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      As Britain’s town hall services crumble the case for reform is overwhelming / TheGuardian · 11:01

    Local government has been steadily squeezed by austerity, inflation and centralisation. Greater devolution is needed.

    In most of Britain’s towns there are buildings hinting of a more prosperous past. Vast stone public libraries, swimming baths, and theatres; all encircling the grand town halls that once controlled them. Many are long shut, converted, or owned by someone else. But the symbolism remains – local government used to do stuff.

    Today, England’s councils are in the worst crisis since the foundation stones of these municipal palaces were laid. Birmingham, the largest local authority in Europe, is the tip of the iceberg in its effective bankruptcy . Woking, Thurrock, Croydon, Slough, and Northamptonshire have all gone bust. Dozens more are perilously close – from “red wall” Stoke-on-Trent , to the blue-blooded Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead .

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      How a ‘Trump train’ attack on a Biden bus foreshadowed January 6 – and echoed bloody history / TheGuardian · 10:45 · 1 minute

    Kamala Harris could have been on the bus Trump supporters threatened to run off the road in Texas, yet law enforcement barely responded. History shows the fruits of such inaction

    The bane of raw intelligence – and history – is that you can always look back and find the signs, but you can’t necessarily look ahead and see where they’re pointing. Many questions remain about the intelligence failures that enabled an insurrectionist mob to lay siege virtually unimpeded to the US Capitol. But here’s one sign that’s been flashing in my head since 6 January 2021.

    Four days before the 2020 election, a “Trump Train” of motorists swarmed a Biden-Harris campaign bus on Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin. Kamala Harris would have been on the bus but for a last-minute schedule change, according to Wendy Davis, then a Texas congressional candidate and the campaign surrogate onboard. The videotaped vehicular harassment – tailgating, sudden braking, passing the bus within inches – got nationwide coverage, courtesy of participants’ back-slapping on social media and Donald Trump’s high-five in return. Though no one was hurt, it took little imagination to see how a 20-ton container of flammable fuel moving in heavy traffic could have turned into a highway bomb. But to the Trump Train, one of its founders, Steve Ceh , told me, the razzing of the Democrats was simply “fun” – “like a rival football game”.

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      VAR officials guilty of ‘human error’ for Luis Díaz strike stood down from duties / TheGuardian · 10:31

    • VAR Darren England and assistant Dan Cook dropped
    • PGMOL issue apology after Liverpool denied goal at Tottenham

    The video assistant referee and assistant VAR guilty for the glaring error which prevented Liverpool from opening the scoring in their 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday have been dropped from matches this week, capping another humiliating weekend for the Professional Game of Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL).

    Darren England, the VAR, and Dan Cook, the AVAR, have been removed from duties at Nottingham Forest v Brentford on Sunday and Fulham v Chelsea on Monday respectively. England was due to be the fourth official at the City Ground and Cook the assistant referee at Craven Cottage.

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      Heart of stone: turning a remote scottish barn into a stylish, comfy family home / TheGuardian · 10:30

    Architect Lily Jencks inherited a 19th-century ruined shell in the wilds of Dumfriesshire and has transformed it with empathy and flair

    Sitting in a magical position upon a Dumfriesshire hillside, the ruins of a 19th-century barn and adjacent farmhouse formed part of Lily Jencks’s childhood. The ruins are not far from the family estate where Lily spent many of her school holidays and which is also the site of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation , created by her late father, the landscape designer and writer Charles Jencks .

    The farmstead itself was bought many years ago by Lily’s mother, the artist and garden designer Maggie Keswick Jencks , who was captivated by the quiet beauty of the surroundings and the open vista across the Borders landscape.

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      Bolivian ex-president to pay damages to victims of military in landmark US case / TheGuardian · 10:30

    Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and former defence minister agree to pay for 2003 violence in which 60 protesters were killed

    A former Bolivian president and his defence minister have agreed to pay damages to the families of people killed by the military during their government, in a landmark settlement that sets a precedent by which other foreign leaders could face accountability for human rights abuse in US courts.

    The settlement concerns events in 2003, when massive protests broke out over then president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s plan to export Bolivia’s natural gas . The army was sent to clear blockades in the largely Indigenous and working-class city of El Alto, killing more than 60 protesters and injuring hundreds.

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      Group Portrait in a Summer Landscape review – Chekhovian take on the Scottish referendum / TheGuardian · 10:30 · 1 minute

    Pitlochry Festival theatre
    An impressive ensemble makes the most of Peter Arnott’s new country house play, set during Scotland’s 2014 independence vote

    Adaptations of the plays of the pre-revolutionary Russian naturalist Anton Chekhov are nothing new. For example, in London’s West End, Andrew Scott is delivering a bravura one-man version of Uncle Vanya , which in 2011 was renamed Dear Uncle by Alan Ayckbourn and relocated to 1930s Cumbria. Ten years later, Thomas Kilroy brilliantly transposed The Seagull to late 19th-century Ireland . Here, though, the prize-winning playwright Peter Arnott is attempting something less usual: a brand new play that he describes as “Scottish Chekhov”.

    An impressive, nine-strong ensemble establishes various Chekhov-style tropes: a country house party (in Perthshire); a once-charismatic academic on the point of retirement (Rennie, played by John Michie); his family and former disciples, summoned for an announcement; a country on the brink of change (the eve of Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum). Conversations uncover undercurrents and set up conflicts that resonate with wider sociopolitical concerns. Cue the reopening of old wounds, the retreading of old arguments and a climactic meal at which Rennie launches his bombshell news – to damp squib effect. The premise is promising, but the writing feels trammelled by its own cross-referentiality.

    Group Portrait in a Summer Landscape is at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 4-14 October

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      Turkey explosion: suicide bomber detonates device near ministry in Ankara, say officials / TheGuardian · 10:09

    Government says one ‘terrorist’ died in explosion and other was ‘neutralised’ after attack in front of interior ministry

    The Turkish government has said that two terrorists carried out a bomb attack on Sunday in front of the interior ministry buildings in Ankara, adding that one of them died in the explosion and the other was “neutralised” by authorities.

    The blast was the first in the Turkish capital since 2016 and took place less than a mile from Turkey’s parliament building, hours before lawmakers were due to return for the reopening of parliament after a three-month summer break.

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      Women’s Super League clockwatch: all the latest from the season openers – live / TheGuardian · 10:00

    Hello and welcome to live coverage of the opening day of the WSL season. England’s triumphant World Cup (in the Italia 90 sense) and the rapid growth of women’s football makes this the most keenly anticipated season of all.

    We’ll be covering all six games in a special, marathon, pressure-sore-inducing opening-day clockwatch. The most intriguing is probably at Villa Park, where Aston Villa, easily the best of the rest last season, host title-chasing Manchester United.

    Aston Villa v Man Utd (12.30pm)

    Everton v Brighton (1pm)

    Bristol City v Leicester City (1pm)

    Arsenal v Liverpool (2pm)

    West Ham v Man City (3pm)

    Chelsea v Tottenham (5.30pm)

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      Gold bars, stacks of cash and bribery charges: is time up for Bob Menendez? / TheGuardian · 10:00

    The New Jersey senator says he won’t resign but a federal indictment lays out a lurid scheme of alleged corruption

    When federal prosecutors raided Bob Menendez’s home in the summer of 2022, they found a staggering haul.

    The US senator for New Jersey, one of the most influential and powerful Democrats in the country, had almost $500,000 in cash stuffed into jacket pockets, closets and a safe, along with 13 gold bars, two of them marked as 1kg in weight.

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