British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered military strikes in Syria alongside the US and France in response to the Assad regime's suspected use of chemical weapons.
In a statement late on Friday, May said: "We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized — within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.
"History teaches us that the international community must defend the global rules and standards that keep us all safe. That is what our country has always done. And what we will continue to do."
The military action was announced by President Donald Trump on Friday after a suspected chemical attack in Douma, Syria earlier this month that killed dozens.
"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime," he said. "This is about humanity; it can't be allowed to happen."
The British Parliament was not given an opportunity to vote on military action in Syria.
Here's Theresa May's full statement, via The New York Times:
"This evening I have authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use. We are acting together with our American and French allies.
In Douma, last Saturday a chemical weapons attack killed up to 75 people, including young children, in circumstances of pure horror. The fact of this attack should surprise no one. The Syrian Regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way.
And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack. This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped — not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons. We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this.
But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Even this week the Russians vetoed a Resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack. So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime. This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change. It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian Regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.
At this time, my thoughts are with our brave British servicemen and women — and our French and American partners — who are carrying out their duty with the greatest professionalism. The speed with which we are acting is essential in cooperating with our partners to alleviate further humanitarian suffering and to maintain the vital security of our operations. This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat — and it is not a decision I have taken lightly.
I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest. We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized — within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none. History teaches us that the international community must defend the global rules and standards that keep us all safe. That is what our country has always done. And what we will continue to do."
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Tycoon Hands plots £2.5bn takeover of Quintain
By Mark Kleinman, City editor
Guy Hands, the private equity tycoon, is exploring a £2.5bn bid for Quintain, the London-based property group, in an effort to establish an £8bn UK-wide real estate empire.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Hands' buyout firm, Terra Firma Capital Partners, is examining an offer for Quintain through Annington, the giant residential property group it has controlled since 2012.
Initial bids are due for Quintain, which is owned by Lone Star Funds, another private equity firm, early next month, and City sources expect a deluge of interest in it.
The company has planning permission for thousands of rental homes in the area around Wembley Stadium, with the development scheduled to be completed by 2024.
Buying Quintain would give Mr Hands a natural merger partner for Annington, which was created in 1996 to acquire more than 57,000 residential properties from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), most of which were then leased back to it on 200-year leases.
Today, the company owns roughly 40,000 homes, the majority of which are still leased to the MoD.
The original deal with Annington has been criticised by the National Audit Office for costing taxpayers £4.2bn more than expected, with rental charges to the MoD expected to rise sharply from 2021.
Mr Hands was the arcitect of that investment in 1996 during his earlier career at Nomura, the Japanese bank.
Annington is owned by a separate Terra Firma-run vehicle which has a number of external investors including an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.
Last year, Terra Firma secured a £4bn refinancing of Annington, raising £550m of new equity and £3.4bn of debt, in a move that paved the way for a push into the private rented sector.
Some analysts believe the company is now worth over £5.5bn and that an exit via a stock market listing could be easier for Mr Hands if Annington and Quintain were to merge.
It is unclear whether Terra Firma is separately exploring options for the future of Annington although people close to it believe that that is inevitable in the coming months even if Quintain does not form part of its future.
If Mr Hands were to succeed with a bid for Quintain, he would need to raise fresh funds from investors, even as he also attempts to buy a £1.2bn commercial property portfolio from Network Rail.
The tycoon has not raised a general buyout fund for a decade, having seen his stellar reputation tarnished by the financial implosion and eventual seizure of EMI Group, the music empire, from his grasp in 2011.
Last year, Terra Firma kicked off talks with pension funds and other investors about assembling a new $3bn fund, but doubts have begun to emerge in the City about whether such an ambition is achievable.
Mr Hands brought in Justin King, the former J Sainsbury chief executive, and Andrew Geczy from Lloyds Banking Group to attract new investors and oversee an improvement in the operational performance of the companies it owns.
However, Four Seasons Health Care, the care homes operator, has effectively been removed from Terra Firma's ownership by the company's bondholders.
That investment has cost Terra Firma hundreds of millions of pounds, while this week it put Wyevale, the garden centre group, up for sale following a difficult period.
