Studio is selling £8 fleece pyjamas and shoppers say they’re perfect for staying cosy in the cold

WINTER has very much arrived – so now is the perfect time to treat yourself to a new set of nightwear that'll keep you cosy.

Studio is selling fleece pyjamas for £8 that will ward off the chill while you relax at home.

The 'Print Snuggle Fleece Twosie Pyjamas' by the popular bargain chain come in several stylish prints.

These include animal, heart, star, rainbow and gingerbread patterns.

Each set features a sweater and matching bottoms – and they're available in sizes 8/10 through to 20/22.

According to the website description: " Cold weather can only mean one thing… Pyjama days!

  • Print Snuggle Fleece Twosie Pyjamas, £8, Studio – buy here

"Keep toasty in this snuggly fleece pyjama set, it's complete with a fleece sweater and matching cuffed bottoms for supreme lazy day comfort.

"Gift wrapped in a cute ribbon for the perfect gift idea."

The affordable PJs have received dozens of five-star reviews from happy shoppers.

One person wrote: " Bought these PJs for my daughter's birthday, was so chuffed at how good they looked and felt."

Another commented: "Bought these to wear at my granddaughter’s holiday home, it’s a bit cold in October!

"These PJ’s kept me as snug as a bug in rug!!! Lovely."

 Shoppers have raved about how they can keep you cosy in the cold

A third shared: " Got these for my daughter and I for the cold winter nights and we are so happy we did. They are comfy and warm."

And a fourth added: " I bought these as a gift. They are so soft and snuggly. I’m very pleased with my purchase."

In other pyjama news, we told you how Aldi is launching a Friendsrange with duvet sets and PJs and prices start at just £4.99.

We also revealed how shoppers are going wild for Primark's £7 Grinch pyjamas.

And Studio has matching Christmas pyjamas with sprouts on for the whole family that only cost £6.

Source: Read Full Article

Demi Lovato is dropping new music dedicated to her loyal fans

After a rough few months, Demi Lovato is ready to bless her true fans with some new tunes.

The singer and actress, 27, took to Instagram Wednesday to announce she has new music on the way dedicated to her “#Loveatics” fanbase.

“Recording a song for my loyal #Lovatics. The ones who support me and whatever makes me happy…” wrote the songstress. “If you hating – that ain’t you, BYE,” Lovato added alongside a waving hand emoji.

Last month, nude photos allegedly of Lovato were leaked online from her Snapchat account just weeks after one of her closest friends died after a battle with addiction.

The “Sorry Not Sorry” singer is clearly in a better space today, with music on the way and a new relationship with model Austin Wilson, which she confirmed this week in a separate Instagram post. 

Source: Read Full Article

Disney+ launch is hit by glitches as thousands of fans are unable to login and get Wreck-It Ralph error page – The Sun

THE launch of Disney+ was struck by glitches that left thousands of fans unable to login or watch content.

More than 8,400 complaints were reported within the first few hours of the site being available to use this morning.

Around 72 per cent of viewers had issues trying to stream videos and more than 18 per cent couldn't login, according to DownDetector, which monitors outages online.

Error screen messages featured shots of popular Disney hits including Wreck-It Ralph, Lilo & Stitch and more.

More than two million people had subscribed to the $6.99-per-month service in anticipation of its launch.

The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations.

Disney+ was expected to host up to 7,500 TV shows and 500 films including Star Wars, Disney classics and more.

But five hours after the official Disney+ Help Twitter account announced the launch, they were forced to respond to the issues.

They wrote: "The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations.

"We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience."

One Twitter user mocked the service, which was claimed to have more than 7,500 TV shows

Many claimed to eagerly await the launch, with some confessing that they planned to settle-in on the couch and catch-up on favourite childhood flicks.

"I feel morally obligated to watch The Little Mermaid first… honestly, did you expect anything else?" tweeted Cait Marie.

One wrote: "If you don't hear from me for a few days, I'm busy reliving my early childhood"

Eric Schumann joked: "If you didn’t call in to work today to binge Disney+ are you even a millennial?"


But the excitement was short-lived for many, as hundred took to the social media platform to vent at company over the outages.

May Kay Laff mocked: "With #DisneyPlus, you too can stream all your favorite Disney titles, like 'Content Not Available Right Now', 'Unable to Connect', & 'Please Try Again Later.'" 

"This is my favorite Disney+ original so far! Anyone else check it out yet?" Twitter user Robert added.

Danny Wade wrote: "Come on guys … these little startups are trying their best.

