Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos: Time's Up

'Those systems are lit u like a Christmas tree.' 'Nine cries for help all coming from the same planet. Not just the same planet, the same area of the same planet. The planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos ... Roughly translated means "Disintegrator Of The Soul."' 'Oh, another cheery one?!'
'What is that thing' 'It's what we travel in. See, the sign on the front? We respond to urgent calls. You look like an urgent call.'
'I should have left.' 'Then, why haven't you?' 'I can't remember my name. I used to know before I went outside. I should never have gone outside.' 'Why, what happened outside?' 'The battle.'
'I know that voice.' 'I want what is mine, returned.'
'We want to help you get your crew back, we'll go with you.' 'Yeah. Because we've got unfinished business with that monster.'
'So, what is that sound?' 'I think it's the planet. It obviously doesn't like intruders.' 'Doc, can I have a word. Just the two of us ... I need to be honest with you cos I am really grateful for everything you done for me. For us. Everywhere we've been, all the adventures,it's been amazing. But, if that is the creature from Sheffield, I will kill it if I can. For what it did to Grace.' Go back to the TARDIS, Graham.' 'No.' 'I won't let you do that.' 'You ain't gonna have a say in it.' 'You're better than this. You  are. You have to be. if you kill him I can't have you travel with me, that's if you even live.' 'I understand.' 'No you don't! We're going to rescue hostages, anything that compromises them is dangerous. And, if you kill him you become the same as him. I'm serious Graham.' 'So am I.'
'What happened to "never do weapons?"' 'It's a flexible creed! Doors, walls, locks, buildings, fair game. If it can be rebuilt, I'll allow it!' 'No, no, you stopped me from shooting a sniper once before.' 'You were new, I had to lay down the rules if someone's new! Also, don't quote that back to me, rules change all the time!'
'I like precautions. Always take precautions, especially when you don't know what you're doing ... Oh, I should have brought wellies. That could've been another precaution, "always bring wellies." I love wellies, in fact, I think I half-invented them!'
'You're kidding! The Ux? As in The Duo Species? Only ever two of you? Life span of millennia? Only found on three planets in the whole universe? I've never met an Ux. Congratulations, it must be so cool!'
'We are the blessed generation.' 'There's only ever two of you, where's the other one' 'I don't have to answer all these questions.' 'That's what my teachers used to say. Usually just as they quit teaching!'
'You look in  bad way, whereas I've got a new coat. What do you think?'
'Tim Shaw! How long's it been?' 'Three thousand, four hundred and seven years.' 'I'll bet the seven really dragged! So, what happened to you?' 'You did!'
'When you say revenge, revenge on who?' 'You, Doctor.' Don't put this on me. 'If you had not interfered, I would have become leader; first of The Stenza. And yet, I should thank you. You have made me a God.' 'You are nothing of the sort.' ... 'It has taken thousands of years, every fragment of scientific understanding The Stenza ever possessed allied to the impossible power of The Ux. You will see, Doctor. I must be a God, I have the powers of one!'
'I remember what they did. Five objects, five planets, one weapon. They stole five planets!' 'That's impossible.' 'It's what happened.'
'Universe! Provide for me, I'm working really hard to keep you together right now!'
'Will it work?' 'No idea, but I once towed your planet halfway across the universe with this TARDIS. And turned a Slitheen back into an egg!'
'Finally, this is where our journey starts.' Of course, dear blog reader, totally unsurprisingly this blogger thought that was just completely and totally great. Another classic restatement of Doctor Who's traditional core values and an explosive (in every sense) way to finish ten weeks of quite brilliant telly. Emotional. Beautiful. Graceful, also in every sense. 'None of us know for sure what's out there. That's why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.'
The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos was watched by an overnight audience of 5.32 million viewers, a share of twenty six per cent of the total TV audience and, approximately, two hundred and fifty thousand punters up on last week's overnight figure. The rating made Doctor Who the fourth highest rated programme for Sunday. Largest for the day - and for the week - was the final of ITV's z-list Victorian freak show, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) which had 11.06 million watching Hapless Harry Redknapp being crowned King Of The Jungle. Or, 11.06 million and one, if you count its new biggest fan in all the land, Comrade Corbyn, obviously. All seven editions of the programme were in the top ten for the week ending 9 December. For shame, Britain, for shame. Strictly Come Dancing's results show was watched by 8.98 million whilst the final episode of Dynasties had 6.33 million. The Jimmy McGovern drama, Care, drew 2.57 million at 9pm on BBc1. Consolidated, Seven Day-Plus figures will be released next week.
It Takes You Away's Seven Day-Plus ratings have been announced by BARB. The episode had a consolidated audience of 6.41 million viewers. This total was made up of 6.24 million watching on TV and an additional one hundred and eighty thousand accessing the episode on iPlayer via PCs, tablets and smartphones. Doctor Who was the sixth most-watched programme on BBC1 during the week-ending Sunday 2 December. It was headed by the two episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (11.65 million and 9.83 million), Michael McIntyre's Big Show (7.35 million), the first episode of Mrs Wilson (7.33 million) and Dynasties (6.90 million). It Takes You Away was the twenty second most-watched programme of the week in total, in a top thirty dominated by seven more episodes of  sick Victorian freak show I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want).
Within moments of the final episode of the current series being broadcast, the BBC confirmed that the next series of Doctor Who will not be broadcast until 'early 2020.' After the episode on New Year's Day, Jodie Whittaker won't be seen in the TARDIS again next year. Showrunner Chris Chibnall said that work on the next series had 'already begun.' He said the team had been 'blown away by the response from audiences' to Jodie's Doctor. Talking about the next series Chibnall added: 'We're off again! Well we never actually stopped. As Jodie Whittaker's Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we've been busy with a whole new set of action-packed adventures for the thirteenth Doctor.' He stated that the production team 'couldn't wait' to bring 'more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole.' That was the first official confirmation that the current TARDIS team will all reappeared in series twelve. Of course, this announcement promptly sent a huge chunk of fandom into a collective jazz-hands meltdown with the foot-stamping and the wailing and gnashing of teeth and that. This blogger was particularly amused by the stroppy 'throwing toys out of prams' nature of much of the criticism of what is, let's face it, basically 'a TV producer not producing a show as quickly as I'd like.' Keith Telly Topping was even more amused that many of the loudest online voices on this subject during the immediate couple of hours after the announcement came from people who have, by and large, spent much of the last ten weeks whinging about how this current series has been 'not Doctor Who' as they know it and that it has wholly defiled their Dalek-lovin' childhood, et cetera. So, to sum up then, these are people who are angry that the next series will be starting, what, roughly three or four months later than this year, but they didn't like this year's series in the first place. To quote Rodney Bewes in Resurrection Of The Daleks, 'I can't stand the confusion in my mind!' This blogger's default position remains what he has said many, many times previously (no, not 'I thought it was great.' Although he did and he does). When Doctor Who came back to TV in 2005, this blogger expected that it would last, at most, about three series, if that. Therefore, everything since about 2008 has been a massive bonus for Keith Telly Topping. This blogger is simply happy that, in 2020, a daft little family SF drama which he first started watching in 1968 is still to be a going concern. Others, seemingly, are a bit more selfish, self-entitled and brattish and are doing a fascinating impression of Billy Connolly's legendary 'want, want, want! Want it all! Want it now! Don't wanna pay for it!' routine. It was a sight to behold, dear blog reader, it truly it was. In a wider context of how television production actually works, we all know pretty much exactly how long it takes to make a full series of Doctor Who, we've known this for thirteen years; it takes about six weeks of pre-production, roughly nine to nine-and-a-half months of filming and then probably another couple of months of post-production, editing, adding music and SFX et cetera. Roughly a year in total, in fact. That's how long it took to make series one in 2004 and 2005 and that's how long it takes now. Pre-production on the next series started a couple of weeks ago; apparently filming will begin immediately after New Year so, therefore, the earliest that series twelve could, conceivably be ready for broadcast would around the end of November next year. There's no point in the BBC starting a new series then as it would have to be interrupted by the Christmas schedules just a few weeks into the run, so it makes sense for it to start in January 2020. Thus, you may be wondering, what exactly is the problem? It's a couple of months later than this year, it's no big deal, right? Well, you try telling fandom that! And, good luck to you getting out of the gaff in one piece, dear blog reader. From a few things that both Chris Chibnall and Steven Moffat (OBE) have said, this blogger is of the belief that the notion of the production having a three month break between each series for the cast and crew to, basically, catch their breath is something which has been on the cards for two or three years and this is the first year that it has taken effect. We know that production for series eleven ended in August of this year, we know pre-production for series twelve began at the end of last month. This blogger is pretty sure that was always the design - at least, as far as the production team, if not the necessarily BBC - is concerned and Keith Telly Topping wouldn't be surprised if this is the way it's going to be from now on, one series of Doctor Who approximately every fourteen-to-sixteen months rather than one every twelve months with a gap year thrown in periodically because, basically, everybody's on the verge of collapse! This blogger is sure that the BBC themselves, who seem to be copping an awful lot of unfair flak over this, would love Doctor Who to have more or less the same production schedule as EastEnders, two episodes a week, fifty two weeks a year given the amount of revenue that the show generates. But, sadly, that's not feasible either logistically or, from the point of view of the cast and crew, physically. So there you have it. The only question now remaining is who, in the production office, told Starburst magazine a few weeks ago that the next series would, likely, be broadcast in late 2019. And why did they do so? Deliberate misleading? Miscommunication? Wishful thinking? Or, did they genuinely believe, at that stage, this to be the case? Perhaps we'll never care.
Yer actual Jodie Whittaker will be joined by her regular travelling companions for Doctor Who's New Year's special as well as a trio of guest-stars. The BBC has confirmed that Charlotte Ritchie will play a character called Lin, Nikesh Patel will play Mitch and Daniel Adegboyega will appear as Aaron in the episode which the Beeb have also announced this week will be called Resolution. You'll probably know Charlotte Ritchie as Barbara Gilbert in Call The Midwife. She also appeared in Fresh Meat (but, we'll just have to try to forgive her for that) and Siblings. Nikesh Patel is best known for his role as Aafrin Dalal in the Channel Four drama Indian Summers, while Daniel Adegboyega was in Sky's highly-regarded Save Me. Written by showrunner Chris Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip, the hour-long episode will see The Doctor, Ryan, Yaz and Graham arrive home 'only to come across a new alien threat' to planet Earth. 'We're thrilled to be starting the New Year with a bang on BBC1, as Jodie Whittaker's Doctor and friends face a terrifying alien threat in an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family,' Chibnall said. The sixty minute episode will be broadcast at 7pm on BBC1, inbetween the BBC News and Eastenders and will be up against Emmerdale on ITV.
Meanwhile the Daily Mirra has claimed that The Daleks will be appearing in the Doctor Who New Year special, a story which was subsequently picked up by several other media sources. This may well be true (it's certainly something which has been rumoured around fandom for a while) but, this blogger prefers to wait until an independent source with a bit less of a reputation for, how can Keith Telly Topping put this, 'talking complete and utter shite,' makes such claims. The Daily Mirra, you may remember, infamously claimed that Kris Marshall had not only been cast as Peter Capaldi's replacement as The Doctor but, indeed, had already joined the production in 2017. When he, you know, hadn't. Frankly, dear blog reader, if the Daily Mirra - a newspaper which had a much greater reputation for factual accuracy when they used to illegally hack people's phones - stated that black was a darker shade than white, this blogger would like to have a second opinion on the matter before believing it.
The Hollywood Reporter has a piece - an 'exclusive' no less - stating that Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she will be returning for the next series of Doctor Who. 'I really can't wait to step back in and get to work again,' Jodie is quoted as saying. 'It's such an incredible role. It's been an extraordinary journey so far and I'm not quite ready to hand it over yet.' Which, technically speaking, is 'news' since it hadn't been officially confirmed previously. But, as the magazine states in its article itself, 'it was largely presumed that Whittaker wouldn't be handing over her sonic screwdriver anytime soon.' Thus, let's file this one in the '... And, in other news, The Pope in a Catholic' column.
This week's edition of the Radio Times (cover date 8 to 14 December) is the latest in this year's issues to showcase Doctor Who, making it the fourth time in six months that yer actual Jodie Whittaker has graced the front cover. Inside the magazine is a four page interview with That There Bradley Walsh, who discusses his career and also explains why he wouldn't want to play The Doctor himself: 'My style can be as manic as the next person's, but The Doctor has a certain style and, despite regeneration, I think they ostensibly remain the same type of person. And, if you don't know the back catalogue and all the jargon, you're up against it. Whereas I ducked out in 1969 (during Patrick Troughton's time as The Doctor) and, for me, this is brand spanking new. Besides, Jodie is absolutely fantastic.' Another page focuses on Bradley's co-stars, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole - both of whom still enjoy their anonymity - and on the forthcoming New Year special. The Radio Times is available to purchase now from all good newsagents (and, some bad ones).
