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  • Edward Braun obituary
    Posted by David Edgar on April 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Along with Konstantin Stanislavski, Vsevelod Meyerhold was the leading theatrical innovator of the early 20th century, certainly in Russia and arguably the world. A victim of Stalin’s purges (he was shot in 1940), Meyerhold had anticipated the mid-century move away from naturalistic drama towards a theatre of performance, drawing on the tradition of circus and commedia dell’arte.His writings might well have remained unknown in the west had not a young British linguist, Edward Braun, who has died aged 81, headed to Leningrad to track them down and publish them. Continue reading... […]

  • Magdalena Abakanowicz obituary
    Posted by Christopher Masters on April 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Sculptor acclaimed internationally after overcoming a privileged background to establish a successful career in communist PolandThe Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, who has died aged 86, could trace her lineage back to Genghis Khan. At least, that was the family legend. As a child in the 1930s, she had privileges that were soon to be destroyed by the second world war and its aftermath. Yet, despite her background, she managed to launch a highly successful career in communist Poland, eventually gaining an international reputation for her evocative textile sculptures of the human figure.After starting as a painter in the 1950s, she began experimenting with various other media, from welded steel to textiles, and in 1962 she was encouraged by the weaver Maria Laszkiewicz to exhibit at the first International Tapestry Biennale in Lausanne. A few years later, she began to suspend pieces of roughly textured fabric from gallery ceilings, creating abstract shapes so idiosyncratic that she named them “Abakans”, after herself. In the same period she created installations with large coils of rope, its knots and fibres reminding her of “a petrified organism”. In 1972 she even wound such a structure around Edinburgh Cathedral. Continue reading... […]

  • John Fraser obituary
    Posted by Julia Langdon on April 24, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Long-serving Labour MP for Norwood in south London who campaigned against the misuse of the ‘sus’ lawsIt was his knowledge and profound understanding of his constituency and its inhabitants that singled out John Fraser, the former Labour MP for Norwood, who has died aged 82, in his long parliamentary career. Born and brought up in south London himself, he lived and worked there throughout his life, and every speech he made during 33 years in the House of Commons, much of it spent on the frontbench, reflected his comprehension of the concerns of the people he represented.His political life was dedicated to seeking controls over slum landlords, corrupt estate agents, rogue garage owners and unfair discrimination of any kind against those less able to help themselves. His lasting legacy is to have introduced legislation in 1976 obliging garages to display their petrol prices. Continue reading... […]

  • Marine Le Pen rails against rampant globalisation after election success
    Posted by Angelique Chrisafis in Paris on April 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Far-right leader takes highest score party has registered in presidential vote, but will be the underdog in 7 May run-offThe far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s place in the second-round of the French presidential election cements her Front National party’s steady rise and growing presence on the country’s political landscape.Le Pen took 21.53% of the first round vote – the highest score her party has ever registered in a French presidential election – finishing second behind Emmanuel Macron. However, while her father Jean-Marie Le Pen sparked a political earthquake 15 years ago by reaching the final round, this time there was little surprise. Related: Marine Le Pen heads to the rust belt to celebrate French election success Related: The Guardian view on France’s election: a win for Macron and hope | Editorial Related: Marine Le Pen: the estranged daughter tied to a very public life | profile Continue reading... […]

  • Ding ding! All aboard the ex-Lib Dem minister's solar-powered bus
    Posted by Mark Leftly on April 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Norman Baker ditched the ‘constant battle’ of working with Theresa May to run the Big Lemon – the Brighton eco-firm launching a green bus routeVince Cable and Ed Davey, the former business and energy secretaries respectively, are among the Liberal Democrats that lost their seats in 2015 who are plotting their way back to parliament in this general election.But an erstwhile colleague has rejected the opportunity to regain his seat in Lewes in East Sussex. Norman Baker, the former transport minister who later quit the Home Office in 2014 after finding working with Theresa May a “constant battle”, sighs: “I don’t need to do the same thing over and over again, that’s the definition of madness. Continue reading... […]

  • Canals offer alternative to London property ladder
    Posted by Donna Ferguson and Alexandra Topping on April 24, 2017 at 8:56 am

    The capital’s waterways give a growing number of residents affordable berthsRichard Hagan knows exactly why he likes living on a narrowboat on London’s canals. “It’s the sense of community. You can ask anybody around you, at any particular time, for anything, and they will happily help you out.”The 32-year-old South African bought his 36ft-narrowboat six years ago for £14,000 as a way out of London’s rental trap. “My parents cashed in some shares and gave me the money to buy outright. I went from paying £80 a week in rent and sharing a room with a friend in Finsbury Park to having my own place.” Continue reading... […]

  • The Guardian's contribution to MPs' inquiry into fake news
    Posted by Kate Saunders on April 24, 2017 at 8:30 am

