Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sont Des Mots Qui Vont Très Bien Ensemble

Late last evening, dear blog reader, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping was so annoyed by Moscow Chelski FC's continued presence in the Champions League that he was preparing to go to bed with a good book in disgust, he got one of those interminable Internet surveys that you sometimes sign up for an later regret. So, he filled it in. Quickly. Anyway, one of the questions he was asked on this survey was does he ever watch the TV programme Loose Women? When he said that no, actually, he didn't he was then asked a further, supplemental, question; why not? He replied: 'Because I don't have a functioning uterus.' What do you think, dear blog reader? Too subtle?

Sky Atlantic has commissioned a new comedy series hosted by Jack Dee. Don't Sit in the Front Row will see the dry as a bone deadpan comic chair a group of comedians creating comedy routines based on members of the studio audience. So, it's Whose Line is it Anyway? basically, isn't it? Guest comedians will have to dig into the lives of the front row audience members. There will be four rounds, with one audience member and comic eliminated in each. The 'Golden Chair' prize will be awarded to the winner. Created by former Have I Got News for You producers Giles Pilbrow and Mark Barrett, the sixteen-part series will be filmed later this year and broadcast in the autumn. Sky Atlantic commissioner Antonia Hurford-Jones said: 'The spontaneity of the audience interaction is what makes Don't Sit in the Front Row so exciting.' Pilbrow added: 'The comics are shooting from the hip - and you can tell they are. There's a certain joy about genuine spontaneity which can't be faked.' Sky Atlantic's most recent entertainment format, Ann Widdecombe's Cleverdicks has, so far, flopped in the ratings bigger than big flopping thing that's flopped in its floppiness. One scarcely hesitates to wonder why.

Watson & Oliver, BBC2's recent sketch show starring comedy duo Ingrid Oliver and Lorna Watson, has - against all odds - been recommissioned. A co-production between the BBC's in-house comedy department and comedy writer Robert Popper's production company Popper Pictures, Watson & Oliver recently ended a six-episode run on BBC2, achieving average (and I mean very average) ratings of eight hundred and thirty five thousand viewers in its 10pm Monday night slot, and seven hundred and five thousand punters for its 7:30pm Wednesday repeats. Despite receiving only a lukewarm reception within comedy circles, and very low audience appreciation index figures from people actually watching it, the series is understood to have performed quite well on the corporation's catch-up iPlayer service. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping watched an episode and thought that, whilst it wasn't anything to get too excited about, he's seen far worse sketch shows in his time.

Sculptor and print maker Elizabeth Catlett, known for her politically-charged artwork, has died aged ninety six. The US artist was renowned for harnessing art to highlight better rights for black people and women. She created large-scale sculptures of musicians Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson as well as prints of Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X. Catlett worked with wood, stone and other natural materials to produce her sculptures. Although she depicted many high profile figures, a lot of her work consisted of ordinary people. During the House UnAmerican era, which saw thousands of Americans accused of having Communist sympathies, she was barred from her home country for political activism and moved to Mexico. She often used art to express her demand for social change and would incorporate slogans such as 'Black Is Beautiful' among her prints. In the 1978 book, Art: African America, written by Samella Lewis, Catlett said: 'I have always wanted my art to service black people - to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential.' The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York all have pieces of her work. Catlett is survived by three sons, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Her family said that her remains would be cremated in a private ceremony in Mexico.

Three Metropolitan Police officers are being investigated over allegations they made racists comments. The acting sergeant and two PCs based in Newham, east London, have been placed on restricted duties while the Independent Police Complaints Commission conducts an investigation. The alleged comments are said to have been made earlier this year to other officers and were reported on 19 March. The Met decided to refer the matter to the IPCC on Wednesday.

