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The Guardian

Latest news, sport, business, comment, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Coronavirus live news: fourth Brazil UN attendee tests positive; life expectancy falls by most since second world war

Life expectancy of American men drops by more than two years; CEO of Brazilian state lender tests positive for Covid

The British education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has called for teenagers to be vaccinated with ‘the same urgency and vigour’ that got jabs into the arms of adults.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (£) this morning, Zahawi, who in his previous role was Vaccines minister, said that vaccines are vital for keeping children in school.

Australian authorities have announced plans to reopen locked-down Sydney using a two-tiered system that will give people who are vaccinated against Covid 19 more more freedoms than their unvaccinated neighbours for several weeks.

Movement restrictions across the wider New South Wales area will be lifted gradually between Oct. 11 and Dec. 1 as vaccination rates move from 70 per cent to 90 per cent.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:34 am

Can I use my Australian property to increase the money available for a UK deposit?

I want to buy a flat or small house, have £55,000 in savings but the price of housing in Bristol is high

Q I own properties in Australia. That in itself is complicated as they are owned jointly with my brother but once I can visit Australia after the pandemic, our plan is to end up with one each.

The likelihood is that I will have one property with a small mortgage and the rental income will cover the repayments.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:01 am

Online child abuse survey finds third of viewers attempt contact with children

Largest major survey of its kind finds 70% of respondents first saw child sexual abuse material when they were under 18

The largest major survey of people who watch online child sexual abuse has found that one-third of respondents attempted to directly contact a child as a result of the illegal images they watched online.

The survey, by Protect Children, a Finnish human rights group, was posted on the “dark web” so users would find it while actively searching for illegal content of children. The analysis was based on more than 5,000 people who responded initially to the survey about why and how they watched children being abused online, although 10,000 responses have been received so far.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:01 am

‘If I hate a song I’ll just change the station’: William Shatner’s honest playlist

The Star Trek star and occasional singer reveals how un-musical he is – and what he really listens to

One of thesongs I’ve performed on television was Fuck You by Cee-Lo Green. It went over well. I’d do that one.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Rhik Samadder tries … track cycling: ‘It’s like being overtaken by lorries on a motorway designed by Escher’

I am clamped into a razor-thin perineum-mashing machine with no brakes. What could possibly go wrong?

This is hardly the place to admit it, but I hate cyclists. I never know if they are going to stop at traffic lights or plough through; they’re often very shouty due to always being in danger; and the worst thing is, they’re right. We should all be cyclists as it’s good for the planet. I hate being around people who are right but, to my credit, I am always willing to have my rabid road prejudices punctured, so I have agreed to give track cycling a go.

Track cycling is like cycling squared, but in an oval. You’ve seen it at the Olympics: supercharged, smooth, oddly soothing – until a collision takes out half the cyclists because they’re riding mere millimetres apart. I am surprised anyone is able to have a go at whipping around the London 2012 velodrome on a two-dimensional bike that looks like it weighs less than a toaster. The Lee Valley VeloPark, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, east London, is huge and engulfing. On the main floor, other people trying today’s taster session sit in three-sided metal pens, spaced apart like we’re at a sheep auction. I feel as if I’m in the hive where they make cyclists. I scan around for a giant alien ovipositor. Where is the Queen?

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

More Than’s refusal of our flooding insurance claim doesn’t hold water

Our home was damaged after torrential rain in July but the company says we are not covered

One Sunday at the end of July our home, along with most of our neighbours’, was flooded after torrential rain. There was a foot of water in our kitchen. We were about three weeks from finishing the renovation of our house.

Our home insurer, More Than, initially said that we were covered. It sent a company to install a dryer and confirmed that the extra electricity bills would be included in our claim.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka review – a vast danse macabre

The Nigerian writer’s first novel in nearly 50 years is a vivid, shocking story of political corruption in a country much like his homeland

Wole Soyinka’s new novel tells the multidimensional story of a secret society dealing in human parts for sacrificial uses, whose members encompass the highest political and religious figures in the land. It details how the conspiracy and cover-up of this quasi-organisation affect not only the life of the nation but, more specifically, the lives of four friends. This is essentially a whistleblower’s book. It is a novel that explodes criminal racketeering of a most sinister and deadly kind that is operating in an African nation uncomfortably like Nigeria. It is a vivid and wild romp through a political landscape riddled with corruption and opportunism and a spiritual landscape riddled with fraudulence and, even more disquietingly, state-sanctioned murder. This is a novel written at the end of an artist’s tether. It has gone beyond satire. It is a vast danse macabre. It is the work of an artist who finally has found the time and the space to unleash a tale about all that is rotten in the state of Nigeria. No one else can write such a book and get away with it and still live and function in the very belly of the horrors revealed. But then no other writer has Soyinka’s unique positioning in the political and cultural life of his nation.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth opens with the sentence: “Papa Davina... preferred to craft his own words of wisdom. Such, for instance, was his famous ‘perspective is all’.” This alerts us from the beginning that we need aesthetic distance to make sense of the twists and turns, the baroque engineering, the curious structure and the paradoxically exuberant tone of this strange novel.

Papa Davina is the religious guru, whose all-purpose spiritual ministry, Ekumenica, is an elaborate front for practices so sordid and monstrous that even when one learns what they are the mind still refuses to grasp them. He is in cahoots with the head of state, the wily and pragmatic Sir Goddie, and it seems that this racket, this secret society, encompasses the entire power structure of the land. Is this a metaphor for the extreme nature of corruption and lies that strangles the life out of that potentially great nation or is it a case where the metaphor is in fact the thing itself? If the latter, then the writer is dealing with one of the most existential problems in fiction, which is how a writer deals with the unspeakable in a medium in which things must be spoken of and a story told. How do you tell a story of the unspeakable?

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

‘I think about everyone I save’: the mine clearance hero of Kurdistan

Hoshyar Ali has cleared more than 750,000 landmines in 104 villages, despite having lost both legs to landmines. Iraqi Kurdistan is one of the most contaminated countries for landmines and explosive remnants of war, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

A dust cloud trails behind a metallic grey Kia Sportage as it meanders along a rocky dirt road toward the last town on this thoroughfare before reaching the Iraq-Iran border.

People walk along the road, waving at independent deminer Hoshyar Ali as he drives by, recognising him by the red flag on his antenna, indicating the vehicle is transporting explosives, and by the stickers of various landmines on his vehicle.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

UK jobseekers are offered six months of free broadband

Joint TalkTalk and government scheme to tackle digital exclusion gives no-contract uncapped usage

People looking for work can now apply for six months of free broadband to help them search for jobs.

A national programme has been launched by the telecoms company TalkTalk and the Department for Work and Pensions that aims to tackling digital exclusion and remove barriers to employment.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Family ‘in tears’ after Cornwall hotel booking swapped for Uxbridge

Booking through online travel agents can have pitfalls – such as arriving for a luxury holiday only to find it doesn’t exist

The five-star Retallack Resort near Newquay is one of Cornwall’s top watersports centres, where guests are housed in self-catering lodges with glazed frontages overlooking a lake, and Ian Tomlinson and his family were looking forward to spending their summer holiday there.

However, when they arrived after a four-hour drive they were told there was no record of the reservation he had made via the online travel agent six months previously. Nor was there any possibility of fitting them in., alerted to their plight, fired off an email reassuring the family that it had found them a similar alternative – in Uxbridge, a London suburb close to Slough. The email said it hoped they were having a great day.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Badenoch's empire comments speak to the enduring mentality of colonialism | Nesrine Malik

The equalities minister says she doesn’t care about Britain’s imperial impact. It’s a sign of how deep-rooted the legacy is

In every single country that was ever under British rule, you will find a significant number of people who praise colonialism or claim they would willingly welcome back the British. It’s a sort of meme – half joke, half genuine frustration over political or economic instability.

Sometimes these laments are wistful longings for things that never really happened, such as the trains running on time, or lost status from a period when “people knew their place”. But they are almost always issued by those who have internalised the logic of empire itself – which is that it was, overall, an improving mission, albeit with a small number of unsavoury excesses.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Monday briefing: PM could call in the troops over petrol crisis

Labour shortage warning over Christmas turkey supplies … Social Democrats clinch narrow win in Germany … and Mike Leigh on portraying ‘real people’

Hello and welcome to the week ahead – I’m Warren Murray, let’s get the ball rolling.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:28 am

TV tonight: comic catastrophe in a country house caper

There’s a welcome return for the am-dram spoof in which everything goes wrong, plus one of football’s great rivalries is recalled. Here’s what to watch this evening

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:20 am

China to limit abortions for ‘non-medical purposes’

Government says clampdown is aimed at improving women’s reproductive health, but it comes amid anxiety about the nation’s falling birth rate

China will reduce the number of abortions performed for “non-medical purposes”, the country’s cabinet has said in new guidelines are aimed at improving women’s reproductive health.

