Hundreds celebrate Hindu festival of Holi in northern India – video

Hundreds of people celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi in Vrindavan, northern India, over the weekend, covering each other in coloured powders, blessed by the god Krishna, and flower petals. Holi marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated across the world, with festivities often continuing for up to a week

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Texas lawmaker ridicules anti-abortion measures by filing anti-masturbation bill

Jessica Farrar’s satirical Man’s Right to Know Act would set $100 fine for ‘emissions outside a woman’s vagina’ and require unnecessary medical tests


A Texas lawmaker has filed a satirical bill to regulate “masturbatory emissions” as a riposte to a slew of anti-abortion measures advocated by the state’s Republican politicians.

The proposed act takes the language and concepts used by conservatives to limit abortions and swaps the sexes.

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Sean Spicer accused of racism after Indian American woman confronts him

Shree Chauhan said White House secretary’s reply to her questions – ‘Such a great country that allows you to be here’ – was an ‘implied threat’ to her citizenship

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been accused of racism after being confronted by a woman during a shopping trip to an Apple store in Washington DC.

“How does it feel to work for a fascist?” asked Shree Chauhan, a 33-year-old woman who works at a non-profit in DC, while using Periscope to record the encounter.

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Kellyanne Conway: ways to surveil include microwaves that are cameras

WikiLeaks release of documents on CIA justifies Trump’s claims Obama may spied on him and show it’s possible he used different technique, adviser says

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says she doesn’t have any evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower phone lines during the election.

Instead, Conway is pointing to recent revelations about other government surveillance to suggest it was possible Obama used a different technique.

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Delhi women forced into lockdown amid Holi sexual harassment fears

Students attack ‘degrading’ decision to confine them to halls to avoid India’s colourful but sometimes rowdy festival

As India’s raucous spring festival of Holi approached this year, a memo circulated among two women’s dormitories at the University of Delhi.

“In the interests of the residents,” it said, undergraduate women would be locked inside the student halls from 9pm on Sunday until 6pm on Monday – well after most Indians had finished smearing each other in dye, dancing or drinking from cups of bhang lassi, a milky cannabis-based concoction.

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Culture wars in Poland: Teatr Polski actors revolt against new director

Several members of the theatre company in Wrocław have registered objections to Cezary Morawski’s ‘old-fashioned’ approach, and moves for his dismissal could trigger a standoff between local and national government

Since 2014, Teatr Polski, one of Poland’s leading theatre companies, has toured worldwide with an adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s Woodcutters, directed by the widely acclaimed Krystian Lupa. Last December in Paris, at the curtain call, audiences were treated to an additional performance: the actors returned to the stage with their mouths defiantly stuck shut with black tape.

The silent protest was the most recent of many against the company’s management and its artistic director, Cezary Morawski, who took over in September 2016, replacing the long-serving Krzysztof Mieszkowski. The escalating row casts a spotlight on the complex relationship between politics and culture under the jurisdiction of Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party. It also echoes a recent dispute at Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre, where critics have questioned incoming director Chris Dercon’s stage experience, and fear he will take the company in a more mainstream, commercialised direction. Teatro Polski’s actors have said Morawski’s artistic approach is old-fashioned, lacking in ambition and risk, and has already damaged the theatre’s credibility.

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Catalan ex-president Artur Mas barred from holding public office

Two-year ban comes with €36,500 fine for disobeying Spanish constitutional court over 2014 independence referendum

The former Catalan president Artur Mas has been banned from holding public office for two years after being found guilty of disobeying the Spanish constitutional court by holding a symbolic independence referendum three years ago.

The Catalan high court convicted Mas, former vice-president Joana Ortega and former education minister Irene Rigau of defying the constitutional court by pressing ahead with the non-binding vote in November 2014.

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‘It’s dance or die’: The ballet dancer forbidden to perform by Islamic State

Facing death threats, Ahmad Joudeh risked everything to give Damascus children dance lessons. Now the Palestinian dances for the Dutch National Ballet

Half a year ago, ballet dancer Ahmad Joudeh was giving dance lessons to orphaned children in war-torn Damascus. Now he has made his debut at the Dutch National Ballet and is studying at the ballet academy in Amsterdam. “It took me a month to fully realise I really am in Amsterdam, and I still can’t believe my luck,” Joudeh says.

For years, as the war raged around him and his family, Joudeh - a stateless Palestinian in Syria - had tried to make ends meet by teaching, and had received death threats from Islamic State. When the summons to do three years of military service arrived, the 26-year-old began to believe that this was going to be the end of the dream that he had cradled from childhood.

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Donald Trump loves Harley-Davidson. Do Harley riders love him back?