The advertising watchdog has banned an advertising campaign by American Apparel featuring semi-naked young women, after investigating a complaint that it is 'pornographic and exploitative.' American Apparel ran a series of eight adverts on its website, and one in Crack, a free lifestyle magazine available from shops, featuring women in various states of undress, some topless. The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the images were 'offensive, pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.' American Apparel, which ran into a similar issue over allegedly 'exploitative' campaigns in 2009, rejected the accusations, arguing that the images featured 'real, non-airbrushed, everyday people' who were 'mainly not professional models.' The retailer, which argued that the young women were 'clearly in their twenties', said that it believed the images were the type that 'people regularly share with their friends on social networks and which normal people could relate to.' Yeah. Fair comment. Because, of course, loads of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's twentysomething female friends send him pictures of them in their pants. Way of the world, innit? American Apparel tried to argue that the images fell outside of the remit of the ASA because they were 'heritage advertising', and not actually part of a current campaign. The ASA said that the nudity was 'gratuitous' because most of the clothes modelled were not lingerie, and yet the shots of bare breasts and buttocks were the 'focal points of the images rather than the products.' The ASA also said that in the adverts featured there was a 'voyeuristic and amateurish quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.' The ASA said that the adverts had not been prepared with a 'sense of responsibility to consumers and to society' and banned all but one. 'We told American Apparel not to use similar images which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualised young women in future,' said the ASA.

Sainsbury's ten million quid 'feed your family for fifty pounds' advertising campaign has been banned because its meal plans failed to provide enough calories and cost more than advertised. The big-budget advertising campaign – a follow-up to the popular and successful 'feed your family for a fiver' fronted by the odious Jamie Oliver – provided a range of meal plans that promised shoppers they could feed a family of four for a week for just fifty notes. The Advertising Standards Authority received seven complaints – including that the meal plans did not provide enough calories for a family of four for a week, that fifty smackers did not cover all the necessary ingredients and that it was not suitable for children under the age of four. Whether any of them also complained about odious Jamie Oliver - on general principle - we just don't know. Sainsbury's maintained that the meal plans were deliberately designed to offer only seventy five per cent of the recommended adult daily requirement of two thousand calories. The supermarket giant claimed that the rest of the daily requirement comes from 'snacking' which occurs outside of meals. The government's Department of Health states that the ratio should be eighty per cent of calories from meals and twenty per cent from snacks daily. However, the ASA ruled that although the meal plans had been constructed responsibly the claim that a family could meet all its calorie needs for a week was misleading. The supermarket said that it used the store cupboard ingredient principle, a common approach in food magazines. This approach takes into account the common items people have in their cupboards that stretch to multiple meals – such as mustard, oil, herbs, garlic and flour – which therefore may not be included in the meal plans for every dish advertised in Sainsbury's campaign. 'The percentage of people who had each of those ingredients at home varied considerably and was, for some of the ingredients, quite low,' said the ASA. 'We consequently understood that a significant number of consumers would have to buy additional ingredients and concluded that, on this point, the claim was misleading.' In terms of the suitability of the meals for four-year-olds, Sainsbury's claimed that the TV adverts 'made it clear' that children under that age have 'varying nutritional needs' and that some of the eating plan was 'not suitable.' The ASA said that because customers with children under the age of four would have to alter the meal plans and buy additional ingredients, the campaign was, therefore, 'misleading.' The advertising watchdog banned the campaign, telling Sainsbury's to adjust its claims before running it in the future. They might not, therefore, be able to afford Jamie Oliver now. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