China has already enacted strict measures aimed at preventing sex-selective abortions, and health authorities also warned in 2018 that the use of abortion to end unwanted pregnancies was harmful to women’s bodies and risked causing infertility.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:13 am

UK house prices forecast to rise by up to 3.5% a year between 2022 and 2024

Summer 2021 marked peak growth but race for space will continue, says estate agent Hamptons

A second wave of demand for more space will keep driving house prices across Great Britain higher, with values set to rise by up to 3.5% a year between 2022 and 2024, a forecast claims.

The estate agent Hamptons also predicted that more homes will be sold in 2021 than in any year since 2007, after a record surge in activity this year as families sought larger homes after the pandemic.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:01 am

‘We will teach the British how to survive’: Indigenous Australian culture hits the UK

The UK/Australia Season is the largest ever cultural exchange between the two nations, including the sacred knowledge held in songlines, a 19th-century Indigenous cricket team and uprising anthems linking Brixton to Palm Island

Margo Neale is feeling proud. “Here we are,” she says, “250 years after the British set out to colonise and civilise us, taking our culture to the British – to teach them how to survive in this fragmenting world.” Neale, an Indigenous Australian from the Gumbaynggirr and Kulin nations, is just warming up. “It is our civilisation,” she continues defiantly, “that had the resilience to survive over millennia: the ice age, sea rises, drought, invasion, violence, all sorts of oppression and pandemics. So, this is us showing Britain we have the knowledge to survive – knowledge held in the songlines.”

Neale, who is also of Irish descent, is talking about the plan to bring the National Museum of Australia’s extraordinary 2017 exhibition Songlines, which she co-curated, to Britain. The show will have its European premiere at the Box in Plymouth – which is where, Neale can’t resist pointing out, Captain James Cook set sail from in 1768, becoming the first European to set foot on the east coast of Australia.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Francis Bacon estate implies artist’s friend created parts of Tate collection

New book says many pieces in Barry Joule Archive bear ‘scant resemblance’ to artist’s work, but donor insists they are real

The Estate of Francis Bacon has launched an astonishing personal attack on Barry Joule, one of the artist’s friends, and the vast collection he donated to the Tate in 2004 – even implying that he created works himself.

In publishing a damning study of the Barry Joule Archive (BJA), it quotes a Tate curator saying that “the hand/s that applied the marks to the material may not have included Bacon to any substantial degree”.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Do not squander cycling gains made during pandemic, Labour says

Government urged to invest in active travel as motor traffic returns to pre-Covid levels

Labour has called for rapid extra spending on safe cycling and walking, saying that as motor traffic levels return to pre-Covid levels the gains in active travel made during the pandemic could soon be squandered.

This is seen as particularly an issue for cycling: the number of bike trips rose notably during lockdown, but there is concern that many new or returning cyclists could stop now that the roads are busier.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

‘You have to be a control freak’: Mike Leigh on 50 years of film-making

At 78, with three Baftas and a Palme d’Or under his belt, the director still sees himself as an outsider. He talks about Hollywood’s obsession with big names, his determination to portray ‘real people’ – and being accused of pretension

Interviewing Mike Leigh is a daunting prospect, not because of his intimidatingly central plinth in the pantheon of British cinema – well, maybe a bit of that – but because he is extremely exacting. You just couldn’t work the way he does – his scripts are improvised, not written, resting on collaboration, trust, instinct, bravery – without weighing every word, cross-examining every sentence. Otherwise it would just be baggy. He takes this perfectionism into every interview, every conversation: Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh, a close textual and visual reading of his life’s work by Amy Raphael, reissued next month, bristles with this energy.

Then there’s the incredible range of his output: since 1971, he has not just been making films and TV dramas, but breaking and recasting the expectations of form and genre. It bugs him when people always talk about the same few works – Abigail’s Party, Life Is Sweet, Secrets & Lies – and neglect the films of which he is equally proud – Peterloo, or Meantime, a magnificent 1983 exploration of the hard edges of Thatcherism, which maybe didn’t launch, but certainly put a rocket under the careers of Tim Roth and Gary Oldman. The British Film Institute (BFI) has a retrospective this autumn that includes every film he has ever made – “including the Play for Todays,” he says, as if the world has finally recognised that you have to watch them all, like film-Pokémon – and a remastered Naked, which will go on general release in November.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Attack of the Hollywood Cliches! Charlie Brooker and Rob Lowe churn out a shoddy tropefest

It’s got a fine lineup of film stars and critics, but this tedious tour of movie tricks feels like an opportunity missed. What were they all thinking?

I have long made peace with the fact that I will never figure Netflix out. Maybe that is the point: Netflix, like the shining face of God, is not ever meant to be fully understood, just watched in awe from afar. But where once Netflix made sense – the first series of Orange is the New Black! The first three series of House of Cards! The mega-success of the Queer Eye reboot! – now some of the commissioning decisions seem to be made by a pulsing cluster of AI servers. This is why we have Nailed It!, for instance. Why He’s All That with Addison Rae exists. Season 5 of Arrested Development and that nine-movie Adam Sandler deal. These were designed by a robot in a lab to make me wistful for an era when the company sent out DVDs in little square envelopes in the post.

Anyway, Attack of the Hollywood Clichés! is up this week, and I do not know who it is for, why it got made (by Charlie Brooker no less), and who – beyond everyone who picked up a day-rate in its production – is benefiting. In short: it’s one of those talking-head hours Channel 4 always seemed to do so well, only with that added layer (and layer … and yet another layer) of Netflix/Hollywood gloss. Rob Lowe hosts, doing an absolutely incredible performance of Rob Lowe, spraying out high-sheen writer’s-room-polished comic lines with all the élan of a man giving his third best man’s speech of the weekend. There is a sparkling cast of talking heads – Florence Pugh is there! Andrew Garfield! Richard E Grant! – plus a stacked bench of imposingly intellectual film critics who have actually seen more than one Hitchcock film and have a lot to say about tropes. Whoever did the casting on this special did their job. Whoever did the interviews nailed it. Whoever cut this thing together ruined everything.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Antibodies in breast milk remain for 10 months after Covid infection – study

Exclusive: Researchers believe such antibodies could be used to treat people with severe coronavirus

Breastfeeding women who have been infected with Covid-19 continue to secrete virus-neutralising antibodies into their milk for up to 10 months, data suggests.

Besides emphasising the important role breastfeeding could play in helping to protect infants from the disease, researchers believe that such antibodies could be used to treat people with severe Covid-19, preventing their condition from getting worse.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Tony awards 2021: Moulin Rouge! triumphs in a Broadway celebration

The adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s musical picked up 10 awards in a ceremony that also acted as a comeback for New York theatre

Moulin Rouge! swept the board at the 2021 Tony awards, picking up 10 trophies during a ceremony that also acted as a celebration of the return of Broadway.

The adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 Oscar-winning musical, which reopened on 24 September, became the first Australian-produced show to win a Tony for best musical, beating Jagged Little Pill and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 4:06 am

Ambassador in limbo makes plea for Afghans to be allowed into EU

Former Afghan government’s ambassador in Greece appalled by Athens’ media blitz against ‘illegal migrant flows’

In other times, Mirwais Samadi would have welcomed a campaign to deter his compatriots from opting to become illegal migrants and embarking on the often dangerous trek from Afghanistan to Europe.

By far the worst part of his job as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Athens – apart from the strange limbo he has found himself in representing a nation whose leaders he refuses to recognise – is notifying families back home of loved ones who died along the way. Invariably they are the victims of smuggling networks motivated solely by profit.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 4:00 am

Germany election: SPD wins narrow victory as Merkel era ends in near-deadlock

Social Democrats edge out Christian Democrats, according to preliminary results, but tight finish leaves third-placed Green party as kingmaker

Germany is set for weeks or even months of protracted coalition talks after the race to succeed Angela Merkel after 16 years in power failed to produce a clear winner, with the centre-left Social Democrats just ahead of the centre-right conservative alliance according to official returns.

Related: Germany election 2021: Social Democrats and Merkel’s CDU neck-and-neck in chancellor race, exit polls say

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 3:55 am

The Pegasus project: hacked in London – podcast

The tragic story of Alaa Al-Siddiq has further exposed the extent of how powerful Pegasus spyware has been used against human rights activists even once they have fled their home country

Back in July the Guardian, along with a number of international partners, revealed how a powerful spyware tool called Pegasus created by an Israeli company and sold to governments around the world was being used against journalists, human rights workers and politicians.

We had a leak – a database of 50,000 phone numbers – giving clues as to who some of those victims could be. We spent months trying to match the leaked phone numbers to real people and one of those matches came in the last weeks of the investigation: Alaa Al-Siddiq, a dissident from the United Arab Emirates, who had asylum in London.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 2:00 am

‘A great loss’: tributes pour in for pioneering PNG female doctor who died from Covid

Naomi Kori Pomat, the first female doctor in her province, died in country’s first government-confirmed death of a health worker from virus

Tributes have poured in for a doctor in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province who died last week, in the country’s first death of a healthcare worker from Covid-19 confirmed by the government.

