Friday, March 15, 2019

And, When They Were Up They Were Up

It is - quite literally - the stuff of science fiction. But now, the possibility of time travel may be a - small - step closer. Scientists have built what could, loosely (very loosely) be described as a time machine which, while not quite on the fictional scale of the TARDIS, has defied the second law of thermodynamics, which governs the direction of 'time's arrow' from past to future. Working in the weird realm of quantum mechanics, they achieved the equivalent of causing a broken rack of pool balls to re-order itself. To an outside observer, it looks as if time is running backwards. Lead researcher Doctor Gordey Lesovik, who heads the Laboratory of the Physics of Quantum Information at the Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology, said: 'We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time.' It was as if the balls scattered randomly around a pool table went into reverse and packed themselves back into their original pyramid formation. The 'time machine' described in the journal Scientific Reports is based on a quantum computer that carries out calculations using basic elements known as superconducting 'qubits.' A qubit isn't something from Harry Potter, apparently, rather it is a unit of information described by a 'one', a 'zero', or a mixed 'superposition' of both states. With me so far? No? Good. Glad it's not just me, then. In the experiment, an 'evolution programme' was launched on a computer which caused the qubits to 'become an increasingly complex changing pattern of zeros and ones.' During this process, order was lost just as it is when the pool balls are struck and scattered at a break-off. Another programme then modified the state of the quantum computer in such a way that it evolved 'backwards,' from chaos to order. The state of the qubits was 'rewound' back to its original starting point. An analogy would be giving the pool table such a perfectly calculated kick that the balls roll back into an orderly pyramid. The scientists found that, working with just two qubits, 'time reversal' was achieved with a success rate of eighty five per cent. When three qubits were involved more errors occurred, resulting in a fifty per cent success rate. Can we get back to talking about real fictional time-travel now, please?
Doctor Who experts and fans have been causing a bit of a kerfuffle at a museum in Cornwall which has just started exhibiting what it claimed to be a 'genuine' Dalek. That's a genuine Dalek prop as used on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama rather than, you know, a genuine Dalek from the planet Skaro. Because, the latter would be a story. Cornwall Live reported on Tuesday that a 'renowned toy collector,' one Phil Chapman, had renovated what he believed at the time to be an original Dalek dating back from the period that Jon Pertwee played The Doctor in the early-1970s. It was reportedly found in the Gunnislake shed of another collector, who recently died and, despite damp setting in, was 'lovingly restored' by Phil and given to Liskeard & District Museum, which has put it on display. Phil, whose huge collection of toys is on-show in the museum, said that his late collector friend had 'bought the Dalek twenty years ago from a man from Okehampton' who claimed that he had previously worked in the BBC's props department. However, Doctor Who aficionados - for there are many - have, according to the website, 'pointed their sonic screwdrivers in the direction of Cornwall and branded the Liskeard Dalek "a fake."' Or, in slightly less prejudicial and local-paper-tabloid words, 'pointed out that it does not appear to be what it has been claimed to be.' Cornwall-based Doctor Who collector Matt Doe said: 'During the period stated there were two makers of Daleks, Bill Roberts of Shawcraft Models who made the original batch of Daleks, these are all numbered and documented on a website called Dalek6388. In the 1970s Jon Pertwee period a company ran [sic] by VFX specialist Cliff Culley was in charge to make various Daleks for the story Planet Of The Daleks. These makers all made Daleks that are well-documented to dimensions and plans very close to each other. The Dalek shown by Phil has numerous amounts of things wrong. The first is it's dimensionally wrong. No Dalek ever appeared in full size form with these dimensions, or in model form anywhere near remotely close to these dimensions. Not only are the dimensions wrong but the method of how it's constructed in areas is also wrong and can be clearly seen and compared to other full size props externally.' Matt himself has an 'Exhibition Dalek' which was featured in the BBC's trailer for the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. Writer and filmmaker Benjamin Cook added: 'It looks nothing like an actual TV - or movie - Dalek. Its dimensions are way off.' Jon and Gav, who run the afore-mentioned 'ultimate resource for Dalek fans' Dalek6388 added: 'Almost every dimension is incorrect and it's not made in the correct materials. The original props were made by Shawcraft Models and were mainly fibreglass. Some were made (for TV) by a different company (Westbury Design) in the early-1970s and these matched the original Shawcraft design closely.' Several other Dalek-lovers have also taken to Facebook and Twitter declaring that Phil's Dalek is 'definitely a fan build.' And, this blogger - who might, charitably, be described as someone who is 'quite knowledgeable' on many aspects of Doctor Who's production but who is very definitely not an expert on prop design - also thinks that the Dalek in question looks wrong for an, alleged, early-1970s TV prop. The top half appears far too narrow, in this blogger's opinion. For what that's worth. Which, isn't much. Anyway, Phil defended his actions: 'I can only go on the history of what I have been told by the family who owned it and, unfortunately, there was nothing in writing. When people die the stories go with them.' A spokesperson for Liskeard Museum replied to the Dalek dilemma: 'We have had some interesting comments today from Doctor Who fans and are especially keen to hear more from Doctor Who prop expert Matt Doe.' They added: 'Even if he proves to be a fan copy, he is bringing so much joy to our visitors and is fully interactive so please come say hello.'
One of Doctor Who's lost stories has been revived as an animation but a few changes were required to resurrect The Macra Terror in a new form. Starring Patrick Troughton, the four-part adventure was originally broadcast in March and April 1967, but no full episodes of the serial are known to have survived in the BBC's archives. You knew that, right? Fortunately for fans, a complete audio recording of the story still exists, with an animation team working tirelessly to provide new visuals, as previously reported on this blog. One sequence, though, needed to be modified, as animation director and producer Charles Norton explained. 'There is a cut to episode one. There was a scene that would have been very difficult to do [in animation], would've taken an awful lot of time and resources and probably wouldn't have ended up really working.' The scene, in which a machine tries and fails to 'make over' Troughton's Doctor, 'has been shortened to remove a few elements that would've been very difficult to do.' Norton added: 'Happily, it's not a scene that's particularly pertinent to the plot.' For any fans incensed by the edit - and, one imagines there will be one or two (these are Doctor Who fans we're talking about, after all) - the scene features in full on a photographic reconstruction of The Macra Terror which will also be available on the DVD and Blu-ray release. 'There's a black-and-white version [of the animation], a colour version, a photographic reconstruction, a photographic reconstruction with narration and a talking book,' Norton explained. The animated Macra Terror was approached as 'a new production,' with Norton suggesting that attempting to recreate the lost story 'exactly as it was ... doesn't actually work. There's so much we don't know about what was in the original apart from anything else,' he said. 'You can't recreate it perfectly - you are doing it in a completely different format, so it is going to be different no matter what you do. It has to work on its own merits.' The story's titular monsters, the crab-like Macra, were also redesigned for the animation - justified, Norton said, because the finished product on-screen was 'a disappointment to the production team' back in the 1960s. 'It clearly wasn't what they wanted anyway, so we tried to get to perhaps what they had in their heads when they were originally writing it.' Tweaks and modifications aside, The Macra Terror promises to be the most polished Doctor Who missing episodes animation yet, with Paul Hembury - executive producer for BBC Studios [ acknowledging 'an evolution' since 2016's reconstruction of Troughton's debut story The Power Of The Daleks. 'It's partly money, but as much as money, it's time,' Hembury said. 'This is the first of the animations where we almost gave Charles as much time as he said he needed, whereas before we gave him a lot less! This time, we've hit a benchmark which is where we wanted to be right from the start. That isn't to say that, were we to do more, that we wouldn't still be trying to do better still.' 'Four times the budget does help!' said Norton. 'There's quite a bit of traditional hand-drawn animation in this... we would never have had time to do that on Power Of The Daleks, so it's a completely different kind of production.'
Former Doctor yer actual Matt Smith physically transforms into one of history's most notorious and murderous cult leaders in a first look at Charlie Says. Smudger portrays Charles Manson, leader of the murderous Family cult, in the upcoming thriller from American Psycho director Mary Harron about the infamous 1969 Tate-La Bianca killings. Smudger's version of Manson is shown in flashbacks as the so-called 'Manson girls' share their stories from prison with criminology student and human rights advocate Karlene Faith (played by Merritt Wever). It is through her analysis of the horrifying murders that Karlene begins to question whether the Manson girls were truly willing perpetrators or if they were victims of Manson as well. In Charlie Says, Manson family members Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Mary Brunner are brought to life by Hannah Murray, Sosie Bacon, Marianne Rendón and Pikachu's Suki Waterhouse. Charlie Says is currently scheduled for release to US cinemas on 10 May though a UK release hasn't been announced yet. This role is the latest high-profile big-screen project for Smudger. Earlier this week, he revealed that he was convinced by former Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan to sign up for his first-ever Marvel movie, Morbius. Smudger has also downplayed reports that he has a 'top-secret' role in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Another former Doctor, yer actual Mad Tom Baker has recalled finding it 'difficult' to work with an 'anxious' Rowan Atkinson on a memorable episode of Blackadder II. Baker appeared in the Potato episode of the much-loved 1986 historical comedy as the deranged, legless and incompetent sailor Captain Redbeard Rum. 'You have a woman's bottom, m'lady' and all that. He was really rather good in it if you've never seen it. The eighty five-year-old said that playing the blundering seafarer had been an 'incredible' experience but that he had not enjoyed working with Atkinson. He told the Radio Times: 'It was an incredible performance. Some people were amazed I ever worked again. Rowan Atkinson was so anxious - he wasn't very fun to work with.' Mad Tom claimed Rowan had asked him to 'tone down' his performance and make it 'as boring as you can' on the set for the 1986 series. Later, he claims, he 'discovered' Atkinson 'gave the same advice' to all the guest actors on the sitcom. Speaking to Radio Times' guest editor, David Walliams, Baker questioned why Atkinson had been so worried about getting upstaged. Mad Tom said: 'He took me aside the first afternoon of recording and he said: "You know Tom, I'm very experienced in this and the part you're playing here, this sea captain, I think you're actually doing too much. I think he should be as boring as you can make him. So, we then had the final run-through and I did this boring routine and the producer came down and said, "What's going on? Are you ill?" I said, "No, no, no, I'm just taking in the notes from your boss." And he then said, "Tom, he does that every week. He gives those same notes to the visitors." Weird isn’t it? A comic genius and yet he has these anxieties.' The fact that the director of Blackadder II was, in fact, a woman - Mandie Fletcher - should, perhaps, give us a moment's pause as to how many pinches of salt we should take with good old Mad Tom's comments. It's also worth recalling that the episode made immediately prior to the one Mad Tom appeared in - Bells - featured Rik Mayall going so far over the top he was down the other side as Lord Flashhart. So, one imagines that if Rowan did, indeed, give the same advise to Rik as he, allegedly, gave to Mad Tom it was, similarly, ignored!
And, just to complete our little sub-series of former-Doctor stories, the trailer for national heartthrob David Tennant's forthcoming appearance in the BBC's adaptation of Good Omens has, as previously mentioned on this blog, been doing the rounds of late. If you haven't seen it already, dear blog reader, check it out, it's very good.
This week's episode of From The North favourite Only Connect was a proper bumper one for yer actual Keith Telly Topping who only went and managed to get the answers to not one, not two but three whole questions before either of the teams did. Specifically, the red light districts question (which probably says rather more about yer actual Keith Telly Topping than he would like), the year of three leaders question and the sports-named-after-places question (albeit, he got the latter only a mere fraction ahead of The Time Ladies).
This blogger was, of course, extremely happy that the delightful Time Ladies won the edge-of-the-seat conclusion to the episode on a tie-breaker and, not just because of their choice of favourite telly programme about time travel either. Anyone who can quote the lyrics to 'Dub Be Good To Me' on national television is pure dead okay with this blogger!
'To be continued in what some call The Real World!' Given the reports of abject chaos which have surround its production, this blogger was not expecting huge things from the second series of American Gods, the opening episode of which was broadcast this week. Thankfully - because, the first series was a big From The North favourite - in the event, this blogger thought it was great. Sure, it's crushing disappointing that Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth are no longer involved but there was still plenty to admire here. And, seemingly, this blogger was not alone in his appreciation of the episode; see here and here. Although, these guys thought otherwise. The fact that they're, you know, wrong - and by 'wrong' this blogger means bigly-wrong in their massive largeness - is, of course, neither here nor there.
Meanwhile, there's a very good interview with Neil Gaiman on the Entertainment Weekly website which helps to clarify a few of the ongoing urban myths surrounding the alleged production difficulties and the current series' House On The Rock arc which is well worth a few moments of your time.
'Critics. What do they know? They're gonna hate this show!' This blogger's preview copies of the opening four episode of Doom Patrol turned up at Stately Telly Topping Manor this week. As a great fan of Grant Morrison's groundbreaking forty issue run of the comic during 1989, 1990 and 1991 this blogger was looking forward to the TV adaptation with a mixture of trepidation and a weirdly pleasurable fanboy tingle of excitement. Thankfully, if the first four episodes are anything to go by, DC have a twenty four carat gem on their hands. A great cast and with a premise that's eighty per cent Morrison and twenty per cent My Greatest Adventure, once again this blogger - easily pleased, though he may often be - thought it was great, dear blog reader. Terrific soundtrack too, notably the use of the late David Bowie's 'Lazarus' in episode two.
And, in a similar vein to the Neil Gaiman interview linked to above, Doom Patrol showrunner Jeremy Carver was the subject of an in-depth interview by Sci-Fi Wire which you can check out here in which Jeremy confirms that Morrison's take on the comic is heavily influential on the TV adaptation. As if the inclusion of the characters of Crazy Jane, Mister Nobody and Willoughby Kipling (played by the always excellent Mark Sheppard) in the opening episodes wasn't evidence of that already. One wonders how long it'll be for we have Red Jack, Danny The Street and the rest of The Brotherhood Of Dada turning up and a reworking of The Painting That Ate Paris? Which would be well-nice.
'Sometimes when you love someone, you will do crazy things!' The first trailer for series two of from The North favourite Killing Eve has been released this week. And lo, dear blog reader, it was proper glorious in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sight, so it was. One wondered if the series could survive the loss of Phoebe Waller-Bridge; on the evidence of this minute of magic, the answer would appear to be 'Phoebe Waller-Who?'
HBO have revealed the run times of the opening two episodes of Game Of Thrones eighth and final series. And, after much (mostly uninformed and hyperbolic) speculation that they would be movie length they are in fact, just the usual sort of duration - fifty four minutes for episode one and fifty eight minutes for episode two. Leaving someone writing for Forbes extremely disappointed in his stroppy indignation at this right-shite state of affairs by the sound of things! Ah well, them's the breaks, mate. You know what they say: 'Time is relative.' No, hang on. Sorry, that's the wrong show. 'If you think that has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.' Yeah, that's better.
Thankfully for disgruntled Thronies everywhere, according to the Fansided website, things get a bit more lengthy thereafter with episode three being an hour long and episodes four five and six fulfilling the wet spunky dreams of fans everywhere by lasting between seventy eight and eighty minutes each.
Meanwhile, after that Games Of Thrones whine, Esquire reports that Game Of Thrones wine is now available to be drunk during the final six episodes of the popular fantasy drama with the dragons and the tits and all that. This selection of reds and whites includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Noir and a red blend. For white wine drinkers, there's a Chardonnay as well. Nice.
After creating the BAFTA-winning gangster drama Peaky Blinders, which unveils series five on the BBC this spring, with a sixth series shooting later this year, Steven Knight is now planning his most ambitious production yet – a forty-acre film and TV studio in the West Midlands. Alongside investors, the local council and leading production companies, Knight plans a one hundred million knicker state-of-the-art studio near Birmingham offering advanced facilities and specialist crews for productions ranging from blockbusters to small-scale projects. He told the Observer: 'So many American and international producers want to shoot in the UK because of our crew base and tax incentives. Many high-profile production companies are begging for [studio] space. I'm from Birmingham. I felt it was a shame that there was no production going on in the centre of the country.' Peaky Blinders has been watched by tens of millions of people worldwide. Among his feature films, Knight wrote Dirty Pretty Things, the acclaimed thriller directed by Stephen Frears and directed Locke, starring Tom Hardy. He also co-created Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? at a time when 'people said quiz shows were dead' and has watched it become a worldwide franchise. He wants the studio, to be called Mercian, to be the 'greenest on Earth. I want to grass the roofs so they're bird sanctuaries. All sets that are dismantled will be burned for energy. All vehicles will be electric.' Knight began exploring the studio project four years ago. An official announcement is expected later this year, with an opening within two-and-a-half years. The name Mercian is inspired by one of the most powerful kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, whose borders spanned the West Midlands. The site, near Birmingham, covers between thirty six and forty acres: 'A lot of land,' Knight said. The studio will have six sound stages for film and television, as well as post-production facilities. Knight wants to encourage a terrestrial television franchise to be based there and the BBC is among those who are 'very keen,' he said. 'We've got a backlot which is basically countryside, where people can build castles and shoot things. A local landowner is happy to have productions.' Basing professional crews at the studio will also cut accommodation and transportation costs for producers, who would no longer have to ferry people from London and elsewhere. Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said that the organisation was 'entirely supportive' of the venture. 'The UK needs more studio space. Tax credits, our fantastic infrastructure, our talent base, our crew base ... all combine to create an irresistible package. We're one of the most popular destinations for film and high-end television. The demand for studio space is growing.'
ITV has revealed that the third series of Victoria will premiere on Sunday 24 March at 9pm. The drama, starring Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, has been shown in the US ahead of the UK for the first time. ITV boss Kevin Lygo previously revealed that the show would be broadcast in the UK 'in the spring or summer' and said of the delay: 'We have to get it right and put it up against the right things on the BBC and elsewhere,' he explained. Victoria has brought in some new faces for its third series, with Lewis's Laurence Fox as foreign secretary Lord Palmerston and Kate Fleetwood as Victoria's elusive sister, Princess Feodora.
