December 2, 2022

Game of cojones: Serbia suffer and give Granit Xhaka the last word | Barney Ronay

Switzerland’s captain offered a snapshot of the bad blood between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia with one crude gestureMaybe Fifa does have a sense of humour after all. Certainly there was a note of dark comedy in the news, relayed breathlessly over the PA on the final whistle, that the player of the match in this fraught Group E decider was Granit Xhaka.Not that Xhaka didn’t deserve it. He played well in deep midfield on a steamy night at Stadium 974. He controlled the tempo at times. More to the point Xhaka also controlled the noises off, directing the dark energy that must always accompany this fixture with the poise of a veteran conductor. Albeit, a veteran conductor with one hand down his shorts. Continue reading...
December 2, 2022

Switzerland and Serbia feel the weight of history before high-stakes clash

The scars of the Kosovo conflict are yet to heal as both sides pledge no repeat of 2018 World Cup flashpointsThe flashpoints had been well signposted. When Serbia and Switzerland met in Kaliningrad at Russia 2018 it was clear from the outset that nobody would be fading out quietly. Xherdan Shaqiri’s decision to recognise the land of his birth with a Kosovo flag stitched into the heel of his right boot had warmed a tinderbox that was already well stocked and, when Granit Xhaka celebrated his thudding equaliser by forming an Albanian eagle with his hands, tensions ignited.Both players repeated the gesture when Shaqiri scored a dramatic late winner that ultimately ensured their side were the ones who reached the last 16; the recriminations were long, loud and ended with Fifa issuing several fines. Continue reading...
November 28, 2022

No 10 signals Rishi Sunak no longer committed to blocking all new onshore windfarm developments – UK politics live

PM’s spokesperson suggests Rishi Sunak no longer blocking new onshore windfarms but did not accept government had already U-turnedA House of Lords committee has delivered a withering assessment of the measures in the autumn statement for adult social care.Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, announced a further £4.7bn for adult social care by 2024-25. But, in an open letter to Hunt and Steve Barclay, the health secretary, the Lords adult social care committee chair, Lady Andrews, said that this was less than the £7bn that Hunt himself said adult social care needed when he was chair of the Commons health committee.Increasing funding through council tax is a regressive solution, which will not allow for a properly and sustainably funded system. It does not translate as ring-fenced investment dedicated to adult social care. It is likely to create further inequalities from one locality to the next. In short, it is not a long-term plan for funding.Equally regressive is the government’s decision to delay the long overdue cap on care costs and extension to the means test. Although this is intended to unlock more funding for local authorities and provide them with breathing space, it also reflects the lack of a coherent strategy across adult social care. Delaying one policy to support another will ultimately compound problems; and it certainly does not allow for any priority to be given to choice, control and equality in the provision of adult social care.I suspect you may have identified a ninth [MP], although it hasn’t been announced, with my colleague, Matt Hancock. Continue reading...
November 28, 2022

Tory MPs’ plan for immediate return of Albanian asylum seekers ‘unworkable’

Refugee groups says proposal would breach UN convention and put vulnerable people at riskUK politics live – latest news updatesRefugee charities have condemned as unworkable a plan put to Rishi Sunak by more than 50 Conservative MPs, arguing that asylum seekers from Albania should be summarily returned, as should those who say they have been trafficked.The MPs, led by the former cabinet minister David Davis, say this would reduce asylum backlogs and provide a deterrent to migrants. But refugee groups said the idea would breach the UN refugee convention, put vulnerable people at risk, and would almost certainly be challenged in court. Continue reading...
November 28, 2022

No 10 set to allow new onshore wind projects in England in U-turn

Grant Shapps says there will be more onshore wind projects ‘where communities are in favour of it’UK politics live – latest news updatesDowning Street appears likely to allow new onshore wind projects in England after years of an effective ban, Grant Shapps has indicated, with ministers giving way in the face of a growing backbench Conservative rebellion.Shapps, the business and energy secretary, said there would be more onshore wind projects “where communities are in favour of it”, which would mean the end of a de facto block on such projects since 2014 under planning rules. Continue reading...
November 25, 2022

Weather tracker: heavy rain and severe flooding hit the Balkans

Six people killed amid evacuations and significant damage, with Albania particularly badly hitIn Europe, flooding due to heavy rain has killed six people, prompted evacuations and caused significant damage in parts of the Balkans. Low pressure centred over southern Italy brought moisture-laden south-westerly winds across the region through the weekend. The resulting torrential downpours led to the flooding of hundreds of homes, as well as thousands of acres of agricultural land. Parts of Albania were particularly badly hit, with up to 400mm of rain falling in 12 hours on 20 November, causing the Drini River to burst its banks by about 100mm. In nearby Montenegro, heavy rain caused the Morača River to rise by over 4 metres in 10 hours.Storm Denise brought heavy rain and strong winds to Spain and Majorca later on Monday 21 November and into Tuesday. A wind gust of 84mph was recorded at Serra d’Alfabia in Majorca and the fire brigade was called to 10 incidents, ranging from fallen trees to mountain rescues. The strong winds also caused damage to boats in Port de Soller. The storm brought significant waves, with some reaching up to 5 metres in height. Continue reading...
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