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Me Too founder Tarana Burke: Movement not over now Weinstein is in jail

Words: - BBC News - 01:19 09-07-2020

Sexual abuse activist Tarana Burke says Harvey Weinstein being jailed this year was "astonishing" but far from the end of the Me Too movement.

Tarana began using the phrase "Me Too" in 2006 to raise awareness of women who had been abused.

Eleven years later, the movement found global recognition after a viral tweet by actress Alyssa Milano.

Milano was one of the women who accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.

Investigations led to his imprisonment earlier this year, but how has that affected the wider Me Too movement?

"Harvey Weinstein is a symbolic case. To see a high profile, rich white man be convicted of a crime in general is always astonishing," Tarana tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But the 46-year old says seeing what "celebrity goes to jail or not, is not sustainable as a movement".

What Tarana sees as a victory for Me Too is helping people not blame themselves for sexual violence committed against them and lead fuller lives.

"What we need to be talking about is the everyday woman, man, trans person, child and disabled person. All the people who are not rich, white and famous, who deal with sexual violence on everyday basis.

"We need to talk about the systems that are still in place that allow that to happen."

Tarana says it's about dismantling the misuse of power and privilege which can also lead to racism and sexism.

This is something, she believes, recent Black Lives Matter protests have been addressing.

Tarana Burke says when the media loses interest in movements is when the real work starts.

Tarana says there are similarities between Black Lives Matter and Me Too.

"They're about fighting against injustice. Both movements are predicated on undoing systems of oppression."

Tarana says she feels like the deaths of black men in police custody still get more attention than black women - "not to diminish anything about those black men who unjustly lost their lives," she adds.

She brings up the example of Breonna Taylor, a health worker shot eight times by police who entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky on 13 March - two months before George Floyd's death.

Black Lives Matter supporters have campaigned for action over Breonna Taylor's death

Activists were calling on people to "say her name" as part of a movement to remember black women whose deaths have not attracted the same attention as men.

In 2016, a police officer in Oklahoma was jailed for life for sexually assaulting 13 black women.

"If you're a black woman who was on the street, fighting, screaming, chanting, marching, protesting and fighting back to show the world that Black Lives Matter, we don't just mean black men's lives."

"If you're a black woman you have to deal with excessive force, the possibility of being killed by police and sexual harassment at the hands of the police."

Charmed star Alyssa Milano's tweet was shared over 200,000 times

Even though Tarana founded the Me Too movement in 2006, she admits it wouldn't have had the same attention without a Hollywood actress tweeting about it in 2017.

"It's not just social media, it's who brought it to social media, and how it was brought to social media," she says.

"Those women who got up and came forward around Harvey Weinstein had no idea that it was going to spark a global movement."

Skip Twitter post by @Alyssa_Milano

If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017

Report

Tarana says she didn't feel like her work was ever "hijacked" by people who were more powerful, but does believe that's something the media may have done.

"People didn't know who I was, and people still don't know who I am. What do you do with a 46-year-old black woman from the Bronx, who's not polished, who doesn't look anything like even a black woman in Hollywood."

Tarana and Alyssa have met and discussed the Me Too movement in public since the actress first tweeted about it.

"If Alysssa Milano didn't say: 'Wait a minute, I didn't start this. This black woman named Tarana Burke started this', people would not know my name."

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The papers: 'Meal deal chancellor' and £30bn rescue plan

Words: - BBC News - 05:27 09-07-2020

The chancellor's summer statement dominates the front pages, with many of them featuring a photo of Rishi Sunak serving meals in a restaurant. "Sunak serves up £30bn rescue", says the Times, which reports the spending on coronavirus support now outstrips last year's health budget.

"Come dine with me", says the Daily Telegraph, highlighting the chancellor's plan to pay half the cost of a meal out for everyone to support the hospitality industry. The paper's analysis is that Mr Sunak "shows his backbone" with a bold statement.

Metro urges readers to "grab a £10 Rishi dishi", referring to the cap on the half-price discount that the chancellor is offering. The paper quotes Mr Sunak saying: "This has never been tried in the UK before but we need to be creative."

It's all "chicken feed" to the Daily Mirror, however, which points out the discount only operates three days a week in August. The paper quotes unions saying the chancellor should have promised a pay rise for millions of key workers earning less than £10 an hour, rather than a "dining out discount for the well-off".

For the i newspaper, Mr Sunak is the "half-price meal deal chancellor". The paper says Tory backbenchers hailed his statement but are concerned about high spending.

Fears of mass unemployment persist following the statement, the Guardian says, with Mr Sunak being warned he will need to "act far more decisively". The paper quotes the Unite union saying the refusal to extend the furlough scheme means a "tsunami" of job losses is looming.

The Financial Times says Mr Sunak "gambled on borrowing vast sums" to minimise the long-term economic damage. Jobs support, a VAT cut for the hospitality sector and help for the housing market will push the UK's borrowing over £350bn this year, the paper says.

"Lunch is on Rishi!" exclaims the Daily Mail, before adding: "But we'll ALL have to pick up the tab." The paper calls the "massive cash injection" a "break with Tory orthodoxy".

For the Daily Express, it is a "Budget of hope" and the chancellor "paved the way for Britain's recovery".

Meanwhile, the Daily Star focuses on the ongoing libel trial involving Hollywood star Johnny Depp, who is suing the Sun for calling him a "wife-beater". The paper says the latest "Depp shocker" is a claim that he threatened to put a dog belonging to ex-wife Amber Heard in the microwave and "joked" he would burn Ms Heard's corpse.

The papers are dominated by the chancellor's mini-budget, and gorge on the opportunities for food-related headlines that his discount-dining scheme offers.

"Grab a £10 Rishi Dishi" says the front page of Metro - with the trade body UK Hospitality telling the paper the initiative is a "huge bonus".

"Rishi Dishes up £30 billion budget of hope" is the headline in the Daily Express.

The Daily Mail says though lunch may be on the chancellor, "we will all have to pick up the tab". It calls his policy announcements a "feast of freebies", and describes it as a definite "break from Tory orthodoxy."

The Times spells out just how expensive that feast is. When added to the other measures to support the economy , it means £189bn is being spent "nursing" the country through the Covid crisis.

The chancellor broke with Tory orthodoxy, according to the Daily Mail

That's more than the government spends on actual nurses and indeed the entirety of the health service, the paper says.

The Financial Times calculates borrowing of £350bn will be needed this year to pay for it all. It predicts the deficit will balloon to twice the level seen in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Even so, the Daily Mirror wanted Mr Sunak to do more. "Chicken Feed" is its headline, as it quotes Labour criticism that the country was "promised a New Deal" but was instead "delivered a meal deal".

The Sun admits some doubts as to whether the strategy will work, but nonetheless praises it as a "staggering package of giveaways" which will "go down a treat with our readers".

Camilla Tominey, in the Daily Telegraph, considers the chancellor's remarkably rapid rise. "It is still hard to believe that less than a year ago, he was leading a government consultation on the accessibility of disabled lavatories", she writes.

Paul Waugh, in HuffpostUK, says there's considerable support in the party for Mr Sunak's approach. It says he ended yesterday to the sound of Tory MPs on the 1922 Committee banging their desks in approval.

That from a body, he points out, which is "not normally in favour of borrowing-fuelled spending sprees".

Nonetheless, the Financial Times argues, at some point the Chancellor must ultimately stabilise the public finances. "Mr Sunak will not be able to play Santa Claus forever", it says.

The main story for the tabloids is the latest evidence from the High Court involving the Hollywood actor, Johnny Depp, who is suing the Sun newspaper for libel for its description of him as a "wife-beater."

The Sun itself reports how Mr Depp was accused in court of "kicking and slapping" his former partner, Amber Heard, on a "drink- and drug-fuelled rage on a private jet." Mr Depp denies ever being violent towards Ms Heard; the case continues.

Johnny Depp denies being violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard in a libel case against the Sun

The so-called Great Firewall of China - the vast apparatus that limits free use of the country's internet - appears to have "descended on Hong Kong", the Guardian reports.

It says the free and open access to websites which was previously one of the territory's most important advantages now appears in "dramatic decline".

The Guardian describes many people in Hong Kong "rushing to erase their digital footprint" of any signs of dissent, or support for the last year of protests.

As well as private citizens, the FT, says the censorship of the internet has left western tech companies with big questions about how much leeway they will have.

They must now ask themselves whether they will have to abandon Hong Kong, with Singapore looking like the most obvious refuge in Asia, the FT reports.

It says it has learned at least one Big Tech company is considering a "total retreat from the territory".

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The Whiteleaved Oak has stood near Eastnor Castle, in Herefordshire, for 500 years, the Times reports, and was venerated by pagans who favoured it as a site to observe the summer solstice.

Seemingly it wasn't treated with such reverence by campers last weekend however. They left a fire unattended and set the tree ablaze.

All that remains, says the Times, is a "charred stump".  It was a "fantastic tree", the local fire chief says, with its demise reinforcing a message he have been trying to get across: in this dry weather "have barbecues at home in your own garden".

Endangered New Zealand shore plover

Finally, the Guardian reports on the faltering attempts to help the world's most endangered species of plover.

During lockdown, 29 of the birds were taken to a specially selected, predator-free island in New Zealand, but now appear to have "absconded".

The conservationist leading the attempts to boost shore plover numbers explains: "It is frustrating, we can give them strict instructions, but they choose not to obey." He adds: "We persist."

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George Floyd: Officer told dying man to 'stop yelling'

Words: - BBC News - 04:27 09-07-2020

George Floyd repeatedly told the police officers who detained him that he could not breathe

The US police officer accused of George Floyd's murder told him to stop talking as he repeatedly gasped under the man's knee, according to court documents.

