Gove sets out post-Brexit farm funding

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Image caption MPs say imports of food produced with lower welfare standards should not be allowed

Plans for the way farming subsidies will be dealt with after Brexit have been set out by Michael Gove.

Farmers will receive payments for “public goods”, such as access to the countryside and planting meadows.

The environment secretary told farmers the government would guarantee subsidies at the current EU level until the 2022 election. There would then be a “transitional period” in England.

The National Farmers Union said it was time for “a new deal” for the UK.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish rural economy secretary, said Mr Gove had left “too many questions unanswered”.

Meanwhile, a report warns Brexit trade deals could threaten UK food security.

MPs and peers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology (APPGA) say ministers must ensure farmers are not undermined by future trade deals which permit imports of food produced with lower welfare or environmental standards.

Mr Gove, who has promised that standards will not be compromised after Brexit, addressed two farmers’ conferences in Oxford on Thursday.

His speeches came ahead of the government’s agriculture plans being published this spring.

Image caption Mr Gove outlined plans to farmers in Oxford

The current payment system – £3bn a year to UK farmers – is based on the amount of land farmers own.

Detailing how the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be replaced after Brexit, Mr Gove said the CAP was “unjust” and “doesn’t really reward efficiency”.

The government has agreed to maintain current subsidies for three years after Brexit, until 2022, and Mr Gove said the payments could continue until 2024 but the length of time would be down to “consultation”.

Mr Gove said during that time he aimed to reduce the largest subsidies, with a maximum cap or a sliding scale of reductions.

He said there should be a “smooth path” towards a new way of paying farmers when EU subsidies ended and that a new method would “use public money for public goods”.

The plans would see farmers rewarded for planting woodland, boosting wildlife, improving water quality and recreating wildflower meadows.

Speech ‘no comfort’

The environment secretary said he was “confident” about the future of British farming and that Brexit would allow the UK to “leverage” the advantages of Britain producing “the best food in the world” and “some of the most innovative farmers in the world”.

New trade deals with other countries outside the EU would provide new markets for the “superb food” Britain’s farmers produce, Mr Gove said.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said although farmers might take “some reassurance” from the announcement of a transition period, the end of that “could result in a lot of turbulence and a lot distress”.

Minette Batters, deputy president of the National Farmers Union, welcomed incentives to protect the environment but said her key concern was over future trade deals.

She said: “We’re very proud of our high standards of environmental protection, of welfare, in the UK and we want those to be respected in any trade negotiation and we do not want to see cheaper food produced to lower standards.”

Mr Gove’s counterpart in Scotland, Mr Ewing, said Mr Gove’s speech “leaves far too many questions unanswered for any comfort to be taken”.

He said it did “not cover a whole variety of vital support schemes”, such as environmental programmes, “which are crucial to ensure the continued economic well-being of all of Scotland’s rural communities”.

By Roger Harrabin, environment analyst

For many years the government has argued that EU farm policy is wasteful and bad for the environment.

It has driven birds out of the countryside, led to soil erosion, and caused the loss of woodlands and wildflower meadows.

Over many years, attempts to reform the policy have been resisted by farm unions, especially in France.

But Brexit has given Mr Gove the opportunity to produce a farm policy made in Britain.

His changes will alarm those farmers who will need to change their whole business model to get subsidies after Brexit.

It will be welcomed by some efficient modern farmers who have already accepted that being paid by the public for owning land can’t be justified.

The changes will impact on the countryside and food production.

It’s too soon to tell exactly how.

‘Best possible deal’

Mr Gove’s speech comes as the APPGA report says post-Brexit trade deals could pose the biggest peacetime threat to the UK’s food security.

According to the group, the import of cheaper foods that are produced to lower safety and welfare standards could place UK farmers at a disadvantage.

“To compete with these lower prices, domestic farmers could seek to tighten their margins and therefore cut corners with regards to environmental regulations,” the AAPG said.

“If the UK is unable to protect its farmers from being undermined by lower welfare imports, farmers are likely to resist improvements and may even press for UK standards to be lowered.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42559845

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Begging crackdown call before royal wedding

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Image caption Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have described Windsor as a “very special place”

A council leader has called for action to tackle “aggressive begging” in Windsor, ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Simon Dudley, of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, has called on the Berkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) to address the issue “urgently”.

Mr Dudley said street begging created a “hostile atmosphere” for both residents and tourists.

Windsor Homeless Project described the comments as “abhorrent”.

In December Mr Dudley tweeted about an “epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy” in the town.

He said he would be asking Thames Valley Police and the PCC to “focus on dealing with this before the royal wedding”.

‘Unfavourable light’

He went on to describe how “vagrancy and begging” meant people were “marching tourists to cash points to withdraw cash” – although Thames Valley Police said it had received no such reports.

