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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The View From Your Window

Safed, Israel, 6.45 am



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How to have a healthy hangover: sweet potato wedges

New Year’s Eve approaches – trailing the first hangover of the year. Prepare to whip up the ultimate morning-after breakfast


You know you’re about to face the hangover of the festive season. But it’s okay – we’re going to get through this, together.


While you’re still upright, pop down to the shops and get some sweet potatoes and eggs and you’ll be all set for the big day. Parchment paper would be good too, if you can find some.


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Southampton v Chelsea: Premier League – live!

Premier League clockwatch – live!

Winter weather in Dunham Massey, Cheshire – in pictures

Picturesque scenes at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey park near Altrincham during a cold snap that has brought snow to parts of northern England, the Midlands and Scotland. All photographs by Christopher Furlong of Getty Images


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Felix Magath hits out at Fulham over inability to train twice a day

• Ex Fulham manager says players were a ‘joke’

• Magath was sacked in September

Felix Magath has criticised his former players at Fulham for not being able to put up with his training regime.


Magath was sacked by the club in September, with the team at the bottom of the Championship and without a win in 11 games. He was appointed manager at Craven Cottage in February but was unable to prevent their relegation from the Premier League.


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Bits Blog: A Google Gentrification Fight That Doesn’t Involve San Francisco

The Bay Area isn’t the only locale that has a love-hate relationship with Google. A proposed Google campus in Boulder, Colo., has stoked concern about rising home prices and the company’s insular campuses.





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What Is Religious Faith?

by Dish Staff In an interview, John Caputo – a philosopher whose work explores the connections between postmodernism and Christian theology – distinguishes it from mere “belief”: Faith is a form of life and so it also has a specific form. I wouldn’t say that faith is more general; I would say it is deeper. […]



from The Dish http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/12/28/what-is-religious-faith/Read More


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Ferry catches fire between Greece and Italy with hundreds on board

Coastguard says 150 rescued from Norman Atlantic after fire broke out, while two ships collided in thick fog elsewhere in Adriatic

Rescue services were facing a double emergency in the Adriatic after a ferry plying between Greece and Italy caught fire with at least 466 people on board and two merchant vessels collided off the north-eastern Italian port of Ravenna.


According to conflicting reports, up to four people were missing following the collision and several were injured. The two ships – one Turkish and the other flying the flag of Belize – collided in thick fog.


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Douglas Carswell: Ukip must show it has inclusive agenda

MP who defected from Conservatives says dislike of foreigners is ‘not merely offensive but absurd’

The Ukip MP Douglas Carswell has told the party it must show it is inclusive and not blame immigrants for Britain’s woes if it is to become a serious force.


The former Tory, whose byelection victory in October has made him one of Ukip’s highest-profile faces, said a dislike of foreigners was “not merely offensive but absurd”.


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Network Rail must sack management over Christmas disruptions – Tory MP

Sir Nicholas Soames criticises rail leadership for decisions connected to chaos of King’s Cross engineering works and other services

Sir Nicholas Soames, the senior Tory backbencher, has called for sackings at Network Rail, claiming there had been a fundamental breakdown in the management and leadership of the railway industry.


Soames, an MP for Mid Sussex, the heart of the commuter belt, said he was horrified by the travesty of the railway industry’s performance over the Christmas period, adding he was sure the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin felt a similar sense of outrage.


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The Cost of the U.S. Ban on Paying for Hostages

Former hostages and Syrian rebel commanders say that they offered information they believed could help free American captives, but that officials seemed uninterested.





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US, NATO Mark End of Mission to Afghanistan

The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.





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Crowd Gathers in Brooklyn to Protest a Police Shooting

About 200 people marched to protest the death of Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a police officer last month.





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Heroes of 2014: Thornton Wilder, writer and playwright

Wilder’s seminal work Our Town is a timeless and masterful meditation on the human condition

Until this year, I knew only one thing about Thornton Wilder, which was that he was some kind of big deal in the US. When I heard that the Almeida theatre in London was doing a revival of his 1938 play Our Town, I thought I’d go along, just so I’d have some idea of why he was such a big deal. Rumour has it that Our Town has been performed somewhere in the US every night since its premiere – anyway, a lot.


