Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ambient Temperature

Naughty Lara Pulver's bare-nekked scenes in yer actual Sherlock helped the episode to become the most-watched show on the BBC iPlayer so far this year. The programme - the first episode of Sherlock's second series screened on New Year's Day - drew around one hundred complaints (from arseholes); odious, risible Daily Scum Mail-reading lice, mostly, who were allegedly 'offended' (or, at least, feigned to be) by the nude scenes. New figures released by the BBC show that the programme was way ahead of all others in terms of iPlayer usage for the period from January to April. The episode, A Scandal In Belgravia, featured Lara as Irene Adler, filming one notable scene entirely naked except for her high-heel shoes. And, of course, a smile. Figures show it was seen over two-and-a-half million times on iPlayer - six hundred thousand times more than the next most popular show, which was The Reichenbach Fall, the third instalment of the drama series. Sherlock proved to be a massive draw in general, its three 2011 episodes taking all of the top three places in the most-watched list. Another allegedly controversial show, the Top Gear India Special, came fourth. It led to the Indian High Commission sending a brain-numbingly idiotic letter to the BBC expressing 'concern' about the portrayal which, the BBC, rightly, rejected out-of-hand for being ridiculous and silly. The New Year's Day episode of EastEnders came fifth with just over a million views whilst the opening episode of the final series of Hustle had nine hundred and sixty seven thousand iPlayer hits. The BBC also noted that 'The Voice and The Apprentice have delivered the highest request numbers for TV programmes across recent months. Other popular programmes include BBC3's Russell Howard's Good News, Britain Unzipped and BBC4's The Bridge.
Viewers and listeners requested an average total of one hundred and ninety million programmes per month on iPlayer in the three months to the end of April, up twelve per cent on a year ago. The BBC said particularly significant growth had come from tablets and 'IPTV devices,' which include connected televisions and Internet-connected set-top boxes such as BT Vision and Virgin Media’s Tivo. Such systems accounted for around five per cent of iPlayer usage in April, compared to just one per cent a year ago. Meanwhile the proportion of iPlayer users accessing programmes via a computer is steadily falling. In April they accounted for fifty seven per cent of requests, compared to sixty seven per cent a year ago. The trend is set to continue. Phil Fearnley, head of the BBC's digital Olympics operation, recently told the Torygraph that he expects connected televisions to 'really take off' this summer, thanks in part to special apps that have been created for Games coverage.

Some additional proper good news, now. Jonathan Creek will reportedly return to BBC1 this Christmas. A one-off episode of the Alan Davies detective series has been commissioned for the channel's festive line-up, according to The British Comedy Guide. 'It's definitely going ahead, and everyone here is very grateful to David Renwick for bringing back such a loved character for such an important time of year,' an alleged BBC 'insider' allegedly said. 'We're very excited to see Jonathan back on screen with a new mystery to unravel.' Davies plays illusion creator Creek in the crime series, who helps solve cases which are seemingly impossible to crack in the show which ran for three series and a number of specials. Caroline Quentin starred as Creek's sidekick for three series from 1997-99, and was later replaced by Julia Sawalha. Sheridan Smith portrayed sceptic and blogger Joey Ross for the 2009 and 2010 Jonathan Creek specials. The alleged 'insider' allegedly added that Smith's character has been included for a return, but that the actress has yet to officially confirm her involvement.
Gruniad Morning Star journalist Amelia Hill will not face charges over the alleged leak of allegedly 'sensitive information' about the phone-hacking inquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. The CPS has also decided not to charge a detective constable working on Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting probe over 'unauthorised disclosures.' Prosecutors said that they will be recommending the authorities consider bringing disciplinary proceedings against the officer for alleged Data Protection Act breaches. The police officer has been suspended since being arrested in August 2011 by officers from the force's directorate of professional standards. Hill herself was not arrested but was questioned under caution last September. Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said ten articles written by Hill 'contained confidential information derived from Operation Weeting, including the names of those who had been arrested.' She said they were 'satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to establish that the police officer disclosed that information to Ms Hill.' But Levitt added: 'I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence against either suspect to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for the common law offence of misconduct in a public office or conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.'

