causes of the uk floods 2013

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UK weather: Floods and gales to cause transport chaos

31 January 2014 08:02:27 UK headlines

The Environment Agency has issued more than 100 flood warnings as heavy rain and gales are forecast to hit parts of the UK today        

Vice All News Time31 January 2014 08:02:27


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UK weather: what caused the Christmas storms and flooding?

13 January 2014 21:16:51 UK headlines

Paul Davis, chief meteorologist for the Met Office, explains why the jet stream brought such stormy weather during the end of last year        

Vice All News Time13 January 2014 21:16:51


UK weather in pictures: Heavy rain causes widespread flooding across Britain

06 January 2014 14:02:47 UK headlines

Heavy rain causes widespread flooding across Britain.        

Vice All News Time06 January 2014 14:02:47


UK weather in pictures: Heavy rain causes widespread flooding across Britain

05 January 2014 13:51:37 UK headlines

Heavy rain causes widespread flooding across Britain.        

Vice All News Time05 January 2014 13:51:37


UK weather in pics: Strong winds and heavy rain cause disruption and flooding

30 December 2013 16:04:57 UK headlines

Strong winds and torrential rain cause disruption and flooding.        

Vice All News Time30 December 2013 16:04:57


Warning of fresh floods and storms for UK

26 December 2013 10:57:23 UK Homepage

Tens of thousands of homes were left without power on Christmas Day and nearly 1,000 homes were flooded after bad weather caused chaos

Vice All News Time26 December 2013 10:57:23


UK weather: flooding causes thousands of pounds worth of damage to business owners

06 December 2013 17:04:50 UK headlines

Business owner Steve Clemmett says flooding has cause tens of thousands of pounds in damage to his Lowestoft shop        

Vice All News Time06 December 2013 17:04:50


The Fiver | An entirely shocking turn of tedious events | Daniel Harris

29 July 2013 17:26:41 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Click here to have the Fiver sent to your inbox every weekday at 5pm, or if your usual copy has stopped arriving BECAUSE HE'S WELL GOOD AT FOOTBALL AND THEY'VE GOT LOADS OF MONEY "You know that girl Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo?" "Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Smith, or Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Brown." "Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Brown." "Yes, I know." "She told me she fancied you." "Really? Give over." "It's true, I promise." "How do you know?" "She straight told me." "Straight?" "Straight." "Straight!" "Bare straight." "How do I know that you're telling the truth? You could just be making it all up." "Because you've known me for years and we're friends – such that anyone is friends with anyone. Have I ever lied to you before?" "Yes, when you told me that you didn't put that pig's heart in my bag after biology." "That was different, that was just a joke, this is business, straight. You're in." "Ok, safe, I'll get involved." "Yeah, obviously it's fine, enjoy – just one thing. You're just not allowed to say that it was me who told you." "Why not?" "You know how people are, they get all upset and stuff." "Yeah, people." "It's just for the sake of it really, like it always is, but whatevz. Just wade in and give her one for me." The Fiver understands and the Fiver's sources understand that to some lucky teenagers, this actually happens. Seriously. And apparently, none of those teenagers spent any time at all demanding evidence and quotations – or quotes, as the youth of today insist on calling them. Instead, they simply set about mortifying themselves as rapidly as possible, and everyone was happy. Meanwhile, Real Madrid want Tottenham's Gareth Bale because he's well good at football and they've got loads of money, and Gareth Bale wants Real Madrid because they're well good at football and pay loads of money. Who could possibly believe such a thing? Instrumental in this entirely shocking turn of tedious events was Bale's Mr 15%, Jonathan Barnett, who, in the last few months, has spent time on Spanish television announcing to the world that he is Bale's Mr 15%. Him! Yes, him! Know him, world, for he is a Mr 15%! Respect him! Fear him! And what a monumental, enormous, throbbing, world class, complete and utter Mr 15% he really is, involved in the attempt to legally trademark the sheer uniqueness of Bale's heart celebration and oblivious to the reality that there's more chance of people copying his skidmark. And now, he is engaged in a superfight for the ages, the cops and robbers for the modern playground , a battle that will forever define the summer of 2013 – with the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. And what a monumental, enormous, throbbing, world class, complete and utter chairman he really is, keen to ignore contracts when paying up managers he no longer wants, less so when attempting to retain players forced to leave on account of his transfer market parsimony. He does business for he is a businessman! No one messes with him! He knows Joe Lewis! Business! Quite why Levy is making such a fuss is unclear – as demonstrated by Manchester United, when selling Cristiano Ronaldo, it's fine to lose your best player by far – all you need to do is retain the majority of the money for your own ends, spend the shrapnel on Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan and Mame Diouf, and everything will be just fine. The Fiver understands that L'il Mickey Owen is also available on a free transfer. QUOTE OF THE DAY "It cannot be our fault on any level" - Premier League chief executive Peter Scudamore – the man responsible for marketing English football around the world, thus flooding the league with big-money signings, thus pushing English talent down the food chain, thus meaning only 30% of the Premier League players are eligible to play for England – says he is not to blame for the state of Mr Roy's shoddy England team. FIVER LETTERS "So if Gilford Park are now the Queen's Celtic Nation, which lucky northern team three tiers below them are going to be dissolved and re-formed as the Newco Pope's O'Rangers Nation? My money's on Seaton Delaval Amateurs in the Northern Football Alliance" – George Ridley. "Provincial locations in England (Friday's Fiver) – Runcorn, Peterborough, RHYL!!!!!. Sometimes I think you deliberately make it too easy" – Tony J (and 1,056 others). • Send your letters to the.boss@guardian.co.uk . Also, if you've nothing better to do you can tweet the Fiver. Today's winner of our prizeless letter o' the day prize is: Rollover. JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you. BITS AND BOBS The former Birmingham City striker and Ecuador international Christian Benitez has died aged 27. The cause of his death in Qatar is yet to be confirmed. Kick It Out have launched a new app for reporting racism. "We felt the old format was stale," said Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley, sparkling up the fusty old business of highlighting discrimination. Pepe Reina has written a Dear John letter to Liverpool fans. "If I have one regret, it is the way that I am leaving," he said, packing up his belongings, arguing over who gets the Phil Collins CDs and claiming the deal for him to join Napoli was done behind his back. The administrator in charge of the Lithuanian bank owed £15m by Hearts has said the three bids lodged for the club so far are unacceptable and warned liquidation would be the alternative. "I sincerely hope this is the way of things we still can avoid," boomed Gintaras Adomonis, apparently via Google translate. After Red Star Belgrade struggled to beat Icelanders IBV in the Europa League, club officials have highlighted one or two issues in their players' training regimes. "All the [pre-season] hard work will amount to nothing if you keep eating meat pies before practice and drinking two or three beers after it," sniffed manager Slavisa Stojanovic. "Cigarettes and nights out on boat-bars lined up along the river are also out of the question," noted club vice-president Nebojsa Covic. And the chairman of the Crawley Town Supporter's Alliance, Paul Prendergast, has been banned for four games for "mercilessly winding up" Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway until he yelled: "Why don't you just shut up?

Vice All News Time29 July 2013 17:26:41


The Fiver | An entirely shocking turn of tedious events | Daniel Harris

29 July 2013 17:22:04 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Click here to have the Fiver sent to your inbox every weekday at 5pm, or if your usual copy has stopped arriving BECAUSE HE'S WELL GOOD AT FOOTBALL AND THEY'VE GOT LOADS OF MONEY "You know that girl Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo?" "Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Smith, or Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Brown." "Amy-Jo-Moonebeeme-Tattoo Brown." "Yes, I know." "She told me she fancied you." "Really? Give over." "It's true, I promise." "How do you know?" "She straight told me." "Straight?" "Straight." "Straight!" "Bare straight." "How do I know that you're telling the truth? You could just be making it all up." "Because you've known me for years and we're friends – such that anyone is friends with anyone. Have I ever lied to you before?" "Yes, when you told me that you didn't put that pig's heart in my bag after biology." "That was different, that was just a joke, this is business, straight. You're in." "Ok, safe, I'll get involved." "Yeah, obviously it's fine, enjoy – just one thing. You're just not allowed to say that it was me who told you." "Why not?" "You know how people are, they get all upset and stuff." "Yeah, people." "It's just for the sake of it really, like it always is, but whatevz. Just wade in and give her one for me." The Fiver understands and the Fiver's sources understand that to some lucky teenagers, this actually happens. Seriously. And apparently, none of those teenagers spent any time at all demanding evidence and quotations – or quotes, as the youth of today insist on calling them. Instead, they simply set about mortifying themselves as rapidly as possible, and everyone was happy. Meanwhile, Real Madrid want Tottenham's Gareth Bale because he's well good at football and they've got loads of money, and Gareth Bale wants Real Madrid because they're well good at football and pay loads of money. Who could possibly believe such a thing? Instrumental in this entirely shocking turn of tedious events was Bale's Mr 15%, Jonathan Barnett, who, in the last few months, has spent time on Spanish television announcing to the world that he is Bale's Mr 15%. Him! Yes, him! Know him, world, for he is a Mr 15%! Respect him! Fear him! And what a monumental, enormous, throbbing, world class, complete and utter Mr 15% he really is, involved in the attempt to legally trademark the sheer uniqueness of Bale's heart celebration and oblivious to the reality that there's more chance of people copying his skidmark. And now, he is engaged in a superfight for the ages, the cops and robbers for the modern playground , a battle that will forever define the summer of 2013 – with the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. And what a monumental, enormous, throbbing, world class, complete and utter chairman he really is, keen to ignore contracts when paying up managers he no longer wants, less so when attempting to retain players forced to leave on account of his transfer market parsimony. He does business for he is a businessman! No one messes with him! He knows Joe Lewis! Business! Quite why Levy is making such a fuss is unclear – as demonstrated by Manchester United, when selling Cristiano Ronaldo, it's fine to lose your best player by far – all you need to do is retain the majority of the money for your own ends, spend the shrapnel on Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan and Mame Diouf, and everything will be just fine. The Fiver understands that L'il Mickey Owen is also available on a free transfer. QUOTE OF THE DAY "It cannot be our fault on any level" - Premier League chief executive Peter Scudamore – the man responsible for marketing English football around the world, thus flooding the league with big-money signings, thus pushing English talent down the food chain, thus meaning only 30% of the Premier League players are eligible to play for England – says he is not to blame for the state of Mr Roy's shoddy England team. FIVER LETTERS "So if Gilford Park are now the Queen's Celtic Nation, which lucky northern team three tiers below them are going to be dissolved and re-formed as the Newco Pope's O'Rangers Nation? My money's on Seaton Delaval Amateurs in the Northern Football Alliance" – George Ridley. "Provincial locations in England (Friday's Fiver) – Runcorn, Peterborough, RHYL!!!!!. Sometimes I think you deliberately make it too easy" – Tony J (and 1,056 others). • Send your letters to the.boss@guardian.co.uk . Also, if you've nothing better to do you can tweet the Fiver. Today's winner of our prizeless letter o' the day prize is: Rollover. JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you. BITS AND BOBS The former Birmingham City striker and Ecuador international Christian Benitez has died aged 27. The cause of his death in Qatar is yet to be confirmed. Kick It Out have launched a new app for reporting racism. "We felt the old format was stale," said Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley, sparkling up the fusty old business of highlighting discrimination. Pepe Reina has written a Dear John letter to Liverpool fans. "If I have one regret, it is the way that I am leaving," he said, packing up his belongings, arguing over who gets the Phil Collins CDs and claiming the deal for him to join Napoli was done behind his back. The administrator in charge of the Lithuanian bank owed £15m by Hearts has said the three bids lodged for the club so far are unacceptable and warned liquidation would be the alternative. "I sincerely hope this is the way of things we still can avoid," boomed Gintaras Adomonis, apparently via Google translate. After Red Star Belgrade struggled to beat Icelanders IBV in the Europa League, club officials have highlighted one or two issues in their players' training regimes. "All the [pre-season] hard work will amount to nothing if you keep eating meat pies before practice and drinking two or three beers after it," sniffed manager Slavisa Stojanovic. "Cigarettes and nights out on boat-bars lined up along the river are also out of the question," noted club vice-president Nebojsa Covic. And the chairman of the Crawley Town Supporter's Alliance, Paul Prendergast, has been banned for four games for "mercilessly winding up" Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway until he yelled: "Why don't you just shut up?