Dr Naomi Kori Pomat, 60, the director for curative health services at the Western Provincial Health Authority (WPHA), was medevaced to Port Moresby after contracting the virus and died on 19 September.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 1:40 am

My father was brutally killed by the Taliban. The US ignored his pleas for help | Muska Najibullah

I am the daughter of a former Afghan president. I am sharing my story for the first time because I see history repeating itself

The night of 27 September 1996 was always going to be a long one. I was awake studying for midterm exams when my mother, calm but uneasy, heard the news that my father had been taken out of the United Nations compound in Kabul.

I was ecstatic at first. My father, Najibullah, the former president of Afghanistan, would finally be reunited with his family. He, along with my uncle, had been living in the UN compound since 16 April 1992, when forces within his government had defected. His resignation and departure was part of a UN plan, intended to end the civil war and clear the way for a peaceful coalition government. But the resulting power vacuum quickly sucked Afghanistan into a vortex of anarchy.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 1:00 am

Five Palestinians shot dead in gun battles with Israeli troops in West Bank

Two Israeli soldiers were also seriously wounded after violence erupted when troops tried to arrest suspected Hamas militants

Five Palestinians have been killed after gun battles erupted when Israeli troops conducted a series of raids against suspected Hamas militants across the occupied West Bank.

The fighting on Sunday was the deadliest violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank in several weeks. Two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded.

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Posted on 27 September 2021 | 12:53 am

Ryder Cup: Team USA romp to victory as McIlroy’s tournament ends in tears

It was a case of when and not if. By how many rather than how. The scale of United States’ dominance in the 43rd Ryder Cup was such that post-mortems as relating to Pádraig Harrington’s European captaincy were well under way long before the event had even finished.

This proved a trouncing for the ages and, at long last, a case of substance to back up US hype. This quickly developed into the Lake Michigan mismatch, where the hosts were hot in pursuit of glory by a record margin. This US team became the first in the modern era to reach 19 points, to Europe’s paltry nine.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:46 pm

Theoneste Bagosora, architect of Rwanda genocide, dies aged 80

The former army colonel, who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, died in hospital in Mali

Theoneste Bagosora, a former Rwandan army colonel regarded as the architect of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed, has died in a hospital in Mali.

His son Achille Bagosora announced the death in a Facebook post: “Rest in Peace, Papa.”

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:31 pm

Anything Is Possible If You Think About It Hard Enough review – charming odd-couple courtship

Southwark Playhouse, London
Cordelia O’Neill’s romcom about a pair of mismatched Londoners nails the giddy energy of young love, but isn’t as adept at tragedy

Alex and Rupert should never have met. They certainly shouldn’t have fallen in love. But thanks to a quirk of fate – a magical aligning of numbers, as financer Rupert would put it – they bump into each other on the tube one morning. They tease and taunt, flirt and fight, fall for each other and eventually fall pregnant. Playwright Cordelia O’Neill keeps us laughing every step of the way, until suddenly the unthinkable happens to Alex and Rupert and then there is only silence.

In many ways (most of them good), Small Things Theatre company’s latest production is a good old-fashioned romantic comedy. It involves a classic mismatched couple, destined to either hate each other or fall madly in love. O’Neill absolutely nails the giddy energy of those early dates, when conversation tumbles all over the place and the thirst for knowledge about each other is all-consuming and unquenchable.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:01 pm

Children set for more climate disasters than their grandparents, research shows

Climate crisis brings stark intergenerational injustice but rapid emission cuts can limit damage

People born today will suffer many times more extreme heatwaves and other climate disasters over their lifetimes than their grandparents, research has shown.

The study is the first to assess the contrasting experience of climate extremes by different age groups and starkly highlights the intergenerational injustice posed by the climate crisis.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:01 pm

Javid accuses Starmer of denying ‘scientific fact’ in trans rights row

Labour leader says it is not right to say ‘only women have a cervix’ and calls for ‘respectful debate’ over issue

Labour and the Conservatives have clashed on the issue of trans rights, as Sir Keir Starmer said it was wrong to say “only women have a cervix” and the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said this was a “total denial of scientific fact”.

The Labour leader called for laws to go further to protect trans rights after he was asked about one of his MPs, Rosie Duffield, who said “only women have a cervix”.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:57 pm

The Last Mountain review – a haunting tribute to mother and son

24 years and 100 miles apart, Alison Hargreaves and Tom Ballard were killed while climbing. Chris Terrill’s documentary offers an intimate look at their lives and tragic deaths

A figure in green walks towards the summit of Mount Everest. There’s the elemental clamour of winds buffeting a range stretching across 1,500 miles and five countries. Snow spins lightly. Clouds roll like giant tumbleweeds over the peaks. “This is the most fantastic day of my life. Over,” the figure announces breathlessly as she approaches the top of the world.

This is how Chris Terrill’s haunting feature-length documentary The Last Mountain (BBC Two) opens. We see archive footage of the moment on 13 May 1995, when Alison Hargreaves became the second climber in history, and the first woman, to reach the top of the 8,849m (29,031ft) mountain without bottled oxygen or Sherpas carrying her gear. However you feel about the brief, vexed history of the human (mostly male, western, white) obsession with conquering the world’s apexes, it’s astonishing to witness. I haven’t stopped thinking about The Last Mountain since I watched it. Or Googling the Mummery Spur on Nanga Parbat, also known as Killer Mountain. But I’ll come back to that.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:50 pm

Labour to scrap business rates if elected, says shadow chancellor

Rachel Reeves says party will also review tax reliefs, suggesting it would target income from buy-to-let property

Labour will scrap business rates and undertake the “biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation,” the Labour shadow chancellor will say at her speech on Monday, saying the current system punishes entrepreneurs and business investment.

Rachel Reeves will also announce that the party will undertake a major review of existing tax reliefs, suggesting it would target reliefs on wealth such as income from buy-to-let properties.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:30 pm

Iceland no longer has more female than male MPs after recount

Initial election result gave women 33 seats, but total was later revised down to 30

Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday, before a recount produced a result just short of the landmark for gender parity in the north Atlantic island nation.

The initial vote count gave female candidates 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election in which centrist parties made the biggest gains. The result would have made Iceland the first country in Europe to have more women than men in parliament.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:12 pm

Richard Cockerill spells out England ambition ‘to be best in the world’

Eddie Jones’s first squad of the season gathered on Sunday, an intriguing 45-strong mix of experienced internationals and new faces hoping to make an instant impact on England’s head coach.

Arguably the most interesting of Jones’s new men are in his revamped coaching staff: Martin Gleeson, the attack coach, Anthony Seibold, the defence coach, and Richard Cockerill, a forwards coach. The Australian Seibold is not at the Lensbury club in south-west London in person but the former England hooker Cockerill is already three weeks into the job and itching to help prepare for autumn internationals against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:00 pm

Vigil finale review – an anxiety-inducing horror spectacular

A clock-ticking, claustrophobic finale had DI Silva in a cat-and-mouse game with a shifty Russian asset. If only they’d given her a map

Read the Vigil finale recap and join the discussion here

Vigil (BBC One) concluded in nightmarishly claustrophobic style. Not content with sticking half of the cast on a large metal tube under water, it trapped noted hater-of-small-spaces DCI Amy Silva in a tiny metal tube under water, filled the tube with water, drained it of water, only for the larger metal tube to start filling with water, and honestly, after half an hour of tension like that, I needed a lie down, in a very big, wide, airy open space.

Vigil has given us six solid weeks of credulity-testing twists and turns, but it has never relented, and buckling up for the hour has been a large part of the fun. It is television from the Bodyguard school, expertly ramping up the stress until it becomes relentless, then adding another shocker into the mix, just because it can. Yes, it is far-fetched (at least, you must hope it is): HMS Vigil is the kind of submarine where a crew member could accidentally sit on the “launch nukes” button and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But it has been thrilling.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:00 pm

England’s Moeen Ali to retire from Test cricket and focus on white-ball format

Moeen Ali will announce his retirement from Test cricket on Monday morning having informed Joe Root, the England captain, and Chris Silverwood, the head coach and national selector, of this decision last week.

Moeen had been pondering his Test future with those closest to him during the recent India series after the 34-year-old all-rounder started to question his ability to focus in the longest format. His mind was made up before details of quarantine and living conditions for the Ashes tour to Australia were sent on Friday to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:00 pm

San Marino referendum ends with 77% voting to end abortion ban

Over 40% of residents of landlocked state in central Italy voted to end total ban in place since 1865

Residents in San Marino have voted overwhelmingly to legalise abortion.

Over 40% of the population of about 33,000 in the tiny state, which is landlocked within central Italy, participated in the referendum, with 77.3% voting in support of allowing abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to results published by San Marino TV.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 8:29 pm

Arsenal dismantle Manchester City to go top of the WSL

Leah Williamson put the cherry on top of a week in which she twice captained England by scoring Arsenal’s final goal in an emphatic 5-0 defeat of Manchester City to catapult the club to the top of the Women’s Super League.