EastEnders actress Katie Jarvis has said she is 'absolutely fine' following reports that she had been attacked on a night out. Jarvis, who plays Hayley Slater in the BBC drama, tweeted - and then almost immediately deleted - a message about being 'glassed' on 8 March. Jarvis kept a tweet saying that she was 'feeling good as gold' in the hours following the alleged attack. The actress has now tweeted again to reassure fans she is doing well. 'I'm a soldier and been through hell of a lot worse,' she wrote. The twenty seven-year-old joined EastEnders in February 2018, playing Hayley, the cousin of Jessie Wallace's Kat Moon. She was involved in a major storyline at Christmas when it emerged she had had an affair with Kat's husband, Alfie. Jarvis has been off-screen in the soap for the last few weeks because her character was convinced to seek treatment after struggling with mental health and alcohol issues. Hayley was supposed to released from treatment last month, but fled the centre, leaving her baby, Cherry, in the Slater family's care.
NCIS fans are preparing to say farewell to another original cast member. The long-running crime procedural dropped something of a curve-ball for viewers this week when fan-favourite Ducky Mallard (the great David McCallum) told Gibbs that his future did not include his job at NCIS. During Bears & Cubs broadcast this week, McCallum returned to the series after a sporadic absence to spend some time with the team ahead of a party he was attending and revealed his plans to Gibbs (before going off to the event ... with Robert Wagner). While he wasn't one hundred percent clear on what he will do next, Ducky lets Gibbs know in no uncertain terms that his future will definitely not include his old job. The doctor then gave Gibbs his blessing to name his protege, Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), his position as head of the department. Whilst McCallum is set to return in the next episode, it appears that his days might be numbered.
The BBC has released the first picture of Sheridan Smith as she appears in a new factual drama about the crimes of serial killer Stephen Port. Smith plays Sarah Sak, the mother of one of the four young men Port poisoned with lethal doses of a date rape drug between June 2014 and September 2015. The drama, whose working title is The Barking Murders, will be broadcast this year. Stephen Merchant will play Port, who was sentenced to a full life jail term in November 2016. Writers Neil McKay and Jeff Pope said they were 'so grateful' the co-creator of The Office had 'agreed to take on such a difficult and challenging role.' Samuel Barnett, Rufus Jones and Jaime Winstone will also appear in the three-part series, which will focus on the victims' families. Pope and McKay previously worked with Smith on The Moorside, the acclaimed 2017 drama about the hoax kidnapping of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews. The release of the picture of Smith in her latest role coincides with reports that she is currently in talks to play Samantha Fox in another TV drama. 'I would love for Sheridan to just say yes,' the former model and wannabe pop star told the Daily Lies. 'She would be perfect.'
MasterChef judge John Torode and his partner, the actress and food writer Lisa Faulkner, have been given their own weekend cooking show. They will host John & Lisa's Weekend Kitchen on Sunday mornings on ITV. The couple met when Faulkner won Z-List Celebrity MasterChef in 2010. Since then she has released three cookbooks. The former Holby City, [spooks] and EastEnders actress said she was 'delighted' they had been asked to make a programme together. 'It's a lovely series to be asked to present and even better that we get to share some of our favourite recipes and ideas with the viewers,' she said. 'I know we are going to have a lot fun making it.' ITV said that the couple would present 'from a cosy modern kitchen' and show viewers how to create 'deliciously simple dishes.' Torode said he was 'really thrilled and excited to be working with Lisa. Our Weekend Kitchen will certainly be a great reflection of us working together on food and our style and chatting about things we love to do, made for Sunday morning viewing,' he added. There will be nine episodes of the hour-long show, which is being produced by the team behind Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women. So, that should be worth avoiding, then.
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman have completed their gruelling Comic Relief danceathon, after fighting through injury and sickness. The Strictly Come Dancing presenters raised more than one million quid by dancing non-stop for twenty four hours and five minutes. They ended their marathon challenge with a weary performance of Destiny's Child's 'Survivor', before collapsing to the floor in a melodramatic fashion. 'I never want to dance again,' said Winkleman. 'I don't like movement.' Daly, who suffered from motion sickness for six hours of the danceathon, said that her co-presenter had been her lifeline. 'She's had my back the whole way through. We've looked after each other. We've seen each other strapped up with tape. We both had a little cry,' she said. 'We are a bit tired and emotional.' Which, in this particular case, does seem to actually mean tired and emotional rather than, you know, drunk. Donations continued to roll in after the presenters put their feet up, with the total reaching one million and twelve thousand four hundred and eighty three knicker by Wednesday morning. The danceathon was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and the BBC red button, with fans following every fatigued dance step. 'I'm not going to pretend it's been easy, but I don't want to moan about it' Daly told the BBC News website fifteen hours into the challenge. 'These guys won't tell you how bad it is,' added Davina McCall, who was on hand for moral support. 'They're both in absolute agony.' She explained: 'Claudia is strapped up on her leg, both of them are strapped up on their back. Tess has been in tears, she's also feeling nauseous, and Claudia is talking about baby giraffes.' But, while the duo sounded perky and energetic on air, they slumped in between links, taking hugs from colleagues and massaging their limbs without pausing their eternal shuffle. By 10am, Winkleman was 'slurring her words' and Daly was 'feeling very sick.' 'We peaked a bit too soon, because we got really overexcited,' said the Daly. 'I bounced for the first four hours,' added Winkleman. 'And Trevor Nelson, who I literally love, came in and went: "FYI, you've peaked." And I went, "Don't be silly. I know I'm forty seven but I can go on like this for seventeen months." About two minutes later, my knee clicked out, my back went out and Tess got sick.' The presenters received celebrity support from their colleagues at Radio 2, singers Fleur East and Beverly Knight and the casts of the West End musicals Hair and Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown and former judge Mary Berry also turned up at Wogan House with 'sugary snacks to keep the stars on their toes.' Meanwhile Jeremy Vine and Rylan Clark-Neal engaged in a dance-off to Sylvester's disco classic 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)'. That was a sight to see. 'Before we did this we went to see extraordinary projects that Comic Relief is supporting, so it was important to us [to do this]' said Winkleman. 'The tiniest amount of money makes the most enormous difference. Every penny will go to some of the most vulnerable people living in the most challenging situations in this country and abroad,' added Daly.
Former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis has been told by oily Piers Morgan that he will 'never be asked to be a guest' on the ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain, after the Liverpudlian said on Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast: 'I'll only go on Good Morning Britain on a Thursday when Ben Shephard's there.' Dennis still holds an understandable grudge against the oily former Daily Mirra editor - and twat - Morgan who asked newspaper readers if Dennis was 'the most pathetic man in Britain,' in a Mirra headline whilst the comedian was taking part in Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in 2002. Upon hearing of Dennis's comments oily Morgan responded in his atypical, spoiled brat manner, by 'banning' Dennis from the GMB studios. Whether oily Morgan has the authority to do this and whether his producers subsequently told him that they decide who appears on Good Morning Britain and who does not and would oily Morgan kindly keep his big mouth shut we just don't know. But, we can probably guess. Dennis, who hosted Family Fortunes between 1987 and 2001, took part in the z-list celebrity version of Big Brother a year after leaving the popular game show. His marriage to the then relatively unknown Amanda Holden was on the rocks at the time and the cheery persona he was known for did not materialise on the z-list reality TV show, with tabloids labelling him Les Miserables due to his cascade of depressing anecdotes. His career was handed a kick-start in 2005, when he appeared on the Ricky Gervais sitcom Extras, playing an exaggerated version of himself, which endeared him to a new generation of comedy fans. He later appeared in another Gervais project Life's Too Short, as well as enjoying a stint on Coronation Street. He will make his Royal Shakespeare Company debut in The Provoked Wife in May.
A - very famous - episode of The Simpsons featuring Michael Jackson's voice has been pulled by its producers after a powerful documentary accused the star of sexually abusing two men when they were children. So, if you've got that particular DVD make sure you hang onto it because the chances of that episode ever being shown in public again are somewhat slim. The HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which was shown on Channel Four in the UK this week, featured James Safechuck and Wade Robson who claimed that they were sexually abused by Jackson - who was, they claim, a very naughty man indeed. The singer featured in The Simpsons episode Stark Raving Dad which was broadcast in 1991, but his involvement was only confirmed some time later. Jackson voiced Leon Kompowsky, who meets Homer in a psychiatric hospital, where he claims to be the pop star. Come, you must have seen that one, it's a great episode. 'I can't write a song, I'm only ten.' 'Only ten? When I was your age I had six Gold Records!' Producers of The Simpsons have decided to remove the episode from streaming services and TV channels which broadcast the show and shove it in a vault hoping everyone will forget it ever happened. Executive producer James L Brooks said it was 'the only choice to make.' Well, it wasn't the only choice, an alternative choice would have been to have left the episode where it was instead of trying to re-write history in a, frankly, rather Stalinist way. Admittedly, that would have left the production open to accusations of ... something. From someone - such is the way of the world. But, a bit like the way in which Kevin Spacey's rather horrific alleged off-screen doings do not make The Usual Suspects any less than one of the greatest films ever made, so Stark Raving Dad is still twenty three of the best minutes The Simpsons ever produced and to pretend that it never existed because of what one member of the cast may have gotten up to in the privacy of his own multi-billionaire mansion with some children does not change that. Quite how removing a thirty year old episode of The Simpsons from public consumption helps any of the alleged victims of Michael Jackson's alleged dirty rotten badness is open to considerable debate. Fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed with the decision, Brooks said, telling the Wall Street Journal: 'The guys I work with - where we spend our lives arguing over jokes - were of one mind on this. This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one and this certainly doesn't allow them to remain.' He added: 'I'm against book-burning of any kind. But this is our book and we're allowed to take out a chapter.' Jackson's family have denied the allegations against the singer and denounced the documentary. The estate claimed that, by showing Leaving Neverland, HBO was 'violating a non-disparagement clause' from a 1992 contract. On Thursday, an Australian radio network pulled Jackson's music from its airwaves. The Nova Entertainment Company, which counts easy-listening station Smooth FM among its stable, became the first Australian company to take action after the accusations were broadcast in the documentary on Sunday. At least three radio stations in Canada, one in the Netherlands, as well as New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ and its major commercial rivals Mediaworks and NZME also said they would stop playing the artist's music.
A section of beach that featured in the ITV crime drama Broadchurch has been closed after a large cliff fall. About one thousand tonnes of rock and debris fell at East Beach in West Bay, Dorset, at about 5.30pm on Tuesday, the coastguard said. Following searches by coastguard teams, fire crews and rescue dogs, no-one is believed to be trapped in the rubble. The Jurassic Coast path and beach between West Bay and Freshwater were closed for a time. Engineers and a geologist are currently inspecting the area. A West Bay Coastguard spokesman said: 'Please stay well away from the cliff fall and surrounding area as further cliff falls could happen at any time and without warning.' The Jurassic Coast Trust said the fall had left 'potentially dangerous overhangs' and repeated warnings to 'stay clear' from the base and top of the cliffs. 'This type of fall happens suddenly and normally without warning and is part of the process of natural erosion that makes our World Heritage coastline so beautiful and important for understanding the history of our planet,' a statement said. In 2012, tourist Charlotte Blackman died at nearby Hive Beach when she was buried under a rockfall. West Bay featured prominently in ITV series which starred Olivia Colman, David Tennant and yer actual Jodie Whittaker.
Dame Esther Rantzen has said that her broadcasting career would not be as successful if she joined the industry now as a young woman because she would not be 'pretty enough.' Yeah, that sounds about right. The former That's Life! presenter was a trailblazer for female broadcasters. The series, which began in 1973, regularly attracted twenty million viewers. Rantzen told BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs she was 'very lucky' to have launched her career when she did. 'A few generations earlier, I don't think I could have done it,' she told presenter Wor Geet Canny Lauren Laverne. 'A few generations later, I wasn't nearly pretty enough.' She said it was 'taken for granted' earlier in her career that she would not be promoted because of her sex. After getting her job on That's Life! she said she was conscious that 'women weren't given this responsibility before. I was aware that if I didn't do a job well, preferably better than a man would, then I would make it much harder for the next generation of women,' she said. The BBC series featured light-hearted items alongside serious investigations, including reports on child abuse. In 1986 Dame Esther set up Childline - a charity offering support to young people. She told Desert Island Discs the need for the counselling service - which has helped nearly five million children - is as great today as ever. When it started calls were mainly about 'horrible things people were doing to children, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, bullying,' she said. 'Now so much of it is about unhappiness, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders. And bullying has changed and become cyber bullying that you can't escape from.' Rantzen also spoke about the sexual abuse she herself suffered as a teenager, which she revealed for the first time in 2011. Speaking about her abuser she said: 'I can see him to this day. He used to call me "bright eyes." He had one of these creepy smiles and he took me out to buy me a present. He found a way of getting me alone and he sexually abused me, not the most serious assault but still horrible.' However, she said her 'lovely' mother 'didn't really believe me' when she told her about the abuse. 'My mum, like many parents, cared about the social circle she moved in, cared about not making problems and in a way wanted me to carry on meeting him and I said, "Under no circumstance."'
Netflix is to set the official UK age ratings for its own films and shows using a new algorithm that will mean its entire catalogue has a rating. Until now, ratings such as PG, twelve and eighteen have been set by the British Board of Film Classification. Netflix will become the first company to determine ratings that will be given the BBFC seal of approval. Netflix will 'manually tag' aspects like violence and swearing and the algorithm will pick the appropriate age rating. A BBFC spokeswoman said: 'This is the first time that the BBFC have collaborated with a content provider and put together a scheme that will eventually mean that they will rate their own content. This content will then receive a BBFC rating. The content will be viewed by a person, however the classification decision will be made digitally from the tags that the viewer inputs in to the system. Therefore if the content contains violence at a particular point it will be tagged as such and these tags will form the basis of the final rating.' The system will be tested in a year-long pilot, but the BBFC said that it was 'confident' it would give accurate results. The body told BBC News it would 'provide ongoing training and support to Netflix to ensure that quality standards do not slip.' It said that it wants one hundred per cent of films and programmes on Netflix to have BBFC ratings and for the system to be extended to other streaming services. The announcement comes after BBFC research found almost eighty per cent of parents were 'concerned' about children seeing allegedly 'inappropriate content' online. The BBFC has also published a set of guidelines for streaming and gaming platforms to achieve 'greater and more consistent use of trusted age ratings online.' They recommend wider use of BBFC age classifications on online video and the equivalent Pan European Game Information symbols for games. 'Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema,' BBFC chief executive David Austin said.
Danny Dyer has said he was having 'a family reunion' when he met Prince Charles at the Prince's Trust Awards. The EastEnders actor found out that he was related to royalty when he filmed Who Do You Think You Are? in 2016. Dyer introduced himself to the prince as a 'relative.' The prince told the audience that he had 'discovered a long-lost relation with Daniel Dyer' and said that he would be 'doing some research' into it. While filming Who Do You Think You Are?, Dyer discovered that he was related to Thomas Cromwell, Edward III, William the Conqueror and Henry III. He went on to present a two-part series, Danny Dyer's Right Royal Family, where he got know his royal ancestors and experienced how they lived. The actor was at the Prince's Trust Awards to present the mentor of the year award. When he was introduced to the prince he told him: 'I'm in EastEnders. Just wanted to let you know we're related as well. King Edward III is my grandfather - but I won't go into it. No he is, on my life.' Later on on stage Charles told the audience: 'He told me he was descended from Edward III, which is interesting. I must do some research when I get back,' he said. Dyer told the audience that he was 'having a family reunion' with Chas. 'When your cousin Charlie makes the call, you've got to help your family out, you know what I mean?' he said.
A gambling advert fronted by the Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling has been extremely banned by the advertising watchdog for being socially irresponsible. The TV advert promoted a Sky Bet service that allows gamblers to place wagers on combinations of events happening during a football match, such as the number of corners, red cards and goals. In the advert for the 'request a bet' service, Stelling is seen calling on viewers to 'spark your sports brain' and ask 'how big is your sports noggin?' The Advertising Standards Authority received two complaints that the advert was 'irresponsible' because it implied that if you had a good knowledge of sports - as, broadly speaking, this blogger does - you were likely to be a successful gambler - which this blogger very much is not. Sky Bet, which ended its association with the TV broadcaster Sky when it was sold for 3.4 billion knicker to the owner of PokerStars last year, claimed the advert 'made no direct reference' to knowledge increasing the chances of winning, but that knowledge of a specific sport 'would, on the whole, increase a consumer's chances of success.' One or two people even believed them. They added: 'Many customers researched, studied and followed sports to a degree which would give them an "edge" over a bookmaker.' Explaining the ban, the ASA said that the use of Stelling, who viewers 'would recognise as having a particular expertise in sports' and graphics 'such as brain waves' placed 'a strong emphasis' on sports knowledge determining betting success. The advert 'gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler's control over betting success,' it said. 'This gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet and that could lead to irresponsible gambling behaviour.' Gambling and betting companies have come under fire during a time of mounting pressure to protect children and vulnerable persons from excessive exposure to advertising. In December, the gambling industry confirmed plans to press ahead with a voluntary ban on betting adverts during sports programmes from this summer. A month earlier Sky had announced a limit of one gambling adverts-per-commercial break on its channels from the start of the next Premier League season in August. Last month, the Committees of Advertising Practice, which set the rules enforced under the UK advertising code, announced a series of extra restrictions on gambling adverts, including the ban on featuring young z-list celebrities, sports stars and use of 'animated and licensed characters' from film and TV shows.