Lord Justice Leveson has set out his initial thinking on the future of press regulation, telling Tony Blair that any successor to the Press Complaints Commission would have to be independent of the industry as well of the state. The judge, concluding Blair's four-and-a-half-hour appearance before his inquiry into press standards on Monday afternoon, rehearsed a list of what he thought the key issues he had to tackle were, ranging from the need to pre-notify subjects of news stories to 'sanctions that work.' He also invited the former prime minister to help him 'build consensus' on reform. Leveson said that the future structure of press regulation would have to be 'independent of the government, independent of the state, independent of parliament, but independent of the press.' He added that a new regulator had to have journalism 'expertise on it or available to it' and 'must command the respect of the press but equally the respect of the public.' Shortly after, in the final minutes of Blair's testimony, Leveson went on to list what appeared to be the central issues that he believed he have would touch on in his final report on recommendations to the government on reforming press regulation, due this autumn. Outlining the tentative nature of his thinking on the topic, many of his comments appeared half formed (and, maybe even half cocked). The judge began by addressing the issue of group complaints and noted that he had heard complaints from transgender campaigners, advocates of the disabled, and representatives of immigrant organisations – all of whom had no cause for redress because the PCC 'doesn't take group complaints.' Leveson moved onto the issue of prior notification – a subject of personal lobbying by Max Mosely – where he believed there had to be 'some way of drawing a line' to ensure that 'if you can stop anyone chopping my leg off, why would you not want stop it being chopped off rather than trying to stitch it back on.' The judge also asked whether there was a need for an ombudsman to advise editors ahead of publication, advice that if followed could be used in mitigation in any ensuing legal actions. That was followed by reference to the need for privacy and libel law reform via 'another mechanism for swift resolution of privacy and small libel-type issues' that could operate as an 'inquisitorial regime, which can be done without lawyers' and that contained 'some mechanism for members of the public to be able to challenge decisions' made by newspapers. Leveson then said that there was a need for 'a mechanism that means sanctions work.' He appeared to mean fines for errant newspapers, because he went on to add: 'I recognise entirely the parlous financial position of much of the press but it's important that sanctions are taken seriously.' Finally, he said that he had to 'add to all that mix, the Internet,' because 'I am struck by the fact that what the BBC does is covered by quite different rules to what the Guardian or News International does, and yet you could look at their websites and on the fact of it they're doing similar things.' Giving Blair little opportunity to respond, Leveson then said that he believed that he needed 'political consensus' if he was to produce a report with recommendations that were acted upon – because otherwise it could become too easy for David Cameron or the government of the day to drop the proposals. He worried that 'in the absence of such a consensus the whole thing [press reform] will become too difficult' and added that 'I am not sure that this issue is high enough the agenda' to be legislated upon. Blair, in conclusion, responded by saying 'I think you're right in recognising that this will be very tough,' adding that he would send the judge further thoughts in writing.

Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove launched an impassioned defence of Rupert Murdoch, describing the embattled media mogul as 'one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last fifty years' in colourful evidence to the Leveson inquiry. I think you're going to have to bend over a bit further there, Rupert, so Michael can get his tongue right in and give you a jolly good lick. The News Corporation mogul - and billionaire tyrant - memorably labelled 'not a fit person' to run an international company by a House of Commons select committee, was described by Gove as 'a force of nature, a phenomenon, a great man.' And on, and on, and on, this odious little man wittered. The effusive, sycophantic, risible Gove, who - by pure coincidence - was a leader writer and home editor at The Times, owned by Murdoch's News Corporation before becoming a Tory MP - said of his one-time boss: 'It's often the case that successful people invite criticism.' He added: 'As well as being a successful businessman, I think the position he took on, for example the European single currency, has been vindicated by events.' The education minister praised the News Corp chairman and chief executive for moving of his newspapers to Wapping in the 1980s and his investment in satellite television over the subsequent two decades - and kept the inquiry entertained with references to Lord Beaverbrook, Stanley Baldwin, Daniel Defoe and Cicero's O Tempora, O Mores. Sickening, so it was. I mean, utterly puke inducing and smothered in shat. Brown-tongued Gove was also unapologetic about a string of meetings that he held with Murdoch and senior News International executives since the Tories came into power in May 2010, claiming that he had 'never at any point' discussed News Corporation's aborted eight billion smackers bid for BSkyB, which was launched a month later. Gove's diary indicated that he had eleven meetings with senior News Corp figures between the general election win in May 2010 and July 2011. He did, however, admit to discussing Andy Coulson's resignation from David Cameron's government at a dinner on 31 January 2011, hosted by Charles Dunstone, where well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, then still chief executive of News International, was among the guests. Coulson had resigned ten days earlier. 'I have a pretty clear recollection that we did touch on Andy Coulson's resignation,' the odious brown-tongued Gove told the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday. 'It's understandable. Andy Coulson had been a colleague of both of ours and I think both of us felt a degree of sympathy for him having had to resign twice.' The education secretary described Rupert Murdoch as 'a force of nature, a phenomenon, a great man. I enjoyed meeting him as a journalist, I subsequently enjoyed meeting him when I was a politician.' Jesus, just when you think you've heard the worst grovelling shit that ever was, something comes along to surprise you. The education secretary said he was 'concerned about any prior restraint and on their [journalists'] exercising of freedom of speech.' He said existing laws should be used to judge individuals and institutions. Lord Justice Leveson said he did 'not need to be told about the importance of free speech. But I am concerned that the effect of what you say might be that you are in fact taking the view that behaviour which everybody so far in this inquiry has said is unacceptable, albeit not necessarily criminal, has to be accepted because of the right of freedom of speech,' he said, slapping down the odious Gove to the floor and giving him a good kicking. Gove replied: 'I don't think any of us can accept that behaviour necessarily, but there are a variety of sanctions. By definition, freedom of speech doesn't mean anything unless some people are going to be offended some of the time.' Leveson responded: 'Don't you think that some of the evidence I have heard from at least some of those who have been subject to press attention can be characterised as rather more than, "some people are going to be offended some of the time?"' The odious Gove replied: 'I am sure that there are cases where journalists and others have behaved in ways which are deplorable.' But he added: 'Some of us believe that before the case for regulation is made, the case for liberty needs to be asserted as well.'

