Sunday, July 31, 2011

Go Rimbaud!

Staff at the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch's American publication, have reportedly been instructed by the company's lawyers to save any documents which may relate to phone hacking and bribery and corruption. The directive is a sign that News Corporation believes two criminal investigations under way in the United States may cover Murdoch's US operations as well as his British newspapers. The move again increases the pressure on Murdoch and News Corp, whose profitable US arm includes FOX News, cable television networks, 20th Century Fox film studios, and the publisher Harper Collins. The developments came as Labour sought to increase pressure on the Government over hacking. Ivan Lewis, the shadow lack of culture secretary, has written to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne to demand - demand, he says - fresh answers to questions about News Corp’s bid for BSkyB and the work of Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, at No 10. And whether or not they involved any nefarious skulduggery and naughty shenanigans. Or,indeed, otherwise. Details also emerged about how the Duke of Cambridge asked senior News International executives why he had never received an apology for having had his phone hacked. At a private dinner near his RAF base on Anglesey, the Duke allegedly told James Murdoch, chairman of News International, and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, then chief executive, that 'it would have been nice if someone at the time had apologised.' James Murdoch was said to be 'shocked' and 'stunned' that nobody had. Although, whether he then did himself is not reported. The interception of messages left on the Duke's voicemail led to the conviction and imprisonment of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman in 2006. The disclosure comes as the US justice department is in the process of drawing up subpoenas as part of its inquiries into whether journalists sought to hack the phones of 9/11 terrorism victims and paid British police for information in breach of US foreign bribery laws. As the Sunday Torygraph disclosed earlier this month, the News of the World ran a story about the actor Jude Law apparently based in part on a telephone conversation that he had whilst he was at an airport in New York. Any hacking on US soil would breach federal wiretap laws even if it was done in another country. The US justice department is investigating claims raised in the Daily Mirra that the News of the World sought access to the phone records of victims killed in the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001. It is also looking into whether alleged payments to British police officers could break the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. News Corp has said that it has seen 'no evidence' of any attempt to hack 9/11 victims' phones. Then again it spent four years saying that nobody at the paper apart from Goodman and Mulcaire had been involved in phone hacking and we now know that's flatly untrue. Its legal memo to New York Post staff stated: 'Starting today, all employees must preserve and maintain all documents and information that are related in any way to [these] issues.' Col Allan, the New York Post's editor-in-chief, told his staff that the order had been issued in light of the scandal in Britain, not because anyone believed the paper had 'done anything improper or unlawful.' At least, not yet. Lewis wrote to the Prime Minister, demanding to know if Coulson ever 'saw documents' inside Downing Street which 'should have been available only to staff with the highest security clearance.' He also asked Cameron to 'publish the dates, nature and content' of discussions he had about News Corp's proposed acquisition of BSkyB with James Murdoch, the company's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, and Brooks. He additionally asked Cameron if the prime minister had discussed the takeover bid with either Vince Cable, the business secretary, or the vile and odious rascal Hunt, the lack of culture secretary, both of whom played a quasi-judicial role in the bid.

The public is inching 'closer to the truth' on the News of the World phone hacking scandal, according to Tommy Watson (power to the people!) It was revealed this weekend that James Murdoch may be recalled by the House of Commons committee after apparent discrepancies between his evidence and that of Colin Myler, former News of the World editor, and Tom Crone, the tabloid's former legal manager. Speaking outside parliament, Rock-on Tommy said: 'We need to get to the facts here, either James Murdoch was accurate in his statement or Colin Myler, the former editor of News of the World and Tom Crone, the former lawyer were. Both of them cannot be right, so we need to find out what the truth is.' The Labour MP, however, believes that the public is edging closer to finding out the truth in the phone hacking scandal. 'My feeling is that we are getting closer to the truth, we have inched there over months and years, but we will get there eventually.'

