'I hate being made to feel like a criminal because I enjoy underground raves'

Here, DJ and music student Stephane Massa – who regularly attends unlicensed music events – tells Sky News why he believes people have the wrong idea about what they’re really like.

I hate being made to feel like a criminal.

I don’t consume illegal drugs. I never get involved in anti-social behaviour.

But because I enjoy going to unlicensed music events I’m made to feel that I’m doing something wrong.

So I want to share the facts because people are very quick to let their imaginations wander off.

I go to unlicensed music events about four or five times a month.

It’s quite a secretive scene and a lot of people find out about it through word of mouth.

You might receive a text or WhatsApp message, or get added to an event on social media. But it all starts out with knowing the right person to get into these parties.

I’ve been to parties in forests which have full working bars.

I’ve been to warehouses that have been converted with seating areas and have well-known DJs performing.

You’d be surprised how organised these events are.

When you go to a nightclub, you can have a lot issues with other people. At unlicensed events, you really don’t get that.

There’s a connection that you don’t really get at a nightclub. People are compassionate. Everyone’s there for the music.

It’s very inclusive and great way for people to express themselves because there’s no judgement.

People may think that because there are no police or security that it goes wild but it really isn’t like that.

I think people are actually quite discreet and respectful.

Most people genuinely don’t have any intention to harm anyone or their surroundings.

Obviously there are some people who push the boundaries – but that is the same in every nightclub in the country. A lot of the time the only problem is people not picking up litter after themselves.

Drugs do happen at unlicensed parties. It’s an inevitable thing that happens everywhere unfortunately. It’s something you see at every live music venue in London.

Young people will always look to have a good time. Those that choose to go to unlicensed parties to enjoy music shouldn’t be tarnished as criminals.

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How does your pay compare to a Nigerian senator?

Many Nigerians were shocked after recent revelations from a prominent politician, Shehu Sani, that Nigerian senators are entitled to monthly expenses of 13.5m naira (£27,000; $37,500), in addition to their monthly salaries of more than $2,000.

A Senate spokesperson confirmed the figure, but said the funds were for senators to run their offices and should not be counted as part of their salaries.

Taking the salary and expenses together, how does your income compare to that of a Nigerian senator? Use our interactive calculator to find out. (App users click on the image)

A senator's income (including expenses) is about 156 million naira per year.

If you were earning the minimum wage (₦18,000):

  • It would take a senator 1 hour and 1 minute to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 722 years and 3 months to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1296 you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 1 bag of rice

If you were earning ₦50,000:

  • It would take a senator 2 hours and 49 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 260 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1758, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 3 bags of rice.

If you were earning ₦100,000:

  • It would take a senator 5 hours and 37 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 130 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1888, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice while your monthly salary income could 6 bags of rice

If you were earning ₦150,000:

  • It would take a senator 8 hours and 26 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 86 years and 8 months to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1931 you'd almost be finished, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 10 bags of rice.

If you were earning ₦200,000:

  • It would take a senator 11 hours and 14 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 65 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1953 you'd almost be finished, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice while your monthly income could buy 13 bags of rice.

How do you compare with a senator?

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Credits

Methodology

Senators’ estimated earnings are based on the statement made by Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani, on March 7, 2018.

The exchange rate was calculated at 1 USD = 359.200NGN, 1GBP = 503.483NGN as on 20 March 2018 using http://xe.com.

The calculator assumed that a bag of rice would cost ₦15,000

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Protesters plan to bring France to a halt

Drivers plan to disrupt traffic across France on Saturday by blocking roads, bridges and toll booths in a mass protest at rising fuel prices.

Dubbed the “yellow vests” after the high-visibility jackets they use as their symbol, they are expected to muster in at least 700 locations.

They accuse President Emmanuel Macron of abandoning “the little people”.

Mr Macron admitted this week that he had not “really managed to reconcile the French people with its leaders”.

Nonetheless, he accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block his reform programme.

Officials have warned that, while they will not stop the protests, they will not allow them to bring the French road network to a standstill.

Why are drivers on the warpath?

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s, AFP news agency reports.