The cast of Doctor Who have rejected ludicrous, suspiciously agenda-soaked claims - made by a few-dozen racist, sexist, homophobic bigots on Twitter whose crass bleatings were subsequently picked up (as 'news') by a couple of the more scummy right-wing papers with a sick agenda smeared all over their collective disgusting mush - that the programme has become 'too politically correct.' They have defended its storylines as an 'entertaining reminder' of 'important issues.' Recent episodes of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama, which the actors recognised have 'provoked extreme opinions' among some viewers - or bigots as they are more accurately known - commenting online, have covered issues including the US civil rights movement and the 1947 partition of India. Plus, let's be very clear about this dear blog reader because it is important, commenting online on the casting of two actors of colour as regulars. Because, that's what this issue is really all about. Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, who play The Doctor's travelling companions Yaz and Ryan - excellently - kept their dignity when confronted with such spiteful, ignorant  neo-racist crap and told the Radio Times that broaching such topics could prompt viewers in an entertaining way to 'think about broader issues.' Dangerous territory for television in 2018, it would seem, although entirely in keeping with Doctor Who's proud fifty five year history of liberal, humanitarian and, broadly, pacifist storytelling. 'Everyone's going to have their own opinion - it is what it is,' Cole said. 'The fact that we can give everyone a little friendly, entertaining reminder of these issues is great.' Responding to the accusation of being 'too politically correct,' - whatever that nonsense phrase means - Gill said: 'It makes me laugh, because having the words "too" and "correct" in the same sentence is really bizarre to me. How can you be too correct about something? You do see some extreme comments under news articles. I'm only human and I do check and read them. But they don't bother me and actually they're creating conversation.' The programme, of course, generates the most revenue for BBC Worldwide of all its properties, once merchandise and syndication is accounted for, with a global audience of around seventy million punters. In recent years, it has attracted criticism - again from some complete numbskull glakes you've never heard of on social media - for backstory-heavy plots which, allegedly, left the casual viewer 'struggling to make sense of complex storylines.' Because, you know, heaven help us in this attention-span-of-seven-seconds media age if viewers are actually asked to use a bit of brain-power and think about things. That will never do. Dear blog readers may also be interested in Lucy Jones's timely slapping down of the whole 'too PC' sneering bollocks in the Indi, which is well worth five minutes of your time. Although, Lucy, a tip; no one - at least, no one with an ounce of dignity or self-respect about them - uses that truly hateful word 'Whovian'. Except possibly ironically. 'Doctor Who fan' is fine.
And, speaking of interesting articles on Doctor Who (and, in this case, also Sherlock), the Observer Morning Star's Venessa Thorpe has written Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes: the perfect team for tourism: 'Two of Britain's most famous fictional exports, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who [sic], are at the heart of a new generation of "live" immersive attractions designed to draw foreign tourists this winter. Yesterday a Sherlock-themed interactive game, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and other cast members of the television show, opened to its first paying customers in West London, while next month a new "escape room" experience based on Doctor Who is to open in Bristol before rolling out across five other English cities. Cardiff, creative home of Doctor Who since its 2005 reboot, will also see some of this spin-off action in the new year.'
Peter Davison has been revealing all about his time on Doctor Who in newly recorded interviews for a forthcoming Blu-ray box-set. Peter's first year in the TARDIS, series nineteen - broadcast in 1982 and a particular favourite of this blogger - is the next release in the series, Doctor Who: The Collection, available later this month. It is positively packed - packed, this blogger notes - full of features and never-before-seen extras. In an in-depth interview with the broadcaster, TV historian and noted Doctor Who fan Matthew Sweet, Davison argues that Doctor Who was 'poorly treated' after his departure in 1984. Up until that time, the BBC's long-running family SF drama had been enjoying strong viewing figures and good reviews - much of that down to Peter himself - but, post-his departure in 1984, the show moved into a time of uncertainty, critical mauling and indifference from those that held its future in their hands. The BBC, infamously, put the series on hiatus in 1985, sacked its leading man, Colin Baker and dramatically reduced the number of episodes per series. Davison reveals in the interview that he was 'very happy' to have left the part when he did. When asked if he felt he had dodged a bullet in exiting after three series, he replies, 'Yes, probably. I was upset about what happened, really because, first of all, it wasn't to do with Colin, I know that. It was to do with other issues.' Suggesting that the show was 'handled very badly' during this time, Davison describes Baker as 'the victim' and offers up a reason for the BBC's alleged souring attitude towards Doctor Who: 'The power structure in the BBC had changed and they didn't want John Nathan-Turner around, is the truth of it.' Nathan-Turner was the show's then-producer, the man who cast Peter, Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Michael Grade who had joined the corporation in 1984 as Controller of BBC1 has since admitted that he 'wanted rid of Doctor Who.' 'In order to get rid of John, they effectively said, "We don't like your choice of Doctor, you have to get rid of The Doctor,"' Davison claimed. 'And, rather than John saying, "Well, in that case I resign," he said, "Okay, I'll get rid of Colin." Which is a pretty tough choice to make. He probably should have moved on, actually. He probably should have done the decent thing .. So, I was very happy I'd moved on.' That is not to say that things always went right during Davison's era. In a new documentary looking at the much-maligned story Time-Flight which closed series nineteen, Peter describes monsters The Plasmatons as 'rubbish.' Which, they were! 'They were just nothing at all, they were lumps of polystyrene,' he recalled. 'It was just one more indignity that was heaped upon the story. It was a real symbol that [the production had] run out of money. "What can we do for these Plasmatons? Let's just make them lumps of polystyrene!"' Doctor Who: The Collection series nineteen will available from Monday 10 December.
The BBC has revealed that an animated version of the 1967 Doctor Who story The Macra Terror will be released on DVD in March 2019. The four-part Patrick Troughton story has been missing from the BBC Archives for many years, although a copy of the soundtrack exists alongside a handful of short video clips. In it, The Doctor and his companions, Ben Polly and Jamie, visit a - nameless - planet and suffer a nasty attack of crabs. True story. Rumours of an animated version of the story were confirmed by the BBC this week releasing a trailer on their YouTube channel.
To the surprise of many shoppers - particularly this lady - Cybermen were spotted in two major cities in the UK on Friday, to mark tickets going on sale for Worlds Collide, the first official Doctor Who 'live escape game.' She looks well-concerned by this happenstance, doesn't she? 'I go out to do a bit of shopping and end up in an episode of The Invasion, it's not bloomin' fair.'
Don't say Auntie never gives you anything for Christmas dear blog reader, because the BBC has lined-up over one hundred full series box-sets to roll out on iPlayer over the festive season. For the drama fans, there's the full series of this year's breakout thrillers Bodyguard and Killing Eve, plus every single series of Doctor Who since 2005. A Very English Scandal, Collateral, The Little Drummer Girl, Mrs Wilson, There She Goes and Trust, all of which featured in From The North's recent 2018 best of list are also featured. Comedy lovers can have a reet good laugh at the full runs of hits like Outnumbered, Extras, The League Of Gentlemen and Miranda, or enjoy more recent series People Just Do Nothing and Fleabag. It's not all good news, though, Gavin & Stacey is also included. Tragedy. Nature lovers and those wishing to escape the dreary December weather can go to the far corners of the globe with Sir David Attenborough on Planet Earth and Planet Earth II. Most of these will be available from 12 December, whereas all-new 2018 festive specials from EastEnders, Doctor Who, Luther and more will be on iPlayer once they premiere on telly. The box-sets will all be available well into January so, once Santa's done his rounds he too can get his feet up and have a right good binge-watch. Of Class. That'll be nice.
Things We Learned From This Week's Only Connect: During a round concerning the lyrics of 'The Chicken Song' (no, really), the divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell revealed that she has 'a very good friend called Keith.' No further comment is necessary at this juncture, dear blog reader, you can make up your own punchline.
'Look! It's happening again!' From The North's Comedy Moment Of The Week came from Vic & Bob's Big Night Out and their deliciously daft Keep Fireballs Contained public information film parody. Which you can check out for yourselves, here. 'This announcement was made to you by The Attlee Government in conjunction with Boy George and Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers!'
Qi will return from its few weeks break for the start of the second half of its P series on a new night, Tuesday 18 December, with the episode Pubs. It will feature Josh Widdecombe, Caraid Lloyd and That Bloody Weirdo Noel Fielding. Given that this appears to be the popular BBC2 comedy panel show's Christmas episode (judging by what the panellists are wearing in the promo photo) then that does rather suggest the following episode (scheduled to be one called Pain & Punishment featuring Jimmy Carr and Lee Mack) may be delayed until either the week between Christmas and New Year or the week after that. There is no news yet on when the extended XL episodes will be shown (although Saturday nights looks likely).
Dan Weiss and David Benioff, appearing at Comic Con Experience in Brazil, told Maisie Williams that they had decided how Game Of Thrones would end pretty early on in the process. 'Sometime after we finished the third season is when we knew,' they revealed. In other Game Of Thrones news, HBO and Sky Atlantic have released the latest official teaser for the drama's impending final series. The clip, which 'is equal-parts vague and exciting,' according to the Digital Spy website, 'gives fans a dark new twist on the show's iconic, ever-evolving opening.' Or something.
Further news on the ongoing filming of Peaky Blinders series five. This week, Cillian Murphy spent a day filming in Bradford at the City Hall, a regular location for the period drama ib previous years. Production company, Tiger Aspect, worked with Bradford's City of Film team on the shoot. David Wilson, Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, said: 'This is the third time that Bradford has hosted the award-winning drama Peaky Blinders and its always a pleasure to work with Tiger Aspect. They are true professionals and always have great respect for the heritage buildings they use.'
Idris Elba will return as John Luther on New Year's Day in the fifth series of the BBC1 crime drama. Luther will be broadcast on successive nights, with the whole of the new four-part series showing between 1 and 4 January. A recent trailer showed Elba's Luther hunting down a masked killer and showcased new recruit Detective Sergeant Catherine Halliday, played by Wunmi Mosaku. There was also a glimpse of Ruth Wilson's Alice Morgan, despite her being apparently killed (off-screen, admittedly) in the previous series. Fans will be delighted to see Elba don his tweed coat for the first time since the 2016 edition of Sport Relief. After the fourth series was shown in 2015 there had been hopes that it would spawn as a big-screen version, but a film never materialised - as big-screen spin-offs of TV series tend not to. Each episode of the new series will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC1.
Sir David Attenborough has said that climate change is 'humanity's greatest threat in thousands of years.' Apart from Piers Morgan, obviously. The broadcaster said that it 'could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world.' Climate change that is, not Piers Morgan. Although having said that ... Sir David was speaking at the opening ceremony of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Poland. The meeting is the most critical on climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement. Sir David said: 'Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.' The naturalist is taking up the 'People's Seat' at the conference, called COP24. He is supposed to act as 'a link' between the public and policy-makers at the meeting. 'The world's people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now,' he said. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said that climate change was 'already a matter of life and death' for many countries. He explained that the world is 'nowhere near where it needs to be' on the transition to a low-carbon economy. But, the UN Secretary-General said that the conference was 'an effort to right the ship' and he would convene a climate summit next year to discuss next steps. Meanwhile, the World Bank has announced two hundred billion dollars in funding over five years to support countries taking action against climate change. This Conference of the Parties is the first to be held since the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on limiting global temperature rise came out in October. The IPCC stated that to keep to the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, governments would have to slash emissions of greenhouse gases by forty five per cent by 2030. But, a recent study showed that CO2 emissions are on the rise again after stalling for four years. In an unprecedented move, four former UN climate talks presidents issued a statement on Sunday, calling for urgent action. They say 'decisive action in the next two years will be crucial.' Meanwhile, the gap between what countries say they are doing and what needs to be done has never been wider. So urgent is the task that some negotiators began their meetings on Sunday, a day before the official start. Twenty nine heads of state and government are due to give statements at the opening of the meeting. The number is down on those that turned up in Paris in 2015, which perhaps indicates that many are seeing this as more a technical stage on the road to tackling climate change than a big bang moment. But, for the likes of China and the EU, the meeting is critical. They will want to show that international co-operation can still work even in the age of President Rump and his love of all emissions.
Noel Edmonds - who is definitely not mental - said he felt 'down and disappointed' after becoming the first z-list failure to be voted out of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). Which is,obviously, very sad. But, he added that he 'soon got over it' because he swapped the TV show's jungle camp for a five-star hotel. Speaking to ITV's Lorraine from his hotel poolside, Edmonds claimed that he was 'astonished' when he was evicted on Friday. 'I was hoping to hang around for a little bit longer,' he said. 'I hadn't even actually got into my stride.' Edmonds joined ITV's sick Victorian freak show three days after the rest of the campmates, vowing to retire from the TV industry if he won. Tragically, that will not now happen. Viewers, seemingly, didn't want that outcome and voted his ass out after just nine days in the jungle. And, that was the end of his shit.
