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Barcelona attack: hunt continues for driver of van
Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national, is at the centre of the investigation, with police also looking for a white Renault KangooA 22-year-old Moroccan national is at the centre of the Spanish police’s search for the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack.Younes Abouyaaqoub is understood to be the chief suspect for the attack on Las Ramblas that killed at least 13 and injured more than 130. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:01:51 GMT)

Jeremy Hunt says Stephen Hawking is wrong about weekend NHS deaths
Health secretary criticised by doctors and scientists after questioning the physicist’s grasp of evidence on weekend deaths Jeremy Hunt has been criticised for claiming Stephen Hawking is wrong in the row about the government’s seven-day NHS plan.Hunt was responding to criticism from the renowned 75-year-old physicist and author of A Brief History of Time ahead of a speech at the Royal Society of Medicine on Saturday. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:51:47 GMT)

Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist, removed from role
White House says decision was mutual: ‘We are grateful for his service’Bannon says: ‘I’m leaving and going to war for Trump against his opponents’Steve Bannon has been removed from his post as White House chief strategist, ending his highly contentious career at the center of the Trump administration. A statement from the White House press secretary was sent to journalists on Friday afternoon after multiple outlets reported Bannon was on his way out. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:51:22 GMT)

Finland knife attacker 'targeted women'
One Briton injured in incident that killed two Finns and injured several othersThe 18-year-old Moroccan man suspected of carrying out Friday’s deadly knife attack in Finland appeared to have targeted women as his victims, one of whom was British, police said.Officers said they were now treating the attack in Turku, in which two people were killed and eight injured, as a terrorist act. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:40:03 GMT)

John McDonnell: ‘The government could collapse at any time. We’ve got to divide and demoralise them’
Labour’s shadow chancellor is a lifelong radical, a confirmed eurosceptic and an ardent critic of austerity. Now he is ready to seize power from the ‘incompetent’ ToriesJohn McDonnell is sunk deep in a leather sofa in a corner of the bustling cafe bar of Norwich Playhouse, clutching a mug of tea. The shadow chancellor has taken a break from his regular holiday boating on the Norfolk Broads with his wife and a revolving cast of other family members to pop into the city for a chat.It’s no secret that many of his colleagues view McDonnell as controlling, and see him and Jeremy Corbyn as fossilised relics of a politics they thought was consigned to the past. But the 65-year-old, a veteran of many picket lines who cut his teeth in his 20s working with Ken Livingstone in the lefty bastion of the Greater London Council, argues that the economic impact of the financial crash and its aftermath have become a fertile breeding ground for his brand of political radicalism. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:14:31 GMT)

Elisabeth Moss defends Scientology after fan compares it to Gilead
Actor, who was raised a Scientologist, denies that the movement is similar to the fictional regime in The Handmaid’s TaleElisabeth Moss has defended Scientology after a fan on her Instagram account drew parallels between the movement and Gilead, the dystopian homeland depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. Related: Elisabeth Moss on The Handmaid’s Tale: 'It is a feminist story' Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:04:13 GMT)

Eight people stabbed in Siberian city of Surgut
Attacker who injured passersby, two seriously, was shot dead by policeEight people have been injured in a knife attack in the Siberian city of Surgut, according to Russian news agency reports.“A man was running along the main streets stabbing people,” Tass reported, citing the spokesman for the local office of the Russian law enforcement committee. The suspect was shot dead by police. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:57:07 GMT)

Cambridge University Press accused of 'selling its soul' over Chinese censorship
Academics and activists decry publisher’s decision to comply with a Chinese request to block more than 300 articles from leading China studies journalThe world’s oldest publishing house, Cambridge University Press, has been accused of being an accomplice to the Communist party’s bid to whitewash Chinese history after it agreed to purge hundreds of politically-sensitive articles from its Chinese website at the behest of Beijing’s censors.The publisher confirmed on Friday that it had complied with a Chinese request to block more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly, a leading China studies journal, in order “to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators” in China. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:52:34 GMT)

Lloyds and Halifax customers face up to 52% APR overdraft fee
Account holders slate ‘astonishing’ rate of borrowing which is more than credit cards and payday loansThere is growing anger among some Lloyds and Halifax customers – those who regularly use their overdraft – after they received letters from the banks this week warning them that the cost of going overdrawn could shoot up after November.In July, Lloyds banking group announced that it was radically overhauling its overdrafts fees, including those at Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland. At the time the bank said the move will leave most customers better off – although it admitted that 10% of account holders could end up paying significantly more. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT)

Global super-rich agreeing to rent luxury London homes without visiting
High-end estate agents say smartphones have transformed lettings and the wealthy are making decisions based on video toursWealthy foreigners are prepared to shell out as much as £25,000 a week renting luxury homes in London without bothering to set foot inside before opening their wallets.High-end estate agents report that overseas demand for super-prime London homes is so strong that the global super-rich are agreeing to rent properties after only viewing them on FaceTime or WhatsApp. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:39:09 GMT)

St Vincent: ‘I’m in deep nun mode’
For years, the Grammy winner was best known for her experimental music. Then dating Cara Delevingne put her in the spotlight. What’s next, asks Tom Lamont?The musician St Vincent, a 34-year-old Texan whose real name is Annie Clark, is talking about body piercings. Though her outfit today includes such exotic items as a leopardskin onesie and a pink blazer made of some sort of wetsuit fabric, Clark doesn’t have any outlandish piercings herself; she just has droll and strong opinions about them, as she has droll and strong opinions about a lot of things.“Didn’t it always make you laugh,” Clark says, already laughing, softly, in the museum in London where we meet one summer afternoon, “how people in the 90s who had, like, tongue rings? How they’d always make some sort of comment, intimating that it made them, like, better at oral sex? That was the whole wink-wink thing, right? That a tongue ring meant they were kinda kinky? But then, I guess the challenge – because they were constantly fidgeting with this gross thing in their mouth! I guess the challenge became: no one wanted to get head from them.” She hoots with amusement, just loud enough to turn heads in the hushed museum. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:00:11 GMT)

Hollywood after Bridesmaids: has the ladette comedy gone too far?
Raucous female-fronted comedies such as Girls Trip and Rough Night are changing the status quo, but there’s a darker side to this breakthrough Related: Girls Trip review – raucous comedy delivers a fresh and filthy good time A woman is freshening up her undercarriage at the sink in a public bathroom when the door unexpectedly swings open. Another is surreptitiously sniffing her pits while strutting to the nightclub flanked by female friends. These lifelong BFFs are headed to New Orleans with the expressed intention of getting “white-girl wasted” and also “pregnant tonight”. Meanwhile, a bachelorette party has just wound up accidentally killing the male stripper they’d hired while high on cocaine. Oopsie! Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT)

A letter to my American friends: when did the dream die?
Former foreign correspondent Simon Tisdall fell in love with America during his posting. Here, he asks what happened to the ‘shining city on the hill’ and wonders: how did America lose its mind in the age of Trump?It is difficult for Americans to watch the presidential parody that is Donald Trump with anything approaching equanimity. But it is also hard for non-Americans – long-time friends and admirers of the United States – who look on helplessly from afar. Reactions range from amazement and amusement to shock and dismay. How has this frightening travesty come about? What does it mean for the America we love? And what does it portend for a world accustomed to sensible, reliable, rational American leadership? Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:09 GMT)

Fourth time lucky? Former model Hope Hicks is Trump's new spin doctor in chief
The PR executive, 28, is currently director of strategic communications but now steps into the gap left by Anthony Scaramucci It has eaten up and chewed out three Trump operatives, and now the job of White House communications director has fallen to Hope Hicks, a 28-year-old political neophyte and former PR professional.Hicks, who has been working as Donald Trump’s director of strategic communications, was drafted into the administration’s most high-profile media relations job to replace Anthony Scaramucci, whose 11-day tenure as White House communications director ended after an expletive-filled tirade to a reporter. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 04:34:46 GMT)

Secret Teacher: unconditional offers give students no incentive to work hard
The notion of university education as a buyer’s market rather than an academic pursuit is a cultural shift many of us were not ready forWhen I became the head of sixth-form for a large comprehensive school in 2013, unconditional offers were the holy grail of university admissions. You were more likely to find diamonds on Brighton beach. That same year, the government lifted the cap on the number of university places available; institutions could no longer be fined for taking on more students than allocated by the government. The free market was finally here. Despite a rise in university fees, the initial result was an increase in the number of applications year after year. The most academically able were being fought over with some institutions using unconditional offers as a way of headhunting the most talented students in a much more competitive arena. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT)