World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.

The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol on 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw.

Speaking on Wednesday, the president blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise. Interior Minister Christopher Castaner argued that the fall in world oil prices would compensate for the tax increase.

District nurse Philippe Salmon, who backed Mr Macron in last year’s presidential election, is now a passionate “yellow vest”, AFP news agency reports, who drives around in a yellow car in the Gironde region as if to prove his point.

“The president says he is de-taxing work but what’s going on for all those who need a car for work?” he asked earlier this week.

Mr Salmon, who says he never went on a demonstration before, predicts that tractors will be blocking roads in the Bordeaux area on Saturday.

Yellow Vests tried to protest last week when President Macron visited the northern town of Albert, and were moved on by police.

How big is the movement?

News of the protest has spread so fast on Facebook and Twitter that new muster points seem to appear daily as people share hash tags such as #GiletsJaunes (Yellow Vests) and #17novembre.

Demonstrators are threatening to block motorways and access roads to some oil depots, including in Calais near the Channel Tunnel, Reuters news agency reports.

One less disruptive tactic being suggested is to cover speed cameras with bin bags.

At the same time, many protest supporters were planning to turn out merely to show their high-visibility jackets.

Mécontentement général ! Ce n’est pas que pour le carburant mais un ras le bol de toutes taxes quelles qu’elles soient ✊🏻👊🏻

End of Facebook post by blocage de Cherbourg le 17 novembre 2018

According to Le Monde newspaper, nobody can really tell how big the protest will be. However, groups of protesters appeared outside fuel depots in French-speaking areas of Belgium on Friday, ahead of the French action.

Are opposition politicians involved?

They have certainly tried to tap into it. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who was defeated by Mr Macron in the second round of the presidential election, has been encouraging the movement on Twitter.

She said: “The government shouldn’t be afraid of French people who come to express their revolt and do it in a peaceful fashion.”

Laurent Wauquiez, leader of the centre-right Republicans, called on the Macron government to scrap the next planned increase in carbon tax on fossil fuels in January to offset rising vehicle fuel prices.

Mr Castaner has described Saturday’s action as a “political protest with the Republicans behind it”.

On the radical left of French politics, Jean-Luc Mélenchon predicted that Saturday would be “divorce day for the French people” and the Macron project.

However, the movement has no single leader and is not organised by any trade union.

For Philippe Salmon, the district nurse who can clock up 200km (124 miles) a day in his work, “taxes go beyond political differences”.

Being a Yellow Vest has not, he says, converted him to the far right or populism.

Is there any room for compromise?

On Wednesday, the government announced action to help poor families pay their energy and transport bills.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that 5.6 million households would receive energy subsidies. Currently 3.6 million receive them.

A state scrappage bonus on polluting vehicles would also be doubled for France’s poorest families, he said, and fuel tax credits would be brought in for people who depend on their cars for work.

However, President Macron defended the tax on diesel, saying: “We have to tax fossil fuels more in order to fund our investments in renewable.”

Meanwhile, as potentially the biggest protest of his presidency gathers steam, protesters mock him relentlessly as “Micron” or “Macaron” (Macaroon) or simply Manu, the short form of Emmanuel, for which he famously scolded a student for using.

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Acid attack model returns to work

A former Miss Italy finalist has returned to work as a sea lion trainer, five months after being severely disfigured by acid thrown in her face.

Gessica Notaro, 28, said that she was doing so to encourage other women to fight back against bullying.

She posted a picture of herself on social media with sea lions at the aquarium where she works in east Italy.

Her former boyfriend is being prosecuted over the attack but denies any involvement.

Ms Notaro is scheduled to host the aquarium’s night-time performances later this year at the Adriatic resort of Rimini.

She was in danger of losing the sight in her left eye in the aftermath of the attack.

Ms Notaro has had several operations since, and her injured eye remains bandaged.

In a Facebook post she said: “My strength? Here it is,” as she touched a sea lion.

Ms Notaro’s story caught the public imagination when she revealed her suffering on social media.

In April she went on national TV to denounce former boyfriend Jorge Edson Tavares.