Downton Abbey's executive producer has suggested that the period drama could run for as many as six series. Or, ta least, until the public get bored with it, which is pretty much the acid test for any TV programme. Gareth Neame revealed the information while discussing the eight-part second season of the ITV programme, which will premiere this September and conclude with a Christmas special. Forthcoming episodes of Downton Abbey, which depicts the lives of the Crawley family in the early Twentieth Century, will feature sequences set during the First World War and a 'steamy sex scene' - gosh! - but Neame told the Sun that it'll all be done in the best possible taste and that he was already thinking about future seasons of the show. 'I think it can continue for series four, five and six!' he claimed. 'It could move up to the 1930s, as long as the audience wants it.' Series two of Downton Abbey was further teased by Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates), who confirmed that viewers could expect to witness both a wedding and a funeral upon its return to air. 'There are so many twists and turns,' he said. 'Things happen in this series that you definitely won't see coming. We were shocked every time we picked up a new script.' The second series of Downton Abbey, which features five new cast members including Iain Glen and Amy Nuttall, began filming in March.

In related news, Downton Abbey nearly lost its historical accuracy in a row over table manners, Hugh Bonneville has revealed. Although the show employs a so-called 'etiquette expert,' Professor Alastair Bruce, to supervise the period detail, a scene which saw characters eating asparagus presented both cast and crew with a dilemma quite aside from the fact that it'll have made their piss stink. And Bonneville - who plays the Earl of Grantham in the show - said that even its creator Lord Snotty Julian Fellowes was dragged in to the ensuing argument. 'There was one particular day that became known as asparagusgate,' he recalled. 'Alastair wasn't actually with us that day and there was a furious discussion as to whether we would use fingers or use a fork. And because we couldn't get a definitive answer - because Julian said one thing, Alastair said another and somebody else said a third - we ended up slicing the asparagus up and pretending they were beans.'

Radio DJ and presenter Danny Baker has admitted that large chunks of his career were 'an appalling waste of time.' Baker, fifty four, who recently returned to work after being treated for throat cancer, said that he felt 'a distant shame' about parts of his career in showbusiness. In an interview to be broadcast on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sunday, he said 'this nitwit culture we have' allowed him to use his 'gift for exploiting my personality.' Baker first made his name as a music journalist on the influential punk fan magazine Sniffin' Glue before going on to NME and then launching a career in television and radio. But listeners will hear him tell Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young: 'I don't feel that's somehow lucky when you look around at some of the half-wits and boss-eyed bozos who people this business and they are running departments. So all of this is an anthill that somebody has kicked over and I happen to be one of the more bumptious ants.' He added: 'Some of the television shows I've done have been an appalling waste of time. My mind is whizzing with them: a show called The Bottom Line that was no good; I've done a thing called Sitcom Showdown that was ridiculous. But anything you do, especially in this game, you stand out there with half-a-chance but you don't think, "That represents me."' Baker described his illness as 'a rotten disgusting time' but added it was a 'very small portion of a wider life'. He said: 'You don't battle it. You are the battleground, you are Normandy beach, you are Hastings in 1066. It's science that's fighting it. Cancer laid me low for nine months,' he said. 'I didn't learn any lessons from it. There was no Damascene moment. People want there to be. For whatever reason I am not like that.' The treatment, he said, was 'horrible. It was the most disgusting thing and they told me it would be the most gruelling thing other than a bone ­marrow [transplant] but the prognosis was good,' he said.

Broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry has been voted the most popular person to have a pint with at a beer festival in another one of these utterly pointless and preposterous Internet polls which get reported, widely, as 'news' by various media outlets. Including this blog, it would seem. Shame on us. The late actor Oliver Reed was runner-up in the poll, Top Gear host James May came third and Winston Churchill was fourth. Over six hundred people voted, and one of the reasons given for Fry was 'the quipping would be as good as the quaffing.' The survey was published ahead of the Great British Beer Festival, which starts on Tuesday. The women with the most votes were the Duchess of Cambridge and Lady Gaga, who shared eleventh spot with Prime Minister David Cameron. Who the hell votes in these kind of things?