I imagined that it would be some kind of Norman Rockwell painting rendered into a theatre piece, a soothing and attractive idealisation, probably quite dated. Instead, I discovered that it was a masterpiece, as fresh and radical as the day it was written, and as profound and accessible a meditation on the human condition as anyone has ever created. It’s impossible to say quite why this is without giving away the ending, and I don’t want to do that, because everyone should see this play at least once in their lives. I think very often about the production I saw, and sometimes find myself in tears at the wonder of life and at how terribly so many people damage and deface it. Wilder is not anything like as big a deal as he ought to be, in a US and a world that really needs him.


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Police arrest two after death of man near Bath station

Murder inquiry opened after body of 51-year-old Thomas Downey found at railway archway on Christmas Eve

Police investigating the death of a man found near a railway station say the case is being treated as murder.


Two people have since been arrested after officers from Avon and Somerset police and British Transport police were called to a railway archway on the Lower Bristol Road, near Bath railway station, at about 1.30pm on Christmas Eve when a member of the public found a man’s body.


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George Osborne public spending plan ‘a political suicide note’, says David Laws

Rightwing Liberal Democrat and former deputy to the chancellor says ‘panic’ policy is so severe it will alienate Tory voters

The Liberal Democrats have made their boldest step yet to distance themselves from Conservative economic policy when David Laws, a former deputy to George Osborne described the chancellor’s public spending plans to 2020 as a political suicide note and so severe that it makes Thatcherism look like a policy devised by Tony Benn.


The language deployed by Laws is startling since he is seen as being on the right of the Liberal Democrats and for a short period was Treasury chief secretary when the 2010 spending review was prepared.


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Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

AirAsia flight to Singapore goes missing with 162 passengers on board

Air and sea search under way for flight QZ8501, which lost contact after taking off from Indonesian city of Surabaya



• AirAsia flight goes missing - live updates

An AirAsia passenger jet with 162 people on board has disappeared during a flight between Indonesia and Singapore, prompting an international search and rescue operation.


AirAsia flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 passenger jet that took off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya at 5:27am, lost all contact with air control at 7:24 am as it travelled along its regular flight path, according to the flight tracking website FlightRadar24.


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Young people of the internet: can you not (write properly)?

I love words. But the language the kids use in tweets, Instagram posts or Snapchats, the talk of ‘baes’ and ‘feels’ … I can’t even

Once you start, it’s hard to stop thinking of things you’d love to see the back of in 2015. Men wearing buns, the Cereal Cafe, Russell Brand, people’s opinions of Russell Brand ... I could go on, but I realise that there is something I hate much more, all over the internet: words. Not just any words, but the language young people use in tweets, Instagram posts, Snapchats and whatever else the kids do online these days.


Words like “bae”, which I discover to my horror has been added to the Oxford Dictionary this year. This stands for “before anyone else”, and thus is used to describe your significant other, or perhaps, if you are single, your pet, or even a bottle of cranberry juice as I noted yesterday. I really cannot refresh Twitter fast enough to keep up with all the baes flying around cyberspace.


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Jane Bown remembered: ‘We had fun, didn’t we?’

Over 60 years, Jane Bown produced some of the most recognisable portraits of the world’s most famous faces, but remained an enigma, even among some of her closest colleagues



For a long time my hall boasted three photographs by Jane, taken over consecutive days in America in 1994. One was of the Coen brothers, arranged geometrically in the doorway of their Manhattan apartment, and laughing. Another was of the feminist thinker Kate Millett, in shorts and muddy boots on her farm in Poughkeepsie. The third had a becapped Michael Moore thrusting his hands into his jacket pockets. They represented by no means the peak of Jane’s long career. Although the Coen brothers wrote to say it was the best portrait they had ever had, Moore’s was only a bit better than a snap. I did, however, regard them as mementoes of an apex in my professional life, unlikely to be exceeded. I had been bouncing around New York, city and state, with not only the best portrait photographer in Britain, but a friend. As Jane would say: “We had fun, didn’t we?”