Mr Hands does expect to generate a healthy return from the disposals of RTR, an Italian solar energy business.
Sources said this weekend that Mr Hands' interest in Quintain was "at an early stage" and that he could yet decide not to lodge a formal offer for the company.
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Lone Star has hired Credit Suisse and Eastdil to handle the sale.
Spokesmen for Terra Firma and Annington declined to comment this weekend.
Harvey Weinstein’s estranged wife’s fashion label took a major hit amid scandal — now it is trying to launch a comeback
- The fashion label of Harvey Weinstein's estranged wife is in jeopardy following accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein.
- Georgina Chapman is a co-founder of the fashion label Marchesa.
- Chapman's career at Marchesa is tightly tied to her husband's success. Stars of Weinstein-backed productions, including Renée Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, and Blake Lively, have worn Marchesa designs on the red carpet.
- Chapman and Marchesa kicked off an attempt at a comeback this month, with Scarlett Johansson wearing Marchesa to the Met Gala and Vogue publishing a sympathetic profile of the designer.
Less than a year after scandals engulfed Harvey Weinstein, his wife is preparing to reenter the spotlight with her high-profile fashion label.
Marchesa, a fashion label co-founded by Weinstein's estranged wife, Georgina Chapman, has struggled in the wake of sexual-misconduct accusations against Weinstein. According to the New York Post, Marchesa pulled out of New York Fashion Week after Chapman was too afraid to go through with the scheduled February show.
Chapman, who co-founded the fashion label Marchesa, reportedly left Weinstein in October and is set to receive $15-$20 million in a divorce settlement that has yet to be filed in court.
Chapman's career as the co-founder of Marchesa is tightly tied to her husband's success. Stars of Weinstein-backed productions, including Renée Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, and Blake Lively, have worn Marchesa on the red carpet, and rumors have floated for years that Weinstein pushed actresses to wear the fashion brand. With the allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein, many are wondering whether Marchesa will disappear from the red carpet altogether.
"No star is ever going to want to wear the brand again," The Hollywood Reporter quoted an unnamed New York fashion publicist as saying in October, after Weinstein was ousted from The Weinstein Company, the studio he founded.
However, Scarlett Johansson proved the publicist wrong at this year's Met Gala. The actress wore a Marchesa gown to the event — the first time a "major celebrity" has worn Marchesa on the red carpet since the allegations against Weinstein broke.
Here's the story of how Chapman's Marchesa became a celebrity favorite — and how the label is trying to reclaim its place on the red carpet:
SEE ALSO: Gwyneth Paltrow says Brad Pitt threatened to kill Harvey Weinstein after she told him Weinstein sexually harassed her
Georgina Chapman founded Marchesa with Keren Craig in 2004. The same year, Chapman, then a 28-year-old former model from England, began dating Harvey Weinstein.
A 2007 Teen Vogue article — spotted by Jezebel — says Marchesa caught on with Hollywood starlets after Renée Zellweger wore a gown from the line to the premiere of "Bridget Jones's Diary." "Bridget Jones" was distributed by Miramax, which Weinstein founded, and Zellweger thanked Weinstein during her Oscar speech in 2004.
"Maybe I helped, but just very, very little, with Renée Zellweger," Weinstein told Vogue in 2013.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Trump and Sen. Orrin Hatch announce American hostage returning to US from Venezuela
- President Donald Trump announced Saturday that a Venezuelan prison would be freeing an American hostage and his wife after two years.
- The hostage, Josh Holt, is from Utah and has been in prison since 2016 after traveling to Venezuela to marry his wife Thamy, whom he met online.
- Holt was arrested when police said they found him stockpiling weapons.
- Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch posted a statement about the news that detailed "two years of hard work" that went into securing the Holts' release.
An American held in Venezuela will return to the US Saturday evening after two years in a Caracas prison, according to President Donald Trump and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
In a statement posted to Twitter Saturday morning, Trump said the prisoners, Josh Holt and his wife Thamy, would arrive Saturday evening with their family at the White House, making the people of Utah, Holt's home state, "very happy!"
