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  • Liz MacKean obituary
    Posted by David Grossman on August 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Television journalist who worked for Newsnight for 14 years, leaving the BBC over its decision to drop her investigation into the Jimmy Savile sex scandalLiz MacKean, who has died aged 52 after a stroke, was that rarest of creatures in the world of broadcast news. In an industry full of egos and elbows, Liz was a campaigning journalist without even the smallest measure of sanctimony or self-regard. It was the victims who were always given the limelight in her work. It was their cause, not her career, that was paramount. Indeed, she sometimes pursued her targets at great cost to her career.Liz was born in Romsey, Hampshire, the second of four daughters of Tom MacKean, a circuit judge, and his wife, Muriel (nee Hodder). It was not until her parents sent her to Gordonstoun in Scotland that they found a school that could accommodate her energy and love of the outdoors. Her other passion was drama, which she went on to study at the University of Manchester. After graduating, Liz formed a two-person theatre company called Juicy Fruits. Although she gained her Equity card after touring the comedy circuit for a year, by now she had settled on broadcast journalism. In this she found a career that could feed her love of performance and required only minimal time in an office. Continue reading... […]

  • Dick Gregory obituary
    Posted by Michael Carlson on August 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Comedian, civil rights activist and diet guru who made his mark during the 1960s satire boom in the USOne famous and often-poached comedy routine of Dick Gregory’s involved his experiences in the US south. “I spent 20 years there one night,” Gregory began. “I walked into this restaurant and this waitress said ‘we don’t serve coloured people here’ and I said ‘that’s all right, I don’t eat coloured people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’” The joke encapsulates the three careers pursued by Gregory, who has died aged 84 – comedian, political activist and diet expert. That Gregory, like many who fought for social justice in the 1960s, wound up in later life selling himself and his new-age lifestyle, should not detract from the impact he made as a comedian, nor the energy he brought to his activism.It was Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, who in 1961 heard Gregory performing at a black club, and hired him for the Playboy Club in Chicago, thus beginning his breakthrough to a mainstream white audience. Previously, black comedians had played to two distinct markets: they could be as free and risqué as they liked with black audiences on the so-called chitlin’ circuit, but had been confined to supporting roles and stereotypical characters for the larger white audience. Continue reading... […]

  • Dear Guardian: how to improve the chances of your letter appearing in print
    Posted by Nigel Willmott on August 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Keep it short, don’t wander from the point, get your facts straight and try to make us laugh (or cry). Yours faithfully, the letters editorWhat is the perfect letter? For us, it’s the one that arrives about 3pm when we are trying to fill the last slot on the print page, is topical and well-argued and, handily, just about the right length. If it comes from someone with a well-known name in their field, all the better. Straight out of the inbox and on to our page layout. It happens, but not often.For the most part, readers’ letters must compete with all the other emailed letters we receive each day in the “copytasting” mosh-pit. From these 200-300 letters, we select a longlist to transfer into our working files and consider for publication. (We still read the letters that arrive by snail mail, but they often reach us two or three days late.) It’s then a process of filtering until we end up with the 20 or so letters that appear on the page, with maybe a few more online. About a fifth of the letters submitted are from women – we’d love to hear from more of you. Related: Letters: What's the EU ever done for us? This lot… Related: My council tax rebate from Kensington and Chelsea is blood money | Letters Continue reading... […]

  • The article that changed my view … of caring for my mother
    Posted by Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill on August 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Guardian member Dawn Thompson explains why two comment pieces by Deborah Orr helped her embrace the challenges she faces while caring for her elderly motherDawn Thompson, 55, is a carer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was not one article that changed my view, but two. They appeared in the Guardian six months apart and both were by Deborah Orr – the first reflecting on her mother’s death a week earlier, and the second about her experience of clearing out her parents’ house. Continue reading... […]

  • Spain attacks: Canadian grandfather named as latest Las Ramblas victim
    Posted by Haroon Siddique, Angela Giuffrida, Jennifer Rankin, Eleanor Ainge Roy,Philip Oltermann and Damien Gayle on August 19, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Ian Moore Wilson, who was on holiday in Barcelona with his wife Valerie, described as ‘adventurous, generous and compassionate’• Victims of the Spain terrorist attacks: what we know so farA Canadian grandfather is the latest victim of the Spain terror attacks to be named, after his daughter released a statement hailing the efforts of those who fought to save his life.Ian Moore Wilson was on holiday with his wife of 53 years, Valerie, when terrorists drove a van into crowds along the Barcelona thoroughfare of Las Ramblas on Thursday afternoon. Related: From gas blast to carnage in Las Ramblas: the attacks that shook Spain Related: 'I am not afraid': Barcelona vigil sends message of defiance Nuestro afecto para la familia de Ana María Suárez, fallecida en el atentado de Cambrils. Y nuestro deseo de recuperación para los heridos. Continue reading... […]