    The issue is not simply fabrication of untrue stories, but the existence of an online ecosystem that has blindly evolved to reward themThe Guardian recently submitted a response to the culture, media and sport select committee’s inquiry on fake news. This week, the committee published this and other papers, and we thought readers might be interested in hearing more about the evidence we’ve given.The response runs to many thousands of words, so this is a condensed look at some of the issues we raised. Continue reading... […]

  • The article that changed my view … of how business should be done
    Posted by John Vaughan, as told to Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill on April 24, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Member John Vaughan explains how a Guardian article from 1999 opened up a new way of working and led to a friendship that is still going strongJohn Vaughan, 70, is a senior teaching fellow at Leeds Business School and a business manager, living in West Yorkshire. When I read about Dr Meredith Belbin in 1999, he was little more than the subject of an intriguing newspaper article. I am now fortunate enough to call him a friend. Continue reading... […]

  • Families have evolved. Now language must too | Andrew Solomon
    Posted by Andrew Solomon on April 24, 2017 at 7:00 am

    We need new words for new kinds of relatedness, ones that don’t simply hark back to traditional rolesIt is a shortcoming of the English language that we have relatively few words to describe familial relationships: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousin – occasionally with a prefix such as “step” or “half”.We have had general access to computers in daily life for only a few decades, yet the terms we’ve learned to help us accommodate that change are ubiquitous: email, pdf, smartphone, texting, Googling, emojis, and so on. We have integrated this new vocabulary so deeply that such descriptors are commonly used as metaphors: we speak of having insufficient bandwidth to achieve something, or of being hard-wired to behave in a certain way. Related: I thought I'd never be a dad until I saw an ad for LGBT foster carers In our ecstatic embrace of the nuclear family, we are told that a child 'needs' a mother and a father Continue reading... […]

  • Forget Brexit. Can May finally win over the working class? | Matthew d’Ancona
    Posted by Matthew d'Ancona on April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    The official mantra is stability, but the prime minister’s real goal in this election is to convince lower-paid voters the Conservatives are on their sideComplacency and fatalism have no part in a general election, least of all after the upsets of the past two years. We live in an age of volatility, Trumpery and brutal caprice. But let us not be delusional either: the direction of travel in this campaign is pretty clear. When an 11-point opinion poll lead over Labour is presented as a crisis for the Tories, you get a sense of where things might be heading. So – sweeping aside all the rhetorical and statistical clutter – the question we should be asking is, what sort of prime minister would Theresa May be with a larger Commons majority? Is there such a thing as Mayism, or is she simply a grey, autocratic pragmatist? Related: This is Terminator 6: Rise of the Ballot Boxes ‑ the election that never ends | Marina Hyde If specific tax cuts are proposed, you can bet that they will be focused upon the low- and moderately paid Continue reading... […]

  • Plan to opt out of rights accords in future wars dangerous, inquiry hears
    Posted by Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent on April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    MoD says plan aims to protect troops from false legal claims but Liberty says ‘laws must not be silenced by war’Government plans to opt out of international human rights agreements in future conflicts would be dangerous and prevent British soldiers from obtaining justice, according to evidence submitted to a parliamentary inquiry by the Law Society and Liberty.The proposal to temporarily suspend enforcement of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in the next war would only protect the Ministry of Defence from scrutiny in the courts and damage the UK’s international reputation, the two organisations have told the joint committee on human rights (JCHR). Continue reading... […]

  • Mayor to subsidise 'naked' homes solution to London housing crisis
    Posted by Robert Booth on April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Sadiq Khan adds weight to scheme to construct spartan apartments that will sell for up to 40% less than usual new-buildsWho needs internal walls or a fitted kitchen anyway? As house prices soar ever further out of reach, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, is to subsidise a new generation of ultra-basic “naked” homes that will sell for up to 40% less than standard new builds.The apartments will have no partition walls, no flooring and wall finishes, only basic plumbing and absolutely no decoration. The only recognisable part of a kitchen will be a sink. The upside of this spartan approach is a price tag of between £150,000 and £340,000, in reach for buyers on average incomes in a city where the average home now costs £580,000. Continue reading... […]

  • French presidential election 2017: what happens next?
    Posted by Guardian staff on April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Attention now turns to the second-round runoff that will decide the presidencyMacron and Le Pen through to second round - live coverageThe dust has barely settled on Sunday’s first-round vote, but already attention is turning to what happens next. Related: Emmanuel Macron v Marine Le Pen: who are they, and who will win? Continue reading... […]