Blind date: ‘I was alarmed by his skinny jeans’
What did press administrator Jack, 21, and student Jordan, 22, learn about each other?What were you hoping for?Someone I would have easy chemistry with. If I fancied them, that would be a bonus. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 04:59:04 GMT)

Swansea City v Manchester United: Premier League – live!
Premier League updates from the 12.30pm BST kick-offMourinho: Chelsea are title favourites with no excusesAnd feel free to email Simon or tweet @Simon_Burnton 1.45pm BST 58 mins: Fer spins into space in midfield and looks up to see what options lie further forward. Abraham and Ayew are pretty much standing on each other’s toes on the edge of the penalty area, neither of them doing much moving. He picks one out, the other gets in the way, and the ball is lost. 1.43pm BST 56 mins: David de Gea touches the ball, and not from a back-pass either. It’s a cross from the left, and the goalkeeper catches it unchallenged. Still, it’s something. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:45:41 GMT)

England v West Indies: day-night Test at Edgbaston, day three – live!
Over-by-over updates from the third day of the pink-ball TestEmail Adam or tweet @collinsadam with your thoughtsCook’s mighty 243 puts England in control on day two 1.41pm BST David Gower taking the piss supreme. “There are all sorts of ideas about making Test cricket more attractive. The pink ball is certainly one. Playing in summer... another.” Keep it droll, DIG. Now he’s talking about his preference for the 20 minute interval to be called a “cocktail break” instead of tea. My instinct is we should do whatever he tells us. Here’s a nice collation of the great man’s best moments from an interview earlier this year. 1.35pm BST This is made for the OBO. A rain delay after one ball - has this happened before? The challenge: to find out and tell me. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:41:45 GMT)

Will McGregor v Mayweather save American boxing – or bury it?
What does it say about the sport’s long-term health that a one-off stunt will be boxing’s biggest event in the US for years?Jimmy’s Corner is a classic dive on 44th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Manhattan, a half-block east from the neon marquees and flashing Jumbotrons of Times Square. The bar is warmly lit and slender, hardly wider than a walk-in closet, open seven days a week from 11.30am to 4am. The booze is cheap, the jukebox is loaded with Stax classics and the walls are a dense assemblage of posters, memorabilia and photographs culled from owner Jimmy Glenn’s panoramic life in boxing. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:00:10 GMT)

Dina Asher-Smith ready to graduate to higher level after London success
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith is over her injuries and looking to even better things after her silver medal in the world championshipsOver the space of 24 hours last week Dina Asher-Smith’s nightmare season morphed into a glorious dream. First she finished a surprise fourth in the world championship 200m final. Then came a stunning silver in the 4x100m relay. For much of the spring Asher-Smith was on crutches, having broken the navicular bone in her right foot, and she started running only in June. Yet here she was, suddenly blasting into the stratosphere again.But her time of 22.22sec in that 200m final – her third fastest ever – was inevitably tinged with what-might-have-beens. “I’m really happy with how I ran in the 200m,” says the 21-year-old. “I’ve never finished that highly in a global championships, so it bodes well for the future. But to have been 0.07 away from a bronze, also makes me wonder if I’d have had a different result with just a couple of weeks more training.” Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:00:10 GMT)

Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener
Australia 34-54 New ZealandKiwis run in eight tries in record tally against WallabiesThere was hope it would be the start of something big, the resuscitation of Australian rugby no less – a Wallabies-led recovery which would bring the game in this country back from a near death experience. But it turned out to be a sad, forlorn longing, crushed by the weight of 23 men in black.Some claimed there were cracks in the All Blacks’ armour. Sex scandals, bugging dramas and even a spelling crisis, but the only cracks were in the Wallabies’ defence. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:10:38 GMT)

'I know their vital stats, their romantic histories': how Sunderland AFC saved me
For this Chinese Jewish Texan, England was a difficult place to feel at home. But all that changed when she discovered football‘That’s shite, man!” the man behind screams. The discontent in the crowd is reaching a critical mass. “Useless twats,” snarls a father below, opening a packet of crisps for his nine-year-old son.I stand frozen, wrapped up in a scarf and down jacket. Who are we yelling at? Why are we so angry? Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:00:09 GMT)

England’s work of art may be damaged by Les Bleues’ return to form
France have been a thorn in side of the Red Roses in recent years and have shown imperious form at Women’s World Cup as the tournament heads to BelfastAs the Women’s World Cup ups sticks from Dublin and heads to Belfast for the knockout stages it is tempting to view this as an end to the phoney war, that the battle is only just about to commence. Equally it is hard to escape the feeling that England, the defending champions and world No1, have been on a collision course with New Zealand – winners of four of the last five tournaments – since day one.Both blitzed their pool-stage opposition, cruising past the USA and Canada respectively on Thursday in what were supposed to be their hardest assignments, and both, you sense, have a fair bit in reserve. New Zealand have amassed 213 points, scoring 35 tries – Portia Woodman has contributed nine of them – while England have crossed the whitewash 17 times. But France have been equally as impressive in the third pool. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:00:10 GMT)

Antonio Conte craves continuity – but time is never on your side at Chelsea | Jacob Steinberg
Champions head to Wembley on back of a farcical opening-day display that bore out their fraught summer – and their manager would like sturdier foundationsIf Antonio Conte knows his history, he will be aware that time is not a luxury his predecessors at Chelsea have enjoyed in recent years. Patience has rarely been a virtue in Roman Abramovich’s world and at 3.45pm last Saturday, when Chelsea found themselves a man and 3-0 down to Burnley, it is unlikely that the owner was thinking about the bigger picture. Related: Diego Costa is in Chelsea’s past and I wouldn’t pick him, says Antonio Conte Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:29:56 GMT)

Liverpool reject £119m Barcelona offer for Philippe Coutinho
• Catalan club’s third offer includes a remarkable £36.6m in add-ons • Coutinho emailed transfer request to Liverpool last FridayLiverpool have again underlined their determination to keep Philippe Coutinho by rejecting a deal worth up to €130m (£119m) from Barcelona for the unsettled Brazil international.Barcelona’s third attempt to prise Coutinho from Anfield constituted a guaranteed €90m (£82.3m) plus a staggering €40m (£36.6m) in add-ons, an increase of €5m and €25m respectively on their previous offer. The Spanish club made an anticipated third bid on Friday having been encouraged by the transfer request the 25-year-old emailed to Liverpool’s sporting director, Michael Edwards, one week ago. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:35:00 GMT)

Ryan Hall celebrates 300th outing with try as Leeds beat St Helens
• Rhinos surge three points clear of third-placed Hull FC in Super 8s• Wigan trounce Salford 42-6 while Huddersfield hammer Hull 46-18The England winger, Ryan Hall, marked his 300th appearance for Leeds with a crucial try to help them get back on course for a home semi-final. Related: Castleford secure first league title after overpowering Wakefield Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:55:30 GMT)

Talking Horses: Saturday’s best bets for Newbury, Newmarket and Ripon
Librisa Breeze can continue Dean Ivory’s succesful run in the Hungerford Stakes but will face stiff competition from the Goodwood winner Breton RockAfter a slow start to the season Dean Ivory has really hit his stride this month, winning TV races on each of the last two Saturdays and adding a Listed prize at Newbury with a 10-1 shot on Friday. That momentum can be maintained by the best horse in his yard, Librisa Breeze (3.35), who has a fine chance in Saturday’s Hungerford Stakes. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:02:00 GMT)

Newcastle’s summer transfer dealings not ideal, Rafael Benítez says
• Owner Mike Ashley’s blueprint now less ambitious than in May• ‘He knows what he told me and what I was thinking,’ says managerRafael Benítez has indicated that Mike Ashley’s summer transfer market blueprint is now significantly less ambitious than it appeared when the two men last met in May.“He knows what he told me and what I was thinking,” said Newcastle United’s manager, who has not spoken to the club’s owner since that rare get-together and finds himself forced to embrace a new-found minimalism when it comes to refurnishing his squad. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:30:56 GMT)