In her evidence to the inquiry, Home Secretary Theresa May denied claims that News International had pressured her into launching a new inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Scotland Yard launched a review of the case in 2011 after a request from May supported by David Cameron. May claimed it was 'not true' that News International had threatened to 'put her face on the front page every day' until she agreed. Neither the Sun editor Dominic Mohan nor chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks 'made any indication of that sort,' she said. News International had secured a deal with Gerry and Kate McCann on the serialisation of their book about the disappearance of their daughter - then aged three - while they were on holiday in Portugal in 2007. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks last week told the Leveson Inquiry that News International had 'had a strategy' to 'persuade' the government to launch a fresh investigation into the McCann case, but that 'threat' had been too strong a word. May told the inquiry that phone calls with Brooks and Mohan discussing plans for the review had been at her instigation 'to alert them to the fact that the government was taking some action.' May also told the inquiry that new guidelines drawn up by ACPO would clarify rules for meetings between police and journalists. She said all police forces should take note of the recommendations in Elizabeth Filkin's report on contact between the press and Met Police officers and read them in conjunction with Acpo's recommendations.

BBC America is reportedly looking closely at the upcoming drama series The Fall. The series, starring The X-Files actress Gillian Anderson, focuses on a serial killer on the loose in Belfast and the female detective superintendent in charge of the investigation. According to TV Wise, BBC America is 'considering' adding the upcoming series to its Dramaville block later this year, which in the past has included shows like Luther and The Hour. While no deals have been made to pick up the series yet, alleged 'sources' allegedly say that the network is 'very close' to signing a deal for the five-part drama. The Fall also stars Once Upon a Time actor Jamie Dornan, ex-Hollyoaks star Gerard McCarthy, Holby City's Niamh McGrady, and Emmy-winning Good Wife actress Archie Panjabi.

ITV has reportedly axed drama series Above Suspicion and Kidnap and Ransom. The TV Wise website claims that the two shows will not be returning for further runs. Based on the Lynda La Plante novels, Above Suspicion starred Ciaran Hinds as Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton and Kelly Reilly as Anna Travis. The latest series, subtitled Silent Scream, focused on the murder of a film star. The fourth and apparently final run finished on 23 January. The drama series Kidnap and Ransom starred Trevor Eve as an international hostage negotiator. It ran for a total of six episodes and two series on the channel - the first one quite decent, the second one frankly not much cop. The cast and creators of both shows have yet to speak out on the reports. Although, if true, don't expect notoriously mouthy Trev, at the very least, to keep quiet for long.