Vice All News Time29 July 2013 17:22:04


Acute oak decline disease prompts £1.1m research effort

15 July 2013 11:05:43 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Project aims to understand distribution and severity of mystery disease causing Britain's oak trees to 'bleed to death' A mystery disease causing Britain's oak trees to "bleed to death" has prompted a £1.1m research effort to identify the cause. The government-funded project aims to understand the distribution and severity of acute oak decline (AOD), a fast-acting disease than can bring about the death of an oak tree within 3-10 years of infection. AOD, first observed in the 1980s, is affecting several thousand oak trees across East Anglia, the Midlands and south-east England, but scientists do not know what is causing it. Thousands of trees are estimated to be affected. Dr Sandra Denman, lead scientist on the project to identify the cause of AOD, said: "AOD is a serious problem for both of Britain's native oak trees. Oak is our most important native broad-leafed tree species and is iconic to Britain." Dr John Morgan, head of the Forestry Commission's Plant Health Service, said: "We are determined to do everything possible to protect our trees. AOD is a complex condition, and this new Defra funding will enable us to better understand the condition and the number and distribution of trees affected." At a biosecurity summit last week, the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, called for a united front against tree diseases: "It is clear that it is only by working together that we can do our best to protect our plants and trees." Denman said the causes of AOD are complex and that two of the bacteria they have isolated are unique to the diseased trees. Her team also found nearly it coincided with the oak jewel beetle, Agrilus biguttatus , being found within the trees. She said: "Thus a key research question is to determine the relationship between the beetle and the bacteria." Brian Muelaner, an ancient tree adviser at the National Trust, said: "The disease can be seen on affected trees as a black, tarry-like resin bleeding from the tree bark. The tar forms as the tree floods the infected area with sap to make anaerobic conditions to kill the infection." With no cure yet in place, there is no plan for how to deal with AOD so trees must be left to die naturally over the 5-10 year period it takes for the disease to take hold. If the cause can be identified then a better action plan can be put in place to prevent the disease spreading. In the meantime, it is hoped that the public can help by using the Forestry Commission's Tree Alert tool to report suspected cases. Muelaner added: "Thankfully the disease is not affecting the ancient trees, those that are over 600 years old, but if we lose younger trees then we will have a generational gap in the future which affects biostability in the environment." The independent Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce , set up as a result of the discovery in the UK last year of Chalara fraxinea , which causes ash dieback, found AOD to be one of a number of pests and diseases that are an immediate threat to the UK or have the potential to have a severe impact. Trees and forests Wildlife Owen Paterson Biology Plants guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time15 July 2013 11:05:43


Climate change poses grave threat to security, says UK envoy

30 June 2013 19:30:20 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, special representative to foreign secretary, says governments can't afford to wait for 100% certainty Climate change poses as grave a threat to the UK's security and economic resilience as terrorism and cyber-attacks, according to a senior military commander who was appointed as William Hague's climate envoy this year. In his first interview since taking up the post, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti said climate change was "one of the greatest risks we face in the 21st century", particularly because it presented a global threat. "By virtue of our interdependencies around the world, it will affect all of us," he said. He argued that climate change was a potent threat multiplier at choke points in the global trade network, such as the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world's traded oil and gas is shipped. Morisetti left a 37-year naval career to become the foreign secretary's special representative for climate change, and represents the growing influence of hard-headed military thinking in the global warming debate. The link between climate change and global security risks is on the agenda of the UK's presidency of the G8 , including a meeting to be chaired by Morissetti in July that will include assessment of hotspots where climate stress is driving migration. Morisetti's central message was simple and stark: "The areas of greatest global stress and greatest impacts of climate change are broadly coincidental." He said governments could not afford to wait until they had all the information they might like. "If you wait for 100% certainty on the battlefield, you'll be in a pretty sticky state," he said. The increased threat posed by climate change arises because droughts, storms and floods are exacerbating water, food, population and security tensions in conflict-prone regions. "Just because it is happening 2,000 miles away does not mean it is not going to affect the UK in a globalised world, whether it is because food prices go up, or because increased instability in an area – perhaps around the Middle East or elsewhere – causes instability in fuel prices," Morisetti said. "In fact it is already doing so," he added, noting that Toyota's UK car plants had been forced to switch to a three-day week after extreme floods in Thailand cut the supply chain . Computer firms in California and Poland were left short of microchips by the same floods. Morisetti is far from the only military figure emphasising the climate threat to security. America's top officer tackling the threat from North Korea and China has said the biggest long-term security issue in the region is climate change. In a recent interview , Admiral Samuel J Locklear III, who led the US naval action in Libya that helped topple Muammar Gaddafi, said a significant event related to the warming planet was "the most likely thing that is going to happen that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about". There is a reason why the military are so clear-headed about the climate threat, according to Professor John Schellnhuber, a scientist who briefed the UN security council on the issue in February and formerly advised the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. "The military do not deal with ideology. They cannot afford to: they are responsible for the lives of people and billions of pounds of investment in equipment," he said. "When the climate change deniers took their stance after the Copenhagen summit in 2009, it is very interesting that the military people were never shaken from the idea that we are about to enter a very difficult period." He added: "This danger of the creation of violent conflicts is the strongest argument why we should keep climate change under control, because the international system is not stable, and the slightest thing, like the food riots in the Middle East, could make the whole system explode." The military has been quietly making known its concern about the climate threat to security for some time. General Wesley Clark, who commanded the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war, said in 2005 : "Stopping global warming is not just about saving the environment, it's about securing America for our children and our children's children, as well." In the same year Chuck Hagel, now Obama's defence secretary, said : "I don't think you can separate environmental policy from economic policy or energy policy." Morisetti said there was also a direct link between climate change and the military because of the latter's huge reliance on fossil fuels. "In Afghanistan, where we have had to import all our energy into the country along a single route that has been disrupted, the US military have calculated that for every 24 convoys there has been a casualty. There is a cost associated in bringing in that energy in both blood and treasure. "So to drive up efficiency and to use alternative fuels, wind, solar, makes eminent sense to the military," he said, noting that the use of solar blankets in Afghanistan meant fewer fuel resupply missions. "The principles of delivering your outputs more effectively, reducing your risks and reducing your costs reads across far more widely than just the military: most businesses would be looking for that too." Morisetti's former employer, the Ministry of Defence, agrees that the climate threat is a serious one. The last edition of the Global Strategic Trends analysis published by the MoD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre concludes: "Climate change will amplify existing social, political and resource stresses, shifting the tipping point at which conflict ignites … Out to 2040, there are few convincing reasons to suggest that the world will become more peaceful." Schellnhuber was also clear about the consequences of failing to curb global warming. "The last 11,000 years – the Holocene – was characterised by the extreme stability of global climate. It is the only period when human civilisation could have developed at all," he said. "But I don't think a global, interconnected world can be managed in peace if climate change means we are leaving the Holocene. Let's pray we will have a Lincoln or a Gorbachev to lead us." Climate change Green politics Damian Carrington

Vice All News Time30 June 2013 19:30:20


£370m spending boost for new flood defences

27 June 2013 20:57:08 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Figure for 2015-16 is an almost 50% increase compared with this year, with government pledging to increase sum in line with inflation until 2021 Hundreds of millions of pounds will be committed to protecting homes in England from the rising risk of flooding, ministers announced on Wednesday on Wednesday. The new defences built will safeguard hundreds of thousands of homes from the financial and emotional trauma of flooding and represent a sharp reversal of earlier funding cuts. The government will boost spending on new defences to £370m in 2015-16, an almost 50% increase compared with this year. It also pledged to increase the sum in line with inflation each year until 2021. "Any government will want to spend more on flood defences for two reasons," said the flooding minister, Richard Benyon. "Firstly, we have a changing climate and this is going to bring increases in the weather that causes flooding and, secondly, it is a very good use of taxpayers' money." Every £1 invested saved £8 of damage in future, he said. The government's own scientists have identified flooding as the biggest risk posed by climate change to the UK . The announcement was made as part of the infrastructure package revealed by the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. "We managed to secure the money as part of the discussion on growth," said Benyon. "It will bring massive growth. There are jobs created during construction and there are economic benefits afterwards as businesses are confident in developing in protected areas." In other developments, hundreds of thousands of flood-hit homeowners will still be able to buy insurance after a deal was reached between the government and the insurance industry. The agreement will cap flood insurance premiums, linking them to council tax bands so people will know the maximum they will have to pay. It is expected to protect up to 500,000 households, but they will have to wait until 2015 before the agreement comes into force. Under the terms of the scheme, known as Flood Re, all UK household insurers will have to pay in £10.50 each to a fund that can be used to pay claims for people in high-risk homes. But the insurance industry said this already happened informally now, so general premiums should not rise. The scheme will operate for 20-25 years, after which homeowners will be expected to protect themselves. Homes built after 2009 will not be covered by the new cap. In July 2012, the Guardian revealed that almost 300 shovel-ready flood defence projects which had been in line for funding had not been built due to the 28% year-on-year cut in the budget in the coalition's first year. Another incentive for the new investment was to help seal a provisional deal with the insurance industry to keep affordable home insurance premiums available to 500,000 homes in high-risk areas. The deal, which will cap premiums from 2015, was also announced on Wednesday. The existing agreement had required the government to continue to invest in flood defences – not cut spending – in return for the insurance industry keeping premiums down. "We wanted to see evidence of commitment by the government to their side of it. [The new funding] was a very important part of the insurance deal," said Otto Thoresen, director general of the Association of British Insurers. Benyon said: "This record investment will protect 300,000 homes, in addition to the 165,000 being protected" by river and coastal defences being built now. He added that the government would also protect the budget used to maintain existing flood defences. Flooding Tax and spending Damian Carrington guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time27 June 2013 20:57:08


