There have been many times over the last 30 years when I have found myself nodding in passionate agreement with Michael Heseltine, who is, among his other virtues, my fellow ex-member for Henley on Thames.
A Yorkshire pub rumoured to have hosted Oliver Cromwell's soldiers the night before a famous 17th-century battle is at the centre of a new fight over plans to turn it into a "trendy wine bar".
They have already been accused of playing into the Communist regime’s propaganda machine with their royal visit to Cuba.
Jack Shepherd, the speedboat killer, has abandoned his fight against extradition and could return to the UK to face justice within a week, according to reports.
Rome’s embattled mayor, Virginia Raggi, faced calls for her resignation this weekend after three major metro stations were shut down in the heart of the Italian capital due to concerns over faulty escalators.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched the French leg of his European tour to try to drum up cooperation for his global infrastructure project. Xi Jinping arrived in France on Sunday for a three-day trip in which he hopes to gain French cooperation for his new Silk Road initiative. He already has one European success under his belt, having signed an agreement with Italy a day earlier, in which the euro-zone's third largest economy formalised its support of China’s vast programme of infrastructure investment in more than 70 countries.For Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the agreement is crucial. Italy is counting heavily on Chinese investments to, among other things, breathe new life into the Port of Trieste, which looks set to be the flagship project of the forthcoming economic cooperation between Beijing and Rome.A port built from scratch in south Sri LankaFor critics of the new Silk Road, Washington being the chief one, Italy has "no need" for these investments which, ultimately, could backfire against Europe’s third biggest economic power. The Sri Lankan experience is often highlighted as an example of the dark side of the new Silk Road plan.In the mid-2000s, Colombo (the commercial capital of Sri Lanka) agreed to let Beijing build a new port from scratch in the town of Hambantota, in the south of the island. It wasn’t yet thought of as part of a new Silk Road -- that programme was conceptualizsed by Xi Jinping in 2012 -- but all the ingredients were there. "Chinese funds and engineers are mobilised to build infrastructure outside China, as part of a partnership that was meant to be win-win: this is the very definition of the rationale of the Silk Road," said Jean-François Dufour, economist and director of DCA China-Analysis. The Chinese president integrated the Sri Lankan project into his Silk Road initiative in 2013.At the time, Colombo thought it could make a profit from the operation of the port, while Beijing would get a key point of transit in "the very strategic Indian Ocean, through which a large percentage of Chinese commercial ships travel to Europe," the European Union Institute for Security Studies noted in an April 2018 report. The project provided China with a presence in an area of fierce competition between Beijing and the other great Asian power: India.But in 2015, financial clouds began gathering over the future of Hambantota’s port, which cost $1.1 billion. Sri Lanka was crumbling under the debt, and was unable to repay the more than $8 billion in loans it had taken from China for several infrastructure projects in the country. Furious, Beijing turned up the heat and threatened to cut off financial support to the island nation if it didn’t quickly find a solution. In December, 2017, after two years of negotiations, Colombo finally agreed to turn over the port to China for 99 years in exchange for the cancellation of its debt.The ports of Hambantota and Trieste: the same struggle?The concession was humiliating for Sri Lanka, while "the opponents of China, like India, painted the entire operation as a deliberate plan to acquire strategic positions in the region," Dufour said. China was suspected of intentionally strangling Colombo with loans at a 6 percent interest rate, which was much higher than the other lenders - such as the World Bank – from which Colombo had previously borrowed.Dufour acknowledged that "this episode shocked and pushed countries like Malaysia to reconsider their participation in the new Silk Road”. But he doesn’t see China risking compromising the credibility of its entire investment program for one port in Sri Lanka.In any case, the episode "is a stinging reminder that the sums invested by China are not donations, but loans with consequences,” the French economist said. Italy should keep the precedence in mind as it signs the Silk Road agreement because the Italian situation bears similarities to that of Sri Lanka, Dufour said. In both cases, the ports had strategic importance for China -- Trieste would be the new gateway to Europe for Chinese goods -- and Italy is already a country heavily in debt, Dufour noted.Admittedly, Italy is economically much more powerful than Sri Lanka, but "the risk of seeing the port of Trieste get away from Italy remains real," Dufour said. And for a government as nationalist as that of Giuseppe Conte, that would be a major political failure.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election found no evidence of conspiracy by President Donald Trump's campaign to collude with Russia.