The unarmed black man cried out for his late mother and children as he said the Minneapolis policeman would kill him, transcripts from body-cam footage show.

They were disclosed in court by lawyers for one of the four officers involved.

The documents offer the clearest picture yet of Mr Floyd's last moments. His death in May sparked global uproar.

It led to a wave of anti-racism protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement, and stirred debate and reflection in the US over the country's history of slavery and segregation.

All four officers involved in taking Mr Floyd into custody were fired and arrested. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck, faces several charges including second-degree murder, while the other three - Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao - are charged with aiding and abetting murder.

The transcripts were made public on Thursday as Mr Lane's lawyers asked for the case against him to be dismissed.

Warning: Some readers may find the content below distressing.

Until now, eyewitness footage shared on social media revealed most of what was known about Mr Floyd's arrest and his final moments.

The new transcripts give a more detailed account, shedding light on significant parts of the encounter, from the time Mr Lane and Mr Kueng arrived at the scene, to the point where Mr Floyd was given CPR in an ambulance.

Transcripts of footage recorded by body cameras fitted to Mr Lane and Mr Kueng show Mr Floyd said more than 20 times he could not breathe as he was restrained by the officers in a Minneapolis street.

They confronted him outside a convenience store where he was suspected of having used a forged $20 note to buy cigarettes.

At one point, a handcuffed Mr Floyd, while pinned down on the road next to the police car, gasps that he cannot breathe, adding: "You're going to kill me, man."

Mr Chauvin, who is shown in bystander footage appearing to kneel on Mr Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes, replies: "Then stop talking, stop yelling.

"It takes heck of a lot of oxygen to talk."

The transcripts show Mr Floyd appears co-operative at the beginning of the arrest, repeatedly apologising to the officers after they approach his parked car.

Mr Lane asks Mr Floyd to show his hands at least 10 times before ordering him to get out of the vehicle.

In response to one of the demands to see his hands, Mr Floyd says: "Man, I got, I got shot the same way, Mr Officer, before." It is not clear what he is referring to.

At one point Mr Lane says: "Why's he getting all squirrelly and not showing us his hands and just being all weird like that?"

The officers then handcuff Mr Floyd and try to put him into the back of their police car. As they do, Mr Floyd becomes agitated, repeatedly pleading that he is claustrophobic.

Mr Lane asks if he is "on something". Mr Floyd replies: "I'm scared, man."

According to another document, Mr Lane told investigators that once in the car, Mr Floyd began "thrashing back and forth"

Officers then pulled him out of the car and to the ground. Pinned on the floor, according to the transcript, Mr Floyd cries out a dozen times: "Mama."

He says: "Can't believe this, man. Mom, love you. Love you.

"Tell my kids I love them. I'm dead."

Thomas Lane was just days into the job when the incident happened

At one point, when Mr Floyd continues to plead he can't breathe, Mr Lane asks Mr Chauvin: "Should we roll him on his side?"

The officer responds: "No, he's staying put where we got him."

Mr Chauvin's lawyers have not commented on the documents since they were made public.

The transcripts were released in support of a legal bid to dismiss the criminal charges against Mr Lane, a rookie officer who was days into the job when Mr Floyd's death happened.

Mr Lane's lawyer Earl Gray, who filed the documents, argued that it was "not fair or reasonable" for his client to stand trial on the charges.

The new court documents include a transcript of Mr Lane's interview with investigators from Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

In the interview, Mr Lane talked through the first crucial moments of his encounter with Mr Floyd.

Mr Lane said he pulled his gun out and ordered Mr Floyd to show his hands after approaching his car and seeing him "sitting with his hands down below the seat".

Pictures from inside the car Mr Floyd was sitting in before his arrest show two crumpled $20 bills that, according to Mr Gray, were counterfeit.

Hennepin County District Court

Mr Lane's lawyer said two fake $20 bills were found in the car Mr Floyd was sitting in

At the end of the interview, one of the investigators asked Mr Lane if he felt either he or Mr Chauvin had contributed to Mr Floyd's death.

"I object to that. You're not going to answer that," Mr Gray said.

The incident and the bystander videos that exposed it highlighted deep wounds over racial inequality in the US. For many, the outrage over Mr Floyd's death also reflected years of frustration over socio-economic inequality and discrimination.

Protests erupted and have continued since, across many US cities and also internationally.

Police forces, governments and businesses pledged reforms in recognition of the racial inequality that fuelled the protests.

Monuments of historical figures with links to the slavery in the US and other countries were re-assessed. Some were toppled or vandalised, others were taken down by authorities and institutions.

Mr Floyd's death followed the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years.

25 May 2020

George Floyd dies after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage shows a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he is pinned to the floor. Mr Floyd is heard repeatedly saying "I can’t breathe". He is pronounced dead later in hospital.

26 May

Four officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd are fired. Protests begin as the video of the arrest is shared widely on social media. Hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets of Minneapolis and vandalise police cars and the police station with graffiti.

27 May

Protests spread to other cities including Memphis and Los Angeles. In some places, like Portland, Oregon, protesters lie in the road, chanting "I can’t breathe". Demonstrators again gather around the police station in Minneapolis where the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest were based and set fire to it. The building is evacuated and police retreat.

28 May

President Trump blames the violence on a lack of leadership in Minneapolis and threatens to send in the National Guard in a tweet.  He follows it up in a second tweet with a warning "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". The second tweet is hidden by Twitter for "glorifying violence".

29 May

A CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, is arrested while covering the Minneapolis protest. Mr Jimenez was reporting live when police officers handcuffed him. A few minutes later several of his colleagues are also arrested. They are all later released once they are confirmed to be members of the media.

Derek Chauvin charged with murder

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter. The charges carry a combined maximum 35-year sentence.

31 May

Violence spreads across the US on the sixth night of protests. A total of at least five people are reported killed in protests from Indianapolis to Chicago. More than 75 cities have seen protests. At least 4,400 people have been arrested.  Curfews are imposed across the US to try to stem the unrest.

1 June

President Trump threatens to send in the military to quell growing civil unrest. He says if cities and states fail to control the protests and "defend their residents" he will deploy the army and "quickly solve the problem for them". Mr Trump poses in front of a damaged church shortly after police used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters nearby.

2 June

Tens of thousands of protesters again take to the streets. One of the biggest protests is in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Many defy curfews in several cities, but the demonstrations are largely peaceful.

4 June

A memorial service for George Floyd is held in Minneapolis.  Those gathered in tribute stand in silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Mr Floyd is alleged to have been on the ground under arrest. Hundreds attended the service, which heard a eulogy from civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton.

7 June

As the US saw another weekend of protests, with tens of thousands marching in Washington DC, anti-racism demonstrations were held around the world.

In Australia, there were major protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that focused on the treatment of indigenous Australians. There were also demonstrations in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. In Bristol, protesters tore down the statue of a 17th century slave trader and threw it into the harbour.

9 June

A funeral service for George Floyd is held in Houston, Mr Floyd’s home town. Just over two weeks after his death in Minneapolis and worldwide anti-racism protests, about 500 guests invited by the Floyd family are in attendance at the Fountain of Praise Church.  Many more gather outside to show their support.

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Pop music is getting faster (and happier)

Words: - BBC News - 01:13 09-07-2020

Hits by Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles and Doja Cat are bucking the trend for slower, melancholy songs

"This is my dancefloor, I fought for," Lady Gaga sings euphorically on Free Woman, a track from her new album, Chromatica.

She's not alone. The charts are suddenly crammed with pop songs that celebrate joy and sensuality and precipitous thrill: Dua Lipa's Physical, Doja Cat's Say So, Harry Styles' Watermelon Sugar and Gaga's own Stupid Love.

At the same time, music is getting faster.

The average tempo of 2020's top 20 best-selling songs is a pulse-quickening 122 beats per minute. That's the highest it's been since 2009.

Average tempo of a hit song Based on the Top 20 best-sellers each year

The outbreak of euphoria is as sudden as it is unexpected.

For the last few years, pop has been getting slower, as artists like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish incorporate the leisurely cadences and rhythms of southern hip-hop and trap music into their songs.

Lyrics have taken a darker turn, too, with expressions of loneliness, fear and anxiety becoming increasingly common.

In 2017, a Californian mathematician called Natalia Komarova was so shocked by the negativity of the songs her daughter listened to, she decided to investigate.

Using the research database AcousticBrainz - which allows you to examine musical properties like tempo, key and mood - she and her colleagues at the University of California Irvine examined half a million songs released in the UK between 1985 and 2015.

They found a significant downturn in the positivity of pop songs. Where 1985 saw upbeat tracks like Wham's Freedom, 2015 favoured more sombre music by Sam Smith and Adele.

"'Happiness' is going down, 'brightness' is going down, 'sadness' is going up," said Komarova of her results, "and at the same time, the songs are becoming more 'danceable' and more 'party-like'."

"So it looks like, while the overall mood is becoming less happy, people seem to want to forget it all and dance."

In other words, Komorvoa had identified the rise of the "sad banger", a song whose instrumental sets you up for good times, only to sucker punch your heart with lyrics of Biblical sadness.

For that, we can thank Swedish pop star Robyn, whose hit single Dancing On My Own influenced a generation of songwriters.

Released in 2010, it documented the brutal moment you see your ex kissing their new partner on a night out, and your world falls apart while everyone around you is having fun.

Lorde called it "perfect", Christine & The Queens said she could "only marvel" at the song's emotional impact, Sam Smith observed that it made Robyn "a huge part of the LGBTQ community because we get to dance our pain away".

Turning heartbreak into a fist-pumping emotion was Robyn's masterstroke - and as the 2010s progressed, her fingerprints were all over hits like Rihanna's We Found Love, Taylor Swift's Out Of The Woods and Dua Lipa's New Rules.

