Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do Not Adjust Your Brain, There Is A Fault With Reality

England's opening Euro 2012 clash against France brought in strong ratings on Monday overnight data reveals. Starting at 4pm, ITV's coverage averaged 8.9m, peaking with over fifteen million at around 6.30pm as the match ended in a reasonably entertaining 1-1 draw. BBC1's screening of the other Group D game, Sweden versus Ukraine, scored 5.27m from 7pm. Have I Got A Bit More News For You was watched by 2.42m at 10.35pm. On ITV a Benidorm repeat held up with 2.61m at 9pm, benefiting from a high lead-in from an hour-long Coronation Street. Antiques Road Trip started where Great British Menu left off, attracting 2.32m in the 7pm hour for BBC2. Springwatch followed with 2.26m an hour later, before 1.31m watched Britain In A Day from 9pm. Overall, BBC1 led ITV in primetime with twenty two per cent of the audience share versus twenty per cent.

How nice it was, dear blog reader, to see those odious shite-scum Little Englander lice at the Sun - still clearly sore and bitter that their bestest chum in all the land Hapless Harry Redknapp didn't get the England job ahead of Roy Hodgson - trying hard to put a brave face on it when damning the England team with faint praise over Monday's battling draw against the French. The prose might have been grudgingly positive in Shaun Curtis's match report ('Don't you feel just that little bit happier about the England football team this morning? There's no need to hide under a paper bag — you can have some pride in being a Three Lions supporter') but the odious right-wing scum newspaper - with its regular doses of bigotry, racism, big tits and homophobia - still nailed its colours firmly to the mast with its front-page splash.
Watch out, Roy, another draw against the Swedes on Friday and the honeymoon (such as it is) will most definitely be over. Still, it could be worse. We could be Ireland fans. Here's RTE's excellent Apres Match: Where It All Went Wrong!

Meanwhile, there was a very interesting piece in the Torygraph concerning the French media's reaction to the game and the result.
Sponsors Pukka Pies are to make an official protest to UEFA after The England Band was refused entry into last night's Euro 2012 encounter in Donetsk. The band travelled two and a half thousand miles by road to get to Ukraine for the game. But despite prior assurances from the Football Association and from UEFA, the band were not allowed to bring their instruments into the Donbass Arena. The band have been a feature of England games for the past two decades and estimate they have been present for over three hundred consecutive matches. Last night was the first time they have been refused entry to a game and no reason was given for the decision. The band were allowed entry once their instruments had been confiscated and the authorities said they would be returned after the final whistle. 'We are going to make an official protest about this matter,' said a spokesman for Pukka Pies. 'There were no grounds for taking this disgraceful action, which is over-zealous in the extreme. Needless to say, we intend the band to be back in its rightful place by the time we get to Kiev for the Sweden game on Friday.' And UEFA had better have some pretty good excuses lined up because the Daily Scum Mail are on their case. Mind you, they should get on pretty well with UEFA, those well-known appeasers of right-wing scumbags and despots, despite the fact that, they're all, you know, foreigners. After all, the Scum Mail was a big fan of Herr Hitler.

Just remember, dear blog reader, especially with the Olympics coming to a TV screen near you very soon, for every winner, somewhere, there's a loser.
Yer actual Rolf Harris has been awarded one of Australia's highest honours as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours list. The artist, TV presenter and pan-continental icon has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia - the equivalent of the UK's OBE. He is being honoured for his distinguished service to the performing and visual arts, his charity work and promoting Australian culture. Australian born Harris, who lives in London, called it a 'huge honour.' The entertainer took part in last week's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, presenting part of the concert outside Buckingham Palace dressed in a shirt he had painted with the Union Jack. He has already been honoured in the UK three times, first as a Member of the British Empire in 1968, then an OBE in 1977 and in 2006 he was advanced to a CBE. He told Australian newspapers he was 'thrilled to bits' as the Queen established the honour herself in 1975. 'Although I love the UK, I still think of myself as an Australian,' he said. 'My mum and dad would have been bursting with pride if they were here today. This year has been an amazing year for me and it's just getting better and better.' Harris is one of seven hundred and sixty two Australians included in this year's Queen's Birthday honours list. Novelist Peter Carey, best known for The True History Of The Kelly Gang, was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. He is being recognised for his distinguished service to literature and promoting the Australian identity, as a teacher and mentor to emerging writers. Professor Stephen Hopper, the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, has been made a Companion in the General Division. He is being honoured as a global science leader in the field of plant conservation biology, and for delivering world class research programmes on endangered species and ecosystems.