Theresa May during a press conference in Brussels on 22 March. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images There is an unforgettable moment in Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip that comes unexpectedly to mind in these strange and desperate times for our country. In it, the comedian recalls an encounter with his close friend, the legendary NFL running back Jim Brown. Pryor is in a wretched mess, confined to his room, freebasing cocaine with a pipe that he imagines is whispering to him. Brown is unimpressed. He simply asks: “What you gonna do?” Again. And again. And again. In March 2019, the UK is Pryor – strung out, in this case, on Brexit – and the rest of the world is Jim Brown. Everyone can see that this is a country on the edge of nervous collapse. Theresa May’s deal with the EU has been twice rejected, heavily, by the Commons. Her cabinet is a spider’s web of plots and schemes. A million marchers took to the streets in London on Saturday to demand a people’s vote. At the time of writing, 5 million had signed the digital petition to parliament to revoke article 50. Nigel Farage warns that, if the exit process is delayed for long, he will ‘tear [May’s] party limb from limb' Meanwhile, Nigel Farage warns that, if the exit process is delayed for long, he will “tear [May’s] party limb from limb”. The very public trust that Brexit was supposedly intended to restore has been further disfigured by three years of failure. The Brexit pipe billows lethal smoke. What you gonna do? Here’s what could be done. This is no time for wishful thinking – nor, however, is it a moment for self-indulgent fatalism either. At the risk of sounding portentous, this is an hour of civic obligation that should soar way above party politics. First, May should announce her resignation now, immediately, without delay. Though I have been arguing that she should quit since the 2017 election, I was not persuaded that the present crisis would be alleviated by her departure – until, that is, last week. By pitting parliament against the public in her horrendous speech on Wednesday, she disgraced the high office that she holds. Desperate and cornered, she rummaged in the populist’s toolkit and deployed the scuzzy rhetoric of the leader posturing as the friend of the people against the treacherous elites. This, remember, is the politician who once had the courage to tell the Tories that they were perceived as the “nasty party” and promised to address the “burning injustices” of our society. It has been a long fall. As defects in a prime minister negotiating a complex international treaty, May’s inertia, lack of agility and fixation with Conservative party unity have always been serious problems. But to that is now added toxicity. Resented by MPs, derided by the EU27, reduced to a Margaret Thatcher tribute act, she is now a clear and present threat to our chances of avoiding a no-deal disaster on 12 April. Every additional hour she remains in office chips away at the national interest. Second: her replacement should be David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister who is already her de facto deputy. Lidington – who has denied “any wish to take over” – should do so unchallenged, exactly as Michael Howard assumed the leadership of the Conservative party in 2003 after Iain Duncan Smith was sacked by his own MPs. But he must also do so on the explicit basis that he will himself announce his own resignation before, say, the Tory party conference opens in September. The Conservative tribe will indeed insist on a fullblown, no-holds-barred leadership battle some time soon. It would be horrendously unpatriotic for the party to engage in that particular conflict at this particular moment. What the nation desperately needs now, especially in the next few weeks, is a caretaker prime minister to lower the temperature, create space for parliament to think and behave imaginatively, to encourage cross-party negotiations. Neither Michael Gove nor Jeremy Hunt, the other two names mentioned by Tory MPs as potential short-term successors to May, is interested in being a caretaker. Both men want the job for real, and have already started to take soundings among their colleagues. With all due respect, Lidington is not a serious candidate for long-term tenancy of No 10: which is precisely why he is the ideal candidate for this unique context. Yes, he is a remainer. But he is also a decent man who would listen to everyone, and try to get us all over the line without catastrophe. That’s no small consideration. Third, as parliament moves centre-stage – which it will this week – the main parties must unambiguously offer MPs the right to vote freely on the different options with which they will be presented. Last week, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Brexit minister, conceded in the Commons that this was indeed the logic of the case. But chancellor Philip Hammond was much more hesitant on this particular matter in his interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday. Meanwhile, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Labour MPs should expect to be whipped when an opposition “policy position” was at stake – which covers just about everything. As hard as it will be for the party managers to let go, they must do so if this exploratory exercise is to mean anything at all. It has become a cliche that parliament knows what it does not want – May’s deal – but