Exasperated fans of Jon Stewart's Daily Show discovered that the latest 'Global Edition' of the US satirical show could not be broadcast in the UK because he was poking fun at events inside the House of Commons. If you are already confused about what is satire and what is reality, it turns out that it is forbidden by law for UK broadcasters to show any footage of the Commons or Lords or indeed of any parliamentary committee in a way that might encourage us to laugh at it. 'No extracts from parliamentary proceedings may be used in comedy shows or other light entertainment such as political satire,' says the bizarre and anachronistic clause which dates back to the protracted negotiations when broadcasters were trying to get the cameras admitted. Apparently, the politicians were worried that they might be made to look ridiculous. And that would be terrible. That's the hundreds of MPs who jeer and cajole and feign laughter at weak jokes and jump up and down trying to get the Speaker's attention – they were worried that a comedy show might take this footage and somehow might make them look undignified. You couldn't make it up!

Marvel has won a legal battle to retain copyright of its lucrative comic book characters including Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. The company sued the family of late co-creator Jack Kirby last year after they laid claim to copyrights for work he created from 1958 to 1963. However a New York judge ruled Kirby's illustrations of characters like Iron Man had been created 'for hire.' A lawyer for Kirby's estate has said they will appeal the ruling. Other characters at the centre of the dispute included The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, The X-Men, The Avengers, Ant-Man, Nick Fury and The Rawhide Kid. 'This case is not about whether Jack Kirby or Stan Lee is the real "creator" of Marvel characters,' US District Judge Colleen McMahon wrote in her fifty-page ruling. 'It is about whether Kirby's work qualifies as work-for-hire under the Copyright Act of 1909.' The judge said the contracts she reviewed made it clear that all of Kirby's work for publications owned by Marvel was work for hire. She noted the artist - who died in 1994 - said in a 1986 sworn statement that he did his work at a time when it was common practice for vested ownership of his creations to belong to the company that paid him to draw. She added Kirby had also signed a written agreement in the spring of 1972 admitting that he was not entitled to retain ownership of the work. The judge therefore concluded Marvel was considered the author and owner of Kirby's creations because the characters were made at Marvel's expense. 'We are pleased that in this case, the judge has confirmed Marvel's ownership,' a statement from The Walt Disney Co, which purchased Marvel in 2009, said. Marc Toberoff, a lawyer for the Kirby estate, told The Hollywood Reporter: 'We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling and intend to appeal this matter.'

Rio Ferdinand reportedly sparked a White House security alert after a series of posts on Twitter. The plank! The Manchester United footballer was at the White House with his teammates as part of their pre-season US tour. Ferdinand posted pictures of the president's security guards and the state dining room. He tweeted: 'The security needs beefing up here at the White House!' before secret service agents removed the pictures from his phone and Twitter account. 'Whoa, someone has got into my phone and taken down my pics off Twitter. This is deep,' wrote the inarticulate glake. Only, his spelling was worse. 'Is Jack Bauer in Washington? [sic],' he concluded. 'What an experience having the opportunity to go into the White House, thank you. Now where are my pics? My pic of the security was removed quick, rapido, sharpish, fast. They don't play here in DC. I feel like I'm on 24 right now.' Yeah. It's called 'national security' you daft pillock, they do not let any old Tom, Dick or Rio waltz around the White House taking photos that terrorists could use to case the joint. Haven't you ever watched The West Wing? No, stupid question, it hasn't got Cheryl Cole or a voting element in it so you wouldn't understand it. Also, they use words of more than one syllable. Man United, eh? Think they bloody own the gaff. A team meeting with Barack Obama was apparently cancelled at the last minute as he had to deal with the ongoing US debt crisis. At least, that was the 'official' reason given. Maybe, like all right thinking individuals, President Obama simply hates The Scum.