Australian media reportedly broadcast footage from the Christchurch shootings despite police pleas for them to desist. As New Zealand police and social media platforms scrambled to remove video of the Christchurch shootings - apparently live-streamed by one of the perpetrators - from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, several Australian media outlets saw fit to broadcast some of the footage. 'Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,' the police said in a statement. 'We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.' Facebook, which carried the live-stream from the shooter on Friday, co-operated with New Zealand police and deleted the shooter's accounts. Sky News Australia repeatedly broadcast footage of the shooter at the mosque and Ten Daily embedded the footage on its website and social media posts although, to be scrupulously fair, neither showed the actual shootings of any victims. The Ten Daily video remained online for several hours but was, eventually, taken down along with all the stills from the video. Sky continued to show excerpts from the video. A Sky spokeswoman said: 'Sky News, in line with other broadcasters, ran heavily edited footage that did not show the shootings or the victims.' Channel Nine used some of the shooter's footage, but stopped the video before the gunman entered the mosque. The Herald-Sun promoted the video as Gunman's horrifying video inside New Zealand mosque. But it stops the moment he enters the mosque. The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, reiterated the police's plea in a later media conference. 'We should not be perpetuating, sharing, giving any oxygen to this act of violence and the message that is sitting behind it,' Ardern said. 'What all of us can at least do is ensure that we do not share, spread or actively engage in that message of hate. We have been given assurance that ... at least those platforms where some of those images have been shared, are actively being removed. But I just ask people, don't share them.' Australia’s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, also urged people not to watch or share the footage. 'I found the advice of the New Zealand police force to be particularly wise,' he said. 'They have said - and I agree - do not allow this evil into our lives. Do not share the footage. Do not watch the footage. This is not part of normal life. The people who have committed this atrocity have wanted the attention. We should never normalise this. Do not share the footage. Do not watch the footage.' Facebook says that it alerts authorities to threats of violence or violence as soon as it becomes aware through reports or Facebook tools. 'Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act,' Facebook executive for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said. 'New Zealand police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware. We will continue working directly with New Zealand police as their response and investigation continues.' The apparent 'manifesto' of the shooter, which has been removed from his social media accounts, was shared by several media outlets, including ABC News, which read out an excerpt.
A thought struck this blogger whilst he was watching the - perfectly horrific - scenes in New Zealand on Firday morning whilst preparing this bloggerisationisms update. And, the thought was this ...
Not, perhaps, the most articulate, balanced or tactful thought which ever crossed this blogger's mind, he freely admits. But, it was one that, nevertheless, felt right at the time.

'Global action is required' to tackle the Interweb's 'downward plunge to a dysfunctional future,' its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has told the BBC. He made the comments in an exclusive interview to mark thirty years since he submitted his proposal for the web. Sir Tim said that people had realised how their data could be 'manipulated' after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, he said he felt problems such as data breaches, hacking and misinformation could be tackled. In an open letter also published on Monday, the Interweb's creator acknowledged that 'many people' doubted the web could be a force for good. He had his 'own anxieties' about the web's future, he told the BBC: 'I'm very concerned about nastiness and misinformation spreading.' But he felt that people were 'beginning to better understand the risks' they faced as web users. 'When the Cambridge Analytica thing went down [people] realised that elections had been manipulated using data that they contributed.' He added that in recent years he has 'increasingly felt' that the principles of an open web 'need to be safeguarded.' In his letter, Sir Tim outlined three specific areas of 'dysfunction' which he said were harming the web today: malicious activity such as hacking and harassment; problematic system design such as business models that 'reward clickbait' and unintended consequences, such as aggressive or polarised discussions. These things 'could be dealt with,' in part, through 'new laws and systems that limit bad behaviour online,' he said. He cited the Contract for the Web project, which he helped to launch late last year. But initiatives like this would require 'all of society to contribute' from members of the public to business and political leaders. 'We need open web champions within government - civil servants and elected officials who will take action when private sector interests threaten the public good and who will stand up to protect the open web,' he wrote. His brilliant creation has grown 'into a troubled adolescent,' he said and Sir Tim sees it as his personal mission to put the Interweb 'back on the right track.' Sir Tim's vision was 'at once Utopian and realistic,' said Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future Of The Internet & How To Stop It. It rested on the idea that a free and open web would 'empower' its users, rather than 'reduce them to simply being consumers,' he explained. 'I see Tim's letter not only as a call to build a better web, but to rededicate ourselves to the core principles it embodies,' he told the BBC. Those principles, he said, included universality of access and transparency - the ability to see and understand how web applications work.
Scientists have 'found evidence' of a huge blast of radiation from the Sun that hit Earth more than two thousand years ago. The result has 'important implications' for the present, because solar storms can disrupt modern technology. The team found evidence in Greenland ice cores that the Earth was 'bombarded' with solar proton particles around 660BC. The event was about ten times more powerful than any since modern instrumental records began. The Sun periodically releases huge blasts of charged particles and other radiation that can travel towards Earth. The particular kind of solar emission recorded in the Greenland ice is known as a solar proton event. In the modern era, when these high-energy particles collide with Earth, they can knock out electronics in satellites we rely on for communications and services such as GPS. The radiation may also pose a health risk for astronauts. And, passengers and crew on commercial aircraft that fly at high altitudes and close to the poles, such as on transatlantic routes, 'could receive increased radiation doses,' though this depends on 'many variables.' Other types of solar radiation events can trigger aurorae in the high atmosphere and shut down electrical grids. 'There are high-energy solar energetic particle events, or solar proton events. These are the high energy particles directly hitting Earth and producing the particles we measure,' co-author Raimund Muscheler, from Lund University in Sweden, told the BBC News website. 'Connected to this are also the lower energy particles that come usually within one to four days to Earth. These produce the geomagnetic storms.' The two types of particle events may not always coincide, however. Modern instrumental monitoring data extends back about sixty years. So finding an event around 660BC in an order of magnitude greater than anything seen in modern times suggests we haven't appreciated just how powerful such events can be. There wouldn't have been any appreciable signs of the event to people alive at the time. But if there were any associated geomagnetic storms, it might have triggered aurorae at lower latitudes than is usual. 660BC was the date, according to legend, when Japan's first emperor - Jimmu - acceded to the throne. It was the time of the Iron Age in Europe and the Middle East - before the rise of the Roman Empire. The researchers found evidence for the event in the form of radioactive isotopes (particular forms of an element) present in the Greenland ice. These were beryllium-ten and chlorine-thirty six, which are regarded as 'being of cosmic origin.' Researchers have also identified two other large events from the past, which left evidence in both Greenland ice cores and tree rings. The signature researchers look for in tree rings is the isotope carbon-fourteen. One of these, which occurred between 774 and 775AD, was 'comparable in its magnitude' to the one in 660BC. 'Our event is about the same size as [the event in 774/775]. There is some uncertainty, but they look very similar,' said Doctor Muscheler. However, the event in 660BC does not have such a clear carbon-fourteen signature in tree ring data. Scientists are now working to understand exactly how common the extreme events are, something that could help us plan for big solar storms in future. The research has been published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.
Evidence of large-scale prehistoric feasting rituals found at Stonehenge could be the earliest mass celebrations in Britain, say archaeologists. The study examined one hundred and thirty one pigs' bones at four Late Neolithic sites, Durrington Walls, Marden, Mount Pleasant and West Kennet Palisade Enclosures. The sites, which served Stonehenge and Avebury, hosted the feasts. Researchers think guests had to bring meat raised locally to them, resulting in pigs arriving from distant places. The results of isotope analysis show the pig bones excavated from these sites were from animals raised in Scotland, the North East of England and West Wales, as well as numerous other locations across Britain. Study lead Doctor Richard Madgwick from the University of Cardiff said: 'These gatherings could be seen as the first united cultural events of our island, with people from all corners of Britain descending on the areas around Stonehenge to feast on food that had been specially reared and transported from their homes.' Doctor Madgwick said that finding pigs in the vicinity of the feasting sites would have been 'relatively easy' making the fact they brought the animals long distances 'arguably the most startling finding' as this would have required 'a monumental effort. This suggests that prescribed contributions were required and that rules dictated that offered pigs must be raised by the feasting participants, accompanying them on their journey, rather than being acquired locally,' he said.
A tape believed to contain the first recording of the late David Bowie's 'Starman' has fetched more than fifty grand at auction. The 1971 tape, which had a pre-sale guide price of ten thousand knicker, had gathered dust in a loft for almost fifty years. Bowie can be heard on the demo telling Spiders guitarist Mick Ronson he had not quite finished the song when he tried to end the recording. Ronson subsequently gave the rape to his friend Kevin Hutchinson, an aspiring musician, to help him learn the song. But after listening to the song, Hutchinson labelled it 'David Bowie rehearsal tape' and packed it away in his loft. The tape also contains recordings of other Bowie songs of the era, 'Moonage Daydream' and 'Hang On To Yourself'. It sold for fifty thousand four hundred and thirty quid including buyer's premium. Hutchinson said: 'I remember listening to it and thinking, "This is okay." I didn't think, "This is fantastic." At sixteen, you're not totally impressed. Nothing impresses you.' He kept the tape despite moving house several times and now Hutchinson thinks it's 'phenomenal, obviously.' 'Starman', about an alien who'd 'like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds' was released as a single in 1972, reaching number ten in the UK chart. You knew that, right? The demo was auctioned on Tuesday at Omega Auctions in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside. Hutchinson retrieved the tape from his loft after watching a documentary about Bowie, who died in 2016. Hutchinson said of his decision to sell the demo: 'I'm sixty five. It's not used in my life so I've started what they call on TV "decluttering."' Dan Hampson, assistant auction manager at Omega Auctions, said that the tape was 'possibly the first ever demo version of 'Starman'. There's a lot of Bowie mythology around the writing of this timeless classic and the raw and truly beautiful version heard here helps to provide a fascinating insight into the creative process of a bona fide genius.'
Staff at the British Heart Foundation were reportedly 'shocked and stunned' when a plastic bag left at their local fundraising store included a rare demo of 'Love Me Do', the first single by The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). An anonymous resident of Midhurst in West Sussex donated twenty five old records to the nearby charity shop. Bearing the words 'Demonstration Record' and 'Not For Sale', the seven-inch vinyl carries a subtle misspelling of Paul McCartney's name, the songwriting credits reading 'Lennon–McArtney.' It is one of around two hundred and fifty demonstration copies of the single printed by Parlophone in 1962 for British radio airplay and is thought to be worth in excess of twenty thousand quid. 'We get all sorts of unique and wonderful high-value donations sent to our eBay shop - we sell over five thousand items every week - but this is a real one-off!' said Andrew Ostcliffe from the British Heart Foundation, who is handling the sale of the donated item.
The Killers and The Cure will top the bill at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival this June, it has been announced. They are among more than sixty acts joining this year's line-up, including Janet Jackson and Lauryn Hill. Stormzy had already been revealed as the Friday night headliner while Kylie Minogue will play the coveted legend slot on Sunday afternoon. The festival kicks off on Worthy Farm on 26 June. Other acts announced on Friday morning include Miley Cyrus, Christine & The Queens, Liam Gallagher, Wu Tang Clan, Vampire Weekend, The Streets, Johnny Marr, Mavis Staples and Neneh Cherry. Although the three Pyramid Stage headliners are all male, forty two per cent of the currently-announced line-up is female, highlighting the festival's commitment to gender parity. 'The gender balance is something I consider at every stage of the booking process,' said festival organiser Emily Eavis in an interview last month. 'We're a little way off being fifty-fifty across the whole festival, but in 2017 the Park Stage was fifty-fifty and that will be the case on other stages this year. We're definitely moving in the right direction.' The Cure's headline performance is their first since 1995 and their fourth overall, meaning that they now tie with Bloody Coldplay as the festival's most-frequent headliners. Albeit, Robert and the boys are a Hell of a lot more welcome than Bloody Coldplay ever were. The Killers previously topped the bill in 2007 and 2017 whilst Kylie was booked for the top slot in 2005, before a breast cancer scare forced her to pull out. 'It will be fourteen years since I was originally meant to appear there and so much has happened up to now,' said the singer, as she announced her return last December. 'I can't wait to see you all there to share this special show.' Glastonbury is expected to announce the rest of the bill closer to the festival itself. The event sold out in just half an hour last October, but cancelled tickets will be put back on sale on Sunday, 28 April. Eavis recently confirmed that The Prodigy had been booked to play prior to Keith Flint's tragic death last week.
A guitar once owner by the legendary Blues musician Bukka White has fetched ninety three grand at auction. The 1933 National Duolian resonator guitar, known as 'Hard Rock', was used by White for over thirty years. Booker T Washington White is considered to be one of the major pioneers of Delta Blues slide guitar, one recordings such as 'Shake 'Em OnDown', 'Fixin' To Die Blues' and 'Parchman Farm Blues'. The instrument was given to a UK-based photographer in 1976 and has been played by musicians including Mark Knopfler, Bill Wyman and Dave Stewart. It sold for a fee of ninety three thousand knicker including buyer's fees, at Gardiner Houlgate auctioneers in Corsham. Auctioneer Luke Hobbs said that Bukka White was 'a founding father of the Delta Blues' and an influential, definitive player of the genre. 'He and Son House really created this genre of music, the Blues slide playing,' he said, adding that the guitar's seller, Keith Perry, felt that 'the time was right' to 'move it on' and 'let it see the next part of its journey.' White used it as his main gigging and touring guitar for three decades. 'The vendor was given it by Bukka White in 1976 ... and he has allowed people like Mark Knopfler, Lonnie Donegan and Eric Bibb to play it,' said Hobbs. Speaking ahead of the sale he said that the seller wanted it 'to have as many decades again in someone else's hands, or even go into a museum to hold it, and to display it and hold events to let people to play it for ever more.'
The comedian Phill Jupitus has been fined over a 'hit-and-run car crash.' The Never Mind The Buzzcocks regular reportedly crashed his Volvo XC60 SUV into a Ford Ranger pick-up truck in Colinsburgh, Fife, last December. But Jupitus failed to stop, leaving the Ford car damaged at the side of the road. He was fined three hundred notes and given five points on his driving licence after the crash which happened a few miles from his home in the East Neuk of Fife. Jupitus was not present for the short hearing at Dundee Justice of the Peace court. The fifty six year-old, of Pittenweem, pleaded very guilty to a charge of failing to stop at the scene of an accident. The charge states that his car collided with the Ford and that he failed to stop and give his name and address to the owner of that car. His not guilty plea to a second charge of failing to report the accident to police within twenty four hours was accepted by the Crown. Fiscal depute Lynne Mannion said that Jupitus had no previous convictions and no live points on his driving licence. Justice of the Peace Sarah Walker said: 'Due to the early plea I will impose a fine of four hundred and fifty pounds, reduced to three hundred for the plea.' Last year Jupitus told how he was loving life in Fife having moved there in September 2017. He said: 'Once the kids had grown up, there was always a sense I wanted to go somewhere radically different from where I've been all my life. I think coming from an island you have a weird connection with the sea. It was always in my head that I wanted to live near the sea. I'd been spending more time gigging in Edinburgh and basically spent about a year on trains or driving to look around for a house. Fife was the closest rural place to Edinburgh. And while we were initially looking for somewhere closer to train lines and things, I actually quite like that where I live now - it takes a bit of an effort to get there.'
Reality TV-type individual Katie Price has been criticised by a judge for 'not bothering to turn up' at court. The forty-year-old, from West Sussex, was due to appear before magistrates in Crawley accused of two charges of using threatening and abusive words or behaviour in Shipley last September. District judge Amanda Kelly said Price's failure to appear showed 'a lack of respect for the court system.' The court heard Price was 'out of the country.' At the hearing, which was adjourned to 20 March, the judge said: 'She hasn't bothered to turn up today. Apparently she has something more important to do.' The court heard that Price 'would have been notified' of the need to attend in a postal requisition sent in February and 'would have known' about the case. Kelly said: 'This shows a lack of respect for the whole court system.' She added it would be 'tempting' to consider having Price's ass arrested and thrown in The Slammer for her contempt, but that Kelly would 'reluctantly' adjourn the hearing. The court heard Price was due back in the country on 18 March.
The former actress Tina Malone has been given a suspended prison sentence after she admitted breaching an injunction protecting the identity of James Bulger's killer Jon Venables. There is a global ban on publishing anything related to the identity of Venables or that of his accomplice, Robert Thompson. Malone's barrister said that the ex-Shameless and Brookside actress 'accepted' she had breached the injunction. She was given an eight-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay ten grand. The fifty six-year-old pleaded extremely guilty to the charge of contempt of court earlier. Malone, who was wearing a leopard print coat - and, frankly, looking a proper state - told the court that she had been living in Liverpool at the time of James's murder and knew his killers had been given anonymity when they were released. She shared the Facebook message in February last year, which was said to include an image and the new name of Venables, the High Court was told. The court heard Malone initially claimed she had 'not been aware' she had done anything wrong. One or two people even believed her. Barrister Adam Speker claimed she had 'mental health problems at the time she shared the post' and was 'caring for her five-year-old daughter and elderly mother.' He claimed his client 'understood' Venables had been given anonymity for his protection but there were 'no characteristics of vigilantism' in Malone's case. Venables and Thompson were ten when they tortured and murdered James after abducting the two-year-old from a shopping centre in Bootle in 1993. In November that year, they became the youngest children ever to be convicted of murder in England. They have been living under new identities since they were released in 2001. Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC said: 'The injunction in this case is intended to both protect the identities of the offenders, but also innocent individuals who may be incorrectly identified as them. Posting this material online is a very serious matter and can result in a prison sentence.' In January, two people were given suspended sentences after admitting posting photos on social media they claimed 'identified' Venables. Earlier this month, the father of James Bulger lost a legal challenge to try to change the lifelong anonymity order.
Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman is among more than forty people who have been charged in a US college cheating scam, according to unsealed court records. The alleged scheme involved 'helping students cheat on entrance exams,' as well as getting non-athletic students admitted on fake athletic scholarships. Elite schools Yale, Stanford and Georgetown were among the destination universities. There was no suggestion that the schools themselves were involved in any wrongdoing. The defendants are, largely, very wealthy and also include CEOs of major companies. 'These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege,' said US Attorney Andrew Lelling at a news conference about the investigation known as Operation Varsity Blues on Tuesday. According to the charging documents, Huffman made 'a charitable contribution' of fifteen thousand dollars to participate in the scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter. She allegedly arranged to use the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so. Huffman was charged with 'conspiracy to commit mail fraud' and 'honest services mail fraud.' She was secretly recorded discussing the scheme with 'a co-operating witness.' Which is a nice way of describing a Copper's Nark who was wearing a wire. The papers said that the co-operating witness met Huffman and her husband, the actor William H Macy, at their Los Angeles home and 'explained the scam to them.' The witness said the pair 'agreed to the plan.' Macy has not been indicted. Huffman appeared in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday and was released on two hundred and fifty thousand bucks bail. The judge ordered the actress to restrict her travel to the continental US. The actress Lori Loughlin, best known for starring in the US sitcom Full House, was also among those indicted. Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli - who was also indicted - 'agreed to pay bribes totalling five hundred thousand dollars in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits' to the University of Southern California rowing team, the documents claimed. Both of their daughters are currently studying at USC. Federal prosecutors in Boston charged William Rick Singer with running the alleged scheme through his company Edge College & Career Network. Singer pleaded very guilty on Tuesday in Boston federal court to charges including racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He could receive a maximum of sixty five years in prison and more than one million dollars in fines. He told the court: 'I am responsible. I put all the people in place,' local news site Mass Live reported. Singer will be sentenced in June. According to the FBI, athletics coaches at various institutions were 'also involved in the scheme' - recommending the fraudulent applicants internally and 'pocketing bribes in return.' The head women's football coach at Yale University was, allegedly, paid four hundred thousand dollars to accept a student who did not even play the sport - and those parents gave Singer over one million dollars for, allegedly, 'arranging' the bribe. 'This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth, combined with fraud,' Lelling said. 'There can be no separate college admission for wealthy and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.' In all, thirty three parents were charged as well as thirteen athletics coaches and 'associates' of Singer's business. The documents detailed two alleged scams run by Singer's firm, Edge College & Career Network: cheating on college entrance exams and using connections with coaches at top schools to organise bribes while faking athletic credentials for students. 'Some parents took advantage of one some took advantage of the other and some took advantage of both,' Lelling said. Parents including Huffman and Loughlin paid somewhere between several thousand dollars and 6.5 million dollars to Edge for its services, authorities said, earning Singer about twenty five million dollars between roughly 2011 and 2018. If found guilty of wrongdoing the defendants could be facing a shitload of time in The Joint. The firm reportedly instructed parents to claim their child had a disability which required that they be given extra time to complete exams. The FBI said that parents were then told to 'invent an excuse' - such as a family wedding - for their students to sit the entrance exams at specific facilities, where staff had been 'bribed to turn a blind eye to cheating.' Someone working for the firm involved in the scandal either sat the exam for the students, gave students the answers, or corrected their answer papers, the FBI said. The Edge staff member who 'assisted in the cheating' was 'briefed on exactly how well to perform,' in order 'not to raise suspicion' that a child's scores had 'improved too much,' the FBI said. In most cases, the students did not know their admissions had been paid for with bribes, but in 'several' the students were involved, officials added. The firm also allegedly created 'detailed fake athletics profiles' for students - including photo-shopping the faces of potential students on to pictures of athletes found online - allowing students to be recruited on athletic scholarships. Lelling said that the case arose after authorities were 'tipped off' by 'the target of an entirely different investigation.' Another nice way of describing - another - Copper's Nark. USC said that it had extremely fired two employees who were indicted in the alleged bribery case: senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic. Court documents allege Vavic placed two students on his water polo team to help them get into the university, and was paid two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Heinel also, allegedly, accepted bribes to facilitate admissions. 'USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.' Georgetown, Yale, UCLA, Wake Forest and the University of Texas released similar statements acknowledging the investigation. On social media, many have 'expressed outrage' over the alleged scam, pointing out that the US college system is already biased in favour of wealthier, white Americans. And others have noted that for the mega-rich, it is easy to 'legally donate money' to a school in order to receive admission. In China, two thousand four hundred and forty pharmacists were accused of cheating by using earpieces in a 'national licensing test' in 2014, according to China's state TV. Exam cheating is also said to be 'widespread' in India. In 2015, several hundred people were very arrested in connection with mass school exam cheating in the state of Bihar. A year later student Ruby Rai, who had been ranked first in state exams, was arrested and her results cancelled after video of a college interview she had failed went viral. Last year, a Singaporean tutor admitted helping six Chinese students cheat in what prosecutors said was 'an elaborate plot.' More students are cheating in GCSE and A-level exams in England, new figures revealed last year. The number caught was up by a quarter on the previous year. Most were penalised for taking mobile phones into the exam.
MI5 'warned' the cabinet secretary in the 1980s about rumours that a minister had 'a penchant for small boys' but did not inform the police or launch an investigation into the allegations, according to a member of the security services. Giving evidence anonymously to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, a lawyer with the security service apologised for it having taken 'a narrow, security-related view' of the accusations against Sir Peter Morrison. 'With hindsight,' the lawyer, whose voice was heard via remote video link, said 'it was a matter of deep regret' that MI5 had not 'co-operated with police' or 'made inquiries into the activities' of the former MP for Chester, who died in 1995. The official said that the security service 'did not investigate people merely because they had a public profile' but 'only when there was reason to suspect they posed a threat to national security.' Not all files were 'adverse,' he added, saying that some might be opened if a person was 'targeted' by a terrorist group or could be 'susceptible to approaches' by a foreign intelligence organisation. A letter from the then head of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, to Sir Robert Armstrong, the then cabinet secretary, that was sent in 1986 was read out to the inquiry. It said that 'stories' about Morrison, who was then minister of state for trade and industry, 'persist.' A member of MI5, Duff wrote, had 'heard from two sources' that Morrison had 'a penchant for small boys.' The alleged 'source' was 'understood' to be Donald Stewart, the Conservative party agent for Westminster. The security service was 'not sure' whether it was 'based on rumours previously aired in 1983' or 'on more recent events.' Duff ended the letter saying: 'I would just as soon that we didn't get involved for the time being.' An internal MI5 memo in November 1986 from Eliza Manningham-Buller, later director general of the security service, said that she had 'seen Morrison and his family' the previous night for dinner and he had told her that the prime minister - That Awful Thatcher Woman - was 'supporting him.' Morrison said he 'hoped the press would publish' so that he could 'sue and nail the lies.' The security service also recorded reports that Morrison had been 'picked up for importuning.' Manningham-Buller, who is due to appear before IICSA on Tuesday, has told the inquiry that she was not the member of MI5 staff who had first heard the rumours against Morrison, who later became parliamentary private secretary to That Awful Thatcher Woman. Brian Altman QC, counsel to the inquiry, suggested that the statement that Thatcher knew about the allegations against Morrison and was, nonetheless, 'supporting him' depended 'entirely' on the MP's version of events. The MI5 lawyer agreed that 'appeared' to be so. 'Wasn't the obvious route,' Altman suggested, 'that an inquiry should have been made of Sir Robert Armstrong to ask if the prime minister was supporting Morrison in those terms?' The service had been 'rather blinkered' about the proper approach, he added. The inquiry also heard evidence about MI5's investigation into the activities of Sir Peter Hayman, a former high commissioner to Canada, who retired in 1984 and died in 1992. He reportedly kept 'detailed diaries about his sex life' which were seized when his flat in Bayswater was raided. The director of public prosecutions later gave MI5 access to them. The security service reportedly 'interviewed Hayman's friends and then him,' particularly about reports that in the 1950s when he was in Baghdad local boys had 'visited him for sexual purposes.' The DPP, Hayman told MI5, had given him immunity from prosecution. The outcome of the investigation, the MI5 lawyers said, was that Hayman had 'rendered himself vulnerable to blackmail' but that there had been 'no actual prejudice to security.' The MI5 officer was also taken through a list of prominent individuals whose activities had 'raised questions about child abuse.' Among them was Maurice Oldfield, a former head of MI6, who had told That Awful Thatcher Woman that he had 'had homosexual encounters,' dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, with 'house boys and hotel stewards' in Asia. Allegations against the former home secretary Leon Brittan were said to have come only from 'a disgruntled prisoner' who 'resented having been denied parole.' The agency's records, the inquiry was told, also mentioned unsubstantiated allegations against the former Conservative MPs Christopher Chataway, Charles Irving and Sir William van Straubenzee. All have since died. It is not clear whether any information on any of these individuals was ever passed to police.
Former leader of the Liberal Party, Lord Steel has admitted under oath that disgusting fekker Cyril Smith 'confessed' to him in 1979 that the child abuse allegations against Smith were true. Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Steel admitted he 'still did nothing about it' and 'made no effort to investigate' whether Smith 'posed any continuing risk to children.' Lord Steel also confirmed that he hasn't read the Inquiry's report into Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale which looked at allegations of child sexual abuse involving Smith. He also told the Inquiry that that he 'hadn't heard on the grapevine, or via the whips,' any rumours about Smith being under investigation by Lancashire Police for child sexual abuse but that he questioned Cyril Smith about an article in Private Eye where it was alleged he spanked boys in a children's hostel. Steel went on to say that he 'assumed' Smith had committed the offences against boys discussed in Private Eye in May 1979 but said that the alleged abuse took place in the 1960s, before Smith was a member of the Liberal Party and, subsequently, an MP. Inquiry Counsel Brian Altman QC asked Lord Steel about a statement issued by the Liberal Party press office in relation to Smith in 1979, stating: 'All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms' asking if this statement 'trivialised' the abuse. In an interview with BBC's Newsnight on 4 June 2018, Lord Steel was asked about allegations against Smith involving boys, which he described as 'based on scurrilous hearsay and tittle tattle.' Steel was, subsequently, suspended by the Liberal Party. And, was told to go back to his constituency and prepare for retirement.
Meanwhile child sex abuse victims have criticised full-of-his-own-importance hairdo (and clown) Boris Johnson for claiming that police funding was being 'spaffed up the wall' investigating historical allegations. The Tory MP said in an interview with LBC that 'an awful lot of police time" was spent looking at "historic offences and all this malarkey.' One victim, Gary Cliffe, described the comments as 'horrific.' Children's charity NSPCC said that the former London mayor's remark was 'an affront to victims.' Cliffe, who was a victim of Barry Bennell when the serial paedophile youth coach ran junior clubs linked to Manchester City, added that Johnson 'needs educating on both child sex abuse and policing.' Chris Unsworth, director of the Offside Trust, the organisation set up by survivors of child sexual abuse in football in the wake of the football abuse scandal, said Johnson's comments were 'ignorant, dangerous, disgraceful and unbelievably distasteful.' And we're, what, surprised by this? This is Boris Johnson we're talking about, just about every single thing that comes out of his mouth falls into one of those four categories. Often all four at once. 'Not only has he caused untold upset and offence among survivors and their families affected by child abuse, he has failed to understand that learning mistakes from the past is critical to keeping our children today safe,' he continued. 'Boris Johnson clearly has no understanding whatsoever of the issues involved. On behalf of the thousands of people impacted by child abuse we demand an apology.' SAVE Association, which was also founded by men who were victims of childhood sexual abuse, called Johnson's comments 'insensitive and ill-informed.' A spokesman said: 'These investigations allow us to learn and ultimately have been successful in incarcerating some of society's most abominable monsters. Johnson should learn to keep his mouth well and truly shut when it comes to subjects he simply knows nothing about. Child sexual abuse is definitely one of those subjects. When talking about "spaffing money up the wall," can I remind Johnson of the colossal amount he spent in the London Garden bridge fiasco or the water cannons debacle.'
Pope Frankie has reportedly described the child sexual abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic church as 'the work of the devil' and offending priests 'the tools of Satan.' Speaking at a mass marking the end of a four-day summit on the protection of minors, the pope said that 'awareness is growing' within the church to ensure 'disciplinary measures' are in place to tackle sexual abuse and vowed to protect children from the 'ravenous wolves.' But activists and sexual abuse survivors have been angered at the pope's failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable. 'Why don't they start with something concrete like removing the bishops who cover up,# said clergy sexual abuse victim Alessandro Battaglia.
There was late drama in all three of the Premier League games played on Saturday. Matt Ritchie struck with almost the last kick of the game to earn yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle a share of the spoils against Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium. The Magpies inched a fraction closer to Premier League safety with the two-two draw. Former Cherries player Ritchie sent a spectacular volley into the roof of the net from DeAndre Yedlin's cross to rescue a point for Rafa The Gaffer's side. Joshua King had turned the game in Bournemouth's favour in the second-half, sending Martin Dubravka the wrong way from the penalty spot before finishing coolly into the far corner from Dominic Solanke's pass. Salomón Rondón had given Newcastle the lead in first-half stoppage time, curling a superb free-kick into the top corner from the edge of the area. Callum Wilson almost scored his twelfth league goal of the campaign with the score at one-one, but Paul Dummett cleared the goal-bound header off the line. The point lifts Bournemouth above Everton into eleventh place, while Newcastle remain thirteenth with thirty five points, seven clear of the relegation zone. Elsewhere West Hamsters United came from three-one down to beat relegation haunted Huddersfield at The London Stadium with three late goals including an injury-time winner from Javier Hernández. And, it was a jolly bad day for Burnley who missed a chance to pull themselves out of the relegation mire losing two-one at home to Leicester City who had Harry Maguire sent off in the early stages for bringing down Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson when he was clean through on goal. Wes Morgan scored the winner for Leicester in the last minute.
A Birmingham City fan has been extremely jailed for fourteen weeks for attacking Aston Villains captain Jack Grealish during the second city derby. Paul Mitchell, of Rubery, ran on to the pitch and hit Grealish from behind - really hard - about ten minutes into Sunday's game. Less than twenty four later, Mitchell was up a'fore The Beak and, in his particular case, justice was not only swift but, also, merciless. Mitchell admitted assault and encroachment on to the pitch at Birmingham Magistrates' Court. He couldn't really do much else since thirty odd thousand punters inside St Andrews saw him do it, plus seven hundred thousand more watching on TV. He 'cannot explain what came over him yesterday morning,' his solicitor claimed, unconvincingly. 'His initial, foolish, intention was to just go on to the pitch and whip up the crowd,' said Vaughn Whistance, defending. Mitchell was also ordered to pay three hundred and fifty notes in fines and costs and has been banned from attending any football matches in the UK for ten years. The three hundred and fifty knicker includes one hundred quid in 'compensation' for Grealish's 'pain, discomfort and shock.' The Villains midfielder was able to continue with the game at St Andrew's and, indeed, went on to score the winning goal in the sixty seventh minute. Mitchell, a pub worker, claimed that he was 'not drunk' when he invaded the pitch and punched Grealish in the jaw. 'I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,' the player said. 'It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.' Birmingham City snivellingly apologised to both Grealish and The Villains immediately after the game and said that Mitchell had been banned from St Andrew's for life. He has also been banned from away games. The club said there were 'no excuses' for his behaviour, which 'has no place in football.' West Midlands Police said it was also investigating 'offensive social media posts' which appeared after the goal referencing Grealish's younger brother, who died when the midfielder was four. Birmingham City said it had banned another supporter for life over the 'vile and malicious' tweets. Mitchell, who has been a season ticket holder for twenty years, was said to be 'very remorseful' after realising he had 'brought shame' on his club. His defence asked for community service or a suspended prison sentence but magistrates were having none of it and ruled that 'a message had to be sent out to fans.' The father-of-one's prison sentence 'should be a deterrent,' magistrates added as they sent him off to The Slammer. During the court hearing, Whistance claimed that online threats had been made to Mitchell whilst also using the 'his girlfriend is pregnant so, you know, let him off with a slap on the wrist yer honour,' defence. Whistance claimed that Mitchell's family had 'left the area through fear that they would suffer serious harm or even death.' An FA spokesperson said 'a line had been crossed' and 'strongly condemned' the attack, as well as two other pitch invasions which occurred at the weekend. It has written to Birmingham City to examine the club's security measures. The club said it had begun 'reviewing all of its stewarding, safety and security procedures as a matter of high importance. We will be putting into place extra measures at our stadium designed to help ensure the safety of players, as well as supporters,' a spokesman said. The club also confirmed it was investigating an incident involving a steward 'after Aston Villa players celebrated their goal on Sunday in front of their supporters in the Gil Merrick Stand.' In 2002, a Birmingham City fan who ran on to the St Andrew's pitch and confronted Aston Villains goalkeeper Peter Enckelman was jailed for four months for encroaching the playing area and using threatening behaviour.