Lib Dem MPs are to abstain in a Commons vote on Wednesday calling for a proper investigation into whether the lack culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt has broken the ministerial code of conduct and been a bit of a naughty chap. Labour want the vile and odious rascal Hunt's handling of News Corp's BSkyB bid to be examined with a fine tooth comb by David Cameron's adviser on ministers interests. The BBC's Nick Robinson said that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had told a meeting of his MPs and peers not to 'support the Tories on this one' and 'to stay away' from the vote. The prime minister gave his full support to the vile and odious rascal Hunt with unseemly haste just minutes after the vile and odious rascal Hunt concluded his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on press standards last month. In his evidence, the lack of culture secretary admitted that he was 'sympathetic' towards News Corp's bid to take full control of Sky but claimed that he had acted 'impartially' once he was given responsibility for it at the end of 2010. But Labour is demanding an investigation into whether the lack of culture secretary breached the code by failing to give 'accurate and truthful information to Parliament' over his dealings with News Corp at the time and by failing to 'take responsibility' for the actions of his special 'single rouge' adviser, Adam Smith. Smith resigned after admitting the number and tone of messages which he exchanged with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel about the Sky bid had been 'inappropriate.' Labour is pressing for Sir Alex Allan, Downing Street's adviser on ministers' interests, to examine the vile and odious rascal Hunt's conduct and pump him, thoroughly, till he squeaks. Nick Robinson said that a number of Lib Dem MPs had wanted to vote with Labour, and against the vile and odious rascal Hunt, believing that Cameron's immediate backing for his cabinet colleague was 'misplaced' and an independent investigation was needed rto sort this shit out once and for all. Robinson added that he 'understood' the party leadership argued that this would put them in 'an impossible position' with their Conservative coalition partners and recommended that their MPs abstain instead. However, he said that the decision by Lib Dems to withdraw their support for the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'an implicit criticism' of the prime minister's judgement on the lack of culture secretary's future and would cause 'significant tension' within the coalition. Hours before Wednesday's debate, Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be giving his own evidence to the Leveson Inquiry at which he will assert his party's independence from the Murdochs. David Cameron, who has repeatedly refused to ask Sir Alex to investigate further, will himself be cross-examined about how he handled the BSkyB bid and allegations against the vile and odious rascal Hunt on Thursday. And, hopefully will be asked some very awkward questions by Robert Jay just to watch him sweat. The inquiry heard that the vile and odious rascal Hunt congratulated James Murdoch on the progress of News Corp's bid just hours before he was given the power to decide upon it; but the lack of culture secretary insisted that he had 'acted impartially' and sought independent advice at every stage. One or two people even believed him.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has said that he was often 'too sensitive' about press coverage, at the Leveson Inquiry. He described some of the coverage he received as 'hurtful' and said it was a 'basic human emotion to get a bit ratty about it.' The third module of the inquiry is focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians. Major was prime minister from 1990 until he lost the 1997 general election in a landslide to Tony Blair. That defeat came after Rupert Murdoch's newspaper titles famously switched their support away from the Conservatives to Labour. Major told the inquiry it was 'partly my fault that my relationship with the press wasn't too close' but he said 'too close a relationship probably wasn't for me.' He said it was 'easier to be hostile about people you don't know than it is about people you know well' and the relationship 'worsened' after 1992. 'I was much too sensitive from time to time about what the press wrote. God knows in retrospect why I was, but I was,' he told the inquiry. 'I think you can explain that in human terms. If you pick up the papers each day and read a caricature of what you believe you are doing and what you believe you are then I suppose it's a basic human emotion to get a bit ratty about it.' He said at the time he was prime minister the press was a 'source of wonder. I learned what I thought that I didn't think, what I said that I hadn't said and what what I was about to do that I wasn't about to do,' he said. He added that it 'was a bit wearing' and he often over-reacted to coverage, but it was a 'human over-reaction. Did I read them too much? Yes I did. Was it hurtful? Yes it was. Did I think it was malicious? I think that's for others to make a judgement,' he said. He was asked about a phone call he made to former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie in 1992 on 'Black Wednesday,' when the UK exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Major claimed he did not recollect the same conversation that was recounted by the odious MacKenzie, who previously told the inquiry he had warned the then PM that his newspaper's coverage would not be positive.  (MacKenzie, in fact, had claimed that the Sun would pour 'a bucket of shit' over Major if he didn't do what they wanted. But his account was contradicted by Major, who said: 'Perhaps my memory is very faulty indeed but I certainly don't recollect the same conversation that has been circulated.') 'There are more myths about Black Wednesday than the Greeks ever created,' said Sir John. He described the conversation as a 'bad mistake' and said it was 'not a particularly productive phone call.' Major told the inquiry that his predecessor as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher's right-wing views appealed to national newspaper editors and proprietors. 'I think she admired buccaneering businessmen who were prepared to take risks,' Sir John told the hearing. 'And that certainly applied to proprietors of newspapers.' Major claimed that Rupert Murdoch demanded his government change its policy on Europe or his papers would oppose him at the 1997 general election. He claimed that Murdoch delivered the ultimatum at a private meeting with the News Corporation founder on 2 February 1997, three months before the election in which the Tories lost heavily to New Labour. Major's claim appears to contradict Murdoch's own evidence to the inquiry. Murdoch told Leveson on 25 April that 'I have never asked a prime minister for anything.' In his witness statement to the inquiry Major said he assumed Murdoch meant that 'he has never asked for anything that would benefit him personally or his company. In my very limited contact with Mr Murdoch his statement is on a strict interpretation literally true,' he added. 'Certainly he never asked for anything directly from me but he was not averse to pressing for policy changes. In the run-up to the 1997 general election in my third and last meeting with him on 2 February 1997 he made it clear that he disliked my European policies which he wished me to change. If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government. So far as I recall he made no mention of editorial independence but referred to all his papers as "we." Both Mr Murdoch and I kept our word. I made no change in policy and Mr Murdoch's titles did indeed oppose the Conservative party. It came as no surprise to me when soon after our meeting the Sun newspaper announced its support for Labour.' News International immediately issued a statement in response to Major's comments. 'News International titles did not act in unison in the 1997 election. The Sunday Times supported John Major, The Times was neutral, and the Sun and the News of the World supported Labour,' a spokesman said. Asked by Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, why he had not given more details about the exchange in his autobiography, Major said: 'I haven't talked about this conversation at any stage over the past fifteen years but now I am under oath. I was asked the question and I have answered the question.' Major said it was a private dinner also attended by his wife and Elisabeth Murdoch. He added that Murdoch wanted Britain to withdraw from the European Union, but Major claims he made it clear at the meeting that was not going to happen. He said that he remembered the meeting because it was not very often that someone made such a direct demand of a prime minister and linked it to their organisation's support. It was one of three meetings that Major had with Murdoch during his seven years in Downing Street, but he said he could not remember details of the other two, in 1992 and 1993. During his evidence to the inquiry Murdoch also said he could recall the 1997 dinner but not other conversations with Major. Major said he 'saw at first hand Rupert Murdoch's relationship with Margaret Thatcher but did not have, nor wish to have, a similar relationship. I recognised Mr Murdoch's remarkable success in business but did not admire much that was in his newspapers, nor his methods or his political philosophy,' he added. Major also told the inquiry that he thought it was 'an oddity' that a foreigner who cannot vote in this country like Murdoch should be allowed to have such a dominant position in the British media and that the Sun has 'lowered the tone' of the discourse on public life. 'I do think parts of his press, parts of his media empire have lowered the general quality of the British media. I think that is a loss,' Major said. 'I think it is evident which newspaper I am referring to. I think they have lowered the tone. I think the interaction that there has been with politicians has done no good either to the press or to the politicians. I think the sheer scale of the influence he is believed to [have] whether he exercises it or not, is an unattractive facet in British national life, and it does seem to me an oddity that in a nation which prides itself on one man, one vote, we should have one man, who can't vote, with a large collection of newspapers and a large share of the electronic media outlets.'

Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation should be forced to sell either the Sun or The Times, Ed Milimolimandi effectively told the Leveson inquiry, opening a new front against the embattled media mogul. The Labour leader - for the moment, anyway - said that he did 'not believe one person' should 'continue to control thirty four per cent of the newspaper market' – the share of copy sales enjoyed by News Corp newspapers in the UK after the launch of the Sun on Sunday. Although Milimolimandi did not spell out how the reduction in market share could be achieved, it would be easily achieved by a sale of either the Sun or The Times. That would unwind the joint ownership of the papers, which has existed since 1981 when Murdoch was allowed to buy The Times and Sunday Times without a referral to the competition authorities. Milimolimandi said that he would like Leveson to examine 'whether we should have lower [ownership] limits' and added that 'we should have no worries of somebody owning up to twenty per cent of the newspaper market. I think there is then a question of between twenty to thirty per cent where you should set a limit.' Earlier Miliband had said he believed News Corp had a sense of 'power without responsibility' which meant that some of the company's newspapers could operate with a 'sense of immunity' and engage in practices such as phone-hacking as conducted by the Scum of the World. The Labour leader, towards the end of his two-hour evidence session, said that his aim 'was not to stifle one particular organisation or another' but to foster 'plurality and a sense that one organisation does not exercise overweening power.' Milimolimandi also called for a review of the existing cross-media ownership rules that prevent a publisher with more than twenty per cent of the newspaper market owning more than twenty per cent of ITV. But he offered few details beyond questioning whether 'you should have an overall limit about how much control one organisation has on the market.' However, Lord Justice Leveson said that it was 'not clear' that the terms of reference of the inquiry allowed him to investigate competition matters and questioned whether he could be the authority on the issue. Milimolimandi also became the first major political leader to argue that any successor to the PCC should be recognised in law – in contrast to the view adopted by body's chairman Lord Hunt (no relation), who has previously argued against the introduction of any kind of legislation. Milimolimadi said that he would support 'statutory support' for a reformed PCC – an apparent reference to the model of statutory recognition of an independent press regulator as adopted in Ireland. But he added that any PCC-related law would have to include 'constitutional safeguards on the freedom of the press.' Although Lord Hunt has warned that MPs could insist on the introduction of all sorts of restrictive amendments if a press reform bill were to be debated on the floor of the Commons, Milimolimandi said that Labour would 'not countenance this becoming a licence for some massive bureaucratic assault on the press.' Millimolimandi also said 'no politician is going to come before you and give you a blank cheque' but politicians would 'try our very very hardest, to use the recommendation this inquiry makes to provide a framework for the future' and not an 'academic text book' that would 'end up on a dusty shelf.' Earlier the inquiry heard how the former chief executive of News International and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike, Rebekah Brooks, phoned the opposition leader on the day it emerged that Vince Cable had said he had 'declared war' on Rupert Murdoch's bid for BSkyB. Leveson said it was evident that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was trying to use the Cable incident to leverage 'political muscle' for the campaign to get the BSkyB through the regulatory process. Milimolimandi said he was 'quite surprised' by the call on the evening of 21 December 2010, because he did not have Brooks's number or 'have a particular kind of relationship like that' with her. He added that she 'expressed her anger' over Cable's remarks but Milimolimandi told Leveson that the conversation was redundant because Labour had already called for Cable's resignation. Labour deputy leader and shadow lack of culture secretary Mad Hattie Harman, who appeared at the inquiry after Milimolimandi on Tuesday afternoon, blamed a sense of impunity and invincibility among newspapers for creating the 'ugly' culture in which abuses such as phone-hacking could occur. Harman, in her written evidence to the Leveson inquiry, said there were 'two deep-seated problems which are the basis for the abuses which have become evident – a lack of redress for press complaints which led to a sense of impunity, and a concentration of ownership which led to a sense of invincibility.' She said a statutory basis for future press regulation did not mean people had to fear 'armageddon or Zimbabwe. There can be a reasonable settlement here which is not the thin end of the wedge which absolutely defends and enhances press freedom but which gives redress and protects against too much concentration of media ownership,' she added. Harman said newspaper editors did not want a 'slippery slope' and added it was the 'last thing you want in opposition – for the government to be able to muzzle or control the press. Therefore I am strongly opposed to anything which would allow the government to inhibit the freedom of the press.'