Good news about the release of the American hostage from Venezuela. Should be landing in D.C. this evening and be in the White House, with his family, at about 7:00 P.M. The great people of Utah will be very happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
Hatch confirmed the release in a statement on Twitter and thanked Venezuelan officials and Trump's and former President Barack Obama's administrations for their cooperation over the past two years to free Holt.
BREAKING: Senator Hatch has secured the release of Utahn Josh Holt from Venezuela. #utpol pic.twitter.com/q9bPIVHgmk
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) May 26, 2018
The Holts have been held hostage in Venezuela since 2016 after Holt traveled to Venezuela to marry Thamy, a fellow Mormon he met online. He was arrested when police said they found him stockpiling weapons.
Earlier this month, Holt made headlines when he posted a video to Facebook pleading for help from Trump and American people to get him out of the Caracas prison.
SEE ALSO: Venezuela's disputed presidential election is pushing more of its people out of the country
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How a street artist creates 3D balloons on flat walls that seem to pop out at you
Daniel Fahlström is a Swedish artist who goes by the name Huge. He makes hyper-realistic mylar balloon art that will trick your eye into thinking you can reach out and grab them. We spoke with Fahlström about his work and how he is able to make the balloons in his murals look so real. You can see more of his work on his Instagram and YouTube pages. Videos courtesy Huge, Waller Gallery and FlyMotion Fastighet. Following is a transcript of the video.
Huge: I'm based in Stockholm, Sweden. And I've been painting graffiti since '87. Nowadays I paint photorealistic mylar balloons style. I was having an exhibition in Stockholm and I came up with the idea, why don't I change the traditional graffiti letters into balloons.
I take real balloons to the place where the wall is. And I put them up and take some photos of them. I use photos as a reference. So the reflections you see in the balloons is mostly at the area where the wall is in the background. When I take the pictures, it's a reflection of me there, so there's no hiding.
When I do walls I only use spray cans. I can paint some details with my fingers and stuff like that. And when I do smaller canvases and stuff like that, I sometimes use air brushes. The technique comes from a lot of practice I guess. I don't think about it that much, I just paint. Well, I think you have to focus on where you put the details in the paintings. You can trick your eye if you paint say the background more blurry, they stick out more and pop up. The wrinkles are extremely important to paint. I'm trying to do a lot of sculptures. So that includes the balloon style. So I try to make sculptures as balloons also.
I really like the photorealistic style. I try to manage to make them as photorealistic as possible. I'm pretty fast when I work, so I can do a mural say about, four times five meters in maybe in two days. Something like that. Say eight hour days. Time flies when you're painting. Like you're in a bubble or something.
I have my own firm where I do custom paint. Like painting motorcycles and helmets and tracks and stuff like that. So there's where I get most of my income. It's mostly commission work nowadays. I don't have any murals painted aboard yet, as one request from New York. And a lot from south of the states like Texas and Louisiana. Also Canada and Honduras and Australia.
Well, I've seen a lot of reactions from people and the funniest one was when this old lady that wasn't wearing her glasses she was trying to go up and touch the balloons. And a lot of people do that. They go by and, "Well, I have to check that out." That's good if they think that's real balloons. That's my mission, to make them believe that.
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‘Deadpool 2’ screenwriters break down the movie’s biggest Easter eggs and cameos
Warning: MAJOR spoilers if you haven’t seen “Deadpool 2.”
After successfully bringing the complex Marvel character Deadpool to the big screen in 2016, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick quickly became one of the top screenwriting teams currently working in Hollywood. And their stock in town is only going to rise after the box-office success of "Deadpool 2" over the weekend.
Thanks to the rule-breaking mentality Reese, Wernick, and franchise star Ryan Reynolds (who received a writing credit in the sequel) have always had about the character, “Deadpool 2” is more outlandish than the first. And because of all the Easter eggs, funny lines, and cameos buried throughout the movie, it needs to be seen more than once (to the glee of the studio behind the franchise, 20th Century Fox).