Mr Dudley also said some people were earning hundreds of pounds a week targeting tourists and residents in Windsor.

In his letter on Tuesday to PCC Anthony Stansfeld, the Conservative councillor said: “The whole situation… presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.

He wrote: “The level of tourist interest is set to multiply with the royal wedding in May 2018, and there are increased concerns from our residents about their safety.”

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Image caption The couple will marry at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in May

He said many beggars were not homeless and called for “immediate action, as this is a significant security concern, especially given the national importance of Windsor”.

Windsor Homeless Project manager Murphy James said it was “sickening” that Mr Dudley had cited the royal wedding as a reason for his concerns.

He said: “If somebody is sleeping out on the street they are not there by choice; they are there because something has gone wrong.

“I went out on Christmas Day and there were 12 people laid out on Windsor High Street – they were not there by choice.”

Mr Stansfeld said the council had not raised the issue with him on his last visit there but said supporting the homeless was a “priority”.

He also said protecting the public was “of the utmost importance… and the force work day in and day out to keep people safe from harm and make the Thames Valley a safe place to live, work and visit”.

Windsor has been described as a “very special place” for Prince Harry and Miss Markle, who have spent time there together since meeting in July 2016.

They will marry at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19 May.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-42558501

Featherstone tops theatre power list

The Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone has topped a theatre power list for her response to claims of sexual harassment in the industry.

She was named number one in The Stage 100 for 2018 for her actions, following allegations made against Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein.

Theatre publication The Stage said Featherstone’s “swift and proactive” response led to her topping the list.

She is creating a code of behaviour to prevent harassment in theatres.

Both film mogul Weinstein and Spacey, former artistic director of the Old Vic, have denied the allegations against them.

‘Fearless and passionate’

The Royal Court, in central London, also held a day of action last year for members of the industry to discuss the issue, held under the title No Grey Area.

Featherstone said it was a “shock and honour” to be recognised by The Stage.

“I share this with the fearless and passionate team and board at the Royal Court,” she said.

“But mostly, it is affirmation to the brave women and men who spoke out about their experiences that they are being taken seriously and proof that my theatre colleagues, with the power to do so, are listening and that we can achieve fundamental change. As an industry, we are once more leading the way.”

Image copyright PA/Getty
Image caption Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kwame Kwei-Armah are newcomers on the list

Featherstone is the third woman to top the list as an individual and rises from being 39th in the 2017 list.

Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, said: “Creating a list of the 100 most influential people in theatre is always a difficult task, but especially so at a time when theatre is still coming to terms with abuses of power within the entertainment industry.

“In that context, a number of figures challenging the status quo feature within the full list, but none have been more prominent than Vicky Featherstone.”

New entries in this year’s list include Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, at nine, incoming artistic director of the Young Vic Kwame Kwei-Armah, at 20, and actress Imelda Staunton, at 26.

Kwei-Armah is the first black Briton to appear in the top 20 of The Stage 100 since the list was first published 22 years ago.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42558320

Toby Young ‘regrets’ past comments

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Toby Young says he regrets “politically incorrect” remarks he made in the past and should be judged on his actions in promoting social mobility in education.

The right wing journalist has faced a backlash on social media after it was announced he had been appointed to the board of a new university regulator.

Left wing critics have attacked his suitability for the role.

Boris Johnson has defended him but Tory MP Margot James said he was mistaken to appear to “belittle sexist comments”.

Following the furore over his appointment, Mr Young said he had deleted 40,000 tweets sent before 2017 because a “handful of things” dating back to 2009 were being “wrongly misconstrued” as evidence he was opposed to gender equality and LGBT rights.

However, Labour said this was not sufficient action and his appointment should be revoked.

“If Theresa May doesn’t rethink this appointment, the message she is sending to students is that under the Tories, misogyny and homophobia will not just be tolerated, but rewarded,” said Dawn Butler, shadow minister for women and equalities.

Students and academics have, meanwhile, taken to Twitter to also call for his removal, highlighting disparaging and crude remarks he has made about women’s breasts in social media posts and a 1998 article for Gear magazine on “being a lesbian for the night”.

An online petition calling for Mr Young to be sacked from his post because of past remarks has attracted more than 28,000 signatures.

A lecturers’ union has complained that Mr Young – who helped to found the West London Free School – has no relevant experience and that he had only been chosen because he is a “Tory cheerleader” and passionate supporter of the party’s education policies.

But in a staunch defence on his blog his suitability to join the board of the Office for Students, Mr Young said he had championed meritocracy and rigour in education for decades and while he accepted that some of his past remarks had been in bad taste he rejected accusations of misogyny.

Meryl Streep Recalls That Time Dustin Hoffman Slapped Her On Set

Meryl Streep walked away from 1979 film “Kramer vs. Kramer” with her first Academy Award and an uneasy relationship with co-star Dustin Hoffman.

