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The Guardian Utrecht's Mike van der Hoorn scores comical own goal video

The Guardian | Monday April 15, 2013 @ 08:22:05 AM mt

Utrecht centre-back Mike van der Hoorn scores an inexplicably bad own goal against AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie


    


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The Guardian Ancient Egyptian beads are oldest iron objects found

The Guardian | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 09:24:34 PM mt

The beads, beaten out from pieces of meteorite more than 5,000 years ago, now among objects at Petrie Museum in London

Blackened and corroded beads have turned out to be the oldest objects made in iron ever discovered, beaten out from pieces of meteorite in ancient Egypt more than 5,000 years ago.

The nine beads were excavated in 1911 in a pre-dynastic cemetery near el-Gerzeh in Egypt, and are now among objects at the Petrie Museum, part of University College London, which has a world-renowned Egyptian collection, including quantities of exquisite jewellery. The find is revealed in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The iron beads - the metal from the metorites is actually an iron-nickel alloy, with other elements including cobalt and phosphorus which helped prove its source - were made using a completely different technique from the other beads in the necklace, gold and gemstones which were cast, carved or drilled.

The fact that the iron beads were combined with such precious materials proves that although the ancient jewellers could not have known the true source of the strange metal that fell from the sky, it was highly valued.

The beads were heavily corroded when they were excavated from a grave in 1911, in a pre-dynastic cemetery near el-Gerzeh in Egypt. However, the team led by Professor Thilo Rehren, director of the UCL branch in Qatar, an expert on the archaeology of metal working, scanned them with beams of netrons and gamma-rays, which revealed not only that they really were made from meteorite fragments but also how they were made.

"The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most likely involving multiple cycles of hammering, and not by the traditional stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used for the other beads found in the same tomb," Rehren said. He was impressed at the ancient Egyptians' skills, which he said showed an "advanced understanding" of the material they were using.

Their results are published on Tuesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


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Peruvian footballer Renzo Reaos scores embarrassing own goal - video

The Guardian | Monday August 19, 2013 @ 11:07:18 AM mt

Unin Comercio player Renzo Reaos scores a howler of an own goal in a game against Peruvian Primera Division rivals Universitario



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The Guardian Surfer Garrett McNamara greatest waves - in pictures

The Guardian | Tuesday January 29, 2013 @ 11:00:31 AM mt

The Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara is said to have broken his own world record for the largest wave ever surfed when he caught a wave reported to be around 100ft off the coast of Nazar, Portugal, in November


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The Guardian Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world's food c</a>
						
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The Guardian Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world's food crisis

The Guardian | Saturday November 24, 2012 @ 05:58:38 PM mt

Philipp Saumweber is creating a miracle in the barren Australian outback, growing tonnes of fresh food. So why has he fallen out with the pioneering environmentalist who invented the revolutionary system?

The scrubby desert outside Port Augusta, three hours from Adelaide, is not the kind of countryside you see in Australian tourist brochures. The backdrop to an area of coal-fired power stations, lead smelting and mining, the coastal landscape is spiked with saltbush that can live on a trickle of brackish seawater seeping up through the arid soil. Poisonous king brown snakes, redback spiders, the odd kangaroo and emu are seen occasionally, flies constantly. When the local landowners who graze a few sheep here get a chance to sell some of this crummy real estate they jump at it, even for bottom dollar, because the only real natural resource in these parts is sunshine.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that a group of young brains from Europe, Asia and north America, led by a 33-year-old German former Goldman Sachs banker but inspired by a London theatre lighting engineer of 62, have bought a sizeable lump of this unpromising outback territory and built on it an experimental greenhouse which holds the seemingly realistic promise of solving the world's food problems.

Indeed, the work that Sundrop Farms, as they call themselves, are doing in South Australia, and just starting up in Qatar, is beyond the experimental stage. They appear to have pulled off the ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial quantities.

So far, the company has grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers by the tonne, but the same, proven technology is now almost ready to be extended to magic out, as if from thin air, unlimited quantities of many more crops and even protein foods such as fish and chicken but still using no fresh water and close to zero fossil fuels. Salty seawater, it hardly needs explaining, is free in every way and abundant rather too abundant these days, as our ice caps melt away.

