Thursday, June 14, 2018

All The World Is Football Shaped, Made Just For Me To Kick In Space

So, dear blog reader, in case you're wondering about all this malarkey that is kicking-off, big-style, in Russia at the moment, here's the deal. Association football is a sport which is played between two teams of eleven players - or, if Portugal are one of them, two teams of eleven and nine ... or eight - using a spherical ball. Because, using a square one would be bloody ridiculous. It is widely considered to be the most popular participation and spectator sport in the vast majority of countries of the world. Except in the USA where they don't even use its proper name and think it's something that girls play. The game takes place on a pitch of grass or artificial AstroTurf (never, ever, try smoking the latter, it's really not very nice and believe me, I'd tried). The object is to score 'a goal' by getting the ball into the opposing team's net and stopping them from doing the same thing to you. Fairly, of course. Or, if you're Italian, any way you can. In general play, the goalkeepers are the only players allowed to use their hands to touch the ball (although at least one former Argentine international tended to ignore that when he felt like it). The rest of the team normally use their feet to kick the ball. And, frequently, each other. It's a game of two halves, Brian and at the end of ninety minutes the team which scores the most goals will be Over The Moon and the other lot will be As Sick As A Parrot. Or, to put it another way, it's a game of two halves and extra time and then, the Germans win on penalties. So, if there's something you want to watch on TV immediately after the scheduled conclusion, don't bother setting your recording devices because, like as not, it'll be cancelled. The game is controlled - or, more often, not controlled - by an officious, whistle-happy berk aided by two visually-impaired prats with flags. It was invented by the English but, whisper it, we're really not very good at it these days and haven't been for a very long time. Though, hope springs eternal. And, then is crushed into a million tiny fragments whenever we get knocked out in the Second Round or, if we're really lucky, the Quarter Finals. The Germans, French and the Brazilians, however, are good at it. Except when they aren't. The Belgians and the Spanish are sometimes quite useful too though, more often than not, they end up fighting among themselves after a couple of matches. Which can be jolly amusing in the right circumstances. The game has many rules, most of which are reasonably straight forward. Except for offside (don't ask, we'll be here all day). Every four years the best thirty two nations in the world come together in a spectacularly expensive corporate brown-tongued hate-fest. Scotland seldom take part. Because, as noted, it's a tournament for the world's thirty two best national sides. Thirty one of them inevitably go home muttering darkly about bias, conspiracies, bad luck, dodgy red cards and 'that was never over the line.' There can be only one champion. A bit like the movie Highlander only with less beheadings. Although, if you're ever seen Uruguay play ...
So, let's kick-off this latest bloggerisationisms with a proper fanfare ... Like, this one. Now it feels like the World Cup!
The 2018 World Cup may be missing some big footballing nations - most notably Italy and The Netherlands - but that's what makes the tournament so special. It's also being hosted in a morally bankrupt country with a dangerous psychotic numbskull as leader and which is full of sinister and sick racist, homophobic scum. But, FIFA - those notoriously corrupt and cowardly appeasers of dictators and criminals - awarded them the tournament in a 'secret' ballot so bent it was almost 'U'-shaped. Thus, we're stuck with it now so we might as well, at least, enjoy the football. Anyway, Brazil are looking to bounce back from the national outrage of 2014, whilst Spain, Argentina and France will be hoping to dethrone the defending champions, Germany and their atypically impressive and 'ruthlessly efficient' squad. Can the talented Belgians or the European Champions, Portugal make a big splash this time? Do England's overpaid, under-performing prima-donnas have what it takes to get beyond the first round? There are more questions than answers, dear blog reader, but if you're interested, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's rough guide to the thirty two nations that qualified. And, as the World Cup progresses Keith Telly Topping's World Cup Trivia Page will be providing periodic updates on how it's all going. The first one is here.