  • Energy customers overpaying to the tune of £102m
    Posted by Miles Brignall on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Bill blunders meant more than a quarter of households paid an amount that didn’t reflect their meter readingsAlmost 1.3 million energy customers were collectively overcharged £102m – the equivalent of more than £79 each – last year as a result of billing errors by their energy supplier.A study by comparison site uSwitch found that more than a quarter of gas and electricity customers had been charged an amount that didn’t reflect their meter readings. Other blunders included erroneous direct debits, incorrect fees and incorrect tariff or product details. Five per cent of customers said their bill had been muddled with another household’s. Continue reading... […]

  • Lloyds and Halifax customers face up to 52% APR overdraft fee
    Posted by Miles Brignall on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Account holders slate ‘astonishing’ rate of borrowing which is more than credit cards and payday loansThere is growing anger among some Lloyds and Halifax customers – those who regularly use their overdraft – after they received letters from the banks this week warning them that the cost of going overdrawn could shoot up after November.In July, Lloyds banking group announced that it was radically overhauling its overdrafts fees, including those at Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland. At the time the bank said the move will leave most customers better off – although it admitted that 10% of account holders could end up paying significantly more. Continue reading... […]

  • A free railcard or a £2,000 overdraft? How to pick the best student account
    Posted by Patrick Collinson on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Two things are vital to help you make the correct choice – the giveaways on offer and the amount of interest-free overdraft you’ll receive and whenSchool leavers found out this week which university they will be going to, and over the next month they and their parents will be wondering how on earth they are going to afford it. For many it will be the first time they run a proper bank account and look after their own money. So which account should a fresher choose?Proximity of the bank and its branches may influence some; others will automatically go with the one their parents are with. But cool-headed students will choose an account on two things: the value of the interest-free overdraft on offer, and whether the giveaways are worth taking. Continue reading... […]

  • How to reform student finance? Let’s start with interest rates
    Posted by Patrick Collinson on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    If it was a bank, we’d brand the 6.1% interest rate shameless profiteeringStudent loans are overpriced, badly administered and probably mis-sold. If they were a financial product that we unpick in the Money pages each week, they would more than likely fall into the “worst-buy” rather than the “best-buy” category. Yet well over 200,000 undergraduates will be herded into them in September.Let’s start with the overpriced interest rate. Supermarket group Asda launched into personal loans this week, promising rates starting at 2.9%. Tesco and Sainsbury’s start just a tad higher at 3%. Meanwhile, the government can borrow on international money markets at just 1.8% for repayment over 30 years. Yet, when it lends the money out through the Student Loans Company, to be repaid in up to 25 years, it applies an interest rate of up to 6.1%. If this were Lloyds or Barclays we’d call it shameless profiteering. Continue reading... […]

  • Here’s help to decide which of two Isas is the best to buy into
    Posted by Patrick Collinson on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    A million people have taken out the help-to-buy Isa, but there’s another option for saversThe government is hailing the success of the help-to-buy Isa, with figures released today which show that a million accounts have been opened by first-time buyers since December 2015, with £1.8bn saved towards buying a home.It’s not difficult to see why they have been popular – the government gives a 25% bonus on savings of up to £12,000, worth £3,000 for an individual or £6,000 for a couple. To put it another way, a couple who save £24,000 between them for a deposit are given a further £6,000 by the government. The money has to be used to buy a home up to the value of £250,000 outside London, or up to £450,000 in the capital. Continue reading... […]

  • What’s the best site for buying wine online?
    Posted by Guardian Staff on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Majestic, Waitrose, Naked ... I don’t know where to startEvery week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.This week’s question: Continue reading... […]

