Why is the press reporting on Hurricane Ophelia but not the worst ever terrorist attack in Somalia?

It’s just possible you have heard about Hurricane Ophelia, the remnants of which are battering the Republic of Ireland and parts of the UK (and from where I’m sitting, appear to have turned the sky over London a strange shade of yellow).

Given the British obsession with weather, perhaps it should be no surprise that the prospect of some 80mph gusts is dominating headlines. Handily too, the stiff breeze has turned up three decades after the Great Storm of 1987, which has provided an excuse for lots of recollections of Michael Fish telling people not to worry about hurricanes. (He’s usually misquoted but hey ho.)

True enough, the Met Office has warned of there being danger to life so let’s not be too dismissive. Moreover, there is little more immediate or primordial than weather conditions – I’m the first to admit to a fair bit of cloud-watching over the years; what I can’t predict about the likely route and ferocity of a “passing shower” is, well, considerable.

Nevertheless, it was notable this weekend that, aside from the ongoing sex abuse scandal enveloping Harvey Weinstein, few other news stories got a look in when it came to media front pages. 

In particular, Saturday’s truck bomb in the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, received moderately little attention, despite taking the lives of more than 300 people and injuring hundreds more. If such an attack took place in the UK, or elsewhere in Europe – or frankly anywhere else in the West – it would plainly have taken centre stage for weeks. As it is, it seems to have fallen into that category of grim attack in a far-off country beset by an Islamist-inspired, militant insurgency – nasty, of course, but not something that affects us directly and or about which we can do very much.

Somalia, indeed, is far down the list of nations we might think of in that bracket of troubled places. We know all about Syria and Iraq; and quite a lot about Libya. Yemen is next in line; and of course the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in 2014 brought awareness to the horror of Islamist terrorism in Nigeria.

If we think much of Somalia it is probably in connection with pirates, although ironically the piracy problem has improved considerably in recent years. If not pirates, then our first thought may be connected to the UN and US intervention in the east African country in 1992 and 1993 – mainly because one battle during the international effort to bring order to Somalia was immortalised in the film Black Hawk Down.

Inevitably, the situation in the country today is highly complex. A parliamentary election with full suffrage was planned for last year – the first democratic vote since 1969. In the event, ongoing civil strife meant there was an indirect election in which delegates appointed by senior clan leaders chose members of parliament on behalf of the people.

With the United Nations backing the slow process towards democracy and African Union soldiers bolstering the government and its local law enforcement forces, al-Shabaab remains the primary opposition group. Having emerged from the Union of Islamic Courts which held sway in Mogadishu as recently as 2006, the terror group has gradually lost control of most urban areas. But it still has a few thousand fighters in its ranks and – as it proved once again this weekend – is capable of bringing mass slaughter to Somali streets.

The notion of moral equivalence is bandied about far too easily, usually to suggest that relatively wealthy, predominantly white Westerners don’t care about relatively poor, mostly non-white foreigners in war-torn or disease-ridden places a long way away. It is, for the most part, an overly-simplistic narrative which seeks to downplay the perfectly reasonable interests (and fears) of ordinary folk in their own lives and their localities. News, fundamentally, is context-specific: to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Nevertheless, it is tempting sometimes to wonder if we should pay a little more attention to difficult political situations in far-flung parts of the world; and rather less to the potential consequences of a system of moderate low pressure in the Atlantic, no matter how much hot air it produces.      

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/somalia-al-shabaab-truck-bomb-why-doesnt-press-report-it-a8003246.html

Behind the scenes at South Shields – life in the eighth tier of the football pyramid

The mini-bus engine chugged, and its driver stuck his head out of the window as he waited for the gates to Mariners Park to open. ‘Big time, eh?’ shouted Graham Fenton.

Less than 48 hours after the FA cup romantically fluttered its eyelids at South Shields, life had returned to normal and Fenton, the team’s joint manager, was back ferrying young hopeful footballers from college to training.

A football ground that had squeezed 2900 people in on Saturday afternoon for an all-north east FA Cup tie was largely silent again. South Shields had come close to another scalp – after York and Darlington. They had led one-nil in the first half and then struck a crossbar. Hartlepool rallied and struck twice in the second half.