Vivianne Miedema opened the scoring early on and her effort was added to by a goal in each half for the captain Kim Little and strikes for the full-back Katie McCabe and Williamson as Arsenal earned a first league win over City in two years – coincidentally dating back to the previous time City lost three games in a row.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 8:17 pm

‘Done his duty’: Keir Starmer pleases supporters with rule changes

Analysis: Infighting rife as Labour leader takes on Corbynite left, but supporters say it puts party on a stronger footing

Keir Starmer stunned even some close colleagues earlier this week when he abruptly announced plans to push through a radical overhaul of the way Labour elects its leaders at the party’s conference in Brighton.

Leaders of Labour-supporting unions were furious about not being consulted in advance, and some shadow cabinet members appeared bemused by the timing of the risky move, just as the government was gripped by a looming winter crisis.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 8:11 pm

Germany election: worst ever result momentarily silences CDU

Exit poll shows vote share of the conservative Christian Democratic Union on 25%

As the first exit poll flashed up on the screens inside the Konrad Adenauer Haus, the Berlin headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party faithful who had gathered in the central courtyard fell silent.

The black bar representing their conservative party showed up first: 25%, the worst result the dominant political force of modern German politics – the party of Angela Merkel, Helmut Kohl and Adenauer – has recorded in its history. Until today, the CDU’s low point was the 31% it gained at the first democratic vote in the postwar era, in 1949.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:41 pm

Tottenham’s Nuno admits he picked wrong side in defeat by Arsenal

Nuno Espírito Santo admitted he got his starting personnel all wrong during a chastening 3-1 derby defeat at Arsenal. The Tottenham manager began with Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele as the No 8s in a 4-3-3 and his team were overrun in the first half.

Arsenal led 3-0 at the break thanks to goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka and, although Spurs stabilised and pulled one back late on through Son Heung-min, it did little to placate Nuno.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:40 pm

Liz Cheney mocks Trump over bizarre insult: ‘I like Republican presidents who win re-election’

Republican tweets picture just of George W Bush after Trump pac sends out image that spliced Cheney with former leader

One of the less dignified spats in US politics has rumbled onwards as the Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney responded to a bizarre insult from Donald Trump.

Related: ‘He knows he lost’: Georgia Republican opposes Trump before rally in Perry

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:37 pm

Boris Johnson to consider using army to supply petrol stations

Ministers to discuss emergency plan Operation Escalin after BP reveals a third of its forecourts have shortages

Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country due to panic buying and a shortage of drivers under an emergency plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday.

The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin” after BP admitted that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, while the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said 50% to 90% of its members had reported running out. It predicted that the rest would soon follow.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:28 pm

Rather than exult in the problems of the Tories, Keir cuts an awkward figure

With panic-buying at petrol stations and soaring energy prices, this could have been the Labour leader’s moment to shine

Fair to say the Labour party conference hadn’t got off to the start Keir Starmer had hoped for. First, his 12,000-word “See me, feel me, touch me” appeal to the nation had been widely ignored. Which many of us who had made the mistake of reading it thought was much the best response. Anything to escape the repetition, the platitudes and the cliches. It wasn’t so much “The Road Ahead” that was off-putting as “The Page Ahead”.

Then there had been the party infighting, all of which had been totally avoidable. The Tories had teed up the Labour shindig in Brighton perfectly. First, rising energy prices and the cost of living. Then there had been the government bailing out a fertiliser manufacturer to protect the nation’s supply of carbon dioxide, just when it was telling the rest of the world to reduce its CO2 emissions. Best of all, there had been Grant Shapps urging the public not to panic-buy petrol and diesel. Predictably, most garage forecourts were now running on fumes as people have long since learned to do the opposite of everything the transport secretary says.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:22 pm

Nicola Jennings: limited utilities – cartoon

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 6:30 pm

Crews gain upper hand on Fawn fire that displaced thousands in north California

A 30-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of starting the blaze that grew explosively in hot and gusty weather

Firefighters were gaining the upper hand on Sunday on a forest fire that displaced thousands and destroyed more than 100 buildings near Shasta Lake in northern California.

Lighter winds and cooler temperatures slowed the Fawn fire as it moved toward the shores of California’s largest man-made lake and away from populated areas north of the city of Redding, allowing crews to increase containment to 35%, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 6:25 pm

Tom Fletcher and Strictly partner test positive for Covid

McFly singer and dancer Amy Dowden will miss next Saturday’s show while in separate isolation

The Strictly Come Dancing contestant Tom Fletcher and his professional partner, Amy Dowden, have tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss next Saturday’s live show, the BBC has said.

Fletcher, one of the lead vocalists from McFly, and Dowden had performed well in their first dance during this weekend’s show.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 6:06 pm

Thinktank calls for carbon trading desk for small farmers and climate-focused livestock research

The Grattan Institute’s report on agriculture says farmers should directly benefit from efforts to curb emissions, currently 15% of Australia’s total

The Australian government should establish a fixed-price carbon trading desk for small farmers, and fund practical advice and research for livestock producers if agriculture is going to thrive in a net zero future, a report says.

Australian farmers should also benefit from actions that reduce emissions and limit climate damage, Melbourne-based thinktank the Grattan Institute found in its paper, launched ahead of the global climate conference in Glasgow in November.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 5:31 pm

Steve Coogan to play Jimmy Savile in ‘sensitive’ BBC drama

Alan Partridge star will take on ‘complex’ character of notorious paedophile in The Reckoning

Steve Coogan will play Jimmy Savile in a forthcoming BBC drama series about how the high-profile presenter spent decades living a double life as one of the country’s most notorious paedophiles.

The Alan Partridge star said the decision to portray Savile on screen was not one he “took lightly” but the series had “an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told”.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 5:29 pm

Spice Girl among stars to begin phone-hacking claims against Murdoch empire

Melanie Chisholm, Boyzone’s Shane Lynch and S Club 7’s Hannah Spearritt latest to allege voicemail interception

A group of 1990s pop stars are among the latest individuals to launch phone-hacking cases against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, as the scandal that has dogged the company for more than 15 years continues to rumble on at the high court.

Melanie Chisholm from the Spice Girls, Shane Lynch from Boyzone, Hannah Spearritt from S Club 7, and Steps’s Ian Watkins and Lee Latchford-Evans have recently filed claims against the company.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 5:07 pm

UK far right promoting sexual violence against women, report finds

New analysis reveals misogyny increasingly prevalent online and being used to steer people into racism and antisemitism

Sexual violence is increasingly being promoted by the British far right, according to new analysis documenting how misogyny is used to steer individuals towards adopting racist and antisemitic views.

Investigators found that pro-rape comments were “not uncommon” among the UK extreme right and that a culture has taken root that endorses sexual violence. Analysing misogyny and anti-feminist channels on the messaging app Telegram, a key online platform for the far right, they found sexual assault was a “prominent theme”.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 5:00 pm

The Guardian view on Starmer’s Labour: time to take on the Tories | Editorial

The Labour leader must know his party faces existential implications if it suffers a historic fifth election defeat

Britons usually eat more than 10m turkeys during the festive season. If the country were to run short of the yuletide bird then that may be the crisis to crystallise for voters Boris Johnson’s leading role in letting down the public. Mr Johnson has gone to extraordinary lengths to deny his complicity in failure. Yet his fingerprints are all over recent upheavals: the panic buying of petrol, the empty supermarket shelves, working people facing steep cuts in benefits. Leaving the EU has allowed the government to make mistakes and Mr Johnson has embraced this freedom with gusto. During Covid, British lorry drivers failed to get the message about a Brexit dividend of wage hikes and left their jobs. Ministers have been forced to ask European workers to make up the shortfall and save Christmas for the country that claimed it no longer needed them.

No one ought to believe an inveterate liar. The fact that many Labour voters who backed Mr Johnson still give him the benefit of the doubt lies at the heart of Sir Keir Starmer’s electoral problem. The prime minister dodged the blame for his catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic by spinning it as a story of vaccine success. In a crisis, there are two narratives in play at the same time. One is that a country is about to go off the rails. The other, Mr Johnson’s preferred oratorical territory, is that this is an opportunity to wake up a nation’s potential.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:53 pm

The Guardian view on contemplative silence: there’s a lot to be said for it | Editorial

English Heritage is trialling a daily hour of stillness and reflection at its monastic sites. It is a bold experiment that deserves to succeed

In The Cloud of Unknowing, one of the greatest works of Christian mysticism, the art of contemplation is especially prized as a route to wisdom. For hundreds of years, this anonymous medieval text inspired those seeking a more perfect relationship with God by transcending the concerns of the everyday. In his own copy of the book, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge underscored the lines: “Active life is troubled and travailed about many things; but contemplative sitteth in peace with one thing.”