"It's not like they're some huge multi billion dollar international corporation with practically unlimited resources and manpower."

Meanwhile, Josh Gates joked: "To those experiencing issues connecting to #DisneyPlus, you can try troubleshooting the problem by following these two steps: put some pants on and go outside. It's noon on a Tuesday."

Others posted amusing clips including Kevin Ratzel who shared one from British TV show The IT Crowd.

The clip, which he captioned, "A live look at @disneyplus server room," showed a man typing at his computer, ignoring the fire in front of him.

Another user shared a short video from the film Titanic with the caption, "It's been 84 years"

Last week, Disney's head of Direct-to-Consumer and International unit, Kevin Mayer hinted that there may be technical issues due to amount of content available.

"There are always technical glitches and you can always improve the technical performance of any service like this,' he told Associated Press.


A Walt Disney press officer told The Sun Online: “The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations.

"While we are pleased by this incredible response, we are aware of the current user issues and are working to swiftly resolve them.

"We appreciate your patience.”


One subscriber shared the different error screens online

Source: Read Full Article

Rick Porcello is one answer to ‘unique opportunity’ for Mets

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Seth Lugo is a bullpen weapon. Seth Lugo potentially projects to be a No. 3-type starter by possessing a strong four-pitch mix.

Lugo’s versatility provides what Brodie Van Wagenen termed “a unique opportunity” to let the market dictate how the Mets will configure their pitching next season. The Mets are canvassing which starters and relievers are available in trades and free agency and their costs. Whichever desired player can be obtained within the Mets’ budget will dictate what role Lugo will play next year. Land relievers, he starts. Bulk up the rotation, he returns to the bullpen.

As always money matters. Van Wagenen would not divulge his 2020 payroll. But the Mets are near $190 million projections for luxury tax purposes and ownership does not want to get much closer to the $208 million threshold. Which is why you hear the word “creative” a lot with the Mets. Translation: can the Mets find a way to, for example, trade Jed Lowrie’s $9 million as part of a deal to take on money and stay relatively payroll neutral?

It also revolves around the Mets asking Lugo and Robert Gsellman to prepare to enter spring training as starters. Of that duo, Lugo has the higher ceiling and more interesting pitch mix. But his value to the pen is substantial.

Thus, part of the Mets’ decision-making process includes doubling down on the idea that Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia had bad years in 2019 rather than that they are now bad pitchers. The Mets think both still possess high-end stuff and the team says it is working with the duo to make refinements to allow that stuff to flourish again. In Van Wagnen’s words, “We have total confidence they will be successful next year.”

So what do the two roads offer?

Lugo starts — Can Lugo endure 150-plus innings health-wise? The Mets believe it could be easier on the righty to know he is working every five days rather than the more regular usage in a pen. Also, would stuff that plays so wonderfully in relief have the same life and deception if Lugo had to persevere over 100-ish pitches rather than 20-30?

If it does, Lugo has the repertoire. He basically uses a starter’s arsenal in relief and has the ability to break the ball both ways and challenge hitters up and down in the zone. In 2020, Lugo would slot in for Zack Wheeler, who probably is signing a big deal somewhere else (remember how close the Mets are to the tax threshold, throwing real doubt on their statements about potentially re-signing the righty). Still, Van Wagenen said of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz that “one to four (the Mets rotation) remains as good as anyone in baseball.”

And with Lugo this can’t be overstated in importance for the Mets: If he is a No. 3-ish starter for the next three years until his free agency, he would cost about $25 million in that period. The savings derived from that is substantial when they have to consider a rotation moving forward with Wheeler likely gone this year, Stroman due to be a free agent after 2020 and Syndergaard and Matz after 2021.

Finding relief in the market is generally less costly than starters, Again the big “IF” here is that if Diaz and Familia can handle the final six outs, then the Mets could, say, buy someone such as Daniel Hudson to work with Justin Wilson and Gsellman to get to Diaz and Familia.

Lugo relieves — This is the safer play. It provides a complement to Diaz and Familia to dominate the late innings if all goes well and a security blanket if Diaz and Familia cannot shake 2019.

My sense is the Mets would be better in 2020 with Lugo in the pen, but better situated from 2020-22 if Lugo started. When I proposed that hypothesis to Van Wagenen, he said, “We won’t sacrifice 2020 for global economics.”