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It ended a cup dream, but not something much bigger. The loss was Shields’ second in the last 54 games. Fenton, capped for England at Under-21 level and a twice League Cup winner as a player, is moving a football club with genuine ambitions to enter the Football League.

“Do we have the aspiration to be the fourth biggest club in the north east? Yeah, why not?” he says. “You look at the way the place is going at the moment, it’s really positive, our gates are excellent, the owner has huge ambitions to take it further and obviously we realise it will be very difficult but why not aim to fourth in the north east. 

“We showed in results against York and Darlington that we can compete against them. We are trying to do things right. It is coinciding things are happening quite quickly. We have the infrastructure behind the scenes to deal with it.”

Fenton is filling his non-league CV with trophies. That always catches they eye. He won the FA Vase at Wembley with North Shields and was approached by the Souths Shields owner Geoff Thompson, a successful local businessman. He moved across the river Tyne with Lee Picton and the pair became joint managers. South Shields romped to the Northern League Division One title (they currently sit five points clear at the top of the Evo Stick North (tier eight). There was also another Wembley appearance for Fenton as South Shields won the Vase.

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“The two finals were hugely proud moments,” he adds. “The work you put in behind the scenes at North Shields and then here, with a lot of people, and you realise it was worth it.

“We’ve just set the academy up. Geoff’s vision of the football club is to promote young local talent over the next few years into the first team. We have an opportunity to go around the area, attract decent players, work on them for two or three years to see if we can get them into the first team. They’re educated at Sunderland college and they train full time. It’s a big ask for them.

“Myself and Lee are pretty much doing 75 hours a week at the minute.  There is a huge feeling around the club of everybody pulling together. Everybody wants to make this happen.”

Fenton is 43 now. At 19, his third appearance for Aston Villa was a cup final against Manchester United.

“It’s difficult to surpass that,” he adds. “It’s your third game in the first team playing against Man United, who did the double that year and you beat them. The 21 cap was brilliant. It would have been brilliant if it had been at Wembley but it was at St James’ and that was a special occasion. The big occasions are not so nice if you reflect back and you haven’t won the game.”

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The Mariners are currently leading the Evo Stick North (Getty)

Defeat to Hartlepool did not bring that. “The support was brilliant. It was absolutely tremendous.The whole community is pulling together with the football club and it’s great to be around.”

There have been darker times. Fenton, a son of the north east, left Aston Villa in 1995 to join Blackburn for £1.5 million and two years later, he moved again, this time to Leicester. He admits that period of his life led to depression.

“There is a lot of stuff in the media at the minute about mental health, when you’re going through it, you don’t even realise,” he says. “I was hugely depressed. That old, stiff upper lip I guess. ‘Get on with it, why are you feeling sorry for yourself?’ You don’t realise it until you reflect back when you’re in a better place.

“It was a bad seven years. Three years at Leicester were difficult and then it just carried on from there. Performances during that time were poor. When you’re not enjoying it you might as well chuck your boots in the bin. 

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South Shields want to become the fourth biggest club in the North East (Getty)

“I stumbled across management. Paul Baker was at Blyth Spartans. He invited me in as assistant manager. I started enjoying football again. I hadn’t enjoyed it for seven years. I’m massively grateful to get this opportunity and get my love of the game back. For seven years I hated it.

“When you’re in a good football club and a good dressing room, there is no better place to be. You meet fantastic people and you have great experiences and good laughs. It’s a great life, when it’s going well.”

And despite Saturday, for South Shields and Fenton, it is.

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/football-league/south-shields-fa-cup-hartlepool-exclusive-graham-fenton-a8003206.html

Marawi city siege: Last two leaders of Isis-linked militants killed as Philippines troops retake streets

The last two surviving leaders of a deadly siege in the southern Philippines were killed Monday in a push by thousands of troops to retake the last pocket of Marawi city still held by pro-Islamic State militants, security officials said.

Four military and police officials said that Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI’s most-wanted terror suspects, and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a gun battle and their bodies were found in Marawi.

Marawi is a mosque-studded centre of Islamic faith in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana later said: “Yes, they are confirmed dead.”

Mr Lorenzana said DNA tests would be done on the remains of the two militant leaders to pave the way for the payment of huge US and Philippine bounties offered for the two.

A top Malaysian militant, Mahmud bin Ahmad, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Handzalah and is a close associate of Hapilon, has not been found and was among the remaining militants being hunted by troops, he said.