A fifty nine-year-old man who suffered seventy per cent burns in a plane crash in Greater Manchester has died. Police said the other man, aged nineteen, injured in the crash on Friday remained in a critical condition. The pair were hurt when their light aircraft crashed into two homes in Newlands Avenue, Peel Green, Salford. The aircraft, operated by Ravenair flying school, was on fire as it took off from Barton Aerodrome, the BBC has claimed. The man who has died is understood to be from the Alderley Edge area. A statement from Ravenair said: 'It is with deep regret that we have been advised of the tragic loss of life of one of the persons involved in Friday's aircraft accident. Our sincere condolences are with the immediate relatives, family and friends, as well as local residents and persons involved in this sad event. We are co-operating fully with the AAIB investigation that is under way and we have no further comment to make at this stage.' The plane, a Piper PA38 Tomahawk single-engine light aircraft, hit two houses and caused major damage at about 12:20 BST on Friday. Some residents are staying in hotels while the houses are stabilised. Residents described the crash as 'like a bomb going off.' Eyewitness John Kavanagh said: 'It felt like everything shook - the houses and cars - and then smoke rose up high into the sky. I thought it was a gas explosion.' Householder Colin Maher and his family were counting their blessings as they were left unharmed when the plane hit their home, which they moved into six months ago. Maher ran into his garden and saw the plane alight and found ignited aviation fuel around his feet. 'I heard a man shouting for help and just put a hosepipe on him,' he said. His family are being temporarily housed in a hotel as workmen decide how to secure their property. 'The upstairs is completely collapsed in on itself and the roof is hanging down over the sidewalls, they're just waiting for it to be pulled down,' he said. This is the last day that Liverpool-based Ravenair is operating from Barton, after it announced in May that spiralling costs had forced it to close its base at the aerodrome.

Hackers who posted a story on Jenson Button's official website claiming that he had been seriously injured in a car crash carried out a 'distasteful hoax,' his spokesman has said. The story appeared on Saturday night, saying the F1 driver was in a 'critical condition' in hospital following a 'serious accident' in Hungary. The website was taken down soon after the post emerged. His spokesman said a hacker had breached the site's security. 'The story is completely untrue and is a very distasteful hoax,' the McLaren driver's spokesman said. 'The website was immediately taken down and its security will now be reviewed. Jenson was asleep in bed when we were made aware that someone had hacked into his site and made the untrue claims. He is still totally oblivious. We can assure people that he is completely fit and healthy and will be taking part in today's race.' The website later posted an explanation of what had happened, adding to Button's fans: 'We can only apologise for any alarm this may have caused.' It was a good job actually as Button, thirty one, went on win Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix - his two hundredth Grand Prix start - ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso third and Lewis Hamilton fourth.

Stuart Broad said his hat-trick against India will mean little if England do not go on and win the second Test at Trent Bridge. Broad dismissed Mahendra Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar, but England still trailed by forty three runs at the close of the second day's play. 'Your best days only come when you win, so at the end of the Test match it might well turn out to be if we perform well,' Broad told BBC Sport. 'It was a pretty special occasion, but it's all about winning Test matches.' Going into day three of the Test, Broad added: 'Sunday's a huge day of cricket, it's all about winning games and I expect the crowd of Nottingham to be pretty similar and supportive.' Broad becomes the twelfth Englishman to take a hat-trick in Test cricket and the first since Ryan Sidebottom in Hamilton in 2008, as well the first player from any nation to capture a Test hat-trick against India. Asked about his feelings ahead of the hat-trick ball, Broad added: 'The atmosphere was amazing, Trent Bridge was really bouncing. I wanted to take a little bit of it in, of course, but I knew that it was a good chance to knock over the tail. The ball was moving a little bit and I wanted to make sure I hit the stumps, so I just came wide of the crease and tried to angle it in as close to the stumps as I possibly could, and fortunately it just nipped back and caught the top of off [stump].' And speaking on BBC Radio 5Live's Sportsweek, Broad's father Chris - match referee at the Test - spoke of his pride. 'It's strange this game of cricket,' he said. 'One delivery can change momentum. Clearly Stuart found line and length at Lord's and has confidence now, he's bowled a great line at both Tests. For the hat-trick ball we were all on the balcony, all dreaming of the possibility he could do it but never believing as there are so many times you get two wickets in two balls. Afterwards, I probably pushed my role as match referee too far. I went to the England dressing room and gave him a big hug. I had to go up and say well done at that moment.' England's hopes of taking full advantage of the platform provided by Broad could be dealt a blow if Jonathan Trott is unable to bat in the second innings after injuring his left shoulder when he dived to stop a Rahul Dravid cover drive. Trott immediately looked in pain as he writhed on the outfield but an X-ray later showed no bone damage to the shoulder and he could be pressed into action on day three. 'He's in a little bit of pain this evening but we're hoping, with no major structural damage, it will pull up a bit better in the morning and he might be able to play some part with the bat,' Stuart Broad told Test Match Special. Ian Bell batted in Trott's number three position after England lost Alastair Cook early in their second innings, and they will go into day three with a deficit of forty three runs and a wicket down. The situation would have been considerably worse had it not been for Broad's heroics with the ball. Playing on his home ground, Broad took five wickets - including the hat-trick - in sixteen balls to haul England back into the match after India led by forty six on two hundred and sixty seven for four. 'We dragged ourselves back into this game,' said Broad. 'It was a tough day for the bowlers to be honest, I thought the wicket slowed down - the heavy roller certainly had an effect this morning. To only be forty three behind this evening, we're in a strong position to really build on. When they passed our score with only four down we were staring down the barrel a little bit.' England did have an opportunity to limit India even further but Kevin Pietersen dropped Yuvraj Singh on four, and he went on to make sixty two. 'No-one means to drop catches, KP was frustrated with himself,' said Broad. 'These sort of things happen in cricket but it was looking like it was going to hurt ourselves for a little while. Fortunately we managed to wrap up the tail pretty quickly. Unfortunately we lost Cookie, but if we get clear skies we'll be looking to get a big total.'

