New Brexit defeat for government in Lords

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MPs will vote again on how much of a say Parliament should have on Brexit, after another House of Lords defeat for the government.

Peers decided MPs should have to approve whatever the government decided to do next if there was no final agreement with the EU.

Their amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was backed by 354 votes to 235.

It means the issue is sent back to the House of Commons for a debate on Wednesday.

Leading Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg accused the Lords of being “cavalier” towards the UK’s constitution.

The UK is due to leave the European Union in March 2019. And negotiations have been taking place over the terms of its departure.

But there is an ongoing row about what happens if Parliament votes to reject the final deal reached between the two sides – or if no deal is reached.

One side says Parliament should intervene to prevent the UK from “crashing out” of the EU without a deal – but critics say the prospect of this happening would undermine the UK’s negotiating hand.

Last week, Theresa May avoided defeat on the issue – but rebels said they were not happy with the concessions they had been offered in return for not voting against the government.

Now, peers have backed an amendment from former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Hailsham, which goes further than the government’s proposals on how much power MPs could get.

The 119 majority was 28 more than the last time peers voted on the so-called “meaningful vote” issue.

Lord Hailsham, who described Brexit as a “national calamity” in his speech, said his amendment represented what had been agreed “in good faith” by the would-be Tory rebels, led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and Downing Street last week.

“It’s a matter of honour,” he said.

He also said his proposals were in the “national interest”, adding: “In order to safeguard our nation’s vital interests, in the event that there be no deal on the table, Parliament should have the authority to intervene.”

What the Lords voted for

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House of Lords

Lord Hailsham described his amendment as “Grieve Two”, meaning it was a new version of proposals tabled last week by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who wants Parliament to get more of a say over Brexit.

It would apply in three scenarios:

  • If MPs vote down the UK-EU Brexit deal
  • If Theresa May announces before 21 January 2019 that no deal has been reached
  • If 21 January passes with no deal being struck

Under these circumstances, the government has said, a minister will make a statement in Parliament, setting out the government’s next steps.

The government had offered MPs the chance to vote “on neutral terms” on this statement. But the amendment backed by the Lords on Monday goes further, saying the statement would have to be approved by MPs.

Lord Hailsham also criticised what he called “disgraceful” newspaper attacks on Mr Grieve and said it was “perfectly true” that he had held talks with other parties in drawing up his amendment.

“I make absolutely no apology for that,” he said.

“This is the high court of Parliament, and we are not party hacks.”

Lord Hailsham’s fellow Tory peer Lord True said ministers had already “made a serious attempt to compromise” with the rebels’ demands.

“People outside Parliament are getting a little bit tired of the parliamentary games,” he said.

“They actually want to know when they’re going to get Brexit, when it will be delivered and when it will be done.”

Emotional eating 'learned by children not inherited'

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Children who eat more or less when stressed or upset have learned the behaviour rather than inherited it, a study suggests.

A study by University College London found home environment was the main cause of emotional eating.

And this was due to parental behaviours including giving upset children their favourite food to soothe them.

But eating-disorder charity Beat says parents shouldn’t be blamed for children’s eating issues.

Emotional eating “indicates an unhealthy relationship to food”, said senior lead researcher Dr Clare Llewellyn.

“Rather than finding more positive strategies to regulate their emotions, they’re using food,” she said.

“A tendency to want to eat more in response to negative emotions could be a risk factor for the development of obesity. And emotional over- and under-eating could be potentially important in the development of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or binge-eating disorder.

“Understanding how these tendencies develop is crucial, because it helps researchers to give advice about how to prevent or change them, and where to focus future research.”

Identical and non-identical twins

The study, which is published in Pediatric Obesity journal, looked at 398 four-year-old British twins from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS).

Half of the twins came from families with obese parents, putting them more at risk of becoming obese themselves, and half from parents with a healthy weight.

Parents reported on their children’s eating traits and tendency to emotionally eat – answering questions such as whether the child wanted to eat more when irritable or less when sad.