So well has Sundrop's 18-month project worked that investors and supermarket chains have lately been scurrying down to Port Augusta, making it hard to get a room in its few motels, or a table at the curry restaurant in the local pub. Academic agriculturalists, mainstream politicians and green activists are falling over each other to champion Sundrop. And the company's scientists, entrepreneurs and investors are about to start building an 8m, 20-acre greenhouse 40 times bigger than the current one which will produce 2.8m kg of tomatoes and 1.2m kg of peppers a year for supermarkets now clamouring for an exclusive contract.

It's an inspiring project, more important, it could be argued, than anything else going on in the world. Agriculture uses 60-80% of the planet's scarce fresh water, so food production that uses none at all is nothing short of miraculous.


Growing food in a desert, especially in a period of sustained drought, is a pretty counterintuitive idea and Sundrop's horticultural breakthrough also ignores the principle that the best ideas are the simplest. Sundrop's computerised growing system is easy to describe, but was complex to devise and trickier still to make economically viable.

A 75m line of motorised parabolic mirrors that follow the sun all day focuses its heat on a pipe containing a sealed-in supply of oil. The hot oil in turn heats nearby tanks of seawater pumped up from a few metres below ground the shore is only 100m away. The oil brings the seawater up to 160C and steam from this drives turbines providing electricity. Some of the hot water from the process heats the greenhouse through the cold desert nights, while the rest is fed into a desalination plant that produces the 10,000 litres of fresh water a day needed to keep the plants happy. The water the grower gets is pure and ready for the perfect mix of nutrients to be added. The air in the greenhouse is kept humid and cool by trickling water over a wall of honeycombed cardboard evaporative pads through which air is driven by wind and fans. The system is hi-tech all the way; the greenhouse is in a remote spot, but the grower, a hyper-enthusiastic 27-year-old Canadian, Dave Pratt, can rather delightfully control all the growing conditions for his tonnes of crops from an iPhone app if he's out on the town or even home in Ontario.

It's the kind of thing an enlightened futurologist might have imagined for the 21st century, and to enter Sundrop's greenhouse from the desert outside, passing the array of sun-tracking solar parabolic mirrors that looks like something from a film set, is to feel you've arrived at a template for tomorrow-world. The warm, humid air laden with the scent of ripening tomatoes is in such contrast to the harsh landscape outside, where it tops a parched 40C for much of the year, that it feels as if the more brutal sides of both nature and economics are being benignly cheated. You can supply billions with healthy, cheap food, help save the planet and make a fortune? There has to be a catch.

There seems, however, to be only one significant person in the world who feels there is indeed a catch, and, a little bizarrely, that is the inventor of the technology, one Charlie Paton, the British lighting man mentioned earlier, who is currently to be found in his own experimental greenhouse, atop a three- storey former bakery at the London Fields end of Hackney, east London, feeling proud-ish, but not a little sour, about the way things have worked out 10,000 miles away in the desert between the Flinders mountains and the Spencer Gulf.

If you are of an ecological bent, Paton's name may ring a bell. He is the multi-honoured founder of a veritable icon of the green world, a 21-year established family company called Seawater Greenhouse, originators of the idea of growing crops using only sunlight and seawater. Earlier this month, Paton was given the prestigious title Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts, and a few months earlier, Seawater Greenhouse won first prize in the best product category of the UK's biggest climate-change awards scheme, Climate Week. If Sundrop Farms takes off worldwide, the charming and idealistic Charlie Paton could well be in line for a knighthood, even a Nobel Prize; the potential of his brainchild the ability to grow infinite quantities of cheap, wholesome food in deserts is that great.