As if to prove the point about Spain often shooting themselves in the foot at major tournaments, they have sacked their head coach Julen Lopetegui after he was named the new Real Madrid boss just two days before their opening World Cup match with Portugal. Real Madrid announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu on a three-year deal. The Spanish football federation said that it had dismissed the fifty one-year-old because the negotiation had occurred 'without any information to the RFEF.' Spanish sporting director Fernando Hierro will take charge for the World Cup. The former Real Madrid and Notlob Wanderers defender is in his second spell as sporting director, having returned to the role in November 2017, six years after leaving the position. RFEF president Luis Rubiales, who was told of Lopetegui's new role five minutes before it was publicly announced, said that he had found himself 'in a very difficult situation. I know there's going to be criticism whatever I do,' he added. 'I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision. You can't do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision.' Lopetegui became Spain's manager in 2016 following Vicente del Bosque's retirement and remained unbeaten through his reign. Spain won fourteen of twenty games with Lopetegui in charge, drawing the remaining six. According to reports in Spain, Rubiales was 'incensed' when he discovered Lopetegui had agreed a deal with Madrid. He left a FIFA Congress meeting in Moscow early in order to return to Spain's base in Krasnodar to deal with the situation. It has been claimed that senior players - including captain Sergio Ramos - fought for Lopetegui to remain in charge for the duration of the World Cup.
World Cup assistant referees have been told to keep their flag down for tight offside calls to enable VAR to make the correct decision, says FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina. Russia 2018 will be the first World Cup to use the video assistant referee system. 'If you see some assistant referee not raising the flag it's not because he's making mistakes,' said big scary - but, hugely respected - Collina. 'It's because he's respected the instruction to keep the flag down.' Italian former referee Collina was speaking at the World Cup referees media briefing on Tuesday. 'They were told to keep the flag down when there is a tight offside incident and there could be a very promising attack or a goal-scoring opportunity because if the assistant referee raises the flag then everything is finished,' he said. 'If the assistant referee keeps the flag down and the play goes on and maybe a goal comes at the end, there is a chance to review the goal using the technology.' FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed in March that VAR would be used in Russia, having been used in Germany and Italy and trialled in in some domestic English cup games last season. The VAR - a current or former top referee - is in place to check decisions on four sorts of incidents: Goals, including 'missed' attacking offences in the build-up, penalties awarded and not awarded, including 'missed' attacking offences in the build-up, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity where the wrong player is shown a red or yellow card. The referee can accept the information relayed through his earpiece by the VAR team, an option usually reserved for objective calls of fact, such as if a player is offside. For more subjective decisions such as red cards and penalty-area fouls, he can review the footage on a pitchside television monitor before deciding whether to change his initial call. Replays of incidents reviewed by the VAR will be shown on big screens during the World Cup and the crowd will also be told when a decision is being reviewed and why a decision has been reached. Not that this will stop them going mental if it's against their team, obviously.
The 2018 World Cup hadn't even kicked-off but, already, we knew that the 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico after their joint bid beat Morocco's proposal to host it. The 'United 2026' bid was selected by FIFA member nations, winning one hundred and sixty five votes compared to sixty five for Morocco. The 2026 tournament will be the biggest World Cup ever held - with forty eight teams playing eighty matches over thirty four days. 'Football is the only victor. We are all united in football,' US 'Soc-her' president Carlos Cordeiro said. 'Thank you so, so much for this incredible honour. Thank you for entrusting us with this privilege.' Of the two hundred and eleven FIFA member nations, two hundred cast a vote at the sixty eighth FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday, with the winning bid needing a majority of one hundred and four. Canada, Mexico, Morocco and the US were exempt, while Ghana was absent after the country's government said that it had 'disbanded' its football association amid allegations of 'widespread corruption.' Three US territories - Guam, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - were among the other member nations to not vote. Both Mexico (1970 and 1986) and the United States (1994) have previously hosted World Cups. Canada staged the Women's World Cup in 2015. Since the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively in December 2010, widespread corruption has been exposed in the global game, including allegations of bribery and payment for votes. A BBC Panorama documentary claimed that Qatar spent one hundred and seventeen million quid on their successful bid for the 2022 World Cup - the first to be held in winter - while former FIFA president Sepp Blatter suggested there was 'an agreement' in place for Russia to host the 2018 