Ex-News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks is due in court later today accused of three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, and four former colleagues face one charge each of the offence and will also appear at Westminster Magistrates Court. Brooks, forty four, was charged last month by detectives from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's phone-hacking inquiry. The offences - which she denies - allegedly occurred in July last year. Brooks is accused of conspiring to conceal documents, computers and electronic equipment from police and conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International. That month, David Cameron ordered an inquiry into press standards, the Scum of the World was closed down and Brooks resigned from News International. Charlie Brooks - a forty nine-year-old writer and racehorse trainer and 'good chum' of the prime minister - is also due in court, along with Brooks' former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter; her ex-chauffeur and two security officials.

Matt Barbet and Ranvir Singh have become the latest people to put their career on the line by association with notorious ITV breakfast flop, Daybreak. The pair will present the first hour of the morning magazine show at 6am later this year, before main hosts Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones take over. Ranvir Singh is currently on maternity leave, and has presented and reported on the BBC's North West Tonight since 2005. Barbet currently presents Five News for Channel Five, but has previously worked for BBC London while also covering for Bill Turnbull on Daybreak's rival show BBC Breakfast on occasions. Singh said of her appointment: 'I'm very excited about joining Lorraine, Aled and Matt. We'll be buzzing with all the morning news and having a laugh along the way I hope. I can't wait to get started!' Barbet added: 'I'm hugely excited to be joining the team at ITV. During my career to date I've been privileged to cover some massive stories, from the Afghan war to the royal wedding, and I'm looking forward to bringing that experience to my new role on Daybreak.' Daybreak editor David Kermode said: 'We are so excited Matt and Ranvir are joining the team. They have the perfect blend of personality, authority and live broadcasting experience to make great breakfast TV. We can't wait to welcome them to the ITV family, to join Lorraine and Aled and the rest of the team.'

The Inbetweeners' Greg Davies and former Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg will appear in a new BBC3 sitcom, Cuckoo. Davies and former Cold Feet acrtess silly little Helen Baxendale will play parents who are horrified when their daughter (played by Tamla Kari) returns from her gap year in the US with a husband – the self-appointed spiritual ninja Cuckoo, played by Samberg. The six-part series has been created and written by Robin French and Kieron Quirke who scripted ITV2's Charles Dance drama, Trinity. BBC3 controller Zai Bennett claimed that Cuckoo was original and unique - but then, this is the man who cancelled Ideal having once commissioned The Kerry Katona Show so, you know, pinch of salt and all that: 'We're delighted to be announcing this exciting new sitcom with such an illustrious cast from two of my favourite new writers.' Samberg, who left Saturday Night Live this year after seven years on the show, is not the first US star to sign up for a BBC3 comedy – former Daily Show regular Rob Riggle appeared in sports-style dating show, World Series of Dating, which ended last month. Stand-up Davies starred as Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners and appeared in another BBC3 show, We Are Klang. Which was about as funny as a rash on the knob. Cuckoo, which is set in the midlands, will be made by independent producer Roughcut Television and produced by Ash Atalla, whose credits include The Office. It will film in the summer and is due to air later this year.