The BBC has dropped plans to hold a Brexit debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, saying it 'could not reach an agreement' on its proposal. Given that it's taken two years for the government to work out what it is proposing for Brexit and the probability that the rest of parliament will tell soon-to-be-former Prime Minister May where to take her bloody backstop and shove it, it was always going to be a bit of a fallacy that the BBC could get May and Comrade Corbyn to agree on pretty much anything. Both it and ITV offered to broadcast a debate between the leaders on Sunday - two days before Parliament votes on Brexit. But, Labour claimed that the BBC's proposed format was 'a mish-mash, with a lopsided panel of other politicians and public figures' taking part. Downing Street suggested Labour's objections were 'false and flimsy.' The BBC had wanted to include 'a range of voices' in the programme, including members of other political parties, as well as a head-to-head between the leaders. The Downing Street spokesman said: 'We remain committed to holding a debate and will continue to press for a format that ensures a range of voices are heard alongside a substantial head-to-head.' Several other parties had said they should be included in the debate - including the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and The Greens. ITV originally said 'invitations remain open' to both leaders to hold a debate on the channel. But then, a couple of days later, they changed their mind. The BBC said last week that the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister had accepted its offer to take part in a debate on Sunday night and it was waiting to hear from the Labour Party. Good old 'man of the people' Comrade Corbyn told ITV's This Morning that he 'preferred ITV's offer' - partly because it would not clash with the final of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) on the same evening. Which, he claimed, he wanted to watch - and, as excuses for getting out of an appointment go, that one's right up there with 'I'm washing my hair.' Although, this blogger is sure that Comrade Corbyn's many Momentum acolytes will be delighted to know that, seemingly, Comrade Corbyn prefers to watch a sick Victorian freak show featuring z-list attention junkies than a Comrade Jimmy McGovern drama, Care, about the treatment of mental health which BBC1 is showing in the same slot. You're an inspiration to us all, Comrade Corbyn. Last Saturday, the BBC released a further statement, saying its proposal included both a head-to-head debate and 'an opportunity to hear from a wider range of voices. We have been clear throughout the whole of this process that, as well as a substantive head-to-head debate, any programme we broadcast would need to include other voices, including other political parties, to reflect the wide range of views the public and parliamentarians hold about Brexit,' the BBC said. 'We believe ours was a fair and appropriate format for those taking part and, crucially, for our audiences around the country and it is a shame we will not be able to bring them this programme.' On Tuesday, Labour criticised May and her team for choosing their 'preferred broadcaster' for the debate. The party's spokesman claimed that she is 'running away from the scrutiny' of a head-to-head with Comrade Corbyn by accepting the BBC's format over ITV's. But a Downing Street spokesman in turn accused Comrade Corbyn of 'running scared of proper scrutiny. The Prime Minister issued the original challenge to Jeremy Corbyn for a head-to-head debate, and despite her flexibility on timing and format, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have done nothing but raise false and flimsy objections to the BBC's proposal.'
Fiona Bruce - this generation's 'thinking man's crumpet' has said that it is 'an honour' to be confirmed as the new host of Question Time. Known for presenting the BBC News At Six, Fake Or Fortune? and Antiques Roadshow, she will be the first female full-time host in the show's forty-year history. A senior BBC 'source' allegedly said that Fifi had 'performed superbly' in recent auditions, according to the BBC's media editor, Amol Rajan. Question Time's current host David Dimbleby will leave the show later this month after twenty four years. Bruce said: 'It is an honour to be asked to take on one of the great political programmes of the BBC, particularly at a time of such historic change for the UK and tumult at Westminster. For many years, Question Time has been presented by one of my television heroes so I am thrilled and not a little daunted to be stepping into his shoes.' Fran Unsworth, director of BBC News and Current Affairs, said: 'Question Time is one of our flagship political programmes, giving people across Britain the chance to hold the powerful to account.' Bruce has worked at the BBC since 1990, when she began her career as a researcher on Panorama. The fifty four-year-old went on to become a reporter on that programme and also on Newsnight. Bruce also co-hosted Crimewatch for eight years. In 2001, she became the first female presenter to be part of the BBC's general erection studio team.
From The North favourite Mary Beard has said that she is happy to have been made a dame, even though she has not always agreed with what the honours system stands for. 'Had somebody said to me at twenty three that I would accept a damehood of the British Empire, I would have said, "Sorry, sunshine, that's not what my politics is all about,"' she said on Friday. Now in her sixties, though, the historian and broadcaster said she was 'older and wiser.' She told reporters that she found the title 'quaint and charming,' if 'odd.' She said that honours were no longer associated with the politics of the empire - because there is no empire - adding: 'Dames cart around the stage, don't they?' Plus. there is nothing like one. Apparently. Speaking after collecting her honour from Prince William at Buckingham Palace, Dame Mary also revealed that she had offered to teach Willie's three children Latin. 'I hope he was listening,' the Cambridge University classics professor said. 'Of course, he was very polite and said, "I'll have to get you to teach them" and I said, "Anything!" It's important to learn where we've been and where we've come from and for people to have access to some of the most extraordinary and influential literature in world culture. That kind of direct connection with something so influential written so long ago is, I think, terribly important.' She was made a dame in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to classical scholarship, having previously been made an OBE in 2013.
Cromer and its one hundred and seventeen-year-old pier have been given starring roles on BBC1 this Christmas. The Norfolk town features in the channel's festive idents, which are shown before programmes begin and in a short promotional film about the importance of spending time with loved ones. The town is 'the star of the film,' said location manager Crispin Buxton, with its 'iconic pier and extraordinary backdrop.' Filming took place over four days in early October.
Viewers of the BBC's family drama The A Word have been looking forward for another series since the drama's emotional finale last year. From The North favourite Lee Ingleby has revealed that the cast are 'optimistic' that the series will return, but that it is likely that the show will pick up 'a few years later' to feature Joe's transition into adolescence. 'We're hoping it will be back,' Ingleby told the Digital Spy website. 'Peter Bowker wants to pick up the story two years later. It's not a straightforward continual. He wants to continue the story from when the little boy is grown up so it presents itself with new challenges, and seeing him going through his growing pains and discovering who he is in a world where he doesn't know how it functions properly. That's the hope.' The drama follows the Hughes family as they come to terms with their son Joe's autism diagnosis and the daily trials of family life. It has been raised by viewers and critics alike for its sensitive and touching depiction of the autism spectrum. Ingleby who plays Joe's father, Paul, says that the feedback he has received from viewers has been 'largely positive,' but that there have been some who said the story has been very different from their own personal experiences. 'It's all been really positive,' the actor continued. 'Of course there are people who contact you and say that's not how their story unfolds but, when you are tackling [stories] with people on the spectrum, everybody's story is different, and everybody's situation is different. So, we have to emphasise it is just one story from one family going through their own set of challenges. But on the whole it's been positive, really positive, especially from people that have similar scenarios and situations like that. It makes it worthwhile doing it. It does.' Meanwhile, Ingleby will be providing the voice of Captain Campion in the BBC and Netflix's much-anticipated animated adaptation of Watership Down this Christmas. On the challenges of recording their parts separately, he explained: 'It is really odd, they give you a rough outline of what it would look like and what your character is like. It was all very shrouded in mystery, I can't wait to see what they've done with it.'
ITV thriller Bancroft has begun production on a second series. Starring Sarah Parish and Faye Marsay, the second series will follow the ruthless Elizabeth Bancroft at the height of her career. However, it appears as though her professional success will have repercussions at home, with Bancroft's history also peeking around the corner. A synopsis for the series also mentions 'a chilling new antagonist.' 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be returning to the role of Bancroft and inhabiting her complex life which Kate [Brooke] has crafted so well,' Parish said. 'Bancroft is such a contentious anti-heroine and as a character she offers me so much to work with. Manipulative and strategic with her thinking, she knows how to get what she wants. The question is, what will this cold-blooded killer do next in order to defend her son?' Bancroft was one of ITV's best-performing dramas last year, with a series average of 6.7 million punters. Creator Kate Brooke added: 'Bancroft is a character who has lurked in the dark recesses of my imagination for many years. I am delighted to be bringing her back to the screen. Series two is a ferocious female driven tale where Bancroft, brilliantly played by the awe-inspiring Sarah Parish, meets her match.'
Britain's biggest gambling companies have voluntarily agreed to a 'whistle-to-whistle' television advertising ban. The Remote Gambling Association, which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, has struck a deal to stop adverts during live sports broadcasts. It follows political pressure about the amount of betting advertising on TV. More than ninety minutes of adverts were shown during the football World Cup and anti-gambling campaigners say sport broadcasts use of adverts 'normalises' betting. There are also fears it contributes to the rise in the amount of problem gamblers - with a Gambling Commission report suggesting four hundred and thirty thousand Britons can be described as such - and helps fuel under-age gambling. The deal follows extensive talks between firms - also including SkyBet, Betfred, Betfair, Stan James, Gala Coral and William Hill - to ensure that no adverts will be broadcast 'for a defined period' before, during and after a game is broadcast. The proposal is similar to those made by the Labour party and, importantly, will include any game which starts prior to the 9pm watershed but ends after that time. The RGA has previously claimed that it was 'very mindful of public concerns.' One or two people even believed them. Horse racing will be exempt from the restrictions given the commercial importance of gambling on its viability but all other sports will be included. However, it is the impact on football where the ban will be felt the most, especially given the financial value of the sport to both the gambling companies and broadcasters. Nearly sixty per cent of clubs in England's top two divisions have gambling companies as shirt sponsors. Final ratification is needed from the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling before the ban comes into force. That should be a formality, according to industry insiders and could come as early as this month or in early 2019. On Thursday, the RGA said: 'The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is reviewed annually, and several options are currently being considered as the basis for possible enhancements in 2019. However, nothing has yet been finalised.' Tommy Watson MP (power to the people!), Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said he was 'delighted' by the move as the number of adverts during live sports had 'clearly reached crisis levels.' He added: 'There was clear public support for these restrictions and I'm glad that the Remote Gambling Association has taken its responsibilities seriously and listened.' Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP, said it was 'a welcome move. Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns,' he said. 'It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.' Sarah Hanratty, chief executive of the Senet Group - the industry's responsible gambling body, funded by the four largest UK gambling companies - said: 'It has been clear for some time now that the volume and density of advertising and sponsorship messaging from gambling companies around live sport has become unsustainable. This is a welcome move from the leading industry operators who are taking the initiative to respond to public concern.' Of course, this also means that Ray Winstone will actually have to take up acting again. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.
Lena Dunham has said publicly defending a writer on her show, Girls, after he was accused of rape was 'a terrible mistake.' Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Dunham apologised for speaking up for Murray Miller out of 'blind faith.' She originally spoke about it last November after Miller was first accused of assaulting an actress when she was seventeen. Miller has always denied the 'outrageous' allegations and in August prosecutors decided not to charge him with any offence. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office did not pursue a prosecution, it said, because of the expiry of the statute of limitations and 'inconsistencies and the delay in reporting,' The Wrap reported in August. Dunham, writing as guest editor of The Hollywood Reporter's Women In Hollywood edition, explained why she originally said that she had 'insider knowledge' which made her believe the accusation was false. 'When someone I knew, someone I had loved as a brother, was accused, I did something inexcusable: I publicly spoke up in his defence,' she wrote. 'There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life. I didn't have the "insider information" I claimed but, rather, blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all.' She added: 'It's painful to realise that, while I thought I was self-aware, I had actually internalised the dominant male agenda that asks us to defend it no matter what, protect it no matter what, baby it no matter what.' Dunham received a fierce backlash after her original statement, which was written jointly with her fellow Girls showrunner Jenni Konner. She then apologised, saying it was 'absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement.' At the time, Miller's lawyer, Don Walerstein, said that his client 'categorically and vehemently denies' the allegations. He also said his legal team had 'overwhelming evidence directly contradicting these false and offensive claims.'
A London-based satellite news station is being formally investigated by Ofcom after it broadcast an interview with an extremist group that claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Iran. The media regulator said that it would consider whether Iran International, which is based in West London but broadcasts to a Farsi-language audience around the world, broke broadcasting standards by showing the footage in September. Ofcom said it had received three complaints objecting to airtime being given to Yacoub Hor al-Tostari, a spokesman for the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, which advocates for a separatist Arab state in Iran. During the interview, he appeared to praise a September terror attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, which killed dozens and claimed his group was responsible for the atrocity. 'I insist that armed resistance is part of our resistance,' he said in the interview. Isis also claimed responsibility for the attack. The media regulator said it was investigating whether the interview breached rules on generally accepted standards. 'Under Ofcom's rules, potentially offensive content must be presented with sufficient context. We are investigating whether this news programme fell short of these requirements,' a spokesperson said. An announcement by Ofcom added: 'It is important to note that an investigation by Ofcom does not necessarily mean the broadcaster or service provider has done anything wrong. Not all investigations result in breaches of the codes, rules, licence conditions or other regulatory requirements being recorded.' The case highlights how London has become a centre for foreign-language news channels seeking a base to broadcast to the world. Ofcom enforces the UK's strict media regulations on all British-based channels, regardless of whether they are aimed at a UK audience or not. The regulator investigates complex geopolitical disputes and consider whether foreign-language broadcasts have broken the rules of impartiality. Rob Benyon, the acting head of channel at Iran International, said: 'We believe this is a routine continuation of the process of scrutiny which began some weeks ago. We have always co-operated fully with Ofcom and they have not contacted us further about this announcement.'