Andy Murray set to play at US Open after overcoming hip injury
• Scot has not played since he was beaten in Wimbledon quarter-finals• Murray will be No2 seed behind Rafael Nadal at Flushing MeadowAndy Murray is on track to play in the US Open at the end of August as he steps up his recovery from the injury that has sidelined him since Wimbledon.His participation in the last grand slam event of the year at Flushing Meadow had looked in doubt when he pulled out of back-to-back Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati in the past fortnight. But the Scot is due to travel to New York early next week and barring any last-minute problems he will take his place in the draw, with the tournament set to begin on 28 August. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:52:00 GMT)

Misha Voikhansky: unlikely jockey who spent years behind the Iron Curtain
The subject of a four-year diplomatic wrangle between Britain and the USSR, he started race-riding at 50 and recently rode his first winnerThe fourth-placed runner in a Nottingham handicap for amateur riders seems an unlikely source for the day’s best racing story but such was definitely the case on Friday. In urging Pretty Jewel past tiring rivals to earn £194 in prize money, Dr Misha Voikhansky was achieving the latest of many successes over the obstacles put in his way more than 40 years ago.Voikhansky was just nine when his mother, who had spoken out against the abuse of psychiatry in Soviet hospitals, fled to London. For four years, young Misha was prevented from joining her and lived instead with his grandmother in Leningrad. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:55:43 GMT)

Mauricio Pochettino calls on Tottenham to become guardians of ‘galaxy’ at Wembley
• ‘Wembley was a big one for me. When I was young it was like the moon’• Manager wants national stadium to feel like home for next nine monthsMauricio Pochettino is looking forward to making Wembley his home for the next nine months, even if the English national stadium seemed like something from “another galaxy” as a child.Tottenham Hotspur, who on Friday sealed the record £42m move for the centre-half Davinson Sánchez, will play all their home matches at Wembley this season while construction of their new stadium is completed. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:45:12 GMT)

Manchester City plan new Jonny Evans bid but Pep Guardiola wary of rising fee
• West Brom rejected initial £18m bid with player keen on move• Guardiola has identified other options if fee cannot be agreedManchester City will not be held to ransom over Jonny Evans, with Pep Guardiola having identified other options at centre-back should West Bromwich Albion not agree with their valuation of the Northern Irishman.City are set to make a renewed bid for Evans after having one in the region of £18m rejected by the Midlands club. Tony Pulis made Evans West Brom captain after Darren Fletcher left for Stoke City and the manager is adamant City will have to offer an acceptable fee if he is to be transferred. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:30:56 GMT)

Sead Kolasinac could be strongest I’ve worked with, says Arsène Wenger
• Arsenal manager impressed with start made by Sead Kolasinac• ‘He uses the strength of his body without violence’Arsène Wenger says Sead Kolasinac is a player whose attitude “provokes happiness” and believes the defender, signed from Schalke this summer, may be the strongest he has ever worked with.Kolasinac, 24, has played on the left side of a three-man central defence since Per Mertesacker’s injury in the Community Shield, although he is also a candidate to occupy a more familiar wing-back role in Saturday evening’s game at Stoke City now that the club captain has recovered from his head wound. His all-action style has endeared him to supporters but Wenger is particularly impressed by the way he channels his aggression. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:30:56 GMT)

Manchester United give us a nostalgic view of simpler boom times | Barney Ronay
A rejuvenated Man Utd remind us of Premier League’s thrilling years but even their renewed strength cannot stop the feeling the football landscape is changingIn the 1940 edition of Wisden, RC Robertson-Glasgow wrote that looking back at the last pre-war summer of 1939 was “like peeping through the wrong end of a telescope at a very small but happy world”. The cricket season had ended with handshakes and a round of draws on the first of September, the day Germany invaded Poland. It would be seven years before Wisden was published again, cricket having resumed in earnest with the “Brylcreem summer” of 1946, when Dennis Compton batted like a lord at a picnic and spectator sport helped the nation forget what a parched, ramshackle, soot-stained state it was in behind the sheen of pageantry.On the face of it there isn’t a great deal of shared ground between Robertson-Glasgow’s beautiful, war-shadowed image of a more vital sporting world, and the unusually strident overreaction last weekend to Manchester United’s impressive performance against West Ham on the opening day of the Premier League season. On the face of it, anyway. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:00:28 GMT)

Forget Brexit, people. We’ve got to get Big Ben sorted | Marina Hyde
Theresa May has finally grasped the urgency of the UK’s situation. But not the situation we had in mind“I think it’s mad. I’d forgotten, of course – I’ve been out of government for a lot of years – I’d forgotten how long it takes to get approvals for this and approvals for that. There’s a sort of rude phrase which I will shorten to ‘just get on with it’ … Just get on, just do it, don’t faff.” Pop quiz: is David Davis talking about his spectacularly unprepared Brexit negotiating approach, or is he talking about a big bell?Yup, it’s the big bell. News that Big Ben may be silenced for a few years during renovation works on the Houses of Parliament shocked Westminster this week, causing a welter of politicians to ignore the clock that IS ticking in favour of wetting their pants about one that might stop. If sovereignty is serving as your own punchline, we’ve already aced Brexit. If not, we must accept that creating auto-satirical metaphors could soon be our last great manufacturing industry. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 05:00:05 GMT)

How the Republican party quietly does the bidding of white supremacists | Russ Feingold
Let us finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda. It isn’tRuss Feingold is a former Senator for WisconsinIt takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda. The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:00:11 GMT)

It's fine to talk about your abortion – but don't mention your elective caesarean
The ‘normal birth’ campaign may have come to an end, but ‘natural’ childbirth is still seen as the ideal by far too manyIt is a striking quirk of this country that childbirth and breastfeeding have become more politicised than abortion. We are now at a point where you could announce to a crowded room that you had two abortions in your 20s and chances are most people would shrug. But mention that you’re having an elective caesarean, or are giving your baby formula milk from birth, and too many will look at you as if you are advocating heroin for infants.Strangely, you never hear people insist that the only way to have root canal surgery is with “natural dentistry”, or that you simply must opt for a “natural colonoscopy” to experience things as nature intended. Nor will you hear many acknowledge how much medical advances have helped reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in Britain, which have declined sharply in the past century. Instead, the theory that so-called “natural” childbirth is the ideal has become so established that it is a genuine shock to realise that the Royal College of Midwives’ “normal birth” campaign, in which women are strongly urged to think of birth without medical intervention as the goal, has only been going for 12 years. It is even more shocking to think this could now change. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:08 GMT)

How to reform student finance? Let’s start with interest rates
If it was a bank, we’d brand the 6.1% interest rate shameless profiteeringStudent loans are overpriced, badly administered and probably mis-sold. If they were a financial product that we unpick in the Money pages each week, they would more than likely fall into the “worst-buy” rather than the “best-buy” category. Yet well over 200,000 undergraduates will be herded into them in September.Let’s start with the overpriced interest rate. Supermarket group Asda launched into personal loans this week, promising rates starting at 2.9%. Tesco and Sainsbury’s start just a tad higher at 3%. Meanwhile, the government can borrow on international money markets at just 1.8% for repayment over 30 years. Yet, when it lends the money out through the Student Loans Company, to be repaid in up to 25 years, it applies an interest rate of up to 6.1%. If this were Lloyds or Barclays we’d call it shameless profiteering. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT)

I'll learn to play my ukulele when I've read Dostoevsky in Russian
It’s been on my mind since I learned of the death of Kitty Lux, sweet-voiced co-founder of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great BritainIt is not generally known that I do a passable George Formby imitation. Foreign students at a language school I taught at were privileged to hear my Happy Go Lucky Me, but as they’d never heard of Formby they couldn’t really judge how good I was. They clapped anyway. This was before Brexit, when foreigners still thought the English were nice people with a keen sense of the ridiculous.Knowing my fondness for Formby, my brother bought me a ukulele. It sits accusingly by the side of the settee. Time, time. I’ll learn to play it when I take up reading Dostoevsky in Russian, walk the Silk Road and snowboard. There is much to look forward to when I retire. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 07:00:07 GMT)

Martin Rowson on the Barcelona van attack – cartoon
Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:11:24 GMT)