A Hibernian fan who 'confronted' Glasgow Rangers captain James Tavernier at the side of the pitch during a match has admitted a breach of the peace charge. Cameron Mack, from Port Seton, climbed over an advertisement hoarding at Easter Road last Friday night. The twenty one-year-old kicked the ball away before the confrontation with the Rangers defender. Mack, who will be sentenced next month, has been extremely banned from attending any football ground in Scotland. His actions were condemned by Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster. Speaking after the match, she described the incident as 'completely and utterly unacceptable' and said that the culprit would be 'banned from Easter Road for life.' The confrontation took place almost a week after Glasgow Celtic player Scott Sinclair was almost struck by a glass bottle thrown from the crowd at Easter Road. Over the weekend, there were also incidents at two English matches. The incident at Easter Road took place as Tavernier went to pick up the ball to take a throw-in. At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, fiscal depute Lorraine Almond said that Mack had acted in a disorderly manner, kicked the ball away, approached the Glasgow Rangers defender and 'acted in an aggressive manner towards him.' She said both men pushed each other several times before a steward intervened and the police detained Mack. Deferring sentencing until next month, Sheriff Adrian Cottam told Mack: 'The nature of the offence has caused a lot of discussion and concern and is a serious matter.'
A man has been charged with assaulting The Scum's defender Chris Smalling during a Premier League match at The Arse's Emirates Stadium. Gary Cooper, of Chertsey, was extremely charged with common assault and encroaching on to the playing area. He was bailed to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 26 March. The charge relates to an incident about seventy minutes into Sunday's match which The Arse won two-nil.
A sixteen-year-old male has been very arrested for allegedly calling Huddersfield Town midfielder Philip Billing 'a black donkey' online. Jesus, why the Hell is everybody so nasty these days? Billing tweeted a private message that he had been sent on Instagram, with a 'thumbs down' emoji. Which is Interweb thing that 'young people' use a lot, apparently. In the expletive-ridden message, Billing, a Danish international of Nigerian descent, was told to 'leave our club.' West Yorkshire Police confirmed the arrest was made on Wednesday morning. 'I never want to see you in a Town kit ever again, you useless wannabe black donkey,' the message said. A police statement read: 'Following a report received by West Yorkshire Police ... in relation to abusive racial comments on social media, police have now arrested a sixteen-year-old male. The teenager has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications and is being investigated as a hate crime. Enquiries remain ongoing. Kirklees District Police would like to reassure the public that this incident has been swiftly and proportionately investigated. All reports of hate incidents are taken extremely seriously by West Yorkshire Police and all such reports will be thoroughly investigated.' Huddersfield said in a statement that the club 'does not tolerate abuse of any kind and has a zero-tolerance stance towards any form of discrimination.' It added: 'We will give our full co-operation to the police to deal with this matter in the strongest possible way.' The campaign group Kick It Out said in a statement: 'We condemn the disgraceful abuse that Philip Billing has received online and call on social media companies to take steps to act against people who use their platforms to carry it out. Recent events underline that players should be protected from abuse both on and off the pitch. We are liaising with Huddersfield Town and have offered our support to Philip.' Billing, who was named youth player of the season in 2016, joined The Terriers in 2014 and has made seventy four senior appearances for the club.
The Sun has grovellingly apologised to the families of the victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings after wrongly suggesting that police resources were diverted at a football match to deal with a group of campaigners who were raising funds to pay for legal fees. The entirely false claim was made in a report in the risible right-wing scum tabloid on the Birmingham City versus Aston Villains game. The paper dedicated multiple pages of coverage to the Jack Grealish incident, describing the 'toxic atmosphere outside the game' where Birmingham City fans were allegedly 'baiting' Villains fans. It also claimed that the 'police had their hands full with a protest also being at the ground' by Justice For The Twenty One, a campaign for the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings, which killed twenty one people and wounded two hundred and twenty. The newspaper said that the campaigners had 'held a demonstration that the police eventually restrained,' putting it in the wider context of the authorities 'losing control' over the stewarding of the match. Justice For The Twenty One said that its members were not demonstrating and did not need to be 'restrained' by police or anything even remotely like it. Instead, they were merely asking for donations from members of the public towards legal fees to ensure families were represented in the recently reopened inquests into the deaths. The families say that they have been 'forced to resort to bucket collections' outside major events after not receiving sufficient public funds through legal aid to pay for their lawyers and that they raised thousands of pounds at Sunday’s match. West Midlands police later confirmed that absolutely no 'protests' had taken place outside Birmingham City's ground on the day of the match. After supporters of Justice For The Twenty One complained to the press regulator, Ipso, the newspaper snivellingly apologised on Wednesday and retracted 'any suggestion' that the campaigners distracted the police. The Sun said: 'We wish to clarify that members of the group were there as fundraisers, not demonstrators and that there was no suggestion that the group had caused any trouble for police.' Except that, of course, there most certainly was that suggestion in the original article. 'The Sun has publicised the work of the group over a number of years, which campaigns for the twenty one victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombing. We apologise if any offence was caused.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' youngsters Elias Sorensen, Jamie Sterry and Callum Roberts have all returned to Tyneside from their - utterly pointless - loan spells in the Football League at Blackpool, Crewe Alexandra and Colchester United respectively. The trio have barely featured for their loan clubs since leaving St James' Park in January and are now available for United's remaining Under Twenty Three games following their misadventures in the Football League. All three are highly-regarded at St James' and there has been considerable disquiet over the lack of game-time given to the trio when the whole point in sending them out on loan in the first place was for them to get some valuable league game experience; to the point when Sterry and Sorensen (along with another loanee, Liam Gibson, currently at Accrington Stanley) returned to Newcastle last month to play in an Under Twenty Three game at Leeds. The only one of the trio to actually start a game was right-back Sterry - who has made four first team appearances for United. He completed ninety minutes for Crewe against Northampton Town in League Two but was never called upon again by The Railwaymen thereafter. Three substitute outings for winger Roberts - who scored for Newcastle in the FA Cup against Blackburn in January - totalled a mere thirty seven minutes in the third tier for The U's. Striker Sorensen - who is yet to make his first team debut - fared worst of the three, playing just once for The Tangerines, given thirty two minutes as a substitute against Wycombe soon after arriving at Bloomfield Road. The Dane then failed to appear in any of Blackpool's subsequent eight games and, latterly, wasn't even selected for their match day squads. Given the futility of these loans - and several previous temporary departures from St James' (notably striker Tom Heardman at Bury last year), news that United are seeking to recruit a 'player loan co-ordinator' would appear to be an idea long overdue.
Former England striker Andy Carroll looks to have played his last game for West Hamsters United after another injury setback. Carroll has missed two games with an ankle injury and it appears unlikely he will be fit before the end of the season. While the Hamsters have not made a final decision yet, it is expected they will not offer Carroll another deal when his contract ends in the summer. 'Andy Carroll has an ankle problem,' said Hamsters boss Manuel Pellegrini. 'How serious, we don't know. I cannot tell you.' It means for the fourth time in his six years at the club after an initial loan move from Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws was made permanent, the fifteen million quid striker will have failed to make twenty appearances across all competitions in a season. Given that record, the Hamsters hierarchy 'is considering whether it would be a wise use of resources to offer Carroll a further deal,' according to BBC Sport. Carroll has scored but three goals in the Premier League since April 2017.
Former The Scum and England midfielder Paul Scholes has left his role as Oldham Not Very Athletic manager after just thirty one days. The forty four-year-old took on his first managerial job on 11 February and was only in charge of the League Two club for seven games, winning but one. Scholes said in a statement that he had decided to resign 'with great regret. It unfortunately became clear that I would not be able to operate as I intended and was led to believe prior to taking on the role,' he continued. Scholes took over with The Latics fourteenth in the table, nine points off the play-offs and leaves with them in the same position. He began his reign with a four-one win over Yeovil Town, but three draws and two defeats followed prior to his final match, a two-nil defeat by league leaders Lincoln City on Tuesday. 'I hoped to at the very least, see out my initial term of eighteen months as the manager of a club I've supported all my life,' he said. 'The fans, players, my friends and family all knew how proud and excited I was to take this role. I wish the fans, the players and the staff - who have been tremendous - all the best for the rest of the season and will continue to watch and support the club as a fan.' Scholes made seven hundred and eighteen appearances for The Scum, including four hundred and ninety nine in the Premier League and scored one hundred and fifty five goals in all competitions. He initially announced his retirement at the end of the 2010-11 season, but made a comeback at the start of 2012 before finally calling time on his career in 2013, having won eleven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, five Community Shields and two Champions Leagues. He also played sixty six times for England, retiring after Euro 2004 to focus on his club career. Scholes resigned as a director of National League side Salford upon taking over at Boundary Park, but he retained his shareholding and could now return. The Ammies could be promoted to League Two this season and EFL rules prevent a person holding roles with two clubs at the same time without prior consent, although a holding of ten per cent or less in a club is disregarded providing it is held 'purely for investment purposes.' Moroccan football agent Abdallah Lemsagam became Oldham owner in January 2018 and is now looking for his fifth manager in just over a year, although Scholes' immediate predecessor Pete Wild was only in charge on a caretaker basis. A short club statement said: 'Oldham Athletic Football Club can confirm that Paul Scholes has resigned from his position as first team manager with immediate effect. We would like to place on record our thanks to Paul for his efforts during his spell in charge of the club and would like to wish him well for the future.' There were plenty of people within the game, privately as well as publicly, who told Scholes that cutting his managerial teeth at Oldham was a bad idea. But, such was his long-held desire to manage his hometown club, he ignored them all. As he has proved so regularly as a pundit, Scholes is a straight talker. It was always the case he would resist any outside interference, which is a claim that has been levelled at Lemsagam on more than one occasion and, in the end, the former The Scum midfielder's status became untenable. To many, it will not come as a surprise. To others, there will be a sense of satisfaction given how brutal Scholes has been at dishing out criticism from the comfort of the pundit's chair.
For the first time in thirteen years there will be no German club in the Champions League quarter-finals, a fact not lost on the country's media on Thursday morning after Fußball-Club Bayern München crashed out against Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. Jürgen Klopp's team emerged victorious from the Allianz Arena against a team who had lost only one of their previous twenty six Champions League fixtures on home soil, but it was the performance more than the result that perturbed the German football media. 'What we have learned from the last sixteen is that German football has shrunk considerably and that it no longer has a place among the big teams in Europe's most important competition,' wrote Jörn Meyn in Der Spiegel, pointing out that three of the teams – Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and Fußballclub Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 - were eliminated by English clubs and that the fourth, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, did not even make it out of their group. 'With an eight-month delay we have seen at club level what was obvious for the national team at the 2018 World Cup: German football has been left behind,' he added. Matthias Brügelmann, in Bild-Zeitung, continued along the same lines, writing that 'the fact is that German football is internationally only second class' and 'that Bayern and Germany need a radical turnaround to be able to compete for titles again.' Bayern were heavily criticised for their performance on Wednesday, with the headline in Kicker saying 'No plan, no courage: Bayern are out' and the paper's chief reporter, Karlheinz Wild, saying that 'even at one-one Liverpool were dominating the game and spending most of the time in the Bayern half.' He added: 'The English team were quicker, more agile and better with the ball and the two-one and, eventually three-one, felt logical.' Niko Kovac was partly to blame, claimed Wild, who wondered whether the Bayern coach 'really thought he could turn the game around by bringing on Renato Sanches?' The Munich paper Abendzeitung described Bayern as 'helpless' and said that they had 'beaten themselves' in front of seventy thousand fans, starting with Manuel Neuer's mistake for Liverpool's opening goal when the goalkeeper came out to try to dispossess Sadio Mané but was left flummoxed by the Liverpool forward's nimble footwork. The outfield players were not spared either with Abendzeitung handing out 'fives' - the worst mark that a player can get in Germany, one being the best – to Neuer, Rafinha, Franck Ribéry and Robert Lewandowski. The Polish forward had failed the 'ultimate test' against Virgil van Dijk and was 'weak in the challenge' and could not keep the ball. Only Javi Martínez was given a good mark - a two. 'Like a starving predator he ran around chasing his prey, the ball. He had a strong first half, winning ninety per cent of his tackles. Bayern's best player,' the paper wrote. Kovac put on a brave face after the defeat, saying that Liverpool 'deserved' to go through and that Bayern would 'focus on winning the domestic double.' He did receive some criticism from his players for his tactics, though, with Lewandowski saying: 'I think we were too defensive. We didn't take enough risks and did not go forward enough. When you look at the two games we did not have many chances and therefore we can't have any arguments when it comes to the outcome.' The Bayern CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, finished things off by telling German TV that it would be 'great' to have Herr Klopp as Bayern coach, making a really bad night for Kovac considerably worse.
England dismissed a hapless West Indies for just seventy one as they completed an eight-wicket win in the third and final T20 at St Kitts and claimed a three-nil series victory on Sunday. West Indies were bundled out in thirteen overs just two days after they collapsed to forty five all out, with David Willey taking a career-best four for seven. Mark Wood took three for nine and Adil Rashid two for eighteen as England's bowlers dominated. Jonny Bairstow struck thirty seven from thirty one balls as the tourists chased down their target in just over ten overs. Left-arm seamer Willey took the first four wickets of the match as West Indies capitulated once again. West Indies' innings was the fifth shortest completed innings in terms of balls bowled in T20 internationals. England's Caribbean tour has been largely competitive, with West Indies winning two of the three tests and drawing the ODI series two-two with one game washed out but the T20s have been completely one-sided. West Indies' innings lasted seventy eight balls - seven more than they managed on Friday - with batsmen caught out playing big shots on a tacky pitch. Man-of-the-match Willey struck with the first ball of the match as Shai Hope spooned a full delivery to cover and Shimron Hetmyer fell in the left-armer's next over as he mistimed a drive to mid-off. At ten for two, calm was needed. However, John Campbell holed out to Joe Denly in the covers to give Willey his third wicket, before Darren Bravo edged a fine delivery through to Bairstow to leave the hosts twenty four for four. Only three batsmen reached double figures, with the longest partnership the twenty one-run stand between Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran. The hosts managed to hit just three sixes and six fours and were restricted further by some excellent England fielding - Bairstow and Jordan taking impressive catches in particular. Once Holder was caught trying to slog Denly and Nicholas Pooran swung a Wood slower ball to Jordan on the boundary, a quick ending felt inevitable. Rashid produced two fine googlies to bowl Fabian Allen and last man Obed McCoy as England dismissed West Indies in just over an hour. It means West Indies - world champions in this format - have scored one hundred and sixteen runs for twenty wickets in under twenty five overs across two matches. England were able to stroll through their run-chase, reaching their target with fifty seven balls remaining. Sixteen runs came from the first over of the reply, with Alex Hales thrashing Sheldon Cottrell for back-to-back fours and a six over long-on. Hales and Bairstow did not play ultra-aggressively, however, with left-arm spinner Allen bowling a maiden in the powerplay, before Hales was well-caught on the leg-side boundary by Campbell. West Indies' again struggled in the field, with Hetmyer dropping a relatively simple chance off Bairstow on eighteen. Bairstow's response was to hit opposition captain Holder for a straight six. Although Bairstow fell with England on sixty for one - bowled by a Devendra Bishoo leg-break - Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were able to work singles to reach their total with ease.
A 'countdown clock' for the end of an over and a standard ball in test cricket are among changes that have been suggested by a group of leading figures in the sport. The MCC World Cricket committee has proposed playing the World Test Championship, which begins with this year's Ashes, with a standardised ball. The committee is an independent panel which can propose changes to the laws. Three different brands of red ball are currently used in tests. A Dukes ball is used for tests in England and West Indies, while the SG ball is used in India. All other countries play the longer format with a Kookaburra ball. The committee - which includes ex-Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne and former England captain Mike Gatting - said that the 'balance between bat and ball is crucial.' They also suggested measures to speed up play in tests, including: A free-hit to follow a no-ball in test cricket; a timer or countdown clock to count down from forty five seconds from the call of 'over' - if either side is not ready when the clock reaches zero, they would receive a warning; further infringements in that innings would result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposition and a timer when a wicket falls to ensure batsmen and fielders are in position in time. Free-hits after a no-ball are already used in limited-overs formats. The committee suggested the introduction of a shot clock at a meeting in August. It is not able to change playing regulations but the use of a standard ball will be discussed by the International Cricket Council committee in May. Recommendations could then be put to a general meeting of the ICC for test nations to approve. The ICC is the global governing body of the sport, but the MCC is the guardian of the laws and spirit of the game. Ninety overs should be bowled in a full day's play, with an extra thirty minutes available if teams need to make up time. West Indies captain Jason Holder was banned for his side's final test against England in February because of a slow over-rate. A survey conducted by the MCC said twenty five per cent of fans from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa said slow over rates put them off attending tests. It also said that test cricket was the format that interests fans the most. The committee said 'more urgency needed to be shown' by players, adding: 'They should play a brand of "ready-cricket" with more forward planning.'
A fight broke out at a screening of Captain Marvel at the Odeon Cinema in Brighton, it has been reported. It is alleged that the 'brawl' broke out during the 7pm showing of the superhero movie Monday. The cinema confirmed an 'incident' took place, but could not give any further details at this stage. A witness who was watching the film snitched to the local paper like a Copper's Nark: 'It was a mess. The two people were fighting between themselves, it was a man and a woman and people were telling them to get out. The manager happened to be in there watching the film. He asked them to leave and then got punched and the two people were trying to beat him up. He was moving them both out and they were then trying to fight him, throwing punches, shoving him, shouting at him. He was a big guy but kept calm. Everyone was talking about it as they came out. The cinema was packed so lots of people would have seen.'