is nowhere near a consensus on what it would prefer instead. To stand even a chance of reaching such a consensus, all 650 MPs must be free to speak their mind, and to think as public servants rather than lobby fodder. We have seen where the flailing efforts at command and control have taken us. It’s time to give creativity a chance. Fourth: hardest of all, parliament must come up with a workable alternative to May’s deal. There are endless assertions about the true state of the parliamentary arithmetic: usually, that the Commons, left to itself, is likely to back something like “Norway plus”, the arrangement whereby the UK would remain in both the customs union and the single market, perhaps with bespoke opt-outs. I am not yet persuaded by such claims. Why be a rule-taker when you cannot be a rule-maker? How many MPs would have the sense to back continued freedom of movement? Still: I would definitely like to learn the truth of the matter. I would like to know where the critical mass of unconstrained parliamentary opinion really lies, and then see the government given binding instructions to return to Brussels with a mature plan: a new blueprint, to be implemented subject to the EU’s approval and a public vote in this country. The odds, I readily accept, are still against the smooth enactment of this four-phase strategy. Demons have indeed been unleashed by Brexit to wage war with reason and decency. So all one can say with confidence is that this truly is one of those moments that occur quite rarely in the life of a nation; when all MPs – all of us, in fact – must summon the courage to look in the mirror and ask: what you gonna do? • Matthew d’Ancona is a Guardian columnist
After yesterday’s Put It To The People march drew a million people to London calling for a second referendum, it should perhaps be no surprise that the momentum for change is growing. First came John Bercow’s bold intervention to rule out a third vote on Ms May’s Brexit deal. Then came a badly misjudged appeal to the public on Wednesday, during which the PM attempted to pit ordinary people against members of parliament by blaming the latter for the present impasse.
The reviews for Shazam! are finally out. Asher Angel stars as William “Billy” Batson, an orphan who gets imbued with the power to transform into the Superman-type character Shazam (Zachary Levi) by shouting the hero’s name. Initial reactions were posted online earlier this month, with those lucky enough to catch the film early calling the Shazam! the best DCEU instalment – also including Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad and Justice League – yet.
Jacinda Ardern said a royal commission will look at what could have been done to prevent the Christchurch terrorist attack. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesNew Zealand’s prime minister has announced a top-level inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the massacre of 50 people in two Christchurch mosques.Jacinda Ardern said the country’s highest form of investigation, a royal commission of inquiry, was appropriate for “matters of the gravest public importance”.“It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to the bottom of how this act of terrorism occurred and what, if any, opportunities we had to stop it,” Ardern told reporters at Parliament House in Wellington on Monday.Her cabinet had previously agreed on holding an inquiry, but had not decided what kind of investigation would be held.A royal commission is run independently from the government and is chaired by a high court judge. It has the power to compel witnesses to testify and organisations to hand over documents. But it remains up to the courts or government to follow through on any recommendations or findings.Ardern said the cabinet agreed on Monday a royal commission of inquiry “will look at what could have or should have been done to prevent the attack”.An Australian, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with murder in relation to the 15 March attacks.The royal commission will look at his travel to and from New Zealand, internationally, his activities in New Zealand, his use of social media and his connection to others.The agencies taking part in the inquiry would include the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Security Bureau, police along with Customs and Immigration.Ardern said that the royal commission’s terms of reference would be finalised in the next two or three weeks.Fifty people died in the shootings at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, in what is New Zealand’s worst ever terrorist attack. The county’s intelligence agencies have been under pressure for the past two weeks after they were accused of not placing enough importance on monitoring rightwing extremists.The opposition leader, Simon Bridges, had also called for a royal commission to look at the country’s security legislation and ensure “New Zealanders are kept safe”.Ardern said she and other ministers would soon meet with Microsoft to discuss the role of social media following the sharing of live-streamed video of the alleged gunman’s attack.The commission follows the chief censor making it illegal to possess and share both the live-streamed video of the shooting and a document the gunman shared on social media before the attack took place.David Shanks officially classed the so-called manifesto as “objectionable” and told anyone in possession of it to destroy it.