James Gandolfini, master Soprano, dies at 51

20 June 2013 05:16:12 Film | theguardian.com

Heart attack suspected in death of much-loved actor who starred as gangster family head in The Sopranos • James Gandolfini's life and career - in pictures The actor James Gandolfini, who played mafia boss Tony Soprano on the hit TV series The Sopranos, has died of a suspected heart attack in Italy. He was 51. Colleagues and fans expressed shock after news broke late on Wednesday. "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy," said his managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. "Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply." Tributes flooded in for an actor who won three Emmys and showed that being fat, bald and playing thugs was no impediment to charisma. "[James] was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that," David Chase, who created The Sopranos, told TMZ.com. "He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it. You're like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone." Gandolfini was due to take part in the Taormina film festival in Sicily this weekend. Mara Mikialian, a spokeswoman for HBO, the network that made The Sopranos, told Reuters the cause of death might have been a heart attack. Gandolfini was set to star in a new series for HBO, Criminal Justice, one of several projects in the works. His film credits included Get Shorty, The Mexican and Zero Dark Thirty. A New Jersey native, Gandolfini worked as a truck driver, bouncer and nightclub manager in New York before he went to an acting class with a friend and got hooked. "I'd also never been around actors before," he told Time magazine, "and I said to myself, 'These people are nuts; this is kind of interesting.' He made his Broadway debut in a 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire with Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. The following year he played a philosophising, brutal hitman in the film True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino, which paved the way for his lead role in The Sopranos, the gangster family saga that ran for six seasons from 1999. It swept awards and has been voted the best television show of all time. Tony Soprano's struggles with his relatives, henchmen, psychiatrist and, above all, himself anchored the show and created a new type of anti-hero. Deadline.com described his portrayal of Soprano as "the schlub we loved, the cruel monster we hated, the anxiety-ridden husband and father we wanted to hug in midlife crisis". Joseph Gannascoli, who played Vito, said: "James is one guy who never turned his back on me. He was the most humble and gifted actor and person I have ever worked with." Tony Sirico, who played Paulie, said the late star was one of his best friends. "He was there whenever I needed him. Not only did he help me with my career, but also in life, God bless him. He and I were always helping the troops, we even went to combat zones to visit the marines." Hollywood took to Twitter to mourn its loss. "I'm truly heartbroken ... he is one of my all time favorite actors. Tragic loss," said Johan Hill. Colleagues and acquaintances said Gandolfini had been in high spirits and full of plans – including one for a tattoo. There had been speculation about a Sopranos movie involving the fictional family's Italian origins. The actor is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, who gave birth to the couple's daughter in October. He also has a teenage son from a previous marriage. • Watch a trailer for In The Loop • Read Armando Iannucci's account of working with the actor US television The Sopranos Crime drama Drama Television United States Quentin Tarantino Alec Baldwin Rory Carroll guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time20 June 2013 05:16:12


Stuart Lancaster looks to the future after England sweep Argentina

17 June 2013 01:03:44 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Argentina 26 England 51 • 'We have a great generation of players here' Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, believes that the clean sweep over Argentina has provided a crucial building block for their World Cup challenge in 2015. A seven-try to two victory in Buenos Aires meant that Lancaster's side became the first England team to win all of their Tests on Argentinian soil following the 32‑3 victory in Salta last week . Admittedly, the calibre of the opposition somewhat lessens the achievement, with Argentina missing 21 players before the Rugby Championship, but England were also without the majority of their key performers. In their place a new generation emerged, including eight debutants, and impressively staked their claim to retain their starting berths for the autumn internationals. Sometimes summer tours can be a factory for one-cap wonders; the chances of adding Matt Kvesic, Marland Yarde, Kyle Eastmond and Christian Wade, the wing who was called up by the Lions hours before kick-off, to that undistinguished club are slim. In his previous guise as the RFU's elite rugby director, Lancaster always knew that such talent was bubbling under the surface in the English game, yet until now he was unaware if they were ready for the rigours of Test rugby. "The players have been outstanding to work with," Lancaster said. "They are very talented and from an England rugby point of view we have a strong few years to come. We have a generation of players coming through who should be here way beyond 2015. I very much see this tour as a staging post for the World Cup. It's a pleasing step forward and this tour was always going to be critical in our development towards 2015 because it gave the opportunity to bring other players through. "It gives me confidence and also reassurance that the direction we are going in is the right one. I was always confident in my old role that we had quality players coming through the pipeline. They have been blooded in the Premiership, they have played in big games in the Premiership and in Europe and now they are making the step from club to country. Someone like Marland has taken to it brilliantly." The players that were rested – Chris Ashton, Chris Robshaw, Brad Barritt, Toby Flood and Danny Care – have been assured that their places in the next senior elite player squad are secure. Nevertheless those left behind and on Lions duty in Australia will have cause for alarm. In England's last four matches of the Six Nations they conjured one try; in the four against the Barbarians, a South American XV and Argentina they have rattled up 22. The personnel was different and so was the mindset. "We want to carry on playing in that manner," Lancaster said. "Sometimes you have to play wet-weather rugby but certainly in this environment we like to show that we can play and I think that we did." They also had to overcome a strong start by Argentina, who were leading 12-6 approaching the half-hour mark. Within 10 minutes England had moved out of sight through a Freddie Burns try and a pair of penalty tries, even if Manuel Montero scored just after half-time. Then it was the turn of the three-quarter line. Rob Webber, the hooker, touched down in the left-hand corner after the ball was spread at speed before Yarde, on his debut, flew down the short side. Eastmond, the rugby league convert, marked his first start with a try by slaloming through six tackles and then provided a gorgeous inside ball for Yarde to score his second. It was a performance that will give Lancaster much to ponder on his flight to Australia to see the Lions. Argentina Bustos Moyano; Agulla, Tiesi, Ascárate (Madero, 72), Montero (Orlando, 66); Contepomi, Vergallo (Cubelli, 59); Roan (Henn 41 (Guidione, 55)), García Veiga, Bustos (Gómez Kodela, 66), Farias Cabello (Lozada, 52), Galarza, Baez (De La Vega, 59), Macome, Leonardi. Tries Montero, Leonardi. Con Bustos Moyano 2. Pen Bustos Moyano 4. Sin bin : Bustos Moyano England Brown (Foden, 61); May, Joseph, Eastmond, Yarde; Burns (Myler, 65), Dickson (Wigglesworth, 61); Marler (Doran Jones, 65), Webber (Paice, 61), Wilson (Thomas, 75), Launchbury, Attwood (Lawes, 50), Wood (capt), Kvesic, Morgan (Vunipola, 59). Tries Penalties 2, Burns, Webber, Yarde 2, Eastmond. Con Burns 4. Pen Burns 2. Referee : N Owens (Wales) England rugby union team Argentina rugby union team Rugby union Stuart Lancaster guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time17 June 2013 01:03:44


Merion's magic is in its history but storm may wreck US Open first round

12 June 2013 20:50:09 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Return to one of the US's iconic sporting venues is to be treasured but mother nature could be the key player on day one The United States treasures its iconic sporting venues. Whether Fenway Park or Candlestick Park, there is an extra sense of occasion when events in this country are held at stadia which have not been replaced by the modern equivalents that have sprung up everywhere. The choice of Merion for the 113th US Open continues that tradition. The man who lifts the trophy on Sunday evening will have rubbed shoulders with history. The East Course is not necessarily extra special; what it routinely produces, however, unquestionably is. Included in the back catalogue is one of the most iconic golf shots of all time and one of the most memorable major play-offs. Yet there is a strong, and unfortunate, possibility that the key player on day one may not even be in the draw – mother nature. By lunchtime on Wednesday, the USGA's on-site meteorologists predicted a 100% chance of rain for the first round. The biggest dangers resonate in how severe it is, what comes with it, and when it arrives. "We don't have a definite," said Mike Davis, the USGA's executive director. "We could have a quarter of an inch, we could have two or three inches. This isn't a huge front that is coming our way. It really depends on what hits us, how unlucky we are. "There could be some really high winds with us, potentially damaging winds, even some hail. That's kind of the worst-case scenario. They are fairly certain that we are going to have some type of weather tomorrow. But, let me clarify, it's going to be probably mid-afternoon or later. So I think tomorrow morning we're looking OK." Chaos, unfortunately, cannot be completely ruled out as Merion seeks divine intervention against the tail-end of a tropical storm. It could be very slow, and very messy, hence the organisers have braced themselves. The championship course, while perfectly playable, has already born the brunt of six-and-a-half inches of rain between Friday and Monday which caused major problems – primarily a lot of mud – in public areas and left certain fairways and greens perilously close to flooding. Fine weather on Tuesday and Wednesday alleviated that risk; only time will tell whether permanently or not. For now, all the tournament's organisers can do is hope the gods smile kindly but the opening round's marquee group of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are almost certain to be rummaging for their waterproofs after teeing off at 13.14 local time. That spells particular trouble for McIlroy, who has made little secret of the fact he struggles in inclement conditions. Merion's clubhouse is akin to a museum. Bobby Jones competed in his first US Amateur Championship here, as a 14-year-old. Jones returned in 1924 to win that title. Ben Hogan's one-iron approach shot to the 72nd hole of the 1950 US Open, also in this salubrious corner of Pennsylvania, is one of golf's most iconic moments. Hogan, 16 months after surviving an horrific car crash which threatened his ability to walk again, proceeded to win the championship in a play-off. In 1971, Lee Trevino famously triumphed over Jack Nicklaus in similar circumstances. And yet, since David Graham's success a decade after Trevino, Merion has been left off the US Open rota. There was a sense that, as golf changed with the times and technology boomed, the venue failed to do likewise. That altered in the 1990s, when Merion succeeded in retaining its identity while adding the distance thought necessary to combat advancements in equipment. It is a course with character, unlike so many which have emerged in recent times. There is also an element of the claustrophobic, with USGA marquees literally pitched in the back gardens of those who stay adjacent to the club. Logistically, the biggest challenge for competitors will be arriving on time at the 1st tee from a practice range which lies a 20-minute drive away. Depending on your outlook, such matters are either quaint or an inconvenience. In highlighting sporting history's endearing capacity to repeat itself, when the East Course opened as an offshoot of a cricket club it measured a hefty 6,500 yards as an antidote to what was viewed as a dangerous development in how far leading players could hit the ball. Today, Merion is only 500 yards longer. The set-up and the exact level of poor weather prompts intrigue over how the second major of 2013 will play out. Some believe the softening of the course and a series of short holes could trigger a winning total around 16-under par. For years, there is no doubt the USGA had an obsession with avoiding such a circumstance but its stance has eased; when Woods won by 15 strokes and on 12-under par at Pebble Beach in 2000, he made a mockery of attempts to manufacture scoring. The low-scoring theory this time round is offset by the thickness of the rough, how narrow so many fairways are and the fact that, on greens which almost all slope from back to front, controlling spin rate will prove to be a problem. The first two holes offer opportunity, the 3rd to 6th are stern tests, the 7th to the 13th will be regarded as chances with the exception of the 9th, and from the 14th in represents one of the toughest closing stretches in golf. A key, not-so subtle change from 1981 is the US Open prize fund. It now sits at $8m. Predictions were confirmed as the territory of the foolish a long time ago so here is one; Woods will depart Pennsylvania with the largest share of that bounty. US Open Golf 2013 US Open Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy Golf US sports Ewan Murray guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds    