The leader of the UK's MI6 intelligence service has said he is 'perplexed' over why the United Arab Emirates jailed British academic Matthew Hedges. Alex Younger said that he 'genuinely can't understand how our Emirati partners came to the conclusions they came to.' Hedges was accused of spying for MI6 and jailed in the UAE last month, but he was later pardoned and released. In a rare speech, Younger also warned Russia 'not to underestimate our capabilities.' He described how MI6 exposed the perpetrators of the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury and warned that Britain's adversaries view themselves as being in a state of 'perpetual confrontation' with the UK. Last month, an Abu Dhabi court found Hedges very guilty of 'spying for or on behalf of' the UK government and he was sent to The Slammer for life. Prosecutors alleged that Hedges had 'admitted' the charges - one or two people even believed them - but the thirty one-year-old denied spying and said that he had been 'researching the country's security strategy' as part of his PhD studies at Durham University. A week later, the UAE issued the pardon as part of a series of orders on the country's National Day anniversary and Hedges was freed. In the second public speech by the man known as C in the four years since his appointment, Younger addressed the case. 'We are perplexed by what has happened,' he said, speaking at St Andrews University. 'There are some frank conversations ahead of us but we need to make sure that partnership works.' Younger also spoke of the need for 'fourth-generation espionage,' fusing human skills with technical innovation. He encouraged students to consider joining MI6, saying tackling modern adversaries who use new technology to probe UK institutions and defences will require 'a mindset that mobilises diversity and empowers the young.'Plus, you get a Walther PPK and an Aston Martin and all the ladies think you're great. Younger re-emphasised the importance of strengthening security ties in Europe. He said that Britain's spies have 'thwarted multiple Islamic State plots' originating overseas, often in partnership with European allies. UK intelligence agencies have played 'an important contribution' in helping European countries, particularly France and Germany, prevent terrorist attacks in their countries or against their citizens, he added. Younger also spoke about facing 'adversaries who regard themselves as being in a state of perpetual confrontation' with the UK. He said: 'I urge Russia or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination and our capabilities, or those of our allies.' The expulsion of Russian intelligence officers by the UK, following the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury, had 'significantly reduced Russian intelligence capability,' Younger said. The speech came at a time of heightened tensions between the UK and Russia. In the most recent incident last Saturday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson called on the public to 'report suspicious activity near military sites,' after a Russian TV crew prompted an alert at an Army base. Earlier this year, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming said Moscow posed a 'real and active threat' to the international community in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning. Russia denies any involvement. Although, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, they would, wouldn't they?'
Ballet dancers, superheroes and an image of Jesus Christ have all reportedly fallen foul of Tumblr's new pornography ban, after the images were flagged up as 'explicit content' by the blogging site's artificial intelligence tools. The company, which is owned by the US media conglomerate Verizon, said on Monday that it would ban all pornography from its site – and defined the term as covering 'any depiction of real-life human genitals,' or 'female-presenting nipples.'Male-presenting nipples are, apparently, fine. Once the ban comes into effect, on 17 December, any post containing such imagery will be deleted. But, in order to moderate billions of posts in such a short timeframe, Tumblr has turned to AI tools that appear unable to distinguish clothed from naked figures, let alone tell whether a nipple is presenting as female. The actor - and regular Tumblr user - Wil Wheaton posted one example: an image search for 'beautiful men kissing,' which was flagged as explicit 'within thirty seconds of me posting it. These images are not explicit,' Wheaton wrote. 'These pictures show two adults, engaging in consensual kissing. That's it. It isn't violent, it isn't pornographic. It's literally just two adult humans sharing a kiss.' Other users chronicled flagged posts, including historical images of (fully clothed) women of colour, a photoset of the actor Sebastian Stan wearing a selection of suits with no socks on (the dirty hussy), an oil painting of Jesus wearing but a loincloth, a photo of ballet dancers and a drawing of Wonder Woman carrying fellow DC super-individual Harley Quinn. None of the images violate Tumblr's stated policy or anything even remotely like it. As he announced the new rules, Tumblr's chief executive, Jeff D'Onofrio, acknowledged that the company would make errors. 'Filtering this type of content versus say, a political protest with nudity or the statue of David, is not simple at scale. We're relying on automated tools to identify adult content and humans to help train and keep our systems in check. We know there will be mistakes, but we've done our best to create and enforce a policy that acknowledges the breadth of expression we see in the community.' The site insisted it would still allow 'non-sexualised' images of women's nipples, in situations such as breastfeeding or 'works of art' and said that 'artistic, educational, newsworthy, or political content featuring nudity are fine.' So, images of artists, teachers, people in the headlines or politicians getting their chimney smoked would appear to be acceptable under such circumstances. But, many users expressed dismay, anger and righteous fury over the bans, arguing that Tumblr's position as one of the last major sites on the Internet where adult content could mix freely with more traditional social networking made it 'a valuable space' for people to safely express their sexual identities. And, legally crack one off if they so wished. Tumblr's stricter rules appear to have been prompted by the app's temporary removal from Apple's App Store in November. This followed the discovery of and, the entirely understandable removal of - child abuse imagery shared to the site.
The former personal assistant of JK Rowling has been described as 'a good liar' by the author's husband. Doctor Neil Murray made the comment during a civil case at Airdrie Sheriff Court against Amanda Donaldson. She is accused of fraudulently using the Harry Potter creator's credit card to fund spending sprees that included buying three thousand six hundred and twenty nine knicker on luxury cosmetics from Molton Brown. The thirty five-year-old, from Coatbridge, in Lanarkshire, denies the claims. Murray said Donaldson had been employed to help organise his wife's business and personal matters. He said that Donaldson was suspended - and later dismissed - in 2017 over alleged 'unauthorised spending' that also included two thousand one hundred and thirty nine quid in stationery shop goods from Paper Tiger and more than eighteen hundred smackers spent at Starbucks and Costa. And, anyway you look at it, that's a lot of coffee. His wife claims Donaldson wrongly benefited to a total value of nearly twenty four grand. Murray said the 'biggest concern' was over cash withdrawals of four hundred and two hundred and fifty knicker in December 2016 that Donaldson claimed were 'for a Christmas lunch deposit.' Chartered accountant Steven Simou had earlier told the court that he had contacted the restaurant involved and found no such deposit had been requested or taken off the final bill. Murray claimed that he had challenged Donaldson 'in an astonishing encounter. Amanda had always adopted a lively, slightly bubbly, a bit scatty demeanour. I thought she might be emotional or run about the office looking for bits of paper, but what I found was a completely different personality. She shut down, was calm and basically lied. At the end of the encounter I was really taken at how good a liar she was.' The author's husband said there was a small staff of four full-time and two part-time workers who shared an office with Donaldson in Edinburgh. Asked by Rowling's solicitor, Kirsteen MacDonald, if there was 'any reason' for the three thousand six hundred and twenty nine smackers spend at Molton Brown, Murray said: 'Well not for the office, it doesn't make sense. I think the vast majority was purchased by Amanda for Amanda.' Murray said there was 'no question' about what the credit card was 'meant' to be used for. 'This was a business card to facilitate my wife's business life,' he told the court. He added: 'I heard from office staff there was an occasion Amanda was out socially with staff and they bought pizza. Amanda offered to pay for the group and took out the business credit card. I was told she said "don't worry, Neil doesn't check this card."' Accountant Steven Simou earlier told the court that a safe, which Donaldson had access to, was found to be missing 'more than seven thousand seven hundred pounds' after she was suspended. The accountant said that he had 'analysed' the credit card account after 'a concern was raised by another member of staff.' He said: 'I was just quite shocked to see so many expenses there, clearly not of a business nature.' He added: 'Certain expenses stood out more than others - Costa, Starbucks, bakeries, Boots and other high street shops you wouldn't normally associate with a business spend.' Cross-examined by Amanda Donaldson's lawyer, Mr Simou acknowledged that he did not know what instructions she had been given for using the card. The civil case, before Sheriff Derek O'Carroll, extremely continues.
A woman killed on a train may have been leaning out of a window when she suffered a blow to the head, police said. The woman, from Penarth, died at the scene after 'sustaining serious head injuries' while travelling between Bath and Keynsham. She was on a Bristol Temple Meads-bound service. Police said that her death on Saturday night was ;not being treated as suspicious' and that her family had been informed. A British Transport Police statement said: 'Officers were called at 10.10pm on Saturday following a report a woman had received serious head injuries while travelling on a train between Bath and Keynsham.' It continued: 'Colleagues from South Western Ambulance Service also attended, however, despite their best efforts, a twenty eight-year-old woman from Penarth sadly died at the scene. We are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident, which has been reported to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.'
Former Moscow Chelski FC and The Scum chief executive Peter Kenyon is reportedly heading a consortium that is in talks to buy yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though previously unsellable) Newcastle United. Current owner, loathsome reptile Mike Ashley, claimed in an interview earlier this week that 'discussions' over a possible sale 'are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been.' It is believed a potential deal with Kenyon is what Ashley was referring to. Kenyon is 'understood' to be working with the American financial advisory firm Rockefeller Capital Management. It is unknown if a firm bid has been lodged at this stage. However, Kenyon's group are short on time if the purchase is to be made prior to the start of the January transfer window. Premier League checks and processes when clubs change hands take around fourteen days to complete. The Christmas break and Richard Scudamore's departure as executive chairman of the league later this month could also be complicating factors regarding that time frame. Those regulatory checks can only take place after extensive due diligence of the club's financial position and any final negotiations and legal work has concluded between the two sides. That all makes a December purchase date optimistic - even if a deal was to be agreed in the coming days. Other suitors are also reported to be interested in the club, which Ashley formally put up for sale - for the second time - in 2017. Claims of interest from up to three further groups, however, remain unverified. That uncertainty is claimed to be due to 'confidentiality clauses,' but there is a suspicion that claims of other interested parties may have been somewhat exaggerated by Ashley in order to pressure the main bidder into swift action. It has also been alleged that financial consultants working for Kenyon travelled to Tyneside earlier this week and have visited St James' Park as part of their valuation. In order for that to happen, the proposed new owners would have had to satisfy specified financial criteria - but not deposit funds in a third party account as was previously claimed. The three hundred million kicker asking price which has been bandied around in the media is not fixed in terms of a one-off payment and a down payment 'could', reportedly, be acceptable to Ashley, given proof of sufficient funds. Claims that United had negotiated a 'try before you buy' loan deal for Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron have been 'rubbished' by the MLS side's President. Newcastle have twice been relegated from the Premier League under Ashley's ownership (and, to be scrupulously fair, twice promoted at the first attempt after those two relegations). It is also worth noting at this juncture Keith Telly Topping's previous voiced sage-like advice to all fellow Magpies (and, indeed, all fellow football fans) on the subject of someone new potentially taking over your club. 'Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.'
England will face the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals in Guimaraes, Portugal on 6 June 2019. The hosts face Switzerland on 5 June at Porto's Estadio do Dragao in the other semi-final, with the final scheduled for 9 June. 'It's a very exciting game to look forward to and a second semi-final for us,' said England manager Gareth Southgate. England reached the last four of the World Cup in Russia this summer, where they were beaten two-one by Croatia. You might remember it, it was on TV and everything. They qualified for the Nations League semi-finals by finishing top of a group containing Croatia and Spain. The game against the Dutch, currently managed by Ronald Koeman, at Estadio D Afonso Henriques will be the first competitive meeting between the sides since Euro '96, when an England side containing Southgate memorably won four-one at Wembley. 'We play a team in Holland who are at a similar stage to us - developing, lots of exciting young players in both sides - and you can see the impact Ronald has had,' said Southgate. The Dutch qualified for the last four thanks to a ninetieth-minute equaliser in their final group game in Germany. Switzerland pipped Belgium to top spot by virtue of their superior head-to-head record, beating them five-two in their final game. European champions Portugal progressed at the expense of Poland and Italy. The Nations League, which began in September and featured fifty five nations in four tiers, also provides a second opportunity to qualify for Euro 2020. The winners of the competition will receive over six million smackers in prize money, and the fourth-placed team around four million notes.
DJ Martin Solveig has grovellingly apologised to Women's Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg for asking her after she collected her award if she knew 'how to twerk.' The Frenchman said Lyon and Norway striker Hegerberg - who simply answered 'no' to the question - had told him after the ceremony she 'understood it was a joke.' Hegerberg told BBC Sport that she 'didn't consider it sexual harassment.' The twenty three-year-old was named the inaugural winner of the award, which recognises the world's best player, in Paris. Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won the men's award, becoming the first player other than either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the trophy in more than a decade. Solveig was playing music throughout the ceremony and also danced with Hegerberg to Frank Sinatra. During the presentation of her award, he asked her: 'Do you know how to twerk?' She replied that she did not. Hegerberg, who had just made a speech talking about her hopes of inspiring girls to believe in themselves, appeared rather bewildered by the random nature of the question, sparking a massive reaction on social media. Twerking is a sexually provocative dance move popularised by the singer Miley Cyrus. Solveig was widely criticised on social media, including by two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Andy Murray, who said on Instagram: 'Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke, it wasn't. I've been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.' On Tuesday, Women in Sport said that it was 'extremely disappointed' at the comments made by Solveig. 'The sexist remarks made by Solveig were completely inappropriate and show just how much work is still left to do to create a society that is free from sexism and discrimination,' the charity said in a statement. 'In her speech, Ada Hegerberg implored young girls all over the world to believe in themselves and we hope that this moment will not overshadow her incredible achievement of becoming the first recipient of the women's Ballon d'Or.' 'Apologies to anyone who may have been offended,' Solveig wrote on Twitter, a marvellous example of a non-apology apology in which it is, seemingly, those who took offence at the comments that are in the wrong rather than Solveig himself for making the comments in the first place. 'This was a joke, probably a bad one and I want to apologise.' In a video message, he added: 'I am a little bit amazed as to what I am reading on the Internet. I, of course, didn't want to offend anyone. This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level, which is obviously not enough because I didn't mean to offend anyone and didn't know this could be seen as such an offence. Especially if you consider the sequence in total, when we ended up dancing to Frank Sinatra.' Solveig later posted a picture on Twitter of him and Hegerberg shaking hands. Speaking to BBC Sport, Hegerberg said: 'He came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn't really think about it at the time. I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d'Or to be honest. I will have a glass of champagne when I get back.'
