Lancaster set to extend contract at Leinster

Stuart Lancaster is expected to extend his stay at Irish province Leinster until 2019, according to well-placed sources. The former England head coach, sacked after a calamitous 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil, is on a one-year deal as ‘senior coach’ but is understood to have agreed on a two-year extension. Though Leinster lost in Glasgow in his first week at work, his influence has largely yielded positive results. Since the Glasgow defeat, Leinster’s record has been impressive: played 19, won 15, drawn one, lost three. However, Lancaster appears…

February 19, 2017 00:56 UTC

Iraqi PM announces west Mosul attack as images of security forces' brutality emerge

Security forces have been welcomed by residents weary of Isis’s brutal rule, and praised for their restraint through months of gruelling urban warfare, defying fears that the assault by Shia-dominated forces on a Sunni-majority city could spark a sectarian bloodbath. The UN’s commissioner for human rights described the footage as “deeply disturbing” and called on the Iraqi government to investigate. In the race to disrupt sleeper cells and round up collaborators, security forces have already cast such a wide net that their targets included at least one Shia family who lived in hiding under Isis. “Swear on Qur’an, these young men sent us this photo from Mosul and arrested this Daesh [fighter] with their own hands. “While this operation has seen so few incidents of abuse compared with earlier operations, it is vital that prime minister Haider al-Abadi takes them seriously when they do come up,” said Belkis Wille, who has documented human rights abuses in Iraq for Human Rights Watch.

February 19, 2017 00:14 UTC

Take me to your leader, Douglas

Douglas Carswell of Ukip tells Camilla Long he is sure Paul Nuttall will be putting in an appearance in Stoke-on-Trent soon BEN CAWTHRAAt what point during my visit to Stoke-on-Trent do I begin to wonder if Paul Nuttall of the Ukips is a real person? At what point, over the course of 48 hours of driving around the city, calling at empty houses, peering into the rictus grinning depths of the Ukip shop, hunting for its candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, do I begin to doubt that “Paul Nuttall” even exists? At the small, red-bricked, terraced house where he said he was living at the opening of nominations (except he wasn’t) a woman rushes across the street to tell me he’s an “effin’ liar”. She’d vote for Ukip, “but I don’t like him!”A taxi draws up, the driver’s window winds down, a man in a…

February 19, 2017 00:11 UTC

The Clarkson Review: Whatever you ask, this isn’t the answer

Whenever someone leans across a dinner table and asks me what car they should buy, I always say “a Ferrari F40”. Then they look a bit exasperated and explain they need something sensible, so I say “a 1986 Lada Riva shooting brake”. This normally does the trick and they go back to talking about something that is more interesting, such as accountancy or ornithology. He didn’t want a Ferrari F40 or a 1986 Lada Riva shooting brake and demanded that I came up with another alternative. “Come on,” he said, “I’m being serious.” So I told him…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Kraft Heinz to turn screw on Unilever bosses

Unilever, which owns PG Tips, turned down the massive bid from Kraft Heinz ALAMYKraft Heinz is poised to defy opposition to its £115bn takeover bid for Unilever by taking its proposal directly to the shareholders of the consumer goods giant. The American food goliath will meet some of Unilever’s biggest investors over the next few days to test their interest in its $50-a-share offer. The move is a clear indication that Kraft Heinz — which is backed by Warren Buffett and the Brazilian private equity group 3G Capital — is serious about its pursuit of Unilever. The takeover offer was confirmed on Friday lunchtime after suspicious trades in the options market forced a stock market statement from the American predator. Buffett and Jorge Paulo Lemann, one of 3G’s founders, had approached Unilever boss Paul Polman a week earlier.…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Five things you need to know about the business rates raid

Rebecca Bishop has put sausage rolls priced at £8.17 in the window of Two Magpies, the bakery and pizzeria she runs in Southwold, Suffolk. It is a mild-mannered protest at the huge rise in business rates due in April. “I can’t put my prices up,” she said — a point made by the sausage rolls in the window, which are 177% more expensive than the usual £2.95. “None of these increases in Southwold is going to come from sales. It’s all going to come off the bottom line, so what that means is either retraction…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

UK fears America’s tough talk will provoke Iran crisis

British officials have expressed concern about America’s “increasingly aggressive” rhetoric towards Iran, fearing it could provoke a new Middle East crisis. The officials said they had tried to “steer and inform” American foreign policy since Theresa May became the first leader to meet the new president last month. But they are worried by Donald Trump’s repeated denunciation of the 2015 deal under which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear programme in return for the ending of sanctions. Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, who was attending a security conference in Munich, said he had agreed with General James Mattis, his American counterpart, that Iran must remain “fully compliant” with the nuclear deal and should show “better behaviour”. Asked if America was setting the stage for…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Trump’s little list of unfair traders doesn’t add up