The world is constantly reassessing women’s place in society: their reproductive rights, workplace equality, safety on the streets, education. In February this year, Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of their Islamic Revolution, a time when many stayed and many fled. Talking to Shahrzad, I realised that while Iranian lifestyle may be different, the experience of work is not unlike the successes and trials faced by western women.
“We’re calling it an apparent suicide because we don’t have the exact results back from the medical examiner’s office,” Reik said by phone. The Miami Herald reported that the suicide victim was a male sophomore who attend the Parkland, Florida, school when 14 other students and three staff members were killed on Feb. 14, 2018, in the deadliest-ever U.S. high school shooting. A week ago, former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Sydney Aiello took her own life, according to her family.
When you grow up in a household with an addict,” says Jenny Lewis, fixing the fringe of her auburn beehive, “there’s this thing that kids do where we try to pretend that everything’s fine, and it’s not. Before she was a revered musician – first with her raw, adored indie-rock band Rilo Kiley, and then as a solo artist, collaborating with the likes of Beck, Brandon Flowers, Bright Eyes, Au Revoir Simone, Ringo Starr and (the since disgraced) Ryan Adams – Lewis was a child actor whose mother was a heroin addict and whose father was barely ever there. Throughout her music career, which began in 1998 when she formed Rilo Kiley with then-boyfriend Blake Sennett, Lewis has been unflinching in documenting her relationship with her parents.
Starwatch chart 25 March 2019 moon in last quarterFollowing last week’s full moon, this week our nearest celestial neighbour crosses from waning gibbous moon to waning crescent moon. It does that in the company of two giant planets, making it an attractive sight for those awake in the pre-dawn hours. The chart shows the view looking south-south-east at 0400 GMT on 28 March. The visible surface of the moon will be precisely half lit, a configuration called last quarter. This marks the boundary between waning gibbous and waning crescent phases. On 28 March, the last quarter moon will appear in the constellation Sagittarius. The moon will be equidistant from Saturn, to the lower left, and Jupiter, to the upper right. Saturn will be the dimmer of the two planets. It will appear as a yellow colour. Jupiter will be higher in the sky, brighter and a white colour. In this final week of the lunar cycle, the Moon rises later and later, eventually disappearing from view into the dawn glow. From here it will reappear as a young moon a few days later, and the next lunar month will begin. And don’t forget that British Summer Time begins this week at 0100 on Sunday, 31 March.
Norwegian rescue helicopters evacuated people from a cruise ship off the coast of Norway on Saturday, March 23, after the vessel lost engine power amid lashing winds and heavy seas, officials said. At least 1,300 people needed to be evacuated from the rocking ship, police said. Five helicopters transported passengers ashore in batches, according to Norway’s rescue agency. Winds recorded at speeds up to 38 knots whipped up waves. When the ship to lost its engine power the crew emitted a mayday call, officials said. This footage was filmed by a CHC Helikopter Service crew and shows people being airlifted off the cruise ship on March 23. Norway’s Rescue Coordination Center said the vessel was “safe at the quay in Molde” on March 24. Credit: CHC Florø via Storyful
Australia has long been a favourite destination for British émigrés - but recent figures indicate a dramatic fall in the number of Britons moving down under.
Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement from the NFL, ending his career on a high after helping the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. The tight end won three Super Bowl titles in a nine-year career with the Patriots, as well as five Pro Bowl appearances, to establish himself as one of the all-time greats in his position. Despite being plagued by injuries in recent years, Gronkowski proved invaluable to Tom Brady in the closing stages of last season, contributing six receptions for 87 yards in the 13-3 Super Bowl victory.
A driver was left “in tears” after “writing off” his £215,000 Lamborghini, which smashed into a tree before hitting a wall. Supercar fans were left aghast after the Huracan Performante mounted a kerb, before crashing into the wall.