Hapilon has been blamed by the US for ransom kidnappings of several Americans, one of whom was beheaded in 2001 in southern Basilan province.

Hapilon had been indicted in the District of Columbia for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts against US nationals and other foreigners.

Military leaders had said last month that three leaders of the militants who began the siege of the lakeside city on May 23 were killed in the months of fighting but the two still alive were leading a final stand.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the Marawi violence, including more than 800 militants.

Army Colonel Romeo Brawner said Sunday about 40 militants were still fighting in a small hilly residential area by Lanao Lake, including 100 relatives of the gunmen and civilian hostages.

On Saturday, troops attempted to rescue several hostages but only snatched a 16-year-old female captive because of intense militant fire, which wounded an army battalion commander and more than 20 other soldiers, Col Brawner said.

The rescued hostage provided the crucial information that allowed troops to locate Hapilon and Maute in one building, Mr Lorenzana said.

Among the last batch of surviving fighters were about 10 foreigners, mostly Malaysians and Indonesians, but there were no immediate word about their condition, the military said.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the south, the scene of decades-old Muslim separatist uprising, to deal with the siege, the worst crisis he has faced since rising to power in June last year.

Mr Duterte has gone to the battle area a number of times to rally the troops, once firing a sniper rifle toward militant position.

He has vowed to have the militants killed to the last man because of the deaths and destruction wrought by the violence in Marawi.

AP

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/marawi-city-siege-philippines-leaders-killed-isis-linked-islamic-state-isnilon-hapilon-omarkhayam-a8003286.html

Eva Green left 'shocked and disgusted' after 'pushing off' Harvey Weinstein

Eva Green has claimed she was forced to “push off” disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and was left feeling “shocked and disgusted”.

The Bond actor, who appeared in Casino Royale, is the latest woman to accuse one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers of sexual harassment.

Green’s allegations come after her mother claimed her daughter attempted to dodge his advances but alleged he threatened to destroy her career in response.

During a radio interview, Marlene Jobert said Green was targeted by Weinstein between 2010 and 2011 in Paris. She accused the acclaimed producer of being a “horrible man” who told her daughter he would help her build her career in return for sexual favours.

Speaking to Europe 1 radio in French, she said: “My daughter Eva was a victim of this horrible man … he is tenacious, he insisted over the course of several months, from the moment he arrived in Paris, he would start calling her.

“She didn’t respond … she was a little bit intimidated, this guy had so much power. The power over all cinema. He stuck so many sticks in her wheels, because he was angry.

“It’s difficult, (she) took a long time to recover, she preferred to forget and not to talk about it anymore.”

She recalled the way Weinstein approached her daughter, saying: “He was with Eva the way he was with all the others, with the same modus operandi: under the pretext of a professional rendez-vous, with a scenario for him to give out, with a great role at stake.

“And as his office was also in his hotel suite, he asked them to come up and then, great … He promised them, like everyone, to promote their career in exchange for sexual favours.”

Green issued a later statement to Variety, saying: “I met him for a business meeting in Paris at which he behaved inappropriately and I had to push him off.

She continued: “I got away without it going further, but the experience left me shocked and disgusted.”

Green said she chose not to discuss the alleged incident before because she was keen to maintain her privacy but has now been inspired by the chorus of women coming forward to accuse Weinstein. She applauded the “great bravery” of women for speaking out and argued it was important to come to terms with the fact this behaviour is pervasive and not simply linked to the entertainment industry.

“The exploitation of power is ubiquitous. This behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be eliminated,” she said.

Green had appeared in Sin City which the disgraced media mogul had been involved.

The Weinstein fallout erupted last week when The New York Times published an bombshell story about Weinstein’s numerous settlements with women and included Ashley Judd accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment. This was followed by a similarly explosive 10-month investigative piece in The New Yorker that included three women who accused him of rape.

More than 40 women have accused the Hollywood A-lister of sexual misconduct. He is now the subject of criminal investigations on both sides of the Atlantic and has been fired from his namesake company.

Weinstein denies any accusations of nonconsensual sex. His spokesperson said in a statement last week: “Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein.”