tournament before the vote took place. Prominent figures, including Blatter, have since been indicted on criminal charges with some of them facing lengthy spells in The Big House if convicted. As a result FIFA - under the presidency of Gianni Infantino - promised 'a more open and transparent' vote to decide the 2026 World Cup host. It was decided that FIFA's twenty two-strong executive committee would no longer vote on behalf of the membership, as had occurred previously. Instead, the two bids made a final fifteen-minute presentation in front of congress before the FIFA member nations cast their votes.The 'United' World Cup will generate over ten billion knicker in revenue for FIFA, says Cordeiro. FIFA, needless to say, had their greed right-on when they heard this. Of the sixteen host cities, ten will be in the United States while the remainder will be split evenly between Canada and Mexico. Sixty matches will take place in the US, while Canada and Mexico will host ten games each. The final will be held at the eighty four thousand-capacity MetLife Stadium, which is home to NFL sides the New York Giants and the New York Jets. The distance between the most Northern host city (Edmonton) and the most Southern (Mexico City) is almost three thousand miles, which compares to nineteen hundred miles at this month's tournament in Russia. The tournament will mark the first time a World Cup has been shared by three host nations although one previous one - 2002's - was shared between two, South Korea and Japan. The 1994 World Cup, staged by the US, had the highest average attendance in the tournament's history, while Mexico was the first nation to host the event twice. Morocco Football Federation president Fouzi Lekjaa said: 'I wish to congratulate FIFA for the conduct of this process and congratulate the president for what he has done in order to move things towards more transparency and more inclusion. I would like to reaffirm the determination of my country to continue to work for football and realise one day our dream to host the World Cup in Morocco.' Morocco's bid faced unwanted attention when FIFA secretary general, Fatma Samoura, was the subject of an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest. Members of FIFA's World Cup bid evaluation task force said that she had 'an undeclared family link' with Morocco 2026 bid ambassador El Hadji Diouf. She was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing and dismissed the claims as 'laughable and unfortunate.' The same evaluation task force later expressed concerns over stadiums, the availability of accommodation and the travel network, despite ratifying their proposals. Nine of the fourteen stadiums included in Morocco's bid were yet to be built, while the remaining five required 'significant renovation or upgrading.' But bid chief Hicham el Amrani said that he was 'confident' the country's infrastructure 'could deliver' and made play of the North African nation's position, nine miles from the Southern tip of Spain - dubbing it a 'European' World Cup.
England should have 'great confidence' in bidding for the 2030 World Cup, says FIFA vice-president David Gill. Gill said that he was 'pleased' by the new bidding process for the 2026 tournament. England lost out to Russia for the right to host the 2018 tournament in a process that since-discredited FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted was pre-ordained. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay have announced their plans to jointly bid for 2030. Since the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively in December 2010, widespread corruption has been exposed in the global game, including allegations of bribery and payment for votes. As a result, FIFA's executive committee is no longer responsible for the final say on which country is awarded a World Cup. Instead, FIFA member nations cast their votes. 'What it does is gives great confidence that the procedures in place now are appropriate and relevant,' said Gill. 'So, for me, I was very pleased with the process and delighted with the work that was done over many, many months.'
There's a very interesting piece by Tom Gerken on the BBC Sport website asking the question Does England have the most critical media in world football? To which the answer would appear to be 'of course it does, what planet have you been living on since 1970?'
A Russian MP has been heavily criticised after urging women not to have sex with foreign men during the World Cup. Communist Party MP Tamara Pletnyova told a Moscow Radio station that she was 'not a nationalist' but believed that Russian women should avoid sex with people 'of a different race' because 'their children suffer.' She was responding to a question about the 'kids of the Olympics' - referencing the claim that there was a spike in births of mixed-race children in Russia after the 1980 Summer Olympics. Pletnyova said that these children were 'abandoned' by their foreign fathers. 'It's not so bad if the fathers are of the same race,' she said. 'But if they are of a different race, then that's it. [The children] are abandoned, and they stay here with their mother. We should be giving birth to our children.' Pletnyova has been widely condemned online, with some people drawing parallels between her comments and FIFA's Say No to Racism campaign. Recalling how a former ice skater defended a racist tweet by claiming her Twitter account had been hacked, radio presenter Tayana Felgengauer wondered if Pletnyova might claim something similar had happened to her. 'I wonder what Pletnyova will say when they remind her of Say No to Racism,' she tweeted. Further critics of Pletnyova have included one who called for her to be 'thrown out of The Duma.'