For those attending the Labour party conference this week, there is unlikely to be much space for meditative solitude of this kind. But for the next month or so, options are newly available for those looking to decompress and clear out the clutter in their mind. In an experimental, countercultural move that deserves to succeed, English Heritage is trialling a daily “hour of contemplation” at 16 monastic sites in England, including Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island and Battle Abbey in Hastings. Between now and late October, it is intended that silence will descend on the ruined cloisters, dormitories and transepts during the last hour of opening. Mobile phones should be placed in pockets; concerns about the level of traffic on the way home put to one side, and the troubles of tomorrow left to tomorrow to sort out. If the project is a success, it will perhaps become a permanent feature at some of the country’s most beautiful and evocative religious sites.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:51 pm

Labour has lost its heart and nerve in pandering to the right | Letters

Readers respond to articles by Andy Beckett and Peter Mandelson on the party’s political identity

The claim by Andy Beckett that Labour’s centre-left have run out of ideas is certainly true but doesn’t get to the heart of the problem(The problem is bigger than Keir Starmer – Labour’s centrists have run out of ideas, 24 September). The truth is that the centre-left of the Labour party has lost its nerve. This loss of nerve can be dated to 9 October 2007, when the then Labour chancellor, Alistair Darling, caved into the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, over inheritance tax.

Since then, Labour’s centrists have put their energies into placating critics on the right, specifically Tory voters and the rightwing press, and have largely ignored the needs of their natural supporters on the left. This obsession with “electability” has knocked the heart out of Labour because it has allowed the right to define its electability. Labour’s centre-left agrees with its rightwing critics that it can only be deemed electable when it is not a threat to the Conservative party and its interest groups.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:42 pm

Yes, drugs are overprescribed: but it’s not the fault of GPs | Letters

Fragmented care means patients can be put on drugs by many different specialists, says Charles Warlow, while Dr Wendy Outwin highlights the daily reality of prescribing medicines

Ministers seem to have found yet another way to bash overburdened GPs (Government review finds 10% of drugs dispensed in England are pointless, 22 September). There is nothing new about overprescribing and the inevitable polypharmacy, which the pharmaceutical industry is not exactly eager to discourage. It has been a problem for decades. But the causes are mostly nothing to do with the GPs themselves.

At medical school it was drummed into us when to prescribe drugs (the “indications”) and when not to (the “contraindications”), but seldom if ever when to stop them (except for side-effects). Patients can be discharged from hospital on all sorts of drugs, but often neither the patient nor the GP are given any indication about how long they should be taken for.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:37 pm

‘I was empty, I’m not panic-buying’: in the petrol queue on the North Circular

Inside lane of one of the UK’s busiest roads is full of frustrated motorists waiting for a turn at the pump

A kilometre of one of the UK’s most congested roads was on Sunday taking on a new, unwanted role: the queue for a BP garage still managing to sell petrol.

Julian Dunbar estimated he had waited an hour and a half on the inside lane of the A406 North Circular in South Chingford, east London, to finally be able to fill up. “The petrol light is on, I’m almost empty,” he said. “It’s frustrating because not everyone here needs to fill up. We’re here because we need to for the week, not because we are panic-buying.”

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:37 pm

Alaphilippe solos to glory and defends world championship road race title

Julian Alaphilippe overcame 60 Flandrian hills and the ire of Flemish fans to join the rare group of male cyclists who have successfully defended the world championship road race title, winning solo in Leuven after riding the final 17 kilometres on his own to make a little piece of personal history. France may be one of cycling’s foremost nations, but even champions such as Bernard Hinault and Louison Bobet never won the world title twice.

Dylan van Baarle of the Netherlands won the sprint for second place, with Michael Valgren of Denmark coming third, as the Belgian rider Jasper Stuyven agonisingly missed out on the podium. The 22-year-old British rider and Olympic gold medallist Tom Pidcock was sixth.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:36 pm

Statue of Anne Lister, TV’s Gentleman Jack, unveiled in Halifax

Suranne Jones, who played 19th-century diarist regarded as first modern lesbian, says she hopes artwork will be an inspiration

A bronze statue of the 19th-century diarist Anne Lister, known as Gentleman Jack, has been installed in Halifax, the West Yorkshire town where she lived.

The artwork was unveiled on Sunday by Suranne Jones, who starred as Lister in the recent BBC One drama Gentleman Jack, and Sally Wainwright, the award-winning creator of the show.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:09 pm

Get fruity: vintage botanical watercolours – in pictures

Pascale Georgiev, editorial director at Atelier Éditions, was researching botanical artwork a few years ago when she came across the US Department of Agriculture’s pomological watercolour collection, an archive of 7,500 watercolours of fruit and nuts grown in the US between 1886 and 1942, mostly created before photography was widespread. The discovery led to a new book, An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts (Atelier, £44), full of images that Georgiev describes as irresistible. “The belle angevine pear [left] makes my heart sing and I’m partial to a plum named tragedy.” She’s also proud that the book showcases women working in science: “Nine of this US department’s 21 artists were women. A rare thing at the time.” Most of all she’d like readers to think about biodiversity. “I hope they share my delight in discovering the history of the fruit we consume, alongside beautiful artworks.”

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 4:00 pm

Italian inquiry into Giulio Regeni’s death heads to Cambridge

Parliamentary delegation to hold talks with university in effort to shed light on student’s killing in Egypt

An Italian parliamentary delegation is to travel to Cambridge this week to hold talks with the university over the 2016 death of the postgraduate student Giulio Regeni, who was abducted and killed in Cairo while researching Egyptian trade unions.

Four senior members of Egypt’s powerful security services were last year charged by a Rome judge over their suspected role in the disappearance and murder of the 28-year-old Italian. The trial will take place in absentia after the Egyptian state refused to recognise the Italian legal process or extradite the four suspects.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 3:40 pm

Piers Corbyn disrupts climate debate featuring brother Jeremy

Climate science denier becomes agitated listening to panel discussion at Labour conference fringe event

Jeremy Corbyn saw a Labour conference fringe event on the climate emergency disrupted by his brother Piers, who protested by shouting and handing out climate science-denying leaflets.

The former Labour leader appeared on a panel at the radical-left World Transformed fringe festival at the conference, where he spoke in favour of nationalising energy companies and tackling the climate emergency with a green industrial revolution.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 3:32 pm

Octopus to take on failed Avro Energy’s 580,000 stranded customers

Supplier appointed by Ofgem also at centre of speculation that it could bid for rival challenger Bulb

Octopus Energy is taking on 580,000 customers left stranded when Avro Energy ceased trading last week, and is at the centre of speculation that it could bid for another player, Bulb Energy.

As the UK gas crisis continued to wreak havoc on the sector, the regulator, Ofgem, appointed Octopus to take over supplying Avro Energy’s customers following what was described as a competitive process “to get the best deal possible”.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 3:29 pm

'I want to live’: Oleksandr Usyk ready for time off after biggest fight | Donald McRae

Heavyweight champion said his corner helped him execute his plan, while a pensive Anthony Joshua will analyse mistakes

The new champion walked in first, just after one in the morning, with his face bearing the brutal realities of heavyweight boxing. Despite his dominant defeat of Anthony Joshua on Saturday night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Oleksandr Usyk wore the marks of battle. A jagged cut ran above his right brow while his bruised skin had turned a shade of burst violet below that same eye. The swollen mouse beneath his left eye was even more prominent and a reminder that Usyk had fought 12 rounds against a world champion who weighed 19 pounds more than him.

Related: Oleksandr Usyk defeats Anthony Joshua to claim world heavyweight title

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 3:22 pm

Swiss vote overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage in referendum

‘Marriage for All’ proposal backed by 64.1% of voters in nationwide referendum

Swiss voters have decided by a clear margin to allow same-sex couples to marry, in a referendum that brings the Alpine nation into line with many others in western Europe.

Official results showed the measure passed with 64.1% of voters in favour and won a majority in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 2:58 pm

The petrol queues seem like a throwback. But at least in the 70s our leaders weren’t so callow | John Harris

We’re faced with empty shelves and driver shortages. Yet those in charge today seem totally out of their depth

Among the words that will send the collective British psyche into panic, three are among the most potent: Christmas, petrol, and winter. Put them together, and you have the perfect ingredients for a crisis, made all the more surreal by the fact that one of its key causes – Brexit – is a word no one in politics wants to mention.

Despite ministers’ assurances that the lack of fuel is all in our heads, queues at garage forecourts extend into the distance. Supermarkets are full of empty shelves; rising energy prices threaten household budgets. Everybody knows that the UK’s labour shortages are dire, and that a deficit of 100,000 hauliers is serious indeed.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 2:40 pm

Lewis Hamilton claims 100th F1 win as Lando Norris skids off track in Russia

With high drama and heartbreak the Russian Grand Prix was an appropriately Chekhovian affair on the shores of the Black Sea. Intense and enthralling until the closing laps, it ended with glory for the lead protagonist Lewis Hamilton, gaining his 100th Formula One victory, but anguish for Lando Norris, Sochi’s other leading player who was left ashen-faced and devastated after a salutary reminder of how cruel sport can be.