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/eva-green-harvey-weinstein-sexual-harassment-actress-producer-bond-girl-casino-royale-a8003266.html

House that inspired EastEnders in London garden square is for sale

A Victorian terrace house in Hackney that was the original inspiration behind the fictional location of EastEnders has been listed for sale for £1.1 million.

The unmodernised four-bedroom house with a basement and private garden is in east London’s Fassett Square, the ‘real’ location behind the BBC soap’s fictional Albert Square.

The owners of the house currently for sale were the original inspiration for Kathy’s Café, the caff taken over by Ian Beale in the mid-Eighties.

“The house has been in our family since I was born. My dad owned a café and they replicated that on the square,” said the current owner.

EastEnders’ creator Julia Smith was originally going to film on location but it was eventually decided to use Elstree Studios instead. 

Nonetheless, the soap opera set is a pretty faithful recreation of the Hackney original. The 56 homes in Fassett Square are identical, right down to the measurements, to those built on the Albert Square set location.

Similarities between the two garden squares are less pronounced nowadays than they were when the series’ creators first discovered the Hackney square in 1985, given the rapid gentrification of Hackney in the 32 years since EastEnders was first broadcast.

Back then, the East End was deemed to be a perfect breeding ground for soap opera plots, with Smith describing the “problems of unemployment, bad housing and so on.”

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In contrast, house prices in Hackney have risen 753 per cent in the past 20 years alone, according to research from Halifax, while Land Registry figures show the average sold house price in the E8 postcode is now £1,458,000.

“It’s in what is now a very affluent area, but back in the Eighties when EastEnders was created, it perhaps wasn’t the most desirable area and was a little rough round the edges,” said Simon Taylor, of Purplebricks, who are selling the property.

“Back then I’d guess the house would be worth somewhere in the region of £100,000 which shows just a how high the value is in London property these days.”

Fassett Square’s residents have returned the communal garden to its former Victorian glory with winding paths and island beds and lawns and it is now a must-visit during Open Garden Squares weekend.

It’s doubtful that the bench in Fassett Square has seen anything like as much drama as its television counterpart, although it still hosts street parties, barbecues and even weddings for residents.

There’s also no pub like the Queen Vic in the Hackney square, although there are several fashionable watering holes nearby, including the Spurstowe Arms, which has been frequented by Keira Knightley among other local celebs.

But, while Hackney may have gentrified beyond recognition, Fassett Square’s roots are still regularly commemorated, according to the vendor.

“They come to the square to celebrate every time there’s an anniversary or special event.” 

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/property/house-that-inspired-eastenders-for-sale-in-london-garden-square-for-11million-a8003076.html

How David Warner transformed himself from Walkabout bad boy to Australian statesman ahead of the Ashes

Given the speed of his transformation it’s possible to badge David Warner as world cricket’s equivalent of the 60-minute makeover.

The first Australian since 1877 to make his international debut before playing a First Class match has been labelled many things in his career – the vast majority of which aren’t publishable on the pages of The Independent – but, increasingly and against all odds, Warner is rapidly becoming something of a statesman-like figure Down Under.

So, when he talks of this winter’s Ashes series being akin to ‘war’, it’s probably wise for England’s finest to pack their hard-hats before they board the plane at Heathrow.

It wasn’t so long ago that the pugnacious left-hander was throwing right handers in the small hours at the Walkabout bar in Birmingham.

This summer, though, he was the Australian team’s go-to man in ill-tempered negotiations over the players’ future contracts.

And when the Aussies needed someone to shed their natural attacking instincts of take one for the team in Bangladesh, Warner stood up to register the slowest, but potentially one of the most crucial, centuries of his Test career in a winning cause.

That 123 in Chittagong – which followed a similarly single-minded century in the second innings of the first Test in Dhaka, which Australia lost – was the 20th of his Test career.

That puts him ahead of the likes of Mark Taylor, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell in the Aussies all-time list. It also reaffirmed the view that, along with Steve Smith, his wicket will be the one that England covert above the rest this winter.

It’s all a far cry from the days when Warner was labelled a one-trick pony at the start of a career that has now seen him score almost 6000 Test runs at an average touching 48.

“He’s a cricketer who failed the eye test and probably still would,” says Trent Woodhill, the Aussie batting coach who has worked extensively with Warner since 2007.