But keeping Lugo in the pen means the right starter falling at the right price to the Mets. To me, Rick Porcello is ideal and well known to key Van Wagenen lieutenant Allard Baird from their time together in Boston. Even last year, at his worst, Porcello was an innings eater, which would work fine in the fifth spot if the Mets’ pen is deep with Gsellman and Lugo joining the others. And if Porcello is right — he won the AL Cy Young as recently as 2016 — he can be a front-end starter.

If not Porcello — who also brings leadership, accountability and familiarity working in a big Northeast market — would the Mets gamble on Michael Pineda’s high-end stuff coming off a PED suspension, hoping again that if it played right he has No. 3 talent? Should they bet on Alex Wood, who hardly pitched last year for the Reds due to a back injury, but had a 3.20 ERA for the Dodgers in 304 innings between 2017-18?

The Mets get to internally debate all of this because of Lugo’s perceived versatility.

Source: Read Full Article

Why Zack Wheeler is poised to cash in on pitcher-hungry market

SCOTTSDALE, Az. — Right place. Right time. Right arm.

Zack Wheeler has hit the trifecta. Just about every pseudo-contender or better is looking for starting pitching. And Wheeler is positioned to capitalize on that because 1) he has had consecutive healthy, successful seasons for the first time, 2) he does not turn 30 until May and has not even thrown 800 major league innings, 3) he possesses the kind of talent that pretty much every analytic front office believes they can derive more from and 4) as one executive said, “There is an A Group (Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg) and there are going to be teams that fail to get one of the ‘A’ guys and other teams that just can’t afford it, and (Wheeler) is the best of the B Group and everyone pretty much will believe they could afford him.”

In an unscientific survey of a half-dozen agents and executives, none said they anticipated Wheeler receiving less than four years at $75 million, and a couple went as high as five years at $100 million.

Nathan Eovaldi, a talented but oft-injured righty like Wheeler, received four years at $68 million last year. He did not have a qualifying offer tied to him as Wheeler does and Eovaldi performed well for the championship Red Sox, who perhaps emotionally went further than other suitors might. But Eovaldi also never had a year as good as either of Wheeler’s last two.

Patrick Corbin also had talent, injury and inconsistency, but had a superb platform season in 2018 and translated that into a six-year, $140 million pact with the Nationals. Now, he is lefty, a year younger and his platform season was better than any of Wheeler’s years. But what made Corbin attractive — remaining prime years, recent health, a strong platform and an industry belief that his high-end stuff could be refined to even greater impact — is present for Wheeler too.

It doesn’t take Wheeler up toward Strasburg and Cole. But it appears it could be a separator with others in Group B such as Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Jake Odorizzi and Hyun-jin Ryu.

It also means the Mets almost certainly will not be in play to keep him and will accept the draft pick compensation afforded for putting the qualifying offer on Wheeler. The Mets believe that Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndegaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz give them as strong a rotation top four as any team. Therefore, they could look to invest less in a No. 5 type with upside, someone such as free agents Michael Pineda or Rick Porcello, or even an innings-eater type such as Ivan Nova or Tanner Roark. Or they could consider moving Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo back to the rotation and concentrating even more strongly on upgrading their bullpen.

The Brewers benefited greatly from a depressed market last year that netted them Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas on one-year deals for $28.25 million total. Grandal, for sure, and Moustakas, probably, are looking at multi-year pacts this offseason, and that very well will force Milwaukee elsewhere.

Milwaukee’s core belief is not to get caught up in chasing need and instead to make the best deals within its budget to either try to add more runs or prevent them better. But after a few years when the Brewers surprised other clubs by not dabbling more seriously in the starting pitching market, the anticipation is that they will use disposable funds from not having Grandal and Moustakas to address their rotation.

The Tigers, as they were last July, are in listening mode on lefty Matt Boyd. But they continue to value him as more of a top-of-the-rotation piece than middle (as much of the industry views him), plus the free agent market is saturated with starting pitchers. So, the Tigers anticipate that they will again be in position to market Boyd next July, when the lefty will still be two-plus years from free agency.

In a trade forum in which just about every team is looking to deepen its bullpen. Detroit also is getting plenty of inquiries on Joe Jimenez, who averaged 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2019. But the Tigers, for now, sense teams are trying to low-ball and Detroit’s plan — unless it can find a low-cost alternative — is to have Jimenez close in 2020.

Mostly, the Tigers hope that sometime during 2020 marks the beginning of their better pitching prospects, namely Matt Manning and Casey Mize, breaking through. The Tigers were disappointed in the steps backward that once-touted Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser took, but became more intrigued and impressed as last year progressed by lefty Tarik Skubal, a ninth-rounder from 2018.

