Meera Syal criticises lack of Asian people on British TV

Actor says conservative climate is limiting TV shows featuring Asians to stories about issues, such as Rochdale abuse, rather than everyday lives

The representation of Asian people on British television has moved backwards amid a conservative climate that favours nostalgia and period drama, according to the writer and actor Meera Syal.

Asian people were often treated as issues rather than people, she said in an interview with the Radio Times in which she suggested the groundbreaking sitcom she helped create, Goodness Gracious Me, could return in a different format.

Continue reading...

Tuesday briefing: May spells out her classroom vision

Grammar school plan to get £320m Budget boost … British backpacker allegedly beaten and raped in outback … North Korea crises deepen

Theresa May will pave the way for a new generation of grammar schools on Wednesday, with Philip Hammond set to use his Budget announcement to plough £320m into creating 70,000 places in 140 schools, which will be free to offer selective education.

Continue reading...

UN experts denounce ‘myth’ pesticides are necessary to feed the world

Report warns of catastrophic consequences and blames manufacturers for ‘systematic denial of harms’ and ‘aggressive, unethical marketing tactics’

The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.

A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

Continue reading...

Don’t fall for Philip Hammond’s budget trickery. There is an alternative | Polly Toynbee

As the chancellor prepares to slash the state he claims there’s no cash. Yet he’s preparing to give billions away to the rich

How perfectly their faces fit the parts they play, this pair of graveyard undertakers to public services. Chancellor and prime minister use their grim solemnity to persuade the nation that there is no alternative. It’s all a charade – and they are, of course, play-acting – but they do it alarmingly well. Polls show they still convince voters that this extreme punishment is a doleful necessary.

Related: Chancellor's budget to build up Brexit reserves, not tackle NHS crisis

Continue reading...

‘Parched’ Chinese city plans to pump water from Russian lake via 1,000km pipeline

Urban planners in Lanzhou have drawn up proposals to pipe water into the chronically dry region from Siberia’s Lake Baikal.

China is reportedly considering plans to build a 1,000km (620 mile) pipeline to pump water all the way from Siberia to its drought-stricken northwest.

According to reports in the Chinese media, urban planners in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, have drawn up proposals to pipe water into the chronically parched region from Russia’s Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake on earth.

Continue reading...

Peregrines in tandem trigger a fear flock

Claxton, Norfolk Wigeon boil up from the pools and the white lines across the males’ wings flash in the grey waves of their panic

I am in heaven in recent days. Buckenham marshes, across the river, is a mosaic of temporary splashes and mud-edged pools and, from the Yare’s raised bank, I can see how it’s smothered in late-winter pre-migration waders and wildfowl. All the flocking thousands are in turn the trigger for the presence of harriers and peregrines.

While the former circle continuously over the marsh, swinging and twisting in cold air, the peregrines are no more than ghosts, spooking the others into wild free-ranging chaos. However, I did have one extraordinary sighting: on the evening of the new moon, a male and female peregrine spearing in tandem towards the southern horizon. Both closed their wings into a long stoop and they fell across the sky until I could see them only as two unequal-sized drops of mercury, pulled by gravity into an ellipse.

Continue reading...

Paramilitary force fights to keep Algeria French – archive, March 1962

7 March 1962: The OAS (Secret Army Organisation) is attempting to prevent Algerian independence through a terrorist campaign

“I killed but the OAS were watching.” This notice was tied round the neck of a Moslem who was found hanged here this morning in the middle-class suburb of Bab-el-Oued.

This macabre act, which it is assumed took place in a crowded quarter of the city in broad daylight, occurred within 24 hours of the OAS attack on Moslems in the prison of Oran. [A Reuters message from Tunis quoted an Algerian rebel Government spokesman as saying that 40 prisoners had been killed and more than 200 wounded. The official figures given in Oran were two killed and 30 seriously wounded.]

Continue reading...

‘When I meet God, I must be able to sign my name’: India’s school for older women | Vidhi Doshi

A Maharashtra village is giving women denied childhood education a chance to finally catch up on schooling, in a country where female illiteracy is high

For the past year, Gangubai has been picking up discarded newspapers or chocolate wrappers she finds in her village. At home, she pores over her pile of scraps, trying to read the words written on them. Whenever they prove too difficult, she goes to a neighbour’s house to ask for help. Aged 65, Gangubai is learning to read for the first time.

She is one of 28 women in the village of Phangne in Maharashtra, western India, who have started attending the aajibaichi shala, the “school for grandmothers”. Every day, between 2pm and 4pm, the aajis, or grandmothers, of Phangne meet in a colourful bamboo hut, uniformed in pink saris and holding schoolbags. For the aajis, the school is a last chance to learn to read and write. “I go to school with joy,” says Gangubai.