Vice All News Time12 June 2013 20:50:09


Japanese knotweed invades the celebrity homes of Hampstead

09 June 2013 20:17:16 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

The unstoppable weed can grow 10cm a day – and does terrible damage to gardens, roads and walls Name: Japanese knotweed. Age: Immortal. Appearance: Unstoppable. Just looks like a weed to me. It's fallopia japonica! Accursed invader of our gentle homeland! Fearsome coloniser of peaceful lands! Bringer of ecological Armageddon to our hapless shores. Damn you! Damn you all to hell! That seems a bit harsh. A weed is just a weed. Do you get this worked up about dandelions? Dandelions are as the most rare and precious orchids compared to this barbaric thing. It can't be that bad. It grows everywhere. More specifically, it grows through everywhere. Concrete foundations. Expensively laid and maintained roads. Flood defences. Walls. And kills off every indigenous species, every flower, every delicately calibrated nearby ecosystem. All brutalised by a virtually indestructible root system. Yikes! And now – and now, it has reached the celebrity homes of Hampstead , north London. No! Yes! Tom Conti, Thierry Henry, Esther Rantzen and Melanie Sykes are all under threat from an infestation. What can we do to help? Not much. A benefit gala would take too long. One of the main reasons it's classed as one of the hundred most invasive species on the planet by the World Conservation Union is that it can grow 10cm a day. This is terrifying! I know. That's why the UK spends more than £150m a year fighting it. We have even passed laws against it. Was that not energy wasted? Or can this thing read statutes too? No, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 made it an offence for anyone to "plant or otherwise cause [it] to grow in the wild". Ah, that makes more sense. And it is classed as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You have to dispose of it at special landfill sites. Well, someone left a stray node somewhere. Perhaps we could all chip in for some psyllid bugs . What are they? Hallucinogens? Just let Conti et al party to forget their worries? They're knotweed's natural enemy. Defra announced plans a few years ago to introduce them to save our fair isle from strangulation. I'm on it. Ebay, don't fail me now. Do say: "Slash! Burn! Don't worry, Thierry, I'll save you." Don't say: "At the end of the book, they never actually defeated the Triffids, did they?" Gardening advice Celebrity Plants Homes Thierry Henry Esther Rantzen guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time09 June 2013 20:17:16


Fawad Ahmed: the unlikely heir to the Shane Warne mantle

08 June 2013 23:10:52 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Having overcome death threats from the Taliban and deportation from his adopted country, he may be Australia's new king of spin In May 2009, Fawad Ahmed was training at Golden Cricket Club in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, close to Pakistan's north-western border with Afghanistan, when he was approached by a man claiming to represent the Taliban. He was told that, as one of the region's most notable cricketers, and through his work as a coach and for a non-government organisation that promoted education of young girls and women, he was infecting the local community with western values. It was made clear his actions would no longer be tolerated. On Thursday night, Ahmed thanked team-mates from Melbourne University Cricket Club and Pakistani friends from his mosque at a party to celebrate his call-up to the Australia A tour of Britain, where the 31-year-old leg-spinner is expected to vie for a place in next month's Ashes series. He told the party he was as thrilled to see his friends mixing freely as he was by the opportunities that lie ahead. A day earlier, Australia's House of Representatives passed legislation that allowed Ahmed's citizenship to be fast-tracked. By the time Australia play their traditional warm-up match at Worcestershire at the start of July, Ahmed should have an Australian passport. A few days later, he may lay his hands on his first baggy green cap. Already Ahmed has been celebrated for his talent and profession where he was once persecuted. He received two further death threats from Taliban representatives and considered the extremist attack on the Sri Lankan team-bus earlier in 2009 , before reaching the decision to leave Pakistan and, in particular, Swabi District, where his mother, two brothers and sister still live and where he had returned after obtaining his masters degree in Peshawar. Threats to cricketers in Pakistan remain. In March 2010, two cricketers were killed by extremists during a match, and in October 2011 another first-class cricketer from Ahmed's province, Nauman Habib, was murdered. In early 2010, Ahmed took up a playing offer from the Yoogali Cricket Association, in rural New South Wales, who sponsored his short‑term visa, and at the end of the season he moved to be with friends in Melbourne and began his application for refugee status. His first application was rejected in September 2010, but his subsequent appeal took a further 18 months to reach tribunal as the Australian legal system grappled with immigration reform and the merits of Ahmed's individual case. Whichever way he turned he faced prejudice, from those who doubted his claims and others who saw Ahmed as a sporting migrant worthy of being queue-jumped. Few subjects vex Australia's public like immigration issues and cricket. While red tape constricted Ahmed's everyday life – he could work only 15 hours per week, was denied legal aid and struggled financially – cricket brought freedom. In his first season with Hoppers Crossing he set the club record for dismissals in a season – and in all took 90 wickets in 24 games at 11.74 apiece – and started to train with Melbourne first-grade sides, a step below the Victoria state team. Jarrod Leggett, captain of Melbourne University Cricket Club (MUCC), and a cricket manager for the Victoria first-class set-up, recalls the first time, in late 2011, that he met Ahmed: "He came to us and said he wanted to play a bit of Twenty20 cricket for us, and then maybe play in the [highest domestic level] Big Bash League. We thought 'OK' but gave him a ball and told him to show us what he could do. "I never forget what happened next: he bowled three balls and we just raised our eyebrows and said 'Wow'. It was pretty obvious that there was something special about him. "Fawad had rocked up to training and talked himself up a bit, so you'd imagine he felt a bit of pressure. But his first 30 balls came out of his hand perfectly and he made one pretty competent batsman look silly when he couldn't pick his googly. He didn't bowl a bad ball, which is very unusual for a wrist-spinner, but also he showed he had all the tricks." The next day, MUCC's coach took a call from Ahmed, who said how much he had enjoyed training and that he wanted to make a firm commitment to the club. He immediately impressed with his dedication: Ahmed bowls 15 overs a day, regardless of whether or not he has a match to play. More importantly, he enjoyed being part of a liberal team culture, perhaps a counterpoint to the almost maniacally hard perception of Australian grade cricket. "Fawad is as nice a guy as you could wish to meet," Leggett says. "I think with us he found team-mates who were very tolerant of and interested in his culture, his commitment as a devout Muslim and obviously a teetotal, but also he was very tolerant and respectful of our club culture and traditions, like skulling a beer after a match." At the University, Ahmed continued to build his reputation as a cricketer – before long he was being used as a net bowler by Australia's Test side – and found team-mates able to assist him in his battle for citizenship. He became involved in Victoria's Harmony in Cricket Programme, aimed at raising participation from the state's considerable Indian subcontinental population, giving considerable impetus in an area where work needed to be done. But in August 2012, Ahmed's claim for asylum was rejected, leaving him facing immediate deportation. Ministerial intervention was his last recourse and it was as much for his community work as heavyweight support from Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, that in November he was granted permanent residency status. Ahmed was flooded with offers by state teams (he opted for Victoria) and fulfilled his Big Bash ambition with Melbourne Renegades. In early 2013, he was selected for Australia A to play England Lions, impressing, and dismissing, the Somerset all-rounder Craig Overton. "He began by bowling top-spinners and then introduced more leg-breaks, turning the ball a lot at times," Overton says. "I could see him causing England problems. There is a bit of Shane Warne about him and it doesn't surprise me that he is being fast-tracked towards the Ashes. He's a quality leg-spinner." In Ahmed, Australia may find a man with the ability to end a six-year search for a successor to Warne, but also someone who can offer something more meaningful. If Ahmed is given a baggy green cap, he can take it as an expression of freedom for himself, for Australia's immigrant and Muslim populations fighting for acceptance, and for the women and children he helped in Pakistan amid Taliban oppression. Australia cricket team Ashes 2013 Cricket The Ashes Australia sport James Callow guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights re

Vice All News Time08 June 2013 23:10:52


England 287-6; New Zealand 253 | Third ODI match report

05 June 2013 23:15:26 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• England 287-6; New Zealand 253 • England won by 34 runs With one delivery of the England innings remaining, Jos Buttler, England's young wicketkeeper-batsman, raw as a mid-winter fen land easterly but saturated with promise, stood on the brink of making cricket history. A little more than 17 years ago, on a postage stamp in Singapore, the Sri Lankan thunderbat Sanath Jayasuriya had plundered Pakistan for a half-century from 17 balls, a figure which has stood the test of time. But as Tim Southee ran up from the Pavilion end to deliver that final ball of the innings, Buttler, with 45 to his name and on an adrenaline roll of ferocity and impishness, had faced 15 balls only. One more six to the three he had already struck would do the trick. The ball was just back of a length, off-stumpish, and Buttler, abandoning any semblance of style, flayed it with cross bat high in the air and back over the bowler's head. Had this been Edgbaston this coming Saturday, or Cardiff later in the week, with their short boundaries straight, it would have been six. This time it dropped tantalisingly a few yards short. Buttler's unbeaten 47, with half a dozen fours to go with his sixes, was still a remarkable effort, helping, with the aid of Eoin Morgan, to accelerate England in the final overs from a situation of relative mediocrity to one of match-winning strength that led to their eventual 34 run win. Morgan, tentative at first, made 49 from 40 balls, with three sixes and two fours, before he was brilliantly run out by Martin Guptill going for the quick single that would have given him his half-century and together the pair added 77, the last 76 of them coming in the final four overs of the innings raising the total to 287 for six. Earlier, the innings had been underpinned by a timely and elegant 82 from Ian Bell, although infuriatingly he got himself out, the futility of which he recognised by falling to one knee and bowing his head as if about to be dubbed a knight. Having played so tidily and with considerable panache it was a real shame. New Zealand's response to the challenge instantly set England back. Guptill has required no second bidding this past six days but Luke Ronchi has been less successful as a pinch-hitting opening partner. Given width though, Ronchi so leathered Steve Finn and Stuart Broad, both recovered from respective niggles and returned to the side, that when he was out mis-timing Broad to mid-on, they had made 39 from six overs. By the time Guptill was finally dismissed, for 38, with the penultimate delivery of the first power play, they had 79 against England's 31. In the Headingley Test, though, Guptill had twice fallen cheaply to Graeme Swann, once bowled classically through the gate, and here, in the off-spinner's absence (he was rested for the game along with Jimmy Anderson) it was James Tredwell who repeated the dose. Once more Guptill had threatened carnage, his runs coming from 36 balls, but he can console himself with 328 runs in the series and a run of 357 runs in four innings between dismissals in ODIs, leaving him only 49 runs short of exceeding the record of 405 held by Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan made in 2002. As man of this series there was no other candidate. Following his dismissal, as the cloud finally lifted and evening sun flooded the ground, England began to seize control, with Root pinning Kane Williamson lbw (if that is still the technical term for getting hit in the box in front of middle stump), Colin Munro going first ball to Broad, Brendon McCullum, not quite the force in England that he was in his home country this year, caught behind off Tredwell and James Franklin caught in the gully. The game was not safe for England while Ross Taylor was there, and the former captain made 71, before he was caught on the midwicket boundary while embarking on a last-ditch six-hitting charge at Tredwell. The assault by Buttler and Morgan baled England out of a quagmire of their own making. Ashley Giles may still be feeling his way in his role, but England's fundamental lack of impetus during the power-plays has been an issue for longer than that and has never been addressed satisfactorily. Cook's early dismissal to clever bowling by Mitchell McClenaghan – set-up with away-swing then the sucker-punch lbw inducker – set them back (and needlessly deprived them of their single review) but just six runs from as many overs is unacceptable, as is a total of 51 from 15 overs of power-plays in all. Against that, New Zealand made 70, for two, from their first ten overs. Thus in terms of runs at least, they had knocked the top from the run chase, almost negating England's late blitzkrieg in the process. Once they had got used to the pace of the pitch however, and recognised that the overcast conditions did not automatically cause the ball to perform acrobatics, Bell, in particularly, found his timing and began to play pleasantly. Jonathan Trott meanwhile was showing more urgency than of late, responding maybe to the pre-match barb of McClenaghan, who suggested it was Kiwi policy to keep him at the crease. Perhaps McClenaghan got the desired result however, goading Trott into attempting to prove a point by attempting something more extravagant than usual, and falling lbw. Joe Root and Bell then added 80 for the third wicket easily enough until in quick succession, the former was run out by a superb combination of Guptill, at mid-on, and the keeper Ronchi, while Bell, when a century was there for the taking, drilled a catch straight to mid-off. England cricket team England v New Zealand 2013 New Zealand cricket team Cricket Mike Selvey guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds    