“He was around the scene (at NSW) but he was stuck in that traditional mould. Someone had run the eye test over him and then said that he would have to improve if he was ever going to play red ball cricket.

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“When he first came through, Twenty20 was still seen as a joke. There was nothing new about cricket, everyone was looking for the new Glenn McGrath, the new Shane Warne, the new Mark Taylor. Then along comes this pocket rocket who was so strong and just gave it to the bowlers.

“He just came from outside the traditional sanctum of Australian cricket.”

Warner’s Sheffield Shield debut eventually came two months after his Australian T20 bow. He came in at number six for New South Wales against Western Australia and scored 42 in traditionally breezy style.

What wasn’t so rapid was his elevation to the Australia Test side, which came almost two years later against New Zealand at the Gabba in Brisbane.

There was widespread head-scratching at the length of time he had to wait, particularly in India, where Warner had already established himself as one of the Indian Premier League’s most outstanding imports.

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“Virender Sehwag saw him and said he could be anything he wanted to be,” says Woodhill, who worked alongside both Warner and Sehwag at the Delhi Daredevils. “He said he needed to open the batting because it was where he could cause most damage.

“I suppose, at that time, David really illustrated the changing face of cricket. It just took others in Australia and the Channel Nine commentary box longer to see it.”

His first brush with an English audience wasn’t quite as successful, with his Joe Root altercation leading to a suspension from the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy and causing him to miss the opening two Tests of an Ashes series that ended in a humbling series defeat for the tourists.

That incident remains a significant black mark on his career but proved to be a vital catalyst in his transformation from sporting bad boy to ambassador. It might also act as a timely reminder of cricket’s potentially restorative potential to Ben Stokes, who faces an uncertain winter after events in Bristol last month.

“David is one of those guys who says things that others are afraid to say and that hasn’t changed,” says Woodhill. “In the past, he has been used as a pawn for some people to do the rough and tumble stuff that others weren’t prepared to do themselves.

“I think the incident in 2013 was one of the main catalysts in his career. David plays the game hard but he also plays the game fair. It’s an easy roller-coaster ride to fall off of but he reset himself. For me, David’s a great person who has always had a very generous heart.”

That generosity is unlikely to extend to cutting England any slack this winter but that won’t come as any surprise to the likes of Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Root – players who know just how unforgiving an Ashes series can be.

Warner believes it’s ‘war’ as soon as the sides step over the boundary rope at the Gabba on November 23.

Like the Aussie left-hander, England must show they have the stomach for the fight.  

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/ashes-2017-david-warner-australia-cricket-walkabout-england-tour-a8003236.html

Venezuela's opposition refuses to recognise surprise win for Maduro in regional elections

Venezuela’s opposition refused on Monday to recognize a surprise win for the ruling socialists in weekend regional elections, potentially rekindling protests and fresh foreign sanctions on the oil-rich country’s moribund economy.

The pro-government electoral board said President Nicolas Maduro’s candidates took 17 governorships, versus six for the opposition, in Sunday’s nationwide poll.

The socialists’ strong showing came amid devastating food shortages, triple-digit inflation, and a collapsing currency in the South American OPEC nation.

Polls suggested the opposition would easily win a majority.

Dismayed opposition leaders decried irregularities, called for street action on Monday, and demanded a full audit, but they did not offer any evidence of fraud.

“Neither Venezuelans nor the world will swallow this fiction,” said grave-faced opposition campaign chief Gerardo Blyde at a midnight news conference.

“We played by the rules with a democratic conscience … but this electoral system is not trustworthy.”

Critics called for the electoral board to release more detailed results, to cross-reference with opposition observers’ tallies. (http://www.cne.gob.ve/resultados_regionales2017/)

Dispirited about their chances of removing Maduro through protests or the ballot box, many Venezuelan opposition supporters now hope foreign pressure, such as sanctions, will hurt him.

The Trump administration has already imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials, including Maduro.

In August, Washington imposed financial sanctions against Caracas in an effort to cut back funds for the already severely cash-strapped government.

The European Union could also take measures against Maduro, a former bus driver and foreign minister narrowly elected to replace the late leader Hugo Chavez in 2013.

At home it seems unlikely opposition supporters are willing to return to the streets after four months of grueling protests this year failed to pressure the government into holding an early presidential election, freeing jailed activists or accepting humanitarian aid.