They compared the questionnaire data between identical and non-identical twins along with their rates of emotional eating and found very little difference between the twins whether they were identical or not – suggesting environment had more of an influence than genes.

Previous studies have indicated that other eating behaviours in early childhood are strongly influenced by genes.

They include:

  • speed of eating
  • how soon you feel full
  • wanting to eat just for pleasure

The researchers said their new work was “significant” because it added weight to the results of a bigger study they had carried out last year with a totally different twin sample.

“The trait is starting to develop in the important formative pre-school years. And it indicates there is scope for giving parents more directed advice about sorts of strategies they use to help their children when they’re upset during the very important early years when behaviours start to develop,” said Dr Llewellyn.

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The researchers said emotional eating was an “enduring trait” that could continue through your life.

And while it was not inherited via a gene, the pattern of using food to soothe children, as a reward or to control behaviour could be passed down from one generation to another.

“The advice to parents would be try not to use food to soothe your child. When they’re upset, try to use other more positive strategies,” said Dr Llewellyn.

“It depends on the age of the child – but just sitting down and talking to them openly about how they’re feeling and, with young children, giving them a cuddle.”

“We will continue to research the home-environmental factors that might play a role in emotional eating, such as certain parental feeding practices or stress around the dinner table,” said Moritz Herle, who co-led the research.

But Beat said it was important parents were not blamed for children’s eating issues.

“Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses and never have one sole cause,” the charity said.

“Previous research shows that some people’s genetic make-up makes them more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. And for these people, stress or emotional upset may act as a trigger.

“It is important to remember that families often provide vital support for eating disorder sufferers. And this research should not prompt anyone to blame parents. Families need to be empowered to help their loved ones and given information about eating disorders and sources of support.”

Feeling the heat?

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What’s the best way to keep cool in a warming world?

Air conditioning systems that keep homes, offices and shops cool on hot days are rapidly gaining in popularity in a warming world. But is all the extra electricity they use going to exacerbate climate change or can design efficiencies prevent this?

The world is getting hotter, indeed 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, say climatologists.

It’s no wonder demand for air conditioning systems is going through the roof. The energy they consume is likely to triple between now and 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

This would mean that by 2050, the world’s air conditioners would be using the current electricity capacity of the US, the European Union and Japan combined.

So scientists and tech companies are trying to make cooling systems more efficient.

Researchers at Stanford University, for example, have developed a system that uses cutting edge materials and “nano-photonics”.

They’ve invented a wafer-thin, highly reflective material that radiates heat even in direct sunlight. The infrared, thermal energy is radiated at a wavelength that slips through the Earth’s atmosphere into space, rather than being absorbed by it.

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Aaswath Raman

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Skycool Systems’ fluid cooling panels being tested on a roof

In tests, the researchers found that it could be used to cool water flowing through pipes beneath panels of the material. That water, cooled on average to a few degrees lower than the outside air temperature, could then be used to cool a building.

And this is achieved without any electricity at all.

The researchers have set up SkyCool Systems to try to commercialise the technology.

“It would be reasonable to expect that future air conditioners could be twice as good as what we’re seeing now,” says Danny Parker at the University of Florida’s solar energy centre.

Mr Parker and his colleagues have spent years trying to find ways of making air conditioners and heating systems more efficient.

In 2016, for example, they found that devices cooled through the evaporation of water could be attached to conventional air conditioning units to provide a cooler feed of air.

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In New Delhi, India, where temperatures can approach 50C, air conditioning is essential

This meant the conventional units themselves didn’t have to work so hard to pull down the temperature of incoming air. They calculated that such systems could improve cooling efficiency in many European climates by between 30% and 50%.

Tech giant Samsung has developed “wind free” technology that gently pushes cool air into a room – once the desired temperature has been reached – without the need for energy-hungry fans constantly blowing it at high velocities.