Chickens in a farm in North-West France are believed to have 'grouped' and killed a juvenile fox. So, either those were some pretty hard chickens or that particular fox was, you know, soft as shite. The 'unusual incident' in Brittany took place after the fox entered the coop with three thousand hens through an automatic hatch door which closed immediately. 'There was a herd instinct and they attacked him with their beaks,' said Pascal Daniel, head of farming at the agricultural school Gros-Chêne. The body of the small fox was found the following day in a corner of the coop. 'It had blows to its neck, blows from beaks,' Daniel told AFP news agency. The farm is home to up to six thousand free-range chickens who are kept in a five-acre site. The coop is kept open during day and most of the hens spend the daytime outside, AFP adds. When the automatic door closed, the fox - thought to be around five or six months old - became trapped inside. 'A whole mass of hens can arrive together and the fox may have panicked in the face of such a big number,' Daniel told the regional newspaper Ouest France. 'They can be quite tenacious when they are in a pack.' They'll be developing opposable thumbs and coming after us next, mark this blogger's words.
A man who killed a seagull when it tried to steal his chips has been ordered to serve a curfew. John Llewellyn-Jones from Cardiff, 'smashed' the bird against a wall - really hard - during a trip to Weston-super-Mare in July 2018. Though, to be fair, the thieving little shit had asked for it. He denied breaching the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 but was found extremely guilty at North Somerset Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. The RSPCA said: 'He cared more for his chips than what he did to the gull.' Yeah. And ...? Llewellyn-Jones was ordered to serve a twelve-week curfew between the hours of 8pm and 8am, pay costs of seven hundred and fifty knicker and an eighty five quid 'victim surcharge.' Who, exactly, the victim is and where that particular eighty five quid will go, the court did not reveal. RSPCA inspector Simon Evans said: 'This was an unthinkable and despicable way to treat an animal. The gull was smashed against a wall by the man and bystanders, including children, had to look on as the man killed the gull.' The RSPCA advise people not to feed gulls and to dispose of rubbish properly, particularly in seaside areas more prone to the birds.
When a rare Tengmalm's Owl turned up in Orkney last November, it was decided to 'suppress' news of its exact location. The bird, which had only been seen in Britain a handful of times, had been spotted on the island of Copinsay. The presence of such a rare visitor would normally attract hundreds of birdwatchers desperate to see it for themselves. But the exact location remained a tightly guarded secret, with only three people aware that it had taken up temporary residence in an outside toilet at the island's lighthouse. The secrecy was because of Copinsay's role as an important seal breeding ground. However, rumours of the owl's visit had begun to circulate and the Scottish Birds magazine has now revealed the lengths gone to by some people in an attempt to get around the news blackout. They included inventing a falconer who had, supposedly, 'lost' a Tengmalm's Owl. Martin Gray, who wrote the article with Alan Leitch from the RSPB, told BBC Radio Orkney: 'It's an extremely rare bird. It's only occurred in Britain a handful of times. The last record that was widely available to the general public was in 1980. So there's been almost two generations of twitchers who've not had the chance to see one.' Disturbing the island's seals while they are nursing their young is prohibited by law. At that time, there would have been hundreds of pups on Copinsay and there were concerns that they would be disturbed if hundreds of twitchers descended on the island. Ad, to be fair, who wouldn't be disturbed by such a sight. 'It was a very clear cut case of no news getting out,' Gray says. However, that didn't stop some birdwatchers from trying. There were attempts on social media to try and work out where the owl wasn't, in a bid to shorten the list of possible locations. Someone even invented a fictional falconer from Caithness, who had supposedly lost a Tengmalm's Owl and made an appeal for help to find it again. 'It was a complete fabrication, a total, total lie,' said Gray. 'This guy was invented. The e-mail address was invented that people were being asked to respond to, if they had any news of his alleged lost bird.' Now, he says, the community of birdwatchers 'needs to address the problems' being caused by a small minority who seem to feel they are 'entitled' to tick off a rare bird no matter what they have to do to find out where it is. 'Most of them are kind, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, ethical, generous, good people,' he says. 'But there are just a few clowns that are out there, spoiling it for everyone. The first step on the way to restoring a degree of order is to recognise that there is a problem. I'm not hearing that. I'm hearing a lot of dismissive comments, that it's no big deal.' Until the issue is addressed, he says, he is more likely to keep the news to himself if he encounters any more rare species. A Tengmalm's Owl was also spotted in Shetland last month and was believed to have been the first of the breed in Shetland in over a century. However, it is not believed to be the same bird that was seen in Orkney.
Eating mushrooms more than twice a week could prevent memory and language problems occurring in the over-sixties, research from Singapore suggests. Plus, they taste really nice in a king prawn, chicken and mushroom garlic curry with egg fried rice. Just sayin'. A unique antioxidant present in mushrooms could have a protective effect on the brain, the study found. The more mushrooms people ate, the better they performed in tests, the study found. But researchers said that it was 'not possible' to prove a direct link between the fungi and brain function. The National University of Singapore study's findings were based on six hundred and sixty three Chinese adults, aged over sixty, whose diet and lifestyle were tracked from 2011 to 2017. Over the six-year study the researchers found that eating more than two portions of mushrooms a week lowered the chances of mild cognitive impairment by fifty per cent, compared with those who ate fewer than one portion. Mild cognitive impairment can make people forgetful, affect their memory and cause problems with language, attention and locating objects in spaces - but the changes can be subtle. It is not serious enough to be defined as dementia. The participants in the study were asked how often they ate six different types of mushrooms: oyster, shiitake, white button, dried, golden and tinned. Mushroom eaters performed better in brain tests and were found to have faster processing speed - and this was particularly noticeable in those who ate more than two portions a week, or more than three hundred grams. 'This correlation is surprising and encouraging,' said assistant professor Lei Feng, the lead study author, from the university's department of psychological medicine. 'It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline. But we are talking about a combination of many factors - tea, green leafy vegetables, nuts and fish are also beneficial.' The researchers point to the fact that mushrooms are one of the richest dietary sources of ergothioneine - an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to make on their own. Mushrooms also contain other important nutrients and minerals such as vitamin D, selenium and spermidine, which protect neurons from damage. But there is still a long way to go before evidence of a direct link can be established. This study relied on self-reported information on mushroom intake and other dietary factors, which 'may not be accurate,' the researchers acknowledged. Doctor James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, said: 'There are lots of factors that contribute to the development of dementia and it's estimated that up to a third of cases could be prevented by changes in lifestyle, including diet. Dementia is one of the top ten causes of death, but people can take action to reduce their risk, so it's important that we base our advice on consistent evidence that's built up over multiple studies, and don't get carried away with the findings of any one single study. So while eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables, including mushrooms, is a great starting point, our best advice is to also cut down on sugar and salt, be physically active, drink in moderation and avoid smoking.' The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
We are still a few weeks away from Easter, but you can already buy everything from Marmite to Prosecco-inspired eggs to celebrate. So it probably comes as no surprise to discover you will be able to get your hands on an egg made entirely of cheese - just in time for Easter. Sainsbury's is launching The Cheesalicious Easter egg - one hundred and twenty grams of pure cheddar sourced from Lancashire farms and shaped like a giant egg. Why, they didn't say. Dubbed The Cheester Egg, the savoury treat made by Butlers Farmhouse Cheese has a soft and smooth texture, making it perfect for spreading - which is ideal since the egg also comes with a packet of oatcakes and a sachet of chutney! Emma Garvey, cheese buyer for Sainsbury's, said: 'We're always looking for new and unique products to offer to our customers, especially during gifting periods throughout the year when people are on the lookout for something special to give their loved ones. The Cheesalicious Easter Egg seemed like an obvious and exciting choice to expand our Easter egg offering and cater to cheese aficionados nationwide.'
Doughnotts' latest creation 'has doughnut lovers all of a tizz,' according to media reports. The Nottingham company, which launched a doughnut pizza and a cute bouquet of doughnuts on 14 February, has produced 'a naughty masterpiece' shaped like a particular part of the male anatomy. That's a massive dong just in case you were wondering, dear blog reader. The reason? Apparently, it's 'a cheeky take' on 14 March being 'Steak and Blowjob Day' - which is, again apparently, 'the male response to St Valentine's Day.' No, me neither. A pink-coated doughnut proved the most popular and was already a sell-out by noon. A chocolate version, white icing and black sprinkles and white with ginger sprinkles are available priced £3.25 each or two for six quid. And all are vegan-friendly. They are not in the display cabinet at the Nottingham city centre shop to 'avoid any awkwardness with children or the easily offended.' Instead customers have to ask for 'a Johnson' - slang for the male thingy and staff will retreat to the back and return with one in a brown paper bag. A bit like buying a porno mag only, you know, somewhat less embarrassing. 'Ninety percent of customers have bought one today,' said assistant manager Charlotte Evison. 'It's been the strangest day at work - the reaction on people's faces.'
Police in Italy are reportedly 'unconcerned' about the daring theft of a Flemish master's painting - because they had replaced it with a fake a month ago. The painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, worth millions, apparently vanished from a church on Wednesday. Thieves used a hammer to smash open its display case and made off in a car. Hours later, Italian police revealed that they had 'heard rumours' of the planned heist and installed cameras to catch the thieves in the act. The painting of the crucifixion had also been replaced with a copy and the original was being kept safe and sound, they said. It all happened in the town of Castelnuovo Magra in Liguria, where the painting of the crucifixion is kept in a side alcove of the Santa Maria Maddalena church. The surveillance footage of the raid is now being carefully studied and investigators are chasing down those responsible. Earlier, before the switch was revealed, Mayor Daniele Montebello told Italy's Ansa news agency that the painting was 'a work of inestimable value, a hard blow for our community.' On Wednesday, he revealed he had been in on the ruse, explaining that 'today for investigative reasons we could not reveal anything.' He also thanked members of the church for holding their peace - 'because some faithful had noticed that the one on display was not the original, but did not reveal the secret.' Brueghel was the son of another Flemish artist - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - and is famous for both his own paintings and the copies he made of his father's work. The Crucifixion is a well-known piece of which several copies exist, with small differences between them - including one in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. All are believed to be variations on an original by Bruegel the Elder - but no original by his hand is known to survive.
Dutch civil servants have been warned off 'dancing in their staff restaurant' for fear that the floors of their renovated building might not take the strain. Whether Dutch civil servants do dance in their staff restaurant - as opposed to, you know, a disco or a nightclub - is not, at this time known. Although, this blogger really feels that a study should be undertaken to find out if they do. And, why. The foreign ministry has circulated a memo saying 'safety concerns' mean they should also avoid 'over-stacking photocopier paper,' placing a second row of chairs around conference room tables, or 'installing heavy cupboards and safes' in their offices, the NOS public broadcaster reports. King Willem-Alexander opened the building in The Hague in November 2017 after extensive renovation work, but it has been plagued by staff complaints from the start. Rijnstraat Eight also houses the infrastructure and water ministry as well as the immigration and asylum services, and the six thousand staff told a workplace survey that they have to cope with 'lack of privacy,' a 'serious shortage of workstations' and 'dark and depressing decor,' among other indignities. This prompted Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra to have the black walls repainted white soon after the building re-opened, but complaints have kept coming. Government minister Raymond Knops had to assure parliament last year that stairs will be 'evened out' after two civil servants injured themselves falling over steps in what critics have taken to calling 'the blunder building.' The steady stream of media criticism has stung the OMA team of architects, who maintain that they worked 'strictly to the specifications they were given' for the renovation work, which won an award for sustainability. The foreign ministry warning comes after a car park under construction at Eindhoven Airport collapsed during stress testing in 2017, where the floor panels were of a similar design. Inspectors also closed off parts of another building in The Hague housing the justice and interior ministries after finding problems with the floor design last year. The Central Government Real Estate Agency, which maintains official buildings, has 'sought to assure staff' that Rijnstraat Eight is 'perfectly safe' and that inspectors operate on the principle of 'better safe than sorry.' 'We know it's annoying for staff when the whole building isn't available for use without restrictions,' the Agency told NOS, adding that if would brief the civil servants and provide 'floor walkers' to address their concerns. But not all of the denizens of Rijnstraat Eight sympathise with their foreign ministry neighbours. 'They used to live like kings in some embassy in Africa, and now they're back here they can't even find a seat,' one civil servant sneered to the De Telegraaf newspaper. Some MPs have 'expressed concerns' after OMA was recently put in charge of sprucing up the parliament building, but a government spokesman has 'assured' them that these are 'two completely different projects' a turn of phrase unlikely to mollify the architects or their critics.
The Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, has been freed after charges against her were dropped. Siti Aisyah had been accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim's face in Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. She and her co-accused, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, denied murder and claimed they 'thought they were part of a TV prank.' The brazen killing at an international airport 'left observers stunned and gripped international headlines,' according to BBC News. After several months of delay, the defence phase of the trial was set to begin Monday, with testimony from Huong. However, the prosecutor in the case requested the murder charge for Siti Aisyah be dropped, without giving any specific reason. In a letter to the Indonesian law minister though, Malaysia's attorney general explained that the decision was 'taking into account considerations Jakarta raised about the case' as well as 'the good relations between the two countries.' The judge approved the request, saying 'Siti Aisyah is freed,' according to AFP news agency. However, this does not amount to an acquittal. Aisyah could have faced the death penalty if convicted. 'I feel happy. I did not know this will happen. I did not expect it,' AFP cites Aisyah saying as she left the court. BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who was at the court in Kuala Lumpur, said there 'appeared to have been less evidence' against her than against her Vietnamese co-defendant. Huong had, initially, been expected to read a statement in court, which would have been the first time either of the two gave testimony. However, her case has now been adjourned at the request of her lawyers. Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's mental-as-fek leader Kim Jong-un, had been waiting to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau on 13 February 2017 when two women approached him in the departure area. CCTV footage showed one of them placing her hands over his face, then both women hurriedly leaving the scene. Kim died on the way to hospital from what was later found to be exposure to the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic of all known chemical agents. North Korea has fiercely denied any involvement in the killing, but four men - believed to be North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the day of the murder - have also been charged in abstentia. They remain at large despite an Interpol 'red notice,' equivalent to an international arrest warrant. The two women said they were 'innocent victims' of 'an elaborate North Korean plot.' According to their lawyers, in the days before Kim's death the women had been paid to take part in 'pranks' where they wiped liquid on people at airports, hotels and shopping malls. They claim that they thought they were taking part in another prank at the airport. Their lawyers had 'expressed confidence' that the court would see they had no motive to kill Kim. After the court's surprise decision on Monday, the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia told reporters they would 'try to fly Siti back to Indonesia today or as soon as possible,' according to AFP. Kim Jong-nam was the older half-brother of North Korea's authoritarian ruler. He was once seen as a future leader of the isolated country, but when his father Kim Jong-il died, was bypassed in favour of the younger Kim. He was largely estranged from the family and spent most of his time overseas in Macau, mainland China and Singapore. He had spoken out in the past against his family's dynastic control of North Korea and, in a 2012 book, was quoted as saying he believed his half-brother 'lacked leadership qualities.'
A quad biker was caught 'racing through a housing estate' and 'riding the wrong way around a roundabout' whilst high on drugs. Steven Gardner 'is behind bars' after 'the astonishing driving antics in Huyton,' according to the Liverpool Echo. Police said the twenty nine-year-old was 'spotted' by officers driving a quad bike dangerously in the Hillside and Page Moss areas 'which involved travelling the wrong way on a roundabout whilst racing through a residential housing estate.' Gardner was seen to abandon the bike in the street where he lived and was then detained by officers. He was very sentenced to eight months imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court for dangerous driving, drug driving, driving a motor vehicle whilst disqualified and using a motor vehicle without insurance. Police are hoping his case will be a deterrent to others thinking of recklessly using off-road bikes.
More than eighty passengers have been injured, several seriously, after a ferry hit what appears to have been a whale in the Sea of Japan. The high-speed hydrofoil ship was en route to Sado Island from the port of Niigata on Saturday. Ferry operators said the vessel hit 'an object,' leaving a six inch crack in its stern. Public broadcaster NHK quoted a 'marine expert' who claimed the 'scale of the impact suggests the ship struck a whale.' In a statement, the ferry operator apologised to its customers and said that the ship looked to have 'collided with marine life.' 'My throat hit the seat in front of me,' one passenger told local media. 'People around me were moaning [in pain].' Presumably, the whale wasn't over happy about this malarkey either. There were one hundred and twenty one passengers and four crew members on board at the time. Sado Steam Ship Company, which operates the Ginga ferry, says it managed to reach its destination under its own power about an hour behind schedule. The Coast Guard reportedly said thirteen were 'in a serious condition,' although they were all conscious. The boat is powered by jets of seawater and can travel at up to forty five miles per hour. One of the hydrofoil wings on the ship was also damaged in the collision. Minke and humpback whales are reportedly migrating through the Sea of Japan at this time of year.
The theft of nearly ten thousand sheep across England and Wales last year has only resulted in one charge by police, the BBC has revealed. A Freedom of Information request showed nine thousand six hundred and thirty five sheep were stolen in 2018, up from seven thousand six hundred in 2017 and six thousand three hundred in 2016. Humberside saw the biggest jump in the number of sheep theft incidents in 2018, while Dorset and North Yorkshire had the joint second highest. Police in Dorset said there was 'a lack of resources' to 'tackle rural crime.' Plus, seemingly, thieves have become emboldened since we stopped hanging them for sheep-rustling. All forty three police forces across England and Wales responded to the BBC, giving details of three hundred and eighty one incidents of sheep theft last year. But Hertfordshire Police was the only force to bring a charge. A rural insurance company said it believed 'organised criminal gangs' were stealing the animals for slaughter, with sheep fetching up to ninety smackers each last year. John Hoskin, who runs a farm near Dorchester, said that sheep had 'regularly' been taken from his fields and the numbers had 'gone up with each raid.' Hoskin said sheep theft had resulted in him losing between forty and fifty grand in recent years, which had led him to question his future in farming. He said: 'Do we get rid of the sheep and say "forget it, we're not going to provide illegal income for somebody else?"' Dorset Police has but two dedicated rural officers in the county. One of those, PCSO Tom Balchin, said a lack of resources to tackle the crime had been 'frustrating' for him and for the community. 'We're constrained to what we've got and that's where we need the public to help us as well as people reporting things,' he said. Tim Price, from NFU Mutual, which insures three quarters of UK farms, said that 'a significant number of sheep' had been stolen from farms which had not experienced thefts before, with cases of more than one hundred animals being taken at once. 'It's organised gangs, they've got big vehicles, they've got the skills to round up sheep and take them away,' he said. 'And very often they've got an outlet for them as well.'