Do you know what grates this blogger's cheese, dear blog reader? Then Keith Telly Topping shall tell you. What really grates this blogger's cheese, what really boils his piss, what really smokes off his cornet big-style is a curious phenomena which usually occurs during the run up to and the duration of all major football tournaments (and, to a lesser extent other major sporting competitions like the Olympics); this sees lots of people that you've never heard of proudly telling the world - or telling a few dozen others on Facebook anyway - how much they don't like football and, therefore, how miserable the next month is going to be for them. As thought that somehow makes them in some way special. It doesn't, it just makes them different for others - like this blogger, for instance, who does like football. But, the important question to ask at this point is why do they think anyone else is in the slightest bit interested? This blogger doesn't particularly like marine biology, for example, but he doesn't use the start of each new marine biology documentary series of Discovery to inform the world (over and over again) of this discombobulation. Listen, dear blog reader, it's very simple - the World Cup is on for the next month and will be widely covered on BBC1 and ITV. If you don't want to be involved in it, then that's perfectly fine - there's no law that says you have to. There are plenty of other things you can, surely, find to do during the next four weeks. You live in a world where television now offers hundreds of alternatives choices of viewing. You have DVDs you could watch, CDs you could play, books or magazines you could read. You could do something else constructive with your time, go for a nice walk in the fresh air, have a meal or drinks with friends or family, go on a blind date with a consenting adult of your choice. You may even find the time to go up the local park and have some disappointing sex (with someone else or, indeed, with yourself if that's what floats yer boat). Or, you could do what you're currently doing - whinging about something you were never going to participate in anyway on social media. Twenty First Century life in a nutshell.
The fixtures for next season's Premier League were released on Thursday. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' opening five games are, at home to Stottingtot Hotshots (same as last season), away to newly-promoted Cardiff, at home to Moscow Chelski FC, away to Champions Sheikh Yer Man City and at home to The Arse. So, that'll be United bottom of the league after five game, then.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, it's the summer so there's also some cricket on. And, the TV comedy line of the week came from Nasser Hussain commentating on the first England/Australia ODI on Sky Sports at the fall of the first Australian wicket. 'Willey, with swing, is dangerous,' noted Nasser. As, indeed, all men can confirm from personal experience. Tragically, this being a one day game, Mikey Holding wasn't in the commentary box to provide a 'the commentator's Holding, the bowler's Willey,' moment.
Now, dear blog reader, moving away from sport, a week wouldn't be week without the Daily Mirra publishing a highly speculative article about Doctor Who, would it? The latest one sees the Mirra taking a few stray comments made by the Restoration Team's Paul Vanezis on a recent Radio Free Skaro podcast about missing episodes and their possible existence and turning them into ... well, not much, really. Plus, there's another use of the hateful 'W' word. (Radio Times also picked up the same story and, whilst it's equally speculative, it is, at least, a little bit more informed and nuanced than the Mirra's ludicrously overblown nonsense.) Of course, it's always worth remembering it is only a little over a year since the Mirra's 'senior celebrity editor', one Vicki Newman, claimed to have 'a source' who informed her that Kris Marshall had already joined the Doctor Who cast and would be appearing before the end of the series as the next Doctor. They really were much more trustworthy as a source of news when they used to hack people's phones.
The Mirra's article, incidentally, ends with the claim - with no supporting evidence - 'starring new Doctor Jodie Whittaker, the [next] ten-episode series will run from Sunday 23 September and Friday 21 December.' Whilst a move to Sunday as the broadcast date for the next series would not be the greatest surprise in the world (indeed several fandom-types a lot closer to the production than this blogger have stated this is, indeed, a distinct possibility), the final episode going out on a Friday would be. For what it's worth, this blogger was recently informed that the new series is 'likely, though not certain' to begin during the second week of October and run through to just before Christmas. But that rumour could well be a right load of old bollocks, this blogger freely admits. And, the Mirra could be correct in their assertions. Time, as a wise old Time Lord once said, will tell. It usually does.
A statement on the BBC America website has revealed that Jodie Whittaker and the cast of the upcoming series of Doctor Who will hold a panel ahead of series eleven's premiere at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Which, of course, inevtiably led to lots of whinging from entitled members of British Doctor Who fandom about why this event wasn't being held in, you know, Carlisle instead. During the panel, Jodie will be joined by co-stars Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, who play Ryan and Yasmin, as well as series showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens.
Captain Mainwaring and his platoon are to feature on a new set of stamps to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC sitcom Dad's Army. The much-loved characters from the comedy of the 1960s and 70s are featured alongside their catchphrases. Philip Parker of the Royal Mail, hoped they would 'raise plenty of smiles' whilst people are, you know, licking their backsides. Oh yes. Ian Lavender, who played Pikey in the series - you knew that, right? - said it was 'overwhelming' to be featured on a stamp. They will be available from 26 June. The hit series ran from 1968 to 1977 and followed the misadventures of a World War Two Home Guard platoon, defending Walmington-on-Sea against a seemingly imminent invasion by Ze Chermans. At its height, the programme attracted over eighteen millions viewers. 'I didn't believe you could have someone still alive on a stamp apart from the Queen. Being on a stamp is not something you hope for simply because it is so unlikely,' Lavender said. 'You can hope for an OBE or a BAFTA - those are things that happen. But to be on a stamp, well it really is so nice. What a lovely surprise.' Dad's Army joins its follow BBC series Doctor Who which was given its own range of stamps in 2013 to celebrate it's fiftieth anniversary.