The firm says this is 32% more efficient than conventional air conditioners.

There are already many reasonably efficient air conditioners on the market – including models that make use of simple devices called inverters.

These adjust the intensity of the cooling based on sensor readings of the nearby air temperature. They can run constantly, but at low levels.

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A man cools off during the recent heatwave in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 60 people

Over time, that’s often more efficient than a more simplistic air conditioner that runs at the same speed and has to keep switching on and off to maintain the right temperature.

“When they’re not running flat-out, they’re running very efficiently,” says Mr Parker.

Many people in the developing world may not want to spend the extra money to get air conditioners with inverters, but if they did, that would make all the difference in terms of how the increased energy demand of new devices builds up over time, says the IEA’s Brian Motherway.

“It’s really about making sure people are nudged towards buying the more efficient ones,” he says.

“The solution’s already available on the shelves.”

That may still be a hard sell in places like China, though, says Iain Staffell, an energy expert at Imperial College London.

“People want the cheapest possible unit and are not so worried about the ongoing costs of the electricity – because electricity in China is so cheap,” he says.

Still, energy groups in the country launched a programme earlier this year to improve efficiency standards and labelling of products on the market.

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Tado’s system switches off air conditioning automatically when no-one’s home

Simply managing our existing air conditioners more effectively could save a lot of energy.

For instance, Tado’s “Smart AC Control” is an app-connected remote control that automatically switches air conditioners off when people leave the room. It also modifies the rate of cooling in response to online weather forecasts.

Better management like this can reduce energy consumption by 40%, claims Tado.

Of course, increased demand for air conditioning systems wouldn’t matter so much if all the electricity they consumed were generated by renewable sources.

But this is unlikely, despite the rapid advance of renewables in many countries.

“We noticed that electricity demand for cooling – air conditioning in homes and buildings – was starting to grow quite quickly,” says Brian Motherway at the IEA.

This wasn’t simply because temperatures were rising but because incomes were rising, too, in those countries most likely to be affected by global warming, he says.

China, India and Indonesia will account for half of all expected future growth in this area over next 30 years.

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Yet the effects are being felt now. One Indian power company recently blamed “extensive usage of air conditioners” for high electricity demand in the north east of the country.

While there wasn’t much growth in air conditioner sales in China in 2015 and 2016, last year saw a 45% spike, says Dinesh Kithany at research firm IHS Markit, partly caused by a very hot summer.

IHS Markit’s Home Appliance Intelligence Service also estimates there were 130 million room air conditioners in use worldwide in 2016, but 160 million a year later.

While cooling innovations and a gradual switch to renewables should help mitigate the growth in demand for air conditioners, energy experts like Mr Staffell point out that, in a warming world, there’ll also be less demand for central heating.

And a reduction in demand for heating could offset the rise in demand for cooling.

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Susanna Reid in 'constant battle' with Piers Morgan

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Morgan and Reid have been co-presenting on ITV since 2015

Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid has revealed she feels she wages “a constant battle for airtime” with her outspoken co-host Piers Morgan.

“Sometimes I open my mouth to ask a question and hear Piers’s voice come out,” she told the Radio Times.

“You can’t help but go into battle with him every morning,” continued Reid, who quit the BBC for ITV in 2014.

Morgan and Reid have proved a winning partnership for ITV, though its morning show still trails behind BBC Breakfast.

BBC One’s breakfast programme has an average daily average of 1.5 million, around twice the audience who tune into its commercial rival.

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Reid previously presented BBC Breakfast alongside Bill Turnbull and others

Former tabloid editor Morgan joined Good Morning Britain in 2015 with the stated aim of making the show “unpredictable, provocative [and] lively”.

“I just took a view that the way to make us truly competitive was to shake things up a bit,” he told the BBC last year.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Reid admitted that her first reaction to his hiring was “Arghhh!” and that sharing the sofa with him was akin to “sitting next to a hedgehog”.

Reid said she struggled with their relationship up until last year, and admits to frequently coming off air in tears.