There's just one problem in all this. Although he and his family built the South Australia greenhouse with their own hands, Sundrop has abandoned pretty much every scrap of the ultra-simple Paton technology regarding it as "too Heath Robinson" and commercially hopeless. Some of the Patons' home-made solar panels in wooden frames are still connected up and powering fans, but are falling apart. Nearly all the rest of their installation has been replaced with hi-tech kit which its spiritual father views with contempt. He dismisses Sundrop's gleaming new 160,000 tracking mirrors from Germany and the thrumming Swiss desalination plant and heat-exchanging tanks as "bells and whistles" put in to impress investors. Sundrop and Seawater have parted company and Paton accuses them of abandoning sustainability in the interests of commercial greed. He is particularly distressed by the installation of a backup gas boiler to keep the crops safe if it's cloudy for a few days.


But we will return to Charlie Paton later; sadly, perhaps, developments in the South Australian desert are now overshadowing the doubts and travails of their original inspiration. And they are quite some developments. "These guys have been bold and adventurous in having the audacity to think that they could do it," says the head of Australia's government-funded desalination research institute, Neil Palmer. "They are making food without risk, eliminating the problems caused not just by floods, frost, hail but by lack of water, too, which now becomes a non-issue. Plus, it stacks up economically and it's infinitely scalable there's no shortage of sunshine or seawater here. It's all very impressive."

"The sky really is now the limit," confirms Dutch water engineer Reinier Wolterbeek, Sundrop's project manager. "For one thing, we are all young and very ambitious. That's how we select new team members. And having shown to tough-minded horticulturalists, economists and supermarket buyers that what we can do works and makes commercial sense, there's now the possibility of growing protein, too, in these closed, controlled greenhouse environments. And that means feeding the world, no less."

An unexpected bonus of the Sundrop system is that the vegetables produced, while cropping year-round and satisfying the supermarkets' demand for blemish-free aesthetic perfection, can also be effectively organic. It can't be called organic (in Australia at least) because it's grown "hydroponically" not in soil but it is wholly pesticide-free, a selling point the Australian supermarkets are seizing on, and apparently fed only benign nutrients. Sundrop is already being sold in local greengrocers in Port Augusta as an ethically and environmentally friendly high-end brand.

Because there's no shortage of desert in which to site it, a Sundrop greenhouse can be built in isolation from others and be less prone to roving pests. Those that sneak in can be eliminated naturally. In this closeted micro-world, Dave Pratt with his trusty iPhone app is free to play God. Not only does Dave have a flight of in-house bees to do their stuff in the greenhouse (who also live a charmed life as they enjoy a perfect, Dave- controlled climate with no predators) but he also has at his command a platoon of "beneficial insects" called Orius, or pirate bugs. These kill crop-destroying pests called thrips, and do so weirdly in nature not for food but for, well, fun. So unless you feel for thrips, or believe food should only be grown in God's own soil and subject to God's own pestilences, Sundrop produce seems to be pure and ethical enough to satisfy all but the most eco-fussy.

Sundrop's founder and CEO, on the other hand, is not at first glance an ecowarrior poster child. True, there are plenty of posh boys dabbling in ethical and organic farming, but on paper, Philipp Saumweber could be a comedy all-purpose hate figure. He is a wealthy, Gordonstoun-educated German with a Harvard MBA, immaculate manners, an American accent, Teutonic efficiency and a career that's taken him from hedge-fund management to Goldman Sachs to joining his family's Munich-based agricultural investment business. But, in the typical way stereotypes can let you down, apart from being a thoroughly nice, softly spoken and clearly visionary man, Saumweber has also made a brilliant but ailing idea work, turning a charmingly British, Amstrad-like technology into the horticultural equivalent of Apple.

Soon after becoming immersed in agriculture as a business, he says, he realised that it essentially involved "turning diesel into food and adding water". Whether you were a tree-hugger or a number cruncher, Saumweber reasoned, this was not good. "So I began to get interested in the idea of saline agriculture. Fresh water is so scarce, yet we're almost drowning in seawater. I spent a lot of time in libraries researching it, Charlie Paton's name kept coming up, and that's what started things. He'd been working on the technology since 1991, was smart and although his approach was obviously home-grown and none of his pilot projects had really worked in fact they'd all been scrapped he had something too promising to ignore."