A call backed by actor Stephen Fry for the return to Greece of the British Museum's Parthenon Marbles has come out on top in a debate held in London. Fry said it would be a 'classy' move to restore the sculptures brought to the UK by Lord Elgin in the Nineteenth Century. The debate, hosted by Intelligence Squared, ended with a majority for the motion of three hundred and eighty four to one hundred and twenty five. Opposing the motion, Tristram Hunt MP (also no relation) said the British Museum played 'a key role' in cosmopolitan culture. Which is almost certainly true but, not really the point. The Greeks were 'a proud people' suffering terribly, Stephen Fry told the audience in London's Cadogan Hall, but 'no matter how much the sovereign debt crisis means they owe us, we will never repay the debt that we owe Greece.' He said he revered the British Museum as 'one of the great flowerings of the Enlightenment' but that returning the Marbles to Greece would be an act of 'grace and decency.' He said it would be 'classy' if future visitors to the British Museum could see a 'Parthenon experience' including a film showing how Britain had curated the marbles 'beautifully' for two hundred years and then handed them over to Athens' Acropolis Museum. Hunt supported the argument advanced by the British Museum, which says there is a need for collections like its own which allows many different cultures to be compared. The museum says the division of the sculptures between London and Athens 'allows different and complementary stories to be told about the surviving sculptures, highlighting their significance within world culture and affirming the place of Ancient Greece among the great cultures of the world.' It should be a source of pride to the Greeks that the sculptures, as a symbol of Greek culture, were such an important part of the British Museum's collection where it could be compared with exhibits from other civilisations, said Hunt. He feared that restoring the Marbles could lead to a 'purge' of museums in which 'tit-for-tat recoveries' of objects by their countries of origin would lead to a 'global loss of appreciation and understanding.' He said the Marbles had been 'legally acquired' with a permit from the Ottoman empire and the Greek government had never challenged their ownership in an international court. But Stephen Fry said the argument did not apply because Greece was an occupied country at the time. Proposing the motion to send the sculptures back, Andrew George MP said it may be that Elgin helped preserve the sculptures, but that job was done now. He said he was 'appealing to Britain's better instincts' and that restoring the sculptures willingly now would be better than a 'cringing climb-down' some time in the future. The debate comes a week before an 'International Colloquy' in London on the Parthenon sculptures, organised by the British, US and Australian committees calling for their return to Greece. Those attending will hold a 'planned organised attendance' at the British Museum on 20 June.

Gold medal-winning Olympians have recreated The Italian Job's much-loved Mini chase, transporting the action from Turin to London. Some of the team behind TV's Top Gear helped to create the short film ahead of London 2012, starring triple jumper turned broadcaster Jonathan Edwards and rowers James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent. The film, The Britalian Job, was shot around numerous London landmarks, including the Olympic Stadium. The original 1969 movie - starring yer actual Michael Caine - is considered a genuine, twenty-four carat British film classic, not least for its chase sequence, shot largely around Turin. The new version again features Minis - albeit the more modern versions (which are, of course, German!) - and celebrates the car firm's partnership with Team GB. Red, white and blue London 2012 special edition Minis are seen in locations such as Knightsbridge and with a backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, trying to track down a mysterious motorcyclist, played by Jodie Kidd. The cars are even seen emerging from the same Park Lane basement used in the original film, and hurtling through Leadenhall Market. Gold-winning decathlete Daley Thompson and javelin silver medallist Steve Backley are also among the familiar sporting faces who appear in the film, which climaxes with a close-formation ten-metre jump in front of the stadium. Cracknell said: 'It was great fun making this film and London makes such a brilliant setting for an action sequence like this. Seeing London begin its transformation for the summer Games and feeling the excitement building is tremendous.'

Former Cuban heavyweight boxer Teofilo Stevenson, who won three Olympic gold medals, has died at the age of sixty. State media said he had suffered a heart attack. In the 1970s, US boxing promoters offered Stevenson five million dollars to turn professional and fight then then world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. But the boxer stayed loyal to the Cuban revolution, which outlawed professional sports, and refused. He said: 'I prefer the affection of eight million Cubans.' Stevenson was born in Las Tunas province in eastern Cuba and fought his first bout at the age of fourteen. He went on to win gold medals as a heavyweight in three consecutive Olympic Games - 1972 in Munich, 1976 in Montreal and 1980 in Moscow - and was widely considered the greatest amateur boxer of his time. 'The Olympic Games in Munich and Montreal are the fondest memories I have from my life, the best stage of my career,' he told AP news agency earlier this year. Boxing fans were keen to see him go up against Ali in what they hoped would be the 'fight of the century,' but Stevenson turned the offer down. The boxer - known in Cuba by the nickname 'Pirolo' - missed a shot at a fourth Olympic gold when Cuba joined the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. He announced his retirement in 1988. After retiring, Stevenson became a coach and served as vice president of the Cuban Boxing Federation. Reporting his death, state newspaper Juventud Rebelde said Cuban sport had lost 'one of its greatest exponents of all time.'

Now, here's a funny thing dear blog reader.
He's not evolving, he's a very naughty boy!