Neo-Nazis love media attention. But ignoring them isn't an option | Bob Garfield
There is a genuine conflict of two public interests: the collateral damage of publicity versus the right to know. But one must prevailThis is about the media’s role in the rise of grassroots fascism, but first a quick review of the week in tele-sociopathy is in order.First there was the violence Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, where crowds of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists and assorted alt-right mouthbreathers were televised chanting racist and antisemitic slogans and roughing up counter-protesters, culminating in the death of one woman. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:08:09 GMT)

The Sun wants to make child abuse all about race – that doesn’t help the victims | Shaista Aziz
No area should be off limits for investigators, but Sarah Champion’s article’s focus on race and religion is counterproductiveThe Labour MP for Rotherham and shadow minister for women and equalities Sarah Champion resigned this week after writing a racially charged article in the Sun following the convictions of 18 people in Newcastle over a sex grooming network.Champion’s article appeared with the headline: “British Pakistanis ARE raping white girls and we need to face up to it”. A follow-up piece in the same newspaper by Trevor Kavanagh praised Champion and asked what the UK should do about “the Muslim problem”. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:07:10 GMT)

The Guardian view on Confederate statues: they must fall | Editorial
Toppling symbols of hate is not an assault on the past but a defence of the futureOne Friday afternoon in September 1994, a statue was pulled down from in front of provincial government offices in what was then the Orange Free State in South Africa. It depicted Hendrik Verwoerd, the country’s prime minister from 1958 to 1961, administrative architect of “apartheid” and a vicious racist. No one who grasps the barbarism that his doctrines imposed laments the removal of monuments in his honour.Is the morality of statues honouring heroes of the Confederacy in the US civil war any more complicated? The south fought to preserve a social order founded on white racial supremacy, and economically dependent on industrial-scale slavery – a vast crime. Monuments now targeted for removal were erected not in ignorance of that atrocity but in defiant celebration of it. Their message was simple: while the law now forbids slavery, the oppression of African-Americans, their exclusion from civil rights and intimidation by a culture of casual and institutional racism will endure. It is precisely because that message has a willing audience in the US that the statues are so toxic. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:57:16 GMT)

Barcelona is Europe’s seventh vehicle attack in a year. What can be done? | Simon Jenkins
The white van has become the poor man’s guided missile. We must work out how to retain a balance between defacing cities and averting riskEurope has endured seven acts of vehicle terrorism in the past year, and the Barcelona killer was apparently able just to walk away. What on earth can be done?Events yesterday in Calatonia suggest that, as with the London Bridge attacks of last spring, police are getting better at responding to these acts of carnage. The swift erection of barriers and the summary shooting of the Cambrils suspects will revive calls for more road blocks and more armed police. In the short term this will be hard to resist, as are calls for ever deeper intrusion into electronic communication. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:45:02 GMT)

Centrists and the left in a polarised world | Letters
Readers respond to recent articles by Guardian columnists Owen Jones and Simon JenkinsThe most effective deceits are those that are wrapped up in a kernel of truth and Owen Jones is certainly right that postwar consensus-based politics has been damaged by the weakening of the role of the state in a mixed economy and the acceptance of increasing inequality (Centrists attack the left, but they are the true extremists, 17 August).But that political central ground is defined by the acceptance that there is not a monopoly on truth and thus a willingness to compromise to try to find common ground with those who share core attitudes of openness, toleration and respect for all in our society. That feeds into solid commitments to parliamentary democracy, gradualism, internationalism and the similar seeking of common ground and partnerships with open societies in Europe and elsewhere. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:50:09 GMT)

Barcelona’s Las Ramblas has seen tragedy before … and will flourish again | Harry Eyres
It’s not the first time the Spanish city’s beautiful, eccentric, unique street has been touched by violence, and the life it symbolises will return after this atrocityI went out to live in Barcelona in the autumn of 1983 – not the first or last inhibited young English person to do so – and feel eternally grateful to the city and its inhabitants for freeing me up and touching me with some of their spontaneity, openness and generosity of spirit.Many of my memories of that time are connected with Las Ramblas – unsurprisingly, since this famous thoroughfare is the main artery of the old city, dividing the historic Barrio Gótico from the racier Barrio Chino. So Thursday’s horrific attack doesn’t just sadden me but feels like a personal assault. This beautiful, eccentric, unique street is the last place anything like this should have happened. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:59:31 GMT)

The Guardian view on attacks in Spain: fighting terror means protecting freedom | Editorial
Terrorism will win unless defending freedom is part of the answerMost Europeans have rarely lived amid such peace and plenty, and take prosperity and security for granted. It is that assumption of established wellbeing that makes a terror attack the more shocking, and the fear it inspires the more contagious. This is most true on the streets of a place like Barcelona, whose ancient buildings belie its reputation as one of the youngest, liveliest and loveliest of European cities.It is partly this international, cosmopolitan character that makes it a terrorist target: what happened here on Thursday afternoon has not only left a city in mourning. The waves of terror and grief for children, mothers, fathers, lovers and pensioners ripple out to the 34 different countries from which they came, and far beyond. After a related attack along the coast in Cambrils, holidaymakers of every nationality, faith and ethnicity will be more anxious, more fearful and less trusting. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:58:32 GMT)

Is Nick Clegg our anti-Brexit hero – or just a wind-up merchant? | Matt Forde
I desperately hope that Clegg’s How to Stop Brexit handbook is not a joke – and provides the leadership the pro-EU resistance is sorely lackingI can’t be the only one who’s stared out of the window lately and wondered what I could do to stop Brexit happening, before being crushed by a feeling of insignificance. In more desperate moments I try to reassure myself that somewhere someone in a position of authority must be trying to stop this madness. Millions of us are like sleeper agents, just waiting for a resistance movement to join and co-ordinate us. Now maybe that moment is here. Related: Nick Clegg book will reveal How to Stop Brexit Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:11:43 GMT)

Angela Merkel’s most daunting opponent is complacency | Martin Kettle
Though the German chancellor is set to win, she faces the prospect of coalition building and a need to address a raft of national concernsYou would hardly know this is general election year in Germany. I have travelled to Europe’s most important country three times this year, and each time to a very different part of it – first to Hamburg in the north, then to the flatlands of Brandenburg in the far east and, most recently, to prosperous Bavaria in the south. Yet until this week, when the campaign eased into gear, you would have struggled to realise that Europe’s most pivotal political contest is imminent.So far, this has suited Angela Merkel just fine. It says a lot about the chancellor’s approach to the 24 September German election that she has just spent three weeks doing exactly what she likes doing each summer, election or not. First a visit to the first night of the Wagner family’s Bayreuth festival, then a walking holiday in northern Italy (the German-speaking part), in which she and her husband stayed in the same room in the same hotel in the same village as they always do. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 06:30:16 GMT)

A moment that changed me: realising I was black | Micha Frazer-Carroll
I always thought I was mixed race until someone at school called me black. That started me thinking about racial identity“A ‘black girl’. How weird is that?” I laughed. I’m met with silence from my mum’s side of the dinner table. “It’s not weird. It’s what you are.” Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:00:17 GMT)

If the German left wants to succeed, it must offer more than Merkel’s status quo | Christian Odendahl
The Social Democrats and others need to offer credible solutions to rising inequality if they want to compete with the strong and stable chancellor• Christian Odendahl is chief economist at the Centre for European ReformThe German elections on 24 September are bound to be boring. Polls show Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) leading the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) by 15 percentage points. Absent a miracle for the SPD, Merkel will be re-elected as chancellor for the fourth time. The really interesting question is: why?Merkel has an unmatched ability to disarm her opponents and demobilise their supporters. Take the recent legalisation of gay marriage. Merkel realised her party’s official opposition would cost her votes. So she allowed MPs a free vote, which meant that gay marriage passed by a landslide. Merkel herself voted against the motion to protect her conservative credentials, but the issue was politically neutralised. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 11:30:22 GMT)