At the same time, however, pop was decelerating.

By 2017, the average tempo of a hit single in the UK was 104 beats per minute, down from a high of 124bpm in 2009. In the US, where hip-hop is more prevalent on the charts, it fell as low as 90.5 bpm.

"People were burnt out on uptempo, super poppy stuff like they were with hair-metal bands back in the day," songwriter Bonnie McKee told Rolling Stone magazine in 2017.

"Then as the sociopolitical climate got darker, people just weren't in the mood to hear some upbeat bop."

Just three years later, the trend is in reverse.

"I'm looking at the top 20 now and, if you were to play the chart in order, you wouldn't think the world is going through a crisis," says pop star Raye, who has written for the likes of Beyonce, Little Mix and Stormzy alongside her solo hits.

"You would expect political or emotional music matching the aura of the time to be more prevalent, but it's actually the opposite - which shows how we're coping in the UK especially.

"Tempo, pace, escapism: Music that draws you out of the reality of what is going on right now; and transports you to somewhere more positive and uplifting."

Music journalist Charlie Harding, who hosts the Switched On Pop podcast, agrees there's been "an important psychological change" in people's listening habits.

"During moments of great distress, music provides hope. A pop song gives us permission to access joy, even when the world is burning.

"But music is more than just escapism. It can help us imagine a different way of life. Protest anthems motivate us to keep marching in the streets even when our feet are tired. Dance songs help us blow off steam at home, especially when we can't go dancing out on the town.

"This upbeat shift happened during the great depression and during World War Two. Once again we need sounds that help us forge a path to the world we want to live in, not the one we're inhabiting today."

That last point is important, because the new wave of upbeat pop wasn't written specifically for the bizarre circumstances of 2020 - it just happened to be ready at the right time.

Dua Lipa's escapist pop opus Future Nostalgia was finished late last year, while Lady Gaga's decided to make Chromatica a "fun" and "energetically pure" dance album back in 2017.

It followed a period where the star eschewed pure pop to try on new guises - jazz chanteuse, country crooner and Oscar-baiting balladeer. In that period, the average tempo of her singles dropped below 100bpm.

But Chromatica isn't pure escapism. It's possibly Gaga's most personal record to date, discussing topics like her sexual assault, the antipsychotic medication she's been prescribed, and the fibromyalgia which leaves her in chronic pain.

If you run the lyrics through linguistical analysis software, you'll find that positive emotional words only slightly outweigh the negative ones (accounting for 3.36% vs 3.12% of the overall total word count).

Combined with the album's accelerated beats, the lyrical tension ultimately creates a feeling of rejoice and release - as Gaga puts her problems behind her and struts onto the dancefloor.

"We knew that Stupid Love felt good, and the other songs we were writing gave gloomy, hard, tearful days bright endings," said music producer BloodPop, who worked on 12 of the record's 16 tracks.

"You could physically see dance music healing this person in real time so it just became obvious very quickly that that's what we had to do," he told Rolling Stone.

Dua Lipa's record was cathartic in a different way - written to "get away from pressures and anxieties and opinions from the outside world," as she tried to follow-up her hugely successful debut.

Releasing it during the pandemic gave the music an added sense of urgency.

"I wanted to give people some happiness during this time, where they don't have to think about what's going on and just shut off and dance," she said.

Dua and Gaga aren't the only stars putting ecstasy back into the equation - and Spotify can (sort of) prove it.

The service helpfully collects metadata on the 50 million songs in its database, rating them for things like "danceability", "energy" and "acoustic-ness". But the measure we're interested in is called valence - and it rates a song's positivity.

Tracks with high valence sound more positive (happy, euphoric), while tracks with low valence sound more negative (sad, angry). It's not a perfect measure. Pharrell's Happy gets a score of 96%, as you might expect, but so does Aloe Blacc's I Need A Dollar - a story of unemployment and poverty.

You could argue it's really measuring jauntiness - but that's still a reasonable indicator of music's prevailing mood.

We looked at the valence for the UK's top 20 best-selling singles every year of the last decade. As you would expect, the score tends to hover around the half-way point.

The decade's happiest year was 2017, as listeners sought refuge from political turmoil in songs like Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You and Luis Fonsi's Despacito, dragging the average valence up to 62%.

After a couple of years decline, poptimism is back. The 20 best-selling songs so far this year score 57% on the happiness scale.

Average happiness of a hit song Based on the Top 20 best-sellers each year

If you zoom in on individual artists, the pattern becomes even more pronounced.

Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift are all on an upwards curve after releasing albums that were introspective or downbeat or fuelled by revenge in the mid-2010s.

Even Drake, an artist so perennially miserable that there are 84 separate playlists called "Sad Drake Songs" on Spotify, has become more optimistic.

His latest hit, Toosie Slide, has a valence of 84%, making it the "happiest" of the 58 singles he's released so far.

Notably, the song was written specifically to go viral on TikTok, the video sharing app that's become an increasingly important way for artists to share their new music.

Eight of the top 20 best-selling singles in the UK this year were boosted by their presence on the platform - and those songs tend to have a higher valence, scoring an average of 69% positivity, compared to 49% for the remaining 12 tracks.

How happy are our pop stars? Whatever prompted the shift, pop star Charli XCX is in favour of it.

"I feel like everything was so hip-hop infused for so long that maybe it's fun for it to be about it being so sugary and pop and happy," she told Billboard's Pop Shop podcast.

"That Doja Cat song makes me feel so happy. And same with the Dua song - it feels like I'm in a rom-com. I think that's really joyous and cool because I feel like there was a lot of darkness in pop for a long time."

Where pop's biggest names go, imitators will inevitably follow. But Raye says writing rose-tinted pop hits during the lockdown has been a challenging experience.

"It's a real battle between do I address how I feel and what's going on, or do I just create something that feels the opposite?" she says. "But I think if we were to be sitting on Zoom writing ballads, we'd just feel depressed, so it kind of makes sense to channel this upbeat 80s vibe."

Raye's hits include You Don't Know Me and Secrets

Meanwhile, Becky Hill, whose top 10 hits include Wish You Well and Gecko (Overdrive), says aspiring writers should be cautious about trying to capitalise on the happy pop revival.

"I try not to compare myself or my music to anyone else because music takes so friggin' long to get released," she says.

"So if you're writing for a trend, you've got to look at that song to not be coming out for the next, at least, eight weeks. And by that point everyone's probably moved on to something else."

But singer-songwriter Kamille, the Brit Award-winner behind Little Mix's Shout Out To My Ex and Mabel's Don't Call Me Up says that, when she writes upbeat songs, she's mostly writing for herself.

"Music is a haven and an escape," she says. "When I'm on streaming services, I'm listening to something that's going to make me feel good and give me energy, because I've got so little of it at the moment."

She says that cueing up a track like A-Ha's Take On Me can alter the course of her day.

"Immediately, my mood changes and I feel excited and my heart starts to race. It's like a little natural high."

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Inside the turbulent relaunch of Okayplayer: 'It all just came tumbling down'

Words: - BBC News - 06:52 08-07-2020

Rachel Hislop became editor-in-chief of Okayplayer in 2017

June was an unforgettable month for Rachel Hislop. Just not in the way she expected.

For the last two years, she's been plotting the relaunch of the ground-breaking and influential hip-hop website Okayplayer.

Once one of America's most popular online music destinations, its reputation had dipped in recent years; and Hislop, who'd made her name working with Beyoncé, was brought in to make it relevant again.

By the start of 2020, plans were in place. New writers had been hired, photoshoots were booked and interviews were scheduled,

Then Covid-19 hit and scattered her staff.

Then the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor irrevocably changed the site's editorial goals.

Then her CEO, Abiola Oke, was forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment and creating a toxic work environment.

"It all just came tumbling down," Hislop tells the BBC.

We spoke to the editor-in-chief twice for this article. The first interview took place a few days after Okayplayer's relaunch, when Hislop was tired but excited at having pulled together the new site through "the fog of fatigue and trauma".

The second came a week later, after the allegations against Oke had come to light. That time, she was more reserved. The intervening seven days had not been easy.

"I learned of the allegations as they rolled out on Twitter," she says. "And, you know, as someone who has dealt with similar situations in my personal life, it knocked me clear off of my feet.

"It was really, really disappointing."

The importance of Okayplayer in the early days of online music culture is hard to overstate.

Established by The Roots' drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and author Angela Nissel in 1999, it was one of the first places where fans could interact directly with artists online - four years before MySpace and six before YouTube.

Initially conceived as a promotional tool for The Roots and their associated acts, it thrived because of its messageboards, where topics included "The Lesson", a deep dive into music history; "Pass The Popcorn," for movie discussions; and "Okay-activist," which centred around political activism.

"OKP was the first place where you could talk to other black people from all over the country who shared your experiences and interests," rapper Phonte Coleman, a regular poster on the message boards, told The Undefeated earlier this year.

Questlove originally set up Okayplayer to promote The Roots. The name even appeared on their album Things Fall Apart before the site had been programmed

"OKP removed the stigma of talking to strangers on the internet because we had the shared bond of music. If you were a Prince fan, you could be on a forum of other Prince fans. OKP is where you can find bigger music nerds than me. And I'm a big music nerd."

The community, like many early internet chatrooms, was unusually supportive. Members organised interstate carpools, promoted each other's art and formed political action groups.

But as the conversation around music and black culture moved away from blogs and messageboards to Facebook and Twitter in, the site began to feel stale.

That's where Hislop comes in.

Born and raised in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn to working-class immigrant parents, she'd fallen in love with magazines as a child. Her mother, who worked for the union that serviced the L'Oreal building in New York, would bring home copies of 17 and Cosmo Girl.