Czech Republic's Euro 2012 campaign came alive thanks to two goals in the first six minutes against 2004 champions Greece. Petr Jiráček scored the opener when he converted Tomáš Hübschman's defence-splitting pass in the third minute. Václav Pilař then grabbed his second goal of the tournament when he bundled home from two yards out. Greece had a goal ruled out for offside before Fanis Gekas capitalised on a Petr Čech howler after the break. It was the fifth goal Moscow Chelski FC's usually reliable number one had conceded in this tournament, but fortunately for the thirty-year-old he avoided further errors as his side held on for a vital victory. Apart from their defensive naivety during the 4-1 defeat by Russia, the Czech's other failing was waiting until late in the game to demonstrate their potency in attack. There was no such caution against the Greeks, as they catapulted themselves into a 2-0 lead inside six minutes. Both were scored by VfL Wolfsburg players. The first from the boot of winger Jiráček, who ran in from the right, burst past the Greek defence, and slotted in Hübschman's beautifully-weighted pass. The Greeks, who had to reorganise their defence coming into the match because of injury and suspension, were punished again three minutes later. The Arse's Tomáš Rosický fed in Theodor Gebre Selassie on the right side of the area. The full-back pulled his cross back for Pilař, who beat two defenders to the ball and directed his shot in with his thigh. There were further woes inflicted on Greece when veteran keeper Kostas Chalkias came off with an injury to be replaced by Michalis Sifakis. The PAOK Salonika man had barely got into position before he was called to push away Rosický's twenty five-yard bender. The Greeks' only threat of the half resulted in the ball hitting the back of the net, but Giorgos Fotakis's header was controversially ruled offside. The replay seemed to suggest he was at worst level with the last defender. Fotakis was replaced by Gekas after the break and, like in the first match against Poland when Dimitris Salpangidis made a difference, the change gave Greece an early second-half boost. On this occasion, Čech played a big part in goal when confusion between himself and his defender Tomáš Sivok caused him to fumble a tame cross. Gekas had the easy task of passing into an empty net. Greece brought on Olympiakos's Kostas Mitroglou to bring the number of forwards in their XI to four with twenty minutes remaining, but they seemed devoid of ideas against a flaky Czech defence. The game ended with the Czech supporters, quite literally, jumping for joy. Not the first bunch of a bouncing Czechs the Greeks have seen of late. Oh, no. The defeat leaves the Greeks needing victory against Russia to stand a chance of progressing, while the revitalised Czechs will face co-hosts and neighbours Poland for a probable shit-or-bust Group A finale.

Then, Poland produced a stirring performance in Warsaw to hold Russia to a draw to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive. The co-hosts came from behind during a thrilling second half, captain Jakub Błaszczykowski scoring the equaliser with a thunderous left-foot shot. Russia had taken the lead after thirty seven minutes, when Alan Dzagoev turned in Andrey Arshavin's curling free-kick. Both teams had chances to win what ended as a terrific game but ultimately the spoils were shared. The result leaves Group A wide open, with all four teams still mathematically able to qualify for the quarter-finals after a night of high drama in the Polish capital. This was not a rivalry in need of stoking, or a fixture that required additional hype. And yet fuel was thrown on the fire in the hours before kick-off as Polish riot police clashed with fans from both countries in a series of violent running exchanges on the streets of Warsaw. A march in support of Russia's Independence Day, from the city centre to the stadium, prompted widespread anger among Polish extremists. If the atmosphere around the stadium was raw at kick-off, the early exchanges were equally frenzied. Arshavin was immediately in the thick of the action, probing, pressing, jinking beyond defenders. But the best of the early chances fell to Poland. Ludovic Obraniak's curling free-kick was headed goalwards by Sebastian Boenisch only for Russia goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev to turn the ball away. Poland had the ball in the net after seventeen minutes, but the linesman's flag correctly denied them after Robert Lewandowski and Eugen Polanski had linked up delightfully following an incisive one-touch passing move. But for all Poland's early exuberance, Russia remained a constant danger. Arshavin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov were at the heart of everything for Dirk Advocaat's team, who gradually began to resemble the side that had been imperious in sweeping aside the Czech Republic in their opening game. Poland struggled to contain the movement of Dzagoev, while Yuri Zhirkov's probing runs down the left flank were equally threatening. The momentum was shifting and Russia struck decisively. Arshavin's pin-point free-kick curled menacingly across the penalty area and it was Dzagoev who steered it beyond Poland goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń, the ball fortuitously deflecting off his shoulder for his third goal of Euro 2012. Poland were unbowed, however. They began the second half as they had the first, Polanski finding Lewandowski beyond the final defender but the Borrusia Dortmund striker was driven wide before Malafeev snuffed out the danger with his legs. Lewandowski was through again moments later but Malafeev was again alert to the danger, punching clear decisively. The game was becoming increasingly stretched now. Russia threatened every time they broke forward but Poland refused to give up, pouring forward time after time, scattering red shirts and levelling the match with a stunning goal from their captain. Błaszczykowski escaped the attentions of Zhirkov, cut in from the right flank and unleashed a searing left-foot shot that arrowed beyond Malafeev and into the top left-hand corner of the net. The goal sparked scenes of euphoria in the stadium and Poland clearly drew strength from the partisan support. Adrian Mierzejewski fired wide from twenty five yards as Poland began to sniff an unlikely victory. Lewandowski saw a shot blocked before left-back Sebastian Boenisch surged forward, beat two Russian defenders and thundered a shot over the bar from distance. Both teams had chances to win the match but at the final whistle it was the Polish supporters who were celebrating like they'd won.