Despite having given Paton a large, undisclosed ex- gratia settlement when Sundrop and Seawater divorced in February a sum Paton still says he was very happy with Saumweber continues to be gracious about his former business partner, and says he wishes he was still on board, as he is a better propagandist and salesman for this ultimate sustainable technology than anyone else he's met.

"What we liked about Charlie's idea, as did the engineers we got in to assess Seawater Greenhouse, is that it addressed the water issue doubly by proposing a greenhouse which made water in an elegant way and linked this to a system to use seawater to cool the greenhouse," Saumweber recounts.

"What we didn't realise at the start, and I don't think Charlie ever adjusted to fully, was that even in arid regions, you get cold days and a greenhouse will need heating hence the gas boiler, which cuts in to produce heat and electricity when it gets cold or cloudy, but which upset Charlie so much because it meant we weren't 100% zero-energy any longer. What Charlie overlooked is that you can grow anything without heat and cooling, but it will be blemished and misshapen and will be rejected by the supermarkets. If you don't match their standards, you're not paid. It would be ideal if that weren't the case, but we can't take on the challenge of changing human behaviour.

"So in the end, we had very different views on where the business should go. He'd found the perfect platform to keep tinkering and experimenting, while we just wanted to get into production. He's a very nice man and I share a lot of his eco views, but it wasn't possible to stay together."


When you visit the agreeable Paton family in Hackney it becomes clear the gas-boiler incident out in the desert was far from the whole reason for the fallout with Sundrop. There was also a serious clash of styles. Saumweber is a banker by training and lives in prosperous west London, while the Patons are artistic and live part of the time in a forest clearing in Sussex in a wooden house without electricity. Charlie, an amateur and a tinkerer at heart, a highly knowledgeable polymath rather than a scientist, is also a proud man, whose intense blue eyes burn when he discusses how his invention has, in his view, been debased by the ambitious young men and women who moved it on to the next level.

The difference was essentially political, an idealist/ pragmatist schism not unlike an old Labour/New Labour split. The Patons Charlie, his wife, jeweller and art school teacher Marlene McKibbin, son Adam, 25, a design engineer and daughter Alice, 26, a fine art graduate are a tight, highly principled bunch who gather almost every day for a family lunch, like a wholemeal and Palestinian organic olive oil version of the Ewings of Southfork Ranch.

The Seawater Greenhouse method, which they are still promoting actively, involves no desalination plant, no gleaming solar mirrors and little by way of anything electronic. Everything in the Seawater Greenhouse vision is low-tech, cheap to start up and reliant on the subtle, gentle interaction of evaporation and condensation of seawater with wind, both natural and artificial, blown by fans powered by solar panels. If things go wrong and production is disrupted by a glitch in this model, you just persuade people to eat perfectly good but odd-looking produce or harvest less and stand firm by your sustainable principles.

Although the concept is attractive and the philosophy will chime with many a green consumer, the Seawater Greenhouse installation is less elegant. Dave Pratt, fresh to the team from growing tomatoes in Canada, almost went straight back when he saw the kit Adam and Alice Paton had painstakingly put together. "It was like a construction by the Beverly Hillbillies," Pratt says. "They had these 15,000 hand-made plastic pipes meant to work as heat exchangers, but they just dripped seawater on the plants, which was disastrous."

Paton's perspective on things is, naturally, a little different. "I did have a falling-out with Philipp," he says. "It was a joint venture, but we disagreed on a number of things. Being a cautious investor, he called in consultants and horticulturalists, and one said if you don't put in a gas boiler you're going to lose money and get poor produce. I was persuaded about the need for some heating, but it could have been supplied by solar panels. It wasn't such a big deal, perhaps, but it was a syndrome that ran through everything we did. Philipp is the king of the spreadsheet, and trying to make the numbers go black meant he just rushed everything. I'm all for the thing being profitable, but there are levels of greed I found a bit, well, not quite right. I wish him well, though, and if it's fabulously successful, then fine."

What next for the Patons, then? "Well, the settlement we got was enough to carry on fiddling about for some time. We're excited about getting a new project going in Cape Verde [the island republic in the mid-Atlantic], where they produce no food at all and they seem interested. And we have talked about a project in Somaliland [the unofficial breakaway part of Somalia], but that would be difficult as there's not even a hotel to stay in."