Vice All News Time05 June 2013 23:15:26


Before Michael Douglas: six more celebrity health revelations

03 June 2013 18:41:28 Film | theguardian.com

Michael Douglas's assertion that oral sex caused his throat cancer has raised awareness of the HPV virus. Here are six more celebrities who have gone public with their health conditions to positive effect As much as it was literally the last thing that anybody wanted to hear on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, Michael Douglas's decision to announce that his throat cancer was caused by – and possibly cured by – cunnilingus has led to a flood of discussion on the subject. At one end of the spectrum, there are people screwing their faces up and making "yeuch" noises at the thought of muff-diving pensioners. At the other end, though, this is perhaps the most attention that the HPV virus has ever got. For all anybody knows, Michael Douglas might have caused thousands of people to better educate themselves about STDs contracted through oral sex. Once the mental images recede, this could actually be a good thing. Michael Douglas might have just joined the ranks of celebrities who have discovered the positive effects of discussing their health. Here are some others. Angelina Jolie It's been nearly three weeks since Angelina Jolie revealed that she'd undergone a preventive double mastectomy after discovering an inherited gene mutation, and kickstarted all manner of debate in the process. It will be some time before anybody knows if she's increased the number of women taking genetic screening tests, or even how useful they are, but you can't deny that it's been brought right into the middle of the public consciousness . Magic Johnson Despite his glittering career as a basketball player, Magic Johnson's announcement that he had tested positive for HIV in 1991 – just as panic and miseducation surrounding HIV and Aids was peaking – has far outstripped anything he accomplished professionally. He has since written books, started foundations and spoken prolifically about the issue, helping to strip away the hysteria surrounding it. Kylie Minogue When Kylie Minogue pulled out of a tour in 2005 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, it is estimated that bookings for screenings rose by 40% . What's more, her recovery underlined the importance of early diagnosis. Iain Banks So far, the author Iain Banks has been the most high-profile celebrity to announce that he is living with a terminal illness. His "I am officially very poorly" announcement in April was both touching and widely leapt upon. The downside is that Banks might well be sick of reading his own obituary, but at least gallbladder cancer has never been given so much attention. Michael J Fox It has been more than 20 years since Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease , and 15 since he decided to go public with it. In that time, he has set up a foundation that has become the largest private funder of Parkinson's research in the world. On top of that, he has written two books that have helped to normalise the disease, and branched out into stem-cell activism. This year he will take the lead role in the Michael J Fox Show, a sitcom about a newscaster with Parkinson's, bringing the disease to an even larger audience. Kim Kardashian On an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in 2011, Kim Kardashian went to a dermatologist and discovered that she suffered from psoriasis. The American National Psoriasis Foundation praised her bravery in allowing the diagnosis to be screened , and it remains the sole good thing to have come out of any television programme featuring a Kardashian. Celebrity Health & wellbeing Michael Douglas Health Stuart Heritage guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time03 June 2013 18:41:28


UK's 'absurd' visa policies have hurt student recruitment from India

29 May 2013 19:39:26 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Vince Cable, business secretary, appears to support campaign to revise definition of migration to exclude those on student visas Britain's attempts to restrain immigration has caused serious problems for student recruitment in countries such as India, and led to a "substantial" reduction in the number of applicants from the subcontinent, the business secretary said on Wednesday. Vince Cable, speaking at an international conference of university leaders, said there had been "quite vigorous criticism of the UK" in the south Asian country, which he said was based on an incorrect reading of reports in the British press, treating what was written in the media "as if it was objective reality". Continuing, the business secretary said: "In some of the Indian provincial newspapers the message has gone out that the British no longer want Indian students, which is wrong. But that's the message that has gone out." He added that the country's visa rules were also harming the British economy by making it harder to retain skilled workers, citing the example of an specialist working at an unnamed racing car manufacturer. "I was introduced to the chief engineer, who was making the most sophisticated engines for Formula One cars and he happened to be Indian, and he was coming to the end of his visa and under the existing rules he was going to have to go back to India and reapply for admission to the UK, right in the middle of a high-pressure contract. It was completely absurd," Cable said. "But that is the kind of restriction that is introduced in order to placate public panic that does create an economic harm." The business secretary said the government's restrictions have put overseas students at the centre of a "torrid and emotional" debate over immigration, that was triggered by "a statistical anomaly, in that the UN, in its wisdom, has classified overseas students as immigrants, which they are not," with the result that increases in overseas student numbers "easily translated into a flood of immigrants". "All the evidence suggests the British public do not see them as immigrants, but nonetheless they have got caught up in this very torrid and emotional debate in the UK," Cable said. "When, as last week, the number declines, this is [seen as] a great triumph for immigration control – which is quite absurd and unfortunately is seriously distorting the debate on sensible university policy and sensible immigration policy. "I just want to make absolutely clear, as far as the government is concerned we have no cap on the number of overseas students, we don't propose to introduce one." Official figures show that 190,000 people arrived from overseas to study in the UK in the 12 months to September 2012, 56,000 fewer than in the previous year, a fall of 22%. British education leaders have been campaigning to revise the definitions of international migration to exclude those on student visas. Cable appeared to support the campaign, saying: "We need to find a cleverer way to present the data." Cable's remarks – during a question and answer session at the Global Universities Summit in London, were supported in part by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. During an eclectic address – in which he questioned the audience of vice chancellors on basic science, including the name of the discoverer of sodium – Johnson said: "I looked at the recent figures for foreign students coming to this country, and I do not regard what seemed to me to be a reduction in those numbers as necessarily a positive economic indicator. I think we need to push higher education as a great, great international export." Johnson said London had many attractions for students, including more bookshops than New York City and more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris. Higher education Vince Cable India Immigration and asylum Richard Adams guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time29 May 2013 19:39:26


Dylan Hartley's Lions Tour could be over because of referee's accent

25 May 2013 19:20:11 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Northampton's Dylan Hartley was sent off for abusive language in the Premiership final defeat by Leicester but it could have all been down to misunderstanding the referee's accent Another year, another astonishing Premiership final, this one red in tooth, claw and card. An apocalyptic collision hinged on an extraordinary red card for Dylan Hartley after the end of the first half. Northampton will argue that all the players should have been sent from the field by then, the clock having run down. As it was, Hartley was sent alone, before the others, never to return to a contest so intense that any side harbouring realistic pretensions of winning it required nothing if not all hands to pump. And so it was that Leicester triumphed, pulling away in the last quarter against a side who nevertheless did their level best to defy the odds. So the favourites took the title, their fourth from nine consecutive finals and their umpteenth in history. They burst into the match and looked as if they would run away with it, 10-0 up within 10 minutes, but how the Saints came back at them. Fewer Lions meant fewer players nervous of injury. Courtney Lawes's ferocious tackling saw Toby Flood, the Leicester captain, so fluid and confident in those first 10 minutes, off in the second quarter, and the contest was very live at 13-5 with the half-time whistle imminent. By the time that whistle came about, the Northampton captain would be off too, for rather different reasons. Wayne Barnes, the referee, had warned him specifically only a few minutes earlier to watch the way he spoke to him, but still he couldn't help himself, as Barnes penalised the Saints at a scrum in front of the posts, which Northampton will feel should never have been awarded. The referee said Hartley had called him "a fucking cheat". If Hartley's indiscretion costs him his place on the Lions tour, how he should weep, how should we all. Yes, it was madness, no one's fault but his own – and this from a player whose record is not exactly unblemished – but how tiny, how whispered, how throwaway a comment. He was looking at Wayne Barnes, just, his eyes barely raised enough to have met those of the referee, which we have to presume they did. It was a mumble, though, not an accusation, it was what, in the blind moment of frustration, he must have been thinking. And he just couldn't keep it to himself. He will face a disciplinary hearing first, possibly tonight, and, in view of that history of his, together with the sanctity of the referee, there is every danger his ban will run to weeks. This may disincline Warren Gatland to take him on tour. If that is so, it will be the second Lions tour Hartley has ruled himself out of on disciplinary grounds. The sleepless nights this would cause him do not bear thinking about. Not only was the comment so throwaway, the circumstances that led to them were freak. The scrum at which they were penalised arose because Stephen Myler kicked a 22 restart straight into touch, presuming it would signal the end of the first half. But Barnes had told him that "You can't kick it straight to touch". In other words there was time for the scrum if he did. Barnes, though, from the Forest of Dean, has a slight west country drawl, which flattens the "a" of "can't", so that in the midst of a stadium of 80,000 the "can't" was all but indistinguishable from a "can". Myler protested that he thought he had said he could kick it out. It was a misunderstanding. Hartley's Lions tour could be over, effectively, because of a referee's accent. Unscriptable. Northampton must be sick of the sight of the Premiership play-offs by now. The list of horror stories they have had to endure is a little longer now. You think of the late tries that cost them a place in the final in 2010 and 2012, then the Welford Road scandal in 2011, when Manu Tuilagi's all-out assault on Chris Ashton saw both men see yellow, rather than just a red for the former, and the Leicester coaches ranted and raved without punishment. They channelled their anguish so effectively. They brought off a winger to replace Hartley, so that the fury of the contest might be maintained. And how they maintained it. Two tries in the third quarter, both brilliant, both featuring the fleet feet of their remaining backs, particularly those of Ben Foden and Luther Burrell, two English tourists this summer, brought them back to within seven points entering the final quarter. But too much had been knocked out of them. No one enjoyed the final quarter, not even, it seemed, the Leicester camp. It was a cruel way for such a ferociously fought contest to conclude. All for a pair of mumbled words at the height of that contest. What far-reaching implications they were to have. What implications they may have yet. Premiership 2012-13 Leicester Northampton Premiership Rugby union Lions tour 2013 British & Irish Lions Michael Aylwin guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds      