What brought things to a head were the Women’s Marches of 2017, over which Morgan was highly critical.

She says what upset her most were the attacks she received from men who accused her of “enabling his anti-feminist views”.

“The man sitting next to me was spouting off whatever he believes, which I don’t agree with… but I had men telling me it was my fault he was saying this. And I was just like, I’ve had enough of men telling me how I should be a feminist. I’ve had enough of it.”

Reid told the magazine it was then that she realised it wasn’t her responsibility to “pick up the pieces” after Morgan provoked controversy.

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Reid made it to the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2013

She also claims she is “very happy” with her current salary and that she does not know how it compares with her co-host’s, said to be around £1.1 million a year.

Reid previously presented BBC Breakfast and was a runner-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013.

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'Dismal' new Travolta film given rare 0% score

John Travolta’s latest film about mob boss John Gotti has been savaged by critics and has been given a rare 0% score rating on movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, which features the Hollywood star in the leading role, has been panned by reviewers as “a dismal mess” and a “mobster biopic that deserves to get whacked”.

The score is based on the 23 reviews listed by midday on Monday on the website, which distinguishes whether films are “rotten” or “fresh” based on what critics say.

All the critics gave it a “rotten” rating, giving the film a rare 0% rating.

John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston at the New York premiere of Gotto last week
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston at the New York premiere of Gotto last week

Other films with the distinction include Jaws: The Revenge, The Ridiculous 6 and Look Who’s Talking Now!, which also starred Travolta.

“I’d rather wake up next to a severed horse head than ever watch Gotti again,” said the New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski.

“Travolta clearly put in great effort to play John Gotti, but he’s stuck in an incomprehensible mess of a movie that was shot like an uncomprehending knock-off of a Martin Scorsese gangster epic,” wrote Jeffrey M. Anderson of Common Sense Media.

Former Mafia boss John Gotti, who died in 2002, pictured here in 1990
Former Mafia boss John Gotti, who died in 2002, pictured here in 1990

Gotti follows the crime boss’s rise to become “Teflon Don”, head of the Gambino crime family in New York City.

It also stars Travolta’s real-life wife Kelly Preston as the mobster’s wife Victoria.

The film, which does not yet have a UK release date, tanked at the US box office earning $1.7m in its opening weekend.

Cannabis should be legalised says Lord hague

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague has called upon the government to “be bold” and follow Canada in legalising cannabis for recreational use.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said the eventual approval by the Home Office for medicinal cannabis oil to be used to treat epileptic youngster Billy Caldwell was evidence that a hard-line stance on the drug had become “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.

The 12-year-old was made to wait almost a week before being allowed to use the drug his mother had brought home from Canada after it was confiscated by border officials at Heathrow Airport.

Charlotte Caldwell, who seeking a cannabis oil supply to treat her sick son 12-year-old Billy (left)
Charlotte Caldwell secured medicinal cannabis oil for 12-year-old son Billy

An expert panel of clinicians is to be set up to advise the government on applications to prescribe cannabis-based medications in the wake of the case, but Lord Hague has suggested an even more liberal position be taken.

“It’s time to acknowledge facts, and to embrace a decisive change that would be economically and socially beneficial, as well as rather liberating for Conservatives in showing sensible new opinions are welcome,” he wrote.

“Can British Conservatives be as bold as Canadian Liberals? We ought to be.”

Lord Hague has called on the government to be 'bold'
Lord Hague has called on the government to be ‘bold’

It was revealed back in April that Canada was set to legalise cannabis for recreational use by July next year, making it the first G7 industrialised nation to do so nationwide.

In the US, it is only allowed in the states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

Other countries, including Australia, Germany and Norway, only allow it to be used for medicinal purposes, while in many parts of the world it is entirely illegal.