A couple have been extremely arrested after they, allegedly, had The Sex on a National Express coach in front of other passengers. The man and woman had 'never met before the ten-hour journey,' according to Plymouth Live. According to reports the pair stripped themselves all nekked and were having The Sex on the coach as it travelled along the M5 on 4 March. Devon & Cornwall Police were called after the driver pulled over on the hard shoulder. A thirty two-year-old woman and a twenty nine-year-old man were pinched by The Fuzz and taken to a police station in Exeter. A spokesperson said: 'Police were called to an incident of public indecency on a coach travelling on the M5 near Cullompton at 10.40pm on Monday 4 March. Officers located and arrested a twenty nine-year-old man from Bristol and a thirty two-year-old woman from Barnstaple on suspicion of an act of outraging public decency. They were later released under investigation pending further enquiries.'
A senior Indian politician, Nitin Gadkari, expressed his displeasure on Wednesday over some people raising slogans at a public meeting in Nagpur concerning their support for a separate Vidarbha state. He warned that he will get them 'thrown out' from the event if they continued. Gadkari reportedly 'lost his cool' when some people raised slogans during his speech at the meeting, which was also attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other senior leaders. When Gadkari started speaking, some pro-Vidarbha activists sitting in the crowd began raising slogans, demanding separate statehood for the region in Eastern Maharashtra. The activists also threw pamphlets in the media enclosure. 'Irked over the constant shouting,' Gadkari first asked them to keep quiet. Thereafter, the minister said: 'If they continue to make noise again, spank them and throw them out.' Normally, you have to pay good money for that short of thing.
The Big Apple is reportedly 'staring down a problem' it hasn't seen in eight years: rabid raccoons in Manhattan. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said on Friday that officials have 'identified four raccoons' with rabies around Inwood Hill Park since the start of the year. The health department is now advising residents in the area to make sure that pets are up to date with vaccinations. 'Rabies is a serious illness that poses a danger for you and your pets,' Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. 'Keep a close eye on your pets when you take them outside and if you see a wild animal - such as a raccoon - maintain a safe distance and do not approach it. Get your pets vaccinated against rabies and if you think they've been bitten by a rabid animal, call three-one-one.' While the officials have reported the rare rabid bat on the island in recent years, there haven't been any reports of rabid raccoons since 2011, when the city reported finding well over one hundred rabid raccoons during the prior year. While they've been reported in neighbouring boroughs, the city's 'trap-and-release' effort at the time led to the vaccination of roughly five hundred of Manhattan's raccoons and has managed to keep the issue under control since. People as well as pets can become infected with rabies and it can be fatal if not immediately treated. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention notes that symptoms in humans can mirror those of the flu, including headache, fever and weakness. During the last outbreak, which began in 2009, five people and two dogs were exposed to rabies though all were treated before rabies developed. The health department advises New Yorkers to call the city's non-emergency line in the event that they suspect an animal is sick or if it seems 'disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive.' It also advises that pets be fed indoors and that animals not be left outside without supervision. Dog parks are safe, the health department said, but animals should otherwise be kept on leashes while outside. In a statement, Senator Robert Jackson - who represents Manhattan's Thirty First District - urged residents of the island with pets 'to make sure their animals are up to date on their vaccines. Stay alert when enjoying our beautiful parks and if you see a wild animal acting strangely, leave the area.'
It was 'the milky way or the highway,' according to a breastfeeding mother who is reported to be 'furious' with her nanny for allegedly 'forcing' formula milk on her newborn baby. Lynn Wojton preferred nursing her infant daughter, believing that was the healthiest approach. But, baby caretaker Marcia Chase-Marshall allegedly 'sneaked' the child formula while Wojton slept because she was tired and didn't want to bother the first-time mother with the longer process of breastfeeding, court papers allege. The New York mother breastfed her daughter, Wilder, on the first two nights after returning home with the child from Mount Sinai Hospital in September, according to Wojton's lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court. What a fantastically litigious country America is, dear blog reader. Chase-Marshall slept in the same room as Wilder and would wake up Wojton, a registered nurse, whenever the baby needed milk, the suit claims. But after the nanny did not wake up Wojton on the third night, Chase-Marshall allegedly 'confessed' to feeding the baby formula milk, the papers claim. 'I was very upset,' Wojton told the New York Post. 'This is not what I wanted for my baby. I cried for an hour, honestly.' Chase-Marshall initially claimed that she had defied Wojton's instructions because she thought formula 'was best for the baby,' the mother claims. But Chase-Marshall then admitted that she gave the girl formula because it was 'less work' and she 'wanted extra sleep,' according to the suit. 'I have nothing to say,' Chase-Marshall told the Post in a phone call before, reportedly, hanging up. Wojton, who paid the nanny four thousand two hundred dollars, says Chase-Marshall 'bolted' after the confrontation. 'Your instincts do kick in,' Wojton said. 'It was the last straw, the way she was behaving and the way she was speaking to me.' Wojton said that she had 'faced off' with Chase-Marshall on 'everything' from changing Wilder's nappies to bathing the baby. 'If I didn't change the diaper the way she thought was best, she would criticise me the whole time,' Wojton said. 'It makes you second-guess yourself. You're a new mother and this is all very new.' 'Lynn obviously didn't want to cross a stranger who had direct access to her baby, to her home and belongings at such an important and potentially volatile time,' said her lawyer Brett Gallaway. Wojton, who runs her own cosmetic nursing practice, says that she has since found a new nanny and that she and her daughter are 'doing fine.' 'I'm in a good place now, but I still get upset,' Wojton claimed. She is seeking 'at least' then thousand dollars in 'damages.'
A police community support officer claimed that an eight-year-old girl threatened to stab him 'in the heart' when he was called to a school. Officers were called to the school in the Harrogate District after the girl produced a kitchen knife in class. North Yorkshire Police said that the classroom was evacuated when the girl threatened officers and staff. A force spokesperson added that no-one was injured in the incident and that the girl was 'now receiving appropriate support.' PCSO Matt Murphy, who was called to the school last month, tweeted an image of the weapon, which he said had a five inch long blade. North Yorkshire Police is currently taking part in a week-long national campaign to tackle knife crime. Officers are carrying out high visibility patrols and publicising anti-knife messages in schools and on social media.
A Cumbrian family have spoken of their 'terror' after their house caught fire when it was struck by lightning during Storm Gareth. Amanda Glencross said that lightning 'shot down the chimney' of their home in Cotehill, near Carlisle, sending a gas fire 'hurtling across the room.' Firefighters spent an hour at the scene, although no-one was hurt. The storm left more than two thousand people in Cumbria without power and overnight wind gusts of almost seventy miles per hour. Glencross, who is a mother to nine-year-old twins, said that her terraced house was damaged inside and out by the strike in the early hours of Wednesday. She said: 'A huge bolt of lightning hit the house and took part of the roof off and shattered the chimney. It went right down the chimney and blew the whole fireplace out, smashing it to pieces. We also have a few cracked walls that are letting in water. We knew there was a storm coming but didn't expect lightning like this. Myself and the kids were in bed but my husband, Phil, had fallen asleep on the couch. We were all absolutely terrified. It was like a bomb had hit the house. Our ears were ringing for ages afterwards. The children were hysterical, but we managed to get them calmed down and we were able to stay with relatives for the rest of the night.'
Italy's Justice Ministry has ordered a preliminary inquiry into an appeals court ruling which overturned a rape conviction, in part by arguing that the woman who was attacked was 'too ugly' to be a 'credible' rape victim. The ruling - unsurprisingly - has sparked outrage in Italy, prompting a flash mob on Monday outside the Ancona court, where protesters shouted 'Shame!' and held up signs saying 'indignation.' The appeals sentence was handed down in 2017 - by an all-female panel - but the reasons behind it only emerged publicly when Italy's high court annulled it on 5 March and ordered a retrial. The Court of Cassation said on Wednesday its own reasons for ordering the retrial will be issued next month. Two Peruvian men were initially convicted of the 2015 rape of a Peruvian woman in Ancona, but the appeals court overturned the verdict and absolved them, finding that she was 'not a credible witness.' In part of the ruling, the court noted that the suspects had found her 'unattractive' and 'too masculine' to be a credible rape victim. Cinzia Molinaro, a lawyer for the victim, said that her appeal to the Cassation contested 'a host of procedural problems' with the acquittal verdict but said that she had also cited the 'absolute unacceptability' of the Italian court's reference to the victim's physical appearance. The appeals sentence quoted one of the suspects as claiming that he found the woman 'unattractive' and had her listed as 'Viking' on his cellphone. Molinaro noted that the woman, who has since returned to Peru, had suffered such genital trauma during the alleged rape that she had subsequently required stitches. The Justice Ministry said it was conducting 'the necessary preliminary investigations' into the appeals verdict. Molinaro said the ministry can send investigators to a court to check if there were any problems or omissions in the sentence, even when the case is still under appeal. The case is the second to spark criticism in recent weeks in Italy, where cases of sexual violence and the murders of women regularly top the news. Protests broke out earlier this month after an appeals court in Bologna nearly cut in half the sentence for a man who admitted to killing his partner. The court cited as one of its reasons for the reduction the 'emotional storm of jealousy' that the killer had experienced. Critics said the reduced sentence basically sanctioned the practice of 'honour killings.'
The sentencing of the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women's rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh to thirty three years in prison and one hundred and forty eight lashes in a new case against her is 'an outrageous injustice,' said Amnesty International. And, this blogger agrees with them. The sentence, reported on her husband Reza Khandan's Facebook page on 11 March, brings her total sentence - after two grossly unfair trials - to thirty eight years in prison. In September 2016, she had been sentenced in her absence to five years in a separate case. 'It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing nearly four decades in jail and one hundred and forty eight lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran’s degrading forced hijab [veiling] laws. Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and this obscene sentence quashed without delay,' said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director. 'Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women's rights and speaking out against the death penalty - it is utterly outrageous that Iran's authorities are punishing her for her human rights work. Her conviction and sentence consolidate Iran's reputation as a cruel oppressor of women's rights.' And, you know, scum generally. Just an observation. This is the harshest sentence Amnesty International has documented against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years, suggesting that the authorities - emboldened by pervasive impunity for human rights violations - are stepping up their repression. Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested at her home in June 2018. This week, she was informed by the office for the implementation of sentences in Tehran's Evin prison. The charges, which are in response to her peaceful human rights work, include 'inciting corruption and prostitution', 'openly committing a sinful act by appearing in public without a hijab' and 'disrupting public order.' And, 'being a woman in Iran,' seemingly. During her sentencing, Article One Hundred & Thirty Four of Iran's Penal Code was applied, which allows judges to 'use their discretion' to impose a higher sentence than the maximum statutory requirement when a defendant faces more than three charges. In Nasrin Sotoudeh's case, the judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, applied the maximum statutory sentence for each of her seven charges and then added another four years to her total prison term, raising it from the statutory maximum of twenty nine to thirty three years. And, as for the one hundred plus lashes, one can only speculate on what, exactly, was going on in Moghiseh's underpants when he gave out that particular punishment.
Police in Florida need help in identifying a man accused of attempting to steal a designer toilet from Home Depot. Because, obviously, at the moment they have 'nothing to go on.' Nah, lissun ... Officers said that they responded to an attempted theft at the Home Depot on 1 March. A worker caught the man in the parking lot after he walked out of the store without paying for a cart full of items, including a GB designer netty, a pop socket, switches and a variety of electrical wires. When the worker told the man he needed to come back inside to pay for the items, the man ran towards his car and took off, leaving the items behind. The suspect was caught on surveillance and was driving a dark blue Chevrolet Suburban. The male suspect was Hispanic of medium complexion and approximately thirty years old. If you have information on who this man is or why he so desperately needed the po, you are advised to call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.
A jaguar clawed an Arizona woman who climbed over a barrier to take a picture at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, officials said. The zoo subsequently 'assured animal lovers the big cat would not be killed,' since animals should not be held responsible for the stupidity of humans. Cellphone video of the incident showed at least one gash on the woman's left forearm as she writhed on the ground in pain on Saturday. 'I hear this young girl screaming: "Help, help, help" ... and the jaguar has clasped its claws outside the cage around her hand and into her flesh,' witness Adam Wilkerson told Fox Ten television. Albeit, not very articulately. Wilkerson's mother 'distracted' the jaguar by pushing a water bottle through the cage and Wilkerson said that he pulled the woman away for the enraged beast. Cellphone video later showed the animal chewing on the plastic water bottle. The identity of the woman, in her thirties and, therefore one could suggest, old enough to known better, was 'being withheld,' said Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for Rural Metro Fire, the agency that responded to the incident. She was taken to a hospital and treated, then later returned to the zoo to apologise, Gilleland said. 'She wanted to take a selfie or a picture of the animal, and she put her arm close enough to the cage that the cat was able to reach her,' Gilleland said. The zoo's statement added that the female jaguar never left its enclosure and that the incident was being fully investigated. 'We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar,' the zoo said on Twitter, responding to public concerns the animal might be shot in the head. The barrier surrounding the exhibit, creating a buffer of several feet from the enclosure, zoo spokeswoman Kristy Morcom told Fox Ten. 'There is climbing involved. It's not something that is easily done,' Morcom added. 'These are wild animals and those barriers are put there for a reason.'
A Missouri woman was 'drunk and re-enacting a movie' when she fatally shot her boyfriend, officials have said. Despite - or, possibly because of - that, Kalesha Marie Peterson is facing a charge of second-degree murder in the slaying. She was arrested on Thursday after police in Fulton responded to Peterson's panicked report that she had 'accidentally' shot boyfriend David Dalton. 'Peterson advised that she and Dalton had been watching a movie and drinking alcoholic beverages that evening,' Fulton police said in a news release. A lethal combination at the best of times. 'Peterson advised that at some point Dalton suggested the two "play out a scene" in the movie that involved a firearm. Peterson advised that the two retrieved a handgun kept in the bedroom to act out the scene.' A Taurus .38 calibre revolver held by the woman 'discharged,' extremely striking Dalton. In the head. 'Medics attempted to treat Dalton and declared that he was dead,' the Fulton department's statement continued. A police official told NBC News he 'could not provide details' about the movie that the couple claimed to be re-enacting and suggested the title or knowledge thereof 'might be used as evidence.' Even if the discharge was not wilful, authorities said, Peterson could still be held responsible for because she handled the weapon while admittedly intoxicated. Police also noted that she had 'a number of prescription medications,' some of which 'increase impairment' when mixed with alcohol. NBC News affiliate KOMU of Columbia reported that the local district attorney has formally charged Peterson with second-degree murder as well as unlawful use of a weapon.
A Florida woman allegedly tried to kill her boyfriend because he snored too loudly, police said. Police said that they charged Lorie Morin with attempted murder and aggravated battery after she shot her boyfriend Wednesday night, ABC News reported. She is currently being held at the Brevard County Jail without bond. Both Morin and her boyfriend - who is not being publicly identified - initially told police that the shooting was accidental, Click Orlando reported. Upon further investigation, however, officials from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office determined the shooting occurred during a domestic dispute about Morin's boyfriend's snoring. As the dispute escalated, Morin is said to have grabbed a shotgun and fired at her boyfriend, striking and injuring him, police said. Both Morin and her boyfriend had been drinking before and during the argument. 'It's so stupid, so bizarre that I can't imagine that kind of behaviour,' neighbour Robert Mason snitched to ABC. 'I've talked to her a couple times and she's always been really nice and so the news is kind of shocking on it, honestly,' said another neighbour, Samantha Bobier. 'To hear that it was over him snoring is kind of shocking. It's kind of crazy.'