Jon Niese, 33 now and out of the majors since 2016, has not given up on making it back as a reliever. His plan is to showcase himself by pitching for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League after Thanksgiving.

Source: Read Full Article

Aldi is selling a huge Frozen 2 range including Elsa dolls and Olaf PJs and prices start at just £1.99 – The Sun

WITH Disney's Frozen 2 hitting cinemas next week, Aldi has launched an affordable collection of toys, bedding and accessories to make every fan's dreams come true.

The range, featuring Frozen favourites Anna, Elsa and Olaf, is available to pre-order from November 24 and will hit stores on December 1 – just in time for Christmas.

Frozen fans will be able to snuggle up in duvet sets and pyjamas as well as onesies and seriously cute matching slippers.

And if that wasn't adorable enough, there's also cuddly Frozen teddies, including Olaf and Sven designs for £6.99.

Kids can also channel their inner Anna and Elsa in fancy dress costumes as well as a three-piece tea party set, priced at less than a fiver, that'll keep them entertained for hours.

The bargain supermarket brand is also selling Anna and Elsa dolls as well as puzzles and a stick-on story book for younger kids.

Children will also have the chance to draw their favourite Frozen characters with the Learning Series Book, priced at £6.99.

There's a whole host of puzzles and games, too, with prices starting at just £1.99.

And all these treats can be stored in a £3.99 Frozen backpack, so kids can take their goodies with them wherever they go.

We know where we're going at the start of December…

In other news, we told you Asda is selling Frozen Christmas Eve boxes for just £2.50.

We also revealed Iceland’s Frozen 2 Christmas advert 2019 reveals Olaf and Elsa’s favourite thing about Xmas.

And we showed you shoppers are going wild for George at Asda’s £14 light up, Disney Frozen heels… with mums calling them the ‘perfect Christmas present’.

Source: Read Full Article

Nigel Farage IS 'in secret talks with Boris Johnson to pull candidates

Nigel Farage IS ‘in secret talks with Boris Johnson to pull the majority of Brexit Party candidates out of the election – in return for the PM negotiating a harder deal

  • Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson held secret last-minute talks 
  • Effort to stop Brexit Party splitting Tory vote and letting Corbyn into No 10 
  • In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels 
  • Talks revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally

Brexit party leader Nigel Farage is understood to have pulled out of a planned television performance

Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have held secret last-minute talks in an effort to strike a deal that would stop the Brexit Party splitting the Tory vote and letting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a close confidant of Mr Farage has held talks with senior Tory ‘power brokers’ over a deal to pull the vast majority of Brexit Party candidates out of the Election.

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority.

The offer, made by former Ukip treasurer Andrew Reid, comes as friends of Mr Farage say that he is ‘feeling the heat’ over his defiant insistence on fielding hundreds of Brexit Party candidates.

Mr Farage is understood to have pulled out of a planned television performance this morning as a Mail on Sunday poll shows that support for the Brexit Party has nearly halved over the past week, from 11 per cent to six per cent.

The secret talks are revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally, who objects to his strategy.

Last night, Mr Farage told this newspaper that he was ‘not directly involved’ in talks with the Tories, but warned that the ‘clock was ticking down’ to the final deadline for candidate nominations on Thursday. He added: ‘I’m not asking for much’.

Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have held secret last-minute talks in an effort to strike a deal that would stop the Brexit Party splitting the Tory vote

The talks come as chorus of voices from within the Brexit Party call for Mr Farage to perform a U-turn over his plans to field candidates in 600 seats.

It is understood that under the proposal made by Mr Reid, Mr Farage would accept the Withdrawal Agreement which Mr Johnson negotiated to govern our exit from the EU, as long as the PM made changes to the Political Declaration covering the UK’s post-Brexit relations with the EU. If Mr Johnson cut the ‘transition period’ from 2022 to December 2020 and ensured that the UK would no longer be bound by Brussels regulations after that, then Mr Farage would stand down his candidates.

Sources said the discussions between Mr Reid and the Tory power brokers – which the Conservatives have not commented on – had been ‘heated’.

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority

Mr Banks writes: ‘A compromise has been proposed which would see Nigel ordering those of his candidates who simply cannot win to stand aside – but only on condition that various entirely realistic changes are made to the deal which Boris negotiated with Brussels’.

The former Ukip and donor says: ‘The time for splitting hairs is over. It is now or never…

‘It is time for Nigel and his supporters to be realistic. If he ploughs ahead and refuses to stand down his party’s candidates – the ones who stand no chance at all of winning – then he will help Corbyn form the next Government.