  • Professor T review – Belgian crime thriller gets lost in translation
    Posted by Lucy Mangan on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    What happens when you put Morse, Sherlock and Taggart into a blender? Professor Jasper Teerlinck – irascible, brilliant and no fan of Ricky GervaisProfessor T (More4) is a new import from Belgium. I’m not sure whether it’s a drama or a comedy-drama. It depends on what has got lost in translation. The eponymous protagonist is criminology lecturer and occasional police adviser Professor Jasper Teerlinck. This must be Dutch for “amalgam”, as the prof is as irascible-with-a-capital-I as Morse, has a brilliant mind capable of perfectly profiling a villain from a Single Overlooked Clue à la Sherlock, OCD like Monk and delivers blisteringly honest appraisals and insults because, like House, he Cares Not What Other People Think. And he has a sad-eyed but unembittered ex-wife in the background, like – oh, too many to count. Also, for those of us of a certain vintage, Professor Teerlinck looks like Taggart put through a juicer and into a better suit. Continue reading... […]

  • TalkTalk scam victims move closer to class-action lawsuit
    Posted by Miles Brignall on August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Information commissioner’s ruling on data breach strengthens case against broadband providerLawyers acting for around 50 people defrauded by scammers after a major data breach at TalkTalk in 2014 are discussing their next move, which victims hope could herald the start of legal action against the broadband firm.Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced it was fining TalkTalk £100,000 for failing to look after its customers’ data. The ICO said TalkTalk had breached data protection laws by allowing unjustifiably wide-ranging access to its systems by external companies, including Wipro, an Indian IT services firm it employed to deal with complaints and coverage problems. Staff there had access to large quantities of TalkTalk customers’ data including names, addresses, phone numbers and account details. Continue reading... […]

  • From airline cancellations to that ropey hotel, what to do about botched holidays
    Posted by Miles Brignall and Anna Tims on August 19, 2017 at 5:59 am

    The Guardian and Observer consumer champions have joined forces to bring you a guide to your rights … from lost luggage to flight delays and bad hotelsIt’s that season again. The sleepless nights, the stressful confrontations and the hours spent on phone and email seeking resolutions. In other words the summer holidays, when many of us jet off for a break from the demands of work and discover the sunny retreat is more stressful than the office. Abta, the travel agents’ association, received nearly 13,000 complaints about botched holidays over 12 months last year. The problems can start as soon as you arrive at the airport, or spring out at you in the form of mysterious debits from your bank account weeks after your return. Whether your flight was overbooked or your hotel under-built, this guide tells you how to sort out the mayhem of the Great British Make Off. Continue reading... […]

  • The superhero and the standup: Spider-Man Tom Holland and his dad Dominic
    Posted by Chris Wiegand on August 19, 2017 at 5:00 am

    The star of Marvel’s blockbuster is the subject of his father’s comedy show at the Edinburgh fringe. They discuss the art of getting laughs, sending Spidey back to school and finding the old man a part in a webslinging sequelThere is no shortage of up-and-coming comedians with famous parents at this year’s Edinburgh fringe: Elliot Steel (son of Mark), Will Hislop (son of Ian) and Ruby Wax’s daughters, Maddy and Marina Bye, are all performing. At the Voodoo Rooms venue in the New Town, the situation is a little different. Standup Dominic Holland, who recently turned 50, is in Edinburgh with a free fringe show, 24 years after winning the best newcomer award at the festival. The subject of his new set? How his success has been surpassed by that of his 21-year-old son, Tom, star of Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Spider-Man: Homecoming.“I genuinely don’t need to be here,” Dominic states in his show, Eclipsed, with reference to his son’s lucrative webslinging contract. He describes his own gig as “indoor busking” – it’s free to get in but he holds a bucket for punters’ donations on their way out. Tom is currently filming sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, co-starring Daisy Ridley and based on Patrick Ness’s book trilogy, but has flown in from Canada to see the show with his family. It’s a surprise for his dad and, when I meet the two of them afterwards, they whip out a phone to play the video of Dominic’s ecstatic reaction when Tom turned up that morning.Mum must have countless Spider-Man costumes that all of us boys have worn through the years Related: Edinburgh festival 2017: the shows we recommend Continue reading... […]