For Hamilton it was a chance to celebrate a unique double century of 101 poles and 100 wins, a feat unmatched in the sport.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 2:34 pm

Man arrested over killing of London schoolteacher Sabina Nessa

Police say they are questioning 36-year-old on suspicion of murder in ‘significant development’

Detectives are questioning a 36-year-old man on suspicion of the murder of the London schoolteacher Sabina Nessa, in what they called a “significant development” in the case.

The man was arrested at 3am on Sunday at an address in East Sussex and was taken into police custody. He is the third man arrested over the killing.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 1:37 pm

Sister Sledge, tango finals and ‘live-art’ snakes: the weekend’s best photos

The Guardian’s picture editors select photo highlights from around the world

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 1:22 pm

Readers reply: if the Earth were flat, how would our lives be different?

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts

If the Earth were flat, how would our lives be different?
Paul Tinkler

Send new questions to [email protected].

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 1:00 pm

Vintage fashion gets a new look | Kate Finnigan

Meet the secondhand online sellers on a mission to bring our wardrobes back to life

Mood: 80s fashion with 90s styling
Instagram: @chillielondon

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 1:00 pm

‘Excessive tourism can destroy a place’: artist Tony Foster on the rush to the countryside

The painter expresses sadness at how social media, Covid and new buildings have made it a challenge to find places to create art

The far south-west of Britain has long been regarded as a wild and romantic spot, a place where you can lose yourself in rugged landscapes beloved of artists and dreamers.

But a renowned Cornish-based artist celebrated for his images of the world’s great wildernesses has expressed sadness and frustration that social media, new building and the rush to the countryside caused by Covid has made it a challenge to find remote, lonesome places in his backyard to paint.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 12:41 pm

Homecoming show hails artistry and endurance of Sarajevo Haggadah

Vibrantly illustrated Sephardic Jewish book is believed to have been made in Spain in the 14th century

Seven centuries after it was created, a priceless Sephardic Jewish book whose wine-stained pages have somehow survived exile, the Inquisition, the rise and fall of an empire, two world wars and the Bosnian conflict, is making a homecoming. Of sorts.

The codex, known as the Sarajevo Haggadah after the city where it has been kept since at least 1894, is thought to have been made in north-east Spain in about 1350, possibly as a wedding present to mark the union of two prominent Jewish families.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:13 am

Loud and clear: the art of political dressing

Making a fashion statement has a controversial history. Emma Beddington looks at what happens when you wear your heart on your sleeve

Comment on the delightfully absurd spectacle of the Met Gala this year coalesced around the pointed image of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a gorgeously traditional white gown, the kind of thing a deep south debutante might wear, with “Tax the Rich” in a vast red scrawl on the rear. Was the Aurora James dress provocative or performative, just facile radical cosplay? Critics across the political spectrum worked themselves into a froth of outrage: it was hypocrisy to even attend the $35,000-a-ticket event; AOC was having her cake, eating it, then telling the cake it was problematic.

On some level, job done: we’re all talking about it. “The medium is the message,” as she wrote on Instagram afterwards. AOC wasn’t the only one with a message for the scrollers and gawpers on the night: congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s suffragette-inspired gown was embroidered with “Equal rights for women”; serial sloganeer Cara Delevingne wore a “Peg the Patriarchy” bulletproof vest designed by Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, and if you’re not rolling your eyes reading that, you’re a kinder person than me.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:00 am

It’s not just the right who can admit feeling uncomfortable about ending a pregnancy | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

By allowing women space to talk about difficult abortions, we may be able to improve access to them

Like many people, I’ve been thinking about the women in Texas, a US state that is now in the business of forced births. When you consider how pregnancy is dated from the first day of a woman’s last period, its newly imposed six-week limit on abortion essentially amounts to a ban, leaving such a tiny window for a woman to arrange a termination. As well as being horrified by this cynical assault on human rights, I find myself once again counting my lucky stars that I live in England, a country that – unlike many others, including Northern Ireland, where women are still being forced to travel due to a postcode lottery – has access to safe, legal abortion free of charge.

For as long as the assault on women’s reproductive rights continues around the world, it feels taboo to talk about abortion in any other way. It is a privilege to be able to make an appointment, take the pills (if it is early enough), and get on with our lives. But what has become difficult to acknowledge is that for some women, even a legal, safe abortion can be a traumatic experience. This is a story that we have surrendered to the right, when it is an experience that deserves to be heard and could even serve to strengthen the case for better access.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 11:00 am

Voters are receptive to ‘leftwing’ policies but Labour must build trust | Larry Elliott

With Britain facing multiple challenges, Keir Starmer’s party is right to promise prudence

Labour is not much cop at winning elections. In its entire history, the party has won only five elections with a comfortable majority. The brutal truth is that Labour should be good at opposition because it has plenty of practice at it.

Just about every political pundit has advice for Sir Keir Starmer on how to avoid a fifth successive defeat, an outcome that would be dismal even by Labour’s own standards. To win, it is said, Labour needs to be seen as a solid government-in-waiting but also have radical policies to put before the public. It must challenge the Tories for the support of older voters while appealing to the young; and win back Brexit supporters in former “red wall” seats while at the same time hanging on to those who backed remain in 2016. There are, no question, easier jobs than being the leader of the opposition.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 10:05 am

Eileen Atkins: ‘There are plenty of parts if you’re willing to make yourself look lousy’

From council estate in Tottenham to West End stage, the veteran actor and screenwriter tells her life story in a funny and honest new memoir. She was, she says, always determined to shine…

Think back, just for a moment, to the first series of The Crown. It is 1952. The king, George VI, is dead and the new queen, Elizabeth, has flown home to Britain from Africa. At Sandringham, where her father’s body rests, everything is the same and yet irredeemably changed: a paradoxical state signified most powerfully by the arrival of the king’s mother, Queen Mary. In a corridor lined with servants, the old queen, in black crepe and a mourning veil, advances slowly towards the new queen. Will these grieving women embrace? No. As Queen Mary has already informed her granddaughter by letter, if the crown is to survive, duty must come before personal indulgence, a credo she will now express in the form of a curtsey so preposterously low, it’s a wonder she doesn’t topple over.

At the memory of this scene, Dame Eileen Atkins leaps from her sofa and bobs her jeans-clad knees, wobbling only very slightly. Six years on, she doesn’t remember much about playing Queen Mary: mostly it was just “lying about in bed and smoking”. But she’ll never forget that curtsey: “It was Stephen Daldry [the director] who made me do it. That long bloody walk. I love Stephen. He’s a magician. I’d do anything for him. But I was very proud that at whatever age I was then, I could walk with a straight back and do such a deep curtsey.” Her friend, the actor Siân Phillips, believes that the trick with old age is simply not to think about it: “She doesn’t tell anyone how old she is.” Atkins, however, takes a different approach. “‘You’re 87,’ I say to myself. ‘You’ve been working for six hours. Well done!’”

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 10:00 am

Grant Shapps hits out at ‘manufactured’ crisis as drivers panic-buy fuel

UK transport secretary tells motorists to ‘be sensible’ and blames road haulage association for leak

Drivers refuelling their vehicles unnecessarily are causing shortages and queues outside forecourts across the country, the UK transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said, as he hit out at what he called a “manufactured” crisis.

Ministers are scrambling to avert further panic-buying, after a lack of about 100,000 delivery drivers led to some BP petrol stations having to close and to pump shortages at Esso. Emergency measures to allow 5,000 foreign truck drivers into the country to help were approved by the cabinet on Friday, after a split about whether to ease post-Brexit immigration rules.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:18 am

Jeff Bezos’s date with Boris Johnson didn’t prove all that taxing | David Mitchell

The Amazon boss turned up late and then told the PM to get on with his job. As Jennifer Acuri points out, it’s tough in New York

“Look, you can fake it everywhere else, maybe try it in Los Angeles, but they’ll eat you alive in New York.” That’s a piece of advice Jennifer Arcuri says she once gave Boris Johnson. It doesn’t seem like he took it because, on Monday, he was in New York meeting Jeff Bezos and it didn’t seem to go very well.

We know about this Arcuri tip because on Tuesday she was talking about Johnson via video link to the London Assembly’s oversight committee. By an oversight, the committee seems to have been confusingly named. Is it a committee concerned with overseeing what the mayor of London does or with oversights that he has committed? Or does that amount to the same thing?

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:00 am

What is the legacy of the Angela Merkel era?

It’s Auf Wiedersehen to the chancellor this weekend as Germany goes to the polls. But what has been her impact on politics across Europe and on the global stage?

The filmmaker and gay rights activist Rosa von Praunheim once confessed that he loved Angela Merkel, but hated her Christian Democratic Union party.

This sense of Merkel as a morally attractive, quasi-presidential figure above petty partisanship is widely shared within Germany and abroad: during the Donald Trump years she was lauded as the last defender of the liberal international order; Boris Johnson described her last week as a “titan” of diplomacy; and even Alexis Tsipras, the hapless leftwing Greek prime minister who was forced by Merkel into years of austerity, cannot help but admire her “sincerity”.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 9:00 am

Unsung hero: how ‘Mr Radio Philips’ helped thousands flee the Nazis

In June 1940, a Dutch salesman, acting as a consul in Lithuania, issued Jewish refugees with pseudo visas to escape Europe. His remarkable story is only now being told

He helped save more Jewish lives than Oskar Schindler, but while the brave deeds of the German industrialist were known around the world because of an Oscar-winning film, few know the name Jan Zwartendijk, a Dutch radio salesman who helped thousands of Jews flee Nazi-occupied Europe.