It has long been something of an anomaly that the UK home of a number of grim US TV crime dramas like Criminal Minds, Bones and Blindspot - where most of the episodes are about investigating death - has been Sky Living. Sky has, seemingly, finally noticed this and, on Friday, announced that it will be rebranding the channel later this summer to fit in more with its line-up of shows. The channel will be known as Sky Witness. Starting on 6 August, the channel will also begin to roll out a new slate of US dramas, including the premiere of the much-hyped Nine-One-One, from American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy. Sky Living was already confirmed to be picking up Alan Cumming's Instinct about a profiler of serial killers and it will be joined on the new Sky Witness by the legal drama For The People and The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, the mini-series which marks the return of former Grey's Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey. The adaptation of Joël Dicker's novel casts Dempsey as a famous author at the centre of the murder investigation into the historic death of a fifteen-year-old girl. Sky Living was originally launched as UK Living in 1993. Over the years, it was home to such wretched unmitigated horseshit as Most Haunted, Scream Team, I'm Famous & Frightened!, Trolley Dollies and reality shows starring Jodie Marsh, Jade Goody and Katie Price. So, it will therefore be missed about as much as a really nasty rash on the bell-end.
Jo Brand's sitcom Damned has been dropped by Channel Four. Because no one was watching it. Brand and co-writer Morwenna Banks handled very upsetting subject matter in the series set in the Children's Services wing of a local health council. This blogger though it was rather good,actually, but the half-hour comedy-drama was never a ratings hit despite some critical praise. Ultimately, the ratings weren't strong enough to warrant a third series, according to a statement given to the British Comedy Guide from a Channel Four spokesperson. 'Across two series of Damned, Jo Brand, Morwenna Banks and the What Larks team created a warm, poignant, and pointed comedy of which we're incredibly proud,' a channel representative said. 'However, with a number of other brand new comedy series already commissioned for 2019, there are currently no plans for a third series.' When Damned launched in 2016, Brand said that she wanted to use the vehicle of the sitcom to explore the serious crises, in funding and otherwise, that Children's Services workers face daily. Damned also starred Alan Davies, Himesh Patel, Isy Suttie and Kevin Eldon.
Series four of Fargo will 'hopefully' start production 'in the fall of 2019' according to executive producer Warren Littlefield. '[Creator] Noah Hawley is directing a film this summer,' Littlefield told Deadline, 'and then in the fourth quarter, he'll write the opening hour of Fargo and then at the top of the year, the writers' room will go to work. Hopefully we get most of the season written and then in fall go into production.' After explaining that Hawley's busy schedule has 'slowed things down' behind the scenes, Littlefield did add that 'some aspects' of series four have already been settled. 'We have a year, a city and a location,' he confirmed. Talking about his ideas for series four, Hawley recently suggested that he could be 'taking things further back in time' than ever before – 'as long as there's something unique to say about it. On some level, there's a good joke in the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I don't know if there's ten episodes in that or not! But if you look at the history of the region and the waves of migration and people coming in and the things people do for money. There's something interesting to making a period version of it.'
Jeremy Vine will become the presenter of Channel Five's new daily current affairs programme after the departure of Matthew Wright. Wright announced last month that he was quitting The Wright Stuff, which he has presented since 2000. The new look Channel Five show will be broadcast from September with the show getting a new name for the first time in its eighteen-year history. Vine will juggle his new role alongside his popular weekday BBC Radio 2 show. In a statement, Vine said: 'Matthew Wright has built a brilliant show that's a big part of the British TV landscape. I'm delighted to be carrying on all the conversations he has started, with all the guests he's made me feel I know over the years. Radio 2 has a beautiful editorial overlap with the serious but accessible agenda of this show. I am proud to be Channel Five's choice to front it.' Wright spoke last month about why he was leaving on ITV's Loose Women. 'There's not a lot to say really other than the fact that, you know better than most, the demands of getting up for a daytime show,' he said. 'I'm up at three o'clock in the morning these days and I go to bed at half seven. I've had eighteen-and-a-half years of it, Mrs Wright, we pass like ships in the night and you're looking around and thinking, at some point you've got to have a change.' Ben Frow, director of programmes for Channel Five - and the man responsible for such twenty four carat disasters as Don't Stop Believing and Up Late With Ryan although he was also the chap who cancelled Live From Studio Five and shovelled it into the gutter along with all the other turds so, you know, swings and roundabouts - said: 'Jeremy Vine is a brilliant broadcaster whose supreme ability to make challenging stories accessible to a wider audience, not to mention his intellect, energy and wit, makes him the perfect choice to present our daily current affairs show.'