At least 125 people died, while thousands were injured and arrested in violence that brought parts of Venezuela to a standstill as hooded youths battled security forces.

Sunday’s disputed result will further crush protesters’ hopes that the unpopular Maduro can be removed in next year’s presidential election, possibly worsening disputes over strategy in the perennially divided coalition.

Venezuelan bond prices inched down on Monday morning in a possible sign of investor pessimism.

“There’s no money, no food, no medicine, no security. Yet according to the government, everyone voted for them?” said a skeptical Gloria Torres, 56, once a staunch supporter of former President Hugo Chavez.

The opposition’s electoral setback could further speed a flow of emigrants to other Latin American countries, Spain, and the United States, as many Venezuelans now fear the long-running political crisis will drag on for years.

Flanked by his powerful wife, soldiers, and red-shirted party members, a buoyant Maduro appeared on state television late Sunday to celebrate victory and paint the opposition as sore losers.

“When they lose they cry fraud. When they win they shout ‘Down with Maduro,'” said Maduro, 54, ordering a full audit to demonstrate transparency.

The opposition pocketed governorships including in the turbulent Andean states of Merida and Tachira, the oil-producing region of Zulia, and the jungle-and-savannah state of Bolivar.

The government, which had controlled 20 of the 23 governorships, took states across Venezuela’s languid plains and steamy Caribbean coast.

It won back populous Miranda state, which includes part of capital Caracas, with an up-and-coming star of the Socialist Party, Hector Rodriguez.

It also won in Barinas, Chavez’ home state in Venezuela’s agricultural belt that government supporters regard as the ‘cradle of the revolution.’

“If the electoral council does not give clear numbers demonstrating this election was legitimate, it could further international isolation of Venezuela,” said David Smilde, a long-time Caracas-based sociologist.

“If the results are not convincing, this will make a presidential election in 2018 difficult,” he said, referring to opposition hopes to take power in the presidential vote scheduled for late next year.

The opposition has cried fraud at some past votes, but has lacked substantial detailed evidence.

After a controversial vote in July for a pro-government legislative superbody, Reuters obtained a document showing irregularities in the reported results. Smartmatic, the U.K.-based company that provided the technology for the vote, said the results had been manipulated by at least 1 million ballots.

Authorities denied any wrongdoing.

The government does retain significant support in poorer, rural settings and Venezuela’s disorganized and elite-led opposition has struggled to capitalize on discontent over the economy.

Socialist candidates, invoking the popular Chavez at every rally, urged Venezuelans to vote against the opposition, whom they accuse of plotting a coup under the veneer of peaceful protest.

“I vote because I want peace, not terrorism,” said customs official Franquelsi Anciana, who cast a vote for the government candidate in the western city of Maracaibo.

Reuters

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/venezuela-election-nicolas-maduro-socialists-chavez-result-a8003221.html

Kit Harington on Gunpowder: 'The idea was spawned from a piece of family curiosity'

You can usually tell when Bafta is hosting an actor from a fan-heavy show like Doctor Who, Sherlock or Game of Thrones as there will be a crowd of devotees – tipped off on social media, no doubt – clogging the pavement around the entrance on London’s Piccadilly. This evening it’s the arrival of Jon Snow that ‘s being anticipated, or rather Kit Harington, the 30-year-old British actor who plays Snow, the Bastard of Winterfell, in Game of Thrones. Harington’s in town to promote his latest venture, a three-part BBC1 drama about the Gunpowder Plot.

In Gunpowder, a three-parter written by Ronan Bennett (Top Boy, the Hamburg Cell) and created by Harington’s own fledgling production company, the actor plays his ancestor, Robert Catesby, the arch-Catholic conspirator in the 1605 plot to blow up the Protestant King James 1 during the State Opening of Parliament. 

Catesby – and not Guy Fawkes – was the ringleader of the conspiracy that is commemorated each year on 5 November with bonfires and fireworks, and in the interests of historical accuracy, children collecting for rockets and Catherine-wheels, rather than calling out “Penny for the Guy” should be demanding “Penny for the Robert”.

“My mother’s maiden name is Catesby and my middle name is Catesby”, says Harington following a screening of the first episode. “The idea for this was spawned from a piece of family curiosity; it was always a kind of thing growing up …’you know you were related to the leader of the Gunpowder Plot?’ and all that.