We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet | Susanna Rustin
Hope alone won’t halt climate change but Al Gore’s latest film highlights the role optimism can play“Hope is essential – despair is just another form of denial,” Al Gore said last week, in an interview to promote the sequel to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. As well as the very bad news of Donald Trump’s science-denying presidency, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which opens in the UK today, brings good news: the plummeting cost of renewable electricity and the 2015 Paris climate agreement.In 2017, denial of the facts of climate change – and myriad linked dangers including air and ocean pollution, famine and a refugee crisis the likes of which we can hardly imagine – is in retreat, with the Trump administration the malignant exception. Virtually all governments know that climate change is happening, and polls show most people do too – with those living in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa particularly worried. The question is not whether global warming is happening, but what we are going to do about it. There are, and need to be, many answers to this. Gore believes the solutions to climate change are within reach, if people can only find the political will to enact them. Even if how to whip up sufficient zeal to make this happen remains a puzzle, his essential message is one of optimism. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 06:00:16 GMT)

The superhero and the standup: Spider-Man Tom Holland and his dad Dominic
The star of Marvel’s blockbuster is the subject of his father’s comedy show at the Edinburgh fringe. They discuss the art of getting laughs, sending Spidey back to school and finding the old man a part in a webslinging sequelThere is no shortage of up-and-coming comedians with famous parents at this year’s Edinburgh fringe: Elliot Steel (son of Mark), Will Hislop (son of Ian) and Ruby Wax’s daughters, Maddy and Marina Bye, are all performing. At the Voodoo Rooms venue in the New Town, the situation is a little different. Standup Dominic Holland, who recently turned 50, is in Edinburgh with a free fringe show, 24 years after winning the best newcomer award at the festival. The subject of his new set? How his success has been surpassed by that of his 21-year-old son, Tom, star of Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Spider-Man: Homecoming.“I genuinely don’t need to be here,” Dominic states in his show, Eclipsed, with reference to his son’s lucrative webslinging contract. He describes his own gig as “indoor busking” – it’s free to get in but he holds a bucket for punters’ donations on their way out. Tom is currently filming sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, co-starring Daisy Ridley and based on Patrick Ness’s book trilogy, but has flown in from Canada to see the show with his family. It’s a surprise for his dad and, when I meet the two of them afterwards, they whip out a phone to play the video of Dominic’s ecstatic reaction when Tom turned up that morning. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 05:00:05 GMT)

Break Up: could you spend five hours in the company of this bunch of bananas?
Performed by people dressed as bananas, Break Up is a marathon improv show about a relationship in crisis. Our writer sits down to watch – and wishes she’d brought along a bottle of whiskyIt’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I lost the will to live. It could have been four minutes in, or possibly four hours. The cast of five were improvising a relationship break-up in real time, over the course of five hours, while dressed as bananas. When people roll their eyes at the Edinburgh fringe, this is often the kind of thing they’re talking about. Except, the show’s not actually all that ludicrous. At times it’s pretty funny – and the banana costumes are not even close to being the strangest part of the evening.Five droll New Zealanders – Ralph Upton, Joel Baxendale, Fiona McNamara, Rachel Baker and Oliver Devlin – make up the cast of Break Up (We Need to Talk) and the format is simple: four sit on the back chairs representing one half of the couple, while a single person sits in the front representing the other half. Over five hours, each takes a turn in the front seat, as they slowly improvise a scene about a couple who begin the night happy and in love and end it distraught and single. There is no script and the rules are simple: a break-up must happen at some point over the five hours, and each of the actors must speak in a specific order. Then it’s just a case of letting the romance and the chaos run free. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:33:45 GMT)

Ivo Graham: 'Shaving my head was meant to give me an air of mystery and menace. It did not’
The up-and-coming standup whiz spills the beans about the things that make him laugh the most, from Lucky Jim to A Fish Called WandaHenry Paker at Edinburgh in 2010. Him, the surrealist maverick “unreading the Bible” in his hoodigan. Me, the spotty teenager coming to watch every day on my own. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:00:23 GMT)

Had We Never review – music and poetry to exorcise Scottish demons
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, EdinburghA new setting of Robert Burns’ The Slave’s Lament by Sally Beamish and Adrian Sherwood was the centrepiece of a concert of stark beauty and dark truthsRobert Burns asked the question in his love song Ae Fond Kiss, “Had we never loved sae kindly / Had we never loved sae blindly.” His conclusion was bittersweet, to do with simple heartbreak. A current exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery applies the same conditional tense to darker scenarios, playing out what-ifs that cannot be romanticised. What if Scotland’s national bard had gone to Jamaica in the 1780s to profit from the slave trade? We know he planned to. In 1786 Burns booked himself a ticket to the West Indies, though whether out of financial desperation or to escape a botched love affair is unclear. He didn’t end up going – his luck picked up at home – and in 1792 he published a troubled lyric called The Slave’s Lament, which imagines a forced journey from Senegal to Virginia. That poem was the starting point for Graham Fagen’s video installation at the 2015 Venice Biennial showing reggae vocalist Ghetto Priest singing Burns’ words to music by Sally Beamish and dub producer Adrian Sherwood, played by the Scottish Ensemble. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:22:21 GMT)

From scissor attacks to diabetes improv: comedians' weirdest gigs
Lucy Porter caused a breakup. Romesh Ranganathan did a diabetes panel show. And Alexei Sayle survived a skinhead invasion. Comics relive their worst moments on stageThe 10 best jokes from the Edinburgh fringeA guy in the crowd had been drunkenly obnoxious all evening so I got everyone to chant “out, out, out” until he got up to go. He gestured to his girlfriend to join him but – with my encouragement – she refused and told him he was dumped. He shuffled out and she got the biggest cheer of the night. Years later she emailed to thank me. She was now engaged to a nice man who wouldn’t dream of heckling.• Lucy Porter is at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:00:36 GMT)

Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead review – a gory cult classic in the making
Heroes @ Monkey BarrelThe comedian’s inspired mashup of Evil Dead 2 and Elvis songs is much juicier than an ironic stunt‘This was only ever supposed to amuse me and my mates,” says Rob Kemp – blood-drenched, chainsaw-wielding, shirt in shreds. You can picture the scene: a few pints down, someone notices “Elvis” contains the word “evil”, someone else jokes about splicing the King of Rock’n’roll with classic horror movie Evil Dead 2. These conversations are usually forgotten the next morning, not turned into Edinburgh fringe shows – far fewer are late-night hits that have comedy lovers queuing around the block.Such is the fate of Kemp’s cult-in-the-making The Elvis Dead: a solo show hijacking Elvis’s back catalogue to narrate a demons v humans bloodbath in a Tennessee woodshed. Voted best show at Leicester’s comedy festival this spring, it’s now raising the roof of a sweaty backroom in Edinburgh. The Hilton Las Vegas it ain’t, but Kemp does a good job persuading you otherwise. He looks the part, he makes a decent fist of Elvis’s chocolatey croon (although, by week two of the fringe, the top notes are slipping from his reach), and he throws himself into the enterprise like a Kandarian demon with murder on its mind. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:08:27 GMT)

From a mime and his baby to singing sisters: Edinburgh's comedy double acts
Trygve Wakenshaw has brought his one-year-old son as a sidekick, Flo and Joan search for love and Giants present the old disintegrating duo routineFor as long as there’s been comedy, there’s been the double act. Big one, small one; straight one, funny one; know-all and dimwit: these dynamics are as old as performance itself and – even on the formally inventive fringe – they inexorably reassert themselves. There are double acts for all seasons at this year’s festival: one assembled to make provocative points about race (that’s Brendon Burns and Indigenous Australian comic Craig Quartermaine), one because the third member of a sketch troupe jumped ship just before the fringe (that’s Gein’s Family Giftshop). Related: Edinburgh festival 2017: the shows we recommend Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:00:03 GMT)

Education, Education, Education review – 90s school play is smartly entertaining
Pleasance Dome, EdinburghTaking Tony Blair’s mantra as a starting point and using a Spice Girls and Oasis soundtrack, Wardrobe Ensemble’s farce tells us much about the state of teachingIt’s 1997 and Tony Blair has just been elected prime minister, Katrina and the Waves have won the Eurovision song contest and Cool Britannia is starting to swing. It’s not a moment too soon for Wordsworth Comprehensive, a school close to special measures where some pupils have been taught in temporary cabins for the last 20 years. Blair’s mantra “education, education, education”, and the promise of an injection of funding, have buoyed the spirits in the staff room as muck-up day approaches and year 11 go off to revise for their GCSEs. Take That, the Spice Girls and Oasis provide the soundtrack for the Wardrobe Ensemble’s look at our education system, but like the company’s brilliant 1972: The Future of Sex, this is no nostalgia fest. With action seen through the beady eyes of German teacher Tobias (James Newton, very funny), who is doing a placement at the school, it offers a searching look at how schools are blown hither and thither by changing governments, ideologies and education theories, and how children are simply sausages in the machine to be squeezed into uniform shape. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:00:03 GMT)