A blue 1967 Buick Skylark would have been perfect for an American road trip. But Damien Roy and his younger brother, Bailey, never got that far. Before the brothers could even cross the Canadian border, drones, helicopters, police dogs and a SWAT team surrounded their car. For twelve hours on 26 October 2018, the checkpoint between Houlton, Maine and Woodstock, New Brunswick, remained closed amid 'a bizarre stand-off,' frustrating thousands of travellers. In the end, there was no security threat - just two brothers from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with 'a poorly conceived plan and twenty one jugs of gasoline.' On Friday, Canadian officials agreed to drop terrorism hoax charges against the Roys and release them from jail and explained for the first time what had led to their - extremely public - arrest. The men, it turned out, had been trying to see if they could make it to Mexico in a car with no licence plates and without stopping for gas or presenting any identification along the way. 'This was more stupid than it was criminal,' Crown prosecutor Brian Munn told the judge, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC reported that the brothers 'remained silent in court' as an agreed-upon set of facts was read aloud, detailing how their escapades had landed them in The Slammer. It all started on the day before their arrest, when they bought the Skylark, which had no certificate of registration, legal documents or licence plates. 'For reasons unknown,' the brothers decided that they didn't want to stop at any gas stations until they crossed into Mexico, so they loaded twenty one jugs of gasoline in the back seat and trunk, the CBC reported. The antique car wasn't equipped with a GPS, so they planned their travels on paper maps and threw those into the back as well, along with some food for the five thousand-mile journey. The larger issue, however, was that they had no passports or any other form of ID with them. The Roys 'decided to take a back road through a remote stretch of the North Country where they were unlikely to encounter checkpoints, then sneak into Maine.' Their old-school navigation methods evidently failed: At around 10am on 26 October, 'they found themselves approaching one of the largest checkpoints in New Brunswick, less than three hundred and fifty miles from home.' According to the CBC, Munn said they both 'froze' when they 'realised what was happening.' The Skylark abruptly came to a stop in the middle of the road. 'It was very strange,' Kevin Peck, who lives on the Canadian side of the border and happened to come across the car, later told CTV News. 'There was room to pass on the left-hand side and as I was passing by I kind of glanced over and there were two gentlemen in the car that were not moving, looking straight ahead, and the windows were all fogged up.' Officials on both sides of the border 'were unnerved.' Lights flashing and sirens blaring, two officers from the Canada Border Services Agency went over to investigate. One tried to ask if the duo were okay but got no response. Then border agents noticed the jugs of gasoline. They quickly backed away, closed the checkpoint and summoned the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 'A chaotic scene ensued,' media reports state. 'There were probably one hundred-plus security personnel, Canadian and US, surrounding the vehicle,' John Slipp, who owns a duty-free store near the checkpoint, told CTV News. 'There was a helicopter and a SWAT team.' Over the next six hours, police dogs sniffed the brothers' car, a drone circled overhead and police tried in vain to talk to them. Meanwhile, traffic came to a standstill and disgruntled drivers complained that being redirected to the nearest border crossing, one hundred miles South, was going to make their trips hours longer. The stand-off finally ended around when the Mounties brought in a military-style armoured truck. As the intimidating-looking vehicle closed in, Bailey Roy hit the gas. He sped across the border into Maine and came to a stop as the truck rammed into a parked US Customs and Border Protection vehicle, creating a blockade. 'The two brothers spilled out of the passenger-side door and were immediately taken into custody.' Later, the Telegraph-Journal reported, the Roys told police that they had realised there was no way they would be able to illegally cross into the United States. Instead, they had decided to stop at the border 'just to see how things would play out.' They ended up spending the next four months behind bars. Within twenty four hours of his arrest, US officials handed Bailey over to Canadian authorities for prosecution. Damien, 'who had tried to claim asylum,' spent roughly a month in detention before he, too, was sent back to Canada to face trial in the Provincial Court of New Brunswick. Both were charged with 'committing a hoax related to terrorist activity' and 'wilfully obstructing peace officers.' While neither had a criminal record, it wasn't their first brush with the law. In 2015, the brothers, then teenagers, were reported missing after they went on a camping trip and failed to return. Their disappearance prompted a massive search-and-rescue operation, but after nearly six weeks, they returned home, unscathed. A judge later placed them in an adult diversion programme that allowed them to avoid being prosecuted on obstruction charges. At the time, their father, Corey Roy, told the Chronicle Herald that the boys had 'developed an interest in survivalism' and 'often made extended trips into the woods to practice living in isolation.' He said that they had 'no interest in drugs, alcohol and other typical teenage mischief' and 'adhered to strict diets in which they ate little but raw vegetables and protein.' They sold most of their possessions but held onto their car, which they had been using to make 'sudden, secret runs' to Montreal, Toronto and Quebec City. Speaking to CTV News in October after his sons were arrested at the border, Roy said that he was 'just grateful they hadn't been shot.' Damien and Bailey had been getting into trouble since elementary school, when they had to be separated because their teacher 'couldn't handle both at once,' he claimed. Both were 'smart when they wanted to be,' he added and read constantly, 'preferring each other's company to being around anyone else.' He 'couldn't explain' what had motivated their bizarre behaviour and added that he wished he had spent more time monitoring what they were looking at on the Internet. 'They have no respect for law enforcement whatsoever,' he said. 'They go for the reaction.' On Friday, both brothers declined to discuss their exploits with reporters. During the hearing, Damien raised only one question: 'What had happened to the Skylark?' It was still in Maine, Munn told him and, as a consequence, outside of the Crown's jurisdiction. According to the Telegraph-Journal, the prosecutor argued that their stunt had 'a serious economic impact on both Canada and the United States,' since hundreds of commercial trucks typically pass daily through the Houlton-Woodstock checkpoint, at the Northern terminus of Interstate Ninety Fie. But he also 'acknowledged' that the brothers had maintained their misadventures 'hadn't been politically motivated' and that they 'had no plan to commit an act of terrorism.' 'To use the words of Bailey Roy himself during an interview, essentially what they had done was "stupid,"' he said. After the terrorism hoax charges were dropped, both brothers pleaded very guilty to obstructing law enforcement and were sentenced to three months in prison with credit for time served, allowing them to walk free. Judge David Walker wished them good luck, the CBC reported. They left the courthouse dressed in the same gym shorts and sneakers that they had been wearing when they set off on their road trip and began looking for a ride back to their mother's house.
A Malaysia-bound plane reportedly had to turn back to Saudi Arabia after a passenger realised she had left her baby in the terminal. The pilot, en route to Kuala Lumpur, made the unusual request to return to the airport in Jeddah shortly after take-off when the passenger told cabin crew that she had 'forgotten her child.' A video of the pilot calling into air traffic control reveals the unusual exchange between him and the operators, as he asks for permission to return to King Abdulaziz airport. 'May God be with us. Can we come back?' the pilot asks. The scenario, seemingly a first for the air traffic controllers, leaves the operator confounded and he can be heard conferring with others over the appropriate action. 'This flight is requesting to come back,' he tells another colleague. 'A passenger forgot her baby in the waiting area, the poor thing.' The pilot can be heard repeating to the air traffic operator: 'I told you, a passenger has left her baby in the terminal and she is refusing to continue the flight.' After a brief pause, the flight was given permission to return to the hub. 'Okay, head back to the gate,' the air traffic controllers said. 'This is totally a new one for us.' It is rare for planes to turn around or divert mid-air for anything other than technical or passenger health reasons. In 2013, an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York diverted to Kansas City because of a 'very unruly passenger' who refused to stop singing Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You'. The bastard! In New York the following year, a taxiing plane heading to Seoul returned to the gate after the South Korean airline heiress Cho Hyun-ah forced a senior crew member to disembark because she had been served macadamia nuts from a packet instead of a bowl.
Police arrested a Florida father on Monday for allegedly bringing a loaded AK-47 to his son's middle school and making death threats towards teachers. Christopher Freeman was very arrested at Bear Lakes Middle School in West Palm Beach, after a school resource officer told police that he saw a large handgun sticking out of Freeman's pants, according to a police report. The school was placed on lockdown after the incident. Freeman, who arrived in a wheelchair, allegedly told school workers that they would 'all be dead' if they didn't let him speak with his son. 'Freeman was visibly upset and was yelling and screaming "you're going to need more than what you got because of what I got,"' according to the arrest affidavit. 'He also said "I want to see the guy who slammed my son. I've got something for him."' Freeman told police that he was 'upset' because his son called him crying earlier in the day because a teacher 'slammed him,' the affidavit said. 'While Freeman was speaking with him, his son was grabbed by an adult and his phone went flying out of his hands. Someone then hung up the phone,' Freeman said, according to the police report. 'Freeman said he was very upset and came to the school.' Police said he was armed with an AK-47 Mini Draco pistol with a thirty-round extended magazine. The gun was loaded with one in the chamber, police said. Freeman said that he purchased the gun 'from a friend' about a year ago and carries it all the time for protection, police said. He said that he 'forgot' he had it with him and claimed he 'didn't know that it was against school rules.' One or two people even believed him. Freeman was very arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, aggravated assault with a weapon and disrupting the peace. He was being held on a seventy five thousand dollar bond, but authorities motioned to have the bond revoked, citing a separate active criminal case against him. His attorney, Jack Fleischman, said that he plans to fight the bond revocation and hopes to get the most recent charges dropped. 'This was more of a misunderstanding than a crime. He had no intention of harming anyone,' Fleischman told ABC News. 'We're interested in seeing if there is any security video from school because there were allegations about his child being hit.'
From The North's semi-regular Headline Of The Week award goes, this week, to Daily Mirra for the really helpful Your Penis SHRINKS During Exercise - And There's Nothing You Can Do To Stop It. Apart from. perhaps, not exercising? Bit of a radical suggestion, this blogger is aware but, hey, think of the alternative.
In second place, the Independent's Almost Half Of British Women Can't Label The Vagina On A Diagram also deserves a mention. Although, one hundred per cent of men believe they can.
Whilst, on a similar theme, the Insider website has, this week, excitedly informed its readers that Sex Won't Permanently Loosen Your Vagina No Matter How Often You Have It, But Two Other Factors Can. They're childbirth and aging, apparently and not 'not being able to find it.'
One of the last veterans of World War Two's real-life Great Escape has died at the age of one hundred and one. Jack Lyon, a former RAF navigator, died at his home in Bexhill-on-Sea on Friday. He was lookout during the breakout bid from Stalag Luft III in 1944, but the escape tunnel was uncovered before he had the chance to get out himself. Ironically, he said that the plot being rumbled probably saved his life. According to the RAF Benevolent Fund, he had been one of the last known living veterans of the escape attempt, which became the subject of a Hollywood film in 1963. None of the seventy six who escaped from the Nazi camp is now alive - seventy three were recaptured, of whom fifty were obscenely executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler (who only had one). The other three - James Coburn, Johnny Leyton and Charles Bronson - got away. In an interview with the BBC on his one hundredth birthday in 2017, Lyon said: 'Had I got out, I probably wouldn't be talking to you because my chances of getting home were virtually nil. I was under no illusions about that.' And he described the Hollywood portrayal of the escape bid as 'absolute rubbish.' He said: 'Not one American took part in it and, as for the motorbike, it never existed.' RAFBF chief executive Air Vice Marshal David Murray, said: 'Jack belonged to a generation of servicemen we are sadly losing as time goes on. His legacy and those of his brave comrades who planned and took part in the audacious Great Escape breakout, are the freedoms we enjoy today. To truly pay tribute to his memory and all this who have gone before him, we must never forget. Jack's death is especially poignant as it comes just two weeks before the seventy fifth anniversary of the Great Escape, on 24 March.'
The Irish actor Pat Laffan - best known for playing the milkman Pat Mustard in Father Ted - has died at the age of seventy nine. nnouncing the news, his agents described him as 'one of the leading stage actors of his generation.' Father Ted creator Graham Linehan tweeted: 'Rest in peace, Pat, a pleasure to work with you.' Throughout his career, Laffan appeared in nearly forty films - including Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon - and made thirty TV appearances, including in EastEnders and in RTE's The Clinic. He was also known to Irish audiences for his portrayal of Mister Burgess in Roddy Doyle's 1993 movie The Snapper. His CV also included appearances in Insurrection, Z Cars, Strumpet City, The Irish RM, Sharpe and On Home Ground. He was most recently seen in Moone Boy and Ripper Street. In a statement on social media, the Lisa Richards Agency, which represented Laffan for almost thirty years, said it was with 'tremendous sadness' that it announced his death. 'All here will remember him first and foremost as our friend and mentor and we will miss him terribly,' the agency added. 'We send our heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.' Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Laffan was a member of the Abbey Theatre Company. The company's Twitter account posted a tribute, saying the late actor would be 'sorely missed.' It read: 'Very sad to hear that Pat Laffan has passed away. His career at the Abbey started in 1961 and spanned five decades.' The Abbey shared a picture of him in what they said was one of his earliest appearances in The Enemy Within in 1962. Laffan also had the role of director at the Peacock Theatre and directed at the Gate Theatre between 1979 and 1982.
As a key member of the loose affiliation of Hollywood session musicians who became known in the 1960s as The Wrecking Crew, the drummer Hal Blaine who died this week played on more hits than he could possibly have remembered - and quite possibly more hits than any other musicians in the history of rock and/or roll. His Big Beat, for example, propelled The Mamas & The Papas' 'California Dreamin', The Byrds' 'Mister Tambourine Man', The Beach Boys' 'Good Vibrations' and 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?', The Crystals' 'Then He Kissed Me' and 'He's Rebel', Richard Harris's 'MacArthur Park', Elvis Presley's 'Return To Sender', Barry McGuire's 'Eve Of Destruction', Jan & Dean's 'Surf City', The Supremes' 'The Happening' and Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You, Babe'. The Grammy award-winning singles to which he contributed his skills included Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers In The Night', Herb Alpert's 'A Taste Of Honey', The Fifth Dimension's 'Aquarius'/'Let the Sunshine In' and 'Up Up And Away' and 'Simon & Garfunkel's 'Mrs Robinson' and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. Blaine, who died aged ninety, was a musician of expert technique and considerable imagination but, importantly, he knew when to keep it simple in order to make a song distinctive when it was played on the radio. The stomping sound that punctuated Nancy Sinatra's 'These Boots Are Made for Walking' was his. So too, most famously, was the riveting introduction to The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby', a brusque bom bom-bom BANG! bom bom-bom BANG! that came thundering out of a million transistors in 1963. The fill that opened 'Be My Baby' became a rock standard - the drum equivalent of Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B Goode' riff. It has been replicated on songs as diverse as The Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Just Like Honey', The Hollies' 'Just Like A Rock', Lykke Li's 'Sadness Is A Blessing', The Clash's 'The Card Cheat' and Duran Duran's 'Is There Something I Should Know?' Incredibly, the riff came about completely by accident: 'I was supposed to play the snare on the second beat as well as the fourth, but I dropped a stick,' Blaine later admitted.
His driving beat and epic tom-tom fills formed the foundation of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique, erected around The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love and others. As Spector made a roomful of musicians go through forty or fifty takes of a two-minute song until, as someone once said, they were exhausted enough to play what he wanted rather than what they wanted, Blaine was the one who never flagged. His work on those records attracted the interest of Brian Wilson, who worshipped Spector and Blaine became an important collaborator on The Beach Boy's most innovative and creative period, most notably the LP Pet Sounds. Blaine carried a box of exotic percussion devices around with him, but was happy to use plastic soft-drink bottles from the studio vending machine to create exactly the sound Wilson had in his head for 'Caroline, No'. Unlike many highly-trained session musicians, the members of The Wrecking Crew were not musical snobs. Some of them had come up through jazz, but most had a background in various forms of pop music, including country and rock'n'roll. Blaine was the archetype of that open-mindedness. As he drove around Hollywood from one session to another at Gold Star, Sunset Sound, RCA and Western, he kept drum kits permanently set up to his specification in several of the studios.
He was born Harold Simon Belsky in Holyoke, Massachusetts, one of four children of Russian Jewish immigrants, Rose and Meyer, a tailor who went on to run a liquor store. After the family moved to Southern California in 1943, Hal took drum lessons with Roy Knapp, who had taught Gene Krupa. Hal was playing in a trio at The Garden Of Allah hotel in Hollywood when he was invited to play on his first session and always credited his fellow drummer, Earl Palmer, with giving him a leg up. Palmer had arrived from New Orleans, where he was schooled in jazz but had learned to play rock'n'roll, giving him a special status in studios where the raw sound of the new music was much in demand. Palmer soon had more sessions than he could handle and began passing some of them on to Blaine. Session musicians made good money in the 1960s as long as they could turn up on time, add a little magic to a song and did not make trouble. The new generation, of which Blaine was a part, included the guitarists Bill Pitman, Glen Campbell, Billy Strange and Tommy Tedesco (whose son Denny made an award-winning documentary about The Wrecking Crew in 2008), the pianists Don Randi, Leon Russell and Larry Knechtel and the bassists Ray Pohlman, Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn. Blaine gave The Wrecking Crew their name, a reference to the older musicians - the ones he called 'the blue-blazer guys' - who feared that this new generation would usurp their opportunities and destroy their comfortable living. Often called upon by producers to replace a group's drummer in the studio in order to give a record 'a more solid beat,' Hal said that the only one who had ever resented the substitution was The Byrds' Michael Clarke. Others, including The Monkees' Micky Dolenz and The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson, were more than happy to go on TV or out on tour and simply replicate an approximation of what Hal had played on their records. There was nothing pretentious about Blaine, a gregarious man who mentored many younger drummers and loved to tell stories about his experiences. When Elvis Presley was released from the army in 1960, Blaine began to play on his film soundtracks, including Blue Hawaii and Girls, Girls, Girls. 'He paid top dollar and he was the nicest guy in the world,' Hal said. In 2000, Hal and Palmer were both inducted into The Rock and/or Roll Hall of Fame. 'Hal never had good jazz chops [technique],' Palmer wrote in his autobiography, 'but that don't make him not a Hell of a drummer for what he did.' If Hal Blaine had only played drums on 'Be My Baby', The E Street Band's Max Weinberg declared in his book on rock'n'roll drumming, 'his name would still be uttered with reverence and respect for the power of his Big Beat.' On hearing of his death, Brian Wilson called Hal 'the greatest drummer ever. Hal Blaine was such a great musician and friend that I can't put it into words,' Wilson said. 'Hal taught me a lot and he had so much to do with our success.' The Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, who played at Blaine's ninetieth birthday party last month, added: 'Godspeed Hal. He gave us all so much. [I'm] feeling very blessed to have celebrated his life with him.' Blaine eventually took on the lucrative additional role of studio contractor, relied on by producers to hire the right musicians for each individual session.Hal is also credited with popularising the 'disco beat' after he recorded a 'pshh-shup' sound by opening and closing the hi-hat at appropriate intervals on Johnny Rivers' 1966 hit 'Poor Side of Town'. The effect had been widely used in jazz, but professional recording engineers disliked it because of its resemblance to white noise. The Wrecking Crew's motto was TTMAR: 'Take the money and run.' But they - and Blaine not least - seldom closed the studio door behind them without having left something of themselves on the recording tape. Blaine was married five times. His survivors include his daughter, Michelle and seven grandchildren.