In an interview with The New York Times about her new project “The Post” and Hollywood’s recent reckoning with sexual abuse and harassment published Wednesday, Streep recalled a day on set when Hoffman slapped her across the face without warning while filming a scene.

“This is tricky because when you’re an actor, you’re in a scene, you have to feel free. I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes,” Streep said. “But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that. But this was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie. It was overstepping. But I think those things are being corrected in this moment. And they’re not politically corrected; they’re fixed. They will be fixed, because people won’t accept it anymore. So that’s a good thing.”

According to biographer Michael Schulman, who published a book about Streep’s career in 2016, the actor also taunted her about the death of her boyfriend, actor John Cazale, to provoke a reaction for the camera. Streep apparently later forgave his on-set behavior after he apologized.

Hoffman has been at the center of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from women including an intern on on the set of a TV movie and a friend of his daughter’s, both of whom were teenagers at the time. Things came to a head at a contentious panel led by John Oliver last month when the host publicly confronted Hoffman about the groping accusations.

While Streep refuses to name other individuals who’ve mistreated her in the film industry, the actress told the Times that she felt “really beaten up” in the early days of her career, when drugs ran rampant on film sets.

“I have experienced things, mostly when I was young and pretty. Nobody comes on to me [now]. So I wouldn’t have had that more recently,” she said. “But back in the day, when everybody was doing cocaine, there was a lot of [expletive] behavior that was inexcusable. But now that people are older, and more sober, there has to be forgiveness, and that’s the way I feel about it.”

She added, “I do think if the world is going to go on, we have to find out a way to work together, and know that it’s better for men if they respect us deeply as equals.”

To read Streep’s full interview, head over to The New York Times.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/meryl-streep-recalls-that-time-dustin-hoffman-slapped-her-on-set_us_5a4ced86e4b06d1621bc56b7

Marine recruit, 21, mysteriously vanishes in Boston area

The family of an aspiring Marine who vanished six weeks ago in the Boston area while living with a recruiter says “nothing about it sounds right,” and they claim the recruiter has stopped cooperating with police.

Joey Brancato, 21, was last seen Nov. 18 in Roslindale. His relatives say he was training for the physical exam to join the Marines and was living in the basement of his recruiter’s home.

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“I think he really looked up to this guy, thought ‘he’s really what I want to be, I want to be a Marine,’” aunt Andrea Walke told WFXT.

The recruiter’s name has not been publicly released, and before that, Brancato was living with his grandmother in nearby Winthrop, according to his family.

Sources told WCVB the Boston Police Department’s homicide unit is monitoring the case, even though police are calling it a missing person one.

“We don’t want to say bad things about a person without evidence, but nothing about this feels right, nothing about it sounds right,” WFXT quoted a family member as saying.

The family also told the station the recruiter is no longer cooperating with investigators. The Naval Criminal Investigative Services has searched and closed his office and police also have unsuccessfully searched for Brancato in woods and ponds near Roslindale.

“We’re not going to stop until we find him, he has many, many people that love and care about him,” Walke told WFXT.

The recruiter has not been named as a person of interest in the case.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/01/03/marine-recruit-21-mysteriously-vanishes-in-boston-area.html

New Silicon Valley craze: drinking untreated water

Is drinking “raw water” a great way to get beneficial minerals and microbes removed by filtration—or do people who pay $15 a gallon for untreated water have more money than sense? The subject has been hotly debated since a New York Times story last week looked at people—many of them wealthy Silicon Valley residents—who are “[getting] off the water grid.” Some collect water from springs themselves; some buy from companies like Live Water, which charges almost $40 for a 2.5 gallon jug and $15 for refills; and others have installed expensive systems to collect water from the air.

One big fan is Doug Evans, who says he lived on Live Water for 10 days after his Juicero company, which sold a much-mocked $700 juicer, collapsed a few months ago.

“I’m extreme about health, I know, but I’m not alone with this,” he told the Times. Evans and other proponents argue that “raw water” is healthier than regular water, which they see as tainted by chemicals like fluoride.

Live Water founder Mukhande Singh claims fluoride is a “mind-control drug” and describes public water as “toilet water with birth control drugs in them.” Opponents, of which there are many, warn that drinking untreated, unfiltered water can be extremely dangerous because it could contain the viruses, bacteria, and parasites that filtration removes.

“It’s fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera in Montecito, California,” food safety expert Bill Marler tells Business Insider. He adds: “You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid. But, we should at least try.” (Other Silicon Valley trends include sex parties and this diet.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Safety Experts Say ‘Raw Water’ Trend Is a Very Bad Idea

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/01/03/new-silicon-valley-craze-drinking-untreated-water.html