In the UK – which is the world’s largest exporter of legal cannabis – it is a Class B drug and those found in possession face up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both, with supply and production resulting in up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Lord Hague said “any war” to prevent use of the drug in the UK had been “irreversibly lost”, and that the idea it could be “driven off the streets” was “nothing short of deluded”.

“When a law has ceased to be credible and worth enforcing to many police as well as the public, respect for the law in general is damaged,” he wrote.

“We should have laws we believe in and enforce or we should just get rid of them.”

He said the only beneficiaries of the current stance were “organised crime gangs” involved in a “multi-billion pound black market” for the drug.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to allow this situation to continue – a major change in policy is necessary,” he said.

BA owner in German dogfight for Norwegian Air

Shares in Norwegian Air soared almost 10% after the boss of Lufthansa said the German carrier was interested in making a bid for the low-cost airline. 

Carsten Spohr told the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that there was “a new wave of consolidation approaching”, adding that Lufthansa was “in contact with Norwegian”.

He said: “Takeovers are always a question of strategic value, the price and anti-trust. There are no easy answers.”

Lufthansa’s interest in Norwegian Air comes months after IAG, the owner of British Airways, bought a 4.6% stake in the Nordic carrier.

IAG has since made two further offers for the airline, both of which were rejected.

Norwegian Air’s rapid expansion, with flights costing as little as £99 from Edinburgh and Dublin to New York, has attracted the attention of several suitors. It carries more than 30 million passengers a year, including 5.2 million from the UK.

A Norwegian Air spokesperson said the firm had “received enquiries from several parties following the International Airlines Group’s (IAG) acquisition of 4.6% of the shares in the company”.

They added: “These parties have expressed indicative and preliminary interest in share acquisitions, mergers, structured transactions, financing of the group and various forms of operational and financial cooperation.

“Norwegian believes that interest from several parties demonstrates the attractiveness of our business.”

As well as British Airways, Anglo-Spanish firm IAG also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. It also recently launched a budget long-haul operator called Level.

Lufthansa owns its own low-cost brand Eurowings.

Consolidation in the European airline industry has been sparked by rising fuel prices and the collapse of Air Berlin and Monarch.

Norwegian’s shares rose 9.8% to NKr273 (£25.15) in early afternoon trading on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Deutsche Lufthansa’s stock slipped 0.6% in Frankfurt and IAG rose 0.2% to 715p in London.

Trump threatens more tariffs on Chinese goods

President Trump has asked officials to identify $200bn dollars-worth of Chinese goods to be subject to a 10% tariff in what is becoming an increasingly bitter trade war.

It follows last Friday’s decision to to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn of Chinese products.

Beijing immediately retaliated, matching the US levy. That has prompted Mr Trump to up the ante once more in what he regards as an unfair balance in trade between the two superpowers.

The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable

President Trump

In a statement he said: “This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376bn trade imbalance in goods. This is unacceptable.

“Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States.

“Therefore, today, I directed the United States Trade Representative to identify $200bn worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10%.

“After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced.

“If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200bn of goods. The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”

The increasingly bitter trading relationship between the US and China comes less than a fortnight after a fractious G7 summit where Mr Trump’s use of tariffs, both against China and on steel and aluminium imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, was roundly criticised.

UK 'out of step' on university admissions

Offers of a place on a university course should not be made on the basis of “highly inaccurate predicted grades” according to the University and College Union (UCU).

Currently, places on degree courses are allocated on what the student is expected to get at A-level, not what they actually achieve.

UCU claims that the UK is the only nation which uses predicted grades, with research suggesting as few as one in six A-level grade predictions is correct.

It says the system encourages the use of unconditional offers, which can lead to students working less hard for their A-levels and achieving lower than expected grades as a result.

The UCU report is based on research into university admissions in 29 countries, plus England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It concludes that offers should be made once A-level results are revealed.

:: Top A-level grades up as university applications fall

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We are alone in the world in using a system where students are offered university places based on highly inaccurate predicted grades.

“Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and led to inflated grade predictions, while putting students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future.