‘If Brexit is lost because the vote is split, then Nigel will have destroyed what he has spent years working to achieve’.

Mr Banks says that Mr Farage trusts Mr Reid as an ‘honest broker’ to carry out the talks. He previously acted as an intermediary between former MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless when they defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party in September 2014.

Mr Banks adds: ‘We must all remember this: it is better to continue fighting for the right type of Brexit from the Government benches than to open the door of No 10 to a Marxist rabble hellbent on staying in the EU.

‘That is a prospect that should clear minds and cool egos’.

Yesterday, Peter Udale, who resigned on Thursday as the Brexit Party’s candidate for the Cotswolds over Mr Farage’s stance, called for a pact to avoid splitting the Tory vote.

He said: ‘A Corbyn-led Government could irreversibly change the face of Britain. The Brexit Party must stand down candidates wherever they risk making Corbyn our Prime Minister. Even if the Tories will not agree to a deal, Nigel Farage must put country before party’.

And yesterday, Philip Walling, a former Brexit Party candidate in the key battleground seat of Workington, Cumbria, urged former colleagues to stand down.

‘A Labour government would not only halt Brexit permanently, it would plunge this country into an economic nightmare,’ he wrote in the Daily Mail. ‘I cannot imagine anything more hideous. I plead with every other Brexit candidate to do what I have done: examine your conscience in the cold light of reason. And if you think you risk splitting the Tory vote, then for God’s sake stand down.’

ARRON BANKS: For the sake of Brexit and for the sake of our country we MUST unite

The millions of voters praying that we will finally leave the European Union can be forgiven if they feel concerned. They have every right to be.

Brexit Party supporters distrust Boris Johnson’s deal and worry that it will betray any hope of a clean departure from Brussels.

Conservative voters, meanwhile, fear that Nigel Farage’s decision to contest every seat at the General Election will split the vote so badly it could open the door of No 10 Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn.

If Conservative fears come true and they fail to form a Government on December 12, Labour has enough friends among the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats to form a pro-Remain administration instead.

The secret talks were revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally, who objects to his strategy

And if that disaster should take place, we can say goodbye to Brexit altogether.

The stakes could not be higher, and while the Conservatives refuse to consider any sort of compromise with the Brexit Party, the outlook is bleak.

However, behind the scenes a compromise has been proposed which would see Nigel ordering those of his candidates who cannot win to stand aside – but only on condition that changes are made to the deal that Boris negotiated with Brussels to stop us being shackled to EU rules.

It is a proposal which I urge our Prime Minister to accept. As a lifelong Brexiteer and co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, I believe there is no alternative.

I sympathise with how Brexiteers are feeling – an Election strategy that splits the vote in such an egregious way is codswallop. The time for splitting hairs is over. It is now or never.

If we refuse to get out while we can, then Remainers will hijack our exit. They will delay us still further and, ultimately, they will prevent us from leaving at all.

It is time for Nigel and his supporters to be realistic.

If he ploughs ahead and refuses to stand down his party’s candidates – the ones who stand no chance of winning – then he will help Corbyn form the next Government.

A Remain-alliance Government is an all-too-realistic prospect, and if Brexit is lost because the vote is split, Nigel will have destroyed what he has spent years working to achieve.

Does he want to be remembered as the tireless campaigner who finally allowed us to leave the EU? Or the man who brought us to the brink of Brexit and no further? This is why the current talks are so important.

Senior figures in the Conservative Party, including a Cabinet Minister, have been meeting high-flying city-lawyer Andrew Reid, who has strong connections to both the Brexit Party and the Tories.

Reid is widely respected. Nigel sees him as an honest broker as he was the intermediary between former MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless when they defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party in September 2014. The suggestion is that, in return for standing down a number of his candidates, Nigel will demand changes to the political declaration (a part of Boris’s deal) to ensure Britain could trade freely in the future.

I understand that Nigel is minded to agree to these terms – but only if the political declaration really does push us towards a free trade deal, unshackling us from Brussels’ restrictive, anti-trade measures.

Last night Andrew told me that the talks had been robust.

But they were also frustrating, he added, because the Tories don’t seem to grasp that if they don’t form a non-aggression pact, their seats in the South of England and the West Country will be taken by the Liberal Democrats.

And that would make a Tory majority impossible.

We must also face the truth that many of Nigel’s 600 candidates do not stand a hope in Hell of winning – only of stealing precious Tory votes.