Paris St-Germain's Ligue One game against Montpellier in the French capital on Saturday was postponed at the request of the police. Violent protests have been held in major French cities over the past three weekends against a rise in fuel tax with lots of Frenchies getting all stroppy and discombobulated. The gilets jaunes) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government and more took place at the weekend. League leaders PSG said that a new date for the match 'will be set in due course.' PSG's next two games are away from Paris. They play Strasbourg in the French top flight on Wednesday and then travel to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on 11 December. 'We accept this postponement,' said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel. 'We'll have to manage this situation to stay in shape before Belgrade. Security is absolutely important.' Except, he said it in French, obviously. Lyon's match at Toulouse on Saturday was postponed. 'It's a last-minute decision,' said Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas. 'It marks the current turmoil in a society that prioritises things that we would not like to see. I do not know if there were any risks. Maybe the whole day will be cancelled because it poses a problem of fairness. The calendar is very busy for the European teams. One must be factual and bow to the force of events. We will adapt.'
It will be 'desperately disappointing' if Scochtland are not involved in Euro 2020 while hosting four games, says the Scottish FA's chief executive. Most English people, by contrast, think it will be 'desperately funny' but, that's another story entirely. The Scotch have two chances to qualify for their first major tournament since 1998 - via the Nations League play-offs and the traditional qualifiers. They were drawn in what looks to be a rock-hard group with Belgium, Russia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino. 'It's vitally important that we're part of the competition, particularly the games at Hampden,' Ian Maxwell said. Hampden will host three group matches and a last sixteen fixture as UEFA take the tournament across Europe to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the first European Championship (then called the European Nations Cup). Maxwell, like Scotchland manager Alex McLeish, is 'determined' to qualify automatically by finishing in the top two of Group I, rather than rely on the Nations League. Trips to Russia, Kazakhstan and Cyprus will have to yield something if the Scotch are to qualify and after criticism of their travel schedule for Israel and Albania in Nations League C Group One, Maxwell stresses that nothing will be left to chance during the qualifiers. 'We'll consider anything,' he added. 'Ultimately we want the players to take the field in the best possible physical and mental condition.' And, Maxwell said of the trip to Kazakhstan: 'Alex will consult the performance staff and I imagine we'll speak to some of the players as well because they'll have done it at club level. It'll be interesting to learn from the experiences they had to make sure everybody's as prepared as they possibly can be. We're quite happy to look at whatever opportunities we can to make sure the players are as well equipped as they can be.'
Now, dear blog reader, would you like to watch 'the incredible moment' a dog stopped a shot on the line in an Argentine third division match between Defensores de Belgrano de Villa Ramallo and Juventud Unida? Of course you would, you're only human. It can be viewed here.
Crystal Palace are reported to be 'confident' that their training ground kitchen will regain its five-star hygiene rating after being rated zero over a mice infestation. An inspection in August found the facility in Beckenham, used by players and staff, had 'a significant mouse problem' and had done so 'for several months.' The report was released by Bromley Council following a freedom of information request from Kent Live. A Palace spokesman claimed that the issue 'has been resolved. We invested substantially in the training ground over the summer, upgrading facilities for our players and staff and immediately took action to remedy the issues highlighted in the kitchen area following the works,' read a club statement. 'The remedial action was approved by the environmental health inspector and we are confident that our five-star rating at Beckenham will be restored when we are re-inspected, in line with our five-star rating for the kitchen facilities at Selhurst Park.'
Police investigating 'despicable disorder' at a football derby have released a video of suspects destroying a toilet block. The footage shows a group of men chanting (which, to be fair, isn't illegal), damaging sinks and smashing windows (both of which very much are) at the match between Port Vale and Stoke City Under-Twenty Ones at Vale Park on Tuesday night. More than one hundred and fifty officers were deployed to the stadium and eleven people arrested as a sick orgy of untamed violence broke out, with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. Police said 'a large section' of Stoke fans - their minds poisoned by alcohol, one presumes - had been 'disruptive.' The scallywags. Port Vale won the Checkatrade Trophy match four-nil and almost four thousand Stoke fans were in a crowd of seven thousand nine hundred. Flares, seats and other missiles were thrown onto the pitch during the game. Staffordshire Police called the video 'shocking' and appealed for information on the identity of the men involvedwhilst announcing that eleven chaps had been pinched by The Fuzz. Nabbed by The Heat. Taken downtown for 'a good talking to.' You get the picture? Detective Chief Inspector Rob Taylor said: 'We have a duty to the local community and the loyal supporters of both clubs to act swiftly. We will ensure that all opportunities will be taken to identify those suspected of being involved in this despicable disorder and bring them to justice.' Previously, Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said that his officers faced 'shocking levels of hostility' on the night. 'The toilet block in the away stand was damaged badly,' he said. 'The cisterns and urinals were smashed off the wall, windows were damaged and there was an attempt to set fire to the toilet block.' It comes after two men were charged with using threatening or abusive language.
The helicopter which crashed killing Leicester City's chairman and four others spun out of control after a mechanism 'became disconnected,' investigators said. An Air Accident Investigation Branch report found that cockpit pedals had disconnected from the tail rotor. This caused the AW169 aircraft to turn uncontrollably to the right before it crashed near The King Power Stadium. The AAIB said that its inquiries into the 27 October crash were 'ongoing.' Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff - Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare - and the pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz were killed in the crash. A public memorial for Swaffer and Lechowicz - who police said was a passenger at the time of the crash - is taking place at Guildford Cathedral on Thursday. An inspection at the crash site found parts of a mechanism linking the pilot's pedals to the tail rotor had become disconnected and there was 'a build-up of black grease' on one component. The failure of the system led to the pitch of the tail rotor blades being changed 'until they reached the physical limit of their travel.' The report stated: 'The initiating cause and exact sequence of the failure that resulted in the loss of tail rotor control is being investigated as a priority.' Widely shared video footage of the helicopter's last flight, taken from inside The King Power Stadium, shows the AgustaWestland AW169 climbing normally for about forty seconds before it pauses and goes into a downward spin. The aircraft reached an altitude of approximately four hundred and thirty feet, then crashed to the ground. It was rapidly engulfed in a post-impact fire and all five people on board were killed instantly. Following the crash, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered safety checks to be carried out on the tail rotors of AW169s and similar models.
Newspapers are helping to 'fuel racism' by the ways in which they portray young black footballers, says Sheikh Yer Man City and England forward Raheem Sterling. The comment came after Sterling faced alleged racist abuse from Moscow Chelski FC fans during City's two-nil defeat at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Moscow Chelsea FC and the Metropolitan Police are reportedly investigating the extremely serious allegations. 'All I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance,' Raheem said. In a post on Instagram, he said that he 'had to laugh' when he heard the alleged racist remarks made during the game because he 'expects no better.' His comments came the day after police in Scotland arrested two fans for allegedly directing racial abuse at Motherwell's substitute Christian Mbulu during his side's defeat at Hearts. In his post, Sterling cites headlines - both in the Daily Scum Mail - about his team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying houses. The headline referring to twenty one-year-old defender Adarabioyo - who is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albinos - focuses on how he spent over two million knicker on a property 'despite having never started a Premier League match.' Although quite what that has to do with anything is beyond the understanding of all but the newspaper involved it's his money it's entirely u to him how he spends it. By contrast, midfielder Foden, 'buys a two million pound home for his mum' and is later described as having 'set up a future,' Raheem noted. 'You have two young players starting out their careers - both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,' he said. 'But, look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player. I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded, this young black kid is looked at in a bad light, which helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour.' Sterling has frequently found himself at the centre of attention throughout his career, most recently for a tattoo of a rifle on his leg earlier this year. He defended the tattoo, saying it had 'a deeper meaning' and referred to his late father, who was killed in Jamaica. That followed criticism for proposing to his girlfriend, purchasing clothes at high-street chain Primark and even for buying his mother a house. The alleged racist abuse on Saturday took place during the first-half of of the game as Sterling went to pick up the ball in front of the Matthew Harding Stand. Moscow Chelski FC issued a statement pledging to 'investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action where necessary.' The Met said that no arrests had been made at this time, but added: 'We are aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player. We will review the footage to determine whether any offences have been committed.'
West Indies batsman Chis Gayle has been awarded three hundred thousand Australian dollars in damages more than a year after winning a defamation case against the Australian publisher Fairfax Media. Articles published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times reported allegations that the thirty nine-year-old had 'exposed himself' to a female massage therapist. A jury in Sydney in October 2017 ruled that the claims were entirely without foundation and that their publication by the Fairfax Media publications was 'motivated by malice.' Gayle's legal team argued that Fairfax journalists wanted to 'destroy' the cricketer. New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum made the award. She said in her decision that the defamation 'went to the heart of Mister Gayle's professional life as a respected batsman' and 'had particular resonance in cricketing circles.' In a Fairfax Media statement, a spokesperson whinged: 'The jury was misled in a way that prejudiced Fairfax, and Fairfax did not get a fair trial. The damages award merely confirms the appalling burden of defamation laws in this country.' During the case's six-day trial, massage therapist Leanne Russell claimed that Gayle had 'partially' exposed himself to her in a dressing room in 2015, leaving her 'very upset.' She subsequently contacted Fairfax Media after being 'angered' when Gayle told a journalist 'don't blush, baby' in a television interview, the jury heard. Fellow cricketer Dwayne Smith, who was also in the dressing room, supported Gayle's version of events.
The brother of Australian test cricketer Usman Khawaja has been arrested for allegedly framing another man over a fake terror plot. Police in Australia have charged Arsalan Khawaja with forgery and an attempt to pervert the course of justice. In August, police charged a Sri Lankan student in Sydney over an alleged plan in a notebook about killing Australian politicians. Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen was detained for a month before being released. The twenty five-year-old PhD student had claimed that he was 'framed by a rival' at his workplace, the University of New South Wales. On Tuesday, police alleged Nizamdeen had been 'set up in a planned and calculated manner.' Khawaja, who worked in the same department as Nizamdeen, had been 'partly motivated' by 'a personal grievance over a woman,' police claimed. Nizamdeen endured more than four weeks in solitary confinement after he was arrested on suspected terrorism charges. Police accused him of plotting the attacks in his notebook. An alleged 'hit list' included the former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House. However, he was released without charge in October after police failed to connect his handwriting to the writing in the notebook. Nizamdeen, who has returned to Sri Lanka, has indicated he plans to seek eye-wateringly huge compensation from authorities for his wrongful detention. On Tuesday, New South Wales police expressed 'regret' for Nizamdeen's experience. 'We feel very sorry for him and what has happened to him,' Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing weaselled. Khawaja was arrested on Tuesday in suburban Sydney. Police had previously questioned him over the notebook last month. His brother, Usman, is one of Australia's leading batsmen. He is set to play in the test series against India, beginning on this week. Speaking hours after the arrest, Usman asked for his family's privacy to be respected. 'It is a matter for police to deal with. Out of respect for the process it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment,' he said.
The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System. It was launched sixteen days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe's faster trajectory meant that it was in 'the space between the stars' six years before Voyager 2. The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington. Chief scientist on the mission, Professor Edward Stone, subsequently confirmed it. He said that both probes had now 'made it into interstellar space' and that Voyager 2's date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018. On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun which were being detected by the probe suddenly dipped. This indicated that it had crossed the heliopause - the term for the outer edge of the Sun's protective bubble of particles and magnetic field. And, while its twin craft beat it to this boundary, the US space agency says that Voyager 2 has a working instrument onboard that will provide 'first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space.' The probe's present location is some eighteen billion kilometres from Earth. It is moving at roughly fifty four thousand kilometres per hour. Voyager 1 is further and faster still, at twenty two billion kilometres and sixty one thousand kph. The two Voyagers were sent initially to study the outer planets of the solar system but, having completed their mission, then just kept on going. Professor Stone said that at the start of the mission the team had 'no idea' how long it would take them to reach the edge of the heliosphere. 'We didn't even know how long a spacecraft could operate for,' he added. 'Now we're studying the very local interstellar medium.' Scientists define the Solar System in different ways, so Professor Stone has always been very careful not to use the exact phrase 'leave the Solar System' in relation to his spacecraft. He is mindful that the NASA probes still have to pass through The Oort Cloud where there are comets gravitationally bound to the Sun, albeit very loosely. But, both Voyagers certainly are in a new, unexplored domain of space. Voyager 1 departed Earth on 5 September 1977, a few days after its sister spacecraft. The pair's primary objective was to survey the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and their many moons - a task that Voyager 2 completed in 1989. They were then steered towards deep space. It is expected that their plutonium power sources will eventually stop supplying electricity, at which point their instruments and their twenty watt transmitters will die. Voyager 1 will not approach another star for nearly forty thousand years, even though it is moving at such great speed. But, it will be in orbit around the centre of our galaxy for billions of years. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited all four of the gas giants and discovered sixteen moons, as well as phenomena like Neptune's mysteriously transient Great Dark Spot, the cracks in Europa's ice shell and ring features at every planet. Despite the excitement surrounding the milestone, not much will change for Voyager 2 itself. It will continue beaming home updates to its scientists on Earth for as long as it can. Eventually, the plutonium supply that powers the spacecraft will run out and the probe will shut down instruments in turn. Sometime after 2025, the team expects the probe will go quiet entirely.