"I remember being like, 'What is this world? Who are these cool people in these pages?'" she says.

"It just was so far-fetched for me because I grew up in Brooklyn and everybody was very blue collar. I'd never seen anyone who looked like me doing these types of things. But my mom would be like, 'Write letters to the addresses in there.' So I was like, 11 years old writing letters to the editor!

"It wasn't until I was in my senior year of high school that I took a journalism class, and was like, 'Oh, this is a thing! I love editing people and this red pen gives me power! This is amazing!'"

While studying journalism at university, Hislop took a summer internship at the fashion magazine Nylon. She quickly realised that, every time she returned to the office, the print team was dwindling while the website was growing - and started enrolling in classes that taught Photoshop and the web design software Dreamwaver.

"And that was kind of like my edge, like, 'I know I'm young, but I know the internet really, really well - please just give me a chance!'"

Hislop (second right) at an Oscars' screening of Menace II Society in 2017

Her first job came at the Global Grind website, where she secured an exclusive interview with Dr Dre by walking up to him at a "really fancy party wearing these pants that I had bought at the Gap for $7".

"I just approached him like, 'Hey I'm a reporter, would you mind if I just asked you three questions?' and he was really welcoming."

What she didn't realise, as she sat on the bus ride home, filing the story on her mobile phone, was that Dre hadn't spoken to the press for three years. His quotes - which covered his ambitions for the Beats headphone brand, and a then-unknown rapper called Kendrick Lamar - would go around the world.

Hislop was quickly promoted to style editor at Global Grind. Soon after, though, she received "a mysterious call about a mysterious job for a mysterious person".

That person turned out to be Beyoncé. Hislop was hired to run all of the star's websites and social media channels, and she helped mastermind the online strategy for her 2016 album, Lemonade, which highlighted messages of social justice and black empowerment.

Lemonade was launched as a visual album on HBO, and its hard-hitting messages became an online phenomenon

"At the time, celebrities were on social media but they weren't really using it to make statements," recalls Hislop.

"We were able to work together to think about how we can use her digital voice for philanthropy, for everything, to really expand those messages about who she was as a person."

Although the job was successful and rewarding ("it was like really intense grad school," she says), Hislop was itching to get back into journalism.

So when Okayplayer came knocking in 2017, she saw an opportunity to take all the lessons she'd learned about digital storytelling and apply them to a "legacy brand".

As editor-in-chief, she wants to steer the site away from "rolling news" - the video premieres, gossip and squabbles that play out in real time on social media - and commission more coverage of culture, political, and social reform.

"In the past we focused just on the music," she says. "We don't have that luxury any more.

"Now, we have to have enough information for our readers to be fully informed, to understand the scope of the music that we're presenting to them. They have to have the backstory."

Neo-soul group Chloe x Halle are the first cover stars of the new edition of Okayplayer

When the Covid-19 lockdown took effect in March, Hislop found herself reconfiguring Okayplayer from her teenage bedroom.

There, she commissioned digital cover stories with reggae artist Buju Banton and stars-in-the-making Chloe x Halle, reflecting her vision of a site that could "provide the bridges that tie legacy to the new age".

But just as the team were about to hit the publish button, George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, triggering a huge wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

Hislop paused the relaunch and asked her staff a question: "What is our role in this protest moment?"

It was a shrewd point. The 1960s civil rights movement helped establish black-owned magazines like Ebony and Jet, which in turn helped set the tone of the conversation for black communities. But in 2020, citizens are mobilising and organising online. Where does a site like Okayplayer fit into that landscape?

"It's something I think about a lot," says Hislop.

"There are different ways to lend a voice right now. Some people need to be in the street, some people need to be on Twitter and some of us need to be documenting the things that are happening and making sure that we're elevating the voices that are enacting that change."

Her approach was eventually inspired by the original incarnation of Okayplayer, which put the audience at the heart of the conversation.

"I can't sit here and say that I know exactly what a low income person in Flint, Michigan is going through right now - but I do have a platform where we can reach out to people who are living those realities and allow them the space to write about these things from their point of view."

The protests have taken place in the background of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected African Americans

She adds that discovering and supporting new voices, especially minority voices, has got to become a priority for media companies across the board.

"A lot of young black journalists burn out really early in their careers and it's really because that mentorship is missing," she says.

"It takes real systematic change within organisations to make sure that the black and brown people who are on the staff, that are telling these stories, feel supported. That their ideas feel like they're respected and that they're not shut down all the time.

"They might not come in with the cleanest [writing] on the first draft, that's okay because they need these opportunities to understand what it's like to be edited, and to understand what it's like to get that first click and then build from there.

"We have to continue to get people in positions of power so that they can lift as they climb."

Hislop is in such a position right now - which is why it's been so demoralising to have her achievements overshadowed by the exit of Okayplayer's CEO.

Abiola Oke resigned as soon as the accusations against him became public

The accusations against Abiola Oke surfaced just days after the website relaunched.

Ivie Ani, a former writer, posted a statement on Twitter, saying that black female employees had suffered "a lack of support and resources, below market salaries, inadequate leadership, targeting and sabotage, slander, verbal abuse, inappropriate behaviour, gaslighting, lack of empathy, manipulation, rationalising poor or unethical conduct and wrongful termination".

Other people came forward with similar allegations, including one woman who claimed Oke sexually harassed her.

He resigned the next day; and later posted a lengthy statement saying he was "deeply sorry" for making black female colleagues "feel invisible or silenced". He also "emphatically and unequivocally" denied sexual assault.

Hislop also responded, saying the accusations were "a gut check", and acknowledging her own failures in speaking up for the victims, two of whom reported directly to her.

Behind the scenes, she went to the board of directors with a list of demands from her editorial team. "If they're not met," she told them, "I'll step down."

Those demands were met and published online. Among the provisions were the inclusion of black women to the board, and establishing an external, independent investigation into the company's culture.

Skip Twitter post by @okayplayer

pic.twitter.com/EeF5RwTdeO

— Okayplayer (@okayplayer) June 25, 2020

Report

"I regret not doing it sooner," she says, "But I'm doing my best right now to create a better environment for the people that are here, and an environment that they're proud to create work in.

"There's no right answer, and there's no answer that pleases everyone, but I'm just trying to lead with humanity and compassion and hope that this brings us where we need to go."

i Facebook i @BBCNewsEnts . If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk .

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3D Printering: Selling Prints, and Solving the Pickup Problem

Words: Donald Papp - Hackaday - 17:00 08-07-2020

After getting a 3D printer up and running, it’s not uncommon for an enterprising hacker to dabble in 3D printing to make a little money on the side. Offering local pickup of orders is a common startup choice since it’s simple and avoids shipping entirely. It’s virtually tailor-made to make a great bootstrapping experiment, but anyone who tries it sooner or later bumps up against a critical but simple-seeming problem: how to get finished prints into a customer’s hands in a sustainable way that is not a hassle for either the provider, or the customer?

It’s very easy to accept a 3D file and get paid online, but the part about actually getting the print into the customer’s hands does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. This is what I call The Pickup Problem, and left unsolved, it can become unsustainable. Let’s look at why local pickup doesn’t always measure up, then examine possible solutions.

Local pickup for delivery of print jobs is great because there is no mucking about with shipping supplies or carriers. Also, many 3D prints when starting out will be relatively low-value jobs that no one is interested in stacking shipping fees onto, anyway.

“Your order is complete. Come to this address to pick up your order.” It is straightforward and hits all the bases, so what’s the problem?

For a business with a staffed physical location, there’s no problem! But if you are an enterprising hacker trying it as a side gig, it is lacking in several important ways.

You need to be home for local pickup to work. Customers will understandably expect to be able to pick up their order at their own convenience, but your schedules will need to match up for it to happen. Any time you are not home and available to answer the door, local pickup won’t work and that brings us to the next issue.

Time and focus are your most precious resources, but committing to making yourself available for local pickups can have an impact on your life and routine in ways you may not anticipate. You may find yourself rushing home, or avoiding going out in order to be home to accommodate pickups.

While home, you may also find yourself avoiding activities, such as putting off tasks or not starting a project because it would interfere with your ability to drop what you’re doing if the doorbell rings. These can be accepted as occasional growing pains, but if they become the new normal these hidden costs will rapidly outweigh any benefits.

Not everyone’s home or workshop location is good for having people drop by to pick up an order. Ideally, a pickup location is easy to get to and has good lighting, security, and accessibility. This isn’t true for every location. An apartment or condo that lacks visitor parking and is not in a convenient location (or seems unsafe or unwelcoming to strangers) is not a good candidate for local pickups. You may get customers, but you won’t keep them.

What it boils down to is that local pickup isn’t as “free” as it may seem at first glance; there are hidden costs involved and they will be borne by you. Fortunately, there are ways around most of the usual problems.

Everyone’s needs are different when it comes to working environment, location, timetable, or security. There may not be a one-size-fits-all easy solution, but there are options that can be mixed and matched by an enterprising hacker to meet specific needs.

Instead of trying to be as available as possible, offer pickups on a fixed schedule and commit to being available during those times. One might choose to offer local pickups Tuesdays and Thursdays between 5:00 pm and 9:30 pm, for example. This provides structure and boundaries while also being easier to plan around for everyone involved. The rest of the time, you can perform your usual work and activities free from interruption or stress.

This increases costs and will limit the kinds of jobs you can accept. In addition, you will need to obtain and manage some basic shipping supplies such as boxes, packing tape, and packing material. But the payoff is the benefit of having someone else handle the delivery entirely, and you’ll be able to serve a wider area than with local pickup alone.