Charlie Paton, although the acknowledged founder of the idea of growing unlimited food in impossible conditions, seems almost destined to join a British tradition of hobbyist geniuses who change the world working from garden sheds and workshops, but, because they aren't commercial, and perhaps rather eschew professionalism, miss out on the final mile and the big payday.

"We will absolutely keep on at this in our own way," he says, "but I don't really feel that proprietary about it. The heart of the technology is actually a bit of soggy cardboard. You can't patent or protect the idea of evaporative cooling. The idea of using seawater to do that absolutely was a major breakthrough, but again, you can't patent it. The main thing is that it's us that's still picking up the plaudits, and I think that makes Philipp really angry."


sundropfarms.com; seawatergreenhouse.com


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California Senate votes to revoke Boy Scouts' charitable status

The Guardian | Friday May 31, 2013 @ 12:25:53 PM mt

Legislation, which must pass the assembly to become law, would use taxes to pressure BSA to accept openly gay adults

California's state Senate has passed a bill that would use taxes to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to accept openly gay adults.

The measure, which now moves to the assembly, would revoke the organisation's non-profit status in California and compel it to pay state taxes.

The BSA voted last week to accept openly gay scouts, but still bans gay individuals from becoming adult leaders.

Ricardo Lara, a Democratic senator from Long Beach who sponsored the bill, said the organisation needed to go further in order to retain state support.

The scouts were out of line with California's values and should be ineligible for a tax benefit paid for by all Californians, he said.

"We've given the Boy Scouts ample time to solve their discrimination problem. And they've chosen a path that still leads to discrimination. What does this mean, that up until 17 you're fine to be in the Boy Scouts but on midnight of your 18th birthday you turn into a paedophile or a predator? What kind of warped message does this send?"

Lara is openly gay and a member of the California legislative lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) caucus. Gay rights groups such as Equality California backed the measure.

The bill, SB323, also known as the Youth Equality Act, required a two-thirds vote at least 27 of 40 senators because it changed tax policy. It squeaked through that threshold on Wednesday, 27 to nine. Some Republicans voted against; others abstained.

The vote kept pressure on the Boy Scouts of America and kept California in the national spotlight over gay rights.

To become law the bill must pass the assembly and be signed by Governor Jerry Brown, a liberal Democrat. It would make California the first state to pass a law withdrawing an organisation's tax exemption because it excluded gays and transsexuals, officials said.

Individual donors could continue to make tax-deductible contributions but the scouts would have to pay state taxes on donations.

The measure would almost certainly be challenged in court and possibly also by the IRS.

Deron Smith, a spokesman for Boy Scouts, told reporters the organisation remained committed to serving California's 180,000 scouts. "Today, more than ever, youth need the character and leadership programs of scouting. We are disappointed with anything that impacts our ability to serve more youth."

A former BSA president , Rick Cronk, told the senate last month that the bill would hit a very important revenue source.

The Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative watchdog group based in Sacramento, condemned the senate vote.

"This bill is about government vilifying our values and abusing its power to penalize, through taxation, those who hold different beliefs and values," its director, Karen England, said in a statement. "SB 323 is an unprecedented intrusion by the government and a far reaching assault on freedoms of association, speech, and religion."


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The Guardian: Three people shot dead in Portugal after 'row between neighbours'

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:23:11 PM mt

Two policeman and a young man killed in town just south of Lisbon after man opens fire, reportedly over an argument with neighbours

Three people, including two police officers, have been killed in a shootout in Portugal on Saturday following a row in a town near Lisbon, police have said.

Another person was seriously injured when a man opened fire in Quinta do Conde, about 30km (18 miles) south of the capital, following what television reports called a row between neighbours.

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The Guardian: US national arrested on Sierra Leone 'blood diamond' charges

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:23:10 PM mt

Victims association says Spanish authorities have arrested Michel Desaedeleer, who is suspected of forcing civilians to mine diamonds in 1999-2001

Spanish authorities have arrested a American man on charges of enslavement and diamond pillaging during Sierra Leones civil war, a victims association said on Saturday.