Burger King has withdrawn a TV commercial featuring Mary J Blige promoting its new, 'healthier' chicken snacks just days after it launched the biggest shakeup to its US menu since its founding in 1954. The advert, which features the Grammy award-winner singing about Burger King's crispy chicken snack wraps, had been criticised by some African-American groups, who accused the chain of 'peddling stereotypes.' Burger King said that the advert, part of a major new healthier eating campaign, was pulled 'for licensing reasons' and 'would be back on-air soon.' Other celebrities featuring in the chain's 'Exciting things are happening at Burger King' adverts include David Beckham, Jay Leno and Salma Hayek. The company is launching ten new items, including smoothies, frappe coffees and chicken strips, in its biggest ever menu expansion. 'What consumers told us basically is, "We love the Whopper but you guys have to catch up in some important product categories specifically salads, smoothies and wraps,"' Alex Macedo, Burger King's North American marketing director, told Ad Age.
Sky News has admitted that one of its senior executives authorised a journalist to conduct e-mail hacking on two separate occasions that it claimed were 'in the public interest' – even though intercepting e-mails is a prima facie breach of the Computer Misuse Act, to which there is no such public interest defence written in law. According to a - frankly, rather gloating - piece in the Gruniad Morning Star Gerard Tubb, the broadcaster's Northern England correspondent, accessed e-mails belonging to John Darwin, the so-called 'canoe man' accused of faking his own death, when his wife, Anne, was due to stand trial for deception in July 2008. The reporter, the newspaper claims, 'built up a database of e-mails' which, he believed would 'help defeat' Anne Darwin's defence; her husband had pleaded guilty to seven charges of deception before her trial. The same reporter accessed the e-mail accounts of a suspected paedophile and his wife in an investigation which did not lead to any material being published or broadcast, according to a statement sent to the Gruniad by Sky. Both instances of hacking were, the Gruniad claim, 'approved by Simon Cole, the managing editor of Sky News.' John Ryley, the head of Sky News, said the broadcaster had 'authorised a journalist to access the e-mails of individuals suspected of criminal activity' and the hacking in both cases was 'justified and in the public interest.' Ryley said that the broadcaster's decisions required 'finely balanced judgment' and they were 'subjected to the proper editorial controls.' The broadcaster said that it 'stood by Tubb' and that there were instances when the broadcaster believed breaking the law was 'justified to produce a news story of public interest.' It cited the example of a Sky News journalist buying an Uzi machine gun in the UK. Darwin faked his own death in 2002, 'going missing' after he was last seen paddling out to sea in a canoe. He later secretly flew to Panama, where he was joined by his wife, only to return to Britain in 2007. Walking into a London police station in December 2007, he declared: 'I think I may be a missing person,' but later that month both he and his wife were charged with fraud after it emerged that they had been photographed in Panama with an estate agent and that Anne Darwin had cashed in her husband's life insurance policy. He pleaded guilty to seven charges of deception and a passport offence in March 2008, leaving his wife to face six charges of deception and nine of money laundering at a trial due to begin four months later. At around this point, Sky News said, Tubb discovered that John Darwin used the identity of a friend, John Jones. According to the broadcaster, Tubb conducted an Internet search to reveal a Yahoo e-mail account in the name of John Jones and, in the belief that Yahoo accounts were 'notoriously weak at the time', the journalist was confident he could gain access with his existing background knowledge. He then sought permission to access the e-mails, an investigation that led him on to further e-mail accounts. In the first week of July 2008, Sky News said executives met Cleveland police officials and handed over 'pertinent' e-mails. Anne Darwin was found guilty in the trial that followed shortly afterwards, and was sentenced to six and half years in prison; John Darwin was sentenced to six years, three months. Shortly afterwards, Tubb produced a story for Sky's news channel and website in which he quoted from e-mails that had been written by John Darwin to his wife and to a lawyer. A web story, still on Sky News's site at the time of writing, said the channel 