Jon Pointing review – a cringeworthy new comic monster is unleashed
Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Pointing’s egocentric creep Cayden Hunter and his spoof acting masterclass is mesmerisingly ghastly and deliciously daft Towards the end of last summer’s Edinburgh festival, tongues started wagging about Jon Pointing’s below-the-radar work-in-progress show in a graveyard shift on the free fringe. His spoof acting masterclass is back this year, developed to full length, transferred to the Pleasance Courtyard, and justifying the hype. Pointing masquerades as theatre guru Cayden Hunter – touchy-feely but thin-skinned, colossal of ego and microscopic in self-knowledge. He is the David Brent of the trust exercise and the improv game. Like Brent, Hunter at his best is so convincing you’d think his creator must be intimately familiar with his own inner prat. Or that, forced into contact with prats, he’s studied them (and his revenge on them) in minute detail.In love with himself and patronising his audience, Hunter channels more bullshit than the sluice gates at a dairy farm. “There’s no maps for the kind of roads we’re travelling down,” he purrs. He is, in short, a creep – and yet (to Pointing’s credit) the text isn’t that improbable. Tweak the caricature down a notch, and this acting class – with its talk of risk and danger, its fetishising of “the truth”, poorly defined – is but an ace away from credible reality. Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:16:24 GMT)

Arab arts showcase at Edinburgh fringe beset by visa difficulties
Nearly a quarter of the performers have had their visas denied more than once and one show has been cancelled completelyThe first showcase of Arab arts at the Edinburgh Fringe has been forced to cancel and completely rework several productions after nearly a quarter of the visas for their performers and organisers were refused more than once. Related: The 10 best jokes from the Edinburgh fringe Continue reading...
(Thu, 17 Aug 2017 06:00:01 GMT)

Standups on why they quit comedy: 'I have nightmares about having to do it again'
She may be one of the favourites for this year’s Edinburgh Comedy awards, but Hannah Gadsby is about to call time on her career. Here, Gadsby, Patrick Marber, Natalie Haynes and Simon Fanshawe explain why they hung up their microphones‘Comedy’s a joke,” growls Hannah Gadsby, moments into her new show, Nanette. “There’s only so long I can pretend not to be serious.” Nanette has already won the Barry award at Melbourne International Comedy festival and is among the favourites to bag Edinburgh’s top prize, too. So why has Gadsby announced that it is to be her last ever standup show? Related: From scissor attacks to diabetes improv: comedians' weirdest gigs Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Aug 2017 05:00:30 GMT)

Mouthpiece review – bathtub drama pulls the plug on everyday sexism
CanadaHub at King’s Hall, Edinburgh Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava play one woman, sometimes at war with each other and sometimes in harmony, in a beautifully performed showA woman struggles to get to the microphone to make a speech and is physically restrained by another who also grabs for the mic but is sabotaged. When these women do open their mouths, they find they have no voice. Related: Edinburgh festival 2017: the shows we recommend Continue reading...
(Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:26:32 GMT)

Fringe views – why politics is yuge at Edinburgh this year
It was once almost a taboo at the festival, but just about every performer this year, from the SNP’s Alex Salmond to an Irish wizard creating a kids’ utopia, wants to talk politics. But when the real world is so extreme, is it all beyond a joke? You can’t move for politics in Edinburgh. Whether it’s a practical guide to democracy for kids, or a big-name politician with more time on his hands than he would have wished for, politics is everywhere.And in Scotland you don’t get much bigger than the Scottish National party’s Alex Salmond, former first minister of the Scottish parliament and, until three months ago, MP for Gordon. Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:39:12 GMT)

DollyWould: Sh!t Theatre's fringe tribute to the country singer and the cloned sheep
Performance artists Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit are known for their political shows but their latest was designed to be ‘pure fun’The theatrical double-act Sh!t Theatre got their name as a joke. Founders Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit heard the sort of work they do – performance art combined with theatrical improvisation – described as “just shit theatre”. But the self-deprecating designation caused problems for broadcasters. “The first time we ever appeared on radio,” remembers Mothersole, “it was to talk about a show called Sh!t Theatre Presents Sh!t Theatre, and we were told that we couldn’t say the name of the company or the production. Which obviously made marketing it quite hard.” The duo have since won a Fringe First award at Edinburgh and they received Arts Council funding for their latest project, DollyWould, which is one of the standout shows at this year’s fringe. Applications for public funding must be supported by a mission statement, which, the women admit, was difficult to write in support of DollyWould. Having previously made shows that were documentary based and political – Guinea Pigs on Trial concerned medical research, while Job Seekers Anonymous was about the benefits system – they wanted to create a piece that was “pure fun”, exploring their joint obsession with Dolly Parton, who they admire for her musical theatricality and consider a lesbian icon. Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:00:14 GMT)

The 10 best jokes from the Edinburgh fringe
From infidelity to insomnia and taxidermy … the funniest gags we have heard so far from this year’s standup showsEdinburgh festival 2017: the shows we recommendFrom scissor attacks to diabetes improv: comedians’ weirdest gigsRobert Garnham: Insomnia is awful. But on the plus side – only three more sleeps till Christmas.Dan Antopolski: Centaurs shop at Topman. And Bottomhorse. Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:03:33 GMT)

Palmyra review – smashing fable about power, ego and war
Summerhall, EdinburghThe duo who created Eurohouse shift from comic to tragic in a brilliant piece that reflects on Syria and the breakdown of relationshipsThe woman beside me in the audience has been entrusted with a hammer. From the stage Bertrand Lesca is demanding she hands it over to him. At the back of the stage Nasi Voutsas is imploring her not to do so, his eyes large and frightened like a whipped animal. The atmosphere in the theatre is tense and the anxiety rises as Lesca brings in a third party, Oscar, and asks the woman to give the hammer to him. “But I don’t know Oscar,” says the woman firmly, standing her ground and refusing to pass it over. It’s one of several stunning standoffs in this latest piece by the duo who brought us Eurohouse, a brilliant two-hander that sorrowfully wondered how the founding ideals of the EU have crumbled to the point that Europe’s larger and more economically prosperous states can bully the poorer ones. Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:07:36 GMT)

An Indiana Jones spoof and the destruction of Palmyra – the six best shows at Edinburgh fringe 2017
Six of the best from Edinburgh including Mat Ewins’ barrage of one-liners, a German teacher placement at a secondary school and a transgender journey Pleasance Courtyard Building on the success of her 2016 show about sexism in comedy, the no-nonsense Welshwoman delivers a lean and effective set about a year spent volunteering with vulnerable kids. It doesn’t sound funny, but it really is, thanks to her brusque wit and a high quotient of thoughtful, self-lacerating jokes. BLRead the full review Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:57:50 GMT)

Requiem for Aleppo: 'I couldn't keep watching the news. I had to do something'
A hard-hitting new dance show uses the stories of Syrians to capture the horrors of Aleppo – and the hope that will not dieLast summer, David Cazalet was busy running the cybersecurity firm he had started 18 years earlier, but he found himself increasingly preoccupied and disturbed by the news from Syria. He would watch the 10 o’clock bulletin with mounting dismay. “There was a sense of horror at seeing hospitals being bombed and kids being killed – and then seeing it slip down the news agenda. I had a sense of total powerlessness.”Most people have probably had similar feelings of helplessness when confronted with catastrophic footage from war zones, but Cazalet’s response was unusual. He decided to sit down and compose a requiem, hoping to raise money for Syrian charities from performances. “I couldn’t go on watching the television and seeing Aleppo. I thought I’d like to do something through music and dance. I went to bed every night at 10, got up at four and wrote for three hours.” Continue reading...
(Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:14:39 GMT)