Seek out online shipping partners that offer postal services at discounted parcel rates; these are in common use among online sellers. You’ll be able to purchase shipping labels online and drop the box off at your nearest postal outlet, or in some cases request a pickup. Just remember that when it comes to shipping, in general smaller and lighter equals cheaper. Shipping proficiency is a bit like baking bread; the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, self-serve and contactless pickups are a much more common and accepted ways to do things. Highly dependent on location and security, it can nevertheless be a useful option.

A good example of self-serve pickup is a home-based business from whom I recently made a purchase of specialty vinyl sheets. They had a very simple system: open their mailbox and retrieve whichever envelope had your name on it. No locks or access controls to speak of, but they apparently weren’t needed. It was extremely convenient.

This is a situation where perfect can be the enemy of good. It is entirely reasonable to mix and match solutions, or move from one to another as needs change. Since 3D printed objects are relatively low in value (compared to, say, laptops or bricks of gold) it’s easier to accept some risk and experiment in finding a good compromise.

After trying a few different things, I settled on a self-serve pickup method combined with fixed hours for pickup.

I purchased a lockable outdoor plastic storage bin and attached a sign to the front, and a cable lock to the back. Each morning, I put the bin on the front deck (a well-lit spot that was not entirely visible from the sidewalk) and secured it with the cable lock. At night I brought it indoors.

For access control, the latch was secured with a word lock. Turning the dials to form the right word would open it.

When an order was complete I would email the customer with the pickup instructions and the code for the word lock. They would come at their convenience, retrieve their order, and be on their way. If there was any issue or problem, my cell phone number was provided.

I eventually decided I had gone overboard with security and removed the word lock. It was a hassle for customers and I could always lock things down more if I ran into problems, but I was fortunate enough that none ever came up. The box even occasionally doubled as a drop-off point for other jobs and materials.

I was quite happy with the solution, and it worked well until I stopped accepting online print orders to focus instead on my own jobs, and no longer needed it. If I were to do anything differently, I would raise the bin up to waist-height for better comfort, but that’s about it.

Have you ever run into the pickup problem as a seller or a customer, whether for 3D printing or something else? What did you do about it? If you have any insights or experiences to share, please put them in the comments because we’d love to hear them.

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What powers do the police have?

Words: - BBC News - 15:42 01-06-2020

The lockdown rules have changed across all parts of the UK - with the most relaxed regime now operational in England.

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own rules - and in each part of the UK, the police must enforce them.

Wherever you live in the UK, the police can:

There are now at least 17 laws, known as regulations, governing freedom of movement across the UK - here are the links to the most important:

Originally, it was against the law in every part of the UK to be outside the place where you live "without reasonable excuse", or to be part of a public gathering.

Today, the picture is really complicated. So let's start with England.

From 1 June, anyone in England can be outside without needing a reasonable excuse. If someone wants to take a long car journey, they no longer need to explain themselves - providing they're returning home that day.

Once outside, be it in public or a back garden, they can gather in groups of up to six people and the police won't intervene.

For the first time since the lockdown began, people in England can stay overnight away from home for a range of specific reasons that include:

Crucially, there is a still a general ban on any indoor meetings of more than two people, unless they have a similar reason, defined in law, for doing so.

The latest guidance to police in England tells officers they can order people to leave a home if they find an illegal indoor meeting.

These changes have created some rather unusual legal anomalies. Today in England, it's an offence for a couple who do not live together to have an amorous reunion indoors. However, there is no actual legal requirement to remain 2m (6ft) apart in a back garden - although it remains a key part of the government guidance.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, people still need a reasonable excuse to be outside.

The law across the UK has never been explicitly clear on what this means (see the Dominic Cummings row), but it does give examples which include:

The law stresses that if you're on your own property, including a yard, garage or alley which is part of where you live, the police have no power to tell you what to do, unless you're having a gathering that's breaking the lockdown.

In Northern Ireland, groups of up to six people who do not share a household can meet outdoors under a relaxation of the law.

In Scotland and Wales, the law now allows "two households" to meet outside but doesn't specify numbers. However Scottish guidance is to keep it to maximum of eight people.

If someone fails to follow any of the regulations that apply in their part of the UK, police officers could give them an on-the-spot penalty. This is basically an instant fine, like a parking ticket, without the involvement of a court, unless the recipient wants to challenge it.

In England those penalties now start at £100 for a first offence - reduced to £50 if paid promptly. Repeat offences will lead to penalties that will reach a maximum of £3,200. These penalties are lower in the rest of the UK.

Police could ultimately charge anyone, anywhere in the UK, with the offence of breaching coronavirus regulations.

That power would lead to court, possible conviction - and therefore a criminal record - and even greater fines.

The ban on holidays remains in force in all parts of the UK - but the prime minister says you can travel.

However, he has no say over how the coronavirus regulations should be enforced by police outside England - and any driving into Scotland or Wales needs a good reason to do so.

If a family from Bristol drives about 70 miles, within England, for a day's country walking on Exmoor, they won't be stopped by the police.

If the same family drives a similar distance to the Brecon Beacons in Wales, they run the risk of arrest.

This is not hypothetical. South Wales Police has previously announced that people from England are to appear in court for travelling to paraglide off Nash Point in Glamorgan.

Front-line police may need to work very hard to decide whether someone is wilfully breaking the rules, has a genuine defence or has misunderstood them because of the differences across the UK.

Officers across all four parts of the UK have been told by their chiefs to follow "Four Es":

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Coronavirus: US surpasses three million cases

Words: - BBC News - 23:23 08-07-2020

California and Texas each reported more than 10,000 new daily cases on Tuesday

More than three million people in the US have now tested positive for Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Over 131,000 deaths have been reported, and on Tuesday the US broke its record for most new cases reported in one day.

Despite the rise, the White House wants to press forward on some reopenings, including for schools.

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, argued rules should not be "too tough".

Cases were flattening out, he said, while President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that America was "in a good place" regarding the pandemic.

Over 60,000 new cases were reported Tuesday, shattering the previous highest tally of 55,220 new cases on 2 July.

The latest figures came as the states of California and Texas each reported more than 10,000 new daily cases.

Dr Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert and adviser to the White House on the coronavirus, said the country was still "knee-deep" in only its first coronavirus wave.

Speaking to reporters at the US Department of Education on Wednesday, Mr Pence defended the Trump administration's response to the pandemic.

"While we mourn with those who mourn, because of what the American people have done, because of the extraordinary work of our healthcare workers around the country, we are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," he said after lowering his face mask.

Mr Pence speaks alongside health and education officials

He added that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will issue new guidelines on reopening schools after Mr Trump criticised a plan put forward by the expert body as "very tough and expensive" and threatened to cut off funding to schools that don't open in the autumn.

"The president said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough," Mr Pence said. "That's the reason why, next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward."

Schools in the US normally begin for the year in either August or early September.

The CDC's guidelines suggest pupils and staff all wear face coverings and stay at home if necessary. They also suggest schools should implement staggered timetables and socially distanced seating arrangements, and close communal spaces.

In Oklahoma, health officials in the city of Tulsa said President Trump's campaign rally there last month and the protests that took place at the same time "likely contributed" to a spike in cases locally, the Associated Press reported.

"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr Bruce Dart said. The Trump campaign has not yet commented.

Meanwhile, two prestigious universities in the US are taking legal action against the government over an immigration rule they say will force international students to leave the country.

Under the rule, introduced by the Trump administration, foreign students would be barred from staying in the country if their colleges don't hold in-person classes this autumn. Much university teaching is shifting online during the pandemic.

Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - two of the highest-ranking universities in the world - have now asked a federal court to block the rule.

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in an email to the Harvard community: "We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students - and international students at institutions across the country - can continue their studies without the threat of deportation."

In other US virus-related news:

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Ruthless Man City put five past Newcastle

Words: - BBC News - 19:32 08-07-2020

p Premier League

Riyad Mahrez scored his 12th goal of the season for Man City Manchester City returned to winning ways in style by thrashing hapless Newcastle at Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side were surprisingly beaten at Southampton in their previous Premier League game but two goals in the opening 20 minutes against the Magpies effectively settled this contest.

Gabriel Jesus ended his nine-game goal drought by converting from David Silva's cutback, while Riyad Mahrez swept home the second from Kevin de Bruyne's pass.

It got worse for Newcastle in the second period when Federico Fernandez inadvertently deflected Matt Ritchie's attempted clearance into his own net and David Silva added the fourth by curling in a sublime free-kick.

Raheem Sterling came off the bench to add the fifth for City in injury-time, rolling in from Silva's pass.

With four games remaining, City have strengthened their claim to second place, moving nine points clear of Chelsea, while Newcastle drop to 13th.

Manchester City's unsatisfactory title defence has seen them drop 33 points this season, three more than in their previous two campaigns combined, but they were a class apart against Newcastle.

The swift movement and quick passing in the final third tore apart the Magpies backline with ease time and time again and though their aggregate score from their last five home games now reads 19-0, it could have been much more.

Phil Foden's growing influence in the starting line-up is clear to see, buzzing around in the final third, but the young Englishman will be disappointed by missing a hat-trick of chances, all dragged wide from promising positions.

The man Foden is tipped to replace next season, David Silva, showed why he will depart as one of the finest players the Premier League has seen, completing 106 of his 112 passes, contributing two assists as well as scoring a glorious free-kick.

The first two goals were similar, both coming from the left of the box, with Belgium international De Bruyne taking his assist tally to 18 for the campaign, just two short of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry's record.

p twitter Newcastle's form since the restart has been excellent with two victories and two draws, but this heavy defeat ended a run of six unbeaten games in the league.

The appointment of Steve Bruce to replace Rafael Benitez last summer was not universally well received by the club's fans, but the 59-year-old has kept them away from the relegation zone and they are only two points short of matching last season's tally.

But Bruce extended his wretched record as manager against City. He has never beaten them, losing nine out of 12 matches.