'has uncovered documentary evidence' that demonstrates 'conclusively why John Darwin came back to Britain.' Making only a minimal effort to hide the basis of the story, Tubb's report said Sky News had 'discovered an e-mail' from John to Anne dated 31 May 2007, in which he says changes to visa regulations meant he could no longer stay in Panama, where he was hiding on a tourist visa. The report cited evidence from several e-mails between the couple, including a 'final e-mail' from Anne that was not, 'as suggested in court', evidence of a 'massive row' between them, an e-mail that Tubb said had been 'handed to the police by Sky News.' The story displayed a picture of 'John and Anne Darwin's masterplan,' showing a detailed diagram that had apparently been produced by Darwin, and claimed to have obtained detailed financial accounts prepared by Darwin. In another story, published in November 2009, Tubb quoted directly from an e-mail written by John Darwin to his wife in 2007, explaining that their property in Panama had been valued at one million dollars and adding: 'You're a filthy rich gringo.' But a link to copies of the couple's e-mails is now dead. Intercepting e-mails is an offence under the Computer Misuse Act, and there is no public interest defence written in law. Theoretically, however, any e-mail hacking charges would have to be brought at the discretion of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, which could weigh up whether any intrusions could be justified. The role of the CPS in this area is untested, and Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, told the Leveson inquiry in February that he intended to 'issue guidance' to clarify the issue. Danvers Baillieu, a specialist Internet lawyer with Pinsent Masons, said that while there was no public interest defence 'it doesn't mean that a jury would convict a person, or a judge would punish them, because there is usually a discretion in such cases.' However, he added that 'the difficulty for news organisations is the question of where do you draw the line: would it be legitimate to break into somebody's house who is suspected of committing a crime? The issue with computer offences is that people can do it from their offices, and believe it is a lesser offence than any other type of intrusion.' Sensitivities at Sky News are, the Gruniad suggest, running high at present because the broadcaster's parent, BSkyB, is subject to a 'fit and proper' investigation being conducted by the communications regulator, Ofcom, in the wake of the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal. However, that investigation is focused on News Corporation's shareholding, and the continuing directorship of James Murdoch, who stepped down as chairman on Wednesday and who was executive chairman of News International. Cleveland police said the force did inquire about the provenance of the e-mails at the time, and said it continued to do so. A statement said: 'Cleveland police has conducted an initial review into these matters and can confirm that enquiries are ongoing into how the e-mails were obtained.' Tubb himself declined to speak to the Gruniad. Cole, the newspaper notes, is currently on leave, and forwarded inquiries to the Sky News press office. Ryley said that Sky News had asked the law firm Herbert Smith to conduct a separate review of staff email records and payment records in the light of 'heightened interest in editorial practices.' However, the broadcaster said that because Tubb's e-mail hacking had been sanctioned, his work had not come up as part of that exercise. Ryley said there were 'no grounds for concern' regarding any of its other journalists, and that Sky News believed there were rare occasions when tensions could arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism. Tubb's authorised e-mail hacking contrasts with another example of a potentially illegal e-mail access, conducted by Patrick Foster while he was employed by another part of the News Corp umbrella, The Times. Foster accessed e-mails belonging to the anonymous police blogger Nightjack to out him as a serving Lancashire police officer, Richard Horton, but his actions were not authorised by any executive. A story naming Horton was later published by The Times, but the editor, James Harding, said he was not made aware of the unauthorised e-mail access until after the newspaper had begun a court battle to allow the police officer to be named, which it won. Harding said if he had been aware of the hacking previously he would have disciplined the journalist and told him to drop the story. 'I squarely do not approve of what happened,' the editor told the Leveson inquiry in February.