“The simplest and fairest way to deal with these problems is for us to adopt a system of post-qualification admissions, where offers are based on actual achievement rather than estimated potential, as the rest of the world does.

“It’s time for the Government to give the system the urgent overhaul it needs.”

:: Think A-levels are easy? Try these questions

Organisations representing senior school staff have supported the report’s findings.

Malcolm Trobe, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “ASCL echoes the concerns in this report about the use of predicted grades to award university places and calls on the Government to review the system urgently.

“Out of date and no longer fit for purpose, it is a historical quirk which is not mirrored in other countries and creates unnecessary problems.

“In particular, we are extremely concerned about the rising number of unconditional offers made to students before they have taken their A-levels.

“This practice can demotivate students and lead to under-performance in these important qualifications which disadvantages them if prospective future employers take their A-level grades into account.

“Moving to a system of post-qualifications admissions would end the practice of unconditional offers.

XXXTentacion: Rapper's volatile life made compelling music

XXXTentacion attends the BET Hip Hop Awards 2017 at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater on October 6, 2017Image copyright
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XXXTentacion (L) was gunned down after leaving a motorcycle dealership in Florida

The life of US rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot dead outside a motorcycle dealership on Monday, was as grim and confusing as his music was compelling.

Born Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy in south Florida, he had a troubled upbringing that was often punctuated by violence.

His mother was a teenager when he was born and flitted in and out of his life. Despite that, he was fiercely protective of her, once claiming that when he was just six years old he “bit [the] flesh out” of a man who laid his hands on her.

He was later expelled from middle school for fighting, but he soon channelled his energy and fury into music.

The 20-year-old became the most popular artist in the genre known as SoundCloud Rap, defined by its languid, hazy beats and wide-ranging influences – comprising everything from hardcore hip-hop to grunge and indie.

From the outset XXXTentacion’s songs were visceral and abrupt. His breakout single Look At Me! sounded like it was being played through a smashed-up phone speaker – but he was also capable of disarming fragility and tenderness.

On his debut album, 17, he talked sensitively about depression and mental anguish, largely forsaking hip-hop beats for acoustic guitars and smudged, sullen melodies.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar was one of many high-profile supporters, tweeting “listen to this album if you feel anything. raw thoughts” – and the record peaked at number two on the US charts.

His surging popularity was noted by the music industry and, by October 2017, he had scored a distribution agreement reportedly worth $6 million (£4.5m) between his own record label and Caroline Records, which also represents Van Morrison and Chrissie Hynde.

But the teenager’s career was already being overshadowed by his legal problems, including charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation and, later, witness tampering.

Onfroy laughed off the allegations in a profanity-strewn tirade on social media, calling the charges “fabricated” and pledging to donate $100,000 to domestic violence-prevention programmes (it is unclear whether the payment ever materialised).

He also continued to court controversy, releasing a provocative music video earlier this year in which, to make a point about racism, he put a noose around the neck of a young white child. He later gave an interview in which he argued against feminism.

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Miami Dade County Corrections/Getty

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XXXTentacion’s mugshot from December 2017

Fans were apparently unswayed by – or attracted to – the star’s tribulations; sending his latest album ? to number one in the US. The album also produced his only UK hit, a desolate heartbreak song called SAD.

The star’s manager reflected that Onfroy’s volatile life was what made his music so compelling. “He’s just a young kid that was lost and needed a chance in life,” Solomon Sobande told Billboard magazine last year.

“So much stuff around him touched my heart. I just came to the point like, ‘I gotta help this kid.'”

However, many found it impossible to separate his music from his actions; and Spotify briefly blacklisted Onfroy’s songs from its service earlier this year.

His death in an apparent drive-by shooting will undoubtedly reignite interest in the star’s all-too-brief career.

New listeners will hear his pain and the all-too-familiar price of neglect and deprivation – but they should also take time to question why violence is so frequently used to signify credibility in music.