A UK instrument has 'captured the sound of the wind on Mars.' The British seismometer package carried on NASA's InSight lander detected the vibrations from Martian air as it rushed over the probe's solar panels. 'The solar panels on the lander's sides are perfect acoustic receivers,' said Professor Tom Pike, who leads the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London. 'It's like InSight is cupping its ears.' Pike compares the effect to a flag in the wind. As a flag breaks up the wind, it creates oscillations in frequency that the human ear perceives as flapping. A pressure sensor that is part of InSight's meteorological experiment also recorded the passing of the wind. Scientists estimate the air was moving at 'between five and seven metres per second,' from the North-West to the South-East. This fits with satellite pictures that show the tracks left by dust devils travelling in the same direction. NASA's InSight spacecraft is the latest robotic resident on the Red Planet. After making a dramatic touchdown on 26 November following a six-month journey from Earth, the probe is now surveying its surroundings and testing its systems. The ultimate aim of the mission, which is sited on a flat plain just North of Mars' equator, is to study the world's interior.As well as seismometers, InSight is equipped with a heat probe that will burrow into the ground, and a very sensitive radio experiment that will measure how the planet wobbles on its axis. The data should reveal the position and nature of all the rock layers below the surface of Mars - from the crust to the core. It is information that can be compared and contrasted with Earth. The wind recording is something that will soon be beyond the UK seismometers, which are known as Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure. A few weeks from now, the package will be lifted on to the ground by a robotic arm and covered with a wind shield. This bell-shaped device will protect SEIS from the weather and allow the sensors to concentrate on their primary task of detecting earthquakes, or rather 'Marsquakes.' Co-investigator Doctor Neil Bowles, from the University of Oxford, said: 'To get the first data from the seismometer instrument package has been fantastic and even with a short test run the analysis is now full swing. To "hear" the low-frequency rumble of the Martian wind on the lander being picked up by [SEIS] is really eerie and provides a strangely human connection to this very different environment.' The UK Space Agency invested four million knicker in the seismometer package. The organisation's head of space exploration, Sue Horne, said: 'This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigours of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals. It is just amazing to hear the first ever sounds from Mars.' The audio recordings released to the public are almost completely unaltered. In some cases, they have been raised a couple of octaves to make them more perceptible to the human ear.
China has launched the first mission to land a robotic craft on the dark side of the Moon, Chinese media say. That's the actual dark side of the Moon, not the 1973 Pink Floyd LP of the same name, obviously. Cos, landing on a copy of that would be a piece of piss, even for the Federated States of Micronesia's space programme. The Chang'e-4 mission will see a static lander and rover touch down in Von Kármán crater, located on the side of the Moon which never faces Earth. The payload blasted off atop a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. The mission will pave the way for the country to deliver samples of Moon rock and soil to Earth. The landing will not occur until early January, when the probe will descend on thrusters and touch down on the rugged terrain. Von Kármán crater is of interest to scientists because it is located within the oldest and largest impact feature on the Moon - the South Pole-Aitken Basin. This was probably formed by a giant asteroid impact billions of years ago. The landers will characterise the region's geology and the composition of rock and soil. Because of a phenomenon called 'tidal locking,' we see only one 'face' of the Moon from Earth. This is because the Moon takes just as long to rotate on its own axis as it takes to complete one orbit of Earth. Though often referred to as the 'dark side,' this face of the Moon is also illuminated by the Sun and has the same phases as the near side; 'dark' in this context simply means 'unseen.' Or, as Pink Floyd had it: 'This is no dark side of the Moon. As a matter of fact, it's all dark.' The far side looks rather different to the more familiar near side. It has a thicker, older crust which is pocked with more craters. There are also few of the 'mare' - dark basaltic 'seas' created by lava flows - that are evident on the near side. The powerful impact that created the South Pole Aitken Basin may have punched through the crust down to the Moon's mantle layer. Chang'e-4's instruments could examine whether this was the case, shedding light on the early history of our only natural satellite. The mission will also characterise the 'radio environment' on the far side, a test designed to lay the groundwork for the creation of future radio astronomy telescopes on the far side, which is shielded from the radio noise of Earth. The static lander will carry a three kilogram container with potato and arabidopsis plant seeds to perform a biological experiment. The 'lunar mini-biosphere' experiment was designed by twenty eight Chinese universities. 'We want to study the respiration of the seeds and the photosynthesis on the Moon,' Liu Hanlong, chief director of the experiment and vice president of Chongqing University, told the state-run Xinhua news agency earlier this year. Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the experiment, told Xinhua: 'We have to keep the temperature in the "mini-biosphere" within a range from one degree to thirty degrees and properly control the humidity and nutrition. We will use a tube to direct the natural light on the surface of Moon into the tin to make the plants grow.' Because the landers on the far side have no line of sight with our planet, they must send data back via a relay satellite named Queqiao, launched by China in May this year. The probe's design is based on that of its predecessor, Chang'e-3, which deployed landing craft to the Moon's Mare Imbrium region in 2013. However, it has some important modifications. The lander is carrying two cameras; a German-built radiation experiment called LND and a spectrometer that will perform the low-frequency radio astronomy observations. The rover will carry a panoramic camera; a radar to probe beneath the lunar surface; an imaging spectrometer to identify minerals and an experiment to examine the interaction of the solar wind (a stream of energised particles from the Sun) with the lunar surface. The mission is part of a larger Chinese programme of lunar exploration. The first and second Chang'e missions were designed to gather data from orbit, while the third and fourth were built for surface operations. Chang'e-5 and Chan'e-6 are sample return missions, delivering lunar rock and soil to laboratories on Earth.
An inmate in Tennessee is to be executed by electric chair after arguing that a lethal injection would 'involve suffering.' What, and having fifty thousand volts rammed through yer system won't? David Earl Miller, who has spent thirty six years on death row, is among an increasing number of inmates attempting to avoid lethal injection following several botched executions in recent years. Another Tennessee inmate, Edmund Zagorski, went to The Chair last month. Lethal injection is the state's main method of execution. However, inmates in the state whose crimes were committed before 1999 are allowed to choose the alternative method of electrocution instead if they fancy it. In court, both Miller and Zagorski had cited the August execution of Billy Ray Irick, who 'turned purple and took twenty minutes to die,' AP reported. Zagorski's execution was only the second time the state's electric chair had been used since 1960. Miller, who is due to be executed on Thursday, was found very guilty of killing a mentally ill woman in 1981. Miller and Zagorski both argued that the midazolam-based lethal injection used by Tennessee would lead to 'a prolonged and painful death.' The US constitution bans cruel and unusual punishments. In September a doctor told a court in Tennessee that Irick 'felt pain akin to torture' during his execution, the Tennessean reported. Doctor David Lubarsky argued that the midazolam sedated Irick but did not prevent him from feeling the effects of the other two drugs injected as part of the execution. Proponents of lethal injection argue that the process is 'painless.' Miller is also one of four death row inmates who have brought a federal case asking Tennessee to use a firing squad instead of either lethal injection or electrocution. In neighbouring Alabama, more than fifty inmates have chosen to be killed in the nitrogen gas chamber rather than receiving a lethal injection after being given the option earlier this year, Vox reported. Courts in Georgia and Nebraska have said that the electric chair is unconstitutional. However, Miller has been told that he cannot argue the electric chair is unconstitutional because he, himself, has chosen it. Hanging was the most common form of capital punishment in the US until the 1890s. Then, the electric chair became the most widespread method. In 1982, the first execution by lethal injection was carried out in Texas, after which it gradually replaced the electric chair across the nation.
An Ohio father who made his daughter walk five miles to school as punishment for bullying has provoked a debate on parenting. After ten-year-old Kirsten was suspended for three days from the school bus for a second-time bullying offence, Matt Cox decided to teach his daughter a valuable life lesson. He made her trudge to school on a cold day while he followed behind her in the car. The video of the father's punishment has garnered over fifteen million views on Facebook and thousands of comments. In the clip, Cox's daughter is seen walking alongside a road, carrying a backpack and school supplies. Cox follows behind her in his car in the town of Swanton, offering a running (or, driving) commentary on entitlement and bullying. 'Bullying is unacceptable,' he said. 'This is my small way of trying to stop it in my household.' Cox added that many children feel 'entitled to privileges' like being taken to school in the morning by car or bus. 'I know a lot of you parents are not going to agree with this and that's alright,' he says. 'I am doing what I feel is right to teach my daughter a lesson and to stop her from bullying.' In a Facebook update shared on Wednesday, Cox claimed that his daughter had taken his words to heart. According to WTVG News, Cox broke up Kirsten's walk over her three-day school bus suspension this week. The ten-year-old told WTVG she, herself, had been bullied and now knows 'to be kind.' Many of the sixty thousand plus comments that have since popped up on his video have been broadly positive, with parents of bullies and bullied alike thanking Cox for his parenting.
A teenager who sent thousands of hoax bomb threats to schools and triggered an American airline security scare has been very jailed for three years in The Slammer. George Duke-Cohan sparked nationwide panic and a transatlantic investigation from the bedroom of his home in Watford. He pleaded extremely guilty at Luton Crown Court in September to three counts of making hoax bomb threats. It followed an investigation by the National Crime Agency. Duke-Cohan 'caused widespread panic' in March when he e-mailed more than seventeen hundred schools, colleges and nurseries across the UK to warn about an explosive. Hundreds of the schools were evacuated. He was arrested days later but, in April, he sent another batch of hoax e-mails to schools in the US and UK. NCA investigators, working with the FBI, also found that while on bail for the first set of bomb hoaxes, Duke-Cohan had made a fake report of a hijacked US-bound plane. Sending him down, Judge Richard Foster said: 'You knew exactly what you were doing and why you were doing it and you knew full well the havoc that would follow. You were playing a game for your own perverted sense of fun in full knowledge of the consequences. The scale of what you did was enormous,' he added. Duke-Cohen's defence barrister claimed that 'psychology experts' had described Duke-Cohen as 'very immature' (no shit?) but the prosecution was having none of it and suggested, instead, that he 'craved attention from his followers on social media.' Marc Horsfall, senior investigating officer with the NCA, said Duke-Cohan had 'few real friends' and spent 'a great deal of his time online.' Yeah, well so do lots of people mate, this blogger included; by and large we also know the difference between right and wrong and know not to spend bomb threats. Jeez, talk about shooting the messenger. Duke-Cohen had no previous convictions and lived with his mother and sister, but was linked to a cyber-hacker group on Twitter calling itself The Apophis Squad. In January 2018, the IT student was expelled from West Herts College for issuing a bomb threat. Police were in the process of organising a community resolution order for his actions when 'events overtook them' two months later, the NCA said. His first bomb hoax e-mail was 'prompted by a disagreement' with the owners of VeltPvP, a US-based server that allows users play the game Minecraft. The e-mail warned a student had entered schools with a bomb and demanded five thousand dollars to be deposited in VeltPvP's account. More than four hundred schools across the UK were evacuated before the e-mail was dismissed as a hoax. Duke-Cohan was extremely arrested at home within two days and his laptops, USB sticks and mobile phones were all seized. His second batch of hoax e-mails did not contain a financial demand. It claimed 'pipe bombs' were hidden on schools' premises and a car would be driven at students at home-time. One e-mail, sent to Marlborough College in Wiltshire, said: 'We follow in the footsteps of our two heroes who died in the Columbine High School shooting.' Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said it was 'clear' that Duke-Cohan used 'the influence' of the Columbine attack of 1999 to 'add authenticity.' He was arrested for a second time and released on bail with conditions that he not use electronic devices. But, while on bail, Duke-Cohan called San Francisco airport posing as the concerned father of a girl on board United Airlines flight UAL 949, claiming hijackers had taken over the flight from Heathrow to San Francisco. The aircraft - with two hundred and ninety five passengers on board - was quarantined at San Francisco airport for a full security check. A tweet sent after the plane landed included the words '9/11 remake.' Duke-Cohan was arrested for a third time on 31 August by poliss who were, by now, thoroughly sick of his naughty shenanigans. He was sentenced to one year in The Big House for the e-mails sent to schools and two years for the airport security scare. Judge Foster said that, for the purposes of sentencing, he 'accepted' Duke-Cohan had autism spectrum disorder. And, again, so do lots of other people. But, by and large, they don't use that as an excuse to break the law. He said what Duke-Cohan did was 'far removed from anything that could be described as naivety or a cry for help from a sick person' and his 'fascination with computer hacking and your motivation of seeking notoriety is indicative of your high culpability.' Criminal psychologist Doctor Samantha Lundrigan, of Anglia Ruskin University, said that gamers like Duke-Cohan 'could easily become disassociated from reality. His actions were ultimately selfish, indicative of someone who is self-absorbed, who sought retribution for a grievance and turned to the Internet for control,' she said. 'He will have had a power trip watching the chaos unfold, without feeling guilt or shame.'
Charges have been filed against a city council member in Kagoshima who claims that his reason for driving at more than double the speed limit was 'a bad case of intestinal distress.' Well, when you've gotta go ... According to court documents from 29 October which Japanese media outlets began reporting on this week, on 9 April Masataka Hirai, a twenty eight-year-old city council member from the city of Shibushi, was 'observed by a monitoring system violating the eighty kilometres-per-hour speed limit by travelling at one hundred and sixty nine kph while on his way to Oita. Hirai, who was elected into his position earlier this year, has admitted to the allegations and has even spoken to Japanese media outlets in order to explain his actions. When questioned by the Asahi Newspaper, Hirai reportedly said: 'I had diarrhoea, so I was in a hurry to get to a bathroom. I regret my actions and I will drive safely in the future.' In response to questioning Yomiuri, Hirai reportedly said 'I was on my way to Oita when my stomach started hurting and so I hurried because I wanted to go to the bathroom. I will abide by traffic rules in the future.'