The advertising watchdog is to probe adverts for Channel Four's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, reversing an earlier ruling. The campaign, featuring the words Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier over images of children, sparked three hundred and seventy two complaints. The Advertising Standards Authority had earlier said it would not investigate the adverts as they 'reflected the tone and content' of the show. The change was recommended by the ASA's reviewer following a request by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain. Earlier this year the ASA judged that although the adverts 'might not be to everyone's taste,' they were 'unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence' as they reflected the content of the programme. But following the recommendation by its independent reviewer, the ASA said its original decision was 'flawed' and a formal investigation would take place. It said in a statement: 'In their evaluation, the council noted that it had made its original decision without the benefit of knowing that the Irish Traveller Movement of Britain had complained and that this was a material fact to which they should have had regard.' David Enright, a partner with Howe & Co solicitors, who have been representing the ITMB and a number of individual travellers and gypsies who had objected, said it was 'a great day for travellers and gypsies. They were outraged by Channel Four's advertising campaign which they felt racially demeaned them and their community and exposed their children to bullying and abuse. We were shocked when the ASA initially decided not to investigate the hundreds of complaints it had received about this advertising campaign. However, the ASA has clearly been forced to look at this matter again and realised how serious it is. We hope that their investigation will now result in new guidance on adverts about travellers and gypsies.' Yvonne MacNamara, director of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, said: 'This is a great victory for travellers and gypsies, and it may prove a turning point as to how travellers and gypsies are portrayed in the media. Channel Four has made a fortune out of their documentaries, which many travellers and gypsies believe have invaded and misrepresented their lives. We hope this decision may herald an end to the negative caricaturing of travellers and gypsies in the wider media.' Channel Four and its main documentary sponsor, Honda UK, each said: 'We will await the outcome of the investigation.'

A documentary about a play starring British soldiers injured in Afghanistan and Iraq will kick off the new series of Imagine on BBC1 this summer. Theatre of War is based on The Two Worlds of Charlie F, which ran in London's West End earlier this year. The story of the making of Paul Simon's Graceland will also feature on the flagship arts strand. Simon's work with township musicians in South Africa in 1985 broke the cultural boycott against apartheid but, also, helped to introduce black South African musicians to a wider world. Three new ballets inspired by the artist Titian will also be showcased. Imagine... Dancing with Titian goes behind the scenes of a collaboration between the National Gallery and the Royal Ballet. Three of Titian's mythological paintings of the goddess Diana will be shown together for the first time at the National Gallery as three new ballets they have inspired premiere at the Royal Opera House. Designers for the production include Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili and the performances will include poetry from Seamus Heaney and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Some of the soldiers who took part in The Two Worlds of Charlie F were amputees, while another had a severe brain injury. The soldiers were also involved in writing the play, while will be available to watch on free digital arts service The Space from 26 June. Other programmes in the series include a documentary on the art of falsetto.

Labour has condemned the way the government has dealt with planned VAT rises on Cornish pasties and static caravans as 'a total bloody shambles,' following a - hugely amusing - reversal of the plans. The U-turns from Chancellor George Osborne's Budget follow protests by bakers, caravanning enthusiasts and, you know, normal people. The government said that it showed it was listening, but Labour said the VAT rises had been 'ill thought-out.' It's hard not to suggest to the government that if they're so keen on 'listening' to people it might be an idea not to propose such daft, plankish risible bollocks in the first place. A five per cent rate of VAT on static caravans will be delayed until April next year. And the government has altered the definition of what is a 'hot' pasty to allow the reversal of its plans. Currently, VAT is not charged on most food and drink, or hot baked goods, but is payable on takeaway food sold to be eaten hot. Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, described the policy reversal as 'a total and utter shambles.' She said: 'These partial U-turns, just a few weeks after ministers were defending the pasty tax and caravan tax, show just how ill-thought through the Budget was and how out of touch David Cameron and George Osborne are.' Reeves accused ministers of trying to avoid a Commons defeat on Labour's upcoming motion - especially after their support dropped over Parliament's last vote on the caravan tax. After the amendment, food such as sausage rolls or pasties sold on shelves - that is, whilst cooling down to 'ambient temperatures,' rather than being kept hot in a special cabinet - will not be liable for VAT. The definition of a 'hot' pasty is being altered to allow the reversal, while a twenty per cent charge due to be levied on static caravans will now drop to five per cent. The government said that it had 'improved' the policies after 'engaging with concerns.' During a parliamentary debate last week, MPs from all three main parties criticised Osborne's proposals, arguing they were 'unenforceable' and would have an adverse impact on jobs and businesses. Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, said: 'I told the government that I didn't want to see an army of thermometer-wielding tax inspectors poking our pasties and that I was really concerned about the vagaries of ambient temperature. They listened.' Eventually. Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert, who represents Newquay, added: 'The Cornish people have won and there will be dancing in streets from Land's End to the Tamar as people hear that the government has dropped its plans to clobber local people and local businesses with this tax.' Static caravans do not currently incur VAT. The new five per cent rate will be delayed from October to April next year. A Treasury spokesperson said: 'The Budget announced a consultation on a change to VAT on hot takeaway food, designed to remove inconsistency and ambiguity in the system and level the playing field across the takeaway food market. After extensive engagement we have improved the policy, addressing practical concerns, ensuring that the new regime could be as simple as possible to apply. We have addressed these in a way that allows us to remove the inconsistent VAT treatment, while not imposing any additional requirement on businesses to test the temperature of their products.'