A theatre director has spoken of her 'disbelief' that the BBC approved the name Snatches for her new TV series. Vicky Featherstone, the Royal Court Theatre's artistic director, has curated eight monologues for BBC Four to mark one hundred years of women's suffrage. On the word Snatches - which can be a derogatory term for a vagina - she told the Radio Times magazine: 'It's reclaiming the word, isn't it?' She said BBC Four 'were rather amused by it. It was my first idea and I thought, "There's no way they're going to let it happen,"' she said. But it was allowed and Featherstone says it 'fits very well.' Expect some shit of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail to have a right good tut and a 'won't someone think of the children' about that. 'Our monologues are literally snatches of women's lives but a lot of those stories are about people and issues that aren't really known, so we're reclaiming the history and we're reclaiming the word,' she told the magazine. The eight fifteen-minute episodes, directed by Vanessa Caswill and Rachna Suri, have been penned by writers including Abi Morgan and Tanika Gupta. Romola Garai, Siobhan Finneran and Liv Hill are among the actresses involved. One of the monologues is based on rape within marriage, while another is about an actress's experience meeting a producer. The series, which will be broadcast this summer as part of the broadcaster's Hear Her season, marks the centenary of women over the age of thirty - and who owned property - being able to vote in the UK. Featherstone said that working on the series had been 'a wake-up call' in terms of gender equality. 'I'm an incredibly optimistic person,' she said. 'But I think the shock, for all of us who worked on Snatches, is that things maybe haven't changed as much for women as we thought they had. Snatches shows how things can shift. We just have to make sure they don't shift backwards.'
Odious, unfunny bucket of phlegm James Corden says that he has given up meat but adds bread is now his 'vice.' And, this pointless banal drivel constitutes 'news', apparently.
The model Chloe Ayling says that she feels 'vindicated' after the man she accused of kidnapping her was very convicted and jailed for almost seventeen years in the pokey. Ayling was lured to Italy from London on the promise of a photoshoot by Lucasz Herba, who drugged her and took her to a farmhouse in a holdall. Herba held her there for six days in July 2017 and demanded a three hundred thousand Euro ransom. The Polish national was jailed following a trial at a court in Milan. The court heard that he offered Ayling for sale online, before handing her over to the British consulate. Herba - described by prosecutors as 'a narcissist and a fantasist who was obsessed with Miss Ayling' - was also found extremely guilty of attempted extortion and carrying false documents. He was jailed for sixteen years and nine months. Herba had claimed Ayling went with him willingly, which she strenuously denied. At the start of the trial in February, a police officer told the court that Ayling had 'suffered mental and physical abuse' during the six-day ordeal. Her agent, Adrian Sington, said: 'This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the last year in the face of media criticism of her motivation and this is vindication - her story is true. It means now she can get on with her life. It's hard if you're being painted in the press as a liar and now she's able to say, "I know it's a bizarre story but it's a true one."' He called Herba 'a psychopath and a narcissist' who 'behaves in such a way that it's almost impossible to believe that someone could be so stupid. So, in some ways, it's not surprising that the media found Chloe's story difficult to believe,' he added. 'Let's not forget she was bundled into a suitcase, injected with ketamine in the boot of a car and thought she was going to die.' Herba orchestrated 'an extraordinary kidnap plot' in an attempt to win the model's affections. Herba, who lived in Oldbury, posed as a photographer in July last year and lured the model, from Coulsdon, to a fake studio in Milan. She was drugged, stripped, handcuffed, placed in a holdall bag and driven one hundred and twenty miles in the boot of a car to a remote farmhouse near Turin and held captive for six days. It was heard in court that Herba then pretended to be from a group called The Black Death, involved with selling models as sex slaves in Saudi Arabia but, ultimately, released Ayling after discovering she had a child. This, according to the prosecution, was another elaborate lie, set up in an attempt to win the model's sympathy and affection before releasing her. In his defence, Herba claimed that he had previously met Ayling and had fallen in love with her. He alleged that he wanted to 'create a scandal' to 'help her career' by creating extra publicity. Herba said that he was 'inspired' after watching the film By Any Means - in which a similar kidnap plot was carried out. The court ruled out any involvement from Ayling. Herba's brother, Michal, is alleged to have been involved in the kidnap and is in the process of being extradited from the UK. He denies any involvement.