Now a book by the celebrated Dutch writer Jan Brokken seeks to rescue Zwartendijk from obscurity, as well as other courageous officials who bent the rules to help several thousand Jews trapped between Nazi Europe and the Soviet Union.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:30 am

Assad the outcast being sold to the west as key to peace in Middle East

After 10 years of bloodshed, foreign allies are seeking to rehabilitate the Syrian leader

For almost a decade he was a pariah who struggled to get a meeting abroad or even to assert himself on his visitors. Largely alone in his palace, save for trusted aides, Bashar al-Assad presided over a broken state whose few friends demanded a humiliating price for their protection, and weren’t afraid to show it.

During regular trips to Syria, Vladimir Putin arranged meetings at Russian bases, forcing Assad to trail behind him at functions. Iran too readily imposed its will, often dictating military terms, or sidelining the Syrian leader on decisions that shaped the course of his country.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:00 am

‘White feminists’ are under attack from other women. There can only be one winner – men | Sonia Sodha

Undermining female solidarity serves only to strengthen the grip of the patriarchy

Blaming women for the ills of the world might appear an odd feminist call to action. But an idea gaining traction is that the “white feminism” dominant in the United States and the UK is not only a driving force of societal racism, but responsible for a host of other bad things, from the war on terror to the hypersexualisation of women in popular culture, to the dreadful abuses of power we see in international aid. It’s part of a growing tendency on the left to look for scapegoats at the cost of building the solidarity needed for social change.

This is not to downplay the extent of racial inequalities in the UK, the way they affect women of colour and the structural racism that lies behind them. But it’s quite a jump to move from the observation that women are no more immune to racism than men to holding the feminist movement accountable for the plight of women of colour around the world. A new book, Against White Feminism, by Rafia Zakaria, makes precisely this case. To stack up the argument, she stereotypes feminism beyond recognition as a shallow, consumerist and exclusionary movement dominated by selfish white women who care little about scrutinising the male violence perpetrated by white men.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 7:00 am

Beatles on the brink: the truth about the Fab Four’s final days

The director’s new documentary weaves together hours of unseen footage to dispel many myths about the band’s final months. John Harris, who was involved in the project, tells the inside story

On paper, the idea looked brilliant. In the opening weeks of January 1969, the Beatles were working up new songs for a televised concert, and being filmed as they did so. Where the event would take place was unclear – but as rehearsals at Twickenham film studios went on, one of their associates came up with the idea of travelling to Libya, where they would perform in the remains of a famous amphitheatre, part of an ancient Roman city called Sabratha. As the plan was discussed amid set designs and maps one Wednesday afternoon, a new element was added: why not invite a few hundred fans to join them on a specially chartered ocean liner?

Over the previous few days, John Lennon had been quiet and withdrawn, but now he seemed to be brimming with enthusiasm. The ship, he said, could be the setting for final dress rehearsals. He envisaged the group timing their set so they fell into a carefully picked musical moment just as the sun came up over the Mediterranean. If the four of them had been wondering how to present their performance, here was the most gloriously simple of answers: “God’s the gimmick,” he enthused.

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Fresh prints: Clash bright colours and bold patterns – in pictures

Mix Arts and Crafts inspired prints with vintage finds for a winning combination

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 6:00 am

Erst, Manchester: ‘One of the best meals of the year’ – restaurant review

The short menu at this unshowy restaurant means just one thing: we order the whole lot

Erst, 9 Murray Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6HS (0161 826 3008, Plates £5-£12, wines from £20

A restaurant menu can be the sweetest kind of promise: we have these ingredients; we have ways to prepare them; what would you like? But they are not straightforward documents. Some menus get it so very wrong. There are those that quietly murder the English language. Things are “nestled” in “symphonies”; there are “trios” and “melanges” and “mosaics”, which make it sound less like dinner and more like an over-catered Roman orgy. Other menus fail by dint of being too long. Surely no kitchen can manage all these dishes, or be fluent in the culinary vernaculars of Mexico, Thailand, Korea, Goa and Dongbei?

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Posted on 26 September 2021 | 5:00 am

Sweden’s green dilemma: can cutting down ancient trees be good for the Earth?

The country’s model for managing its trees is bad for biodiversity… and political unity

Forest-owner Lars-Erik Levin doesn’t seem like an environmental villain. As he walks through his 80 hectares (198 acres) of woodland in southern Sweden, he identifies goldcrests by their song, points out a cauliflower fungus and shows off the aspen in his wood that grouse feed on. This year he’s picked more than 100kg of chanterelles, and even more bilberries.

But this is the part of the property he manages by so-called continuous cover forestry, where he claims he only fells trees with trunks so thick his arms no longer reach around them. On the other side of his farmhouse is a wide-open space the size of two football pitches, where, five years ago, he cut the forest to the stumps. Little now remains but grass, brambles and young, waist-high spruce. “Animals and birds have legs and wings, they can move a little,” he protests when asked what happened to the wildlife.

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Posted on 25 September 2021 | 2:56 pm

Sabina Nessa vigil – in pictures

Wellwishers held a candlelit gathering in Kidbrooke, south-east London, for Nessa, near where 28-year-old’s body was found

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Posted on 25 September 2021 | 10:58 am

A happy baby on a train: Dina Alfasi’s best phone picture

‘That the young girl in the foreground was a soldier with a gun on her knee is an integral part of that moment’

Dina Alfasi has often said that her favourite place to shoot is on the train. It’s not only a mobile studio with, as she puts it, great natural light and interesting subjects; it also lends itself to contemplation, to being in the moment.

The Israeli photographer was on her way to work in Haifa, Israel when this baby started laughing. It was 8am, on a June morning. The child was seated on the table: the rolling landscape beyond the window and the young women on the seats opposite vying for her attention. When they got her to laugh, the whole coach joined in. “There was a dreamy sense of joy,” Alfasi says, “a pure moment of unity and innocence.” It is that feeling she sought to retain with any image adjustments – the gentle colour, the Magritte clouds, the painterly highlights along chin and cheek. That the young woman in the foreground was a soldier with a gun on her knee is an integral part of that moment.

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Posted on 25 September 2021 | 9:00 am

Fridays for Future global climate strike – in pictures

Activists marched on cities around the world to demand action on climate change before Cop26 in Glasgow

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Posted on 24 September 2021 | 3:30 pm

Hauliers in the UK: how are the staff shortages affecting you?

We’d like to hear from lorry drivers about their perspective on the labour shortage

Food and drink industry leaders have urged ministers to introduce a short-term visa scheme to recruit overseas workers, including HGV drivers, to ease disruption in the food supply chain amid fears of empty supermarket shelves in the run-up to Christmas.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates a shortfall of 100,000 drivers, while the existing workforce is ageing fast, with around one in three drivers expected to retire within five years.

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Posted on 24 September 2021 | 2:23 pm

Young global climate strike: share your photos and stories

Wherever you are in the world, if you are taking part in the strike we would like to hear from you

Youth protesters will be taking part in a global climate strike on Friday which is expected to take place in more than 1,400 locations.

We would like to hear from young people about why they think it’s important to take part, who they will be attending with, and where.

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Posted on 24 September 2021 | 8:26 am

Keir Starmer’s make-or-break conference week

The Labour party meets this weekend in Brighton for its first in-person annual conference since Keir Starmer won the leadership. Jessica Elgot explains why it could define his future prospects

The Labour party is heading to Brighton this weekend for its first in-person annual conference since Keir Starmer took over as leader in the early days of the Covid-19 lockdown. It is a week that many analysts are already calling crucial to the future of his leadership.

The Guardian’s deputy political editor, Jessica Elgot, tells Nosheen Iqbal that with the Conservatives already gearing up for a general election that could be announced within 18 months, Starmer is running out of time to make his case to the country. His speech on Wednesday will be key to uniting his party behind him and presenting himself afresh to voters.

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Posted on 24 September 2021 | 2:00 am

The energy crisis no one saw coming – podcast

A cold winter, a windless summer, and boom in business have combined to create an energy crisis that is hitting particularly hard in the UK. The Guardian’s energy correspondent Jillian Ambrose explains how it happened – and what it will mean for people

The gas crisis that has plunged the UK’s energy system into chaos took everybody by surprise – but in retrospect, the chain of events that led us here started almost a year ago. First, a particularly cold winter meant many people turned the heating up. Then factories and businesses started to turn up production as the economy emerged from the pandemic. Russia reduced its supplies to Europe. A windless summer reduced renewable input to the grid. And on top of all that, a fire in Kent shut down a vital power cable connecting Britain to mainland Europe.