Vice All News Time25 May 2013 19:20:11


Angelina Jolie's cancer decision highlights row over genetic technology

20 May 2013 00:28:24 Film | theguardian.com

Concerns that firms' rights to hold patents on genes linked to breast cancer is pushing up cost of testing for disease Angelina Jolie's decision to speak out about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy was intended to highlight the terrible risks of breast cancer. But the film star's move also cast a spotlight on the far less known arena of patent battles over genetic technology which could have far more impact than Jolie's widely applauded move. Before the end of next month the US supreme court will issue a landmark decision in a case brought against the biotech firm Myriad Genetics , which is based in Utah, by the Association for Molecular Pathology. The firm owns a patent on the BRCA1 gene, which Jolie carries and which is believed to carry a high risk of causing breast cancer. It also owns a patent on the similar BRCA2 gene. It means that Myriad has the exclusive right to develop diagnostic tests for those genes – a fact that has implications for other firms, who thus might be prevented from developing innovations in the field. It also has some serious hard-money business implications: in the wake of Jolie's announcement, Myriad's share price shot up. That has worried some commentators. In a New York Times column describing her decision, Jolie acknowledged she was lucky to be well-off enough to easily afford to take the test for the culpable genes. Some have complained that the lengthy court battle over Myriad's patents has kept the price of the tests too high and have asked whether patents actually sacrifice patients' interests in favour of protecting corporate profits. "How many more women – and men – might have been able over the past four years to afford BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing in the absence of those protective patents?" wrote Andrew Cohen in Atlantic magazine . The issue of patents and genetic technology is one of growing importance as a flood of companies enter the booming sector and scientific advances allow more and more advanced genetic manipulation. So far the supreme court has shown a willingness to side with big business. Earlier this month it ruled in favour of agricultural firm Monsanto in defence of a patent it holds on soy beans that dominate the US farming sector. Angelina Jolie Genetics Biology Breast cancer Health Paul Harris guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time20 May 2013 00:28:24


Ukip: the battle for Britain

17 May 2013 15:07:29 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

They worship Churchill, Thatcher and the right to smoke, they hate gay marriage and Europe: is Ukip the lunatic fringe or the shape of things to come? We meet Britain's newest political tribe Susan McCaffery lives in Billericay, in Essex. She's 72 and, thanks to the UK Independence Party , a member of the local town council. It's a hot Wednesday afternoon and she is talking to me in her sitting room, where there's an organ in one corner and a few piles of bumf from the Pentecostal church of which she's an enthusiastic member. Until 2007, she was also the minutes secretary of Basildon Conservative Association. "But I was just so unimpressed with their discussions, with the lack of initiative," she says. "There was no desire to go forward. No vision. In the end, I thought, I can't stand this any longer. "People want, in a sense, to revert back to how we were," she says. "You know: we won the second world war, only we've lost it now, because Germany's taken over… But we had people then, ready to stand up like Churchill and say, 'This is what we're going to do.' A lot of people in this country are saying, 'Where are the leaders? Where are the people prepared to take a stand?' " As well as the awfulness of modern politicians, immigration, the amount of money Britain pays into the EU, the alleged failings of multiculturalism, the need drastically to cut the UK's foreign aid budget and the dazzling brilliance of the late Margaret Thatcher, Ukip members mention the second world war a lot. But McCaffery's take on 1939-45 is that bit more interesting. Unprompted, she explains her support of the theory that Britain eventually saw off the Germans thanks to the power of prayer. "The soldiers at Dunkirk were able to come back on a calm sea, whereas the German aircraft couldn't take off from their places because the weather was so bad… There were all sorts of changes that happened, and part of it was a result of people praying and asking God for help." She's sitting on a small sofa. To her right is James Moyies , Ukip's eastern counties regional chairman, an urbane Scot with a background in Conservative politics, who's also the director of a "field marketing" firm. On her left is 21-year-old Carl Whitwell, who splits his time between working for a secondhand electrical goods outlet in Southend and assisting with Ukip's youth wing ( his Twitter feed features the slogan "My only faith is common sense"). Neither looks very comfortable with the conversation, but McCaffery gamely carries on. Ukip members, she says, may not all be Christians, but the party has "a Christian ethos" and a constitution that "goes alongside what the Ten Commandments would say". A good example, she says, is the party's opposition to gay marriage. "There's lots of Christians standing against that because it's not right," she says. "How can you have two people of the same sex and call them married?" She lets out a sarcastic guffaw. Britain, she says, should be a Christian country, like it used to be. Should it be a country with other faiths as well? "Well, it is, isn't it? But, you see, other faiths bring with them different… spirits . And that's the problem. God loves all people: he loves Muslims, he loves Hindus, he loves Sikhs and so on. But it's the spirit that humans are not particularly aware of that causes some of these extreme Muslims to get bomb equipment" – there's a brief detour into the recent case of six Islamist fanatics, jailed for plotting an attack on the English Defence League – "and they send hate messages about the Queen and David Cameron. That's a different spirit to the spirit that we're used to. Because it's not a Christian spirit." Looking ahead, what does she think of Ukip's prospects? Intentionally or not, she uses biblical language. "Oh, you can't stop it. It's a flood." Perhaps it is. Less than 48 hours after I leave Billericay, Ukip will win nine county council seats in Essex and 147 across England. Its national share of the vote will come in at 23%, only two points behind the Conservatives and nine ahead of the Lib Dems. The face of the party's leader, Nigel Farage – always locked in some expression of extreme merriment and usually inches from a pint of bitter – will once again be staring from all the newspapers. The following week, the government will emphasise measures in the Queen's speech aimed at tackling immigrants' access to benefits, medical treatment and housing. And the Conservative party will be in a state of tortured angst, with at least one MP proposing a Tory-Ukip pact and dozens of others wondering if they should now advocate not just one referendum on the EU, but two. For a day or two, in fact, it will feel a bit as if Farage is getting close to running the country. Out in the real world, meanwhile, Britain's newest political tribe carries on growing. Ukip, founded in 1993, currently claims a membership of around 26,000, and its spokespeople say that around 1,000 new people are joining every month, many from the Conservative party. As things stand, its key heartland lies in the east of England, a part of the country that has attracted relatively large numbers of migrants from eastern Europe. Ukip's home turf stretches from Kent, through Essex, up to Norfolk and across to Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire; in the latter county, the party is now the official opposition. Encouraged not just by local election results, but also by its habitual second place in recent parliamentary byelections, the party is in ebullient mood, believing it can top the poll in the European elections of 2014. Even if it is squeezed at the 2015 general election, it has hopes of getting its first properly elected MPs. To some, even though its self-authored Google listing brands it as a "libertarian, non-racist party", it will always give off the whiff of a kind of rightwing politics that often blurs into the lunatic fringe. To its supporters and members, though, it represents an exciting revolt against the metropolitan consensus: not so much a breath of fresh air as a sharp gust of that very British booze-and-fags smell that once wafted from our pubs. In the Essex town of Wickford, I meet two more UK activists: Paul Downes (64) and Nigel Le Gresley (62), who are having a coffee in the local Co-op supermarket. Until February this year, Downes – a former estate agent – was a Conservative activist, but he had long felt his loyalty dwindling, thanks partly to David Cameron and George Osborne's silver-spooned backgrounds. Le Gresley, whose last job was with BT, says he has voted for the Liberals, Conservatives and even New Labour, but now thinks the political class has floated into its own orbit. "You need to have people who've been there, done that and got the T-shirt," he says. "The lot we've got now

Vice All News Time17 May 2013 15:07:29


Legal highs flooding UK pose immense overdose risk, warns drugs tsar

16 May 2013 21:06:39 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Users face growing threat from 200-plus synthetic drugs in circulation across UK, says government's chief drugs adviser The chief drugs adviser to the government has given his strongest warning yet on legal highs in Britain, saying there are now more than 200 synthetic psychoactive drugs being sold outside existing laws. Prof Les Iversen warned of the arrival of a new generation of compounds that imitate the effects of 1960s-style LSD psychedelics and cautioned that they could bring with them serious risk of overdose. Iversen, the chairman of the home secretary's advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD), said these untested legal highs were no longer "a nice set of party drugs that we can let people get on with". He added that sooner or later unexpected and serious harm would emerge from their use. The warning came at the ACMD's twice-yearly meeting to review its progress in tackling legal highs. The Home Office has introduced temporary banning orders that outlaw the supply and sale but not possession of the drugs, pending an examination of their harmful effects. But Iversen warned that the development of legal highs, often by chemists in illicit labs in China, was far outpacing the system. Two new drugs – mexxy (methoxetamine) and black mamba (a synthetic cannabinoid mix) – were banned after being categorised as class B last year. The experts were also able to identify within a week to 10 days all the drugs being used at last year's Glastonbury festival, but the existing legal framework could not cope, Iversen said. "The European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction logged 60 new psychoactive substances last year and a similar rate of one new compound a week so far this year," the ACMD chairman said. "They now list 200 different psychoactive substances that lie outside our existing scope of regulation. "Our problem is to know how many of these are really being used in this country and how harmful they are. This is difficult because we can't possibly address all classes of compound at once, unless we and the government can think of clever ways of regulating." He said they were particularly worried about the impact of a synthetic drug that is becoming widely available in Britain that imitates the hallucinogenic effects of LSD, which once fuelled the 1960s psychedelic era but has been out of popularity for more than 30 years. Iversen said a dose of synthetic LSD could be measured in micrograms, which was so minute that it could not even be measured with an analytical scale. It was usually supplied in a diluted solution, as a drop on a piece of blotting paper, but it was also possible to buy it in powder, spray or fluid form. "The dangers of an overdose are clearly immense. We are looking at it with a great deal of caution and worry," he said. He added that the misuse of existing consumer laws, which has led to legal highs being sold as plant food, had caused them to be widely available. "They are a set of chemicals that are potentially very dangerous. Novel psychoactive chemicals can be made in China one week and shipped to the UK for human consumption the next without any safety data. "To me that is an appalling situation. Sooner or later we will get unexpected serious harms emerging from one or other of these compounds. We will then blame ourselves for letting them be sold without any safety precautions," warned Iversen. He rejected a new approach in New Zealand, which tests and licenses the sale of these new psychoactive substances, as unworkable in Britain, but said a solution might be found by tweaking the Medicines Act or using consumer protection laws. Drugs policy Drugs Drugs Drugs trade Alan Travis guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time16 May 2013 21:06:39