Michel Desaedeleer, who has US and Belgian citizenship, is suspected of forcing enslaved civilians to mine for diamonds in Sierra Leones eastern district of Kono between 1999 and 2001, according to Swiss-based Civitas Maxima.

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The Guardian: Sex swords and dragons: TV plunders Dark Ages for next heroic hit

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:20:03 PM mt
New set of historical dramas turn the clock back from the Tudors to Saxon warlords, Beowulf and even a Welsh Braveheart

Move over Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII: the heroes of this seasons historical television are more likely to be sword-wielding warriors from the Dark Ages battling the occasional dragon.

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The Guardian: Undead rewatched: aliens and zombies collide in a gung-ho low-budget classic

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:20:02 PM mt

The Spierig brothers self-financed debut film was filled with severed limbs, cut-price but surprisingly sophisticated special effects and lashings of humour

Many prominent film-makers have cut their teeth making lowbudget horror movies. Undoubtedly, the ability to create elaborate visual environments using scant resources is appealing to producers and financiers. Big hitters including Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi and James Cameron kicked off their careers with splatstick flicks involving aliens, demons and killer fish respectively as did the German-born Australian film-makers Michael and Peter Spierig.

The Spierig brothers 2003 debut Undead was a hands-on affair; they shared duties in writing, directing, producing, editing and visual effects. Their self-financed budget totalled about $1m: an astonishingly small amount given the visually high-end result, on a par with the sophistication of many more expensive movies that come out of the Hollywood studio system.

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The Guardian: British 4x100m runners criticise CJ Ujahs selection for relay final

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:09:12 PM mt
Relay team miss medal over handover for last leg
Ujah replaced Harry Aikines-Aryeetey for final

Members of the British 4x100m relay team who threw away the chance of a medal with a botched final changeover dramatically turned on British Athletics and each other amid bitter recriminations after the race.

They blamed their coaches for changing the team at the last minute and in the process threatening their livelihoods, accusing them of upsetting a winning quartet by bringing in CJ Ujah in place of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey between the heats and the final.

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The Guardian: The Agenda: Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in Silverstone battle

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:09:11 PM mt
MotoGP leaders on equal points going into British Grand Prix while the rowing world championships are taking place in France

It couldnt be closer at the sharp end of this years MotoGP Championship going into Sundays 12th round at Silverstone (BT Sport 2, 1pm), with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi equal on 211 points apiece. Rossi has won the British Grand Prix five times but never at this circuit taking his victories at Donington while his rival is looking to make it three wins here in four years. Both riders also feature in Hitting The Apex, alongside Marc Mrquez, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and the late Marco Simoncelli. The documentary, presented by Brad Pitt, on the modern era of the sport is directed by Mark Neale, who has previous in this field having already made two MotoGP films. It is released in selected cinemas on Wednesday and on DVD on 7 September. Watch out, too, for Britains Danny Kent, a real talent who is currently leading the Moto3 championship (race: BT Sport2, 2.30pm) and expected to step up a class in the near future, with Rossi and Mrquez both encouraging him to make the move to Moto2.

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The Guardian: Ireland players face nervous wait for Rugby World Cup squad call

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:09:11 PM mt
Joe Schmidt to announce Ireland World Cup squad on Monday
Ireland suffer injuries in 16-10 home defeat to Wales

If youre idea of the perfect Sunday is to have time on your hands with a phone that doesnt beep from morning till night then you will have something in common with the Ireland rugby squad. And if you do have to take a call, the last name in the world you want popping up in the window is that of your boss. Ditto the players, for the only ones who will be hearing from Joe Schmidt this morning are those getting bad news.

The coach got enough of that himself on Saturday. This is not 2007, when Irelands stumbling preamble led to a series of painful falls in the World Cup itself, but its not good that Ireland look a good deal off the pace they generated three weeks ago. Wales on the other hand, having not been able to locate the gearstick in the Millennium, came across all automatic yesterday and cruised through the game.