  • Forget Brexit, people. We’ve got to get Big Ben sorted | Marina Hyde
    Posted by Marina Hyde on August 19, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Theresa May has finally grasped the urgency of the UK’s situation. But not the situation we had in mind“I think it’s mad. I’d forgotten, of course – I’ve been out of government for a lot of years – I’d forgotten how long it takes to get approvals for this and approvals for that. There’s a sort of rude phrase which I will shorten to ‘just get on with it’ … Just get on, just do it, don’t faff.” Pop quiz: is David Davis talking about his spectacularly unprepared Brexit negotiating approach, or is he talking about a big bell?Yup, it’s the big bell. News that Big Ben may be silenced for a few years during renovation works on the Houses of Parliament shocked Westminster this week, causing a welter of politicians to ignore the clock that IS ticking in favour of wetting their pants about one that might stop. If sovereignty is serving as your own punchline, we’ve already aced Brexit. If not, we must accept that creating auto-satirical metaphors could soon be our last great manufacturing industry. Related: The Big Ben row isn’t about a bell, it’s about Britain’s insecurity | Anne Perkins I suppose it’s a stall of sorts: quick out of the traps on horological upkeep, slow on defenders of white supremacists Continue reading... […]

  • Late summer flowers make crucial refuelling stops for the insects
    Posted by Graham Long on August 19, 2017 at 4:30 am

    New Forest, Hampshire Marsh flowers provide nectar for a long list of species, from marmalade hoverflies to silver-washed fritillariesThe New Forest rides, named long before many were gravelled to allow cyclists and others ease of access, cut through the inclosures and plantations, serving as motorways for the many small creatures that abound in these woodlands. Much of the colour here in earlier months has gone. The golden yellow rays of marsh ragwort, Jacobaea aquatica, a plant quickly distinguished from its prolific commoner relative J vulgaris by its broader florets and leaves with a spade-like end, stand out more radiantly because there is so little competition. Continue reading... […]

  • From gas blast to carnage in Las Ramblas: the attacks that shook Spain
    Posted by Giles Tremlett in Cambrils Stephen Burgen in Barcelona and Ian Cobain in London on August 19, 2017 at 4:00 am

    A night of terrorism in Catalonia that left 19 people dead - including five terrorists - and more than 130 injured began with a botched attempt to construct a gas bombWhen an explosion ripped through a house in the small southern Catalonian town of Alcanar in the early hours of Thursday, police and firefighters initially assumed there was an innocent explanation.All that remained of the building when they arrived was a heap of smouldering rubble. Several neighbouring buildings had also been badly damaged by the blast, which could be heard from miles away.One of them ran right along the pavement below us, shouting loudly about Allah Continue reading... […]

  • Spain terror cell planned Barcelona bombing rampage
    Posted by Giles Tremlett in Cambrils, Sam Jones in London and Stephen Burgen in Barcelona on August 19, 2017 at 12:20 am

    After 13 die in Las Ramblas, further Catalan atrocity only thwarted by accidental detonation of explosives, say police The terrorist cell which killed 14 people in Catalonia on Thursday was planning to mount a bombing attack in Barcelona that was only abandoned when they accidentally blew up the house where they were stockpiling explosives.Thirteen people were killed and more than 130 injured after a white Fiat van ploughed along Las Ramblas in the Catalan capital on Thursday. Eight hours later, a Spanish woman was killed and six people were hurt after a car thought to be carrying five members of the same cell ran down pedestrians in the coastal town of Cambrils. All five terrorists were shot dead by police. Related: From gas blast to carnage in Las Ramblas: the attacks that shook Spain Related: Timeline of terror in Spain: how Barcelona and Cambrils attacks unfolded Continue reading... […]

  • Stephen Hawking blames Tory politicians for damaging NHS
    Posted by Denis Campbell Health policy editor on August 18, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Exclusive: Physicist criticises ministers over funding cuts, privatisation and pay caps before address revealing his reliance on health serviceThe NHS saved me. As a scientist, I must help to save itStephen Hawking has accused ministers of damaging the NHS, blaming the Conservatives in a passionate and sustained attack for slashing funding, weakening the health service though privatisation, demoralising staff by curbing pay and cutting social care support.The renowned 75-year-old physicist was speaking to promote an address he will give on Saturday outlining how he owes his long life and achievements to the NHS care he received, and setting out his fears for a service he believes is being turned into “a US-style insurance system”. Related: The NHS saved me. As a scientist, I must help to save it | Stephen Hawking Stephen Hawking is brilliant physicist but wrong on lack of evidence 4 weekend effect.2015 Fremantle study most comprehensive ever 1/2And whatever entrenched opposition,no responsible health sec could ignore it if you want NHS 2 be safest health service in world as I do 2/2 Continue reading... […]