“I want you to see what he did to me. This isn’t love,” she said.

“While the acid ate away at my face I was on my knees praying to God to take away my beauty but at least leave me with my sight.”

Ms Notaro broke up with Mr Tavares last summer.

After she went to police to complain that she was being stalked, a restraint order was imposed on him.

On 10 January the former finalist was doused in hydrochloric acid by a man she identified as Mr Tavares.

He has strenuously denied any involvement in the attack.

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The Welsh town hoping to avoid a 'no-deal' Brexit

It is a town where 13,000 people were once employed at the steelworks. Now, it is less than half that.

Despite receiving millions of pounds in EU development money over the years, 52% of people who voted in the referendum opted to leave.

The global giant Tata Steel owns the plant that dominates the landscape and relies on smooth trade to make money and keep people in jobs.

That trade is welded to Europe.

Most Brits now against Brexit – Sky Data poll

There is agreement among the people who live here; any deal on the table is better than a “no-deal” Brexit, which would make Tata’s supply chain of car parts and rail tracks uncompetitive – frozen out of the EU.

Demand for steel from Port Talbot would plummet along with the hopes of the town.

The draft agreement proposed by Theresa May’s government buys two years until a long-term trade agreement can be reached.

Tata Steel says it’s looking at the draft very carefully – but said no more than that.

Steel industry insiders said there was some relief.

“We’re in a better place than we were last week,” according to one.

But in the town, there’s anxiety that all of this means nothing if the government’s proposed deal gets voted down in parliament.

In a cafe, Chris Jones, a Labour councillor and Tata Steel employee has coffee with Tony Taylor, a steelworker for more than 40 years.

“We just need this deal to go through. If it doesn’t then we’re heading for a hard Brexit and that’s going to be bad news for us,” says Chris, who voted Remain. Tony agrees.

“Communities likes ours need protecting,” he says.

“I’m quite happy with the deal – it’s not ideal – but it gives us all the protections we’ve become used to.”

He is referring to the “level playing field” that ensures workers’ rights, working hours and health and safety are maintained under current regulations.

“But if we get a hard Brexit I’m worried about the effect on towns like Port Talbot,” Tony adds.

“I think Theresa May should step down and let someone else negotiate this. It’s clear that a lot of people have lost confidence in her leadership.”

Not everyone is so pessimistic.

Down the road at a carpet shop, Stephen Harvey is defiant about his decision to vote Leave.

“I was so sick of the bureaucrats in Brussels running our affairs,” he said.

“This is not the deal I voted for but we’ve certainly sent a message to Europe that we won’t be pushed around.

“I’m certain that when we look back on this in a couple of year’s time we’ll think that we got a deal that both sides were happy with.”

Port Talbot may cope with uncertainty but the next few weeks should shape this place and others for years to come.

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Ex-PM fixed tender to buy luxury car

Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has been sentenced to two years in prison for corruption.

A court in Skopje found he had unlawfully influenced officials over the purchase of a luxury bulletproof Mercedes Benz worth €600,000 (£525,000, $700,000) in 2012.

It was the first of five cases against the long-serving leader to go to trial.

He was forced to leave office in 2016 after a year of protests and 10 years in power.

Prosecutors used secret recordings to show that Gruevski had influenced a member of a tender commission to promote a particular car dealer to supply the vehicle for his personal use. In return for this, he was alleged to have received money from the dealer.

Gruevski was eventually forced out of office because of a wire-tapping scandal.

He was accused by rivals of personally ordering the tapping of up to 20,000 people. He also faces charges of involvement in vote-rigging and bribery during his decade as leader.

Earlier this week the current prime minister, Zoran Zaev, was cleared of corruption on a charge of taking a bribe to help a local businessman buy land.

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Premier League to introduce VAR next season

Clubs have agreed “in principle” to introduce VAR after a series of trials.

VAR is an extra referee who will review on-pitch decisions made by the head referee with the aid of video playback and a headset for communication.

A statement from the Premier League said the testing programme would continue for the rest of this season “with a continued emphasis on those Saturday afternoons which have several matches being played concurrently”.