The motorcycle manufacturer’s brand is ‘rugged, regular-guy, tough and not too elite’ – no wonder the pampered billionaire president wants to cosy up to them

Months before his latest wiretaps tweetstorm, Donald Trump was in a much more cheerful mood on Twitter thanking a block of voters for their support on his road to the White House: bikers.

“Thank you to Chris Cox and Bikers for Trump – Your support has been amazing. I will never forget. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”

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Montpellier in the spotlight: development mania in France’s fastest-growing city

This sun-kissed city has just become France’s seventh largest on the back of students, biotech ... and a lively skanking scene

This compact, sun-kissed city of 275,000 people, located six miles inland from France’s Mediterranean coast, should be passing Strasbourg as the country’s seventh-biggest. Any … time … now.

Often overlooked for the bigger southern metropolises of Toulouse and Nice, and even Provençal tourist-draws such as Avignon and Arles, Montpellier has been the fastest growing French city over the last half-century, more than doubling in size from only 119,000 in 1962.

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Trump adviser heads to Israel amid absence of coherent US policy

Jason Greenblatt to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders as Washington attempts to construct clearer vision of peace strategy

A key foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump is to meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of efforts by the White House to formulate a more coherent vision of how it will proceed with the Middle East peace process.

Related: Trump casts aside decades of Middle East diplomacy in one sentence | Peter Beaumont

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Texas company hopes Dallas-to-Houston train line is bound for glory

In an age when passenger rail is severely limited across the US, Texas Central aims to succeed where public efforts have struggled – but it faces local resistance

The waiting room at the Amtrak station in the country’s fourth-biggest city was all but deserted on a recent weekday afternoon, but that was hardly surprising – the only train of the day had already departed.

Sepia-tinted photographs on the walls of Houston’s station depict a golden age of passenger rail that is long past in Texas, like most other parts of the US.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger rules out running for US Senate to oppose Trump

The former governor of California, reacting to speculation fuelled by a Twitter feud with Donald Trump, says he is focusing his political efforts on issue of gerrymandering

Arnold Schwarzenegger has ruled out a run for the US Senate, in response to widespread speculation that the actor would return to political life to take on Donald Trump.

Schwarzenegger, who was governor of California from 2003 to 2011, had been tipped by political insiders to enter the 2018 race for the US Senate, either as a Republican or an independent, in a move that would have given him a public platform to oppose Trump’s presidency. However, Schwarzenegger refuted the rumours in a Facebook post published on Sunday, suggesting instead that he would continue his battle against political gerrymandering.

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Ditch hostile approach of ‘Brexit zealots’, Europhile Tories urge ministers

Conservative Group for Europe says UK approach risks harming relations with Europe and damaging UK economy

A leading Conservative pro-Europe group has accused the government of pursuing an unnecessarily hostile approach to Brexit, one which risks badly harming relations with Europe and gravely damaging the UK economy.

The paper released by the Conservative Group for Europe (CGE), which is supported by MPs including Ken Clarke, Neil Carmichael and Nicholas Soames, warns the government has “an intimidatory stance towards critics” and seems guided by Brexit hardliners.

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My vulva cupcakes were confiscated but I gained a sense of home

Campaigning against FGM around the world gets Leyla Hussein into some interesting situations. But she didn’t expect to be so affected by going ‘home’

Smuggling vulva-decorated cupcakes into the Somali region of Ethiopia was one of those moments where I thought: “My work as an anti-FGM campaigner gets me into interesting situations sometimes.”

Three years earlier I’d made vulva cupcakes as part of a documentary about FGM that I’d done for Channel 4. “We need you to bring them with you,” said Sagal Abdi, vice executive director of Maandeeq, when she invited me to an event in Jijiga, the capital of the region, part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

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Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black? and a ‘world of no pity’ – protest playlist No 2

Every week we will bring you a Resistance Now track chosen by a current artist. Lanre Bakare talks to Bardo Martinez of the LA band Chicano Batman, who picks Is it Because I’m Black? by Syl Johnson

“The main lyric from this song has taken on a life of its own and is a phrase that means so much in the American context.

Johnson was from Mississippi and in a similar mould to the Chicago blues men like Junior Wells. You can hear that attitude and the grit in the vocal performance on this song. It’s like he’s giving a sermon in a church and he’s describing – in metaphor and similes – what it’s like to be black in America.

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Turkey summons Dutch envoy over riot police tactics in Rotterdam

Tensions escalate as Turkish foreign ministry says ‘disproportionate force’ was used against protesters outside consulate

Turkey has summoned the Dutch envoy in Ankara to complain about the actions of Rotterdam police against protesters after a Turkish minister was blocked from visiting her country’s consulate in the city.

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags. Turkey’s foreign ministry said the intervention was disproportionate and called for legal action against police misconduct.

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