England will face Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino in Group H when they bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. Scotland and Wales were drawn together in Group A, and will play Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Northern Ireland are up against Portugal, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in a tough-looking Group F. Only the nine group winners are guaranteed a place at the tournament. With thirteen places available in Brazil for European teams, the eight-best second-placed teams will play-off against each other to go through. The Republic of Ireland were drawn against Germany, Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan in Group C, while France and world champions Spain are in a Group I - the only European group without six teams - along with Belarus, Georgia and Finland. 'Three years is a long time and 2014 isn't now,' said France coach Laurent Blanc. 'Spain are currently the best team there is but we don't know if that will be the case in two or three years' time. You have to go up against the best if you want to achieve something at a World Cup.' In the qualifying process for the 2014 World Cup, two hundred and three teams will play an eventual eight hundred and twenty four matches across the globe. The draws for the Africa, Asia, Oceania and the North, Central America and Caribbean regions also took place in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, although no draw was made for South America as its nine teams qualify through a one-group championship. The finals will take place between 12 June and 13 July 2014, and a decision on whether to introduce goal-line technology will be taken at next March's meeting of the International FA Board, the game's lawmakers. England manager Fabio Capello was present at the draw, although he is set to move on next summer after the conclusion of the European Championships. Montenegro drew 0-0 with England at Wembley in October in their qualifier for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. 'It is not an easy draw,' said Capello. 'You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final - but that will be another manager's job. We know Montenegro very well and we have to play against them again. Poland are improving and will be really focused and will be tough opponents. With Ukraine I remember the game we lost against them in the last match during the qualification for South Africa. Moldova are not so strong, and San Marino the same.' Wales manager Gary Speed said: 'It's obviously a tough draw. It's a really tough group, but it could have been worse. There are no weak teams in the group. It's one of those groups where everyone can beat anyone.' Scotland boss Craig Levein admitted he had hoped to miss Speed's side in the draw, saying: 'I would have rather avoided Wales because obviously it brings in that home international rivalry, which we probably could have done without. We have recent good experience of playing Wales, when we won against them over in Dublin recently, but also not so long ago we lost 3-0 to Wales, so it's a bit of a mixed bag.' Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington said of Group F: 'It looks a reasonably tough group, but it could have been worse. There is a fair bit of travelling but you have to deal with that.' The total of two hundred and three teams vying for one of thirty one World Cup spots in Brazil surpasses the two hundred who participated four years ago. The only associations not to have signed up to compete for 2014 qualification are Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Guam and Mauritania. FIFA would not draw Azerbaijan and Armenia together, nor Russia and Georgia, because of political conflicts which they said could lead to fan violence during matches.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, we present one of the greatest tone-poems of the Twentieth Century from The Patti Smith Group. As used in one of the most genuinely shit-weird and extraordinary sequences of US network telly ever made - the final episode of Millennium season two, The Time is Now.

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