Prince Edward has been 'slammed' (that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables) for a 'blatant abuse of public money' after taking a private jet costing taxpayers an estimated six grand for a one hundred and thirty three-mile journey between engagements. The Duke of Wessex, travelled between Poole in Dorset and Tamworth, to attend an event marking the death eleven hundred years ago of Anglo-Saxon ruler Aethelflaed. The normal hire cost of the plane to do the journey between airports in Dorset and Birmingham would be around six thousand pounds for a one-way trip. A first-class train ticket would have cost around two hundred and fifty smackers-per-person. Mind you, this is all according to the Daily Scum Mail so, you know, pinch of salt, perhaps.
An FBI agent accused of accidentally firing a gun as he danced at a bar has been charged with second-degree assault (and, first-degree crap dancing). Chase Bishop was dancing at a Denver bar on 2 June when his gun fell from his waistband on to the floor and discharged itself, police said. It went off as he picked it up, injuring another customer in the leg. The victim's injuries were 'serious but not life threatening' and they have since been released from hospital. Bishop turned himself in to the local sheriff's department and was charged with the alleged assault on Tuesday. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said: 'We are filing [the assault] charge now rather than waiting until the [blood alcohol content] report is received, which we understand could take another week, because sufficient evidence has been presented to file it. If an additional charge needs to be filed after further evidence is received, we can file those charges then.' The FBI declined to comment on the case 'in order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation.' Spokeswoman Amy Sanders said: 'The FBI will continue to fully cooperate with the Denver Police Department and the Denver District Attorney's Office as this matter proceeds through the judicial process.' Bishop had been off duty and on holiday at the time.
Indian chess champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of an Asian tournament in Iran over the country's compulsory headscarf rule. The Grandmaster said that the rule was a violation of her personal rights. 'Under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran,' she wrote in a Facebook post, which went viral. The Asian Chess Championship will take place in Iran next month. Swaminathan, who is ranked number five in India, told local media that the tournament was originally supposed to be held in Bangladesh. 'But, once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,' she said. When asked if the All India Chess Federation should have protested against the decision to shift location, she told the Times of India: 'I can't expect everyone to be of the same opinion as me. It's a subjective issue.' But, in her Facebook post, Swaminathan said that she was 'disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships.' She wrote that athletes often 'made adjustments' for the sake of sport, but 'enforceable religious dress' should not be one of them, adding that 'some things simply cannot be compromised.' This is not the first time an Indian athlete has withdrawn from a tournament over the same issue. Heena Sidhu, a top shooter, pulled out from the Asian Airgun meeting in Iran in 2016 for the same reason. American chess player Nazi Paikidze also drew international attention when she refused to attend the Women's World Championship in Iran in 2016. In an Instagram post, she wrote that it was 'unacceptable' to host the tournament in a place 'where women do not have basic fundamental rights.' An international chess tournament hosted in Saudi Arabia last year also prompted controversy when a double world champion said that she would boycott the event. Ukrainian chess player Anna Muzychuk said that she did not want to wear an abaya, the full-length, loose-fitting robes women are required to wear in public in Saudi Arabia.
Macedonia has agreed to change its name, bringing an end to a twenty seven-year long dispute with neighbouring Greece. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will now be known as Severna Makedonija, or the Republic of Northern Macedonia, providing sufficient difference from the neighbouring province of Macedonia which lies within Greece's borders. 'After months of negotiation we have managed to reach a deal that will solve our longstanding difference over the name of our neighbour,' Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said. The two nations had been locked in the dispute 'ever since the former republic seceded from Yugoslavia and declared independence as the Republic of Macedonia,' the Gruniad Morning Star noted. The language of the Republic of Northern Macedonia will still be called Macedonian, as will the name of the people from the small Balkan nation. The new name 'will now need to be approved by the Macedonian people and Greek parliament.'