The way VAR decisions are communicated to fans in the stadium will also be addressed with a “clear protocol” to be established.

A formal request will now be made to the International Football Association Board and FIFA.

Earlier this week Sky Sports News reported that VAR would be high on the agenda for today’s meeting of Premier League shareholders.

It followed a controversial weekend of football where Southampton were denied a second goal after an official believed Maya Yoshida had deflected the shot after a Charlie Austin strike.

Austin launched into a furious rant against the officials and made the call for VAR to be introduced into the league, saying: “We play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, the most-watched league in the world.”

The FA decided not to punish him for the criticism of officials.

Southampton versus Watford was not the only game affected as there was controversy at Anfield too. Slavisa Jokanovic also criticised the decision to chalk off what would have been an Aleksandar Mitrovic opener for offside, seconds before Mo Salah gave Liverpool the lead at the opposite end.

The Premier League clubs voted against VAR’s introduction this season at a meeting back in April, before it was used to great success at the World Cup in Russia – and it is already in use in Europe’s other top-four leagues of France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

VAR was also used in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and in the group stage matches, 335 incidents were checked by VAR officials. Those reviews led to 14 referee calls being overruled.

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House of Fraser to shut four stores after failure to lower rents

The company, which bought the struggling department store chain out of administration in August, said it had held talks over 14 weeks with Intu Properties but had been unable to reach agreement – placing hundreds of jobs at risk.

HoF was yet to confirm exactly how many jobs were threatened.

It identified the stores to close as Lakeside in Essex, its Metrocentre operation in Gateshead and sites in Norwich and Nottingham.

The statement said: “We had various meetings with the landlord, Intu Properties, and adopted a flexible approach.

“Despite our best efforts we have been unable to agree reasonable terms for these stores to continue trading.

“Sadly, we are now in consultation with staff about the fact these stores face closure.

“We hope other institutional landlords will continue to work with us in order to save stores and jobs.”

Mr Ashley added: “Unfortunately, these stores now face closing in the New Year.

“I urge other institutional landlords to be more proactive to help save the HoF stores in their schemes.”

The billionaire businessman had warned when HoF came under his control that 20% of its 59 premises may have to be shut.

The previous management, who had planned to shut down half the sites in an effort to save the business, were thrown out as he prepared to make the chain become the “Harrods of the high street”.

In addition to Sports Direct and HoF he has further exposure to town centres through a 30% stake in Debenhams and has also recently bought Evans Cycles out of administration.

Mr Ashley also plans to cut 50% of Evans stores.

The high street has endured a brutal 2018 – with Toys R Us and Maplin the first casualties while a string of other big names have been forced to seek rescue deals with landlords.

Pressures have included rising rents, business rates and wage bills at a time of greater consumer restraint in the run-up to Brexit.

Landlords have attacked the growing use of Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) by retailers looking to cut stores and reduce rent bills.

A legal challenge against House of Fraser’s pre-collapse CVA plan was settled out of court. House of Fraser fell into Mr Ashley’s hands just days later.

More follows…

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Brexit: EU gives May space to ‘spin’ draft deal

What’s so striking about this draft Brexit deal the UK media and politicians are all abuzz about, is the marked lack of excitement and/or hysteria in EU circles.

Contrary to the UK narrative, this is not viewed in Brussels as the back-against-the-wall, make-or-break moment.

There’s still some time to keep negotiating. EU-UK technical talks are, in fact, ongoing as neither all the “i”s, nor all the “t”s of a deal have yet been dotted or crossed.

The thinking here is: if the UK cabinet or certain EU member states strongly object to specific parts of the draft document (as long as they don’t rip up the whole thing), then negotiators can go back to the drawing board.

As I’ve mentioned before, the EU is clearly more relaxed about timing – as long as a deal is signed before March – than Theresa May at this stage.

You get the feeling that the current sense of pressure and urgency is designed to help the UK prime minister at home.

Storm clouds surrounded her once again last weekend, with cabinet minister Jo Johnson resigning and mutterings of potential mutiny from Brexiteer and Remainer conservative MPs, never mind the Labour Party and the DUP plotting over the eventual Brexit parliamentary vote.