Javaad Alipoor: 'The response to radicalism is to shut down debate for young people'
In his ambitious Edinburgh show The Believers Are But Brothers, Alipoor invites audiences to experience the world of young disaffected men onlineJavaad Alipoor is interweaving a series of stories that take us from a prison cell in Egypt in 1957 to George Bush’s post 9/11 declaration that, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” and beyond to the war in Syria. Alongside Alipoor on stage, a young man sits hunched behind a screen, typing feverishly on his laptop. Images pop up, taken from Islamic State propaganda sites and 4Chan – one of the haunts of the alt-right and a place where young, disaffected men post pornographic, racist and misogynist material. Related: Edinburgh festival 2017: the shows we recommend Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT)

John Robins review – painfully funny account of a break up
Pleasance Courtyard, EdinburghThe standup provides near-constant laughs in a startlingly honest, high-powered show that spares no one – least of all himselfSara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads review – breakup tales from a woman rebornCan things get any worse for John Robins? At Christmas, he was dumped by his partner of four years, Sara Pascoe. She’s now performing a hit Edinburgh show that’s candid to the point of cruelty about their breakup. I’d fear for the man’s wellbeing were his own show on the subject to be eclipsed by hers. Happy to report, then, that it’s every bit as good. Not only is Robins extremely forthright about his emotional wretchedness post-breakup, he’s also consistently, uproariously funny. The two moods don’t contradict, they complement – which is an impressive feat.“My flatmate’s left,” is how he kickstarts this standup cri de cœur. The truth hurts, and Robins needs coping mechanisms: calling her “flatmate”, expressing his feelings in a chirpy cockney accent. The first half recounts his new life in “Grief Mansions”, staring, buying bad furniture (because he can) and itemising the trivial pros and crushing cons (“one-all!”) of no longer being Mr Pascoe. Recollecting that relationship’s petty frustrations, he paints a merciless picture of himself as a neurotic, socially maladroit manchild. “I would leave me too,” he announces, at the show’s emotional nadir. Continue reading...
(Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:41:28 GMT)

McDonald's employees vote to strike over pay and zero-hours concerns
Workers at two restaurants in England have voted to strike in what would be the first industrial action taken against the fast-food chain in BritainMcDonald’s could face its first strike on British soil after workers at two of the fast-food chain’s outlets backed a call for industrial action.Staff at restaurants in Cambridge and in Crayford, south-east London, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike amid concerns over working conditions and the use of zero-hour contracts. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:18:12 GMT)

Police inaction over Ian Watkins left child at risk of abuse, says watchdog
IPCC says South Yorkshire officers failed to take seriously complaints about sex images and would have faced misconduct casesThe inaction of South Yorkshire police officers left a child at risk of being abused for months by the former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins, the police watchdog has said.The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the force had failed to take seriously complaints made about Watkins by his ex-partner between March and May 2012. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:39:49 GMT)

Not to be sniffed at: long-lost Banksy artwork is rediscovered
Snorting Copper was missing for a decade after being vandalised and boarded up – now it has been uncovered in east LondonA Banksy painting that appeared on a public toilet block in east London, only to disappear after it was vandalised, spray-jetted by the local council and then painted over, has been rediscovered over a decade later.Known as the Snorting Copper and considered an exemplary image by the elusive graffiti artist, it shows a uniformed policeman on his hands and knees snorting a line of cocaine. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:58:35 GMT)

Tesco to sell tiny avocados in response to fruit's global shortage
Supermarket will offer egg-sized versions for only a few weeks after buying 10,000 boxes of undersized crop from South AfricaEgg-sized avocados are the latest weapon in the battle to meet growing demand for the creamy green fruit amid a global squeeze on supply.The mini fruits, which weigh about 70g – nearly a third of the size of an average avocado – will be on sale at Tesco for only a few weeks. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:55:59 GMT)

Manchester event marks Peterloo massacre anniversary
Campaigners say plans for permanent memorial created by artist Jeremy Deller are moving forwardThousands of people are expected to gather in Manchester on Sunday to remember “Britain’s Tiananmen Square”, as pressure builds for the city to provide a permanent memorial to victims of the Peterloo massacre before its 200th anniversary.The actor Christopher Eccleston will give a reading at the event in Albert Square marking the 198th anniversary, and people will carry placards with the names of those killed and injured. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:09 GMT)

UK retailers say government must be tougher on obesity
British Retail Consortium says government must move beyond voluntary agreements if it wants to make a differenceBritish retailers have called for the government to take tougher action on tackling obesity and consider mandatory measures to ensure more companies make their products healthier.Public health bosses have urged food manufacturers to make chips, pizzas, crisps and burgers healthier, and ministers are expected to issue “strong guidance” on how to reformulate products popular with children. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:14:38 GMT)

Ukip politicians condemn leadership candidate's '£9,000 to leave UK' idea
Peter Whittle says John Rees-Evans’s suggestion of paying dual-nationals to leave is ‘utterly and entirely wrong’Senior Ukip politicians have condemned a party leadership candidate’s suggestion that British dual-nationals could be paid up to £9,000 to leave the UK. Related: Nigel Farage: the biopic. A disaster movie no one is waiting for | Stuart Heritage Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:34:09 GMT)

Just 30% of Grenfell Tower fire funds have reached victims
Those entitled to payments include next-of-kin of those missing or dead and people who required hospital treatment Less than a third of the total funds raised for people affected by the Grenfell tower fire has reached victims, as it emerged that almost £3m has been distributed in the past week.The Charity Commission said £5.8m of the £19m raised has reached survivors, bereaved families and those still displaced from their homes more than two months after the fire. Almost half of the total has been sent to distributing organisations. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:07:44 GMT)

New Shakespeare's Globe chief promises far more diverse casting
Actistic director Michelle Terry says it ‘will be gender blind, race blind, disability blind’, with 50-50 split between men and womenThe new artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre has promised much more diverse casting in terms of race and disability, with a 50-50 split between men and women. But the jury is still out on the issue of class.Michelle Terry said diversity would be an important part of her tenure as she spoke for the first time since being named successor to the ousted Emma Rice. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:07:41 GMT)

Outrage in Tunbridge Wells over sex festival in the woods
Residents say they were not consulted and ask where buses will park after ‘kinky rave’ is announced on outskirts of Kent townResidents of Tunbridge Wells – known for writing outraged letters to the editor – really do have something to be upset about this weekend: a sex festival. Hundreds of people are expected to attend Flamefest, billed as a “kinky rave festival” that promises an outdoor S&M dungeon and “adult play area” staffed by dominatrices. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:02:11 GMT)

New national council to issue progressive rulings for Britain's Muslims
Qari Asim, one of UK’s most prominent imams, says central religious authority will interpret Islam in line with British valuesBritain’s most senior Muslim clerics are to set up their first national council to issue progressive religious rulings that “embed Islam in a 21st-century British context”.Qari Asim, one of Britain’s most prominent imams, said the central religious authority would promote an interpretation of Islam that was in line with British values. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:01:58 GMT)

Weaker sterling attracts record number of foreign tourists to UK
ONS figures show 3.5m trips made in June – up 7% on previous year – with spending by those visitors up 2% to £2.2bn Sterling’s plunge after the EU referendum is making Britain more attractive for foreign holidaymakers, resulting in a record number of overseas visitors in June. Non-UK residents made 3.5m visits to Britain in June, an increase of 7% from a year ago and a record for that month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). European and North American visitors led the way, while spending by visitors from overseas increased by 2% from a year ago to £2.2bn. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:16:40 GMT)

Universities scramble to fill places, with Russell group still making offers
As one institution makes clearing offers via Snapchat, overall number of acceptances to British universities declinesUniversities are scrambling to fill their undergraduate courses for the coming year, despite a rising number of school-leavers in England accepting places after receiving their A-level results this week.While official figures from the Ucas clearing house, released on Friday morning, show an increasing proportion of English 18-year-olds accepting places on undergraduate courses, the overall number of acceptances to British universities has declined after sharp falls among applicants aged 19 and older. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:24:42 GMT)

Tudor mansion arsonist jailed after being caught by single match
Jeremy Taylor, 28, sentenced to four and a half years after DNA links him to fire at Wythenshawe Hall in ManchesterAn arsonist who caused £5m worth of damage to a Tudor mansion has been jailed for four and a half years after being caught by a single match.Shopworker Jeremy Taylor, 28, set fire to newspapers he stuffed around drainpipes and doors at Grade II-listed Wythenshawe Hall, a 16th-century timber-framed manor house. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:03:11 GMT)