Reese and Wernick gave Business Insider insight on many of the big spoilers and Easter eggs scattered in the movie:
SEE ALSO: "Deadpool 2" director opens up about the pressures of jumping into a hit franchise and what working with Ryan Reynolds was like
Why this huge star decided to do the voice of Juggernaut.
The massive Juggernaut made a glorious return to the Marvel franchise (he was previously seen in 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand”) in “Deadpool 2.” There was no actor playing him on screen this time (he was CGI), but the voice was done by quite a big star.
Though in the credits Juggernaut is credited as only “Himself,” Reese and Wernick revealed that it was Ryan Reynolds who did the voice — thanks to some voice manipulation by the audio team.
Reese and Wernick said during post production, Reynolds was the one coming up with lines for the character.
“We just looked at him and were like, ‘You should just do the voice,’” Wernick said.
But what really sold Reynolds was when the sound department began modulating his voice to sound like the character. Reynolds fell in love with it. And then there was the ease with which Reynolds could do it.
“Ryan essentially recorded the lines into his iPhone, emailed it to the editor, and it gets plugged into the cut of the movie; it’s that quick,” Reese said, as opposed to Reynolds having to spend a day in an audio booth recording lines.
Reynolds also used the same method when new lines or jokes were added in post production for Deadpool.
How the movie nabbed all those great cameos.
From Brad Pitt as Vanisher, to Matt Damon as a redneck with a lot to say about toilet paper, “Deadpool 2” has some major cameos. And the screenwriters have a simple answer for why: once you’re making a successful franchise, everyone says "yes."
“We got a fair amount of people saying 'no' last movie,” Wernick said. “This one, it was 'yes' across the board. It was a real treat for us.”
And for the audience, too (if you caught them).
Pitt shows up in the blink of an eye when mutant Vanisher accidentally glides into power lines due to the rough winds, as X-Force does its skydive to rescue the young mutant Russell. “Deadpool 2” director David Leitch told Business Insider that getting Pitt was a combination of Pitt’s kids loving the first movie, an ask by Reynolds, and Pitt knowing Leitch from the days when he was the actor’s stunt double.
Damon is even harder to catch in the movie. He’s completely unrecognizable as one of the men Cable encounters when he shows up in the present day from the future. Damon is the redneck in back of the pickup truck talking to his friend about toilet paper. Reese and Wernick said it was a chance encounter with Reynolds that led to Damon getting in the movie.
“I think they were at some event together and Matt was telling Ryan how much he loves ‘Deadpool,’” Wernick said. “We were in the process of writing the script and around that time Rhett had written this fantastic diatribe about toilet paper. Ryan told Matt about it, Matt said to send him the pages and he just fell in love with it and told Ryan he would do it.”
And the yeses kept coming. Reese and Wernick said Hugh Jackman approved the footage used in the post credit sequence from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and the footage of “Yentl” is in the movie thanks to Barbra Streisand — with an assist from her son-in-law Josh Brolin, who plays Cable in the movie (Brolin’s father, James Brolin, is married to Streisand).
“We actually wrote all the Streisand and ‘Yentl’ stuff before we cast Josh,” Wernick said. “So once Josh came aboard it became a lot easier. We said to him, ‘Hey, do you mind picking up the phone?’”
This Christopher Plummer joke is so buried even one of the screenwriters missed it.
When Deadpool decides to try and be part of the X-Men, his first assignment (as a trainee) is to stop Russell from wreaking havoc outside the orphanage he’s staying at. In the scene, a news crew shows up to cover the chaos and there’s a shot of news footage with a crawl at the bottom of the screen. If you look at the right moment, you’ll see the text in the crawl read: “Christopher Plummer turns down role in ‘Deadpool 2.’”
It’s a recognition of the #MeToo movement that was in full throttle toward the end of the movie’s post production. The Plummer joke also seems to reference one of the movie's stars, T.J. Miller, who has been accused of sexual misconduct (Reynolds said Miller will not be in the upcoming “X-Force” movie).
But Reese and Wernick are not taking ownership of the joke. In fact, Wernick didn’t even know about the Plummer line until Business Insider told him.
“I thought that was hilarious,” Reese said. “I don’t know who put that in, probably David Leitch or one of the editors.”
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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