Nigeria: when aliens took Lagos

07 May 2013 20:10:26 Film | theguardian.com

Nnedi Okorafor was so angry about the depiction of Nigerians in the film District 9 that she was inspired to write a new novel When Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor watched the South African sci-fi film District 9, she was one of many to be angered by its "abysmal stereotyping" of Nigerians . The film, which was nominated for an Oscar, caused an outcry after its release in 2009, with the Nigerian government demanding an apology from filmmakers and banning it from local cinemas. Okorafor put her anger to a more positive purpose, using it as the inspiration for an ambitious new novel, Lagoon. She describes Lagoon, as "a story about humanity at the crossroads between the past, present, and future, Lagoon touches on political and philosophical issues in the rich tradition of the very best science fiction." We caught up with her to discuss the new project: Tell us about the book? It's about an alien invasion in the city of Lagos and how Lagosians of all walks of life handle it. Why did you decide to write it? I started writing it as a screenplay for Nollywood director Tchidi Chikere. He and I were both deeply irritated with the South African science fiction film District 9′s abysmal stereotyping of Nigerians. Once I started writing it, it quickly became something other than a response to District 9; it became its own story with its own soul. How happy were you to have it acquired by publishers Hodder & Stoughton? I was ecstatic when Hodder & Stoughton made the offer. Lagoon is an ambitious novel. It's biting political satire, creative, literary, it features many different points of view (which is very different from the stories I usually I write. I prefer to stay with one character), there's a lot of Pidgin English, and it's got aliens in Lagos. Because of all this, I didn't expect it to be an easy sell, if it sold at all. But Anne Perry (the editor who acquired it) immediately connected with and understood what I was doing in this novel. It was like planets aligning- unlikely, but when it happened, logical and right. By calling it Lagoon, one would expect a lot of adventures with water (and maybe flooding). Is that a particular fascination for you? Oooooh yes, there's a lot that happens in the water (though much of it is off the coast where the "shop" lands. I was initially going to have it land in the Lagos Lagoon, but I needed deeper water). I was originally going to call it Lagos. But then I could just hear certain Nigerians snarking, "Who is this American Nigerian to have the nerve to name her novel after my city?" I wasn't in the mood for that conversation, so I translated the word "lagos" to the English meaning of it name. "Lagos" means "lagoon" in Portuguese. And yes, there is flooding. I love and am terrified of the water, particularly the ocean. I go to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy. I like swimming, too, of course, haha. And I love ocean life. I'm fascinated that so much of it remains unexplored by human beings. Diluted seawater consisted of nearly the same concentration of elements and minerals as blood plasma. They've got the same amount of sodium, too. Sea water has even been used successfully in blood transfusions in animals. We all came from the water. As is said more than once in the novel, "Water is life". As someone who has also written for kids, I'm wondering if there is any consideration for them in this one, of if it's a totally adult novel. This one is purely an adult novel, though I think some of my older teen readers will enjoy it, too (18+). So I read that it's going to be a three-book deal. Is that a trilogy, or just a chance to get three different books published at a time of your choosing? It's not a trilogy. There may be a part two, who knows. But that's not my original intent. I don't tend to do sequels; too many stories in my head. I know what the second novel with Hodder & Stoughton will be. That one is linked to (the earlier novel) Who Fears Death . Nigeria guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time07 May 2013 20:10:26


Climate changes could bring malaria to the UK

05 May 2013 01:20:04 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

Health experts warn of growing threat from 'exotic' diseases Leading health experts are urging the government to take action against the growing threat that mosquito-borne diseases, including potentially fatal malaria, could soon arrive in the UK. The disturbing recommendation to "act now before it is too late" is being made as a growing body of evidence indicates that what were once thought of as tropical diseases are being found ever closer to the UK. Health experts meeting at the annual public health conference of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health later this week will hear that rising incidences of a growing list of pest-borne diseases are now a "serious" cause for concern in the UK. The conference will be told that it would be complacent to think that diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, now present on the European continent but once considered "exotic and confined to faraway places", will not emerge in the UK. "With predicted changes to climate in the UK, characterised by warming and wetter summers providing perfect breeding grounds for a number of pest-borne diseases, we need to consider some robust public health measures to minimise the potential outbreaks," said Julie Barratt, director of the CIEH. The government's Health Protection Agency commissioned research, published last year, which claimed that "it is likely that the range and activity of many ticks and mosquitoes will increase across the UK by the 2080s". However, experts are now warning that there is a risk that the threat to the UK is more imminent. Dengue was detected in France and Croatia in 2010 and malaria was reported in Greece in 2011. The increased use of salt marshes to protect coastal regions and the heightened risk of flooding means the UK is becoming a more attractive habitat for mosquitoes, while the increasing proximity of animals that carry ticks to humans is another concern. Diseases that the UK needs urgently to guard against are Lyme disease and West Nile virus – which has already become a major health issue in the United States. First detected in Queens, New York, in 1999, the virus has now spread across the US, with a major outbreak in 2012. As of 30 August 2012, the latest figures available, there had been 115 human cases of West Nile virus reported in EU member states, mainly Greece, Italy and Romania. There were a further 224 cases reported in neighbouring countries and the virus has been diagnosed as close to the UK as Ireland. In the UK, previously rare diseases are being diagnosed with increasing frequency. In 2001, there were 200 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, which is caused by infected ticks carried on animals. By 2011, this had risen to 959 confirmed cases, according to HPA statistics. The true figure could be considerably higher, experts believe, as Lyme disease requires a clinical diagnosis and its symptoms, such as rashes and flu, can mimic other illnesses and be misdiagnosed. At its most serious, the disease can result in blindness and paralysis. The charity Lyme Disease Action said that ticks, which are the size of a full stop, are carried on deer and small mammals such as foxes and rabbits, as well as birds, and are able to sense a passing potential blood donor by picking up the carbon dioxide that humans exhale. The LDA warns that "ticks can easily go undetected and their bite does not cause irritation, because they inject their host with an anaesthetic". Barratt said the government could not afford to be complacent. "Pests will become a very serious public health issue in the UK as a result of climate change," she said. "The spread of West Nile virus in the US and Lyme disease in Europe are warning signals of the impact of pests on public health." The increasing threat posed to the UK from exotic diseases is partially a result of changes in the way that people live today. "Modern living conditions, urban sprawl and emerging changes in climate make the spread of pests and pest-borne diseases increasingly likely," Barratt said. "The effects of these conditions and changes need to be properly monitored and understood. We should not wait for an outbreak to happen before we act." The CIEH is calling for the introduction of an EU-wide policy on mosquito control and greater collaboration between EU member states. It also said there was a need for the creation of a new, standardised disease notification system that reported across Europe to a central agency. Other initiatives should include the harmonisation of guidelines on insecticide use and greater surveillance by both public health and veterinary agencies. Infectious diseases Health policy Malaria Climate change Health Jamie Doward guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time05 May 2013 01:20:04


Mark Kermode's DVD round-up

28 April 2013 01:14:45 Film | theguardian.com

Life of Pi; Bait; The Oranges Even as Ang Lee's Life of Pi (2012, Fox, PG) picked up Oscars for direction, cinematography, music and, crucially, visual effects, there was disgruntlement among the VFX effects team that their work on the movie had not been sufficiently recognised. Certainly, the digital wizardry is extraordinary, making the audience believe that they have been cast adrift on an endless ocean with a man-eating tiger, putting us right there in the lifeboat with the story's titular hero. All the more tragic, then, that Rhythm & Hues, which provided so much of the film's computer graphic magic, had filed for bankruptcy just before the Oscars, the latest victim of a downward spiral that had seen VFX artists become the most important but least valued craftspeople in Hollywood. The irony, of course, is that visual effects are often at their best when unnoticed, and the real triumph of Life of Pi is that it doesn't play as some SFX extravaganza. On the contrary, it is an utterly engrossing fable – a meditation upon the nature of storytelling itself which brilliantly captures the heart and soul of Yann Martel 's source novel. Screen newcomer Suraj Sharma is astonishing in his very first starring role as the teenager who survives a shipwreck, only to find himself trapped in a lifeboat with a carnivorous beast who must be feared and respected, tamed and cared for, distanced and embraced. That the tiger, named "Richard Parker" due to an absurdist clerical error, should become as real a presence as any of the film's human cast is extraordinary in itself, but what raises it to the level of the sublime is what the tiger comes to represent – the power of nature, the instinct for survival, the struggle for life itself. Like the lion from The Chronicles of Narnia , this is a beast imbued with profound spiritual significance, although the role of religion is here defined more as a narrative than a transcendent truth. As the adult Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) asks Rafe Spall's incredulous writer: "Which story do you prefer?" It says much about the artistry of Life of Pi that such questions are served by (rather than subject to) the breathtaking visuals, which are duly investigated and celebrated in the DVD extras. In cinemas this converted some to the stereoscopic cause, joining the ranks of Dial M for Murder , Flesh for Frankenstein and Hugo as one of those rare exceptions that validate the format. On hi-def Blu-ray the film is presented in both 2D and 3D versions, of which the former lacks nothing in terms of emotional power and immersive experience. One could argue that stereoscopic shark-jumping antics are the only reason to watch Bait (2012, StudioCanal, 15), a moderately budgeted, knowingly trashy romp that goes one better than Jaws 3-D by setting its man-eaters loose in a supermarket, thanks to a seafront-flooding tsunami. Thus, rather than a boring beach, we get people scuttling on to shelves and out of sunroofs to escape sharks in the car park and snappers amid the shopping trolleys. With six credited writers (including Highlander director Russell Mulcahy, who cut his own teeth on the killer pig movie Razorback ), it's no surprise that this rattles around like a bag of assorted bones stripped clean from the body parts of other movies. Yet as latter-day Corman cash-ins go, this is infinitely preferable to either the loathsome Piranha 3DD or the unwatchable Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus , neither of which raised even a flicker of interest. While Bait 's predators may look more digital than dangerous, there's comic relief to be had from a couple of airheaded Oz beach bums who seem to have wandered off the set of Alvin Purple merrily bickering about their shoes and mobile phones even as killer fish try to swallow them. Rubbish, then, but proud of it, and picked from the top of the heap rather than scraped from the bottom of the barrel. With his matchless credentials as a bona fide American TV star and a burgeoning second career as a respected blues pianist and singer, Hugh Laurie needn't worry that his feature film career is somewhat less than stellar. In British director Julian Farino's The Oranges (2011, Paramount, 15), he plays a likable, middle-aged suburban drudge who outrages his neighbours by taking up with a girl young enough to be his daughter, with whose father (Oliver Platt) he was formerly best friends. Despite a dynamite cast including Allison Janney and Catherine Keener, this never rises above the level of the spring/September cliches that it seems to want to deconstruct. It doesn't help that Laurie and Leighton Meester never look for one moment as though they are having a relationship, the utter lack of chemistry removing both the purpose and point of the story (you end up wondering why anybody, no matter how unhappy, would leave somebody as charismatic as Catherine Keener, and concluding that they wouldn't). Compare this with the broiling tensions evident in the underrated Liberal Arts , in which Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen make an altogether more effective fist of dismantling a Hollywood dream and concluding that there really is such a thing as age appropriateness after all. As for The Oranges , despite outre lines about being "the only son in history to have been cock-blocked by his own dad", this is too bland to be toe-curlingly satirical, settling instead for being merely trite, and a little bit trying. Drama Horror DVD and video reviews Mark Kermode guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. 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Vice All News Time28 April 2013 01:14:45