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The Guardian: Sam Stanley becomes first English rugby union player to come out as gay

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 07:09:10 PM mt
Former Saracens player reveals he contemplated suicide
Stanley part of one of rugbys most famous families

The England Sevens player Sam Stanley has become the first English rugby union professional to come out as gay. Stanley, 23, part of one of rugby unions most famous families who has represented England at under-16 and under-18 level and has played for Saracens, revealed he contemplated suicide because he was scared telling the truth would ruin his rugby career.

Related: Keegan Hirst steps on to field as Britain's first rugby league star to come out as gay

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The Guardian: Chad executes 10 members of Boko Haram by firing squad

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 06:31:25 PM mt
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The Guardian: German pro-immigrant protest welcomes asylum seekers to Dresden

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 06:31:24 PM mt

Anti-Nazi Alliance organisers estimate 5,000 people took part in march through Pegida stronghold in response to rightwing protests against migrants

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to send a message of welcome to refugees after a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Led by protesters holding a huge banner that read Prevent the pogroms of tomorrow today, the crowds marched peacefully through the eastern city under the watch of police in riot gear.

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The Guardian: Search under way for three teenage boys missing in Victorian bushland

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 06:31:23 PM mt

Two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were walking in a group of about 20 when they wandered off in the Yarra Ranges national park near Melbourne

Three teenage boys are missing in Victorian bushland.

Two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were walking as part of a group of about 20 teens when they wandered off in the Yarra Ranges national park north-east of Melbourne about 2pm on Saturday.

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The Guardian: Ulster Unionists vote to leave Northern Irish government

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:53 PM mt

A retaliatory murder by the IRA looks likely to lead to calls for Sinn Feins exclusion from government and the end of the power-sharing agreement

The Ulster Unionist partys (UUP) ruling executive has voted to leave Northern Irelands regional government, in a move that will put pressure on other unionists to follow suit and threatens the future of the power-sharing agreement. This follows the murder of an ex-IRA assassin by some of his former comrades earlier this month, which has created potentially the greatest crisis for the five-party coalition at Stormont in almost a decade.

On Saturday night the UUP backed their leader, Mike Nesbitts recommendation earlier this week that the party resign from the Northern Ireland executive and go into opposition in the Stormont assembly. Up to 90 members of the UUP executive voted in favour of the exit strategy at a hotel in east Belfast.

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The Guardian: British gang masquerades as UN officials at Dunkirk camp

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:51 PM mt

Migrants report Britons from the UN offering to help them reach England

A gang of suspected British people-smugglers is masquerading as UN officials in a migrant camp in France, the Observer can reveal. Migrants at the camp in Dunkirk claim Britons have told them they are working for the organisation as they facilitate attempts to reach England.

The UN in Paris says it has no officials at the rapidly growing jungle in the Grand-Synthe district of Dunkirk, which has doubled in size to more than 300 migrants following a tightening of security at the port of Calais, along the coast. The camp is home to mainly Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian migrants, while Calais, with some 2,000 migrants, has a Sudanese and Eritrean majority, suggesting a partitioning of the camps along the French coast on nationality lines.

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The Guardian: Anyone for tea and sympathy Death cafes embrace last taboo

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:50 PM mt

Attitudes towards dying are shifting and theres even an Ideal Death Show coming up. Whats behind the emergence of a new spirit of openness?

On a sleepy August afternoon, 10 people meet in a cafe in Malvern, Worcestershire, to talk about death. Over tea, cake and a flickering candle, the discussion ranges from recent bereavement, past losses, assisted (and non-assisted) suicide, near-death experiences, funeral wishes and the lessons of life from those facing its imminent end.

One of the group recounts the death a few days earlier of her elderly mother: We did everything right, she died at home surrounded by loved ones, but it was still a horrible death, she says. Another says the previous days second anniversary of his wifes death was worse than the day she passed away. A woman who has lost two husbands discusses the different impacts of sudden, out-of-the-blue and lingering deaths.