A 'serial masturbator' was very arrested on Friday after reportedly exposing himself to women at a New Jersey doctor's office. Brian M Bates (no, really!), allegedly tossed one off in front of women at a Paramus doctor's office whilst, simultaneously, 'using a toilet brush to pleasure himself,' reported. 'Upon police arrival, officers found Bates in the bathroom with the door open while masturbating and simultaneously attempting to penetrate his anus with the handle of the toilet bowl scrubber,' borough Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg was quoted as saying in a statement. 'This act was witnessed by several adult females who were in the office,' he added. After being booked at police headquarters, Bates was 'evaluated' at New Bridge Medical Centre. Bates reportedly has a history of public masturbation which goes back as far as 1997. That year, he exposed himself to a four-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Barnes & Noble. He was arrested two months later after masturbating in front of two women at another Barnes & Noble bathroom. He was arrested in 1998 after exposing himself to three children ranging in age from eight to eleven, New Jersey 101.5 reported. After the 1998 incident, Bates pleaded very guilty to 'fourth-degree lewdness observed by a child.' He was sentenced to a year of probation.
A woman in Florida has been extremely arrested and charged on multiple accounts of child abuse and neglect after reportedly tying a one-month-old baby to a ceiling fan. Nora Jackson was hired on Craigslist to take care of a one-month-old baby after the parents had planned to take a day off. Parents of the one-month-old child contacted the Orlando Police Department when they arrived at their residence to find their baby had been suspended from the ceiling fan. Camera surveillance footage contradicted Nora Jackson's story that she had only suspended the child to the ceiling fan 'for a few minutes,' but instead for twenty six hours, commented Deputy Sheriff Neil James. 'We entered the house and our baby was spinning in circles, suspended with some rope to the ceiling fan. She had put the fan to maximum, there was vomit everywhere,' the mother told reporters. Although the child is currently under medical watch, doctors believe the baby will not suffer from any permanent damage. Jackson finally admitted that she was 'intoxicated and under the influence of crystal meth, alcohol and crack cocaine' before she decided to suspend the baby to the ceiling fan to stop him from crying. Jackson also left the home during the night to attend a party and lost the keys and address to the house where she had left the baby. Orlando police later arrested Jackson at her home where she at first denied being hired on Craigslist as a babysitter. Jackson is now facing multiple accounts of child abuse and neglect and could face up to fifteen years in The Big House if convicted. Plus, one imagines, a significant dropping off in her future babysitting repeat gigs.
A landscaper reportedly 'smeared himself in maple syrup during a break while working at a Connecticut home to watch porn and then secretly recorded himself having sex with a female co-worker when she joined in on the sticky scene.' Robert Somley, was booked on a voyeurism charge after he allegedly 'refused to delete the video' when his forty eight-year-old colleague learned that they were being recorded during the syrup-covered sexcapade inside the Monroe home, the Connecticut Post reports. The incident after Somley said that he 'needed a break' while the two were loading wood into a trailer. When he didn't return after twenty minutes, the unidentified woman went to look for him. The woman found Somley inside the home, where she told police that he was 'standing naked while watching porn on a laptop.' The woman then asked Somley what he was doing - although, one imagines that should've been fairly obvious to anyone with half-a-brain in their head without asking - before he replied that he 'needed to take care of himself, sexually' before returning to the job, police said. The woman shrugged him off and returned to loading wood onto the trailer. But, she went back inside the home a short time later and saw Somley smearing syrup on his body - which, she confessed, was 'a turn on' - and 'demanded to join the action,' police said. The couple then added some blueberry jelly to the condiment coitus. But, unbeknown to the woman, Somley was videoing the entire tryst. Once she realised that Somley was recording the encounter, the woman demanded that he delete the footage but he refused, prompting her to call police. Presumably, once the sticky couple had prised themselves apart. Police later seized Somley's cellphone, which contained 'extensive video footage' of the woman, investigators said.
An elementary school teacher from Washington State was arrested this week after 'a bad trip' caused her to strip naked in class and physically assault her fourth-grade students, severely biting two of them and injuring six others. According to the Olympia police department, Laura James was 'visibly intoxicated and behaving erratically' when she showed up for work. Due to a lack of replacement teachers, she was still allowed to teach her class but, that rapidly went out of control. Olympia police spokesman, Lieutenant Robert Emery described the incident during a press conference held a few hours later. 'The children said she was screaming and talking in gibberish while drawing symbols on the board. She then started stripping off her clothes and throwing them around.' The students became 'agitated and scared' by their teacher's erratic and saucy behaviour and some of them tried to leave the classroom. The naked teacher 'then turned very aggressive' and started grasping and biting students while 'howling and growling loudly.' Emery said that the children were 'only saved by the rapid intervention of another teacher' who was able to subdue James. 'Several witness accounts suggest she was in a psychotic state and was convinced she was some type of predatory animal. It's a miracle that she was stopped before anyone was killed.' James now faces a total of twenty three criminal charges, including aggravated assault, child endangerment, criminal neglect and indecent exposure. If found guilty on all charges, she faces a maximum of sixty five years in The Slammer and a fine of eighty give grand. Her lawyers have already announced her intention to plead 'not guilty,' claiming that James 'has mental problems' and 'cannot be considered responsible for her actions.'
Dutch motivational speaker, Emile Ratelband, may feel like a forty nine-year-old but according to Dutch law he remains sixty nine. A Dutch court on Monday utterly rejected Ratelband's request to officially shave twenty years off his age in a case that drew worldwide attention. Ratelband 'is at liberty to feel twenty years younger than his real age and to act accordingly,' Arnhem court said in a statement. 'But amending his date of birth would cause twenty years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.' Ratelband went to court last month, arguing that he didn't 'feel sixty nine' and saying that his request was 'consistent with other forms of personal transformation' which are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands and around the world, such as the ability to change one's name or gender. The court rejected that argument, saying that unlike in the case of a name or gender, Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age 'such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mister Ratelband's request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.' Ratelband, perhaps unsurprisingly given his background as self-described advocate of positive thinking, was undeterred by the court's rejection and vowed to appeal. 'This is great!' he said. 'The rejection of [the] court is great ... because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.' He said that he was 'the first of thousands of people who want to change their age.' The court said that it acknowledged 'a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person's date of birth.' Ratelband also insisted his case did have parallels with requests for name and gender changes. 'I say it's comparable because it has to do with my feeling, with respect about who I think I am, my identity,' he said. The court said Ratelband 'failed to convince the judges' that he suffers from any age discrimination, adding that 'there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person's date of birth.'
A woman who 'married' the ghost of a pirate has revealed that she has split from her three hundred-year-old (and, you know, deceased) husband and has issued a warning to others who fancy dabbling in matrimony with funky phantoms. Mind you, this is according to the Daily Mirra so, you know, take from it what you will. Irish 'Jack Sparrow impersonator' Amanda Sparrow Large, aged forty six and, therefore, one imagines old enough to know that ghosts don't exist, 'made headlines' (albeit, not in the sort of newspapers than anyone actually takes seriously when she 'was legally married to the Haitian pirate by a shaman priest.' Large said earlier this year that she had 'found her soulmate' in the pirate from the 1700s, who was executed for thieving on the high seas. The couple tied the knot in a boat off the Irish coast in international waters, the Irish Mirra reports. But now Large, from Drogheda, in County Louth, has 'revealed the unlikely union is over' and warned people to 'be very careful when dabbling in spirituality.' Posting on social media she said: 'I feel it's time to let everyone know that my marriage is over. I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be very careful when dabbling in spirituality, it's not something to mess with.'
A California high school teacher has reportedly lost her job and is facing multiple criminal charges and the possibility of a length sell in The Slammer after cellphone video emerged showing her forcibly cutting a student's hair while belting out a - lyrically incorrect - rendition of the American National Anthem. Margaret Gieszinger, a former teacher at University Preparatory High School in Visalia, faces six criminal misdemeanour charges - one count of false imprisonment, two counts of cruelty to a child, two counts of battery and one count of assault. She could serve up to three-and-a-half years in stir if she is convicted on all charges, according to the Tulare County district attorney's office. A cellphone video posted to Reddit on Wednesday shows Gieszinger call a male student to the front of the class. She makes him sit, then cuts chunks of his hair while singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' transposing verses as she sings. She can also be heard telling students that 'someone will be chosen' if no one volunteers. The student yelled at her to stop, then joined others in fleeing from the room. 'He couldn't believe what was happening,' said Mark Vogt, an attorney for the student whose hair was cut by Gieszinger. 'He, frankly, didn't know what to do. He thought to himself "me or anybody else, she's coming for someone else."' Witnesses told CNN affiliate KFSN that Gieszinger arrived to her first period chemistry class 'brandishing a pair of scissors' and saying that it was 'haircut day.' As events unfolded, one student reportedly ran to the main office to beg for help. Students also snitched to KFSN that this was not the first 'strange episode' involving the teacher. The Tulare County Office of Education has made counsellors from their mental health services programme available to any students who need to talk. University Preparatory High School promises that Gieszinger will never return to its classrooms. 'We take very seriously the safety of the students,' the Office of Education said in a statement. 'We are reviewing all available information and will take the most severe employment action appropriate.' Gieszinger was released from jail in Tulare County on Friday evening after posting one hundred thousand dollars bail, according to KFSN. She has been ordered to stay at least one hundred yards away from the school. Gieszinger's husband told KFSN that the behaviour shown in the cellphone video was 'completely out of character' for his wife. 'She doesn't do stuff like that,' he claimed. 'It's not her. It's not who she is. So I don't know what was going on with her. I don't have any clue as to why she did that.'
The New Hampshire High School teacher who was leading a US history class in which eleventh-grade students created 'a Ku Klux Klan-jingle' for a class assignment has been extremely placed on leave. John Carver, a longtime teacher and coach at the high school in Dover is still being paid as the school investigates. According to Fosters, Dover Superintendent William Harbron said that putting Carver on paid leave would allow officials 'to really dig deep into the investigation,' which will begin with those students who were present so that administrators would 'have a thorough understanding of what occurred and what didn't occur.' The initial incident, which went viral after a video circulated, prompted shock and outrage in the New Hampshire community. In the video, the students could be heard singing 'KKK, KKK, let's kill all the Blacks,' to the tune of 'Jingle Bells'. Carver had given the students an assignment to 'come up with a Christmas carol based on The Reconstruction Era.' The students in the video chose the KKK and came up with the racist song. When contacted by media sources, Carver declined to offer any comment. One student who spoke to news station WMUR, according to Fosters, claimed that 'it was not our intention to offend anyone. We were just trying to bring light to the terrible history of the KKK and about what they did to people throughout all of history,' the student added. Another student believes that the song was 'taken out of context,' reporting that one of the students involved in the song was now 'extremely upset' at how he is being characterised. 'He is one of the nicest kids I know. Now they are calling this really amazing person a racist,' that student said. A substitute teacher administered a planned test to students on Tuesday, but the aforementioned student believed that the test should have been delayed as she and her classmates were 'devastated' that Carver was on leave 'because we really like him as a teacher.'
A Utah man has been charged with sexual assault and kidnapping after authorities say he hammered a tool resembling an ice pick through another man's penis 'during an argument.' Jason Dee Maughn is scheduled to make a court appearance on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Court documents show that Maughn is accused of putting a gun to the victim's head and handcuffing him to a chair on 30 August. The victim told police that he was 'given a choice' of either being killed in the desert or having a nail driven into his penis. He chose the latter. He says that he went to the hospital the next day for treatment after Maughn took the handcuffs off. The charging document describes the case as 'domestic violence' and says that the men lived together, but does not characterise their exact relationship.
A man has been accused of pointing a gun at the manager of a Popeyes in Louisiana during a dispute over condiments. The Times-Picayune reports that fifty nine-year-old Earl Jethroe of Marrero walked into the eatery on Friday, ordered a meal and, apparently, 'took issue with the condiments provided by employees.' At some point, the arrest reports claims, Jethroe threw his chicken across the counter, pulled a pistol from his waistband and pointed it at the manager. Jethroe did not fire the weapon and no one was hurt. Authorities say that deputies later found Jethroe at another restaurant, yelling at staff there. They claim he 'smelled of alcohol'(no shit?) and was unsteady on his feet. Jethroe was arrested and charged with offences including aggravated assault with a firearm. And, being a plank.
The Florida man who claimed that his girlfriend choked to death during oral sex was found not guilty of second-degree murder on Monday. Richard Patterson, of Margate, was acquitted of killing his sixty-year-old girlfriend, Francisca Marquinez, in 2015 after a week-long trial, according to the Sun Sentinel. During the trial, his lawyers initially argued that Marquinez died accidentally while performing oral sex on Patterson at her apartment. To bolster their defence, Patterson's lawyers filed a motion to show his 'large penis' to the jury. But, after a medical expert testified that choking during the sex act was 'unlikely,' the defence reversed course on the theory. The judge never ruled on the request to put Patterson's 'uge throbbing member on display in court. 'That's not the way she died,' defence lawyer Ken Padowitz said. 'But, that's the way Richard Patterson thought she died.' Instead, the defence argued that there was 'no way of knowing' exactly how she died. Medical examiners never determined the cause of death because Marquinez's body was too decomposed. 'They still don't know how she died,' said Padowitz. The jury spent five hours deliberating before reaching a verdict.