They tend to say that video games are getting harder and harder to separate from reality, but this may be taking things a little too far. In a report on BBC News last week, a reference to the UN's Security Council was accompanied by a large graphic on the screen next to presenter Sophie Raworth. The problem is, the UNSC icon depicted had nothing to do with the Security Council – in fact, it was the badge of the United Nations Space Command, the military agency depicted in space shooter Halo. Viewers quickly spotted the error and the icon was replaced in later editions of the bulletin. A spokesman said: 'BBC News makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all images broadcast. However, very occasionally mistakes do happen. Unfortunately an incorrect logo was used during a segment on last week's News at One bulletin and we apologise to viewers for the mistake.' But of course, YouTube has a clip of the original report: The channel can at least console itself with news that it is not alone. As discovered by tech site Venture Beat, the CanAsian Times has the same logo in its own story about the Security Council.

Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington has carried the Olympic torch to the summit of Snowdon during day eleven of the relay from Beaumaris to Chester. The flame travelled in a lantern on the Snowdon Mountain Railway before Bonington took the torch to the summit. 'The honour of carrying this torch, and joining other torchbearers around the United Kingdom, the whole thing is wonderful,' he said afterwards. Sir Chris, seventy seven, began his climbing career on Snowdon sixty one years ago. It is the highest mountain in Wales but a sizeable crowd had gathered around the trig point at the summit, one thousand and eighty feet above sea level, to watch Sir Chris hold the flame aloft. And although he has spent many hours climbing it over the years, travelling on the narrow gauge, rack and pinion railway, which was constructed in the 1890s, ensured the occasion was a still a notable first for him. Before receiving the torch, he tweeted: 'About to board train to Snowdon summit to carry Olympic torch on top. First time I've been there by train. Glorious day!' Also carrying the flame during the day were gymnast Beth Tweddle and jockey Jason Maguire, who rode the final leg in Chester. Maguire's entrance into The Roodee Racecourse on 2011 Chester Cup winner Overturn signalled the end of Tuesday's seventy nine-mile journey, with the flame having been passed on by one hundred and twenty five torchbearers. The day began at Beaumaris Castle, with the first torchbearer Lorna Price carrying the torch on to a lifeboat for a fifteen-minute trip across the Menai Strait. After her journey on RNLI Annette Mary Liddington she left the Isle of Anglesey along Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge - which was the first of its kind in the world when it was completed in 1826.

Comedian Harry Hill - who used to be really funny but, by and large hasn't been for the last few years - is to act as a tour guide at a new art exhibition by David Shrigley in Manchester later this year. Hill will lead tours of Shrigley's humorous and surreal cartoons and sculptures at the Cornerhouse gallery. The TV star said Shrigley, who has just had his first major London show at the Hayward gallery, was 'at once funny but profound and subversive. I will be conducting a tour of his new stuff and trying to be funnier than him,' Hill added. 'No mean feat.' The tours will run from 1 December but it is not yet known how many there will be, nor how long they will last. The TV Burp presenter said: 'I like the home-made aesthetic. He does what a lot of jokes do, which is spring surprises, at once funny but profound and subversive. He's a true outsider who has somehow snuck under the wire, which is how I feel about my own shtick.' Shrigley is known for using cartoon-like images to convey funny, thought-provoking and often unsettling messages. When his Hayward show opened, the Gruniad described him as 'one of the cleverest, most amusing conceptual artists of our time.' The Independent on Sunday, however, declared that he 'never really gets away from being a cartoonist' and found the show 'rather annoying.' Cornerhouse will show Shrigley's drawings, paintings and sculptures, and the artist will direct local actors in a series of 'unique and often participatory performance-based works.' The exhibition runs for three months from 6 October. Both Shrigley and Hill contributed pieces to an exhibition titled Unrealised Potential at the Cornerhouse in 2010. That exhibition was curated by Mike Chavez-Dawson, who is also overseeing the Shrigley solo show.