Both sides are boxed in. To Nigel, Boris’s treaty is not a real Brexit and that is why he has remained steadfast. I have seen the toll it has taken on him over the past few weeks as he has battled on. The Tories, meanwhile, feel stuck because they cannot bear to capitulate to Nigel, the one person Boris’s advisers hate more than Corbyn himself.

These new talks are encouraging but there is still much work to be done to ensure the two sides join forces.

We must all remember this: it is better to continue fighting for the right type of Brexit from the Government benches than to open the door of No 10 to a Marxist rabble hellbent on staying in the EU.

That is a prospect that should clear minds and cool egos. For the sake of Brexit and for the sake of our great country, we must unite.


Source: Read Full Article

Spoilers: Vanessa is furious as Charity's lies are exposed in Emmerdale

Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) knew that there had to be more to Charity Dingle’s (Emma Atkins) flashing of the cash than meets the eye in Emmerdale but she was prepared to give her fiancee the benefit of the doubt as she put down a deposit on a new cottage for them to move into.

At first, Vanessa was stunned to return home to the news that Charity had decided to buy a house without talking things through with her but Charity’s enthusiasm for their future soon won her round and the pair were excited by their future.

However, viewers know that Charity’s recent brush wealth comes because of her part in Mandy’s (Lisa Riley) casino chip heist – something which brought danger to the door of the Dingles. Vanessa knows what Charity is like so never expected her to be the model citizen after they became engaged – but hiding an Ocean’s Eleven-esque casino scam is probably overstepping the mark a tad.

When he heard about Charity’s plans, Vinny (Bradley Johnson) put two and two together and realised that Charity has the money that he and Mandy desperately needed. He headed over in the dead of the night to root through her stuff but was confronted by a cricket bat wielding Vanessa, who wanted answers.

Vinny, assuming that Vanessa was perfectly aware of Charity keeping the cash for herself, told Vanessa she would be landing them all in trouble if she called the police and as it dawned on Vanessa that Charity had worked with Mandy on this crime, she was horrified.

Unable to believe that Charity has kept this from her, Vanessa will be left on the warpath and next week, she gives Charity the opportunity to explain herself. But when Charity chooses to lie to her even after being caught out, Vanessa has had enough.

Calling time on the relationship, will Vanessa walk away from Charity for good?

Source: Read Full Article

Populism is a threat to democracy but don’t panic, warns Francis Fukuyama

It is not often that academics become household names – still less that their works come to define an era.

But that was precisely what happened 30 years ago when a little-known political scientist called Francis Fukuyama came to prominence in remarkable fashion.

It was the year the Berlin Wall fell and the Iron Curtain was lifted across eastern Europe, the year the fall of the Soviet Union became an inevitability and the Cold War seemed to be at an end.

And few pieces of writing seemed to encapsulate the significance of the moment more than Fukuyama’s paper, published in the summer of 1989 – The End Of History?

Most of post-war history had, one way or another, focused on the clash between democracy and liberalism on the one side and communism on the other.

Throughout that period, as the Cold War raged and fingers hovered near nuclear buttons, there was another question that dominated political science: was Marx right? Was capitalism really just a phase on the inevitable road towards communism? Did history have one more chapter in store for everyone?

No, wrote Fukuyama in the article. He said: “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

It was a striking thesis. Even though the paper’s title ended with a question mark, even though it was prefaced with provisos and Fukuyama reinforced that doubt a couple of years later by turning the paper into a far longer, more nuanced tome called The End Of History and the Last Man, the force of his thesis was too powerful to resist.

As the walls fell and the Soviet Union crumbled, the conventional wisdom snowballed: maybe Fukuyama was right. Maybe this was indeed the end of history and what he called “the triumph of the West”.

Thirty years on and one could spin a very different narrative. What if 1989 was not the end of history but the beginning of a whole new chapter?

Communism may have been vanquished in most of the world, democracy may be far more widespread but political instability is at a greater reach than ever before.

Anti-establishment politics is on the rise everywhere: you can see it in Brexit, in the election of Donald Trump and in nearly every developed economy.

Enthusiasm about liberalism and democracy is on the wane. The Soviet Union has collapsed but Vladimir Putin seems intent on reassembling something like it.

And while China may have embraced market norms it is hardly any more democratic than it was three decades ago. What, in other words, if Fukuyama got it completely wrong?

When I put this question to Fukuyama in a Sky News interview to commemorate the 30 years that have passed since, he took one of those intakes of breath that suggested he is a little tired of being asked the same thing over and over again.