Continue reading...

Abuse royal commission urged to take a closer look at asylum seeker children

Lawyers and advocates say Monday’s limited hearing failed to properly investigate immigration detention and more is needed

Lawyers and asylum seeker advocates say the child abuse royal commission has failed to properly investigate immigration detention.

The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse examined immigration detention, including offshore detention, in a limited fashion on Monday.

Continue reading...

Donald Trump says threat from North Korea has entered ‘new phase’

US president told Japanese PM he is ‘100%’ with Tokyo as US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea following Pyongyang missile launches

The threat posed by North Korea to the US and its allies has entered a “new phase”, Donald Trump said on Tuesday, a day after the regime test-launched four ballistic missiles towards Japan.

In phone talks on Tuesday, Trump told Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, that the US stood “100%” with Tokyo after three of the intermediate-range missiles landed in the sea off Japan’s north-west coast.

Continue reading...

Melbourne trials female figures on pedestrian crossings to ‘reduce unconscious bias’

Ten lights at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets will be fitted out with female figures in a 12-month trial

Replacing male figures in pedestrian crossing lights with women is a step towards gender equality and will “reduce unconscious bias”, an Australian lobby group has said, as Melbourne rolls out a trial scheme on Tuesday.

Ten lights at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets in the centre of Melbourne will be fitted out with female figures as part of a 12-month trial spearheaded by the Committee of Melbourne.

Continue reading...

North Korea bans Malaysians from leaving country as Kim Jong-nam crisis escalates

Foreign ministry brings in measure as Malaysia says two suspects in killing of Kim Jong-nam are hiding in Pyongyang’s embassy

North Korea has temporarily banned Malaysians from leaving the country, saying it was to ensure the safety of its own diplomats and citizens in Malaysia amid an escalating row over the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother.

Related: Kim Jong-nam killing: the arrested, the wanted, and people of interest

Continue reading...

Voters will desert Coalition if deals done with One Nation, former Nationals senator warns

Ron Boswell accuses Arthur Sinodinos of ‘legitimising people voting’ for Pauline Hanson and says Coalition must challenge One Nation or ‘be dragged to the right’

The National party stalwart Ron Boswell has said the industry minister, Arthur Sinodinos, would rue the day that he legitimised Pauline Hanson and warned the Coalition that voters will desert them if they did deals with One Nation.

His comments come as the acting prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, said a country run by One Nation would go down the toilet and criticised Donald Trump’s anti-trade agenda.

Continue reading...

Malcolm Turnbull stresses inclusion after Donald Trump signs revised travel ban

Australian prime minister says Indonesia shows democracy and Islam compatible and pays tribute to Joko Widodo

Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has emphasised the importance of inclusion and mutual respect after Donald Trump’s controversial decision to sign a revised executive order reinstating a ban on immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries and suspending the US refugee program.

Speaking in Jakarta on Monday, in response to a question about Trump’s renewed travel ban, and what Indonesia might think of it, Turnbull said Indonesia showed the world that democracy, Islam, moderation, tolerance were compatible.

Continue reading...

Don Nardella quits Labor caucus after refusing to repay $100,000 in allowances

Daniel Andrews says he asked the former deputy speaker to resign from the parliamentary party

The Victorian former deputy speaker’s refusal to repay more than $100,000 in allowances he claimed for living outside his electorate has cost him his spot in the state’s parliamentary Labor party.

Don Nardella resigned from the party after the premier, Daniel Andrews, again asked him to repay the money.

Continue reading...

CBA chief defends report that cleared CommInsure without speaking to customers

Ian Narev tells parliamentary committee Commonwealth Bank’s insurance arm did not fail its customers generally

No customers were interviewed for a report that cleared the Commonwealth Bank’s insurance arm of alleged systemic problems because documents sufficiently told their story, the bank’s chief executive, Ian Narev, has said.

Appearing at a parliamentary committee hearing into the banks on Tuesday, Narev said he was concerned with that some customers had poor experiences but claimed the insurance arm had not failed its customers generally.

Continue reading...

Republicans call new travel ban ‘a good overhaul’ that will ‘stand legal scrutiny’

Democrats railed against it, saying it would not keep America safe

After the botched roll-out of the first travel ban on 27 January, which was met with bureaucratic confusion and legal battles, Republicans proved far more comfortable with Trump’s second executive order.

Related: Trump travel ban: new order targeting six Muslim-majority countries signed

Continue reading...