Chuck Blazer, the whistle-blower who reported corruption within FIFA last year, may have 'acted unlawfully' over a multi-million dollar TV rights contract, according to lawyers acting for the football confederation he still represents. Confidential memos - obtained by BBC Sport - from lawyers acting for CONCACAF, the organisation which runs football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean - allege that Blazer is attempting to claim more than seven million dollars in unpaid commissions for TV rights and sponsorship deals. It also alleges that Blazer - a member of FIFA's all-powerful executive committee - was paid 'a basic monthly fee' of at least ten thousand dollars per month under the terms of a deal struck in 1994 with former FIFA vice-president the odious Jack Warner, who was the then president of CONCACAT. Blazer's deal with Warner granted commissions of ten per cent - known as an 'override fee' - on all sponsorship and TV rights deals negotiated by the American, through his company Sportvertising. The initial deal between CONCACAF and Sportvertising expired in 1998. However the arrangement between both parties continued on after that date. CONCACAF confirmed last week that commissions and salary for Blazer equalled between four and five million dollars last year. But the football federation now appears ready to robustly challenge any legal claim for the unpaid commissions by Blazer. The memo, drawn up by the New York law firm King & Spalding, advises that the contract agreed between Warner and Blazer in 1994 could potentially be challenged along with any obligation to make payments. King & Spalding provide an overview of CONCACAF's potential legal claims, although they also warn that the advice is given 'based on our limited information of the facts, as we have not reviewed CONCACAF files or interviewed its personnel.' Significantly, the legal advice from King & Spalding, given to CONCACAF on 6 December 2011, argues the agreement between Blazer and Warner could be construed as 'fraud in the execution.' To do so the lawyers state that 'CONCACAF must show excusable ignorance of the contents of the agreement. This argument is only available to CONCACAF if it demonstrates that Blazer and Warner kept the agreement secret and never disclosed its terms to CONCACAF. As with other fraud claims, this will require an intensive factual inquiry.' These latest allegations come just days after a meeting in Budapest where CONCACAF's legal counsel, John Collins, told confederation delegates attending FIFA's annual Congress that the organisation has reported itself to US authorities after failing to file tax returns for several years. When contacted by BBC Sport over the contents of the confidential memos, Blazer declined to comment, stating that he wished to 'seek guidance' on the issue first. But speaking last week in response to the revelations over CONCACAF's tax affairs, Blazer defended his record as general secretary saying: 'I spent twenty one years building the confederation and its competitions and its revenues and I'm the one responsible for its good levels of income. I'm perfectly satisfied that I did an excellent job. I think this is a reflection of those who were angry at me having caused the action against Warner. This is also a reaction by people who have their own agenda. I now have to consider what my options are but to say the least I am very disappointed.' King & Spalding's memo also advises CONCACAF the contract could be argued as 'voidable' with Blazer and Warner in violation of their 'fiduciary duties to CONCACAF.' Similarly they lay out how it may be possible for CONCACAF to show that the contract 'is void or voidable because Jack Warner did not have the authority to enter into the agreement on CONCACAF's behalf.' In response to the memo, Warner, who seems to be talking to the BBC again all of the sudden, said: 'At no point have I ever acted fraudulently with Mr Blazer nor have I ever knowingly violated my duties to CONCACAF.' The legal advice goes on to point out how the contract between Blazer and CONCACAF expired in 1998 and that, even if the agreement was valid, it could be possible to argue that no money is owed for 'any contracts entered into after 1998.' However, in a follow-up briefing to four members of CONCACAF's executive committee - also obtained by BBC Sport - John Collins warns that existing precedent in New York case law 'will be problematic for CONCACAF' in winning any potential action involving Blazer. The advice is put forward on the belief that Blazer may potentially argue that, after the expiration of the original contract, a new contract was created based solely on the conduct of both parties. Such deals are known as 'implied in fact' contracts under New York law. According to the Collins memo, Blazer is seeking compensation for three deals which he negotiated. He has yet to launch any formal legal action over the unpaid commissions. Specifically, Collins alleges in the memo that Blazer is trying to claim over seven million dollars in separate commissions. This is made up of $5.2m relating to the broadcast rights for the 2013 to 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, seven hundred thousand dollars for the expected net ticket revenues for the 2013 Gold Cup and $1.25m for authorising 'teams from the CONCACAF region to participate in the Copa Libertadores,' South America's premier club cup competition. The legal memos graphically demonstrate the internecine war at the top of the confederation as the fall-out from the corruption scandal that tainted last year's FIFA presidential election, which was eventually won by Sepp Blatter, continues. Blazer reported Warner and former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam to FIFA's ethics committee in May last year, following allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union at a meeting in Trinidad. The odious Warner subsequently resigned from all his positions in international football last June after being suspended by FIFA pending the outcome of the inquiry. Following Warner's resignation, FIFA said the ethics committee case against him was closed and the 'presumption of innocence is maintained.' Bin Hammam, who continues to deny the allegations, was then banned from football for life by FIFA in August. His case is currently under appeal at the Court for Arbitration in Sport. In a separate development BBC Sport says that it has also learned two apartments, worth eight hundred thousand dollars, located in Miami's exclusive South Beach district were purchased under Blazer's guidance in May 2010. It is understood CONCACAF's executive committee did not discuss their purchase. The apartments were bought - and registered - through CONCACAF Marketing & Television - a wholly owned, Florida-based subsidiary of CONCACAF. CONCACAF delegates last week voted to have Blazer removed from FIFA's executive committee but failed to get their motion added to the FIFA Congress agenda in sufficient time to gain its required approval.