Liu Xia appears for first time since husband Liu Xiaobo's funeral
Widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner says in video that she needs time to grieve but it is not known if she made comments of her own free will The widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has appeared for the first time since her husband’s funeral in an online video in which she said she was recuperating and asked for time to mourn. Liu Xia had been under effective house arrest since her husband, a prominent dissident since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, won the Nobel prize in 2010. He died on 13 July after being denied permission to leave the country for treatment of late-stage liver cancer. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 05:17:43 GMT)

Nick Xenophon will go to high court after finding out he's a British overseas citizen
Senator says the form of citizenship gives him no rights to live or work in the UK, and accuses political opponents of ‘exhuming’ the information• So you think you’re 100% Australian: how to find out if you’re a dual citizen• How the citizenship muddle unfolded and who’s caught up in it – timelineThe crossbench senator Nick Xenophon will become the seventh MP to refer himself to the high court after finding out he’s a British overseas citizen, but has accused his political opponents of “exhuming” the information.Xenophon, whose father came to Australia in 1951 from the then British territory of Cyprus, had been awaiting confirmation from the British Home Office as to whether he was a citizen by descent. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:47:05 GMT)

Experts sound alarm over news websites' fake news twins
Kremlin supporters suspected to be behind fraudulent articles designed to look like they came from Le Soir and the GuardianFake articles made to look like they have been published by legitimate news websites have emerged as a new avenue for propaganda on the internet, with experts concerned about the increasing sophistication of the latest attempts to spread disinformation.Kremlin supporters are suspected to be behind a collection of fraudulent articles published this year that were mocked up to appear as if they were from al-Jazeera, the Atlantic, Belgian newspaper Le Soir, and the Guardian. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:17:21 GMT)

South Africa grants Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity – report
Wife of Zimbabwean president will be allowed to leave South Africa despite case involving Gabriella Engels, who says Mugabe whipped her with a cableSouth Africa has granted diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, allowing her to avoid prosecution for the alleged assault of a 20-year-old model, a security source has said. South African police had put border posts on “red alert” to prevent Mugabe fleeing and indicated she would receive no special treatment in the case involving Gabriella Engels, who says Mugabe whipped her with an electric extension cable. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:05:31 GMT)

Roman Polanski: judge rejects request from victim to dismiss rape case
Ruling follows first appearance in the case by Samantha Geimer, who was 13 years old when the director sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles in 1977A judge has rejected a request by the woman who was raped by director Roman Polanski 40 years ago to have the criminal case against him dismissed. Superior court judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski remained a fugitive from justice and that the court could not dismiss a case “merely because it would be in the victim’s best interest”. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:25:50 GMT)

Numbers shrinking for Tasmania's weird but much-loved giant freshwater lobster
Federal government calls for more areas to be placed in reserve to protect the huge crayfish, the world’s largest invertebrateThe federal government has called for more areas of north-west Tasmania to be placed in reserve as part of a conservation plan designed to protect the endangered giant freshwater crayfish.The crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, can weigh up to 6kg and live for 60 years. Commonly called the giant freshwater lobster, it is the largest invertebrate in the world and endemic to the cool rivers of northern Tasmania, although habitat restriction and poaching have forced it to retract to areas west of Launceston. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:07:54 GMT)

Charlottesville mayor opposes Robert E Lee statue: 'A lightning rod' for terrorism
Michael Signer will announce a plan to convince state lawmakers in Virginia to reform laws that restricts the removal of war memorials by city governmentsAs Charlottesville’s mayor Michael Signer sat in the front row of Wednesday’s memorial service for Heather Heyer, the victim of an alleged white supremacist terror attack on Saturday, he said he had a moment of clarity.Signer, who met with the Guardian during the aftermath of the violence that took place in the liberal campus city in Virginia, described the memorial service as “one of the most powerful and profound experiences I’ve ever had in public or private life”. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:30:26 GMT)

Synthetic opioid crisis in US serves as warning for the world, says UN
Fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, was recently tied to the deaths of 60 people in the UK – and a growing number of deaths in AustraliaEfforts to combat the opioid addiction crisis in the US have been weakened by the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which a top UN drug official has warned could infiltrate Europe and Australia in a similar way. “Other countries with opiate problems should be concerned because fentanyl could quickly be pushed into their supply,” Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to Southeast Asia and the Pacific, told the Guardian. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:16:05 GMT)

China moves to curb overseas acquisitions as firms' debt levels rise
Beijing imposes restrictions to try to stem global buying spree that has included entertainment firms and football clubsThe Chinese government has served notice on the country’s foreign investment spree in football clubs, skyscrapers and Hollywood as it moves to curb rising levels of debt among domestic companies.The announcement of restrictions in a range of sectors follows a buying spree around the globe during which Chinese firms and business tycoons have taken control of assets including Legendary Entertainment, the US film producer behind Jurassic World and Warcraft, buildings such as the Cheesegrater in London, and English football clubs including Southampton and Aston Villa. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:32:17 GMT)

Tanzanian police believe wildlife activist may have been tracked by his killer
A police insider has told the Guardian that the killers of Wayne Lotter may have been following himPolice believe Wayne Lotter’s killer may have followed and targeted the conservationist when he was shot on Wednesday, according to inside sources.Lotter was stopped and then fatally shot while travelling by taxi from Dar es Salaam airport to a hotel. He had been working in Tanzania for many years, exposing and jailing wildlife poachers and traffickers, and he had received a number of death threats. Tanzania’s director for criminal investigation, Robert Boaz, said a murder investigation was underway. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:33:06 GMT)

Women say they quit Google because of racial discrimination: 'I was invisible'
As Google reels from the fallout over a controversial diversity memo, multiple women say they faced regular discrimination and ultimately leftQichen Zhang couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The technical specialist was in the middle of the office at Google when a white male colleague began joking with her about her hiring.“He said, ‘It must’ve been really easy for you to get your job because you’re an Asian woman and people assume you’re good at math,’” Zhang recalled in a recent interview. “It was absolutely stunning. I remember me just emotionally shutting down.” Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:00:20 GMT)

Saudis in talks over alliance to rebuild Iraq and 'return it to the Arab fold'
Pact would give Saudi Arabia a leading role in rebuilding war-torn country, and allow it to shepherd Iraq away from its rival IranIraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s war-torn towns and cities, while bolstering Baghdad’s credentials across the region.Meetings between senior officials on both sides over the past six months have focused on shepherding Iraq away from its powerful neighbour and Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, whose influence over Iraqi affairs has grown sharply since the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 04:00:13 GMT)

Trump's evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. Here are his religious cheerleaders
As three other advisory boards disband following the president’s response to the Virginia violence, Jerry Falwell Jr tweets support for TrumpDonald Trump was forced to disband two business advisory councils and an infrastructure panel after some of America’s most prominent business leaders fled their posts, protesting against Trump’s statements appeasing white nationalist marchers at the weekend rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. But the president’s religious evangelical advisory board, a mix of radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, still stands almost intact. Not only have members avoided criticism of the president, while occasionally scolding the violence in general – some have been openly supportive of Trump’s statements assigning blame “on many sides” and slamming those who turned up to oppose the militant neo-Nazis. Continue reading...
(Sat, 19 Aug 2017 04:04:57 GMT)

Kuwait's inferno: how will the world's hottest city survive climate change?
Malls and office complexes continue to spring up in Kuwait City, built by migrants often working illegally in soaring temperatures. But as oil and water reserves dwindle, the energy-guzzling citystate heads for an existential crisisIt is 9am and the temperature in Kuwait City is 45C and rising, but already people working outside. A row of litter-pickers are already hard at work along a coastal highway, their entire bodies covered to protect them from the sun. Outside one of the city’s many malls, valets hover beside the air-conditioned entrance, while two men in white hats huddle wearily next to their ice cream stands. Other city residents are luckier. They can avoid the outdoors altogether, escaping the inferno by sheltering in malls, cars and office buildings, where temperatures are kept polar-cold. Continue reading...
(Fri, 18 Aug 2017 06:00:15 GMT)

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