UEFA is to investigate alleged racist chanting during the Euro 2012 matches between Spain and Italy and Russia and the Czech Republic. A Spanish fans' group has claimed that some of its supporters abused Sheikh Yer Man City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie told reporters he 'noticed' racist chants directed towards him. UEFA said that no disciplinary proceedings had been started at this stage. The UEFA statement added: 'Following the provision of new independent information today, regarding the two cases of alleged racist chanting in the Spain-Italy and Russia-Czech Republic matches, UEFA is now conducting further investigations.' No official complaints have been made to UEFA by Italy or Czech Republic. The admission by a Spanish fans' group that some of their supporters racially abused Balotelli during Sunday's game was sent to UEFA by an anti-racism network. Piara Powar, the chief executive of the Football Against Racism in Europe network, told BBC Sport that the statement, along with testimony from photographers at the game given to the Daily Mirra, has been handed to UEFA. 'Eye witness accounts like this are very important,' he said. 'It adds to the Daily Mirra account. And it gives UEFA something to go on when they look at this. Fare monitors didn't hear the abuse. We only have two observers in each stadium. And it hadn't come to the attention of UEFA's own officials at the game.' Thomas Herzog, spokesman for the Football Supporters Europe Fans' Embassy team for Spanish supporters, said in a statement that around 'two hundred supporters started monkey chants when the Italian player Mario Balotelli touched the ball.' He added: 'We're glad to report that the majority of Spanish supporters reacted in a very positive way, because many of them tried to intervene very quickly and stop the fans in question from singing. We are clearly angry about this small section of Spanish supporters showing this kind of racist behaviour. But we have to stress that most of the Spanish supporters inside the stand were very aware of this issue and tried their best to intervene.' Powar believes that UEFA needs to take action over racist incidents within Euro 2012 if the evidence is presented to them. 'When it comes to tournament situations it's important to see proper sanctions taken so that the message can be given to the world,' he said. 'So it's good to hear Spanish fans taking this action and self-policing.' Cesare Prandelli, head coach for Italy, told BBC Sport on Monday that 'no incident had taken place' with regard to Balotelli during the Spain game. The same day UEFA wrote to the mayors of Polish and Ukrainian cities hosting Euro 2012 training sessions to ask for an increased police presence to avoid racist behaviour from fans. Some members of the Netherlands squad complained of hearing monkey noises at an open training session at Wisla Krakow's stadium last week when thousands of people turned up to watch.

And finally, occasions when you really don't want to get cold-called by someone claiming to be trying to help you if you've been sold personal injury protection. Number one: Right in the middle of an England game. Which, yer actual Keith Telly Topping now discovers, not only happened to him but, also, to at least two of his mates. Come on, people, there's a time and a place for that sort of thing.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which today features a minor classic from yer actual Adam and his very Ants.

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