Professional football in Italy should be suspended for up to three years after a match-fixing row, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has suggested. He said that the scandal had caused 'profound sadness' across the country. Monti was speaking a day after a number of people - including Lazio's captain Stefano Mauri - were arrested. Police are searching more than thirty homes, including those of players, trainers and administrators of clubs in Serie A, Serie B and lower divisions. Juventus coach Antonio Conte, who just led the club to the Serie A title in his first season in charge, is among those being questioned by police. Officers also visited Italy's pre-Euro 2012 training camp to question left-back Domenico Criscito. The Italian football federation later announced that Criscito, who is now at Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, would not be selected for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine 'in order to clear his name.' Five people were also arrested in Hungary on suspicion of being part of an illegal international betting ring. 'I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to suspend the game for two or three years,' Monti said on Tuesday. 'It's particularly sad when a world which should be an expression of the highest values - sport, youth, competition, fairness turns out to be a mass of foul play, falsehood and demagoguery.' However, Monti acknowledged that his suggestion was not 'a proposal by the government but a question I am asking.' Monday's arrests were part of a wider investigation which has already seen a number of arrests of current and former Italian players. In June last year, the interior ministry set up a special match-fixing task force in response to a number of high-profile cases. Former Atalanta captain and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni was banned for three-and-a-half years in August for his part in the Calcioscommesse scandal involving Serie B matches last season. He was also arrested in December 2011 over match-fixing and betting allegations. Atalanta, promoted from Serie B, were deducted six points in the top flight this season as a result of the scandal. Former Lazio and Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was banned for five years, and fifteen other players were banned for between one and five years for their involvement. Italian football has been here before. several times. Three Serie A sides, Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina, were relegated to the second division for involvement in match-fixing as recently as 2006. And in the aftermath of that affair, there was no sign that fans had turned away from the stadiums in disgust in any significant numbers. They hate the scandals that devalue the game, but clearly believe the sport remains worth watching.