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“I didn’t actually know a lot about him. I think I knew more than some people about the Gunpowder Plot, but not a lot. It was only by doing some research into that I started to understand how these people worked.”

It was more than simple curiosity about his ancestry that led Harington to tackle the subject and to take his idea to the BBC. “Yes, there was a family connection but more it was the idea that this seemed like an idea ripe for doing”, he says. “I couldn’t really work out why it hadn’t been dramatised. It’s such a significant piece of typically English folklore and we mark it every year on 5 November and set off fireworks on bonfire night.”

Maybe it’s the very parochialism of the subject matter that has deterred filmmakers. American Liv Tyler, who co-stars as Catesby’s cousin, Anne Vaux, later tells me that she hadn’t really ever heard of the Gunpowder Plot, while a subject without obvious heroes was never going to appeal to Hollywood. There was a 1923 British silent movie, while some 80 years later, Jimmy McGovern wrote Gunpowder, Treason and Plot, with Michael Fassbender as Guy Fawkes. But that’s about it. “Most people know about Guy Fawkes now from V for Vendetta and the subsequent Anonymous masks during things like Occupy Wall Street”, says Harington.

Having taken their idea to Kudos, the production company behind Spooks, Life on Mars and much else, Harington was put in touch with the Northern Irish dramatist Ronan Bennett, who was in some ways ideal to take on this story. A former Republican sympathiser who, as an 18-year-old, had been wrongfully convicted of murdering an RUC officer, many years later Bennett stood trial in at the Old Bailey accused of leading a terrorist gang. 

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He was acquitted after having conducted his own defence but still spent 20 months on remand, some of it in solitary confinement. Bennett’s previous works for television include the controversial Rebel Heart about the Easter Uprising, and the Hamburg Cell, which imagined the lives of al-Qaeda suicide bombers.

“I think if you ask most people what they know about the gunpowder plot they’ll go ‘Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament…’ something like that”, says Bennett. “I actually have a PhD in history and it’s from this period, and I had actually forgotten – if I ever knew – about Catesby, and that Catesby was the real leader and mastermind of it.

“We think of the plot ending with the arrest of Guy Fawkes, – no spoilers here but there’s actually another dramatic episode. But the question for me was where does this come from? Why would someone do this?.”

Gunpowder begins with a 20-minute scene in which Catesby’s Warwickshire manor is raided while the household is illegally receiving mass from a Catholic priest (played by Top of the Lake’s Peter Mullan), and is followed by two graphically gruesome torture scenes, the like of which have probably never been seen on BBC1 on primetime Saturday night (although the Tom Hardy drama Taboo proved that this timeslot could carry stronger fare than Casualty). 

The cast also includes Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss as James 1’s spymaster-in-chief Robert Cecil, while Shaun Dooley plays Cecil’s enforcer (Guy Fawkes himself, played by Downton Abbey’s Tom Cullen, is a peripheral character here as he was in the real plot). But if Robert Catesby is being returned to his rightful role of ringleader, how does Harington regard his ancestor? 

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“Before I got into this, I guess in some ways I might have been proud of him”, says the actor. “But if you look at who he is – he’s a widower, he doesn’t connect with his son, he is experiencing huge persecution and his money has been stripped from him… I think in some ways he’s on some kind of death wish and he draws some innocent people in with him into this plot. So I don’t have particularly fond feelings towards him.”

Even after playing him? What about actorly empathy? “The major change was that I felt desperately sorry for him after doing this. As you’ll see he’s a deeply sad man, who botched his one big thing”.

One of the ironies of Harington’s ancestry is that he is also directly related, through his father, to King Charles 11, grandson of the very monarch that Catseby had attempted to assassinate. His father David is a baronet, while his mother, Deborah Catesby, was a playwright who named her son Christopher after Christopher Marlowe (‘Kit’ is his nickname).

Despite the aristocratic background, Harington was educated at a state secondary school in Worcestershire, his early ambition to become a journalist diverted after seeing Ben Whishaw in Hamlet. After drama school he appeared in the acclaimed National Theatre production of War Horse and at the Royal Court in Laura Wade’s play about the Oxford University’s Bulingdon Club, Posh. But in 2011 came the role that would change his life – and bank balance.

