legal system, spent her last days at an isolated farmhouse with a family of upstanding citizens watching over her. Kent’s novel reimagines the story of these final months before Magnúsdóttir’s execution. Continue reading...
(Wed, 13 Dec 2017 02:48:17 GMT)

Monkeys and a Nutcracker: Thursday's top photos
The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of photo highlights from around the world Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:45:52 GMT)

Photographer of the year: we shortlist the best of 2017
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, bombed-out buildings in Syria and an anti-Trump march in New York are among the images captured by the agency photographers shortlisted by the Guardian picture desk this year. The winner will be announced on 21 DecemberFrom photojournalism in conflict zones and refugee camps to reactive news, politics, and feature work, the shortlist for agency photographer of the year 2017 scratches only the surface of the breathtaking work seen by the Guardian’s picture desk over the past 12 months.More than 10,000 images come into the picture system from agencies on a daily basis. In addition to the daily run of galleries, the weekly From the Agencies series is where we display photo stories by individual news photographers. The winner of the agency photographer of the year 2017 competition will be revealed on 21 December. Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:30:25 GMT)

Minor White's vanished America – in pictures
In 1937, this son of a book-keeper and dressmaker moved from Minnesota to Portland, where he chronicled soon-to-be demolished 19th-century buildings – developing a vision that would influence countless photographers to comeIn the Beginning: Minor White’s Oregon Photographs is at Portland Art Museum until 21 October 2018 Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:00:25 GMT)

Ethiopia's living churches – in pictures
As one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, Ethiopia has a legacy of churches and monasteries, built on hilltops or hewn out of cliff faces, as well as vibrant traditions of worship. These are celebrated in a lavish book, Ethiopia: The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:30:24 GMT)

Living alongside elephants: a study of human and animal habitats
A new book commissioned by David Attenborough’s charity, The World Land Trust, documents life on the small and important elephant corridor which allows the animals to cross safely between ranges in Kerala, India Continue reading...
(Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:12:29 GMT)

The billionth treatment for river blindness – photo essay
Onchocerciasis is one of a group of infections that can cause severe and lifelong physical impairment for some of the world’s poorest people. In northern Nigeria, Graeme Robertson witnesses a grandfather’s joy as treatment delivered by the NGO Sightsavers ensures his granddaughter will not lose her sight, as he did 30 years ago Simon Shauabi never thought mere fly bites could rob him of his sight, but he has now been blind for almost three decades.Shauabi, who lives in the small community of Kudaru in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria, relies on his grandchildren to provide him with food and with water from the well, but he has never seen what any of them look like. Continue reading...
(Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:30:27 GMT)

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