The resulting crisis is likely to increase bills for months to come and put the wider economy under serious pressure – but most of us understand little about the system that gets power to our homes, or how changes in supply find their way to our bills. In this episode, Guardian energy correspondent Jillian Ambrose explains the origins of the crisis to Michael Safi and explores what it has revealed about the weaknesses in the UK’s power system, how they can be fixed – and how serious the impact will be on ordinary people.

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Posted on 23 September 2021 | 2:00 am

Tell us: have you started a community garden?

As community gardens become increasingly popular, we would like to hear from those involved in these projects

Community gardens, where volunteers gather to garden a private or public piece of land together, are becoming increasingly common in the UK. With this in mind, we would like to hear from those involved in these projects. Have you started a community garden recently? Why did you decide to join the effort? Tell us all about it below.

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Posted on 22 September 2021 | 2:27 pm

TechScape: Why we should switch off from GB News and watch more YouTube

Up for discussion in the Guardian tech newsletter: How traditional media are copying their online challengers … Netflix buys Roald Dahl … and Nicky Minaj’s balls up

I don’t know what you were doing between 1.45pm and 3pm on Saturday afternoon. But I can be pretty certain you weren’t watching GB News, the UK’s newish rightwing television news channel.

That’s not because I think you’d have any particular issue with the show that was on at that time, which was a programme hosted by the former ITN news anchor Alastair Stewart. Or because of any assumptions about the political leanings of someone reading a newsletter published by the Guardian.

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Posted on 22 September 2021 | 10:37 am

Tell us: how are you dressing up to go out now lockdown has lifted?

We would like to hear about the outfits you’re wearing to go out following the lifting of UK coronavirus restrictions

Now that lockdown has lifted in the UK, many of us are beginning to get dressed up to go out again – often for the first time in around 18 months.

We would like to hear about the outfits you’re wearing to go out. Have you returned to glitter and sequins? Have you slipped back into your heels? Tell us all about them below.

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Posted on 17 September 2021 | 2:32 pm

Driving Ms Margolyes – A hilarious road trip through Europe in lockdown

At the height of Europe’s spring Covid wave in 2021, the filmmaker Lucy Darwin offered to drive the actor and national treasure Miriam Margolyes from her home in Italy to London so that she could film the latest series of Call The Midwife. Along the way, Miriam regaled Lucy with hilarious stories from her career and her opinions on Brexit and the royal family, as she approached her 80th birthday and the release of her autobiography

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Posted on 17 September 2021 | 9:34 am

How Japan is making 1 million tonnes of radioactive water safe – video

Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than 1m tonnes of radioactive water has been building up at the power plant in central Japan. Soon the plant will run out of space to store the water, which is a big problem. The plan at the moment is to dump it all in the sea. So how do you go about making 1m tonnes of radioactive water, safe to drink?

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Posted on 16 September 2021 | 12:11 pm

Sign up for the Guide – our weekly look at the best in pop culture

From Billies Eilish to Piper, Succession to Spiderman and everything in between, subscribe and get exclusive journalism direct to your inbox every Friday

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Posted on 14 September 2021 | 8:05 am

Sign up for Inside Saturday: the best way to start the weekend

Sign up to get the inside story from our top writers as well as all the must-read articles and columns, delivered to your inbox every weekend

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Posted on 14 September 2021 | 8:00 am

China's feminist Nomadland: The grandma who left an abusive husband for the open road – video

56-year-old Su Min decided to leave her abusive relationship and embark on an open-ended solo road trip. In China, where women are frequently expected to serve the role of a dutiful housewife and support their husbands, her decision to strike out on her own could be seen as controversial. But after she began live-streaming her journey and her struggles, she became a Chinese internet sensation with online fans sending her donations to fund her new life. Su has become an accidental feminist icon, inspiring other women to leave behind restrictive gender expectations for a life of adventure.

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Posted on 8 September 2021 | 9:37 am

How megaships cause mega problems

When the Ever Given became stuck in the Suez canal in March 2021, people woke up to the sheer size of these megaships. But these vessels, which now dominate container shipping, have been quietly ballooning in size for more than 50 years, and even doubling in capacity every few years since the turn of the millennium. The bigger they have grown, the more problems they have caused for consumers and producers, problems that extend much further than getting stuck

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Posted on 26 August 2021 | 9:21 am

The climate science behind wildfires: why are they getting worse? – video explainer

We are in an emergency. Wildfires are raging across the world as scorching temperatures and dry conditions fuel the blazes that have cost lives and destroyed livelihoods.

The combination of extreme heat, changes in our ecosystem and prolonged drought have in many regions led to the worst fires in almost a decade, and come after the IPCC handed down a damning landmark report on the climate crisis.

But technically, there are fewer wildfires than in the past – the problem now is that they are worse than ever and we are running out of time to act, as the Guardian's global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, explains

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Posted on 20 August 2021 | 11:22 am

How the Covid pandemic has led to more Channel crossings – video explainer

A record number of people are expected to cross the Channel to the UK in small boats this year to claim asylum. 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, more than 10,000 people have already made the dangerous and potentially fatal 21-mile journey across the busiest shipping lane in the world. On 4 August, 482 migrants crossed the Channel – a record for a single day. 

The Guardian journalist Diane Taylor explains what is driving people to take the enormous risk

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Posted on 19 August 2021 | 7:28 am

This Body: Black America, hope, trust and Covid vaccine trials – video

This Body explores the relationship between Black Americans and the medical industry. Sydney Hall, a participant in a coronavirus vaccine trial, grapples with questions of trust and the hope of saving lives while her community grapples with the historical fallout of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and contemporary abuses that continue to this day

This Body is a part of HINDSIGHT, a collection of six films by and from diverse communities across the American South and Puerto Rico supported by Firelight Media, Reel South, CAAM and the WORLD Channel.

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Posted on 29 July 2021 | 11:00 am

‘Why don’t we try something new?’: flexible working can be a chance to redefine roles

As companies embrace hybrid working arrangements, the reshaping of roles can make jobs more fulfilling and rewarding

As offices slowly reopen, much of the discussion about the “new normal” centres around the rise of the hybrid workplace. A recent Microsoft/Edelman Data & Intelligence survey found that 73% of employees wanted flexible remote work options to stay, while 66% of leaders said they were redesigning office space for hybrid work.

Flexible and hybrid working combines the freedom of remote work with the benefits of the office. Handled well, the transition to hybrid working can also be an opportunity to reimagine roles in a way that makes them more fulfilling and rewarding. But structuring a successful hybrid workplace is surprisingly complicated and goes much further than just saying: “You can do three days a week at home.”

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Posted on 20 July 2021 | 8:46 am

Free-range worker to Zoom bombing – your complete guide to the new ‘office’ jargon

If you’ve been working remotely during the pandemic, you may sometimes feel like you need a dictionary to do your job. Our handy guide to the new language of working from anywhere has all you need to know

Over the past year, something has happened when discussing work. You might have noticed it. New phrases have crept into our language, so when, for example, you’re working with a colleague on a project, you’re now “collabing”, and if someone makes an unexpected appearance in an online meeting (be that a co-worker, your unruly toddler, or even your cat) they’re “Zoom bombing”.

Yes, we all knew the pandemic would change how – and where – we work. But most of us didn’t realise that it was going to provide us with a whole new vocabulary to learn.

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Posted on 12 July 2021 | 3:07 pm

‘It can be very lonely’: confessions of a customer service agent

The daily deluge of irate customers can take its toll, leaving employees feeling anxious. We spoke to some anonymous customer service agents about the emotional impact of doing their job

“I really enjoy my job,” says Sarah*, a customer service agent working for a public sector organisation, “but we’re treated terribly.” This statement will not come as a surprise to anyone who has worked in a similar role. Customer service agents typically have gruelling roles and often bear the brunt of people’s anger when things go wrong – even if the fault had nothing to do with them.

The daily deluge of irate and even abusive customers can take its toll, leaving agents feeling anxious and lonely. We spoke to anonymous customer service agents about their experiences and the impacts of doing such a job.

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Posted on 30 June 2021 | 3:08 pm

Mental health at work: the tech helping businesses to assist struggling staff

Loneliness and anxiety afflict many people working remotely, but companies can support employees with an array of technologies

As a London-based management consultant who has struggled with anxiety and insomnia, Marion dreaded the prospect of working from home when the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown was announced last year.

“If things get disrupted for me professionally, it can spell trouble for my mental health,” she says. “For one thing, the boundaries between work and life blur in the remote world, which means I typically work longer hours, and find it more difficult to switch off. Chatting to colleagues online feels much more cold and transactional. When you discuss issues you’re having, I feel the lack of in-person cues means you don’t get the same sort of empathy you might do in real life.”

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Posted on 4 June 2021 | 3:18 pm

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Sent direct to your inbox at 5pm(ish) and brought to you by the Guardian’s team of hacks

Every weekday, we’ll deliver a roundup the football news and gossip in our own belligerent, sometimes intelligent and – very occasionally – funny way. Still not convinced? Find out what you’re missing here.

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Posted on 5 January 2016 | 12:34 pm