Author Harper Lee says that she is 'deeply honoured' President Obama has recorded an introduction to the 1962 film of her famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The preface will be shown before a fiftieth anniversary screening of the film on the USA Network channel on Saturday. Lee, who rarely appears or speaks in public, said that she believed the Gregory Peck drama to be 'the best translation of a book to film ever made.' And, for what it's worth, yer actual Keith Telly Topping agrees with her. Her 1960 masterpiece tells of a white lawyer defending a black man wrongly accused of rape in a small southern town. 'I'm proud to know that Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch lives on in a world that needs him now more than ever,' the author continued. To Kill a Mockingbird is, remarkably, Lee's only published novel. The author was born and still lives in the Alabama town of Monroeville. President Obama previously recognised the eighty five-year-old in 2011 by presenting her with the prestigious National Medal of Arts. Her novel, he said at the time, showed 'the senseless cruelty of racism and the value of standing up for what is right.'

A millionaire's daughter who drove looters around London during the summer riots has been convicted of burglary. And of being very naughty indeed. Probably. Laura Johnson, twenty, of Orpington, south-east London, had denied the charges, claiming she was acting under duress. And was 'led astray by older boys.' At Inner London Crown Court, the student was also convicted of handling stolen goods - a TV looted from Currys. She was cleared of a further charge of stealing and handling cigarettes and drink from a BP garage. The judge warned Johnson she faced a likely jail term. Her co-defendant, a seventeen-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of one burglary and cleared of another. Addressing Johnson and the teenager, Judge Patricia Lees said: 'You have both been convicted of serious offences. These are aggravated by the fact that they were conducted in the time frame of serious civil unrest in London last summer. This spree of burglaries and handling stolen goods which you both were willing participants in will attract in my mind the likelihood of an immediate custodial sentence.' The court heard claims during the trail that the University of Exeter undergraduate Johnson is intelligent and well-educated. Jurors were told that she chauffeured looters on 8 August last year. Her passengers jumped from the car wearing hooded tops, bandanas and balaclavas and loaded it with stolen electronic goods. The jury heard that Johnson set out early in the evening to deliver a phone charger to her friend Emmanuel Okubote, twenty, a convicted crack cocaine dealer and thief, known as T-Man. When she arrived at their meeting point in Catford, he jumped into the passenger seat while others climbed into the back of the car, prosecutors said. Johnson told detectives she had been instructed to drive from one place to another late at night and into the early hours of the morning. The court heard that Johnson began a close friendship with Okubote during the summer after being introduced to him by a friend she met while a mental health unit outpatient. She told the court she had been ordered to act as his driver on the night and had been too frightened to flee. Asked why she had not refused to drive that night, she told police: 'I didn't get the impression they were the sort of people you say no to. I suppose there's a fear of them, there's a general knowledge that these are just not the kind of people who you don't go along with, especially when they are sat in your car and have an idea of your family or registration plate.' The jury, seemingly, did not believe her. She was convicted of stealing electrical goods from a Comet store at the Greenwich Retail Park in south-east London between 7 and 10 August. The teenage boy had previously admitted burglary by stealing alcohol and cigarettes from a BP garage in Charlton, south-east London. But they were cleared of stealing a television from a Currys shop at Stonelake Retail Park between the same dates. Johnson is due to be sentenced on 3 May.

Guitar amp innovator Jim Marshall - dubbed 'the Father of Loud' for creating kit used by some of the biggest names in rock - has died aged eighty eight. Marshall, who originally owned a music shop in London, founded Marshall Amplification fifty years ago. Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend and Kurt Cobain are among the musicians who used Marshall amps. A statement posted on the company's website called him a 'legendary man' who led a 'truly remarkable life.' Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash (not his real name) tweeted: 'The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening. R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!' Jim Marshall began building amplifiers in the early 1960s, using the Fender Bassman amp as a model, creating what later became known as 'the Marshall sound.' It took him six attempts to create an amp he was happy with. As the company grew, Marshall expanded his products, unveiling the Master Volume Marshall amps and the classic JCM800 split channel amps. 'Jim rose to become one of the forefathers responsible for creating the tools that allowed rock guitar, as we know and love it today, to be born,' the statement said. 'In addition to the creation of the amps, chosen by countless guitar heroes and game changing bands, Jim was also an incredibly humble and generous man who, over the past several decades, has quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.' Marshall will be remembered alongside guitar makers Leo Fender, Adolph Rickenbacker and Les Paul for shaping the sound of the modern electric guitar.

And now, a joke.
Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week. Try the veal.

A cat has been reunited with its owner after he was presumed forever lost fifteen years ago. The ginger tom was discovered in woods about twenty miles from the city of Munich. The sanctuary who found the stray cat identified him as Poldi from a number tattooed on his ear. He was reported missing by his owner in 1996. Poldi was found by Kilian Schoettel sitting on a log near the village of Aying, reports the Muenchener Abendzeitung. 'My son immediately noticed that the animal was quite old. He felt sorry for it because it no longer had any front teeth,' Kilian's father, Bernhard Schoettel, said. 'The tom was very trusting. We fed him for a few days and discovered that he was tattooed, so we took him to the animal sanctuary over the weekend.' The animal sanctuary's Eveline Kosenbach said that she was able to locate the original owner's details via their database. 'The lady simply no longer had any hope of Poldi turning up again,' Kosenbach said. She added that the owner believed Poldi ran away as he 'did not get on with her other pet cat.'

For yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day this one is for an old, estranged girlfriend of mine. Mainly, because it was a song she never liked. Tough. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping does. And it is, after all, his blog. Here's The Be-Atles.

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