After all, in the intervening years he has written a series of considered, sophisticated works on politics, statecraft and history, yet it is this article which continually comes back to haunt him.

“The basic argument was, I think, fundamentally misunderstood,” he says. “The end of history didn’t mean that democracy would triumph everywhere and always. In fact, I said nationalism and religion are going to continue to be powerful forces.

“For 150 years the Marxists had said that the end of history is going to be communism – that that’s the highest form of society. And in 1989 I just made a simple observation: it didn’t look like we’re going to get there. We were going to stop at the stage before communism, which was liberal democracy tied to a market economy.

“The real question I was trying to ask was: is there actually a better alternative out there? Because I didn’t see one then. And, quite frankly, I don’t see one now.”

Indeed, since the 1970s the number of democracies around the world has risen from around 30 to more than 110. But the nature of those democracies is hardly as straightforward as many assumed 30 years ago.

Is Russia a democracy or something else? Fukuyama calls it and China “consolidated authoritarian regimes”. Though when he thinks of worrying patterns across the democratic world he finds himself even more concerned with what’s happening in the US and Britain.

“You’ve had the rise of populist movements that I think are threatening democracy from within,” he says.

“They’re threatening the constitutional checks and balances that are really part of a functioning liberal democracy. And it’s spreading to other parts of Europe. Hungary and Poland both have populist governments. Italy had one for a bit, [so does] Brazil.

Further afield in India you’ve got [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, who is trying to shift India from a liberal constitution to one based on Hinduism, which I think promises a lot of conflict, both social and international in the future. So it’s a very difficult moment for global democracy.”

And contrary to what people sometimes assume, Fukuyama says he does not believe democracy is inevitable. One gets the impression this is in part down to cold, hard experience.

In 1989 he wrote hopefully of tens of thousands of Chinese students studying in the US and Europe: “It is hard to believe that when they return home to run the country they will be content for China to be the only country in Asia unaffected by the larger democratising trend.”

Yet today the country may be comfortably the world’s second biggest economy but it is, if anything, even more authoritarian under president Xi Jinping (educated not in the US but in Beijing’s Tsinghua University). How does Fukuyama square this with his beliefs?

“As you get richer, you’ve got a middle class and the middle class has different preferences – they want more participation, they have property that they want to protect. And so the argument was that a country like China, as it got richer, would move towards democracy.

“And that is not right. Unfortunately, that’s a theory that’s currently being disproved because China is far richer than it was 10 years ago. Yet that middle class does not seem to be bucking this trend towards ever-tighter authoritarianism.

“The question is whether any of these alternative forms are actually going to be more sustainable and more successful [than democracy] in the long-run. And that, I think, has yet to be proven.

“I think the Chinese system has got a lot of weaknesses; for instance they’ve never really had to deal with a big recession or economic setback. Whether that regime can maintain its legitimacy if that were to happen, we don’t know.”

Still, the tone has certainly changed since 1989 and a lot of that is down to the imperceptible shifts that happened beneath the surface in the intervening period. For 1989 wasn’t just a political story but also an economic one.

Suddenly liberal western democracies and the international organisations that underpinned them – the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation – had no competition.

It’s worth remembering that for much of its existence the UN Security Council was effectively toothless since the Soviet Union or China could easily veto any resolution brought to it by western democracies.

Suddenly in the early 1990s that changed. Security Council unanimity became a possibility. It is no coincidence that the Iraq War followed shortly afterwards.

There was also a broader economic shift. Now that communism and full-blooded socialism had been discredited an emboldened West pushed even more aggressively for the kinds of liberal reforms that, they felt, had worked so well back home.

The World Bank and IMF pursued what came to be known as the “Washington consensus”: imposing market-friendly reforms on emerging economies. Those reforms and that advice felt right in Washington, it seemed in tune with the economic rules they were taught at college, but when those policies were imposed on fragile, poor economies they sometimes led to catastrophe.

Across a host of economies, from Argentina to Asia, there were a series of financial crises which were, if anything, worsened and deepened by that economic advice rather than improved by it.

In rich countries those market friendly reforms were imposed by both right wing governments but also by centre left leaders like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Over the period inequality rose sharply.

But because this was the end of history there was no plausible alternative. Whereas for much of the 20th century there was a constant battle of ideas between the Soviets and the United States, at the turn of the millennium there was only one game in town: the Washington consensus, or, as some call it, neoliberalism.