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The Guardian: I marvelled at the influence art and wealth of Palmyra. Now I mourn it

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:49 PM mt
First Isis killed the Syrian expert on the city; then they blew up the 2,000-year-old temple at its heart. Here, an expert reflects on the glories of the city she calls the Dubai of its day

Back in 2004 as I stood in the hot summer sun of the Syrian desert, a German archaeologist told me something that I thought, at first, I had misunderstood. He was explaining that the Palmyrenes had imported dates from Egypt. Turning and surveying the vast expanse of date-palm groves that wrapped around the Temple of Bel to the east I asked the inevitable question: Why? The answer was one I had heard before. Because they could.

Two years before, I had briefly worked in Abu Dhabi to fund my research in Syria six weeks of work there covered a years expenses in the Syrian desert and I had heard this answer when I had asked why Dubai Zoo had bred a cama (half camel, half llama). It suddenly came to me why Palmyra was so exceptional. It was the Dubai of its day. Anything was possible for those with money and a whim for the exotic.

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The Guardian: For the record

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:48 PM mt

A graphic that accompanied a report on a new atlas of international mining and oil companies (The map that shames the world, World, 16 August, page 18), contained an entry on the Chirano gold mine in Ghana, which said that it has been marked by long running compensation disputes and claims of pollution and human rights abuses. Kinross Gold Corporation has asked us to make clear that compensation disputes date from 2004, that these are now being resolved, and the other claims also precede their acquisition of the mine in 2010.

Because of an editing error, an article, Convenience stores turn the corner (Business, last week, page 41) referred to increases to the minimum wage as part of the Living Wage campaign costing store group members millions of pounds. That should have been the governments national living wage, which is nothing to do with the Living Wage campaign.

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The Guardian: Netflix takes on Hollywood with its first film premiere at Venice festival

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:47 PM mt
Already shaking up TV with the likes of House of Cards, the on-demand pioneer is to unveil its move into film production

Like a heavenly body twinkling down from another time and galaxy, the Venice film festival still beams out the glamour of the old world. From its first incarnation in 1932, when the likes of Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Ronald Colman and Joan Crawford, not to mention Boris Karloff, sipped drinks on the terrace of the Excelsior in the Lido, the festival has offered the perfect gilded backdrop for the shiny hoopla of film promotion.

This summer, however, the future is coming to the lagoon city and to the longest-established of all film festivals. As a billboard-sized sign of things to come, Netflix, one of the new breed of video-on-demand services, is bringing its first in-house production, Beasts of No Nation, to open at Venice 3 September. It stars British actor Idris Elba as a shady commandant fighting with a militia during an unspecified African war and is directed by Cary Fukunaga, who was behind the acclaimed first series of True Detective. Already its striking poster and alarming trailer have added to a buzz suggesting it may make waves at Venice.

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The Guardian: Fictional Russian invasion sparks row with Moscow

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:46 PM mt

Norwegian TV series Occupied shows Russia taking control of Scandinavian country

A Norwegian TV channel says it will air a TV drama depicting a Russian invasion of Norway after environmentalists seize power and freeze the nations oil and gas industry. TV2 says the production company has already sold Occupied a 10-episode, 7m drama by thriller writer Jo Nesb to European stations.

Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, the Russian ambassador in Oslo, told Russias Tass news agency that Russia, regrettably, has the role of the aggressor. In the worst traditions of the cold war, [this show] decided to scare Norwegian viewers with a nonexistent threat from the east, he said. TV2 drama chief Christopher Haug said he was surprised by the reaction. It is obviously a fiction, everyone can see that, he said, adding that the Russian embassy had been told about the series at an early stage, three years ago, I believe.

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The Guardian: Israeli veterans recall horrors of countrys victory in six-day war

The Guardian | Saturday August 29, 2015 @ 05:57:45 PM mt
New documentary Censored Voices records ex-soldiers telling of their regrets over brutal 1967 conflict

Israeli soldiers had already searched the Palestinian families trudging away from their homes, cleared them of their weapons, and sent them on their way. Then a second group of soldiers pulled up in a car, separated out the men, took them to one side and shot them.

When horrified observers asked their commander, How could this be?, he shrugged off the massacre. When you chop wood, chips fly, he told his men.

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