They had several first-choice players missing, including Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Jamaal Lascelles, and conceding two early goals did not help their cause.

Defender Fernandez, who saw Ritchie's attempted clearance ricochet off him into his own net, recorded the away side's only shot on target, a weak header which was easily gathered by Ederson.

Different class against Newcastle, set two up and scored another Manchester City travel to Brighton on Saturday (kick-off 20:00 BST), while Newcastle go to Watford earlier on the same day (12:30).

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Thursday briefing: Brexit – we're not ready, trade secretary warns

Words: Warren Murray - The Guardian - 05:31 09-07-2020

Thu 9 Jul 2020 01.31 EDT

Last modified on Thu 9 Jul 2020 01.38 EDT

Good morning – Warren Murray here to catapult you into the heart of current events.

A cabinet row over Brexit has erupted into the open with Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, warning in a leaked letter that the PM’s border plans risk smuggling, damage to the UK’s international reputation and a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization. Truss wrote to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Michael Gove on Wednesday warning of four “key areas of concern” over their plans for the border next January. Gove has unveiled a border regime for traders whereby customs and health checks for goods from the EU would not be imposed immediately and instead be phased in over six months. But Truss warns it would “be vulnerable” as the WTO could object to EU goods being treated differently to those from elsewhere which incur tariffs and quotas. She also raises concerns over smuggling because full checks will not be in place from 1 January.

The letter suggests the government has not addressed the complexities of distinguishing between goods moving into Northern Ireland and staying there, and others moving on to the island of Great Britain. “HMRC are planning to apply the EU tariff as a default to all imports in NI from 1 January 2021 … This is very concerning as this may call into question NI’s place in the UK customs territory,” Truss wrote. Labour’s Rachel Reeves said Truss’s letter “confirms fears that several ministers have been making things up as they go with a lack of awareness of the real world consequences of border policies they’ve had four years to develop”.

‘Fundamental change of circumstances’ – In breaking news this morning Australia has offered Hongkongers visa extensions of five years and cancelled its extradition treaty with the city after China imposed a draconian national security regime. Canberra has also advised its citizens in Hong Kong to consider returning home. Last week Boris Johnson said Britain would also go ahead with a promise of visas and a path to citizenship for about 3 million Hong Kong citizens who hold British visa rights and their family members. The Australian PM, Scott Morrison, said in the last hour that his government believed the national security law “constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances”. Canada has announced similar measures.

strongRishi Sunak has been warned he will need to act far more decisively to prevent mass unemployment this autumn after unveiling a £30bn mini-budget designed to kickstart spending. The chancellor announced a short-term cut in VAT for hospitality and tourism and an August “eat out to help out” discount scheme worth £10 a head. He announced measures to revive the housing market with a nine-month stamp duty holiday – raising the threshold in England and Northern Ireland to £500,000 – as well as creating subsidised jobs for young people and providing targeted support for the sectors hit hardest by the lockdown.

But economic experts, trade unions and Labour questioned whether enough is being done to tackle a looming jobs crisis. Garry Young, from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said: “The new measures look to be badly timed and could precipitate a rapid increase in unemployment. The incentives offered to employers look too small to be effective. Many employers have been topping up the pay of furloughed workers and are expected to bear more of the cost of the scheme from next month. They will be reluctant to do this now they know that the scheme won’t be extended.”

strongThe chief executive of Hillingdon hospital in Boris Johnson’s constituency, which has shut its A&E unit after a coronavirus outbreak, has blamed “irresponsible” staff for flouting the rules by not wearing face masks at work. Sarah Tedford wrote in a message to staff: “I am told some of you are not wearing appropriate masks and you are not adhering to social distancing. This has resulted in an outbreak on a ward where our staff have contracted Covid-19.” As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US reached 3m, and another daily record fell with more than 60,000 new cases, Donald Trump insisted the US was “in a good place” and admitted he “didn’t listen to my experts”. Latest developments as always at our global live blog.

‘Palace letters’ out on Tuesday – Previously secret correspondence between the Queen and the former Australian governor general Sir John Kerr surrounding the dismissal of Gough Whitlam as prime minister will be released in full on Tuesday morning, Australia’s national archives have confirmed. The public will be able to access the entirety of the so-called palace letters, a series of more than 200 exchanges between the Queen, her private secretary and Kerr, the then governor general, in the lead-up to the politically explosive 1975 dismissal of Whitlam amid a deadlock in parliament. A historian, Jenny Hocking, won a court battle for their release. Hocking has previously found evidence that the palace knew of Kerr’s intention to dismiss Whitlam and was involved in deliberations. She believes the palace letters could reveal what the Queen said and whether she influenced Kerr’s actions.

Pick of the board – Clacton pier has been crowned pier of the year in what its co-owner called a “perfect morale booster” at a difficult time. Clevedon pier came second and Brighton Palace pier third. The National Piers Society said the award recognised a decade of improvements made by Clacton pier’s owners, Billy and Elliot Ball.

When they bought the 1871-built pier in 2009, just over a third of the space was in use. It now boasts many rides including a helter-skelter and two-tier adventure golf course, with a rollercoaster and log flume due to be added. It is the largest pleasure pier in Europe by surface area, covering more than 26,300 sq metres, said the NPS.

A spike in cases of Covid-19 in Leicester has led Guardian reporter Archie Bland to its garment factories. He discusses a story that goes beyond the pandemic and into workers’ rights, appalling factory conditions and the ethics of fast fashion.

Aisha Wakil knew many of the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram’s fighters as children. Now she uses those ties to broker peace deals, mediate hostage negotiations and convince militants to put down their weapons – but as the violence escalates, her task is becoming impossible.

The crisis enveloping British Gymnastics has intensified with the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lisa Mason calling for the resignation of the chief executive, Jane Allen, in the wake of the abuse scandal, and the four-times Olympic medallist Louis Smith accusing the governing body of not wanting to taint its image by alerting the public to complaints against coaches. Dominic Sibley went for a duck as rain dominated England’s first day against the West Indies, with the hosts notching 35 runs with only 17.4 overs possible.

Manchester City have cantered 5-0 to a win that ended Newcastle’s unbeaten four-game run since the restart of the Premier League. Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool will not take for granted breaking Manchester City’s record points tally despite edging closer to the historic target with victory at Brighton. Saracens, Harlequins, Northampton and Worcester are among the clubs with confirmed cases of coronavirus following Premiership Rugby’s first round of testing. PRL announced that of the 804 tests, six players and four members of staff have yielded positive results, bringing into sharp focus the main threat to the resumption of the season in mid-August.

Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street higher following gains for major US tech stocks. Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Australia have risen. The pound is coming in at $1.262 and €1.111 while the FTSE is set to open higher.

Rishi Sunak has unmasked his fiscal response to the coronavirus – but neglected to cover his face when he served up meals at Wagamama for a photo op, as the Guardian points out in its caption. Our paper leads with “Mass unemployment feared despite Sunak’s plan for jobs”.

There is no getting away from culinary themes for mini-budget coverage: “Grab a £10 Rishi dishi” rhymes the Metro. The i calls Sunak the “Half-price meal deal chancellor” – is the paper casting aspersions there? “Come dine with me” – says the Telegraph, letting its hair down; the Times has “Sunak serves up £30bn rescue”, ho ho.

The Express says “Rishi dishes up £30bn budget of hope”, a headline that in present company feels like it fell at the final hurdle. “Lunch is on Rishi – but we’ll ALL have to pick up the tab”, the Mail cautions. The Mirror shows its loyalties, greeting the summer statement as “Chicken feed”. Finally let’s all rinse our palates with the FT’s comparatively bland rendering: “Sunak’s scheme to revive economy will push borrowing past £350bn”. Someone’s going to be doing a lot of dishes …

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'He's so strapping and virile': Patrick Stewart at 80 – by Shatner, McKellen, Tennant and more

Words: Interviews by Chris Wiegand, Catherine Shoard and Toby Moses - The Guardian - 05:00 09-07-2020

I like to surprise chat show hosts by telling them: “I married Patrick Stewart” – which I did. I married him to Sunny, his mischievous, utterly reliable wife. What he confesses on chat shows is his delight and certainty that he has gone far. Far from his native Yorkshire and at times miserable home life. Far from the young actor who combed his thinning hair over the crown, until one night two friends scissored it off and a noble skull was revealed.

Far, too, from his earlier success as a classical actor with the Royal Shakespeare and National Theatre companies. He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek. How he got that job is a prime example of how luck can be a lady and it will be a riveting chapter in the memoir he must write. He has so much to tell. Not just the glamour and the hard work but his politics and his open-hearted commitment to his charity work.

Eighty is, of course, a milestone but he has had so many remarkable achievements in his careering journey from Huddersfield, to Stratford, the West End, Hollywood, to Broadway and beyond, I’m sure there will be no silly talk about retirement.

Working with Patrick is one of the great joys in life. Not only is he kind and funny, but he read a Brecht poem without a whiff of pomposity. Literally. He read Questions from a Worker Who Reads one day, and while sitting at someone’s knee listening to poetry seems to be something of another age, it simply feels right when the knee at which you sit is Patrick Stewart’s.

I saw him playing Claudius in a TV version of Hamlet when I was at school. Years later, Patrick and I had two goes at Hamlet together – we did it on stage for the RSC and then reassembled for television. He is everything you’d imagine: generous, a real actors’ actor, loves being in a troupe of players and everything about the life of the theatre. It was his lifetime ambition to play Claudius and the Ghost, as he’d been at the RSC when Brewster Mason did both roles in one production.

