The Guardian


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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


    


http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/video/2013/apr/15/utrecht-own-goal-dutch-video

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

Unión Comercio player Renzo Reaños 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 Nazaré, Portugal, in November


http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/gallery/2013/jan/29/garrett-mcnamara-surfs-100ft-wave
The guardian Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world's food c</a><!--FACEBOOK
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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: 10 diktats from Brussels that are ruining life in Britain

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:32:54 AM mt

From lowering energy bills to stopping toxic chemicals poisoning the environment, here are just some of the ways we’re tyrannised by the EU

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The Guardian: Against Excellence

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:32:53 AM mt

Universities are currently agonising about the Research Excellence Framework. Jack Stilgoe doesn’t have a problem with research assessment. He thinks that the real trouble lies with the word ‘excellence’.

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The Guardian: Zoology Notes 001: vampire bats can run

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:32:52 AM mt
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The Guardian: Minecraft: Story Mode spin-off game announced by Mojang

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:30:17 AM mt

The block-building mega-hit is getting an episodic adventure courtesy of Walking Dead developer, Telltale

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The Guardian: Marouane Fellaini: I had to prove I was good enough for Manchester United

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:28:54 AM mt
• Belgium midfielder thanks Louis Van Gaal for his opportunity
• Fellaini relishing challenge of fighting for Premier League title

Marouane Fellaini has thanked Louis van Gaal for handing him an opportunity to prove himself as a Manchester United player after a difficult start to his career at Old Trafford.

The Belgium midfielder was signed by David Moyes from his former club Everton on transfer deadline day for £27.5m but endured a testing first season, making only 12 Premier League starts.

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The Guardian: Worlds oldest footballer Kazuyoshi Miura extends his contract in Japan

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:28:47 AM mt
• Yokohama striker will celebrate his 48th birthday in February
• Miura has made four appearances in second division this season

Former Japan international Kazuyoshi Miura has agreed to extend his contract for another season at second division side Yokohama FC, with his new deal taking the former Genoa striker past his 48th birthday.

Already acknowledged as the oldest active professional player, Miura this week put pen to paper on a new contract having made four appearances for his club this season.

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The Guardian: Andrew Lloyd Webber kicks out the jams with School of Rock musical

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:24:35 AM mt

The production is set to debut on Broadway in autumn 2015, with new music from Lloyd Webber and a script by Julian Fellowes

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The Guardian: Sky should continue to be forced to make sport available to other platforms

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:10:25 AM mt
Ofcom says broadcaster’s dominance of live Premier League football means pay-TV rivals would be harmed if it limited distribution of Sky Sports 1 and 2

Sky Sports channels now available to BT customers with YouView boxes

Media regulator Ofcom has said Sky should continue to be forced to make its sports channels available to other platforms but said it was “less clear” that the same obligation should be extended to its rival BT.

Ofcom said Sky’s dominance of live Premier League football, where it has more than 75% of the rights and 80% of the market revenues, meant other pay-TV retailers would be harmed if it limited distribution of Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.

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The Guardian: Michael van Gerwen comes through stern test at PDC World Championship

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 04:10:24 AM mt
• Van Gerwen defeated Joe Cullen 3-1 at Alexandra Palace
• Keegan Brown sprung a surprise to defeat John Part
• Van Gerwen: I see more of Phil Taylor than of my wife

The reigning champion Michael van Gerwen was given a stern test before eventually booking his spot in the second round of the PDC World Championship.

The Dutchman would have been looking to make a statement against Joe Cullen as he began the defence of his title at the Alexandra Palace.

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The Guardian: Snow babies cutest animals in the snow in pictures

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:54:44 AM mt

Camilla de la Bedoyere shares some stunning pictures and amazing facts about cute baby animals in the snow!

You can find out more in Camilla’s book Snow Babies

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The Guardian: The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron review an extraordinary view of contemporary Israeli society

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:54:43 AM mt
A fictional West Bank settlement and the chaotic lives its inhabitants lead reflect the contradictions and complexities of life in modern Israel Continue reading...






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The Guardian: 'Nobody stood up': George Clooney attacks press and Hollywood over Sony hack fallout

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:54:40 AM mt
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The Guardian: Sony's Amy Pascal to work with Al Sharpton against 'cultural blindness' after racially insensitive emails

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:54:39 AM mt
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The Guardian: Southamptons Jay Rodriguez out for another six weeks with knee injury

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:26:29 AM mt
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The Guardian: Talking Horses: Fridays best bets plus a new tipping competition

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:26:28 AM mt
The Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack at Ascot is the value bet at 20-1

The meat of the card at Ascot this afternoon is quite thin in terms of numbers, with a total of just nine runners in the two most valuable races and only five in the handicap chase. A schedule of five jumps races and a bumper is not exactly getting into the spirit of Christmas either with seven-race cards now pretty much standard at most racecourses, but at least the race without obstacles is worth staying behind for.

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The Guardian: Darren Bent has two luxury cars stolen by burglars

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:26:27 AM mt
• Burglars take Bent’s Audi RS6 and Ranger Rover
• Bent’s house in Little Aston targeted on Saturday morning

The Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, currently on loan at Brighton, has had two luxury cars stolen and burglars broke into his house and stole the keys to the vehicles.

The burglars broke into Bent’s house in Little Aston in the early hours of Saturday morning and helped themselves to keys to the striker’s Range Rover and Audi RS6.

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The Guardian: Kevin Pietersen tells England selectors his phone is on ahead of World Cup

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 03:26:26 AM mt
• Batsman says he would take a call if contacted on Friday
• England’s World Cup squad to be announced on Saturday
• Pietersen hits 66 off 46 balls for Melbourne Stars in Big Bash

Kevin Pietersen insisted he would listen to any offer to return as England selectors met on Friday to decide which players are set for World Cup duty.

The batsman’s international career looks to be over after he was ditched from the England set-up following last winter’s heavy Ashes defeat, and went on to write a controversial autobiography.

@MattWabe: The @ECB_cricket selectors meet today. Get @Eoin16 as captain and a little man called Kevin @KP24 into the side.” Phone is on!

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The Guardian: Twitter should ban racist words says MP

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 02:58:27 AM mt
Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, received 2,500 hate messages at height of online campaign against her

Racist words should be blocked by Twitter, a Labour MP who was a victim of online anti-Semitism has said.

Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, said she received 2,500 hate messages at the height of an internet campaign against her.

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The Guardian: 'Nobody stood up': George Clooney attacks press and Hollywood over Sony hack fallout

The Guardian | Friday December 19, 2014 @ 02:56:49 AM mt
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/19/george-clooney-sony-pictures-hack-the-interview


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