ESPN has secured the rights to show more than twenty club and international football friendlies this summer, including games featuring England's Euro 2012 opponents France. The US broadcaster's summer of sport includes three friendlies featuring Brazil, starting tomorrow with coverage of the game against the USA from 1am. On 3 June, ESPN will show Brazil versus Mexico from 8pm, followed by the team's clash against South American rivals Argentina on 9 June. Viewers will be able to check out England's opening opponents at Euro 2012, France, as ESPN will broadcast the team's two remaining warm-up games, against Serbia on 31 May and Estonia on 5 June. Later in the summer, ESPN will follow some of England's top club sides as they set off around the world on a series of pre-season friendlies. The coverage kicks off on 21 July with the second best team in Liverpool's game against Toronto FC at 9pm, and follows the Reds as they continue their tour of North America with a match against Roma on 25 July at Fenway Park in Boston, owned by the club's American backers. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's final game in the US sees them take on Premier League rivals Hapless Harry's Sottingtot Hotshots on 28 July. While Stateside, Spurs will also play David Beckham's LA Galaxy on 25 July, Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls on 31 July and Valencia on 9 August. Fresh from being crowned champions of Europe, Moscow Chelski FC also head to the US to take on the MLS All Stars on 26 July. Premier League champions Sheikh Yer Man City travel to Asia on 27 July to take on The Arse in the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, before playing a Malaysia Select XI in Kuala Lumpur on 30 July. ESPN will also broadcast The Arse's clash with the Malaysia Select XI on 24 July, and the team's game with Hong Kong Kitchee on 29 July. Alongside the English club friendlies, ESPN has secured rights to the Liga Total Cup, featuring four top Bundesliga's top teams - Borussia Dortmund, Hamburg, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munchen - along with Real Madrid's game against Benfica on 27 July.

A payday lender has been branded 'irresponsible' after it published a blog suggesting that people could take out a loan to fund Jubilee celebrations. Payday Bank said the Queen's Diamond Jubilee presented the 'perfect opportunity' to celebrate in true British style ... by getting into debt. It concluded: 'If you want to boost your Jubilee spending pot, a same day loan could provide the cash you need.' The article has been condemned by campaigners and a debt advice charity. And, indeed, by anyone with a bit of basic bloody decency and humanity about them. The online piece suggested people throw a party, get their children involved in making bunting, watch coverage of the various public events on TV and head to London to watch the pageant on the Thames. It was tagged with a number of search terms including 'ways to save money.' A spokesman for the company claimed that the blog had been taken down once the BBC brought it to their attention. He said: 'We do not feel this was acceptable content and is not up to the standards we set ourselves with regards to responsible lending and brokering. The blog was written by a contracted third party, and we should have been more rigorous in checking the information on it. We would like to clarify to anyone that uses our site that we do not encourage or recommend that anyone takes out payday loans for any reasons other than emergencies.' He added that the firm would be 'reviewing' the content of the blog and of its website to make sure they did not send 'conflicting messages.' According to the company's website, the interest payable on a one hundred and eighty quid loan is forty five notes if paid back in full within twenty eight days. The APR is given as a variable rate of one thousand seven hundred and thirty seven per cent. Steve Perry took out sixty four loans from twelve different companies over eighteen months, leaving him with a debt of twenty two thousand smackers. He now campaigns for more regulation for the payday loans industry. Although to be honest he should really be campaigning for more regulation of people's frigging stupidity, too. He said: 'Since I began campaigning I have witnessed blatant acts of irresponsible advertising from a number of lenders targeting huge national events, ranging from Hallow'een to Mother's Day. It is of little surprise that an event which has captured the nation's imagination is being exploited by this industry. Irresponsible advertising targets the vulnerable on an emotional level, people can easily get caught up in the hype and fear of "missing out" and for that reason could be tempted by a payday loan.' Debt advice charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service said the blog was 'no surprise.' A spokeswoman said: 'We see it at Christmas and around Valentine's Day. People need to take into account this is an incredibly expensive form of credit. There are so many ways to celebrate the Jubilee without spending money.' She said the charity was seeing more payday loan companies using different forms of media such as blogs to promote their services. 'There's nothing they wouldn't do or say to get people to take out incredibly expensive credit,' she said. 'If you need a payday loan your financial situation is probably quite vulnerable so it's likely you will struggle to pay it back.' Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, campaigns for more regulation for payday lenders. She has pushed the government for caps on the cost of credit being introduced in the high-cost credit market. She said: 'Every time I think the payday industry couldn't be more outrageous they prove me wrong - encouraging people to get into debt to celebrate the Jubilee is just another example of why these companies cannot be trusted to put the interests of consumers first and why the government should intervene. Self-regulation is not the answer to the poor practices of legal loan sharks and with millions of people now getting into financial difficulties as a result of these loans there's no time to waste. We need caps on the costs of credit to give British consumers the same protection that others around the world enjoy from these companies.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, featured a twenty four carat gem from yer actual Boards of Canada. If you feel like having an out of body experience, dear blog reader, now would seem like an ideal time to do so.

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