Masters of manipulation: Trump’s America, China and Japan are all looking out for themselves SEAN RAYFORD/GETTYDonald Trump is for free trade. But it has to be fair trade. He sees himself not as a protectionist but as a protector of American workers from the ravages of unfair competition, somehow defined. He sees a lot of the unfair trading coming from Mexico, with which he plans to negotiate big changes in the Nafta trade agreement. Not so much from Canada, the third party…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Shifty and pasty, the phone addict craves a fix. At least drink was fun

You can tell a lot about a country from its vices. Cigarettes and booze — once the most beloved addictions of the British people — are being discreetly shown the door. Last week it emerged that the amount spent by families on alcoholic drinks, tobacco and recreational drugs has fallen to its lowest level since modern records began. The under-25s are leading the new puritanism: a quarter are teetotal, and among the rest binge drinking is increasingly unpopular. My theory is that youthful fingers are now too busy with technology to hold steady a pint glass or a burning stub for long: why drink or smoke, after all, when your restless digits could be texting, sexting, googling or tootling around Tinder, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook?

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Rail grant cut to put 190,000 trucks on road

Hauliers say the cut makes it uneconomic to transport food, clothes, electronics and other goods by rail ALAMYBritish roads could be hit by up to 190,000 extra lorry journeys a year after “penny-pinching” ministers cut £4m of subsidy for rail freight, according to industry research. Hauliers and logistics companies say they are considering the purchase of hundreds more lorries because the grant cut makes it uneconomic to transport food, clothes, electronics and other goods by rail. Campaigners say the extra road deliveries, equivalent to 520 lorries on the roads each day, will add to pollution and congestion. The Sunday Times revealed last year that the average speed of traffic in the evening peak on Britain’s busiest stretch of motorway, the M25 near Heathrow, is 13.7mph. The grant cut comes before a study this week names the UK as one of the most…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Hung by her hair, a birthday present from Assad’s agents

When the Syrian government agents took Yasmin to Branch 235 of the military intelligence centre in Damascus, they were gleeful at their find. “This lady is very beautiful,” said one, after her hijab had been torn off and a “virginity test” performed. “She will be humiliated the most.”For 18 months the student and aid worker was incarcerated in one of the Syrian regime’s detention centres, on suspicion of supporting the opposition. “He laid me down on bed, tied my hands,” she said of one agent. “He raped me in a painful and harsh way, like a monster.

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Dubai: the most expensive city in the world for oenophiles

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February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

11 stabbed every day as knife crime soars

More than 11 serious stabbings happen every day in England, according to new figures that show knife crime has risen more dramatically than had been thought. Data from hospitals reveal a 13% rise in the number of people admitted with stab wounds compared with the previous 12 months. More than 4,000 victims of knife attacks were hospitalised between May 2015 and April 2016. The rise in serious stabbings, reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is greater than the 11% increase in knife crime recorded by police, which includes less serious offences such as possession. The figures provide yet more evidence of a knife crime epidemic and will lead to calls for fresh measures.

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Fears over Brexit talks force Treasury to broker RBS deal

New measures imposed by Brussels will cost RBS hundreds of millions of pounds REX/SHUTTERSTOCKFears that Royal Bank of Scotland’s problems could hurt the UK in Brexit negotiations have forced a dramatic intervention by Treasury officials. Late on Friday night, it was announced that mandarins had brokered a new deal with Brussels over the £46bn bailout received by RBS in 2008. The bank has been unable to dump a network of more than 300 branches that it was ordered to sell by the European Commission as a punishment for receiving state aid. That had left the Treasury concerned that RBS would be forced to request further extensions over the next two years to deadlines imposed by Brussels. The contract binding RBS to make good on its pledges was signed by the Treasury, not RBS, and rather than risk the…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

Fancy the savings equivalent of a scrumptious ready meal? Tuck in

Each week we ask an expert for tips on how to invest £10,000. For the next four weeks we will be focusing on ready-made portfolios for people looking to take the hassle out of deciding which funds or shares to choose. This approach is ideal for those who do not want to monitor their portfolio constantly or make complex decisions. Holly Mackay appreciates that some investors are nervous about losing their moneyInvestors who pick individual funds or shares may have to make constant adjustments, as some investments do well and others do not, or as their appetite for risk changes. For example, if your bets on UK shares did badly but those on emerging markets did well, you could end up with too much exposure to the latter as a proportion of your overall portfolio, based…

February 19, 2017 00:02 UTC

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