Patrick was thrilled to be back where he’d started, at the RSC, after this extraordinary Hollywood life and international success. He’d been released back into the wild almost, enjoying all these parts he had unfinished business with. We all await his King Lear. Patrick still almost looks the same as in that Hamlet I saw at school. He’s fit as a fiddle and so strapping! How many 80-year-olds are the lead in their own science fiction series? There’s nothing of the “old man” about him. He’s very virile – I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying that!

He’s a love and he is an intellectual in an athlete’s body. We had a long horse scene to do together once, and I recommended him wearing women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing and he nodded his head as a thank you. When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did. I didn’t know he was so old.

I joined the RSC in 1981 and was playing fairly small roles. Patrick was at his peak. We were in Henry IV parts 1 and 2 together. I listened every night to him doing “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. It was like jazz. I didn’t realise that you could play with Shakespeare to that extent. Instead of clinging on to the way you do it each night, you can throw it up in the air and risk it not working.

There was a big scene at the end, a parade in the streets, with the whole cast on stage in medieval rags. I was milling about and ran into Patrick, who was dressed as a woman, which he had just done as a lark. He said under his breath: “Hi, I’m Jane Nightwork!” He was embodying this old tart who is referred to in an earlier speech. I thought, oh, gosh, grand actors can be a lark too.

Years later, we did Antony and Cleopatra together. He wanted desperately to get back to Shakespeare and the stage, having been a mega film star. That’s quite a message to someone on stage – that what you’re doing is something a lot of people are aching to do, rather than just looking towards film stardom. We somehow hit a great chemistry – the chemistry of two people who want to play together and the pleasure of working through that language and having that banter and the extremes of emotion that you trigger in one another, and night after night doing it differently.

He is a joy to work with. We did The Tempest and Antony and Cleopatra at the RSC in 2006. It was my first time working at Stratford and I’d watch him from the wings. He’s a very human performer – the text never feels like it’s 400 years old. I always felt he was having the time of his life. The joy he felt about speaking the text just came oozing out of him. His connection comes from the heart and that makes the language so much easier to understand when you’re connected to it. He was like a little kid – he was in the best place he could be at that time. Whatever he does, it’s playtime. He’s a proper get-your-hands-dirty actor.

I’ve known Patrick since he was nine. We met on a drama course in the Calder Valley. I’m four years older so he was like my younger brother. I was always wild and naughty; Patrick was very well-behaved. I’ve always taken the mickey out of him. Amateur theatre was everywhere in Yorkshire at that time but we both dreamed of seeing professional theatre.

He’d visit me at home in Bolton upon Dearne and we’d do Shakespeare scenes together in my little bedroom. My Dad would come in and say: “Patrick, you could have done that part a bit better.” I’d say: “Dad, he’s 11!” Years later my Dad said to me how much he liked Star Trek on television. I said: “Do you like the captain? That’s the little boy you criticised in my bedroom!”

I remember we met up once, after not seeing each other for a long time, and we went to see a play at the Old Vic together. Beforehand we were sat on Westminster Bridge, with our arms round each other, and he suddenly recited the whole of Wordsworth’s Composed upon Westminster Bridge. We both wept.

Twenty years ago I went to Hollywood for a premiere. They asked me if I had any Hollywood friends and I mentioned Patrick. As I got out of the limousine at the premiere, I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders and a voice saying: “Hello, hello, hello. I am Brian Blessed’s guest.” There we were: two working-class boys from Yorkshire, walking down the red carpet. It was considered impossible for us to become classical actors and we said bollocks to that. Next year we’re planning a stage show together – we’ll do a bit of Shakespeare, singing, some poetry. Patrick and I will bring the house down. Tell him I still think he’s ugly and has got no sex appeal – how can he be so successful?

In high school, I would watch videos of the RSC’s workshops, featuring Patrick as well as Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins: all filled with vim and vigour and happiness, all extremely fastidious and having in-depth arguments about iambic pentameter. In acting school, I became addicted to Star Trek. When you put somebody with that kind of capacity in an arena like a sci-fi drama they become the cornerstone.

By the time I had the chance to work with him, it seemed impossible to me that he was a real human being. But in 2013, I joined a touring production of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot with Patrick, Ian and Shuler Hensley. They pursued day after day such incredibly challenging pieces of material without any give. That Pat in his 70s still had that level of rabid curiosity was the most wonderful news to me; I feel exhausted and I’m barely 50. He and Ian were both thriving in what anyone else would consider the end of their career; instead it felt like it was the middle. They continue to have the appetite to pursue the kind of material that makes them relevant.

One day in tech, I was having a particularly miserable time: I had just lost a loved one and was grappling with other painful things. I was doing the best that I could, and my best was just terrible. At the end of the rehearsal, Patrick came up as I was packing my belongings and put his hand on my shoulder and said: “Billy, oh Billy. When you hurt, I hurt. If you need anything, I’m here.” I just burst into tears. I have found his kind of love and big-heartedness uncommon in the industry.

I’m so pleased Patrick is turning 80 and still looks about 35. I can’t say he’s changed at all since I first met him on Star Trek; we’ve also done an X-Men film together and he guest-starred on Frasier. I do see a little of myself in Patrick and vice versa. We both like to turn a phrase. I think we both share a devotion to trying to play new characters, to staying connected to the thing which got us here in the first place, which is our imagination.

We were both Macbeth a year apart – he was lauded for his performance; I was attacked for mine. And yes, we are both very comfortable with an element of camp in our heterosexuality. He led when we danced together on Frasier and he was a lovely dancer. In my house we still quote his line in that show where he picks up his phone in Frasier’s apartment and says: “Placiiiiidoooo!” And David Hyde Pierce [Niles] and I gasp: “Placido Domingo?!” That voice of his is pretty extraordinary.

He’s effervescent, always polite and – like most actors I know – very bright. In some ways he does seem quintessentially English. A little phlegmatic, perhaps, a bit removed; that language and accosting profile. Yet he’s got great warmth and charm, which is not of course foreign to Englishmen and women. But Patrick can project a traditional stiff upper lip Brit while underneath being a very receptive and self-effacing and accessible guy, with a kind of American openness. I’ve never heard a word spoken against him.

When Patrick played Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra in 1973, he was wry, wise, sensible, sensitive. His Enobarbus was a soldier with a heart and even better, a mind; Patrick Stewart the man still sees through bluff and nonsense with his canny northern eye and his teasing half-smile. He has kept his cool sense of proportion even though as a huge franchised star of television he can take his pick of anything going.

Actually, as I dredge through the jumble of the memory drawers, he and I go even further back than that wonderful Trevor Nunn production. He played Antonio the sea-captain who helps Viola (me) survive being stranded on a strange seashore, and I can still see him doubled up with laughter in the wings as I exited the stage on the opening night of Twelfth Night at the Library theatre in Manchester. “Why are you laughing at me?” I hissed at him in the darkness of the wings. “You should have heard yourself,” he chortled back at me, “you said ‘What country friends is this?’ in a thick South African accent!” “I didn’t!” “You bloody well did!” Oh the shame.

More shame when in the same season he and I played a husband and wife in an early play by David Mercer called The Buried Man – all bickering over the proverbial sink in faded floral frocks and string vests. Patrick had a lovely tough-looking chest through the string, I recall. He was perfectly at home in his native accent, while once again this South African did her worst to murder a speech in a broad Lancashire accent and got giggled at for her pains by a home-grown audience. The glottal stops did me in. He was kinder to me this time, and only laughed a little bit.

From those humble beginnings Patrick has conquered LA and most of the world while keeping his essential Shakespearean inner actor firmly close to his heart. I would trust him with the dearest secret, this local boy made very very good, because besides all this acting stuff he seems to me to be a very good man.

I was asked to direct The Tempest and Patrick was going to play Prospero. I went to meet him, essentially to be auditioned. I wanted to set the play in the Arctic and pitched the whole concept to him, talking sweatily at great length. He sat there totally silent, inscrutable. I thought it was going terribly: this guy is coming back to the RSC to play Prospero and we’re going to put him in polar bear skins! He said at the end: “Well, what you don’t know is that I have for a long time been a collector of Inuit art.” It was quite the icebreaker.

We worked on The Tempest in hot rehearsal rooms, pretending it was the Arctic. One day I asked stage management to persuade the local supermarket to let us into their deep freeze store to rehearse some scenes and get into the sprit of it. I was asking Patrick to spend hours in the freezer. That day, I was in five jumpers; Patrick turned up in shorts. He was so Yorkshire about it.

What I had underestimated about Patrick – which is the great thing about Picard – is that you can put him in anything and you still feel like you are watching something real. You could put him in a vat of jelly and surround him with grinning, blue-bearded Martians and somehow it would feel real.

For a lot of bright actors, as they get older, the playfulness of acting becomes less important to them and they want to get more involved in causes and advocacy. So often they lose some of the sheer self-absorbed virtuoso madness that you need as an actor. Patrick manages not to do that. He is very involved with lots of important causes and yet he can be impish and mischievous and make great fun of himself.

The first word that comes to mind when I think about Patrick is “respect”. Going into meeting PStew, I already had the natural respect you have for a legendary actor of his calibre, but it quickly evolved into the respect you have for an old friend. That was due to how obvious his respect for me was. He opened up to me about how he was a very timid young actor and, when he made his first film, there was an actor who made sure he felt supported and respected. Patrick wanted to be like that.

He made sure I felt we were equals, simply there to create. Patrick worries that people think him to be “intimidating” which he never intends to be. So he told us that from now on, whenever we feel it necessary, we should yell out “INTIMIDATION” to keep him in check. Let’s just say we all cannot wait to get back to work and annoy the hell out of him with that.

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Face masks, temperature checks and a Chinese takeaway - inside the bio-bubble

Words: - BBC News - 18:49 08-07-2020

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Highlights: England battle on rain-affected first day

When you've waited 163 days for an England Test, it is no hardship to wait a few hours more.