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Harington is reported to earn over $1 million an episode playing Jon Snow in Game of Thrones (one newspaper claimed it was as much as $2 million, once syndication payments and residuals are included), while the months filming in Ireland and Iceland also provided him with a wife: Rose Leslie, who played his flame-haired wilding love interest Ygritte.

Although Leslie was understandably reticent to speak about the relationship when I interviewed her last year (“If it’s something that should be private and very dear to your heart, you make an effort to keep it that way”, she told me), the couple’s engagement was recently made public via an announcement in the Times, while Harington went further in describing his proposal on The Jonathan Ross Show.

“I was going to string up some lights in some trees and do all the romantic stuff”, he told Ross. “But we were in the country and we were under this beautiful night sky and had a log fire burning and red wine and… I popped my question a bit early.”

Gunpowder was filmed during a hiatus between season seven of Game of Thrones and the final run of the HBO fantasy blockbuster, and fortunately Harington’s role as Robert Catesby didn’t require a radical change of image. “I think it fitted quite well with me not being able to cut my hair”, he says, while adding that filming Gunpowder in autumnal Yorkshire was almost home-from-home after six years on Game of Thrones: “Why I keep desiring to film in cold, muddy places on horses I have no idea”.

Other projects he’s fitted in around his long stints in Iceland and Ireland for Thrones haven’t been entirely successful, the 2016 western Brimstone being greeted with lukewarm reviews as was the HBO mockumentary about the so-called longest tennis match in history, 7 Days in Hell. It’s one reason he’s keen to produce his own material.

“We’re looking for that next thing now”, he says. “Gunpowder was a test to see whether I enjoyed doing it – and I did enjoy it very much. I think it’s something about knowing why decisions are made and being part of those decisions has given me great comfort in the end process… in watching it. I don’t know about acting and producing at the same time though; I found that tricky at times.”

Having performed with swords and horses for so long now, does he hanker after more modern roles. “I’m personally done now with the 1600s”, he agrees “So moving forward now – to London in the 1960s perhaps. Or at least something with guns.”

‘Gunpowder’ begins on BBC1 on Saturday 21 October at 9pm 

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/kit-harington-gunpowder-bbc1-jon-snow-game-of-thrones-rose-leslie-ygritte-a8003161.html

Kylie Minogue reveals her new album was inspired by her break up

Kylie Minogue says recording her new album has helped her come to terms with her break up. 

The Australian pop star ended her engagement to actor Joshua Sasse back in February. The pair originally met on the set of US TV show Galavant during the summer of 2015, with Minogue confirming her engagement in February of last year. 

“There’s a little bit of heartbreak, I would say,” Minogue told The Sun. “Mostly I try to reflect where I am. Definitely, in the last year, there’s been some of that but we bounce back. Most of it is super positive and inspiring, as a note to self as much as anything else. I’m feeling great right now.”

“It was cathartic,” she said of the recording process. “It was good. In the studio, it’s a slightly weird concept to be spending seven, eight, nine hours in a room with people sometimes you don’t know. If you’re working with good people it’s the perfect place to deal with stuff.”

The album was recorded in Nashville, so there’s a chance Minogue’s new outlook may have something of a country twang, much like Lady Gaga’s stripped back approach on Joanne

“I went to Nashville for two weeks and that became the album. I did a lot of work on the album before that but Nashville had a profound effect on me. The songs are very storytelling and story-based. It was so great to do things a little bit differently,” she added. 

She also promised live shows next year, with the first single off her album expected to drop in January. 

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منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/kylie-minogue-new-album-break-up-january-first-single-release-joshua-sasse-a8003336.html

Ophelia: Man dies in 'chainsaw accident' in Ireland during storm

A man in his 30s has died in a chainsaw accident as he was trying to clear a tree downed by Storm Ophelia‘s violent winds in Ireland.

It was the second storm-related death today. Earlier, a woman died when a tree fell on her car in severe winds. 

Irish police said the driver was in her mid-50s and was travelling outside Aglish village in County Waterford when she was killed.

A female passenger, in her 70s, was also injured and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment, gardai said. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police have urged all road users to remain indoors and not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Ophelia is on its way from the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.

It hit exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ophelia-latest-news-chainsaw-accident-storm-ireland-county-tipperary-cahir-hurricane-a8003191.html