A Pennsylvania woman has pleaded guilty to fatally crushing her boyfriend in March by 'sitting on him during a violent attack.' Windi C Thomas of Erie, pleaded extremely guilty Monday to third-degree murder in the 18 March death of Keeno Butler, the Erie Times-News reported. Thomas faces between eighteen and thirty six years in The Slammer at her 21 December sentencing. So, that'll be a nice early Christmas present for her. In exchange for Thomas's plea, prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of a crime. 'It's a good result based upon the facts of the case,' Thomas's lawyer, Mark Del Duca, told the newspaper. 'I think it's fair for both sides.' An Erie police detective testified at Thomas's June preliminary hearing that officers arrived at the couple's home after Thomas called nine-one-one and told a dispatcher that she had killed her boyfriend, the Times-News reported. Detective Sergeant Chris Janus told the court that the first officer on the scene found Butler lying on the living room floor and a blood-covered Thomas sitting on the sofa. 'I killed him,' Janus quoted Thomas as telling the officer. Thomas told detectives that she had been drinking and, at one point, left to buy crack cocaine. She told them she had returned home and, during a confrontation, began stabbing Butler in the hand with a folding knife. She also beat him in the head with a table leg, Janus testified. The probable cause affidavit in Thomas's case stated that the leg had two bolts extending from it. The bloody table leg was subsequently found behind the sofa, the affidavit said. Thomas also admitted that she 'pinned Butler down' by kneeling on him and resting her body-weight on his chest, the Times-News reported. According to the affidavit, Thomas weighed three hundred pounds to Butler's one hundred and twenty pounds. Butler's autopsy listed his cause of death as 'respiratory insufficiency secondary to blunt force trauma to the neck and thoracic compression, exacerbated by blunt force trauma to the head,' the newspaper said. Butler, nicknamed 'Loco,' is survived by his mother, a daughter, two granddaughters and nine siblings, according to his obituary.
Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, took a man into custody on Saturday after he reportedly smashed a car into a tree whilst driving with his head out of the window 'like Ace Ventura.' According to a police accident report, the driver of the vehicle said that he was driving with his head out the window because the car's windshield wipers were not working. The driver 'informed officers that he crashed because of inoperable windshield wipers, which forced him to drive with his head out of the window, "like Ace Ventura" due to the rain,' the report said. The man was apparently referring to scenes from the 1994 movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, starring Jim Carrey. Carrey was forced to drive his vehicle with his head out of the window due to a smashed windshield. The man fled the scene of the single-vehicle accident but was 'contacted' by authorities a short time later. He was very arrested for driving under the influence.
In the parking lot of a shopping centre in Macon, Georgia, a Bibb County sheriff's deputy reportedly heard someone yelling. It was a woman. As the woman walked into the lot, she 'yelled profanities' to anyone whom she passed, the deputy's report of the 4 December encounter noted. 'As I approached her in my vehicle I heard her yell, "[expletive] the police!"' The woman soon took off her jacket, placing it and 'a dope pipe on the hood of my car,' the report added. 'In the pipe, there appeared to be burned residue of marijuana. By her behaviour and speech, I believed her to be heavily intoxicated by drugs. I told her that I was arresting her for disorderly conduct.' On the ride to jail, the woman shouted 'strange and incoherent things,' the deputy's report went on to say. 'At one point she said that she was The Devil.' She was still in jail as of late last week, being held in lieu of a six hundred and fifty dollars bond. So, it's good to know that Satan is just as financially strapped as the rest of us.
A woman in Florida has been arrested after reportedly instigating a fight between two teenage girls. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said that the woman instigated the fight between the girls and then 'coached one of them during the fight.' Giselle Reyes Felix was arrested for the incident that happened on 29 November. According to the affidavit, Reyes Felix drove a sixteen-year-old girl to the area where a seventeen-year-old lived because of 'problems' between the two. The sixteen-year-old attacked then the other girl, 'stomping on her head multiple times before a Good Samaritan was able to stop the fight.' 'Our adult suspect was supposed to be responsible for the sixteen-year-old girl,' Sheriff Grady Judd said. 'Instead, she not only drove the girl to the victim, but she also incited and encouraged a fight and coached the girl on how to hit the victim. This was totally irresponsible.' And, quite against the Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Felix has been charged with child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The sixteen-year-old was also arrested and charged with battery and general naughtiness.
A naked woman is reported to have 'chased a terrified man around a house' before demanding he performed a sex act on her. The incident happened in Missouri and the woman is currently being held in custody on a felony sexual abuse charge. According to a police report she allegedly tried to force the man perform a sex act on her. A court filing says Amy Nicole Parrino was extremely arrested on Sunday night after she 'repeatedly punched the victim and struck him with a belt, brass plate and a mobile phone some twenty to twenty five times.' It is claimed that a naked Parrino chased down the man in the house before 'finally cornering him.' Police allege she then pushed him to the ground, sat on top of him and 'shoved her private area in to his face, demanding he perform a sex act on her.' The alleged victim claimed that it was 'so appalling,' he was 'unable to breathe for a while,' making him 'scared to death' he was going to be 'suffocated by her genitals.' The Columbia Daily Tribune said he begged the officers to make her leave him alone as he didn't want any sexual contact with her at all. The probable cause affidavit states the alleged victim suffered cuts on his arms and nose and red marks on his chest which came from the impacts of the belt. On Monday, Parrino was charged with sexual abuse and domestic assault, both regarded as serious felonies and is being held in custody in lieu of a twenty five thousand dollar cash bond payment. If she is released, she has been ordered to have no contact with the man and cannot go to his home.
Tuesday of this week, dear blog reader, in addition to being the forty seventh wedding anniversary of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's brother and sister-in-law, would also have been this blogger's father's one hundredth birthday (had he not died in 1991, obviously). Below is the earliest photo of him which is known to exist - taken, probably, around ninety eight years ago!
On a related theme, this blogger is not sure of the exact date - though, he's fairly certain it was a Saturday - but it was around forty four years ago, sometime in early December 1974, that this here photo was taken at Keith Telly Topping's Aunt Lil's gaff in Denton. This is the Telly Topping family, dear blog readers (or, some of them, anyway), mostly extremely drunk by the look of things. (It's worth noting that yer actual Keith Telly Topping, being but eleven years old was just about the only person present below the legal drinking age.) That was a proper good Saturday night's entertainment in them days. This blogger loves this photo bringing back, as it does, so many happy and nostalgic memories of those present - sadly, the majority of whom are no longer with us. And, for anyone wondering about the painting on the wall directly behind this blogger's Auntie Sheila, it's called Tina by JH Lynch. Here is some further information.
Saturday 8 December was, believe it or not, National Pretend To Be A Time Traveller Day. For such a thing does, indeed, exist dear blog reader. How to observe? Well, the website states: 'Act like a time traveller. Choose your time period and decide whether you are travelling to the past or the future. Be overly shocked when someone says, "I'd kill for a double mocha latte right now," or "That car is the bomb." Misuse technology. When someone offers you earbuds to listen to a new song, sniff them to see if they smell good.' Or, you know, not. Pretend To Be A Time Traveller Day, apparently, 'began in 2007.' Or, will begin in 2007, depending on where you're pretending to travel from.
And, of course, iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiits ...
Pete Shelley, the singer, guitarist and songwriter with Buzzcocks, has died aged sixty three. 'It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of Pete Shelley, one of the UK's most influential and prolific songwriters and co-founder of the seminal original punk band,' his colleagues said in a statement on Thursday evening. 'Pete's music has inspired generations of musicians over a career that spanned five decades and with his band and as a solo artist, he was held in the highest regard by the music industry and by his fans around the world.' Pete, the author of 'Boredom', 'Time's Up', 'Orgasm Addict', 'Oh Shit!', 'I Don't Mind', 'What Do I Get?', 'Love You More', 'Promises', 'Noise Annoys', 'Fast Cars', 'Lipstick', 'Fiction Romance', 'Moving Away From The Pulsebeat', 'Sixteen Again', 'Late For The Train', 'Something's Gone Wrong Again', 'You Say You Don't Love Me', 'Raison D'être', 'Hollow Inside,' 'I Believe', 'Strange Thing', 'Homosapian', 'Telephone Operator' and many, many more - died of a suspected heart attack in Estonia, where he was living. Pete also wrote the band's most famous song and biggest hit, 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)', which was released in 1978. Buzzcocks influence can be heard on bands as diverse as The Smith, Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Green Day, R.E.M, U2 and Nirvana. Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet said: 'Pete was one of Britain's best pure pop writers, up there with Ray Davies.'
Peter Campbell McNeish was born in Leigh, near Wigan, in 1955 and began the process of forming Buzzcocks in Bolton in 1975 with Howard Devoto when the duo met at Bolton Technical Collage and bonded over a mutual love of The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Brian Eno, Hawkwind, Kraftwerk, Can, The Troggs and The Beatles (a pretty perfect summation of the diverse influences which would infuse both Buzzcocks and Devoto's subsequent group, Magazine). Pete - who took his stage-name via his favourite Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe - and Howard would receive honorary doctorates from what is now Bolton University in 2009. Previously, Pete had been in a group called Jets Of Air, the name inspired by a college lecture on Newtonian physics and, while they played 'only about six gigs in three years,' Shelley had built up a huge stockpile of songs - unusual, nervous, gender-fluid love songs but all with magnificent pop-hooks. Buzzcocks became part of the UK's punk scene and have been closely associated with it ever since although as Elvis Costello once memorably noted, Buzzcocks were not, in fact, a 'punk' band per se but, rather, 'a pop band that played fast!' Speaking in 2006 about his views on music, Pete told the Gruniad: 'I'm not interested in being able to play. A musician is like another brand of entertainer. There are plenty of musicians that I enjoy watching that are entertainers. But I wouldn't want to be that, because the thing with an entertainer is that there is always that dishonesty, which is what punk tried to get rid of. It was like, you're not pretending to be something you are not. You are just what you are. Punk is an art of action. It's about deciding to do something and then going out and doing it.' Weeks after forming the band (along with Steve Diggle and John Maher), Shelley and Devoto travelled nearly two hundred miles in a borrowed car to see The Sex Pistols play in High Wycombe after reading about the London band in the NME. They convinced Malcolm McLaren, to let them play on the same bill as The Pistols and The Clash at a forthcoming gig at The Screen On The Green in return for organising two gigs for The Pistols in Manchester (the second of which saw Buzzcocks own live debut). The first Manchester gig, at The Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976, was the kick-start for Manchester's own flowering punk and post-punk scene, attended by broadcaster and future Factory Records owner Tony Wilson, journalist Paul Morley, Stephen Morrissey and future members of The Fall and Joy Division. In January 1977 Buzzcocks released their first EP, Spiral Scratch, on their own label, New Hormones containing one thousand miles-per-hour gems like 'Boredom', 'Breakdown' and Time's Up'. Devoto left the following month to form Magazine and Shelley took over as lead vocalist and chief songwriter (sometimes in collaboration with rhythm guitarist Diggle). Signing to the United Artists label (on the day that Elvis Presley died) and working with the producer Martin Rushent, the band created a glorious run of singles (most of which were top thirty hits in the UK) along with three well-regarded LPs: Another Music In A Different Kitchen (1978), Love Bites (1978), and A Different Kind Of Tension (1979). Difficulties with their record company and a dispute with Virgin Publishing over the UK release of the compilation LP, Singles Going Steady, brought the band to a halt in 1981. They reunited in the late 1980s and have continued to perform and record over the past three decades, their most recent release being the 2014 CD The Way.
During the break from Buzzcocks, Shelley enjoyed an eclectic, critically-acclaimed solo career which included at least two genuine masterpieces, 1981's Homosapien and XL1 (which contained the hit single 'Telephone Operator') two years later. On the former, Pete returned to his original interest in electronic music; Rushent's elaborate drum machine and synthesizer programming laid the groundwork for his next production, the chart-topping Dare by The Human League. 'Homosapien' itself was banned by the BBC for 'explicit reference to gay sex' (most notably the line 'Homo-Superior, in my interior'). But, in the US dance chart, the single was a huge hit, peaking at number fourteen. It was at around this time that Shelley began to talk openly about his bisexuality, which had been implicit in many of the lyrics he'd written. Buzzcocks reunited in 1989 and released a new CD, Trade Test Transmissions, in 1993. Their name - supposedly inspired by review in Time Out of the contemporary TV drama Rock Follies - was combined with The Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks to create the title of the long-running UK comedy panel game show Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Diggle claimed in his autobiography that he and Shelley only granted the BBC use of their name under the impression that it would be an unsuccessful pilot and they were, subsequently, 'mildly disgruntled' that the name is now more readily associated in Britain with the TV show rather than the band. Pete himself appeared on the programme in 2000, where the then-host, Mark Lamarr, introduced Shelley by saying that without Buzzcocks 'there'd be no Smiths or Radiohead and this show would be called Never Mind Joan Armatrading!' Shelley's solo work included the theme tune to Channel Four's coverage of the Tour De France. His final solo CD was 2016's Cinema Music & Wallpaper Sounds, a pre-Buzzcocks Eno-inspired ambient electronic piece. Though he claimed not to have made much money during his career, Pete was not bitter. 'The worth of the songs is measured by the effect they have on people,' he said in 2002, when he reunited with Howard Devoto to make the electro-pop CD Buzzkunst. 'I'm not a millionaire, but then again, I'm not starvingly poor. I could do with more, but I didn't sign my life away for ten pounds. The love of the music around the world is worth more than money.' Apart from numerous musicians paying tribute to Pete's life and work, the author Neil Gaiman tweeted 'part of my youth dies with him.' That goes for this blogger who first saw Buzzcocks at The City Hall in Newcastle just before Christmas 1979 (supported by Joy Division) and who adored their music. Pete moved to Tallinn in 2012 with his second wife, Greta, an Estonian-born Canadian, preferring the less hectic pace of life there to London. He is survived by Greta, his younger brother, Gary and a son from his first marriage. Pete Shelley, dear blog reader, look upon his works, ye mighty ...