In fact, it was almost inevitable that months of speculation, build-up and curiosity as to what a behind-closed-doors match would look like would be extended just a little longer by the Great British Weather.

Yes, it has been glorious during the coronavirus lockdown, but you only need think about playing cricket and dark clouds will gather faster than bargain hunters on Boxing Day.

But even the chance to lament rain stopping play is a joy when previously there has been no play to stop.

In that sense, the fact this Test is even taking place at all is testament to the ambition, imagination and attention to detail of those who have planned and delivered it, and the courage of West Indies for agreeing to travel to provide the opposition.

To R rate, social distancing and furlough - the list of terms few of us had heard before 2020 dawned - add bio-secure environment. Not a sterile, white-walled, sharp-edged hospital, but a stadium in Southampton with two cricket pitches, a hotel and a golf course to keep the inmates entertained.

The right to enter was only granted after a negative coronavirus test and the successful completion of daily questionnaires, while arrival and every subsequent passage through an external door involves a detour through a temperature scanner.

Inside, masks cover faces. Tape, arrows and footprints litter the floor, like a crime scene where only the feet were discovered.

Tables in the canteen are for one person alone, tables in the bar carry instructions for the maximum number that can sit there.

Along corridors, hand gel dispensers are sentries guarding doors, demanding that you do your duty before entering a room.

It would be a unique way of working regardless, but also adds an extra layer of newness for a BBC team delivering TV coverage of home international cricket for the first time in 22 years. Even the links for BBC Two's highlights show were filmed with the pundits socially distanced.

The entire BBC operation, living and working, is run from one corridor, which for some means the morning commute is little more than the few metres from bed to balcony, while others are dealing with inquisitive pigeons entering their quarters.

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A pigeon flies into BBC cricket commentator Alison Mitchell's hotel room

In the Test Match Special box, the three people calling the action at any one time are spread out over five metres and three separate tables. The only cake allowed was baked by Radio 5 live's Eleanor Oldroyd.

For as much as things change - or it it is hoped they will through gestures like taking a knee - the more others stay the same.

The bowl, its white and cream bucket seats all in a resting position, was still served by the announcements of a familiar voice over the public address system. Jersualem was played at the start of play. An England opener was dismissed without scoring.

Naturally, the players had new challenges to negotiate. Captains Ben Stokes and Jason Holder got in a muddle over whether or not to shake hands at the toss, then were not faced with an interviewer, but a robot TV camera.

The fielding side were not allowed to rub saliva on to the ball, or give their caps or jumpers to the umpires.

In an enclosed environment, and with no-one else around, the players are closer to the media than they would probably like to be.

In the build-up, Stokes was forced to admonish a BBC producer, whose run around the golf course strayed across the path of the England skipper's round. West Indies reserve Nkrumah Bonner has been spotted collecting his Chinese takeaway from the hotel reception.

During play itself, it is the chatter of the players that fills the silence. The encouragement of the slip cordon, shouts of West Indies squad members who watch from their hotel balconies, or laughter from the visiting dressing room.

Even the instructions of the umpires are clearly audible. "It's the light. We'll take an early tea."

With that, the day's other soundtrack, the deep hum of the hovercover, started again. It was the groundstaff who were busiest of all, not only pulling the covers on and off, but also sanitising everything they touched along the way.

There was still time for another familiar Test pastime: grumbling as to why the players remained off the field despite the rain relenting and the light improving. Perhaps a crowd would have given a greater sense of urgency.

Then it was all over. End-of-day media duties performed on Zoom or with an extended microphone, followed by the players making the journey across the outfield to join the rest of us in the hotel.

Day one of the return is done. The hand gel, temperature tests and social distancing are not the cricket we know. The rain certainly is.

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Ancient Americans made epic Pacific voyages

Words: - BBC News - 17:15 08-07-2020

Discussions of contacts between the Americas and Polynesia have often focused on Easter Island

New evidence has been found for epic prehistoric voyages between the Americas and eastern Polynesia.

DNA analysis suggests there was mixing between Native Americans and Polynesians around AD 1200.

The extent of potential contacts between the regions has been a hotly contested area for decades.

In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl made a journey by raft from South America to Polynesia to demonstrate the voyage was possible.

Until now, proponents of Native American and Polynesian interaction reasoned that some common cultural elements, such as a similar word used for a common crop, hinted that the two populations had mingled before Europeans settled in South America.

Opponents pointed to studies with differing conclusions and the fact that the two groups were separated by thousands of kilometres of open ocean.

Alexander Ioannidis from Stanford University in California and his international colleagues analysed genetic data from more than 800 living indigenous inhabitants of coastal South America and French Polynesia.

They were looking for snippets of DNA that are characteristic of each population and for segments that are "identical by descent" - meaning they are inherited from the same ancestor many generations ago.

"We found identical-by-descent segments of Native American ancestry across several Polynesian islands," said Mr Ioannidis.

"It was conclusive evidence that there was a single shared contact event."

Thor Heyerdahl made a Pacific journey on a balsa raft to show the voyage was possible

In other words, Polynesians and Native Americans met at one point in history, and during that time children with both Native American and Polynesian ancestry were born.

Statistical analyses confirmed the event occurred around AD 1200, at about the time Pacific islands were originally being settled by Polynesians.

The team were also able to localise the source of the Native American DNA to indigenous groups in modern-day Colombia.

Previous studies of the genomes (the full complement of DNA in the nuclei of human cells) of people from these regions have focused around contact on Easter Island - famous for its giant stone faces - because it is the closest inhabited Polynesian island to South America.

However, the study in Nature journal supports the idea that first contact occurred on one of the archipelagos of eastern Polynesia - as proposed by Heyerdahl.

Wind and current simulations have shown that drift voyages departing from Ecuador and Colombia are the most likely to reach Polynesia, and that they arrive with the highest probability in the South Marquesas islands, followed by the Tuamotu Archipelago.

Both of these archipelagos lie at the heart of the region of islands where the researchers found an ancestral genetic component from Colombian Native Americans.

Previously, researchers had noted superficial similarities between monolithic statues in Polynesia and others found in South America.

But other evidence comes from a correspondence between the word for sweet potato (a crop that originated in South America), which is "kumala" in Polynesia and "cumal" in, for example, the language used by the Cañari people of Ecuador.

Heyerdahl embarked on his "Kon-Tiki" raft expedition from Callao, Peru, on 28 April 1947 with five companions. They sailed on the raft for 101 days, traversing 6,900km (4,300 miles) of ocean before smashing into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotus on 7 August 1947.

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Rain restricts England and West Indies as cricket returns

Words: - BBC News - 17:11 08-07-2020

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'Beautiful start' - Gabriel bowls England opener Sibley as cricket returns

First Test, day one, Ageas Bowl England 35-1: Burns 20*, Gabriel 1-19 West Indies: Yet to bat Scorecard England endured a frustrating return to international cricket as the opening day of the first Test against West Indies was disrupted by rain.

Only 17.4 overs were possible in Southampton, in which time England battled to 35-1.

This series and the rest of England's rejigged home summer is being played behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment, with everyone on site subject to coronavirus tests, temperature checks and adhering to strict safety measures.

The home side, being led for the first time by Ben Stokes while regular captain Joe Root is isolating after the birth of his second child, opted to omit pace bowler Stuart Broad in favour of James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.

Just before play got under way three hours late, all players and officials paused in silence to remember those lost to coronavirus and West Indies legend Sir Everton Weekes, then took a knee in a powerful gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Opener Dom Sibley, making his home debut, was bowled playing no shot to Shannon Gabriel to the fourth ball he faced and departed without scoring.

Rory Burns, returning from an ankle injury, looked comfortable for his unbeaten 20, while Joe Denly required more fortune in reaching 14.

Bad light forced the players to take an early tea, with rain and more gloom ensuring they did not return.

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England & West Indies kneel to support Black Lives Matter movement

This series should have been played in June, and it is testament to the planning done by the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the willingness of West Indies to travel, that it is taking place at all.

The differences to a normal day of Test cricket in England ranged from stark to subtle. The glaring absence of spectators meant the chatter of the players or instructions of the umpires were clearly audible, and even laughter from the dressing rooms carries across the ground.

Hand sanitiser stations are dotted around the boundary, England's pre-match huddle was socially distanced, and Stokes and West Indies captain Jason Holder got in a muddle over whether or not to shake hands at the toss.

There were, though, familiar announcements made over the public address system and Jerusalem was played as the teams took to the field.

The action itself was too disrupted to ever feel fluent, but there was enough play to suggest the surface is two-paced, with some deliveries climbing and others scuttling through.

There was movement off the pitch throughout, with Sibley misjudging one that the sharp Gabriel got to nip back.

While Burns left with certainty, Denly was often beaten and twice slashed boundaries through the slips. Their most authoritative moments were a Burns cut and a Denly pull through mid-on.

England had a fully fit complement of fast bowlers to choose from, meaning two of Anderson, Archer, Wood, Broad and Chris Woakes would miss out.

With six Tests scheduled over the next seven weeks, it is likely that all will be needed at some point, but it is telling that Anderson, Archer and Wood have been given the first go.

In dropping Broad, England have left out Test cricket's second-highest wicket-taker of the past 12 months and their second-highest of all time.

The decision to combine Wood and Archer, both of whom bowl in excess of 90mph, is an exciting one, and surely taken with an eye on the 2021-22 Ashes tour to Australia in mind.

Anderson is England's all-time leading wicket-taker yet, in selecting all three, England opted for a trio of bowlers who have all endured long injuries in the past year.

In doing so, they forced Broad to miss his first home Test in eight years and eschewed Woakes, who boasts a bowling average of 23.45 in home Tests.

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