Bath dream of Heineken Cup qualification after laying out Leicester

21 April 2013 23:19:49 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Bath 27-26 Leicester Bath won their first away game of the season and now they must win their last. The bad news is that, in between, they have not won once away from home in the Premiership. The even worse news is that they have to travel to Saracens to go for that win, on an artificial pitch where the Premiership leaders have not yet failed to win with a bonus point. Still this win over the side in second is testament at least to the fact that Bath can play exhilarating rugby on a dry track. And Saracens, already guaranteed a home tie in the Premiership play-offs, will go into that game on the back of what will no doubt prove a gruelling Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon next Sunday while Bath will go into it on the back of a weekend off. Whatever the outcome, Bath should feel aggrieved that they have let Heineken Cup qualification go to the wire. Indeed, they may feel they should be in the mix for the play-offs. Missing a host of key players who might really have caused damage — Matt Banahan, Nick Abendanon, Tom Biggs, Carl Fearns — they outplayed Leicester more convincingly than the late win, with a bonus point, might suggest. "We felt pretty comfortable in the changing room at half-time," said Mike Ford, Bath's coach, having seen his side a point down at the break, despite leading the try count then by three to two. "There was no need to rant and rave. We felt we were playing pretty well. Take Ben Youngs's try away and improve our goal-kicking, we'd probably have been leading." That Youngs try, which opened up an eight-point lead for 15 minutes in the first half, was an 80-metre beauty, albeit facilitated by flagrant negligence from pretty much all of Bath's players, who chatted among themselves when a penalty had been awarded against them on the Leicester 22. As for that kicking Ford referred to, Stephen Donald and Ollie Devoto between them missed a string of easy shots at goal. Over to Richard Cockerill, Leicester's director of rugby, to talk us through Donald's kicking out of hand. "I've never seen an opposition 10 kick the ball so badly," he said. "But they were effective, because the ball wobbled so much in the air. You just have to smile. Boot the ball in the air, chase it and it's such a crap kick it's actually hard to deal with! Am I the only person who's thinking that?" Well, no, but Donald had his moments, too. His cross-kick set up Bath's third try and he was one of a few to make a break in the build-up to the first. It was his last match at the Rec, as it was for Michael Claassens and Simon Taylor, the latter rather more consistent in his excellence here. Indeed, the Bath forwards were immense all round against a Leicester side with rather less to prove or strive for at this late stage of the season. "Bath did some good things," said Cockerill. "They deserved the win. They beat us – it's a highlight of the season. You say well done and you move on." After their run of matches lately, particularly the internationals among their number a imminent week off will be particularly welcome. The Tigers' last game is at home against London Irish. All they need from that is two points to be sure of a home play-off. Bath's directive on that final weekend is more challenging but, if they bookend their season with away wins, they will have done all they can. If only the away matches in between had yielded more. Bath Devoto; Rokoduguni, Williams (Heathcote 53), Eastmond, Agulla; Donald, Claassens (Stringer 70); James (Catt 61), Webber (Guinazu 61), Wilson (Perenise 60), Day (Spencer 70), Attwood, Louw (capt), Mercer (Gilbert 70), Taylor Tries Taylor, Rokoduguni, Agulla, Louw Cons Devoto, Donald Pen Heathcote Leicester Tait; Smith, Tuilagi, Allen, Thompstone (Murphy 64); Flood (capt), B Youngs; Mulipola, T Youngs (Hawkins 70), Cole (Castrogiovanni 71), Mafi (Slater 45), Parling, Croft, Salvi, Waldrom (Crane 53) Tries Croft, B Youngs Cons Flood 2 Pens Flood 4 Referee T Wigglesworth Attendance 12,200 Premiership 2012-13 Leicester Bath Premiership Rugby union Michael Aylwin guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time21 April 2013 23:19:49


Mass migration is a symptom, not a cause, of crisis | Bernard Keenan

18 April 2013 23:53:09 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

David Goodhart's thesis about the left and migration doesn't hold water: Labour policy wasn't driven by care for 'people in Burundi' David Goodhart's recent article , "Why the left is wrong about immigration", promoting his new book, The British Dream, begins with a swipe at the "idealistic young men and women" working in NGOs and law firms who work "to usher into this society as many people as possible from poor countries". Duped by our secular faith in universalism and equality, immigration lawyers – and, allegedly, our counterparts in the civil service – are foolishly working to undermine the social democratic state that we hold dear. We care "more about people in Burundi than Birmingham". We are widening the scope of human rights law to the detriment of the country. We naively believe borders should be abolished. We have no economic analysis of the situation (though we are supposed to be of the left), indeed, it "must seem like a crime" that more money is spent on the NHS than overseas development. Taking Goodhart's thesis at its highest ( there are many reasons not to , which have been discussed elsewhere ) his point is that liberal intellectual elites have a worldview that prioritises universalist ethics above the needs of the communities that we actually live in. The upshot is that a truly progressive attitude would be one that limits migration into the UK, in order to preserve social cohesion here while stopping the brain-drain of productive persons from developing nations, to the detriment of their home country. We have, he claims, lost sight of our obligations to our immediate citizen neighbours in our clamour to help foreigners, to whom we properly owe much less. This is based on a very selective reading of government policy on immigration under New Labour, which was in fact based on a broadly utilitarian approach to "managed migration" as a source of labour and short-term economic growth. Immigrants under this regime were commodified, and policy was led by expert opinions on the economic benefits that it would bring to the UK (an excellent history of immigration policy from 1997-2007, and the impact of expert knowledge on policy, is found in Alex Balch's article here .) The government deliberately did not take a rights-based approach to migration, which is where Goodhart has confused matters. Growing numbers of people flowing over borders, legally endorsed by government, does not actually equate to "opening the doors". The opposite is the case, in the sense that as the immigration system expanded, the need for stronger and more restrictive approaches to those deemed to be here illegally grew alongside it. This is perhaps where the true motivations of idealistic young lawyers come in, and where the picture becomes more complex than Goodhart assumes. Speaking for myself, rather than a whole profession, I didn't seek work in immigration law in order to flood the country with people from Burundi, or to undermine the people of Birmingham. It's simply that people need legal representation, and should have it in a system that affects life so fundamentally. For example, those who are at risk of persecution in their home country properly have a right to seek protection, a point that Goodhart does not seem to deny. That refugee law exists is not a causal factor in the economic immigration policy of the government, and the two things should not be conflated for political purposes. Similarly, it is important that British families have the right not to be broken up by deportation law. That's what article 8 cases are about – not pet cats, but really existing British children living in our communities, dealt with on a case-by-case basis that looks at the real human lives involved. Then there is the unlawful use of immigration detention, often imposed on the mentally ill or vulnerable with devastating psychological effect. Immigration lawyers are, generally, concerned with rights, not macro-economic strategy, and in this regard they are upholding a proud aspect of Goodhart's cherished British culture – fairness, civil liberties, human rights, the rule of law. Having said that, I do believe that there is an economic analysis of the ethics of fighting for migrant rights. Put simply, economic migration, legal or illegal, is now a permanent feature of the world in general. Britain's experience is hardly unique, in fact we have proportionately lower migration than France and Germany; let alone the exploding megacities of the global south. The rise of mass migration has happened in the context of "globalisation" – or, more accurately, neoliberalism. Globalisation does not describe a particular worldview, it is rather the context of contemporary economic life. The IMF has systematically imposed neoliberal economic policies in countries around the world, forcing privatisation and liberalising domestic markets. The necessary corollary of eroding workers' rights and freeing up developing countries' labour and export markets for exploitation is a heavily restrictive and militarised immigration system. Given that immigration, viewed globally, is not an issue for the wealthiest few of any nationality, we could suggest a possible recasting of the Burundi/Birmingham dichotomy: the wealthiest 1% of Britons have more in common with the wealthiest 1% of foreigners than they do with the 99% of Britons whose lives they govern. In economic terms, there is no clear evidence that immigration into Britain is a threat to the welfare state, as Goodhart fears. There is, however, substantial evidence that the greater threat comes from the forced imposition of market fundamentalism by ruling elites, a policy that is alive and well in our present government. What we are experiencing at home, in the destruction of the welfare state and the mass privatisation of what public assets remain, is exactly the same economic shock treatment previously imposed on developing countries around the world. It is now our turn to "pay our debts". This is the real crisis, of which mass migration is a symptom, not a cause. The solution is not going to be found by turning against the victims. Immigration and asylum Globalisation Labour Bernard Keenan guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our

Vice All News Time18 April 2013 23:53:09


Leicester 35-16 Wasps | Premiership match report

14 April 2013 21:20:51 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• Leicester 35-16 Wasps • Underpowered Wasps 'picked a side not to win' Leicester are cantering to a home semi-final and probably a ninth consecutive Twickenham final after a forgettable five-try beating of an underpowered Wasps side who looked to have their minds elsewhere. After Wasps European labours last week their coach, Dai Young, made seven changes, Leicester responding just before the kick-off by giving three England internationals the day off and still pocketing a try bonus point four minutes into the second half when Ben Youngs darted in for his second. Adam Thompstone completed the job before Elliot Daly scooted home from 60 metres to show the sell-out 24,000 crowd what they were missing. Wasps, once the big thorn in Tigers' paw, have not won at Leicester in five seasons and have an away record showing 23 defeats in 25 games. "They picked a side not to win," said the Leicester director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, "but we'll accept the result." Having lost their last five Premiership matches, Wasps remain eighth, like Bath losers in the weekend race for a Heineken Cup spot. They are now three points behind Exeter in sixth spot with Bath sandwiched between them. Leicester are not yet guaranteed a home semi-final but, with Bath to visit before a final game at home to London Irish, it is in touching distance. Cockerill clearly thought so when he rested Geoff Parling, Tom Croft and Tom Youngs, all of whom trained on Saturday. But after all the energy and passion expended in a losing European cause at Toulon last weekend, the game took a while getting started, the first quarter a colourless affair marked only by a couple of Toby Flood penalties and one or two breaks from Anthony Allen that suggested the Wasps midfield might not be as secure as the Bank of England. Then, from the second scrum of the game, the Leicester pack got up their first head of steam, Manu Tuilagi took the Allen route through the middle and the hooker Rob Hawkins came within a whisker before Youngs dived through a hole conveniently close to the ruck. Flood missed the conversion but Leicester were under way and next it was the forwards who took their reward for previous hard work. Niall Morris, Allen and the backs took the ball up the right and, when the switch came, it was the back-row pair of Jordan Crane and Steve Mafi who worked the second-row, Graham Kitchener, into the corner. Again Flood missed the kick, as he had done a couple of penalties, but with the fly-half Nicky Robinson and high-scoring wing Christian Wade already back in the Wasps sick bay, things were starting to look ominous. The replacement Tommy Bell landed a wind-assisted penalty to make it 16-3 but then the video referee took an age denying Thompstone a third Leicester try after some deft work from Hawkins and the wing Morris looked to be heading for the right corner until the Wasps lock James Cannon hauled him down. Twice denied, Leicester took a more certain route – the driven lineout – Mafi taking the ball at the front before the pack crowded round to rumble over the Wasps line at a canter. Hawkins came up with the ball, some reward for earlier close shaves. Again Flood missed the conversion but, with Young's side unable to hang on to the ball, the England fly-half's kicking hardly looked like undermining the outcome and four minutes into the second half a game that had been over for a while as a contest was put to bed with Leicester's bonus point try. "We couldn't handle the physicality the Tigers brought to the game. We were well beaten," Young said. "You don't have to be a rugby expert to know we have to improve. The top three or four are in a different place from where we are. Even when we were in fourth place I said I didn't think we had the squad to maintain that." Leicester Tait; Morris, Tuilagi, Allen, Thompstone; Flood (capt Ford, 69), B Youngs (Harrison, 45); Mulipola (Balmain, 61), Hawkins (Chuter, 69), Cole (Castrogiovanni, h-t), Slater, Kitchener, Mafi (Waldron, h-t), Salvi, Crane. Tries Youngs 2, Kitchener, Hawkins, Thompstone Cons Flood 2 Pens Flood 2 Wasps Daly; Wade (Wallace, 29), C Bell (capt), Hayter, Varndell; N Robinson (T Bell, 23), Davies (Simpson, 58); Taulafo (McIntyre, 59), Lindsay (N Morris, 52), Taylor (Romano, 58) Cannon, Palmer, Johnson (Everard, 58), Poff , Vunipola. Try Daly Con Bell Pens Bell 2, Daly Sin-bin T Bell 45 Referee J P Doyle (London) Attendance 24,000 Premiership 2012-13 Premiership Leicester Wasps Rugby union Mike Averis guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice All News Time14 April 2013 21:20:51