“It was a form of market fundamentalism: governments were bad, they had to get out of the way.” says Fukuyama. “The policies that came out of that resulted in the globalised world that we live in today. It has produced an incredible amount of wealth: global GDP increased by a factor of four between 1970 and 2008.

“But it also created a lot of inequality. A lot of oligarchs emerged, not just in Russia and Ukraine, but all over the world. There were concentrations of wealth. And I think that is at least part of the economic background for the current backlash, because that globalisation didn’t really lift all boats as promised.”

Equally important, adds Fukuyama, was the cultural reaction that came alongside that economic shift.

“What happened as a result of this growing inequality was a cultural cleavage that emerged between people that had good educations, opportunities, were mobile and could take advantage of this new cosmopolitan world that was opening up and people that were more traditional, fixed and conservative in their social values.

“That’s the cleavage that runs through many countries that have experienced populism. It really has to do with respect and dignity.

“If you listen to the language of populist voters, a very important theme is that ‘the elites that are ordering our world despise us – they look down on us’ or, at best, ‘we’re invisible to them: they don’t care about our lives and the way that their policies, like immigration, high levels of immigration, have affected my village or my community’.

“And I think that lack of feeling of respect is really what creates the anger that then drives the populist vote in many places.”

That anger has contributed to the rise of powerful forces on the left as well as the right. In the UK Jeremy Corbyn is proposing nationalising railways and utilities and raising the top rate of tax significantly.

In the US one of the most prominent candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren, has proposed breaking up the tech giants and imposing a wealth tax on the richest Americans. Do those kinds of policies scare Fukuyama?

“Elizabeth Warren wants to apply antitrust laws to tech companies. And to tax more. And I think actually both of those things are things that I would support.”

Mr Corbyn, on the other hand, may call himself a socialist but his brand of socialism is not exactly a return to the pre-1989 era, says Fukuyama.

“I don’t actually think it’s a return of socialism. Socialism really is associated with an authoritarian government that nationalises the means of production. This is really more an overdue shift towards more social democratic policies. I don’t particularly like Jeremy Corbyn’s policy preferences, but I don’t think he’s going to abolish democracy.”

What, though, does this internationally-renowned professor of political science think about Brexit? Is it a downgrade of Britain’s prospects or an opportunity for the UK to break free of its European bonds and forge a new identity on the global stage?

“I don’t really see how it can be other than a diminution of the standing,” he says. “Just within the United Kingdom itself, Brexit is going to unleash a lot of tensions with Ireland and with Scotland. But it also does seem to be a rejection of the kind of intense leadership role that Britain has played.

“And part of that was actually about being part of the European Union. [The UK] was the voice in the EU for a more market-oriented, less state [focused] set of policies.

“And that’s being given up. Internationally, it’s not something that’s conducive to a strong leadership role in restructuring the international system in terms of economics or security or anything else. So I do think it is a choice for a less powerful country.”

Still, in case you were under the impression that what with the rise of populism and the stickiness of authoritarianism, Fukuyama is downbeat about the future of the world, don’t be fooled.

“I do think that there are reasons not to panic at the present moment,” he says. “We are going through a really rough patch and this is why political agency – the idea that leaders matter and public who vote certain ways matter – will determine the future.

“But there’s no mechanism like the Marxists used to believe in that inevitably pushes us in a certain direction.”

Source: Read Full Article

Arsene Wenger reveals he is STILL in the running for the Bayern Munich job – and will hold talks next week – The Sun

ARSENE WENGER has revealed he is STILL in the running for the vacant Bayern Munich job – and will talk to the club early next week.

The Arsenal icon, 70, was no longer believed to be in consideration to replace Niko Kovac, who was sacked on Tuesday.

But the Frenchman told beIN Sports that he is set for a longer conversation with Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Wenger, who spent 22 years in charge at Arsenal, said: "On Wednesday afternoon, Rummenigge called me.

"I could not answer at that moment and out of politeness I called him back. He was driving to the Olympiacos game.

"We talked for four to five minutes maximum and he told me that they've signed [Hans-Dieter] Flik to be the coach.

"He will manage the next two games, because they play Borussia Dortmund [on Saturday].

"He asked me if I'd be interested because they are looking for a coach, I told him I didn't have any thoughts about it. It needs some time to think about."

"We decided together we will talk next week, because I'm in Doha until Sunday night. This is the true story."

Wenger spent 22 years in north London, winning three Premier League titles and the FA Cup seven times – the most in the competition's history.

Source: Read Full Article