An Air Force officer who was involved in classified planning and analysis of NATO's control and last seen withdrawing more than twenty eight thousand dollars in 1983 has been found in California. William Howard Hughes Jr, a former Kirtland Air Force Base officer with top security clearance, was apprehended at his home after a fraud investigation involving a fake identity he had been using, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a news release. Hughes was charged with desertion and is being held at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Hughes, a captain, worked in command and communications surveillance systems during the Cold War. He specialised in radar surveillance. He was thirty three years old and single when he vanished, according to news reports. Hughes was last seen withdrawing thousands of dollars from a bank in Albuquerque in the summer of 1983 after returning from a two-week vacation in Europe. He had just completed a stint in the Netherlands, where he worked with NATO officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft. 'Interviews of friends, associates and coworkers failed to disclose information regarding Hughes' whereabouts,' OSI said. 'Checks with law enforcement agencies both in the United States and overseas also failed to locate him.' An Office of Special Investigations spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal that there is 'no indication' Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union or that any classified information was leaked. Hughes told authorities after his capture on Wednesday that he was 'depressed' about being in the Air Force and 'decided to leave.' He created a fake identity and lived in California ever since.
A thirty five-year-old man has been very arrested as part of a police investigation into letters calling for 'a day of violence' against Muslims in the UK. The man, from Lincoln, was arrested on suspicion of soliciting to murder by police investigating the so-called 'Punish a Muslim Day' letters. He is also being held on suspicion of sending a hoax noxious substance and threatening letters. The anonymous letters called for a co-ordinated attack on Muslims. The man is currently in custody at a police station in West Yorkshire. In a statement, Counter Terrorism Policing North East said that 'searches have taken place' at a home in Lincoln and an office in the city centre. The letters, which proposed specific forms of attack, have been circulated online and received in communities across England - including West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire and London.
A man accused of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi group called for 'traitors' who supported multi-ethnic Britain to be 'hanged from lampposts,' in a video shown to an Old Bailey jury. In the clip, taken in March 2015, Matthew Hankinson, addressed a crowd in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is one of six men who deny being in National Action after a ban in 2016. On Tuesday, one of the group admitted planning to murder a Labour MP as part of what he called 'a white jihad.' Jack Renshaw, of Skelmersdale, pleaded very guilty to preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete to kill West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper. He also admitted making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson. There is no dispute in the trial that Hankinson, of Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, is the speaker at the rally which took place more than a year before National Action was banned under terrorism legislation. He and the five other defendants deny being members of the group after it was outlawed in December 2016. During the Newcastle event, Hankinson appeared wearing dark sunglasses and surrounded by flag bearers, including one man carrying the National Action insignia. He told the crowd they need to 'prepare for a coming race war' which was necessary to secure the future of white people. 'If we don't fight and cut out the cancer, Britain will die,' he says. 'The system will not compromise with us. We need the strongest of our race.' Referring to so-called race traitors who oppose far-right ideology, Hankinson says: 'They will end up hanging from lampposts. We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. Blood must be shed, the blood of traitors. Stand up white men and set our people free.' The jury also watched a video of a demonstration involving National Action in Liverpool which resulted in minor clashes with anti-racism protesters and police in 2016. Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Renshaw was a masked man seen to be holding a banner, alongside some of the group's founders. A further video of a Rochdale protest included footage of another of the defendants - Andrew Clarke of Prescot. The other accused, who all deny being in the group are: Christopher Lythgoe and Michal Trubini both from Warrington and Garron Helm from Seaforth. Lythgoe also denies encouragement to murder by allegedly giving Renshaw permission to kill Labour MP Ms Cooper on behalf of the group. The case continues.
Actor and musician Jackson Odell, best known for his role in US TV series The Goldbergs, has died at the age of twenty. He was found unresponsive at 'a sober living facility' in California on Friday, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. The cause of his death is being investigated. Odell starred as Ari Caldwell in the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs and appeared in guest roles on Modern Family and Arrested Development. He was also a songwriter and contributed to the soundtrack for the romantic drama Forever My Girl, which was released earlier this year. In a statement on his Twitter account, his family described him as 'a shining light and a brilliant, loving and talented soul. He had so much more to share. Our family will always carry that truth forward. Our wish is that the rest of the world who knew and loved him does as well,' the post read.