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Croatia goes to the polls amid economic slump

Social democrat Ivo Josipovic is frontrunner but his centre-left goverment is under fire for failing to revive economy

Croatians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a president under the cloud of a deep economic crisis, with incumbent Ivo Josipovic seen as the frontrunner as he seeks a second term in the EU’s newest member state.


Surveys ahead of the vote showed that of the four candidates vying for the largely ceremonial post, the 57-year-old centre-left leader had only one serious rival – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of the main opposition conservative HDZ.


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Rising stars of 2015: musician Kwabs

London singer Kwabena Sarkodee Adjepong, aka Kwabs, has drawn comparisons with James Blake and Seal, and his debut album is already tipped for the Mercury prize




In a tiny room in Abbey Road Studios, dressed head-to-toe in black, Kwabs is adding the finishing touches to one of the most anticipated releases of next year. The album, due out in the spring, will be the 24-year-old singer’s debut, but bookies were already taking bets on him winning the Mercury prize next year. A gig he played at London’s Koko in October sold out in June, his single Walk has become a hit across Europe, and he has made the Mobo newcomer shortlist and the BBC Sound of 2015 longlist.


Of Ghanaian heritage but born in Bermondsey in south London, Kwabs (pronounced “Kwobs”, short for Kwabena Sarkodee Adjepong) spent much of his childhood in and out of foster care. “I think my time there was probably more defined by my journey connecting with music,” he says. “Singing was my first mode of self-expression when other things didn’t seem to work, so I used it as an outlet.”


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Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books. Authors Turn Up Noses.

Some self-published writers say their income has seen a large and rapid decrease under Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and argue that the system is unfair.





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The playlist: the best reggae, dancehall and soca of 2014, with Popcaan and Bunji Garlin

In our special end-of-year playlist series, here’s five of the very best tracks of 2014 from the Caribbean



The moody Dubbel Dutch-produced riddim is representative of the whole of Popcaan’s Where We Come From album, released on MixPak in June. Yes, it’s a song about partying, but the Raving King’s plaintive discussion of champagne, girls and “high grade” seems to leave a bit of doubt as to whether or not everything is, indeed, nice. This ambiguity keeps the song creative, and, in tandem, seems to indicate that dancehall – the genre whose demise is constantly heralded—is alive and well and interesting.


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Paul Thomas Anderson: ‘Inherent Vice is like a sweet, dripping aching for the past’

Film-maker Paul Thomas Anderson talks about Inherent Vice, his new nostalgia noir based on a Thomas Pynchon novel, in which a stoned private eye hits the trail of his ex, and leads a homage to 70s California


Paul Thomas Anderson may seem unimposing in the flesh – slight, bearded, a little dishevelled – but as a film-maker he is a giant. Having once described his critically acclaimed 1999 feature Magnolia as “for better or worse, the best movie I’ll ever make”, the writer/director went on to film Punch-Drunk Love , which picked up the best director award at Cannes, and There Will Be Blood , which Time magazine compared to “the greatest achievements” of DW Griffith and John Ford. Fellow film-makers are equally impressed: Ben Affleck has likened Anderson to Orson Welles, while Sam Mendes calls him “a true auteur”, one of a small group of directors “who I would classify as geniuses”.


Such accolades place Anderson among the pantheon of cinematic greats. But right now, he’s telling me about an obscure old porn movie he found in the projection booth of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute (“I’m not saying this was Redford’s porno collection… maybe it was”) and explaining how it provided inspiration for the Rollergirl character from his 1997 breakthrough hit, Boogie Nights. “There was a girl on rollerskates,” he enthuses while hastily munching room-service in a London hotel, “and the plot was that she’s rollerskating down the street and stopping at each house, looking in the window, and watching everybody fuck. That was the plot. And that’s where I got Rollergirl from!”


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The Cure review – ‘frequent highs and meandering lows’

Hammersmith Apollo, London

The Cure deliver a crowd-pleasing three-hour, 40-song Christmas gig with a set list apparently on ‘shuffle’

The Cure’s three-night Christmas residency at Hammersmith Apollo begins with Shake Dog Shake, the opener off their 1984 album, The Top – a reminder that not all Cure songs about animals are about cats, or caterpillars. Some are redder in tooth and claw.