It looked (once again) like the whole thing could unravel on the UK side.

Brussels has repeatedly told Mrs May that – as long as they could agree on the details of a deal amongst themselves – the EU would help her present it however she wished in order to help her sell the package back home.

I think now is one of those moments, which would explain why Brussels kept so silent on Tuesday night – such a politically sensitive night in the UK.

One of my high-level EU contacts even sent me an emoji with a closed zip instead of a mouth – to indicate that he couldn’t talk.

These are hours for Downing Street to spin.

This is not to say that the EU is completely chilled about the appearance of a draft Brexit deal – played down to me by a Brussels contact as a “mutual understanding” between EU and UK negotiators.

That’s a reminder that this is a technical draft – not yet a political agreement.

While all eyes on Wednesday will be on Number 10 Downing Street and the reaction of the UK cabinet, the governments of all 27 EU countries and the European parliament also want to get their eyes and their mitts on all 500 pages of the document ASAP.

Of key interest to them: the compromise wording over the backstop, that insurance policy for the Irish border.

They, and Ireland in particular, will be relieved to see something Brexiteers will not like at all – that the EU will decide alongside the UK if and when the backstop arrangements need to kick in and also when they can be terminated and superseded by a new EU-UK trade deal.

They will also note that the all-UK customs union with the EU outlined as part of the backstop will be deeper with Northern Ireland than with the rest of the UK. This will be hard for the DUP to swallow.

More important to EU heavyweights France and Germany – and others that trade closely with the UK like Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands – will be to examine the small print of the backstop customs union to ensure the UK would have no competitive advantage over them.

I’ve spoken to diplomats who worry the European Commission was in such a hurry to get this draft Brexit deal document ready to Theresa May’s timetable, that the priorities of some EU member states may have been overlooked.

France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain for example won’t be happy that fishing rights in UK waters do not seem to appear in the text.

European capitals want a minimum of seven to 10 days to pore over the draft with a fine toothcomb.

So, could there still be a special Brexit deal summit called this month as Theresa May so hopes?

It’s not impossible – 25 November is being spoken about as a potential date.

Later on Wednesday as the UK cabinet meets in London, the 27 EU ambassadors will gather in Brussels.

To be discussed: the draft Brexit deal, the possibility of a November summit and – as a clear indication of the current uncertainty – ongoing contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

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Leicester City owner to get statue outside King Power Stadium after fatal helicopter crash

The tribute is confirmed in the programme for the Foxes’ first home game since the tragedy.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s son, known to fans as “Top”, writes: “I plan to commission a statue of my father, for outside King Power Stadium, as a permanent and fitting tribute to the man that made it all possible.

“He will forever be in our hearts. He will never be forgotten.”

The Thai billionaire helped propel the club to one of sport’s most unlikely triumphs when they won the Premier League against massive odds.

“We will never be able to repay what he did for us – for me as his son, us as his family, everyone connected to Leicester City and beyond – but we are committed to honouring his memory and upholding his legacy,” writes Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.

“Our continued growth as a club, our state-of-the-art new training ground and our planned stadium expansion will help realise his vision for Leicester City.

“He will forever be in our hearts. He will never be forgotten.”

Fans at Saturday’s sold-out game against Burnley will get free commemorative scarves, badges, clap banners and the souvenir programme.

A tribute to the Thai owner, beloved by fans of the East Midlands club, will be shown on big screens before the match.

There will also be a two-minute silence to honour the five victims of the crash and those who died in the First World War.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha was killed after the helicopter took off from the pitch and span out of control, crashing just outside the ground and starting a fire.

The other victims were pilot Eric Swaffer, his partner Izabela Lechowicz, and ex-Thai beauty queen Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, who worked for the Leicester City owner.

The tragedy led to an outpouring of grief and tributes from fans and players of the club, with a sea of scarves, flowers and shirts building up outside the ground.

After recording an emotional away win at Cardiff last weekend, players flew out to Thailand for the funeral.

Further details on the commissioning and position of the statue will be confirmed at a later date.

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