  • Inflation puts the brakes on Britain's economic activity
    Posted by Julia Kollewe on April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Official GDP estimate – due on Friday – will reflect how weaker pound has pushed up the cost of imported goodsBritain’s economy cooled considerably in the first three months of the year as higher inflation put a squeeze on disposable incomes, official figures are expected to show this week.The economy shrugged off the shock of the Brexit vote last June and has been surprisingly resilient, with growth rates of 0.5% in the third quarter of 2016 and 0.7% in the final quarter. Related: Whatever the IMF thinks, we are a long way from the boom time of 2007 | Larry Elliott Related: IMF ratchets up UK economic growth forecast to 2% Continue reading... […]

  • It's Macron or Le Pen after first round of France's presidential election
    Posted by Angelique Chrisafis in Paris on April 24, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Supporters chant ‘Macron President’ after self-styled liberal progressive outsider reaches 7 May runoff with 23.75% of votes, ahead of Le Pen on 21.53%• Live coverage: Macron and Le Pen progress to runoff on 7 MayThe independent centrist Emmanuel Macron has topped the first round of the French presidential election and will face the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen in a standoff marked by anti-establishment anger that knocked France’s traditional political parties out of the race.Macron topped Sunday’s first round with 23.75% of votes, slightly ahead of Le Pen with 21.53%, according to final results from the interior ministry. Macron, 39, a political novice, now becomes the favourite to be elected as France’s next president. He is the youngest ever French presidential hopeful and has never run for election before. Related: 'The real misery is in the countryside': support for Le Pen surges in rural France Continue reading... […]

  • Virgin Trains refused to refund £293 after I forgot my railcard
    Posted by Rebecca Smithers on April 24, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Train operator says I must send in the new tickets I had to buy on the train, but the barrier retained them when we returned homeIn January my wife and I and three daughters travelled to Euston from Chester for a weekend in London. We bought tickets in December by phone from the Llandrindod Wells ticket office, which were posted to us. On the day of travel we realised we had left our family railcard at home and had to pay £293.65 for new tickets to the helpful train manager. It was explained that we would need to contact Virgin and demonstrate we had a valid card to get a refund. Continue reading... […]

  • French presidential favourite Macron may drive hard bargain in Brexit talks
    Posted by Nicola Slawson on April 24, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Europhile centrist has described Britain’s decision to leave EU as a ‘crime’, saying he is ‘attached to a strict approach to Brexit’The current favourite to become president in the French election could spell bad news for the UK government in talks on Brexit should he win.If Emmanuel Macron succeeds in the second round on 7 May, which he is currently favourite to do, he is likely to drive a hard bargain in Brexit negotiations. Continue reading... […]

  • Mélenchon's 2017 race echoes previous failings: close but not close enough
    Posted by Kim Willsher on April 24, 2017 at 5:00 am

    The French election candidate softened his stance towards the end of the campaign, but in the end the skilled orator failed to muster enough votesIn the end, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 2017 French presidential election campaign ended like his previous gambit in 2012: a decent showing, a surge of support as the race tightened, but not quite enough.For the first weeks of the campaign, Mélenchon acted like he knew he would never win. It showed in the shrugs, the barbed quips and acerbic asides, the to-hell-with-it “bof”, the Chairman Mao jackets and unabashed support for the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Continue reading... […]

  • First steps on the stone road to Banbury
    Posted by Simon Ingram on April 24, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Stamford, Lincolnshire Discovering that a footpath named the Jurassic Way not only glanced my door but set off from it, I decided to walk it piecemealIt took 10 years of living here before I looked hard at my town’s Ordnance Survey map. There, like most who neglect study of their closest ground, I saw my daily familiar articulated in a diagrammatic, unfamiliar way. Here notable historic echoes inscribed alongside its present. And I discovered that a footpath named the Jurassic Way not only glanced my door but set off from it, travelling 88 miles from this old Lincolnshire town to the unlikely end of Banbury, traversing a ridge-seam of limestone that gave Stamford its stone and the route its name. Drawn, it presents like a diagonal scratch across the belly of England.With spring here I decided to walk it piecemeal, beginning today with the first mile. With the town’s spires to my back I cross the floodplain of the meadow, joining the bank of the Welland. Its banks are plump with green, the water still but for the odd ripple from a surfacing fish. The path is a balding in the grass. Related: The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane Continue reading... […]

  • UK's rarest plants are at risk of extinction, charity warns
    Posted by Press Association on April 23, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Campaign group Plantlife unveils list of top 10 endangered species and calls for better management of road verges that have become habitats of Britain’s floraSome of the UK’s rarest plants are at risk of extinction unless action is taken to look after the road verges that have become their final refuge, a charity has warned.Species such as fen ragwort and wood calamint are now only found on road verges, with fen ragwort hanging on in just one native spot near a burger van on the A142 in Cambridgeshire, conservation charity Plantlife said. Continue reading... […]