Forty songs later, it ends with Hey You!!!, from the Cure’s 1987 album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Addressed to a girl who “looks like Christmas”, Hey You!!! apparently hasn’t found itself on a set list since 2004. Robert Smith bows and shuffles off, apologising for the lateness of the hour. It’s 17 minutes past curfew and the band have been onstage for just over three hours (with four pee breaks).


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Big Eyes review – Tim Burton’s most grown-up movie in years

Tim Burton’s retelling of the story of the painter Margaret Keane is an insightful study of character and the nature of art

Tim Burton once told me that the inspiration for the skull-headed Jack Skellington figure from The Nightmare Before Christmas probably lay in his adverse reaction to spending endless hours drawing doe-eyed creatures as a Disney animator. Having struggled to stay awake while working on films such as The Fox and the Hound , Burton dreamed up a character with no eyes whatsoever, just great gaping black holes. The fact that Skellington’s hollow-socket head manages to be every bit as expressive as Disney’s most saucer-eyed creations speaks volumes about Burton’s ability to find pathos and charm in the most unlikely areas.


The big, dopey eyes are back in Burton’s latest movie, based on the stranger-than-fiction travails of the American artist Margaret Keane. In the late 1950s and 60s, Keane’s paintings of sorrowful-looking children whose faces were dominated by oversize “windows to the soul” became a sensation, generating huge earnings and achieving bizarre popular icon status. Yet Keane failed to receive credit for her work, having agreed (under coercion?) to allow her extrovert husband, Walter, to serve as the public face of the Keane brand. Later, after the couple parted, they came to legal blows, a court case in Honolulu descending into performance farce as each endeavoured to prove that they were the artist behind “an infinity of kitsch”.


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AirAsia Jet From Indonesia Is Missing

The plane, with 162 on board, left the Indonesian city of Surabaya around 5:30 a.m. for the short hop to Singapore and went missing about 40 minutes later.

















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George Osborne is obsessed with the deficit – pity it’s the wrong deficit

The chief secretary to the Treasury is the cabinet minister responsible for controlling public expenditure and number two to the reigning chancellor. Not everyone can be entrusted with this responsibility and chief secretaries occasionally fall out with chancellors and prime ministers. This was the case in the early 1980s, when John Biffen, once a champion of sado-monetarism, decided that enough was enough and expressed doubts about the wisdom of a further attack on public spending.


Once Biffen, a popular figure with journalists, had been described by Bernard Ingham – Margaret Thatcher’s Alastair Campbell – as “semi-detached”, his days were numbered.


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The Secret History of Wonder Woman review – is this what a feminist looks like?

Though born of male bondage fantasies, Wonder Woman still emerges as a frontrunner of emancipation in this impressive account of the cartoon character and her creator

Outside her comic-book fanbase, the 40s cartoon character Wonder Woman is surely more appreciated by the lay person, when known at all, as a fancy-dress opportunity. Whatever her un-secret history, it has failed to distinguish her, in many a memory, from her rivals Bat, Cat and Super Woman. Hint: the others generally wear more clothes.


All credit to Jill Lepore, then, for simultaneously rescuing Wonder Woman from indifference, establishing her as an expression of first-wave feminism and introducing her creator, who must be one of the more repellent individuals ever to call himself a feminist. We owe Wonder Woman to the psychologist William Moulton Marston, who is normally associated with an early lie-detecting machine. J Edgar Hoover called him “a phony”. Lepore prefers “no ordinary man”.


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The Observer tech quiz of 2014 – part 1

Tech-savvy or totally clueless? See how much data about the past 12 months you can retrieve from the hard drive in your head



• Part 2 of the quiz is here

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NHS cancels 3,000 operations in two December weeks

Figures highlighted by Labour show 3,113 elective and 161 urgent operations were cancelled in first part of month


More than 3,000 operations have been cancelled by the NHS in the first two weeks of this month as an “unprecedented demand” takes its toll.


Figures show 3,113 elective operations were cancelled in that period, up by almost half since 2012.


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